Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hank Hill goes to mega-Church

Very funny.

via Greg.

Singing Together

Getting the comment from the red-haired “Pentecostal to Lutheran to Anglican” friend from my Laurier music daze triggered a memory and a thought.

In the third year of my degree I became assistant conductor of the university symphony orchestra. Part of my job was to conduct some student compositions and fill in when the regular conductor couldn’t make the rehearsal – which was a lot.

If the rehearsal was at 4:00, I’d receive a score in my mailbox at 2:00 with a note attached saying, “Please learn and take over today’s orchestra rehearsal. Regular Conductor is unavailable.”

If the score was Mozart or Haydn - no problem. But often the music was Stravinsky or Ravel – beads of sweat would form on my brow.

Regular Conductor was known for his six hour dress rehearsals the day of the concert, to make up for the times he couldn’t make the regular rehearsals, the rehearsals where I muddled through the Concerto for Wind Instruments on two hour’s notice.

Once, during one of these marathon dress rehearsals, I was leading the orchestra through a piece written by a student composer. It was only the second time we practiced it because Regular Conductor scheduled it for only 10 minutes at the end of one rehearsal. It wasn’t hard music, but it was stranger than what folks were used to.

First the principle flautist got lost and missed her entry. Then the bassoonist came in at the wrong place. The strings descended into chaos. The percussionists were on another planet.

The music was going to crash but I wasn’t going to stop. After all this was a dress rehearsal. I was going to raise my arms and gesture to the next major section, and the orchestra would come back together – hopefully. Then we’d run through it again from top to bottom. That was my strategy.

But Regular Conductor decided otherwise.

“STOP!” He yelled.

I’m sorry I thought this was MY rehearsal.

“The music’s a mess. People aren’t watching you. And it sounds terrible!”

Tell me something I don’t know.

“You should have stopped them and started over from the beginning!”

No, this was a dress rehearsal. We pretend it’s the concert, so we don’t stop.

“Either you’re too STUPID to understand this music or too INCOMPETENT to stand on that podium.”

Silence. Keep in mind; this was in front of 60 musicians.

Blood rushed to my ears then to my face. Did he just say what I think he said?

Apparently so, because as I looked out into the orchestra, I saw 60 horrified faces – and one angry Regular Conductor.

“Start again from the beginning!” he roared. “And STOP the orchestra if they screw up again!”

We never did get to play that piece from top to bottom without stopping, except at the concert.

But as I looked back out into the orchestra, something hit me with a soft hand. These people are my friends. These are folks I drink beer with. Hang out with, study with. Even pray with. They want me to succeed. They want all of us to succeed – together. The best music we could play was when we played simply for the joy of being together.

Afterwards, a crowd of musicians gathered around me to tell me how appalled they were by such a personal, public insult.

I got thinking about this experience as I was reading about church leadership. Regular Conductor’s behaviour: the rehearsals he didn’t have time for, his marathon dress rehearsals to make up for his being away, the angry words, the disrespect, all climaxing with his unprofessional outburst at me, alienated those he was supposed to inspire. People didn’t want to give him their best. He didn’t deserve it. It was clear he didn’t care about them. He yelled, abused peoples’ time, and needlessly hurt those under his charge.

He lasted one year. We were all glad to see the back of him.

We all know pastors who are like Regular Conductor; dictatorial megalomaniacs who trample over people in the pursuit of their own grandiose visions.

But I wonder if being a pastor is a lot like being a student conductor. When I look out from the pulpit at the congregation I realize, these people are my friends, people I hang out with, drink beer with, study scripture with. Pray with. I know my congregation grows closer when we sing songs of praise together. Or even songs of lamentation. For us, the key is that we sing together. My job is to lead the singing of our life together, teaching new songs, reminding them of the old ones, making sure we begin and end at the same place.

If someone gets lost, I gesture to the next major section. And we all come back again – together.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Is there anyone in the world who still takes this guy seriously? For commentary, click here.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

aching arms

I went to the gym today for the first time in months and lifted some weights. I almost had to crawl back to my car. Afterwards, I couldn’t even lift my turkey sandwich to my mouth.

But I will get back in shape, darnit! Even if it kills me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Da Vinci Code Controversy - yawn

I’m trying to get all worked up over the Da Vinci Code. But I just can’t. I don’t have the energy.

Yes, Dan Brown’s little tome is filled with theological nonsense. Yes, there is an underlying anti-Christianity permeating the book. Yes, people are taking its narrative claims WAY too seriously as historical truth.


100 years from now (heck, 2 years from now), The Da Vinci Code will be forgotten, but Christianity will stand strong. Christianity has thrived for 2000 years, not because it defended itself against false claims, but because it proclaims a message of life and salvation.

Christian histrionics against this book and movie only serve to prove the point the book is making, that we are an authoritarian church bent on protecting ourselves rather than serving the world.

This all I’m going to say on this subject. (Maybe)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Food, Glorious Food!

I haven’t been eating well or exercising, and I feel it. After my triumphant Easter Sunday on the scale where I met my goal of losing 15 pounds over Lent, I slipped back into old patterns of eating crappy food and having the more than occasional hop and barley libation.

Last week in St. Louis I realized just how much my body craves healthy food. After two days of nary a vegetable in sight, I found a salad at my table, and my innards involuntarily leapt with joyful anticipation.

And I wonder why I don’t sleep well, or struggle to put two words together on a page. My brain is apple sauce and my body is rubber.

But eating healthy is HARD WORK. Hamburgers and fries abound. Donuts are everywhere. Pizza by the slice is on every corner. Junk food is too abundant. Eating healthily requires planning and discipline. One more damn thing to put on my to-do list.

A member of the church wrote a letter to the editor in our local paper this week. He suggested that junk food is like cigarettes. Parents who would lock their children in high towers if they caught their children puffing on emphysema sticks think nothing of taking their kids through the local drive-thru. There is no redeeming, nutritional value to fast food: fries, burgers, and coke.

But why do I love it so?

I think there should be a special tax on junk food to help pay for the inevitable health care costs of people subsisting on junk food. Cancer, Type-2 Diabetes, heart disease, are growing at alarming rates. I know taxing junk food is not a new idea. Folks on the left insist that such a tax would disproportionately affect lower income people. Those on the right suggest that it’s a tax grab that punishes people for making free consumer choices.

I don’t care. Preventative medicine should be more than the Canadian Cancer Society’s tiny little ad on page C6 encouraging people to eat their veggies. This stuff should be taught in school (as should personal money management, but that’s another kettle ‘o fried fish). There should tax incentives to help people eat healthily.

When childhood obesity in Canada is rising rapidly, we can look forward to a new generation of unhealthy people. This can only drain money from health care. Coupled with an aging population, this spells crisis.

Healthy eating is simply good stewardship of our bodies and our money.

UPDATED for clarity.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Day Six in St. Louis

An endurance test. There’s no other way to describe it. From 8:18 am to 8:00 pm, with lunch and dinner session. No rest for the virtuous, nor for me.

Today is the first sunny morning and the grass and leaves are a lush green. I dodged trucks going across the street so I could check out Denny’s for breakfast. I had the All-American Slam breakfast. Yum.

Fighter jets are screaming over the hotel silencing CNN Headline News.

It’s 8:02 St. Louis time. I have 16 minutes to get my coffee and my butt down to the convention hall.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Which American President Are You?

I've never felt so honoured...

You scored 18 Positive, 4 Negative, 15 Active, and 7 Passive!
A gifted orator and confident leader, like JFK, you have what it takes on the surface to lead.

Still, you may have some personal or political reservations about
actively involving yourself in making sweeping changes to what is wrong
and needs to be fixed.

Bill Clinton may also fit this category.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 90% on Positive
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 10% on Negative
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 45% on Active
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 42% on Passive
Link: The Presidential Personality Test written by DaTrickster on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Day Three

It’s Day Three in St. Louis. It’s been raining almost constantly since we arrived. The moisture is turning the leaves and grass a vibrant green and the humidity is wrapping everything in its warm embrace. Living in Lethbridge over the past couple years made me forget how wonderful humidity can feel in the spring.

Today’s highlight has been the Biblical Equipping component. The eight steps of studying scripture and using it in our lives is an excellent way to think about how we use the bible.

I haven’t been sleeping well; like a rock, no dreams and I still feel tired when I wake up. Hopefully, tonight will be my lucky night. I want lots of rest so I can process all this wonderful information well.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Clueless in St. Louis

Actually, I’m enjoying the training immensely. Stephen Ministries is simply top-notch and the ChristCare Series program we’re learning promises to build on our many strengths, and to grow in new and diverse ways.

But my big problem with this week is all the work! All day. Everday. No time to see what St. Louis looks like.