“Why I sometimes wish I was an alcoholic”

Earlier today, I was skimming through my e-mail archives and was reminded of this article by Philip Yancey written back in May for Christianity Today, The Benefits of Brokenness. Yancey starts off the article by writing,

“Listening to the rhetoric this election season, one might assume that a new batch of politicians in Washington will solve the problems facing this country, not to mention the planet. Elect candidate X, and he or she will tackle global warming, solve the health-care crisis, eliminate poverty, right the economy, and unite a divided country.
For two problems, however, no politician dares offer a solution: death and evil. Endemic to the human condition, these two will haunt us all our days. Yet these are the very problems the gospel promises to solve—not through politics or science, but through a reclamation project begun at Golgotha.”

And a little further into the article, he writes,

“I once accepted a speaking engagement among Christians involved in Twelve Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. As I talked with the attendees and pondered what to say, I finally decided on the ironic title, “Why I Wish I Was an Alcoholic.” It occurred to me that what recovering alcoholics confess every day—personal failure, and the daily need for grace and help from friends and a Higher Power—represent high hurdles for those of us who take pride in our independence and self-sufficiency.”

Good food for thought on this Sunday afternoon. Here’s the link to the full article.

Finding out just where that is…

When I was in Atlanta a couple weeks ago with Matthew Paul Turner, we met up with some friends of his, Matt and Lisa Baker, and their 9-month-old little girl, Anastasia, for dinner Sunday evening. The weather was wonderful that night, and we ate outside, savoring each bite of our meals. While talking afterwards, about Matthew’s new book and fundamentalism and hope and politics, Matt introduced me to a great new bear, the Old Chub Scottish Style Ale, which “features a tan head, a creamy, skim-milk mouthfeel, and rich, semi-sweet flavors of caramel and chocolate throughout.” If you like dark beers, I recommend checking this one out.

After walking back to Matt and Lisa’s place, Matthew pulled out his laptop and played a couple songs he wanted us to hear. One of them was Joan Osborne’s “Cathedrals,” (a cover of a Jump, Little Children song) from her new album, “Little Wild One,” and the chorus has been echoing around in my mind since I heard it. I’ve written a number of times on this blog about home, about the longing for home, so it is probably no surprise that I love this song. Here’s the chorus:

In the Cathedrals
of New York and Rome
there is a feeling
that you should just go Home
and spend the lifetime
finding out just where that is

While blog-surfing today, I discovered that Cathleen Falsani posted the music video and lyrics to Cathedrals on her blog, and have been hitting repeat on the video all evening. Go check it out.

On a side note, I just read Cathleen Falsani’s new book, Sin Boldly – A Field Guide to Grace, last week, and really liked it. I’m planning on reviewing it in the next week or two.

Win a copy of Churched

This week is the official blog tour for Matthew Paul Turner’s new book, Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess. I thought about posting another excerpt here, but all the passages I thought about seemed too personal, like posting them on my blog might require me to talk more about parts of my story that I haven’t gone into before here or that I’m still thinking through how it relates to where I am now. So instead, I’ll just point you back to my full review of the book, and to this excerpt I posted last week.

I do have one copy from the publisher to give away, so here’s how we’ll do it. In the comments, post a story about something you remember from church growing up, the kind of story you think might fit into Churched, and I’ll pick one to send a book to Sunday night, after I get back from the Andrew Peterson CD release show.

Shaun Groves in the studio

Shaun is in the studio today with one of his (and my) favorite producers, Monroe Jones. Monroe worked on Shaun’s first couple of records, and I’m a huge fan of his work with Holly Williams, Steven Delopoulos , and Chris Rice. I was able to work with him last year on David Phelps’s Christmas record, transcribing and orchestrating his programed string arrangements, and thought that record turned out great. Shaun blogged about the song they’ll be working on a couple days ago, and you can watch him live in the studio right now.

MPT’s Churched releases today

Matthew Paul Turner’s new book, Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess releases today. Get your copy from Amazon here. I’ll be giving away a couple copies next week as part of the blog tour, so be sure to check back.

Saturday, Matthew and I drove down to Atlanta for a Christian music festival he was doing a reading at that Caedmon’s Call headlined, and then we stuck around for a couple Christian television interviews he had yesterday before heading home. It’s great to see others react to these stories, and I’m excited the book is finally out there so more people can read it. Matthew did post the prelude on his blog a while back – read it here.

And here’s one of my other favorite stories from the book, one about Patch the Pirate and the evils of rock music, something I know all about. I not only unthinkingly believed all the arguments against rock music (the only way they can be believed), I wrote 20 page e-mails to friends trying to convince them of their evil ways. So yeah, this story rang true.

“According to Patch, the heart pounding drumbeats made rock music dangerous. “The beats you hear on the radio every single day are the same ones that, in Africa, conjure up evil spirits,” he said confidently. “I’ve actually interviewed African missionaries who tell me that, as soon as the gangs or tribes or whatever they call them get their drums going, the natives dance and take off their clothes. Compare that to what happens at some of these rock concerts, especially the ones sponsored by Budweiser.”
To further prove his point, Patch had three toddlers in diapers – volunteers, he called them – carried onto the stage.
“Now you watch this,” said Patch, winking at the sound guy. As soon as the 80s dance beat began playing, two of the three toddlers began shaking their bodies to the beat. Those in the congregation who had no idea where Patch was going with his demonstration clapped and laughed. I, on the other hand, shaped my face to look as though I was constipated – that was how people in my church looked when disgusted with worldliness, like we hadn’t gone to the bathroom for six days.
“Yeah, the kids are really cute, aren’t they, moving their little bodies to the soundtrack of Hell?” said Patch with a snide grin. “But you see how tempting Satan can be, even leading these precious little babies astray.”
By the end of the evening, it seemed that everybody in the music industry either worshiped Satan, was a prostitute, or their brand of hairspray supported a woman’s right to choose. Satan was everywhere.”

If that brings back memories, you need to buy the book today.