Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A great article by by Pastor John Piper on this election fiasco





are you reading this?


Voting is like marrying and crying and laughing and buying. We should do it, but only as if we were not doing it. That’s because “the present form of this world is passing away” and, in God’s eyes, “the time has grown very short.” Here’s the way Paul puts it:

The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. 

(1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Let’s take these one at a time and compare them to voting.

1. “Let those who have wives live as though they had none.”

This doesn’t mean move out of the house, don’t have sex, and don’t call her Honey. Earlier in this chapter Paul says, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights” (1 Corinthians 7:3). He also says to love her the way Christ loved the church, leading and providing and protecting (Ephesians 5:25-30). It means this: Marriage is momentary. It’s over at death, and there is no marriage in the resurrection. Wives and husbands are second priorities, not first. Christ is first. Marriage is for making much of him.

It means: If she is exquisitely desirable, beware of desiring her more than Christ. And if she is deeply disappointing, beware of being hurt too much. This is temporary—only a brief lifetime. Then comes the never-disappointing life which is life indeed.

So it is with voting. We should do it. But only as if we were not doing it. Its outcomes do not give us the greatest joy when they go our way, and they do not demoralize us when they don’t. Political life is for making much of Christ whether the world falls apart or holds together.

2. “Let those who mourn [do so] as though they were not mourning.”

Christians mourn with real, deep, painful mourning, especially over losses—loss of those we love, loss of health, loss of a dream. These losses hurt. We cry when we are hurt. But we cry as though not crying. We mourn knowing we have not lost something so valuable we cannot rejoice in our mourning. Our losses do not incapacitate us. They do not blind us to the possibility of a fruitful future serving Christ. The Lord gives and takes away. But he remains blessed. And we remain hopeful in our mourning.

So it is with voting. There are losses. We mourn. But not as those who have no hope. We vote and we lose, or we vote and we win. In either case, we win or lose as if we were not winning or losing. Our expectations and frustrations are modest. The best this world can offer is short and small. The worst it can offer has been predicted in the book of Revelation. And no vote will hold it back. In the short run, Christians lose (Revelation 13:7). In the long run, we win (Revelation 21:4).

3. “Let those who rejoice [do so] as though they were not rejoicing.”

Christians rejoice in health (James 5:13) and in sickness (James 1:2). There are a thousand good and perfect things that come down from God that call forth the feeling of happiness. Beautiful weather. Good friends who want to spend time with us. Delicious food and someone to share it with. A successful plan. A person helped by our efforts.

But none of these good and beautiful things can satisfy our soul. Even the best cannot replace what we were made for, namely, the full experience of the risen Christ (John 17:24). Even fellowship with him here is not the final and best gift. There is more of him to have after we die (Philippians 1:21-23)—and even more after the resurrection. The best experiences here are foretastes. The best sights of glory are through a mirror dimly. The joy that rises from these previews does not and should not rise to the level of the hope of glory. These pleasures will one day be as though they were not. So we rejoice remembering this joy is a foretaste, and will be replaced by a vastly better joy.

So it is with voting. There are joys. The very act of voting is a joyful statement that we are not under a tyrant. And there may be happy victories. But the best government we get is a foreshadowing. Peace and justice are approximated now. They will be perfect when Christ comes. So our joy is modest. Our triumphs are short-lived—and shot through with imperfection. So we vote as though not voting.

4. “Let those who buy [do so] as though they had no goods.”

Let Christians keep on buying while this age lasts. Christianity is not withdrawal from business. We are involved, but as though not involved. Business simply does not have the weight in our hearts that it has for many. All our getting and all our having in this world is getting and having things that are not ultimately important. Our car, our house, our books, our computers, our heirlooms—we possess them with a loose grip. If they are taken away, we say that in a sense we did not have them. We are not here to possess. We are here to lay up treasures in heaven.

This world matters. But it is not ultimate. It is the stage for living in such a way to show that this world is not our God, but that Christ is our God. It is the stage for using the world to show that Christ is more precious than the world.

So it is with voting. We do not withdraw. We are involved—but as if not involved. Politics does not have ultimate weight for us. It is one more stage for acting out the truth that Christ, and not politics, is supreme.

5. “Let those who deal with the world [do so] as though they had no dealings with it.”

Christians should deal with the world. This world is here to be used. Dealt with. There is no avoiding it. Not to deal with it is to deal with it that way. Not to weed your garden is to cultivate a weedy garden. Not to wear a coat in Minnesota is to freeze—to deal with the cold that way. Not to stop when the light is red is to spend your money on fines or hospital bills and deal with the world that way. We must deal with the world.

But as we deal with it, we don’t give it our fullest attention. We don’t ascribe to the world the greatest status. There are unseen things that are vastly more precious than the world. We use the world without offering it our whole soul. We may work with all our might when dealing with the world, but the full passions of our heart will be attached to something higher—Godward purposes. We use the world, but not as an end in itself. It is a means. We deal with the world in order to make much of Christ.

So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.

By all means vote. But remember: “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).

Voting with you, as though not voting,

-Pastor John

Not sure what i am going to do, i still feel that my vote is important, and so important that I should NOT vote UNLESS i completely support the candidate. I do not support Obama fully, or McCain. So, im praying about my decision. I guess there is not a whole lot to be worried about though, when you think about what Pastor John is saying here. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



Welp, one of my favorite bands of all time is finally releasing a new record. I have a copy of it. I should be really excited about that. But im not. It pains me to say this, because this was the band that did no wrong, until 2004's self titled "The Cure" which had a lot of great songs, but had a few songs that i just felt didn't match up with the almight Cure song structure. I should be really excited because one of the shining moments of the Cure was when Porl Thompson was the guitarist (He played during the golden era 1985-1992ish) and he has returned to the band, and the band has returned to guitar heavy Cure. Still, Im not glowing with delight here. Well, ok, here is the absolute truth about this new Cure record...

There are 13 songs. The band is a 4 piece, and as i mentioned on a previous post reviewing their recent live show in Philly, the keyboard element is missing. 4 of the songs from the new record were released as singles, one per month, for four months. Each single has a b-side. 2 of the 4 singles are awesome. Most of the b-sides are awesome. Some of the b-sides are way better than the singles. If Mr. Smith would have taken some of the goofier tracks off of this record and put some of those b-sides in its place, this record would be awesome. But he didn't do that, he stubbornly gave us those goofy songs, and dammit, i have to complain about one of my favorite bands.

Its no surprise that Robert Smith has lost touch in some ways, and I guess (sigh) that is what happens when your a legendary artist who gets old but still wears make up. I mean, he has collaborated with some of this planet's worst top 40 artists. Im still waiting for him to write a single for Hanna Montana. But when it comes to The Cure, he always redeems himself. On 4:13 Dream, im not sure if this is vital and completely different song writing, and because i don't care about current music, im left out of the loop of cool, or if im right and Bob just picked some bad songs that are only cool to middle age british goth guys. Ok, back to the details.

Some of the songs sound like Disintegration/Wish era Cure, with huge gloomy guitar noise, compliments to Porl Thompson. In fact, Porl is one of the strong points on this record.His guitar playing is worlds better than anyone else in the past. His work on this record explodes with layers and layers of dark noisy rock. Just like Simon Gallup's bass work ruled supreme on Disintegration, Thompson's work here is vital in the success of 4:13 Dream. This record plays out like The Cure abandoned almost everything that made them specifically The Cure, and took some pointers from today's Indie rock scene. While other times, its clear that the band is just trying to take the best elements and just simplifying it all into really quick loud hard rock songs. One thing is for sure - The band is not interested in sadness this time around. This is the least gloomy, least melodramatic Cure record of all time, and it just might be the heaviest record for them too. Its really loud and upbeat and...current. The production on this record is really in right now, and i guess is good for The Cure trying to fit in, but definitely is new for the band. It lacks the layered production of Disintegration, or even more currently, Bloodflowers. Don't get me wrong though, this is a good album, not a great album, which im used to the band doing. This album starts out with a ton of momentum, and had i not heard any of the 4 singles first, it might have had a bigger impact on me. One thing im worried about with this record is some of what sells the album is Robert's vocals. There is a ton of production and effects on his voice. A lot of layering, a lot of sounds and well sung moments. I have a live version of this record too, and he doesn't have that element to lean on, so if im "just getting there" with this record, it would help if the band played it just as it is, live, but they do not because, like i said, the vocals are a big part of what i like about the new direction. Back in the day, The songs had so much going on, that we weren't so fixed on Robert's vocals being perfect, and they weren't but those songs, ooh baby, those songs were untouchable!!!!

Here is a track by track basic overview - 

 Underneath The Stars.
This opener sounds like a dryly recorded "plainsong" with the slow pace and epic guitar work. Too much vocal effects on this song. I think this song structure reminds me of "The last day of summer" from Bloodflowers. 

The Only One.
 is totally the typical Cure pop single of the album. This one reminds me of something from Wish. 

Reasons Why.
 this is a song that just sounds totally un-Cure. Its weird but its also really enjoyable. I lean toward this one for the Cure doing something different but in a good way.

This song i hated live, but works way better on cd. I went from hating this song thinking it was one of the better ones on the record. It really is a fun song that reminds me of some of the "who cares lets have fun" of Wild Mood Swings. (And yes that record was amazing)

One of the Porl shining tracks. Its got quirky atmospheric guitars, and lots of what sounds like pianos (Good boys, its ok, use em, you'll still be cool to the young folk) This song is a nice smooth break from the last 2 rockier songs.

The Real Snow White.
guitar heavy, bang your head Cure rock and roll, with a jangle of a chorus. This is another really clear example of the Cure breaking from any reminiscent trademark, but works well. This is also one of those songs where the vocals,and how they sound on this record, make the song stronger. Does it come off this good live?

Hungry Ghost.
Real up beat, popular sounding dance music type rock and roll here. This is the song you put on from this record when you want to shake what your momma gave you. Again, like the last song, its feel good music, but its not The Cure. Lots of vocal craziness. I love the guitar on this. I think this is the best part of the song, and Jason Cooper keeps the drum beat in that pocket, and keeps your head bopping. Did i mention, great guitars??

 This is reminiscent of "Wrong Number" which i dont care for. This song has the electro-drumming that is only still popular in London i think?!? Lots of Wah pedal, fast drumming. Im bored though.

Perfect Boy. 
Another one of those singles that i would take a b-side over. That said, it is also one of the more Cure moments on the record, which might come as a relief to you if you like this song and your still getting used to the breaking from tradition. Its easy on the ears, but i find this song boring too.

This. Here And Now. With You.
This song is another that i enjoy. Its bubble gum pop Cure. It doesn't sound like it was from any of the other albums though, and definitely sounds current, like something maybe the Killers or Coldplay might do in some of their bubble gum moments. The chorus is what makes the song good.

Sleep When Im Dead.
 They should have called this song "Sleep When I Listen" this song sucks bad. The only redeeming moment is the first 10 seconds, once it kicks in, its cheese. This belongs on that new Cure remix EP, with the other terrible ideas. B-sides, any of them, will fit here instead. 

The Scream.
This song was almost there, but it goes nowhere to me. A confused mess of epic guitars, big bass, and drums and over the top wailing from the chief. It reminds me of epic songs like "Im Watching Me Fall" or "The Promise" (another song i didn't like too much), and it also reminds me, kind of, "Like Cockatoos" in the way that the song was quirky but went nowhere. Cool title though. Oh well.

It's Over. 
Luckily, we are given a power house closer, which reminds me of "End" from Wish, where they just built a wall of sound and brought a heaviness to the song. This song starts out with one of those old school shining moments from Simon Gallup on bass. The song is almost riffing and drumming like a metal song. Then Porl takes the guitar into outer space. There is so much noise going on here, but luckily the band finally found a hook in it. Its really heavy. Probably the heaviest they ever sounded, but it is awesome. The song gets better and better, and doesn't wear out its welcome, and ends beautifully. No tricks, they just hit that last heavy chord and let it fade out. The end.

So, what we have here is The Cure starting over. Bringing a half way decent album to the forefront of their overwhelming and gloomy discography. I think this is the beginning of the end for The Cure being the kings of gothy gloomy pop, but luckily we still get stong performances out of the members. One thing to point out, and its a strength to the band. This record doesn't make the band sound tired.THIS IS NOT A TIRED RECORD, the opposite in fact. Its fresh for them. I just chose to take some of it and leave some of it.
 It is the Cure record they would have made if they were just getting started!!!!

(Highlight tracks - *)
*Underneath the Stars
*The Only One
*The Reasons Why
The Real Snow White
The Hungry Ghost
The Perfect Boy
*This. Here and Now. With You
Sleep When I’m Dead
The Scream
*It’s Over

And the cover art kicks ass!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I have been a fan of Shudder To Think for many, many years. I first heard them in 1996. My punk rock perspective went right out the window. My first experience with this band was their legendary Dischord records album "Get Your Goat" and i have been an obsessed fan ever since, rapidly grapping everything that was available from them. A few posts ago, I did a huge band biography, and I encourage you guys to go back to that and read it if you haven't already, because it gives you a real understanding of the magic that is Shudder To Think. Considering that, I wil spare band history details. 

During the band's height, I only had one chance to see them that was aware to me at the time, and the date landed on the same day my band was playing a show. This was 1997, when the band was touring with Pavement. Back then it was important to skip good shows to play your own. Who would have thought that they were on their way out eh? Man, have I regretted that decision on so many levels because in 1998, Shudder To Think broke up, and I missed them. Fast forward a decade. I was in and out of bands. Managed to put together a pretty successful one, one that was filled with influence from this amazing band, a band i would never see again. That is, until the fateful day I heard that most of the guys from the last album's line up were reuniting for a short tour with a few select dates, and one of those very few dates was actually around here!!!! I stopped breathing!!! 

So, my wife Sara and I, along with our good friend Rick (who shares with me, the sad history of gigging and missing STT) went to Philly for the day to see the sights of South Street, and maybe get a glimpse of the band early on. A few hours before the show, we walked past the TLA (Theater Of Living Arts) where the band was going to play, and actually heard them doing a sound check, hearing the 2nd half of the song "Love Catastrophe"! We were going nuts. It was so exciting to hear it through the door. Later on, we managed to spot Nathan Larson, who actually walked right past us, about 1 hour before show time. We were nervous (I know, its silly) so we didn't approach him. We decided to just stand in the front of the TLA and just wait for the doors to open. Suddenly Craig Wedren walked right past us and went right into the venue. Rick and I were pointing to each other in blame saying "You should have said something" again, very silly. Finally Craig came back outside and Rick walked up to him to start a conversation. We quickly followed. Craig was easily the friendliest rock star I EVER met. Completely humble, cordial, down to earth, and incredibly easy to talk to. He spoke to us with enthusiasm and really seemed to care about what we were saying to him. He asked us questions about music, and what were do, where we are from, etc, etc. It was really a great experience. So many times I have admired artists and have gained so much inspiration in what they do or have done. And then you meet your "heroes" and they end up making you feel like crap. In this case, it was completely the opposite. He talked roller derby with my wife, and seemed interested when we answered his question of "Do you guys make music?" My only regret was not getting my Ten Spot LP autographed. I had it in my bag, but was too into the conversation to pull out the autograph stuff. 

We did, however, manage to get some pictures together.

So, anyway, onto the show. There is this amazing band from Philly called Pattern Is Movement. They opened for STT. This band is crazy. They looked like 2 chubby lumberjacks who played this free form style drum/organ insanity. I really can't describe this band to you at all but HIGHLY recommend it. The vocals were awesome too. The guy sang like he was in church. It was just an odd mix and I was so excited watching these 2 guys. 

Once Shudder To Think took the stage, our nostalgia meter went into the red. The band sounded amazing. The original bassist Stuart Hill was missing in action, which i will admit put a damper on this for me. That said, the addition of Mark Watrous on 2nd guitar, and Jesse Krakow on bass sounded amazing. Im not sure who these 2 dudes are, but they filled out the sound perfectly. Nathan Larson wailed as usual, and Craig sang his ass off, as well as playing a 3rd guitar on stage. Kevin March, who played in the band on the band's final album was the drummer of the evening, and in my opinion was the only "not so great" part of the band's line up. Guys, give us Adam Wade, he kicked so much ass on Pony Express Record. Anyway, there was plenty of the punk energy from the early days, but at the same time this IS 2008 and the band knew this was a "greatest hits" concert. And in saying that, they played EVERYTHING i needed to hear. There are certain songs from the bands discography that I felt was imperative to play, and they didn't miss one from my list of absolutes. Sara wanted to hear Red House,which I knew they were going to play. Oddly enough they opened with it.The show lasted about an hour and a half give or take, and we all sang along to every song. The band was clearly having a lot of fun, and the crowd seemed to be waiting as long as I was to sing along too. The experience was honestly, surreal. What else can I say? I got what i wanted.

Nathan Larson in full rock action

All in all, we got to experience a moment we thought was long gone, and we felt like we were 10 years younger. We finally got to hear those guys live, even if it was only most of them. Sure, it didn't feel like a rebirth, but it certainly was a tight loud set of some of the most important music we ever had in the punk rock/alternative scene. And who knows, maybe this new incarnation of Shudder To Think will prove to the world they can still ride that sexy horse!!


Red House
Shake Your Halo Down
Hit Liquor
Love Catastrophe
Lies About The Sky
Jade Dust Eyes
The Man Who Rolls
Gang Of $
She Wears He Harem 
9 Fingers On You
No Rm.9,Kentucky
Call Of The Playground
X-French Tee Shirt
About Three Dreams
The Ballad Of Maxwell Demon
Day Ditty