Saturday, July 16, 2011

15 Sporadic Thoughts about Harry Potter.

I haven’t written a blog in a while, so in honor of the last Harry Potter movies, I decided to share 15 of my sporadic thoughts about the series as a whole. Ready or not here they come.

1.        My theory, Harry Potter is not the real star. I have never really liked Harry Potter the character, I pitied him, I didn't hate him. I just didn’t like him as much as I liked other characters. My favorite character in the series has always been Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. I liked everything about Dumbledore, and even in the Deathly Hallows where his character was been defamed, I liked him more because it humanized him. Harry, to me has always just been a self-pitying character. Not just about his parents deaths, but about everything, from his friendships, to his studies, to his girl troubles, to his “curse” of having people be faithful to him. Dumbledore was pretty much responsible for Harry succeeding in every book, and even in every film. The Sorcerer’s Stone: He told Harry how to find it. Chamber of Secrets: His pet phoenix brought Harry the Sorting Hat that had the Sword of Gryffindor which he used to slay the Basilisk. Fawkes the Phoenix also heals Harry’s wounds with his tears. In The Prisoner of Azkaban: Tells Hermoine how to use the Time Turner to save the day. In the Goblet of Fire: Dumbledore saves Harry from Barty Crouch who was disguised as Mad-Eye Moody. In the Order of the Phoenix: Dumbledore defends him in court, he takes the fall for Harry forming ‘Dumbledore’s Army’, and then he defends Harry when Voldemort attacks him. In the Half-Blood Prince: Dumbledore reveals what Horcruxes are and that Harry must destroy them in order to defeat Voldemort for good. He also stuns Harry so he doesn’t do anything stupid and hides him from Death Eaters with the cloak of invisibility. Finally in the Deathly Hallows: Dumbledore’s gifts to Harry, Ron, and Hermoine help them all get what they need to successfully defeat the Dark Lord. Dumbledore also gives Harry advice from the grave at King’s Cross. For these reasons I believe that Dumbledore is the real star of the Harry Potter series and I believe that the books should all be re-named “Harry Potter’s Adventures with Dumbledore”.
2.       Harry and Ginny suck at naming babies. It’s just a fact.
3.       Draco Malfoy isn’t really as evil as people think he is. He did try and protect Harry, Ron and Hermoine from Bellatrix. He did choose not to kill Dumbledore. I think in the end he isn’t all that bad.
4.      Voldemort isn’t the most evil character in the series, Bellatrix Lestrange is. Voldemort only kills when he needs to or when he gets super ticked off. Bellatrix tortures people for fun, laughs and sings while doing it. She even tells Harry when he tries to use the Cruciatus Curse “You need to really want to cause pain — to enjoy it…”. Voldemort wanted power Bellatrix merely wanted to have fun hurting others.
5.       Dobby is the greatest house elf ever. Correction, the greatest FREE elf ever.
6.       Hermoine should have become Hogwart’s Headmistress, she had to have been the smartest witch around.
7.       Dumbledore was not gay, like JK Rowling said; he was obviously sleeping with Professor McGonagall. The way she attacked Snape when Harry revealed that Snape killed Dumbledore proves it. She didn’t even bother to ask if it was true. It was an assault of passion.  That and in the Order of the Phoenix he sees her in her nightgown and doesn’t ask her “Why are you in your nightgown professor? This is inappropriate.” He was thinking “Oh my here she comes, back for more of my magic.”
8.       The Harry Potter is essentially the gospel but with magic instead of miracles.
9.       (Just some questions) Why do all of the witches and wizards in the U.K. all go to Hogwarts? Wouldn’t it get overcrowded? Where did Hagrid’s half-brother go in the last movie?  If Voldemort really hated Dumbledore why did he let Dumbledore’s body rest in peace? Did anyone else notice that Harry and Voldemort are distant cousins?
10.    I would hate if J.K. Rowling tried to write another Harry Potter novel. She can write more books, even more books in the same world, just not about him. His saga needs to end. Seven books and eight movies are enough. But if she was to write a book series about Dumbledore that would be another thought entirely.
11.     If anyone wants to get me a present, a room modeled after the Headmaster’s Office would be nice.
12.    Harry Potter >Twilight. Anyone who says different needs mental help.
13.    Nagini is probably the creepiest, yet simultaneously amazing pets ever(besides Fawkes). She understands English, how to disguise herself as a human and trick Harry Potter and Hermoine into following her. She is perfect for disposing of Voldemort’s enemies. And she is a back-up soul carrier.
14.   If the Forbidden Forest is really forbidden, why wasn’t a fence built around it? There’s no keep out sign, or trench, to get there all one does is keep walking. Why is the only Forbidden Forest right next to a school where any unsuspecting first-year could accidently wander in it?
15.    I want to go to Oxford, because a lot of the Harry Potter movies were filmed in part on its campus.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Lesson in Hypocrisy.

I am a very self-aware person, I know myself pretty darn well. I know why I do the things I do and what causes me to do them. I know my strengths and my numerous flaws and I know that at times I am a hypocrite. I know this and I accept it, but sometimes I miss out on certain areas of hypocrisy. Today was one of those days it was blatantly revealed to me via a painful experience.
 (Back-story) Two weeks ago I was giving my parents grief for considering purchasing a gas-guzzling vehicle needlessly. My mom wanted an SUV with more space, although she only has two children (and I have a vehicle of my own). I went on for about thirty minutes telling them that the Earth is God’s gift to mankind and to mistreat it is to spit in His face.
(Fast-forward) Today I went running because I told myself I needed to exercise more. Well I was trotting along and thought to myself ‘This isn’t as hard as I thought it would be.’ I kept running for about two blocks and then it hit me. BAM! The pain started as a tingle in my gut and slowly spread outwardly and my id said to my ego ‘What the crap are you doing to me?’ I thought ‘Just make it to that bench’, and then the bench starting looking further and further away and I stopped the jog and went into a power walk. I kept power walking and in my mind the thought occurred ‘I can’t pass out here, my neighbors have no idea who I am. I am a black teen in a white neighborhood; they’ll call the cops before they try to help me.’ So I managed to jog my way back and on the way a thought so venomous came to my mind that it could only have come from God. Only in my immensely painful situation would God teach me a lesson. The voice was quiet in my mind but clear when it said ‘Shame on you, you’ll take care of the Earth, but not my Temple.’ Conviction was laid on my mind on top of the physical conundrum taking place right beneath my head. My body burst into sweat and my conscious just burst.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20(ESV) There it is in plain black and white. My body is just as much a gift as the Earth, and I have been neglecting to take care of it. So tomorrow I will attempt another jog (not a run) around the neighborhood, so that by taking care of my body, I will glorify God. Being obedient is difficult and at times, painful, but “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22), and I want to be the best servant of God I can be, even if that means subjecting myself to pain temporarily, in the long run it will be for my benefit because God’s commands are always meant to benefit His children. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hope for P&W Music

                 Ever since about the mid-70’s contemporary or modern Praise and Worship music (p&w) has been constantly streaming forth like a river trying to cover the mountain of secular music already in existence while at the same time complementing the hymns that were already in place in the worship setting at churches in Western society. Over time the p&w brand begin not only to complement hymns in worship but complete replace them in some new church plants this trend although it was noticed, was not really fought too strongly for fear of not being seeker-friendly. As with most every trend Christians have adopted as their own such as the “make a t-shirt for everything trend”(as demonstrated by the emergence of corny Christian tees and brands such as NOTW or Truth, Soul, Armor) or the “make a wristband for everything trend” (WWJD, Witness Bands) the music festival trend (Creation Fest) or even websites (YouTube became GodTube, Stuff White People Like became a book and blog called Stuff Christians Like) and recently pole dancing for Jesus (search for that on YouTube maybe even GodTube); while all of this is interesting (and disturbing) and somewhat trivial the same mimicry of the secular music industry has taken place. This takes place mostly because there is not a single mainstream Christian artist that is not in some way employed by one of these secular record companies like Chris Tomlin, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mandisa, and Matt Redman who works for Sparrow Records which is owned by EMI the same company responsible for “artists” such as: Joss Stone, The Sex Pistols, Twista, The Rolling Stones (until 2008), and my favorite band Radiohead. EMI is also the distributor of sixstepsrecords music the company owned by Louie Giglio  that distributes all of the Passion conference’s music and the David Crowder Band’s record label. Gospel music is employed by the same employers of the rappers the gospel artists criticize for promoting violence; Christian artist praise God while taking a paycheck from the same company that pays the secular artist singing about everything Christians are known for turning their noses up at. I wonder why Christians view this as acceptable.
                Before I continue my digression on the greed of Christian businesses; my point is that as the secular music industry has settled for mediocrity, the Christian music industry followed suit. Instead of hiring talented songwriters like Rich Mullen, it began to settle for pretty faces or great gimmicks instead of real God honoring talent that actually does exist out there; I have seen it all over. There are Christians out there with real talent, with real creativity ready to take the Christian music industry beyond its lackluster current state and into a state of actual goodness. Shane Claiborne wrote on his blog on “As a friend of mine quipped: “All these Christian artists say, ‘God gave me this song,’ and then you listen to it and know why God gave it away.” I later learned that Christian art doesn’t have to be a mediocre counterfeit of the original.”(Taken from The Christian Industrial Complex) His point is that Christians should not be slowly following the trends society creates, but be so enveloped in God that His creativity becomes our own. “Music is supposed to inspire…” Lauryn Hill said in 1998 “…how come we ain’t getting no higher?” Her point being if it’s real music we wouldn’t remain the way we are. True music is creative and with it reveals an intimate moment with the creator and eventually the Creator. Where are this musical innovators like Bob Dylan, Lauryn Hill, and Arcade Fire? Well they are actually all on tour at the moment; the real question is when are Christians going to start innovating I suppose. The answer is easy.
                The innovators of Christian music are here, among us. They aren’t hiding anywhere, they just aren’t as financially beneficial as mediocre artists are, therefore they will not get the media attention and must be searched for. Typically the mediocre is promoted and thus it is easier for us to find. Yet, last night I was at a concert in a Church of Christ of all places and I was amazed by the sheer artistry this band displayed. From the jazz guitar solo, to the cello solo, or the cellist putting down her cello to pick up her keytar, or the music hiding in the silence just before the singers voice broke through to begin the chorus all over again. I was greatly impressed. I was shocked first-of-all because this was a group that was sold at a Christian bookstore, so I was expected corny love songs for Jesus, you have heard the kind I am describing the ones that take Song of Songs to the extreme and make one uncomfortable as if you are flirting with your Lord and Savior because He save you the damsel in distress.  Yet instead I was invited into a worship experience that used almost liturgical lyrics that described real tangible pain and suffering and death, yet glorified God for the healing and restoration and resurrection that only He can bring. The band – Gungor. The album – “Beautiful Things”. I was amazed and wondered why there weren’t more groups like this, but there are innovators in Christian music as much as I doubt him Steven Curtis Chapman’s last album “Beauty Will Rise” was actually pretty amazing, taken from dark circumstances it was so brilliantly written at points I was on the verge of tears listening to the agonizing conversation he was having with his Father. The David Crowder Band is amazing (even if they are distributed by EMI). Sufjan Stevens is an indie artist that happens to be a Christian making real music on his own making his own rules as he goes. Phil Wickham, Jon Foreman, John Mark McMillan, Sara Groves, Derek Webb, Will Reagan, JJ Heller, Jenny & Tyler, Jesus Culture, the list goes on(I know it is short on women but that isn’t because women aren’t talented musicians but because Christians as a whole are less likely to support Christian female artists and thus they are few and far between). The new trend Christian music is beginning to follow is the indie music trend, becoming independent of major labels has been great for real artists that are Christians. Such as NoiseTrade a website founded by Derek Webb that offers music for as cheap as free.
                The real problem here is not musicians and singers selling out, but with Christians who support them because “I’d rather give my money to ____ than those rappers encouraging mindless violence.” Sure, supporting ____ is better than supporting Twista, but by buying a ____ album you are indirectly supporting Twista anyway. And supporting mediocrity only encourages it to continue. Parents know that cheering for their toddler when he/she pees on the floor won’t make them want to use the toilet. Dog owners know that giving a dog a treat for biting them will only encourage the dog to keep on biting them. We as consumers need to either retrain the Christian music industry with the way we spend or just give up all hope on it and just turn to the secular community to provide us entertainment and hope God will edit it for us.  Or I suppose we could pray they all go Indie. While we are at it we should pray the Church goes Indie too, independent from the lobbying it does for politicians and businesses that truly have no interest in Jesus or advancing His Kingdom.
                There is hope for Praise and Worship music, we are that hope. Our Christian brethren or sister-en with musical gifts that aren’t afraid to make good music that glorifies God, even if that means still having a day job. That hope is the DCBand, Gungor, Sara Groves. That hope is Jesus the ultimate Creator. So let’s make some real music?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Audition Next Week

Next week I am auditioning for a choir for the summer. I have to audition with a folk song so I picked one of my favorite spirituals There is a Balm in Gilead. In looking up the lyrics I found what a deep and powerful song it really is. It is a Negro spiritual so all of its lyrics have double meanings, but its overall meaning is universal. Read them for yourself:

There is a Balm in Gilead 
To make the wounded whole
There is a Balm in Gilead 
To heal the sin-sick soul

Sometimes I feel discouraged
And think my work's in vain
But then the Holy Spirit 
Revives my soul again

If you cannot preach like Peter
If you cannot pray like Paul
You can tell the world of Jesus
And say He died for all

I loved the lyrics so much, but I felt that the alternate verse wasn't quite right so I kind of -re-wrote them, and by "kind of" I mean I did. Here is the verse I altered. The first part is the same but the rest I changed:

If you cannot sing like angels
If you cannot calm the seas
Remember God in His goodness
Sent Jesus Christ to thee

Hmmm... I don't know if I like it or will sing it next week, but who knows. Love y'all. I will post another article soon I hope tell y'all I made it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

On Crying...

You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me.
–Psalms 56:8-9
                As a boy I was told that real men don’t cry, but that the shortest verse in Bible was “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). I figure that people lied to me, because Jesus most certainly was a real man and a manly man if any man can truly be manly. So that meant that real man can and do cry. I figured they just don’t in public. In my mind tears are like a cleansing rain for your soul, without them your soul will stay dirty and gross. I am very in-touch with my emotions and I am not shy about expressing them one bit; if I feel the need to scream and yell I will, if I need to laugh I laugh with reckless abandon, if I am happy you will see me smile and dancing about, and if I need to cry I will. I have learned the power of crying, not power as in something that will get things done outwardly but that inward release. I don’t go around crying all the time, it is only whipped out when necessary, I don’t cleanse my soul every five seconds like a housewife who just loves to scrub the tub so much that the paint starts coming off. But when I see injustice being celebrated as justice, I cry, when I see children suffering intolerable cruelties at the hands of adults who know better, I cry, when I think about all of the goodness of the Lord and how He made a way for me to walk in freedom and dignity instead of in sorrow and despair, I cry. I cry for joy at the sight of orphans being adopted and welcomed into their new “forever families”. Laughing through tears is a rather enjoyable experience; I love it because it reminds me how God can turn mourning into dancing, and sorrow into joy in the morning (Psalm 30:5, 11a) I think everyone should spend more time crying, not a lot, just more than they do. Crying is good for you, it allows you to release those pent up emotions, mostly ones you are afraid of dealing with.
                For me crying also is vulnerability, it leaves you open. Some of my best moments with God have come after tears (one or two after I was yelling at Him, but that doesn’t happen often). In relationships with people crying in-front of others (when it is appropriate) always seems to deepen a relationship. After someone has cried on your shoulder you will automatically feel closer to them. Sure, science has proven that it’s because tears have hormones in them that cause our bodies to want to be more compassionate to crying people, but before science ruined the mystery we just knew that crying brings people together. Even on the playground when another kid starts crying before a mom or dad comes to pick up the child, the other kids surround them and ask “What’s wrong” or “Are you okay?” In the same way crying causes our brothers and sisters in Christ to ask about us, to look after us. It reinforces our community of faith before the Father comes to pick us up and make our “boo-boos” better.  It is sad but sometimes the only way to wake up our fellow believers is tears, keep in mind the prophet Jeremiah was a “weeping prophet”.
                To sum up my rant on crying, I leave you with the words of Jesus “Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.”(Luke 6:21b) I love that crying isn’t where it all ends, but where the joy actually begins. Not only does joy come in the morning, but the joy is encouraged by the tears, like rain brings life to plants, tears give joy the momentum to enter in your life (At least in my mind). If you find yourself in a state of emotional constipation, let it all out with a good cry.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Who do you follow?

I am currently reading a book co-authored by my favorite living Christian author Shane Claiborne and his mentor John Perkins called Follow Me To Freedom in it they ask the reader to list some of the people that they follow. I am a book lover and somewhat hate writing in books, so I am posting this list on my blog...because its my blog and I can do what I want. I would list Jesus on this list but that would just be lame and tacky(although I do follow Jesus) so here is the best of the rest of my list.

1. Shane Claiborne - This kind of goes without saying, but he is one of my favorite authors, I love how he practices what he preaches. He doesn't just say "Help the poor", he gets on his hands and knees and gets to work, and lives among those whom he wants to help. I also love his humility, he never takes credit for anything but always gives God the glory. I wish I could be more like that.

2. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove- I love JWH,  he is such a great writer and very down to earth. I love that he is very human and personable, he doesn't distance himself from people.

3. Phil Wickham - I have this secret dream that one day I will wake up and be Phil Wickham. But seriously I wish I could be half the worship leader that Phil is. He is a professional at getting out of the way and yet still leading people in worship, while maintaining a humble attitude.

4. Dr. Roger Olsen - Read his book Questions to All Your Answers, and you will follow him too.

5.MLK- Yes, I am putting up Martin Luther King Jr. I love MLK, not just for his civil rights activism. But the man could preach a good word. Don't believe me? Go and read some of his transcribed sermons. Amazing stuff.

6. Dorothy Day - A Catholic woman who leaves a life a privilege to serve the poor and live in the inner-city. She dropped out of college and moved to NYC refused to live off oh her parents money and supported herself. She was a bohemian then in 1927 joined the Catholic church. In the 1930's she started the Catholic Worker Newspaper. She advocated for women's rights, birth control, and free love, yet maintained opposition to the sexual revolution. What a woman.

7.  The Bobo Spiritual Life Staff - Go to Baylor and meet them, you will love them all.

8. Brooke Fraser - I love Brooke, she is a great musician and artist that doesn't sacrifice actual music just to sell a few more albums. Every bit of her heart is poured into her music, because she sees everything she does as an offering to God.

9.  My friends - Yes, when I ask for advice I am asking for you to lead...sometimes. Maybe.

Well, that's all I can think of at the moment. Yes I am leaving it at 9. Yes it is not an even number. muhahaha (that is a sinister laugh, I learned it from a friend of mine).