Monday, November 27, 2006

What if....

...we lived in a Christian nation?

It's funny that right-wingers claim that the US was established as a Christian nation and that we have a lot of "G-d Bless the USA" sentiments and the like, but when it comes to thinking and behavior that Christians would identify as Christian thought and behavior, most people aren't doing it. Just check this story out from CNN ... a woman has a Christmas wreath in the shape of a Peace sign and her Association is telling her to take it down -- a few people see it as bashing the war effort in Iraq, in which their kids are serving.

Of course, the Jesus encountered in the gospels didn't make any statements against war, but the story says angels pronounced "Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Men" when he was born. One of Jesus' names is "The Prince of Peace." While the Peace sign was created by the anti-nuke movement, it's moved into general usage where most users don't attach lefty sentiments to it at all. So it's fitting to use it in order to express how Jesus = Peace on Earth, surely? Apparently not in SW Colorado. This area has one of the highest-concentrations of Evangelicals in the country, and we know we have right-wing Christians involved as there are claims that the Peace sign is Satanic -- who but a Christian believer will label anything Satanic? Anyway. It's weird. Honestly, I think that this nation is Christianist, if that's a word, but not Christian. The US has the trappings but not the soul. Except the Mennonites and Amish and Quakers, perhaps.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Car Issues and Hashem

So. I have had a tire with a slow leak and the leak got faster. I was going to have just that tire fixed, but then I realize, I'm traveling to San Jose for Thansgiving via my car with my daughter and girlfriend in the car -- I need to have my car roadworthy! I need to get this tire fixed but what about the others? What about the oil? Brakes? Nothing terrible but I need maintenance! SO I take the car to a service place near the train station and they are doing all the necessary work. Thank goodness I took it in because they found some other issues that would have been big hassles on the trip if I hadn't fixed things. The guy running the shop is really nice, a lay "Assemblies of God" minister with a son who's also a minister and he's really nice. Anyway. I feel lucky that the slow leak was bad enough I noticed -- otherwise I'd have not thought about this stuff at all and I could have ended up with any number of problems, so that's definitely counts as G-d helping me. Don't get me wrong, this sort of thing happens every second of every day, but most of the time it's too subtle for us to notice the way that G-d is helping us and giving us challenges. Anyway.

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Chemical Romance? Who Knew?

So, my brother the professional musician had mentioned My Chemical Romance before but I wasn't paying attention. So when he did it again in this raving tone that I don't often hear from him about bands that get mTV play, I thought I'd check them out to be polite.

Bizarre. The lead singer witnessed the Eleventh of September attacks in NY where he was a cartoonist. And as a result he decided to do something productive with his life.

So he went and joined the Peace Corp? Uh, no. He volunteered to read to shut-ins? Nope. He started a rock group.

Ok, fine. So the good causes are missing a bright-eyed young volunteer. But the world has a band that's made one kick ass album, The Black Parade. I think as a 41 year-old I may technically be forbidden to listen to this, but until They come to stop me I'll enjoy it.

Matisyahu's "Youth" says "Youth is the Engine of the World" and this is doubtless true. The energy of Youth drives things for good or for ill. Recently I think it's for huge Good, as surveys of the young are showing such compassion and concern for each other and the world that researchers have labeled these kids the "We" generation. But it's very sad that the particular youths in My Chemical Romance have made a great album that, like other great albums is obsessed. But unlike most rock, with Death. And it's sad that post 9-11, it's perfectly understandable.

We have a gorgeously conceived and realized piece of work that captures the anxious place that the world is at the early stages of this War of Terror. Fewer people are dying in wars than ever before, but we are feeling more unsafe, more aware of the transience of this existence, it seems. It's more on the surface. We used to have music that rocked like this obsessed with getting really slutty girls to have sex with you. Perhaps in the 70s many of the people singing about drunken sex were doing so to get away from the anxiouness from death. But now we're not even able to do that as a culture.

Sure, sex is there in hip hop, but honestly, it doesn't even feel real. It's too tied to the business of pornography and strip joints. The guys do it to demonstrate absolute power over the women. But hip-hop's women do it for the money. And the guys don't care as long as the woman is on her knees so that it there's at least the appearance of domination for his friends to see.

Anyway. For a wonderful album that will make you feel sad and worry about how best to live your life as you slide inexorably towards the gaping maw of Death... My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade.