Friday, November 23, 2012

O Theo

Vincent Van Gogh was crazy talented…though probably more crazy. He’s best known as a painter, particularly of the odd, beautiful Starry Night. Later in his life, he had long bouts of madness, that has always made me think of him in a sort of Edgar Allan Poe barmy genius light. Eventually, he committed suicide. However, until this year, I didn’t know the story of Vincent’s younger brother, Theo.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Andrew Peterson posted this hilarious poem on the Rabbit Room last Thanksgiving, and I laugh out loud every time I read it. It also rather convicts me of my own failings.


O God, Magnificent Confounder,
Boundless in mercy and power,
Be near me in my apathy.

Be near me, Savage Dreamer,
Bright Igniter of Exploding Suns,
But not too near. I’d like to live,

By your grace, just long enough
To taste another perfect steak.
And to see my children marry,

And, perhaps, to pen a memoir.
Great redeemer of my lechery,
Bright Dawn of Blessed Hope,

Lay waste to every prideful thing,
Each black infraction of your law.
O Swirling Storm of Holy Anger,

Be patient with me. I’m certain
I will make a second gluttonous
Trip to the festal spread of food.

And I might as well admit, O King
Omniscient, I plan to make a third.
And that will lead to sloth, I know,

If only for the afternoon. Awake,
O sleeper! But not yet, not yet.
I want to dream a dream of light

In Heaven’s towering splendor.
I long, my Lord, to walk its streets
Or better yet, to drive them.

I’ve always wanted a motorcycle,
A cool one that blats and rumbles
Like a herd of flaming zebras.

I could totally impress the ladies
With my holy rolling zebra steed,
But only by your perfect pleasure,

Ruler of the angel armies, blaster
Of the horn of strength, would I ride
The golden highways awesomely.

O Wisdom of the Ages, speak!
Sing to me of secret knowledge
Open wide the gates of truth,

And let me learn it, by your grace,
Through the medium of television–
Smartly written situational comedy,

Perhaps, or an epic space opera.
Let me taste the honey of your word,
My beloved savior. Seriously. Save me

From my wit, my words, my songs,
My sin, my bad poems, my vanity,
My every single human impulse,

Except the ones I like and am able
To justify using my corruptible
Reason, my imperfect understanding,

And my belief in your inexhaustible
Forgiveness. When I awake, saintly,
I will consume a dish of pumpkin pie.

And, as I politely swallow a belch,
I will lean my heart on yours, Almighty,
To whom, alone, is due thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Neo-Mayberry, Middle of Nowhere, America (I really need a new sign-off...)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Leonard the Lonely Astronaut - A Review

They built a spaceship behind a burrito place. They actually built a ship and recorded an album in it. Whether you think it’s the height of nerdiness or coolness (or both), it shows Andrew Osenga's devotion to this idea.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. It’s a concept album, about a character named Leonard Belle. Leonard lives in the not-too-distant future, a place when spaceships can move at the speed of light. His life is falling apart. When his wife dies in the midst of a divorce, he finally goes off the deep end. Giving up everything, he takes a job on a space-freighter that will deliver supplies to a far-off outpost. Moving at light-speed, it will only be a year for him, but when he returns to Earth, everyone he knows will be dead. Leonard is pretty desperate to escape his problems. As a catharsis on his year-long journey, he decides to make an album.

I have no idea where the idea came from, but it’s pretty dang original. The result is very true to the idea—it sounds like something a middle-aged guy named Leonard would make, a sort of space-80’s-acoustic-rock mix-up. There are long soulful electric guitar solos, upbeat rock songs, jazzy laments. It’s got a good chunk of catchy songs that I’m still able to enjoy after quite a few listens. My younger brother, who is notorious for his neutrality on music, loves it.

In the end, to risk spoilers, Leonard realizes that going to space isn’t the answer to his problems, and he’s just as lonely as before. “It was not good for man to be alone,” he sings in the song of that name. It doesn’t feature too many great profound statements about humanity, but sometimes something jumps out and surprises me. Anyway, the subject matter is definitely above average stuff-on-the-radio, and it’s great fun to listen to. By and large, a good offering from Andrew Osenga.

Also. He’s wearing a home-made spacesuit on the tour.


You can get it here or on iTunes.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Test of All Happiness

"The test of all happiness is gratitude."
-G.K. Chesterton

There's a moment in the Lord of the Rings movies that has always bothered me a little. It's actually my favorite scene, when Frodo and Sam are in Osgiliath, and all hope is dead, it seems. Frodo, despairing, says, "What are we holding onto, Sam?"

Sam turns, grabs Frodo by the shoulders, and hauls him to his feet, staring him eye-to-eye. "There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."

The music swells. Gollum, remembering that little plan about the big spider, looks sheepish. And everyone feels a little better than they did before. It's by far my favorite scene. But, watching it again and again, there was always something nagging me. I knew that it wasn't actually in the books, so I never worried about Tolkien's theology...but here I was, swept up into the clouds by something I didn't believe was true.

I believed that to be theologically correct, we must say there is no good in the world, and there hasn't been since Adam's Fall (excepting a certain carpenter in early AD). All our righteousness is as filthy rags, after all. I didn't feel like it was right to call anything this side of heaven truly good.