You’re Right, Congress. Corporations Need More Control

In the ancient hallways of bad ideas that litter our history, SOPA/PIPA has to rank up there as one of the worst ideas since people started thinking. This expands government’s control to censor the internet and violates free speech. And since lobbyists from major corporations and industries essentially control Congress, these two bills give those with the deepest pockets the ability to control what we can or cannot see on the internet.

In a nutshell, these bills will enable corporations to effectively shut down websites that they believe are infringing their copyrights and trademarks. All they have to do is file notice (not prove to a court, but simply file notice) that their copyright has been infringed to a service provider, such as the one which registers their web address on the internet, and that entity has 5 days to take action to end service to the site.

There is plenty more information out about these two bills. Some good ones can be found hereherehere, and here. Check them out! Also, my friend Frank has a great commentary on it here.

If you want to see what the world looks like 20 years down the road if these bills get passed… read George Orwell’s 1984.

That may seem like hyperbole, and usually hyperbole is a good bet with me… but not this time.

Please, please, please contact your local representative and tell him/her that this is the exact antithesis to the 1st Amendment. The government’s goal should be to end piracy, not free speech.

That’s my rant for today. Necessary.

Also, did anyone else see that Mitt Romney called his $374,000 from speaking fees “not a lot of money”. Hope you enjoy your 1% of the vote.


Music Monday: Indigo Girls Edition

I got the new Indigo Girls album late last week and haven’t gotten too much of a chance to listen to it… yet.

But in that spirit, this week’s Music Monday is brought to you by the Indigo Girls.

Here are some of their past favorites. If you aren’t familiar with their music, these are the ones to be familiar with.

Closer to Fine — This song gets stuck in my head at the most random times. And I’m never sad about that.

Galileo — Great harmonies!

Secure Yourself — Probably my favorite song of theirs.

Power of Two  

Bonus: Love’s Recovery (Live w/ Sarah McLachlan) — The very first blog I ever had was named after this song. So good.

What’s your favorite Indigo Girls song? Which of these spoke to you?

Next week’s Music Monday will be a special concert edition! I’m seeing the Avett Brothers next Friday so I’ll be posting some of my favorites of theirs.

Hope you all enjoyed the music and have a wonderful, music-filled Monday.


Q&A with Mat Kearney

In the latest issue of Relevant Magazine, one of their writers sat down with singer-songwriter Mat Kearney to talk about his new album “Young Love”. Kearney has always had a unique blend of spoken word rhyming over his acoustic musings that have covered all manner of topics, including a lot about his faith. As you’ll read, his latest album has been his most personal endeavor and a worthwhile buy, if nothing else for his extremely catchy single “Hey Mama” and some other solid tracks. Without further ado, here’s the interview.

RM: You got married last summer. How did finding love and starting this new journey in your life impact you as an artist?

MK: Definitely as a muse. A lot of songs were written about us and our journey. When you decide to enter into a relationship like that, you learn your inconsistencies and your faults; it brings out a lot of different stuff about family and your own shortcomings. There are a lot of songs that came out of that. Just two people trying to connect, and two people trying to deal with themselves, and where they fall short and where they succeed. That’s what Young Love is about.

RM: What particular songs on Young Love are you really excited about?

MK: “Hey Mama” was a really exciting one because it helped spear the record. Instead of making a traditional singer-songwriter record, that song happened when I sat down and I was stomping and clapping. I made this groove with claps and this 808 and I started dancing around the room writing this song about meeting my wife. It really helped direct the record into the more program-y, more beat-driven direction. But then again [there’s a song called] “Ships In the Night” that I love. Probably the last song is really important to me. It’s called “Rochester,” and it’s this song I wrote about my family and my grandfather and my dad. It’s probably the most personal song I’ve ever written.

RM: That closing song seems whimsical and larger than life, but it’s obviously very intimate and personal to you. What prompted you to share that story about your family?

MK: I’m actually named Matthew William Kearney, my middle name is named after my grandfather. My grandfather raised my dad in Rochester, N.Y., and he had a fake cigar shop and he ran an illegal gambling ring out of the back of it. So my father had to live through that, and then the mob came to town when my dad was a freshman. They put my grandfather out of business because he was taking their business. So my dad had to live through that. And then he followed Pink Floyd through Europe for a while, then he became a lawyer. He moved to Hawaii where he was a deckhand on a boat and he met my mother—who was a mermaid on a glass-bottom boat. They were married and moved to Oregon, so I guess it’s this crazy story that’s better than you could make up. I sat down on this album and I said: “I’m going to only write songs that are within an arm’s reach. I’m not going to, like, write songs. I’m going to tell my story, and I’m going to tell the story of those around me.” The song ends with my father flushing a quarter pound of hash down the toilet as he’s looking at my older brother. It really kind of helped shape what I’ve become. I don’t know, it was obvious. I don’t know what I’ve never written it before, but all of a sudden I sat down with my guitar and it happened. It’s all true though, that’s the funny part. I didn’t make up any of that stuff.

RM: You tend to favor a storytelling approach when it comes to the topic of faith in your songs. Why is that?

MK: I think it’s part of the arena that I’m in. The arena I’ve kind of been placed in is this pop-culture market. I think the way I love talking about my faith is through my story because I think that’s all we have to work with sometimes. I think it’s the most moving way to share your story, too—is what you know, what you’ve seen, and heard, and tasted and felt. For me that’s always been a way—I’m just telling you what I know, and seen and heard, and there’s really no arguing with that. There’s power in that. For me, maybe it’s the path of least conflict or it’s the way that I’ve fallen into, but it’s what I’ve always done, ever since I started writing in high school. I’ve always kind of started in a story and jumped to these bigger metaphysical ideas in the daily, mundane things of trying to not fight with your girlfriend or something.

What’s next for you? When would you get back in the studio again?

MK: Hopefully not too soon. You’ve got to take time to live and breathe so you have something to write about so it’s coming from a genuine place. If there’s anything I learned on this record it’s that the songs that come out of life, that really resonate from the deepest places in you, are the ones that seem to stand up. The problem is there’s got to be some time for those songs to come; you can’t force them to come. They come as you listen, and meditate and pray, and wait for those songs, really. That’s the challenging part of what I do. You can’t just show up 9-5 and are guaranteed that a good song comes. Some of the songs fall out of the sky—they existed before I had it.

I really dig his down-to-earth approach to being an artist and the whole creative process. Have you heard Mat Kearney’s new disc? What do you think of it? If you haven’t, what do you like about his old stuff? If you haven’t heard of him, click on that link up there and check him out and get back to me.


You’re Losing Us

So I’ve been working on my thesis for the Children, Youth and Family program at Luther these past few weeks. It’s getting to be crunch time (due on the 29th) but I can’t stop watching this video. It works into a lot of the issues surrounding ministry with youth and I wanted to share it for people who haven’t seen it yet. It’s pretty intense. Also I’ve been listening to a lot of Scala & Kolacny Brothers lately so that could have to do with my dark perceptions of it. But it’s definitely worth watching.

Check it out.

Any thoughts? What part stuck out to you the most?


How (Not) To Speak of an Earthquake

I’ve forgotten long ago why we keep giving him credence in American public discourse, but Glenn Beck spoke up again. This time, in his ignorance, he said that the earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis were works of God. On his radio show this past Monday, Beck said:

“I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes — well I’m not not saying that either! What God does is God’s business, I have no idea. But I’ll tell you this — whether you call it Gaia* or whether you call it Jesus, there’s a message being sent. And that is, ‘Hey you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.'”

Really? Is this really an accurate portrayal of the God we serve? When we act with the agency given to us by God, we are then punished for how we do it? Do we really believe that this is how God lives and moves in the world? God won’t save a mother from cancer, or a nation from hunger… but will cause an earthquake that irreparably destroys the life and livelihood of entire communities?

I have to imagine there’s a better way. And I have Skye Jethani to thank for helping articulate it. In a recent response, he says:

“Is the Japanese earthquake and tsunami an ‘opportunity for the church’ as some have said? Yes, but not the selfish sort of opportunity. It is an opportunity for the church to weep and repair; to be the hands and feet of Christ to those who need his healing presence.”

For me, these two quotes represent the difference between brokenness and redemption. It’s the difference between “I know why this happened and God did it.” and “I don’t know why this happened, but God can redeem it.”

There’s no way we could ever know why suffering happens. But there is a way we can respond to it. Right now the Japanese people don’t need our judgment and condemnation. They need our love and service. is giving you the chance to donate $5 to the American Red Cross and they will match it.


* Beck grossly misuses the name Gaia in his rant. Gaia is an ancient Greek goddess who represents Mother Earth. It has no associations in Asian or Japanese mythology. Just because it sounds Asian, doesn’t mean it is.

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