Five reasons I Love/Hate Country Music

I was watching the broadcast of “Freedom over Texas” when I realized I was actually loving and hating the music I was hearing. I began listening to country music over six years ago when I was preparing to play the role of Noleta in Sordid Lives. I wanted to immerse myself in the Texas twang … Hoping my New York accent wouldn’t show too much during the production. The music, dialect, and culture of country music was perfect for Noleta … and I got to like it.

But at the same time I loathed it. I would dance to the music in my car, sing and shout with the radio … but only when I was alone … Enjoying the songs of Carrie Underwood or Phil McGraw was a vice for me … Something I kept in the closet (or, in this case, the car) or the privacy of my iPod.

Here are the five reasons I love and hate country music:

1) I can sing along and harmonize to just about every song, even songs I don’t know or are hearing for the first time. I love singing along in the car, letting the music take me away … But … It also means the words and chord progressions are predictable and repetitive. They lack imagination and are formulaic.

2) The men are macho. I love watching and hearing the men sing. I admit, there’s a real turn-on here. The ruggedness, the stoic emotions, the passion, the humor of the men are appealing, no doubt … But … Truth be told it’s only a fleeting thing for me … Frankly I don’t think your tractor’s sexy or want to go for a ride in your pick-up no matter how high it is.

3) and the women are hot. There’s a part of me, too, that, loves the passion of the women … Carrie Underwood’s “Next Time He Cheats” can really get me fired up .. In a good way (well, Dwayne might not think so). But … The misogyny in many of these songs can be very disturbing … Not in the violent ways of some rap songs, but in the ways they patronize, objectify, or romanticize women. “I don’t know what she said, but I sure liked the way that she said it.” 

4) They sing about having fun. Who doesn’t want to have fun, go on vacation, be out with friends, dance, sing, and let your hair down. And they sing about being real. No pretending to be something you’re not, no secrets, no pretensions … And I’m there! No hoity-toity living for me. I’m a real woman … But, let’s admit it … No matter how I might secretly crave it, I’m no redneck girl! tequila doesn’t make my clothes fall off. And I don’t want to save water and drink beer. In fact, the glorification of tequila, beer, etc. is problematic … Seeing a young girl sitting on (presumably) her father’s shoulders at the concert in Eleanor Tinsley Park shouting, “drink more beer” was disturbing.

5) They make the world simple. There seems to be a bunch of songs now with the longing or yearning for simplicity … We got too complicated … I like the old and out-dated way of life. We know, don’t we, that God is great, Beer is good, and people are crazy. It’s an okay escape, but the world is certainly not as stereotypical or black and white or right and wrong as country music suggests. Real life is gray, complicated, intricate, intelligent, and worth living …

Real life and real people are paradoxical. Maybe that’s why the very music and lyrics that make me belt in my car, and touch my “baser” sensibilities, are the same that make my feminist, culturally sensitive, spiritual self cringe … And as much as I want to deny it, there is a part if me that will turn the radio dial to Country even long after we move out of Texas.

To PC or not to PC? That is the question.

I know a lot of my friends out there are using macs. I have been on a PC since the beginning of time … or at least close to the beginning of time.  We started on a TI in 1983 … yeah, I know, that’s way before most of my online friends were born.

Anyway, I think the time has come to make the switch, but I’m not sure how easy it will be or what I’ll really gain.  I asked Santa for a mac …

mostly because of the cute mac guy and the coolness factor I admit.  And, I am somewhat embarrassed that all the image-driven commercials are having an effect on me. But I’m so fed up with the slowness of my laptops and their more than occasional desire to reboot despite what I say.

So … tell me … is it worth it?  Or does Apple just have a different set of frustrations?

Twitter of Faith

Twitter of Faith logoMy presbymergent friends offered a challenge earlier today: can you write what you believe, a statement of faith, using 140 characters or less?  In the Presbyterian Church, those seeking ordination and even some preparing for confirmation, need to write a statement of faith.  It’s part of the examination process … and it’s also used every time a pastor seeks a new call.  Usually the statements need to be kept to a single sheet of paper.  But what if you were limited to the size of a twitter?

And so, “Twitter of Faith” was born today. This was the initial twitter challenge:

Twitter of Faith: What do you believe? You have 140 characters – give us your statement of faith in 140 characters. #TOF

If you’re on twitter, please consider joining the challenge.  We ask that you add the tag #TOF to your twitter so that it can be tabulated with the other responses.  And then you can keep up with the results here.  If you’re not on Twitter … post it on your blog or on Facebook.  There is a Twitter of Faith group on Facebook now, too … so check it out.

My TOF is

It’s love enough to give up oneself. As I accept Christ’s love, and learn to trust, I find so much more life and possibility. Awesome! #TOF

Challenge your friends and let’s see how this grows …

Christmas Meme

I got this from Anne by email .. but I thought I’d answer here … and anyone can play.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? both … I like boxes and paper to make things pretty, but bags are more convenient and recyclable.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Oh … I love a real tree, but, nonetheless, we usually go with the artificial because of a lot of not so romantic reasons … allergies, cheaper, less of a fire hazard, no watering, no needles, and no chopping down trees.
3. When do you put up the tree? Usually the first week of December.
4. When do you take the tree down? Usually after the first … I try to make it to epiphany (12 days of Christmas and all) but I get antsy and have to take it down before going back to work.
5. Do you like eggnog? Not really … I’m into chocolate.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? The arts and crafts box Santa always left for us to open on Christmas eve afternoon.
7. Hardest person to buy for? Grandparents.
8. Easiest person to buy for? Katie … I just love buying her stuff.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? about 12 creches plus a couple Hanukkah menorahs.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I mail them.  Something tangible and I’m a Christmas traditionalist.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I really don’t remember … But, I always get lots of stuff I don’t use.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Does Charlie Brown Christmas count?  I enjoy It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and Christmas Story, too.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?  We often pick names at Thanksgiving … so it’s unlikely for me to get anything before that … though I’ve already picked up some stocking stuffers.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Uh huh.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies!  Peanut blossoms and those nutty rolled cookies Dwayne’s mom taught me to bake.
16. Lights on the tree? Oh yes!  But not the blinking kind … tacky.
17. Favorite Christmas song?  O Come O Come Emmanuel
18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Depends on the year, we’ve done both.
19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? I have to sing it… “You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen … but do you recall … the most famous reindeer of all? …. “
20. Angel on the treetop or a star? Star.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? I actually like opening on Christmas Eve … but we change each year depending on where we are, who’s there, and what’s going on.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Ads and the focus on consumerism … ugh.
23. What theme or color are you using? theme?  you’ve got to be kidding, we don’t do themes … the theme is Christmas, of course, duh.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? I enjoyed the Roast Beef we had last year … it’s also been tradition for us to have ginger-lime Cornish Hens for Christmas Eve.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? I want the whole family to be together.

Sorry Anne, had to stop at 25 … because Christmas is December 25, after all.

The longer it goes, the harder it gets …

It’s been ages since I wrote anything in this blog.  I find the longer it goes, the harder it gets to find something that’s worth breaking the silence. 

I’m not sure if I’ve been quiet because I have nothing to write about or because I have so much to write about I don’t know where to start.  There is so much to write about, with the election tomorrow and so many societal issues so visible, I do have a lot to say.  On the other hand, I don’t think my opinions are anything new … I have many ideas, but nothing original … sorry.

I am saddened, however, about the death of Madelyn Dunham, Barack Obama’s grandmother, who I came to love in reading Obama’s first book.  I believe they called her “toots”.  I think it is especially sad to think that she died only a couple of days before such a big event.  My prayers are with the Obama family.  May God grant you peace in these days filled with grief and with promise.

I’ve been tagged … Presbymeme II

Jan, I don’t mind a good meme …

The Rules of Presbymeme II
•In about 25 words each, answer the five questions below.
•Tag five Presbyterian bloggers and send them a note to let them know they were tagged.
•Be sure to link to this original post.

1) What is your favorite faith-based hymn, song or chorus?

There are so many possibilities. “Here I Am Lord” always makes me cry. My own personal devotion time has many including “Oh Lord You’re Beautiful”. But, for this answer I have to say, “Lift High the Cross”. There was a day when I was an associate pastor in Michigan … it was as the large cross was replaced in the sanctuary after some rennovation … as the cross was raised in place, the many of us cleaning up in the sanctuary spontaneously started singing, “Lift High the Cross” … it was glorious.

2) What was the context, content and/or topic of the last sermon that
truly touched, convicted, inspired, challenged, comforted and/or
otherwise moved you?

I have been moved by the words of the Rev. Jin Kim, most recently at our Presbytery meeting last Saturday. Also by his words at General Assembly.

3) If you could have all Presbyterians read just one of your previous posts, what would it be and why?

Hmmm … I don’t re-read my posts often … but, well, how about this one about New Church Development.

4) What are three PC(USA) flavored blogs you read on a regular basis?

Presbymergent, of course … A Church for Starving Artists … and Quotidian Grace.

5) If the PC(USA) were a movie, what would it be and why?

I’m thinking Titanic … but, let me think beyond the cliche … I thought of the church a great deal when I watched The Queen … I saw the end of an era and a regime that was wedded to a time that has passed. But I also saw a wisdom and an integrity that was able to give stability and identity and strong values to an emerging society.

Phillip Lotspeich; Quotidian Grace; Shawn Coons; Dwayne Bailey; Pat Clark

Six days and Doing Well

After waiting and jumping through insurance company hoops for a year, I actually had my lap band placed last Wednesday, July 30, 2008.

I was sore for a few days, but back to regular routine by Saturday. I preached on Sunday morning and went to the office yesterday. I would be there today, too, if it weren’t for the arrival of Eduard this morning.

I’ve actually lost about 8 pounds since the day of surgery. I’m eating a soft food diet now … and not very much … my biggest challenge is that I need to remember to drink more. I get busy and forget to keep that water with me.

Friday Five

I’ve been a part of the RevGalBlogPals blogroll for awhile now … usually I’m just a lurker, but today I’m playing the Friday Five.

So lets have a bit of fun:

1. Barbeque’s or picnics ( or are they essentially the same thing?)

My idea of picnics are eating outside in a pretty place like a park or alongside Laura Ingall’s Plum Creek. It doesn’t involve cooking … just eating and enjoying nature or a special place.

Barbeque’s are about cooking outside. In New York it was hamburgers and hot dogs, in Texas it’s “barbecue”. The best Fourth of July barbecue for me was when I was a kid and got to eat lobster for the first time.

2. The park/ the lake/ the beach or staying at home simply being?

I’ve done it all …. and, well, I like just staying home the best these days. My favorite Fourth of July celebration was a Sunday (free day) at Chautauqua Institution. We hear one of the great military bands in the afternon and watched the fireworks over the lake totally lined with luminaires. Even made me feel somewhat patriotic.

3. Fireworks- love ’em or hate ’em?

Love ’em. Love to watch … lots of color.

4. Parades- have you ever taken part- share a memory…

I remember missing the parade when I was 6. I had the chicken pox and had to listen to the parade on the radio from my grandparent’s backyard. It was supposed to be the first parade I would march in … what a disappointment for a six year old.

5. Time for a musical interlude- if you could sum up holidays in a piece of music what would it be?

Anything John Phillip Sousa

One of the things I love about the PCUSA …

One of the things I love about the Presbyterian Church is that it allows for differences of opinion. Our constitution says, “we also believe that there are truths and forms with respect to which men of good characters and principles may differ.” (G-1.0305)

For me, allowing ourselves to disagree on issues while standing firm in faith, is what makes us strong, keeps us challenged, and encourages us to think outside of our own world views. It’s precisely this strength which will keep us alive and well as the world becomes flatter and more global.

Nowhere do we see it played out as in the area of ordination standards and homosexuality. This week the Presbyterian Church (USA) threw out its “Authoritative Interpretation” of 1978 and all subsequent affirmations of that statement which basically said that homosexual activity was contrary to the will of God and, therefore, unrepentant homosexual men and women could not be ordained in the church. This week that changed.

Two decisions of the General Assembly
1) to throw out the authoritative interpretation and 2) to ask the presbyteries to ratify a change in the constitution to replace the “fidelity in marriage and chastity in singleness” clause with a much broader statement including fidelity to faith.

Let’s face it. The PC(USA) is still divided on the issue of the sinfulness of homosexual activity … not unlike the American public. A recent Gallup Poll states, “Americans interviewed in Gallup’s 2008 Values and Beliefs poll are
evenly divided over the morality of homosexual relations, with 48%
considering them morally acceptable and 48% saying they are morally

How does a church which values different opinions live respectfully and with “mutual forbearance” on an issue like this? We avoid national standards on homosexuality, and allow for “local option.” In other words it’s up to the governing body autorizing the ordination whether or not a gay or lesbian could be and elder, deacon, or minister of the word and sacrament.

I think that brings the debate to a local level and includes real and specific people which makes the issue much more personal … it will take people of great integrity and discernment to decide which “scruples” are against the essential tenets of the faith and which are not … it calls the church, each corner of it, to engage in careful and prayerful consideration … not so bad in my opinion. It’s what makes us strong.

Of course, the news media is saying this ruling allows homosexual ordination as if every church in America will be forced to have a gay or lesbian pastor. No. Pastors still need to have calls in order to be ordained, Churches still initiate those calls and Presbyteries confirm or deny them. The Church decides.

Those who believe the PCUSA as fallen off the deep end into a moral abyss … no, we are merely accepting the reality that this is a moral issue which divides the church just as it does society. Let’s be models of Christian respect … of realizing that men and women of sound mind and doctrine may and do disagree.