Music Monday: What I’ve Been Listening To

So I have gotten away from the Music Monday bits, but I’m bringing it back with a whole mess of new music. I’ve been listening to all kinds of new stuff and wanted to share some of it with you. I’m always in the mood for some new music so you should share what you’ve been listening to as well. I’d love to hear it.

That being said, here are the 5 songs I’ve been listening to non-stop over the last few weeks.

1) “I Hurt Too” by Katie Herzig

2) “My Sweet Dream” by Greg Laswell

3) “Volkswagen” by Griffin House

4) “Teenage Dream” by The Rescues

5) “Start A War” by The National

So there you have it. I hope this gave you a few new songs or at least revitalized some old ones you hadn’t heard in awhile. What have you been listening to in the past week? Be sure to drop a comment so I can get some new music too! Next week will be Music Monday: The Graduation Edition in honor of my graduation from seminary this weekend!

Until then…

Cheers,
Eric

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Susan Cain on the Power of Introverts

There was a great TED talk I stumbled upon, and subsequently a great book I began reading, about a new wave of study into introversion — the often referenced and disdained disposition that is most often confused with shyness or social awkwardness. Susan Cain is on a crusade to debunk these myths and create a new way of viewing introverts in light of what they contribute, not what they lack. She makes some great points in the talk and her book is an in-depth look at our American culture which, according to Cain, has come to view the overly-social extrovert personality type as the preferred norm. Check out the TED talk below. Check out her book. They’re both wonderful.

What stuck out to you in her presentation? What new insights did you gain? If you enjoyed this presentation, I would highly recommend picking up her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Cheers,
Eric

3 Things I Learned From “Where the Wild Things Are”

“I said anything I wanted because I don’t believe in children.
I don’t believe in childhood. I don’t believe that there’s a demarcation.
‘Oh you mustn’t tell them that. You mustn’t tell them that.’
You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it’s true.
If it’s true you tell them.”  – Maurice Sendak

I woke up this morning to Steve Inskeep on NPR’s Morning Edition telling me that Maurice Sendak had passed away. Immediately I felt an unexpected, and perhaps unwarranted, bit of sadness. Where the Wild Things Are was, hands down, my favorite book growing up. I wanted it read every night. I learned to read with that book only because I had it memorized and could see what the different words looked like on a page.

As I’ve spent the morning thinking about it, I think I felt so sad because the person who created something so sacred and meaningful for me is gone. And that sucks. But, luckily for everyone who will ever live and read from now to eternity, the books survive even though the author does not.

So here are three of the many lessons I learned from Maurice Sendak, via Max and the Wild Things.

1) A good imagination is one of the most important things in the world.

This is one I still think about on at least a weekly basis. The importance of imagination cannot be overlooked. All of these events — the island, the wild things, the rumpus — took place within Max’s imagination. That kind of imagination can move mountains. Imagination is the source of all invention and innovation. I’m typing this on my Macbook, which wouldn’t exist, if not for an incredible imagination. Imagination is the power that enables us to empathize with humans — or wild things — whose experiences we have never shared. Imagination is essential for our survival.

2) Even the brave and courageous need love too.

I remember thinking how awesome it was when Max looked the Wild Things straight in their eyes and didn’t blink once. That’s the kind of guy I wanted to be. One who didn’t need anyone, but could stare monsters in the face and not blink. But then, when I was reading this to a pre-schooler while I was in college, a different part stuck out to me. “And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” Even though I fell into the trap of thinking I could be an island, there’s still something missing if you are a king, but have no one with whom you can give and receive love.

3) At the bridge between childhood and adulthood, the best thing you can say is, “Let the wild rumpus start!”

My mom used to always let me say this part when we were reading this through as a kid. When I heard the page leading up to it I would stand up on my bed in anxious anticipation. (Keep in mind this was when I was around 4. This wasn’t last year or anything.) And when those words “‘And now’, cried Max” came out, I would throw both hands in the air and look at the ceiling and yell “Let the wild rumpus start!” Believe me, it was awesome.

When I was standing with my brother getting ready to walk down the aisle at my wedding last summer, we looked at each other and I said, “Well, let the wild rumpus start,” and headed down the aisle. I think it’s one of the best attitudes you can have. Yeah, things will always be a little crazy and won’t be 100% controllable. Some things will go well and some things won’t. But jumping in with both feet is the only way to go.

So, even though it’s with a bit of sadness that I write this today, the news that Maurice Sendak has died is eclipsed by better news than we could ever want: Maurice Sendak lived.

Cheers,
Eric

A New Way to Think About Vocation

Recently I’ve been watching quite a few of the videos from The Work of the People. They’re a wonderful community of artists, storytellers, people of faith who gather from all corners of the religious spectrum to share stories and communicate in very meaningful ways. You should definitely check them out when you get a chance. But there was one in particular that really stuck out to me.

Miroslav Volf always seems to have some good bits of wisdom or some interesting questions to reflect on. In the video that I found, he answers a critical question that I think we, as people of faith, must answer if we are still going to matter to future generations. That question is, “What breaks your heart?”

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/37749858]

I think we could look at this question as a new and different way of defining vocation. Theologian Frederick Buechner said that vocation is where “your greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” It’s not a bad definition. But what if we spoke of vocation by asking “What breaks your heart?” And then the ever-important follow up — “What can you do about it?”

So what breaks my heart? The idea that people can be treated as less-than-human, second or third class citizens, because of how they were born. It absolutely breaks my heart. Sickens me beyond all belief. Things like sex-trafficking, acts of racism, sexism, classism, and all the other “isms” out there are so far gone from how we ought to be treating each other that it absolutely breaks my heart. I can’t believe that some people have the opinion that it is their God-given entitlement to have more than everyone else. It sickens me.

So what can I do about it? Well. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. As of right now…

  • I’m a pastor in a church and seeking to lead a community in ways that try to identify injustice and disservice in our communities (and in Arizona, there are a lot), and then try to do what I/we can to right them.
  • I’ve been getting involved with Christians for Biblical Equality. They’re a great organization and there are many others out there that are doing some great things.
  • I’m reading all I can about peacemaking, justice, and things along those lines.
  • I’m always looking for more ways to be involved with people and organizations who are doing good things like this.

I always feel like my job will be addressing these kinds of inequalities and injustices wherever that is or whatever it looks like. I doubt it will always look like a pastor in a parish. Right now it does, but it might not always look like that.

So what breaks your heart? What kinds of stories infuriate you? What are you passionate about?

and the always-essential follow-up…

What are you doing about it? What can you do about it?

Leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you all are doing to make the world a better place. I know some of you who are doing some great work. What breaks your heart? Drop by and leave a comment. I’d love to hear about your passions.

Cheers,
Eric

I’m Back From Hiatus!

Well, it’s been a few weeks, but I’m glad to be back. I’ve been away finishing up the last bits of my Master of Divinity degree — graduation in 18 days! — along with all the other stuff of being in a church during the Easter season. I am back into writing mode though and will have some new stuff popping up on the blog. I hope there are some of you who won’t see that as a bad thing.

I’ve also been doing a bit of research and brainstorming for some writing projects for the next couple years so I might have something coming down the pipe in that form as well. It’s an exciting time. But now that the heat of a summer in Arizona is setting in, I should be able to find more time to engage in some more the things that I care about the most: ministry, technology, and changing the world.

It’s good to be back! Have a great day!

Cheers,
Eric

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