tacit

Bloged in apprenticeship, community by rod Tuesday November 29, 2005

Sometimes what’s on the tip of your tongue ought not to be said, and
sometimes what’s at your fingertips ought not to be typed.

How does one know when it is one of those times?

eucharist

Bloged in worship by rod Thursday November 24, 2005

For clogged arteries of the interstate highway system that represent people able to travel to be with family, I am thankful.

For children who mix and mingle with grown ups rather than finding a hiding place and plugging their ears with tiny speakers that alienate them from the world, but instead desire to share their interests with the adults who are important to them, I am thankful.

For adults who cherish, converse with, play with, hug, and show genuine interest in the interests of the children, I am thankful.

For a sound-asleep-woman whose body still feels like magic after 19 years on a cold morning, I am thankful.

For children who eat broccoli, I am thankful.

For healthy parents, I am thankful.

For generations gathered, I am thankful.

For gyms, I am thankful.

For peace that passes understanding, I am thankful.

gracias Padre

primary sources 3.0

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, primary sources by rod Tuesday November 22, 2005

What if we were to start from scratch? What if we admit that we know next to nothing, realize that most of what we know, we’ve made up ourselves, take a good hard look at what we’ve been given and start all over? What would starting over look like? What would Christianity look like if only the gospel were taken to a tribal culture and received?
No cultural bias, no procedures, no prejudices.
Do we believe that it is possible to be a Jesus follower outside our cultural frame of reference? Does the gospel really play without three songs and a sermon? Is it possible to worship without a Wesley hymn, or a Chris Tomlin song?
What if a people were given the gospel, untainted and were to express their belief and embrace of it entirely within their own context?

primary sources 2.0

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, primary sources by rod Monday November 21, 2005

Recently I was pointing out to my class our problem with the avoidance of primary documents. I asked the class how many of them had read, The Da Vinci Code. Two students raised their hands. I asked how many knew what the book was about. Nearly the whole class raised their hands. I realized that this was a greater analogy than I’d anticipated, because I could make two points from two points of view.
The first point is that everyone knew quite a bit about the book, AND had opinions about it, without having read it. So I made my point about primary sources. All opinions had been formed from others’ remarks and comments, and even those tended to have been aimed at portions of the book, or certain claims that the book made.
The second point was about the book itself, which cites as proof of claims, the art and activities of Leonardo da Vinci, as if da Vinci, 1400 years after the time of Christ, could be the definitive answer to controversial theories surrounding the characters in the story. I pointed out that the book has “canonized” da Vinci’s beliefs, and cites them as proof, just as we canonize the traditions, practices and methodologies, that have developed over the course of a few centuries, and are not so separated in time from da Vinci’s. So basically, in the context of the book, we’ve got third hand information arguing against third hand information.
We are notorious for this. We live third-hand in our understanding of the scriptures, in our understanding of contemporary culture, in our understanding of other Christian denominations, in our understanding of other religions, in our understanding of other individuals. We have taken the concept of gossip and applied it how we relate to the world. We easily cite someone’s written debunking of a book, but have never read the debunked book. We know what “those people” believe, because someone who believes like us told us. We have training retreats, strategy huddles, information seminars – to tell us who our neighbors are, what their interests are, etc., when all this information is available first hand from our neighbors. I can quote contemporary authors’ biblical commentary and never be questioned, but if I quote biblical concepts, I’m asked to back up my argument with scripture. We don’t recognize it. The bible itself sounds foreign to us. Especially in context.
We are a vicarious religion. We study vicariously, we socialize vicariously, we minister vicariously, we preach vicariously, we worship vicariously.
That’s how I feel. But someone may have already told you that.

primary sources 1.0

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, primary sources by rod Sunday November 20, 2005

We’ve all heard the analogy of many pianos all tuned to a single source. As a by-product all the instruments are in tune one with another. I like this analogy, because I know the devastating results of tuning any other way. So why do we tune in other ways? Why have we thought it sufficient to tune each piano to the one beside it, so that any error along the way gets compounded in each subsequent instrument?
A popular way to tune the guitar is by using the harmonic at the 5th fret as the pitch by which to tune the harmonic at the 7th on the next higher string. This method is acoustically perfect and easy to hear, but our tuning system is not based on an acoustically perfect model. We use a system called equal temperament, meaning that most notes are adjusted a bit out-of-tune, so that we end up with equal intervals across the scale. By tuning the guitar in the method described above, the first string tuned will be 2 cents off from equal tempered tuning. Each string will be 2 cents off from the preceding string, but 4 cents off from the one before that. Each string adds its 2 cent error to the already existing difference between the preceding strings.
Maybe analogies are not what are needed here. Shouldn’t we be able to look back and see that as we’ve tuned each of our strings to the immediately preceding string, that we’ve unquestioningly depended upon the accuracy of that string – so much so, that we will cite it’s frequency as proof that we’re in tune. At each step along the way, each tuning uses as its argument, the presumed accuracy of the ones before it, but it seems not to be noticed that they are all not tuned to one another, the errors seem to be random, and the discordant discrepancies seem to be ignored.
In Christendom, we have canonized commentaries and interpretations, mandates, resolutions, etc., as the basis of our doctrine as if they were to be included in the inerrant, God-breathed canon of Holy Scripture. We are so much quicker to quote Calvin or Luther, or Darby than we are to grapple over the primary sources of the Gospel. We verbally live and breathe by the doctrine of sola scriptura, but in practice, opt for decisions, resolutions, and interpretations made by historical religious figures. A way of discipleship that they, themselves were trying to reform.

americana

Bloged in life by rod Saturday November 19, 2005

allison and I went to see “Walk the line” tonight. The evening had to be planned to the hilt, because our evenings are chaos, and we’re operating with one vehicle. She wouldn’t let me ride my bike to work in the below freezing morning, so I ended up driving her truck to work. I got home just in time for her to take Molly to dance, so I grabbed a change of clothes and rode with her to the gym. They picked me up on the way back and Al and I did a quick turn and headed back out to catch the 8:50 movie.
When we got there, the movie was sold out - in 3 theatres - and the Harry Potter line was backed down the street. Everyone in town seemed to have come to see one of these two movies. So we went next door for some joe and a bowl of soup while waiting for the 10:20 showing.
The movie was worth the wait and the late night. I was leery of Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, despite the good reviews I’d heard. But an hour into the movie, I was convinced he WAS Johnny Cash. Most of you know that I’m a life-long fan, and it was magic remembering these songs during the movie. Very nostalgic as I heard songs that I used to spin on 45s in the living room on a tiny monaural phonograph, and the live songs from San Quentin and Folsom Prison that I used to play on my Grandmother’s console stereo.
I cut my guitar teeth on Johnny Cash songs, but I’ve blogged all this before.
The movie left off only about 3 years before I experienced the “Johnny Cash Show“. We drove home with me singing snippets of so many songs, and I think Allison got a glimpse of some more of me that she’d only guessed at before. She said that she’d never heard most of the songs in the movie, but I was amazed at how many of the lyrics I still remembered.
Every kid has a favorite color, a favorite texture, a favorite something, but my favorite was a sound. From the first time I ever heard that nasal twangy telecaster trying to sound like a train, I knew I had to play guitar. Since whenever that was in my formative years, I’ve forever been in love with sounds.

more night sky metaphor

Bloged in life, luna see by rod Wednesday November 16, 2005

Last night, I walked out of rehearsal just as the full frost moon rose above the library. Of course she didn’t wear her ruby pendant – she got up later tonight and didn’t have time to put it on. Mars had beat her above the horizon by about 50 minutes and twinkled above her. I had to stop, turn and take in the brilliance of both of them. As I turned back around to walk back to my office I saw Venus lighting the other side of the sky, preparing to retire for the night.
I thought to myself that it was an almost comical illustration. There they were, Mars and Venus, on opposite sides of the sky. He was just getting up as she was settling down. He could see her over there, no one could miss her, but he could never catch up. Huge sky between. He’ll race all night, and just about the time he gets ready to fall below the horizon, she’ll pop up to light the morning just before the sun.
I wonder if she’s been jealous these past few nights, with him hanging so close to the moon, escorting her across the night sky. I wonder if he gets frustrated as she plays hard-to-get and ducks just as he makes his appearance.
Who knows how they behaved tonight behind the thick clouds that soaked me all the way through on my bike ride home from work. When the sky finally cleared, there he was, in the middle of the sky looking for her, but she’d long since settled down on the other side of the lake.
Right now, the moon shines through high wispy clouds that hide the peak of the Leonid shower. The firewood is all wet, the night is cool and besides the short treks out there to look up with the hopes of catching a shooting star, the observation deck stands empty except for oak tree shadows cast by the moon.

mensuration

Bloged in apprenticeship, luna see, metaphor by rod Tuesday November 15, 2005


Last night, as the nearly full moon rose, she wore a ruby pendant ’round her neck. It shone brilliant over the horizon, before the moon rose high enough that they both appeared smaller and she outshone her jewelry.
Then, as I drove home from the gym, she was directly overhead, pendant still lying on her collarbone, and a rainbow colored halo encircled them. A cool, but humid sky, mistified the whole scene and softened the edges and made the whole picture rather dreamy. It was beautiful enough that a friend called to tell me, “go outside!” “I’m there,” I said.
As I stood and looked straight up at the wonder, I thought of all my recent rambles about time, and the passage of time, the night sky for the marking of seasons, the moon and her 28 day cycle, and I saw, in the disc with a halo, a meter signature. Not merely a time signature though, one that represented perfect tempus, perfect prolation.
His time. I looked up and thought, here is God, using a man-made symbol to assure me that his timing is perfect. Though I feel the tempo is dragging, God is playing on the back of the beat too much, his tune is too syncopated, he assures me he knows what he’s doing.
He’s the composer, I’m just to play. He is born in one place and time for all places and all times.
I felt him there. I feel him here. In the exposition, development and recapitulation.

random access apologetic part 6

Bloged in RAM, cognition, culture by rod Monday November 14, 2005

I think I’ll stop rambling on about all this now. But first I have to consider a question.
What if everyone who was anybody was sporting a mullet, and this particular ‘do lasted a good long time, and by-and-by, little-by-little, more and more people began to cut the back of their hair to match the more respectable length of the “business in front” aspect of their ‘dos? What if all the mullet people thought that some serious illness had befallen all those whose hair on the back of their heads was breaking off? Eventually, the number of those who had gotten haircuts would be so great as to cause panic over the epidemic. Studies would be undertaken. Study the atmosphere, ground water, etc. We have to get to the bottom of this.
What if linear thinking brought us to a place where we were asking questions that could no longer be answered linearly. What if some weirdo thinker began to answer those questions, but the answers were so hard to understand, for most, they just had to be accepted, rather than understood.
What if these folks who accepted and memorized taught younger folks whose thought process would be formed by the very information they were being taught? What if the information that had been begrudgingly superimposed on the sequential thought paradigms of a generation, actually caused the younger students to understand things and perceive and process based on that same information. The thought processes that would be hard to grasp by one group, would be the very foundation of the thought process of a new generation.
What if this new generation began to think, observe, process, perceive and express themselves based on this new way of thinking?

Their boredom with sequential activity might label them as “easily distracted”. Their ability to accept things they can’t explain might label them as “disinterested”. Their lack of a need to explain things to accept them, might label them as “slackers.” Their disinterest in one-sided dissemination of information and a desire to ask questions might label them as “disrespectful”. Their refusal to understand the spiritual via the scientific method might label them as unspiritual.
The older generation might observe that this distracted, unfocussed, behavior was caused by some abnormality. It would be observed that an alarmingly increasing number of young people are exhibiting this behavior and no doubt, anxiety over its cause would ensue. Blame would be cast on any number of contributing factors, such as video games, which might not be recognized as an expression of these characteristics rather than a cause. Eventually, without an answer or cure, we’d treat these symptoms with chemicals, and eventually everyone would be using these chemicals to be treated for thinking in the way that interaction and understanding of their environment requires.
What if we all understood that a world with new information requires new methods of processing that information? What if we understood that the information itself is forming new processes in the young minds that store it? What if we capitalized on it in our teaching of the same information rather than trying to correct it and fit round pegs into linear holes?

random access apologetic part 4

Bloged in RAM, cognition, culture by rod Sunday November 13, 2005

In the real world, everything seems to be becoming more random access. Music reflects it as texture becomes more important than harmony or form, ambience becomes as important as melody, melodic phrases and textual phrases are different lengths, yet superimposed. The “vertical” aspect of music, (or “moment-in-time”) which may be textural, or layers, rather than harmonic interest, is quickly replacing linear direction and functional harmony. Even in pop music, key is sometimes obscured by remote tonal shifts between verse and chorus, and chords are used interchangeably between parallel major and minor keys.
In movies, it is becoming common for the first scene to represent the present time, rather than the beginning of a story that will bring us to the present. Sometimes the ending is told before the story is presented, but can’t be understood without context of the past. Sometimes every scene is a what-if scenario based on the previous scene, and they don’t have to be sequential. Folks who complain about this usually say something like “it was too hard to follow,” but miss the point in that the point may not have been to follow it. Not all stories are best told front to back, and if it is thought necessary to re-order events to make sense of them, many lessons may be lost.
Jesus didn’t tell his story front to back. We argue all day about which events described in the revelation are still to take place or had already happened when they were written. The salvation story is not being told front to back.
In Music Theory I, one of the first things that I talk about is the fact that there is info that we’ll need to go over that won’t make complete sense until they have the next bit as well. It doesn’t matter which thing we discuss first, the other is needed to make better sense of it. Forgive me, but this is true of most everything in life. There is nothing quite as exciting as the epiphany of instantly seeing how so many mysterious things come together to make sense.
Even when speaking linearly, we recognize that we often can’t make sense of something until it is understood in light of later events or circumstances. We say, “hindsight is 20/20.” In music, we use pivot chords to change keys, so that when they are heard, they are interpreted using the context of the current key, but once the ear moves to the new key, the chord is remembered not as having been in the old key, but in how it relates to the new key. We call this re-interpretation. A chord can relate completely differently to the chords immediately on either temporal side of it.
When studying music on a details level, students often wonder how a work can be considered to be in a particular key when, in fact, it visits many keys along the way. But on a higher, broader level, we note that each of the visited keys serve as harmonic movement that help to define the real key of the piece. This is beyond sequential understanding because linearly, the keys seem only to relate to the ones that came just before or just after them.
I often refer to Jesus’ teaching methods to illustrate the putting into place of bits of information to access randomly, but also as an apologetic for artistic expression of the gospel and the courage not always to tell the whole story at once. I’ve mentioned to students that I think it is possible that Jesus rarely if ever spoke straight-up in literal language to his disciples. I think of when he asked Peter who he thought Jesus was. Jesus said that flesh and blood had not revealed that to him, even though Jesus had been, in flesh and blood, teaching him all along. I also think of Jesus’ conversation with the twelve on the night before his death in which he refers to his having been speaking figuratively. The disciples respond to his comments by saying that he is no longer talking in figures of speech. I believe that the whole of Jesus’ teaching never painted a complete picture necessary for understanding, until he was finished. When all the pieces were in place, the lights came on for those who would believe. The salvation story and the kingdom of God could not be understood sequentially, he never presented a step by step process of living in the kingdom, receiving the Holy Spirit, or anything. He told them that the Spirit of truth would come and lead them to all truth. He put the elements in place that would come together to form understanding.

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