Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday is Music Day!

I've decided to attempt to start a weekly Sunday post about the music I've been into lately. I love music, and in many ways, it helps me connect with God. I hope it can do the same for you.

This week I have a bit of a hodge-podge of artists. Up first:

Listener, the spoken-word musical project of Fayetteville, AR, resident Dan Smith. I first heard about these guys through a "Love, Everyday Joe's" mix that my friend Matt shared with me. Not long after that, I got to meet Dan at a songwriting seminar at the Cornerstone Music Festival, and actually got to hang out for a little while. He's an incredible artist with a penchant for discovering art in the mundane cracks of everyday life.

Curious yet? If you'd like more, check out this tune. It's one of the first songs I ever heard performed by Listener, and also happens to be one of my favorites. This is "The Music That The Angels Do," from their last album, "Return to Struggleville."

Random trivia: Listener's latest work (of sheer brilliance), Wooden Heart, is based--track for track--upon characters from the novel, The Neverending Story.

By the way, I'd like to mention that it's alright for me to share that song--Listener will be performing in my home (the Baptist Student Center) in September, and they sent me a few mp3s as promotional materials. If you enjoyed the music, I hope to see you there!

I'd also like to take a moment to tip my hat to Don Chaffer, the male half of the husband/wife duo Waterdeep.

Don recently released a new solo EP entitled "An Unfinished Tale, Volume 1: Beauty."
While I'm not quite familiar with the music yet, I will say that what I've heard so far has been among Don's best work--and that's saying something. Chaffer has been involved in over a dozen albums, each better than the one before it. If you happen to get the new EP, check out "Everybody Talks About Friends"--it's truly the work of a genius.

It's also worth getting the "Cotton Edition" (you get a t-shirt!) of the album from Waterdeep's website. Or at least the "Literary Edition," which includes unreleased songs, as well as recordings of Don reading two of his poems.

And speaking of Don Chaffer, we have a mostly Waterdeep lineup for our chapel service at the Baptist Student Center this week:

Just thought you might be interested.

Peace and the love of Christ be with you,


More Cooking With Bananas: Another Shared Recipe

I stumbled on Farmgirl Fare's blog and my wife and I immediately fell in love: A Californian woman who sells her bakery to move to a remote farm in Missouri in search of sustainability? Yes, please.

Anyway, I found this recipe, and thought I'd share it with you. It's more cooking with bananas (Funny, I hate bananas, but love cooking with them)!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened (we accidentally used pre-salted cream butter, but it turned out fine. If you'd like vegan cookies, use margarine, instead)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (try using about 3 tablespoons of honey, instead. It makes for a yummy egg substitute when baking! If you're going vegan, however, try using 2 tablespoons of canola oil, instead)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups mashed very, very ripe organic bananas (don't forget to recycle the peels!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (be careful which kind you get, as it could turn the cookies grainy--again, I'd stick with King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (a couple minutes in an electric mixer). Add the eggs (honey or oil) and beat until well-combined. Beat in the vanilla.

Combine the baking soda and mashed bananas in a small bowl and let sit for 2 minutes.

Mix the bananas into the butter mixture, then gradually add the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Combine thoroughly. The batter will be more like a thick cake batter than cookie dough.

Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop on a non-stick cookie sheet and b
ake cookies until nicely browned, about 16 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

And there you have it, folks! Yummy banana-nut-chocolate-chip cookies!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On the Extent of Tolerance: Where Freedom of Speech Ends and Christ's Call Begins

I was having a conversation earlier today with a friend about a status he posted to facebook. The status reiterated a popular right-wing jab at Obama which calls dissenters to "Pray for Obama," followed by a citation of Psalm 109:8, which reads, "Let his days be few, let another take his office." Cute. Real cute.

The conversation grew intense (although, for the most part, respectful). My particular problem with the status is that it is primarily tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. Obviously, when a politically fundamentalist person (on either the Left or the Right) posts something like this, it is to ruffle feathers or to make a joke, rather than a show of earnest faith. Jesus did not command us give lip service prayers about people we don't agree with. In everything we do, we must do it earnestly, with good intentions and pure hearts.

Another problem I had with the premise of the discussion was the context of the psalm. Some articles and pundits argue that, given the context of the rest of the psalm, people who post this sentiment and slap it on their cars in the form of bumper stickers are actually calling for the President's death (read the whole psalm, you'll understand what they mean). I wouldn't go that far. I don't think there are many people (especially Christians) who would actually and seriously wish for Obama's assassination. My problem stems from the fact that--aside from being just plain mean-spirited--the quote is taken out of the larger context of David praying to God that his enemies will be destroyed.

But of course, we Christians know better than to pray for the destruction of our enemies, right?
One lady in the conversation even went so far as to say this:
"That is your interpetation and that is great, but obviously not D--'s and thats great too. Because you don't agree with his interpetation doesn't mean yours is right and his is wrong. We all have our own sense of what the scriptures mean to us, and yes we use it that way in our lives. You can't shove your beliefs down anyone elses throat because you think theirs is wrong. I'm Baptist and i know D-- is Catholic and i accept him just the way he is, and he the same with me. We don't agree 100% on politics either but We don't argue and try to make the other feel wrong or stupid. I don't know if he is right or me and it doesn't matter. We are all ppl in this world trying to get through it with honor and dignaty and we are all different in many ways. When i read something i don't agree with i leave it alone, except for this cause i just hate it, and nothing positive is gonna come from your comments. You will NOT change his mind. I don't know you but i have to believe you have no malice in your comments and you believe in what your saying to the fullest, but so does D--. I've known D-- since school which is alot of years without telling my age lol and he is one of the finest men i know. Plz give it a rest."

I understand that not all people are as educated about scriptural exegesis and historical criticism and contextual analysis. I also understand that there are many people who know much more about those things than I do. I also understand that those things don't always matter. Jesus proclaimed a Way of Life--he said, if you want to follow me, THIS is how you do it. And he laid out specific guidelines: love your neighbor (and not just your neighbor, but your enemies!), pursue God with your entire being (not a government, not a president, not a political agenda, or a specific way you think the country should be run), be meek, give to all who ask of you (a particularly difficult scripture for us in America), feed the poor, visit and care for the sick and imprisoned...The list goes on and on.

But my question, then, is this: Can we (or, more importantly, do we) take Christ's call to not judge and to not worry about the speck in our neighbor's eye too far? Is there absolutely no circumstance under which one can say to another, "I'm sorry, your interpretation of scripture here is wrong, and it can not be tolerated"? And, if not, how do we move forward in our faith? How do we avoid pulling ourselves in a thousand different directions of disunion in pursuit of our American-given (or at least, American-recognized) right to believe whatever we want, even at the risk of disregarding other teachings of Jesus?

I ask these things not because I have an answer, but quite the opposite. I have been frustrated with what I perceive as injustice and unholy actions within the church, and among people who profess Jesus as their Lord. However, any time I try to point this out, I am usually met with "Do not judge," or "Take the plank out of your own eye first." How are they to see that their actions are harmful and wrong if nobody tells them? Doesn't Paul even tell Christians to "restore one another in the spirit of gentility"?

Do we take tolerance and our freedom to believe whatever the heck we want too far here in the West?

Please leave your thoughts. Iron sharpens iron, you know.

Grace and love and peace to you all (whether you agree with me or not),