Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Back in the day I would really listen to music. I mean really listen. I'd put the headphones on and not do anything but listen to everything from Beethoven to the Beatles to Huey Lewis to Louis Armstrong. Music wasn't just background noise or something to have playing while I washed dishes. I would really pay attention.

I remember in college, when my roommate was out, I would turn out the lights, light a candle and listen to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. Or Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. Or Weezer. I would just listen.

As I got older I got even busier. I still listen to music in the car or on the headphones while I wash dishes. But one day last week I realized I haven't really spent time listening to music for its own sake in a long time. With a hectic schedule it was difficult to justify. Reading a book or a magazine is one thing. But stopping down, putting the headphones on, closing your eyes and listening to music...that seemed indulgent.

Stupid is what that was. How could I justify watching television but not justify listening to music? Had my attention span dwindled to that of a squirrel? I realized I was missing out on a lot. And when you relegate music to background noise you start losing your ability to detect nuance. Why do you think our popular culture craves super short songs about meaningless topics with simple hooks? We've trained our attention spans to lose focus after two minutes. We want a simple diet of sugar and candy. We want our entertainment to be easy and effortless. In the process, we are missing out on a lot of good stuff, transcendent stuff.

When Arcade Fire released Reflektor a few months a go there were some critics who complained that some of the seven minute songs were indulgent. Seven minutes! They found some of the songs repetitive. But if you listen to the tracks intently you hear the build up. The song rises slowly until the waves crash. The payoff is extremely gratifying and sometimes transcendent. People addicted to the quick and easy payoffs associated with today's pop music don't have the patience to give the music time to come to resolution.

So this week I've become more intentional to listening to music...even if it's just one song a day. I am making time to find at least one song to plug into and just listen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Class Acts

Another wedding, another time when we really should be paying attention. 

Just kidding...

Actually we took this photo before the proceedings began. We know how to act in times of formality! We got class bro!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Good Guilt vs Bad Guilt

Heard an excellent sermon yesterday on Christian attitudes regarding wealth. The only point I quibbled with was when the speaker said we shouldn't feel guilty about our wealth. We should instead realize everything we have is God's. We are merely stewards. We should use our wealth to serve others and to be generous. I agree with all of that except the guilt part.

There is a difference between guilt that leads to conviction and positive change versus guilt that leads to emotional paralysis. Once forgiveness has been accepted persistent guilt can be counter-intuitive and actually demonstrate a lack of faith in God's plan for our reconciliation with our Creator. 

But sometimes guilt can serve as a wake-up call. When I walked through the favelas of Venezuela and saw families living in squalor it woke me up to the realities of poverty. When I realized that my small storage building in the backyard would make a better abode than 95% of the world's dwelling places, that twinge of guilt spurred me to positive action.

Even on my family's "meager" teachers salary I still have a greater income than 99.2% of the world's population. In the United States I am not considered rich by any means. I'm barely in the middle-class.  However, according to Global Rich List I am in the top 0.8% of income earners in the world. That's due to the overwhelming poverty that the vast majority of people in the world find themselves.

If those figures cause a bit of guilt...then good! If that guilt helps me to keep materialism in check then I can't see how that's a bad thing. If that guilt causes me to refocus my economic priorities toward helping others rather than collecting "stuff" then that's a positive guilt. Guilt that causes one to move to a posture of humility and service is a good thing.

Obviously that guilt must eventually be replaced with an intrinsic desire to be more like Christ. Continuing to act out of guilt can gradually lead to unhealthy spiritual paralysis. Our actions should be proactive and not reactive. Our generosity of spirit should be inspired by Christ's example. But if guilt is the trigger that leads to transformation, then maybe a small dose of guilt isn't so bad.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weapons of War

Because it makes perfect sense to put weapons of war and destruction in a park for children. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

More Undivided Attention

Rare that I have both of their attention at the same time. My wife had just made cinnamon sugar crossaints. They wanted mine bad. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Depth of My Soul

Here is Thievery Corporation's "Depth of My Soul" featuring Shana Halligan from the album Saudade.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Thievery Corporation are known for their electronica music. I'm not much into electronica but Thievery Corporation is an exception. They are amazing and their latest album Saudade is spectacular.

Saudade is inspired by the bossa nova stylings of Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and others. This album could serve as a soundtrack to Madmen. My wife said it sounds like a 1960's James Bond soundtrack. It's nostalgic but strangely modern at the same time. The production is so layered that even after many listens you find something new in it's walls of sound. For example, quiet sounds of a thunderstorm linger in the background of the final track "Depth of My Soul." You may miss it on an initial listen but it's there, adding a special heft to the song. Every track is so rich and full of subtle surprises that keep you pushing the repeat button on your iPod. If you've ever dug the bossa nova Brazilian tunes of Stan Getz or Bebel Gilbero then you must check this album out.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Crush the Orange

All I wished for on my birthday a month ago (as I wore my new FC Dallas jersey) was for FCD to beat Houston this year. Last night it happened for the third straight Texas Derby match. A 4-1 demolishing in Houston. Very nice. The Stripes now have the best record in MLS. 



Saturday, April 05, 2014

Soccer Attendance

Soccer attendance is growing in the United States. Here are some interesting statistics, courtesy of espn fc. These are the average attendance figures for the big four European leagues and MLS in 2014. Granted, the MLS season is only in the fifth week of play and the Euros are wrapping up. And the big four Euro leagues are heavily stacked at the top. Germany has the best attendance across the board. The numbers are never that simple. But here are the figures, for what they're worth, on how MLS compares to Europe in attendance:

1.) Germany Bundesliga: 43,124
2.) English Premier: 36,486
3.) La Liga (Spain): 26,825
4.) Serie A (Italy): 22,027
5.) MLS (USA): 19,034

photo: Me and the Little Man on the field before the FC Dallas home opener. 18,000 showed up despite the 35 degree weather and rain.