I’m a Flip Flopper Too

as i stated in my previous post, i wasn’t planning on blogging while i was home but i’ve changed my mind and decided to “flip flop” on this issue of how i am gonna spend my time at home. i probably should be spending time with my family right now, but ava is watching scooby and my wife is talking to a friend on the phone….so that leaves me to my lame ass blog.

so, i am voting for john kerry. this may or may not be a surprise to those who know me, but alas i make known to the 4 or 5 people who frequent this blog. to just announce who i am voting for is not the sole purpose of the entry though. it is mainly to pose a few questions about the process of voting for a president when you are a believer in Jesus and how our spiritual journey should shape our political and social opinions, if at all?

first off, why should we be comfortable with or desire a political candidate who invokes the name of Jesus as their main political and social influence?
especially since if you were to REALLY put Jesus’ teachings at the forefront of your social policies, you wouldn’t last a new york minute in american politics.

secondly, why do christians feel they would have a better chance to “win” on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, etc., if they were to have “one of their own” in office. does legislation change hearts? would banning gay marriage create any kind of real momentum and bring about honest and loving dialogue between one sinner to another. obviously we need to have rules to govern in our society. we do need to have consequences for those who break these rules and harm others. but over the course of time we have learned that these consequences alone haven’t stopped the pattern of destructive behavior altogether. maybe we need to think bigger and deeper in terms of what leads people to make the changes in their lives for peace. simply voting for someone who is pro-life, pro-religion in schools, pro-“faith based agendas”, anti-stem cell research is not going to really make any progress in the spiritual battle that is found all around us. if anything it’s hurtful, because if a candidate claims Jesus as his savior but some of his policies are retributive, vengeful, exclusionary, divisive …….the image that most non believers carry of Jesus may end up taking a beating.

to be a politician is to be a leader who brings opposite sides together. it all comes down to compromise. it’s impossible to make everyone happy, but there can be peace when the different view points don’t get EVERYTHING they want, but at least enough of what they want in order to exist and accept the differences around them. so how can what you do as a politician be centered around living a life as a follower of Jesus, where there is no room for debate or compromise. Jesus lived a life of quiet rebellion, a simply way to ignore the institutional politics and religion so prevalent in his time. the dye cast by the life of Jesus is not debatable. to love God with all our hearts, to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek.

maybe the church is better served with a candidate who does not invoke the name of Jesus. someone who doesn’t cloud the christian world view with using an oversimplified terminology like “good and evil” or “us versus them”. would it actually be more beneficial for us to have a leader who realizes that leaving christian spirituality out of official policy actually clears the way for believers to project Christ’s love in the ways that Jesus himself did, free of compromise?

there are some issues i disagree with kerry on but one issue i firmly endorse. here is what kerry stated regarding his faith and policy:

“I can’t take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist. We have separation of church and state in the United States of America.”
–Interviewin the Dubuque, Iowa, Telegraph Herald, July 2004

i believe this approach does leave more room for real and loving dialogue between people of different points of view and different faiths. in a search for truth, we should do everything we can to facilitate this kind of openness and communication among believers and non-believers. this can be a brilliant change of pace from the divisive marriage and abortion laws that if get enacted, will likely result is no one’s change of heart. instead we are left with a wider gap between the acceptable sins in the church (greed, gossip, materialism, etc.) and the unacceptable sins of those often found outside the church (homosexuality, prostitution, drug use, abortion, etc.) hopefully we can begin to close this gap, not by policy or lawmaking, but by invitation and love.

A Return

i just got back home last night from a month long trip away from home. my trip was great/busy/exciting, but to be home now is just unexplainable. i’m only back for a few days then gone again, but it is just amazing to be back with my two girls. won’t be blogging while i’m home. i’ll be back in a few days.


i am currently in london and this particular trip is coming to a close. it’s pretty safe to say that i/we are burnt. sleep deprivation, journalists, parisians eating steak tartar and pigeon across the table from you….it all makes you long for your home.

the one thing that makes being on the road for me are the shows. playing music for people. unfortunately we’ve only had 6 shows in the three weeks we’ve been away from home. it’s gone by very slow. all this coupled with not seeing holly and ava since september 11th, it’s safe to say that i am greatly looking to head back to gilbert arizona. that’s kind of a crazy thing to be saying while visiting my favorite city in the world, but i would take hanging out with my wife and daughter over big ben and the best indian food in the world any day (i realize that’s the obvious “good husband” thing to write, but it’s absolutely true.)

london is such a great city. everytime i visit here i daydream of just taking my family away from arizona and crossing the pond to set up life in a new place. it would be great for the first month until we get our first rent bill. ouch!!

today i actually had an hour during lunch to time just hang out, veg, do nothing. so i took a walk from the hotel and grabbed some food at “EAT” which is a really cool food shop. (kind of like pret a manger, but way better. if you are in london and need to eat something cheap and quick but don’t want to eat at mcdonald’s which we refer to as the “embassy”, then find an “EAT”, they are all over.) after i got lunch i found a spot under a tree in St James Square and ate, listened to music and fell asleep in the grass. i think that’s the first time i’ve ever done that and i highly recommend it. St. James Square, pictured on the right, is just a simple park much like any other in london, but it was just awesome to relax in the shade. no big thoughts on this i guess, just a testament to slowing down and simple pleasures.

Money for nuthin’ and your cars for free.

the ever popular christian rock/folk act “third day” has decided to enter into a year long corporate sponsorship with chevrolet. now chevrolet is the “official car of third day” according to the band’s website. when i found this out, i was baffled and pissed off…..and i am not even a fan of theirs. this news prompted me to even log onto the third day website and found a live photo of the band and the drummer had a chevy logo right on the bass drum!! i thought to myself that these guys must have pretty big balls to try to pull something like this off without getting away with it. but for the most part, it looks like it hasn’t really affected their credibility at all in the mainstream christian culture. that’s probably the most shocking aspect of this whole thing. my wife and i began to discuss this, but quickly into our conversation i couldn’t hear her because i was too busy stacking up my soap boxes and was way to high in the clouds to hear any kind of reason from my loving, level-headed wife.

after cooler heads prevailed i was still left with this sense of confusion. i am an artist as well and i would be naive to think that there has never been a similar reaction from one of our fans regarding a choice that i, or my band, have made from one of our fans. we decided to allow a movie staring hillary duff to use one of our songs for a scene in the movie. after some deliberation between the band, we decided to go ahead and let them use the song simply because we felt the scene in the movie was appropriate for the song. some of our fans may have disagreed but in the end it was our call and we stand by it and can sleep well at night because of it. it came down to the fact that we felt the usage of the song didn’t damage the songs meaning, and that was the real common denominator. from our point of view it was the right move, but that doesn’t mean that all of our fans are gonna agree. and that’s ok, cause then they are just disagreeing with four white guys in their late twenties that don’t really claim to represent any answers or solutions to life’s turmoil. we were actually asked to use one of our songs in a chevy commercial in return for a pretty good check and turned it down. in a car commercial, our song would be simply a tool to help sell a product. if a fan of ours had a greater sense of connection with that song, perhaps it was a song that helped them through a tough time, than the fact that we took the same song and just whored it out to sell a tahoe or two would put that listener in a weird place. the song could becomes less special to them. it’s a thin line mind you, but it’s a line none the less for us and we try to honor our own efforts, and our fans support, by not using our music to sell products.

for each artist, they only know what’s best for them. in one sense, i can’t criticize third day for the decision they have made for they only know what’s best for them. but third day claim to not only represent themselves. they frame their efforts as a band, and as businessmen, in the context of a “ministry” to carry the message of Jesus to the world.

i am in a secular band and the message we carry out is a message that is only found in our own songs. we don’t claim to represent a system of beliefs or a way of living. our music is simply speaks to life experience. third day, on the other hand, claim to represent the message of Jesus Christ and have decided to take on that responsibility of sharing that message to the world around them.

with this in mind, the question has remained with me. if you are a group of artists and you choose to represent the message of Jesus in your creative expressions, how can you rationalize the decision to enter in a corporate sponsorship with an automobile manufacturer? and to take this even further, if you center what you do vocationally around the message of Jesus, can you operate as a for profit entity and still create a credible platform from which the message is communicated? where are we to draw the line between ministry and business opportunity? apparently third day, and countless others who do “ministry” in the christian “industry”, don’t feel there is a line at all. for them the quest for truth and communicating God’s love goes hand in hand with the quest for monetary gain and corporate consumerism.

i have no problem with people making a living and supporting themselves and their families. we all have to get by somehow. there are also many of those who do incredible work in our world. social workers, police men, firefighters, teachers, non profit org workers that help those in need, churches, orphanages, etc…..the list goes on. all these people take part in a sacrifice for the common good. their lives are messages to those around them that profit is not everything. they are the authors of the idea that we can do great things in the lives of others and not expect anything in return. i am not a member of this honorable group. i am in a for profit entertainment group that sell albums and play shows, very few of which come without a price tag. any charitable giving is only up us as individuals and is not a group effort. we are simply spokes in a capitalistic wheel. although this bums me out sometimes, i am happy we at least recognize our place. we do not frame what we do as something everyone should hear because we project a message for the common good. we are simply a moderately talented rock band who have fun playing music and make a living doing so, nothing more and nothing less.

so why does this blurring of the line frustrate me so much? is this joint venture of third day and chevrolet just another example of christian consumerism gone horribly wrong? is it a mere thread in the rope that binds the american church and the american dream as one in the same? or am i just trippin’? please set me straight.

Keeps Me Sane…..

…on the road:

Transatlanticism-Death Cab for Cutie
Know By Heart-American Analog Set
Talkie Walkie-Air
Love Is Hell-Ryan Adams

Angels and Demons-Dan Brown
Let Your Life Speak-Parker Palmer
The Story We Find Ourselves In-Brian Mclaren

CNN WORLD (not really, but it’s a great motivator to learn other languages)

“The Greatest Nation”

for the last week i have been in france and germany. i’ve been doing lot’s of interviews with journalists and even though the subject is music, the issue of current american politics seems to rear it’s ugly head every time. i’ve probably talked to 30 different people regarding this issue and not one is in support of george bush being re-elected. granted, most rock music journalist in europe are probably more inclined to be more “liberal” in their political standing. but even in the mainstream news coverage here, you get this overwhelming sense that george bush is looked at as an irresponsible policy maker, especially with his policies on the war in iraq, assault weapons legalization, and the environment. when i recently visited japan, i felt this was the prevailing feeling as well.

it’s interesting being an american oversees right now with so much attention being paid to the presidential election. the rest of the world seems much more on the edge of their seats than you might think. one person said to me they wish they could vote cause the outcome of our presidential election affects them more than the outcome of electing their own prime minister. that statement seemed strange to me in a way, but when i stopped to think about it, we ARE the one country in the world who is actively waging wars on other countries to defeat a noun.

i’ve been thinking about why it seems that so many of those who are outside the united states have this feeling that america has gone astray from a rational presence in our global community and into a doctrine of confusion and questionable policies. of course, america has always had this image problem with other countries to a certain extent in the past, but never to this extent. so why is this? is it because we are simply looked at as the world leader of nations and we are constantly under scrutiny? is it because most view our war on terrorism as an imperialistic effort? is it our religious fundamentalism that is so prevalent in our current social and political landscape?

what strikes me is that we are the most evanglical protestant church going nation in the world, yet we are viewed with such skepticism. we have a self proclaimed born again believer as a president and a very small percentage of people outside the united states support him. george bush recently proclaimed our country the “greatest nation” in his acceptance speech at the republican convention. so why are we the only country who think so? how should the church approach this problem if at all?

Big Cold Coke!!!

this was truly and oasis in the european desert for me. i love diet coke and this was just an answer to some serious prayer. if you any of you have spent any time in europe you will understand i think. that’s right folks, those are real ice cubes, and i think there are like at least 7 or 8 of them!!! And the glass is actually 16 oz.!! Praise the Lord!