Mixtape #11 - This One Goes Out to All the Ladies

Here is the final track listing for my latest mixtape, This One Goes Out to All the Ladies:

1) Ladies of the World - Flight of the Conchords
2) Black Girl Pain - Talib Kweli
3) The Girls Want to Be with the Girls - Talking Heads
4) Love Her Madly - The Doors
5) No You Girls - Franz Ferdinand
6) Daytime Nighttime Suffering - Paul McCartney
7) Working Girls (Sunlight Shines) - The Pernice Brothers
8) Women's Realm - Belle and Sebastian
9) Killer Queen - Queen
10) No Man's Woman - Sinead O'Connor
11) Nobody's Baby - Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
12) Respect - Aretha Franklin
13) Woman Is the Nigger of the World - John Lennon
14) Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves - Eurythmics
15) Woman King - Iron and Wine
16) Army of Me - Bjork
17) She Just Wants to Be - R.E.M.
18) Girl In the War - Josh Ritter
19) She's Leaving Home - The Beatles


Mixtape #10 - Songs of the Sea

Here is the final track listing for my latest mixtape, Songs of the Sea:

1) Home at Last - Steely Dan
2) Stuck On a Boat - Port O'Brien
3) Chanty - Son Volt
4) I'm Shipping Up to Boston - Dropkick Murphys
5) March Into the Sea - Modest Mouse
6) Fisherman's Wife - Califone
7) Gulf of Mexico Fishing Blues - Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby
8) The Devil Down Below - Gaelic Storm
9) The Mariner's Revenge Song - The Decemberists
10) Petrov, Yelyena and Me - Flight of the Conchords
11) Goodbye, Goodnight - Jars of Clay
12) Sailor Song - The Felice Brothers
13) Sailor and Widow - Keren Ann
14) The Whaler - Thrice
15) The Downeaster "Alexa" - Billy Joel
16) Pirates - Mr. Gnome
17) The Family and the Fishing Net - Peter Gabriel
18) Fisherman's Song - Port O'Brien
19) Ships - Tyler Ramsey
20) Song to the Siren - Tim Buckley


My Protest Rally

Hey all.

Here are some photos from the pro-life rally I participated in yesterday morning and afternoon.

I will write up a blog about the experience tomorrow or later tonight!


My New Album

I've decided I'm finally going to tackle a project that I've been wanting to do for years and years -- I'm going to record a full-length album of hymnsongs, both old-fashioned and modern and maybe even a few originals (and by modern, I mean songs recorded by secular acts during the Jesus Movement).

I don't have a full track-listing yet because I'm still picking out songs; but I figure there will be eleven songs and I've already gotten a few picked out that I'd like to do:

1) Jesus
2) Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
3) Nearer Blessed Lord - Nina Simone
4) Precious Lord - Mahalia Jackson
5) It Is Well with My Soul
6) Holding On - Drew Moody
7) Be Thou My Vision/All Creatures of Our God and King
8) Jesus - The Velvet Underground
9) Prince of Peace - Drew Moody
10) Jesus Paid It All
11) Jesus (reprise)
12) How Can You Refuse Him Now? - Hank Williams

Other songs I'm considering:

"Lay My Burdens Down"
"I Shall Not Walk Alone" - Ben Harper
"All My Trials"
"I Am a Stranger Here Below"

My Tree, Planted By the Waters

This is my favorite scripture:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. - Psalm 1:3-4 (ESV)

Of all the verses about love and forgiveness and mercy in the Bible, none of them quite compare with this one. There's so much about Psalm 1:3-4 that I love: the imagery, the language, the simile.

For one thing, I've always been particularly attracted to trees. I identify with them.

I love their strength and the majesty of them. I'm fascinated by the science of them -- the way they grow, their root systems, the way they live and breathe. I'm in awe of their usefulness: they provide shade on sunny days for us, they provide homes for animals, they provide us with the paper we write on and the books we read, they provide the wood needed to make homes and bridges and bookshelves. And I'm fantastically devasted by how cavalier we are to trim them, cut them down, burn them, destroy them -- all for our own sake.

However, throughout the Bible, trees are spoken of with the same great reverance I have for them (God used a tree as the ultimate source of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis, scriptures use trees as comparisons all over the place, Jesus was crucified on a tree, etc, etc). I do believe God delights in us most -- we are His ultimate creation. However, I think trees come in a very close second.

I was at a church in Crown Point, Indiana, playing a show with my band at the time and after we finished playing, and were getting ready to leave, some of the members of the church decided to pray for each member of the band. When they came to me, a girl prophesied over me and said, "I see you as a tree, standing alone in a field. You are tall, beautiful, majestic, strong. There is a storm and a strong wind coming that is going to blow you sideways. It's going to be so strong that it will bend your trunk until you are parallel with the ground. But if your roots are deep enough and you are strong enough, the storm will cease, the winds will die and you will be brought back to your upright position. If not, your trunk will snap and you will die." Shortly thereafter, I left my church, left my band and became an alcoholic. Guess what happened to my tree?

And this is why I had Josh Richter paint my guitar the way he did -- everytime I pick Addison up to play, I am reminded of this verse: "I am like a tree planted by streams of water." I want to never forget it.

I never want to be standing alone in a field when a gale comes and snaps me in half again; I want to be standing tall and strong, firmly planted by the waters that, everyday, refresh and nourish me. I remember what it was like to feel completely helpless in the midst of life's storms and I remember what happened when I wasn't strong enough to stand up to the winds. In the words of Lindsey Buckingham, "I'm never going back again."

I saw a video of Donald Miller addressing an audience yesterday morning and even though it's only two minutes long, I was captivated by it:

In all honesty, I had never considered this aspect of my favorite verse -- I was always too mesmerized by the language and how I identify with it. But Miller makes an interesting point: tall, strong, majestic trees don't become that way overnight. It is a painfully, woefully long process for a tree to reach its peak. Even a tree's death is prolonged over several years. In this society, it is easy for us to become discouraged when things don't happen immediately. Almost everything is immediately available to us: fast food, high speed internet, bittorrent, thrift shops, get-rich-quick schemes, media. Everything is available to us at minimal time and investment. We all understand that these things may not be the best quality and may not be the best for us, but what do we care so long as we get it now?

That's not the spirituality for me. That's not the faith I want.



My Homemade Bookshelf

For any of you who are following the bookshelf saga or even care (which I can't imagine is any of you), here's the design I'm going with...

Mine isn't anywhere near this level of completion yet, but it's getting there.

My Loneliness and the Even Darker Place of Nothingness

"I’m just going to accept my loneliness. And I’m gonna go to an even darker place of nothingness from an even farther, more extreme nothingness, on my own." - Tommy Corn, I Heart Huckabees

That's a powerfully dark, strange line that has been on my heart this entire week. I watched I Heart Huckabees on Monday night and this line comes from the scene in which Tommy (Mark Wahlberg) walks in on Albert (Jason Schwartzman) and Catarine (Isabelle Huppert) after what appears to be a sexual romp in the hotel bed. Tommy, whose wife just took his daughter and left him, falls into a world of loneliness, which only intensifies when the philosopher he has clung to and invested his thoughts and emotions into has sex with his friend, Albert.

As a Christian, I know that I cannot honestly repeat this line; for one thing, I know that even when I am lonely, I am never alone. Secondly, there's no such thing as nothingness -- there is only our thoughts and emotions which devalue the meaningfulness of everything that surrounds us.

However, I can empathize with him.

For most of my life, I've been lonely. I didn't have many friends as a kid, I grew up in a cult that discouraged communication with the outside world (and that was during my awkward teenage years, which are difficult enough as they are), girls have never really been interested in me and all the friends I did (and do) have are either married or in long-term relationships. I've always been everyone's afterthought: either I was on the outskirts of society because I didn't fit in or because nobody wanted me. When I did start making friends, the "And then there's Drew" factor came with it.

The "And then there's Drew" factor is an occurrence in which a friend will invite all of their friends over and then remember "Oh! And then there's Drew!"

Always the afterthought.

Currently, I have a girlfriend that I never see and rarely speak with. For a person whose love language is quality time, this has been incredibly difficult on me, but I've pressed on and broke on through to the other side. But, lately... It's been more difficult than usual. I couldn't be there when her dad was in the hospital, I couldn't be there for her birthday, I couldn't be there any day during the summer, I can't be there now -- not because of my schedule, but because of her's. She simply does not have time for me. And, you know -- that's not necessarily her fault. But I spend my nights alone, everynight, sending text messages into the darkness.

I could hang out with friends, but I always feel weird about it, and that is for a couple of reasons: 1) all of my close friends are either married, are in long-term relationships and a) I hate being the third wheel and b) I always feel weird taking away a couple's quality time by hanging around, 2) they live far away, 3) I don't believe in "people just to hang out with" friends (we're either best friends or nothing, sorry), 4) even when I do get over my worry of being the third wheel, some of my closest friends now have babies and so they REALLY don't have time for me. The Leighs, the Nashes and the Seelingers all have children now.

So, here I am, on Saturday night, sitting in front of the computer typing up a blog, listening to my family watch a movie in the other room, arguing with my girlfriend via text message and wondering what the hell happened to my life that made me this way? What events transpired in my personal history that made me endure this overwhelming feeling of loneliness and why is so easy for me to fall into this trap of loneliness?

I could blame my parents for leaving me home alone when I was a little kid and I had to fend for myself. I could blame a couple of my exes for cheating on me. I could blame my girlfriend for never spending time with me. I could blame the UPC for not allowing me to hang out with people outside the church. I could blame my stepmom for picking and choosing who I could and couldn't hang out with. I could blame kids in my adolescent years for thinking I was a weirdo and ignoring me. I could blame the worship leaders I've played with for never valuing my input. I could blame everyone who never thanked me for the times I bent over backwards for them.

I could blame anyone I want, but in the end, it always boils down to me.

I feel lonely because I don't love myself. I feel neglected because I neglect myself. I feel rejected because I reject myself.

I'm a mess of a self-saboteur.


My 372 Books...

...won't fit on my two bookshelves. So, I have decided I am going to build my own bookshelf that will, hopefully, be light, compact and easy to move. The difficult thing, though, is that this mobile bookshelf will need to be able to contain 372 books, or at least a considerably sized portion of that.

Here are some designs I have been looking at and considering:

This design seems to be incredibly doable. All one needs is a sheet of plywood, seven long boards, a top, a support and enough wood for shelving. In fact, this design could also be sectioned into three units, making it easier to move. When set up again, the three units could then be pieced back together.

This may very well be the easiest design to build and most aesthetically pleasing. This sort of shelving can be made with, say, five 2x6 boards and fifteen shelving supports: drill the supports into your wall as five rows of three supports, space them maybe a foot apart vertically, three feet apart horizontally and simply lay the 2x6 board across the three supports. Simple.

One could also very easily make this sort of shelving illusory by making it appear books are "floating" on the wall. If one has a eggshell white wall, paint your shelves and supporting arms eggshell white; if one has a maroon wall, paint your shelves and supporting arms maroon. The arms and shelves will simply blend in with the wall, giving the illusion of books being suspended in mid-air, or glued to the wall.

This isn't quite what I'm looking for, but I definitely see the value in it. Maybe when I have a reading room/office, I'll build one of these and place it next to my reading chair... Ahhh, simpler times.

Again, a very simple design. The only tricky part would be deciding what sort of fabric design I should use to decorate the inside of it... Plus, this won't fit anywhere near the amount that I'd need it to fit.

If I ever bought a home, I would LOVE to have this in my closet...

Finally, this design is my absolute favorite. It's merely a fantasy of mine, I know... It's incredibly unrealistic, probably expensive and, obviously, immobile. But when I buy a house of my own and have my own library/office, you better believe this design is what's going to dominate one of its walls.

My New Old Books

Well. I have a problem.

A spending money on books problem.

Is that a problem?

It probably is.

At any rate, here are the books I bought today at Goodwill:

1) The Social Contract and Discourses - Jean Jacques Rousseau
2) Day By Day - Andrew Murray
3) Nine Stories - J.D. Salinger
4) Running with Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
5) Shopgirl - Steve Martin
6) Heavens to Betsy! & Other Curious Sayings - Charles Earle Funk
7) A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf
8) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man / Dubliners - James Joyce
9) Candide - Voltaire
10) The Last Days of Socrates - Plato
11) Island of the Sequined Love Nun - Christopher Moore
12) Running In the Family - Michael Ondaatje
13) How to Enjoy Wine - Hugh Johnson
14) Holidays On Ice - David Sedaris
15) Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
16) Tartuffe and Other Plays - Moliere
17) Hard to Believe - John MacArthur
18) Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman
19) The Man In the Mirror - Patrick Morley
20) A Pound of Paper - John Baxter
21) Here and Now - Henri Nouwen
22) Nine Classic French Plays - Seronde Peyre
23) A Gentle Thunder - Max Lucado
24) The Journals of John Cheever - John Cheever
25) Open House - Elizabeth Berg
26) Come Thirsty - Max Lucado


My Former Self

I picked up the new Derek Webb album, Stockholm Syndrome, this past weekend. I absolutely love Derek Webb and have ever since he left Caedmon's Call; his lyrics are so passionate, so challenging and, musically speaking, he has been a bit of a chameleon with every album. There was the jangly roots music of She Must and Shall Go Free, the stark, atmospheric darkness of I See Things Upside Down, the stripped-down acoustic guitar work on Mockingbird and a bit of 1960's Brit-pop revival on The Ringing Bell. For his latest release, he has left the majority of his instruments at home, save for an acoustic guitar on a couple tracks, and opted for a more digital approach. The entire album is dominated by drums, keyboards and computers. It's actually kind of reminiscent of if Moby were doing more upbeat stuff.

There's been a lot of controversy surrounding Stockholm Syndrome in the music industry since the time it was supposed to be released (in May) up until now. Of course, Derek Webb always stirs things up with every release and I've always wondered just how long it would take for his record label to say "enough is enough." Apparently, he's finally done it.

The original statement the record label, INO, released stated that the lyrics on the new album were too harsh and too risque for Christian audiences, so they wouldn't be releasing it unless he changed the lyrics (particularly for one song). Now, Derek Webb is a man who will not back down when he believes in something and so he refused to change the lyrics. According to him, that one song that is getting the most heat is the most important song on the album, so he was even more adamant about keeping it as is. Deliberation ensued over the entire summer and the compromise reached was INO agreed to release a censored version of the album that didn't include that one song. However, Webb could make an uncensored version of the album available to his fans on his website.

"That one song" is entitled "What Matters More."

So I downloaded the uncensored version (obviously) and wasn't surprised when I felt that I had been slapped in the face many, many times over with each song (some songs even slapped me more than once!). And it wasn't an offensive slap in the face, I don't think. A lot of Christians will be listening to the lyrics on this album and they will be incredibly offended (and they should be -- Webb is ruthless this time around!), but I wasn't. My slaps in the face were more like wake-up slaps; like "get with the program" slaps.

The song "What Matters More" was the biggest slap of all.

This song has served in my life as a call to arms. It awakened ancient feelings inside of me, stirred up emotions and passions that have been docile for a long, long time. But, before I continue, perhaps I should write down the lyrics for all of you so you can have perspective of what I'm talking about here...

You say you always treat people like you like to be
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
You love when people put words in your mouth
'Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak

'Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
You wouldn't be so damn reckless with the words you speak
Wouldn't silently conceal when the liars speak
Denyin' all the dyin' of the remedy

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

If I can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it's about
It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
Like chasin' the wind while the pendulum swings

'Cause we can talk and debate until we're blue in the face
About the language and tradition that he's comin' to save
Meanwhile we sit just like we don't give a shit
About 50,000 people who are dyin' today

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

Intense, right? Especially for a Christian artist! I applaud Derek Webb for his ability to step up to the microphone and let it fly. It takes a lot of courage to be able to preach Truth to a bunch of Christians who definitely don't have their hearts in the right place.

It is an undeniable fact that for the past, let's say 30, years, the two main issues on the average evangelical's agenda have been abortion and homosexuality. If there's one thing I can say about evangelicals over the past couple decades, it's that we have our eyes on the wrong things. Not only that, but we're proud of it! We flaunt it! There's another Derek Webb song that spoofs the old hymn, "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love" -- his version is called "They'll Know Us By Our T-Shirts." We hold up big signs, form picket lines, firebomb abortion clinics, wear t-shirts with outrageously cheesy things written on them (like "My boss is a Jewish carpenter" or "In case of rapture, you may have this shirt").

But where is the LOVE?

That's the point Derek Webb is driving at in this song -- he's not just trying to ruffle feathers, he's asking "Why are you so concerned with condemning homosexuals and forsaking LOVE?"

Another thing I appreciate about the song (and this is a subtle thing) is his use of the words "damn" and "shit." Here are some of the comments people had about it on YouTube. First, the negativity:

AMP27890: I find it interesting how people try to excuse his use of vulgar words. If this is the state that Christian music is sinking to, I don't want it.

funglu: Derek Webb is becoming synonymous with cheap publicity stunt. This is creative? Really? He needs to credit his sources. He isn't the first nor the last to cuss for affect and try to appear clever.

swiftyguitar: First of all, "let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth", and "everything you do, do for the glory of God". Will these word choices profit the church? Not for me to judge.... But sidenote, weird style for Derek Webb.

cropfield77: in my opinion...derek webb was wrong when he used two vulgar words that are labeled as foul words by our culture...because..as JESUS commands it...we should not cause anyone to stumble from their christian faith...but i have no problem with derek webb's message of love towards everyone...no matter how 'sinful' they are...because in the end...we are all sinful...in need of saving grace

TheCartercrew: "hate what is evil; love what is good"...if we are going to hate the evil that exists in our churches regarding the selective loving...then we must also hate the use of profanity as well. both evils get thrown into the same pot. love d.w. just think that we shouldn't put sins on a scale. unholiness is unholiness! "be innocent in evil and wise in what is good." innocent in ALL evil...wise in all things that are good...the Lord doesn't even want us to know those words, much less use them.

Now, the positivity:

brahimdrunk: I love the fact that so many Christians are taking the bait that Derek Webb sets. What matters more to you: the fact that 50,000 people are dying every day due to malnutrition/starvation or the fact that I said shit?

coconut888: AMP27890 and sportzguy1984 have missed the point... completely. it would seem they care more about using "shit" over tens of thousands of people dying without Christ. and that's exactly what he wants us to think about. just as believers would "love our neighbors" in treating gays by harassing them for their sin instead of grieving over their own. is it not God who changes people through the gospel? let the message do its work. btw, the bible has even more controversial words than the song.

xkerchx: I enjoy the Tony Campolo allusion: "I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night." - Tony Campolo

parksj1: Paul used a lot of language that some considered offensive. Jesus did too, even if it was the truth behind the words and not the words themselves that offended people. What's funny is that he juxtaposed the word "shit" with 50,000 people dying just to make the point that "shit" would be more controversial than 50,000 people dying. And he was right. I haven't heard one person say "What?! Why are all those people dying??" But tons have talked about the use of the word "shit."

And my personal favorite...

jw1453: I don't believe D.W. was wrong in his choice of words. I actually believe he was right on. I've been in ministry for 13yrs. and I see what he talks about in this song everyday. Granted, his approach is extreme, but these are extreme times. As christians, we've become so apathetic in our faith that it sometimes takes an extreme point of view to stir our souls again. If this song causes you to stumble, ask yourself why. Just because something is labeled socially taboo doesn't make it wrong.

I'd like to personally thank jw1453 for saying, "As Christians, we've become so apathetic in our faith that it sometimes takes an extreme point of view to stir our souls again." I never thought my personal walk with God would come to this, but I've been very, very apathetic in my faith. I've become selfish, self-centered and stagnant in my faith.

The reason I love this song so much is that it stirs up a memory of my former self. This song reminds me of a time when I cared about something, when I was passionate about something. I used to live for change and social justice. I used to go to protests and volunteer at soup kitchens and blog about my ideals and opinions and hold signs in Chicago that said "FREE HUGS!" and pray with random people walking around NIU. There was a time when I watched the news and saw reports of starving people, and terrorist attacks, and wars, and famines, and natural disasters and I would WEEP -- just break down in tears in front of the television screen -- because my heart was so broken for those people. There was a time when I loved people passionately.

And I was very outward with my love and passion. This wasn't just an internal thing for me, the externals definitely displayed my zeal as well. In high school, I was voted by my peers as "Most Likely to Impact the World." In college, I was president of a ministry group on campus that generated a lot of heat for things we said and did. Everyone around me knew I was ready to help change the world. I wanted to be put on the front lines.

Now, people are surprised when I say, "Hey, I'm Christian too!" Their eyes open wide and they ask, "Really!? I had no idea!" What a sad state my walk with God has sunk to. If the hymn is right (and I believe it to be so), everyone should know I am a Christian by my love. So, why is it so surprising when people find out that I'm Christian?