Sunday, April 27, 2014

4/27/14: Praying forRabbi Adam and Lifebridge/Misconceptions of Jesus/The Woman With Holy Chutzpah

We prayed for Rabbi Adam (pictured here, left, at one of our gatherings; Keltic Ken on right) in Clovis Community, heart attack.
Watch for updates on our facebook page

We got an update on, and prayed for, LifeBridge Community Church and Kevin Foster (pastor).
Here's the audio (in two parts of the day in 2004 we welcomed them to town:

We'll miss John Milor (second from left), Eupemist/Drummer Man,  who'll be stationed out of state for a few months:

We enjoyed some "Misconceptions of Jesus":

All the videos are on our main website here
Here's the quote from "Starving Jesus," by  XXX Church's  Craig Cross and JR Mahon:

We're sick of pastors with planes, pastors with record deals, pastors with bodyguards,pastors who offer time alone with them (for a fee), pastors with head shots.
What happened to pastors with sexual sin problems?
Bring back Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. At least we knew what we were getting.

We’re sick of not seeing Jesus
in the pulpit. Instead, many of us are getting a weaselly,
feel-good message veiled with Scripture, so people won’t
run from the ten-million-dollar building.
We’re sick of it! And yet … happy. We’re happy because
something is on the horizon, and it’s not offering the five keys
to spiritual freedom. It’s a mad army of disciples who are just
like us: sick and tired of the shepherds who only talk to their..
"Starving Jesus," p, 16 Gross/Mahon of XXX Church , read whole chapter here

Here's the audio  (oops. Ken, link broken, can you replace with correct link?) of interview Keltic Ken and Dave did with the Craig Gross and Jason Harper

Great conversation on "The  Woman with  Holy Chutzpah"

Two shifts happen in this pivotal section of Matthew:

"Jesus is healed of his racism by the Canaanite woman." That is a shocking, obviously overstated statement from "Jesus Freak" by Sarah Miles, p. 18)

Here's the text:

Matthew 15:21-28 :

The Syrophoenician Woman 
21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting [a]at us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began [b]to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not [c]good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; [d]but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed [e]at once.

>>>1)Jesus "reluctance" to heal this Cannaanite/Syrophenician/Greek (Read "Gentile" or "Foreign") woman becomes a huge shift.  Did he come "Only for...Israel?"


Ironically, the Gentile shows Jewish "Chutzpah".
Short Van Der Laan audio about "chutzpah" here

From "Jesus Liked a Little Chutzpah":
A surefire way to immerse yourself in the culture of Israel is to take a public bus in Jerusalem. Because of the bumper-to-bumper traffic, everybody, rich and poor, rides the “Egged” buses around town.\

Ethiopian Jews wrapped in swaths of white fabric sit next to wizened Russian babushkas. A college-age girl in army fatigues chats on a cell phone. Little boys in black suits clamber up the huge steps, side curls and tassels bouncing in the breeze. Their long-skirted, head-scarved mother follows closely behind.
Ladies on Bus
One afternoon when I was riding downtown, I got an even stronger taste of the culture. A grey-haired, matronly retiree climbed aboard and plunked herself into an empty seat halfway back. She hadn’t, however, paid any fare—she had just shuffled past the driver, feigning ignorance. Believe it or not, Jesus actually liked this kind of boldness.

Craning to make eye contact in his mirror, the driver called back to her over the crowd. “Eifo geveret?” (Where to, ma’am?) At first she stared out the window, pretending not to notice.

Eiyyyfo, geveret?” The whole bus looked on.

Finally, she barked back a gruff response, completely impenitent. A flurry of indecipherable Hebrew filled the air, the gist of which was obvious: either buy a ticket or get off.
But the woman was immovable—glued to her seat, adamant. The driver threw up his hands at her, the universal (and widely used) Israeli gesture of annoyance and disgust.
The bus didn’t move either. Right in the middle of Nevi’im Street, a major artery with only a single drivable lane, the driver shifted into park, snapped open a newspaper, and sat back to read the headlines. Blocks and blocks of traffic snaked to a standstill behind us. After what seemed forever, the woman slowly rose and exited the side doors.
Half of Jerusalem came to a stop for this lady. That’s what you call chutzpah—utter nerve, sheer audacity that borders on obnoxiousness. Both the woman and the bus driver knew how to push the boundaries of propriety for their purposes!

If you grew up as a small-town Midwesterner like me, you’d find this behavior nearly unimaginable. I come from the land of “Minnesota Nice,” where we’d rather die than violate our code of mild-mannered courteousness. For me, the bus ride was a cultural journey to the ends of the earth. We’re not in Minnesota anymore, Toto.

But an attitude of chutzpah (HOOTS-pah
play /ˈhʊtspə/) has been part of Middle Eastern culture since ancient times. If you were one of Jesus’ first-century disciples, you’d be quite familiar with this kind of behavior.

Consider, for instance, the Syrophoenician woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer after pleading with Jesus to heal her daughter (Mark 7:25-30). Jesus and his weary disciples had taken cover in a house in Tyre, hoping to evade the crowds, but her continual pounding at the door threatened to expose their hideout.

Exasperated, the disciples could tolerate her no longer, imploring Jesus, “Send her away! She keeps shouting at us!” But the distraught young mother pushed right past them, bowing before Jesus himself. Surprisingly, he rebuffed her too, like the Israeli bus driver: “It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” His mission, at that point, was only to the Jews. But the desperate woman boldly contradicted the greatly esteemed rabbi. “Yes, but even the puppies eat the crumbs at the children’s feet!”

Unlike the lady on the bus, this woman’s tenacious, brazen nerve won out. Jesus healed her daughter and congratulated her for her chutzpah.
        Believe it or not, Jesus actually liked this kind of boldness.

LINK: Jesus Liked a Little Chutzpah

You'll remember the Feeding of the 5000, and then the 4000 (on the other side) found in this section showed Jesus becoming very cross-cultural...the 4000 were likely GENTILES on the "wrong" side..

>>>>2)Robert Farrar Capon  (In 

"Kingdom, grace, judgment: paradox, outrage, and vindication in the parables")

also sees the Feeding of 5000 as a huge shift in the gospel, both as a literary division:


...and in Jesus' thinking...

 away from "right handed" power to :left handed"


CAPON...on Jesus LEFT-HANDEDNESS..What does he mean?

In the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus' reluctance about signs becomes manifest (p. 14) is pivotal (page 21, 22)

 After 5000 are fed, the crowds attempt to get Jesus/tempt Jesus to operate in right-handed power (28)...This is a major shift in his thinking toward moving only in left-handed power (55)

Note: John's gospel does not mention Jesus' Three Testations...thus this whole "right-handed" testation is his version of them

“But Jesus will save the world by dying for it – undergoing ghastly, unimaginable suffering. He will not be a charismatic, convincing political leader. He will not be an incomparable warrior. He will not rule by winning, but will win by losing. He will be, to the contrary, the eerie example of what Isaiah had seen in the Suffering Servant centuries before (Isaiah 53:2-3)” (H. King Oehmig, Synthesis 4/6/03). 


"Unfortunately (right-hand power) has a whopping limitation. If you take the view that one of the chief objects in life is to remain in loving relationships with other people, straight-line power becomes useless. Oh, admittedly, you can snatch your baby boy away from the edge of a cliff and not have a broken relationship on your hands. But just try interfering with his plans for the season when he is twenty, and see what happens, especially if his chosen plans play havoc with your own. Suppose he makes unauthorized use of your car, and you use a little straight-line verbal power to scare him out of doing it again. Well and good. But suppose further that he does it again anyway—and again and again and again. What do you do next if you are committed to straight-line power? You raise your voice a little more nastily each time till you can’t shout any louder. And then you beat him (if you are stronger than he is) until you can’t beat any harder. Then you chain him to a radiator till… But you see the point. At some very early crux in that difficult, personal relationship, the whole thing will be destroyed unless you—who on any reasonable view, should be allowed to use straight-line power—simply refuse to use it; unless, in other words, you decide that instead of dishing out justifiable pain and punishment, you are willing, quite foolishly, to take a beating yourself.” (Capon, page 18-19)  

“Every one of us would rather chose the right-handed logicalities of theology over the left-handed mystery of faith. Any day of the week—and twice on Sundays, often enough—we will labor with might and main to take the only thing that can save anyone and reduce it to a set of theological club rules designed to exclude almost every one.” 

 The Messiah was not going to save the world by miraculous, Band-Aid interventions: a storm calmed here, a crowd fed there, a mother-in-law cured back down the road. Rather it was going to be saved by means of a deeper, darker, left-handed mystery, at the center of which lay His own death.

"The Messiah was not going to save the world by miraculous, Band-Aid interventions"-Capon

There are two kinds of power in the world. Robert Capon call them right and   left handed power. Capon carefully shows in his book, The Parables of the Kingdom, that Jesus talked in parables so that our right brains could grasp what our left-brains can never. He says that the gospel is a gospel of left-handed power, the power of weakness, submitting, and obedience. He says that God used  right-handed power in the olden days, when we were still young in our development,  but that since the incarnation, God pretty much sticks to the non-interventive approach. According to Capon the whole thing turned at the feeding of the multitude. Jesus had been doing miraculous signs out of compassion, but then he realized that he was in danger of being misunderstood as a provider of right-handed power. When Peter suggests that he understands who Jesus is, meaning that he wants him to be the provider and protector extraordinaire, Jesus says, "Get out of my face, you Satan."  It is when we think we understand what God is up to, especially when this knowledge is linked to right-handed power that we are in the most danger.  link

Read the whole section of Capon  here.

So how do you see the connection between Jesus' two shifts (toward nonIsraelites and left-handed power)?



Monday, April 21, 2014

videos from 4/20

Peter Gabriel on Genesis' "Supper's Ready:"   "The Cross worked.."

This song, "Supper's Ready," the 24 minute opus/midrash on Revelation by the group Genesis (full of biblical imagery) was part of the early process of my conversion.  Prevenient (and convenient) grace, indeed.

A few years before said conversion was made official, I would worship (the best I knew) to the lyrics "Lord of Lords, King of Kings...has returned to take His children home/To take them to the New Jerusaleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem!"

Phil Collins was singing his heart out...and as if for his life...  in the last few minutes:

Little did I know then  that  there was an original version , with Peter Gabriel as lead singer,  and he was singing for his life:

Biblically, the New Jerusalem is mentioned in Revelation 21, where it describes Mankind reuniting with God. After completing the lyrics in this section, Gabriel would then pick up and raise an active blacklight tube, holding it near himself, upraised with both hands, as though it were a sword. Gabriel would be the only one lit onstage at this point and would actually appear to be glowing from the combination of blacklight, his reflective white costume and fluorescent makeup. Gabriel considered this effect to be a theatrical way of symbolizing the victory of good/light over evil/darkness. Some believe this "glowing" also reflects a spiritual transformation, changing from a fleshly body to a spiritual one as is depicted in the Biblical Rapture, also referenced in the preceding lyrics, "Can't you feel our souls ignite..". A last word:
PG: :Often I felt that I could talk to the audience through the band's material, and the audience would understand what I was trying to say, and I would have a release, and a conversation with the audience through that. I was singing my heart out there when I used to sing the 'New Jerusalem'… I was singing for my life. I was saying this is good over evil, and… you know, it was an old fashioned gesture, but I meant it and I was fighting."link
Ending section with Collins:

Peter Gabriel: "The first sequence was about a scene that happened with me and Jill [Gabriel's then wife]… "

John Anthony, the Charisma records house producer, befriended Peter and Jill more than the rest of the band. One night, Anthony went with Jill and Peter to her parent's flat at the Old Barracks in Kensington Palace.

PG: "It was one night at Jill's parents' house in Kensington, when everyone had gone to bed… we'd just been talking to John… there's this strange room in the house in Kensington… I can never sleep there. It was decorated in turquoise and purple which are colours that are both quite high in the frequency range, and I think it was like an echo chamber for what was going on. It was late at night, and we were tired and all the rest, so it was quite easy for us to hallucinate or whatever… we hadn't been drinking or drugging, but… there was this girl who was an old girlfriend of John's and was trying to get back at him or something, and she was into magic and that sort of thing… "

Anthony: "Jill and I were having a conversation about power and strength and will. Suddenly I was aware that the whole room's atmosphere had changed, Jill had gone into some sort of trance. Suddenly the windows blew in, followed by extreme cold, followed by this psychic phenomenon."

PG: "… [Jill and I] saw other faces in each other, and I was very frightened, in fact. It was almost as if something else had come into us, and was using us as a meeting point. The curtain flew wide open, though there was no wind, and the room became ice cold… "

JA: "Neither Peter, Jill, or I were doing drugs or drinking. I realized it was a basic manifestation. I have seen it before, the room was full of cold astral smoke, psychic ether. The thing that scared me was that it started moving in the form of a tourbillion – the great wheel that projects spirits into the astrosphere. It is nothing to do with death. It is a phenomenon that can occur with people with strong psyches. If you go through one there is a good chance that if you come back you will never be the same."

(5) PG: "And I did feel that I saw figures outside, figures in white cloaks, and the lawn I saw them on wasn't the lawn that was outside. It was just like a Hammer horror film, except it was for real… I was shaking like a leaf, and in a cold sweat. ..Jill suddenly became a medium, and started spouting in a different voice… and it is very strange when someone you live with suddenly starts talking with another voice, and eventually I made a cross with a candlestick and something and held it up to Jill when she was talking in this voice… she sort of reacted like a wild animal. John and I had to hold her down. And the rest of the night we eventually quietened her down, and made her a cup of tea, and tried to talk her through. Then she slept downstairs in the sitting room, but neither I nor John slept a wink that night. Fortunately it hasn't happened since because it terrified her. At the same time, some weird things happened at the place where she worked, and at her house. These notes arrived with dates on them… her birth-date, and another date that was coming up in a month's time. We could only assume it was this girl who was trying to get back at her. We were very frightened when the date came up, and I stayed with Jill all day, checking that she wouldn't be… nothing could happen to her… no one could come and kill her, or something like this. Fortunately, we went past that date, and when twelve'o'clock came, and the day was over, I was very happy. Anyway, that's how I got into thinking about good and evil, and forces working against each other. That's the sort of thing that Supper's Ready was… fed on. This was the thing, you see. This is why I was put into this sate of mind really, only because the cross had worked. The cross, as a thing, meant nothing to me. I did it because I had seen horror films, and… just anything really that might have worked. I had experienced a sense of evil at that point – I don't know how much of this was going on inside my head and how much was actually happening, but it was an experience I could not forget and was the starting point for a song about the struggle between good and evil."

Gabriel has also been quoted by some as saying he felt he was "led" to the various sources he used in putting together the lyrics for the song.

Lyrically it mingles imagery of a man returning home after a long time to be greeted by his lover, and mention of supernatural imagery ("six saintly shrouded men"), which Gabriel claims relate to a genuine supernatural experience which occurred with himself, his wife Jill and producer John Anthony. According to Gabriel, during a late-night conversation, his wife began speaking with a completely different voice. Gabriel held up a makeshift cross out of a candlestick and another household item, and Jill reacted violently. Jill was eventually calmed down and taken to bed, but neither Peter nor John Anthony slept that night. On another occasion, also late at night, Gabriel looked out of the window of his wife's parents' house to see what he perceived to be an entirely different lawn, across which seven shrouded men were walking. Gabriel recounted that these experiences led him to contemplate notions of good, evil, and the supernatural, and eventually inspired the lyrics to "Supper's Ready."..

The song has been highly regarded by fans for its epic nature and cathartic climax, with Gabriel in particular delivering an emotionally charged vocal performance at the close of the song. Referring in part to the song's lyrical depiction of a struggle between good and evil, Gabriel has been quoted as saying he felt he was "literally singing for his life" in the recording studio. In contrast, Hackett is said to have responded to a fan who enthused "Steve, I actually saw God at the end!" with the rather more down-to-earth "Well, I was just trying to get the notes right"- link

Live footage of complete song from Gabriel era:

One more:


Sunday, April 13, 2014

"the other side": the Feeding of the 5000 and 4000; "there ain't no freakin' french fries"

Note: here's the audio of the interview that Ken Adams and I did with Martin Smith of Delirious.

Here's the Good Friday video (sixth  anniversary):


Today we looked the two feedings in Matthew:

  • of the 5000 (plus)  :  Matt 14
  • of the 4000 (plus):    Matt 15

Note that Jesus didn't technically "bless" the food, he thanked God that is is already blessed (: 

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand:  Matt 14

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand: Matt 15

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”
34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”
35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.

That the two   feedings occurred on opposite sides of the lake (Sea of Galilee) may be quite significant.
The NW side was the "Jewish" side, home of the three Jewish villages--Capernaum, Korazim (sometimes spelled with a C) and Bethsaida--sometimes known as the "Orthodox Triangle."
The SE side was the Decapolis (Ten Cities), and the region of the seven pagan nations.  You'll remember the demonized man at the tombs was here.

That Jesus "made" his disciples cross over the lake (which itself in Jewish mythology represents abyss/evil) to the dreaded "other" side may well be to cause us to think, "Wow, Jesus came for everybody--Jew and Gentile."  Note the NW feeding is similar to Elijah's feeding, and the SE similar to Elisha's.  Note also the numbers: how many loaves and baskets each time?


"The Other Side" ?  Sounds like a horror movie.
It is...Trailer here, watch at own risk (:

 Notice also an inclusio of "The other side"
(8:18 and 8:28)....What's up with Jesus going there?

As Kathy Pauls  well said, maybe the take-home is don't exepect Jesus to work the same away in different times/settings.

Vander Laan:

Perceptions of Water

In Jesus' day, Jewish people feared large bodies of water. They referred to the sea as an abyss and saw it as a symbol of chaos and hell.
Although the Sea of Galilee often looked beautiful and calm, many biblical writers described 
it as an abyss, a fearsome place of darkness and chaos.
The sea's location made it subject to sudden and violent storms. Storms often developed when an east wind dropped cool air over the warm air rising from the sea. This sudden change produced surprisingly furious storms in a short time (Matt. 8:24).
Understandably, these fierce storms scared ancient people and caused them to avoid large bodies of water. Cultural stories even depicted the sea as a monstrous beast and a place where Baal would battle other gods.
Set amidst this culture, the Jewish people also feared the sea. They were rooted in the wilderness, and they saw the sea as an alien and threatening power. Few could swim, and even fisherman avoided deep water.
Not surprisingly, biblical writers often used the sea to describe terror and danger. And in Jesus' day, Jewish people would have recognized the sea as a symbol of chaos and hell.
            link, full article


  • Note the cross-cultural implications of Jesus' two feedings of  the multitude:
  • see:

    (diagram below by John Stevenson, see 2nd link above)

    Feeding of the 5,000
    Feeding of the 4,000
    Mark 6:34-44
    Mark 8:1-9
    Took place after the multitude had been with Jesus for one day.Took place after the multitude had been with Jesus for three days.
    The multitude was mostly Jewish.The multitude would have been mostly Gentile.
    Took place near Bethsaida  on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee.Took place in the Decapolis on the southeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
    Jesus used 5 loaves and 2 fish.Jesus used 7 loaves and a few small fish.
    There were 12 small baskets of leftovers.There were 7 large baskets of leftovers.

Here  below are two helpful videos from Ray Vander Laan; The first, "When Storms Come" deals with the idea of bodies of water as "evil," and the stories that happened on the water in between the two feedings (particularly, Jesus walking on water and the storms at sea.  The second is "Piercing the Darkness" which continues the theme, and picks up on the two feedings, and the demonized man on the "other side."

Click here for Ray' notes on "When Storms Come"
Click here for Ray's notes on "Piercing the Darkness"
Click here for Jay Guinn's combined notes on both videos

"When Storms Come":

"Piercing the Darkness" Part 1:

 "Piercing the Darkness" Part 2
Here's some of my video from both sides of the Sea of Galilee:

Note: This article will help you prep for the midterm  exam:

Jesus’ Death and the Powers: Cultural Exlusivism

Sunday, April 06, 2014

4/6/14: First World Problems/Praying for Letterman, Happy and Brennan

We had a great time today, of course.  Great music and conversation on  Matthew 13-14. thank you!
Here is the "First World Problems" video that many of you wanted a link to.
Thanks to my awesome student Courtney Chapa for letting me know about this video.

We had a special time of prayer for

1)David Letterman!

This classic 1999 episode of Letterman interviewing Leigh Nash of Sixpence None The Richer's Leigh Nash is finally online (like everything else). You will want to watch it, at bottom of this post, after reading a bit about it.

I told the story in my post on "Is there such a thing as Christian music?", excerpted below:

The Christian in-house debate over ( and at times near ex-communication of ) " Sixpence None The Richer" and their Steve Taylor-produced (pastored?) breakthrough single on the "secular" charts, "Kiss Me," was both humongous and hilarious; both necessary and fruitful on one level, and ridiculously unneeded on another; both intrinsically-motivated in some, and extrinsically and Pharisaically-so in others; both appropriately Christian at points and sub-Christian and unadulterated Gnostic at others ("all matter is inherently evil", "clear distinction between secular and sacred", etc).. at others.

Said song may have not mentioned the " J" word . or even a generic "G" word (maybe that can be snuck and danced round by substituting "Yahweh," or maybe, "I AM", ..someone oughta try that!), but who is to say whether it is ultimately..or simultaneously..about a human romantic kiss , and/or a kiss between our Divine Lover and us…and as you know by now, Bono has recently invoked a Song-of-Solomonic kiss on his Guiness-tainted mouth by none other than Yahweh! ), but it sovereignly led (in a way a "straight-up" worship song couldn't have) to an amazingly Spirit set-up moment between Sixpence singer Leigh Nash and David Letterman on Letterman's show, where God convicted Letterman, and not only turned him red in from of millions of viewers, but momentarily turned him into an articulate evangelist, who theologized aloud about God and salvation through the lens of C.S. Lewis before his studio and worldwide "congregation". Is that "Christian"?

Here is some of John Fischer's post on this episode:

Merely Christian
© by John Fischer for CCM Magazine, September 1999 issue.

Who would have ever put C.S. Lewis and David Letterman together? Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer, that’s who. She did it deftly and with a disarming sense of playfulness in Sixpence’s second Late Night appearance last July. Following on the heels of the huge success of their single, “Kiss Me,” David Letterman decided to give lead singer, Leigh Nash, a brief interview after the group’s performance. When asked about the meaning of her band’s name, Leigh brought up the English writer.

“It comes from a book by C.S. Lewis.” she said. “The book is called Mere Christianity. A little boy asks his father for a sixpence, which is a very small amount of English currency, to go and get a gift for his father. The father gladly accepts the gift, but he also realizes that he's not any richer for the transaction because he gave his son the money in the first place.”

“He bought his own gift,” Letterman clarifies.

“That's right. Pretty much,” replies Nash. “I'm sure it meant a lot to him, but he's really no richer. C.S. Lewis was comparing that to his belief that God has given him and us the gifts that we possess, and to serve Him the way we should, we should do it humbly, realizing how we got the gifts in the first place.”

“Well, that's beautiful,” David remarked to an overwhelming audience response. “That's very nice... Leigh Nash, ladies and gentlemen... Charming!”

This is a good thing—this newfound success of Christians in the mainstream music business. It has happened because of the quality and creativity of the work and the “crossover” paths that have been blazed by the likes of Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith amidst unfortunate criticism from some of their own fellow Christians. Hopefully those critics have been silenced by opportunities such as this for the world to see and experience “mere Christianity” in prime time.

If you are a Christian reading this magazine, and you like Sixpence’s music, chances are you enjoyed it long before “Kiss Me” ever became a sensation on national charts. If you’re like me, you listened to this CD numerous times and felt like it was probably as good, if not, better, than anything else out there in its genre. So you’re not surprised to see this happen. The only thing necessary was for the world to find out about this music and be able to get a hold of it.

This would be a good time to stop and give some credit to the people who have a tendency to be the most maligned in Christian music—the business people who make this industry work and saw the vision for its wider influence. These are the managers, promoters, agents and record company executives who are constantly criticized for being in it just for the money. Well, the money paid off.

In three brief minutes on national TV, Leigh Nash accomplished an incredible feat probably without knowing she was doing anything but being herself. She gave an example of humility in a position that usually is accompanied by arrogance.

“It's awesome! Just.. all my dreams are being fulfilled,” she said, when David pressed her over her apparent nervousness. His attempt to jokingly turn Leigh’s enchantment into a clandestine hotel tryst was met with an innocent response that betrayed the singer’s genuineness.

“I'm being needlessly coarse. I'm sorry,” was all David was able to say in an attempt to regain some dignity, and the audience loved it. The people couldn’t help but respond from some real place in their own souls. Bashfulness is a rare and welcomed commodity in today’s satiated society.

Then there was the simple truth of Lewis’s story, that all we have is from God—a perspective rarely heard anywhere, much less on TV—as well as the mention of Mere Christianity, a book that some in the millions of viewers who saw this show have no doubt purchased and read by now.

This is good. This is all very good. Cultural whims change overnight, but right now, Christians are producing some of the most creative, original work in popular music, making possible a wider exposure for contemporary Christian music and it’s artists than heretofore realized. Three minutes on David Letterman may not seem like much, but in light of the media’s relentless stereotyping of Christians, it is. We can go a long way by merely being Christians in the world. And if even for a brief moment, the mere Christianity of our lives can be put on display, it will, by it’s very nature, disarm many false perceptions and cause some folks to have second thoughts about Jesus Christ.

Popularity is a responsibility, not a privilege. It is not something to be sought after for its own sake, but received as a means to a wider influence. A Christian in the world’s spotlight need not peddle her faith beyond being real. For all Christians, Christ will be seen in and through who we are.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

If we all can start praying for and rejoicing in these opportunities instead of being suspicious of them, we’ll all be the richer for it.

John Fischer

If you know anything about Sixpence's tortured and tenuous relationship with the Christian music industry, you will appreciate the clip all the more; and will need to read Charlie Peacock's amazing and prophetic editorial at this link: "Art/Empire/Industry & "AntiMechanistic Gospel".

Here is the clip; enjoy.
Note Letterman's last words/benediction. Does he say that to every guest?
A great example of what the rabbis and Bono meant by the "elevation" of sexual thoughts.
Dave got accidentally elevated.

Bonus: Here's the Letterman/U2 clip i mentioned:

watching Letterman getting convicted...again

 see also:

"I Am Just A Towering Mass Of Lutheran Midwestern Guilt."


2Happy Lee :
St. Kelly led the prayer for St. Happy Lee.  We hope Happy felt the love in Chile.


3. Brennan McGuire: We haven't heard from this amazing musician friend of ours in ages; so @Keltic Ken led in a big prayer for Brennon,

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