Saturday, January 28, 2006

Last of the Early Years

How can you not love Springsteen? I remember arriving at a gym for a game with my CYO team. As we were walking to the locker room we saw a poster of The Boss. One of the guys on my team raised a fist adn pumped it in the air in response to the poster. I don't know, it was kinda cool. We were, what, 11 years old then? 12? I don't remember, but this was a big record and a real good one too.

Favorite tracks: Downbound Train, No Surrender, Glory Days and the title track.

Honorable mention in the early years category: The Stray Cats Built for Speed. Favorite tracks, Rumble in Brighton, Stray Cat Strut.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

More Early Years

I don't recall how old I was when I started listening to The Doors. I think it was somewhere around 6th grade. My father, once again, is the culprit. The Doors first self titled album was my favorite, and still is. I was really into them until I saw the Oliver Stone movie. There was nothing in the movie that I was surprised by. I had read No One Here Gets Out Alive, but I think a couple of things happened. First, everyone became a Doors fan overnight, at least it seemed that way. Second, Morrisson comes off as a real jerk in the film, much more so than in the book where he seemed to be more of a tragic figure.

Musically The Doors were pretty talented. As a guitar player I pay attention to the guitar, and Robby Krieger was no slouch. It's easy to miss, but if you pay attention, you'll see.

Favorite tracks:
Break on Through
Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)
The Crystal Ship
Take it as it Comes
The End

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Don't Retreat and Drive!

The Senior High retreat was great. Our speaker reminded us of God's grace and challenged us to be a blessing. Several students in my group talked about the media and its influence due to a couple of seminars they attended. They were challenged to think critically about what they listen to and watch and to ask better questions than simply, "Is this 'Christian' or not?" (As Rob Bell points out, that's a bad question to begin with since 'Christian' wasn't meant to be an adjective, but rather a noun. See Velvet Elvis. )

The musical worship times were a highlight for me. It's always a privilege to play and especially to stand on the stage because of the vantage point it gives. It is quite powerful to be able to observe and join in worship with 400 students. The band was tight and we pulled off "All Because of You" quite well, too! It's always fun to rock out a bit. Above all, I believe God was glorified.

Saturday evening was especially cool. During the end of communion our last 2-3 songs required a more sparse instrumentation and so I sat out leaving one guitar along with the keys, bass and drums, and went and sat with my students. It was nice to simply participate in worship without having to play. It also afforded me the opportunity to serve communion to one student who hadn't participated previously.

One of the best decisions I've made with regard to retreats is to leave the driving to others. We usually bring 20-40 students on our retreat and we used to rent vans. Now, and for the last 4-6 years, we charter a bus (along with another church) and this is a good thing. Sure there is an additional cost, but it's worth it. I now have a habit of conducting post-retreat interviews with my students. I pick a seat with an empty one next to it and pick a student to interview. The interview is designed to be as short or long as the student would like, and hopefully pretty non-threatening. I ask what their favorite part of the retreat was, anything they would change if they were in charge of the weekend and if there is anything in particular that they felt God wanted them to hear or receive during the weekend. I then ask if there's anything I haven't asked that they want to share and then I pray for them. I tell them to pick another student and send them to me and do it all over again. Some kids open up quite a bit and others don't say a lot, but it does give me a chance to pray for each student individually. It allows me to give good feedback to those who plan the retreat and to get a sense of where my students are at spiritually. So my youth pastor friends, leave the driving to someone else.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Emergent Enemies

Emergent has some enemies. Really. Not people who disagree with them (though there are plenty of them) but people who seem to genuinely hate the name of Jesus, of course. (I'd point some out to you, but I don't want to give more attention to people who should be ignored.) These people bother me, or at least they used to. I try my best to ignore them now and read people who don't claim to know it all and who engage in helpful and critical dialogue.

Stanely Hauerwas in The Peaceable Kingdom writes, "Our obligation to witness is an indication that for the Christian people there are no 'barbarians' but only strangers whom we hope to make our friends. We extend hospitality to God's kingdom by inviting the stranger to share our story." Interesting, no? So those people we should ignore, you know, the ones I mentioned earlier, I guess I should hope they become friends of mine, eh? I wonder if they want to be friends with the Emergent crowd?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Winter Retreat!

Tomorrow I leave with a bunch of our senior high students for our annual Winter Retreat. My denomination is split into conferences, and the conference I'm a part of (The East Coast Conference) each year plans a Winter Retreat for all senior high students in the conference. I have had the privilege of being part of the worship team for 9 years now. It's a pretty cool thing to lead worship for 500 or so senior high students crammed into the camp meeting hall. The energy is usually pretty high, and it is the one time a year that I get to rock out a bit with some friends. This year we're also including the U2 song, "All Because of You." (It's more of an opening song, not necessarily part of the worship set, though it easily could be.) Fortunately for me, the guitar solo in that song is pretty manageable.

Beyond that, it is often a significant event for many of our students. Last night at our weekly meeting the kids seemed pretty pumped for the event, and well, I am too. Prayers from my two readers would be appreciated. Rock on, yo!

Future Blogs

I've just finished re- reading Shantung Compound, which is a book I first read in college. The author, Langdon Gilkey, draws some interesting observations about human nature and faith from his experience in an internment camp during World War II. I've been wanting to write a couple of blogs for some time now about his observations, but haven't found the time to do so. Hopefully I'll find the time soon.

I will be finishing up my "early years" favorite albums in the next week or so. Look for one from The Stray Cats and another from one who "lived fast and died young." After that I fancy a series of blogs entitled, "The Decline of Brian's Aural Civilization Part II: The Metal Years." You probably won't get the joke unless you've seen the movie, but anyway, it makes me chuckle and I have several favorites to choose from. My final section on favorite albums will be devoted to guitar records. There's a good deal of overlap in these sections, especially "The Metal Years" and "Guitar Records" but I'll do my best to keep 'em separated, as the song says.

Finally, I'm taking a class this trimester called "Christian Social Ethics." Due to scheduling conflicts I'm taking it as an independent study, so I may reflect a bit in my blog, we'll see.