Friday, December 14, 2007

Santa RIP

Speaking of Santa...sorry kids. Thanks, Ellen. That's hilarious!

Trey's first grade class presented a puppet show/musical version of the Christmas story on Wednesday morning in chapel. I got a kick out of watching the kids strain to lift their puppets above the puppet window. Trey's character was Joseph and halfway through one of the songs, Joseph apparently got tired. The puppet slowly started to descend until you could only see its head, then its eyes, then nothing. You could hear the stage whispers of one of the helpers trying to get him to make Joseph visible again (talk about reminding me of FCA dramas). Finally, Joseph slowly made his way back up. Classic material. I wish I would have brought my video camera.

After that, a guest speaker got up to speak about Christmas (I guess). I'm not real sure what the point of his sermon was. He started out by saying that truth is only found in God's Word. Truth is not found in traditions, blah, blah, blah. He then viciously vilified the Magi, calling them magicians and witches and reciting a litany of things they supposedly were involved in (and I'm thinking, "Now that's not in the Bible; how do we know that's true?"). He poked fun at their studying of the stars, once again indicating that the only truth was found in the Bible, which don't get me wrong I believe to be inerrant, the written word of God. He obviously hasn't figured out that there's a difference between astrology and astronomy. And he overlooked the fact that there was a star that directed the wise men to Jesus (that is in the Bible). It seemed that his main intent was to paint the wise men as evil, bad guys. The more I listened, the more frustrated I became at this guy's mischaracterization. These kids are sitting there listening to a person in authority tell them all this, and probably some of them believed what he was saying. You know, when you're speaking to kids, keep it as positive as possible. It just ticked me off. And, then the last thing that sent me over the edge was his leaning down and talking to the little kids about the fact that "we don't believe in all of these Christmas fairy tales, now, do we?" You know, let the parents of the 5 and 6-year-olds determine what they let them believe in. Is it really so bad that a 5-year-old believes in Santa Claus or Rudolph? Is that going to harm them in any way? I don't think so. In fact, just recently on Focus on the Family's radio broadcast (I think it was on 12/10 or 11) they were talking about how fantasy and imagination is a big part of a child's life and specifically mentioned that believing in Santa Claus wasn't a bad thing.

You know, I want my kids to know the real reason we celebrate Christmas (and they do). But, I also want them to enjoy many of the Christmas traditions. We don't tell our kids that Santa is real, but neither do we discourage them from believing in the old fella. Some of us just need to lighten up. Enjoy all parts of this wonderful season!

OK, I'm now getting off the soapbox.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

OK, this is awesome! This Indiana University chorus brings it on this Christmas classic. You're going to love this one.


By the way, for those of you who just don't want to pay the money for Microsoft Office, I have the solution: Open Office. It actually does a good job and best of all it's free. It has an alternative to Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Access,and a couple of other programs. Probably everyone but me knew this existed. Hat tip to my good buddy, Aaron Smith.

Dylan hams it up

For those of you who know my brother Bobby, this video features his son Dylan in his school Christmas program. Bobby told me that when they pulled up to the auditorium, Dylan jumped out of the car, stretched his arms into the air, and said "Showtime!" before sauntering inside.

He gets it honest.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Songs I Love to Hate

Speaking of music, are there any songs that you dislike with a passion?

Here's my list:

I'm Pressing (Dad led this song way too much back in the day)
Achy Break Heart (try to get that song out of your head the rest of the day)
Don't Worry, Be Happy
B-I-N-G-O (thanks to my kids' insatiable desire to sing it again)
Louie, Louie (by the Kingsmen, not the Kingsmen that you are thinking of)
I Wonder as I Wander (the most dreary song of the season)
...and anything by Michael Jackson

What's your list?

Faith in the Bearded One

Last night, Lori and I took Trey and Kassady over to Karcher Mall to see Santa Claus. It was a family tradition when I was a young kid to get my picture taken with the big man. So, I thought the kids might like it.

Now, you have to understand my children's personalities. Trey is a literalist. Everything exists in black and white. It's either true or it isn't. There is no in-between. He examines everything from a logical viewpoint. Kassady, on the other hand, has a raging imagination that never stops. Today, she was arguing with an imaginary friend. Lori told her that if she was going to have an imaginary friend they had to play nice together. That seemed kind of funny to me, like telling the (real) kids to settle down. Anyway, Kassady firmly believes in the existence of Santa Claus while Trey is an avowed skeptic. In fact, Trey has been making it a point to disprove intellectually the belief that his friends hold in the jolly saint. The other night we were over at Dustin and Angie Mori's house and we were talking about all the Christmas traditions that we experienced growing up. I asked if Noah (their son and one of Trey's best buddies) believed in Santa. Angie said, "He did until we had Trey ride home with us tonight!" That's my son.

Anyway, the being of Santa has been a huge argument in our house for the last few weeks. When we walked around the corner and saw Santa, Kassady punched Trey in the arm and said defiantly, "See...I told you he was real!"

Taste Evolution of a Non-Heathen Music Connoisseur

I'm fast becoming a pawn shop junkie, thanks in no small part to my singing buddy Dan Gilbert. There is so much treasure just waiting to be discovered. Especially in the music department.

Growing up I was pretty sheltered musically, which is not all a bad thing, and not something I'm complaining about. However, if it wasn't Sinatra or the Kingsmen (or some variant of those musical styles), it wasn't played in the Waggoner household. As a result, today, I have a great love and appreciation for Southern Gospel and crooners such as ol' blue eyes. I do have to say, though, that I missed out on some fantastic music being produced within other genres. I did get into the whole CCM thing back in the early 90s, but eventually got bored with the sameness of the bubble-gum pop music being mass produced by the mainline labels such as Sparrow, Word, and Benson. Then, I was introduced to Christian groups like Jars of Clay, PFR, and Third Day, groups I still enjoy today, and my taste switched to a more progressive sound. Sitting through Rodney Sones' Music Hit. and Lit. classes at GBS I developed a fascination for classical music of most periods. I never did get into the whole Renaissance movement, but the rest of it intrigued me. I identified more with the music of the Romantic period as well as more contemporary works by Copland, Ives, and their peers. The angry sounds of Wagner's compositions intrigued me as did the weird expressionist music written by Arnold Schoenberg and John Cage. I then started listening to the scores of Hans Zimmer and John Williams appreciating their creativity and ability to enhance the senses with their arrangements. My tastes broadened as I discovered jazz music. Thanks to the Marsalis brothers, Sanborn, Harry Connick, Jr., and Spiro Gyra I found myself listening to music looking for its possibilities. Lately, I've been discovering the great wealth of music in the classic rock, blues, and country genres. Obviously, I don't condone or listen to ungodly lyrics. And, sometimes the image presented by the performer irritates me. However, I have found that there are often positive, thought-provoking lyrics that accompany musical virtuosity in the afore-mentioned styles. I have been enjoying the works of Johnny Lang, U2, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Josh Turner, and Rodney Atkins in the past few weeks.

Much of this music has been found for $1.49 at my local pawn shop. I don't mind taking a gamble on an unfamiliar artist when I'm only paying $1.49. More often than not, I've been delighted with my purchase. And, if not, there's always eBay to help get rid of it.

No, I'm not a heathen, I promise. But neither am I so close-minded to think that the only "good" music is produced by "Christian" artists. In fact, I wish that Christian groups in many instances would step up their level of artistry lyrically and musically. We have been rightly shunned as insignificant and inferior because of a lack of commitment to quality. There are groups that "get it". Those groups include:

Casting Crowns, David Crowder Band, Brent Vernon (great songwriter; he can write with anyone), Steven Curtis Chapman, Crossway, the Perrys (they rarely record a song that doesn't have significant lyrics), and the Booth Brothers.

We (Liberty) are getting there. We have a new recording that is coming out next year that takes a step forward in the lyrical strength department. It's tough and time-consuming to write songs that matter to individuals who while possessing the hope of heaven face the realities of day-to-day life. It's even harder for a group who doesn't sell 25,000 units of a title to find those songs from songwriters outside the group. We're blessed that Doran is continuing to evolve as a songwriter. He's not settling for the "easy" lyric and simple melody. His songs are evolving into A-list quality. You guys will like his new material.

Anyway, that's where I am these days. While I will always primarily listen to and have a preference for good ol' Southern Gospel music I'm continuing to broaden my horizons, experiencing the wealth of artistic talent that God has blessed our world with.

So, thanks Dan. I like to experience that wealth as cheaply as possible (grin).