The other day I received this email. It’s absolute gibberish, but brilliantly so!

The ground is everything I could desire. Yon elder bush will hide me from his view, And from that point my shaft is sure to hit. The straitness of the gorge forbids pursuit. Now, Gessler, balance thine account with Heaven! Thou must away from earth,–thy sand is run. Quiet and harmless was the life I led, My bow was bent on forest game alone; No thoughts of murder rested on my soul. But thou hast scared me from my dream of peace; The milk of human kindness thou hast turnd To rankling poison in my breast; and made Appalling deeds familiar to my soul. He who could make his own childs head his mark, Can speed his arrow to his foemans heart. My boys, poor innocents, my loyal wife, Must be protected, tyrant, from thy rage! Joining him on the door-step, they sat side by side watching in silence the light die over the scanty fields handed down to him by his father, who had grown bent and weary in wrenching a living from them as he was aging.Neither was young; both were marked by the swift homeliness of the hard-working; but the look on their faces was that which falls when two have gotten an immortal youth and beauty in each others hearts. It had been their custom on each succeeding spring to go, if the anniversary ware pleasant, to sit again at evening on the door-step with the sweetness of the straggling spice-bush upon it. Now as they sat there a silence came upon them like that of their wedding-day. Elizabeth broke it first. She went slowly, her slippers flapping back and forth on her heels. She sought first the tidy kitchen with its scoured tins, then the living-room with the old loom still in the corner, then the parlor. Here she drew a long, shaken breath. Every Ridge woman loved her parlor with an inherited devotion. Eugene de Beauharnais, a French Prince, and Viceroy of Italy, was then twenty-four years old. Mademoiselle Avrillon, reader to the Empress, thus draws his portrait: Prince Eugenes face, although in no way remarkable, was rather well than ill favored; he was of medium height, well proportioned, and stoutly made. He excelled in all sorts of corporeal exercises, and was an accomplished dancer. Kind, frank, simple in his manners, without haughtiness or reserve, he was courteous to every one; and although he was not devoid of deep feelings, his most striking trait was persistent good spirits. He was very fond of music, and sang very well, especially Italian songs, which all his family preferred. As he was young, he naturally paid many women attention, as I have often seen, but he always treated them with great respect. Napoleon was very fond of him, and looked upon him as his pupil, as his own child.

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The Awakening

A time comes in your life when you finally get…when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out…ENOUGH

Enough fighting and crying and blaming and struggling to hold on. Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.

This is your awakening.

You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.

You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you…and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are…and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.

You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself…and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

Your stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you – or didn’t do for you – and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.

You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and everything isn’t always about you.

So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself…and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties…and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.

You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for you next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not you job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.

You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.

You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drinking more water, and take more time to exercise.

You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you deserve, and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen.

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.

You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms.

You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people…and you lean not to always take it personally.

You learn that nobody’s punishing you and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You lean that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

Then, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than you heart’s desire.

You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind.

Finally, with courage in you heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.

author unknown

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Thoughts on Love

“Because, that’s the thing about love, really. No one will love you how you want to be loved, they’ll love you in the only ways they know how. Life throws everyone down drastically different paths so how can we expect everyone to love in the same way? The person you’ll spend your lifetime with will love you in their way and you’ll love in yours, and maybe you’ll meet in the middle and it’ll last. None of us know what we’re doing, you see, we’re just fumbling for matches in the dark. If you’re lucky, you might eventually just strike the right one.”

by Basher Tome from

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‘nuf said

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Experiencing Local Music

One of my all time favorite CD’s is one that I stole off the soundboard from the church with whom we used to rent space.

The CD  was created by a handful of teen age techno prodigies whose self-recorded first album got picked up by a label, and then began touring college campuses prior to graduating high school themselves.

The CD was “High School Confidential” by Tiki Obmar. Chances are you’ve never heard of it. Recorded in drummer Brett Bullion’s basement during their Junior year of high school, it’s a moody, but inspiring glitch-rock project filled with all kinds of beeps and squeaks, fading guitars and ambient keys overlaying rhythmic loops and creatively syncopated live acoustic drums. My interest in the CD moved from novelty to fanboy  after catching a live performance of the band at a local hipster club. Most of the time there’s simply is no need to see techno music live. It doesn’t matter how energetic the DJ is, he’s just pointing to the sky while jumping up and donw as he cues up pre-recorded music on his macbook. What made Tiki Obmar’s performance unique (to me) was that the music was played live using real instruments and cleverly supplemented by elements of electronica. The performance was physical and dynamic,  like watching the inner movements of pocket watch as the entire band was in a continuous cadence of motion. The drummer played a stripped down drum kit that was integrated with what looked like 50’s era radio shack like devices. If the Borg played jazz, their drums would look like this. While simultaneously playing rhythms and fills on the kit, electronic triggers were set off by striking pads with his drumsticks and by  stomping on an array of pedals that lay alongside his kick drum. The bass and electric guitar players pivoted and swayed, often one hand gripping a chord on the neck of their guitars while the other hand fingered a keyboard.  Some songs were played while one band member knelt before a Lego set of effect boxes and gadgets, twisting knobs and flipping switches creating the right sounds to transform the cacophony into music.  The whole thing was stunningly complex as layers upon layers of live loops were recorded and played back upon one another in an orchestral fusion.  Loud and unpredictable, they were never frenzied. Purpose permeated the music, calm permeated the musicians.

After that, High School Confidential was on heavy rotation before and after our church gatherings, much to the confusion of the uninitiated in my congregation for whose minds were still unblown by a live encounter with this music. Unfortunately Tiki Obmar was short lived, after 100 concerts and releasing only two albums, they disbanded around 2005.

However, former Tiki Obmar drummer and driving force, Brett Bullion along with musician Andy Wozniak have recently formed ‘Tarlton.’ Their first release, ‘Evergreen’ being quite a departure from the punctuated complexity of Bullion’s former band. Evergreen is a beautiful, sparse and emotionally melancholic experience. Bullion sings on nearly every track, his soft haunting voice calmly filling the voids left by the simple keyboard and bass song construction. I have a sense that Bullion is doing some sort of inner work through the somber and spacial expression of this project.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see Brett perform with former Tiki Obmar guitarist Chris Smalley on a bill with some other musicians at an artists co-op. I entered expecting this very low-key, tea sipping, soothing experience. Instead I was greeted with a high volume, distortion laden, sound looping, improvisation experiment that rivaled an angry Sigur Ros and a Radiohead bad trip. It was awesome! This assured me, that Bullion hasn’t stopped pushing the limits of circuits and gadgets, nor as Evergreens prove, will he be confined by them.

Get Tiki Obmar’s “High School Confidential” here. Check out Tarltons “Evergreens” here and buy it here. Become Brett’s friend here.

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Church in the Inventive Age

My friend Doug has written a new book that will be coming out soon. Already, there is some buzz going on about it.

Those that know Doug know that he is a provocateur. His views on life and ministry are a lot like his mind, always in motion and looking forward. The great thing that I am finding in his new work, is that it is his most helpful and dare I say –  pastoral – book yet. He harmonizes his contrarian temperament with a genuine concern for the relevance of Christianity and has produced a very insightful and helpful tool for the church.

Read chapter one here. See the facebook page here.

Here’s what other clever people are saying:

OK, even if Doug Pagitt weren’t a proven, true friend, and even if I didn’t agree enthusiastically with this book, and even if I wasn’t confident that it will help thousands of churches get (and get in on) what’s going on, I would still say that it’s so smartly written, so clearly framed, and so winsomely presented that it deserves your time, money, and attention. If you’ve never read Pagitt before, start here, and if you have, this might be his best work yet.
— Brian D. McLaren

“Brilliant” is not a word I use very often in describing a book, but I am using it with this one. Church In The Inventive Age is brilliant in its conciseness and economy of words, its clarity and its insights. But beyond all that, it’s alive–alive with pregnant possibilities and with obvious applications. It’s a “must read” for every pastor and lay person concerned with Church in our times.
–Phyllis Tickle

I’ve known and liked Doug Pagitt for more than a decade. I can never read him or have a long conversation with him without two things becoming apparent: we don’t always agree and I never fail to learn something. Doug is the rare person who has the fundamental intelligence to wade into the deep waters of culture change and then bring us at least into the shallow parts so we can begin to explore with him and adjust our thinking for what he calls The Church In The Inventive Age.
–Todd Hunter
Anglican Bishop
Founder: Churches For The Sake Of Others
Author: Christianity Beyond Belief, Giving Church Another Chance, The Outsider Interviews

I always appreciate it when someone offers a compact theory for understanding an issue. Doug clearly demonstrates how the church, whether we like it or not, is in the world and does, in different ways, reflect its cultural milieu. But he goes on to concisely challenge us to not be of the world by inventing news ways of being the church. A very helpful little book!
–David Hayward, aka ‘nakedpastor’

“Here’s a little book full of big ideas about where we’ve been and where we’re going. There’s something in here for almost everyone to disagree with. Which makes it a great catalyst for conversation.”
–Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of God’s Economy and The Wisdom of Stability

Just finished your book. It seems your book may be the Manifesto we’ve
been waiting for.

While many of us long for a community of faith to experience God in new
ways, we don’t want to upset or ostracize the old guard. Yet, in our
efforts not to rock the boat when we ask for changes and see the fearful
reactions–we hang back so far that eventually we disappear. Walking away
sometimes out of frustration or anger at the hypocrisy, sometimes out of
fear that our presence will destroy what is already there, and has been
there for sometimes more than 100 years. Your book offers a history lesson
that supports our sense of the shift we feel happening within Churches,
within ourselves with regard to our spirituality. Your book is a guide for
us to take into this new frontier. It is a book that assures us, “Hey,
you’re not crazy for feeling this way. It’s happening all over the place,
not just inside of you.” Thank you for that!

–Lori Anne Yang

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Alright, time to get back on the horse

see above

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