Perrywinkle

i’ve been to some amazing concerts in my lifetime. i’ve seen some great rock ‘n’ roll musicians and even some living legends. Most of these shows involve three to five musicians playing their heart out, encouraging the audience to dance, sing and sweat along with them. However, young audiences are far more sophisticated now. There needs to be more showmanship to hold attention spans. Everything must be extravagant, even to the point of obscuring the music.

A few years back i took my kids to see Muse. i’ve been following Muse for over a decade. An amazing trio of musicians, i’m thrilled they are getting the notoriety they deserve. i love to watch musicians, taking note of their style, technical prowess and manner of execution. There, on stage, were three amazingly gifted musicians, each with their distinct personalities and musical abilities. Matt Bellamy is absolutely a guitar master that combines Hendrix fretboard theatrics, Morello’s feral tones, with Page’s passion all while crooning with a stellar tenor vibrato not unlike Freddie Mercury or Geddy Lee. Then there’s Dominic Howard who executes distinct rhythmic music with Neil Peart creativity and Phil Collins pop sensibility. The ever stalwart Chris Wolstenholme pounds out growling, yet often melodic bass lines like a silent, gentle sentinel trying not to have fun.

This trio mix metal, progressive, alternative, electronic, pop, and classical music into an array of audio sensuality.  i really couldn’t wait to see their fingers, hands, feet, and mouths deliver visually what i’d been experiencing with my ears for years. Undoubtedly the best concert i’ve ever seen, rather, i couldn’t see. Even though i was fairly close, i couldn’t see the band execute their musicianship because of all the blinding lights gleaming, flashing, and glaring off of the instruments if not directly aimed into our retinas.

But that’s the way it is these days. The kiddies gotta have their bling and more of it: enthusiasm with four extra helpings; the theatrics on a world stage; light to rival sol. The desire for theatrical music shows like Gaga’s is huge. The demand on the performers is great, too. With all that singing and dancing and jumping and costuming and set changing it’s no wonder Britney has to lip sync.

Say what you will about Katy Perry and her cheeky hubby, but this girl has much to compete with. Ever since stating, “I Kissed A Girl,” this pastor’s kid has grown up, out and sideways to become a pop icon in just a few short years. No wonder she has to do 15 costume changes on her current tour. In fact, just to keep up with Spears, Lady G, and Madonna, KP pulls off eight of those wardrobe changes while performing just one song, “Hot N Cold” (sorry guys, no wardrobe malfunction). If not intriguing. it’s exhausting to watch.

i’m all for art, theatrics, performance. But what happens to the music, the reason these artists are recognized in the first place, when all we see are exploding lights, bedazzling dancers, and more outfits in one performance than most people have in their closet?

~End headlights~

Do you think the glitter distracts from the talent, or are the theatrics part of the point?

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…For Whom The Bell Tolls? (a retraction of sorts)

Last Friday i threw my proverbial pennies out there on the whole Harold Camping “End of the World: don’t bother packing ‘cuz Jesus is coming” parade. In so doing i took a not-so-subtle parenthetical jab at Rob Bell (at the end of the second paragraph, if you really must know). It’s typically not like me to stomp on someone who’s already had enough gut kicking. Especially an issue that’s had more than its fair share of media attention and has put Christians in flood light of irrational thinking.

Rob Bell has done a great deal of good for many years. He has tens of thousands of people who attend his church and follow him online, and hundreds of thousands that read his books and use his video material. i’ve been aware of Bell for many years. Enjoyed his book “Velvet Elvis” (i much preferred Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” which came out years earlier and made the same general point). Nothing revelatory between its covers, yet Bell has a great way of communicating to people. His unique Nooma video study series is very good at opening up discussion about faith and spirituality as it relates to our daily struggle.

Several weeks before his newest book, Love Wins, was released, many Christian leaders made flippant derogatory remarks toward Bell. i actually became angry at many of these responses, because of arrogant remarks from men whom i respected. Especially in light that the book had not yet been released and i was sure that most of these commentaries were done without examining the evidence. i tend to take a “wait and see” approach. Yet such a stir was occurring that the book’s release date was pushed up several weeks. Then a web-streamed live forum with R.B. in New York City was scheduled the night before the release, potentially to quell the onslaught of criticism.

Wanting to give the man the benefit of the doubt, i tuned in to the live stream seeking resolution to the controversy. Nothing of such occurred. Mr. Bell actually side-stepped questions in which he could have directly given an answer to. Was he apprehensive to reveal his real and controversial thoughts or a marketing genius intriguing viewers to snatch up the first copies of Love Wins? As the book released it was evident that his thoughts on H-E-double-hockey-sticks and afterlife were indeed contrary to orthodox Christian teaching and Theology, with a pluralistic universal approach.

In the ensuing flurry of talk show appearances Bell typically skirted answering questions directly. In so doing, on more than one occurrence, i witnessed Bell respond that he was a Pastor not a Theologian. More than his vague stand on Hell and the afterlife, it was these comments of Bell’s that made my brow furrow and my fists clench. It is this type of defensive justification which is deplorable and inexcusable.

A Theologian may not be a Pastor, however, it is imperative that every Pastor is a Theologian. By a definition a Pastor is a Shepherd: to guide, lead, protect, nurture, feed, and instruct his flock. To fulfill each aspect of shepherding people a pastor must have an understanding of Theology and what he or she believes. How else can one be fed correct information, guided to understanding, instructed in correct Doctrine, protected from deceptive aberrance and heresy, and nurtured to spiritual maturity if not for the theologically minded Pastor? Each person who calls themselves Christian should likewise be a student of Theology.

It’s a great tragedy that many pastors do not heed the great responsibility they have. i know i’ve made my share of dumb remarks as a pastor (therefore, the bell does indeed toll for me). i’m not one to throw the baby out with the bath, however Mr. Bell’s slip in the tub may have kicked the infant out the window altogether as far as his potential influence to continue to serve a generation. No matter. i know God has been dealing with these things for millenniums… and He’s not done yet. Redemption is around the corner. i know He’s covered my faulty backside more than once. i am such a fan of grace.

~End clanging ~

Into the “O”pen Void

Momentarily safe, having received a temporary reprieve from the pending apocalypse, the vast populace of a great nation turn their hearts of attention towards the truly immense tragedy of the day: No, not the recent devastation of flooding in Memphis, or tornado havoc in Joplin, or even the deadly tornadoes that have just swept through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas. Today the focus is on a true misfortune as we bid farewell to the one who has lifted our hopes in times of fear; held our hand through uncertainty; swelled our hearts with laughter; dried our tears; exposed liars and cheats; brought monkey-like couch-jumping celebs into our living rooms; has become a friend who sticks closer than a sister.

Today Oprah Winfrey broadcasts the last episode of her long running talk show. From humble beginnings Oprah has risen to become one of the most powerful, influential, and wealthiest people in the world. I’m not sure how this happened. But you know you’ve arrived when you can drop your last name and just go by Oprah. Like Cher, Madonna, or … Jesus. You must really be special if you can then drop the suffix of you first name and be known as simply your first initial, “O.” Seriously, God doesn’t even get that type of notoriety. If i said i was reading about “J” having dinner with his twelve closest pals, who would be sure to whom i was referring? But if i say that “O” did such and such… you know who it is.

To be fair, i’ve never actually seen a full episode of O’s show. But i did see “The Color Purple.” Let’s not dismiss all the good O has accomplished. She has done incredible philanthropic work in Africa and Chicago. She has put authors on top of the New York Times Best Seller list. She has made the most invulnerable celebrity feel as though they were closest kin. She put Dr. Phil on TV. Oh the wonders of O, she has indeed done many amazing things. It is undeniably a sad day for most of America …nay… the world. Who will ever take O’s place, to be our comforter, our hope, fill us with joy, wipe our tears, fill our hearts and our homes? …J?!

~End O~