Wednesday, September 29, 2010

MAKER MOMENT: Dayvan Cowboy

one of my favorite music videos of all time. it shows how sound and image, when edited together, can be a beautiful blending of creativity and art. the two (the music and film) become one.

creativity is one of God's blessed gifts to mankind.

[Dayvan Video wiki]

Saturday, September 25, 2010

the Geometry of the Cross

while ready Gary Jansen's book Exercising Your Soul this afternoon, i was compelled to blog. chapter 17's title is 'The Geometry of the Cross'. to be honest, i was never a fan of geometry. hated it. in 10th grade, i was doing o.k. in the subject. then my teacher went on maternity leave. our replacement didn't know math. she was the long term substitute. let's just say my grade dropped dramatically... and i've loathed geometry ever since.

so what does geometry and the cross have in common?

Jansen paints a picture of two lines intersecting. the geometry of these two lines intersect at a point, forming what resembles a cross. that intersecting point represents Jesus.

the horizontal line is me. the vertical line is God. man and God intersect at the point.

the God line includes all his creation: the beautiful and the ugly. birds chirping, mountain ranges, rivers wild, plazas and malls, families and strangers, shopping carts and SUV's. etc.

regardless - where we find God's creation, we find Christ. but are we even aware? or are we waiting... stubbornly thinking we can only connect with God for one hour on a sunday morning in a self-proclaimed 'sanctuary?'

i love how Jensen concludes this brief chapter.
he explains how we can be on the horizontal line and yet, since we are part of God's creation, are also on the vertical 'God' line.

"When we include you not only on the line that moves from left to right, but also bottom to top, you will notice that when you encounter yourself -- whether it be the face looking back at you in the mirror or the reflection of your soul against God's creation -- you will find Christ."
We often miss Christ... miss out on God. how much of that is because we are truly missing out on ourselves? how might one's lack of self-awareness correlate to one's lack of God-awareness?

so where did you meet God on your road to life today? on the slow morning jog. watching the joy of youth at the JV football game. the gentle, cool breeze. cleaning the garage. spending the afternoon in the great outdoors.

meditate on the times you were aware that your life intersected with God today. in the noises of life... airplanes overhead; laughter of children playing at the park; the breeze through the trees; the wind chime on the front porch...

the simple things bring us to that point of intersection... through geometry, even... to the point of Christ. don't miss out. don't miss Him.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns (a track by track description and breakdown)

by Tim Beck on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10:16pm

just my thoughts... typed out as i listened to the album in its entirety. some thoughts might seem very random.... and i might be wrong with my interpretation... but none the less, here they are for you to see. check out the album for yourself. i recommend it. ~ tim

1. "The Requiem" 2:01 - ethereal. like a soundscape to something dark and mysterious. effects-laden vocals. a foreshadowing to The Catalyst. there is no daylight, just darkness.

2. "The Radiance" 0:57 spoken word. "now i become death, the destroyer of the worlds." a warning of things to come… to the end of everything.

3. "Burning in the Skies" 4:13 the first real song on the album. a simple beginning. a modest opening song for an alternative band. vocals by Bennington and Shinoda. the song slowly builds but never over steps its modest beginnings.

4. "Empty Spaces" 0:18 someone preaches in the background. explosions and cannons fire and explode.

5. "When They Come for Me" 4:53 a solid tribal drum beat with bass are persistent. Shinoda brings a Chuck D-esque rhyme, with no apologies. the choral parts are the perfect compliment. the tribal rhythms serve as an edgy, conflicting end to the song. aiding the listener navigate through the concept of the album.

6. "Robot Boy" 4:29 so many layers to this song, including a sweet vocal mix. "you say you're not going to fight 'cuz no one will fight for you." "you say the weight of the world has kept you from letting go." "you think compassion is a flaw and you'll never let it show." "you think you've hurt in a way that no one will ever know." "but someday, the weight of the world will give you the strength to go." i really like the lyrics to this song. "hold on. the weight of the world will give you the strength to go." thus far - this is the most powerful song on the album. this song would never be played on the radio - but it'd be a great song to hear live. and it is a nice touch to this album.

7. "Jornada del Muerto" 1:34 indecipherable lyrics… this interlude sounds like a helicopter blade is spinning around… like when The End by the Doors plays in Apocalypse Now. the song then builds to a crescendo and fades...

8. "Waiting for the End" 3:51 another kicking drum beat to start. like Jay Z's 99 Problems (or the remix of Rihanna's - Umbrella). def. a Rick Ruben influenced track. (he co-produced the album). Bennington's vocals over the drum dub is nice. "the hardest part of ending is starting again." this song has hope - unlike any other song thus far.

9. "Blackout" 4:39 this is the farthest thing from any LP song we've heard in a while. almost screamo. very fast lyric style. listening to this song reminds me that these individual tracks are not mere songs. the are pieces to the puzzle. if one is missing, the story of this album is incomplete. this is a great concept album… much like Mew's - And the Glass Handed Kites was a great concept.

10. "Wretches and Kings" 4:10 this is a stand up and fight anthem. more Chuck D influence here. lyrical references to Bring Da Noise and Fight the Power by Public Enemy. "Wretches and Kings, we come for you!" - Bennington bellows this. Shinoda then scares anything in his path. in this concept album were a movie, this track is the rising action. this is the anthem. put your hands up. Mario Savio speech heard in background.

11. "Wisdom, Justice, and Love" (Linkin Park, Martin Luther King, Jr.) 1:38 a piano track as MLK preaches against violence and war and hate. the voice of MLK becomes warped and morphed. the closing robotic line of speech: "cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love…"

12. "Iridescent" 4:56 Shinoda shows his softer side - with lead vocals shared with Chester. "remember sadness and frustration… and let it go." a change needs to take place. but change breeds difficulty. is it worth the risk? that is what this song is about. a chorus of many join together at the end. to show unity? to show commonality? voices rising up. standing together. ready.

13. "Fallout" 1:23 a transition to the end. Mike Shinoda's voice through a synth/robotic voice effect - sets up the climatic ending.

14. "The Catalyst" 5:39 this song is why the whole album exists. this is it. it all comes to a head here. "God bless us everyone… we are broken people…" the foreshadowing from The Requiem is here. very fast. driving. climatic chaos in song form. this is the rising up. the resistance. standing their ground. overcoming. preaching the truth. "Lift me up. Let me go." a resounding cry. a nice conclusion to a great risk of an album from a band that was capable of pulling it off.

15. "The Messenger" 3:01 i envision this song playing as the credits role. the story has been told. the world of Matrix-like struggle between man and authority and a machine that rules with iron fist and war - The Messenger closes the show. the curtain is being pulled. a final reminder of what the struggle was all for. possibly the first acoustic track LP has ever recorded. with Chester Bennington streching his vocals once again. the curtain is now closed. the lights are up. the show is over. never forget.

now listen again. repeat. and repeat. and repeat. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

new music tuesday

long ago - in the days before marriage and kids and soccer practices and yard work, tuesday meant something special to me. for quite some time, new music has been released on tuesdays. and thus - tuesday meant something. in the mid to late '90's - i spent many-a-tuesday leaving work and driving straight to Best Buy or some other music outlet to pick up the most recent release.

my cd collection ballooned as a result.

now tuesdays are simply days - filled with busyness, practices, quick meals on the go and parenting and homework with the kids, etc.

so what made today special? well for the first time in a long time i was anticipating two new music releases. rather than driving to Best Buy after work - i pre-ordered the albums on iTunes. i woke up early to download the albums so i could have them ready to listen to on my iPod in the car as i drove to a meeting.

so today has been a special day... reminiscent of the days of yore. even better: i am really enjoying both albums. these days, there are no guarantees - especially when it comes to new music.

so what did i download?

Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns
a concept album. there are no songs - this is an album. o.k. there are songs , but to truly appreciate the sounds of this recording, one must listen to it as a whole. admittedly, i was a bit skeptical. everyone loved LP's debut Hybrid Theory, and their other albums have been decent - but not must haves. but after a few listens, i am really enjoying A Thousand Suns. It's gritty. industrial. a bit of a shift for die hard LP fans - but i think it's a positive step. the listening experience plays in your mind like a movie (without the silver screen).

Underworld - Barking

i've long been a fan of Underworld. like many, the movie Trainspotting introduced me to this british house band 14 years ago. Born Slippy intrigued me. the Pearls Girl EP hooked me.

I had previously skipped their last few projects (Oblivion with Bells and their mix cd's) - but decided to give them another chance. i found the video for Scribble on youtube and that got me excited.

Barking is a fun, electronic album. it's nothing cutting edge. nothing that hasn't been done before - but so far, it's an enjoyable listen. frankly, that's all that matters. i'd love to see them in concert, if they ever come to the States.

new music tuesday. nothing finer. i'm just happy that both albums are a delight. no let down. no buyers remorse.

Monday, September 13, 2010

sound off: on burning books and spewing hate.

(a little late to the party, i know.)

there's been much talk these days about Mosque building and Koran burning. and even though most Christians stand against such a silly thing like burning someone else's holy book - i've heard my fair share of jokes about it, too.

so now it's time for me to sound off. to let my opinions be known.

to start, burning the Koran is not only un-American but unchristian.

1. it's un American because burning books is un American. yeah, people have a right to do it - but having that right doesn't make it right. we learned that lesson in Footloose when the, ultra-right, overbearing Rev. Moore condemned his flock for burning books outside of the town library. o.k. it's unamerican for more reasons than that. but, we don't need censorship or destruction. we need restoration. burning books goes against the liberties this nation was founded upon.

2. (and this is the crux of my post) it's unchristian because Jesus said 'Love God. Love people.' (Matthew 22:37-39).
because Jesus said 'Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you.' (Matthew 5:44).

Shaming another individual or followers of other faiths - ridiculing them - desecrating something someone else deems sacred (whether we agree or not) goes against the way of Jesus.

when Paul preached in Athens (Acts 17) he was standing on what many Greeks would have considered 'holy ground' or sacred space. Did he insult them? Desecrate their idols? Burn their sacred scrolls or holy materials? In the midst of idol worship that 'greatly disturbed' him - how did Paul respond?

in kind. he responded in kind.

Paul answered their questions. He piqued their curiosity. He used something common to them (an altar to an UNKNOWN GOD) to show them The God they had not known (but had known them)!

and... they... listened.

He showed them that despite of their misguided idol worship 'God is not very far' from them. (Acts 17:27)

He then preached Christ - with love and respect.

When dealing with followers of different faiths - no matter how radical - are we/Christians loving? are we/Christians respectful? or are we shaming or degrading?

Jesus said "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)

i want to be a disciple. i thought that was what Christ asked of all who choose to follow Him. Christians, perhaps, need to stop picking and choosing teachings and commandments to follow, while ignoring the 'greatest' of commandments*. Love aught to have no condition. i don't see how you can have it any other way if you are a true follower of the Way.

just my 2 cents.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Book Review: The Natural

The NaturalThe Natural by Bernard Malamud

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

there are some movies that are adapted from books that simply can not compare to the written word (The Road comes to mind). there are also movie adaptions that are so different from the book that you wonder what was the same - other than the title (My Sister's Keeper comes to mind). then there are the rare few... those movie adaptations that are far better than the book ever was. The Natural is one of those few.

i'll admit, while reading Bernard Malamud's written text found within The Natural, the voice of Roy Hobbs sounded distinctly like Robert Redford, while the voice of Pop and Red sounded a lot like Wilford Brimley and Richard Farnsworth. i'll admit, the first half of the book was as intriguing as anything. a novel about baseball... what a delight! But the second half took odd turns that where anything but dramatic. Frankly, the movie had more drama and more of a climax than the book, and that left me disappointed.

perhaps i'd feel different if i hadn't already seen the movie, but i doubt it. i'm o.k. with the fact that the endings of book and movie differ... it was the steps that took Roy Hobbs to that conclusion that were tiresome and lame.

this is not Malamud's best text. he is a wordsmith. but to what avail?

Skip this book. watch the film instead.

View all my reviews

Friday, September 03, 2010

the lost journal entries: question about worship

i've collected and filled (some partial, some entirely) a handful of journals over the years. most of the journals are used for brainstorming. lately, i've been looking through some of them. i figured i'd take a picture of some entries and then blog about it.

[from Nov. 18, 2006; general session three of National Youth Workers Convention in Cincinnati]

"When I close my eyes, the worship is like a musical." ~ Jen Beck

what prevents worship (at other times) from being dramatic? does worship need to be dramatic? no. but when worship is compelling to us - might it also be compelling to God?

The real dichotomy is this: does worship then become more about me and less about God?

i don't think that this morning's worship is self seeking. it is real and honest and difficult and like a painted picture that tells a story. the story is Jesus Christ. May he be glorified.

Ubi Caritas et Amor ~ Charity in Love


So many different styles of worship. the "new" ways seem hard to grasp for many. are they that "new"? Why is worship such a struggle? is it possible to have a community of worshipers without boundaries or traditions or things that bind? things that hold us back?

where many gather, can there be silence?

the struggle within me is finding a place to create worship for self, others, young & old, youth, teenagers, etc... to gather and worship in ways beyond our current Sunday morning tradition. not that i desire to throw out traditions...i think traditions have value beyond what we even understand.

but some traditions or experiences have been forgotten. Acts 2?

God is with us. now. forever. do we recognize?

I need to be shown ways that God is with me. How he speaks to me. old ways are not bad ways. yet i feel compelled to think outside the box.

Psalm 21.