I am so not cool
June 2, 2009, 8:47 pm
Filed under: culture, media, music

Working with a bunch of college students gives me the frequent opportunity to realize that I’m out of touch.  Whether it’s the movies I haven’t seen, or the music I haven’t heard, I know I’m behind the curve.  That’s o.k., though.  I think God gave me a gift of grace when I was in high school, and actually cared a lot about being cool.  At some point, the heavens parted, and I had a rare moment of clarity in which I realized that even in my small, private school, there were several different sub-groups that each had their own distinct version of what it meant to be cool, and they were seemingly only concerned about living up to their own groups’ versions of cool.  The punk kids didn’t try to be cool by surfers’ terms, and the preppies didn’t try to score style points with the band geeks.  In that moment of understanding, I saw that no matter how hard I tried, I’d never be cool with more than one or two of those sub-groups – being esteemed by everyone wasn’t going to be an option, so I might as well just pick a group to identify with, and be o.k. with that.

O.k., so that was a bit more soul-searching than I intended when I first started this post.  My main point is to give you, my friends, a glimpse into the depths of the uncoolness that is Steve.  Mock me at will for the following list.  I will return to the list periodically to add to my shame.  If you would like to join pathetic little me and admit to some of your coolness shortcomings, I promise not to tease you too badly . . . until I take this list viral on one of those Facebook meme thingies.  O.k., begin:

Books I’ve never read: Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn, anything by Steinbeck, Blue Like Jazz, anything by Ann Lamott, anything by Dostoevsky or Tolstoy, any of the Harry Potter books.

Movies I’ve never seen: Ummm, practically anything in the past five years.  But beyond that: Cassablanca, Scarface, any of the Rocky movies, Driving Miss Daisy, Zoolander, Reality Bites, The Color Purple, anything with Miley Cyrus, Dirty Harry, When Harry Met Sally.

TV shows I’ve never seen an entire episode of: South Park, Desperate Housewives, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI: Miami, Anderson Cooper 360, Arrested Development, Walker Texas Ranger.

Apparently famous people I wouldn’t be able to pick out of a police lineup: Carmello Anthony, last year’s American Idol winner (I don’t even know who won), Soulja Boy (did I even spell that right?), R. Kelly, anyone in Pantera, Slayer, or Boyz II Men; Kanye West, Kate Hudson.

Musicians I wouldn’t be able to identify if I heard their songs (I’ve heard their names, and maybe their music, but not necessarily in the same place at the same time): Rascal Flatts, John Legend, Sigur Ros, Taylor Swift, Iron and Wine, Ciara, Diana Krall.

Hopefully you can tell that I’ve tried to be eclectic in my lameness.  I’d be happy to respond to pop quizzes, if you would like to further my embarrassment.  Go ahead, fire away!

Nickelsville Benefit Concert
October 29, 2008, 11:07 am
Filed under: fundraising, music, Seattle, social action


inter::mission . . . another update
May 16, 2008, 8:13 am
Filed under: friends, inter::mission, music, the purple door

The days are blowing by me sooooo fast around here. It seems like just a couple days ago, the inter::mission gang was over at The Mustard Seed house. Alas, that was two weeks ago, which means that last night was time for the next teach-in. As we move toward the end of the school year, this was our last time having an outside guest come in to share with us.

jeffgreer My good buddy, Jeff Greer came to hang out with us last night. Jeff’s a church planting, kilt wearing, bartending, U2 loving, singer-songwriter who I met a couple years back. Good man, with a good, honest heart.

He did some of his songs, so it was part music-in, part teach-in. He didn’t sing pretty songs, though. Not that I don’t like Jeff’s voice or guitar work . . . but as he shared with us, the past couple of years have been quite a roller coaster of life for him, with more downs than ups – so the music he played came out of that place. As he talked about these experiences, it was refreshing, if even in a painful sort of way, to hear someone be real enough to say, “Yeah, life’s hard, and I don’t really need to candy coat it or be fake about it. I’m hurting, searching, and feeling a little hung out to dry right about now.” That connected well with our students.

Jeff also talked about the Celtic lifestyle of integration – everything is worship: work, play, family, love. He brings that into music beautifully and turns everything from Muse to The Cure to Coldplay to Deathcab to Ben Harper into real worship of God, except not in a cheesy, Christian ghetto sort of a way.

‘Twas another good evening for us.

(Photo credit to the excellent, and occasional kilt-wearing photographic stylings of Mr. Pat Loughery)

Photos from the concert . . .
March 4, 2008, 7:02 pm
Filed under: friends, music, the purple door

. . . can be found on Ryan’s blog, along with a cute one of Ryan and Holly’s boy, Pax.

Weekend wrap-up

Well, I’m sitting here, finally at a place to unwind a little after the past few days.  They were good, good days, to be sure, but definitely full, and thought-full, and tiring.

The conference was very good.  In some ways, it was a lot like many events I’ve been to over the past eight or nine years – lots of people there, re-thinking church and culture and mission.  There are always a lot of newbies at these events, which can be both exciting and boring at the same time – boring because it seems like I have the same conversations with people over and over about questions being asked, new thoughts being explored, yada yada, but exciting because more and more people are waking up to the broken state of things in Western Christendom thinking, and seeing the Christian religion for what it has become.   I definitely liked that it was more praxis-oriented than idea-oriented.  The ideas and theology and theories are valuable, but most of the presenters here are those who are just walking stuff out in real time.

As usual, the best part of the conference was meeting new people, re-connecting with old friends, and hanging out in the halls.  By the way, Jonathan Brink did a much better job than I did of blogging the conference, so check him out – this was my first shot at trying to live-blog one of these things, and it’s harder than it sounds . . . sorry I wasn’t very good at it.

Our concert at The Purple Door with The Cobalt Season, Mark Scandrette, and Adam Klein was super fun.  They gave us a preview of the new record that’s set to drop on April 18, as well as a good mix from previous and current recorded work.  Johnson, one of our team members at The Purple Door, provided them with a wall of newspaper pages as a background for their projected images.  I absolutely loved seeing people I value and respect so much being able to give voice to their art.  We had a good sized crowd there – kind of a perfect number to fill the room up nice and cozy, without being too jammed up.   Some new friends from the conference came over, as did some friends from the U-District and the rest of Seattle.  We definitely had a good time . . . helped in no small part by the presence of some killer baked goods, courtesy of our very own Lindsay and Ronnie . . . they went down well with the Stumptown espresso shots we were pulling.   Oh yeah, and the whole crowd sang the happy birthday song to me.  Many well-wishers, for whom I’m grateful.

I have a life, rich with relationships – a terrific wife (who Mark Scandrette couldn’t stop raving about – “She’s a completely new person from the last time I saw her!”), a loving and supportive family back in San Diego, friends to share ministry with at The Purple Door, friends to share my cultural context in Seattle with, friends from around the country and world.  It makes getting older worth while.  All of these relationships are a gift from the Creator to me, that locate me within a reality of love and beauty.

Currently filling my ears . . .
January 20, 2008, 9:44 am
Filed under: friends, music, the purple door

While doing a good bit of studying over the past couple days, I’ve listened repeatedly to two things:

The Cobalt Season. Even as they work on their new release, their most recent recording, In Search of a Unifying Theory is really quite stunning. I could say I enjoy them simply because Ryan and Holly Sharp are friends, but there is so much depth and beauty. I’ve been listening to this thing since it was first released – I think Ryan told me I was the first person to download it when it became available. I keep coming back again and again. Vulnerability, raw emotion, controlled outrage, soft-voiced questioning of how we got where we are and how the heck we can make something of it all. Go find this record on iTunes and get it.

I’m already getting giddy . . . The Cobalt Season will be playing a show for us at The Purple Door on their west coast tour. March 1 – that’s actually my birthday . . . and I shall have me a grand present by seeing them live once again. I’ll pump this show on the blog again as some other details become available . . . there are a couple other exciting possibilities for that night. Stay tuned.

The other thing I’ve been listening to is Radiohead’s new record, In Rainbows. I was among the masses that downloaded it when they released it via their own website. And yes, in case you were wondering, I did give them some money for it . . . 5 pounds. Even without the physical disc and album artwork in hand, it’s worth five times that. It’s in the mode of OK Computer, but a little simpler. Really good stuff.

I don’t blog much about music, but every once in a while, it’s fun to do it again.

Put down the guitar, slowly back away, and nobody will get hurt . . .
June 15, 2007, 7:45 am
Filed under: Christendom, culture, music

So there are a bunch of people around Seattle buzzing about the cover story in yesterday’s issue of The Stranger. For those of you outside the area, The Stranger is the local alternative newspaper. Check that . . . The Seattle Weekly is the local alternative newspaper, and The Stranger is the alternative to the local alternative newspaper. Anyway, the article is basically 30 staff writers getting sent out to 30 houses of worship on the same weekend, and writing witty, snarky reviews. Some of them are hugely hilarious, some of them are a bit unnecessarily mean spirited, some of them are a waste of time. Personally, it seemed to me that some of them tried too hard to be funny.

Anyway, something I noticed on balance from these pseudo-reviews was the number of digs the writers took at church music. All the churches with a non-hymn format are described as having bad indi-soft-rock cover bands. In one case, the lyrics of the songs are called into question for sounding a heckuva lot like pillow talk (very very funny). With the whole seeker movement a long time ago, church music shifted in the direction of “contemporary” in order to be more welcoming to the unfamiliar nonbeliever. In many cases, churches produced what they thought were pretty solid musical packages. In a few cases, even I thought the music was fairly decent. I’ve lost count of the number of church ads I’ve seen that actually use their hip music as a selling point for the church. Perhaps it’s time to stop . . . people aren’t that impressed. Even with the best musicians, and the purest hearts, it’s just not that great. Sadly, most churches that make an attempt DON’T HAVE the best musicians, even if they have pure hearts . . . and then it’s even worse.

I hope we’ve impressed ourselves with our cool music (of course, it would be better if we’ve honored God with our worshipful attitudes). At least that way someone enjoyed it.