Nov 4, 2011


At the turn of the 20th century, the economy was built on buildings. The more stuff we built, the better off we were.

In light of this, by the middle of century, we began valuing security more than anything. The mantra for the middle-class was work for GM as a button-pusher or a knob-turner, and you'll be set for life. For the elitists, it was climb the corporate ladder and the farther up you get, the less hard you have to work, and the more money you make. And finally, for the education system, the goal became to teach kids to be compliant so that we can objectively measure your intellectual growth, and the system can keep being fed. (And maybe if you're lucky, you'll end up with the white-collar mantra.)

Now, things are changing. Our economy is no longer built on concrete, but on ideas. And thanks to the internet, ideas spread--instantly. Which means individuals have more power than ever... You don't need a publishing company to be a writer anymore. You don't need to live in Silicon Valley to invent something.

There's a story in the book of John about a time when Jesus broke the rules. And that made the high-and-mighty religious leaders angry. (Or maybe jealous.) And like all anger, it was fueled by fear; namely, the fear of their carefully constructed system being torn down, along with the security it provided for the elite.

Jesus understood that for real change to happen, someone had to break the rules and deny the elite their comfortable status.

(Side note: There’s a great book by business writer Seth Godin called Lynchpin which explains how being a cog in a system is no way to go about business, work, or life in general. It’s a great read for anybody wanting to break the mold.)

Jesus demonstrated that we shouldn't be weaving baskets in a world that doesn't need baskets.

Sep 25, 2011

A little explanation to my previous post

Regarding my previous post (Why I Believe in Evolution and Why It Doesn't Matter), I've been getting some questions about why I mentioned evolution in regards to the posted video. I believe that Jill Bolte Taylor's message is that we have the ability to choose to evolve into more and more humanness. We can choose to simply survive (as animals do) or we can choose to thrive in our existence (as humans do). We can use each other for survival (as animals do), or we can rely on each other for spiritual growth (as humans do--Christian or otherwise). We can herd around each other and gather resources to advance our species' development, or we can admit to our need for others in order to become more ourselves alongside each other.

The key word is choose. I believe in evolution--not necessarily monkeys slowly getting taller and less hairy and slightly smarter--but rather that things change (i.e., become more advanced) with changing circumstances. The circumstances of giraffes are that trees are getting taller, therefore their necks have to get longer. And the circumstances of humans have changed in a manner that requires something a little more "advanced" (spiritual) than that of animals, trees, and amoebas.

We have to choose. We can stay where we are, or we can evolve.

As for the part about Seth Godin... You'll have to read Lynchpin to get that one. Which I highly recommend.

Sep 24, 2011

"It's only temporary"

"It's only temporary."

I hear a lot of people say this. About money, about material, about love... about life. The problem with this rather lousy excuse is the word "only." It assumes that temporariness negates purpose, and that the only things that matter are eternal things. Or at least that eternal things are more important.

Sadly, this philosophy is very popular among Christian circles, namely, "This life is only temporary", etc.

I believe the opposite is true. Things are only precious because they are temporary, and the fact that something is temporary makes it precious.

If eternal things are all that matter, than life doesn't matter. And if life doesn't matter, life is easy. When our psyche is craving a little TLC, all we have to do is sit around and speculate about the end times and how we can most efficiently get people saved for "some day"... Because as long we convince ourselves that our version of "some day" is the right version, right now doesn't matter. But we still get the satisfaction of "having a purpose."

Mmm, easy is yummy.

But the truth is, meaning and preciousness are found in the temporary. What matters is now. Your work matters. Your love matters. Your worship matters. Your hobby matters. Star Wars on blue-ray matters. Because what you do with this life matters, because this life only lasts for a finite time.

Everything eternal is out of our control. Speculating about it does 2 things: [a] Makes us feel in control of something we're not (I think that's called worshiping a false god), and [b] wastes precious time from this life.

Don't worry about the eternal. Instead, cherish things that aren't going to last. They're only temporary.

Sep 15, 2011

Why I believe in evolution, and why it doesn't matter

Seth Godin calls it "the lizard brain." I call it fear. Whatever it is, it is beautifully explained here: If everybody lies, maybe it's just because everybody's using the wrong side of their brain.

Aug 20, 2011

Reading Music: A means to an end

I never understood what the phrase "means to an end" meant until I started teaching drum lessons. (Shameless self-plug.) I was with my guitar-slinging brother-in-law one morning having coffee and I was telling him about my new endeavor of music lessons. The inevitable question, "Do you teach your students to read music?" came up, and, without really thinking about it, I said, "yeah, but reading music is really just a means to an end--'The end' being personal expression through music."

For the sake of teaching someone the whacky idea of playing music, we have to speak the same language. But once you've learned the language, you don't need to think about it. You think through the language, without thinking about it. (Like George Orwell taught us in his book 1984.)

A quick aside: This is why I love the aptly named "chord charts" so often used in modern worship music (and also improvised jazz music). They give you the lyrics along with the chords that make up the "foundation" and the "mood" of the piece. The rest you have to figure out on your own--In other words, just feel it. That's what musicianship is: Feeling it.

Reading sheet music does not make you a musician any more than reading words makes you an author. Reading music is nothing more than a stepping stone in the journey towards the next opportunity to express yourself through music. And success happens when each of those opportunities leaves you with nothing more than the desire to do it again.

So, I guess there is no 'end' at all.

Aug 7, 2011

Does My Pedalboard Make Me "That Guy"?

For the last few months I've been using my "small pedalboard" because I often found myself going through entire set lists using only 3 of the 9,000 pedals on my "big board" (a.k.a. Gertrude). This made me feel a little like the congregation perceived me as being that guy who has this big assortment of pedals in front of him that he's not using for anything other than making himself look like he has a big pedalboard.

The smaller board does adequately accommodates the essentials, however I'm left thinking of ideas during worship team practice that involve pedals currently residing on a shelf. So I'm left with trying to remember that idea later, and then finding time to develop it. And then I have to convince myself that the idea is good enough to rearrange my board to accommodate desired effect. (Or convince myself that the idea isn't that good, which is very self-deprivating.) And then I have to hope it works in the context of the whole band on Sunday morning. And then I have to see a therapist because I'm all stressed out that my POG2 won't fit between my A/B-box and RC Booster. And then when I finally get it all done I realize that every time I reach for my volume pedal I accidentally bump my overdrive's volume knob with my heel which messes up everything's levels. And then... You get the idea.

Another downside is that during my daily practicing and tinkering, I don't have instant access to what I call "idea-generator pedals"--Effects that you have to play rather than just turn on or off (e.g., POG2, oscillating delays, loopers). This gets me seriously rusty with these effects, so when it comes time to incorporate one of them into my playing its like re-learning how to use it.

Lastly, a big incentive to me for keeping Gertrude on 1st-string (A sports reference? ...Weird.) is for easier set-up and tear-down. When my board is the same gig after gig, I can make a cable snake with electrical tape that has all 4 of my cables (instrument, power, footswitch, and XLR [for acoustic gutiar]) in a single cohesive unit. Handling gear is so much easier and more efficient this way, even if the board is slightly bigger/heavier. (And yes other guitarists... I'm aware that it's very uncool to have a footswitch on your pedalboard... I like my AC15's tremolo.)

(Also... I just realized that the above paragraph totally plays into a recent personality-profile I took that labels me as a "Maximizer", i.e., someone who always looks for the most efficient way to do something, can't stand the thought of wasting 2 seconds untangling cables , blah blah blah... Man I hate when those things are right.)

So it stands to reason that I will unashamedly be bringing back the big board to the demise of 248 square inches of floor space. (And yes, I did just get out a calculator and figure that out.) Even if I go a whole set list without using anything other than one overdrive and a delay, that's OK.

Because it definitely beats the alternative, which is giving a crap about my perceptions of other people's perceptions.

I love you, Gertrude.


Mar 31, 2011

One Head is Better than a Thousand

Remember sporks? Remember how they were really popular for like 7 hours after they were invented? What happened to them?

They sucked, that's what happened.

Everyone knows how to use a spoon, and everyone knows how to use a fork. They are perfect at completing their tasks; so perfect, in fact, that it is totally worth the effort of having one of each utensil to accomplish their respective goals. Combining them into a genetically-altered hybrid-species simply to save oneself from carrying two utensils instead of one is not worth the frustration of dealing with the fact that a spork can't really do anything except poke the tip of your tongue when you're eating peas.

Ever heard of the Flip camcorder? It's this ingenious product that is about as simple to operate as an iPod, but it's a camcorder. It's the size of an iPod, too, and has a built-in rechargeable battery, and it holds and hour or two of video. That's it.

But that's the amazing part: That's it. No features, no menus, nothing to distract you from what's really important. (Oh, and it's in 720p HD, which makes your Youtube videos look fantastic.)

Everything you need; nothing you don't. Just like spoons and forks. Sometimes, it's what something doesn't do that makes it awesome.

And sometimes, it's what a person doesn't do that makes her good at what she does.

Mar 24, 2011


I've been going through a major transition in my life in the last 2 years. But mainly in just the last few months. I'm not necessarily talking about my recent career changes, my getting married, or even my new custom-length George L cables on my pedalboard (although, rest assured, those cables have changed my life). I'm talking about my definition of one little word:


Usually at this point in a writing, the author will begin h/er expose with a Webster's definition, and build from there. But I, quite frankly, am a little scared to read the "correct" definition of this word, because I've been having such a blast discovering it for myself. Or at least what it means for me.

I used to define work as something I did to make income. I clock in, I clock out. I'm at work, then I'm not. Someone's looking over my shoulder, then I'm free.

Now I define work a little differently: Work is ministry. And by "ministry" I don't mean that I'm walking around the world in sandals preachin' the good news and eating grasshoppers. Ministry is simply the opportunity I've been given to work.

An opportunity. A gift. A grace.

We all have this gift. According to Seth Godin, when you realize this gift, you become a linchpin--The third group of workers who are slowly overtaking the traditional commercial worldview of managers and laborers. You also become a good reason for Seth Godin to write a new book (case in point).*

Whatever it's called, it's seriously challenged my way of life. I no longer have the ability to simply not be at work. My work is almost always on my mind. There's no more clocking out; no more leaving work at work. I can no longer blame my stress on my uptight boss or my snotty coworkers. Everything (e.g., success, happiness) falls on me.

But on the bright side, I'm doing something (actually multiple things) that I really enjoy. It's like I'm just "being myself" and getting paid for it--joyfully. Suddenly, work is no longer work. It's ministry.

Which brings me to Sabbath, which has also taken on a new meaning in light of my new view of "the world of work." I never used to take Sabbath particularly seriously. As long as I scraped up some free time to (a) not be on the clock and (b) not be tired from previously being on the clock, I figured that was good. But now, there is no clock. I have to intentionally create a sacred time. Just like removing my shoes when I'm on sacred ground, I need to remove my productivity when I'm in this sacred time.

Why is this so important? Because now that I give a crap about what I do, I want it to matter. Which is great, but also dangerous, because it means I want to do it all the time. Which means I'm going to get burned out. But I'm just going to keep on truckin', because in my blind ambition I'm going to start thinking that what I do matters a little more than it actually does, and that I matter a little more than I actually do.

In his song Perfect Desires, Aaron Niequist puts it perfectly:

Perfect are
the good desires
You have given me
Be their end
as You have been
their beginning
Our desires are a gift. We're created to enjoy them, and when we do, we discover the difference between worldly happiness and everlasting joy. But the truth is, whether we act upon them or not, the world is still going to turn. God is still going to love me. But God has bigger things on his plate than whether or not I feel important. And "importance" is exactly what I feel when I work non-stop.

That's where Sabbath comes in. It reminds us that even though we have this awesome God-given thing to do, that thing doesn't control us, give us value, or define us. It's simply there for our enjoyment... Much like the Sabbath itself.


*If you read any Seth Godin and also read anything on the postmodern movement of the Christian church, there are some weird parallels. Um... I hope I didn't just give away an idea I should be writing a book about.

Feb 2, 2011

7 ways The Oatmeal can KILL YOU

In case you haven't heard, is the funniest and most ingenious thing. Ever. Naturally, I'm now looking for a way to be like/wishing I had invented The Oatmeal. So out of pure spite and jealousy, I present to you...

7 ways The Oatmeal can KILL YOU:
  1. Bobcats will be sent to pillage your food supply.

  2. As the website grows in popularity, we all start looking like this:

  3. The Oatmeal will mock you in that certain kind of way where everyone except you knows you're being mocked, and when you finally realize how big of an idiot you are you kill yourself. (e.g., people who don't know they're being made fun of for these kind of emails.)

You're welcome.


Jan 27, 2011

Coming Cleaner

With a little inspiration from Karl (Coming Clean) and my wife (Know Your Bodily Fluids), I feel the irrisistable urge to bring back the blog. Its been a long time since last writing, and my carefully-calculated excuses are as follows: [a] getting engaged, [b] recording an e.p. (To The Steadfast), [c] getting married, and [d] getting married.

Oh, and all these reasons:

  • I often (which means always) avoid any and all forms of speaking for fear of embarrasment of my speech impediment... In other words, to protect my ego. Then I wonder why that ego feels like a false portrayal of myself.

  • Music is (and always has been) how I internally compensate for my self-induced avoidance of human interation.

  • When people ask me "How was worship this morning?" my answer is usually (which means always) connected to how well I thought the music was executed, and/or whether my Fat-Boost was set to the appropriate volume level to kick up those anti-solos just enough to be heard without sounding like I want to be heard... because I'm a minimalist (I decided).

  • Then I assume that's what they meant, too.

  • I once told a professional studio engineer and guitar virtuoso/luthier that I installed the Filtertron pickups in my Fender TC-90 myself. Actually, I bought it that way.

  • I also told him I installed the Bigsby Tremolo on said guitar myself. Yep.

  • I wear my peacoat because it makes me think that when people see me they whisper to each other, "Is that the guy from Coldplay?"

  • This blog post, as well as 87% of my guitar playing, was inspired by this guy:

  • 100% of my guitar playing was inspired by The Edge. Do the math. It works.

  • The above bullet-point, complete with obiquitous reference to U2 and that particular aloof-stricken tone where you use periods instead of commas, was also inspired by that guy 2 bullet points up. Actually, it was outright stolen.

  • I'm considering selling my Suzuki Marauder (my motorcycle--a.k.a. The Murderer) to buy a Honda ST1100. Yes, a sport-tourer. Goodbye coolness.

  • In college, I wrote an 8-page paper on one episode of Family Guy. A couple weeks ago, I wrote my whole life story for a Bible-study class. It was 5 pages.

  • When being a shoe-gazer is no longer cool, I'll probably go back to playing in punk bands.

Yay me.

Now that we have that out of the way, hopefully more writing will come. Also, I now own TWO cardigans, which are scientifically proven to make you more creative.