Sunday, April 27, 2008


Ani was absolutely amazing last Wednesday. By leaps and bounds the most beautiful and engaging concert I've been at in ages. From the incredible, contagious energy of Animal Prufrock ( -self described "dyke genious") to the soaring dignity and righteous rage of Ani's "gently ironic"* lyrics and unyielding guitar, it was a profound homecoming for me to a place that I hadn't noticed has become that... home.

The limitations of a gendered God, the holiness of physics, and Ani's rebirth as a feminist amidst her daughter's literal birth filled the night with the powerful hope and generous kindness that I've felt in Ani's shade before.

And no one has better fans. It was a good night.

*Wikipedia's words :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

You Should Be Honored By My Lateness

Paul and I caught Kanye West last night at the Key Arena. While it was a good, high energy show , it suffered a few setbacks, mainly 30 minute set changes, excepting for pre-Kanye, which was more like a 45 minute set change.

Kanye gave us everything he had, but he condemned his huge band to an unlit orchestra pit while he attempted to fill the entire stage himself... alone... for the entire night. Sure he had rocking screens and lights and smoke and fire... but not any better than I've seen at a Newsboys or Josh Groban concert (Don't ask what I was doing at a Josh Groban concert...) His choice to strip down many of his early songs and ride totally on his vocals was bold, and mostly worked. And his band was incredibly tight.. but in the end, it was one man on a big stage.

To further complicate the night, Kanye gave it a Sci-Fi theme, complete with a spaceship named "Jane" and crash landing on an alien planet. The whole scenario unraveled for me though when the life-size naked anime/barbie doll dropped down from the rafter to talk with Kanye. Not to mention the part in the script where the spaceship assures him that they'll be able to find the power to make it home: "We need the power of the biggest star in the universe,We need you, Kanye!"

There was also the odd trivia fact that Kanye made absolutely no use of any glo-in-the-dark materials, ditching the look from the Grammies.

While it was a really fun show, I'm completed dumbfounded why the LA Times is raving that "Glow in the Dark raises the bar for arena tours as no show has since U2's 1992 Zoo TV breakthrough. It's that innovative and galvanizing." Or the Seattle times claim that "He not only took the concert experience to a new level, he took it to a new planet."

I found myself with the exact opposite thoughts... that whoever put this show together is still stuck in a nightclub in their head, with the show only visible to those on the floor. From our seats, almost 100% of the stage was blocked by lights and rigging. Rather than taking advantage of a stadium's strong points, this was set up (yet again) only for the people on the floor. I literally sat there last night thinking "U2 figured this out 2 decades ago... what's so complicated?" Maybe finally bringing hip-hop into the stadium game, but no where near pushing the envelope.

In the end, the PI may have summed up Kanye's monster ego and self-centered show best with their headline "Kanye was feeling the love -- for himself."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Brand Jesus

from, further net voyeurism in a lonely age.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Christians and the Pagans

"So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old, and
Making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold."

-Dar Williams, The Christians and the Pagans

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Andy Crouch on the Art of Religion

"There is too much good in the world to be constrained by the bounds of religious utility"

"Better than useful... the economy of grace overflows with the unuseful."

"Does prayer work? No. Prayer does something better than work."

"We don't have to compel God to be useful to us, and he does not require us to be useful to him."

Andy Crouch Defining Art

Andy Crouch defines art as "Culture that cannot be reduced to utility"

He suggests that a wall serves a purpose, but whatever possesed us to create wallpaper?

Andy sees artists as operating in the realms of play and pain, and sees little of either in pop culture (escapism).


Paul (and Sam) and I just arrived at our conference ( At first I was pressing down against all of these thoughts and feelings that feel so arrogant. Passing judgement and critiquing. I didn't want to be in that mindset, the place of power and authority over my surroundings.

When we finally settled into the sanctuary for "worship," I had a sudden shift in how it all felt, to a space I haven't spent much time in. I felt betrayed. I felt betrayed by this conference, betrayed by the church in general. Like I have been promised one thing and then given a switched out product of not only inferior quality, but of dangerously negligent materials. I felt betrayed by...
The sterile, false architecture of the megachurch's sanctuary that mis-characterizes both humans and God.

The white men in suits... the overabundance of white men in general.
The red tape and the unthoughtful unkindness of registration's physical layout.
The straight rows of chairs.

The polished audio and video.

The monologues.

The truth is that this will likely be a good conference. There are good people and good intentions here. And I don't want to be cynical and jaded for the next two days, or for the rest of my life for that matter. But it feels noteworthy that behind what initially felt like superiority and judgment was the feeling that I have been betrayed, but something bigger and more powerful than me. And that's a feeling that I haven't been able to name with the church very often.