Monday, March 22, 2010

South by Southwest means SXSW

how to start?

perhaps with a confession:

i am, on my own, completely unworthy

i am, on my own, severed from hope of life

i am, on my own, ridiculously repugnant

so let me not be alone, Lord

let me be with You

last week was the infamous SXSW festival in Austin. in years past i've immersed myself in the waters of new bands, new films, celebrities and "VIP" parties. this year i only dipped my feet in. i had a great time, mind you, but was also very glad to have scaled it down. i didn't take off work this year with half a mind to have a less intense experience of the fest. and it worked. but even in the SXSW Lite version, i found myself pushing harder than my body really wanted to go. nights that didn't end until their neighboring morning, miles of walking, denying myself water for no reason at all, etc... and in my push towards God-knows-what, i found myself reflecting a lot more than i have in years past. about celebrity. about the party life. about music. and without claiming any generalities as gospel, i'll tell you a few of my thoughts.

what about being on a "list" makes us feel so good? one of the best parts of SXSW is how free it is. monetarily. but in order to avoid spending money, you have to know where to look for the RSVP's. follow the right Twitter accounts. join the right Facebook group. know the right people. which used to feel like an adventure to me. i would get excited about being "in the know" and that somehow i was special enough to figure out how to get on "the list". this is a great marketing ploy, no doubt, and maybe i'm just getting old, but i'm kind of over it. it just seems very elitist. to align myself with any group that looks down on anyone else out of arrogance is sure to make my heart into a stone. that mindset is like a drug. when you feel that you have the upper hand on anyone else, most would dare not give it up easily. but rest easy, that pride will not hold anyone up. nor will it push them into places they would like to go. i'm convinced that pride is a barb in the hearts of men: quick to go in, but painful and damaging when removed. and it will be removed.

so i'll just try and avoid it.

[ok, now imagine i didn't just say any of that]

i had a conversation with a really nice guy at one such "VIP" party. he was in town promoting his new movie MacGruber. let me back track and say in full disclosure that the only way i got into this party was a slight of hand wristband pass from a friend already inside. i then broke the wristband, tied it on and went in the back door. so. i got in and saw my friend and joined his conversation with a stranger. turns out the stranger was a movie star/comedian/writer, who i recognized.

"hi, i'm james."

"hey i'm norma."



(the party was very loud)

while talking to him a number of people approached him telling him how much they loved the movie and how funny he was. i asked if he ever got tired of it. of strangers bugging him. he said "no way man. we're all the F-ing same. i just got a break." so in a relatively quiet celebrity town that was momentarily over run with celebrity, i got to hear a small voice of hope that not all of them are arrogant *fillintheblankexplative* which was very encouraging.

so now that i've name droped, claimed to hate being on the VIP side of life (which is so the new skinny jeans), and established myself as someone who "knows what they're talking about", i just would like to refer you back to my confession.

i am nothing without Him. i only hope that i can live and love like He did and does.

Monday, March 15, 2010

motion and pauses

give way to what you know to be unknowable. there are so many times in our lives that bring us pause. we're shattered by a broken relationship. we're crushed by a death. we're left speechless by an opportunity far beyond what we deserve. whether a great blessing or relentless storm, we are given chances to see how out of control we are.

so what do we do?

i don't really know, but i can't help but picture a child who is in a situation that overwhelms him and he cries to his mother for help. even if his mother has the answer, its likely that the child doesn't understand why that is the answer. still somehow he is comforted by her intercession.

so cry out. pray. see your inability to do anything and take comfort in your Father's presence.

so many things have happened in my life recently that have stopped my movement. they have hurt. they have ignited me with elation. and in the absence of motion, all i could do was talk to God. thank Him. curse at Him. it was all i knew to do. and i'm ok with that being the only thing i did. and i think He was too.

all that to say: i'm thankful for the movement of my life, and for the pauses.

Monday, March 1, 2010

just a quick thought on the end.

earthquakes, tsunamis, and airplanes into buildings make me think that we're nearer to the end than we once thought.

but what if the end of the world is a slow burn?

We've read that armageddon will be horrific, and that when the end of all things comes no one will be able to even describe the destruction, much less endure it. But what if it's not a sudden explosion of terror? What if it's a slow encounter that we can't recognize until we're all gone? If it will be so, I believe we're in a mess far beyond what we first thought.

"what would you do if you knew the world was ending tomorrow?"
we separate the end from the approach to such so definitively, but why? The world is not "going" to end, it's "ending". And I think we should live accordingly. Which probably looks a little different from that which implies that it will all end tomorrow. The time frame changed, but so did the perspective. If we realize that we're on the downward slope of the end, I think our hearts change. We don't live as though we have endless time with which we can do what we please; but neither will we so drastically adjust as though the sands are almost all in the bottom half of the glass. The drastic adjustment lends itself to fear. And why would we do anything out of fear? It's the opposite of love, which we're told to emulate every day. so I say: don't live out of fear, but also don't be lazy and useless. We're ending, lets make the best of what we've got left.