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!


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.


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),

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pan de Libros

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


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:

Here's a list of companies that still care more about their bottom line and their stock holders:

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


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.


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.


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. 


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!


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?


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A BIG Tour Announcement (hint)!!


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.


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.


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.