Let Love Rule pops up on my ipod playlist and I groove mindlessly while riding in my very untricked out Honda Element. As I look in my rear view mirror to see Sydney, my happy 16 month old, shaking her head along with the car tunes, I notice the cheerios, goldfish crackers, and a herd of pacifiers resting in the various car nooks and crannies. That is when it happened. In the middle of the anti-kenny G sax solo, I realize... (sigh) his album is 20 years old. I own a 20 year old copy of this album. I have had this album for 20 years. I am 20 years older now... My 20 year high school reunion is almost here! When did this happen?
I suddenly realized that I remember when I was about 8 years old and I was listening to my dads "old" records... Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Beach Boys (Pet Sounds), and thinking the only place I hear this music is on the "oldies station"... that music was only 20 years old then... if that! Then yesterday, when most of my hairs are being cut I see a flurry of white hairs descend gracefully to the reverse cape I am wearing. I could almost hear each one of them sing song to me "you're not as young as you think you are" and then, aside from the fact that every once in awhile she has to tweezer out this one insanely long eyebrow hair (what's the deal with that), it's WHITE! But wait there's more. About 3 weeks ago, the pianist (that I hired, so he'd better watch it) looks at me and says, "did you know you have a white hair IN your EAR". Listen, I'd didn't ask for that. Why would I look in my ear for a hair... I'm not old... I mean my dad didn't start using "Just For Men" hair color until he was old and he was... Oh Crap!
But let's top this off, shall we? Last night, I am rehearsing our band and choir for Sunday AM. After we're done, this freshmen in college sits at the piano and starts playing a little "Train", and if you don't know who that is then you're older than me. Well, no one knows what she's playing except for me. I'm feeling a little proud of myself. Not so old after all. (yes I know its just Train, shut up) but she looks at me and says, "how do you know who this is and Katie (another 19 year old) doesn't" In other words... you're old, why do you know music.
My response... i didn't have one, except to say, This album still holds up and Lenny can still rock better than most of these airy waif bands that come out today. As Lenny says, "it ain't over till it's over" and considering most of the good rock-n-roll out there is created and produced by people over 30, I ain't that worried.
Karl Marx wrote that "Religion is the opiate of the Masses". The critique, at least how this quote has been used, is that religion is an escapist drug that keeps people from dealing with reality. Religion is a drug that heightens our emotions but not our intellect or action. Now, I think that there are many arguments that could be made to the point that this is often how religion has been used, but is most assuredly not the intention of Christ to give birth to a movement of the disconnected. But before I get into that, the thing I wonder is if we realize how many other opiates there are in the world.
A friend of mine noted recently that (he being an avid watcher) ESPN was the opiate. I think there is some truth to this, I cannot say I am an EPSN consumer, but I do love entertainment. I, like many of my kind (extroverted, ADD, life lovers) have an inner Robin Williams that needs an occasional release. But how much entertainment do we need. The culture of entertainment (a huge part is people pleasing and a great theme summary is Singing in the Rain's Make'm Laugh segment) has drifted over into media and politics. I don't remember who said it, but some journalist said that our politicians demand to be treated like rock stars and our rock stars pretend to be politicians (as if I really want to get my news from Roving Reporter Sean, Please Take Me Seriously, Penn). All the while substance has drifted and turned into simply policy driven by emotionalism.
See, the world wants hope and purpose and when they can't find it they look for distraction, which soothes our fear. All the while those who seem to think they have the answer can't seem to get their solutions out so they make grand promises of hope with no substance. What they offer instead of hope is more entertainment. We find ourselves with a lack of real hope.
N.T. Wright wrote, "in the absence of real hope, all that is left is feelings. This brings me back to the original opiate. When the church ceases to exist on this plane, we cease to offer real hope. We have real hope in the incarnation of God, Jesus Christ, and in his resurrection. This doesn't mean that we sit around and wait for something to happen one day in some promise of a future "pie in the sky", but that we work in cooperation with Jesus Christ today. Too often the church tries to make our work either/or. But without the worship of God; the acknowledgment of his sovereignty, reality, and active presence in our lives today, we are left with social action alone, which can become a kind of idolatry. Likewise, if we proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ without actually living the good news, we are living a lie. When life is lived out as Christ taught and with the power of his resurrection and gift of his Holy Spirit is no opiate, but a life of transformation that calls us to action today. When people see this life lived; one of caring for the weak, tending to the sick, blessing those who curse us, laying down our lives for those around us, standing and speaking for those with no voice, then it will be easier for the world around to see that there is real hope in the Kingdom of God. They might then trade in the opium and get on to the business of living.
I dream a lot. I remember my dreams and some are great and some not so great. I have woken myself up laughing, crying, and one time I woke everyone up yelling in terror at the top of my lungs (there was a giant cube floating over my bed). Well, recently I was having a discussion with my friends 7 year old and he was telling me about a nightmare he had and it reminded my of my favorite nightmare.
I was about 10 years old and at that time in my life I loved grapes and thought the commercial for the Fruit of the Loom underwear, you know the one where the fruit jumped out of the clothing, was very funny. Well, one particular night following a day I am sure that included playing guns, building a tree house, street football, swimming in the public pool, and closing the day with a little Atari 1600 Pitfall and Defender while listening to Van Halen's Jump over and over and over again, I finally drifted off to sleep. During the night of dream jumping I suddenly found myself in brief danger. The carefully embroidered fruit in my underwear inspected by #28 became animated, leaped from their Superman 2 like imprisonment and proceeded to chase me around the house. The Green Grape seemed to have a particular grudge against me and found the kitchen knives and tried to kill me. I woke up just in time. I only eat red grapes now.
So, share a bizarre dream you have had... please keep it clean.
check this link, its worth it.
There is nothing that I can say that can add to this, but i will anyway. It is worth your time to watch this clip. Truly inspiring.
The season of Easter loves its symbolism. The universal understanding of the possibility of new life. But new life from what? The average "man on the street" picks up quickly the idea of spring from winter, of new life from the decay of the old. It inspires songs like "the circle of life", but is cyclical change really change? It may be change, but it is not new; it is simply a revolving pattern of an old life.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ breaks this pattern. It addresses the problem of death. Resurrection, which does not mean spirit only or resuscitation of, states that death no longer has the last word. The resurrection moves well beyond the common symbolism that we find in most thinking. The Resurrection invites invites real change, real hope, real living, for today as well as tomorrow. This requires a new reality for us to step into and it is this new reality I wish to briefly address.
I have a friend whose father recently passed away due to cancer. In the process of he and his family adjusting, first to the initial news and then eventually to his death, he responded to my question of how he was doing by saying, "we are learning how to live in the new normal" Instead of fighting a loosing battle of what was not, the 'if only's", he stepped into a new way of living. This, by the way, is a profoundly healthy way to live, it subverts denial and enables one to grieve well.
The "new normal" is what we are called to live into when we step into Christ's resurrection. It is this reality that the apostle Peter found with Jesus on the shore by the sea of Tiberias. N.T. Wright in his book Surprised By Hope referring to John 21 states that "Peter, famously, has denied Jesus. He has chosen to live within the normal world, where the tyrants win in the end and where it's better to dissociate yourself from people who get on the wrong side of them. But now, with Easter, peter is called to live in a new and different world. Where Thomas is called to a new kind of faith and Paul to a radically renewed hope, Peter is called to a new kind of love." (p 72) This love is more than a feeling, but connected with the resurrection is a new way of believing and living. Wright goes on to reflect on the question Jesus then asks Peter, the question of Peter's love for him. It is this question that opens up a profound new reality, a question that Wright says invites us to be remade.
Outside of the resurrection, Peter must remain the same and learn how to cope with his betrayal. He may find ways to give his lifestyle a new makeover, but the reality he is in is still limited by death which ultimately limits how we live out the rest of our breath. However, confronted with the resurrected Christ, Peter's reality has shifted and now in order to live in a world where death no longer wins, Peter must step into a place where he allows himself to no longer be ruled by the former reality, the ones of tyrants, power, manipulation, defensiveness, and fear to name a few. The resurrection moves his forgiveness into more than just the healing of a relationship based on a former world view reality; it moves him into a new reality, a new creation that enables him to live differently starting at that moment.
A very important element for us to see is that this new reality is not just a personal one, God has come to redeem all of creation which calls us to a new kind of living today. It requires us to live and work hand in hand with God in his redeeming work. To live life as one who believes in the resurrection, not only of Jesus' resurrection but our own in the future, means that we begin to live it out now in everything we do. This kind of living begins to look like what Jesus called to us to do, love one another as he loves us, to forgive as we are forgiven, to treat our enemies as he did with honesty, compassion, and concern.
We can live this life because in Christ's resurrection death was defeated and with the defeat of death comes the defeat of fear. I believe that it is death and fear that makes us act and react in all the unhealthy ways we do. They drive us to a perverted sense of self-preservation because we fear that when someone harms us that they have power over us. The new reality says that in Christ, even though others may harm us in temporal ways, we are not victims of their violence, be they words or weapons, because we have only one Lord who has the final say and that is the one who defeated death; Jesus Christ. Therefore, I can turn the other cheek, I can bless those who persecute me, I can live as Jesus lived, did as Jesus died, and rise as Jesus rose. This is the reality that gives me hope, strength, and vision for today here and now.