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May '08

Warning: Unusual Content for CarCast!

Disclaimer:  This is not the normal fodder you would find from me on The Car Cast but in an attempt to be forthright I will include it here  This was originally written in mid April.  I have only now published it.

Maybe I'm getting old.  I may just be super nostalgic with the recent death of my father-in-law and all of the "remembering" that goes along with this kind of event.  I am not sure why, but this week I was hit hard by the news that a pioneer of Christian Music, Roby Duke, passed away in December '07.  

I was a nominal fan of Roby Duke at best.  Heidi and I saw him in concert once at Northwest College in Kirkland.  We had the opportunity afterward to talk to him where I of course shared the fact that I was a singer and "songwriter" (the use of finger quotes would be appropriate here).  Roby was gracious and actually invited me to look him up in the phone book (he was apparently listed) and give him a call sometime so that I could check out the new studio he had built in his house.  Of course I never did.eulogy

I heard the news about Roby's death while listening to a podcast from another pioneer of Christian Music: Phil Keaggy.  He does a podcast several times a year that features new music he is working on.  This month however it was dedicated to Christian musicians who had passed away….Keith Green, Larry Norman, Rich Mullans, Mark Heard, and Roby Duke.

As I listened I became very aware of my own humanity.  I was actually moved to emotion several times (which is not hard to do when I am listening to music). My thoughts turned to the lives that these great songwriters and musicians lived.  What they did in this life; how they are remembered; who remembers them.

It was during a segment of the podcast that featured the music of Larry Norman that I was really moved.  There was a nostalgic song featured that talked about the accomplishments of a "Small Circle of Friends" that caused me to get lost in thought. If I were to write the same song right now, what would it feature?  If I were to put pen to paper and compose a song about my "Small Circle of Friends" and what legacy we are leaving the world, what would I write about?

I know what I would have said 5 years ago.  It would have involved church activities, "reaching out" to my community (whatever that means), and teaching people about how to follow Jesus.

I know what it would have said 10 years ago.  It would have involved similar tones only it would have included teenagers (I was a youth pastor back then) and something about writing worship music that sought to lead people into a meaningful experience with God.

Today's version of the song, however, would be difficult for me to compose. The friends part of the song would be more easily written today than ever, but the substance of the song is what I would struggle with.  Why?  Simply put: I am not so sure that the things I valued as "great accomplishments" back then are the things I value today.  Do I still value worship, teaching people about Jesus, and "reaching out" to my community?  Yes but in some respects the meaning behind those words and phrases has changed.

Why is it that when we are young life is so simple?  Why is it that you do not need the same questions answered and are content with ignorance?  I am finding myself wrestling with issues of wisdom.  As I listened to a bunch of old "Jesus Music" I couldn't help but find myself thinking that in many ways the world was a lot more naive in the '70's.  But as I become more introspective I began to see how, in many ways, I was so much more naive.  Is it a good thing that I have become wiser?  Is it entirely a good thing to lose that child like wonder?  In some ways I feel like a 12 year old who suddenly realizes that they no longer believe in Santa simply because they figured out on their own that there isn't one.

Have I lost my faith?  Never!  In some ways it is a deeper more unmovable faith than it has ever been.  So what is it I have lost?


Traditionally, I tend to be one of the most idealistic people you would ever meet.  Things have always been fairly black in a white in my world.  I either love something or hate it and there is little room for anything in between.  I have always held to a sense of justice and "right-ness" in the world that steamed from my idealistic outlook on life.  I don't think I have been oblivious or stupid but like the words of a Malcolm & Alwin songs state:

Funny how when you think your right 

Everybody else must be wrong.

I think I have come to grips with the fact that I am not always right.  This realization, I believe, has not killed but rather neutered my idealism.

Unwavering Optimism

I was once accused by a pastor/employer of being so optimistic that I had no grasp in reality.  That was of course completely false and a complete misunderstanding by that person; but I can see why I would have been accused of it.  I am at heart an optimist.  I still am.  I don't think my optimism has been lost, but rather tamed.  The optimism I once felt has been introduced to reality.  Time and time again it has been tossed into the rocks of life by the waves of reality.  Just like the rocks on the beach, my optimism has been worn smooth.  It has been slowly, methodically, ground down from a jagged, sharp, even potentially dangerous object into a facile piece of my life that has become more of a stereotype than a choice.  I still believe the best is going to happen.  I still look on the bright side.  I still give people the "benefit of the doubt."  Only now my optimism is slightly jaded.

Faith in People

My wife is so good for me.  We have a tendency to balance each other out in so many ways.  We often joke about how neither of us could live without the other because of the imbalance we would live in.  My faith in others is one of those areas where Heidi has always balanced me out.  I am the person who, traditionally, has always assumed that people do not mean me any harm.  If they do something that hurts me or someone I love there is some reason for it that I should be understanding of.  Maybe they had a hard childhood, or bad day, or just need a hug.  I thing that for most of my life I have taken the view that people are generally good.  Now, my theology does not match up with that in the slightest.  But in practice that is how I have lived my life.  In recent years, months and days I believe I have come to a place where I view most people with a slight suspicion.  I know right now I am sounding neurotic and paranoid, but I am being honest here.  Whether it is employers, pastors, politicians, or even landlords, I find myself waiting for the hammer to fall.  I still give people the "benefit of the doubt" but it us usually accompanied by a sense of distrust and trepidation.  It is much like meeting a "head hunter" in the jungle who says that he has piles of gold that you can just have if you come back to his hut with him.  You will of course smile and shake his hand but you can't shake the feeling that he is looking for just the right opportunity to shrink your head!  Call it insecurity if you want, but I think it more a realistic view of people based on the actions of others and experiences I have had in my life time.

So where does all of this leave me?  Good question.  In the end what kind of legacy will I leave?  How will I be remembered by and by whom will I be remembered?  If I live my life with these questions as my motivation I fear I will be as disingenuous as most of the politicians, pastors, and employers I have known.  No, I must be true to myself.  How though, can you be true to yourself and not self absorbed?  Aren't we called to lose our life?  Aren't we called to die?  How can I die to myself and yet remain genuine if it is myself that I am focused on?  

Wisdom is a funny thing.  It brings with it a great sense of responsibility.  I have a hard time imagining what poor Solomon must have felt on a daily basis.  Actually I do know:

"Meaningless, meaningless.  It's all meaningless."

Wisdom does not come at once.  It is something one grows in.  Like yodeling.  As Jack Handy put it:

"If you ever teach a yodeling class, probably the hardest thing is to keep the students from just trying to yodel right off. You see, we BUILD to that."

All I know is that I am still searching.  Still sharing my journey with others.  Still wanting to be like Jesus.  Sometimes I want to go back to those earlier days.  Sometimes I want to be more naive.  But then again that would be a very unwise decision.

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