I’m A Fan, Fridays!

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Okay, so here’s a great example of why I think it’s an amazing time to be alive right now.  We are connected in ways we never dreamed we’d be 15- 20 years ago.  Facebook, Twitter, et al, have given us ways to share things that really have an impact on our lives–  news in an instant, pictures and video of family members and friends, and art, wonderful works of art.

I found this band completely by surprise while scrolling around my cousin’s Facebook page the other day.  This is a cousin I see once or twice a year and wish I knew better, but thanks to technology, I can catch a glimpse (a very small one and no substitute for actual face time, I know) of what she’s into and what’s going on with her.

So, thanks to Lisa and our connection through Facebook, I found this great song by a terrific band called, Dawes.  You’ve got some pretty good taste, kid!

Take some time and listen to the lyrics.  It’s some really great song writing in the classic tradition of Jackson Browne and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Have yourself a great Friday and enjoy!

___

Follow Scott on Twitter: @scotylang

People say I’m a dreamer… I hope I’m not the only one.

lovehateI think it’s an amazing time to be alive; I really do.  The ability we have to be connected to one another is unprecedented in our history.  We can tweet and text and facebook all over the globe, catching each other up on our kids’ activities and growth, or simply share news articles about information.

We can send funny videos of cats playing the piano to our friends, or pictures with witty captions to our contacts.  We even have the ability to share pictures of the tossed salad we’re currently enjoying in New York with someone special in Nebraska or Dublin.

As it happens with everything in life, with all of the good comes some not so good, even some down right bad.  Looking at social media, lately, it’s hard not to notice just how mean we can be to each other, and I wonder why that is.

I’ve read articles, seen news stories and heard people offer explanations as to why:  We want to be right about things; we have the time and ability on these various platforms to craft just the right zinger so that we can feel superior; we can hide behind our computer screen and not fully have to deal with confrontation. These reasons, and others, make sense to me, but leave me feeling somewhat deflated.

Not long ago, I heard on the radio that 72% of Americans believe in God these days, which is down from 84%.  Now, 72% isn’t such a bad percentage, politicians would kill for such approval ratings, but the fact that the numbers are dropping says something about what we’re going through as a society.  What exactly does it say?  Well, I’m not exactly sure, but for me, when I look around, I see people of all races and beliefs who desperately desire deeds over words; they are seeking meaning in what is done and not so much in what is said.

In 1992, Bishop Desmond Tutu said, “God without you will not, as you without God cannot.”

When I think about the teachings of Jesus, I am intrigued and constantly challenged by the message that the Kingdom Of God is upon us, and we are called to participate with God in bringing it in.  To me, that means that we cannot simply wait around for God to magically take away the troubles and injustice.  It will never happen that way.  The days of wandering in the wilderness are over! There is a path before us, and we must take it!

We have, everyone of us, been made in the image and likeness of God.  That means that we have intimate access to what God is centrally about, to what God is–

LOVE

We are called, by whatever tradition of faith you subscribe to, (and, even if you subscribe to no faith tradition at all, we know it in our very makeup) to love one another.  To love and to be loved is what we all seek.

I, myself, am a Christian.  For me, when I want to know what God is like, what a life filled with God is like, I see that in Jesus.  For Christians as a whole, Jesus is the divine revelation of God.  When we look at Jesus, we see love in action; we see God in action.

Maybe you’re not a Christian.  Maybe you think “religion” is the root of all that’s wrong with our country right now.  To be honest, I believe you could make a very strong argument for that case, and, based on religion’s sketchy at best track record, I don’t blame you for a second.

But, what if, in this second chance moment, we put all that aside.

What if we were to put aside all of our present conceptions of what it means to “get it right” and concentrated solely on being “God-like”?–On being “Love-like.”

What would happen if we poured all of our energies, all of our purpose and all of our day to day efforts into being love in action?

What if we were God in action?  What would this world be like?

I have an idea of how it would be, and so do you, when you take the time to think about it; when you take the time to dream about it.

I don’t need you to be like me.  I don’t need you to think the way I think.  In fact, that would bore me to tears.  But, I do need you to dream.  I need you to hope, and I need you to remind me how to love.  We can remind each other, if you’re game to try.

I believe, despite everything, that we’re close.  We’re closer than we’ve ever been! Can you imagine?

“People say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.  I hope someday you’ll join us.  And the world will be as one.”

These words from the great John Lennon resonate with me, still. They lift me up and shake me, as great art can.  I hope I can muster up the courage to keep on dreaming so that some day, we’ll all be able to see the dream become reality.

How Phil Robertson and Carrie Underwood gave me my best Christmas present of 2013

1phil-robertsonI love the giving and receiving of Christmas gifts.  This year was no exception.  My wife and I have been married long enough to know it’s probably best to ask each other what we want, so there’s not a whole lot of surprise there. But occasionally we surprise each other in the way we give the gifts.

Maybe I’ll put a small gift in a big box as a disguise.  Sometimes, my wife will leave me a couple of notes on a short scavenger hunt to shake things up.  We try to make it fun.

Most years, in addition to giving each other what we’ve asked for, we try to surprise each other with something small that we don’t see coming.  I like those types of gifts.  I like small, surprising gifts.  They can mean a great deal, especially when you don’t see them coming.

This Christmas, I got a couple of those gifts and neither one of them were from my wife.  They were from Phil Robertson and Carrie Underwood.

Okay, I’ll explain.

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If you’ve just returned from a two month trip to Mars, you may not be aware that country singer Carrie Underwood played the lead role of Maria in The Sound Of Music in a live production on NBC.  A few people had opinions.

If you’ve just landed, you also may not know that the Mike Brady of the new millennium, Phil Robertson, the patriarch of A&E’s Duck Dynasty, said a few things that caused some controversy.  A few people had opinions.

Anyone who saw The Sound Of Music or heard about the Robertson GQ interview had a reaction; some kept it to themselves, but many people went to Facebook and Twitter to put in their two cents, using either Carrie’s performance or Phil’s opinions as an English Comp-type writing prompt.  I did the same, posting a couple of things on my own social media platforms, commenting on others, and sharing posts of other writers with those who come to my feeds.  I also read a whole lot from other people, and between writing my own posts and reading dozens of other people’s thoughts, I realized how important it is for me to respond to everything in love.

It surprised me how quickly I can forget that.

Some folks were just downright mean and nasty, and neither side can claim total innocence on that point.  When I saw how one side or the other was reacting on the web, I, too, got riled up.  What I learned, though, is that I don’t like myself when I don’t consider what I say or write before I say or write it.  If I say or write something before doing my best to check in with how it’s going to land, not only will my words not have the effect of persuasion or real change that I might have intended, they could really do some damage.

The gift I received was a reminder that relationships and my character are far more important than getting in a jab at someone so that I can feel like I’ve gotten one up one them; that really does no good, in the end.

I want to be clear.  I want to make my points.  I want my voice to be heard.  But, I also want to resolve to do those things without feeling the need to be so hurtful.

This doesn’t mean that I’m expecting us all to hop into Michael’s rowboat and sing “Kum Ba Ya” any time soon.  I just think we could all be a bit nicer to one another, that’s all. Here’s hoping!

Oh, and by the way, my wife surprised me this Christmas with a brilliant new wallet.  I love it!