Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry {POST} Christmas!

A very very merry {post} Christmas to all of you!  I apologize for not posting as regularly of late, but things have been crazy busy...I was wrapping up a semester at Fuller, I released my new VEIL EP, not to mention all the added fun advent/Christmas stuff of the season!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  I certainly did!

My girls (thanks to Kate's direction I'm sure) got me an amazing book of original art, drawn for various artists - ranging from Bon Iver to The Postal Service, Metric to Fleet Foxes, and Sufjan to The White Stripes.


Today the whole family trekked it through the intense {post} Christmas-traffic, bought 12 frames, and got the art up!

Until 2013...PEACE!
-Ross

p.s. I leave you 2012 with 899 blog posts...we'll kick off 2013 strong at 900!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Feeling Advent-ish?


There's nothing like 70 degree, early December days to get me in the mood for Advent...well, maybe not.

BUT, Christmas is my favorite time of year. Heck, I start looking for an excuse to play Christmas music once the leaves start changing colors.
Today though, lets talk about Advent.

This year I'm excited, because Cora and Olive are old enough to fully participate in the festivities. And since we kicked off Advent two Sunday's ago at church, I thought this might be timely.

So this year my Advent will look like this...

Reading the lectionary texts nightly as a family (slowly
walking through the Christmas story). Slowing down. More
nights in front of the fireplace. More singing. More drives
to see the "pitty lights." Cold nights out by the fire pit.
More time seeing friends. Giving. Reading. Writing.
More mistletoe with Kate. Creative cooking. Parties.
Hot apple cider. New Christmas Carol
arrangements. Better harmonies.
Decorating cookies. Love.
Family.


"His law is love and His gospel is peace"


Monday, December 17, 2012

Veil (the story)

VEIL is the title track on my new EP...and here's the story behind the song.

Sometimes you meet someone that breaks you perfectly.  This person not only breaks you, but they piece you back together in such a way, that you're actually better.  Kate is my someone.  She's shown me what grace can look like, what life and laughter are really about.  All of this is saving.  And it is good!



Veil
(c) 2012 Ross Christopher

Your smile's like a wrecking ball of grace / 
Like forty thousand pardons on my armchair to death /
You kiss my neck and split the veil / Again.

She saves me / She saved me / Again.

I breathe you in and I have life / 
And it is good / Again.

She saves me / She saved me / Again. 

BUY THE ALBUM HERE!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Landfill Harmonic

Sometimes you feel really creative...until you see something like this!  This is beautiful and transformative.



Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

There's A Sound (the story)

With the release of my new album, VEIL, I wanted to share with you each track + lyrics + a brief story (behind the lyrics).

Today, I'll share with you track #1, There's A Sound.

It's a song about stillness and solitude.  It's a song about the power of quiet.  Sometimes things can be loudest when the environment and distractions are completely still.  It's those experiences I've had, that led to me writing There's A Sound. 

{I hope you'll enjoy it, BUY IT, and spread the word!
}



There's A Sound
(c)2012 Ross Christopher

There's a sound for the quiet spaces
A sound for the broken places
A sound that is stillness
It shakes the ground

There it is
Way off in the distance
It's growing stronger
The beat's getting faster
There's a sound for the quiet spaces
A sound for the broken places
A sound that is stillness
It shakes the ground
 There it is
It's unexpected
It's reconnected
Like lines between the words
There's a sound for the quiet spaces
A sound for the broken places
A sound that is stillness
It shakes the ground
Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New New New...

Hey folks,

I'm excited to announce a BRAND NEW ALBUM, VEIL!



Also, to accompany the new album, I have a BRAND NEW WEBSITE!



Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

VEIL - EP TEASER...

Here's a little teaser for the new EP that will be available in mid-December!



Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It Gets Fuller...



Peace,
Ross

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Kishi Bashi

I saw this while out on tour, and was really blown away!  From one violinist to another, this is some truly creative stuff.  Enjoy!



Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

MOVING BEYOND ELECTION DAY...


 One of my pet peeves is inconsistency.  (For example, it is intellectual-dishonesty to vote for the sanctity of life on one hand, and in the other, vote pro-war and capital punishment)

In light of that (preventing further inconsistency), I'd like to walk you through a critical thinking exercise…

1. Some argue that America is a city upon a hill; that God has blessed our perfect union; and that we are a beacon to the rest of the globe - bringing about God's kingdom through OUR nation, leaders, and policies.

2. If you agree with statement #1, then whoever wins today's election, is part of God's providential plan for renewing His kingdom. 

3. If YOUR candidate didn't win, the logical conclusion is that your vision of God's will is not properly in sync with God's.  (most likely 1/2 of our nation will fall into this category).  This may be hard to swallow, but logically, this is the only valid conclusion you can arrive at.

4. If you disagree with statement #1, you probably don't believe that America is God's nation; that America carries God's beacon into the rest of the world; that America being founded as a Christian nation is more myth than reality; that God's economy is not necessarily man's (which means God doesn't pick and choose American candidates, He's not concerned and/or involved in our American Democratic process - but rather, up to something WAY BIGGER, WAY more counter-cultural, WAY more revolutionary); and that American nationalism and political strength is not in line with the way of the cross.

5. The most important take away in moving beyond election day is to understand that as followers of Jesus, we vote every single day.  We vote with our interactions.  We vote with our purchasing.  We vote by the ways we show and do not show love and mercy to others.

Let's move forward intellectually, honestly, and understanding that regardless of the political lever we pulled today; that how we treat others tomorrow, the products we consume in the years to come, the shalom we work towards, and the love we show, casts a much more important ballot.

Peace,
Ross

Friday, November 2, 2012

Next Month...


 Hey folks, just wanted to first apologize for being absent from the blog this past week...i've been swamped in the studio working on a couple projects.  I'm recording an awesome up-and-coming singer/songwriter, Harry Hinrichs.  On top of that, I'm also writing and recording a BRAND NEW EP, which I hope to make available in early December!  Thus far, the new EP is blowing my mind with lots of thumping bass drums, layers of gritty acoustics, reverb-laden vocals (featuring Kate on a couple tunes), a handful of trumpets, and strings galore...

The EP is FOR SURE going to have an acoustic version of Veil and There's A Sound.

Until there's more details, keep up-to-date here on the blog, or at the official RC site!

Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

OLIVE BRANCH



Olive Branch
(c) 2012 Ross Christopher.

When all seemed forgotten
Your goodness reminds
That peace will reign
Like a child's smile 

The land shows its face
From an ocean of grace
And light and love
Gives the olive branch

Days and days and days we wait
For your promise - like a child
She's cut from the world
The peace, it came crying
My olive branch

The land shows its face
From an ocean of grace
And light and love
Gives the olive branch

She smiles to say, "peace
I love you so much in the world"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DEBATE #3 [RECAP]



Last night I watched the debate with the St. Louis Cardinals game on mute in the background (so forgive me that my attention was split).  Here's my takeaway…

1. BOTH candidates are aggressive
2. BOTH candidates want more drone attacks
3. BOTH candidates see a future Chinese-aggression
4. BOTH candidates believe that Jewish-life is more valuable than Arab-life, and will stop at nothing to preserve this belief
5. BOTH candidates want a bigger military
6. BOTH candidates believe that America's role in the world is to "bring" freedom (even if that means launching #1-5)



So who are you going to vote for?

Peace,
Ross

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stretching Lines

While on tour, I had lots of time to do some writing.  Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to share some of those poems/songs that are currently in the arsenal...



Stretching Lines
(c) 2012 Ross Christopher.
 
Stretching lines
That connect earth to sky
The perfect dance that's hovering
Of clouds and suns and crashing waves
Stretching lines between

Sketching city scapes
Souls fill the horizon
With a hopeful stir
They dance in spaces
And connect in sacred places

The garden's filled with rows
These stretching lines
Bringing life and feed
And hope to need


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tour #11 (ALTAR BAR)

Enjoy the last vid of the tour!



Peace,
Ross

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tour #10 (Houghton Univ)

Enjoy!



Peace,
Ross

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tour #9 (LIVE at SHOWCASE LIVE)

Enjoy!



Peace,
Ross

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tour #8 (LIVE AT THE ARTQUEST CENTER)

And another...



Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tour #7 (THE BIRCHMERE)

Here's another vid from the tour!



Peace,
Ross

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tour #6 (MAYO PERFORMING ARTS CENTER)

Here's a quick video from the Sleeping at Last & Jars of Clay tour!



Peace,
Ross

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tour #5 (Oneonta College)

Here we (Sleeping at Last & Jars of Clay) are playing at Oneonta College (NY)...enjoy!



Peace,
Ross

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tour #4 (The Levoy Theatre)

Here's a little video of Sleeping at Last & Jars of Clay, LIVE at The Levoy Theatre.  Enjoy!



Peace,
Ross

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tour #3 (The Sandler Center)

Here's a quick video of us playing The Sandler Center in Virginia Beach, VA.  Enjoy!



Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tour #2 (the road)

Here's a quick tour video of DAY 02 on the Sleeping at Last & Jars of Clay Tour!



Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tour #1 (rehearsal)

Yesterday we headed to Chicago to rehearse the set for the Sleeping at Last & Jars of Clay tour.  We spent a solid 2 hours bringing beautiful songs to life...I'm stoked!




This morning we loaded up the trailer and van and hit the road.  Nine hours later we're in Pittsburgh.  We just checked into the Marriott, and tomorrow morning we have seven more hours to Virgina Beach...

Peace,
Ross

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Live at CICERO'S (videos)

Here's a couple vids from my show last week at Cicero's in STL...enjoy!

DOUBT BRINGS HOPE


WAR ON WAR


Peace,
Ross

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Prep For Next Week's Tour...

Sorry for neglecting the blog these last few days, but I've been in major prep-mode for the upcoming tour with Sleeping at Last and Jars of Clay.  But mostly I'm trying to squeeze in as much time as possible with my girlies!



Next week, keep up with the blog for LOTS AND LOTS of tour stories, pics, and video!

Peace,
Ross

Monday, September 24, 2012

This time, next week...


 This time, next week, I'll be en route to Chicago to rehearse for a day before we pack up the 15 passenger van and head out East!  I'm completely stoked for this tour...I've been a huge Sleeping at Last fan for quite some time, and Jars of Clay was the first album I ever purchased with my own money, back in 7th grade!

If you're out East, I hope you'll plan to come on out to a show - it's gonna be quite epic!

Tickets Oct 04 Virginia Beach, VA @ Sandler Center - with Jars of Clay & Mariah McManus
Tickets Oct 05 Millville, NJ @ Levoy Theatre - with Jars of Clay & Mariah McManus 
Tickets Oct 06 Oneonta, NY @ SUNY Oneonta State College - with Jars of Clay & Mariah McManus
Tickets Oct 07 Morristown, NJ @ Mayo Performing Arts - with Jars of Clay & Mariah McManus 
Tickets Oct 09 Alexandria, VA @ The Birchmere - with Jars of Clay & Mariah McManus
Tickets Oct 10 Bethlehem, PA @ Musikfest Cafe - with Jars of Clay & Mariah McManus 
Tickets Oct 11 Foxborough, MA @ Showcase Live - with Jars of Clay & Mariah McManus 
Tickets Oct 12 Houghton, NY @ Houghton College - with Jars of Clay & Mariah McManus 
Tickets Oct 13 Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar - with Jars of Clay & Mariah McManus

Peace,
Ross

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Brian McLaren {on Islamophobia}

This is a brilliant conversation between Brian McLaren and Tony Jones, that looks toward the root of Islamophobia, the uprisings throughout the Arab world, and how we must move forward.  Please take a few minutes and watch it!



Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

LIVE at CICERO'S (9/22)

This coming Saturday night (9/22), I'll be playing LIVE AT CICERO'S (in the Delmar Loop)!  This will be my last show before the big tour with Jars of Clay and Sleeping at Last, so I hope you'll come out for a very interactive show!  I've got 2 new songs I'll be playing for the very first time, live in concert; plus i'll be joined by Harry Hinrichs and Dear Genre!


The setlist is looking something like this:
Doubt Brings Hope
War on War
Words Do Things
The River Child
Blinded My Eyes
{surprise cover}
*Veil
*To The River

...you don't want to miss it!

Peace,
Ross

Monday, September 17, 2012

St. Louis Balloon Glow

On Friday night, the fam rode our bikes over to Forest Park for the 40th Annual Balloon Glow.  It was quite amazing!  There were 50+ hot air balloons and 75,000 people gathering in a field to watch the spectacle.  If you've never experienced it, plan on it for next year!



Peace,
Ross

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quiet Spaces


 Last night, I got home from rehearsal with a melody and some lyrics in my head.  I immediately wrote down the words and headed down to the studio to capture the music.   A couple hours later, I think I'm on to a pretty promising piece.  Here's the lyrics - enjoy!

Quiet Spaces
(c)2012 Ross Christopher

There's a sound for the quiet spaces
A sound for the broken places
A sound that is stillness
It shakes the ground

There it is
Way off in the distance
It's growing stronger
The beat's getting faster

There's a sound for the quiet spaces
A sound for the broken places
A sound that is stillness
It shakes the ground

 There it is
It's unexpected
It's reconnected
Like lines between the words

There's a sound for the quiet spaces
A sound for the broken places
A sound that is stillness
It shakes the ground


Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

You Can Love God Only As Much As You Love ____________.


**I'm RE-POSTING this today, because I believe it needs to be said.  In light of demonizing politics and demonizing prayers (gun control, the election, the fiscal cliff, and yesterday's inauguration), its timely - for ME and for you.  I first need to admit that I did not come up with this thought.

You can love God only as
much as you love ______________.
(fill in the blank w/ terrorists, antagonists to your faith, your boss, George W. Bush, President Obama, or Mark Driscoll; whoever you cannot stand, and wished ill)
 *I can thank Katie Schultz for that nugget of inspiration.

Nor can I claim this statement as my own:
"I believe in the Trinity, so I believe God exists as a community of ecstatic love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God names not merely a thing but a relation. God is a relational God bound together by love. Before God is anything else, God is love. It’s not that first God exists and then God decides to love. It is love which constitutes God’s very existence. Moreover, God’s love is not self contained, but it extends to all creation. God’s mission is to love creation. That’s straight up missional theology...If we want to know God (and if we want to be able to say something substantive about God), we have to participate in the mission of God. Without engaging in mission we can possess knowledge about God, but we can never truly know God. To know God is to participate in God’s mission."
*That was written by Tim Suttle, and it sums up a lot of background text.

In Matthew 5 & 25, we read that how we love our enemies and the least of these, is also how we love God.

Consider that the next time you post a nasty (or backhanded) Twitter or Facebook comment regarding your disdain for the President (or potential candidate), political party affiliation, or laws passed.  Because how you love, determines how you love...

Peace,
Ross 

Monday, September 10, 2012

What to do with my Sunday nights now that Breaking Bad is no more...

Last night I found myself with nothing to do now that Breaking Bad is over for 2012.  I'll be honest, I was quite sad to have a void of raw-badness in my week!  But I did find this very cool Breaking Bad video.  Check it out!

Breaking Bad - Illustrated from Martin Woutisseth on Vimeo.

And by the way, if you've never gotten on the Breaking Bad-wagon, YOU NEED TO!!!

Peace,
Ross

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What You're Voting For, When You Vote



In just a few weeks we'll be voting - for a president and for congress.  But have you ever stopped to really consider what you're voting for, when you vote?  Here's what I believe you are ACTUALLY voting for when you pull the lever in November...

1. an orator
2. speech writers
3. character (or a perception of character)
4. someone that can choose his/her closest allies (cabinet, advisers, staff, etc.)
5. corporations that funded the campaign

Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day (RECAP)

Labor Day weekend was excellent!  We traveled to Kansas City for a wedding and some quality family & friend time.  Here's a few pics & videos from the weekend.  Enjoy!



video


Peace,
Ross

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sigur Ros' > a taste of shalom...

I've been a big fan of Sigur Ros for a very long time.  Their Icelandic soundscapes have always stirred in me an emotional sense of 'what's to come'...

By that, when I imagine shalom (everything set right, beauty drenching every aspect of creation and life, total peace, complete restoration, and unwavering grace), I hear Sigur Ros.  I'm not sure if that was ever a goal of theirs, but I believe they've done it.

Enjoy their newest single DauĂ°alogn, and the official video that accompanies it!

Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Old Spice Muscle Music

Leave it to the folks at Old Spice to do it again!  This is SO GOOD...enjoy!

Old Spice Muscle Music from Terry Crews on Vimeo.

Peace,
Ross

Monday, August 27, 2012

In God We [DO NOT] Trust


 Over the past two weeks, it seems the debate over America as a Christian Nation has erupted.  Conversations I've heard, have supposed that voting for Romney will somehow immediately return us to our "Christian-foundation."  The arguments continue to suppose that only an uber-right-wing version of congress will ensure God's destiny for America, and that some sort of revival will spread from sea to shining sea.

Come on.  Really?

I think (as a nation - or perhaps, as Christians), we've too easily repeated the mantra's of the pundits that argue such "facts."  Instead, we might be better served to return to 9th grade civics class and re-read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the founding father's other letters; to understand the myth of America being a Christian nation from its inception.  (I'm assuming none of that will happen, of course)

America (whether it was, or ever has been, a "Christian Nation") is further than 1 election cycle away from turning this ship around.  Just for brevity, I'll make my argument based on the statement we find on all of our currency (ironic): IN GOD WE TRUST.

The New York Times ran this article yesterday, which is sobering for a nation who believes for even one second that it's a Christian nation, much less, one that actually trusts God.

"U.S. arms sales make up most of the Global Market...Weapons sales by the United States tripled in 2011 to a record high..Overseas weapons sales by the United States totaled $66.3 billion last year, or more than three-quarters of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011."

[The report was prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress. The annual study, written by Richard F. Grimmett and Paul K. Kerr and delivered to Congress on Friday, is considered the most detailed collection of unclassified arms sales data available to the public.]

The first rebuttal to this should be that just because the US is in the war business, it doesn't represent Christians.  However, polling shows that over 80% of Christians support war and the overall military complex - 2/1 over non-Christians and Democrats.

I'm all for being more Christ-like as a nation, but the unguarded betrothal to nationalism is unhealthy, and antithetical to the way(s) of Jesus.  It's lazy and brings us to a state where we should reprint our money to read: IN BOMBS, DRONES, SUB-MACHINE GUNS, AND FIGHTER JETS WE TRUST.

Peace (and I do mean it),
Ross

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pan de Libros



For more information about Pan de Libros, check out the site HERE!

Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sink [Left and Lost at Sea]



Today, I'm going to let you in on the creative process.  I scribbled down this new song/poem late last week.  I wanted to write something that was steeped in imagery.  And for whatever reason, the most graphic and visceral image I could conjure, was drowning.  Most of us have lost our breath - either at the swimming pool, or doing something else.  We might not have ever been "drowning," but that short experience of losing one's breath was more than enough to never forget the feeling(s).  Enjoy!
 

Sink [Left and Lost at Sea]
© 2012 Ross Christopher.


It seems like
I've been left
And lost at sea
With water welling up
Inside of me

It fills my lungs
With stinging taste
Of lonely waves, crushing dreams
And breaks silent
Cries of apathy

Can you keep my head up
Can you help me breathe
Can you wash me to land
Or am I going to sink


Not sure how I got here
I woke in drowning slumber
Forced to swim
And tread and breathe

Can you keep my head up
Can you help me breathe
Can you wash me to land
Or am I going to sink


It seems like
I've been left
And lost at sea
With water welling up
Inside of me

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blood Phones



CNN is reporting on the ills of consumerism...

"They've been called "blood phones."  It's a reference to the fact that some metals used to make smartphones and other electronic gadgets are sourced from war-torn areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Experts say these "conflict minerals" help fuel one of the world's deadliest conflicts. An estimated 5.4 million people have died there from war-related causes, including disease and malnutrition, since 1998, according to the International Rescue Committee."

This story, and others like it, have enormous implications for humanity.   

We have placed consumerism, technology, luxury, and our "need" for the newest-now, above life.  

Maybe you're like me, and you didn't know this horrible trade existed until the exposing film, Blood Diamond was made.  The movie brought the atrocity to light in such a way, that conflict-free diamonds are now the norm (further proof that art changes humanity).   But now, every time you turn on your smartphone, snap a picture, or play Mario Kart (if that's even still a game), you're most likely contributing to mass-murder.

Here's a list of companies that are working to remedy this attack on humanity:
Intel
HP
Dell
Microsoft
Apple 

Here's a list of companies that still care more about their bottom line and their stock holders:
Nintendo
Canon
Nikon
Sharp
HTC 

Shop wisely folks.  
Tell this story.  
Tell your story.  
Make them one, because they are.

Peace,
Ross 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Looper {composing a score from native sounds}

Here at the blog, I frequently showcase tidbits of creative brilliance that I discover while scouring the interwebs.  Here's a video that shows the making of the soundtrack for an upcoming (and amazing looking film - LOOPER), which uses native sounds (clicks, scratches, thuds, thumps, and other mundane sounds) to create the movie's soundtrack.  Son Lux, which I've done a little vocal work with, provided some added brilliance, so please check this out and thank me later!

LOOPER Nathan Johnson Score Preview 1 - Field Recordings from Nathan Johnson on Vimeo.

Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

God and the Vitality of Irrational Thought



Last week I was reading a book that discussed the psychology of adult learning.  Given the history of adult learning throughout the Western world, one will find that the church was once the hub. It was pushing and leading a systematic approach, viewed as "just as necessary for development of human reason as revelation and grace were necessary for salvation and maturity."  

These assumptions and discoveries have informed adult learning paradigms which are still in practice today.  What I kept seeing as the focus however, was rational thinking.  It has become the teacher's role in helping students to "think rationally."  This however seems to add major hurdles to pursuing a biblical faith.

 Let me elaborate...

True grace is not rational. It makes no sense. But yet, God's economy doesn't work like ours. Rational thought and understanding seeks judgement and punishment for offenders, yet God seems to work in other ways. The way of the world seeks redemptive violence, yet God works through restoration and reconciliation. Both of these are difficult and contrary to rational thought and practice. Even stories of miracles and virgin births become suspect when we pursue rational thought. Because God is increasingly mystical, works beyond the limits of understood physics and biology, rational thought becomes a hurdle in faith formation.

In May, many across the country celebrated the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden's death.  People were simply acting rational - good overcame evil.  But looking at God's economy and being irrational enough to suppose that my wishes, hopes, and desires are not greater than, or even equal to, God's, gives room to grace, restoration, and love (truly irrational responses).

 So what now? 

As we're increasingly a post-modern culture, certain rational thoughts of the past are suspect. There's room for irrational thought in understanding and learning. And I believe, as teachers to adult learners, we must create environments that accept and produce irrational thinkers. We must approach the theology of God with a respect to His irrationality. We must work to create new realities, and to move closer to the image we were created, and to tell better stories that include grace, reconciliation, virgin birth, miracles, seas parting, burning bushes, the Holy Spirit, death, and resurrection.

Peace,
Ross

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Starfish and the Spider

Maybe its weird, but I really enjoy organizational dynamic and leadership books. Here's one that's an important read, because it shows the nature of these dynamics and (I believe) offers a hopeful future for the Church.



Beckstrom, Rod A., Brafman, Ori.  2006. The Starfish and the Spider. New York: Penguin Group.
 

Ori Brafman holds a BA in peace and conflict studies from the University of California at Berkley and an MBA from Stanford Business School.  He has been an entrepreneur all of his life, ranging from wireless startups to public benefit projects.  Rod A. Beckstrom is the chief catalyst of Twiki.Net and founded CATS Software Inc.  He serves on several boards, including the Environmental Defense and Jamii Bora Africa.  He holds a BA and MBA from Stanford and was a Fullbright Scholar.
   
Beckstrom and Brafman argue that, “decentralization has been lying dormant for thousands of years.  But the advent of the Internet has unleashed this force…the rules of the game have changed” (6-7).  It is from this notion that the authors show the unstoppable power of an organization without a head and headquarter.  They provide 9 chapters of examples and strategy that support their claim.  

In Chapter 1, they show the victory of the Apache’s as a result of their decentralized structure.  Because there was no perceived hierarchy or headquarters, the power was distributed and fluid.  Chapter 2 shows the difference between a spider and starfish.  Both look similar – legs coming from a central area.  But whereas a spider dies if you kill its head, the starfish replicates as it is cut.  An organization, that is similarly decentralized, will replicate over and over, never dying if the supposed head is killed (because there is no real head).  In this chapter, we also find that the intelligence is “spread throughout the system” and that these systems “can easily mutate” (39-40).
  
 Chapter 3 uses several examples: Skype, Craigslist, Apache, and Wikipedia, to show that in an open (starfish) system, “people will automatically want to contribute” (74).  Chapter 4 shows the power of standing on five legs.  It defines these legs as: circles, the catalyst, ideology, preexisting network, and the champion.  Each of these works in tandem, allowing a decentralized organization to flourish.  Chapter 5 focuses on the catalyst.  Unlike a spider-system, the catalyst (of a starfish) let’s go and trusts its community.  The catalyst inspires by listening to interest, connecting, mapping, inspiring, and trusting others to work towards the goals and vision.  The catalyst is the antithesis of the CEO.  Chapters 6-8 look at more mechanics of the decentralized organization, hybrid organizations, and warns against centralization.  Finally in chapter 9, we discover the power of networks, chaos, fringe knowledge, and the impetus for passing on an ideology.
  
 I believe Beckstrom and Brafman’s book to be a critical guide for the future work of the church.  It is incredibly similar to the notion of a priesthood of all believers.  As the church recognizes its ideology as Missio Dei, it can (and should be) a starfish organization.  Each church or ministry is then functioning within its own unique context to contribute to Missio Dei. 

Peace,
Ross

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pics of Our Recent Life


This past week the fam caught another St. Louis Cardinals game.  That makes me 8-1.  So, for anyone that's superstitious and also a season ticket holder, let's connect!  

This weekend we also partook in a jaunt to Grant's Farm.


And yesterday, we had some close friends and family over for Kate's 30th birthday!

Peace,
Ross

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Oh the films of my childhood...

I saw this awesome minimalist picture this morning, and it took me back to my childhood.  How many of these films can you name?


Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A BIG Tour Announcement (hint)!!



Peace,
Ross

Monday, August 6, 2012

40 Years to Extinction...

I saw this last week and thought it was fascinating.  Here, futurists (which have accurately predicted the future; now present day) forecast the year 2050.  They produced this wonderful info-graphic highlighting what they believe will be extinct leading into 2050 (including such things as Google, newspapers, and blindness.

WARNING: there's 2 ways to look at this...
1. despair - because things we currently use/enjoy/practice will disappear
2. adventure - because things don't simply disappear, they become new things, technologies, and ways of life.



Peace,
Ross

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chick-fil-A [a response]



In light of Christians gathering en masse at Chick-fil-A to protest a protest, I feel compelled to interject a few thoughts.  This isn't a theological piece or a hermeneutic piece.  I believe this is a piece on people, that were created in the image of God.  This is a piece on love.  This is a PR piece - a perception piece.  And largely, this piece speaks volumes of your view of Jesus…

1. I'm saddened by the fact that Christians will gather at a moments notice in front of a fast-food chain to support an issue of the "culture war," but will remain silent in speaking against our national policies that don't view all nations as uniquely created by God; by enacting and inflicting financial sanctions that will forever cripple and weaken entire people groups and continents.

2.  I'm saddened by the fact that Christians don't gather every time capital punishment happens.  When Christians are overwhelmingly supportive of government-sanctioned death (complete with last supper), a message is being spoken - not the message of Jesus (who also enjoyed a last supper before his government-sanctioned execution).

3.  I'm saddened by the fact that Christians don't gather in support of the alien and immigrant.  The message is that not all are created equal, but only Americans - that not all are made in the image of God.  The fact that Christians aren't petitioning the government in a very well-organized way, is sad.  (If protests are happening, they're usually in support of keeping the alien away or deported)

4.  I'm saddened at how flippant Christians are at going to war with other nations and people groups.  Again, Christians are overwhelmingly supportive of war - which deny's the claim that God cares about the sanctity of life, and that Jesus really meant the whole, "love thy enemy" thing.

5.  I'm saddened once again that Christians are known for what they are against, rather than what they are for - not a great PR and perception move.  This time, the whole world watched Christians gather against people, enemies, and neighbors.  (Don't be surprised when Western-Christianity free-falls, and has even less opportunity for honest and healthy dialogue in culture)

But I'm mostly sad that the same Christians that would argue that Jesus can redeem the broken, give grace to the lost, heal the sick, disrupt systems of power, death, and destruction, with love, would be the same people that cannot show grace to the very people that Jesus came to serve.  These people serve a weak Jesus - a reactionary Jesus. 

So what's the answer? 
Let me first tell you what its not…it's not protesting gays, gay marriage, or co-opting faith and politics for the sake of a culture war.  The answer is never an idolatry of nationalism.

It's also not tolerance.  Derek Webb says it the best in my opinion.  He writes, "we prize tolerance too highly. People don't want to be tolerated, they want to be loved. Our standards are far too low."

We must see people as people; not as issues, moral failures, enemies, or opportunity for political gain.  We must see people as image bearers of God, that truly matter to the narrative of God's kingdom. 

  We must learn love.
         We must practice love.
                  We must embody love.

Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Power of the Olympics

Here's a post from 2008, that I thought was appropriate for today - thoughts on capturing the Olympic spirit...




The Olympics.

Such an opportunity for national healing. The perfect forum for civilized contest. A great medium for bringing differing nations together.

So I thought we might all join them in "Olympic Solidarity" by joining in song as we all sing the Olympic Song.

Sing to your hearts content...

Da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da (repeat)

Da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da

Da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da (repeat)


That was nice.

Peace,
Ross

Monday, July 30, 2012

Art Speaks When Words Cannot.

Over the past week I have been fortunate to connect with some of the most brilliant and artistic minds, that have helped shape me into who I am.

I think part of being an artist is searching for what art is and does.




Both Erwin McManus and Rob Bell have shown me that

   art speaks 
         when words 
                  cannot.

Peace,
Ross

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Books? (Pan de Libros)



If this video resonates with you, PLEASE VOTE for us and bring us closer to a $1,500 grant for building supplies and books!


Peace,
Ross

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stop. Collaborate. And Listen.


I love collaboration.
I love to learn new things.
I love new perspective.
I love challenges.

And for the next couple weeks I'm surrounded by some really brilliant folks, doing amazing things in the world.  I'm speaking into their lives, and they're speaking into mine.  I look forward to coming back with new insights, dreams, and possibilities.  And in the wise words of Vanilla Ice, I am doing just that.

Ok, back to listening...

Peace,
Ross

Monday, July 23, 2012

&


This morning, I had an intriguing conversation about how we view the world.  The movement of the conversation took us from seeing it, not as a world of VERSUS, but instead of AND.

Read this list:
Right / Left
Black / White
Young / Old
Gay / Straight
Man / Woman
Sacred / Secular

Do you gravitate towards seeing/comparing them as VERSUS, or AND?

Try for the next couple of days to see things as AND.  I hope that as you experience this, you'll see the world as much more connected and beautiful.

Peace,
Ross

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rediscovering Wonder (NEW Rob Bell Video)

Rob Bell surfaced from LA, as he's writing an upcoming television series, to release this brand new (and quite refreshing) video.  Enjoy!



Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild is an upcoming film (hopefully coming to a city and theatre near you), that portrays a humanity and creation of connectedness.  The film shows that there's an underlying spirituality to everything that connects us all - land, water, animals, men, and women.  The film looks beautiful and adds an element of childlike fantasy, that I hope will resonate with many!  Check it out...



Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Finding Creativity (the art of BMX)

In my constant pursuit of all things creative, I came across this today.  Its an amazing video of someone that's uniquely balanced, artistic, fluid, and quite incredible.

Enjoy!


Alain Massabova - 40 years in Paris from ART BMX MAGAZINE on Vimeo.


Peace,
Ross

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend in Photos

This past weekend was great!  Thursday night I played violin at the Chevy Music Showcase with Geoff Koch and Beth Bombara - such a cool event! 

Friday night was spent downtown Ferguson, playing their summer concert series.  THANKS to everyone that came out!!!





Saturday night, I took Kate out to an excellent Syrian restaurant (Ranoush) on the loop.  After that we headed over to the Tivoli to see Take This Waltz.




I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Peace,
Ross

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chocolate High

What can I say, other than I'm stoked that Cora is eager to learn and play the violin!  I love that she enjoys the arts as much (if not more) than I do.  I can't wait to see where she goes with it all...


Peace,
Ross

p.s. "Chocolate high" refers to properly holding the violin up...& now you know.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Divinely Inspired VS. Divinely Dictated


Let's debate…what do you say?

It's in a political season that I often hear people use the Bible in most fascinating ways.  In these seasons, it seems we dust off the good book and use blanket statements like, "the Bible is my owners manual," or "it's the only rulebook," or "the Bible contains all of the rules for life."  Of course, these are blanket statements, but hopefully you'll get the point.  When we can use the Bible to our advantage, we make things out to be black and white, that may or may not actually be.

Now comes the rub…here's 2 questions:

#1 - Is the Bible divinely inspired?

next question…

#2 - Is the Bible divinely dictated?

I think far more people are comfortable with a yes to question #1 than #2.  (of course, I don't assume it's all about me finding my own comfort, as it is me finding truth)

The more and more I read it, I am drawn to the notion that the Bible should be read and understood as an unfolding, revelation from God.

Seeing it this way, says "yes, it is divinely inspired, but requires a heart and mind of revelation to seek its truth."

In doing this it is possible to come to the conclusion that I agree with #1, but not #2.  It is possible to assume that just because God inspires something, doesn't mean that it's dictated by divine means.  After all, there's a tremendous amount of contextualization and politicization at play.

It also makes me wonder what God is continuing to reveal?
Revelatory language makes the reader ask, "what's next?"  It assumes movement and progression.  It looks at things, revealed in the OT (through dictation) differently than things revealed by God in the flesh of the NT.

And when I read it this way, it collects far less dust!

I hope you'll chime in!

Peace,
Ross

Monday, July 9, 2012

That's Just The Way It Is...

Over the past couple of weeks, I've heard this phrase over and over, "that's just the way it is."  Every single time, it's made me cringe.  There's so much defeat in that statement! 

In my opinion, "that's just the way it is" is a sentence of repetition, status quo, and death.  Instead, I see things as "the way it could be."  "The way it could be" is full of hope, renewal, redemption, and future.

This morning I came across an incredible video of a guy (Knucklehead), who was stuck in a life of "that's just the way it is," but instead, chose to live a life of "the way it could be."  His life is a victory dance!  Instead of letting life happen to him, he made it.

Enjoy!


Knucklehead - Director's Cut from Greg Brunkalla on Vimeo.


Peace,
Ross

Friday, July 6, 2012

Higgs-Boson

If you're interested in this whole "God particle" discussion, but aren't quite sure what it's all about, check this very cool video out!


Dark Matters from PHD Comics on Vimeo.


Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness


The Declaration of Independence lists "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as inalienable rights, which are believed to be basic human rights endowed by the Creator.

This is no doubt revolutionary.  And I love that our forefathers had the vision to include them.  There are very few democracies that include such rights.

But like most things, I decided (given the proximity of celebrating these rights) I would question them for sake of some great discussion…

Life, I get it.  Without life, everything else crumbles.
 
Liberty comes from the Latin word libertas, which means  “unbounded, unrestricted or released from constraint.”  This one is more ambiguous, but I get it.

The document seems to be moving somewhere.  Life leads to liberty, and liberty to the pursuit of happiness.

Now comes the tricky one I'd really like to discuss: the pursuit of happiness.

The pursuit of happiness can mean vastly different things to vastly different people.  And whereas it is surely a good idea to build a nation upon, the forefathers went a step further to deem it an unalienable right endowed by the Creator. 

Now I don't want to make this into a theological discussion as to whether it's God's goal to bring us happiness, or even the pursuit of said happiness.  Rather, I'd like to discuss the unquenchable and dangerous slope "happiness" can be in a consumer culture.

I believe that more than anything, America is a consumer culture.  We consume everything from products to entertainment, faith to resources, and even relationships.  It is the nature of our beast.

The danger of happiness being a basic right in a consumer culture is that what brings me happiness today, tomorrow can fade, and I will forever be in pursuit of the newest, shiniest, and best.  The Jones' will always have more, and will feed my need to pursue more and more.

I can imagine a time when the promise of life and liberty brought happiness, but I fear that day has long passed.  Even the provision of "daily bread" seems to be less than adequate for one's happiness to be quenched today; because now, I have the need to amass a storehouse of future daily bread's, should mine run out.

What do you think of these unalienable rights?
How does the pursuit of happiness affect you as a basic human right endowed by the Creator?

Peace,
Ross

Monday, July 2, 2012

Weekend Concerts

This past weekend, the girlies and I trek'd down to Bennett Springs.  I played 2 shows (Fri & Sat night).  Fri was inside, no worries, but it was 105 when I took the stage (outside) on Saturday night, but the ampitheatre and crowd were amazing!  Thanks to everyone that came out, stuck it out through the heat, and enjoyed the show!




I also had a moment of honest reflection...if you were to ask me, I wouldn't say I was a-jam band...but I played a 14-song set for a little over 3 hours.  So, I think I might be a jam-band...

Peace,
Ross

Thursday, June 28, 2012

PIN

I'm a schmuck for the uber-creative.  I love this short video's use of time, texture, sound, and light. 

Enjoy!


PIN from Elise Fachon on Vimeo.



Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Most Creative Paper EVER!


The making of A from Bianca Chang on Vimeo.


Bianca Chang - Recent Works, June 2011 from Bianca Chang on Vimeo.


Peace,
Ross

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fast & Furious, Afghanistan, and Creativity


Creativity births more creativity.  It offers hope, regeneration, and future.  But what happens when we lose our ability to be creative?

Allow me to connect some dots…

The administration's failure in their recent Fast and Furious program exemplifies a hopeless and shallow creativity.  The DEA allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexican cartels, with the hopes that we could follow the trail to the drug lords.  Guns bring death - an easy (and very final) end to the problems surrounding drugs and violence.  But like all creativity, it breeds future.  And a future of death is no future at all.

But instead of new ideas, of long-term, difficult, ideas, the DEA opted for the immediate gratification of bullets to brains.

The same Taliban fighters we're fighting in Afghanistan today, we equipped and trained in the 80's.  The short-sighted and shallow creativity bred a future of violence.

Guns have been done before. 
Tanks have been done before. 
Arms trading is old hat.

Imagine a world where our creativity is truly creative.  In this world we might combat regions of war with plowshares rather than weapons of war.  But we must be willing to dream of futures that we've yet to experience.  We must risk it all on creativity.  We must risk it all on hope. 

Peace,
Ross

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Questions.


I knew the questions would come.  But I didn't know they would come from Cora at 4 years old, on a drive to my favorite Mexican restaurant.  Here's how the conversation went down...

C - Dad, is Santa real?
R - Well...what do you think Cora?
C - Hmm, I don't think he is...
R - Why?
C - Well, because he wears a costume...
R - Hmm, well, I didn't think about that.

(at this point, I'm kinda sad I could be missing out on all of the Santa fun this next year.  I'm not going to lie to Cora to preserve this myth, so I figured I would just answer with questions)

...and now she makes the theological leap that I didn't expect from my 4 year old!

C - So is Jesus real?  
R - Yes he is...
C - But how did he die and come back to life?
R - Well, because he's part God and part man, and God is more powerful than death...
C - But doesn't God not want to hurt anyone?

...and depending on your theology, the answers here will vary.

R - God did this because He loved the world so much!
C - But why did God want to hurt Jesus?

...yes, God killed His son...heck, He killed Himself...how do I answer in truth for a 4 year old and not tame away the implications of the cross?

R - Well, God had to die for us.  But God knew that He couldn't stay dead, because he's more powerful than death...and in His life, He gave the whole world life.
C - Hmmm...So, is Santa real?

Cora was onto some crazy-awesome questions.  She's my kid for sure!

She proved my notion that the myth of Santa confuses kids with the truth of God and Jesus.
Which one is all seeing, knowing, etc?  And when the Santa myth disappears, does God also crumble?

I'm looking forward to lots of long, fun, interesting conversations with Cora and Olive.

Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

31.


Yesterday I turned 31.  I'm old.  At least it's beginning to sound old.  And to celebrate my oldness, my girlies took me out to Fritanga (an AMAZING Nicaraguan restaurant in St. Louis), the Tower Grove Creamery for some delicious Central Dairy ice cream, and bought me a fun and creative sketch book!  It was a fantastic night with the fam. 


Last week, Kate surprise me with a date to Nico (on the loop), Moonrise Kingdom (at the Tivoli), Abbey Road (on vinyl), and tickets to see Glen Hansard (at the Pageant).  I'm a loved and lucky man!

Peace & thanks for all of the birthday wishes!
Ross