Of the Southern Spirit

I realize it has been quite some time since I have posted any thoughts on this blog of mine.  For some reason, a lot of my other activities got pushed into the background.  My mind has been racing in veins that didn’t really bring forth any kind of usefulness.  But, I’ve found out the hard way, if I don’t write, it’s much more difficult to get back up and do it again.  I just recently got back from my vacation to Nashville & Clarksville, TN.  I suppose I should share some of my thoughts with you.

As is my personal preference, I drove myself down there.  It’s about a 12-14 hour drive depending on how frequently you stop and such.  Once I was out of Nebraska I was gone.  I listened to music for a while and then some Driscoll and Chandler sermons I had burned to CD for myself.  It’s a great way to pass time and sort of redeem the ride there in a way.  The ride itself was very chill and relaxed and I only had a little stress getting through the hell that is St. Louis, MO.  There was a lot of open country on the way out  too which was also a nice change from the urban sprawl I’m normally accustomed to.  I made a few observations along the way:

  • The more you listen to Mark Driscoll the more you notice the more his growing up in one of the northern states reflected in his speech.
  • Matt Chandler on medium volume still rattles my speakers when he gets amped up.
  • I stopped at two rest stops within a few hundred miles of each other and saw the same two guys
  • I passed the same semi with a trailer full of cars more than once.  I guess I would stop somewhere then catch up with him.

With the road rolling underneath me I had time to think and reflect and to listen more so than I normally would sitting at my desk at work or at home.  It did me some good to get that almost full absorption of whatever it was I was listening to or thinking about.  I feel really comfortable on the road unlike anywhere else that I could go.  I guess it’s the constant state of motion and everything is always passing me by.  Driving is therapy for me in a lot of ways.

After 14 hours, and some bad directions, I made it to a bar called Dougie Rays where I met up with my cousin Nikki.  She and I grew up pretty close and still remain there despite the fact that she lives as far away as she does.  It is here my journey really began.  I got out of my car from driving all day and directly to a local show.  A band called Last Breath was playing.  They were a bunch of Nikki’s friends and they were exactly what I needed after being cramped up in a car for that long.  It was heavy music, brimming with breakdowns and parts to which I found myself headbanging.  It felt good.  I hadn’t been to a show in a long time back home so being there with good company and seeing good music was a blessing.  That and a pint of Guinness.

I would continue to hang out with Nikki and her boyfriend Paul for the next few days.  They made me feel right at home like family should and I met some wonderful people along the way.  Upon reflection, I think that is what I had longed for more than anything and have been.  To be outside the group of churched people that I hang out with [and whom I love dearly] and amongst a group of people who don’t necessarily believe what I do but knew what I was about.  These were the people I wanted to love and be around but not as a departure from myself but to be myself and perhaps show them what it’s like to walk the path I still waver from time to time.  It woke me up to the fact that, though I always feel so underprepared regarding questions about what I believe, I’ll never perfect myself so I might as well be me.  And through that, show them a small glimpse of how God works.

Speaking of the work of God, I was very honored to be named as best man for my cousin, Dustin’s, wedding.  Bitterness used to root itself so deep in my heart at weddings so much that I avoided them at all cost.  But this time it was different.  First off, I got to talk to him about his calling to the ministry which was just so amazing.  He truly has a great story and my prayer has been that he goes back to revisit that some day.  The wedding itself felt pretty miserable, physically.  The humidity drove the heat index to a wonderful 105º F and I was in my best man getup from 2-8 PM that day.  But we got through it and we all rejoiced and hooted and hollered as only our family knows how.  We piled into a limo, picked up some cold ones and headed off to the reception.  I gave my toast, vocalizing my happiness in seeing Dustin move on to that next phase of his life having grown up with him as well.  My only gripe was the use of 1 Corinthians 13 during the ceremony but I’ll leave those decisions up to the pros, I suppose.

Throughout the before and after the event there was a lot of family members calling me “Rev” and “Pastor” alluding to my upcoming enrollment in Bible college.  I was okay with it, I guess.  They asked me to “say Grace” over the rehearsal dinner and I was happy to oblige.  It’s hard to say “no” to my Grandma.  I got to talk God with one of the friends I made in Clarksville last year and Paul, Nikki’s boyfriend.  It was good times and, no matter where I went, there always happened to be an ample supply of beer.  I’m not complaining, but different from being back home.

One thing that’s happened to me a few times not only when I was in TN but since I’ve been back home.  People who know me and know the path I’ve chosen have said, “Dude, I’d go to your church.”  I suppose I should take that as a compliment but I don’t know what’s triggering that response.  Is my sin drawing them in and they get a false impression or am I just that cool Christian dude.  Something to ponder, I suppose.

And, because I had my laptop with me with no internet connection for most of the trip, here’s a piece I drummed up while watching the changes in the sky from Nikki’s apartment.  We stayed up until about 6 AM the night I got there and just sort of observed the next day while we chilled.  It’s a nice healthy departure from my usual stuff which may or may not be a good thing.

Yellowbrick sky,
let me tread the debris
of your lightningcracked surface
as I stare at you from
the tenement’s third deck
Here where
our days don’t start until
after noon and get measured
by the hash marks engraved
in our skulls from the
hammer and chisel hangovers,
forever fading and changing
ceiling I can see
out the window.
I can hear the cryptic
grumblings of diesel engines
and the whine of interstate tires
with ever-rotating,
changing license plate tag
county number letter mixing,
Spawning from there and
sometimes there.
Every now and,
introducing, here…
Again.
Against
Your black face or hand or
whichever you cloak the after-hours with
I see the ember glow from
the tip of my cigarette as
we mingle words and
smoke signals from our oratory.
Family fingers,
floating high fives and
beersmiles.
Talkin’ about that time
and the other time and this time
all the time
we are constantly killing time
with alcohol, talk and nicotine
under the eyes of you,
fading sky.
I can feel you drifting away
as my eyes ache with sleeplessness.
From 3 feet from where I sit and write this
I talked with what feels like countless
minds
Inumerable cigarettes stubbed out
and cans of beer emptied.
Managing to suspend my sleep patterns
I see you gain your color again.
And so smiles around as we pile
back through the sliding glass passage.
And through the highway noise,
the barking dogs and car alarms incessant,
I curl up tight
with your color slipping through the blinds,
dear sky.
Give me time…
give me time.
I’ll walk again.

Yellowbrick sky,
let me tread the debris
of your lightningcracked surface
as I stare at you from
the tenement’s third deck
Here where
our days don’t start until
after noon and get measured
by the hash marks engraved
in our skulls from the
hammer and chisel hangovers,
forever fading and changing
ceiling I can see
out the window.
I can hear the cryptic
grumblings of diesel engines
and the whine of interstate tires
with ever-rotating,
changing license plate tag
county number letter mixing,
Spawning from there and
sometimes there.
Every now and,
ntroducing, here…
Again.
Against
Your black face or hand or
whichever you cloak the after-hours with
I see the ember glow from
the tip of my cigarette as
we mingle words and
smoke signals from our oratory.
Family fingers,
floating high fives with
beersmiles.
Talkin’ about that time
and the other time and this time
all the time
>we are constantly killing time
with alcohol, talk and nicotine
under the eyes of you,
fading sky.
I can feel you drifting away
as my eyes ache with sleeplessness.
From 3 feet from where I sit and write this
I talked with what feels like countless
minds
Inumerable cigarettes stubbed out
and cans of beer emptied.
Managing to suspend my sleep patterns
I see you gain your color again.
And so smiles around as we pile
back through the sliding glass passage.
And through the highway noise,
the barking dogs and car alarms incessant,
I curl up tight
with your color slipping through the blinds,
dear sky.
Give me time…
give me time.
I’ll walk again.

and

We’ll talk again

Keyboard Theology

This is becoming more and more evident to me as I find more and more excuses to keep my laptop positioned well… On my lap.  I had read that Christianity is slowly going the way of the Dinosaur.  I disregarded it because it was on Fox News, but it made me think nonetheless.  More and more I’m finding some extremely intelligent people with a lot of Bible knowledge and I’m wondering why I’m not finding more people like this on the [rare] occasions I actually do leave my home.

I guess I could answer that for you.  I could count myself alongside these keyboard theologists in a way, if only just recently.  This came to light just today, actually.  There is a forum I frequent for the Blessed Resistance which is an official community that you have to pay for to get into.  Therein lies an insane amount of intelligent conversation ranging from predestination to the existence of Satan.  I had dabbled in trying to answer simpler questions about the gospels and whatnot on websites I won’t even mention now.  I found they caused to much anger in me and so I cut that proverbial hand off.  Anyways, to get back to the original question, the reason you don’t find these people much in the outside world is because they are like me and perhaps don’t get that chance to get out and talk to people or can’t find a lot of people to discuss their understanding beyond just witnessing to people.

I know the online community gets eschewed quite often by a lot of people because there is this misconception that it’s nothing but a bunch of geeks tapping away at their keyboards in their parents’ basement.  I know a lot of geeks who are part of this, two of which are on my links.  Mark Driscoll bashes on the bloggers who have nothing better to do than pick things apart and complain, Zao even wrote a song about their message board antagonists in the song “Trashcanhands”.  But there are those of us who use this as a platform to reach others across the spans state lines, sometimes oceans.  In a lot of cases, these people are challenging me even beyond the boundaries of those who live near me and I have in-depth conversations with.

So, I would say that while bloggers and message board members can be a thorn in the side, perhaps a major irritation.  If you’ve ever been engaged in a flame war, you know what I’m talking about.  I guess what I would say we’re not all like that.