NONNA'S PROMO VIDEO TEASER
March 27, 2013
Check out this promo teaser for Nonna's in Bricktown! It features the original version of my song, "A World Too Big." The soon to be released full length video will feature instrumentals from "Closer" off my newly released Blue Hearts Project. Enjoy!
MY "GOOD FOR GOOD'S SAKE" MENTALITY
February 01, 2013
Since its release back in September of 2012, I've received a lot of questions pertaining to the "religious" lyrical content of The Blue Hearts Project. It's clear that several of the songs are either directly or indirectly about God, but what's not so clear is whose god(s) or what religion(s) is actually being referred to. I've always been of the opinion that religion is a personal matter, so I've abstained from discussing the particulars of my faith, which I'm sure is what has sparked all the questions about my recent lyrical departure. So, I thought I might shed some light on the matter at hand and open up a bit about my religious background, experiences, and the thoughts that ultimately manifested themselves in BHP.
**Please understand that because I've lived in Oklahoma nearly all of my life, Christianity is obviously going to be my religious frame of reference. My hope is that those who read this see it for what it is - one man's humble opinion.
I wasn't raised in a church, so I don't consider myself a Christian. I'm not really a religious person, nor am I all that spiritual; however, I've always prided myself in leading a very moral existence, one that (I feel) falls in line with the teachings of Christianity (as I understand them.) When I first began dating the woman who's now my wife, I quickly realized how influential her religious background was in shaping the person she's become, so I did what any good significant other (and English major for that matter) would do; delve into the teachings of her religious faith, which happens to be Christianity.
On the one hand, my discoveries were consistent with what I've always "known" about Christianity. I've lived smack-dab in the middle of the bible belt for 24 years and it's been frustrating to watch so many people "play" church. It's maddening to be subjected to the "holier than thou" mentality that pervades a considerable portion of the Christian population, but to be perfectly blunt, I know just as many Christians who fall in line with what their religion deems "sinful" as I do non-Christians. I'm not an authority on the matter, nor do I claim to be, but I'd bet there are as many (if not more) Christian people than non-Christian people in Oklahoma, yet our divorce rate is amongst the highest in the nation. I guess that's ok though because it must be God's will; hmm...how very Henry VIII. Please forgive the sarcasm, but the notion of Christianity being rife with people who don't practice what they preach is nothing new.
So, there you have my prejudices against the American-Christian church. Now I'd like to focus on the more important aspect of what I've learned about Christianity and religion in general, which is far more positive and uplifting; it's necessary to separate a religious institution and its teachings from its followers. I've noticed that there's a broad spectrum of people who participate in the Christian faith - as far as I can tell, Christianity comprises people of a myriad of ethnicities and races that range from the poor to the affluent and the uneducated to the highly educated. I've also noticed the vast difference between what I consider "God loving Christians" and "God fearing Christians;" the latter of which tend to "fear God" for reasons that are understandable - they don't practice what they preach. (For the record, I recognize this is a gross oversimplification and that hypocrisy is by no means synonymous with Christianity.) Having actually opened my mind and faced my prejudices, I now understand that my frustrations with Christianity have never been grounded in opposition toward the actual institution or its teachings, but rather toward the followers who serve as its ambassadors. I'm acquainted with a lot of wonderful people who are Christians and who are thus great ambassadors for their faith, but I also know a lot of Christians who by their actions paint Christianity in an incredibly negative light - perhaps it's a "rose by any other name" kind of thing. I hardly even consider myself a novice in the understandings of the Christian faith, but I've obviously been missing the forest that is Christianity for a few of the hypocritical trees.
About 18 months ago, I met a pastor whose life had recently "blown up" as he put it, which ultimately resulted in the loss and collapse of his church. Not long after I'd met him, he resigned himself not to become just another Christian cautionary tale and began taking the necessary first steps toward establishing another church. Although he had no money to pay me, he asked if I'd be willing to fill in as Worship Leader until his newly established church got on its feet. My response was this - "I'm in no way qualified to 'lead' anybody in anything involving faith, but I'm more than willing and capable enough to play some songs." So, every Sunday for about 3 months I performed worship music for an incredibly eclectic and wonderful group of people who claim to be followers of Christ. It was simultaneously one of the most uncomfortable yet inspiring experiences of my life.
Here's my point in recounting all of that; this pastor had built his previous church on 3 simple words that packed an incredibly profound conceptual punch: LOVE. LOVE. SERVE.
The more I heard what this pastor had to say about loving others with radical grace, the more his words and overall message began to resonate in me and break down the 20+ years worth of walls I'd constructed to separate myself from religious hypocrites and dogma. Apparently, it is ok to ask questions. It is ok to be unsure. And although I still don't really know where my heart lies in the "Love God" part, I believe that if there is a God and He's as righteous as I understand Him to be, then He'll be good with me living in accordance with the LOVE. LOVE. SERVE philosophy even if it doesn't include the first LOVE.
So, here's the conclusion I've come to over the past few years that so heavily influenced the lyrical content of The Blue Hearts Project - faith that's rooted in fear isn't faith at all. Do I ultimately love the idea of Heaven? Of course! Do I believe in it? That's a question I can't answer definitively, at least not presently. I absolutely embrace the notion that there's something for us beyond this life; however, one could easily argue that the concept of Heaven is merely a "fairy tale" for adults, one that we've constructed because it's human nature to fear the unknown and death is absolutely the epitome of the unknown. But is hope not a better and far more powerful driving force than hopelessness? I'll take hope, thank you very much! Bearing in mind the aforementioned conclusion, here's what I've figured out about myself - at some undefinable point in my life, I adopted a "good for good's sake" mentality as opposed to a "good for God's sake." This is where I ultimately land in matters of religion; doing good simply for the sake of doing good builds God's Kingdom and glorifies Him no differently and with no less significance than doing good for God's sake - the only difference is that the latter implies an agenda to appease God that's grounded in fear. If His will is simply to "do good," which, for the record I believe is the case, why then would He care if it is or isn't done in his name? Call me crazy, but I seriously doubt God is concerned with why we "do good" so long as we choose to "do good;" unlike most of us, I would imagine He has his priorities in order.
Piggy-backing on the thoughts put forth by my friend, the pastor, my interpretation of LOVE. LOVE. SERVE. is as follows: "To 'good the world' to move closer to God and deliver ourselves into his open arms," not out of fear, but out of a desire to rest in, grow in, live in, and know His grace and peace. Why should anything else matter?
So there you have it. These are the stories, ideas, and thoughts that went into The Blue Hearts Project and thus served as the word fodder for many of its songs. Perhaps you agree 100% with everything I've just said. Perhaps you feel I couldn't be more wrong. Frankly, it makes no difference; as I stated in the beginning, I believe faith is a personal matter and this is just one humble man's opinion. I do, however, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and hope you will ask questions in order to formulate your own conclusions about your faith. So, without further delay, as my friend the pastor would say...
Grace and Peace to you.
AND HERE WE GO...
January 30, 2013
Fare-thee-well, inactivity. It's been a month of rest and relaxation, family and friends, peace and tranquility; however, it's time to reenter the fray. Productivity, I welcome you with open arms.
My weary mind seeks resolution, but my broken heart in all its restlessness demands so much more. The world has been turned upside down for FAR TOO LONG; I've paid my dues, but I'm fighting a losing battle no matter how you slice it, and if I must lose I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.
My commitment - I'm in this for the long haul, the short sale, and anywhere in-between. Chips fall where they may; I'm all in.