It’s My Blog And I’ll Kvetch If I Want To

Mind if I vent?

Yesterday I posted a link to my latest blog post. It’s a review of Christian rocker Randy Rose’s new album “Songs For The Ritually Abused,” which tackles head on the issue of child abuse.

You probably haven’t read it, let alone listened to the album. Which is okay. It’s your call. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. You’re definitely missing out, and even if the album isn’t in your musical wheelhouse (it’s heavy and leans heavily toward Goth), it should be easy to agree on child abuse being something we should all fight together. That said, if you’d rather not read the review and/or listen to the album, it’s entirely up to you. And, based on the roaring silence with which the post has been received, it’s clear at least this attempt to broach the subject is of little interest.

Now, had the post been about, say, how reprehensible Kathy Griffin’s video was, people would lap it up. Lots of people. Furthermore, should it have been one in a series of posts after posts cranked out crabbing about how Democrats are all poopyheads, or, taking the “principled conservative” angle, part of endlessly churned out copy about how Trump is a meanypants, it’s pretty much guaranteed that within a few months yours truly would have one or more gigs at a high roller, corporate owned website. I do have writing chops, and I can play the schmooze & suck up game when need be. It’d be all phony and fakery, but it could be done.

However, there are far more beneficial contributions possible than the three hundred and seventy-sixth post on today’s topic du jour. It’s the same philosophy I employ when writing country songs: given that the subjects of drinking, dancing, and honkytonking are all thoroughly covered, I’ll work on discussing something else.

That is what people want, isn’t it? A lot of them in the political junkie category say that’s what they want. We’re tired of all politics all the time, they moan. Give us something different! Break out of the echo chamber! Politics is downstream from culture!

Okay, here’s something different.

The response?

Not much of anything.

Oh, there’s the occasional “that’s nice.” But overall? Zip. Nada. Nyet. And while I’ve grown used to it, it still rankles a bit. (Okay, more than a bit.)

Now, it’s impossible to write all this and remain unaware all this leaves me wide open to charges of being a whining crybaby. Perhaps this is true. In my defense, it’s not a case of why them instead of me. Rather, it’s why not me as well.

The lyric by early Christian rock band Servant comes to mind: “Well they call me a Jesus freak / I do believe it’s true / There’s just one thing I want to know / Whose freak are you?”

Here’s the deal. The artists I write about deserve maximum exposure. They’re good people creating great music carrying an even greater message. Writing about it isn’t a choice. It’s a holy obligation. And if it’s frustrating when people who say they want something more than political yakfests, something that addresses culture and society, yet ignoring when it’s presented to them the very thing they’re asking for …

… what should be done?

That’s all.

Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing (But Richie Furay Sure Can)

NOTE: This post was first published on DaTechGuy Blog.

Following up on last week’s kvetch regarding conservative new media talking a great game when it comes to impacting culture, yet near-unanimously failing to do so, an introduction to someone who walks the talk. And has been doing so for quite some time.

Ritchie Furay pastors a church in Broomfield, Colorado, some thirteen miles southeast of Boulder. He is an unassuming man who looks far younger than his seventy-two tours of duty on this planet might suggest. He and his wife have been together going on forty-eight years, with kids and grandkids a-plenty. And lest one wonder “gee, that’s nice and all, but what does this have to do with changing the culture …”

… he’s also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Back in the 1960s, when popular music was beginning to rediscover its long neglected role as social commentary’s voice, there was for a brief time a band that proved seminal both in its impact on a generation of music, culminating with the Eagles, and on modern culture as a whole with its lyrical bent. Even as important as the band was, its members work after disbanding proved to be crucial in musical and societal change. The band was Buffalo Springfield. One of its three-headed monster leadership? Richie Furay.

Although as far as public recognition Furay remains well behind Buffalo Springfield’s other main members, namely Stephen Stills and Neil Young, Furay was a vital element of the band’s sound on all fronts: guitar, vocals, and songwriter. His “Kind Woman” became a staple of the band’s catalog, a track that perfectly captured what at the time was a revolutionary and hitherto unimaginable fusion of country and rock. Turn on any modern country radio station and you will hear the full impact of Furay’s work. He did not singlehandedly invent country rock, but Furay was one of the first artists, if not the very first artist, to make it work.

Following Buffalo Springfield’s demise, Furay rounded up a bunch of like-minded artists for a new band named Poco. Poco never made major headway commercially, but was revered by its fans and peers for refining the country-rock genre. Furay eventually left the band to get together with fellow veteran artists J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman; it was during this period in 1974 when Furay came to Christ. Over the subsequent years Furay has focused more on pastoral duties than music, although he still records and performs. And, as the following clip from his most recent album recorded a couple of years ago showcases, he still has his songwriting chops, presented via his clear with just a touch of twang tenor, hitting the high notes without breaking a sweat:

At this point, one might think “gee, that’s nice and all, but I’m still not getting what this has to do with changing the culture.” Bear with; we’re getting there.

Richie Furay breaks the mold of rock artists by being a full-bore unapologetic conservative. He routinely speaks up about political views on his Facebook page, where he equally routinely politely and directly engages with his fans. Which in and of itself breaks the mold of most rock stars and celebrities who prefer maintaining as much of a distance from their fans as possible.

Wait, you didn’t know that? Not surprising.

Here’s the deal. Want to read more about Furay; his music, faith, and political views? Hmm, let’s see. RedState? Nope. HotAir? Nada. Breitbart? Nyet. Not a word.

Try Rolling Stone.

It unfailingly amuses and saddens how conservative blogs and the people who write them can endlessly tonguebathe themselves about the great and mighty service they are providing in molding and shaping public opinion. Problem is, they’re not. Outside the echo chamber, no one knows they exist. Even within the echo chamber they change nothing. Remember the #NeverTrump torrent that poured forth daily from the high rollers? Boy, that sure changed things in favor of President-elect Rubio and … oh, wait …

Maybe it’s time to change course. These folk know the definition of insanity, correct? Then why continue to do the same thing that has repeatedly proven to not be worth, and not work, a lick?

Try talking about someone with a good guitar lick. Try something other than another rewrite rehash of today’s talking points and MSM regurgitation. Instead of blabbing all politics, all the time, all the same, write something people actually want to read. Talk about a musician. Discuss an author. Review a movie. Tell a story about what is happening, or has happened, in your or a friend’s life. In short, give someone other than hardcore political junkies a reason to read anything you write.

No one is asking anyone to disavow their political beliefs. What is being suggested is political bloggers embracing reality. You are not changing anyone. No one knows you exist. You are a one note, one trick pony in a dog and pony show playing to an empty circus tent. Stop.

Reach out. Branch out. Write like a human being for human beings. You engage culture when you engage people. Start.

And along the way, talk up great music by a good man.

(Why I) Don’t Get Around Much (Politically) Anymore

I’ve never met Kemberlee Kaye either online or in person. I know people online who know her in person and vouch for her as being quality of the highest order, which is more than good enough for me. Of her personally I know little other than what she’s detailed in assorted website and social media bios. She’s married, I think. I know she’s Catholic, and she lives in Texas. I don’t know if she’s a lawyer, but she has worked in some capacity in the legal system. She writes for the excellent Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion blog among other conservative online publications. That’s all I’ve got. Which is fine.

A few days ago, at Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion Ms. Kaye posted some notes under the title Leave Michelle Obama’s workout video alone. Quoting from same:

Objectively Mrs. Obama’s workout video was just that — an informative workout video. Void of political message or any other evil left-wing plot to undermine the Republic, thousands flocked to mock the First Lady’s quite strenuous workout regimen.

The compulsion to vomit vitriol on anything bearing the “Obama” name is unfortunate. For everything the Obama’s are and are not as leaders of the (once) free world, they remain as human and “like us” as the next family. Life is far too short to view everything through the political lens, especially exercise.

Fair enough.

Political vitriol is nothing new. What has changed in the past fifteen years or so is the incessant reproving of, with the Internet’s ever growing presence in most all aspects of our lives, its synchronized beauty and horror: fortunately, everyone can get online; unfortunately, so can anyone. No longer are political debates relegated to the local newspaper for editors and letter writers to hash out any given topic. Now, we have blog comments. The following are among those left on Ms. Kaye’s post:

Barack Hussein Obama and Michelle LaVaugn Robinson-Obama “…remain as human and “like us” as the next family.”

What. The. Fark!?
Puh-leaze.
Get outta town with that disingenuous nonsense.

 

I don’t hate that commie, racist, criminal, affirmative action hermaphrodite any more than it hates me.

 

She wanted attention.

She got it.

Pointing out the obvious about Sasquatch is not vile, it’s the truth.

And these are among the remaining comments. Many far more brutal ones have been deleted.

There are two primary reasons why I seldom blog about politics anymore. A little backstory before continuing: I am a Christian first, meaning that unless I prefer being an utter hypocrite I acknowledge being a sinner, saved by grace brought about by the shed blood of Christ on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins and His triumphant physical resurrection from the dead; and I am a federalist second, meaning that politically I hold the Constitution to be the supreme inviolable law of the land and always to be strictly, literally interpreted with a corresponding limited government. In short, I’m a classic liberal as defined by Hayek and socially conservative, meaning I despise both political parties and am in no way a libertarian regardless of my aforementioned belief in limited government due to the current definition of libertarian being someone who worships the trinity of Ayn, Ron, and Rand in-between toking up sessions. Also, I believe no one is beyond the redemptive power of Jesus while simultaneously knowing there is genuine evil, and are genuinely evil, people in the world who must be opposed.

With this in mind, it should come as zero surprise I am as politically opposed to the Obama administration’s policies and philosophy as it gets. I despise excessive government spending, with its corresponding deficits and crushing tax burden, regardless of how superficially noble the cause may be; for private investment and competition between businesses create near infinitely better results than government’s hamfisted blundering in most every enterprise. Dovetailed into this is fierce opposition to excessive governmental regulation, including full-bore takeover, of what should be private industries regulated by free market vying for business by providing the best combination of goods and/or services such as health insurance. I cannot abide a foreign policy that coddles ideological enemies of freedom while backhanding fellow democratic countries such as Israel. I have no tolerance for the demonization of those who achieve wealth through hard work and calculated risktaking. To summarize, I am not a Democrat.

That said, I hold no personal animosity for the Obamas. Given the opportunity I would cheerfully read them both the Riot Act, detailing why they are in grave error in so many areas. I would also illustrate for them as best I could, in deed as well as word, how to truly follow Christ mandates humility, compassion, and active care on a personal level. The perhaps apocryphal story concerning a statue of the Christ having its hands broken off yet not replaced, but rather commemorated with a plaque affixed to the statue’s base reading, “I have no hands but yours,” while far oversimplifying and to a degree downplaying Jesus through the Spirit’s direct working in our lives contains a kernel of truth. If not us who believe, who? If not with all, with who?

There is no witness in vitriol or vacillation. The steadfast refusal to compromise principals and/or Christ’s commands for His followers must reign paramount. The Prince of Peace must trump politics each and every time. There are no options for behaving differently, no outs based on the behavior of others regardless of their behavior’s contemptibility. That a post such as Ms. Kaye’s is needed is a sad commentary on those with whom I ostensibly have so much in common. Their reaction to said post is sadder. This is the first reason why I seldom discuss politics these days.

The second is conservative new media’s omnipresent ennui. Every time and everywhere you look, it is the exact same puny handful of voices saying the exact same things to the exact same crowd for the exact same reaction: cry outrage! and let slip the tweets of butthurt. What, a liberal said something outlandish or offensive? We must take offense! The mainstream media pushing an agenda? We must snarl and snark! It is nothing but shadowplay; an eternal play to the crowd for the paycheck, a preaching to the choir while accepting a generous love offering from the congregation. It changes nothing. It moves nothing. It changes and moves no one. It is the Oakland of punditry. There’s no there there. It is an utter waste of time to read, let alone create. And I do not have time to waste.

These things are why I don’t get around much politically anymore.

Back To Basics: The Four Tenets Of The Blogging Evangel

So, after an extended silence that I oft doubted would ever end, I’m back. Had to blow the dust off my password and sweep the cobwebs out of the site, but thankfully it and I are still here.

Choosing a topic on which to hang my return was a tad difficult; it’s not like there’s a dearth of available points of discussion. That duly noted, one demanded immediate attention, that being blogging itself.

Blogging is in danger of becoming the compact disc of social media. It’s a marvelous medium through which to communicate, but in today’s world it is rapidly being superseded by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Why? Brevity and immediacy. The other formats are quick, easy, and instantly before your intended audience. A blog? Well, since no one uses RSS feeds anymore, you have to tell people new content is there (and tell them and tell them and tell them), then hope people will step away from Twitter and Facebook et al long enough to pay your site a visit. The hip and hot social media vessels have apps for most every mobile device. A blog depends on someone opening their browser and entering the address at least once, hopefully bookmarking it while there so it can be more easily accessed should return visits be part of someone’s online media consumption strategy.

Another problem bloggers face in attracting and keeping, along with growing, an audience is the deep level of funk out there about bloggers individually and collectively being unable to get over themselves. Delusion of glory and grandeur abound. It’s high time bloggers individually and collectively get back to basics and what made blogging a vital communication form.

Blogging works only when you remember it’s one voice, one opinion; consider it as you will. When you’re blogging, remember it’s a venue to express your thoughts and opinions on any given subject. That’s all. You are not going to save the world. Hopefully, prayerfully you can help open eyes and minds to truth. Be content with that, as it is futile to frustrate yourself by striving for more when there is no more to be obtained.

When blogging, be yourself and be real. Say your piece, and be at peace. Be consistent with what you say. Be consistent with who you are. Let your words reflect who you are. Don’t be one person online and another away from the computer.

Blog not for social media fame or accolades. Blog from and for the heart; the belief what you have to say can help other people. The echo chamber is already full, and it is not accepting applications. You don’t need it or its residents for validation.

Blogging for a paycheck is not blogging; it’s casual format column writing. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s be honest about what it is. Far, far too many people pass themselves off as bloggers when they are nothing of the kind. Working toward monetizing your blog is not a shame, but should you start straying from yourself and the reasons why you first started blogging you are going down the wrong path.

When blogging, always remember this: no matter what, never, never become what you profess to oppose. You say you’re a citizen journalist speaking truth to power at professional journalists living in ivory towers? Don’t live in one yourself. You say you’re against punditry elitism, where writers speak only to others in the same profession? Don’t do the same thing. You say you’re too busy to answer your emails; that there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done? Too bad. It’s your job.

If you want the “glory” of being a popular blogger, you have to do the necessary work. That involves far more than writing blog posts. To be a successful blogger means you embrace the belief that blogging is a communication tool from one person to another. Every individual who reads one of your blog posts is an individual, and deserves to be treated as such. Unless it’s a troll – and not everyone who disagrees with something you say is one – when someone communicates with you, communicate back. They’ve taken the time to read and respond to your writing. Simple, common courtesy dictates you do the same.

Again, unless it’s a troll, answer your emails. Every time. Respond to tweets and Facebook posts. Every time. It takes very little time to type a simple “thank you.” Do it.

The wise blogger does not see him or herself as a great written orator, or leader of people. The wise blogger does not see him or herself as one blessing teeming throngs with every word of wisdom that comes from their fingertips. The wise blogger sees him or herself as a retail clerk whose livelihood depends on the quality of service they provide all who come by.

Think about the pleasant retail experiences you have had. What is the common thread that connects all of these times? Invariably, part or all of it was interaction with a worker who was friendly, personable, knowledgeable, and genuinely helpful.

As it is in retail, so it is in blogging. The blogger who treats their audience with respect and as a welcomed guest will succeed. The blogger who treats their audience with distain, or believes its sole purpose is to praise their words of wisdom, will fail.

We say we must change the culture. Well, culture change happens one person at a time. Culture change happens when you reach one person, one heart and mind, with ideas that helps them see things in a new light. Culture change comes when we talk with people, not to them.

Be a positive force for change. Treat people as you yourself wish to be treated. This includes blogging. Interact with your readers as you yourself wish other writers would interact with you. Not as a haughty lord, but rather as an equal.

To summarize, please remember the four tenets of the blogging evangel.

First, the ability to broadcast your opinion neither elevates nor validates said opinion.

Second, blog from, and for, the heart; not a paycheck.

Third, answer your email. Every time.

Fourth, and most important of all, never become what you profess to oppose. Never.

May I always follow these tenets.