Tuesday, February 16, 2010


So last week I was on vacation in Phoenix (to visit family) and since it is a Tuesday and a long time since I wrote, I figured I'd write about the band Phoenix and this song Lisztomania.  The song is infectious, and a lot of fun, but what is the meaning since lyrics are a bit cryptic? And what is the connection to Franz Liszt?

Well to make a long story short Franz Liszt was the Beatles of his day, the "viral" phenomena.  He exploded in popularity to the point that masses of screaming women would fight over his handkerchiefs and gloves. (Which he would toss into the audience as any fabulous showman would.) The scene is even more amusing when you consider him a hoity-toity classical pianist.
Anyway, the Song is about fame, and the way it compounds itself and it isn't necessarily connected to talent, more luck and timing.  For sure Liszt was a supreme talent, but he also spent time playing the music of Hector Berlioz a pianist whose music and talent were obvious to Liszt, but was unknown to the masses. He published and performed Berlioz' work to help his talented friend who suffered in abject poverty.  This began a lifelong commitment to using his abilities and position to bring relief to suffering and poverty. The Brangelina of his time?  For the last 30 years of his life, nearly all of his performances were for charitable causes.

Which brings us to Haiti. On Feb. 6 our church ICEFC held MANNA. A coffeehouse featuring the artists The Secret Name and After the Service. Donattions were collected and we raised about $300 dollars for Haiti and World Vision. Sure it's not the 60 Million that the Celebrity world conjured up, but it is us doing our part.

A line in the song goes:

"These days it (fame) comes it comes it comes it comes it comes and goes"

Notice how fame grows and grows it snowballs and then all the sudden: gone.

Celebrity is fleeting now more than ever, and so God's call in our life is to do what we can where he has put us.  One way I've heard this summarized is "bloom where you are planted."  Why has God put you where he has you? What can you be doing to serve him better, now, where you are?

Liszt in later life  in the Franciscan order as an abbott.  He wanted to join the ministry when he was young, but was dissuaded  by his parents.  From early on Liszt realized that what we have is God's gift and we should be involved in giving back especially if we have been blessed. (granted Liszt had many faults) Maybe you haven't donated anything yet.  Maybe you could have contributed more. Our contributions went to fmsc.org and they are a great organization to work with 94% of the money goes to the people and they have been working in Haiti for the last 10 years and will continue to work with 200 partner organizations that were already in Haiti.

But maybe you'd also like to yell and scream and fight over articles of clothing belonging to amazing musicians.  Well, in that case I have another option for you. My friend Leo Rhee Pastor at Canaan Community Church is hosting a benefit concert for Haiti as well.

Matthew 6: 19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Lyrics for Lisztomania

Friday, February 5, 2010

Middle Class

Hey So i just watched this CNN Video on, "What is the Middle Class?"  People had various definitions and ideas about what the middle class is, and what we can do about it. (That is to strengthen it, not eliminate it)  The most striking thing is the outlook of these people.  They all worry that things will be very difficult for their kids. They worry that America is crumbling, and that it's only a matter of time before things get significantly worse.
The question is, what do we do?  How can we bring hope in the midst of this despair?  The answer does not lie in top down solutions and efforts.  Generally once power is established in the hands of the few change and growth becomes more difficult not less.  However, when the Gospel takes hold in the lives of the few, then  many cultures change and grow and expand. People on the small scale begin to make changes to the world around them.  This week I was reading Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" one thing he said was there was a certain threshold in communities that once a certain level of stabilizing people (generally educated) people in a community there were dramatic decreases in crime and teen birthrates.  But if you drop below the threshold things skyrocket.  These communities may have the same funding and police presence and authority structure, but it's the neighbors and individuals in the community that make the difference. 

So I think the church needs to let people know that Christ is where hope lies. That as we work together and live out the call to be like Christ that our communities will change for the better, then our states will change and then our country will change.  The problem is that for us to do that the church needs to step away from our "me first" culture and begin to serve.  We aren't going to accomplish anything if we just ask others to change our communities. No, American politics and secular humanistic philosophy is set against the underlying beliefs of Christians.  We believe people are fundamentally selfish and sinful.  Most other religions and secularists think that is more the exception than the rule.    This article basically presents the humanist position, but is countered by George Marsden with a great deal of sense.  Anyway,  my point is the Church needs to be the agent of hope and change and let's leave politics to ride our coattails, just like the whole roman empire did.