Shut up and sing.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

– Colossians 3:23-24, NIV

On one level, this is a damning critique of critiquing culture through the lens of feminism.

When you think of art not as an expression of culture or an examination of human nature but as a means to an ideological end, you risk creating a cultural experience in which you have closed yourself off to a broad swathe of the human experience.

Now read that again, and apply it to “Christian music”. Why has Christianity become sidelined in today’s culture? Because sometime long ago, we decided we’d rather (literally) preach to the choir than preach to the lost. There is no such thing as “Christian music”, anymore than there is “Communist music”. There is music that is good music, and music that is propaganda.

The fact is, unless we’re monks in an abbey, most of our life is spent in the world. When I made my living as a photographer, I wrestled with how to express my faith in art for years. I finally came to the same conclusion that the Apostle Paul did, namely, shut up and live your life for the Lord, and the rest will take care of itself.

There is no such thing as Christian music, because a melody can’t be a Christian, only a songwriter can. There’s no such thing as Christian art, because a canvas can’t be filled with the Spirit of the living God, only a painter can.

When I stopped worrying about HOW to take a “Christian Photograph” and just concentrated on making good photographs, I ended up satisfying both my Savior and my creative soul.

Why, it’s almost as if God made us to praise with our entire lives, and not just the stuff we do in church, or something.

 

 
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September 29th, 2015 by exurbankevin

Local Boy Makes It To The Big Time

Four guys were hanging around a coffee shop on a Saturday morning in 2006, solving all the world’s problems in just a few hours. We’d known each other from college, and all of us shared a passion for technology, Christ, our families, and our country.

Oh, and Salma Hayek. Her too.

We decided to start a blog to let the world know we’ve solved everything that ails it, and the rest, as they say, is history. Two of the guys from the coffee shop made a few posts and then never wrote again, and a fifth friend joined in as well, but two of the guys wrote often, and started to get some notoriety for what they wrote.

Now one of those two guys is the editor-in-chief of Ricochet.com.

Congratulations, Ex(urban)Jon.

On a related note, I think I’m going to begin powering down this part of the blog and move my political rants to the member feed of Ricochet. I believe in their model, and it’s time to support it with money and content. I’d encourage everyone reading to join Ricochet, it truly is a unique outpost of civility in the ever-increasing vulgar wasteland of the ‘net. Other things working against keeping up the blog is that I’m not wired in to the local scene like I was in Arizona, and I’m just not as motivated to write about politics as I was in 2008. The gunblog will continue, but it will be moved to the MisfiresAndLightStrikes.com domain and spun off on it’s own.

 
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September 26th, 2015 by KevinC

EPA Announces New Regulations Designed to Halt Invasive Washington Press Corps

The Environmental Protection Agency has rolled out extensive new regulations to stop the spread of the free press in order to stop it before it becomes a danger to the Washington, D.C. ecosphere.

“We need to look at the lifecycle of the press corps in terms of how it interacts with the other parts of the ecology here in our nation’s capitol,” said EPA Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Political Pest Control Dee Deetee. “Clearly, right now, having a press corps that asks questions and threatens the status quo is unhealthy and unsustainable to the power structure in Washington, so every effort must be made to disrupt their hunting grounds and keep them from spreading to close to important power centers within Washington.”

Ms DeeTee stressed that these tough new controls on the press are only limited to certain areas of Washington, and that the press would be free to roam around unfettered asking questions about Marco Rubio’s boat payments and Scott Walker’s sweaters.

“It’s about balance,” she said. “Where Scott Walker buys his clothes is of equal importance to the long-term sustainability of both the EPA and Washington as a whole than such trivial matters as who killed who in Benghazi. We need to look at the bigger picture here, and what we, as the EPA, can do to prevent the spread of questions to places where they’re unwanted and un-called for.”

Reports that the IRS is underwriting the cost of this new effort remain unconfirmed at this time.

 
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July 5th, 2015 by exurbankevin

The Suicide Bombers of the Free Speech Movement

Another “Mohammed Cartoon Festival” is in the works, this time in Phoenix, Arizona. Unlike the last one, which was held on the property belonging to a Texas educational institute and therefore “gun-free,” (funny how the jihadists didn’t get that message…), the organizers of this festival are encouraging participants to come armed.

Jon Ritzheimer is the organizer of Friday’s “Freedom of Speech Rally” outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix.

It’s the mosque that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi attended for a time. They’re the men who drove from Arizona to a Dallas suburb to shoot up a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest there. Both were killed by police early this month.

Ritzheimer anticipates possible problems because of the rally and says people should bring their guns.

“People are also encouraged to utilize (their) second amendment right at this event just (in case) our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack,” the event’s Facebook page says.

Let me state my biases up front: I work in a gun store. I carry a firearm with me wherever it’s permissible by law. I think people who CAN carry a gun, SHOULD carry a gun.

I enthusiastically support artistic expression and turning sacred cows into ground chuck roast. I spent ten years making a living as an advertising photographer, so free speech and artistic freedom aren’t just concepts to me, they were how I put food on the table.

I was one of the few people in my (mostly Christian) circle of friends who saw “P*** Christ” as a valid work of art, not as something to be banned. Blasphemous? Yes. Art? Also yes. It wasn’t a particularly good work of art (it was as subtle as a hand grenade),  but turning the sacred into the profane has been a part of art since art itself has been around. But paying for it with my tax dollars? That’s another matter.

I digress.

Also, I’m a Christian. I think my brand of belief is superior to Islam, and I’d be happy as a clam if the mosque in question shut down because of poor attendance.

But this cartoon festival is a bad idea, for any number of reasons.

I’ve been around Phoenix gun owners for a long, long time. The vast majority of them know how to safely enjoy their guns no matter where they are, but I’ve seen enough disregard for basic gun safety at other gun-related political events to know that it’s not a question of IF something bad is going to happen at an event like this cartoon festival, it’s WHEN

Then there’s the fact that cartoon festivals like this are to free speech what carrying a slung rifle at low ready is to Second Amendment rights. Yes, you CAN perform such actions, but NO, you probably shouldn’t. Advancing your cause by acting in an abnormal manner does nothing to make your cause seem more normal. In fact, it does the exact opposite, because it makes it appear to outsiders that extreme behavior is the norm within your cause. If you want your cause to become the norm, you must act normally while advocating for your cause.

Appearances matter. To the layman not involved in such things, a cartoon festival blasting Islam and the antics of the Westboro Baptist Church seem just about the same. Both are filled with self-righteousness and are meant to provoke an extreme response. Neither of them are particularly good at making their point.

The bottom line is, we must present ourselves and our viewpoints as something other than extreme if we want our communities to become aware of the threat of home-grown extremist Islam.

Exit question: We in the gun culture like to use Robert A. Heinlein’s famous quote, “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his actions with his life.” How does wearing a t-shirt that says “F*** Islam” jibe with that statement?

 
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June 4th, 2015 by exurbankevin

A special dedication for a certain former Secretary of State

All men have secrets and here is mine so let it be known
we have been through hell and high tide
I can surely rely on you
and yet you start to recoil
heavy words are so lightly thrown
but I’d still leap in front of a flying bullet for you

So what difference does it make?
so what difference does it make?
it makes none, but now you have gone
and you must be looking very old tonight

The devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole and I lied, and why? because you asked me to
but now you make me feel so ashamed
because I’ve only got two hands
well, I’m still fond of you

So what difference does it make?
so what difference does it make?
it makes none, but now you have gone
and your prejudice won’t keep you warm tonight

Oh the devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole and then I lied just because you asked me to
but now you know the truth about me
you won’t see me anymore
well, I’m still fond of you

But no more apologies
no more apologies
I’m too tired, I’m so very tired
and I’m feeling very sick and ill today
but I’m still fond of you

 
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April 29th, 2015 by exurbankevin

Speaking as a disabled veteran of the culture wars,

I wholeheartedly endorse everything Frank J. Fleming talks about in this article, 5 Rules for Victory in the Culture War.

I watched “Christian culture go from something that was *almost* accepted by the mainstream (The Jesus Freak movement) into something that is openly derided and mocked by the trendsetters and culture mavens of our society. At some point along the way, we Christians decided we wanted to sell 10,000 records that said things in our language rather than sell 100,000 records that challenged others to believe in God.

Hopefully, by following Frank’s rather, er, frank advice, the culture of conservative independence can learn from the mistakes that Christians have made in the past.

 
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March 30th, 2015 by exurbankevin

Not to rain on your free-speech parade, but…

Just about a year ago, the Nigerian Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped, raped and sold into slavery an entire school of 12-15 year old girls, due in large part to their Christian faith.

The reaction from the Obama administration was swift and self-righteous: It immediately asked millions of Twitter users to express their outrage over Boko Haram’s barbarity and show their solidarity with the kidnapped girls by using the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag on Twitter.

And it was a rousing success: People all around the world felt better about themselves, knowing that they had typed eighteen characters into a text box as a way to make a courageous stand against the rape and subjugation of underage girls.

Rosa Parks would be proud.

Shockingly, all of that self-gratification did wonders for the self-esteem of rich white liberals, but did nothing to free the kidnapped young girls. All the girls from the Chibok school are now dead or trapped in the hell of “marriages” to radical Islamists.

And believe it or not, it gets worse than that. Last Friday, while some free speech advocates were talking a stand against shooting editorial cartoonists (and perversely, some professional journalists were taking a stand against free speech), Boko Haram casually, and with malice a forethought, shot up an entire village and killed up to two thousand people.

That’s right, 2000 (or more) innocent lives lost. This is the worse terrorist attack since 9/11, and yet few people have heard about it or seem to care. What is it with Democratic Presidents ignoring genocide in sub-Sarahan Africa, anyways?

I digress.

Getting outraged over the killings at Charlie Hebdo magazine is a good thing, because it’s making people realize the greatest threats to our social freedoms don’t come from some bluenose Puritan Christian carrying a Bible, but rather from an Islamic jihadist with a suicide vest carrying an AK47.

Get outraged, but get active, because when we have foes who would use more than just words to eliminate free speech, free speech must be defended with more than just words.

 
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January 16th, 2015 by exurbankevin

The Long Slouch Through Our Nation’s Institutions Continues

Mrs ExKev is watching a special on Fox about how radicals like Ward Churchill and Bill Ayers influence the thinking and policies of our nation’s universities. 

Me? I’m not watching it. More liberal readers of this blog may be surprised to hear this (as they all pretty much believe we on the right watch Fox like Winston Smith watches his telescreens), but I don’t like watching Fox News, or CNN or any TV news. Why would I sit and have someone read the internet to me? 

I digress. 

What struck me about this special was how ineffective this tactic of indoctrinating the youth has been for the left. Yes, a generation of young people has sat in college classes and absorbed a lot of socialist nonsense through osmosis, but the end result of all of that has been: 

a) The Obama Presidency
b) The coming candidacy of Mrs. Bill Clinton
c) The possible candidacy of Elizabeth Warren

Not exactly the Inklings, there.

The biggest issue that I see with the left’s takeover of our schools isn’t in leadership (probably because today’s colleges stand as much chance of producing leaders as the Dallas Cowboys have of producing touchdowns…), but rather how a liberal arts degree from a good school is a ticket into the ever-expanding world of government bureaucracy. 

The problem isn’t with what our college students are learning, the problem is what they’re doing with their degrees, and how they’re producing (or more likely, NOT producing) something to enrich our country and our culture. 

 
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November 29th, 2014 by exurbankevin

The World Is About To Get A Little Less Smart

I don’t like talk radio. I don’t listen to Rush or Hannity, and when my co-workers play Mark Levin, I turn up the volume on my Surf Rock Pandora mix and rock out with my headphones on.

I don’t like talk radio. But I liked the Jim Sharpe show when I lived in Phoenix, and now it’s going off the air

Jim’s a friend, and he was stupid enough to let me into the studio every once in a while to rant on the air. Obviously, he’s never seen “Play Misty For Me“, or he’d know how that sort of thing ends. 

I digress. 

In a world full of radio polemicists who use repetition and the volume of their voice to make their points, Jim and John McJunkin (the Sancho Panza to Jim’s Don Quixote) used reason and consistent, logical arguments. That was why their show was #1 in their time slot for years on end, and that’s what made them so special.

And now it’s ending. Jim and John, you’ll be missed, even from 1500 miles away. Ride hard, shoot straight, tell the truth, and may we meet again around a mic (or a cold beverage) very soon. 

 

 
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October 16th, 2014 by exurbankevin

Creating Christian Media For Men

Or CCMM, for short.

I’ve been rolling around ideas inside of my brain about getting men back into the church, and getting worship services back to being like worship and not like a concert. 

1. Break the Fourth Wall. And the Third Wall. And the Second Wall, too.
I realized what modern church worship really is meant to be, not worship, but rather, the halftime show at the Super Bowl. 

At a Super Bowl halftime show, musicians come out and sing the songs you’ve heard them sing on the radio for years, and the point of the show is to keep you entertained until the game starts up once again. The thing is, though, when’s the last time you saw a halftime show that didn’t stink? The last one that comes to mind is U2’s stunning 2002 performance, which was more than just about entertainment, it had a message that was meant for people who WEREN’T in the seats in the stadium or watching it on TV, namely the victims of 9/11. 

When was the last time you heard music in church that was meant for people NOT in church at the time? 

2. The Best Christian Music of Today Isn’t On The Radio.
There was a vibrant and exciting Christian ska culture in the 1990’s, and absolutely NONE of it made it into church. Ditto for Sufjan Stevens’ brilliant music or anything by Sixpence None The Richer or a host of others. There is some great Christian music out there today, but it’s not focused on making into churches on Sunday morning, it’s focused on the artistry and honesty of the message, not whether it makes it onto the radio. I’ll let Hank Hill sum up my feelings on this matter. 

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And please, stop trying drag the pop music of past into the sanctuary. The worst example of this I’ve seen happened a few years ago at my church in the Phoenix area, when the music of The Beatles was a focal point of the worship service. 

Let’s put aside the fact that because of their popularizing of Maharsi Yogi, The Beatles did more to bring new age philosophy into the West than anyone else before them or the VERY questionable suitability of some of their lyrics   and concentrate on the fact that this church decided to show how “hip” and “with it” they were by playing the music of  forty years ago in today’s sanctuary. 

Funny, but I don’t recall churches in the 80’s playing The Andrews Sisters to show young people how cool they were, although I’ll become a member of any church who plays the entirety of “A Love Supreme” on a Sunday morning. 

I digress.

The fact is, churches need to stop trying to be hip and start getting real, because honesty is the new hip.

3. Stop Talking About Relationships. Start Talking About Leadership.
Because, of course, if there’s one thing guys like to do, it’s talk about relationships and our feelings. Is there a time to talk about such things? Sure. Is Sunday morning the time to do it, surrounded by hundreds of strangers? Probably not. Get men in the seats by challenging them to go forth and change the world, not brood on the nature of  their relationships. 

4. Create Other Channels Of Contact.
Almost every modern church has a website. Many more churches have a Facebook page and post videos of their services and have podcast feed of their sermons. 

How many have a Spotify channel of music similar to what they play in church, or better still, music they DON’T play in church? What about custom channels for men, kids and teens? Why do worship pastors think their job is just to prepare music for Sunday morning? Aren’t we supposed to be worshipping God all the time, not just on Sunday morning? Why not have a “director’s cut” of the pastor’s personal music tastes as a way to get the know the man, not just the leader.

Christians are behind the curve when it comes to Internet, and that’s a shame, because the Internet is the greatest tool for personal empowerment since the invention of the printing press. The printing press put the Bible in the hands of the common man, which led to the evangelical, worldwide church. Christian’s haven’t had the same success with using the Internet as a witnessing tool, and that needs to change.

 
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September 7th, 2014 by exurbankevin