The Golden Compass

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Saturday, December 01, 2007

Recently, I've been bombarded by requests to join Facebook groups boycotting the upcoming movie "The Golden Compass" because of its atheist message. Now, I have a few things to say here, so don't think I'm crazy before you finish reading.First of all, let me ask a simple question. How many of you involved in these "Boycott the Golden Compass" groups have actually read any of the books? My guess is probably few of you. I'll admit that I haven't read them either, but that's not the point. How in the world are you supposed to oppose something when you don't even know what it contains?

Second, I'll admit that author Philip Pullman wrote his fantasy novels from an atheist standpoint. There is no doubt that he is an outspoken atheist. But does that mean that we can't give his novels a chance? To be honest, there have been many great works of literature written by atheists and Christians alike. In addition, God can use anyone to convey truth.I'll conclude with this. I have no desire to see or read "The Golden Compass" because it doesn't appeal to me. I'm more of a drama/thriller movie lover than a fantasy movie lover. But for those of you that aren't going to see the movie because "we'll be putting money into the pocket of an atheist," you're just being ridiculous. Grow up, and give it a chance...

I originally wrote this as a note on my Facebook page, and close to thirty comments resulted from it. Listed below are some of the comments... if you're interested.

Christopher Davis (Christian Academy of Louisville) wrote at 12:02am on November 27th, 2007
Andrew, this is so true, and I agree with you 100%. It was the same with Harry Potter, yes, its about magic and wizardry, but they were great books. Very well written, and held a LOT of positive messages too. We can respect a good book as a good book, even if we don't agree with it or like the author. And as for "putting money in people's pockets", I agree with you. Grow up. We do it everyday. I mean, think about where your money goes. Really.

Julianna West (Asbury) wrote at 10:49am on November 27th, 2007
Harry Potter. Yeah, I am a Potterhead. When I first started reading the books, my mom held a pretty apprehensive view towards them- like Chris said, for all the "practical" uses of magic. She slowly relaxed though as I shared with her some of the underlying messages of loyalty and bravery and how the right choices aren't necessarily the easy ones. (I think it is important to remember also that both Narnia and the Lord of the Rings, which are both largely highly respected works in the eyes of Christians, contain magic.)I think that with this story, it is much the same. While I completely understand the necessity of only allowing things into your mind that are true, just, pure, noble, etc. as the Bible clearly outlines, I think that ultimately the reader must decide to what degree they will internalize the words they are reading. I plan on seeing the movie and making my own judgments.

Matt Schlabach (Asbury) wrote at 9:02pm on November 27th, 2007
that is true sometimes but in this series he actually kills God, Pullman's goal isn't just to undermine God but to kill him off entirely. i agree that God can use non-Christians but when someone actually opposes our faith we can't just let it go and act like its no big deal

Andrew Groves wrote at 10:08pm on November 27th, 2007
Matt, I see what you're saying, but I still don't like the idea of people boycotting the book/movie because they HEARD that he kills God. Why not read the book (or see the movie) for yourself and then make a judgement? Yes, as Christians we need to be careful about what we put into our heads, but shouldn't we also as Christians be aware of what our culture is thinking, even if we don't agree with it?

Hilary White (Vanderbilt) wrote at 10:12pm on November 27th, 2007
Well, duh. Three things though - 1) in their defense, I believe both Narnia and LotR were written allegorically. Obviously there exists artistic license within those plot lines but I see the basic themes of redemption and ultimate triumph of good over evil, etc. It's not just magic; 2) God uses filthy rags and empty vessels as well and 3) Andrew, dawg, you're absolutely right, but what interests me is this - do you realize that what you're arguing against is exactly what we were all taught at WA? Were we ever encouraged to read The DaVinci Code or anything else like it on our own? No - we were taught that "oh my gosh good Christians don't read that it's bad and you'll go to hell" rather than finding out what made it principally wrong. Most of our fellow students have not developed those critical thinking skills so remember that when you're invited to join the group by a WA person; I'm just glad you can think of it on your own. Woot. Go you.

Hilary White (Vanderbilt) wrote at 12:24am on November 28th, 2007
Matt, you made clear that Pullman's characters ended up killing God, which as you said should be a big red flag to us as Christians. You pointed out one of the main tenets of the Christian's argument in my opinion. It's a valid point that we not support the makers of the film, I just wanted to add that we've got to know why it's wrong as opposed to blindly following. You're smart enough to know why so I'm not worried about you or anyone else here :) shoot if anyone cares enough to post that's more than a lot of people.

Nate Yardy (Urbana / Champaign, IL) wrote at 10:59am on November 28th, 2007
You make a good point, Andrew! And I'm surprised at how many people have responded in agreement!So, I have read the books. Essentially in this story, and this is a bit of a spoiler, but not too bad, there is no God. Instead, the oldest angel happened to be the mightiest and told everyone else he created them. And so the main characters are part of a resistance against this imposter. The books are very well written, and I for one, greatly enjoyed them. I don't think the books will lead people really astray if they already know what they believe, even if the author "kills God" in the story.

Nate Yardy (Urbana / Champaign, IL) wrote at 11:04am on November 28th, 2007
P.S. I would have to strongly disagree with Hilary about LOTR being an allegory. For one, Tolkien hated allegories. He thought stories should be able to be applicable to reality, but not always have direct correlation. He believed allegories were a cheap form of story-telling. And besides, since an allegory is a story that has direct correlation to reality/the spiritual world, LOTR doesn't fit the picture. LOTR is simply a story from a greater world that had been and was developing in the Silmarillion and in Tolkien's mind. This world has similarities to ours, but not enough for it to be an allegory. Tolkien believed the highest form of praise to God was "sub-creating," or using the abilities God gave us to the utmost for His glory, without necessarily being didactic. Anyway, those are my thoughts. If you disagree, oh well. I thought I would just throw out a few things to add to the discussion.

Jenna King (UMiami) wrote at 7:10pm on November 28th, 2007
I think there is something very key about this book that everyone is missing.I'm sure it's very well written, and I'm not one to really support boycotts like this cuz i think they are stupid and pointless. (anyone remember the Disney boycott when we were little? ya...)But here is the problem I have with this trilogy.The author came out and said that he had read the Chronicles of Narnia and hated them. He hated that is portrayed a Christian world view. So he decided to write his own series that struck down all that C.S. Lewis stood for.(cont. in next comment)

Jenna King (UMiami) wrote at 7:11pm on November 28th, 2007
As people have mentioned, the evil organization in the book is called "the church" (in the movie its "The Magisterium" so try to make it more appealling and hide the true intention from movie goers), and the evil boss dude that the 'good guys' defeat is "God" / "YAWEH". You cant get much more anti-christianity than that.No where in Harry Potter does J.K. Rowling trash Christianity in anyway. I'm a potter freak, and made fun of people who bashed it wihtout reading it. but i've read parts of this, and I can tell you, I have no desire to give my money to people who so blatantly defy and blaspheme the name of God.Like i said before, I think boycotts are stupid. However, in this instance, I have no problem standing against something that so strongly seeks to tear down everything that I wrap my world around. So ya.

Christopher Davis (Christian Academy of Louisville) wrote at 11:18pm on November 28th, 2007
Can I ask though...if a fictional book ruins you're faith (not, you, Jenna...just a general you...), then you really aren't that strong to begin with. And if its written for kids, they won't be able to catch the hidden messages it presents anyways. And in the end, like I've said and Andrew has can still respect a good work of art as just that- a work of art.

Andrew Groves wrote at 12:16am yesterday
Jenna, here's my response to a few of your thoughts. I have never read any of the books, and haven't seen the movie. So how am I supposed to really know the nature of his anti-Christian views? You see, you've told me that he blatantly attacks Christianity, but don't you think I should at least read some of them so that I can know how my faith is being attacked? Too many people are hearing from their buddies, "This book is anti-Christian; don't read it," and not finding out for themselves. I'm in no way questioning your assessment of the book, but I believe that an individual should be able to view art and make informed decisions about it. That's my two cents...

Jenna King (UMiami) wrote at 12:51am yesterday
oh totally, Andrew. I agree. Have at it. I'm not saying that anyone should not read it or whatever. Like I said, I think boycotting is stupid. I personally dont want to sit and fill my spirit with someone who is blatantly attacking who I am to my very core. However, I was a huge proponent of people reading the Harry Potter books before making a judgement. however this is different in the fact that the entire reason the series was written was to attack the principles set in Narnia. Of course everyone should make their own decisions. I'm all for that. If you want to spend your money on it, fine by me. You should be able to make your own informed decisions. I'm just presenting mine.

Jenna King (UMiami) wrote at 12:51am yesterday
And Chris, I'm in no way saying these books are going to change a Christian's view and make them an atheist. like you said, if that occurs, they weren't Christians to begin with. What I'm worried about is this type of "harmless" fiction that will indoctrinate the non-believing world by aiming at children, giving them a view that "the church" is evil and we should "kill God." power to the guy for being a good writer and being successful, this is America after all. I'm just not going to put my hard earned money to support it. thats all.

Christopher Davis (Christian Academy of Louisville) wrote at 1:09am yesterday
Yeah, that makes sense. Do you think that the messages might click in a child's mind though? I don't mean to seem controversial, and I'm sorry if I do. I'm just honestly asking. Also, I agree with you about the problem of his using this book to advance his views...I think its wrong. I wonder what made him act this way though...

Jenna King (UMiami) wrote at 1:15am yesterday
eh, honestly, he can promote his views just like C.S. Lewis could. you know? but ya, i do think kids will pick up on it. Even if it isnt concious. Its just adding to an indoctrination of our youth. It's pretty blatant when he calls out "the church" and "God/YAWEH" i mean, he even uses the biblical term for God that God gave Moses.honestly, i'm just worried that the movies will make kids want to get the books for Christmas, and start a giant wave of this. who knows. He just hated the fact that the Chronicles of Narnia got such acclaim with it's pro-Christian views, so he wrote his own. Like I said, he has every right to be successful in this way. Thats for God to deal with, not us.However, we have just as much of a right to say that we won't support it or give our money to it.

Hilary White (Vanderbilt) wrote at 10:56am yesterday
I'm with Jenna on the youth indoctrination idea. I wouldn't let my children see it or read the books without being confident in their abilities to analyze and understand the main ideas through the grid of a Christian worldview. I remember that when my aunt and uncle bought me The DaVinci Code for Christmas I watched my mom cringe and basically hide the book from me and at the time I didn't understand why. Several years later I sneaked it out and read it anyway and was amazed by the stuff in there. Yes, it was an extraordinarily well written novel but equally heretical and, frankly, wrong, academically speaking. But would I have known that as a twelve or thirteen year old reading a Christmas gift? I don't think so. I was especially impressionable through books when I was younger; I remember ideas and am still influenced by things put into my mind as a little kid. I'm glad my mom knew me well enough to take it away before I was ready to handle it, and I think I'd do the same.

Caedmon's Call Newsflash!

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2007

Just in case you hadn't realized from the banner photo on the top of this blog page, there's been some personnel changes in the critically acclaimed folk/rock band Caedmon's Call. It seems that Cliff Young, who was the least talented musician in the band anyway, had a falling out with the band and left to pursue a fruitless solo career in kazoo playing. Thus, I, Andrew Groves am here to fill his shoes with purpose and skill. The next Caedmon's album will feature the amazing songwriting talents of myself and Andrew Osenga and is predicted to go platinum. Caedmon's fans... here I come.

Reconsidering Cable

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Monday, October 15, 2007

Don't we all love the Home and Garden channel? Its stimulating and provocative programming keeps viewers like us captivated, thirsting for more. While statements like this may be true for some people, they are not true for the majority of you reading this post. So, if we don't enjoy watching the Home and Garden channel, why do we pay for it in our cable bills? One word: bundling.

You see, bundling is very simple: cable providers refuse to give you ESPN, for example, unless you also subscribe to Disney. But what if I don't want the Disney channel? It doesn't matter because Disney owns ESPN and wants you (the naïve consumer) to subscribe to all of their channels or none of their channels. Frustrating, isn't it? The reason our cable bills are so high is due to the number of channels in our cable plans. But we are not given a choice of the channels comprising our bundle; we're just given a basic cable bundle and sent on our way.

Why am I making such a fuss over this? Let me illustrate. Imagine that a nice young boy from down the street is selling magazine subscriptions to raise money for a class field trip. "Oh, how precious," you think to yourself. "Maybe I'll just renew my subscription to National Geographic, and he'll be on his way." However, when you tell Billy that all you want is National Geographic, he informs you that in order to get National Geographic, you have to pay for four other magazine subscriptions. "But I'm not interested in these other four magazines! All I want is National Geographic." Well, that's too bad because (in this fictional account) a megacompany owns all of these magazines and only offers this set of five magazines bundled together.

You see, cable is a visual form of magazine subscriptions. They have employed a system known as "narrow-casting" to appeal to specific viewers, as opposed to "broad-casting" that appeals to a mass audience. In other words, an outdoorsman would want the Outdoorsman's channel, and a chef would want the Food Network. Cable channels focus on narrow subjects, and should be available in whatever combination a consumer desires. If you want to read more about this, I invite you to visit the following website. It might just open your eyes to some new possibilities with cable: how you should be able to customize channels and keep cash in your wallet.

Anonymous Thoughts

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Monday, October 01, 2007

The following are some thoughts concerning the Presbyterian structure of church government. The author of these thoughts shall remain anonymous...

The crux of this improper understanding of the church government rests in two areas: a failure to recognize the local church as an autonomous body and the false dichotomy of "teaching" and "ruling" elders. The first is the result of a fear that left to themselves, churches would run amok, and therefore they need to be governed by an outside agency (the Presbytery). Unfortunately for Presbyterians, it is clear in the New Testament (particularly in the writings of Paul) that local congregations were not subject to the oversight of anyone. This does not mean that the could not be rebuked or challenged when they were unfaithful, but it does mean that they and their pastor bore the responsibility for maintaining fidelity to doctrine and theology. If a pastor or a member of the body is driven out, Paul does not come and exercize some "authority" in removing them, but he implores them to take their own action to expel unbelievers. Ultimately, the shepherd of the flock is responsible for his sheep, and in that responsibility he should be teaching them in a way that makes a Biblical reaction involuntary when issues occur.

Sam [Lamerson] claims that a strong argument for Presbyterian government is, "First, this seems to be the kind of government that the early church practiced in the book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul. The early churches were ruled by a plurality of elders and these elders came together to rule on theological issues." While it is true that Paul and others came together and often called churches out for unfaithfulness or sin, they did not ever exercize authority over a church by removing members or a pastor. They were calling for reform, not forcing it upon an autonomous local church. He also suggests that total depravity requires accountability to keep it in check. I wholeheartedly agree- and it's clear in the New Testament that accountability rests with the church itself. It is the responsiblity of the congregation to rebuke or expel their pastor if he is in unrepentant sin, and likewise with any brother or sister in the same situation. Appealing to an outside authority is both unnecessary and extemporaneous; the church should be equipped (by the pastor) to handle any such incidence.

The other side to this coin is the false dichotomy between "ruling" and "teaching" elders. It's very unclear in the New Testament that there exists a separate class of "ruling" elders. Much of this comes from the "Overseer Qualifications" passage in I Timothy, but the "ability to teach" is clearly delineated in that passage. Additionally, all of what the Presbyterians would call "ruling elders" at the Jerusalem council taught, so which were they, ruling or teaching? The bottom line is that to be an "elder" or "overseer," it is clear in Scripture that you must be able to teach, which seems to make you a teaching elder. There's also a strong argument from Greek here, however, I'm not proficient enough to state it yet. Ruling elders are pastors, teaching elders are pastors, overseers are pastors. If you are not a pastor, you have no authority over a church.

A few closing comments: Baptists have a book of church order as well- it's called the Bible, and it contains all we need to understand government, discipline and "trials" (if you want to call them that). Second, as I read through the "levels" of church government, it occurs to me that none of this is clearly (or even vaguely) laid out in Scripture. They are clearly constructions of expediency and practicality. There is no session, board or presbytery in the New Testament, there are local churches and pastors. I find it odd that the "reformers" are so in love with a book of church order, a book that is essentially just tradition. The Catholics and and Anglicans have books of church order too, and for that matter, so do the Methodists, though they don't follow it much anymore. All that said, the Presbyterians are my brothers and sisters, but they need to get their act together on Baptism and Ecclesiology.

The Men of Johnson 3rd East

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007

For those of you who don't have a Facebook account but would love to meet the guys on my hall, these pictures are for you... enjoy!

Peter Pollet
Ben Dawson

Bill Tobias
Jordan Stratton
Dave North
Zach Shaner
Hans Gehman
Nate Greenway

Jin Kim

Nate Potratz
Tim Goodman

James Guthrie

Don't worry... there are many more guys on my hall to meet! I'll post some more pictures when they "become available."

The Least of These

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." -Matthew 25:40

This past weekend a few buddies and I went into downtown Lexington on the spur of the moment. Originally intent on having some private praise and worship, we ended up buying some food and giving it to some homeless people in Phoenix Park. Doesn't sound like much, does it? I mean, what difference can a sandwich, some bananas, and an Ale-8 make? More than I could have known...

Enter Scott, a middle-aged man down on his luck and heading to jail in the next week. A few of us sat down with him and struck up a conversation about anything and everything. Honestly, I have to admit that I was very uncomfortable for the first few minutes. Will he really be willing to talk with us, and what should I say? I've never conversed with a homeless man before. What's going to happen here?

Well, it turned out that Scott was the most talkative of us all. He kept reminding us what great guys we were to take time out of our day to come give him some food. "Lots of other kids your age are out here (indicating some local bars) partying it up." And he gave us invaluable insight into the dangers of addiction. But that's not all we gained. No, there was more.

The only phrase that pops into my head is, "The taste of God was good." I walked away from that park feeling refreshed, renewed, and regenerated. Something inside me clicked. Who are "the least of these"? The hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, the lonely, the downtrodden. By serving Scott, we served Christ, and got a tiny glimpse of what genuine, selfless service to an Almighty God looks like. And if we can somehow grasp that concept, we will hear the voice of our Lord speaking softly, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." By serving God in this place, a far country, we are made certain of the inheritance of our eternal home.

Painting Pictures of Egypt

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My new college life has been a rollercoaster of change lately. This song (one of my personal favorites of all time) describes my feelings exactly while alluding to the Israelites' forty year banishment into the desert. Change is necessary sometimes, but it is rarely easy. That's how we grow. Anyway, here it is: Painting Pictures of Egypt by Sara Groves.

I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me either way
The places I long for the most are the places where I’ve been
They are calling after me like a long lost friend
It’s not about losing faith

It’s not about trust
It’s all about comfortable when you move so much
The place I was wasn’t perfect but I had found a way to live
It wasn’t milk or honey but then neither is this

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacked
Cause the future seems so hard and I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I"ve learned
And those roads closed off to me while my back was turned

The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy to discard
I was dying for some freedom but now I hesitate to go
Caught between the promise and the things I know

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacked
Cause the future seems so hard and I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I"ve learned
And those roads closed off to me while my back was turned

If it comes too quick I may not recognize it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?
If it comes too quick I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?

Camera Phones, Lawn Mowers, and Facebook?

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Saturday, August 11, 2007

I said I'd never do it. Never. Who needs a camera on their cell phone anyway? I mean, seriously people, a phone is for communication, not for picture taking! So I purchased the only Motorola flip phone on the market that did not have a camera. And I was pleased with it... until I discovered that this archaic gadget would lose reception indoors and hold a charge for a maximum of eight hours. So I gave in, but not willingly. After scouring the internet for any decent flip phone that didn't have a camera and discovering that such a device didn't exist, I ended up buying a Motorola KRZR. And this phone works great. I can even sheepishly admit that I have used the camera feature on my phone often. Hmmm... not everything new is a bad thing...

Mowing the lawn. It's never really been a joyful thing to do, but every two weeks or so, there I am behind our twenty-six year old lawn mower, plowing along. Wait a minute! Did you just say "twenty-six years"?! Yes, it's true. My father purchased this lawn mower the year Ronald Reagan became our fortieth president. Yeah, it's that old. In fact, it's so old that just a few weeks ago, it died. Now, let's get one thing straight: I hate mowing the lawn. However, after using that mower for two years, I was familiar with it and was very opposed to any new mower that would come along. Today, I put our new lawn mower to the test and... I was amazed at its speed. It works better than our twenty-six year old clunker. Hmmm... not everything new is a bad thing...

It's all Daniel's fault. I never wanted a Facebook, and I have said for months that I will never get one. Never. But then I discovered that a Facebook page had been conveniently created for me. Great, now what do I do? There are already around thirty "friends" signed up on this page, and they're all excited that I have a Facebook. And to top it off, I have no way to ever contact these friends other than Facebook. Ahh... once again pop culture has backed me into a corner by providing no other alternative. So, I'm gonna give a shot. But don't worry, I won't be buying an iPhone or selling all my possessions to raise money for the (RED) campaign anytime soon. Let's see what Facebook has to offer for now. Hmmm... not everything new is a bad thing...

Zero Regrets

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Monday, July 30, 2007

It hit me as I stared at my bottle of Mountain Dew. The number... zero. Technically, it's not really a number because it doesn't represent an actual value. It signifies nothing really. But not the nothing you're thinking of right now. Confused yet? You see, you're imagining nothing as an empty room or a guy with holes in his pockets. But zero is much more than that... or actually much less. An empty room is still a room, and it follows all the laws of science like gravity and all those other ones I've forgotten since high school. The same is true for the pockets. So, those examples can't quite clarify the concept of zero because something with the quantity zero is really nothing at all to begin with.

But despite all my attempts to belittle zero, it continues to hold tremendous power to stymie change. Let me explain. Now, not all of us are math wizards, but most of us (I hope) can perform a few simple operations of arithmetic. Addition for example. If you add zero to the number four, you're left with... four! Big surprise... but it goes to show that zero didn't help the number four change at all. The same goes for subtraction: four minus zero equals four again. But let's get a little more tricky. What about multiplication? Well, if you multiply four by zero, you've lost it all! And dividing four by zero arrives at the same answer. The addition and subtraction of zero accomplished nothing, and multiplication and division actually reduced our initial number. When you put zero into something, nothing changes, and most often, things get worse.

By now, you've either stopped reading or you're on the brink because of my ramblings. Do I even have a point? Yes, I do. Last night, several hundred students from my church's youth group held a worship service to celebrate and remember their fond memories from this year's summer camp. As I absorbed the atmosphere around me, I began to realize that this room I was sitting in was brimming over with joy. Not just happiness... joy. Godly joy. What Scripture calls "the joy of the LORD." These students had been touched by the hands of God, molded into more mature, effective servant leaders, and directed to the center of His will. It's like nothing I've ever witnessed before. I'm probably not even doing it justice because of my poor writing skills, but I could sense that each and every one of these kids had grown in their faith to some degree. As the youth choir sang a multilingual worship song, I felt a void in my heart that I have been ignoring for some time now. I've made my life too busy for joy. I've invested in nourishing my mind instead of my soul. I've blocked out the Creator of the universe from leading me, and it's taken its toll.

When you put zero into something, nothing changes, and most often, things get worse. In God's kingdom, the simplest of faiths can trump the soundest of minds. I've given God nothing for so long, justifying my behavior by convincing myself that I'll get to my faith... later. If you're reading this, maybe you're right here with me, or you've been here before. It's about time we all stopped serving two masters, or serving the wrong one entirely. Looking back, I view this period in my life with genuine heartache. I only wish I could go back and change it all, but that's just not possible. And that's just not what God wants. It's been painful, but God has taught me through my desertion of Him. And I pass this along to you: If we are able to keep our eyes upon Jesus, the "author and perfecter of our faith," we can live our lives in the center of his will with zero regrets.

Further Musical Notes...

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2007

If you read my previous post about music (or even if you didn't) you should read these posts. Both of them are very thoughtful. Give them a look.

The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Lame
Deep and Wide

The Power of Music... do standards actually exist?

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Sunday, June 24, 2007

Music can be compelling, unique, or downright awful. Or... can it? What determines if music is essentially "good" or "bad?" (Just a quick note: Those quotation marks are to pacify any disagreeing readers' strong opinions.) If I decide to purposefully play my guitar with only two strings instead of the typical six, or drum on pots and pans instead of drums, is my music still "good?" How about an entire album of kazoo playing?

Often I drive home from work in the evenings to the tune of artists like Andrew Peterson, Caedmon's Call, and Derek Webb. Their albums offer something more substantive than the typical, overrated pop music pervading the airwaves today. "Good" music paints pictures, illustrates truth, and carries with it a significance yet undiscovered by most. I long for the times when I can get stuck at a railroad crossing just as a "good" song begins to play. A sense of fulfillment comes over me when a "good" song finishes just as I pull into the driveway of my house. Can "bad" music do that? I don't think so.

Now, I know what you skeptics are thinking. "Art should be judged subjectively... Who are you to say what music is 'good' or 'bad?'" My response to that argument would be to ask a simple question: How would you determine what music is "good" or "bad?" Most likely, your response would be that every individual makes that determination for themselves... i.e. music that's "good" for me may not be "good" for you. But that means that no music is "good" or "bad"... it's all just out there in musicland somewhere waiting to be categorized by someone's individual opinions. My kazoo playing is musically equal with a Beethoven symphony. But if I decide that mine is better, then it is... for me, at least. This flawed thinking cannot serve to judge music with a critical eye.

I'll end with this. I know that we all like different styles of music, and that's great. But some music is just plain "good" and some is just plain "bad." That doesn't mean we all have to like the same music, but we should all make an effort to recognize "good" music when we see it.

Broken Windows... Broken Hearts

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Sunday, April 22, 2007

This past week and a half has taken us all by surprise. Isn't it odd that everything seems so right just before everything goes wrong?

My oldest brother was in serious car accident just over a week ago. His car was demolished, but he walked away unscathed. However, the time period in between the accident and my brother's call was excruciating for my family. The notion of injury or even death momentarily took our breath away. Days afterward, a gust of wind snapped the metallic pole for our basketball pole in half, smashing the windshield of our car while my mother was inside. Again, my mother walked away unscathed, but shaken.

As time progressed, the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech came into focus, as a disturbed young man took the lives of thirty-two students and faculty members before killing himself. The whole nation delved into mourning for the victims as prayer vigils and services continue to be held.

And this past weekend, the unexpected death of a three year-old girl has left my church family in utter disbelief.

How could all these things have occurred so rapidly? I cannot even begin to digest one before the next appears. "Wait a second," you might say, "You weren't really affected by any of this as much as other people. What are you whining about?" And you know what? You're right. All I endured was a broken window. My brother lost his car, but nothing happened to me. I didn't know anyone who perished at Virginia Tech, and I grieve for a family's loss that is not my own. Why am I so distraught?

I would venture to say that the answer lies in something tangible yet often overlooked. There is a terrible tragedy in this world, more powerful than we can even imagine. Our beloved world is dying. Physically, emotionally, spiritually... We are a fallen people who have forgotten that our world is not perfect but in a constant state of decay. We are patron saints of lost causes, wandering grief-stricken when tragedy comes our way. The wonderful, empty things of this world blur as tears fill our eyes. Whether it be from broken windows or broken hearts, we've realized how truly lost we are without a savior. And we fall our knees... acknowledging our utmost dependence on the only constant force in the universe: Jesus Christ.

Party at the Pompano Marketplace... Be There!

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Saturday, April 14, 2007

I felt it appropriate to begin my blog with an entry of the ridiculous nature. Last night as I was leaving work, I gazed out across the vast parking lot of the happenin' Pompano Marketplace and observed one the of most ridiculous occasions I have ever experienced. A group of young teenagers, not unlike myself, were enjoying the warm night air of South Florida. Very unlike myself, however, these absurd children were "partying it up" in the middle of the Pompano Marketplace, music (if that's what we want to call it) playing and shadows dancing in the moonlight.

Now, let's get a few things straight. First, last night was a Friday night, indicating that this late night pow-wow was an extremely pathetic attempt to jump start the weekend with a really cool social event. It must also be noted that no place of social significance even exists in the Pompano Marketplace, as it includes such glorious temples of retail such as Steinmart and Staples. Perhaps it was Woodcraft store that attracted them, or maybe the Dollar Tree. Regardless, this was a most entertaining and unusual occurrence in my neck of the woods.

Feeling very overwhelmed by the group's sense of "coolness" I responded by climbing into the Shaggin' Wagon and proceeding to rev its engine uproariously. This was followed by my swift exit out of the parking lot to impress them. Oh... I can just hear their murmurs of amazement now as I reminisce my deft departure. I feel so much better about myself now that I know I am so much cooler than those guys (and have a larger vocabulary).