A car burns at the scene of a bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria's capital Abuja, December 25, 2011. Five bombs exploded on Christmas Day at churches in Nigeria, one killing at least 27 people, raising fears that Islamist militant group Boko Haram - which claimed responsibility - is trying to ignite sectarian civil war.
I have no dog in the Dana & Chris Loesch vs. Twitter fight that boiled over yesterday and carried through into today. Several writers such as Stacy McCain and the Lonely Conservative have already extensively written about the matter, and I defer to them.
This duly noted, an article Ms. Loesch wrote attacking an article written by Yahoo! News reporter Chris Wilson (no relation) warrants commentary. In Mr. Wilson’s article, he surmised the reason, or at least part of the reason, for Mr. Loesch’s Twitter suspension was detailed by the message Twitter sent him when his account was first suspended, that being his sending multiple unsolicited mentions to other users. In English, that means you’ve sent too many tweets to other people who don’t follow you with links in them in too short a period of time. Ms. Loesch, despite this being the initial message sent to her husband by Twitter, asserts this had nothing to do with the account suspension.
A first hand story. Several weeks ago I was doing some freelance work for a third party, creating their social media presence on different platforms including Facebook and Twitter. The client had numerous clients of their own, each with their own Twitter account. Shortly after I had created the account for my client, which being brand new had no followers, I started sending messages to the aforementioned accounts containing links to the Facebook posts I had done earlier featuring the businesses in question. Four posts into doing this, Twitter dropped the account suspension hammer, stating that I was sending — you guessed it — multiple unsolicited mentions to other users.
I mention this to point out that maybe, just maybe, regardless of all the hype and hyperbole and bluster and such over Mr. Loesch’s account being suspended, the reason this happened isn’t solely due to some dark leftist conspiracy. Maybe, just maybe, he tripped one of Twitter’s automatic triggers. Perhaps other tweeters out to “get him” did file a multitude of spam and block reports. But that would not have generated the original message he received. It would have stated his account was suspended due to a high number of spam reports.
And maybe, just maybe, people are flying off the handle for no legitimate reason.
Final note: If you’re more worked up over Mr. Loesch’s Twitter misadventures than twenty or more Christians in Nigeria being murdered by Islamic terrorists yesterday…
… you’re doing it wrong.
I could tell you there is no troll in the valley No tricky ghoul behind the trees Yeah, I could tell you there is no molester In the alley To take a lead pipe to your knee
But you won’t believe it ’cause it ain’t true You won’t believe it ’cause it ain’t true Rivers flowing through your precious body blue Trickle crimson when the chicken claws you
I could assure you You could not be swallowed by the ground Since we’ve moved away from L.A. And I could tell you no child of Jesus will be found Under rubble somewhere today
But you won’t believe it ’cause it ain’t true You won’t believe it ’cause it ain’t true Rivers flowing through your precious body blue Trickle crimson when the chicken claws you
Yes, I could swear it I will not betray another friend I’ve found true love and I’ve lost an eye And I might promise never to hurt you again Cross my contrite heart, hope to die
But you won’t believe it ’cause it ain’t true You won’t believe it ’cause it ain’t true Rivers flowing through your precious body blue Trickle crimson when the chicken claws you…
Those of us who remember the 1960s and were actually there recall with either affection or horror the troll doll craze that swept the country during the decade’s middle part. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing them in all sizes and dressed in every fashion imaginable.
These days, the term trolls is more commonly associated with those who hang out on the Internet for the seemingly sole purpose of harassing others and general haranguing than the word’s original association stemming from assorted ancient Norse and Scandinavian yarns about decidedly antisocial mythical creatures, although anyone familiar with the Norwegian black metal scene has good cause to doubt the mythical part. But back to the Internet variety.
It’s long been a source of contentious debate as to whether people should engage trolls in any fashion, with the general consensus being no. At least in a blog’s comments area this is the general rule of thumb. However, on Twitter the rule seems to be not only engage them, but repeat what they’ve said to you for everyone to see. This started, as near as I can tell, with the late Andrew Breitbart who routinely retweeted most every bit of vile bile hurled his way by assorted cretins. When questioned as to why he did this, his response was he was exposing the left for what it was by displaying its own words to dismiss any veneer of civility it might claim for itself.
That said, while Breitbart often interacted with the name callers and others, he seldom devoted much time to any given individual, content to level one or two blasts back and then move on. Instead of feeding trolls, he’d flamethrower them. Which, if you’re going to bother with these people at all, is the way to go, methinks. There’s a difference between exposing idiocy and engaging it. A huge difference.
Enter the troll dolls.
Now, troll dolls are usually adorable. The problem is they’re not genuinely getting anything done. There’s no need to expend any great amount of time, energy or effort in exposing trolls. We know they exist. They can neither be changed nor reasoned with. The sum total of their existence comes from being obnoxious online. So why engage them? Why stoop to their level? Aren’t we better than that?
Some, but not all, troll dolls are like trolls themselves in that their either live, or give every indication of living, online. Therein lies the problem. Twitter and the like can be great fun, but they’re not very good at giving someone a good night kiss.
Being a troll doll will score numerous brownie points online from fellow troll dolls. But if those brownie points are all someone is accumulating in life, they’re doing it wrong. Everyone needs to get out of the house once in a while, meeting and mingling with friends in person. If they’re single and none too keen on their status, they should at the least ask their circle of friends for recommendations, place themselves in reputable groups and organizations that offer the chance to meet new people or even look into a trustworthy dating service. The trolls will always be there. No one can change that. People who know better can change themselves for the better.
Remember how Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me?” It’s the same deal with all people everywhere. Is someone with clear mind and heart not worth more than many trolls? No. They are worth more. And they should treat themselves, along with the finite amount of time they have available, accordingly.
Trolls should be left to forever live underneath bridges, forever railing against the wind for having the temerity to not ask their permission which way to blow. People who know better have a choice. They can walk across the bridge to a better tomorrow for themselves, and those with whom they associate in a genuine manner as opposed to arguing with idiots.
Online friendships and relationships are as real as ones conducted in person. But they can’t replace the joy of one on one, face to face contact and communication. Nothing can. Getting together with the online gang at special events two or three times a year ought to be, and can be, great fun. But at the end of two or three days, everyone packs up and goes home. It’s good to have a life and friends not solely part of the online world; people to hang out with whenever the mood strikes.
We all mean very well. Troll dolls mean very well. But when someone spends the bulk of their online time crossing swords with those who will never be swayed by reason, in the course of doing so neglecting or ignoring folk of like mind, heart and soul to theirs, they’re doing it wrong. And that’s a shame.
We all mean very well Sometimes it’s hard to tell We mean to live as brothers To love and help each other But the vision can be lost from time to time
With a well-meaning heart We reach out for love But still we drift apart And seeking after pleasure We can overlook the treasure Our lives fall out of step and out of rhyme
If it’s hard to be yourself with me If it’s hard to live in harmony Then together let’s find the wall Let’s break it down and watch it fall Watch it fall After all
We all mean very well But there’s go to be a better way to dwell Yes and this can be arranged Oh but something must be changed Something that lies deep within our hearts
If it’s hard to be at peace with me If it’s hard to live in harmony Then together let’s find the wall Let’s break it down and watch it fall Watch it fall After all
We all mean very well We all mean very well Sometimes it doesn’t seem That we will ever reach our dream But we keep on trying ‘Cause we mean Don’t we mean Very well?
The Canadian rock band Saga. If you have to ask, you wouldn't understand.
Yesterday I mentioned in passing the Rolling Stones, currently rumored to be planning a sort-of tour with which to celebrate the band’s fiftieth anniversary. The Beach Boys are already on tour to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary.
With the exception of those who have discovered either their parents’ CDs or grandparents’ records, chances are good to excellent there aren’t a lot of kids out there who would get excited at the thought of the aforementioned artists coming to their town. How many Maroon 5 fanatics who lustily sing along with “Moves Like Jagger” while lusting after Adam Levine have the slightest notion who Mick Jagger is, let alone why anyone would want to move like him? (For the record, I linked to the video’s uncensored version so you parents out there will know what’s currently on your kid’s iPod. Adele this is not. But I digress.)
There comes a point in most artist’s career when it’s time to call it a day. Not all; some continue to create top-notch work well into their latter years. However, for many musicians the day comes when their craftsmanship begins deteriorating. Sometimes the inspiration and creative fire are no longer present. Sometimes people simply run out of ideas. Sometimes they’re no longer physically able to perform, play or sing as they once did. Sometimes people prematurely burn themselves out with too much time on the road and/or chemicals consumption. Whatever the reason may be, the times comes when they should stop. Unfortunately, very few do. The result is an exercise in sad nostalgia for what once was; a whispered “please go home” in lieu of a warmly welcomed visit.
This came to mind earlier today when contemplating how often the mainstream media, even the more neutral and/or conservative outlets, trot out the same tired and tiring faces whenever it’s analysis time. Election forecasting? Hey, look, it’s Karl Rove and Dick Morris (again)! Need a token liberal? Call Alan Colmes (again)! Cutting-edge controversy on tonight’s agenda? Cue Ann Coulter (again)! You get the idea.
It’s regrettable that in a world replete with high quality citizen journalists who routinely turn out superb original reporting and/or commentary we are routinely subjected to the same people as if by rote… which is probably the case. It’s easy to fill air time with the tried and true regardless of whether said tried and true is still relevant in terms of being connected to current events. It’s also lamentable that seemingly little, if any, effort is being made toward determining whether the same ol’ same ol’ are indeed still relevant, still connected to today’s movers and shakers. Or, for that matter, today’s headlines.
Certainly age is no disqualifier for speaking out. A veteran’s perspective is always welcome. This duly noted, there are so many voices out there deserving to be heard. It’d be nice to hear them. Yes, everyone can have their say online along with podcasting and/or live streaming audio (I can’t call it radio, because it’s not). But it’d be nice if the mainstream media would occasionally throw some love our way.
P.S. Something I seriously doubt is on your kid’s iPod even though it ought to be:
Good afternoon! May I introduce myself? With a story to be told you may need help I know you were a headline for some time But now you’re part of a motionless mime
Lights have dimmed and times have changed And the world is watching a different stage Don’t you think it’s time we had a younger face? You can slip away with no disgrace So tell me…
How long should we wait around Don’t you understand, when you’re down we’re down? The memory of a lasting fame Is better fed on reruns, no shame So tell me…
There’s one thing I must know Tell me why you can’t let go There’s one thing we must know Tell me, why won’t you let go?
How long do you think we’ll last Living with a continuous past As you stare at us we say “You’re looking less like me each day!”
And there’s one thing I must know Tell me why you can’t let go There’s one thing we must know Tell me, why won’t you let go?
Tell me Why can’t you let go? Tell me Why can’t we let go?
I have no idea what kind or kinds of music Elizabeth Emken, who’s running to replace Dianne Feinstein in the U.S. Senate, listens to although she doesn’t strike me as the heavy metal type. That said, I’m quite certain she’s at least familiar with U2.
In addition to being the biggest rock band on the planet (with the possible exception of the Rolling Stones, who hardly qualify as a band anymore), U2 and in particular Bono are known for active stances in social causes. In Bono’s case, his primary focus is debt relief for, and alleviating suffering from AIDS in, Africa. To accomplish this, Bono works with politicians and leaders from both sides of the aisle. This has raised many an eyebrow, but to Bono his causes are not bound to any ideology save that of shared humanity and its corresponding requirement to address the needs of others.
Back to Elizabeth Emken. Her story, as told on her website:
For over a decade Elizabeth Emken has served as an advocate for developmentally disabled children, most recently as Vice President for Government Relations at Autism Speaks, the Nation’s largest science and advocacy organization devoted to the public health emergency of autism.
Before becoming active with the autism issue, Elizabeth served in management, financial analysis, and corporate operations at IBM. As an efficiency and cost cutting expert, Elizabeth utilized activity-based cost analyses to identify administrative savings across IBM U.S. – helping streamline operations, eliminate waste, and save the company millions of dollars.
Elizabeth graduated from UCLA in 1984 with degrees in Economics and Political Science. Her studies included course work at Cambridge University, where she focused on political and economic issues in China and the Middle East.
Elizabeth began helping families of children with autism, like her son Alex, more than a decade ago when she learned how little was being done to help individuals and families with disabilities. Elizabeth became a citizen-advocate, and as a Board Member, handled legislative advocacy for Cure Autism Now. She coordinated advocacy for the first major piece of federal legislation addressing autism, the Advancement in Pediatric Autism Research Act, ultimately becoming the lead title of the Children’s Health Act of 2000, which authorized programs totaling more than $200 million over 5 years at the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and Health and Resources and Services Administration.
A vital element of this accomplishment, Elizabeth led the charge to ensure transparency and accountability on how the NIH would spend autism research dollars. For the first time at the NIH, her efforts produced a portfolio analysis of autism spending that would have to withstand public scrutiny – a policy Elizabeth believes should apply throughout the entire government.
Elizabeth led autism community advocacy for the Combating Autism Act of 2006 on behalf of Cure Autism Now, Autism Speaks, and 17 other leading autism organizations. The Combating Autism Act of 2006, which passed in December, 2006, authorized nearly $1 billion over 5 years to combat autism through research, screening, early detection and early intervention.
Elizabeth joined Autism Speaks in March 2007 where she immediately launched a multi-state campaign to secure insurance coverage for autism-related services. Since then, 29 states have enacted autism insurance reform laws, saving participating states millions in taxpayer funds that would otherwise have been directed to state health care and special education services. This groundbreaking legislation, aimed at ending marketplace discrimination against individuals with autism, passed into law in California on October 9, 2011.
Elizabeth has worked extensively on behalf of military families, advocating for support totaling $24 million at the Department of Defense since 2007, and supporting health care coverage for autism related medical services in TRICARE, the health care program for active duty service members and retirees.
In 2008, Elizabeth secured, for the first time, placement of autism as a Presidential campaign issue with mentions at both party conventions and debates. This was followed by a first ever commitment for autism funding in a President’s full year budget proposal.
In the past few days, much has been made of a photo making the rounds showing Emken with President Barack Obama. The photo was taken in 2007 when she and other autism activists visited Washington to meet with members of Congress including Obama, who was at that time the junior senator from Illinois.
According to her opponents, the photo not only proves Emken to be someone who will consort with “the enemy,” but also one of the most eeeeevil kinds of people there are — special interest lobbyists. Because, you know, only a self-seeking, self-serving, socialist selfish pig would ask the government to devote research dollars to finding the cause or causes for, and from there more effective treatments of or perhaps a cure for, an emotional and mentally crippling condition presently estimated to affect one out of every eighty-eight children born in the United States. You know who will bear the brunt of paying for continued care for these kids throughout their lives, right? You saw him or her in the mirror this morning.
Sarcasm aside, just when did asking the government to put an effort into doing something that will benefit the public as a whole, and should its efforts be successful ultimately save the American taxpayer money, become a heinous crime? Whatever happened to the notion of honoring someone who gave up a very lucrative career to not only care for her son, but actively work toward raising awareness and the necessary funds for research? There’s no ideology here; no political party affiliation. There is a mother’s love for her son, and her work to bring hope to other mothers of autistic children that one day they will be freed from their emotional and mental hell.
When there is common ground, refusing to set foot on it because of belief doing so would taint your ideological purity is foolishness. It gives the other side the upper hand. Of course the government shouldn’t fund the unaffordable designed to perpetuate a lack of self-sufficiency by those seeking to skate through life. But when an investment that promises to both enhance the lives of many of its citizens along with offering future savings due to lowered publicly-borne health care costs is available, seize the opportunity. That’s what Elizabeth Emken has done. That’s what Bono does. And we are all the better for it.
Back in my retail days, a lesson oft taught was what really hurts in terms of losing customers. It wasn’t the chronic complainers and yellers, always ranting and raving about how they’re never coming back and they’re going to tell all their friends (like they have any) to do the same. Annoying to be sure, but despite their loudly voiced threats they always came back. Always. No, it’s the people who say nothing, yet never return, that do the most damage to a store’s bottom line. That’s the truth.
Nothing hits harder than the truth. It knows no agenda, serves no one’s purpose and pays no attention to any side of any given issue. It’s the truth. It stands on its own, unapologetic and unafraid. Either we get with it, or we get lost.
This came to mind a few days ago when Mitt Romney was severely criticized in conservative circles for saying that President Obama was a nice man. Here’s the full quote:
Now I happened to have met him four or five years ago at a dinner in Washington DC where we were both invited to tell some jokes about our respective parties. And I found him to be a nice guy. I think he’s a nice person. I just don’t think we can afford him any longer. I don’t think the American people can afford to have Barack Obama as their President.
Now, he points out he did not cause the recession. But, he did made it worse. And he says, “Well, look; things are getting better.” And I sure hope they’re getting better. Gosh, I hope they’re getting better. But that’s not because of him. That’s in spite of him. He has made this recession harder to come out of.
And for people who say, “Well, why do you say that, Mitt?” Well, you go through his so-called signature achievements and ask yourself which of those that are causing employment to rise right now. Gosh, I hope it’s right. But what are the things that would encourage employment? How about his stimulus? Well, that was three and a half years ago. Remember that stimulus, where he borrowed all that money and said he would hold unemployment below eight percent with that stimulus? Hasn’t been below eight percent since? Thirty-eight straight months? If we’re seeing any job increase now — and I sure hope we are — and a slow reduction in unemployment — I hope it’s coming down — it’s not because of the stimulus that was three and a half years ago. It’s in spite of that stimulus, and it’s thanks to the entrepreneurship of the American individual.
And then look at the other pieces of legislation. Does anyone really think Obamacare has encouraged businesses to hire people? Just the opposite. I go across the country. I get the chance to talk to small businesspeople. The number one thing they mention time and time again is their fear of Obamacare. It’s one reason why businesses have held back on hiring.
Then there are his labor policies. Does anyone think that stacking the National Labor Relations Board with labor stooges encourages businesses to go out and hire people? Just the opposite.
There was much more to the speech, but you get the drift. Romney was detailing Obama’s policy failures. Other than the people in attendance, no one seems to have heard that. The couple of sentences when he didn’t personally demonize Obama? Front page news.
What possible benefit is there in personally attacking your political opponent? Now, remember that this is something Obama has done in past campaigns, albeit through surrogates and not personally. When he ran for U.S. Senate in Illinois, his campaign managed to convince the courts to unseal his opponent’s divorce agreement. Recently we saw Democratic power player Hilary Rosen say Ann Romney, a stay at home mother of five who raised her children without a nanny or other assistance, had never worked a day in her life. When that backfired big time, everyone from Obama on down ran for cover. There is no reason to think Obama, through his surrogates (i.e. the media), will not personally attack Romney on everything from his religion to whatever else they can invent… er, drag out of the swamp.
Romney isn’t going that route. He’s staying on message, that message being Obama’s policies are utter failures.
So how do conservatives respond?
Correct. Hyperventilation because he didn’t wield a flamethrower with one hand while tossing raw meat into the audience with his other.
Really, people? Really?
Perhaps Romney believes in treating others as he himself would like to be treated, although he did run brutal attack ads on his primary opponents.
Or, perhaps Romney is of the mindset that the Prince of Peace trumps politics every time, and that perhaps if you treat other people properly it’ll assist in reaching them with Christ’s message of salvation and changed lives.
Or perhaps he honestly thinks Obama is a nice guy, which is why he said it.
In any case, why are we screaming about it when 99 44/100% of what Romney said is dead on accurate? Why aren’t we focusing on that? Why are we letting the media drive the agenda by highlighting one thing Romney said, knowing what it would make hit the fan so once again we conservatives can be portrayed as hate-filled knuckle-draggers and in all likelihood raaaaacists?
C’mon, people, Quit yelling. You’re scaring off the shoppers we need to win this election.
P.S. Yes, we did use to go around the store singing this, albeit somewhat sardonically:
Sometime back in the ’70s, I read an issue of Guitar Player magazine with Carlos Santana as the cover story. This was back in his Devadip Carlos Santana days when he followed guru Sri Chinmoy, his picture always next to Santana’s monitors during live performances. Anyway, Santana told the story of attending an Elvin Bishop show and how his mix of good times blues and rock made him realize that the highest form (or level, or some such) of spirituality is joy. Santana concluded the observation by noting if he couldn’t have joy, then he didn’t care much for spirituality.
This came to mind earlier today when contemplating two seemingly disconnected events, one being the now concluded BlogCon in Charlotte and the other a blog post by Jennifer Dailing Waite detailing her frustration with, and anger toward, God over the daily sorrows she bears. She has very legitimate beefs: a father who passed away far too soon, her husband’s difficult and genuinely dangerous job others sneer at because he’s a government employee, a house that stubbornly refuses to sell leaving her and her family’s living arrangements in limbo, and a son mentally and emotionally kept away from her and everyone else as he’s locked up in autism’s mocking prison. It’s the latter that is sapping her strength and faith the most.
I call the two things disconnected because despite BlogCon being, at least in theory, all about promoting blogging and the blogging community while educating bloggers on how to do things better, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Based on tweets from those present, it was in fact an extended session of tongue baths, mutual admiration society sessions and as much partying as could be crammed into three nights and two days. Oh, and a lot of people claiming affiliation with Andrew Breitbart’s legacy.
As I mentioned the other day, although I never met nor spoke with Breitbart, based on numerous reports from those who did I have no doubt that had we ever met and actually conversed beyond a brief himynameis moment he would have taken the time to look up this modest little way station on the information superhighway and offered it, i.e. me, a hand up toward increased exposure. From his associates I’ve learned to expect no such thing. It’s a mixture of ironic and disappointing that the closest association I’ve ever had with anyone on Breitbart’s roster came when the Daily Beast linked to a post I wrote detailing Dana Loesch, in my opinion, behaving foolishly. There’s something about aggressively engaging your enemies yet not giving those on your side the time of day I’ve never quite fathomed. Perhaps it’s just me.
I’m hardly alone in this regard. There are many writers out there, truly superb writers, who deserve maximum exposure far, far more than I do yet never receive their just share. Either they don’t kiss the right ass (or don’t kiss at all), or they don’t go to the right parties… er, conferences, or what have you. Whatever the reason may be, they’re not welcome. As a result, the world to which we’re supposed to be communicating truth suffers.
Lastnight on Twitter, after having read one too many “look at me — SQUEE!” comments from BlogCom attendees I ranted: “I started blogging to express opinions, share information and communicate with people, not to join some eternal high school clique. Blogging’s purpose should be ‘what do you think of this idea, news, opinion or analysis.’ Not ‘look at MEEEEE!’ Blogging is supposed to be a non-hierarchical entity when people of like mind share with, and promote, each other based on common beliefs.” When I read Jennifer’s post this morning, these thoughts crystallized all the more.
There’s certainly nothing objectionable in people of like mind gathering together to share ideas and information along with enjoying one another’s company. And if some of us can’t go for financial reasons, or as in the case of Jennifer not able to leave family for a number of days, that’s life and there’s no sense in becoming angry. Hope everyone who is going has a great time; hopefully those of us not there will in time get a turn on the carousel. However, when what should be a group effort splinters into cliques making no effort to enrich the whole, there’s a problem. And no, pounding down brewskis in Stephen Kruiser’s hotel suite isn’t advancing the conservative cause or helping anyone not in attendance.
Of what use is a BlogCon, or RightOnline or what have you, to those not in attendance? Do they encourage attendees to reach out to those not there, letting them know blogging by people of like minds is an inclusive entity? Or are the fortunate hotel and convention center dwellers so busy consuming red meat and ego strokes in-between photo ops and pounding down shots they forget there is a community outside their door?
What it comes down to is that all people matter and many of them have something worthwhile to say, not just the ones who can afford a ticket to the party. When you’re feeling like mus adulteri Dei because you’re at wits and faith’s end, it’s difficult to not wonder if it’d kill people to put the drink down long enough to reach out to you. We may be rat bastards, but we still like to look at the city of lights and dream of one day being welcomed by its residents. So how about it?
The beautiful people, all send their excuses: (Real estate and sex lives, livestock and ex-wives)
But the poor are coming, the lame are running In their sleazy clothes and orthopedic shoes There’s a harelip spokesman shouting out the news
“Come to the banquet at the world’s end!”
There’s a string ensemble, and the King’s court jester Telling parables and big jokes, to mongoloids and old folks
The blind are seeing, the dead are breathing And the mummies dance in geriatric style The amputees are rolling down the aisles
“Come to the banquet at the world’s end!”
Candlelight and party hats, duck and pheasant under glass Aluminum walkers, thin white canes, caviar and pink champagne The bride and the groom waltz on Club foot lane at the banquet at the world’s end The banquet at the world’s end The banquet at the world’s end
Say the beautiful people (the poor are coming) “We’ll live with the lights out (the lame are running) Leave us alone now because (the blind are seeing) Hell feels like home now” (the dead are breathing)
But the poor are coming, the lame are running In their sleazy clothes and orthopedic shoes There’s a harelip spokesman shouting out the news
“Come to the banquet at the world’s end!” “Come to the banquet at the world’s end!” “Come to the banquet at the world’s end!”
I was raised a good Catholic boy (yeah, yeah, I know – where did I go wrong; something my mother often wondered). Part of this upbringing including being severely taught to show the utmost respect for priests, nuns and all other Church members in authority positions. Note that this was show respect, not never question. My parents, especially my father, seldom hesitated to enthusiastically engage assorted parish priests and other officials in even more enthusiastic discourse over various matters of theology and/or local church policy. This duly noted, there was never any disrespect for the position someone held, regardless of whether the individual holding said position was equally well regarded.
Said all that to say this. One of Patheos’ Catholic blogs is Standing on My Head by Father Dwight Longenecker. In a recent post he ripped and ridiculed not only Christian rock itself, but the very notion of it being suitable for ministerial, let alone liturgical use.
Shall we examine his foolishness… er, rationale?
A friend of mine used to quip, “When you’re talking about Christian music it’s pretty safe to substitute ‘bad’ for ‘Christian’.
A friend of mine used to say the moon is a gigantic dusty grapefruit. I didn’t believe him either. But at least he wasn’t a smug, sanctimonious ass.
Who hasn’t had to endure a Christian rock band or sit through a worship with some aging trendy strumming a guitar and inflicting folk music or light rock on everyone?
Gee. I’ve endured many a Christian rock band. I recall many of them giving altar calls at the end. I recall many, many people coming forward to give or recommit their lives to Christ as a result of those altar calls. One of those people was… me. As to worship, I also recall many a moment of folk or light rock bringing many people into a deeper relationship with Jesus, encouraging them to follow Him more closely and be better servants to one another and the world. One of those people was… me. Somehow I doubt Fr. Longenecker has ever been to an actual Christian rock concert or heard quality contemporary worship/praise music. Which, despite his upcoming assertions to the contrary, does exist. In droves.
Why is it that so often Christian music is so awful?
Because the modern church, with few exceptions, has done such an abominable job of finding, nurturing, supporting, and promoting artists? Naah, couldn’t possibly be that.
I think there are a couple of reasons. The first is that the musicians and their audience mistake a worthy message for talent.
Uh, no. If that was the case, every everything every Christian record label releases would sell. It doesn’t. People do both care and have the wisdom to discern what’s worth a listen.
Then they get a martyr complex if they’re criticized. “You’re obviously not very spiritual if you can’t enjoy my music!
Wrong again. I don’t mind if people don’t enjoy my music or that of the artists I like. Where I do call into question someone’s spiritual discernment is when they apply their cultural bias and personal preference to their alleged discernment. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not good and therefore cannot possibly be used by God. I know people who think Pink Floyd is the worst garbage on the planet. Does that make it so? No. So don’t waste my time bringing your petty preferences, inflated with pseudo-spiritual tripe, into any discussion of art’s value or quality. Like what you like; dislike what you dislike. But don’t drag God into it.
The second problem is that the audience are often either totally uncritical or they haven’t the ability to criticize intelligently. Too often the audience actually like the crap that is being dished up.
We’ve addressed this already. Telling people they’re mindless drones for their musical tastes isn’t exactly what I’d consider a strong opening to winning over hearts and minds. Or winning souls for Christ. Or drawing those who already know Him closer.
The third factor is that market forces are usually not in play. Market forces often have a surprisingly sharp and salutary critical effect. Market forces weed out the junk, but in the Christian market they’re doing it for love, not money, so no one is telling them to get off the stage ’cause it won’t sell.
Already addressed this as well. But hey, keep flailing away at that deceased equine if it makes you happy.
These are all the practical problems. There is, however, a deeper problem. Christian popular music is almost always pretty bad,
Feldercarb. (Look it up.)
but the problem with most “Christian” music is that it is secular music with Christian words.
And what, pray tell, makes music secular or sacred? The style? The sound? Are you telling me God’s such an impotent wuss He can’t use whatever variation of His language — for music is God’s language — He pleases for His purpose? What emasculated God are you following? Not the one I know and in my stumbling, bumbling way serve.
In any decent art style and substance are supposed to match up. The meaning and the media are supposed to harmonize.
Which far more often than not they do. Except to those with open mouths and closed minds.
Most “Christian” music is taken from the secular world. Whether it is the music of Broadway musicals, Country Western, Las Vegas ballad crooners or light rock or heavy rock and roll it’s secular not sacred.
Again… it’s music. Music in and of itself is neither sacred nor secular. Did Paul Simon’s “American Tune,” which is an adaptation of an excerpt we know as “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” from J.S. Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion,” which is itself an adaptation of Hans Leo Hassler’s love song “Mein G’müt Ist Mir Verwirret” turn what started life as a secular tune, turned into a sacred one by Bach, back into a secular song? Really?
When you then add sacred words to the secular music there is a natural disconnect.
To people who serve a whipped puppy masquerading as God Almighty, yes. Or if you prefer, to those who are so petrified of themselves they can’t handle life, thus run and hide and cry out for the bad people and/or things to go away. I’m hardly the strongest person you’ll ever meet when it’s sin-resisting time, but I don’t need musical burqas to protect me from the beat menace.
That’s why so much Christian music (even when it is well written and well performed)
You said there wasn’t any. Make up your mind, will you?
doesn’t really work.
Feldercarb on a stick.
Oh sure, people might like it.
How dare they!
They might even have nice feelings about Jesus by listening to it,
What? People enjoying the notion of there being a loving Savior? Obviously a Satanic trap.
but the secular music was designed to produce certain types of feelings,
So? God can’t use it? Do we really need to repeat how small your God is?
and why should those warm sentimental feelings or hard emotional feelings be linked with worship?
Uh… because we’re human.
We might like listening to Christian country Western or a sweet Broadway type ballad about Jeezus or we might get all hyped up listening to Christian rock, but is it worship? Is it really inspiring us to draw closer to God? Is it really deepening our spiritual life or is it just music we like which makes us feel good and it makes us feel even better because it talks about Jeezus too?
Let’s think back a bit about something mentioned above that takes place during so many of those “awful” Christian rock concerts. Altar calls. Exhortation toward Bible study, fellowship and discipleship. Obviously thin disguises for warm fuzzies. But back to reality. You see, Fr. Longenecker, maybe — just maybe — in spite of your sarcasm in regard to and loathing of contemporary Christian music, God uses it anyway. The evidence is all around you. Too bad you’ve chosen to close your eyes to His work.
Forgive me for being cynical,
Don’t push your luck.
but think about it.
I have. Which apparently puts me one up on you.
The worst example is Christian Rock music.
And here we go…
At the risk of sounding too puritanical,
Reality isn’t really a risk, sir.
rock and roll music was, from the beginning highly sexualized, laden with rebellious, heavy and nasty rhythms
Nasty? What is this, a Janet Jackson revue?
linked with the drug culture–designed to alter consciousness and demolish self restraint. The acid rock and heavy rock was also obviously
linked with an occult and demonic sub culture.
And because a few losers played the devil game, stealing God’s language, we’re supposed to concede? Uh-uh. We’re stealing it back.
So you want to put cozy Christian words to all that?
Try listening to the Rez Band song again, then get back to me on that “cozy” thing.
To my mind that’s like putting a gospel tract inside a porn magazine.
Why not? We’re supposed to be reaching sinners, aren’t we?
The same criticism applies when the musical style is not quite so bad as acid rock. You name the popular secular style–the music wasn’t written to deepen prayer, lead to worship or open the soul to the sacred. It was designed to produce shallow emotions about love and romance at best, and lust and sex at worst.
Because we as Christians have been so shallow we’ve let the world run wild. We haven’t promoted our artists. We’ve held them back at best, actively ridiculed and opposed them at worst. We have made ourselves culturally irrelevant. We have paralyzed ourselves into being afraid of our own shadow. We have abandoned the things of God and settled for perpetual self-appointed second class status. That’s why we’re losing.
Pope Benedict XVI comments on this in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy. He acknowledges that down through the ages this has been a recurring problem in the church. Sometimes the hymn writers put Christian words to beer drinking songs. At other times they adopted the popular operatic style. Now they adopt light rock, hard rock, and virtually every other secular style.
Yeah, it was really rude of our forefathers to try and use God’s language for its intended purpose.
The antidote is to be more aware and appreciative of sacred music.
We are. You’re not.
There is a kind of music that on its own–even without words–is designed to open the mind and heart to the sacred.
Yes. It’s called “whatever God wants to use.”
Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony which evolved from it–is the music of worship.
I happen to love Gregorian chant. But it is not the only arrow in God’s musical quiver:
Especially in the liturgy this is the music which we are supposed to use because the music lends itself to worship.
As does most everything else when you let God be God and stop trying to squeeze Him into your box of what He can and cannot do.
It opens the heart and mind to a new dimension and reveals the spiritual aspect to our lives in a way that secular music with Christian words does not.
I’m sure this would be true… if there was such a thing as secular music.
That’s what sacred music is. What is required is catechesis about this music and an effort to appreciate it. Truly sacred music is an acquired taste. It takes some effort. It also takes some effort to produce it at a good and worthy level.
So when are you going to put in the effort, Father?
The problem in most mainstream Catholic parishes is that they’ve had nothing but crap music in church for as long as anyone can remember. The people actually think its okay because they have never heard anything else. They take on board the blend of muzak, Broadway tunes, folk music and light rock thinking that this is all there is. Then if they ever do hear Gregorian chant or sacred polyphony they hold their ears and say, “Geesh, why does Father want to bring in all that gloomy music? We’re outta here.” Alas. Its true.
Yeah, sucks when people want to live in the twenty-first century. Again, I love Gregorian chant and traditional hymns. They’re wonderful. But they don’t always work. Our God is a mighty God. Why, then, attempt to tie Him down as to what He can use? Let God be God. He’s much better at it than anyone else.
Does this mean that Christians should listen to nothing but Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony? Is that all we should ever use in the liturgy? The purists would say so.
I’m very happy for them having discovered backwards time travel and all.
But I’m of the opinion that we have to work with what we’ve got. We have to meet people where they are and move on from there.
Which you are doing in this article exactly how, reverend?
Chant and polyphony are the foundations of the music we should use. In addition to this we have the library of sacred hymns (and there’s enough there to warrant another blog post completely) the worthy ones of which will serve to complement the words and actions of the sacred liturgy.
Fr. Longenecker… please go away. And don’t come back until you’ve gained some wisdom.
Again you announce while you whirl and bounce Intentions to pounce on the beat menace No woman or man could ever withstand The devious plans of the beat menace
Come to lay you low, we’ve come to vex your soul
Feeling the heat, hell at your feet Don’t even speak of the beat menace Something to take away your innocence Someone to blame it on
Helps you to defeat Dancing in the street
Come to lay you low, we’ve come to vex you
Resolved in your mind- the nature of crime Is to swallow the line of the beat menace Imagination’s on the rise again So hide your heart away Dust off the fears and guilts and lies again The beat is here to stay Your satellite can reach that Eskimo He buys a suit and tie Re-styles his hair like girls in Tupelo And sings “Sweet Bye And Bye” He’s meeting all your strange requirements He thinks you can’t be fooled He’ll get the rules and laws and sacraments By sending checks to you
I first heard from Ellen Siska in 2007. She sent me an email in regard to a post I had written on my NASCAR blog sharply criticizing one of the MSMers that covered the sport; something I did quite often during those rambunctious new media rebel days. Unlike most of the missives I received from mainstream media back then, hers was complimentary; thanking me for taking the writer in question to task.
We started corresponding fairly regularly. Ellen was a member of the MSM herself, writing about NASCAR for ESPN and her hometown newspaper. Bit by bit we told each other fragments of our life story, hers being of such interest I asked her for permission to talk about it in my blog. It took a few months to arrange, but finally we spent some time on the phone, from which I wrote my post. Please go read it. Hers was an amazing story of perseverance and faith in the face of many trials.
Now, back then bloggers and reporters were supposed to get along about as well as cats and dogs. Not a whole lot has changed in that regard that I know of. But Ellen and I… well, despite the miles between us and our different experiences, and despite how ofttimes months would transpire in-between us dropping each other a line, we got along famously. She was smart, spunky and sassy; a genuine delight to know.
She wrote me in February of 2011 with some bad news. Leukemia. I wrote about it, ironically for my own mainstream media gig. We started keeping in touch as often as she could while she battled against what was trying to steal her from this planet.
In February of this year I heard from her again, asking if I knew anyone going to the Daytona 500 with whom she might be able to share a room (unfortunately I didn’t). She said she was doing well, feeling good and for the first time in her life gaining weight when it was a good thing to be doing. I was happy. It sounded like the Ellen I knew, and it sounded like she had beaten the leukemia.
My goals have changed since my diagnosis of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in July 2010. While I’d still like to write a book, it will certainly include things I had no knowledge of when I initially wrote up my profile — “to write a book on my experiences with my son’s death due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; my daughter’s bout with bacterial meningitis at the age of 13 months and subsequent deafness; the cochlear implant she had surgically inserted in Charlotte, N.C., at the age of 5; my oldest son’s Asperger Syndrome; my dad’s Alzheimer’s; and some other very interesting turns of life I’ve come through, including the excitement of covering NASCAR for the York Dispatch..”
I ‘m still trying to approach it all with an attitude of gratitude
In conclusion, a word for my fellow conservatives. Just as not everyone who collects unemployment is a shiftless slacker sponging off the public dole, and not every government employee is a lazy clockwatcher counting down the days until they can draw a fatcat pension, not every traditional media reporter is a talentless, clueless leftist tool. At least some of them are very good at their job, taking it seriously and doing their best every time to be accurate and fair. And at least some of them are good people.
Very, very good people.
God speed, Ellen. By His grace we will meet again.
Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
I’ve finished my online job applications routine for the day. A total of six. My goal is no fewer than three a day, every day, and thus far I’ve stuck to it since the day last August when I was laid off. Thus, at minimum I’ve filled out no fewer than 744 applications, with the actual number doubtless far higher as most days I’ve done five or more. Out of which I’ve had, as best as I can recall, less than a dozen first interviews, three second interviews, one third interview… and nothing beyond that. Unless you count the dozens of “we’ll get back to you by such-and-such date” that almost invariably translate into said date apparently not present on the promiser’s calendar.
Yes and I’ve often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
It’s interesting, although that may not be the most accurate word, how people react when they learn I’m on unemployment. I’ve lost track of how many snide “get a job” snarks I’ve heard from people on the right, people who at least in theory should be my allies, as if my current unemployment can either be magically whisked away or is a clear case of me being a hardcore slacker mooching off the public dole. If this is slacking, I’d like to know what aggressively pursuing employment looks like. No, folks, I’m not enjoying this. Not at all. I’d much rather be working, making money and also stimulating the economy by having at least some to spend. I too would like the new iPad, being able to go on vacation, and buy the occasional CD. Really, I would. So to those who’ve chided me on Twitter and elsewhere, kindly go blow a rabid porcupine.
Oh but I’m all right I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
One of the things I’ve learned during this time of searching for work is how it’s both more work than actual work and vastly less rewarding to boot. It sounds odd to say that unemployment is exhausting, but if you’re doing what you can to end it, it is exhausting on all levels. Which can be dangerous.
Still you don’t expect to be bright and bon vivant
So far away from home
So far away from home
It is frustrating, clearly seeing the goal yet finding it so elusive. It’s hard to keep your spirits up, remaining hopeful while simultaneously not getting your hopes up as it’s certain they will be dashed. I’ve stopped expecting people to call back when they’ve said they would, or for them to call back at all. Still, the employment equivalent of Dear John letters sting. As does the silence.
I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
As the bills mount, there are moments of throat-tightening fear. It’s easy to say that I’m a believer, God will take care of things, consider the lilies of the field and all that. It was easy enough for me to say to others when I was at least semi-comfortable and secure. Now that I’m not, the prayers have become more desperate, more pleading, more angry. I freely confess there have been several instances when I’ve questioned God’s love or even His existence. These moments seldom last long, but they are intense. I still cry out to Jesus, but I wouldn’t object to hearing back from Him more often. And I know I’m not alone in this.
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
Sometimes, and far more often than not privately, I hear from fellow conservatives in similar straits. I’ve occasionally muttered how the only two sins left in America are having sex with a child and uttering a racial epithet; everyone else is forgivable with the right kind of apology and a dash of victimization as justification tossed in. I’m thinking the need has arisen to add a third: being an unemployed conservative. As mentioned above, sympathy and support are scarce commodities. Thankfully there are many good and great people who can and do stand beside you no matter what. However, there are just as many if not more who’d rather jeer. Should the tables ever turn, may God guide me to not do unto others as they have done unto me. I add that while I have no doubt that had I ever met and talked with the late Andrew Breitbart he would have in some manner directly helped me, not with a handout but with a hand up, his followers are an entirely different story.
Oh but it’s all right it’s all right
For we’ve lived so well so long
Still, while things are bad they could be far worse. We’re not too far behind on the bills, and we have not yet been forced to start selling things off to make ends meet. I still have my modest guitar collection, and we can still eat out once in a while. Provided it’s from the dollar menu at McDonald’s, but hey.
Still when I think of the road we’re traveling on
I wonder what’s gone wrong
I can’t help it I wonder what’s gone wrong
Something is very wrong in this country. The Democrats practice class warfare and have no hesitation maintaining an entitlement lower class in exchange for continuing to hold the reins of power. The Republicans preach free market, but have yet to fully deliver on a promise of improved employment prospects for those seeking a return to self-sufficiency. These are rough times.
And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down on me
There have been moments of despair, but thankfully I have not succumbed to them. I know I’m good enough to do the work for which I’m applying. I know I have a solid track record of accomplishments. I know I have the skills. Despite it all, I have kept a realistic perspective of my strengths and weaknesses. Could there be improvement? Of course. But neither am I without resources. I can be a valued asset to an employer, and I’m doing my best to present this to them.
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying
I do fear for this country’s direction. Our economy remains weak and stagnant; the debt is crushing us all, and we lack both clarity and purpose in our relationships with other nations. Or, for that matter, ourselves. The media is forever throwing squirrels out to chase in lieu of reporting the actual state of affairs, racial divides are deepening, and screeches of political correctness and purity have replaced public discourse and the necessary compromises for government to function.
Oh we come on a ship they call the Mayflower
We come on a ship that sailed the moon
We as a nation are losing touch with our greatness, our willingness to embrace hardships and danger in order to achieve our goals. We are so rich, yet we have made ourselves poor by not encouraging and exhorting each other to higher levels. We can do better. We must do better.
We come in the age’s most uncertain hours
And sing an American tune
Yet, there is no other country in which I’d rather live. I’d rather press on where there is at least a hope of rejoining the workforce than a European quasi-socialist system where the government facilitates perpetual dependence on itself. That’s no way to live.
Ah and it’s all right it’s all right it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
I’ve certainly learned that once these days are over and I’m back on the job, I will never take it for granted. I’ve also learned the vital need of showing proper respect for, and offering encouragement along with whatever assistance I can provide to, others in the boat I’m now rowing. Compassion and kindness are crucial. Only those who have been through the fire can speak with authority to those still engulfed in flames. Once my fire is out, may I rush back in with water for those being burned.
Still tomorrow’s gonna be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying
To get some rest
I could use some rest. Please, Lord, bring it quickly.
Denied press credentials for your local race track? (That would be me.)
Tired of searching for respect like a man dying of thirst crawling through the desert, occasionally thinking you’ve found a sustaining wellspring when in fact it’s nothing more than another cruel mirage?
Well, search no more! Be loud and proud! You are now a member of the most exclusive club in the blogosphere! Yes, you are a member of…
Tell your wife and children! While others fly around the country to pose with and preen for each other, you’re either at home or out pounding the news beat, writing intelligent dissertations on current events if in fact not directly reporting on them! For which to date your reward has been absolutely nothing! Never again!
Your reward (other than knowing you’re doing the right thing the right way — like that’ll ever get you anything) is membership in the gallery of the greats! The elites of the elite! Top of the pops! Number One with a bullet, baby! Just like the one others have shot into your career!
Let’s face it. We’re rat bastards. We might as well enjoy it.