It’s easy to get lost in this world even while pursuing a clear objective. Running into so many trees you lose perspective regarding the forest as a whole; unwillingly embodying the old joke about how when you’re up to your neck in alligators difficulty ensues remembering the original objective was draining the swamp. It happens.

At such times it helps referring not to what you should be doing, but why you should be doing it. Clarity comes from purpose; purpose is rooted in core beliefs. With this in mind, time to look at the oft neglected cornerstone that should be at the heart of what we do in this odd little realm of blogs and social media.

Some years ago, back when I harbored hallucinations of joining cyberspace’s high rollers, I came up with what I called the four tenets of the blogging evangel. They were:

  1. The ability to broadcast an opinion neither elevates nor validates said opinion.
  2. Blog from and for the heart, not the wallet.
  3. Answer your email every time all the time.
  4. Never become what you profess to oppose. Never.

These are quite self-explanatory, methinks. Especially in noting how following them permanently relegated me to the blogosphere’s, and social media’s, far sidelines. But I digress. To brusquely summarize, the eighty-fifth post/status update/tweet today yelling about how Obama is a poooyhead and/or Trump is a meanypants, all while offering rip and read analysis from the same ripped and read mainstream news story everyone else has ripped and read, doesn’t add anything to the public discourse. Neither did the other eighty-four. Try finding something worth your, and the reader’s, time. Something that matters. Something that gives something more than bait with which to lure sycophants into boosting your visibility within the echo chamber. Have a reason worth considering.

Here’s mine.

I’ve been a Christian since 1975, and a passionate fan/supporter of Jesus Music/contemporary Christian music/whatever you want to call it since then. I spent several years from the late 1980s through the mid 1990s as a journalist covering the music scene, this time period including numerous interviews with, and feature stories written about, many of the genre’s top artists, all published in the era’s leading magazines.

I drifted away from the scene in the mid 1990s, disillusioned by several people involved in it at different levels and also extremely unhappy with myself and how I had occasionally acted. I came back to the music, and into a walk with Christ that was something more than lip service, in 2005 at a concert featuring several of the ’80s-’90s bands I had loved back in the day. I later interviewed many of the artists from that era and published my work in book form; info at http://godsnotdeadbook.com I also have an online radio show, with info for same at http://cephashour.com

The bands and artists I loved – Larry Norman, Undercover, The 77s, Daniel Amos, The Choir, and dozens more – were bold both musically and lyrically. They addressed subjects like failed relationships, death, suicide, racism, sexual perversion, and other topics usually considered too hot for discussion within Christian circles. They did so understanding and accepting it would permanently put them on the outer fringe of Christian music; minimal airplay, far fewer concert opportunities, a lot fewer Christian bookstores carrying their records. But they did it anyway, because it was their calling.

I don’t listen to much current music of any genre; don’t have as much patience or time as once was the case to seek out the latest and greatest. I’m sure there’s some terrific new Christian rock and pop out there. But I will always hold on to my beloved classic Christian rock. It truly is the soundtrack of my life, and it has been a faithful companion in my walk with Christ. It remains vital and fresh. It can, and does, still bless people. Promoting it, getting and keeping it out there, is my purpose in the online world. It is my fundamental.

What’s yours?

This weekend, two of my favorite veteran Christian bands (The Choir and Sweet Comfort Band) are playing some of their rare concert dates in Southern California. Great, awesome, and wonderful … for those able to attend. Due to family work commitments, namely an annual inventory, this will be the one weekend of the year I and she who is my wife are absolutely unable to traipse down the freeway and visit SoCal. No concerts for me. Very disappointing. Pales in comparison to so many other full-fledged hammer blows in life; regardless, very disappointing. Obviously no personally aimed conspiracy against me. But still, I’ve asked, of no one in particular, why.

We who believe are taught two things starting at our spiritual infancy: never judge anyone, and never ask why. We should never judge because we too are guilty of something, and we should never ask why as the answer is always “because God” and who is the creation to question anything under the Creator’s roof? Toss in a few Scriptural Cliff Notes, and hey presto! You are good to go, and if not it is all on you. Where is your faith?

The problem with this mindset, aside from the minor detail how it ignores a whole lot of Biblical observations about what to expect in life, is that it automatically disparages the human condition in a manner taught nowhere by Jesus or anyone else within the pages of Sola Scriptura. We are supposed to speak up when someone is messing up so they will get back on track. We are allowed to ask why, and the answer is not always “because God.” Sometimes, there is no apparent answer save silence.

The days will come, if they have not already arrived, when you realize you hold nothing but a fragile lifeline woven from a tattered thread of faith growing increasingly frayed. You have a laundry list of whys, and answers seem to be nowhere. You wonder if it’s possible to get ahead in life without being a self-fellating talentless walking sack of rancid, arrogant steer manure. You wonder not when, but if you will leave the unemployment line. You see beautiful inside and out members of the opposite sex either throw themselves into relationships doomed from the start or throw themselves firmly into the arms of one of the aforementioned self-fellating talentless walking sacks of rancid, arrogant steer manure while your Saturday night dates come in a box from Sunkist. You observe how the popular girl or boy shamelessly monetizes their loss while you are told to shut up about your grief. You ask why, and based on the non-existent answers you wonder if God so much as takes a message and will get back to you.

There are times I for sure wonder.

Yet, somehow, I hang on.

Some don’t. Some walk away from the faith. Some walk away from their lives. Some walk away from life itself.

Please, do not do these things.

Seek out the open, the scarred, the ones still bleeding who are not ashamed to admit. Seek out, embrace one another, and help carry one another through the living no man’s land life can often transform itself into in a moment.

Admit the hurt; confess the pain; reveal the scars. Help one another. Let them help you. Ask questions. Just don’t quit.

Please, don’t quit.

And never quit asking why.

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 taste of your sweet breath
The salt of morning tears
Again I say good-bye to you
Hold on tight
So good to hurt so bad
So sad to ride away renewed
Go on laugh
Go on cry
It’s alright

There’s something wonderful about love
There’s something wonderful about love
There’s something lost about me with you
There’s something blind about the chosen few
There’s something wonderful about love

It’s been an odd week in social media, one in which the conservative side of the aisle poured out its love and money to The Popular Girl™ as compensation for the horror of being widowed at a young age. Next to losing a child, as brutal as it gets. This duly noted, giving a very well-paid political talking head over $400,000 for the college education of a two year old and child not due to be born for another two months gives pause for thought as to whether people engage their brain before thinking with their wallet.

Was I meant to be yours
The will of Christ above
Do you believe true love is blind
‘Cause I don’t know
When I get home come spring
Won’t you be glad to be mine
Just don’t laugh
Please don’t cry
Just say so

There’s something wonderful about love
There’s something wonderful about love
There’s something dark about destiny
There’s something blue about you with me
There’s something wonderful about love

Strange sights abounded this past week. A full-blown liberal in every sense of the world, a staff member of the despised on all fronts both collectively and individually Obama administration, was hailed as walking atop the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool each day on his way to work. Said individual, regardless of his personal strengths, would have at best received an “unfortunate” cluck over upon his death were he not married to the aforementioned Popular Girl™. No GoFundMe page, no tribute torrent, no maudlin memorials. None. Meanwhile, conservatives continue to tear each other to shreds over Donald Trump and Pope Francis, who according to some will shortly have an armwrestling contest to see which is indeed the Antichrist.

Sorry to call so late
The planet turned four times
You’re on my mind but you’re nowhere
In my world
Please kiss the little bird
God bless the cozy cage we share
You kill me
You thrill me
You threaten my dreams, girl

Life is unpredictable, simultaneously cool and cruel. Paraphrasing Shakespeare, the quality of sympathy is not strained when it comes to Mary Katharine Ham. But neither should it be misplaced, defined as cash donations for one who like so many in conservative new media has become what they profess to oppose, namely a cyberspace recluse living behind corporate media’s castle walls albeit ones with conservative runes carved above the impenetrable self-satiated door.

Do not let the present sorrow obscure reality. The conservative blogosphere was founded on the principal of citizen journalists directly addressing not only fellow citizens with the truth, but also a corrupt mainstream media ensconced in its ivory tower, never so much as acknowledging let alone addressing the public.

That changed when the first third-party paycheck arrived.

It used to be that monetizing blogging consisted of placing a Google Ads link on your site. Now, we have Salem Media owning HotAir and RedState and Townhall and Twitchy, the leading example of a third-party entity taking over what once were blogs and transforming them into corporate media mouthpieces albeit ones with a usually conservative bent.

There are very, very few blogs and bloggers left; genuinely independent voices offering news and analysis. (As a side note, I am honored to write for one on this site.) Instead, we have countless casual format columnists drawing their material from the same mainstream media sources they insist are cesspools of liberal bias, adding nothing except “me too” or “f u.” They excel at making themselves the focus of attention, especially when some real or imaginary slight comes their way. Their call to battle is cry outrage! and let slip the tweets of butthurt. Promoting the conservative agenda is a side issue. The primary focus is self-promotion, moving ever further up the ladder in pursuit of exposure on the selfsame mainstream media they insist they exist as its opposition.

Everyone enjoys an attaboy from others; a retweet or a blog post link. But how many conservative new media high rollers return the favor save for other at or above their exposure level? They excel at asking us to laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry. But return the favor? Not so much. Say something about this, and you are immediately set upon by a wolfpack of sycophants and wannabes hoping that by doing so they will curry favor with the elite. Excuses made for the select abound: they’re too busy, blah blah blah, how dare you speak to them in that manner. Let them be and quit making a fuss knocking on their ivory tower’s door!

Again, conservative new media has become what it once professed to oppose.

There’s something wonderful about love
There’s something wonderful about love
There’s something liberating death alone brings
There’s something funny about a lot of sad things
There’s something wonderful about love

Love remains; mercy triumphs in the seeming failure of the cross. The bloodstained wood is followed by the empty tomb. Throughout our temporal sorrows and joys, forgiveness and understanding through our shared humanity, led by the Man of Sorrows, should guide our way. But do not be fooled; do not substitute a pity party for sympathy. The poor and the orphan need our help. Others need love, not fulfillment for love of money.

youtube http://youtube.com/watch?v=6aJqf1_kAa4?rel=0&w=450&h=253

I’m hopeless
Hopeless and tired
Will you give me the sign I’m looking for?
I am mired with the earnest and sight-inspired
Hopeless

Kickstarter campaign is currently underway;  successfully reaching its initial goal in a few days. Objective? Remaster, and for the first time release on vinyl as well as a remastered CD, the 1992 album Dig by Christian alternative rock band Adam Again.

Adam Again was Gene Andrusco’s brainchild. In the days of his youth, Andrusco was an actor, playing Darrin Stephens on Bewitched among other roles. As an adult, Andrusco chose to go by the name Gene Eugene and focused his artistic side on music, be it as an artist (in addition to Adam Again he was also a founding member of The Lost Dogs), producer, or for a time record label owner. He died in 2000 at age 38 from a brain aneurysm.

One of Andrusco’s brothers in musical arms described him as a genius artist and amateur human being. Take from that what you will. Despite his stubborn addiction to being the aforementioned human, Andrusco was universally loved by those he worked alongside no matter how exasperating he could be, which from all reports was substantial. He was far more adept at musical and lyrical expression than personal, hardly a unique trait among artists throughout the centuries.

I’m helpless
Helpless and silent
Can you return my voice?
You left me mute and defiant
But I can’t get my hands untied
I’m helpless

It is well worth noting how uncomfortably parallel the world in which Dig was released, namely the contemporary Christian music world of the early 1990s, and today’s conservative new media world align. At the time Dig first saw the light of day, contemporary Christian music (CCM for short) was populated by a few heavy hitter record labels and artist managers who dictated which artists and musical genres would receive the lion’s share of promotion, with all others left to fend for themselves via word of mouth among a handful of rabid enthusiasts. This is why at a time when alternative rock and grunge ruled the mainstream music world both in attention drawn and records/concert tickets sold, the handful of Christian artists working in this field were privately praised but publicly ignored by CCM’s business side in favor of übersoft praise schmaltz or syrupy Top 40 pseudo dance pop. Adam Again, along with other bands and artists – Daniel Amos, The Choir, 77s, Undercover, Altar Boys, Steve Taylor, Veil of Ashes – who should have been heralded were instead literally and figuratively shoved to the back of the bus, left to fend for themselves. Substitute Salem Media and National Review for record labels and artist managers, and Trump Derangement Syndrome for the music promoted during that time … you get the picture.

I’m useless
Useless without you
It’s my fault
I am withered, I am weak
And about to find out why I’m so into
Being useless

Gene Eugene was a spiritual descendent of Solomon who wearily described all as vanity; of the Psalmists who cried out:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

His was a faith and life of reality, one in which you reached out to people where they were, not where you demanded they be. It is a lesson sadly lost on all fronts in today’s world, especially the one founded on citizen journalism but now choked with the very elitism it once set out to destroy.

youtube http://youtube.com/watch?v=P5V8AWUyApU?rel=0&w=450&h=253

Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

“‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.’

Luke 7:31-32

Referring back to the last post, Trump Derangement Syndrome rampages on, barely checked by the presently rampaging horrors of newspeople murdered on live television, the ongoing massacres by ISIS, and the looming threat of the Iran nuclear surrender. It is one thing to state that Trump is not the answer; hurling incessant insults at those who support him and clogging social media’s arteries with three hundred and eighty-five variations a day of “TRUMP IS A POOPYHEAD AND SO ARE HIS MINIONS!” seemingly never gets old for those who choose blithe ignorance or endless excuses for Congress’ either caving or being inactive in regard to most every major issue conservatives hold dear – the economy, national debt, illegal immigration, governmental invasion of privacy and violation of rights motivated by political opposition, defunding Planned Parenthood, the aforementioned ISIS and Iran nuclear surrender, etc.

It would be productive if Trump bashers were one-tenth of one percent as proactive in detailing solutions to problems as they are, well, bashing. There is no problem with detailing why Trump is a less than ideal candidate, or should not hold the highest office in the land. Make your case; agree to disagree if need be. That said, at some point in the process it becomes necessary to state what, and who, you are for if your words are to carry any weight. Opposition alone is not a strategy any more than hope and change is a policy platform. What do you suggest in lieu of Trump? What do you propose to handle a Congress ostensibly in conservative hands yet routinely either giving in to Obama’s demands or proposing the exact opposite of what they promised in order to ensure conservative support? If we, the unwashed uneducated ill-informed banana slug brained masses own Trump, does the GOP Smart Set own Mitch McConnell and John Boehner?

Where is the shared humanity in the GOP’s desperate effort to purge itself of all things and people Tea Party? Where is the common bond, other than trampled underfoot, between those who wish to be conservative new media leaders and the people they openly deride and despise for having the temerity to support one not approved by the echo chamber’s high rollers? Instead, we see insults, cheap shots, and cries of “if you support Trump unfriend me right now!” Really now.

It is impossible to see the present kerfuffle without flashing back four years to when the conservative new media high rollers mercilessly derided and taunted Sarah Palin supporters when she decided against running. The opposition was pointed and personal against her and her posse. It was also utterly ineffective in accomplishing anything except revealing how many CNMers had zero problem showing their ass in public when it came time to throwing a poorly disguised temper tantrum over how Palin’s popularity revealed their complete impotence in moving public opinion. Now we are seeing the same phenomenon in Trump rolling from strength to strength even as the voices crying against him grow ever more shrill.

The time has come to give this a rest. Conservative new media is in great peril of becoming contemporary political Pharisees. No, I am not comparing Trump to Jesus. I am comparing the reaction to him with the Pharisees’ reaction to Christ when He called them out for demanding of others strict adherence to the letter of the law, namely Mosaic Law, while themselves lapping up adulation and praise for outwardly being living puritanical lights yet inwardly consumed with pride and greed. If there is no respect for others, no acknowledgment of that which binds us together, how can there be leadership when the ones who purport to lead openly despise those they wish to lead?

We have far too much in common to let our opinion of Trump irrevocably divide us. On this truth we must act.

youtube http://youtube.com/watch?v=5771ewy6O8c?rel=0&w=450&h=253