Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ever So Slightly Behind Some Curve

So...I write a really cool piece on The Mountain Goats for Killing the Buddha, I tweet it, and hardly anyone pays me any mind. Then I tweet an only mildly funny word of despair concerning Smashmouth's cover of "Under Pressure" and myriad peoples take note. I remain unsure as to how to best broadcast these things. The Mountain goats deliciousness can be found here. I believe it speaks to all manner of interestingness. And I love how the album cover of The Life of the World to Come evokes (to my mind) the artwork on the final albums of Rich Mullins.
And perhaps now is as good a time as any to share a Paul Muldoon poem I copied out of a magazine. The last stanza helps me to just say No when I'm tempted to google myself. Enjoy.

A Second Hummingbird

Yet another money-man
With a finger in the till
At Flavor & Fragrance, my own
Not standing still

no less a stance
than his, the only grounds
for his existence
now being to make such rounds

and roundelays as mine, to touch
what I’ve come to see
as the raw nerve

in each of us, each
doomed to think himself ever so
slightly behind some curve.

--Paul Muldoon

Saturday, December 26, 2009

That Popular Feeling

You arrived as I was leaving
You were filled with that popular feeling
I could tell by the walk
I have heard about the walk

"Injured Bird"

Like the Invisible Man directing traffic
I'd be ineffective no matter how enthusiastic

"It Is What It Is"

I post the lyrics in the hope it will drive folks to access the songs and consider the life. He left us yesterday in Athens, Georgia under a rising tide of over $70,000 in medical bills. He's one for the ages. I'm reminded that we'd all do well to celebrate, champion, and lift up the voices of the geniuses we're given to discern while they're still with us.
Kristin Hersh remembers him here.
Some especially good conversations with the man are here and here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

History of Lights & Shadows

It's yours beginning with a click to the right. It's awfully good. It makes sense. Music feels a little like tapwater these days but it still does its business. Here's what you would have printed somewhere within the package if you were one of those people who procured or bought what they call "hard copy":
A History of Lights and Shadows
All songs written and performed by Sarah Masen 2007 except track 5, music by bulb words by sarah dark2007
All songs recorded by todd greene and tony doling at I’m going to kill you studios. Additional guitars and programming also by the mad duo. look these lovers up @ www.bulbmusic.com
one exception: track 6 was recorded by jon foreman at everybody to the limit studios in san diego, CA. the impossibly hopeful vocal arrangements were also jon’s masterful doing. I give him the Buddha bow.
It’s been years since I’ve done this. I have many people to thank. AHoLaS would not have happened without the kind and encouraging time of Todd and Rusti Greene and Anthony Doling. I would also like to thank David for all the time he gave me to get away on Monday nights and plenty of afternoons to stare into oblivion a little. This little project is dedicated to you. Thank you for loving me so well.
Much of the content of this ep came from reading George Eliot’s, Middlemarch.
track 1 TRY
But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.
track 2 LET’S KILL HIM
Some people did what their neighbors did so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.
With memory set smarting like a reopened wound, a man's past is not simply a dead history, an outworn preparation of the present: it is not a repented error shaken loose from the life: it is a still quivering part of himself, bringing shudders and bitter flavors and the tinglings of a merited shame.
track 4 SPEAK
Will not a tiny speck very close to our vision blot out the glory of the world, and leave only a margin by which we see the blot?
What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?
track 6 THE RIVER
I would not creep along the coast but steer out in mid-sea, by guidance of the stars.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Everything In Its Right Place THIS CHRISTMAS

I trust everyone understands that, from where I'm sitting, the way to go THIS Christmas when it comes to that relative/friend/associate with whom you want to take things to the next level conversationwise is toward this little fellow right here. There are of course some companion volumes with which one could complete the set. And if you're an absolute completist when it comes to the author's work and feel a little off kilter until you have everything, you'll want to spy his contribution in a fine volume called Radiohead and Philosophy: Fitter Happier More Deductive. It serves as an introduction to all manner of deliciousness philosophical and cultural and all that. My bit primarily treats Thom Yorke's Eraser project ("Start Making Sense: Witnessing to the Possibility of Witness"). One quasi-disclaimer. If you're someone who finds it difficult to give your attention to an argument, an image, or another person's voice once an expletive's been dropped, I will encourage you away from this volume, for now, and urge you to consider applying your offendedness more broadly (toward needless death, destruction, and hatefulness for instance...not that the deployment of blue language is never hateful). I have a number of items and scenes I'll mean to blog about in the next few days. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, I give you this poem I can't seem to get enough of:
Religion Comes

Religion comes from our pity for humans

They are too weak to live without divine protection.

Too weak to listen to the screeching noise of the turning of infernal wheels.

Who among us would accept a universe in which there was not one voice

Of compassion, pity, understanding?

To be human is to be completely alien amid the galaxies.

Which is sufficient reason for erecting, together with others, the temples of an unimaginable mercy.

--Czeslaw Milosz

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Description is Revelation

Description is revelation. It is not
The thing described, nor false facsimile.

It is an artificial thing that exists,
In its own seeming, plainly visible,

Yet not too closely the double of our lives,
Intenser than any actual life could be,

A text we should be born that we might read,
More explicit than the experience of sun

And moon, the book of reconciliation,
Book of a concept only possible

In description, canon central in itself,
The thesis of the plentifullest John.

Wallace Stevens, Collected Poetry and Prose, from "Description Without Place"

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Everything Is Broken

This was an extraordinarily good time that I only recently recalled is available as a recording online FOR FREE as people put it sometimes. It's all in the context of John McClure's course last Fall, Popular Music and Religious Identity. It's where Czeslaw Milosz and Jars of Clay and Paul Simon meet. It's me, Sarah, Cary Gibson, Stephen Mason, Charlie Lowell, Brian Ritchey, Katie Herzig, Matthew Perryman Jones, and sweet people a-plenty. A conversation that could've kept going and might yet and probably always is.
Anyhoo, for your edification, it's riiiiiiiight....here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Jesus is God’s ‘revelation’ in a decisive sense not because he makes a dimly apprehended God clear to us, but because he challenges and queries an unusually clear sense of God: not because he makes things plainer—on the ‘veil-lifting’ model of revelation—but because he makes things darker.
Rowan Williams (appropriated from Chris K. Huebner)

Monday, September 28, 2009

No such tales are told

America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its
people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged
to hate themselves.... It is in fact a crime for an
American to be poor, even though America is a nation
of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men
who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and
therefore more estimable than anyone with power and
gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They
mock themselves and glorify their betters.

- Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

There Is A Place Beyond Ambition

There is a Place Beyond Ambition

When the flute players couldn’t think of what to say next

they laid down their pipes,
then they lay down themselves
beside the river

and just listened.

Some of them, after a while,
jumped up
and disappeared back inside the busy town.

But the rest—
so quiet, not even thoughtful—
are still there,

still listening.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

God Bless...

Bless This Mess by David Bazan

god bless the man who stumbles
god bless the man who falls
god bless the man who yields to temptation
god bless the woman who suffers
god bless the woman who weeps
god bless the children trying her patience

trouble getting over it is what you’re in for so pour yourself another
it’ll take a steady pair of hands
holy or unholy ghost well now i can’t tell but either way you cut it
you should get some distance if you plan to take a stand

god bless the house divided
god bless the weeds in the wheat
god bless the lamp lit under a bushel

i discovered hell to be the poison in the well
so i tried to warn the others of the curse
then my body turned on me i dreamt that for eternity
my family would burn then i awoke
with a wicked thirst

by my baby’s yellow bed i kissed her forehead and rubbed her little tummy
wondering if she’d soon despise the smell
of the booze on my breath like her mom
through a darkened mirror i have seen my own reflection
and it makes me want to be a better man
after another drink

god bless the man at the crossroads
god bless the woman who still can’t sleep
god bless the history that doesn’t repeat

Monday, August 24, 2009

Notes on a Revolution

Not sure where to begin in broadcasting my enthusiasm for the subversive, life-giving text displayed above. Let's start with samples: "There is absolutely no reason that you, with your flute-rocking skills, cannot be the Ian Anderson of tomorrow,""Every musician since the beginning of time was, at one point, a beginner," "Your voice can be one of the most powerful instruments you ever own (if you choose to use it). And it’s free!," "A lot of things sound good with distortion on them; personally, I believe distortion is the salt of sound effects—it makes everything better." Amid an arsenal of accessibly technical tips on how to get your own act going (helpful even to a 39-year-old male), Jessica Hopper delivers these good news tidings to her growing and determined public. As a musician, a critic, and the music consultant for This American Life, she knows what she's talking about, AND she's coming to GRIMEY's THIS WEDNESDAY at 6:00 in the PM. Have you heard tell of Sister Rosetta Tharpe “the original shredder?” Did you know that Big Mama Thornton wrote "Hound Dog" or that Carol Kaye played bass on the whole of Pet Sounds? Come on out and hear what all's afoot. I'll be there with my ladies and my boys. I end with more Jessica: "You’ve got all the time in the world to edit and/or drive yourself crazy over the details; attempting to get it perfect on the first try (or second or third for that matter) will only trip you up. Self-doubt is something all artists struggle with, but being self-critical while you’re writing may stunt your growth as a lyricist, and you want to be full-size…You don’t have to try to achieve in a system that excludes you/your band. You can make your own system, whatever you want it to be like."

Thanks to Jeff Jones design guru and Rilian Torode artist sage, we will have prints to raise funds for the DPC summer arts program. Check it.

You can buy one riiiiiiiiiiiiiight HERE.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Divine Within: Documenting the Secrets of Childhood

You are cordially invited to the 4th annual children's art show at the Downtown Presbyterian Church featuring the collaborative work of well known Nashville theologians under the age of 12. 
Below is a copy of the press release. If any of you know anyone who wants to do a story on it... there is definitely one here. Hope to see you there. 


Documenting the Secrets of Childhood

At our most artful and receptive moments--Sarah Masen suspects—we all understand that paying close attention to the creative wisdom of a child is every bit as enriching as meditating, reading sacred text, or taking in a good French film. For Masen, the Director of Children’s Education at Downtown Presbyterian Church, moving out of comfort zones and past an easy sentimentality in our openness to what children would show us is probably our best—our only—hope for emotional development. Opening September 5th in collaboration with the first Saturday Art Crawl, The Downtown Presbyterian Church presents: “The Divine Within: Documenting the Secrets of Childhood”. 

This years children’s art show features works of collaboration which tweak the conventional mentor/mentored model. The guiding vision places a child-artist in the role of instructor and a collaborating adult as the recipient of theological instruction afforded by the child. This partnering flips the script on curriculums often associated with churches (Point #1 “You’re a sinner”) and presumes, from the outset, what Masen frequently cites as “the already holy spirit” of the child. Prepare your hearts for illumination. Opening begins at 6:00pm. Light fare will be provided for small and grown wayfarers.


If you would like more information about this show, the participants and origins, or to schedule an interview with Sarah Masen, please call her at (248)505.1476 or email her at sdarkdpc@gmail.com







Thursday, August 20, 2009


Biblically, the Holy Spirit names the faithfulness of God to his own creation. Biblically, the Holy Spirit means the militant presence of the Word of God inhering in the life of the whole of creation. Biblically the Holy Spirit is the Word of God at work both historically and existentially, acting incessantly and pervasively to renew the integrity of life in this world. By virtue of this…affirmation of the biblical witness, the false notion—nourished in my childhood in the Episcopal Church—that the Holy Spirit is, somehow, possessed by and enshrined within the sanctuary of the church was at last refuted, and I was freed from it…It was—it is—the biblical sage of the Word of God as Agitator, as the Holy Spirit, that assures me that wheresoever human conscience is alive and active, that is a sign of the saving vitality of the Word of God in history, here and now. 

--William Stringfellow, The Politics of Spirituality

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Wherever men hold unequal power in society, they will strive to maintain it. They will use whatever means are convenient to that end and will seek to justify them by the most plausible arguments they are able to devise. Nevertheless there are possibilities of increasing social justice through the development of mind and reason.”  
Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society 

Due Reverence

“An irrational society accepts injustice because it does not analyze the pretensions made by the powerful and privileged groups of society. Even that portion of society which suffers most from injustice may hold the power, responsible for it, in reverence.” Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society 

Sunday, August 09, 2009

God Bless the History that Doesn't Repeat

It'll take more time than I have before me right now to make a start at saying what I want to say about Dave Bazan's latest. I'll begin by asking everyone to pay heed to "Bless This Mess" which looks to be the first single (and a magnificent intro to the sensibility of the whole album). Then mosey on over to "The Passion of David Bazan" which, for my money, (and at the risk of putting it oddly) bears witness to his witness better than anything I've read (not just because its author was kind enough to quote me profusely). The author, Jessica Hopper, will be praised at length in a future post noting her upcoming Nashville appearance at Grimey's to promote THIS. In the meantime, consider the song. I believe it's an instance of cosmic plainspeak which, as ever, expands the sphere of sanity little by little.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Piety ought to be inseparable from critical thinking

Here's the teacher making plain:
We have to pay debt to the sources to the sources of our being. That includes mom and dad. That includes the community that shaped you. That includes the nation that both protects you as well as gives you some sense of possibility. And for religious folk, of course, it includes God. Now, the problem is there has to be some Socratic energy in one's piety. Piety ought to be inseparable from critical thinking.
--Cornel West in conversation with Eduardo Mendieta

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

People Have the Power

"The tactics are unorganized, largely leaderless and only just beginning," says Robin Wright.
And this just in from the BBC.

There was a muddy centre before we breathed.

There was a myth before the myth began,

Venerable and articulate and complete.


From this the poem springs: that we live in a place

That is not our own and, much more, not ourselves

And hard it is in spire of blazoned days.


We are the mimics.Clouds are pedagogues.

The air is not a mirror but bare board,

Coulisse bright-dark, tragic chiaroscuro


And comic color of the rose, in which

Abysmal instruments make sounds like pips

Of the sweeping meanings that we add to them.

from Wallace Stevens' "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Prophetic Alignments

This is the comprehensive wit of Hortense Spillers. One of my favorite people in the world. I'm not sure how to adequately recommend her beyond urging people to google away and pay heed to the care and subtlety and subversiveness with which she puts things.
I here paste one text she draws out and places along a certain continuum (a "prophetic alignment" she calls it). It's Thomas Jefferson on the slave economy in which he lived and moved and upon which he had his material being:
"Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of the situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference. The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest."
Think about it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

To begin, the image is the work of Jaap Scheeren, a recent fascination of mine. And what follows is something I wrote the morning after our relationship with Noisetrade had begun. Here tis:

“I made $10.95!” Sarah exclaimed from behind a laptop this morning. She went to bed, woke up, and witnessed the appearance of nearly eleven dollars worth of public affirmation of her song-craft which braved the oceans of Internet while she slept. All manner of things made well.

I wish I was more the lyrical wit, but I’m the one in this relationship who types out the largest number of straightforward sentences (My books, let me say it again, are footnotes for her lyrics). It befalls me to offer the following report.

A little over two years ago, Sarah had a couple of performance appointments closely aligned, Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Music (Emmylou, Neko, Sufjan) and the Greenbelt Festival (Billy Bragg, Over the Rhine), and she suspected it would be impolite to show up without what the young people call product. With the help of Todd Greene and Tony Doling of Bulb, Chris Leonard  and Brad Ritter of the Contemporary Music Center, and Brother Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, she’d long accumulated three EP’s worth of material and now saw fit to put together individual, everyone different, stenciled artworks (Like snowflakes I tell you!) to house the plastic. They sold, we might say, like hotcakes, but the demand, mail-order-paypal-wise, was a little more than we could comfortably manage. She ended the online dealio, but often sent them out for free (her anxious partner noticed) to e-mailers whose demands dribbled in via the mostly quiet but still glowing website.

So, just last night, we’re having dinner with Mark and Molly Nicholas at our home. Inquiries concerning one another’s projects leads to Mark’s casual mention of Noisetrade goings-on. We begin to suspect this is what ancient texts refer to as The Shape of Things to Come. So many of our friends and neighbors have climbed aboard. Why not? Joe Kirk and Derek Webb strike us as upstanding citizens. Wouldn’t it be cool it being a gift economy we’re in and all? Molly types away, images are shared, and after they’ve gone home we get an e-mail pronouncing it a done deal. We’ll have the other EP’s up over the next few months.

I think it’s an excellent fit. People who extol Sarah’s music have always been potential friends and co-conspirators rather than--what do they call them?—fans? Share away, my friendlies. Publicize as you see fit. Blog if you want to. Blog around the world. Consider yourselves deputized. Enjoy. 

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Blessed Interdependence Day To Everyone

So, as Kevin's response indicates, this entry initially contained something completely different image-wise: Pat Benatar video-performing that amazing song, "We Belong to the Light," which fit with something Rich King said to me ("Happy In(ter)dependence Day"). The embedding was regrettably disabled.
I now give you this wondrous image kindly lent to me by my friend, Derek, of the Most Everybody Loves Their Lives blog. You can imagine how agreeably geeked it leaves me.
I hope everyone's had a redemptive-feeling weekend.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I am not yours

You Whose Name

You whose name is aggressor and devourer.
Putrid and sultry, in fermentation.
You mash into pulp sages and prophets,
Criminals and heroes, indifferently.
My vocativus is useless.
You do not hear me, though I address you,
Yet I want to speak, for I am against you.
So what if you gulp me, I am not yours.
You overcome me with exhaustion and fever.
You blur my thought, which protests,
You roll over me, dull unconscious power.
The one who will overcome you is swift, armed:
Mind, spirit, maker, renewer.
He jousts with you in depths and on high,
Equestrian, winged, lofty, silver-scaled.
I have served him in the investiture of forms.
It’s not my concern what he will do with me.

A retinue advances in the sunlight by the lakes.
From white villages Easter bells resound.

--Czeslaw Milosz

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A word of advice

With thanks to Alli Steen Magee

Monday, June 15, 2009

Democracy to Come

I'm beginning to think that the possibility of following the likes of Persiankiwi (whose view of her/his own links is blocked by his/her govt'), Tehranbureau, and their equivalents around the sweet old world is reason enough for people to sign up for twitter. Other media outlets do not (cannot) cut it on a day like today.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Paying Attention

A telephone plea from Mir Hossein Mousavi:

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Just Shall Know That They Only Live By Faith

Faith means through a mirror dimly or “through a glass darkly.” It’s what we do. I leave the rest to Caputo whose On Religion and What Would Jesus Deconstruct? are worth looking into. Sans, incidentally, means without:
“Through a glass darkly…means sans apocalypse. Even the Apocalypse is sans apocalypse. That means that the believers in that book should temper their claims about The Revelation they (believe they) have received, since it is their interpretation that they have received a revelation, while not everyone else agrees. A revelation is an interpretation that the believers believe is a revelation, which means that it is one more competing entry in the conflict of interpretations.” John Caputo, On Religion
Interpret away, my friendlies.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What good would it be to them?

Why Some People Do Not Read Poetry

Because they already know that it means
stopping and without stopping they know that
beyond stopping it will mean listening
listening without hearing and maybe
then hearing without hearing and what would
they hear then what good would it be to them
like some small animal crossing the road
suddenly there but not seeming to move
at night and they are late and may be on
the wrong road over the mountain with all
the others asleep and not hitting it
that time as though forgetting it again

--W.S. Merwin

Thursday, May 14, 2009

There is many a small betrayal in the mind

This one gets cut and pasted all over the place, but it felt like a redeeming act to put it up in yet another corner. My favorite poem lately. Ladies and gentlemen, William Stafford...

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

May The Tradition Be Enriched This Weekend

Kirk: "You're not a fish, Spock."
Spock: "Nor am I a man."

Monday, May 04, 2009

If You're In The Area...

This Thursday (May 7th) at 11:30AM, I'll be joining the sweet people of the Nashville Cohort at the Flying Saucer (affixed lovingly to the back half of Union Station) for food and conversation. All are welcome. You're advised to call the place sometime beforehand if you're wanting to order a dish.
Not a whole lot to report upon here other than gratefulness for the good vibrations consistently sent my way from people who are reading the book. The "book launch" consisted of people who'd gathered at Portland Brew and it went on for maybe three hours. Sarah thanked everyone for coming. I expressed my desire that everyone would introduce themselves to someone they didn't know, and then we just yakked away. Every fifteen minutes or so I'd invite people to share a quote, a line from a song or a poem, or anything they had in their heads that seemed fitting. Lots of Willy Wonka gems, some Gerard Manley Hopkins, and even one instance where Tony Doling and Joe Nolan saw fit to re-enact a scene from Oliver Stone's Wall Street. It occurred to many of us that this sort of thing is probably what we're hoping for when we "go out" to a cafe or a bar or a party, and facilitating the now-people-share-words moment(s) seems to do the trick. I suspect we'll do it again.
One quote I didn't share but which seems to speak to what went well that night (and to what probably happens whenever we rightly say that anything at all goes well) is this: “Love is the perception of individuals. Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real. Love, and so art and morals, is the discovery of reality.”
Iris Murdoch, “The Sublime and the Good”
Hope this finds everyone feeling (or nearing) well.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Magic At Its Deepest

Sarah here.
Just reading Harry Potter book 3 and came across this line, "When one wizard saves another wizard's life, it creates a certain bond between them." This had me remembering an exchange I had with David yesterday that I wanted to share.

A friend a long time ago said that you become what you are afraid of. Paralyzed by the truth of that thought yesterday (my list of things I am afraid of is impossibly, "I can't believe I still exist", gods help me, long), David and I had a suspended silence sit-down. Amid the recondite, thickening clouds, the voice we hear when we think "David Dark" cut clear as day with this line:

We become what we love.

Hope that one rings through when anyone out there finds themselves caught in the fear storm.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

There's Nothing I Can Do

This isn't a tee-hee, "Remember the 80's?!?!?" post. I was tempted to only offer the audio as way of avoiding this impression but got to thinking the video might afford at least a little illumination. I'm a sucker for what I take to be neglected significance within popular expression generally regarded as disposable. And I think Peter Godwin dropped something rather deep, subversive, and McLuhanesque upon the public with "Images Of Heaven" (see text below). I think he's chronicling what he thinks is happening to him in his relationship to images. Dude doesn't like what's going on in his own head and he's saying so. Think Charley Patton's "Lord, I'm Disturbed" or Elvis Costello's "Psycho." The fellow isn't kidding around. Eighties earnestness formed (and forms) me, I admit. I don't think of it as prudish or obvious or overwrought. I file it as a sort of religio-poetic meditation/confession on the topic of what Blake calls mind-forged manacles and what William Burroughs has in mind when he tells us to look hard at the Naked Lunch at the end of the long, newspaper spoon. How do we characterize our relationship to the objects of our mediatized contemplation? What is the nature of the proselytization we're undergoing? What are we building up on our karmic accounts? I don't have a title for the mix I have i mind, but Godwin's jam will lead it all off, followed by Arcade Fire's "(Antichrist Television Blues)" and PJ Harvey's "This Mess We're In." Other suggestions are welcome. And don't we think The Killers would be very pleased if they reproduced the sound of this one in the studio? Isn't it what many of us are going in for? And doesn't it sound like John Taylor's bass?
Lettuce know your thoughts.
"Images of Heaven" P. Godwin (my attempted transcription)

Nothing is sacred
So, give me your soul, my love
Nothing is wasted
On someone like you

Somebody killed me
Then tore out my heart, my love
Somebody thrilled me
With photos of you

And there's nothing I can do
The media made you
There's nothing I can do
'cause you don't exist
you don't exist

Just images of heaven
that take me to hell
Images of heaven
Of something to sell
Images of heaven
Images of heaven

Something possessed me
An image of you, my love
Video visions
That play on my mind

Nobody blessed me
With power to reach, my love

One cheap illusion
Can still be divine

And nobody believes
In this new religion
Yeah nobody believes
'cause nobody sees
nobody sees

These Images of heaven
That take me to hell
Images of heaven
of something for sale
Images of heaven
Images of heaven

Images of heaven
Images of heaven

And there's nothing I can do
The camera made you
There's nothing I can do
'cause you don't exist
You don't exist

Just images of heaven
that take me to hell
Images of heaven
Or something to sell
Images of heaven
Images of heaven

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sarah brings us the following from Dorothee Soelle:
The insight that the way to God in Jewish thought leads via the
neighbor, that is to say, via the woman next door who gets on my
nerves and always listens to the wrong music, is one of Judaism’s
greatest gifts to humanity. I believe in that but also with the desire
that my neighbor who reads nothing but the tabloids will someday also
enter the way to God...
Radical humanism has its own language difficulties. It
cannot pray and cannot wish for more than what seems possible. But we
all need the “more” we call transcendence. We need a guarantor of the
rights of the poor, the superfluous and disabled, a guarantor that is
greater than our reckoning. In that sense, we are all incurable,
“religious.” It is an illness we cannot get rid of in the life of

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Calm (down) Sunday

Sarah Here.
Just noticed while Jesus weeps for J-town he wails, "if you only recognized what makes for peace". And wanting to get in line with this "Some of all people...". Happy Palm Sunday everyone. "Save us".

Word has arrived that
peace will brim up, will come
"like a river and the
glory...like a flowing stream."
Some of all people will
wondering wait
until this very stone

-Margaret Avison

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Face Rank

I commemorate today's release of THE SACREDNESS OF QUESTIONING EVERYTHING with the most compelling photograph of my own face I could find. I'm also including some especially good blurbs as I have yet to figure out (or find a friend to hire or help me to figure out) how to put them on an opening splash page. Here're a few:
"David Dark serves up a unique blend of pop culture and high culture, generously seasoned with religious texts. The result is an immensely readable, profoundly subversive, and deeply prophetic book." — Andrew Bacevich, Author, The Limits of Power
"David Dark is my favorite critic of the people’s culture of America and the Christian faith. He brings a deep sense of reverence to every book he reads, every song he hears, every movie he sees, but it is a discerning reverence—attentive to truth and Jesus wherever he comes on them. He is also a reliable lie detector. And not a dull sentence in the book." — Eugene Peterson, translator of The Message
"Brilliant and charming and insightful as always, Dark comforts both my soul and my mind with this synthesis, part memoir and part essay, of the culture around us and the culture within us." — Phyllis Tickle, Author, The Great Emergence
"David Dark is one of our wisest authors, and I plan to read everything he writes. The Sacredness of Questioning Everything will comfort questioners, doubters, and skeptics with assurance that their questions can be faithful, and it will challenge the complacent with an ethical summons to wonder. It invites everything to give life—and faith—a second thought, and did I mention that it’s beautifully written?" — Brian McLaren, Author, Everything Must Change
On the prospect of helping the thing go gangbusters...
Be seen in public reading it as often as possible.
Spread word.
Place it on the top of whatever stack of books you have in whatever place your sitting.
Review it for Amazon.
Ask your library to order a copy.
Tell people who bring in people to talk to other people that I'm a...um...silver bullet or something.
Start a discussion group.
Figure out how to create/facilitate the circumstances that lead to me sitting at a table in front of a camera talking to Stephen Colbert.
We're having a thing tonight at the Portland Brew at Twelve South (7:00). I'm hoping it'll be the beginning of a bunch of people I like coming to like other bunches of people I like...the beginning of a bunch of beautiful relationships...Maybe someone(s) will fall in love. We'll have more things like this in the weeks to come.
"Face Rank" is a reference to Scott Westerfeld's Orwellian, McLuhanesque mash-up of Sales Rank and Facebook in his tag on to the Uglies trilogy: Extras. It was a good, prophetic word delivered unto me today by one Sarah Masen.
I hope my book enriches lots of people. Lemme know what you make of it if you have the chance.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Trust Issues

As not so many of you may know, that deeply controversial activist for all things human, Sarah Masen, my partner in crime and matrimony, has taken to attempting the education of children at the place called Downtown Presbyterian. Needless to say, she's amazing everyone. And I couldn't resist the temptation to post something she sent out to our congregants. There's so much here. So much that reads (as you'd've imagined) like a song. Enjoy:
Two weeks ago I attended a seminar on children's religious education at Trevecca University. We walked through Godly Play, a regimen similar to our Sunday school program. It focuses on story-telling and reflection using manipulatives (story-specific figures and props) and meditation techniques. I met a number of other area education directors from different congregations and traditions and enjoyed hearing about the successes and failures of their teaching adventures.
During a group discussion at the end of the day, a question arose concerning the pressure we often feel (be it illusory or otherwise) with regards to making sure the children are “learning the right things”. I suppose you could call it a trust issue. Letting a child hear a story from the Bible and giving them the space and means to reflect on it is something we are not inclined to do. My instinct is to tell them what I think the moral, the climax, the conflict, or resolution of the story is in my expert (somebody gag me) opinion. Simply telling them the story and getting out of the way isn’t the model I was given growing up in church. This may be one of the reasons I had little trust in my own ability to make good decisions as I got older. These days, however, I think of the church and children’s Sunday school as a place for discernment rehearsal. It is all we really do when we say we “study” the bible. We are grasping at the wonders and complexities (the mystery) of the bible as a healthy part of our psychological development. Maybe you are already there, but I was struck afresh with the enormity of leading a class full of children through the beginning stages of their spiritual journeys. I want to encourage them to trust their already-holy spirits that have them discerning (and sometimes saying) all manner of amazing things week after week.
I want to make sure you know that the opportunity to join me in this enormous endeavor is available to you. You will learn so much, and all that is required is a listening ear and a desire to be hospitable. I at least ask for you to pray about your potential involvement in the children’s programming. Write me if you want to sit in on a class with these little theologians. I guarantee if you are open, you will be sitting at the feet of great teachers (and I am SO not talking about myself).

That's it.
Hope this finds everybody well.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

We Are Each Other's Business

Paul Robeson

That time
cool and clear,
cutting across the hot grit of the day.
The major Voice.
The adult Voice
forgoing Rolling River,
forgoing tearful tale of bale and barge
and other symptoms of an old despond.
Warning, in music-words
devout and large,
that we are each other's
we are each other's
we are each other's
magnitude and bond.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Watch and Learn

Color me chastened.
Be inspired.

Monday, February 16, 2009

For the record

"If you don't use your own imagination, somebody else is going to use it for you."
Ron Sukenick

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Redeeming Transmissions

Don't know how many PPIF congregants are familiar with the prophetic witness of Bill Hicks. Radiohead dedicated THE BENDS to his memory (I think I mention as much in Everyday Apocalypse). One of his quotes opens the final chapter of GATA. It's from his album, Rant in E-Minor: "Lift me up out of this illusion, Lord. Heal my perception, so that I may know only reality." Anyway, I find him crucial. Here's David Letterman repentantly relating a sad account of Hick's appearance on his show and undertaking an inspiringly awkward and deeply redemptive conversation with Bill's mother. You'll have to follow Youtube's directions to parts 2 and 3. I have the ever-loving, always-inspiring attentiveness of one Joe Nolan to thank for the heads-up concerning this excellent smidgin of television.

Monday, February 02, 2009

World Without End

...it was equally certainly a pleasant turn of the populace which gave him as sense of those normative letters the nickname Here Comes Everybody. An imposing everybody he always indeed looked, constantly the same as and equal to himself and magnificently well worthy of any and all such universalisation…from good start to happy finish the truly catholic assemblage gathered together…

Saturday, January 10, 2009

According to the Testimony of the Poets

The Song of Songs tells us that love is as strong as death, but immediately adds that jealousy is as cruel as the grave, and sexual relations in themselves appear to be inseparable, according to the testimony of the poets, from the tension of egos, the sense of ownership and possession, the panics of status.
Northrop Frye, Words With Power
image by Marc Chagall

Putting People in Faceless Categories

Come together...Right now.