Here’s part two of the conversation between Waco promoter The Cachinnator (Scott Baker) of the Hippodrome and me. Read part one here. I’ll be in Waco at the Hippodrome theatre downtown on April 24th at 7PM. Tickets are $10. Call 254.752.7745 for more info. I’ll also be in Baylor University’s chapel service at 10AM that same day and I might be in a religion or music class that day as well. Spread the word.
shlogdotcom [9:35:45 AM]: Good morning. I’m early this time. Just dropped my kids off at their preschool classes here at church, wandered down to my “office” (a table in the lobby) and hopped on the free wireless. – Hey, btw, I have a thing at 10:30 I need to be at. So ask simple questions that don’t set me up to rant or ramble. Small sentences. Small sentences. I can do this.
thecachinnator [9:37:37 AM]: Got it. We’ll keep the level 6th grade in TX. Hang on a sec…
shlogdotcom [9:39:01 AM]: Are you copying and pasting questions or making this up as you go along…copying and pasting aren’t you? You’re one of those bizarro creative types who’s also organized aren’t you? You people frighten me.
thecachinnator [9:39:45 AM]: Sorry about that. One puppy got out. Didn’t go anywhere, just got out. They have the aggregate IQ of a house plant.
thecachinnator [9:39:59 AM]: And I don’t know what you’re talking about…
thecachinnator [9:42:41 AM]: Okay, so, we left off with you nice and ticked. Yet you hinted at a realization that these feelings were misplaced, and God obviously did something to work a change. Since we’re all pretty in tune with the anger side, why not just say what was it that was finally able to reach you? What changed to bring you around from anger and dissappointment?
shlogdotcom [9:46:01 AM]: I’m not sure I’m completely “around” yet. Honestly, I go through phases where the imperfection of other Christians/churches upsets me to an unhealthy degree. But what began to turn me around back in college and what turns me around today is the same thing: a mirror. I’m not trying to be cute here. The only way I can describe it is that something always happens to wake me up to my own shortcomings and to how I can be part of the solution. Then I inevitably spend less time and brain space being part of the critical choir and more time being constructive…
thecachinnator [9:47:13 AM]: Did you notice a Pied Piper effect? When you got your eyes on what you were supposed to be doing, did others come along?
thecachinnator [9:47:27 AM]: Does that matter?
shlogdotcom [9:48:53 AM]: We found other people to involve in our work at the MCH. We hooked up with non-college students in the community who helped out tremendouosly. I started giving more of my time, off the clock, to fill in some holes as well. And suddenly I was too busy to be angry and I guess that satisfaction level showed somehow so when I left for Nashville almost two years later there were interested friends who took over my work there. Who knows? Maybe there are still Baylor students working there who were friends of those friends’ friends…
shlogdotcom [9:49:13 AM]: Does it matter?
thecachinnator [9:50:08 AM]: I mean, does it matter if anyone follows or joins in? Or is doing what you are called to sufficient?
shlogdotcom [9:51:50 AM]: It matters to me that I don’t turn people away from service or from anything else noble with my bad attitude. That matters. I’m not sure a good attitude on my part can really ATTRACT busy college students to a childrens’ home. All I can do to attract folks to service is remind them that they were made for it. I think something inside many of us then wonders if that’s true, and some of us check it out and discover it us. We are made to know God and then make God known – partly by loving people in tangible ways. Does that answer the question?
thecachinnator [9:55:39 AM]: Absolutely. Now this moves towards a question I’ve wanted to ask. I think we both agree that God clearly wants us to minister to and serve others. This is not a ‘works vs. grace’ discussion, (though I’d love to have it some time), it is simply to say that when we are called by God to identify with him, we can’t be content to let suffering, injustice, oppression, and the like go on around us without taking part to change it. What do you think?
shlogdotcom [10:00:13 AM]: Let me zoom in on one word you just used: content. I’ve been teaching on and singing about the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) for the last…geez, almost two years I guess. I don’t know. I have no concept of time. But a long time. And I’ve done that because learning about these eight blessings turned my own lightbulb on – I realized that the Christianity I grew up on only took me to blessing number three: surrender (meekness). I realized I was a sinner (poor in spirit) and I didn’t gloss over that or medicate it away. I realized it was a grievous thing to be busted inside (those who mourn). And so I walked down an aisle, filled out a 3X5 card and “surrendered” my life to Jesus right? (Meekness)…
thecachinnator [10:01:09 AM]: Trucks and hell. Got it.
shlogdotcom [10:04:39 AM]: But if the beatitudes are a broad stroke picture of the Christian life, the essentials, and I think they are, there are FIVE MORE to ponder and somehow apply. After surrender (meekness) we “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”(beatitude 4) Ezekiel said God gives us a new heart that is actually moved towards obedience: right living and right thinking. And so the kicker is that a Christian now has a craving that only right living and thinking can satisfy. If she goes back to a consumption driven lifestyle, a romance driven lifestyle or an anything else driven lifestyle she’ll be discontent. She’ll feel like something’s missing even though she knows she’s “surrendered” her life to Jesus. Faith without works is dead – and it feels that way too. I’ve never been more miserable than I was between high school and the Childrens’ Home – I had no idea what I was missing. I had no idea how to take away the dry mouth in my soul. Man, that sounds cheesy.
shlogdotcom [10:04:46 AM]: Do you get what I’m saying though?
shlogdotcom [10:06:04 AM]: I think mercy showing (beatitude 5), meeting the needs of people, is an essential part of what right living looks like – righteousness.
thecachinnator [10:08:15 AM]: Believe me, I absolutely follow you. I was just having a conversation with a friend last night in which we were discussing how God takes you just as you are, but thank God (uhhh…literally), he doesn’t leave you that way. But this change process requires us to be introspective and look in our own mirrors. This is a surprisingly difficult task for a generation raised with Oprah and TLC supposedly helping us examine our lives to be better people.
thecachinnator [10:08:41 AM]: We have a few ‘interesting’ things here in Waco that take up an inordinate amount of our time. (I’m not equating any of these things, just saying they all may take up more time than they should.) Things such as Sing, Cotton Palace Pageant, Baylor football (kidding), Greek life, etc. How do we enact the kind of introspection needed to shift our focus more outward?
shlogdotcom [10:13:29 AM]: Becoming attached to, serving in and being served by, learning from and teaching into that community called Church. That’s part of it I think. Then there’s the mirror, not of my own intellect but of God’s: scripture. James, isn’t it James?, wrote that if we’re wise we’ll look into the mirror and then not forget what we saw there but instead go off and do something about it. We become active responsive learners. That’s another part of it. These aren’t new fancy four step plans. I’m no genius with a new way to mobilize millions, including myself, to live like we believe this Jesus guy was really who He said He was. The answers I have aren’t sexy. They are ancient and simple yet difficult to apply, costly to apply, and unsettlingly mysterious. I’m not sure I can pop the hood on Church or scripture and show you exactly how they work. I can guess. But really all I know is they work for me, in me.
thecachinnator [10:15:39 AM]: Ah, but don’t the four-step logical answers always feel the driest and least effective?
shlogdotcom [10:20:19 AM]: Not always. For years they felt comforting. And, honestly, they contain truth often times. The error, I think, isn’t in the formation of steps and plans but limiting the possibilities and power of our middle eastern God to the container of our Western made consructs. I can use the steps and plans to great effectiveness but God may choose to renovate and affect me in broader mysterious never imagined unexplainable ways too. The way to a good marriage, for example, probably isn’t completely contained in four steps beginning with “P” but those four steps may be PART of the more ambiguous and harder to define “way”.
shlogdotcom [10:21:50 AM]: In that sense those steps are part of the over all “effectiveness” of God.
thecachinnator [10:21:20 AM]: Great stuff. You’re coming back to Waco next week. What do you want to tell Baylor?
shlogdotcom [10:24:30 AM]: I’m coming. That’s really all at this point. I’m coming to make music for you and hang with you afterwards. I’m coming to listen if you need me to and talk if you want me to. I’m coming to be with you for a few hours and hopefully we’ll both walk away from my visit somehow different. I’ve been where you are to some degree so I’m looking forward to going back there and being able to speak and sing for people I already feel like I understand somewhat. There’s no new culture to learn. I’m coming home.
thecachinnator [10:25:56 AM]: Awesome. Let’s wrap here for now. When we come back to this conversation later in the week, let’s talk about some of the specific organizations and people who have made a difference to you. Things like the MCH, Compassion, ONE, etc. Sound good?
shlogdotcom [10:26:36 AM]: Alrighty then. Sounds good.