Friday, February 4

Atlas Shrugged

I am re-reading this book. I don't know why I like it, really. The characters are sort of compelling, but not very. You've really only got two types of characters, and only little tiny variations in each individual. The book is FAR too preachy, almost to the point of being unreadable.

But I still get fascinated by it. Maybe it's because I think Ayn Rand is right about some things. I learned some interesting economic things by reading Atlas Shrugged. It confirmed a lot of things I'd been told, but did a better job of explaining them. For instance, I'd always been told that big government was not a good idea, and that it wrecked businesses. I didn't really understand that, until I saw it play out in the book.

But I know there's got to be a flaw in her arguments somewhere. She applies the same system to morality as she does to economics, and there's where it seems to break down. She's built up a lot of straw men for Christianity and religion in general, and it's not too hard to argue against that...but I feel there's still something I can't quite put my finger on.

Lent is coming up again. And again, I take a slightly perverse pleasure in the fact that Valentine's Day occurs during Lent. So much for giving your sweetie a box of chocolates!

But that aside...I'm kind of looking forward to Lent. I don't like giving stuff up, but I know it's a good thing to do, and I always do feel better afterwards. Not that it's about feeling better because it isn't, but still.

I wish I'd taken the time to focus on Christmas this year. Christmas and Advent in general are times to remember Christ's first coming, and look forward to His coming again in power and great glory. But I lost focus this year, as every year. Lent is easier because the preperation time is longer, and I spend the whole time with my church family, instead of spending half my time in a different and unfamiliar church. On top of that, there's my whole tendency to have a melancholy disposition. So I generally tend to like this whole season.

Besides, Easter means so much more when you've spent 40 days not singing "allelujahs" or seeing the crucifix, and then, on Good Friday, when the last of the Sacrament is consumed, the church is stripped, and left barren...That's hard to see. But then, on Easter, when the small Paschal fire is lit in the darkness, and we all pass quietly into the church with our lights. Our own little lights, not really enough for us to see by, and certainly not enough for anybody else to see by. But then, suddenly, the choir bursts into joyful song, all the lights are turned on full blast, and bells everywhere start to ring! He is risen!

But right now it's almost Lent, time to be quiet and think. The Resurrection comes, and will come to all who abide in Him, but it is not yet. Now is the time for quiet.

You know what two of the best songs in the world are?

Sweet Home Alabama
Joy to the World (Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog)

Yep. Good songs.

Thursday, February 3

A Belated Grateful Farewell

I know that no-one to whom this is directed will ever read this blog. But I need to say it anyway:

Five Iron Frenzy, thank you. For all the years that you gave us good, fun music, thank you. For all the songs that made us laugh, thank you. For all the insane bonus tracks and live goofs, thank you.

To those of you who don't know who or what Five Iron Frenzy is, let me explain.

Five Iron Frenzy is a Christian ska band that specialized in silly songs (such as the These Are Not My Pants rock opera) juxtaposed with incredibly insightful songs (such as Every New Day). They played for years, and got better all the time. They were very real, about the good things and the bad things.

I wrote them a letter after my first year in college, thanking them for their music. A member of the band wrote back to me several times, and even e-mailed me once or twice. They are good people, with a crazy sense of humor.

Their last tour has been over for a while now. The band Five Iron Frenzy, technically, no longer exists. But I sit here in the library, listening to a live track from their last tour.

They were singing the song Every New Day:

When I was young, the smallest trick of light,
Could catch my eye,
Then life was new and every new day,
I thought that I could fly.
I believed in what I hoped for,
And I hoped for things unseen,
I had wings and dreams could soar,
I just don't feel like flying anymore.
When the stars threw down their spears,
Watered Heaven with their tears,
Before words were spoken,
Before eternity.

Dear Father, I need you,
Your strength my heart to mend.
I want to fly higher,
Every new day again.

When I was small, the furthest I could reach,
Was not so high,
Then I thought the world was so much smaller,
Feeling that I could fly.
Through distant deeps and skies,
Behind infinity,
Below the face of Heaven,
He stoops to create me.

Dear Father, I need you,
Your strength my heart to mend.
I want to fly higher,
Every new day again.

You are not alone
You are not alone
You are not alone
You were never alone.

Man versus himself.
Man versus machine.
Man versus the world.
Mankind versus me.
The struggles go on,
The wisdom I lack,
The burdens keep pilling
Up on my back.
So hard to breathe,
To take the next step.
The mountain is high,
I wait in the depths.
Yearning for grace,
And hoping for peace.
Dear God...Increase.

Healing hands of God have mercy on our unclean souls once again.
Jesus Christ, light of the world burning bright within our hearts forever.
Freedom means love without condition,without a beginning or an end.
Here's my heart, let it be forever Your's,
Only You can make every new day seem so new.

At the end, the crowd--knowing that the end was near--simply began chanting "Thank you," over and over again. The band ended the song, and slowly moved into "Amazing Grace." Then the lead singer, Reese, began to talk about ending, and passing on the mantle to the next generation. Then, mentioning the snow falling outside, the track ended with Five Iron Frenzy and the concert crowd singing "Silent Night."

Thank you, FIF. We will miss you. A bright spark of humor and insight has passed.