Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Tale of Two Bachelor Parties

I've attended two bachelor parties in the last year or so. There were some things that each had in common, and some stark contrasts as well.

Both had alcohol available, with the first having a greater variety of drinks provided. Both had good food and both were attended by guys. These guys were long time friends and family of the grooms', and some new friends as well.

I came home from the first feeling good. I came home from the second feeling sad.

The first, as I mentioned, included a time of eating, drinking, socializing and laughter. After the main food items had been consumed there was a move to gather all together. During that time people told stories about the groom (some funny, some serious, some both) and offered encouragement and advice on all things relational. There was a real sense of community- a sense that should this impending marriage ever run into trouble, there would be ample support to see it through the turbulence. Not all the guys present would call themselves Christ followers, yet Christ was honored.

The second included a time of eating, drinking, socializing and laughter. (Though if you're going to buy a keg of beer, why get Budweiser? Shouldn't you at least get a good beer? Ah...) After the main food items had been consumed the group was divided at tables for a poker tournament. (Quick poker note/ whine: There was a very aggressive blind structure to move the tournament along quickly- thus taking much of the skill and strategy out of the equation and inserting an extra portion of luck. The one playable hand I had, 7-7, though a slight favorite versus A-K, didn't hold up. I was fortunate enough to cut my losses in that hand and fold. Still, with the aggressive blind-structure and the bad cards, and no opportune times to bluff [position, number of players in the hand, etc.] I bought the blinds once and was forced to make a move with questionable cards and thus my tournament ended earlier than I would have liked.)

As the poker game was winding down a good number of the guys present were anxious to get onto the next portion of the evening which was to be a trip to an adult entertainment establishment. "C'mon, hurry up! 'All-in' already! Let's get to the titty!" was heard more than once.

I was pleased to see that a number of guys weren't going to "the titty." (The group I went with declined as well.) Now, don't me wrong, I understand the desire to go to such establishments. I'm ashamed to say that when I turned 18 I went to such establishments more than once. I don't like that there is a part of me that finds pornography somewhat attractive and so I don't want this to come across as if I'm throwing stones at the guys who went to "the titty." (So, do you think pornography objectifies women?) I like Bart's response to a friend that sent him pictures that were not the kind he'd like his daughter (or son) to find on the computer...it doesn't sum things up, but it goes a long way toward doing so.

When I got home from the second party I felt sad and I think it was because the party, ultimately felt very lonely. That was the best way I could think to describe it. As I talked with Katie about it she said, "It's just sad...some people are so lost."

My first reaction was to bristle at the comment. "Lost?" I thought, "I don't think just because someone goes to the after party party means their damned." But before I could speak my objection she added, "I mean, lost, like they don't know any better. It's like they're going there because that's just what guys are 'supposed' to do for a bachelor party."

When she said that, I felt as though I could begin see things more clearly. Being lost can mean many things. It could be taking a wrong turn or it could be not really knowing where the destination is but "it's gotta be around here somewhere." "There is a way that seems right to a man" and I know that experientially, "but in the end it leads to death" and I know that experientially, too.

Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. " For the longest time I thought this verse was talking about hell. In The Last Word and the Word After That Brian McLaren's character points out that the word is "destruction," a simple, but perhaps significant distinction.

Jesus invites us to follow him. The first bachelor party focused on the upcoming marriage and recognized that while it may be difficult, it is ultimately good. (Are really good things ever easy?) The second, by following the bachelor party tradition, viewed the upcoming marriage as limiting and this party as the last real night of freedom. Perhaps that is why I felt sad. Yes, you sacrifice some things (freedoms?) in marriage, but marriage is a freeing relationship, not a limiting one. I know that my marriage has freed me (somewhat) from myself and my selfishness and encouraged me to be a better person than I'm sure I would be otherwise.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but there is a better Way. May we all find the Way and walk in it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Decline of Brian's Aural Civilization Pt. 2: The Metal Years

Perhaps back in the day you saw the documentary, The Decline of the Western Civilization Pt. 2: The Metal Years. I don't remember much of it to be honest, but the title always gave me a chuckle. As I look back on these years, I do so with mixed feelings. I loved the music and was really into it, but the vast majority of the lyrical content of the songs, wasn't very helpful. I wasn't actively following Christ at this point in my life, but I still had a sense that these songs were "off" but I listened anyway. These days I'll pull out some of these CD's a play along. I still appreciate the music and the guitar playing can be fun and challenging. And, as much as I might want things to be different, this music was a big part of my life.

So, here it is, the best of my 'declined metal' years. (There will be a best of the metal years covering those records where the content is decidedly more favorable than un-favorable.)

1. Motley Crue, Shout at the Devil
The Crue was my favorite band from 3rd or 4th grade through high school. Shout was the first Crue cassette I bought. Favorite tracks include, Red Hot, Danger, and the title track

2. Motley Crue, Theatre of Pain
This was my favorite Crue record and I think I listened to it for a whole year straight with it never coming out of my boom box. Favorite tracks, Home Sweet Home, Raise Your Hands to Rock, and Use it or Lose It.

Guns and Roses Appetite For Destruction
Sonically amazing, though lyrically appalling in many parts. Slash rocks, no doubt.
Favorite tracks, Paradise City, Mr. Brownstone, You're Crazy, My Michelle

4. Van Halen 1984
This record was huge back in the day. Favorite tracks, Panama, Top Jimmy, I'll Wait

Dokken Under Lock and Key
Loved In My Dreams and 'til the Living End the rest is pretty solid too. George Lynch didn't create the greatest riffs in the world, but he can play.

6. Ozzy Osbourne Tribute
Ozzy always found awesome guitar players. Rhandy Rhoades death was tragic. Favortie Tracks, Crazy Train, Suicid Solution (solo) Goodbye to Romance and Dee.

Poison Flesh and Blood
I love CC Deville. Ragging on CC was always the thing to do amongst guitar players but I loved his over the top style. Tracks: Ride the Wind, Unskinny Bop, Life Loves a Tragedy

8. Skid Row Slave to the Grind
Favorite tracks: Slave to the Grind, In a Darkened Room, Livin' On a Chain Gang

Honorable Mention:
Motley: Dr. Feelgood, Too Fast For Love, Girls Girls Girls,
Twisted Sister: Stay Hungry,
Poison: Open Up and Say Ah!,
Skid Row: Skid Row,
Ozzy: The Ulitmate Sin, No Rest for the Wicked, No More Tears