As mentioned before in this space, many veteran Christian rockers have successfully turned to crowdsourcing as a means to both finance rereleasing cherished catalog albums and fund new projects. The 77s are currently working the former, with an unearthing (or rescuing from underwater, if you prefer) of their 1994 release Drowning With Land In Sight the pursued prize.

Drowning With Land In Sight was the 77s sixth album and their second major label release, albeit of a far different nature than the first which was put out in 1987 by Island Records only to be overwhelmingly ignored by same, it apparently too busy counting money from the latest U2 project to notice it had a terrific record by someone else on its hands. This time, the band was labelmates with Amy Grant and looked poised to claim their rightful place along Petra et al among Christian rock royalty. Which unlike regular rock royalty translated into actually being able to pay the rent on time each month as opposed to making sure the accountants properly cut a check for the new Lear next month. But I digress.

There was one minor problem with this approach. The 77s had always been Christian rock for people who hate Christian rock; never intentionally antagonizing their prospective core audience but also never comfortably nesting alongside the aforementioned Petra and variations thereof as readymade youth group fodder. The lyrics were too introspective, the accompanying music too challenging as it varied from shimmering, contemplative power pop minus the genre’s usual relentless cheerfulness to heavy blues. The band’s pop side had been prevalent on its previous release. Now it was time for the blues. And oh, did they deliver.

In the film Rattle and Hum, Bono commented, “Charlie Manson stole this song from The Beatles. We’re stealing it back” as U2 ripped into a cover of “Helter Skelter.” Without similar fanfare, The 77s did the same opening Drowning With Land In Sight by taking Led Zeppelin’s arrangement of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and reuniting it with song author Blind Willie Johnson’s original lyrics, or at least a far more closely aligned set of words than what Robert Plant intoned. Making this a full throttle triumph, band lead singer/lead guitarist/main songwriter Mike Roe showcased how he was and is one of the very, very, very few guitarists on the planet capable of tackling a tune touched by Jimmy Page and not sounding anemic by comparison.

Roe and company were just getting warmed up. The album bristles with snarling jagged force. At the time it was being recorded, Roe was watching his marriage crumble while bandmate David Leonhardt was finishing a battle with cancer. This left little room for niceties or pious platitudes. Instead, Roe took what would have been the title track from his previous album had the distributor not nixed it, namely “Pray Naked,” and used its philosophy as a beacon, stripping bare his raw emotions and displaying them for all to see. Lyrically the theme isn’t centered on former partner bashing; reflections on one’s own shortcomings are woven throughout decried loss. The band occasionally dipped into its pop side for this, but for the album’s majority kept the sledgehammer cranked to 11. Only the last three songs featured The 77s’ softer side, with the final song “For Crying Out Loud” offering the hope most everything before it found lacking.

It’s little wonder Drowning With Land In Sight fared poorly in the Christian marketplace. Said collection of Christian bookstores and churches purchasing music from them was, if ofttimes grudgingly, acceptant of endless variations on “Praise Ye The Lord” by Petra. It had no idea whatsoever what to do with a primal scream. But for those who know pain, the album was and remains a hiding place for shared sorrow. Drowning With Land In Sight is a superb musical dark star, steeped in the blues and made for those walking in the valley of the shadow.

Creative people, regardless of their chosen vessel, almost unanimously share two common traits. They are to some degree unbalanced (more on that in a future post), and they are inept at judging their own work. A prime example is Robert Plant’s unshakable belief that Physical Graffiti was Led Zeppelin’s best album. Um, sure.

Another trap into which artists often fall is dismissing, without a second thought, their audience’s discernment regarding their work. While popularity (or lack thereof) can never be taken as sole or primary indicator of creative quality, it possesses at the least some credence when calculating art’s worth. The Beatles haven’t sold, depending on who you ask, somewhere in-between six hundred million to over two billion records – that’s billion with a B – strictly because teenage girls in 1964 thought the four moptops were cute.

Artists undervalue their work as often as they overestimate its worth. The better the artist, the more likely he or she is to lowball his or her accomplishments. The late Irish blues guitar master Rory Gallagher twice threw away completed records that, upon rescue by third parties, showed themselves easily up there quality-wise with approved releases. For example, consider this track which, were it not for Rory’s brother Donal’s efforts at keeping Rory’s legacy alive, would have remained forever unheard.

Taking this into the land of the living, not one but two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees care not a whit about their recorded heritage. Steve Miller’s catalog is available on download sites, but anyone preferring something with actual sound quality, i.e. compact disc, will quickly discover most everything has been out of print for close to a decade. Yet this pales in comparison to Bob Seger. Want anything prior to his breakout 1976 live album Live Bullet? Other than one thin compilation, it doesn’t exist. No CDs, no downloads, nothing. There are a few scattered CDs released in the 1990s and a handful of somewhat dubious legality ones from a decade ago, all long out of print and correspondingly now exchanging hands for a king’s ransom. But readily available? Ain’t happening.

This scarcity of product, as a recent NPR article notes, is serving two purposes, neither of them good. It is alienating Seger’s large fan base, and it is blunting his legacy on classic rock radio. Seger flat out owned mainstream (now classic) rock radio from 1976 forward until well into the 1990s, cranking out hit after hit superglued onto playlists across the land: “Night Moves,” “Old Time Rock and Roll,” “Still The Same,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” etc etc etc and several more etc after that.

Fast forward to today. When by all rights and logic he should be similarly prominent on classic rock radio, Seger seldom gets airplay. Why?

There’s no reason to play his music. There’s nothing to support it. Remember, the music industry and terrestrial radio have a very cozy relationship. Record labels provide the programming, a/k/a music, to the radio stations for free. Radio stations play the music. Licensing fees and artist royalties? What’s that then? Songwriters get royalties from whenever one of their songs are played on a terrestrial radio station. Performers do not. They are placated by the notion of hear song/like song/buy song via CD or download or vinyl. Hence the eagerness for all involved parties to play what people want to, and can, purchase. Remember, catalog sales (music released more than eighteen months prior to the current date) are running higher than new music sales, and by an ever-increasing rate. There’s gold in them thar repackaged, remastered rereleases of albums fans more than likely already own, but are even more likely to purchase again if there is sufficient added value in the new package.

Seger isn’t part of this scenario. He has none of the rereleases constantly refreshing the catalog other artists enjoy. In many cases, a release period. There are no “oh man, I haven’t heard this song in ages – I love this song – I have got to buy a copy while it’s fresh in my mind” moments for an audience that still buys music in lieu of streaming pop puff pastry without filling today and forgetting it this afternoon. If it’s not on Seger’s most recent (now six years old) greatest hits compilation, which while okay is hardly comprehensive, and you’re not willing to go on a very well-financed musical archeological expedition, not only will you not be following up on your impulse … you can’t.

It’s tempting to attempt a dramatic overlay here, using Seger’s story as a grand allegory for some deep political or societal tale. But no. Art needs no justification, and not everything has to have a moral of the story attached. Sometimes, and put plainly far more often than not, the story stands on its own merits. So c’mon, Bob. How about you and your manager – mostly your manager, since apparently he’s the (quote) brains (end quote) behind all this – get it together, respect your fans, reclaim your rightful heritage in rock’n’roll royalty, and make available some new copies of those old records we can each take off the shelf and listen to by ourselves should we choose to do so? Today’s (again quote) music (again end quote) ain’t got the same soul. We like that old time Bob Seger rock and roll, and we want to be able to get our hands on it. Please.

PS: A fun example of older Seger:

A phrase oft heard during any given sporting event where the heavily favored team finds itself on the score’s short end is “the other team practices too.” Meaning: nothing is a given and no matter how talented, or better on paper, someone or a collection of someones is than the competition, if you dismiss the other team out of hand and don’t compete up to your ability level you will not win. Ever.

The same principle applies to life. We all have our burdens and battles; our private little hell that can and all too frequently does consume us. These must be tended to, otherwise they can severely damage us. Sometimes irrecoverably.

This duly noted, it is easy but dangerously shortsighted to exclusively focus on our own situation, neglecting to note that the other person has problems too. John Donne was right; no one is an island. We all have oppressive elements besetting our every day and every step.

To behave as though we alone are suffering while everyone else is on their own under the veneer of “they know their problems and I don’t” is pathetically short-sighted. Empathy is not contingent on complete understanding of someone else’s pain. We are all human, and we all share humanity’s common threads.

It is equally short-sighted, with a hefty dose of narcissism on the side, to focus so heavily on our own problems while neglecting to value others sufficiently to, at the least, inquire as to how they are doing that our life becomes a one-note samba of “woe is me.” The other person hurts too. Their hurt is equally important as ours. Ignoring them while bemoaning our state helps no one. It makes the other person quite apt to wonder why they should help, or care for, us when our actions and words make it apparent our concern for them extends only as far as their willingness to feel sorry for us. And, simply put, in such a scenario we are doing more than enough feeling sorry for ourselves to where the other person has zero inclination to join our pity party regardless of how deeply they care for us. We are pushing them away at a time when we most need them.

The other person matters too. Ask them how they are doing. You will be surprised how much it helps you both face the wounds and scars we all – all – bear.

A few days ago, I ran across this story involving a recent speech by conservative radio host and author Hugh Hewitt:

ORLANDO, Fla. (NRB) –  Christian radio show hosts have an obligation not only “to deliver great news talk” but to make certain the “fragrance of the Gospel is there,” Hugh Hewitt said Tuesday evening (Feb. 28) at Proclaim 17, the National Religious Broadcasters’ International Christian Media Convention.

Speaking at NRB’s Media Leadership Dinner, Hewitt told the audience of other talk show hosts and broadcasters that he has hosted his many guests during 17 years with Salem Media Group “with one purpose in mind – to smuggle in the Christian Gospel into a secular setting.”

 

Really.

Really?

Indulge me while I address Hugh Hewitt directly.

I prayerfully urge you, Hugh.

Listen to yourself.

Put your words into practice.

You did not do so in my case.

See, a few years back when I wrote my book about the forgotten and neglected pioneers of Christian modern rock, I had the crazy notion you’d be interested. After all, you’ve written a parcel of books for Christian publishers. You’ve long talked about the need to impact the culture. Well, here were people who took that notion to heart and actually did so. Seemed to me like it’d be a natural for your show. Just a few minutes; enough to get the word out. No big.

I was wrong.

Even after I sent you a copy of the book through your personal assistant, not a word. Now before you or anyone else (more on said else anyones later) reply with I’m/he’s busy and can’t possibly get back to everyone who contacts me/him, a brief reminder. We’re all busy. All of our time is valuable. By my reckoning, the single mom trying to juggle child rearing, working more often than not one job, and everything else life has thrown her way is far busier than both of us combined. So no, no whining about being busy is admissible.

Oh, but I did hear back from your radio show’s producer Duane Patterson. Boy, did I hear back. According to him, no interest whatsoever. The show is politics from start to finish. No time for anything else. When pressed, he responded time and again with heaps of insults and name calling. Rather disrespectful, don’t you think Hugh?

As noted, there was your loyal core of fanbois and gurrls who were aware of my efforts. They followed both your lead in ignoring me and Mr. Patterson’s lead in belittling me. How DARE I speak less than glowingly of the great and good Hugh Hewitt! How DARE I waste a nanosecond of his time, or that of anyone connected with him! Infidel! Unclean! RINO!!! Which leads to the musing about how in a conservative media world, both old and new, where endless self-promotion is not only mandatory but routinely lauded and reciprocated, I was burned at the stake for attempting … self-promotion.

So, Hugh, you can imagine my reaction to your comments at the NRB convention. My personal, direct experience with you, your employees, and your fans stands in direct contradiction to your words. There are several expressions concerning, and descriptive adjectives for, those who say something yet do the exact opposite. No need to list them here; we all know them very, very well.

Instead, let’s try this again.

No, I’m not asking to appear on your show, although I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to spread the word about my podcast playing the music by the artists I wrote about in the book. Instead, I bring to your attention two of these artists with new projects currently going on. Daniel Amos (which is a band led by one Terry Scott Taylor) is prepping a deluxe rerelease of its Horrendous Disc album, one of the true watershed moments in Christian rock. Have Terry on your show. He’s wise and witty. It will be a treat for you and your audience.

Veteran Christian alternative rockers The Choir are currently running a campaign to fund both rereleasing its 1989 Wide Eyed Wonder album and record a new album. They’re also going on tour in a few days. Have the band’s drummer and lyricist Steve Hindalong on your show. He’s wise. Ask him about the band, and about how he cowrote “God of Wonders” which doubtless you’ve sung during Sunday worship. Like Terry Scott Taylor, it will be a treat for you and your audience. And there are many, many more artists who would be positive additions to your show.

Now before you say that’s too much gospel, Hugh, I remind you that Dana Loesch had Christian rapper Lecrae on her show. Is not her show 99.44% politics? Yet she is unafraid to have bold Christians on her show, and equally unafraid to proclaim her own beliefs. Last time I checked, it hadn’t cratered her career. I remember turning on Fox and Friends one morning not too long ago and there was Casting Crowns. Seen FOX News’ ratings lately?

I have no doubt you’ll ignore this, Hugh, just as I have no doubt your sycophant fans will rant and rail against me for once again besmirching your hallowed name. I’ve quite given up caring about such things. It is of primary, if not sole, importance to promote the artists devoting, far more often than not at tremendous personal cost, themselves to serving Christ through music. The world has enough political talk, Hugh. The world has very few political talkers willing to openly embrace and promote the God so many of them say they serve by openly embracing and promoting Christian rockers new and veteran. You have the opportunity. Take hold of it.

Dismiss me as you will. Dismiss God’s servants at your own peril.

The words come filtered through digital inkwells; cyberspace cries begging to be heard over the daily din. A tireless worker at keeping the music alive placing her husband in hospice care, his battle with cancer reduced to weary surrender. A friend waiting for his mother to come out of surgery, her diabetes demanding yet another amputation. A contemporary Christian music pioneer huddled with her dementia-laden mother in a friend’s apartment, praying that the panicked repair work on a crumbling spillway holds so they will have a home to return to should the evacuation order be lifted. At such time the Psalmist’s words burn with renewed meaning:

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

Out of pain, joy; out of loss, magic. My father passed away one morning while tending to the shrubbery in front of his house. Before my mother joined him several years later, she unfailingly told of how that morning, as her and my father’s parish priest gave him Last Rites, the largest and most beautiful butterfly she saw in her life gently alighted on my father, rested for a moment, then flew away. Coincidence? Perhaps. Perhaps also a sign of the promised new life through transformation in Christ.

The world is replete with social media popoff pissants, fleck and spittle-stained keyboard weariers (SWIDT) on both side of the political divide slavishly serving this week’s website while selfishly sloughing off this lifetime’s marriage. As said before, their mantra is cry outrage! and let slip the tweets of butthurt. The watchword of this generation is peace, but there is naught but self-promotion.

How long will we neglect what matters in favor of trivial pursuits? How long will vapid political prattle supersede fundamental caring and sharing? It is true that knowledge is power; information is vital. We need to be informed and alert. We need even more to offer the outstretched hand. Without this, without love, we are nothing. And all we do is nothing.

Society has a curious love/hate relationship with pop culture. It hurls bile and snark at some, while tongue-bathing others, all in an effort to seem disaffected and elite while simultaneously craving acceptance by the Kool Kidz. It seeks a mythical connection with the latest bands and the hottest hands, an association minus genuine attachment. Those considered unworthy are summarily dismissed, ignored save when someone uncool dies so the insults can once more be recited before being laid to rest alongside the recently departed.

Example? Sure. John Wetton and Beyoncé.

Wetton died the other day at age 69 from cancer. Nearly simultaneously, Beyoncé announced she is pregnant with twins. The media went front page ape for the latter. Wetton? Hey, let’s dust off an insulting concert review of his band Asia when it was riding high in the early ’80s!

This comes as no surprise to those possessing any awareness of pop culture. Wetton, throughout his career, pursued creativity, be it in full-blown progressive rock such as his ’70s output with King Crimson and U.K., or Asia’s more concise, melodically focused work. Beyoncé? Although not naming her directly, Joe Walsh precisely nails her “artistry:”

Beyoncé’s career will fade with her looks as she is replaced with the next generation’s pop princess. John Wetton’s genuine artistry will live on in the hearts and minds of his fans, the true believers who will hand down his work to that portion of the next generation blessed with predecessors who caught the vision.

Don’t follow sheep. Seek the vision.

As recent posts have detailed, conservative new media has not lost the culture war. It has utterly failed to do so little as bother showing up for the battle. We have seen how CNM refuses to publicly acknowledge Christ, and how it is utterly unaware of legendary artists in its own midst. This week, we showcase a contemporary artist you should know. But don’t.

Mark Scudder resides in upper New York. He writes and records his music himself, unfettered by commercial considerations. Not that Scudder is undeserving of public attention, as one listen to an in-progress track from his upcoming reSolution project amply attests:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLCOIMCHyU4

So how come you’ve never heard of him before?

Simple. He sucks at playing the game.

To be a recognized artist within conservative new media requires much the same approach as being a recognized artist within today’s Christian music scene. Unless you stick with R&B (repetitious and boring), you’ll never get anywhere. Don’t challenge. Don’t confront. Don’t show the slightest variation from either yet another rewrite of “God Bless the U.S.A.” or calling liberals poopyheads. And for heaven’s sake suck up to the high rollers long and hard. Maybe then you’ll get some digital ink spilled on your behalf. Maybe.

In recent correspondence Scudder commented, “The culture hasn’t changed for the better one bit, by the way. Yes we prevented Hillary from becoming President, but I’m starting to wonder if we haven’t just made ourselves more marginalized, because the channels that give voice to the celebrities we won’t boycott are just going to amp it up now that Trump is in the White House.” He added, “There is no more comprehension of the need for mainstreamable content among our peers than the day I started complaining about it.” Dour, but deadly accurate.

Do yourself and the world a favor. Actively support independent conservative artists such as Mark Scudder, whose music is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, and elsewhere. Rather than kvetch about the Madonnas and Bruce Springsteens of this world, be a proactive responder by spending your entertainment dollars differently. Buy quality music from artists such as Scudder and Richie Furay. Treat yourself. Cut off pop culture’s allowance. It doesn’t need you. Real art does. And you need it too.

Following up on last week’s kvetch regarding conservative new media talking a great game when it comes to impacting culture, yet near-unanimously failing to do so, an introduction to someone who walks the talk. And has been doing so for quite some time.

Ritchie Furay pastors a church in Broomfield, Colorado, some thirteen miles southeast of Boulder. He is an unassuming man who looks far younger than his seventy-two tours of duty on this planet might suggest. He and his wife have been together going on forty-eight years, with kids and grandkids a-plenty. And lest one wonder “gee, that’s nice and all, but what does this have to do with changing the culture …”

… he’s also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Back in the 1960s, when popular music was beginning to rediscover its long neglected role as social commentary’s voice, there was for a brief time a band that proved seminal both in its impact on a generation of music, culminating with the Eagles, and on modern culture as a whole with its lyrical bent. Even as important as the band was, its members work after disbanding proved to be crucial in musical and societal change. The band was Buffalo Springfield. One of its three-headed monster leadership? Richie Furay.

Although as far as public recognition Furay remains well behind Buffalo Springfield’s other main members, namely Stephen Stills and Neil Young, Furay was a vital element of the band’s sound on all fronts: guitar, vocals, and songwriter. His “Kind Woman” became a staple of the band’s catalog, a track that perfectly captured what at the time was a revolutionary and hitherto unimaginable fusion of country and rock. Turn on any modern country radio station and you will hear the full impact of Furay’s work. He did not singlehandedly invent country rock, but Furay was one of the first artists, if not the very first artist, to make it work.

Following Buffalo Springfield’s demise, Furay rounded up a bunch of like-minded artists for a new band named Poco. Poco never made major headway commercially, but was revered by its fans and peers for refining the country-rock genre. Furay eventually left the band to get together with fellow veteran artists J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman; it was during this period in 1974 when Furay came to Christ. Over the subsequent years Furay has focused more on pastoral duties than music, although he still records and performs. And, as the following clip from his most recent album recorded a couple of years ago showcases, he still has his songwriting chops, presented via his clear with just a touch of twang tenor, hitting the high notes without breaking a sweat:

At this point, one might think “gee, that’s nice and all, but I’m still not getting what this has to do with changing the culture.” Bear with; we’re getting there.

Richie Furay breaks the mold of rock artists by being a full-bore unapologetic conservative. He routinely speaks up about political views on his Facebook page, where he equally routinely politely and directly engages with his fans. Which in and of itself breaks the mold of most rock stars and celebrities who prefer maintaining as much of a distance from their fans as possible.

Wait, you didn’t know that? Not surprising.

Here’s the deal. Want to read more about Furay; his music, faith, and political views? Hmm, let’s see. RedState? Nope. HotAir? Nada. Breitbart? Nyet. Not a word.

Try Rolling Stone.

It unfailingly amuses and saddens how conservative blogs and the people who write them can endlessly tonguebathe themselves about the great and mighty service they are providing in molding and shaping public opinion. Problem is, they’re not. Outside the echo chamber, no one knows they exist. Even within the echo chamber they change nothing. Remember the #NeverTrump torrent that poured forth daily from the high rollers? Boy, that sure changed things in favor of President-elect Rubio and … oh, wait …

Maybe it’s time to change course. These folk know the definition of insanity, correct? Then why continue to do the same thing that has repeatedly proven to not be worth, and not work, a lick?

Try talking about someone with a good guitar lick. Try something other than another rewrite rehash of today’s talking points and MSM regurgitation. Instead of blabbing all politics, all the time, all the same, write something people actually want to read. Talk about a musician. Discuss an author. Review a movie. Tell a story about what is happening, or has happened, in your or a friend’s life. In short, give someone other than hardcore political junkies a reason to read anything you write.

No one is asking anyone to disavow their political beliefs. What is being suggested is political bloggers embracing reality. You are not changing anyone. No one knows you exist. You are a one note, one trick pony in a dog and pony show playing to an empty circus tent. Stop.

Reach out. Branch out. Write like a human being for human beings. You engage culture when you engage people. Start.

And along the way, talk up great music by a good man.

Given the present kerfuffle over Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes anti-Trump philippic, this seems like the perfect time to … discuss an upcoming awards show. Namely, the Grammys. Specifically, a band receiving its first-ever Grammy nomination. Category? Best Rock Album. Band? Weezer.

Given conservatism’s pride taken in ignoring, save for mocking, most all things pop culture, many might be surprised Weezer is nominated for a Grammy. Or that it released an album last year eligible for a Grammy. Or that it still exists, given how it has been a while since anything by the band tore up the charts. It would benefit conservatism greatly if it would be more aware of such things so that it can intelligently engage the disaffected masses who do listen to new music. But that is a topic for another time; back to Weezer.

Weezer’s sophomore album Pinkerton, released in 1996, suffered the dreaded fate of being a critical modest success and commercial pretty much complete flop. Its opening track was doubtless jarring to listeners expecting more of the band’s debut album’s nerdy lyrical bent. Instead, it was a sardonic tongue in cheek humblebrag entitled “Tired of Sex” in which band leader and songwriter Rivers Cuomo lamented regularly – as in nightly – getting laid by different women when all he genuinely wanted was a real relationship. Given how Weezer had introduced itself as the house band for geeky guys who couldn’t score at Mustang Ranch with a wallet stuffed with hundreds, little wonder its fan base had a tough time relating to the tune no matter how unliterally it was presented.

The protagonist in Cuomo’s song is utterly tone deaf to his own farcical whining about how he wants something real while living the dream (that is actually a nightmare) of which so many others desperately dream. Regrettably, we see this same phenomena playing out in real life day after day. Where? Conservative new media.

Conservative new media (CNM for short) should be flying high and feeling really good about itself right now, what with ownership of the White House and both houses of Congress. The NeverTrumpets, their impotent rage over Ivanka’s dad presently filling out change of address forms redirecting all mail from Trump Tower to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue slowly morphing into smoldering butthurt, might disagree on the former. But social media noisemakers have no impact.

Which, actually, is the problem.

CNM talks a great game about being the antidote to CNN even as many of its individual members would cheerfully sacrifice body parts in order to appear on the network. The battle cries of “big tent,” “no litmus tests,” and “engage the culture” still occasionally reverberate through CNM’s echo chamber. But it rings hollow.

Look at the high flyers, the big names, the megatraffic sites. URLs change, but the song remains the same. The same tired faces, the same tired voices offering vapid expository masquerading as analysis, all aimed at keeping the faithful’s ears well tickled. There is no effort for outreach, no genuine attempt at promoting anyone or anything that would bring authentic culture change. Occasionally people bleat that they are trying to do so, yet they immediately wrap themselves inside the same cocoon. CNM has turned itself into Oakland minus the occasional downtown riot. There’s no there there.

Online political discussion can be edifying. It can also be used as an dopamine-drenched reality escape hatch. Who cares about the dishes piling up and the bills doing the same – I’m schooling some fool tool about the latest Supreme Court pick! Because, you know, doing so has so much influence on what’s going on in Washington. Oh, wait …

What is needed is messaging from the heart for the heart, mind, and soul. What is needed is promotion of genuine culture changers such as quality Christian rock artists addressing the world in the light of Christ’s love for all. What is needed is writers who embody the Scriptural admonishment to be in the world but not of it, being all things to all people so that some might be won to Christ. If this involves political discussion, so be it. But do not prohibit culture and Spirit. Christ, soul, rock and roll.

Rivers Cuomo was far more accurate then he likely envisioned when he sang “oh why can’t I be making love come true.” The world has enough politics. The world needs more Jesus. Let’s start talking Him up.

 

While it may be true that when God closes one door He opens another, it doesn’t make it hurt any less when the first one smacks you full in the face. And as a cherished friend noted, afterwards sometimes you have to wait in the hallway for quite a spell.

I’ve been spending some time the past few days dusting off my blog, ruffling through various archive sites and text files, reposting one item at a time from its beginning a decade ago. It has always been a site done in fits and spurts, topics varying from politics to faith to music to sports to a talking polar bear. I rather prefer the latter.

Not entirely unintentionally, I’ve never fit in much blogging-wise. Too varied in topic and non-deferential to Kool Kidz Konservative Klub™ members in favored standing for the political world; the upcoming reposts of assorted swipes back and forth with Mary Katharine Ham should go over about as well as a Trump for President t-shirt at a GOP consultants convention. Well, if anyone actually reads them. Which I seriously doubt.

I’m at my best when I’m at my least political. To wit:

There are certain things we learn, or at least hopefully learn, as we pass through the years. A prime example of this is coming to grips with how we are best advised accepting the fact that we should not expect respect for our anger, this coming into play the first time during our tender years any of us throw a temper tantrum without reaping the hoped for reward. Unless a spanking was that for which we had a honkering.

We also learn, or should learn, to not expect respect for our tears, or reciprocation for our love. These are far more difficult to swallow. We are taught from the beginning to respect others, to honor the heralded awesome power of love, and that true love always triumphs while conquering all and overcoming all obstacles. Yet through bitter and often embittering experience we learn how love is often impotent, incapable of swaying others in any direction let alone one which we desire. Those who do not learn this, such as starry-eyed women unshakable in their pursuit of utterly undesirable men believing they can transform jerks into jewels, invariably have their ship of hopes dashed against reality’s rocks. You’d think this would be sufficient to teach us, but far too often we embody insanity by attempting the exact same thing while anticipating different results. The Biblical truism that pride goes before a fall is not exclusively reserved for the outwardly arrogant. It also applies to those of us who, while outwardly modest and/or well-intentioned, sadly overestimate our own ability.

It hurts when love isn’t returned. The illustration of a rejected Savior is hard to understand until we encounter a one-sided love of our own. The other person doesn’t look at you in a special way. He or she doesn’t soften when you’re around. He or she isn’t interested in a relationship on any level save perhaps that of casual acquaintance, one quickly forgotten the moment close proximity is no longer in effect. Perhaps the person does allow you to approach them, but even then only within his or her strictly defined and absolute, non-negotiable parameters. Held at arm’s length? Most definitely. Held in each other’s arms? Never. And yes, it makes life a living hell. An accurate description, for hell’s torment is not fire and brimstone, but rather separation from love.

The illustration in Scripture’s most misunderstood and misapplied chapter states that when I was a child, I spoke, thought, and acted like a child; in adulthood laying these childish things aside. It seems strange to think, believe, and act on the notion that there are times when laying love aside is an act of maturity. More accurately, not so much setting love itself on the shelf but learning how to be at peace with the fact others can and will disregard your love for them.

It hurts when love isn’t returned. There is no escaping, no denying the pain. If there is anything good to be drawn from these times, it is from the empathy gained for those also suffering; and how it makes more real our need to embrace — more accurately, allow ourselves to be embraced by — the nail-scarred hands belonging to the Man of Sorrows well aquainted with grief. He knows. He understands. He comforts. And He never rejects our love.

Never.

Sometimes being the misfit hurts. A lot.

youtube http://youtube.com/watch?v=niiLztHNeUU?rel=0&w=450&h=253