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That’s What You Get…

When I was seven I was running down the hallway of my house when I caught the front edge of my Donald Duck flip flop on a throw rug and pitched face first onto the floor.

While my mother let a startled “Oh no!” slip out, my father calmly looked over the top of his newspaper and said, “That’s what you get for running in the house.”

What’s interesting to me about this story isn’t that it is very exciting (I’m surprised you’re still reading) it’s that it happened to you too right? Sure you probably weren’t running in the house, and Donald Duck flip flops probably didn’t play a role in your unwitting demise, but you did something wrong, suffered the consequence, and got a “That’s what you get…” from someone else.

You got it because it’s a pretty common response to misfortune, especially when opinion says that the misfortune was self-inflicted.

While it’s true that self-inflicted misfortune is generally the natural consequence of human error, humans are great at letting the “self inflicted” part of the misfortune excuse them from feeling any sympathy or offering any grace or mercy.

It goes like this, “If you deserved what happened to you, don’t complain, and don’t expect me to feel sorry for you.”

Saturday, the sad, self-inflicted, denouement of Amy Winehouse’s 27 year run came to a close. Most of us are convinvced that her untimely demise was the end game of a well documented, public struggle with substance abuse.

Her turning up dead was not exactly surprising, the fact that she made this long was actually stunning. The majority response was something along the lines of “Well that’s what you get I guess… I hope the Olsen twins are paying attention.”

Not exactly sympathetic.

Some of you are probably wondering why there should be a sympathetic response. I’ll let Jesus explain it.

In The Gospel Of John, Jesus walks into the temple and finds a man who has been born blind. The disciples asked Jesus whether this man was blind because he sinned, or his parents had sinned?

Their desire was to determine whether not his misfortune was self-inflicted.

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Failure Unmasked

I was six the first time I saw something “Kisstoric”.  It was a Tv Movie where the Band Kiss saved Six Flags Magic Mountain from an evil wizard… or something like that.  It was way after my bedtime.  I liked it because there were lasers and roller coasters and loud music.  I was also fascinated by the idea that the 4 stars of the show were treated as heroes regardless of the fact that they were clearly dressed like villains from a Kabuki performance at Studio 54.

I don’t know how Kiss saved the roller coasters or the girls in the short shorts, but I do know that the incongruity of the situation kept me watching and then later wondering… for years.  It was strange to see people talking one way, but appearing another.

The men of Kiss are the kind of men who made the 1970’s what they were; vain, vacuous, and incredibly entertaining.  The ’70’s may have been the first time in American history where a society chose to completely ignore how implausible entertainment had become, for the sake of escaping how terrible the state of reality was.  If you’re wondering how things like Three’s Company, tank tops, and Richard Simmons come to worldwide prominence, place them alongside Airline Hijackings, Oil Embargoes, and Jimmy Carter.

Of all of the insubstantial things to come to prominence in the 1970’s, my favorite continues to be the human propensity to place inaccurate definitions onto failure in an attempt to maintain credibility, like attempting to downgrade the Vietnam War to “the conflict in Vietnam”…  because you can’t lose a war that you didn’t fight.

Which is where Kiss re-enters the story.

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Stronger Than The Power Of Death.

If you don’t own John Mark McMillan’s “The Medicine”, your wallet is $8 too heavy.  You’re also missing out on a remarkable album of working man’s rock that sits squarely on the same shelf as Neil Young’s “Rust Never Sleeps” and everything that Bruce Springsteen has had the good fortune of not “over-saxophoning”.

The album has the added distinction of being profoundly powerful, achingly deep, and comprehensively honoring to God, as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. What’s rare about this combination is that while its focus is squarely on the supernatural workings of the heart of God with the heart of man it’s also refreshingly honest, free of cheerleading, and it’s never trite.

Generally speaking, I’ve found that most music utilizing the word “Christian” as an adjective is conceived of, and produced for, commercial reasons. While it’s true that people involved in the process do want God to be recognized as “amazing” or “awesome”, for their song to be recorded and heard they also have to fall in line with a system designed to sell an appealing package of physical beauty, accessible melody, and credible “spirituality”.

This industry functions much the same as the pop-country industry. It collects readily available, positively focused, spiritually themed songs and combines these with readily available, fresh-faced, earnest, entertainers.

Because they serve the commercial ends of efficiency and expedience, Industries rarely produce art.
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