Website of Daniel Boyd – Author and Blogger
There is only one thing of potential interest here... my blog. Formerly I was preparing a teaser page for my then upcoming sci-fi novel, but I have suspended all work on that project and currently have no solid plans for what project to pursue next. For now, please take a look at my blog posts and comment if you wish.
Recent Blog Posts
Nine days. It has been nine days since I last posted. How the time gets away from you (or me, to be more precise). There has been much on my mind during those nine days, just not a lot of time to sit down and record it all (or when I had the time, I found something else to do). I still grieve for the state of our nation’s politics, both current and future. More on that later. I find myself watching old TV shows again, from the very beginning of the series, already knowing what will happen, but drawn into the story even so. I figured out why and I’ll explain that in a bit. I see madness and confusion everywhere, and I’m not sure at times what can be done to slow down, much less reverse, the direction in which our culture is barreling headlong. So here goes another “random thoughts” post. Buckle in, it’s going to be bumpy.
Here in the middle of May, 2016, the country is saddled with over two hundred more days of President Obama’s reign. That’s bad enough, but as we look to November and the choices that will most likely be put before us, the outlook is bleak and foreboding. It is pretty much accepted that Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat nominee for the most powerful position on the planet, and… and, that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. I choke and cough as I type this, because this country has so many better candidates than these two (and no, I don’t mean Bernie Sanders, as socialism has decidedly proven its inability to maintain stability and order many times over, plus as a bonus, when everyone else’s money runs out, things tend toward the chaotic, as those who were living off others complain loudly that the gravy train has stopped running).
Why can’t either side offer better candidates? I weakly argue that the Republicans did present much better choices, but the tour de force that is Donald J. Trump derailed them all. The only other contender on the Democrat side besides Hillary is a professed socialist, as I can’t remember ANY of the names of the other Democrat candidates. Shame on both parties for not producing candidates that are not loathed by a high percentage of the electorate. At this point November looks like a toss up, with a slight edge going to the as-yet-to-be-indicted Hillary Clinton. Her supporters can mumble all they want about precedent and “can’t prove anything”, but it is fairly obvious to the truly logical that Hillary Clinton violated law during her tenure as Secretary of State. Of course, even if she is indicted, she could probably still get elected. Such is politics in this day and age.
So, I’m watching One Tree Hill again, from season one, episode one. I’m in season four at the moment. Why, you might ask, am I watching that show? Am I nostalgic for high school? Nope, not really. Do I like to wallow in drama and pain? No, definitely not. Do I love how music is used in the series to frame every scene, every montage, every climactic scene? YES! I discovered some great music on this show and I was reminded how great some of the music I already liked and listened to really was. When I hear The Cure or Switchfoot or Foo Fighters or even Fall Out Boy behind scenes that were already skillfully designed to shock, surprise, hearten, or disgust, it amplifies the impact of the scene and weaves that music a little more tightly into my psyche. When I hear music I discovered on the show like Matt White, The Wreckers, Michelle Featherstone or Trespassers William playing behind these same kinds of scenes, that music gets embedded into me a little deeper because of the associated images and situations, even though those situations are completely fictional and merely portrayed by actors and actresses delivering lines dreamed up by a screenwriter somewhere. That’s why I am watching the series again.
Some of these situations mirror real life issues. School shootings, teen sexuality, homosexuality, relationships, both good ones and bad ones, the unfairness of life, evil seemingly triumphing at every turn are all things we are dealing with every day. It’s called life and we’re stuck here until we’re not. Things do seem a little worse now. No one in the fictional town of Tree Hill was at all confused about what bathroom to use, nor did Karen, the proprietor of Karen’s Cafe, get sued and put out of business because she refused to serve someone. Pretty much everyone, even Dan Scott, the father everyone loved to hate, could look at a situation and evaluate correctly what was wrong and what was right, even if they didn’t do the right thing.
Just a few short years after the end of the One Tree Hill series, we have a world where evil is called good, good is called evil, and the rights and safety of the majority are disregarded in favor of the minority. We have the federal government using its power to trounce on the rights of states and municipalities to decide what is right for their community, as long as some victimized minority is involved. The government has no problem allowing states and municipalities to declare themselves free of the need to follow immigration law by designating themselves “sanctuary cities” and “sanctuary states”, but by no means can a state decide that a biological man can’t go into the women’s restroom. Hey, if he feels like a woman, then he should be allowed to use the women’s restroom, right? But who’s checking his transgender credentials at the door to make sure he’s not just some deviant looking to make trouble? Oh, wait, we can’t force them to prove their gender dysphoria. Wait, it’s not a dysphoria anymore is it? It’s all about how they feel and it is of course, perfectly normal. We’ve moved from calling this issue “gender identity disorder” to “gender dysphoria”, to simply “transgenderism”, completely erasing any potential stigma.
But this issue is not even about the truly transgendered. I bear no ill will to anyone who is transgendered. My faith demands that I love my neighbor as myself, regardless of that neighbor’s condition or their feelings toward me. I understand transgenderism is a legitimate issue, granted, one that has been brought to the attention of the entire country due to some fairly radical activists. The real issue is what everyone likes to call “unintended consequences”, or what I generally just call “collateral damage”. The collateral damage of this push to allow anyone to use any restroom they please is the potential abuse by those who are sexually and socially deviant. I don’t want my children to be exposed to someone who willfully takes advantage of whatever rules and laws are the result of this activist nonsense. You know it will happen. Expect the number of transgender diagnoses to go up significantly – wait – that doesn’t even have to happen – as I said before – there is no one checking anyone’s transgender credentials at the door of the restroom. The best thing that businesses can do is eliminate the large, multi-stall bathrooms and replace them with “single hole” bathrooms that either sex (biological or “chosen”) can use. Congratulations activists – you have just increased the cost of doing business, but don’t let higher prices and expensive construction costs stop you from making the world a “fairer” and “more equal” place.
Enough ranting. I’ve gotten this off my mind after allowing it to percolate for several days. I feel better now.
I promised a post on my thoughts on Star Wars Episode VII and here it is. I write this post purely on my reaction to the movie and without any research into canon story lines, character backgrounds, fan rants, or fan drooling. Some of what I say may cause blue-blooded Star Wars fans to burst into laughter and some may be complete nonsense and some may be spot on, but it is all my opinion, so I’m entitled to it, even if it is wrong (I’m not afraid of being wrong about a movie).
I’m going to break this down into distinct sections – I’ll divide it into characters, story, technical aspects and wild predictions.
Also, SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will inevitably mention critical plot points and/or details that will ruin the movie for those who have not yet seen it!!!! Do NOT read further if you have not seen the movie. Run to the dollar theater and watch it or rent it from Red Box or buy it on Amazon, just GO and watch before reading further!!!
[White space intentionally left here to keep from spoiling the movie for those who haven’t seen it.]
First, there are the characters. It was heartwarming to see old characters return, but for most, the thirty years between the events of Return of the Jedi and Episode VII have not been kind or pleasant and it inserted into the movie a tiny feeling of hopelessness. Some returns were far too brief or left out much intervening story line that I hope and expect are explained in future installments. Han, Chewie, Leia, and Luke were all in attendance, but all were in interesting and somewhat depressing times of their lives. Other returning characters seemed to be in better circumstances, but they flashed by so quickly, I had trouble keeping up.
New characters were appropriately mysterious. We once again, a la Episode I, have a mysterious Force-wielding character, although I found Rey’s almost intuitive, but definitely purposeful manipulation of the Force to be too easy – if the movie were to fall back to the Episode I crutch (apologies to George Lucas for that, but it did seem a little too easy to determine and explain the immense importance of Anakin Skywalker) of midi-chlorians, she would be blowing up the testing device. It was as if the very Force itself was teaching her how to manipulate it, as needed, as she flew through the events of the climax of the movie. From material manipulation to mind manipulation, to fairly adept skills with a light saber, Rey looked like a ten-plus year resident and superstar of the Jedi Temple, not a scavenger from a backwater planet.
I feel her mastery of her abilities will be explained down the road, but for now she looks like Yoda, Ben Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu and yes, even Senator Palpatine himself all rolled into one and jacked up on steroids. She defeated an opponent that should have simply crushed her with his empty hands based on his demonstrated skills. In reality he should have been able to stop her without the help of a light saber… but he didn’t. I’ll come back to this point in the section on wild predictions.
Impressive and faulty at the same time, Finn is the other notable new protagonist character. His biggest fault is indecision. He sees what is wrong with the First Order, but has a difficult time deciding to rebel and an even more difficult time deciding that he was not in it just for himself. He doesn’t seem particularly Force-aware, but sees something decidedly different in Rey. I was left with an unclear notion of his importance and of his dedication to the Resistance, but I like him, so I’m hoping he sees the light, a la Han Solo.
On the other side of the story is the mysterious Kylo Ren and his even more mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke. Something must have gone seriously sideways for Kylo Ren to become who we see him as in the movie. It appears he was enticed and corrupted similar to how Anakin was, but in a far more direct and brain-washing manner, almost like he was programmed. We already see the chinks in his armor, though, so I am curious of his fate, both in the short term and for the conclusion of the trilogy.
Then there is the droid. BB-8 is much cuter than R2-D2 (sorry R2), and he holds an incredible secret, just like R2 did in Star Wars (I refuse to call it Episode IV). This secret is not for destruction, but for possible redemption. BB-8 is resourceful, respectful, and better at staying out of trouble than R2 (how many times was R2 repaired?), but I can’t pick a favorite until I see BB-8 in more action.
So much for characters – let’s talk about story. J. J. Abrams gives us a fairly dark background in Episode VII, where even with the Empire defeated and scrap Star Destroyers showing up everywhere, there is still a feeling of the superiority of evil. The First Order kills without fear of reprisal, as they are beholden to no one but the Supreme Leader. The parallels to Third Reich imagery are still palpable in this Star Wars installment, from the masses of troops in formation to their salute to their training methods to the very titles used for the leaders and positions of power. The similarities to the defeated Empire are also startling, from the armor worn by the troops to the spacecraft to the construction of a super weapon that makes the Death Star, even the second Death Star, look like a BB gun in comparison.
Then there is the Resistance, fighting against The First Order, led by Leia and others, with roughly the same weaponry we have always seen rebels/resistance fight with. Thirty years they have fought some enemy, whether it was the remnants of the Empire, who apparently did not go quietly after the battle of Endor, to their current nemesis, The First Order. They have done this without the leadership of Luke Skywalker, who has disappeared. Rey and Finn join up with the Resistance to some degree by the end of the movie, so it should be interesting how they progress in the next installment.
So much for story, I really need to leave some things about the movie unsaid. Let’s move on to the technical aspects. In this day of CGI, we can see droids like BB-8 roll around on screen and see freighters like the Millennium Falcon fly through trees and skip across sand dunes and be completely convinced of what we saw. We can see light sabers inflict damage on surroundings , be awed by the sheer size of a rusting Star Destroyer, and encounter amazing creatures and believe every second of it. J.J. Abrams and his crew evoked memories of scenes from movies past from barren deserts to icy landscapes to rich forest planets, all in the same movie. It was a visual feast for this long time Star Wars fan, especially all the Easter eggs from previous movies. A big thumbs up for the technical aspects!
OK, here’s the part I’ve been avoiding. I told you up front that I have not researched any canon material of the time between Return of the Jedi and Episode VII, nor have I read character backgrounds or any other “fill-in-the-gap” books or articles, so these wild predictions are all mine. First, I see Kylo Ren escaping the dark side, possibly amid his last breaths, but escaping all the same. Second, I see a dark road for Rey. Whether it was intentional or not (and J. J. Abrams doesn’t leave much to chance), I saw some clues during her confrontation with Kylo Ren that Rey might succumb, at least temporarily, to the dark side. She definitely used some anger to successfully oppose Kylo Ren. Has she been trained in some way to use the Force? She is wicked powerful, a la Anakin Skywalker, which also brings up her mysterious pedigree, so keeping her “in the light” may become a pivotal focus in this trilogy. Who are her parents? Does she have parents or did she miraculously appear as it was suggested that Anakin did? She is steeped in Force awareness and control, so in keeping with one of the underlying themes of the Star Wars universe, she could be a Skywalker, as they have long been crucial to the balance of the Force and the fate of the galaxy. We’ll have to wait and see…
That’s it. These were my most pressing thoughts on the new Star Wars movie. The last question I have concerns the name. I have continually referred to it as Episode VII, and not by its subtitle “The Force Awakens” mainly because I really have no idea what that means. Has the Force been dormant for decades? If so, why? Hopefully J. J. Abrams will let us know in December of 2017 when Episode VIII premiers.
Thanks for reading and let me know if I just completely missed something.
Here it is May 1st and it has been 26 days since my last post. My good intentions and haphazard planning did not translate into actual posts and I find myself apologizing again for my lack of follow-through. So I offer a lament for regular posting.
But my intentions now are to resurrect the regular post, not through a challenge or by daring myself to post, but by simply being intentional. I have a number of posts in progress that are crying out for completion, so I will publish those first in the next few days. Once I have posted those, I will actively pursue new topics.
Along with posting new articles, I am resuming first draft work on my sci-fi novel this month, so hopefully I can continue to tease you with scenes and characters from it. You have met two characters, Anya and Johnny, and will soon meet a third character, plus get a sneak preview of a scene from the book. That’s all coming in the next two weeks.
I don’t plan to post every day, but I do hope to post every other or every third day. Along with my fiction, I plan to post at least two technical articles, and possibly another short vignette, similar to the story of watching the storm. I might also include my thoughts on the new Star Wars movie (yes, I finally watched it!!!), both good and bad. I’ll definitely include a huge spoiler warning at the beginning of that post for those who still haven’t seen it…
A couple of random thoughts for the day – It looks more and more like the Republican nominee for president will be Donald J. Trump. This near-certainty truly chills my blood. Of all of the capable, likable, and appropriate candidates in the Republican party, we offer Trump? God help us all, and I mean that sincerely. While the Democratic primary looks closer, I still can’t see the Democrats offering up Bernie Sanders as a candidate in the off chance that Hillary Clinton is either indicted or self-destructs, so now the electorate on both sides is left with a decision between the lesser of many evils, with no good candidate in sight that has a chance of winning. The next four or eight years are going to be interesting…
And last, I want to mention the fact that our current president, who has made the last seven and a half years almost intolerable with his particular brand of “leading”, is once again parading around the world making a nuisance of himself and casting the greatest country on the planet (yes, I believe that, even with all of the failings of our country) in an ill light. I almost makes me want to think that anyone else would be better, but I know based on what I see right now in the presidential race, that this is not the case. It is, at least, high time for him to get out of the way and let someone else make their particular brand of mistakes and for us to hope that we don’t all bear the brunt of those mistakes like we have for the past seven years. A mere 263 days left as of the day I am writing this before whoever this country elects takes office. Hopefully, we’ll make it.
I’m falling down on the job again. I wrote everyday on this blog in February, now I’ve only written two times since then. I’d like to say that I am working hard on my sci-fi novel, but that’s not happening either. I really want to call myself a writer, but I seem to be unable to fulfill the fundamental requirement of the job – writing. With that in mind, I have decided to follow the advice of a myriad of sites that I read about writing and use a tried and true writing prompt – writing a letter. The suggested target audience is always to myself, whether to a future self or a past version of me, like the dorky band-nerd I was in high school.
Since I don’t really have anything useful to tell my high school self, I’m going to write to a future self and maybe, just maybe, some of the things I mention in this letter will be realities whenever that future self gets around to reading this. So, to myself in five years, I offer this letter.
At the time of this writing, I am desperately trying to finish a novel. I currently have six works in progress, all from different genres, all about half done word-count-wise, and all needing my attention to come to fruition. I have at least one mostly eager reader who wants to know how they really end. The fact that I am married to her does not diminish, but augments, her importance as an “audience member”.
Here is where I hope you are when you read this. I hope you have two novels published, whether you have made a dime off of them or not. Having two complete works of creativity out there for consumption is important, mainly because it shows that you can actually finish something and not let it die on the vine. If this in fact is true, it means that you finally got off your backside, recruited someone to create covers, a bunch of folks to read and critique, and might even have hired an editor.
My grander vision involves you not having to maintain a day job. Mind you, I didn’t say you weren’t working a day job, just that you didn’t have to. There’s a difference. I hope that where ever you are working, if you are still in the day job business, you are happy to be there. I apologize for not having the wherewithal to have already completed one of the works in progress. As of the time of this letter, I have recently taken two whole weeks off (not consecutively), and have been incredibly unproductive both times. It doesn’t bode well for completing anything.
I start these novels out so rapidly, writing furiously for 30 straight days, then everything seems to stop (or, I “finish” one and realize that it must be split into two different books, putting me right back where I was before – halfway done with both). It is frustrating.
I expect that you will have a couple of new hobbies, unless I/you lose interest in them before you read this. I completed a lamp made of CDs, and started making men’s jewelry, particularly necklaces. Both endeavors are immensely satisfying, especially since they have produced actual finished works. Each one took a number of hours, but enjoyed almost all of the time spent (trimming the excess, melted plastic from the CDs was not much fun). Hopefully, the CD lamp will be lighting up an office that belongs exclusively to you when you read this.
Speaking of that, the nest will be just about empty by the time you read this. Your daughter should be out of school, and your son should be in it. That will probably make you feel terribly old, but them’s the breaks. Hope you’re still having fun!
Your 2016 self.
I haven’t written in a few days, so I decided to just pour out more thoughts on more stuff and see what happens. There are a fair number of things going on right now, and I have a “very busy” feeling about myself, even though at the moment I am avoiding going to a class that is very interesting to me, just to avoid the brain exercise. That means that this thought dump might get interesting before I am done. I’m fairly certain I will not finish this in the time I have before I have to go do something else, but I’ll try to pound out as much as I can.
First, I’d like to say bravo to those brave souls across the interwebs who have taken the time to gather up a few hundred old CDs and DVDs and some miscellaneous parts, and devoted a fair number of hours to drilling and trimming and constructing to make a CD lamp. I finally took the plunge a couple of weeks ago, and discovered that even with my pathetic crafting skills and lack of proper tools, my time was going to be almost completely consumed by drilling and trimming CDs to go into the lamp. My lamp is designed to be eleven inches high (CD-wise) and that requires dozens of CDs to properly build. Each CD must be drilled out in the center via drill press, then carefully trimmed to allow them to stack flush on top of each other. The process is mind-numbingly time consuming. Will I love the lamp when I’m done? Probably, but every time I look at it I will be reminded of how much time went into making it. If you are unfamiliar with these very cool, very geeky lamps, just pull up a web browser and search for “CD lamp”. You’ll be amazed at the ingenuity of the various crafters.
I couldn’t get through a random thought post without reflecting on the state of politics, and there is plenty to reflect on these days, most of it bad. Donal Trump still holds a solid lead over Ted Cruz, who holds a gigantic lead over third place John Kasich. Now that Marco Rubio has suspended his campaign, the real state of the GOP race can start to take form. Unfortunately, that means that Trump most likely gained more support from Rubio’s exit than Cruz (not mentioning Kasich again – he is living in a dream world if he thinks he has a shot). I still am dumbfounded at the level of support for Trump, especially from people who I thought were conservative, but apparently have either lost their minds from fear of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders running the country, or are just duped by Trump’s nonsense, or were never conservative to begin with.
The escalation of violence and the way it has been handled at Trump campaign functions has been especially alarming. I am less alarmed at the level of left-wing protest – this type of behavior is not unexpected from liberals, than I am at the cavalier and abusive attitude that Trump addresses these threats with and the rhetoric he espouses to his fans on how to deal with protesters. This type of belligerent buffoonery appeals to his core base and is not repulsive enough for the hangers-ons to outright leave him for another candidate. I still believe that some of the people who are Trump fans now are so out of fear of either a sociopathic liar or a socialist running the country and are misguided into thinking that Trump can beat either one in the general election. While I am not saying I will not vote Trump at that point, I keep praying and hoping that I am not forced to do so when the time comes. My stomach churns when I think about putting my support behind putting such a raging narcissistic personality like Trump in the Oval Office. I thought the present occupant was bad, but as I have said before, Trump has him beat eight ways from Sunday in regards to self-centered narcissism. Trump also has him beat on speaking in vague terms and not answering questions, and Trump hasn’t even been nominated for the office yet! I fear for the future of the country in any candidate’s hands except Cruz’s or the other guy I’m not mentioning again, who has no chance to become president. Enough of the gloomy state of politics.
On a related topic, Fox News reported the other night how Hillary Clinton claimed that the U.S. did not loose any men in Libya under her watch as Secretary of State. I guess she forgot about her ambassador, his aide, and the two ex-military guards that died in Benghazi. Oddly, CNN reported NOTHING on this gaffe, at least not that I could find the other night. Their “fact-checking” column made sure to mention a couple of whoppers she told during that same town hall meeting, but made no mention of the Libya comment. Imagine that coming from the Communist News Network…
To end this post on a happier note, I am excited to make mention of a video produced by a friend, and awesome guitarist, previewing an original song written by members of the Sunday evening worship band at my church. You can see it here, but you’ll have to wait for a better rendition of the song itself until they can record it and produce the video. This video will tell you the genesis of the song by the lyricist and composer. They have a story to tell and have done a masterful job of telling it.
Until I post again, be good to yourself and others.
Well, I’m back after a few days off from posting. I was really happy with the results of my self-imposed posting challenge for February. I missed only one day and I told you what happened that day already. Now I’m back to pass along some thoughts on a variety of topics, from guns to politics to writing.
First, I want to comment on the furor erupting around the Georgia House Bill 859. Since I am from that state, I am somewhat interested in the proposed “campus carry” bill. It has been voted on and passed by the General Assembly, but the Senate Committee has deferred discussing it, most likely to see what shakes out of the public reaction tree. And boy, oh boy, what nonsense has fallen.
Left-leaning college administrators across the state have throw veritable hissy-fits about the fact that the legislature is “interfering” with the public university system. They seem to think that the “gun-free” (translated for bad guys – “target rich”) zones of the state’s college and university campuses are just fine as they are and there is no need for the state legislature to help them help themselves. With the deep infiltration of liberal administrators into all facets of the public university system, I am not surprised at this reaction.
I am a little dismayed at some student’s reactions. The group that started a petition on Change.org to “keep guns off Georgia school campuses” (and specifically Georgia Tech’s campus) have learned well from their professors/indoctrinators. Among the nonsense in this petition is the strident and summarily liberal declaration that “It is law enforcement’s job to protect and serve students, not the student’s responsibility to protect ourselves” (sic). Really? Really? As is said very often, when seconds count, law enforcement is only minutes away. I can’t comprehend this reaction. The students who have signed this petition (thankfully only about 2300 have signed on at this point, a minuscule fraction of the public university students in the state and less than 15% of the Georgia Tech enrollment) seem to think that any random person can wander around their campus armed. The bill clearly states that the person must be properly licensed, meaning they must be at least twenty-one years of age, and also that guns are still not allowed in student housing or at athletic events. While this allows the campus to be a much less friendly place to a bad guy, it doesn’t mean a massive influx of guns on any given campus. The drafters of the Change.org petition claim that guns will create a distracting environment and will disrupt the college environment. Maybe, for people who don’t understand guns and/or are paranoid.
Enough liberal nonsense, let’s talk about the GOP. There are small, very small cracks in Donald Trump’s seemingly impenetrable armor. Ted Cruz has gained a respectable amount of votes and if the rest of the candidates would unite, they actually would have more votes than Trump. The issue here is that no one wants to just jump out of a presidential race unless they see absolutely no way to gain ground or receive a consolation prize. There are more than a few interesting articles about how game theory will influence the GOP candidacy race. With serial under-performer John Kasich still in the race, many are concerned that he will hang in long enough to guarantee that no solid coalition can defeat Trump, which would be a major short term and long term blow to the Republican party. Some argue that the mainstream Republican party is due to die, as it has moved left too far to survive. How that would shake up U.S. politics is disturbing to think about, but I might try later in the week to do just that.
Last, I wanted to mention that I have put my half-baked attempts at writing songs in front of the eyes of some exceptional musicians. Maybe they can turn the jumble of words on those pages into songs that do what I intended them to do, which was glorify God. Since my attempt to compose music for the lyrics I have written would be akin to dropping a bunch of staff paper and some pens in among a bunch of monkeys and hoping for the best, I pray that these musicians can apply their considerable talents to the problem.
That’s enough of my thoughts for today! Have a blessed and wonderful day!
I have more random ruminations to finish off the month of February. Politics, faith, and technology are all on deck for this edition. I hope you all enjoyed the leap day today. Where I live it was in the 60s, bright and sunny, which is not typical February weather. Yesterday was very similar and people were everywhere outside, soaking in the sun while walking, jogging, taking pictures, painting and just hanging out. My coworker predictably made a remark about global warming and “the day after tomorrow”, but at least he was just kidding. Enough about that.
Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, typically a day when the presidential candidates will either cement their positions or crash and burn. I’m not sure which side of the political spectrum I pity most at this point. The Democrats have Hillary Clinton just scraping by self-professed socialist Bernie Sanders, but it is looking like the only thing that might stop her from getting the nomination is an indictment. Then there are the Republicans with their megalomaniacal, narcissistic, and (apparently) racist front runner Donald Trump, who has zero governmental experience where he didn’t hold all the trump cards (see what I did there?), with the only sane candidates double-digits behind him. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are pulling out all the wrong stops now as they try to slow down the Trump juggernaut. Rubio is trying to “out-Trump” the Donald himself, and Cruz is seemingly mired in campaign management issues and unfocused on the important stuff. To add to the ridiculousness of the situation, Chris Christie has now endorsed Trump for who knows what kind of favor in return (deals with the devil rarely work out) and Ben Carson just won’t go away for any favor. John Kasich should be out after he loses Ohio, but that will not help in the meantime. In true Republican tradition, the primary candidates are making sure that whoever wins the primary is bloodied and battered, potentially unable to beat either a criminal or a socialist. Thanks candidates… we’ve had seven years of Democratic values being pushed from the top down in government. People are ready for a real change that doesn’t steal from them, or pressure them to admit to “white guilt” about things they have no control over, or divide them by race, class, gender and any other measure that can be used to exert control. How about you guys find a way to present and support a good president, not a billionaire buffoon who won’t even say that the KKK is probably not the kind of support he is looking for?
Wow, (sorry about the rant there) enough about politics, about some other random ruminations? I mentioned in yesterday’s post that living in the light was a scary and difficult thing to do for Christians. I stand by that thought, but I offer another scary perspective that we as Christians must overcome that was presented on one of my favorite shows. Fuss all you want about Last Man Standing being just Home Improvement flipped around a bit, but Tim Allen doesn’t pull any punches and it is great to see a show that isn’t whining about global warming, or preaching about how great our current president is, or espousing some victim classes’ rights, or any number of other liberal talking points that are woven into nearly every show on television. If you haven’t watched the show, the next section may not make much sense, but try and follow along. Tim Allen’s character Mike wasn’t involved in the scene I am referring to, where his employee Kyle talks about why he compared Ryan, the father of Mike’s nine-year-old grandson Boyd, to Jesus. Apparently Boyd’s parents were convinced that he had stolen some candy from a store and had been hinting that he needed to come clean. After Kyle helps babysit Boyd for an evening, he does come clean to his parents. When asked why, he told them that Kyle had spoken with him about his friend Jesus. In a fit of atheistic pique, Ryan called Kyle and asked him to come over, with the intent of giving him down the road for talking to Boyd about religion. Ryan wanted Boyd to tell the truth because it was the right thing to do, not because some “mean, scary god” was going to get him if he didn’t. Kyle calmly explained that he had compared Ryan to Jesus, because no matter what Boyd did, his father would still love him. That put a rapid end to the dress down about mentioning religion to Boyd, with Kyle expressing his respect for Ryan’s decision about religion. It hurts to think that some Christians have presented such a frightening persona of God to unbelievers. Our command to witness is hard enough to follow without people thinking that God doesn’t love them or is going to strike them down for their sin.
Wow, I guess technology drew the short straw on this post, as I am going to wrap it up here. This is post 28 of 28 in my February blog post challenge. I hope you have enjoyed reading these as much as I have writing them. Tomorrow starts a new month, and hopefully I can continue to post regularly. Have a great and blessed day!
Tonight is random ruminations night. I have three topics left that I could choose from for this next to last February post, but I felt the need to cover a variety of topics tonight. Plus, the others all require a fair amount of detail of which I am sorely lacking the ability or time to provide. I feel that these types of posts are a bit more honest, a bit more open and a lot easier to write, even if what I write is somewhat scary to post.
First, I want to mention that this month of posts has been really fun and while I will probably not continue at this pace, I do want to be far more regular in my contributions to my own site, especially since no one else is contributing to it either (hint, hint – who wants to guest blog?)
Second thought, following on the first, is that I have been totally remiss in mentioning those of you who contributed topic ideas, first because I totally forgot, and second, even after I remembered, I didn’t bother to ask if any of you were OK with that. While I am at a place where I am comfortable putting myself out there in this format, some of you may not be, so if any of you topic contributors want your name posted in connection with the blog that was inspired by you, just let me know. I’ll put your name out there for all ten people who read my blog to see.
Third, and this comes directly from the sermon today at church, I loved the explanation about living in the light and how that will require us to examine ourselves and speak honestly about the things that we struggle with. Living in the light is what we are called to do and many times it will make us uncomfortable because we are all still capable of sin. If you are anything like me, you manage to fail everyday in some way. Most of the time I fail in ways only I know about, but at other times I have failed spectacularly and with immediate, life-changing consequences. That is part of why walking in the light, for me, is so hard to do sometimes. I don’t like failure in any form.
Fourth, there was a lot of conversation this evening about “telling your story”, and since I couldn’t find the right words to explain what I was thinking during the conversation, I want to expound on what I did say a for a moment. At its root, the thought I was trying to express was that God calls us to witness, and by that He means for us to tell how He has saved us, how He loves us, and how He gets us through the rough times in our lives. The way that some of you do that is through song. The words you write, the melodies you create, the chords you support those melodies with all combine to tell your story in the most expressive and relatable way that you can. In the span of four minutes, on average, you touch that person in the congregation that is thinking the same thoughts you did, and then you offer them the hope of the Lord to help bind those thoughts so they do not control them any longer. God uses you to show his glory to others right from the stage. It makes you a rock star, in the best sense of the word, for Christ.
Last, I wanted to mention that while I only have one more day in February, and that only because it is leap year, I still have three topics I haven’t written on. I will write on these, in the month of March, so keep coming back and visiting. Sign up for my mailing list (the sign up form is at the bottom of the page because I hate those pop-up “Hey, join my mailing list!” boxes with a passion, so I refuse to use them) and I will drop you an email anytime I post. If your inbox is bulging or overfull already, simply follow me on Twitter by clicking the button below. I will announce new posts there also.
This is post 27 of 28 in my February blog post challenge. I hope you have a great and blessed day!
I’ll conclude the life cycle of a worship team in today’s post. Yesterday, I left the intrepid and fictional worship team at a high point, that of collaborating on their own original music. I’ll finish up with a look at the downhill side of our worship team’s life. Again, this is all fictional and VERY tongue-in-cheek. It is my sincere hope that any worship team would be a strong, resilient and worship leading group regardless of staffing and life circumstances, but as a writer I tend to throw things at my heroes and see how they handle them. So, without further delay, here is the conclusion of the life cycle of a worship team.
Not long after the group introduce their first few songs, Tim and Lacey have a knock-down drag-out fight over the smallest, most prideful argument. Someone, possibly Dave, said something about whose original songs were the most liked by the congregation. This comment turned into a massive discussion about the direction the band was going in, mostly in regard to the style of music. There were ugly words back and forth among the entire group and Tim and Lacey continued arguing when Tim drove her home. Tim was never so glad to have her home and out of his car than that night.
While Audrey was very upset by the argument the band had, she was more interested in the argument she saw brewing between Tim and Lacey. She and Lacey had grown apart some during college and while her conscience begged her not to, she called Tim later that night with the end result that after the next rehearsal, Tim drove her home instead of Lacey.
Meanwhile, Steve took Lacey home that night and several months later proposed to her. Joe also had met someone and not long after Steve and Lacey tied the knot, he proposed to his girlfriend. Before they could wed, Tim asked Audrey for her hand in marriage and completed the set of three weddings (these things happen in threes, right?).
Now the worship team, a bunch of young married people, actually grew closer. Partners had found each other, they were sharing similar experiences and were refreshed in their camaraderie. The odd man out, Dave, was a mostly welcome reminder of their days of being single. Maturity was greasing the wheels of their collaboration and teamwork. They were now the primary worship band for the church and were regularly writing new material. After releasing some of these songs on two albums that had moderate success, at least locally, they felt somewhat satisfied in their endeavors.
Soon after that, Lacey announces at rehearsal that she is pregnant. Audrey follows suit right after Lacey’s baby boy is born, but her pregnancy is compromised and she loses the baby, causing her to take some time off from the worship team to recover. For a few weeks, the band is down to two male singers and one replacement female singer, who is good, but unfamiliar with the band’s music. That, combined with Tim’s guilt over the loss of his child, causes them to not gel very well and all of them are glad when Lacey returns.
Audrey becomes very depressed from the loss of her child and the worship teams tries hard to console her and Tim alike during this time, but she continues to spiral downward. This affects the entire group and they all take a few weeks off from leading worship to support their team members. After intensive counseling, Audrey is able to return to leading worship, her joy restored, and the worship team returns to leading worship, having grown in their faith.
While the worship team’s story is not over, this story is, because I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to happy endings. I might beat up my characters, but I always try to get them back to a state of normalcy or happiness and conclude the story on a high note. While this high note might simply be relative to their absolute low, it is an improvement over their state of affairs earlier in the story. There are untold numbers of issues and problems I could lob at these characters, just like in real life, but with a higher probability of causing them harm, just like in books and movies (see what I did there?).
After finishing this little exercise, I may have the beginnings of a new book, but I can’t very well start a new one on my own until I finish one. With that said, I am starting a collaborative book writing effort with a friend that looks very promising. We’re only in the character and story development stage, but I’m excited at the possibilities. Keep tuned for updates on that.
This is post 26 of 28 in my February blog post challenge. Have a great and blessed day!
What is the life cycle of a worship team? This was a question or topic I was asked to write about. To be completely honest, the actual suggested topic was “the life of a worship team”, and while that was somewhat interesting based on the worship teams I have known and worked with, I decided to make the topic require some creativity from me rather than just relating what I have experienced. Since I have not experienced the life of a worship team from genesis to dissolution, I figured I could try and envision the entire cycle. Bear with me as I throw life, complete with complications, at a fictional worship team and see what happens. No character her is supposed to represent any actual person, but may represent an amalgam of several. Regardless of what you read, I really do wish this worship team the best.
Tim is a young, Spirit-filled, and talented musician. He has a fine baritone voice and plays some guitar. In his youth group there are a couple of guys who like to play guitar, named Steve and Joe (Joe also plays bass, yah!) and one guy, whose name is Phil, who can comprehend and manipulate a drum set. The drummer’s girlfriend, Lacey, likes to sing, as does her friend Audrey, who really likes Tim, but hasn’t told anyone.
The six friends are all excited about their new hobby. They pick songs, practice regularly, and lead worship for the youth group. Occasionally they are asked to lead worship on Sunday morning. Their repertoire grows as they all become more proficient with their instruments and voices. They are asked to lead worship for city-wide youth events. All is wonderful and golden in the world.
Then the time comes when Tim, Audrey, and Phil all graduate from high school. Tim attends the prestigious local college, so he still regularly attends the same church. Audrey goes to college two states away as does Phil, but in the other direction. The worship team is now down a vocalist and a drummer. Tim asks around at school and finds a replacement drummer, Dave, who is not only fabulous on the drums, but also sings. The band is back to full strength in one stroke, but with a very different sound.
In their previous arrangement, with two females and one male, they sang a lot of folksy praise and worship songs and it worked out well. Now, with two male voices and only one female, their focus turned to edgier tunes that featured Lacey, with Tim and Dave backing her on most songs. Occasionally Dave or Tim would lead a song, but then they were only backed by Lacey. Things were still good, though, as they all viewed this as just an evolution of their sound. Another year passes.
Now Joe, Steve, and Lacey all graduate from high school. Lacey stays and takes classes at the local technical college, but both Joe and Steve head off for distant colleges. Tim and Lacey are now a thing and they manage to carve out time from school and grow closer over the next four years.
Cue the 60 second long Final Jeopardy music to pass the time of four whole years…
Four years later, the original six are all back in their home town, along with Dave, growing the team to seven if it were not for one uncomfortable change. While most of them have grown spiritually during their college years, Phil has become distant and now has serious reservations about his spiritual life. In addition to that, the fact that Tim and Lacey are together now really grinds his gears, even though he was the one who broke it off with her. The band tries to encourage him and they regularly lift him up in prayer, but he refuses to come back and play music with them. He eventually stops coming to church, much to the dismay of Lacey, who allows her guilt to infiltrate her relationship with Tim, pulling at the loose threads of their commitment to each other. On top of that, Audrey is still carrying a torch for Tim and is now regretting never telling him. What she doesn’t know is that Dave has become interested in her, but is too shy to ask her out. The worship team is now in danger of cooking in its own early twenties sauce.
Then a miracle happens. With all of the creative talent and experience the band now has, they decide to write some original songs. Unfortunately, they cannot decide what style to write in, so what they produce are songs that are not so much team efforts, but solo endeavors with occasional input from others. Still, they produce some good tunes that are welcomed by their congregation. Everyone is drawn closer by the success of their work.
Tune in tomorrow as I describe the gradual decay of the cohesive force holding the worship team together, all courtesy of life impacting them from all sides.
This is post 25 of 28 in my February blog post challenge. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it!