conjectural navel gazing; jesus in lint form

Don't lose any opportunity, however small, of being gentle toward everyone. Don't rely on your own efforts to succeed in your various undertakings, but only on God's help. Then rest in his care of you, confident that he will do what is best for you, provided that you will, for your part, work diligently but gently. I say "gently" because a tense diligence is harmful both to our heart and to our task and is not really diligence, but rather over eagerness and anxiety...I recommend you to God's mercy. I beg him, through that same mercy, to fill you with his love. - Francis de Sales


Liturgical Nostalgimania

Posted April 22, 2014 @ 1:36pm | by Tripp

The return of tapes, however, is not an isolated or idiosyncratic phenomenon. It belongs with a larger age of retromania, to use Simon Reynolds’ expression: cultural objects from the past become desirable once more. Past technologies are feverishly recycled and sold again. Nostalgia is, in other words, a consumers’ disease – a ‘consumeralgia’ – a longing to hold and own things, to collect tangible remainders of the ‘old world’. It is, moreover, a particular disease of the Western World.

Nostalgia drives liturgical change as much as it drives musical entrepreneurship. What songs warm our hearts? What reminds us of grandmother? A song might symbolize an imagined, more perfect, time in the church. Nostalgia and utopian dreams of the past collude and what emerges is new liturgy. 

The new is born of ideations of the old. The new is born of nostalgia as much as anything else.

Of course, most of us are nostalgic for times and places that are irrecoverable. How we partake of the table feast is predicated on what moves our heart. And it is mediated by the liturgical power structures of our own traditions. Perhaps you have a prayer book like the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. So, you try to create a liturgy for both you and your grandmother even though your grandmother still perceives the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as an innovation and not the church of her childhood for which she too is very nostalgic. She misses her parents. She misses her grandparents.

And on and on this goes. We can sing “great cloud of witnesses” until we’re as blue in the face as the cover of our hymnals, but the truth is that the words don’t always meet the nostalgic yen. Still, we try. We play songs. We offer prayers. We appropriate the cultures of the past retooling them for our own nostalgic proclivities.

This is, as Elodie Roy, the author of "Cassette Fever in the Age of Bandcamp," reminds us, all mediated by a marketplace. “Nostalgimania” is a “consumeralgia.” I suggest that this is as true for the ongoing (dare we say, emergent) liturgical renewal movements as it is for the music industry.

We are retooling liturgies left and right. This practice is neither good or bad, but there is an ethical ambiguity that may need to be addressed.The new is born of ideations of the old then sold in the liturgical marketplace.

Transmission and change are increasing with new technology. We church musicians can barely keep up. Mumford Masses happen. U2charists are already passe and most of us haven’t heard of them. The sale of the same (when they are sold and not "borrowed") pads the coffers of denominational retirement plans as well as individual bank accounts. 

What’s next is what was.  

And it's making some people a lot of money. 

Thanks be to God. 

Filed Under: Comprehensive Exams |   | Permalink
Tags: musicology, ecclesiology

Getting and Staying Better?

Posted April 21, 2014 @ 3:06pm | by Tripp

Here we are on the Monday after Easter and the new Facebook settings suggests to me that many of us, myself included, are inclined to complain about others after Jesus leaves the tomb empty. So out of sorts are we that we're simply standing around pointing fingers. 
"Someone here is doing it wrong! You! You are doing it wrong!"
In the spirit of doing it wrong, I will now offer you some links. Some are to positive stories, stories that affirm life in some way. Others are more problematic. Having posted many of these to Facebook, I'm rather surprised by what generated the most commentary. Seems we have a lot to work through. I'm not being flippant or accusatory. I actually thing this stuff matters. Our bodies are semiotically empowered. So, what we wear says a lot more than any of us care to admit. Not all of it is good. 

Here are some more:

How Pope Francis, tolerant but rigorous, is winning hearts and minds "The papacy is mysterious and magical: It turns a septuagenarian into a superstar while revealing almost nothing about the man himself. And it raises hopes in every corner of the world — hopes that can never be fulfilled, for they are irreconcilable."

“You want people like that to hate you”: Reza Aslan on Glenn Beck, that Fox News interview, and who gets to speak for Jesus

Looney Tunes Echo Backstage as Opera Companies Drop Dead

Being ‘Good’ Isn’t the Only Way to Go

Peggy Shinner on 'You Feel So Mortal' "Shinner . . . casts an ever-wider intellectual net that dredges up a host of cultural associations with the body throughout history, from antiquity to the present. In the process, she lays bare the ways in which truth and distortion about our physical selves have intertwined to shape our collective thinking about large groups of people, in particular women and Jews, for good or ill."

Jack White Breaks A World Record On Record Store Day  "Once their thrashing rendition was over, the master acetates were rushed a few blocks south to the United Record Pressing plant, where they were electroplated to produce the stampers that would then turn molten vinyl and five thousand pounds of pressure into 7-inch 45 RPM records."

Patti Smith’s Advice on Life  "And do you know what I found after several decades of life? We are Pinnocchio over and over again — we achieve our goal, we become a level of ourselves, and then we want to go further. And we make new mistakes, and we have new hardships, but we prevail. We are human. We are alive. We have blood."

Great Moments In Branding: A Church Says “Hell, Yes” “Although obviously the use of 'Hell, yes' is arresting, what we’re really doing is taking a swear word that a lot of people use casually and without thinking, and reinstating its real meaning,” explains Pentagram partner Michael Bierut. “So there’s a certain underlying seriousness.”

Banjoist Jayme Stone Finds Common Language on The Other Side of The Air “I love having folk musicians and jazz musicians and chamber musicians all together finding a common language and bringing different elements of those styles together,” LISTEN

And that's what I have for you on this Monday. Y'all step back. Breathe deeply and enjoy the day. 

Filed Under: conjecture |   | Permalink

Holy Saturday: Snare

Posted April 19, 2014 @ 2:33pm | by Tripp

Filed Under: Old School Bloggery |   | Permalink
Tags: snare, bobby mcferrin

Maundy Thursday: Encouragement

Posted April 17, 2014 @ 12:21pm | by Tripp

Filed Under: Old School Bloggery |   | Permalink
Tags: encouragement, liturgical theology

The God Article

Posted April 17, 2014 @ 12:15pm | by Tripp

After [Jesus] had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.
John 13:12-16

It’s probably not surprising that this is the time of year when I wrestle with doubt. This is the hard season. Christmas is easy because there’s music being piped into all the shopping malls and who doesn’t love a chubby baby and stockings hung by the chimneys with care? Christmas is easy theological treading for me. Easter, however, continues to kick my ass every year without fail.

It’s getting tiresome.

Is resurrection a metaphor? Is there any historical validity to this crazy tale? I mean, the whole thing is rather spurrious. Every tale in the Christian scriptures differs in little ways depending on the story teller and most scholars agree that each is bending the tale to suit a certain purpose. This is not historical fact but religious gospel.

I have a problem with gospel-truth. It’s so...slippery. Ephemeral. Unless gospel-truth is connected with factual-truth, I have a hard time trusting it. And the only “reliable” source we have is the New Testament and they are true not because they have been vetted in some way but because, well, because they say they are true. “This is the truth? Why? Because I say so.”

So, here’s this story about Jesus. He’s just washed the disciples feet and he goes all truthy on them. He says, “tell them what I have told you because I’m your Teacher and Lord.” Jesus is Master and he gets to say what truth is (Star Wars conflations abound here - Thanks, George Lucas).

Page by John Farrier - This beautiful papercraft Darth Vader imitates the Christian icons of Byzantine art. It was made by the Spanish designer Lubolo.Jesus has once again turned the Master/Servant thing upside down (something Lucas wrestles with). The Master is the one who serves. The servants of the Master are to be like the Master in that they too should serve. “Love one another,” will follow. It’s a big moment in John’s Gospel-truth. John (or whoever wrote it) hangs everything on this scene. This here is when we get to see Jesus for whom John claims he is. Jesus is The Servant of Servants. If we wish to be like Jesus, we cannot forget this.

There is no empire building.
There is no entrepreneurial vision.
There is no institution keeping.
There is simply service.

But the story does not end here, does it? It never does. And this is what messes with me every time. Every. Time.

I want the story to end here so badly. I want it to end with this truth. I want it to end in humble service. But, no, the week is not yet done and John’s story is far from over. There will be proclamations and visions, death, destruction, horrific grief, and then the least believable thing will happen.

And, of course, I’ll get hung up on resurrection and forget this whole footwashing ever happened. I’ll forget to love because I’ll be trying to prove or disprove the resurrection.

Jesus should have started his lesson in this passage with “I know y’all are going to forget all about this part, but try to pay attention.”


You can read other devotions by folks who curate The God Article on Facebook here

Filed Under: theology |   | Permalink
Tags: resurrection, gospel, truth, stuff, The God Article, anglobaptist

Donuts #latergram

Posted April 12, 2014 @ 2:58pm | by Tripp

Filed Under: random foolishness |   | Permalink
Tags: donut

Abba Marcarious

Posted April 10, 2014 @ 12:09pm | by Tripp

Filed Under: Old School Bloggery |   | Permalink

The Trial of Possibility

Posted April 9, 2014 @ 10:57am | by Tripp

Berkeley’s fog is in full force this morning, a blanket helping to quiet the busy morning streets. I’m hoping some of that quietude will rub off on me. I am sitting here trying to figure out how to do it all. How do I do All The Things that are needed? Someone will likely ask, “how do you know what’s needed?” I have two basic categories: (1) does it help me feed myself and my Spouse, and (2) is it a fun expression of what I study and do (i.e. music).

The thing is, like many people, these two categories rarely overlap. The stuff in the second set is expanding, of course. This is really the only strategy available to me to do both without going nuts. I have to find more things that I enjoy. I need to learn to enjoy things that, perhaps, I would not have imagined to be enjoyable.

One of the things I miss most these days is doing music well. I assumed I would miss this. I have to spend my time reading and writing and not musicking so much. I get that. It’s been fine. But there’s something to being with a committed group of musicians several days a week working through pieces again and again until they seem to live and breathe on their own.

There’s a way to explore a tune deeply and, perhaps more importantly, the other musicians as well. Listening to one another, feeling what someone is about to do, finding that groove, that place of “entrainment” as my music therapy friends say.

Breathing together. Listening together. Embodying music together.

It is a rare occurance. It is a grace to me, a rare kind of grace.

My brain overflows this morning. As usual, there is simply too much to think about, to consider, ponder, wonder, plan for, imagine, and get done. There are possibilities and opportunities that linger just over the horizon, just out of sight or earshot.

I hear echoes.
I see implications.

There are no promises, per se. There are never promises. But there are...possibilities.  

Filed Under: random foolishness |   | Permalink
Tags: PhD, music, listening, possibilities, whining, git 'er done

Shifting The Ethnography

Posted April 7, 2014 @ 12:01pm | by Tripp

This cannot be a new question.

I don't know why this notion is sticking with me. "Switching the script" was bounding around in my brain and then I switched that one step to the ... right? Shift. It's all about shift again. Drat! 

I don't shift well. 

But here it is, I'm thinking about the various projects I want to work on and how the methods assume other exigencies such as grants, funding from other sources, singleness, youth, etc. Are academic methods writ essentially for twenty-something single men? 

This cannot be a new question. 

How much external support does one need to complete a PhD? A lot. So, I find myself seeking various kinds of support (read: grants, flexible jobs) while at the same time changing the project as these things change. 

This is on my mind today. 

Filed Under: Comprehensive Exams |   | Permalink
Tags: ethnography, All Souls, St. Augustine, Gungor, @godgrrl

The "Problem" of Free-Range Ecclesiologies

Posted April 5, 2014 @ 11:28am | by Tripp

But there is community in despised professions
and when the street musicians look down
into the deep red or blue linings of their instruments’ cases
they are like divers, like archaeologists
discovering for the first time after centuries of burial,
centuries of invention and vast migrations no one understands,
a lost beauty, a vanished art like a living face -
Philip of Macedon’s tomb.

- from “Street Musicians” by John Ash

Once again I find myself pondering new ecclesiologies. How do we Christians understand ourselves as a community, as a Body? Corporate identity plagues me. This, I must admit, is a rather strange experience. I never thought I’d be spending as much time as I do thinking about ecclesiology, but every time I turn a corner in my research it’s staring me in the face.

Christians are crafting new institutions. They are playing within new networks. They are monetizing their relationships. They are gathering with friends. They are “conferencing.” They borrow paradigms from industry or government. They form familes, clans, tribes, or collectives. They are communitarians and libertarians. Anarchists. Federalists. There is an astonishing array of behaviors out there. Each manifestation is an attempt at orthopraxis or “right behavior.” Ethics, theology, aesthetics, and affections all have some place in this prioritized differently in each community.

This morning I am once again focusing on musicians and their communities or industries and how these forms (i.e. the band, the session, the label) are all facets of an ecclesiology. These are embodied theologies and doctrinal relationships.

I have to juxtapose these ideas against one another from time to time to see if the pairings suit.

“We can’t think about the institutional powers,” one person commented. The money is not needed and the way of “doing community” is cumbersome and gets in the way. Some critics will say, “Good! It’s supposed to be in the way.” What does discipline look like whether a positive or negative force? “Discipline” is ethically ambiguous. What are the standards? The free-range ecclesiologies of our time can give us Sojourners, Westboro Baptist, TransFORM, or Nuns On A Bus. It can also give us Gungor, Sweet Honey, or John Michael Talbot, and Amy Grant. How these individuals and communities connect themselves to theological/spiritual agencies outside of their own work is a kind of “discipline.”

This is a kind of relational archaeology by which I discover invention and migrations barely understood.  

Filed Under: Comprehensive Exams |   | Permalink

Old School Bloggery

Posted April 5, 2014 @ 9:25am | by Tripp

Filed Under: Old School Bloggery |   | Permalink
Tags: abba poemen, desert wisdom, ink, pen

Pondering The Old School

Posted April 4, 2014 @ 9:23am | by Tripp

Filed Under: Old School Bloggery |   | Permalink
Tags: pen, ink, writing, play
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