Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I've had a bit more down time than I'm used to the last few days. After spending last week doing demolition for my brother-in-law in Chattanooga, I have settled into a state that by comparison makes me feel lazy. I'm spending time with friends, reading, watching the occasional movie while waiting on the mail (that will hopefully bring my new license plate or computer battery), and trying to play some guitar. Notice I said trying. Two days ago, I sat down on the porch with my favorite instrument (click Charis on the sidebar) to try and hash out some fingerstyle pieces I've slowly been learning. I haven't played in over week due to the demolition work and my fingers feel sluggish. The strings are old and dead and the guitar just isn't responding like I had hoped; acoustic strings are heartbreakingly expensive and I have decided to hold on to my money for more important things like food. Needless to say, I played for about 15 minutes and sat the guitar down, mourning a sudden lack of inspiration. Yesterday, I plugged into my amp to give the electric a run, hoping for better results, but that only lasted about 10 minutes before I got bored and absent-minded. This bothers me.

I've been thinking about this lately, this sudden lack of inspiration. I'm not playing much, I'm not writing much, and I'm not all that excited about the arts these days. I'm finding my time with God to be stale and unfulfilled and life in general is a bit blah, save my friends and certain close relationships, such as Sarah my girlfriend, which, fortunately, are improving after a full summer of disconnection.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting with my friend Nate, sharing some conversation on various points of common interest over a pint of Guinness. As we talked about the church, movies, music, and politics, I found excitement growing in a way I hadn't felt in a while. I wanted to play, write and create, watch movies and maybe even start a film discussion group at church. A few days later, I went with my friend Scott to see this band called Muse and I left with this incredible excitement over playing and performing. This past weekend, I sat in church and listened to Donald Miller talk about changing our perspective on ministry and reaching out to the lost. He shared this passage from Acts 17 about Paul preaching in Athens and I found myself more excited about ministry than I have been in weeks or months even. With interests rising, why the sudden feelings of disjointed living this week?

I'm beginning to realize how I have limited my exposure to the things that inspire me. I haven't bought a CD in over two months, I haven't cracked a new book in just as long, and I haven't been searching for God in scripture and prayer like I know I desire. Rush, love them or them, once said that nothing can survive in a vacuum, which is precisely what I have placed myself in. Today I resolve to change this.

I want to be reminded of the things that excite me. If you'll notice, I've added some links on the blog. I've been taking the time to consider the musicians who make me want to do what I do, the records that make me love music, the movies that make sense of life, and the God who makes me love. In the interest of self-preservation, I've decided to start posting about the things, places, and people that inspire me. This is no attempt to try and feed my ego by sharing my various "hip" interests, but an act of necessity to salvage the simple joy in the day to day of my life and I invite all you readers to share with me in the seemingly trivial and profound.

On the note of profound, I am heading to Yosemite National Park this Friday with my parents. I have always wanted to go and I eagerly anticipate the humility that comes from standing in the most beautiful of God's creation. I'll take pictures. Cheers!

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Blogging has been a bit scarce these days. I realize that my worth is not the product of the words contained here in, but I do appreciate the fact that somebody reads this and I want to respect that. Thank you for reading, Dad. I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t really felt like writing that much in spite of the fact that I have a generous amount of free time. I tend to approach the blogging process a bit more like the gossip column in the local paper, kind of the whole crack it open and read up on what Whit’s been doing out on the town. That was never the point behind this blog and I guess I’m struggling with the purpose of it these days. I’m also presently struggling to write as the guy at the table next to me is allowing his four-year-old to run around the shop screaming. Sex makes babies people, accept it. And somebody tell Brittany Spears while we’re at it.

The truth is that I’m finding the world to be a much more discouraging place than it used to be. Now, I’m fully aware that this probably isn’t true but for some reason it’s really getting to me. A while back I spent some time talking about George Orwell’s “1984”. Ever since I read that book I’ve found the news to be more discouraging, the government more despicable, and ignorance so much more attractive. I went through a phase a while back where my increasing awareness of political and social issues resulted in a backlash of sorts against the conservative agenda. I was enraged at the poverty and injustice of the world, or at least I thought I was. I quickly realized how attracted I was to being a voice of objection rather than the voice-less acceptance I had known for most of my life. I was mad at the church for telling me how to think and not encouraging me to ask questions and to get dirty and vulnerable before God. I was mad at the selfishness of our country, the hoarding of wealth, the political bullying, and the gross destruction of the environment. I still believe all of these things to be wrong but I must confess the error of my intentions.

I have never desired ignorance, God has given me a mind and I truly intend to use it. At this point, the liberal revolution has slowed and cooler heads have prevailed. I want to stand by my beliefs, my values, and my opinions with well considered reasons and I am learning to reinforce certain ideals and dismiss others as impulsive. All in all, I think I am becoming a well-informed individual. In fact, I am growing increasingly irritated and discouraged with the frightening number of people my age who have no idea why they believe what they believe or stand up for what they do; there is too much at stake these days to not.

So why the mention of “1984”? I can honestly say that this book has haunted me like nothing I have ever read and I will explain shortly. But first, for those of you who haven’t read it, let me give you a brief, spoil-free, overview of the novel and then promptly go buy the book and read it. The story is centered around a man named Winston, a common citizen in a nation referred to as Oceania, which is geographically is really more like a modern day British empire. Oceania is run by a totalitarian regime that desires to control every aspect of its resident’s lives from their jobs to their hobbies, friends, and even mates. Free thought, or thought crime as it is called, is the most serious offense of the land and everything from writing to pleasurable sex is an example of it. People die for this crime. The head of this regime is Big Brother, a figure who may or may not truly exist but governs with an iron first and valiantly battles the ceaseless enemies of Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia, who are constantly changing from foes to allies and to foes again. The funny thing is that no one really knows why the present enemy nation is just that, the enemy. They are simply told who the enemy is and asking questions leads to death because Oceania needs the full support of its people, including their thoughts. It is Winston’s job to alter the public records so that no one remembers, it is his job to forget. All the while propaganda is rampant as the citizens are constantly told of attacks from the faceless enemy only known as Eastasia or Eurasia and how the valiant Big Brother stopped it and will eventually destroy the enemy threat all together. But the truth is that Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia need each other in order to maintain a balance of fear in their people and thus sustain their power. In a world where thought is a crime and ignorance is freedom, fear is the single greatest device at the government’s disposal to keep the nation in line. Winston begins to think freely and longs for hope in a rumored opposition called “The Brotherhood” before it is too late.

I was watching the news one day, maybe a couple of months ago, and the voice was talking about a bombing in a rather random location, not Iraq or any place like that. He was very quick to say, “It is unclear at this time who is responsible but Al Qaeda is suspected,” and I just wanted to scream, “Of course they aren’t responsible, it isn’t freaking Iraq!” In that moment, I thought how paranoid people must be as the news media tries so desperately to put a face to a faceless threat. I thought that Al Qaeda is so much more an idea than an actual group of people, just a name given by our country to something they don’t control and certainly don’t understand. In that moment, Al Qaeda became Eurasia, or Eastasia, the faceless enemy of civilized existence and victim of vicious propaganda. I thought about how the media loves to say its name, spreading fear all over this country. I thought about our co-dependance, how they have no agenda without us and we have no war and thus nothing to gain from the Middle East without them.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of headlines about President Bush. He’s been giving a lot of speeches these days, seeking public support for a fruitless war. He’s trying to get congress to approve activities he’s been doing illegally for years, seeking further wire-tapping, harsher methods of interrogation, and greater invasion of privacy. Bush is visibly frustrated every time I see him on television, wasting no opportunity to tell us of the threat of terrorism and the need for war to protect us. He even used his 9/11 speech as a platform for the war, something I regard as very disrespectful to the victims and their families. Every time I hear him speak, I can’t help but think he’s trying to scare us into support. Don’t get me wrong, I believe terrorism to be evil, a very real and formidable threat and something to be dealt with, but Iraq is not the real problem in the Middle East (Saddam Hussein is off his rocker and his country was an easy target as opposed to the highly organized, capable, and motivated Iran). I am grieved that a man in a position of great power is leading this nation not in strength but in fear.

When I read a book like “1984” or see a movie like “V for Vendetta”, I wonder how that kind of a world could come to exist but the more I watch the news, the more I know how. If the people have enough to fear, they will continue to bestow an increasing supply of power upon their leaders. The Patriot Act, a bill passed by a very bi-partisan congress who was angry over 9/11 and fearful about the future, is a first step in this process of unreasonable power escalation. Many people now consider the act a mistake and while the country is certainly safer under the Patriot Act, the precedence set is a dangerous step in the direction of absolved privacy. I don’t like the fact that the government probably knows that I’ve visited websites claiming conspiracy surrounding 9/11. I don’t like the fact being Muslim or even just Arab in this country makes you a risk and a candidate for wire taps. Thought and speech are free in this country unless it’s threatening, in which case you’ll be arrested and labeled a terrorist or at least entered into a frighteningly large database at the National Counter-terrorism Center, a database with millions of names in it. The fact that Bush is presently pressing congress for freedom to circumvent the law tells me how real such a world can be and this scares me; I pray congress says no. How can we set up democracies around the world and be trying to get around the process here?

A great historical figure once said that democracy is not the best form of government, it’s just the best have so far. If democracy is going to continue to work, we have to vote and we have to be educated in our decisions. I cannot stand it when people say they are going to vote for a certain person because they are a Republican or a Democrat, or that they’ll vote for Hillary because she’s a woman or for Bush because he’s a Christian, having no knowledge of the how the candidate stands on various issues. The issues at hand are far too complex for a candidate to be chosen based on one factor, a truth I am guilty of ignoring. Take an interest in the future of healthcare and Social Security, on education, trade and labor laws, immigration, and foreign policy. Don’t give someone an absurd amount of power and control over unfathomable wealth and influence based on petty details! God gave you a mind and he intends for you to use it!

Literature has long since been a source of the world’s greatest wisdom and human commentary, from the Bible to Plato, Elliott, and Salinger. There is something to be said for the conviction that would drive a man to such a disciplined act as writing a book worth understanding. I also like to think we study literature for reasons other than its artistic value. Something got a hold of George Orwell, maybe the way Hitler worked his way into power, and led him to tell a story that is more a plea for the preservation of humanity than it is anything. It is a plea that we pay attention, devoting all our senses to the world around us, that we may know when something is wrong and that we may possess the courage to stand against it. I refuse to follow the path of ignorance and blindly accept the conditions of the world. When I account for my life before my God, I want to be able to say that, in faith, I stood for something that truly matters and that I knew why it mattered. All global issues must be viewed as spiritual issues for we are God’s people and all people were made in His image; I certainly believe that matters and I pray my life reflect it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

soggy shoes...

I'm presently sitting in the Hampton Inn in a tropical-storm-riddled Farmington, New Jersey, nursing wet shoes. The last week has been loaded with activity from first-time life experiences to travel galore. There is so much to share but rather than started at the beginning, I suppose I'll start with today.

Today was supposed to be the final show of Plumb's 2006 calendar, on account of pregnancy, and we flew up yesterday by way of New York's JFK. The venue said the event, an outdoor festival with a projected attendance of 15000, would be rain or shine, but probably rain given Ernesto's jaunt up the Atlantic Coast. This morning we got up to head to an impossibly early load-in but our ride was late. After some answer-less calls, the event promoter walks in the door and informs us our show has been cancelled. The weather has just been too overwhelming and their biggest hope is get some of the speakers on stage, such as Steven Baldwin, and the headliners which are Reliant K and the Newsboys.

What happened to the rain or shine you might ask? Well, I'll tell you. At first, we blamed the venue for not having a covered stage but come to find out, the storm actually ripped the top off stage. We got booked on the main stage, for once, but this would come back to bite us as the secondary stage still had roof intact. With this in mind, Justin and Grey, our key and bass player respectively, and I jumped into a van with some guys from MXPX to check out whether or not we could find a way to play. Our driver worked the 15 passenger like an Andretti on his way to Olive Garden. Fallen trees blocked roads all over and we had to work our way around the blockages.

Eventually we get to the venue and it's a total traffic jam. Our driver is trying to get us backstage and security wont even let the bands through. After a bunch of waiting, the guys from MXPX get out of the van in search of catering. We quickly were informed there was no chance of playing and after a bit of hanging out with our hyper-charismatic driver, eventually decide to go drop off MXPX's gear and head back to the hotel. Before long we get stuck in the mud and spend the next 45 minutes trying to find a way to get the van out. The next hour is spent dealing with a variety of weather issues from more fallen trees to more mud to running in the rain; I'll spare further details.

I'm now sitting at home in Nashville as travel arrangements interrupted the blogging process. In short, we get a ride back to JFK and get our flight changed so we can leave the same afternoon and avoid spending the night in rural New Jersey. The airport makes for an interesting afternoon as the ticketing agents keep passing us around to other ticketing lines, perhaps because they don't want to handle six people, an infant, and several hundred pounds of equipment. Our flight gets delayed on account of the storm, but eventually we get onto the plane.

Rain drenches the side of the plane, streaking and splintering down the window like lightning. The wind shakes the plane with every gust and quite frankly, I wasn't terribly excited about taking off. Forty-five minutes later, the plane sits on the runway, still rocking in the wind, and we begin to roll. Warning signs flickered in my mind as the plane failed to gather speed and before long, we had pulled off the runway and were working our way back to the gate. Apparently some aircraft have a maintenance censor that triggers in high winds. After restarting the plane, we take off, the wind tossing us around for the next twenty minutes. It was a stressful flight.

I also got to go to Destin this past week for a few days R&R with Sarah and my family. I have to laugh when I consider that I spent several days in Florida and saw no trace of Tropical Storm Ernesto yet I wind up in New Jersey and get pelted by the storm. It's funny.

In other news, I just bought a new car. It's a 2004 Honda Accord LX. It's got a bunch of room in it and it'll run till Jesus comes back. I'll post some pictures when I get my camera back; I left it in Florida. Cheers!