Sunday, July 30, 2006

My Enemies Are Men Like Me by Derek Webb

My Enemies Are Men Like Me

(vs. 1)
i have come to give you life
and to show you how to live it
i have come to make things right
to heal their ears and show you how to forgive them

because i would rather die
i would rather die
i would rather die
than to take your life

how can i kill the ones i’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me
i will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
my enemies are men like me

(vs. 2)
peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution



when justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war
the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor


What is a War Crime?

Does the percentage of women and children define what constitutes a war crime? How many times can civilians be the primary target before we finally acknowledge that civilians really are the target? This sequence of events bears an eerie resemblance to what began WWI. Each side decides it has to act either preemptively or to excalate the violence in response to some perceived threat. We are all becoming blind. Can we, as Americans, claim no blood on our hands when we overnight hundreds of bombs to the Israeli's, even lying to intersecting countries about our cargo? Will we be shocked to learn that we are culpable? Too many questions. Not enough answers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Well tomorrow turned into three days later!

So much for my keeping a daily journal of my CBA experiences! It's amazing how busy it is here. By the time the vening roles around, all you want to do is turn in for the night, which is what I've done. So, sorry for not living up to the promise of providing daily updates of my "wild" times at CBA. These three days (M-T-W) of special sessions, wandering the floor visiting various ministries and publishers, hearing amazing musical acts, and establishing contacts, has been a whirlwind to say the least! I actually kept notes the first two days, but then realized that I should just enjoy the experience of meeting and greeting and learning what I can while I'm here. While I am obviously pleased at meeting several authors and musicians that I've enjoyed for some time, I've gotten the most enjoyment by meeting those artists/writers that are new to me. On Monday at lunch, they had a new artsit luncheon, in which several young, up and coming artists were spotlighted. The coolest thing was sitting next to the rhythm guitarist of a relatively new band called "DecembeRadio." Man was this guy nice! And it turns out he grew up only a few miles form where my mom was born and raised. He even told me about Gassaway, West Virginia before I brought it up! Nobody's ever heard of that town except my family! But he played there and told me a great story of how a near tornado ripped the tarp off of a trailer they were playing on and his guitar's next got snapped. But the townspeople took up an offering and more than paid back the cost his guitar! Cool hunh? Later, the next day, he made it a point to tap me on the shoulder on the floor of the convention center to say hi, even though I hadn't seen him. Very cool. I told him, next time he and his band were in town, that they HAD to stop by Baker. I also suggested that they play at Hope, since their music rocked (think Christian version of Lynnyrd Skynnerd). Last night we all went to an outdoor concert nearby in town featuring Bebo Norman (much better this time), I think the acoustics of the inside venue were not very friendly to anything electric. Once he, and the others, were outside, they sounded great. I was especially excited to hear Jars of Clay, since I've liked them from the beginning. They didn't dissapoint! They played several hymns at the end of their set, but boy was it not your old hymns of yesteryear! These great hymns were revamped and on fire! Everyone was on their feet (me included) for their last several songs. I was toast by the end of the evening, but it was a good toast.

To go into all the authors I met this week would take a separate post in itself. But suffice it say that I have been seriously geeked. To paraphrase Roberto Clemente, Crossway has been vedy, vedy good to me! I even met John Piper's son. It's a good thing I was saying nice things about him (not hard to do if you know me)! Last night we had the chance to hear severeal Nelson aurhotrs speak at a heavy hors deurve (I can't spell that stupid word!) get together. Max Lucado led in prayer throughout the night. Now I know why he's so well loved. He truly has a pastor's heart. We were all impressed by his gentle godliness. FOr me, the pleasant surprise of the evening was getting to know authors that I knew "of", but didn't really know. They each shared some apsect of themselves that really brought their humanity. Phil Visscher, of VeggieTale fame, shared quite openly of his rise to success and then subsequent fall, and of what he's doing now. Truly a testament to grace. He even thanks God for his trials, since they led him closer to Christ. Mark Buchanan spoke eloquently of being careful not to be too busy or to "push" when God would have us recline as Lazarus did. His illustration of Lazarus being a witness of Christ's power, simply by reclining (and breathing!) at the table with Christ, spoke deeply to how we can best reveal Christ to those around us. We don't need to push when God says relax. Amen! But most of all, I was impressed by Erwin McManus, who spoke of his emigrating to America from El Salvador during their war in the eighties. Afterward, I spoke with him and admitted that while I knew of him, I didn't know anything about him. But that now I knew much more of who he is, and that that would help me immeasurably in helping my own customers in referring them to his books. I look forward to reading what he's written. Well, as y'all can imagine, I met numerous other folks, and it was all cool and I was in official "geek" mode. But what I found most exciting was meeting some of the vendors who were there (some for the first time themselves!) to share what they could of Christ's work in them. That was cool. I got some info, and am hoping that we might be able to work together in the future. The two that jump out at me are soem young men who market shirts and other clothing accessories, but with a message that I think will really resonate with young people, especially the disaffected. I am really excited about them. Also, there was a couple from Palestine who were selling Rosewood carvings of the holy family and other Christian and Jewish themes; all produced in Bethlehem! Oops, it's almost dinner! So I gotta run. I'll probably write when I'm back in Holland. Peace!

Monday, July 10, 2006

CBA: Day 1

Well, today was our first full day at CBA. We started by crashing the Parable morning worship service, which had Chip Ingram as the speaker/preacher. They also had an Aussie group that I can't recall right now doing the music. At first we couldn't understand a word they were saying, and it wasn't because of the accents. It was just too loud. But thankfully the rest of the music was singable by everyone there and was quite good. Chip spoke on wearing the full armor of God as retailers, since we are much of the Christian world's "gatekeepers." It was actually quite convicting to hear what he had to say. He was very straight forward about the various temptations that can afflict those who work commercially in the Christian world, whether in retail or not. Later we went to a backstage reception hosted by one of our vendors. Ho hum. We had already eaten really good Italian food earlier, so the snacks didn't appeal to us. Although the Australian chocolate/mint iced tea was a little strange. But it tasted OK. Later on we joined some others from G.R. Baker for an early evening concert called Worship Now! How Great is Our God. That had a combination of speakers and performers such as, Jared Anderson, Billy Smiley (founder of White Heart), Scott Wesley Brown, author Philip Yancey speaking on prayer, and Christopher Parkening, an amazing classical guitarist. While Smiley and Brown did a great job teaming up on some traditional hymns (which was a big surprise, considering their backgrounds), Parkening stole this show with a rendition of an Italian (?) composer, who wrote the piece while living in Turkey, and so it had a distinctly Middly Eastern taste and sound. He truly is a master guitarist. Since I had grown up on Andre Segovia, and knew good classical guitar, I wondered if he really was as good as had been said. Well he is, undoubtedly so! You could hear a pin drop while he was playing, he had the crowd mesmerized by his virtuosity.

After a short break, we heard several more artists perform for the balance of the evening. The young new artist Ana Laura hailing from South Texas had a sweet, if somewhat nervous manner that was quite endearing, and her voice was reminicient of an early Jaci Velasquez. Her range was nice and her stage presence was impressive. She's definitely going to grow into her voice quite well at this rate. I look forward to hearing more from her. Leigh Nash also performed and I was very interested to see what she had to offer, since I had seen her years ago when she was still with Sixpence None The Richer when they visited Hope College. She still possesses her naturally quirky demeanor that is almost pixie like. And her voice is as good as ever. Her vocalization is simply hypnotic, and left me transfixed. I can't wait to hear her entire first solo effort when it hits the stores. What I found amazing is that she managed to perform the entire time while on fire engine red stiletto heels. Amazing! Bebo Norman came on at the end, and I had seen him speak earlier in the day at the backstage thing. And so I was eagerly expecting a really good show, but was fairly disappointed. It mainly had to do with the fact that most of what he sang could not be understood, so while the musical aspect was fine, the inability to ascertain the lyrical content was annoying.

Now before Bebo came on the end of the music for the night, there was one group that I was also looking forward to, and that was the Tex/Mex/Rock group Salvador. They actually got people on their feet (without having to ask them!) for all of their songs. They were very funny, they played loud, and they had a ball. And it showed. By far, they were the highlight of the evening for me. Next time they're in West Michigan, I'm getting a ticket. They rocked!

Finally, at just before 10pm, we had two new movies previewed for us: Charlotte's Web, starring Dakota Fanning doing a live action role, and many other stars doing CGI voice over roles. It looks like a very sweet rendition of the children's classic, and I believe it's due to release this Christmas. If for no other reason, go see the movie for Dakota Fanning. That girl knows how to act! I've never seen her do anything bad movie wise. Then the other movie that was previewed was the film adaptation of William Wilberforce's life work, which was to abolish the slave trade in the UK back in the late eighteen hundreds. The eight minute clip we saw was brilliant, and it's due to release in February of next year, which will be the bicentennial of his getting the legislation passed that outlawed slavery in the British Empire. Wilberforce has always been a hero of mine. What's wonderful about this film is that it shows that it was Wilberforce's orthodox Christian (quite Calvinistic) faith that motivated him towards his life's work. Afterwards, they asked those in attendance to sign a petition to continue the work he began two centuries ago, since we still have slave trade going on now, involving millions of people, men, women, and children. That was a sobering, but good, way to end a long day.

See ya tomorrow!