The Album Challenge

Recently I’ve posted on social media about the ten music albums that have been meaningful in my life. Music doesn’t mean as much to me as movies or books, but I’d say my life has a good soundtrack. During the challenge, I couldn’t explain why. I was only allowed to post the album cover. So here is the list along with some explanation.

10. 1984–Van Halen

Jason Greene and I listened to this album all summer long. We must have been twelve or thirteen years old at the time, but we wore that cassette tape out. We mostly hung out in his bedroom, read ┬ámagazines, and listened to this album. In all of musicdom, there is no more recognizable or energetic sound than the opening keyboards to “Jump” and anyone who would say otherwise is just silly.

9. Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison–Johnny Cash

Plain and simple–Johnny Cash sings about pain in an unvarnished, human way that communicates to me.

8. Eliminator–ZZ Top

Its not ZZ Top’s best music, but this album connected me at a young age to what I would later recognize as Texas Rock-n-Roll.

7. Thriller–Michael Jackson

The video–the 14 minute short film directed by John Landis–is still one of the cultural touchstones of my life. it was perfect. I don’t know if we’re allowed to still like Michael Jackson or not because of the claims against him, but at the time we didn’t know any of that. All we knew was that the cool zombies wear red and black jackets and Vincent Price had the creepiest voice ever.

6. Come Away With Me–Norah Jones

Mrs. Greenbean and I discovered Norah together. She was our first foray into grown up music. We even saw her once in concert at Key Arena. She does a very good Axl Rose impression.

5. Sigh No More–Mumford and Sons

There is a line–and this album is on this list because of this line–in the song “The Cave” that says, “I’ll know my name as it’s called again.” When I left Port Orchard, I never knew if I would pastor again. But I definitely felt as though I had lost my own identity. For twenty years I had just been “Pastor”–that is what everyone called me, just “Pastor” or even more dehumanizing, “Preacher.” One of the things I was determined to do was discover who I was as a human, a Christ-follower, a husband, father, a man, a writer, and neighbor. In those in-between years, this was my mantra–“I’ll know my name as it’s called again”, and I am thankful for it.

4. A Very Veggie Christmas–VeggieTales

Our kids loved VeggieTales, and this Christmas album comes out every year during the holidays and we listen to it over and over again. If you’ve never heard it, give it a listen. It’s the best.

3. Apassionato–Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma was the soundtrack of my DMin years, especially while writing my project back in the days before iPods or iPhones. I just put the CD’s into my laptop and would listen away for hours. This album came out after I was finished with school, but it encapsulated so much of those years. It’s like he wrote it just for me as an ovation for the work I’d done. The first song on the album is even called, “Going to School.”

2. Out of Time–R.E.M.

There are two reason for this album. First, COLLEGE! I borrowed the cassette tape from a coworker during college and about a year later she asked, “Do you have my tape?” and I reluctantly returned it to her. I had listened to it so much that the letters were all rubbed off the case. The second reason is the song, “Texarkana” which is, I’m pretty sure, about The Blessed Leibowitz.

1. The Joshua Tree–U2

This needs no explanation, especially if you know me. The weird thing, in my opinion, their top five songs aren’t even on this album, but the album as a whole is just perfect, and it has the best collection of B sides ever.

 

Honorable Mentions: Take Me To Your Leader-Newsboys, Appetite for Destruction-Guns-Roses, Duran Duran-Seven And The Ragged Tiger, The White Album-The Beatles, Messiah-Handle Dir. Benjamin Zander, Sinatra At The Sands-Frank Sinatra, Hey Eugene-Pink Martini, Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth-Rich Mullins, and Led Zeppelin IV-Led Zeppelin.

Predictions for 2018

I am no prophet. I have a hard time predicting what Mrs. Greenbean will want for dinner, much less long term trends. This deficiency doesn’t keep me from trying, though. I just went and looked at 2017’s predictions, and I was almost 50% accurate–and I completely nailed the entertainment predictions, particularly the decline in football ratings. Sadly, 2016 saw me only get 20%, and 30% in 2015, and even more dismal in 2014 with only one prediction really happening. However, in that year, I predicted a Facebook scandal–which actually happened in 2017. Maybe I was just early?

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I try to mix up the predictions in various areas of life–entertainment, politics, business, science, religion, and faith so I’m all over the place. Anyway, here goes my predictions for 2018.

10. The Houston Astros will repeat as World Series Champions.

9. A White-Supremacist will do something so horrible it will make Charlottesville look pale and insignificant.

8. Some big secret will be revealed at NASA—not like aliens or anything, but it will be something like we’ve already been to Mars in a covert plan, or the Columbia space shuttle explosion wasn’t an accident. Something scandalous or controversial.

7. The implementation of new internet regulations (net neutrality) will be a shot in the arm to traditional cable and television corporations, temporarily stabilizing a dying industry.

6.  The Republicans will lose heavily to Democrats in the 2018 elections, losing at least one chamber of congress.

5. Subscriptions to self-driving car services will be big Christmas presents.

4. Theresa May will be booted out as British leader in the midst of an ugly undoing of the Brexit vote.

3. The economy will continue to cook under conservative policies.

2. Two or three major mega-churches will close their doors, beginning the coming wave of emphasis upon small, neighborhood, community churches.

1. Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election will not produce any incriminating evidence against President Trump, and then POTUS will pardon everyone who received indictments, particularly Michael Flynn.

 

BONUS PREDICTIONS–This year will be an unseasonably cold winter and spring, POTUS will drop an F-Bomb in major speech (State of the Union?), Eli Manning will be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, and Wal-Mart will be bought by Amazon.

Pick A Winner–Seriously, Pick A Winner

I need your opinion.

I’m playing again. I should be working. In fact, staff meeting is in ten minutes.

But I’m playing.

Writer’s Digest has a contest for writing prompts. You’re supposed to write an opening line, in twenty five words or less, for a story that goes along with the picture that is the writing prompt. I have entered four or five times over the past couple of years, but I’ve never sniffed victory. This time, I thought I’d get you guys to help me pick. I’ve written several different possible lines. Vote for which one you like best.

Here is the picture.

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If you want to play too, click on THIS LINK. It’s fun and easy.

Now, back to my problems. Below are my opening lines, and then a poll for you to vote. Remember, you have to click the word “vote” to register your selection. Thanks!

A. With each step into the dark woods, Jenna sealed her fate.

B. “Here kitty, kitty.”

C. Maybe the red coat wasn’t the best choice for hide-n-seek?

D. Maybe the red coat wasn’t the best choice for war games?

E. Mary regretted her decision to accompany her boyfriend on his family’s annual Thanksgiving wild-turkey hunt.

F. As night began to fall, she remembered how the old man at the lodge had warned them funny things happen in these woods.

G. It had been eleven days since Jenna had seen another person.

H. “I found Carmen Sandiego,” the boy shouted.

 

Stream of Consciousness Sermon Mullet

First, a little definition. The way I understand a stream of consciousness sermonic form is that the preacher allows his or her mind to wander through the text from one thought to another as the brain does, rather subconsciously, what the brain does, and that is work through issues toward understanding. People do this all the time when they ‘talk out’ a problem. It is what people who have complicated problems are doing when they constantly brainstorm on the white board.

The principle for preaching is the preacher, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and through prayer, through study of the text and of the issues, allows the mind to wander without trying to enforce any form-no outline, no pattern, no loop, no point even–just let the mind move from one thing to the other until we get back where we started from.

So that is what I did yesterday with Romans 6. The difference, of course, is that I did not do this Sunday morning in front of everyone, I did it about two weeks ago in my study and with my computer as I typed away. Then, when it was finished, I did sculpt it a little, and cut a little, and clean it up a bit, then tidy up some words. But essentially, I just let my mind wander. What happened was truly fascinating to me–my mind did indeed work through it in a way that was interesting, engaging, theological solid, and practically meaningful. I was very pleased with it. After cleaning it up a bit, I delivered it yesterday.

The best line that came out of the endeavor was, “Romans 6:23 is like a bad haircut. It is a mullet. Business up front (wages of sin is death) and party in the back (the gift of God is eternal life).”

mullet-hairstyle
Romans 6:23 Visual Represented    (photo courtesy of the 1980s)
But here are the five things that must guide the process. There are probably more than five, but somewhere in the arcane rules of the internet it states clearly that a blog can really only have five things.

  1. Discipline cannot be completely abandoned. The stream of thought needs to be related to the text. You can’t jump from “The wages of sin is death” to “why does the neighbor’s dog hate me” unless it is somehow relevant. Don’t confuse this with laziness.
  2. You must study ahead of time before you begin. If you try this with nothing in your noggin then you will end up with a sermon that is just a pile of garbage.
  3. The stream of consciousness needs to finish with solid application, not illustration.
  4. You can’t do this every week. I wouldn’t anyway, because I am a big proponent of varying the form of the sermon from week to week. For example, this upcoming week I am using an image driven motif. I haven’t used images in almost two months.
  5. Don’t be in a bad or foul mood when you do this, or your sermon will be depressive and dark. I was in a very good humor when I engaged in this exercise and I think it showed in the delivery. We laughed a lot Sunday. Your mood informs the sermon.

As I said, there were several things that didn’t make the cut. In my original manuscript (and yes, I generally type a word for word manuscript every week, which I leave in the study when I preach, for I preach without notes) I had a long riff on baptism that was slightly more confrontational than I wanted in the finished product, so I axed that out. I still might use that thought in a future sermon, but not on this day. The finishing theme of the sermon is life–or, “Alive” and for two weeks I’ve had Pearl Jam’s song “Alive” in my head. In a different context, I might have played a short clip of the music video as the opening to the sermon and then just took off from there, but given our country musicish church I decided that Pearl Jam might be a little over the top, but boy, that would have worked great. Even the grotesque middle stanza would have worked in a free-style discussion about sin, realizing who you really are, and deciding to live the “alive” life. But I didn’t, yet I’ll leave it here for you to enjoy, if you like. that sort of thing.