Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Feel It

Temperatures in excess of 90F (33C) with humidity around 40% just don't feel like Canada.  Nossir, I don't like it.  Especially in May.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Kinda a Remix

When I was twenty, I wrote what I called, rather tongue-in-cheek, "The Romantic Song."  I would play it quietly on guitar and feel that it showed a jaded wisdom about women, despite my inarguable inexperience.  It was one of the first songs that I wrote that I was pleased enough with that I hinted to a friend that I had a song I wanted to play him.  Embarrassed, I played it softly and he looked away and listened until I was done, and then said that it was ok (I mean, *HE* couldn't write a song), but that me singing it for him to hear was kinda gay, didn't I think, even though it was about trying to get with women.  

Sadly, with only slight tweaking of the lyrics, it still represents my romantic experience to this day, twenty years later.  I always thought it was pretty boring, and a friend who specializing in putting groove into acoustic songs heard my most elaborate, instrument-filled version and just said it didn't work, and that it lacked groove.  As I have done before, when I can't seem to make a song have a groove to it, I take it more blank, more sad, more quiet, more simple.  I thought of the stuff Johnny Cash did before his death, particularly the beat from "God's Gonna Cut You Down" (which has a blank almost anti-groove groove to it) and did an extremely simple, sad version of it, just singing and playing the guitar to a drum loop while sitting on my futon, then adding bass.  No doubling of the guitar, no playing and singing separately.  I hid an almost secret harmony vocal in it, and it all seemed to be better than the one with all the stuff in it.  Because I was trying to make it so very sad, I put "sad trombone" from www.sadtrombone.com at the beginning.  Then I put it on my web page.

This weekend, after watching Crazy Heart with Jeff Bridges playing and singing sad country songs, I hunted through my samples, found some timpani (kettle drums, like in the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey) and hid them in bits of the song, and also hid a string quartet.  I was more indulgent with the reverb, and pushed the lower end more to make it more ponderous and foreboding, and I like it better.  It's not perfect, but it has a mood now.  It's here.  I will likely never know if a single person on earth has ever heard it, let alone has ever felt like that.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Same God, very different people

(This is all generalizations, so if you think that's wrong, you'd best move on.)

Most Christians hang out with and talk to other Christians who they can relate to, people who are "into" Christianity for roughly the same reasons.  Most nonChristians don't hang out with a lot of different Christians.  Because of this, I'm not sure people are aware just how different Christians are one from another.

The reason I bring this up is because among Christians, there seems to be confusion and consternation if two Christians feel or think differently, and they tend to stop seeing each other if this goes on too much, perpetuating the sameyness of the little groups.

For example, some Christians are in it to feel like they are special people who, if not actually better than other people, are in a better position before God.  They want to be a special, select group who God loves/are right, and who want to continually feel they in a position before and relationship to God that other people know nothing about.  They stress the (to them) huge differences between them, and others.  This, of course, makes it pretty hard for others to relate to them.

Other Christians are in it for the shame and gratitude.  They focus heavily upon the idea of their own unworthiness and their message is all about surrender of everything to God because of how incompetent to live out own lives we really are, if we think about it. Their songs, their speeches and their epiphanies are all about how much they really suck (because they keep forgetting) and then they can be grateful that God loves them anyway, but filled with pious shame at how their suckitude made Christ suffer.  The amount of dominance/submission content in their conversation and literature is so great that many find it hard to relate, and any exploration or experience of life or God which isn't about this just doesn't seem to resonate with them.

Some Christians are into it for the success in life they believe it will bring.  The rules are simple: you don't have promiscuous sex, and God gives you a loving spouse.  You work hard and don't cheat on your taxes or waste money, and God makes you rich.  These people have trouble relating to people looking for a relaxed, slow-paced lifestyle, to poor people, to people who are "aren't good with money."  They don't relate well to single, chaste people, and hard-working people who can't seem to get out of debt.

There are Christian who are in it to get as high on Jesus and church and worship as they possibly can.  A lot of ex-addicts end up fitting into groups like this, which also contain people who have not, in their lives, allowed themselves to get high on or excited about anything much that wasn't in a church setting.  The excitement, the drunken, wild-eyed, headlong dash of these people make it almost impossible for anyone outside their group to connect or relate to them in any way.  Shame-seeking Christians certainly can't connect.

There are also Christians who, like Heath Ledger's Joker, are in it to watch the world burn.  They pore over parts of the bible which deal with judgement and wrath and the end of the world, and they seem to be having their lives and world-views affirmed by the idea that all the people who seem to be getting away with naughty things right now are going to get it in the end.  They get excited at the very idea that the world might be laid waste soon, and that the current systems of order which are in place are going to be thrown down.  Taking joy in judgement isn't something God does, and is something Jonah was judged incompetent/lacking because of.  It really does make it hard for people who like certain things in the present system to connect to any of it at all.

Some Christians are in it to have a quiet, subtle affirmation that things are under control, and that they are doing the right thing, and that everything is going to be ok.  They are upset by people wrestling with life stuff, or with scripture.  They are annoyed by controversy, discussion and disagreement as to anything really, particularly what can or should be done with the various odd parts of the bible.  Seekers have trouble connecting to Christians of this kind, and they in turn don't know what to do with seekers, who seem to find more to be troubled by than comfort in the bible.

Some Christians are in it to know things others don't.  They want to be able to watch the news and look at the world and claim a unique position of having most of it figured out, like they can see through it, see where it's going or has gone wrong.  The steep learning curve to talk to these people, the continual relentless chapter-and-versing, the wya they think they can simply quote bits of bible at you and you already have the whole context, framework (and exactly the same focus and interpretation as they have, like that's in there, rather than being added by them) makes it hard to connect to them.

Some Christians are activists, wanting to pick causes to stand for and against.  Sometimes it's about protecting "the children" from the latest hidden danger in Miley Cyrus or Harry Potter.  Often, they pick a pet cause (hunger in India, AIDS in Africa, illiteracy in South America) and seldom have they much interest in the western world, apart from how it can serve the rest of the world and seek to alleviate its troubles.  The fact that they simply aren't here much (or that they are always going on about other parts of the world) makes it very hard for anyone unaware of the areas they are focussing upon to really connect much with them at all.  Things become very one-sided.  They're leaving in two weeks to dig wells in Africa.  You're repainting your bathroom. It doesn't work.

Some Christians are in it for miracles and a glimpse of the Hand of God "reaching in and doing stuff."  They want to see Him taking an interest in the minute details of their, usually very understated, lives.  They want to see him making their day work for them, or serve to teach them things, all so they can feel like their life not only makes sense, but matters deeply at all levels to Almighty God, who is living it with them, always standing just behind their left shoulder saying "Go on.  I'm right here."  People who find descriptions of how God helped someone find their keys, or gave their eight-year-old a toothache so she could witness to a boy in the waiting room at the dentists rather...well....creepy, self-centred, weird or stupid are going to have trouble connecting.

Some Christians are in it for the majesty, the dignified, traditional, colossal presence of Something Bigger than Me.  They aren't going to relate to people who write new books or songs or blogs about God.  They are going to have trouble understanding why hundred-year-old hymns about dying in a dignified way with a brave eye turned heavenward just don't seem to be speaking the hearts and minds of modern young Christians.  Other Christians will see their getting mushy over stained glass windows, candles, choirs, incense, hymns, Latin or whatever, as inexplicable, sentimental, odd and/or creepy.

Some Christians are in it for the love, some for the hate, some for the forgiveness, some for evil people getting their comeuppance, some for the simple accessibility, and some for the arcane mystery and enigmatically cryptic, some for the quiet stillness and some for the galvanizing flurries of inspired activity, some for the reminder that they are really bad reformed sinners, and some for the feeling special.

The thing is, that Christians of these different kinds clump up with others of similar focus and motivation, and pretty much live as if there aren't any other kinds of Christians out there.  So the average person could be forgiven if he thought that Fred Phelps flying across America to picket Ronnie James Dio's funeral, and displaying "God Hates Fags" and "Dyke Nation" signs everywhere is what Christianity is really all about.