BLOG TAG (courtesy of elBen)

September 12, 2007

So I don’t usually do these things. I barely can find time to blog as it is, and usually my blogs are pieced together and saved repeatedly over the course of a week, until my thoughts are together enough to unleash upon the world. However, not one to pass on a challenge, I took up elBen on his.

“Ten Things, Random or Significant (mostly very significant) that have happened in my Life.”

1. Marriage (Cyle): so, you think you know what your ‘type’ is? Stop lying to yourself – what you think you want, and what God knows you need may be world’s apart. In the midsts of looking for a pierced, butch-haired, tattooed, vegetarian hippie-Christian environmentalist rock musician/artist type, I stumbled upon, became friends with, fell in love, and married a sweet, long-haired, well-organized, Southern lady who hadn’t even HEARD of most of my favorite rock bands when we’d met, and I’m still educating her (this month we’ve been listening to the Beatles). She’s a great wife & mother, though I’m still learning to be a husband, and this sort of settling down was and is a real shocker for me, but marriage has been good, and hopefully will continue to get better. I encourage it. It’ll change your life.

2. Set on Edge: back in ’91 I met Steve Rieske, then a freshman in college, now the director of Bowling Green’s Campus Crusade for Christ. He needed some help finishing a song he was working on, so, discovering I too was a musician, we stayed up late one night on a retreat co-writing. My ‘metal-turning-folk rock’ tastes met his ‘classic rock/blues’ in a way that surprised us both, and when we threw in our friend Randy’s classical guitar, Dave’s alternative rock ‘I want to be as famous as U2’ drumming, and all of our rather immature tendency to accidentally drop minor profanities referencing urination repeatedly during public interviews, and the fact that we played almost exclusively bars (hey – this was in the early 90’s – Christian bands didn’t play bars then!), we made for one of the more controversial, and interesting, ‘Christian’ bands in our section of Southeastern Ohio. Our c.d.’s, with no self-promotion, got on radio stations around the state, and even as far as Kansas City, California, and France. We got to replace Sixpence None the Richer for a Youth Conference at Willow Creek, & play graduation at Asbury as our ‘grand finale’ before going our separate ways. I took the concept, the songs thus far, and the name to Athens, GA, and restarted the band there – boosting us from a 4 pieces (sometimes a 5 piece) to a 6 piece (sometimes an 11 piece), adding some of the best musicians I’ve ever known of (two of whom were a pair of Patricks who became some of my best friends in the Southern Athens), recording at some famous studios, with some of the greatest mix engineers, being mastered by a mastering engineer who is history embodied (he’s only worked with the Allman Brothers, Doobie Brothers, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and more recently, Pearl Jam & Rage Against the Machine – no REAL big names, though), and released a c.d. that both played tribute to the original Set on Edge, and took our music to the next level. It was a moment to be proud of, and I am – it’s music I’d enjoy even if I had nothing to do with it, which is why I still put together bands to perform it on occasion. Sometimes I am saddened that we never recorded more – we wrote enough for 2 more full-length c.d.’s at least. Sometimes I wonder what it would’ve been like if some of the original band had moved South with me in ’96. I do know this: through Set on Edge I made a lot of great friends, wrote some good music, learned ‘stage-presence’ and confidence, and got to touch some people’s lives. That’s the sort of thing you never shake. I’m proud of those times.

3. 9 days of sleep deprivation: face it – you are ALL wussies. Everyone thinks they are cool when they go a few days without sleep. I’m proud to say that, in all honesty, ‘you can’t touch this’ – at least, not without serious mental problems, and a possible stay in a mental institution. What started as a all-night prayer vigil, followed by a band rehearsal, live performance, an 8 hour stint in the recording studio, writing a 20 page paper at the last minute, and studying for finals week, grew into – yes – 9 days – Friday through the next Sunday afternoon – without sleep. By the end, stop signs were talking to me – the sidewalk was moving under my feet – the face in the mirror would respond to my thoughts, and I even passed out on the street in front of someone’s house while walking to church 4 hours early on a Sunday: they were nice enough to nudge me awake with their foot while getting their Sunday paper instead of calling the cops. Believe it or not, I learned a lot that week: a lot about memory, how I process thought, how much I can take, and what it must be like to do LSD, without even so much as touching anything illegal! Maybe someday, if I ever publish a book, you’ll get the details. Till then, don’t complain about all-nighters – I’ll beat you down!

4. Calvinism: I remember the first time I heard about Calvinism – my response was rather direct; “I hope John Calvin was burned at the stake for heresy.” Of course, I didn’t REALLY understand it, and it was John Piper’s incredible “Desiring God” several years later that put the pieces together for me in a way that made sense. And, unless you’re a Calvinist, you can’t possibly understand what that revelation will do for you. Of course, I don’t think someone need be a Calvinist to be a Biblical Christian – I personally don’t give a hoot about the ‘5 points’: but when a huge revelation of God’s sovereignty over everything finally hits you, it’s both delightful and terrifying, and a HUGE WEIGHT OFF YOUR BACK, spiritually! “What do you mean, it’s not ALL ABOUT ME?!” Interestingly enough, the same book is also responsible for opening the door much wider in my life for my experience of the Holy Spirit. Needless to say, I suggest that book!

5. University Church: In ’96, after graduating from Ohio University, I moved to Athens, GA – I moved in with the pastor friend of one of my old college mentors. A church meets in his house. A rather unique church. The Rev. Dr. Alan Dan Orme, the pastor with whom I lived, is a Bible believing, Presbyterian scholar, with more degrees than you can fit on one wall, and the wisdom to back it up. The church was a strange mix of artists, musicians, scientists, philosophers, and theologians – a brilliant bunch – to whom no question remained unasked and un-addressed. We spent much of a year discussing women’s roles in the church, I led a half-year discussion on the conflicts and interactions between the Sciences and Biblical faith, and we even spent 6 months translating photocopies of the earliest versions of the book of Jude from the Greek to see if the translation we had in our New Testament was reliable. There are, and were, things about that place I didn’t love, but one thing I carry from there: FULL WORLD-VIEW CHRISTIANITY, what some call neo-Calvinism, or more recently ‘Radical Orthodoxy’. That is just to say, there is no ‘secular’ and ‘religious’ sphere – it’s ALL GOD’S and everything we do, think, feel, and say should be understood as an act of worship, and treated as though done unto God. University Church was incredible at emphasizing that, and for that I am very thankful.

6. Children (Kenimer, age 2, & Tucker coming soon): Even though Mr. Kenimer came about 3-5 years earlier than we had planned, I can’t imagine my life without him. The father heart of God really didn’t really make experiential sense to me (I may have believed it, but I didn’t feel it) whatsoever until I became a father myself. There is no joy quite like having a mini-me following me about the house, echoing my every word & action. It makes you reconsider what’s important in life, for sure.

7. David Lazar: Though chances are slim that he even remembers me, David taught a number of my creative writing courses at Ohio University. An accomplished author himself (his work is filled with entrancing prose), he introduced me to great literature, and challenged me to contribute to it. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a class more. It’s affected every aspect of what, and how, I write – songwriting as well. One day I will dedicate a book to him, whenever I finally finish one.

8. 3 Elliott St: The last several years (I was on the 5 year plan) at Ohio University I lived at the ‘3 Elliott House’ – essentially a ‘commune’ of local student leaders from various ministries. We represented Campus Crusade for Christ, Navigators, Lutheran Campus Ministries, and Chi-Alpha, all under one roof. We were all musical, enjoyed art-house films and bizarre British comedy (Black Adder was pure genius) and knew how to throw incredible ‘evangelistic’ parties. We hosted 3 “funkadELLIOTT” parties – huge disco jams, where the whole house and yard was one big alcohol-free dance party, with everyone in full late 70’s garb (they usually cost us around $1000 to host, after renting sound systems, strobe lights, and smoke machines to fill every room in the 3 story house) – Poetry slams, where we once even brought in an MTV ‘personality’ to speak to writers gathered at our home – and the humdinger: we even hosted our own ‘prom’ (“the Atomic Prom”) at the local student center – around 400+ attended. We loved God, were a support to one another, and it was honestly just a lot of fun.

9. First Album: When I was 5 I bought my first record (they didn’t make tapes yet, unless you mean ‘8-track’) for 25¢ at a yard sale – Introducing the Beatles. It was the fab-four’s American debut, when their harmonies were rich, and their melodies front-and-center. I learned to recognize each Beatle’s distinctive voice, learning all the various vocal parts, and knew every word by heart (those who know me well understand what a feat that is for me). Apart for laying a foundational passion for singing, and music in general, it also gave me what was likely my earliest answer to the age old question, “So, little boy – what do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer: “A bounty hunter – I’m going to kill the man that murdered John Lennon.” Seriously. I eventually decided, however, that I’d rather be an astronaut, and a rock-star. Oh well. By the way – that vinyl album that I paid a quarter for is now worth between $300 – $1000. Yard sales rock.

10. Jesus: Of course, this is probably, in all actuality, #1, if I were doing this in any order. Having been raised in a non-believing home, and being an Atheist from around the age of 7 till sometime late in my High School years, ‘meeting Jesus’, and experiencing His grace as I was going off to college most assuredly changed my life. If I were not a Christian, I would most definitely be dead long before now, and if not, my life would at best be in shambles. It is He who has healed me, pieced me together, directed my path, and lifted me up out of the miry clay that was my life prior. And every time I ‘meet Jesus’, I am changed all the more. None of the other 9 events mean a lick without Him.

And, as I’m obligated to tag someone, I choose Fred McKinnon – take your time, Fred – I did.

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2 Responses to “BLOG TAG (courtesy of elBen)”

  1. elben said

    Very nice. I really enjoyed that. You totally beat me on the whole 9-day thing. My puny three are NOTHING when compared your sleep deprivation greatness!

  2. saintlewis said

    “Sleep deprivation greatness”.
    I like that.
    Don’t you forget it, either!
    Punk.

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