Monday, August 29, 2011

I've already done that . . .

In recapping the VMA awards from last night, it is fascinating to muse over a statement from someone like Britney Spears about where we are as a culture . . .

If you didn't get the chance to see the exchange between her and Lady Ga-ga, it can be found here:


The short story is that Lady Ga-ga, in another one of her sort of strange attention-getting gimmicks spent most of the show as a guy smoking cigarettes and looking like a 50's greaser.  When Ga gave the award to Spears, the two sort of orbited each other with Spears looking at the crowd as if to say, "should I?"  Of course the crowd roared in support of another lip-lock that has now become famous between Spears and another pop-queen a few years ago.

Spears pulls up and leans into the mic and says, "I've already done that." and leaves the despondent-looking Ga-ga behind.  It was so 7th grade (or maybe 6th).

Imagine that!  An idea that has has run it's course.  Pretty interesting that the biggest headline last night wasn't the kiss that almost was, but Chris Brown's flying through the air and Beyonce's baby bulge.  Is it possible that ideas . . . even RAUNCHY ideas . . . can become passe?  Is Spears onto something here?

"I've already done that" hints at the redundancy of pushing the envelope.  In other words, the shocking only works once.  The reason it only works once is because we didn't really care about bringing in same-sex kissers at every VMA awards - we only cared if it COULD be done.  And now it HAS BEEN done.  Which led to Spears saying it shouldn't be repeated.  Which really makes you wonder if it ever should have been done at all.

The biggest test for some of these actions are the sustainability of them.  We give to the poor, we help the homeless, we love the unlovable because it never goes out of style.  It has substance.  Faith has depth - it has a gravity that doesn't make headlines, but it repeats through our culture over and over.

Shocking acts onstage somewhere are doomed to be one-hit wonders . . . just because we can push the limits doesn't mean we should have in the first place.  Spears is off to the next thing, but it will be just as empty . . .

And that is why we need to keep living out the truth - because everything else is empty.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane a brewin . . .

Hurricanes are not supposed to get you excited . . . I know.

But I get really excited when a hurricane is coming.  Maybe it has to do with living through a handful of them in Ocean City growing up.  It pretty much meant great surf before and after - as well as a day of complete wind chaos.  And who doesn't love a little wind chaos every now and then?

I remember one particular hurricane - I think it was Belle, not sure though.  We were living on 3rd street and the "ocean met the bay" which was an ominous way of saying that the storm surge pretty much ravaged the island.  I was sitting on the porch at night in the middle of the storm and a lightning bolt hit an antenna across the street from us - it was right out of a movie with sparks flying and everything.  When a firetruck went down the street, the water was so high the truck stalled out right in front of our house.  I remember firemen trudging through knee-deep water.  It was so bad that the tenants below us came running upstairs because they were a little nervous about what was going to happen next!

I remember another hurricane that we waited out - a day of things blowing all over and heavy rain.  When the eye moved in, we went up to the boardwalk and looked around - everything was battered and churning.  As the eye wall moved in, the wind picked up and we loved leaning into the high gusts.

Of course I was young and it was all very exciting - the dark clouds brewing,  the people on the radio and TV warning of impending doom.  My parents even took us to the beach the day before to see the size of the waves.  Such drama!

Now of course you hear of people losing their lives and property and it has a little more weight to it.  You never wish any of that on anyone of course.

But there is still a good part of me that is anxious to get down there and show my own kids nature's awesome presence.  Of course they are still a bit young - maybe the next one!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where were you when . . .

I found myself saying it today . . .
"so where were you when the earthquake hit?"

I felt so stupid saying it - because it was really a non-event.  I sat in the back seat of a Ford Ranger Pickup Truck while it happened.  We were stopped at a stoplight and I was on the phone.  I thought that maybe the guys in the front seat were rocking the car for some reason so I quickly dismissed it.  It was only until my wife called and told me what happened that I stitched it all together.  It was like waking up and recalling a dream - I DID feel the shaking.  Weird.

What is really strange is the perspective that is so warped.  I am in a car at a stoplight on my phone thinking that my world is governed by such things as phone calls, traffic and to-do lists.  Meanwhile several million tons of solid rock grinds against itself miles underneath the surface of the earth.  One event that is considered feeble by West Coast standards is felt from DC to Maine.  So what is the real 'reality?'  What forces really control our lives?

It reminds me that we are not as god-like as we might think.  We are (literally) ants that scurry around on rather large rocks that float over a sea of lava.  Moreso, we are little creatures that have a beginning and an end and if today was our last there isn't a thing we could do about it.

Usually it is this kind of thinking that pushes you toward a belief or away from one.  Those who get pushed away get a glimpse of the meaninglessness of it all.  They conclude that the earth shrugs its shoulders from time to time  - the natural world is a collection of great blessing and great devastation - there is no rhyme or reason.

For me, it pushes me toward belief . . . the bigger the scale, the more it impresses me that we can't possibly have the mind of God.  Huge rocks, scalding lava - all of it the product of things far greater than I can imagine.