Sunday, August 26, 2007

U2 at Red Rocks and Observations from an Airplane

Earlier this week I took yet another trip to Colorado. My reason this time was to go see what I thought was the 25th anniversary of the U2 Live at Red Rocks concert. As it turns out, this year was the 24th, NOT the 25th....NEXT June 4 they are going to completely reenact the Red Rocks concert and they are going to petition the band to show up. I give the odds of the band showing up about 2%, however....if they have a new album to plug it would be good publicity...I doubt it, but could happen.

Anyway, 24th Anniversary was played by a local Colorado band called Under a Blood Red Sky. They did okay...The people who were with me have never seen U2 in concert, so they loved it....I've seen them many times, so for me it was the difference between a hamburger from AM/PM and a hamburger from Red Robin...there really was a quality gap there. BUT, the thing about it is that after the show the restrooms happen to be right next to where the band came off stage after their set. I overheard them talking to some people and they were SO excited and amped by the experience of playing Red Rocks to a sold out crowd (yes, sold out...there were 7,000 people there that night...even the original concert didn't sell out). U2 is the band they are because they are so very would be an exercise in futility to replicate that with any sort of actual authenticity, however, these guys didn't do too bad. After I saw how excited and honored they were by the opportunity I decided to cut them a little more slack. They are attempting to fill some really big shoes, and I have to give them credit for doing a pretty good job. And yes, I can tell you I will be making yet another trip to Red Rocks next year to go see the show on June 4th, actual band or not. :-)

Now, the plane ride...this was the first time I've been on a plane since I decided to watch all the episodes of Lost on dvd or TV. I must say, my observations on this trip are forever changed. As I'm sitting on the plane I'm looking around at my fellow passengers wondering,

"I wonder if anybody on this plane can hunt?"

"I wonder if there is a doctor?"

"Is anybody running from the law?"

"Who would be the person to panic and turn on all of us in a tough situation?"

Then I'd look out the window at the ground below and wonder,

"Are the Others down there?"

"Are they friendly or hostile?"

LOL! Funny how TV can cause you to view the world around you differently.

And finally, there was a mother and her less than 5 year old daughter sitting behind me. I heard the mother comment that this was her daughter's first flight. Anybody who knows me knows I'm not a big fan of the children, so initially I was thinking, "Great, what fresh hell is this going to be?" (I had to get up at 5 a.m. to make my flight, and I'm not much of a morning person...I just wanted to get in the air so I could go to sleep). As luck would have it, the mother's voice wasn't annoying and the child only kicked my seat a couple of times. I slept most of the flight, but as we were coming into Denver we hit some pretty decent turbulence. The mother was explaining that the bumping was just like "bumps on the road" and it was nothing to be concerned about. As we were coming into the airport we had to hang a pretty sharp u-turn and the child was sitting at the window on the side of the plane that tipped down when we did this. As the wing tipped and we are looking at the ground the child says,

"Oh, we go! Mayday! Mayday!"

The mother quickly shhh'ed her and explained we were turning, not crashing, but THAT made me laugh out loud, and that is the thing I've been telling everybody about my trip. Kids aren't my favorite, but I must say some of them do have their moments. From here on out when something gets tough for me my reply will be, "Mayday! Mayday!"

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Announcing Ken Grant's New Blog!!!!

From time to time I've shared articles from my friend Ken Grant in Delaware.
"Delaware?!?!? Get the rope!!!!"
Anyway, he has started his own blog which I'm looking forward to reading in the future. In looking through my archives of saved Ken Grant articles, the following is the best. Is it seasonal? No. But we'll call it, "Beginning to bitch about Christmas already in August". May as well get an early start on it.

Why Christmas?

Confessions of a self-professed Grinch

By Ken Grant

Every December, when that great song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” comes on, my kids demand that I turn up the radio so they can sing – or gleefully scream – the lyrics at me.

Grinch, Scrooge, the Anti-Claus, take your pick of titles – I gladly wear them all.

I honestly do not like Christmas, I do not enjoy any aspect of it, and I’m finding that more and more people are admitting that they’re not all that thrilled with it, either.

I can already hear the cries of heresy coming from faithful Christians and even not-so-faithful-but-we-show-up-for-church-twice-a-year types alike. But, if we take a moment to look at the origins of Christmas, we might find that the truly Christian thing to do might be to shift our focus to something more substantive and meaningful every December.

Nowhere in scripture are Christians commanded to celebrate the birth of Christ? I challenge anyone to find a scriptural reference to the First Century Church celebrating Christmas. In fact, two of the four canonized gospels don’t even mention the birth of Jesus.

By contrast, the followers of Christ are admonished to observe two things: Communion and Baptism. All other feasts, festivals, and observances are entirely optional (see Colossians 2:16).

So, when did we start this Christmas tradition? Allow me to quote from George W. Cornell:

For more than 300 years after Jesus’ time, Christians didn’t celebrate his birth. The observance began in fourth century Rome, timed to coincide with a mid-winter pagan festival honoring the pagan gods Mithra and Saturn. The December date was simply taken over to commemorate Jesus’ birth, since its exact date isn’t known. Consequently, the fusion of the sacred and the profane characterized the celebration from the start.

The reality is that celebrating new life following the winter solstice is something that’s been done for some time – much more than 2,000 years. Switching the celebration from Ra the Egyptian sun-god, Adonis the Syrian god, Mithras the Persian sun-god, and any number of Norse gods (Oden being the most prevalent) to the birth of Christ seemed to have occurred almost seamlessly – in fact, nearly EVERYTHING that we associate with the Christmas tradition (evergreen trees, holy, lights, candles, etc.) can be traced back to one or more of these pagan origins.

To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t know how ministers go through this every year. Let’s think about this for a moment. The average minister has 52 Sundays a year to teach, to preach, to explore the deep and rich mysteries of scripture found throughout the Bible. Out of those 52 Sundays, the minister is forced by tradition to focus on a small handful of passages for at least four of those Sundays every year – re-hashing the same themes year after year after year.

And again, this is for something that really has very little to do with the crux of Christianity! I challenge anyone to show me where Peter preached about the importance of the birth of Christ. How about an epistle from Paul where he explains to a growing church the need to have a manger scene set up by the second week of December?

The message of Christ is profound – he did not call his disciples to look at his baby pictures! He told his followers to pick up their crosses and follow him to death. Paul tells us that presenting ourselves as living sacrifices is our reasonable act of worship. Peter’s sermon at Pentecost focused exclusively on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Again, the two practices Christians are ordered to observe – baptism and communion – are symbols of sacrifice, death, and resurrection – not of incarnation and birth.

Of course, it makes sense for just about anyone to be more comfortable focusing time and attention on a harmless, cute baby than to deal with the man who calls you to sacrifice your pride and your ego to follow Him to an uncertain future.

I am not advocating that everyone quit celebrating Christmas. But I am asking for two things. First, figure out what it is you are celebrating and why you are celebrating it. If it’s just tradition or a warm, fuzzy feeling, that’s OK – just be honest about it. Second, please don’t tell me that I “must” celebrate with you.

By the way, the kids don’t seem to mind the fact that their father is a Grinch.

You'll be able to read more Ken Grant at: Random: Ken Grant Blog