I wrote this entry about 2 weeks ago and never really got to finish it. If I don’t put it up now I never will, so here it is.

That Caedmon’s Call song, Shifting Sand is really great. I really enjoy it. One line that’s been particularly profound to me lately is “The only problem I have with these mysteries is they’re so mysterious.” That is so deep. It’s called the mysteries of God, but we expect it to be immediately accessible. That’s so absurd. They are by definition, mysterious. And that’s what we have trouble with. We would want that the mysteries of God not be mysteries. Hmm.

I bought the new Vineyard CD the other day. I didn’t even listen before buying, I just looked and it said Scott Underwood was one of the worship leaders, so that’s a must buy. I love Scott Underwood, ever since his first album, Hallelujah Glory came out. I know I’ve talked about this before. But every single song he does has just a tinge of spice. A little part that makes you go, “ooh. Spice.” Seriously, I knew from the first listen of Hallelujah Glory that he was something special, and I was right.

Anyway, I first heard him freshman year. It was that long ago, wow. Anyway, we had worship devotional at church and Matt was introducing this song Hallelujah Glory and it sucked. It’s like what is this? It’s the same chord over and over. And then he said let’s listen to the CD. And it was absolutely amazing. Oh my goodness. I bought it quickly after that and didn’t stop listening to it for a month. Absolutely amazing. Totally changed the face of modern worship. I’m not even kidding.

So Scott Underwood, every song is bold. Hallelujah Glory was bold because the key to that song is playing the riff. If you just play the chords, it doesn’t work. You need the riff. And then in the middle, he has the boldness to say “softly.” To have everyone whisper. Outrageous! And he laughs, audibly during the set. All so bold.

Another Drink is also, of course, bold. The biggest thing of course is the bold key change from E to G. How does he pull it off? The answer, of course, is the Spirit of God. It’s highly interesting though. And then the energy after the key change. Wow.

What’s the next song? New Every Morning? He plays Harmonica! Bold! It’s country! Bold! Every song is like that. Greater Grace. The words are absolutely bold. I mean, it’s Biblical, it’s just infrequent that you hear about predestination in a praise song. “Long ago, even before you made the world, you chose me through what Christ would do, a greater grace you showed to me, you are the source, Jesus is the means.” Bold. Healing Word – the talk at the end. All very bold. I love it.

I actually don’t know a lot of the stuff he did after. But You Are In Control – absolutely bold. The boldest part is the bridge, where you repeat the same thing like 9 times. Wow. Very bold. And the other song he has on that album is Balm of Gilead. Just look at the title! How bold!

This album is, of course, no different. Bold in every way. The first song, you just hear one riff, and you think, “Bold.” I know I’m overusing the word bold, but that’s really the way to describe it. I love it. I’m proud to be a Scott Underwood wannabe.

There are some keys to playing Scott Underwood songs though. Generally, you can’t just play it. With the exception of Take My Life. There’s always a key to it that you can’t miss. The main key is soul. You just gotta play it with soul. Like a lot of his songs are in this mid fast tempo where you need the soul to pull you through – Hallelujah Glory, Healing Word, You Are In Control, and the first track on the new one, Stand Back And Let You Move, I think. Too fast and you kill the mood of the song. But at the right speed without the soul and it just feels boring. Soul, baby, soul. If you can’t do that, I say just stay away and leave it to the experts.

Part of the soul is knowing the riffs. The riffs are so absolutely key. And part is just feeling the soulful tempo. You absolutely cannot speed it up or you’ll lose it. Gosh it’s great. He has great riffs.

At any rate, he lays on the soul, and the soul in the first song is amazing. Unfortunately, he lays the soul on a little too excessively, and the rest is pretty much boring.

The other cool thing about that first song is that it’s in line with what I’ve been learning in Experiencing God. I don’t know if I’ve shared this already. But a key insight I have had is that when God acts through His people, it’s rarely if ever that the people say that OK, they’re going to do something, they have a plan of what to do for God, and then they do it. That nearly never happens. I can think of one case, King David, wanting to build a Temple, but God doesn’t even let him do it.

More often (I know I’ve said this all before, sorry), what happens is that God decides to do something, like raise up a nation, free a tribe, take His people out to a good land, preach to the Gentiles, whatever, and then He calls people to join in Him in doing it. So the point is, we don’t think and plan about what we’re gonna do, but God decides to do something, and then calls us to do it. When we do it the first way, more often than not, it fails.

So one of the lessons is that we don’t plan, we look and pray to see what God is already doing, and then participate in it. It’s just slightly more complex than that, but that’s the basic idea. It’s been highly influential to me already. The thing is, how do you know when God is moving? The big lesson this week is that the Word says only God can cause people to seek Him or truth, so if you see people seeking after the truth, or interested in the Bible, you already know He’s moving. Pretty interesting stuff.

Anyway, the song starts: “We will stand back and let You move, Stand back and let You move, Stand back and see what You will do.” Pretty cool. God’s on the move!

I got this CD at Gospel Books. While there, I also picked up Rich Mullins’ Songs 2, a total waste of money. I assumed there were some new tracks, maybe some unreleased studio things or whatever, but it’s all old material. Also got the latest CCM because there’s an interview with Amy Grant. That is, Amy Gill. Ouch.

Last thing I got was the songbook to Delirious?’ Mezzamophis. As I have previously said, this album just absolutely blew me away. Just the sonic landscape is incredible. Anyway, I got the songbook because unlike most Christian music songbooks, it’s guitar tablature. As I suspected, there’s a lot happening. If you look at the sheet music, there’s often like 4 or 5 guitars going on, and it’s all incredibly complex, with different effects, stuff like that. I am just so incredibly impressed by this album. It’s dope.

I don’t know if you heard about this but there was this unpublished study that linked abortion to lower crime rates in society. As you can imagine, it’s a highly explosive issue, and although it wasn’t published, it caused a lot of debate. the basic idea is that allowing abortions decreased birth rates in families that didn’t want the children, environments in which children are more likely to engage in criminal activity. As with everything I read, I’m not explaining it well and not doing it justice, but the basic idea, with statistics, is that because of abortion, there’s less crime in society.

Like I said, they didn’t publish it, but one of my pet peeves is poor argumentation. That is, when people use faulty reasoning when they argue. it just irks me. I like poking holes in people’s arguments.

In Life Is Beautiful (did everyone see that? The Roberto Benigni movie that won best foreign movie) there’s this scene at a banquet where this lady is saying how her child was saying since the Jews cause all the problems in society, they should just kill them all. The principesa is appalled and says so and the woman replies like, “I know. If a child can figure it out, why can’t the government.”

The point of this scene was how utterly depraved the woman was, for not even considering Jews as humans, being so devoid of morals that it was OK to kill them all for practical purposes.

And the point is, when it comes to morality, what’s pragmatic is irrelevant. You hold certain ethical ideas not because it’s pragmatic (hopefully) but because you believe it to be in some sense, objectively right. Pure utilitarianism would be utterly immoral, and we could just kill off undesired segments of the population in the sake of the greater good for the greater number of people.

Anyway, what I’m saying is the issue with abortion isn’t what’s practical, it’s about what’s right. Ethics and pragmatism are pretty disjoint. So to say that abortion leads to lower crime, even if it’s true, which is unverified, cannot lead to the argument that therefore, since abortion has practical good effects on society, it is better. It’s practicality is not the issue, and therefore irrelevant in the debate.

Does this make any sense or does no one care? I don’t know, I just dislike illogical arguments. In regards to abortion, I’m actually more sympathetic than I think others might be. Not that I’m in favor of it, just more sympathetic. Because as I understand it, it really came out of a compassion thing – women were dying because of self-inflicted abortions. So it was a compassion for those women. Maybe I’m misunderstanding it, but I hope that’s what it was. In any case, that’s a more reasonable thing, it’s a moral issue, not practical. Compassion for the mother vs. compassion for the baby. Again, not that it’s right, but more reasonable. But to use a practical argument in my view is utterly irrelevant. If something is wrong, it doesn’t matter how practical it could be. You don’t do it.

I also don’t know if you know this, but recently the Dow Jones made some changes to their industrial average, taking out some old old industries and adding some new ones, most notably Microsoft and Intel. I’m hoping everyone knows what the Dow Jones Industrial Average is. I only know a little but I know enough, I think.

Am I the only one that was slightly perturbed by this? I mean, not deeply, just slightly. It’s just that a lot of times, people link the health of our economy with the Dow Jones. It’s really pretty common. If the Dow Jones is up, the economy is doing well. And conversely.

Which means that to a small extent, the health of our country is linked to the health of Intel and Microsoft – a scary proposition to me. Let’s face it, Microsoft has a virtual monopoly on certain types of software (I think legally they may be a monopoly – I don’t know enough about econ or law to say, I just think Henry talked about this once or something). I don’t really know much about econ, to be honest. I’ve only taken one economics class in my life, at San Jose State in ’94. But since that class I’ve been a big believer in free markets and firmly believe that competition is good not only for the consumer but for the economy in general.

Anyway, in my mind, if someone challenges Microsoft and Intel, that’s a very good thing. I’m a big rooter of AMD, because challenge is good – it pushes everyone involved to be better. I’m just thinking though that competition, which is good, will necessarily be less profitable for Microsoft, which would be reflected in their trading price, and partly in the Dow Jones average, which is a sort of barometer for the nation’s economic health. So if competition, which is good, causes Microsoft to perform less well on Wall Street, the indication will be that the nation’s economy is not doing well. Which troubles me.

Like I said, I know nearly nothing about economics so I desparately need Henry or Andrew or whoever to explain this to me. But is there any motivation whatsoever to keep the Dow Jones high? There’s so much attached to it. So would there be any motivation to keep Microsoft and Intel doing well? I don’t know, maybe I’m mistaken about all of this, I just thought it was a little interesting. Including Microsoft and Intel was a clearly reasonable action, I just don’t know what the implications are and perhaps someone can enlighten me.

But then again maybe I’m just a hypocrite. There’s this guy in Gates that Eric knows, some PhD student, who is a Microsoft evangelist. His job is to distribute Microsoft software for free to other Stanford students. Anyway, Eric got me Microsoft Visual Studio 6, Microsoft Office 2000 Professional, and Microsoft Windows 2000

Since I wrote this, there was a critical ruling against Microsoft in the antitrust trial. I for one am glad.

Thanks David and Leo for responding kinda. I do appreciate it. You are my only real friends.

Anyway, the thing is, you both agree with me, for the most part, that there is some notion of reward and riches in heaven, whatever that might be. And I thought (maybe I didn’t) that I had made it clear that these rewards are not material. But they are, and that’s the key point to me. Leo’s second part about the Corinthians passage being in the context of the problems in their church is well taken, but I don’t think that deals with when Jesus talks about riches and such. Or reward. So I don’t know. And the thing about Dave is everything he said I agree with, it’s just he skirts the issue of whether there are different measures of reward.

So it seems we’re all in agreement that there are rewards in heaven, riches in heaven. And I’m kind of with Dave, I don’t think these rewards are material or in any way comparable to anything material. It may be unhindered fellowship with God. That sounds good to me.

But the key issue to me, that David ignores, is whether there are different measures of riches and reward. I don’t know. Some scripture would seem to support this. Anyway, the reason I ask is because there’s this other notion that everyone in heaven is absolutely equally happy and all that. And I do believe that in heaven, everyone gets their fundamental need, which is fellowship with God. The corollary is people in Hell cannot get what they fundamentally need, which is fellowship with God.

Anyway, that to me is what Heaven and Hell is, but it leaves open the question whether there are different measures. I don’t know the answer and I was hoping to find out. I’m inclined to say yes. Anyway, people seem to think that we shouldn’t pursue God for want of heavenly riches, but just to love Him, and I think that’s false (understanding again that heavenly riches aren’t material in any sense). And people seem to think that everyone in Heaven is equally perfectly happy. Wait, ignore the perfectly happy part. That everyone in Heaven is equal in every way. What do you think? I don’t know. I’m just a heretic.

Sorry for being so boring. I wrote this a while ago and meant to add interesting stuff but it never happened.

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