Archive for July, 2007

The Lonely Forest’s debut album: Nuclear Winter

July 30th, 2007 1 comment

I have been listening to The Lonely Forest for a while now and their EPs have always left me wanting more. To be honest, I was a little nervous when Tony left and the God is Dead project was sidelined for Nuclear Winter. With the release of the new album, my concerns have been alleviated and my wants have been fulfilled.

The debut is a concept album: “a space rock odyssey into an alternate dimension, [which] showcases the raw sound of the piano, bass and drums layered with synthesizers and melodic vocals” (source). Not only that, but it is the story of a lonely hero who leaves the Earth as it is being destroyed. The narrative throughout the album is compelling and captivating. For those of you who appreciate the call to social justice, you will eat this up; for those of you who place emphasis in other areas, you should eat this up. Regardless of where you are politically, you should find the issues raised worthy of listening to and pondering.

Questioning God and the search for truth are common themes throughout. While not part of the main story, Hangman sheds light on our hero’s life and struggle (and is one of my favorite songs). Leader Holding His Eyes deals with the frustration that our hero fosters with the leaders of his time:

All we had is gone, tell me Lord what have we become?
When water, earth and sky are sacrificed
By leaders ruling blind…

This frustration continues throughout. Another one of my favorite tracks is Lessons in Miscommunication Part II, which is a mellow and powerful reprise of Part I and Leader Holding, is where hope is lost:

Angels weep at this gaping hole
Spilling blood till our lungs are full
Corrupt kings and governments fall
And we can’t deny…

That we could have made, made a choice
To consciously love those who had no voice

Hope seems to be found again as our hero ends this part of the journey and heads for new skies through Cygnus.

What are we to do with this wonderful creation? Well you will have to decide. There is definitely a call to make the world a better place. There is the search for God and who He is. Lots of good things to think about. But really, we are left in anticipation. How can things be different for us? You should read the story, listen to the lyrics (they are here for your convenience). What does it make you think about?

Oh right, there is music too! What is a good story without some amazing music to carry it along? Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I was a little worried about how things would sound without Tony’s electric guitar, but the trio of John, Eric, and Braydn knew how to balance things perfectly. The driving keys that John Van Deusen provides makes sure that the melody is never lost. The crisp… or distorted as the case may be… bass lines from Eric Sturgeon keep things moving along. The abilities of Braydn Krueger on drums are extensive; he is able to surprise you in every song with something you didn’t expect, completing the trio. And of course there is John’s voice. If you haven’t heard it, you are missing out. There are a few songs on the album that I didn’t think I would like because John yells… that is generally not my style. I dig it live, because hey, it’s a rock show, but on a studio album? But who screams in key? He compliments his outbursts by moving right into melody, the contrast is quite striking and interesting. Part of me still misses the sound from Regicide, but the other part of me knows this sound is extremely well done, creative, and original. In the past two weeks I have played this album over and over and I truly cannot get tired of it.

Now that I have you lusting for this masterpiece of a rock opera, you want to know where you can pick one up, right? Well I have great news, there are a number of ways AND the CD can be yours for only $10! In early August you will be able to buy it online here, it will also be available at a few local music stores (check out Easy Street Records right now!), AND you have multiple chances to pick one up at a live CD release show.

August 4th, 7:30pm (doors at 7:00p) @ the Vera Project at the Seattle Center. The cost is $6.

August 10th, 8:00pm @ the Retrodoxy in Mount Vernon. The cost is $5.

August 11th, 4:00pm @ The Crocodile Cafe in Seattle with (are you ready for this?) The Pale Pacific! The cost is $10.

How about that for options? What is the bottom line (cause, wow, this is becoming a REALLY long post)? This is a great cd that is well worth checking out. This is a great introduction to The Lonely Forest. So get on that!

Categories: Meaningful Song Tags:

The Start of a New Year

July 23rd, 2007 6 comments

I am back from a wonderful week of camping with my family. The weather forecasters may have lied (ok, they didn’t lie, they just have no idea how to predict weather patterns farther the 4 hours ahead of time), but we still had fun. I will get pictures up in the next few days… I haven’t even downloaded them yet!

Today marked my first day back to school in a while! Yay! I just started the ARC program over at Seattle Pacific University (a few minute drive from my house). It is an intensive year long (plus a summer) program that ends in certification and a masters of arts in teaching. I will be interning at a middle school in the Bellevue school district for the year and I am really looking forward to working with their 8th grade physics curriculum!

Since I will be extremely busy over the next year, my blogging will definitely be lighter… although I did just start a new blog (shocking I know): Matt @ SPU which will chronicle my year as well as provide a place for me to put all my school stuff in one place. If you visit, don’t be alarmed by the streaming of conscious / note like feel of the posts… that’s exactly what they are.

So here’s to a new school year! Wish me luck!

Categories: Daily Life Tags:

Some pre-break housekeeping…

July 13th, 2007 3 comments

How can I take a break? My entire life has been one big break lately. Oh well, calling it a vacation is just as bad because I am not vacationing from anything… Any way you look at it, I won’t be around for a little over a week.

Tomorrow (ok, technically today) I will be hanging with friends, going to Harry Potter at the IMAX, then going to see Harry and the Potters over at the Seattle Public Library (let me know if you want to come, it will be pretty awesome). Saturday morning I will be catching a ferry over to the peninsula for a friend’s wedding in Port Angeles. After that I will be driving down to Longview and my parents’ house. Sunday is a baby shower for Dan and Michelle. Then Monday I will be heading out with some of the fam for our annual camping trip to Swift Reservoir! (Our 2006 trip and our 2005 trip.) Yay!

Then when I get back the next Monday I will be starting up my busy life over at SPU. It will be quite nice to get that going!

A few points of interest while I am gone: the Lonely Forest has lots of shows coming up, you should go watch them! See their MySpace page for details. Also Woodsong is coming up next week (July 19th-22nd). I HIGHLY recommend it. It is a lovely time and enjoying Orcas Island and good music. The Lonely Forest will be there, and Dana Little and Tara Ward (of Late Tuesday) will be there (doing solo sets), The Pale Pacific, Corbin Gets it Right, and Jason Harrod will be there (how awesome is that group of musicians? And that isn’t even everyone!). Check out their website or their MySpace for details.

Also, please feel free to keep commenting on my posts… I promise I will respond when I get back! I would definitely like to here from more people about what they think about The Three B’s of the Church and The Stranger: A Month of Sundays. So get on that! ;)

I think that may be all I have to say for now… ohhhh I just ordered a new laptop!! My desktop has finally crashed and my current laptop has its own issues (a five minute battery being just one of those issues) so I wanted to get a desktop replacement that will get me through grad school and into a new job. What did I get you ask? Well if you don’t mind the vulgarity… I got a kick-ass machine. It is an ASUS (if you don’t know them, it’s ok, nerds like me know who they are) 15.4 WSXGA+ widescreen, Intel Core 2 Duo Conroe E6600 2.4 GHz 1066 MHz FSB, 3 GB 667Mhz DDR-2 Ram, 160 GB Hard Drive, GeForce 8600M GT 512M Video Card, and integrated everything! Am I drooling… yes. So when I get back from camping it should be here and ready to have my $20 copy of Windows Vista Ultimate and $10 copy of Office 2007 (all legal!) installed. Yes, I am quite excited. Ok, sorry for boring you. Just look at these two pictures and tell me it isn’t a thing of beauty!

I hope everyone has a wonderful week! See you on the flip side!

Categories: Blogging, Daily Life Tags:

The Three B’s of the Church

July 8th, 2007 8 comments

Another great message today over at All Saints Church, this time by my good friend Dan Dameron. He spoke out of Luke 19:1-10, the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. This is a story that a lot of people are familiar with: the tax collector (read: morally bankrupt sellout) Zacchaeus wants to see what this Jesus is all about, he is too short so climbs a tree, Jesus sees him, calls him down and invites himself over to stay. Then people complained that Jesus is going to hang out with a sinner, then there is a sudden change in Zacchaeus where he offers to pay back his debts fourfold and then Jesus restores Zacchaeus as one of the Choosen.

Dan had a lot of good things to say but I mainly want to focus on what he had to say about how the Church should look. The interaction between Jesus and Zacchaeus (along with numerous other accounts) show how Jesus is concerned for the marginalized. Usually when we think of Jesus helping (or calling us to help) the marginalized, we think of the poor or the widowed or the disenfranchised (or others along the same lines). That is all well and good, but Zacchaeus showed us that Jesus was also concerned with those the are marginalized morally. The morally despicable. Which, when it comes down to it, we all are in certain areas.

Not only does Jesus show his care for those that are marginalized here, but his example shows us how the Church should emphasize a certain mode of relational interaction with the world. The great missionary Leslie Newbigin once said:

How can this strange story of God made man, of a crucified Savior, of resurrection and new creation become credible? … I know of only one clue to the answering of that question, only one real hermeneutic of the gospel: congregations that believe it.

I think that is extremely well said! The churches that are truly living the gospel are the ones that are actually living it out in meaningful ways. The traditional church model, the “Three B’s” if you will, may need to be revised in order to best actualize the Gospel.

Behave - Believe - Belong

This is the traditional model. Once one figure out our lingo and start acting how we think you should act, then you can investigate our dogma and believe the things we do, then you are one of us, you can be a member of our church and we will call you a Christian. In some circumstances, that model may work, but it isn’t necessarily the best way. Among other things, there are two things that this model implies. First, it suggests that behavioral modification is the most important thing. This makes it very easy to not feel welcome or at home. Second, this model implies that there is a certain gnosticism about becoming a Christian. If you just do these particular things, you are one of us. If you know these specific pieces of information, you can be part of our church. That is not what the church is supposed to look like at all. I’m not really sure how we came to that model either because Jesus certainly never led us to believe that that is how things are supposed to be done.

I suppose the reason that model is so prevalent is because it is much easier and simpler and cleaner than the other way.

The work of Jesus was not a new set of ideals or principles for reforming or even revolutionizing society, but the establishment of a new community, a people that embodied forgiveness, sharing and self-sacrificing love in its rituals and discipline. In that sense, the visible church is not to be the bearer of Christ’s message, but to be the message.

That quote from Stanley Hauerwas suggests that the Church can and should look different than that traditional model. The “Three B’s” are the same, but reorganized.

Belong - Believe - Behave

Psalm 34: 8 exclaims “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” Just jump right in! Try it out, you will see that God is good! If the Church is truly following the words of scripture, Newbigin, and Hauerwas; believing and being the Gospel message, people would 1) be much more comfortable and welcome in church and 2) actually see that the Lord is good, that Jesus Christ truly has brought redemption and that it is open and free to everyone.

In this model, churchy jargon will still show up, but it can be seen in action. It is in relationship that this happens. Once people belong and are in relationship together, they can see why beliefs are held and what they are. When people are in a place where they can move from just belonging to the community into belief in what Jesus Christ has done for us all, it is then that we are called into trying to behave in a manner that Jesus has laid out for us. It doesn’t make sense to think that people should change and act like we think they should if they don’t actually believe the things we do. Yes we are absolutely called to holiness and we should uphold those values, but is it more important that people just act right or is it more important that they understand the relationship that Christ has called us into and then worry about changing our ways?

What order of the Three B’s do you think God would be more concerned with?

The second model will be more messy because it means living in community and in relationship with people who will be in very different stages of their walk. Just keep priorities in mind. People coming to know Christ (by becoming part of the community, even if they don’t really believe yet) is much more important than getting someone to act like a Christian.

If you want to hear exactly what Dan had to say, and you should, you can listen to the streamed message over at All Saints Church’s website, or download the message: 07.08.07 - Dan Dameron (MP3, 22.3 MB).

Categories: Religion, Theology Tags:

Independence Day 2007 in Pictures

July 5th, 2007 3 comments

Seattle’ Gas Works Park fireworks celebration on Lake Union.

Yes on this year’s celebration of our independence that comes around every 4th of July I managed to take a few pictures. I’m sure you are surprised. Our original idea was to spend the day at Woodland Park Zoo… but then we decided that it would be too expensive… and we are too lazy. So Dan, Stacey, Casey, Jim, and I went to nearby Wallingford Park and had a picnic, played bocce ball, played cards, laid around, and generally just enjoyed ourselves on the bright sunny day. In the evening we had a Long Way Round marathon (there’s nothing like celebrating Independence Day like watching two Brits driving around the world on motorcycles…) and then adjourned to the roof to watch the Gas Works Park fireworks celebration on Lake Union. Without further ado, here are some snapshots from the day (with more of the fireworks in a slideshow at the bottom). Pictures are clickable for larger versions. For those that prefer it, I put a few pics up at a Flickr set as well: 4th of July 2007.

UPDATE: You should also read Laura’s post: It’s Independence Day - Not “The 4th”. Really. Go read up.

Read more…

Categories: Daily Life, Photoblog Tags:

And Now For Something Completely Different

July 2nd, 2007 3 comments

It isn’t that I don’t have stuff to write about, it’s that I’m lazy and unmotivated. Well I suppose that isn’t entirely true, I have just been doing other stuff. I wonder what my next post will be about?

I hope it will live up to the dramatic tension that I have no doubt you are now living in.

Categories: Blogging Tags: