Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I started a podcast, with my brother N law, Justin Carroll. We called it The Tourist Trap, and you can listen to our very first episode now, by visiting our website...


We reviewed "A Nightmare On Elm Street" 2010 remake.

Also visit us on facebook and click "like" to stay in touch with us there...


Also, i posted 2 brand new songs, from my band, UNTEACHERS

So go check them out, and let me know what you all thought!!!!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Marijuana and scripture (Notes from The Tourist Trap Podcast Episode 5)

The disclaimer -

Let me first start out by saying that i do not discuss this, to seek out the support from my friends and family to smoke pot, nor am i attempting to make excuses, trying to hinder somebody's firm stand against it, or try to throw a wrench into one's attempt to seek truth in this life. My attempt at this post is simply to THINK ABOUT IT, suggest some ideas,
throw away the fat and bones, and get to the heart of the matter.

Why does it matter? Is this subject really all that important? Couldn't we, especially those in Christianity, just ignore it, and move on?

We could and in some cases maybe we should. BUT, this subject affects many things, and if i may say so, i think it would benefit the Christian to know his or her firm position on the subject, without the ignorance and lack of knowledge. This is one area a lot of Christians fail to truly understand, simply because of a disinterest or desire to, even engage themselves in a conversation about it, much less make any attempt to adjust his or her attitude on the truth of the matter, and that is what i find dissatisfying or scam-like. When the subject comes up, the first thing the Christian friend wants to know is "Well thats all fine and true, but YOUR not going to smoke it now are you"? There always seems to be a sense of ignorance met with legalism, when it is discussed. I want to know what liberties i have, as a Christian, as an American, and more importantly, i want to know
what liberties i don't have, and i want to know why those liberties are off limits, to me. or to anyone. A pastor i listen to, once shared a story where he visited a church where another pastor was preaching about alcohol and how anybody who drinks is sinning. The pastor visiting was quick to point out to the preaching pastor that "There are several accounts in the bible where Jesus not only turned water into wine, but then drank it in moderation" The preaching pastor's response was "Well if Jesus drank, he shouldn't have" ........ seriously? Are we going so far in our legalism that we will not consider what Jesus did, first and foremost? Are we going to try and say to God, "Hey pal, your wrong"?

When the bible speaks, it doesn't forget to cover a certain topic. We are flawed and sinful people, and we will time and time again, misunderstand and misrepresent scripture. We will assume God forgot to address this subject matter. When we shut down this conversation, and take the road of disinterest, when it has such a huge impact on things now, and could have a greater impact on things to come, i strongly believe we are trying to challenge God, and the bible! Take comfort in knowing that scripture does not leave this subject out!

First, let me ask a few questions...

I myself have wondered for a long while now, just what is marijuana? What does it do to you? Why should we consume it, or why should we not consume it? How come it seems so dangerous and bad, yet there are so many health benefits and medical uses? If it can be used medically, much like tylenol, or vicodin, doesn't this mean medicine should be treated the same way marijuana is? What about my moderate consumption of alcohol? What about the abuse of alcohol? So and So says he is a Christian, but he gets drunk on the weekend, and nobody seems to care that he is laughing at everything, or if they care, they kinda let it go. Why is that the case? How long have we been smoking weed as a nation? How long has it been illegal? Is all of my basic and minimal understanding of this stuff, really out of the same ignorance that developed in me, some kind of instant disregard for things i only assume or wrong? I mean, look at the last 100 years of church history,
the new ideas that came, that have shaped the modern view of Christianity, and the vast majority that fell for it... is this the same situation that helped mold our view of marijuana? Is it really the monster gateway drug, that we all think it is? And so on and so forth...

Now, let me say, i am in no way prepared to answer all of those questions. Nor do i want this to be a fact riddled, information crammed, essay on the subject. I want to just think out loud. I want to throw out some of the things that do not add up to me, or that make sense to me. Once more i will remind you, i am not making excuses or defending either side.

When i reference to "all of those people who say this" i am referring, of course to the majority of religious fundamentalists, and basic ignorant people who say these things all of the time. I mean, it IS illegal, right? The legality of marijuana did not happen by mistake. The laws happened for a reason, and because people, Christian or not, felt a certain way about it. I will try and think out loud about some of the more obvious points.

Now for those who feel the need to fight and defend their own right to smoke/consume marijuana, YOU MUST BE FAIR. You cannot expect somebody to understand and agree with you, and adjust their view of the sterotypes, if you are a living breathing example of all of the stereotypes that create in that person, the need to turn against it, and stay far away from it, and fear it. Would you agree? You might say "I am not out to change anybody" but that is dishonest, because anybody who consumes marijuana wants people to recognize the legal issues, and to change them. In order for that to happen, you must embrace this major point.

An example: It would seem like it is a basic understanding that every car salesman is a liar and a weasel, who rips off his costumers. You have to be very careful when dealing with car salesmen, because you never can tell! If you consider yourself honest, but you are a car salesman, and i came to you and told you that i wanted to trust you before i buy your car, but that i need to clear the air on the many different stereotypes that exist about car salesmen, and how they are constantly referenced as dishonest, would that not excite you? Would you find great joy to know that somebody is giving you the chance to be fair, and express your awareness of those things, and try to find a basic common ground with the customer, building that trust, where YOU are NOT the stereotype that exists?

If i am to discuss this subject, a subject that is met with so much apathy by other Christians, trying to better understand what the "big deal" is, and if i am willing to put my own convictions and ignorance on stage for the world to see, wrong or right, i better admit it, and be honest about it. I would hope that you, the person who feels the need to defend his or herself for the sake of your own fight to destroy this war on weed, would be as fair if not more so!

And speaking of Christians, yes the bible does comment on this subject, not just from a moderation point, but from a pharmaceutical angle.

The Old Testament: Exodus 30:22-25
The Lord said to Moses, “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil."

In Verse 23 the Hebrew word for what is described as "aromatic cane" is Kaneh-Bosem. This is where we get the word "cannabis". There is a lot of debate over exactly which plant it is, but many people believe that it is cannabis as we know it.

In the New Testament: Galatians 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

In verse 20, We see the word sorcery. In Greek, this has a slightly different meaning from what we would commonly view it in modern language. The word sorcery in Greek is pharmakeia. This is where we get the word "Pharmacy". Its literal definition is the use of medicine, drugs, spells, etc. The context indicates God is addressing the abusive behavior, not using medicine for health benefits.

You could even argue that in Genesis 1:29 when God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food", that perhaps God blessed us with something, and it is up to us to determine, biblically, what uses are good and what uses would be sinful.

But you know? I am hesitant to pursue, heavily, just these biblical tidbits, because there is a much bigger biblical point that i strongly believe sums up this whole mess. There are 2 reasons i am hesitant to rest on these examples, alone, as the bible's justification/case against marijuana...

The 1st reason is that i am suspicious that a man or woman, looking to fight against what may be a genuine spiritual conviction/command, will abuse those verses, to defend themselves. It is not that simple!

My 2nd reason is i am also very suspicious that Christians will no doubt, throw those reasons out and remind me that just because the bible says it, doesn't mean everyone or anyone should do it. Its just not that simple...... I would agree!

But i think either of those "case closed" remarks would be lazy of us. At the end of the day, this verse will only work with a clear understanding of Gods constant desire for us to be in control and to not get drunk, etc. The big problem is not WHAT, but HOW MUCH, and WHY!? we have not been given the chance, at least my
generation, to define the line of control. God blesses us with many things that can easily destroy us. But he commands us to have self control. God plants that command so that we can enjoy the things of the earth in moderation. We create the abuse. We create the sin. We create the chaos, and therefor we create the laws that are put against us.

In some areas of life, you simply cannot be an ALL or NOTHING person. What is ok for some, biblically, is wrong for others. Everybody has their own weaknesses and strengths. What is harmful to some, may not be harmful to others. Some things are wrong for everybody, but yet we do them anyway. In pursuit of truth, you have to sometimes draw a line in the sand, and say "I can go about half way, but then i stop" My fear is, people approach this subject as an all or nothing. More on that later...

So, what is the big deal, eh?

1. People say that marijuana is dangerous, cannot be used in moderation, and that it is a gateway drug or an addictive substance.

- I believe, based NOT just on my own experiences (i dont currently smoke it, but i have a handful of times in the past) but in the experiences i have had with my pot smoking social circles. Most times when my friends are smoking weed, i would never know, because they are sharp as a tack, quick on their feet in conversation, relaxed and attentive. Not everyone, mind you, just everyone i encounter. Most of my pot smoking friends know of the word apathy, and do not mix that into their consumption of weed. What this means is, they hold their friends accountable, who would move from weed, to something far more dangerous, say crack, or heroin. Some people i know, who have smoked weed, know people who put far worse things in their bodies. When i ask my friends, "Is it not a gateway drug"? They answer, "No, because i have no desire to abuse drugs, and i do smoke weed on occasion. I smoke it once and a while. In moderation. I have
control. I don't need drugs. My friends who abuse heroin or crack, etc, they have a bigger issue they are fighting"

And these are non Christian friends!

From what i can tell, every time marijuana has been studied, there has been no addictive properties found in it. There are many
kids in addiction clinics for marijuana, but the DEA fails to tell us is that when these kids are charged with marijuana use, they are given a choice, they are either given a harsh penalty, or they are given the option of going to a treatment center, where they are considered addicts. The percentage of people in there voluntary is around 3%. The other 97% of people are there to avoid penalty. It is not that hard to believe when looking at how our system works in other legal matters. Researchers were asked time and time again to rate the drugs in order of addiction. Nicotine is #1. Alcohol is #2. The harder drugs such as morphine or heroine (etc) exist somewhere in the middle, and then at the bottom of the list, after coffee, is where marijuana is placed.

Now I am not suggesting that addiction is not a reality. Addiction is very real, in cases such as consuming other drugs, or coffee or tobacco, but in research where regular users of marijuana have been deprived of it, there was no signs of addictive withdraw. Its habituating, yes, but its use can be discontinued.
If you use marijuana on a daily basis for a year or so, and you stop, you will notice a difference for sure, remember that you are using it every single day. You can say that about using coffee every single day. Comparing the marijuana study to the addictive substances like heroin, or tobacco, there is no
comparison. If marijuana has no addictive properties, than how can it be a gateway drug? Surely the person who has a problem with any addiction, no matter what the substance is, could say the condition is not with marijuana, but the person's motives. Their hearts desire. If one is addicted to marijuana, it is not the marijuana's fault, its the person smoking it. I have seen cases where marijuana was used in moderation, so i can safely say it is possible, maybe not for everyone, but certainly for some.

Do you smoke weed? If so, do you hold your friends in accountability? You
This point i had to agree with. As a Christian, i would hold somebody accountable if i saw them doing something harmful to themselves. But i do not really believe this is only a Christian thing to do. Again, if one accepts the need to disconnect from the stereotypes that come with marijuana, one has to see the responsibility.

Is apathy really the problem? The analogy, one commercial would like to portray, of a female who is flattened, and lying on the couch like a folded towel, while her friend says "Every since she started smoking pot, this is how she is" Is that really true?

Is it possible to not fall into the void of shrugging your shoulders, and becoming, as the stereotype in the "stoner movies" would suggest, you just become apathetic, care free, and a drag?

I will not say yes or no. I will say i have seen friends of mine act this way. I have seen other friends of mine who do not smoke weed, also act that way. More important to this discussion, i have seen friends who smoke weed, NOT act that way.

* My first point then, is that we must not allow substance to change us. If we cannot smoke weed, and be ourselves, and be the same person that we were while we were not, than it should not be smoked. Right? Is it not most important, that you are you, and that you do not become indifferent, or apathetic, simply by consuming marijuana? In the fight for your right, i would hope so.

Remember when i said i feared people would be all or nothing thinking people? This applies here. The "All" sayers say "Look, i smoke weed. I cannot tell my friend who smokes crack that he should
stop, because i smoke weed. He won't respect me" and for this, i would say silence is going to really hurt your friend. You can't put ALL into this subject because then you become silent when you need to speak up, OR, as the bible would teach. We should not set a bad example. In this situation, smoking weed should NOT happen around your friends who actually have addiction issues, otherwise known as the gateway stereotype problem. Set the example. If you are being social with a friend who struggles with staying in control of themselves, than it is best you just stay clean around them. This doesn't make you a "nothing" sayer, but a person who shows control of themselves, and concern for others.

The problem with "Nothing" sayers is they say No, before they even know what they say no to. Ignorance becomes the fuel for the fire. This doesn't mean that when you come to your conclusion and you decide you will choose nothing, that you are an "all or nothing" person, but that you took the time to find out for yourself, what it means, and if it is for you, and you decided against it. You gave the situation the benefit of the doubt, and you decided it wasn't right for you. No matter what though, accountability needs to exist, and control. This i would say is an absolute.

2. People say that it is a dangerous gateway drug, but what about alcohol? Medicine?

There are drugs that are legal, and there are people who use them. Sometimes these people are quick to point out how terrible marijuana use is, not seeing the hypocrisy in their own lives, due to an over dependent use of pain medication, anti-depressants, Etc. Etc.

We have medical conditions, where doctors prescribe marijuana to patients with chronic pain. It is very easy to obtain marijuana this way. It is not advertised, of course, but it is true none the less, in many states. In some places in our country, you can obtain marijuana, by using marijuana dispenser machines, much like a machine that drops out a bag of chips. They are guarded by well paid officers, so nobody raids the machines, but with that doctors pass you can simply obtain it that way. There is no argument if one does his research...marijuana has been proven to help many, many people with many, many problems like chronic pain, depression, disorders, the shakes, the list can go on and on.

Would you lie to a doctor about your chronic pain or lack there of, to get marijuana? Should we justify that?

Alcohol. This one intrigues me, because i myself, find so many hypocrisies involved with this. I am a consumer of alcohol. I don't get wasted. I do feel that i drink in moderation. I have had my fair share of overuse, like many but i do not justify it! Do you notice though, that everyone has their own definition of what "their moderation" is? Christians do this a lot. Christians know that the bible says we should not be drunk, but we determine in our own hearts, what that limit is, and i think this is how God intended it, too! In some ways, i do believe that biblically, we should look at this as a sort of "honor system", God commands us to stay in control, but how do we come to know what that control is? Well, you have 2 choices, really. Don't touch alcohol, ever... or drink, until you can gage what is right. If you take the first option, you should never be legalistic about it, because that is not how God intended. I am willing to bet that many of the anti-weed people, have a vice in their life, where they are abusing a privilege. Not everyone. Im trying to be careful with my wording. I do think that i, myself have been a hypocrite in this area in the past. Does this mean that we loose our God given liberty? Well, maybe, individually, if that is what it takes to stay in control! See, instead of me saying "weed is wrong, but then i guess, so is drinking" i would refer to the idea that "all or nothing" doesn't apply. Moderation does. I would adjust the necessary issues in my own life, where i am not being in control, to set the example for everyone else. Does this mean, its ok for us to smoke weed now? No. This just means that in your life, you should attempt to be blameless.

The problem i have though, is that marijuana is illegal, but other legal drugs are far more dangerous.

If you look at the number of deaths, annually, the number 1 killer, beating out aids, heroine, crack, cocaine, alcohol, car accidents and murder, combined is tobacco, and it should be pointed out that there are an average of 430,000 deaths a year, and yet the government gives subsidies to the tobacco companies who grown their tobacco with radioactive fertilizer.

After tobacco? with well over 85,000 deaths a year, the number #2 killer is alcohol.

Now one popular drug that has swept a nation is coffee. Believe it or not, this is also an addictive drug. Caffeine is overlooked as a common household ingredient, but the truth is, looking at the statistics, even caffeine comes in anywhere between 1 to 10,000 deaths a year. Strangely enough, caffeine comes dangerously close to our over the counter medications, like tylenol, aspirin, etc,with over 7 and a half thousand deaths annually.

Yet, we cannot find 1 single death in the past 10,000 years where a death was attributed to marijuana.

Staggering, i know.

Without moderation, these things do a number on your body,and can put you in a state of mind that is not healthy, loosing judgement and making horrible, and sometimes life ending decisions, yet these things are legal, and thankfully, for sake of our right to consume, and in some cases, like alcohol, the laws are changing and making it easier to consume. The problem is NOT the legality of it, but the people who abuse the right. Guns do not kill people, people kill people. That is true with substance abuse. Why then, have we outlawed a substance that is natural, and is proven to be less dangerous than the things we use legally? Not to mention the agricultural advantages, and economical advantages one financially burdened nation could benefit from? And while on the subject of pain medication, I know people who are addicted to pain medicine. Yet they have no problem getting that from their doctor. Much like medical marijuana, all you need is an excuse and a doctor most times will grant you a prescription or even free medicine samples. If had a tooth removed, or a back injury, or to give a less easy argument, say i just had a really bad headache, and i took a vicodin, i will have very little problems obtaining a drug, that i could just as easily abuse. Knowing myself, i could and sometimes do feel a need to take something like this. I take them and I feel better. Yet, while walking down a city street, i have been offered vicodin as a drug deal, alongside marijuana, and other illegal drugs.I do not believe marijuana is a gateway drug, but for the sake of argument, what about all of this legal stuff, that is far more unhealthy for us?

* My only conclusion is, like i already said, be the example. Be in control. Do not let this become, as Christians would believe, a "worship issue". See, that is why the bible doesn't say "And Jesus said "Do not drink beer, do not smoke pot, do not consume narcotics" because it has already been addressed when the bible teaches "Where your treasure is, there, your heart will also be (Luke 12:34) The bible talks about controlling our bodies and enjoying things in moderation, because it IS a liberty for us, Christian or not, and these same rules should apply to both sides of the spiritual coin. Worship is a continuous action, and if Jesus is not the center of your life, what is? Is it tv? Is it making money? Is it drinking or smoking weed? Is this the center of YOUR LIFE? Or even less obvious, maybe your need to be right, is the center of your life? Perhaps your need to hold onto your way of thinking, when somebody with wisdom might point out some truth to you, you put your foot down against it, just because in your fear, you have a need to be in a comfort zone. Control is the center of your life. What are you worshipping??? Is it possible to drink alcohol, or take prescription medicine, or (take a breath) smoke marijuana, without it being the center of your life? Or even the center of your evening? Does it take over you? Be careful when saying to somebody, "I really NEED to consume substance" And like i already said, we didn't write the bible, but if we care enough about what scripture says, to stake our life on it, and live to our dying day, we should be ready to adjust our attitudes too, when becoming legalistic.

this leads me to my next point.

3. Yeah, that sounds fine to a degree, but i can drink a beer. I cannot take one hit of marijuana and be in any control. I cannot smoke weed and NOT be totally high. And even if i could, i would only smoke weed TO GET HIGH! Its a different substance, completely. It doesn't act the same. You just cannot control your mind, even with 1 hit.

- This point is a case by case basis. I mentioned before that God gave us the things of the earth to enjoy in moderation. We have to gage what is good or bad for us, but if that is not enough assurance, than just say no, right? In all of my interviews, and research i have found that it just depends on the kind of cannabis you smoke, or as one person put it "It depends completely on the type. A sativa will not lower my energy level while an indica puts me on the couch with a bowl of tortilla chips covered in whichever condiment catches my eye in the fridge"

There are all sorts of reactions. Paranoia. Euphoria Mellowed out. Half baked. More focused. Completely unfocused. The list goes on and on.

I find it is really impossible to simply say "Ok then, if i cannot find a human race all acting the same exact way, than it must all be wrong" I just depends on YOU! See at the end of the day, the question is not can we twist the rules God put forth for us to live by, much less if you even have any convictions at all
about it. For the Christian, it is not a question. God gave us things to discover and enjoy. Natural things. We have to define the great line.

What troubles me is when somebody decides what is wrong or right for his or herself, but also announces to the whole world "I refuse to see it any other way. It is impossible for me to stay in control, and since i know how hard that is for me to do, it must be at least that hard, or harder for you to do, therefore i refuse to look at any other view of this than my

You might argue and say "Oh come on, who says that"? Well maybe it is not as clearly stated, but without question, this is the stubborn view many have taken, in my experiences.

One person i spoke with said that he had a seizure when
smoking pot. I thought "Gee, that is odd". Another person commented that they have heard of somebody else who had a seizure once from smoking pot, but he was quick to point out that another friend of his struggled with seizures, and smoked pot to stop them. The plot thickens. Many still have said that taking a "hit" in moderation has allowed them to stay more focused on driving, reading, working, sleeping, Etc. In my research even fewer have said "There is no way you can smoke it and drive a car" but those people also admitted to smoking a ton of pot, going as far as to say "I cannot see any purpose in smoking marijuana except for getting completely baked"

But, again, what troubles me is that i do not feel any desire to smoke marijuana to get completely baked. What interests me is the health benefits, and perhaps being relaxed. What amazes me is everyones gunshot reaction to what i have just stated, "You should never consume anything for any reason other than taste" Really? Does everyone who drinks a beer feel that way? Is it a sin to enjoy the relaxing benefits that come with a cold beer, or a cigar? After all, we do not take vicodin because of the taste. We take it because it is a legal prescription that allows us to feel better. The hypocrisy here is so thick, you could cut it with a knife!

So it just depends on the persons usage. Again with that control point i keep making. Its starting to seem clearer. I do not say all of this to talk my way into reasoning. What i am saying is the only thing that makes the most sense, even with the bible firmly in hand.

Marijuana use is either a big misunderstanding, or every ounce of research is a lie. But if marijuana was so dangerous, again, why have we not seen any proof? Trust me when i say that any chance to prove the dangers of marijuana would be taken up, if the chance were there! You would see the proof everywhere you go. We could finally shut those stoners up!

* I mentioned before about the importance of being honest, if one wants to protect the rights they have, and not only honest but responsible. I think if people wanted to smoke weed, and they wanted the stereotypes to die off, the only way for that to happen, is to be honest about the affects of marijuana. If marijuana CAN be used in moderation. If marijuana users, used it ONLY in moderation, i think the stigma would cease. If it is impossible to control yourself with marijuana, than there are good reasons for the stereotypes. Nobody wants to change, by drinking or smoking. Nobody wants to be somebody else, or act a certain way, by drinking or smoking. Nobody wants to hurt themselves, or others by drinking and smoking. But those things can happen while we drink, and while we smoke. Why? Is it possible, Christian or not, to be responsible? To me, this whole thing comes full circle when we focus our attentions on the lack of control, and sometimes being
addicted to substance. If a Christian is smoking every single day, i would say they are wrong, by biblical standards. Non Christians will say "Good for the Christian, but i don't care, i smoke every day and i will never change" but i think the matters of the heart are as plain as day, if one looked at those words carefully. The need creates a negative worship issue. But i would say the same thing to a person who watched tv too much, or drank too much beer. If you cannot control yourself, you should not do it!

AND, yes...its not healthy to smoke anything. Drugs and alcohol are never, EVER, "healthy" even when they are prescribed to you. They are temporary fixes, to a larger problem. When someone relies on any of these drugs, to live simple and pain free, it concerns me. Its complicated. We cannot say "Just stop" because some people are far more pained than you or I. But what about the emotional pain? Should we justify covering up these things? Should these things act as a way to cope with life's big blows? If we take a good hard look at ourselves, are we hypocrites? I believe we should never mix pain with substance use. For the Christian, our pain relief is found in the Lord.

4. Marijuana Is Illegal. Shouldn't that be enough, for us to avoid the issue all together?

It is so easy to say "Its a sin, because it is illegal" but that is so lazy to me. That is too simple and quickly summed up.

FOR MORE INFO ON MARIJUANA LAWS, LEGAL HISTORY, visit the film "The Union: The Business Of Getting High"

Laws are extremely important, and while i think many laws are a pointless waste, we should obey them, at the very least, for our own good. For the Christian, the bible commands us to obey the law continually, until it has become the enemy of God.

I Peter 2: 13-16
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

Questioning laws is a healthy thing. Breaking them is not. Should this law be banished? I think so. I for one do not like being told what to do, certainly with no logic or reasoning. I recognize the importance of obeying the law, but this does not mean that i like the laws, or understand their good purpose. I strongly believe there is little good, in outlawing marijuana. Not when we examine the agricultural and economical losses, which are vast, but also because the government should be controlled by the people, for the people, not controlled by the people, with little
interest in the truth. Simply put: It is none of the government's business, if i was a consumer of marijuana. When you look at how the law came to be, and why it is still locked down today, one cannot help but be troubled by this, unless of course, we are operating out of fear, and have become confident in these laws. Be honest with yourself. Do you want to live in a world where the government controls you? These laws should be a protection against a dangerous force. But what are they really protecting us from? What danger does marijuana pose? And more importantly, how successful has the law been, in stopping marijuana use? If you ask me, it has made many people's lives harder. Many face criminal charges for something as pathetic as smoking pot. Lives have been ruined, not by consuming cannabis and dealing with the affects, but because of the charges, when being caught. You
might say "Well yes, like any law, if you break it on purpose, do not be surprised when the law slams the hammer down" But look at the big picture. Is this justice? Do these people deserve those types of charges? When i take a hard honest look at the big picture, i cannot rest with a shrug of the shoulders, and an apathetic stance. To bold face ignore these things, is dishonest.

Yet when i think about how simply put the idea of obeying the law, really is, i find a bigger hypocrisy than ever, because this is the biggest area where i feel i am safe to say we all stumble. Who does not go
over the speed limit, while driving? That example alone puts many of us in a bad light. Just like i have stated before, you cannot say it is wrong to smoke pot, and then contradict your argument, by drinking too much, you cannot say it is wrong to smoke pot because it is against the law, and yet still break many laws, yourself.

* I do think that marijuana should be legal, but nevertheless i believe we should obey the law. In this subject, i find the biggest flaw in my own life. See, while i recognize the importance of obeying the law, i break laws, just like anyone will, but in my own life, i find
very little concern with adjusting my actions to prevent breaking more. Speeding is one law i find far too difficult not to do. Say what you want, but that is the honest truth. Am i wrong? I painfully admit that i am. Will i stop? I really should. But will I? Will anyone? Is it prideful to say "Well if its illegal to smoke pot, than it is illegal to speed, i am going to stop breaking any laws"? OR, is it commendable? Is it realistic? I guess that depends on YOU!

5. I am a Christian, and I believe that marijuana opens the door to demons, and/or the occult. Marijuana is a gateway drug to the gateway to Hell!!!

I find it incredibly tempting to not even address this point, because anybody with a firm grip on their faith in Jesus, would realize how incredibly PRO-DEMON that statement really is. I would ask the question, "Do you really believe demons have any power over Christians"?

First thing is, i do not even believe that any recreational drug can affect you that way, but i do believe that if you are looking for something spiritual, you will certainly find something. I will again use the "guns don't kill people" reference in saying that, you cannot blame the drugs for a search for demons and the occult, you can only blame the person's intent. If a person smokes pot with the intent to have a spiritual experience, than they have opened that spiritual door, regardless of what drugs they are on. You can take drugs with you on that journey, but you cannot blame the drugs for taking the journey. Now, certainly there are drugs that do much more dangerous things to our bodies, and our minds. Our minds are an incredible blessing from the Lord, and i believe that we underestimate how much of a blessing they really are. I do not want to say, with 100% confidence that drugs cannot put you in a state, where your mind experiences things that are not seen otherwise, or however you want to paint the picture, but we are talking about marijuana here, and in my research, there has never been a story of somebody getting high, and experiencing anything but a normal high, and let me remind you all that i have already pointed out the importance of using marijuana in moderation. I believe people give demons way too much power and credibility. This thinking is nothing more than old fashioned fundamentalism, and if you believe something like that, and you consider yourself something other than fundamentalist, than ask yourself how much of your thought and time do you give, obsessing over demons, and spiritual darkness? I find, often times, the only ones saying anything about "opening the doors to the Devil" are those in the charismatic churches. I believe in demons, and their works. I just don't believe this subject has anything to do with it. I don't dare claim to be absolutely 100% right in all matters of charismatic Christianity, but i do believe whole heartedly, that we exist purely as sinful, and any fascination with demons, and black magic is a direct result of disobedience to the Holy spirit, and the scriptures. It is an assault on God the father, and his work on the cross. It is lazy and spiritually immature to suggest that marijuana takes you to a demonic place. But, i strongly believe you can take marijuana with you, wherever you go, even to the darkest places of the sinful heart!

At the end of my search, it all comes down to moderation, and legalization. Is it worth you finding it out? Maybe. Maybe not.
but remember, in all of this, sin is never justified.

Feel free to email me at stephenmarksarro@yahoo.com with any questions, comments, criticisms, Etc..etc...

and be sure and visit the episode of The Tourist Trap Podcast, Episode 5, where Justin and I talked about the above topic.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tantrum Of The Muse - The Heart Is A Two Headed Sperm (10 Year Anniversary Remaster) NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Visit our nifty little webstore: THE WAR ON RECORDS



And please, friends, we want to hear from you, let us know your thoughts on the albums re-release.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"The Heart" remaster, final details, and more on THE WAR ON RECORDS!!!

hey gang, some changes were made, late last minute, as usual for the TOTM camp, on the remastered re-release of The Heart Is A Two Headed Sperm. I found demos, previously unreleased, that were a perfect addition to this version of the album. In 2003, Tantrum Of The Muse reformed, with an added member, our good pal (my soon to be brother-n-law) Seth Luzier, who joined the band as a keyboardist. We did a few shows back then, and we had this idea to re-record "The Heart" songs for a brand new demo, showcasing the new versions of the band, and the new arrangements for the songs. We even thought we might send this demo out to major labels. I was planning to hop a plane, once the demo was completed, and showing up on the doorsteps of an unmentionable label, showing just how serious i was about securing TOTM in the hands of the rich! Well, haha, that demo would never see the light of day, i would never take that plane ride, and TOTM wouldn't live to see the rest of 2004! It was a dark time, there is no doubt about that. If you were to ask me to release the demos that survived that session, then...i would swiftly kick you in the butt!

But its a new day and age in my life, where my hopes and dreams of becoming a successful full time rock and roller are long gone, there is a new sense of urgency in my song writing. It is not what you might expect, not so much a concern to fulfill the mainstream view of "success" but rather, plain and simple - write strong songs, that might affect someone in a positive way, and reassure this aging bastard that there is still so much in me, still needing to be done.

I say all of this, to explain how my life's changes have affected my view of my old band's reputation, and tiny body of work. Given that i have all the confidence in the world to make new music, and play with new people, TOTM is not so - desperate, to me anymore. Sure, i am proud of the songs. I am even able to look back at these albums and see the urgency in them, for the music culture of that time. There is no question, these records did the job, they remain as small gears that helped the 1990's underground alternative machine stay spinning!!! Back then, an artist might have their own identity, and might write music that makes you think and feel (gasp) i know, so hard to believe in just a short few years, where things have left us.

So these demos...they are not that important to me. What is important, is preserving a moment in my life, so that i may look back and say "There it was, kiddies" and so holding any material from the TOTM era is foolish to me. I want my friends to hear it all, and have it all. Enough said, i think you guys will enjoy them.

So, the demos are from 2003. I was recruiting new members for TOTM. I spent a lot of time figuring out what i should do, and who i should find. I met and befriended this awesome bassist, Tyler Lambert. He agreed to play, but TOTM was not his first priority. Seth was already in the band as my keyboardist, who now ran samples and weird sounds. At this time, Rick was fresh off of his stint with The Huntingtons, and missing playing with me (shucks). I was relieved because finding a good drummer, proved impossible at the time. So now it was Rick, Tyler, Seth and myself. We were splitting up practice spots between southern MD, and Lancaster area PA. The drives were expensive. Seth actually moved from MD to PA. It was at this time that Jim had called and explained he was living in Florida, on a boat with his fiance, Deann. They had been evicted due to storms. I kid you not. He needed a place to live. I asked him if he wanted to drive to PA to join the band again, and split rent with Seth. He agreed. I explained to Tyler that we needed reform, in one area. Tyler was given the option of joining for real (before i offered to Jim, of course) and he couldn't commit, so...whalla...The original 3, +1, planted firmly in Lancaster. We recorded the demos in a barn we were renting, out in Lancaster. Jim recorded all of it, on his dying computer. The quality is fair. Its listener friendly. We felt that it was important to re-record these old songs again, to showcase how they were meant to be recorded. We NEVER played The heart" songs like the album. Not once. They always took on a different energy, once Jim joined and played the bass parts, with his fingers (and foot)! We sped them up quite a bit too, and Rick really filled out the drumming. I also found a lot of improvement room. Even though i love the first album, it is clear the songs were not existing long enough to really "find them"! Now that TOTM had been playing for a few years, and had gotten extremely tight, and extremely good at playing together, the songs sounded totally different. So, we recorded them, the way we were performing them. It is, for that reason that i release them now. To showcase the band's playing style, and the song structures, and how they changed from 1998, to 2003. If you were lucky enough to see the band live in 2003-2004 on a good night, you got the same volume and energy as any TOTM show, with added element of keyboards. It was short lived. Only a few months, to be sure. Not too many of the TOTM fans got to experience that part of the band, so...that is why i decided to find this demo, and put it on the new release.


1. Do Not Hurt Luddle
2. The Devils House Of Techno
3. Hell Is At The Bottom Of The Rainbow
4. Fatigued
5. For The Birds
6. Headcheese Recipe (Destroy The Herps)
7. Swing, Daddy...Swing!
8. My Depression Outfit
9. Gas Parade (March Of The Dead)
10. You Smell Better When You Are Dead
11. Jesus Standing Behind The Entertainment
12. Here Comes A Winner (Bonus Track)
13. Downtrodden (Bonus Track)
14. The Devils House Of Techno (Live At Tom Fest 2000)
15. For The Birds (Live At Tom Fest 2000)
16. Fatigued (Live At Tom Fest 2000)
17. Gas Parade (March Of The Dead) (2003 Demo)
18. Fatigued (2003 Demo)
19. Hell Is At The Bottom Of The Rainbow (2003 Demo)
20. For The Birds (2003 Demo)

This album, and many others, can be purchased as a digital download (only, until we can afford LP offer) by visiting the new record label, started Seth, and partially run by yours truly. The goal here is to release every and all releases that we are involved with, as well as re-release any TOTM related, or other past projects. My solo album, Sympathy For The Living has been overhauled and will be available as well. We are releasing everything as download, with optional format (mp3, wav, etc) and some of our main releases will be given full 12" LP treatment, mostly with Unteachers, King Cloud, Opals, and Elesnaphant, etc.
I am hoping, if there is enough $ and demand, to remix, remaster and vinyl-ize TOTM- Modernmu$ick(2000)! but that is ONLY if the demand is worth it. If you or anyone you know demand a vinyl release of that album, please let me know by email, or send us some donations, or pre-order money, and we will make it happen. Its a new label, and we hope that releasing downloads, and 7" splits, will help fund future LPs. For now, check out the site, and let us know what you think. The site is not finished, we are getting all of the finishing touches wrapped up in a week or so.



I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that Rick is no longer the drummer for the missing band, Unteachers. The good news is my cousin, Travis Turner, former Crutch/Aletheian drummer, is the new drummer. We have been quietly working on finishing the 7" that Rick and I attempted to make. The 7" quality had some issues, and we decided we wanted to re-record the drums. We will be doing that in March. We are also planning to begin work on the full length album. We are still looking for a Christian bass player to fill in the gap. As far as Rick, he just had little time to commit, and a lot of new things are happening (good things) in his life. I am basically at a point where it is important that i do not let anyone, for any reason, hold me back in finishing my art. The art i am inspired to make and given an opportunity to make, is one that takes a lot of work and determination as well as sacrifice and support, to finish. I am a firm believer that nobody should stop your creativity. If you are given a gift, you may be the only person who sees or hears it. But, that doesn't make it any less vital to use it! In my life, it has been devastating, waiting, and being a perfectionist. The most important thing i can do, as an artist, is actually DO SOMETHING. So, i have been very stubborn with bending those rules. I am not stopping. This recording has to get finished this year. With, or without a band, i will carry out the song writing and recording. Fortunately, i was blessed with Travis's willingness, and passion, and TIME. It has been a really great opportunity for me to spend more time with a member of my family i always miss and hardly fellowship with. Of course Rick is a dear friend, and somebody i think i will always be creative with. We have plans on collaborating on recordings in the future, but for this project, it is vital that i keep moving at my own pace. I love Rick, and Travis both very much, and it has been an HONOR to have both of their talents on past projects, as well as future projects. Travis, as some of you might know, played drums on the TOTM "classic" Screw The Chri$tian Music Industry. We hope to post the 2 new singles for the 7" very VERY soon. Hang in there, this is the pain of independent art! Time, money, sacrifice, and patience!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tantrum Of The Muse - The Heart Is A Two Headed Sperm (10 Year Anniversary Remaster) Some notes, track listing, etc.

So, we decided we needed to pull our acclaimed teen angst opus - "The Heart Is A Two Headed Sperm" out of obscurity and back into the limelight, by way of making it available, "officially" as a download, complete with that annoying "missing track" that everyone seems to like so much, and some additional live tracks, once found on the live ep, all re-edited, sound clips taken from digital transfers, a few snips at a few loose ends that somehow made it into the first 2 pressings of the album, a few tweeks, a few tricks, and there you have it!

I was initially a bit bummed out, that the album was being downloaded online, with tracks missing, sounding the way it did, and looking the way it did, all these years, and i really wished i could remix the bastard, and make it much more mature sounding and fuller. There are so many things wrong with the final takes of the performances, and the production is clearly independent budget, $700 to be exact (and this was in 1998) and Rick and myself, we could barely even play our instruments. We had so many ideas pouring out of us, but so little talent to really pull it off, and even though that is really true, somehow i still find myself siding with this album, over the 2nd album we did with the band. I just think this one is so much more of what TOTM was about. I dunno, the 2nd record was certainly an improvement in so many ways, but that record was chock full of inside jokes and shout outs to things, not many people realized, not to mention...it was so damn miserable!!!! There was a little bit of light at the end of the musical tunnel, with this first record. Rick and I had not been completely embittered with everything and everyone......yet! :)

So now, we have a poorly crafted, but inspired artistic statement, existing only in cd format. No 2" tape, just a digital recording, burned to a cd-r, which i still have (You think your copy sounds bad? You should hear the original) Mixing is out of the question. I had 3 different mastering persons, each take a stab at it, and i got the same results, for the most part, and the same explanation "This is the best it is ever going to be" then i took those versions, and compared them all, painstakingly, in many stereos, and sharing the files with people who know so much more about it, than i, and they painstakingly compared it all, until we finally found the most well balanced versions. Then, i took those remastered files, and i redid samples, and edited the songs book ends, making the starts of songs cleaner, and the ends of songs cleaner, giving the overall listening experience a much tighter, cleaner sound. Gone is a lot of the air that was heard. Gone, is the bad quality samples. We managed, without mixing tracks, to bring some of the performances out a little more. I can truly say, this is the best it is going to sound, without spending a ton of money that we do not even have.

The album was originally recorded in the summer of 1998. We were waiting for Sofa Records to finish what they started, in releasing it, but they decided to pass. We then got signed to the infamous Takehold Records, in 1999, who mastered the album and gave it an official release. So, if you want to get technical, 1998 was the birth of the album, and so 2008 is the real 10th year anniversary, but because we felt the real release came in 1999, i decided to release it in 2009. Its a few weeks too late to do that, but all of the work we put into it was done in 2009, so i feel confident, though shamed, to release it now, in the early 2010, as a 10 year celebration!!!

The purpose of all of this? For starters, just to keep the TOTM legacy alive. Because the album changed our lives personally, and i know it changed people's lives, because i continually get emails, or responses from people sharing their thoughts and feelings on the album, and how it pushed them to re-think how heavy music is presented, or how to be true to yourself as an artist, as a Christian, and having that conviction. Also, because there are so many more people who have not been given the opportunity to hear the album, and could very much benefit from it, is a great reason to dust it off! A more practical reason? All of the proceeds of the album, are going to fund the new album, which is in the pre-production/rehearsal stages as i type this. I have a lot of obstacles to overcome, in order to be a 100% independent artist. For some crazy reason, inspiration keeps me here. It keeps me wanting to write and record and perform, and even though i haven't given myself, or the world, a proper album in 10 years, i am about due to finally release something!! With your support, in purchasing the download of the TOTM albums, or by buying the Unteachers stickers, and buttons, and future merchandise, I will be literally, pouring the money right back into your hands, in the way of releasing all that i can, when it is available for me to give!

Check out the 2 versions of the newly revised The Heart... artwork! Created by the very talented, Seth Luzier (TOTM keyboardist in 2002-2004).

1. Do Not Hurt Luddle
2. The Devil's House Of Techno
3. Hell Is At The Bottom Of The Rainbow
4. Fatigued
5. For The Birds
6. Headcheese Recipe (Destroy The Herps)
7. Swing, Daddy...Swing!
8. My Depression Outfit
9. Gas Parade (March Of The Dead)
10. You Smell Better When You Are Dead
11. Jesus Standing Behind The Entertainment
12. Here Comes A Winner (Bonus Track)
13. Downtrodden! (Bonus Track)
14. The Devil's House Of Techno - Live At Tom Fest 2000 (Bonus Track)
15. For The Birds - Live At Tom Fest 2000 (Bonus Track)
16. Fatigued - Live At Tom Fest 2000 (Bonus Track)

The concept for this record's art, was to age the cover. To wink at the 10 year angle. To suggest this record has been through a long 10 years. I think the concept works perfect, and it gets away from the dreadful Mr. Bungle rip off looking cover we somehow decided on, in 1999. Thank God that is behind us!!!

Stay tuned, for the announcement of where the album can be bought, etc. Thanks for your support

- S