seeing as how i failed to comment on the anniversary of johnny cash's passing on the date (sept 12), i figure this post is as appropriate a context as any in which to do so. read on and hopefully you'll easily understand why. (G-d bless johnny cash!)
a couple of days ago jamie passed along a salon article entitled "come as you are" that is about the mars hill church up in seattle. it was written by lauren sandler. having been a part of the "disciple generation" (as she calls it) since before the "movement" really existed as such, it's always interesting to read what both those inside and outside of that category think of it and feel about it.
my personal take on lauren from the article is that she comes across as not comfortable with christianity in general, and she feels like alt xianity is nothing more than fundamentalism wrapped in a grunge shirt as a marketing ploy for the youth. and i believe that aspect of it does exist in parts and in places. but most of the alt xians i've known over the years have a much more complex and deeper faith than a mere repackaging of fundamentalist christianity. (in fact, the hackles on most alt xians i've known would rise if they were lumped into the "fundamentalist" category.) it's obvious in numerous places that her sensibilities are offended by the people she is interviewing or talking about, and her spin or interpretation of quotes or situations is pretty obvious as well. granted, i have never been to mars hill and i've never spoken with mark driscoll -- heck, i've never even read any of his books -- but i can easily place my own context of a number of things done and said in her article, and her interpretations of them seem less than generous. in fact, it comes across like she is looking for things to be upset, or bemused, or put off by. and i suppose that's her prerogative. it'd just be nice if it wasn't pitched like an investigative article to find out what makes these people tick, when it reads more like someone confused by these people and assuming there must be some hidden conflict or agenda.
i will grant that there are plenty of things i've found to dislike about the post-modern movement in christianity, of which the "disciple generation" tends to in places fall into. but the alt xian movement is much bigger than just mars hill or the church systems it has been involved with. it's also older and more complex than the music section of the xian bookstore. part of my perspective may be because it's been years since i was trapped in a mindset of thinking how someone dresses or does their hair, or what kind of music or art they like, necessarily allows you to easily pigeonhole them into predefined categories when it comes to their personalities or moral beliefs. i've straddled the line between alternative culture and christianity for quite a fair number of years, and i don't see why it's so difficult for people to believe there isn't much conflict -- unless their view of alternative culture and/or christianity is so rigid and limited that they can't see how the majority of either really has little to say about the other. one is cultural choice, the other a world-view/belief choice. do those affect one another? yes, of course. but christianity is at its core about moral code and spiritual belief, not about musical genres and clothing styles. (despite what some churchgoers will try to convince you of.) likewise, there are many aspects of alternative cultures that fit rather nicely inside of christianity. in fact, i'd dare say that some views and attitudes in alt culture fit better with christianity than most of the examples of mainstream christianity you see practiced in america. unfortunately, there are many fans of alt cultures that are just as blind and reactionary about christianity as there are christians toward alt cultures. which many times puts alt xians in the cross-hairs of both sides. perhaps disliking the bastard children of both cultures is something both sides can agree on. ;)
anyway, reading the salon article did make me interested in the book she wrote entitled righteous about this same subject. even though i wasn't really impressed with her angle, i did find the article interesting and i decided to purchase the book. (so i guess the article served its purpose.) mars hill is what she focused on in the article and maybe it's just a bad version of alt xianity -- but the book evidently involves her going to numerous places to crack this phenomenon. so i figure it's a good thing for me to read someone else's perspective of a movement i've been at least peripherally involved with for years, even though my limited time with an actual church of the movement (ecclesia here in houston) ended less than favorably and i have a lot of negative things i could say about the leadership of the church. still, i am betting after i read the book i'll continue to feel she has neither accurately portrayed alt xian culture nor given it a fair shake.
moving to another subject, on tuesday (sept 12) i attended a show at the meridian: bob wayne and the outlaw carnies opened, hank iii headlined. first let me detail how i got there and who i went with, since that's a story in and of itself...
i had noticed hank iii was coming to town, but i'm not one to spend much money on going to a show so i noted it but i didn't make a mental note or plan to go. i'd gotten close to going the last time he'd come through town, but talked myself out at the last minute (partially due to money, partially due to my flying solo). the day of this show, natalie messaged me and asked if i was going. i replied with my reasoning above, then she replied and said she might be able to secure two free tickets. which she did. very cool.
around 5 or 6 she called and told me she couldn't make it, but i could come by and pick up the tickets and find someone else to go. i tried to think of who might want to go. i called brad because i figured there was a possibility, but he'd already made plans. i told him to see if he could think of someone. then i remembered the conversation i'd had with amy at calista's birthday party. i was somewhat surprised at the time to learn she was into what she termed "red dirt" country. it's not exactly what i listen to, but some of the areas overlap since much musical sub-genre boundaries are fuzzy. recalling she was one of the only people i've talked to and know in houston that actually is into similar music, i thought she might like to go. then i got concerned about it being awkward for me to call and ask her. first, because i really don't know her all that well. second, because she's married. so in my head i'm thinking "hey, yeah, we talked about music and i'm going to this show and i've got one ticket and i'm divorced and single and how would you like to go with me?" (which i wouldn't say, but it's situational.) a third reason is that i had no idea how to get in touch with her or her husband. i decided to call jack and sue, who know eric and amy better. i know eric and amy enough to have been pretty sure they probably wouldn't see the situation as awkward, and i was pretty sure eric wasn't into the same music so he probably wouldn't really care about going anyway, but it was my confidence that was lacking. so i asked if jack could call and explain the situation, maybe saying they could buy one ticket and both get in for half price, or if she wanted to go.
soon after, natalie called me back and said she could go again after all, but if i had already found someone to go that was cool. *sigh* i told her i had a couple of feelers out but no responses yet, so she told me to just let her know. i agreed to meet her at trivia at the flying saucer.
immediately after she hung up, jack called me back and said "amy's in. one stipulation: you have to stick near her because she doesn't want to be at a bar by herself." somewhat of an ironic twist given my concern.
so around 7pm i went to the flying saucer and participated in some trivia. i told natalie what had transpired, then i offered to buy her a ticket since she'd thought of it, gotten them, and now wouldn't be going. i had to re-offer several times before she agreed to think about it, but in the end she decided to hang with the trivia folk for after-trivia festivities (probably at sambuca). (i owe her now. even if she repeatedly tells me otherwise.)
i went over to the meridian, where they were wanding people so i had to go back to my car and drop off all of my various weapons. then i met amy at the entrance. for a tuesday night, the place had a lot of people. bob wayne had already started. he/they were pretty good, i thought. sort of the schtickish alt country stuff, but without being horribly lame and annoying. think some of the early alt country bands out of california. i might pick up the cd from the website.
hank iii puts on an amazing show. the stage presence, the sound, the energy -- it was all there. he gets a little too into the drinking, smoking, doping, going-to-hell stuff for me overall, but he's a talented showman.
the whole evening amy and i kept moving forward in the crowd, until finally we found ourselves at the edge of the pit. yes, hank iii draws the kind of crowd and has the kind of energy that there is a pit. and it's not out of place. i hadn't started the day knowing i was going to a show though, so i was wearing doc marten sandals. i was somewhat concerned for my feet, but i made it out with all toenails intact.
hank iii did a set of his material clocking in at about one hour, then he did a set of what he refers to as "hellbilly", which is pretty much metal/punk with a fiddle and steel guitar. then he finished off the night with a set by assjack, which is a metal band he also does. most of the band members do double-duty in both incarnations. it's been a long time since i've gone to a metal show, and an even longer time since i stood at the edge of a pit. but it was really cool and i had a good time.
after the show i walked amy to her vehicle, but since we don't really know a whole lot about each other we just started talking about various things -- about our interests and backgrounds and that sort of stuff. at some point she said "we've been sitting here talking a long time. normally after a show we'll go to the house of pies." *blink* i was like "i love the house of pies! i go there all the time! in fact, i go there so much my friends make fun of me for it!" then she said, "no way! it's your friends that are lame! i love to go and have a slice of coconut cream pie." *blink* *blink* i immediately responded "that's my favorite pie there! it's my default!" so she said "that's it! we're going to the house of pies!" i was going to get a slice of bayou goo so she could try it since she'd never had it and it's my second go-to pie, but they were out. :(
near the end of the time at house of pies, i went ahead and talked about the reservation i'd felt about asking her if she wanted to go. she said she hadn't even though about, she just thought i was jack and sue's good friend and there was a show. which i kind of figured would have been the case, but i wasn't completely sure and i really didn't want to put myself in an awkward situation. as it turned out, everything was really cool and i had a really good time. she and eric also go to a newer sort of alt xian church here in houston called kaleo (website), so i might check that out sometime. (how's that for bringing it full circle?)
i ended up getting home around 3:30am i think. man, was i tired the next day at work.