Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Second Belize Mission Trip Video

Here's a second video I made for the mission trip. Some of it is the same as the first, but I added more interviews and more footage.

T-Man: Gratis Insurrection

Here's a video made for a video production class. Apologies for the terrible quality at times; one of the cameras had bad film.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Teaching of Truth

Beth and I have been reading "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis. Here's an interesting and good quote from it:

"If we were as diligent in uprooting vices and planting virtues as we are in debating abstruse questions, there would not be so many evils or scandals among us.... Certainly, when Judgment Day comes we shall not be asked what books we have read, but what deeds we have done; we shall not be asked how well we have debated, but how devoutly we have lived."

I love this. Now, I'm not trying to throw out the baby with the bath water--debate is good, when it is true to its definition. Reading is good. Debate, questioning, reading, evaluating, --even DOUBTING!-- etc., is good when it helps us figure out the truth of the matter, when it helps us figure out how to live devoutly.

But I think sometimes in the realm of Christian society, some people place more merit on how well they can debate Calvinism vs. Arminianism rather than on how well they love other people, how well they obey God, and etc. I mean, I do this.

Debate is fun--especially when the purpose is to assist us in figuring out how on earth we can love God more, how we can live in obedience to God, how we can love other people more. But if we place our ability to debate and to argue over how well we live our lives, I think we're missing the mark somewhere.

Believe me, I'm working on this too.

The White Stripes - "Conquest"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Give thanks--then, GIVE RICE

This may be corny, but I think it's pretty cool.

Improve your vocabulary, and while you do, you'll be donating food to people in need.


Happy Thanksgiving guys!

And guess what----I got the job! :-D

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Let's See How Far We've Come

We've heard it all before. Musicians and others with these dystopian songs about how everything is going down the drain. Most recently to do this is the band Matchbox 20, with their song, "How Far We've Come." The lyrics to the chorus include:

But I believe the world is burning to the ground
oh well I guess we're gonna find out
let's see how far we've come
let's see how far we've come
Well I, believe, it all, is coming to an end
oh well, I guess, we're gonna pretend,
let's see how far we've come
let's see how far we've come

Another lyric says:

I sat down on the street, took a look at myself
said where you going man you know the world is headed for hell

I know you've heard me on this topic before, but I always get so ticked off when people sing about and talk about this sort of pessimism that everything is falling apart.

I heard somewhere that throughout the generations, two things have remained true:
-The world is constantly getting better.
-Everybody thinks it's getting worse.

And I really agree with that. How is the world worse off than it was 10 years ago? 50 years? 100 years? 500 years? All I can see are VAST improvements through the generations. Life expectancy is going up almost everywhere, there are cures for diseases that once plagued us, more people are being fed than ever. Thanks to the internet and other forms of communication, people all around the world are able to get the knowledge and information they need. People get more information in one newspaper today than someone did in their WHOLE LIFE 300 years ago.

We still have strides to take before everyone is being fed, and poverty ends. But I believe we're getting there. And we're getting there thanks to technological, scientific, and medical advances, and so on. Things are not worse off than before, we're just more aware of everything around us.

Yes, let's look at how far we've come. It's been a long way. But we have so much more ground to cover. I'm optimistic.


You won't regret this!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Amy Winehouse at the MTV Europe Awards

Now, I like Amy Winehouse alright, but this was just too funny to pass up. I think I can count the number of intelligible things she says on two hands. :-D

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Interview with the White Stripes

I was reading this article from Paste Magazine interviewing the White Stripes. I thought there was some pretty good stuff to it:

P You recently moved to Nashville from Detroit after having experienced a lot of jealousy and pettiness from other bands. Do you feel like that ordeal made you gun-shy about participating in Nashville’s music scene?

JW At this point, I don’t think either Meg or I want to be part of a music community in any sense. But I think that if there was one to be around, it would be the country-music community because they’re almost the complete opposite of hipster, underground, cynical garage rock—all that jazz. Country-music people aren’t obscurists in any sense. They’re of the moment. You don’t hear words like “sellout.” To them, it’s an achievement to be on the side of a billboard.

In Detroit, it was so tough to figure out what was happening to us compared to how everyone else was perceiving it. And I think this happens a lot. It happens to the folk artists that broke out—Dylan and Peter, Paul, and Mary, etc.—their scene. You can’t figure that out. Nobody can figure that out.

Who’s going to sit and decide whether you’re selling out to put your song on a video game as compared to, you know, performing live in front of people and charging them money for it. What’s the difference? Those battles take too much time.

I remember when Get Behind Me Satan was about to come out and we got offered to sell the record at Starbucks, and I remember a couple roundtable discussions with people we knew. It was sort of like, “Well, what do you think of that?” And I was there, and I don’t know. In one sense, I could care less where people buy stuff. What’s it matter? OK, you bought the record at McDonald’s, does that mean it’s no good? I highly doubt anyone in the country-music community gives a darntootin’ about being sold at a point-of-purchase at Wal-Mart. Who cares?

When you’re just trying to create and make music and perform, you shouldn’t have to worry about all that stuff. That just makes your job so much more difficult.


P It seems like the journalistic community is partially responsible for the cycle of building up rock stars and then ripping them down. Like a kid who makes a bunch of sand castles and then gleefully stomps all over them.

JW I’ve never understood it. I’ve always thought it was strange what happened with the underground and punk publications that really championed us when we were in our early days making seven inches. It just seemed like as soon as two other people heard of us they could care less. It’s ridiculous to champion underdogs and once they succeed to abandon them. That’s a whole lot different than building them up and knocking them down. There’s this abandonment that happens.

Where’s your sense of longevity with the things you love? If you abandon a band as soon as other people like them, then you don’t love it for the right reasons. You like music for identity. You have an identity problem. [laughs] That’s not loving music. Loving art for its own sake means you don’t care what people think—which is exactly what they’re supposedly standing for. Somebody explain that. I don’t get it, man.


P You mentioned dismantling your faith in organized religion, stripping all that stuff away, and finding your own path. What have you learned through that process?

JW I just think that everyday, whether it’s finding a good place to eat breakfast or reading a good book, you’re trying to experience beauty in some way whenever you get the chance. But I’m not looking for so-and-so’s opinion, not even my own opinion. I just want to know what the truth is. I mean that’s what I’m looking for. In my opinion, there’s no way God looks at things from 14 different angles. I see God as knowing only one truth, and that’s it. There’s no other opinion about it. And I want to know what that one truth is. Everyone can sit around and have their manly and earthly opinions about things, but I doubt there’s much debate going on in heaven. I’m trying to find whatever that singular truth is in any particular topic. It’s interesting because as humans we’re so stupid, there’s no way we can figure out most of these things. So the question makes for good protagonists and antagonists in stories. It creates those characters.

Doing good is good no matter the motivations

So Beth and I are trying to read the Bible regularly--something we NEED to do.

We started reading Philippians today, and we found some interesting verses:

Philippians 1:15-18
"It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwil. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."

I thought this was especially interesting. There was a discussion a few months ago in our Sunday School class, and a lot of the general thought was that any good done with selfish motivations was not good at all, but bad, and a detriment in fact. Beth and I disagreed with this sentiment. I mean, isn't all good done with a somewhat selfish motivation. And even if someone does good with COMPLETE selfish motivation,
the good that he did, whether helping build a house, or donating money to something, is still good that's done. Warren Buffet could have donated that 35 billion because he wanted to make himself look good, but that's his own problem. The 35 billion is still going to go to do good.

What do you think?


Friday, November 9, 2007

Bright Eyes - Alabama Theatre, Birmingham, AL

What a great night.

As I have mentioned in the past, Clay Leverett, my step-brother, has been touring with Bright Eyes during the fall. He's been having a blast.

Beth and I, two days ago, was able to see Bright Eyes in Birmingham, AL. However, unbeknown to us, Clay was able to get us backstage passes.

We arrived a couple hours before showtime, but Clay took us back to the tour bus where we hung out and chatted. While talking, Conor Oberst came onto the bus chatted a little as well. I will admit, there was a side of me that wanted to let him know how big of a fan I was and how incredible I thought he was, blah blah blah, but there was another side of me that (thankfully) wouldn't allow it. It would have been forced, and totally destroyed the calm, cool, and collected vibe I was desperately trying to emit. Beth did compliment Oberst's boots, and began a conversation about cowboys, rodeos, and etc.

Later, before the show started, Clay took us backstage and showed us around. Afterwards, he took us to ours seats--(THE SECOND ROW), and we watched away. The Felice Brothers, the first opening act, were great. They had this energy and quirkiness that was incredibly fun to watch.

Maria Taylor followed them (with help from Andy LeMaster), and it was a great performance.

Bright Eyes..... what can I say. It was phenomenal. Clay drummed and also provided background vocals. I have snippets of particular songs that should be going online today for you to check out. I was very disappointed with the recorded audio (because we were close to the front, the camera's audio from the show was overmodulated and distorted at times), but I may try to fix it and get out a second edit of all of the video. We'll see.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Craziness

Well, this week, although beginning relatively like any other week, has taken a rather strange turn.

I must say from the offset, I am just reporting this as a secondhand witness--I was there for none of it.

As I have mentioned in the past, Beth's work has been barraged by criminal activities, from stolen cars and vans, to stolen laptops, to people being held up at gunpoint. The last reference in particular was just a couple blogs ago, where one person (one of the thieves) was killed by the self-defense of a worker. In this particular robbery, one of the burglars got away.

As it turns out, this burglar that wasn't caught was one of the most wanted people in Clarkston and Dekalb County. He had already killed a woman in a bank robbery, killed another woman in a parking lot, beat up three men mowing and landscaping a lawn, and etc. Well, this past tuesday night he decided to steal an AK-47.

On Wednesday morning, this man set out to get his revenge on the non-profit organization (my wife and all employees included). He scouted out the area, and tried to get other people to help him out (offering them $100, by the way). Luckily, a witness to this was able to run over to where Beth's work and let them know. The powers called the police, and a group of police officers, FBI, and SWAT teams assembled. After tense hours, the SWAT team stormed the building he had hid in, and arrested him without a single shot being fired (either way).

Because of all the mayhem, the organization was closed on Thursday and Friday.

Please pray for everyone. People are shaken a little, but they're back at work this week. Right now people think everything has quieted and should remain that way.