Of Magic And Loss

What a mess this world is in
I wonder who began it
Don’t ask me
I’m only visiting this planet

— Larry Norman

The news cut through social media yesterday and today, the liberal Obama staffer husband of conservative new media darling Mary Katherine Ham killed while riding his bicycle. Sympathies to Ms. Ham, and to the couple’s young daughter, now left fatherless, plus the couple’s unborn child who will never know his or her father.

Life on Earth is an endless parade of magic and loss, the joys of life and love running parallel with the sorrow of goodbyes. It focuses, or at least ought to focus, our attention on what matters: faith, family, friends. Far too often, priorities are skewed in favor of the temporary and temporal. We rant about that which, or who, offends us; we rave on behalf of that which, or who, floats our boat. We argue the meaningless, then are immersed in utter astonishment when the unfortunate fellowship pays a visit.

A side note. I am mindful of Ms. Ham’s lengthy and deep connection with Salem Media; she is a former writer for Townhall and current writer for HotAir along with being a frequent guest on Hugh Hewitt’s show. I am equally mindful that Salem practices complete separation between its political and religious divisions. Here’s the deal.

Salem has a bunch of Christian-only websites and radio stations/programs. Okay, fine.

Salem has a bunch of politics-only websites and radio stations/programs. Um, okay.

Now, the assorted political pundits who talk and/or write for Salem will claim the mantle of Christian at the drop of a hat. Well, except for Allahpundit at HotAir with his whiny-ass atheism and Dennis Prager & Michael Medved’s Judaism. But they’re conservatives, so nothing else matters. Right, Salem?

Now, ask any of the Salem politicos to so much as breathe a word about Christ, or especially to support those serving Christ, on their show and/or website. “What? WHAT?!! We can’t do that. It might turn people off who follow us for our politics! We’ll talk about Jesus over here … maybe. Now go sit in your corner and quit bothering us.” I have personal experience with this, having received nothing but silence or cheap shot insults back when I tried to reach Hugh Hewitt and his radio show producer Duane Patterson about perhaps coming on the show to discuss my book. Of course Hewitt can promote his religious tomes all he wishes. Also worth noting is the time a couple of years back when Daniel Amos leader and Christian music giant Terry Scott Taylor was in a very bad place financially. Patterson was informed of this. He was begged to have Hewitt say something about it on air on behalf of the fundraising campaign mounted by Taylor’s friends and fans. Did he? No. Hypocritical? You betcha.

But don’t say so out loud. At least not on social media. Point this out and you’re a malcontent. A troublemaker. You don’t understand. You can’t mix religion and politics! Well, we can … but we don’t.

Of course not.

Well, how important are your politics now, Hugh Hewitt and Duane Patterson? How much comfort will Donald Trump not knowing the names of Islamic terror groups leaders bring to a young widow? What assurance of faith and life eternal will come from hosting a Presidential debate, Salem Media? To the point, how do you justify building a platform, then failing to use same to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

You will see and hear much weeping on Salem websites and radio shows over Ms. Ham’s loss. Which is proper. But once the moment has passed, it will be business as usual.

Which is everyone’s loss.

(This was originally published on Da Tech Guy Blog.)

Wonderous Stories

Life has a peculiar way of focusing priorities; the one and done playoff loss (again) half a world away of one of your two favorite football teams and your other favorite football team sucking rotten ostrich eggs in the season opener sitting next to the pile of work laundry demanding attention and the text message from a coworker hunkered down in an emergency shelter, waiting to see if a vicious wildfire has spared her losing her home. It is not looking good in that regard. Meanwhile, another coworker and her family are celebrating the daughter’s third birthday at Disneyland.

It is in moments such as these that music, God’s language, becomes ever more vital. We need the release, the reminder of the divine, the voice that celebrates and diverts attention and comforts and whispers it will be all right. We need the words of that song to provide focus and healing, saying what needs to be said yet we can never say. Be it sacred or secular, the divine voice speaks to all with ears to hear, reminding us that there will be a tomorrow and we should never fail to love today. Music is not an escape from reality. It is a portal to what is real.

Some days, you need to hear the wonderous stories.

(This was originally published at Da Tech Guy Blog.)

Hopeless, Etc.

I’m hopeless
Hopeless and tired
Will you give me the sign I’m looking for?
I am mired with the earnest and sight-inspired
Hopeless

A Kickstarter campaign is currently underway; successfully reaching its initial goal in a few days. Objective? Remaster, and for the first time release on vinyl as well as a remastered CD, the 1992 album Dig by Christian alternative rock band Adam Again.

Adam Again was Gene Andrusco’s brainchild. In the days of his youth, Andrusco was an actor, playing Darrin Stephens on Bewitched among other roles. As an adult, Andrusco chose to go by the name Gene Eugene and focused his artistic side on music, be it as an artist (in addition to Adam Again he was also a founding member of The Lost Dogs), producer, or for a time record label owner. He died in 2000 at age 38 from a brain aneurysm.

One of Andrusco’s brothers in musical arms described him as a genius artist and amateur human being. Take from that what you will. Despite his stubborn addiction to being the aforementioned human, Andrusco was universally loved by those he worked alongside no matter how exasperating he could be, which from all reports was substantial. He was far more adept at musical and lyrical expression than personal, hardly a unique trait among artists throughout the centuries.

I’m helpless
Helpless and silent
Can you return my voice?
You left me mute and defiant
But I can’t get my hands untied
I’m helpless

It is well worth noting how uncomfortably parallel the world in which Dig was released, namely the contemporary Christian music world of the early 1990s, and today’s conservative new media world align. At the time Dig first saw the light of day, contemporary Christian music (CCM for short) was populated by a few heavy hitter record labels and artist managers who dictated which artists and musical genres would receive the lion’s share of promotion, with all others left to fend for themselves via word of mouth among a handful of rabid enthusiasts. This is why at a time when alternative rock and grunge ruled the mainstream music world both in attention drawn and records/concert tickets sold, the handful of Christian artists working in this field were privately praised but publicly ignored by CCM’s business side in favor of ├╝bersoft praise schmaltz or syrupy Top 40 pseudo dance pop. Adam Again, along with other bands and artists – Daniel Amos, The Choir, 77s, Undercover, Altar Boys, Steve Taylor, Veil of Ashes – who should have been heralded were instead literally and figuratively shoved to the back of the bus, left to fend for themselves. Substitute Salem Media and National Review for record labels and artist managers, and Trump Derangement Syndrome for the music promoted during that time … you get the picture.

I’m useless
Useless without you
It’s my fault
I am withered, I am weak
And about to find out why I’m so into
Being useless

Gene Eugene was a spiritual descendant of Solomon who wearily described all as vanity; of the Psalmists who cried out:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

His was a faith and life of reality, one in which you reached out to people where they were, not where you demanded they be. It is a lesson sadly lost on all fronts in today’s world, especially the one founded on citizen journalism but now choked with the very elitism it once set out to destroy.

(This was originally published at Da Tech Guy Blog.)