Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Look up and have Hope

"I can do no more justice to the awesome wonder-filled theme called love than a child can grasp a star.
Still by reaching toward the star
the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction
one might look to see it.

So, as I stretch my heart
toward the high, shining love of God,

someone who has not before known about it
may be encouraged

to look up and have hope".

A Beautiful Career

One of the best aspects of my job as a corporate harasser (picture framing sales rep), is that I actually get paid to visit some truly amazing galleries and artists. Topping that list would have to be any time I get to visit Lou Stovall's Workshop,Inc in Northwest DC.

It was actually about the second or third time I visited Workshop, that it finally hit me "good gravy, this is THAT Lou Stovall", the guy we studied back in college Art history and MICA's Printmaking courses. Lou Stovall who designed 60's concert posters for The Who and Stephen Stills, and landmark DC music venues the Warner Theatre and Merriweather Post. Lou Stovall who has created prints for every type of artist, from famed African American painter Jacob Lawrence to the folksy Amish scenes of P. Buckley Moss. Lou Stovall who has headed, or is on the board, of just about every Arts committee, organization, volunteer artists group, that Washington DC has ever had. Lou Stovall who penned "On the Greening of the Artist", a commencement poem which I often see photo copies of push pinned on walls in artist's studios.

"Good gravy!"

The reason it didn't dawn on me sooner, is that this legend in the Art world is only larger than life on paper. In reality, his personality is more reminiscent of a favorite college professor, than a Andy Warhol or a Robert Williams (although he probably knew both). Always accommodating, and always focused, he'll be the first to give you a tour of the shop -- and the first to politely point you to the door if you linger to long. Just as quick to share a thought or idea with you, as he is to jump back to whatever he was doing before you arrived. He is an artist in the truest WWMM defintion "as someone who not only can, but needs to, create -- one lives and breathes their craft".

So anyway, you could say I am a fan, of both the art and the man.

He has a new show at Georgetown's Prada Gallery, through the end of Febuary, as well as an upcoming show at Dallas' African American Art Musuem starting in May.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Stay Seated

"Mommy, why isn't he going up" is a phrase that no Catholic parent wants to hear, or have to explain, when they are walking with their family up to receive the Eucharist. To be honest, I am not even sure how I would truthfully explain that to my child (if God were to ever bestow that blessing upon me).

My crash course on this topic came one Sunday while I was still in RCIA,and could not yet take Communion. I noticed the wonderful Catholic woman I was seeing at the time, had stayed kneeling with me, when the others started down the isle. Taking for granted this was just a kind act of solidarity, I didn't even mention it until later that day. She explained that our little make out session from the night before, had lead to less than pure thoughts, and that she felt the need for confession before receiving the Eucharist again.

My reaction to this little revelation was three fold, with the first part being the shame and guilt that comes with the "full knowledge" that I lead my sister into sin (Matt 18:6, 1 Cor 8:12), as well as being in sin myself.

Secondly, her bold demonstration of love and respect for our Lord, increased the already growing love and respect that I had for her. Oh, how I admired her!

The last part of this trilogy of emotions, was my determination to always be sure I was (and while together, we were) worthy of receiving Christ in the Eucharist. An easy self-promise, as my first Holy Communion was months away.

In our short courtship the above incident was never repeated, and she was even present on the wonderful Spring night, when I was received into the church--and when I first received our Savior's body and blood.
Although this was an amazing night, the next few months of living out my new Catholic faith would come to be more than I was prepared for.

Having to suddenly start examining my conscience on a regular basis, seemed to make the little sins of my life suddenly a bit larger and overwhelming. Confusion also came from my misconception that confession was something to avoid, a shame filled dark secret to keep, literally, behind closed doors. My own lack of self confidence allowed in the whispers of the enemy "you'll never be good enough to be a Catholic".

Keeping this to myself, I would start a weekly ritual of running into my parish on Saturdays, equipped with that week's written list of sins. An act of contrition, absolution, penance, and than I could proudly go up to receive communion the next morning at Mass.

This went on for several months before I realized I was not as sorry that my sins offended God, as much as I was that they could prevent me from going up with the other parishioners. I realized I was more concerned with how I looked to the nameless faces of my church, than I was at how I looked before my Creator. I had been going to confession out of pride, not contrition, and truly not in repentance. Of all my sins, I think this would truly be my biggest--and hardest to fully repent from.

Realizing this sin, I stayed kneeling one Sunday morning (alone, the above relationship sadly did not last), and started praying for God to forgive me this, and lend me the grace to truly repent. After Mass, I cornered my Deacon, and asked if he could find a priest to hear my confession. Truly contrite, truly repenting, I confessed this dark sin of pride and disrespect for our Lord.....and I was forgiven!

That day, increased in me both a real love for confession (a blog is a brewing), and a deeper reverence for the Eucharist. I thank the Holy Spirit for showing me all these things.

A habit of praying for my brothers and sister who stayed in their pews, has also become a wonderful part of Mass for me. Seeing them with both sympathy and respect, and hoping that on the days I stay kneeling, they might say a prayer for the ol' monkster . . . as I hope you all do as well.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

WWMM Random Lyric of the Day

"You never know what temporal days may bring
So laugh, love, live free, and sing
When life is in discord
Praise ye the Lord"

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Great Physician on Scrubs

Flipping channels the other night, and caught this repeat of "Scrubs", where they not only use a Kutless worship song, but the dialogue fades into the lines;

"By Your grace You let me come talk to You

It's not that I'm worthy I thank you Jesus

The scene involves a "we're having a baby" annoucement, and with this being the week of the March for Life, I felt optimistic that somebody (other than Patricia Heaton) in Hollywood actually might think life is the ONLY choice.

I also know I am not worthy,
and I do
Thank You Jesus!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tribulation or Consolation

"If I want only pure water, what does it matter to me
whether it be brought in a vase of gold or of glass?
What is
it to me whether the will of God be presented to me in
tribulation or consolation,
since I desire and seek only the
Divine will?"
... Francois de Sales (1567-1622)

Let me see Your hands

“I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish He didn't trust me so much.”

Mother Teresa

Lately I have added one thing to my daily prayer, and after reading the writings of the Saints ,as well as the Psalms, I know that it isn't a new prayer.

After possibly the most difficult year of my life , all I truly needed from God was/is to know He is there, and that all is in His wonderful hands, and moving according to His perfect plan. We Christians (especially me) love to say "don't worry, God's in control", but forget how much of a struggle it is to live out that truth, and I'll admit this sin is the one constant when I go to confession; that I don't trust Him . . .or worse, that I do, but my own plan is more comfortable.

Derek Webb wrote a similar musical confession in his tune "I Repent"

I repent, I repent of my pursuit of America's dream
I repent, I repent of living like I deserve anything
of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
in our suburb where we're safe and white
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent, I repent of parading my liberty
I repent. I repent of paying for what i get for free
and for the way I believe that I am living right
by trading sins for others that are easier to hide
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent judging by a law that even I can't keep
of wearing righteousness like a disguise
to see through the planks in my own eyes

I repent, I repent of trading truth for false unity
I repent, I repent of confusing peace and idolatry
by caring more of what they think than what I know of what we need
by domesticating You until you look just like me
I am wrong and of these things i repent

To "repent" means to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life. Often I "dedicate" myself so much to the task of turning away, that I focus on the sin so much that I inevitably find myself back in it. Instead I/we need to just focus on the Prize, and the One who has already won it for us.

Focusing on the Prize makes the struggle to achieve it easier; Focusing on the finish line lets you bear the rocks under your feet; and knowing all along that we have a holy cheering section eternally rooting us on.Hebrews 12:1

Again, all this is easier said than done, but ALSO easier to do than we think. It isn't our own strength we count on , but the One who has already ran this race, and Who knows the course by heart.

So, my new prayer is this:

"My God, I will joyfully bear anything,
the hard pounding of that hammer
forming me into the me You designed,
that You can use in some way.
I only ask Dear God that when I feel the hammer,
you let me see it's Your hand holding it"

Friends, let us remind each other of Who holds that hammer, on the times the forging of our being seems to much to bear.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bleeding Heart Republican?

Interesting article in Christianity Today about us wacky Compassionate Conservatives, and more to the point, how we of the religious variety tend to lead in the area of giving. Sadly it also points out that the new Evangelical mega-mart-churches (the ones who often accuse Catholics of wasting money on big fancy cathedrals), tend to spend more money on worship bands, websites, and big screen TVs; than they do on the poor or missions.

The WWMM is quick to admit that he wanted to kick George W' s butt, the first time he heard him talk about his new Compassionate conservatism. To me it was as if he was saying I/we hadn't been compassionate before, and that worse he was actually perpetuating the "cold blooded right winger" myth. I personally switched from the left because I cared about the poor, and saw first hand how the liberal false concern for the less fortunate was just a way of making themselves look/feel better. I began to call it "good person by proxy, rather than deed", although Ayn Rand's term of" the second hander" is fitting as well.

Anyone silly enough to say in front of me the over used, and under thought, bromide that "Jesus was a Socialist", is really saying "please o' Wacky Musical Wannabe Monk, tell me how much of a complete dolt I am". Jesus said for the Rich Young Ruler to give what was in his own pocket to the poor (charity), where socialism says to take it from your neighbors pocket (theft, extortion, or tyranny). Socialism is the Levite or priest who walks by the robbed and beaten man while telling themselves the government will take care of it. Christian charity is the Samaritan who willingly stops, gets down and helps the man; completely giving of both his time and his money.

Charity is our duty as Christians, done out of love and gratitude. This can be done in "the little way" of St. Therese through dozens of small loving acts each day, or as extreme as my Christian boss buying each of his one hundred employees a one hundred dollar juicer (yes, do the math) so we could each be a lil' healthier. You might say "no" when someone at a gas station hits you up "'cause they're on E", then go and swipe your card on his pump and say "fill it up, it's on me" (knowing it's on you and God). If your a travelling man like me, you can always have food and water in your car, ready to give out to anyone who is hungry or thirsty (the very best part of my day, I must say....and after all it's not my money, it's HIS!).

I could list ideas like this all day, but all you have to really do is trust the Holy Spirit to lead you (who do you think gave me the food and water idea?).

So am I a:

A) Bleeding heart Republican ?
B) Compassionate Conservative?
C) Very blessed, child of God,

If ya gotta give me a label, I prefer "C"

"go and do likewise"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A New Law / Derek Webb

a sucker punch to my conscience

...one it often needs, and always deserves.

What makes DC beautiful?

Snow and Starbucks


My Greatest Sin

Is he really gonna write about that? expose that dark secret of an act too many of us do when we are alone, or sometimes with an audience? Is the WWMM so hopped up on Brazilian java, that any sense of decency is clouded, and no propriety left? . . .Yes, this so common, but not so hidden as we would like topic, must be addressed.

Please take the kids out of the room.

Aggressive driving, speeding, tail gating; has now become the single sin I most often need to confess (yes, even more than "that"). How can driving be a sin?, and I don't just mean in the way the average Social Security recipient seems to naturally drive 10 mph below the speed limited. For me, it's not so much how I drive, as much as the way driving aggressively can make me a bit uptight (IE. if your ever wanna hear the monkster curse, just hang out in my"chick magnet"/Ford minivan for half a day).

Not only do I occasionally use the kind of words you generally only hear if you have premium Cable services, but I also find my self judging the other drivers, and often by their ethnic groups. My mixture of a triple grande' latte with my I95 Nascar tryouts, has lead me to determine that we need to make special lanes for folks over 60 (except my dad, an ex-bus driver who has watched way too much Rat Patrol) as well as those Americans who ain't technically Americans (in DC you can always tell the cabbies who aren't legal, because they drive the speed limit, for fear of being pulled over.....which cops couldn't do anyway, because of anti-profiling laws).

I find myself getting annoyed or angry, as well as not taking in to consideration that not everyone on the road is trying to see 20 customers in the DC area in an 8 hour period. Realizing that giving "unto Caesar" also means driving in accordance with the traffic suggestions (er, laws), even if it means driving in the Granny lane, is more important than the 15 minutes my speeding might save me by the end of the day.

The funny thing is that until I drove for a living, I always drove by the book. Geriatrics could often be seen cursing at me for driving too slow (ie, the speed limit), not to mention the abundant uses of the middle finger I witnessed from soccer moms. Of course back then my sin was one of self-righteousness, because I was a "good person" for driving appropriately.

Once I even followed a reckless driver into a 7/11 to give him a good talking to (no, I am not a 72 year old retiree). It was a kid who had cut me, and several other people, off, on his way to get his next sugar free Red Bull . What annoyed me most was that the car had a Christian fish (Ichthus) decal on it, and I didn't think the driver was exactly representing Christ very well by playing "the Fast and the Furious" in a residential neighborhood. When I approached him after we parked, he actually admitted that he never considered that he may be sinning in his manor of driving, and our little talk even ended up with us both praying. He didn't know what he was doing. Luke 23:34

Well, I sadly know what I am doing, and having repented, try daily to drive as if someone had confronted and prayed with me, at a 7/11.

Please say a prayer for me, as all sin is bad, and little sins usual lead to bigger ones.

God bless

Monday, January 22, 2007

Choose to March

Today thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children will freeze their butts off on the Mall in DC for the annual March for Life. Unlike the stereotype the media will try to perpetuate, the group will consist of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and atheists. Their will be young Catholic families, old gay couples, and lots of teen youth groups. You might see a hasidic Jew from NYC laughing with a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, as well as Catholic and Protestant kids exchanging myspace info. Politics of this group will span from far right to far out left field, with most down the middle or slightly to the right.

Granted, the extremely lazy mainstream media generally puts on blinders on days like this (these blinders are given out to most 1st year Journalism students, but can be also bought on ebay or at lazy liberal.com) , and so I decided to just post a bunch of photos for those of you who can't be there.

I also found an awesome site with objective photos of what the pro
abortionists call "tolerance" (but I ain't showin'em now). Pray that there hearts will change.

If you can't come,
you can pray!

God Bless those frozen toes !

Wish I could be down there too

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"The Days Off are Evil"

Be very careful, then, how you live
not as unwise but as wise,

making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.

While I absolutely love Mass, especially at my parish, I must confess that Sundays tend to bring a fair amount of anxiety. After church, even on the days I have helped in RCIA, my resemblance to Hugh Grant's character in "About a Boy" is closer than just my hair cut (and yes, my hair guy, Israel, keeps a pic of Hugh on file just for me ....can we all say "Mike's a dork"?).

In the movie Will (Hugh Grant) explains how one, if they are "dependently" wealthy, properly goes about wasting a day:

"I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating and most activities take about half an hour. Taking a bath: one unit, watching countdown: one unit, web-based research: two units, exercising: three units, having my hair carefully disheveled: four units. It's amazing how the day fills up, and I often wonder, to be absolutely honest, if I'd ever have time for a job; how do people cram them in?

In great shame, I must admit that in many ways this is similar to my basic Sunday recipe, with my greatest amount of energy used trying to fill up those 8-9 hours between "the Mass has ended, go in Peace" and my own voice mumbling my scriptural Rosary just before my head hits the pillow. Where the average day, including Saturday, is usually filled to da brim with work or church or exercise or Smallville (all chant "dork" again?), I struggle to get through each and every Sunday. Worse is the fact that not having an actual schedule on Sunday, lends to putting off the days reading or even prayer (save for bedtime), and not guarding my time often allows my mind wander to sad (why me) , bitter (why her), or even impure (well, she does have a really cute . . .) thoughts.

Usually I have a vague game plan, and this week I decided to take the time to count my blessings, as well as babble about 'em on my blog.

1) the first and greatest is off course my Life, . . .even though my pre-Christian self pondered and prayed for a myriad of death scenarios (thoughts a Spirit filled me still has to fight off on occasion...but fight we do!)

2)that the God of the universe would not just create, but want to know me. that He would desire my presence in His holy house today, and everyday.

3)that I would be given the knowledge above, that so many of those around me are ignorant of.

4)that although Jesus took my mother to be with Him this year, in His generous nature gives me His own mother, our Blessed Lady.

5)that I finally get to hear my beloved sister speak of the same love for our Savior.

6)that her daughter will always sing "Here I come to Worship" for me

7)that God answered my prayers and placed a new precious life in an old precious friend (and that my friend will forgive me for saying "old")

8)that I work for a company that respects and encourages me and my faith.

9)that I get to work with men that I trust, admire, and respect (I'll call 'em the 3 J's).

10)that although I may sometimes feel lonely, I am never really alone.

11) that no one really reads this, so I can be as honest and personal as I want (O:

there are millions more blessings I can think of, some big, some small, ...all flowing from the heart and hands of a loving God.

I praise His name, but can't thank Him enough,

(now go watch football, I got's some praying to do)


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Candy - Whatever Happened To Fun

"The Weekend is here, again"
These guys were fashion roll models for the monkster back in the 80's
although, I can't seem to find my hair spray, elf boots or bolo ties (O:
pure power pop perfection (with a future GnR)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tew Wuv

My watching of the dogs stuck in Antarctica flick "Eight Below", triggered again in me the desire to get a puppy. This desire springs from my own acknowledged need to "have something to love", especially something I won't expect love from in return. The love in return part started me thinking about Christ's love, and His command that we love as He did/does.

Many times I have heard people say that "everyone wants to be loved", which I don't deny in anyway, but is this the true greatest desire God put in our heart?
As we were designed to love God, as well as loving others as a mirror of that love, I can't help but think that the thing we all really want and need, is "to love". In light of God's love (pun intended), where we all can know we are loved, and perfectly, isn't this idea of needing to be loved completed? As I went through the Bible, the instructions are always for us "to love", not "be loved", although one act of love (maybe the hardest) is to let someone love us.

Look at two different translations of 1 Corinthians 13:13:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

In this passage, as with most of the instructional scripture, love is a more verb than noun, something we (should) do, not just have.

This line of thought started me questioning my engaged and married friends as to why the wanted marriage, and the answer overwhelmingly was "to love" . I think those who answered that way, and remembering during rough days that as their reason for marriage, will have a much better chance of celebrating that Golden Anniversary.

The hardest thing in this is not to turn into the other persons emotional ATM, to be so busy giving of yourself that you don't notice the other is just taking. Before I was a Christian, I confess I was more taker, although more recently the taken (guess there is something to Karma after all). Being either is bad, and letting the other person be either is just as bad, as both damage our souls.
Neither reflect Jesus.

After a year of giving, rarely receiving love, and the painful realization that "I Love you" just meant "I love the Attention you give me", you'd think I would be even more bitter than I am (and bitter
I am). In humility, I realized how often that I/we treat God in the same way. God gimme, not God what can I give you. God I love you, as long as you give me what I want, instead of "My Lord, you alone are worthy".

When I honestly ponder marriage, I see that it doesn't stem as much from my desire to be loved , as much as my longing to daily love as Christ loves. To have another to completely give my heart to, the new heart of Christ that lives within me, that constantly beams outward.

Well, I guess what I'm trying to say, post-caffeine, is that Lennon had it almost right...."All we need is To love"

go and love in Christ's love,

One can give without loving,
but one cannot love

    ... Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

But, I already voted

Yes, time to vote again, but this time for a nice Christian muscian, not one of those silly political type people.

The name :Drew Davidsen
The music : Jazz
The Award: The Momentum Awards (for Christian Indie Artists)

Click on his name to hear some tunes, and then click on the award to vote (under JAZZ). . . . no chads, and relatively painless.

Drew is also a mainstay at my old church in Bawlmer; playing in the worship band, as well as donating time to teach others guitar so they too can honor God with music. I also must confess that I covet his guitar collection.

Oh, and his mom Rocks too!

Peace be with you,

Someone Who Is Cool . . .other than me, of course

"I'm the Coffee, not the Sleep"

Found this on youtube, and had to post it. This tune was recently resurrected for the theme song to the short lived CBS show "Love Monkey" (Ed in the music biz). With the quirky kinda lyrics that only tundra trekking hockey fans can write, and power chords so crunchy that they leave crumbs under your speakers , me thinks you'll dig it too (and may be an apt substitute for your morning brew).

The Odds rawk!,although sadly only on CD, as the broke up last century.

Not a Christian band, but the tune ranks with one JPMs (Jesus per minutes), that CCM stations use to decide if a song is "christian" enough.

"close but kind of meatless
like actors who play Jesus
in movies of the week"

Youtube is my friend, and I have found tons o' pop vids that I will inflict upon you all in the future (Material Issue, Zumpano, Cavedogs...) Be Afraid, be very afraid (O:


Monday, January 15, 2007

It'a a Life thing!, do you understand?

Monday, January 22nd, one week from today, is the annual March for Life down here in the city on a swamp (DC), where pro-life supporters so crowd the city that the mainstream media seems to disappear . . .or hide, as I fear there may be an unknown law of physics which states "Truth and the Media cannot occupy the same space". I started attending over twenty years ago, and year after year I am again saddened at how this March of thousands of pro-life demonstrators (or "anti-abortion rights" activists . . .puh-lease) is barely, if at all, covered; but if seven members of "Gay Cat Owners against Bush" hold a rally, it's front page of The Washington Post.

I started attending back in my Bon Jovi perm days, when I was still a Liberal, and an Atheist. Abortion to me was a no brainer (in more ways than one, as most abortion "doctors" usually graduated from some Third World medical / nail art school). Abortion is the killing of an innocent human being. As a liberal, as a conservative, as an atheist, as an Evangelical Christian, and now as a Catholic: one thing stayed the same "Abortion is Murder!"

Christians should stand united in this, and in many ways do, but you wouldn't know it if you attended this mostly Catholic event. I know that most, if not all, of my non-Catholic friends are pro-Life, but year after year I attend this rally alone. The problem isn't that they don't care, but that often their church doesn't say anything out of fear of appearing "political". The Leaders of so many of these churches have sadly become more concerned with church attendance, or planning the annual "pat ourselves on the back" 5 day summer mission trip, than protecting the rights of the unborn.

Individual Christians are ready for the call, but often churches are so fearful of having any sign of political identity ( a valid view), that they have bought the enemy's lie (as well as the media's) that Life is somehow a Republican issue. "Don't rock the boat" is not in the Ten Commandments, moreover if Peter wouldn't have gotten out of the boat ,he would have never have walked upon the water, or swam to the shore to meet his risen Lord.

An embryo's agenda isn't political, he or she just doesn't wanna get ripped apart and thrown in a dumpster.

Hey church leaders!, yeah you! The abortion industry is killing your future church goers, at an average of 4,000 a day. You know it, we know it, now say something from the pulpit, and get your people out there.

This isn't a Catholic issue, it's not even a Christian one, it's about protecting the Innocent.

I pray I'll see more of ya next week (Conservative, liberal, christian, Jewish, or Martian universalist), I pray that those who don't attend will start dialogues in their communities, I pray that the hearts of abortionists will change, and I pray that the souls of the discarded innocent will pray for us all.


PS: the photo is of a new life growing in the body of an ex-Pro-Choice friend (please pray for mother and child).
Jesus gave her a new heart and two new lives.
Amen, I say Amen , an awesome God we serve!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Keep it Under the Covers

Noooo, No, my faithful readers, this won't be a rant on the damaging nature of premarital sex (although a rant is a brewin', along with my mocha java, on that topic), or even the pain inflicted by cute couples and P.D.A., but the almost as damaging affect of shelling out $15 for Under the Covers, Vol. 1 by Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs (aka, the woman who will one day come to her senses, and proclaim her undying love for yours truly.......and in my chivalry, I will selflessly send her back to her hubby)).

I will admit I had my doubts going in, but the fact that the ever fetching Ms. Hoffs (or Mrs. Jay "Austin Powers" Roach) has teamed up with a guy who resembles the WWMM (when not attending my OA meetings), had me interested.....plus I Love's me some cover songs.

A re-worked, re-vamped Cover song is a wonderful thing, with Jimi Hendrix's version of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" being the definitive example. Other stand outs (in my ever humble opinion) are 7 Seconds "99 Red Balloons", Splitsville's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again", and Casandra Wilson's beautiful version of U2's "Love is Blindness". All differing from the originals just enough to make them fresh, and even exciting and powerful. The Anti War lyrics of "99 Red Balloons" takes on an immediacy when perfectly punked up by Kevin Seconds and gang. So basically Mike's rule for covers (which should be an industry standard soon) is make it new, make it fresh, and make it your own.

Sadly Sweet/Hoffs fail on all three counts, as well as not adhering to a lesser rule of only covering songs that ain't already been covered. The production was obviously meant to sound very "60's", but so did the originals, so there goes the NEW and FRESH parts of the ruling. Making the songs their own is only slightly touched on, as both singers have unique voices, and Mr. Sweet does pull at some interesting guitar tones here and there......but in the end it still just sounds like an almost comical SNL Wedding band or Lounge act (I kept expecting to hear "please tip your servers" or "we'll be hear all week" in between the songs). This is not to say all the songs are not done technically well, with my hope they might even inspire listeners to seek out the originals (please seek out the originals!), but both of these artists have done some great covering in the past (namely Mrs. Roach's pop perfection version of "If She Knew What She Wants", while still in the Bangles).

For a list of artists that have covered these songs previously (and better), check out The Covers Project, or take a gander at my partial list below.

The Beatles "and Your Bird Can Sing" covered by The Jam
Love's "Alone Again or" covered by UFO (no really, it's a great version, and my intro to LOVE)
Stone Pony's "Different Drum" covered by Evan Dando and The Lemonheads
The Zombies' "Care Of Cell #44" covered by the Sneetches
The Left Banke's "She May Call You Up Tonight" by the Posies' (and R.E.M.'S) KenStringfellow
The BeeGees " Run To Me" by the late great Jim Ellison (Why Jim, why?)and Material Issue

If ya can't find these, shoot me an e-mail and I'll make ya a mix

Studio 150, Paul Weller's similar, but superior, all covers CD is worth a listen ,although I recommend the import with bonus tracks.

Time to get out of these Covers, and off to embrace the day, and watch the Ravens destroy the Colts (wow, I sounded like a guy for a second, I'll try to keep that in check).

God bless, Keep praying for each other,

Friday, January 12, 2007

Another Chance, not the Gardener

"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another,
envying one another". Galatians 5:25-26

Most of my friends are painfully aware of my mildly annoying
habit of promoting Christian entertainment (music mostly,
but also movies,books,visual art).Omega Code not
withstanding, I generally see the rough diamond of Christian
films,while imagining how they could have been if there was
a Hollywood budget behind it.The flipside of this, I tend to
see most secular Hollywood offering as extremely well
polished turds,that may sparkle like gems, but have an underlying message that is crapola,
....or worse.

One of the recent Christian movie offerings was the film "The Second Chance", known
mostly as the "acting"debut of CCM mega-star Michael W Smith.While not a great film,
it does have a wonderful scene where a very humble mentally challenged man washes
the feet of someone who he had chastised earlier in the film
"I cared more about you saying hell than I did about how you were feeling,",
which in turn lead the two main characters to follow. Both in humility, as washing
anothers feet, or having another was your feet, are both humble sacrificial acts.

Why is the WWMM ranting about this topic this January morning? Because I see how
many feet I need to wash,as well as how many people I need to let wash my feet (and
a pedicure wouldn't hurt). Forgiving, and being forgiven, are so completely
connected and truly cannot be separated. The funny thing is I think we all have
perform this act on ourselves sometimes as well.

The zeal I have for the new fullness of faith that I have found in the Catholic
Church, may start to come on a bit strong at times (a Bawlmer boy coming on strong
...naaaaah), and even have non-Catholic Christians feeling as if they are under attack. If this be the case, please know that while I do feel betrayed in a sense by the pastors/elders (the
ones who should be able to see all Biblical signs that clearly point to Rome), I
have nothing but love and thankfulness to all of the wonderful lil' Jesus's I met
in my old church, or through my workings in Youth ministry. One of the truly best
days in my life was at the (non-Catholic) Promise Keepers 2007 "Stand in the Gap"
event in Washington DC, and other days in my top ten are also related to events
with my old church.

It was the teaching that failed me, never my fellow mega-church goers. The majority
of my friends have been overwhelmingly excepting, with just a few taking a little
time for it to sink in that "Mike really is a Catholic".God bless you all,
and thanks again for the support!

Anyhow, to anyone and everyone feeling in anyway slighted by my humble little blog;
I ask you to call me out if I go too far, to please remember that I am not an actual writer
(although I play one on TV) so I don't always convey things as well as I would like
(improving in this area partly the reason for my lil' blog), that you will
look for the positive, and mainly that ya'll might say a prayer or two for me.

The Feet washing starts tomorrow at 6 am, and with a little luck and a lot of
charity,I should be done in time for my 75th birthday (O:

In Christ's love

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A lot to swallow

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (John 6:53–56).

Any Wednesday evening, between 6-8, this new bloggin' blogger can be found at his wonderful parish, for Eucharistic Adoration. Although this is in one way considered a sacrificial act, I must admit that I truly need this time in my Brother Jesus' presence. On more than one occasion, when my broken and trampled heart seemed impossible to carry, I wished nothing more than to curl up in a pew and rest in His arms (which is maybe why the idea of the homeless sometimes sleeping in the back pews, doesn't bother me . . .they too, are in their Brother's arms).

Anyway, last night, I was meditating mostly on the idea of the bread becoming Jesus (the miracle of transubstantiation). The biblical truth of the Eucharist was actually the catalyst to my taking my first step towards Rome, always feeling cheated somehow in my old church when we had "communion" , a spiritual-less exercise in "Catholi-phobia"(fear of appearing Catholic, a future blog on this to come), where the pastor (unconsciously?) accents the word "remembrance" above "this is My body". This always felt wrong, even fake, to me,especially as the pastors themselves never actually explained why the heck we were doing it (and they say Catholics have meaningless rituals?). There was of course a glimpse of the truth, and my desire to know and understand that truth, is that which lead me to my first Holy Communion.

Talking to other converts and reverts, this seems to be the case with many of them as well.

The main thought that came to me was how unbelievably prideful it is for us Christians to easily accept that the Creator of the universe would choose to become a human, yet deny He would become our food. In humility I realized that our physical selves are far more closely related to piece of Wonder bread or a glass of Manischewitz, than we are to being anything like the Almighty.....but that didn't stop Him from becoming one of us.

Limiting God in this way, in any way, isn't just ridiculous; but could be seen as a form of almost exalting ourselves.

When my thoughts shifted to God's motivation in becoming our supper, the lyrics of one of my favorite love songs " I CAN SYMPATHIZE "by the seminal punk (and to my knowledge, not Christian) bands, 7 Seconds. My favorite lines below:

"When you cry I wish I could be,
a salty tear running from your eye

I wish you'd swallow me, so I could be
So much closer to your soul"

Closer to our souls! and our bodies house our souls....OK, you can do the math (O:

I will be babbling further on this, as I am preparing a week of blogs on the Sacraments, but I just wanted to throw this out for now, as to keep my millions of hungry readers at least partially fed.

Peace of Christ,

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Thank God for Flat Tires

Praise God! At about 11 am yesterday my 2004 Ford Freestar mini-van, "the chick magnet", had a rather extreme blow out, after I bumped a curb exiting the highway at 45mph while trying to decide if I wanted Heavy Christian rawk, or really Heavy Christian rawk.

Again I say , Praise God!

You are now thinking something marvelous happened because of this (if you are a guy, than you are assuming a Cine-max scenario where the bus with the Swedish Swimsuit Team, stops to give me assistance....shame on you!.....and I don't know what scenario a woman might pick, as I am male,and therefore haven't a clue what women think).

Is the Musical Monk happy because he lost a whole day of work?, or that he had the luxury of watching "Your Mother stole my transvestite boy/girlfriend" on Jerry Springer while in the Tire shop ?, or maybe the privilege of shelling out 120 smackers to replace a tire that was only a year old? All these are of course valid excuses to break out in song and dance, but not what I am most thankful.

I am thankful that I managed to pull into a parking lot, I had a cell phone to call AAA, that there was a lil' cafe with a restroom while I waited for AAA, that my spare had air, and that all this did not happen ON the highway !

I am most thankful that the Creator of the Universe was with me the whole time, and that the Holy Spirit reminded me once again how truly blessed I am in all things!

from JURY DUTY ,by the O.C. SupertoneS

"Cuz every single moment,
whether sleeping or awake
Is Your creation
And what You've made is good!
I don't always thank for you
for the rough days
and the hard times in my life
even though I should"

May we all be so blessed,

Friday, January 5, 2007

Before the Snipping

This be me, six weeks before the scissors came down

Arch-bridezilla Michael

A new year always brings new goals, and humbly I shall conform to this tradition as well. I base my new goal on a fulfilled, but denied, goal I achieved last year.

After spending a year attempting to prove my qualifications for the position of "Husband to be", to a potential employer, I realized too late that said company had not yet prepared itself for growth in that area. The interview process, while demanding and stressful, did allow confirmation of the positive matrimonial traits I currently possess, as well as highlighting those areas where further study and certification, is required. At the closing of that, I must assume I was just overqualified for said position (and should have possibly asked for a lower starting salary, as well as waiting to apply when a position was actually open), and continue to pray for blessings for all involved.

This brings me to my new , but similar, goal of 2007.

The one thing any Husband candidate truly needs to be before even thinking about applying for this sought after position, is to be a loving bride to our beloved Bridegroom. The realization of my own lacking in this area, as well as leanings to almost idolatry during the above mentioned year long interview, has shaped my year 2007 goal into that of making myself the best possible bride.
Our heavenly Bridegroom of course deserves only the best, shedding and offering His own blood so that we can have the graces to be just that. Being the best to me means everyday trying to become the person we were meant to be, while knowing that only passing glimpses of that future perfected person are to be seen in this mortal, and flabby, coil.

While He knows "everything I ever did"(John 4:39), His promise is to make us "new creations" by His abundant graces, which are new every morning. Daily prayer, daily Mass, and daily examination of conscience; are but a few of the tools afforded us in this effort. Being a servant and taking this wisdom, grace, and love to others; also being a desirable trait in a bride.

Before I again consider a career change, me thinks it best for me and my future employer, that I focus more energy on the job I was (re) born into, that being the bride of Christ.

"Come Lord Jesus, come"

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

I'm a blogger, she's a blogger, wouldn't ya like to be a blogger too?

Oh no, What is Mike up to now?. . . .six foot, although after 4o, shrinkage does start to set in.

This blogging thing is just another attempt to garner attention (no not James Garner, although I do loves me some Rockford File reruns), as well as expound on all the things (well, the nicer things) that go through my caffeinated brain while driving around the DC Metro area.

God, love (God is love), my new Catholic faith, my excessive music collection, Picture Framing, and just about anything that can (and does) go through this wacky 6 lbs of mincemeat I call a brain.

I promise to be as reverent as possible (which makes me guess I shouldn't be writing in my Superman underoos), as well as honest, silly, an generally weird (using the full power of my Baltimore-ness).

Have fun, and as my friend Paul says "Let's Pray for each other"

Peace of Christ be with us All,