This is the view outside my classroom window this morning on Earth Day. We are merely stewards.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
Thursday, April 17, 2014
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.
Posted by Dave at 8:55 AM
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Monday, April 14, 2014
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.
Posted by Dave at 8:50 AM