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A penny for your thoughts indeed. Around here that would be a raise.

What makes a good blog? I think thematic consistency, a little exhibitionism, and honest writing. I can promise you the last one.

Most of my posts seem to be about music or politics. Some of them are funny. But all of them would love to hear a comment from you.

Oh-- and please welcome God to the APW team. We're thrilled and humbled to serve as His earthly vessel.

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Location: NYC

I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.

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The Way I Walk is Just the Way I Walk
Monday, October 31, 2005
Oteil Burbridge is probably best known as the bass player with the Allman Brothers, a slot he has occupied since 1997 (he also leads his own band, the Peacemakers.) He is a man who always brings a smile and warmth, and who is often seen onstage during a particularly moving jam when the band is locked in, his head tilted back, eyes shut, rocking and beaming happily toward the heavens.

Oteil is a devout Christian, and his faith informs his music in a highly positive way. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know him a little (I review his new album, Believer, in the upcoming issue of Hitting the Note.) He has instilled in me a message about faith that is, I think, both profound on a personal level, and useful on a political one.

He hasn’t put it into exactly these words, but what I’ve learned about faith from Oteil is this: Faith is about the way you move through life. Faith is the walk you walk, not the talk you talk. As the Native Americans say, “Feel your feet on the ground.”

Faith is about accepting and embracing and inviting and welcoming in the things that come your way. It is how you meet the world, meet life, as it comes whooshing at you. And while we often think of faith as a religious concept, it needn’t be one; faith may be put in God, but it may be put in other things as well. If religion isn’t singing to you, then have faith in the universe. Or in yourself. Or in music. But by all means, have some.

You know how some people seem to be perpetually downtrodden, committed to the idea that each time the world rotates it will kick them in the ass on the way by? (Dr. Phil would ask them, “How’s that working for you?” I hate Dr. Phil.) That’s faith too, but faith poorly placed. Faith is some heavy mojo; choose wisely where you put yours.

I find all this to be a very profound lesson, on two levels. First, on a personal level. This message of faith suggests that you must internalize whatever it is you believe in—- whatever is, as Jack Palance says so memorably in City Slickers, your own “just one thing.” (Please tell me you saw City Slickers.) Find that thing and internalize it, because it won’t imbue your life until it has soaked through you and is oozing out of your pores. Spend five minutes with Oteil and you will feel yourself basking in his faith. He really can’t contain it. But he isn’t preaching to you; its there in his laugh, his smile, his spirit, his music, his soul. He walks the walk.

Second, on a political level. It is no secret to any of the loyal readers of APW that we are wary of the Religious Right and the power they seem to wield among Republicans to turn their hatred into law. This political movement we call the Religious Right is just a well-organized mechanism for furthering an extreme, reactionary social agenda. It is neither religious, nor right. Their hate speech (and that is all it is) could not be further away from faith in the teachings of Christ. So let’s stop letting them get away with claiming God for their side, OK?

I found a cool post that provides another neat spin on this theme; its here, and you should check it out.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 9:51 PM  

At 11/01/2005 10:52 AM, Anonymous Annie said...   

I don't know JC--there are a lot of true believers in any fundamentalist movement, and, though fundamentalism comes with a certain amount of ignorance and xenophobia (although I always thought Amish and Chasidim could gt along really well if they tried), some true believers are more focused on following their all-engrossing lives of service to God than directing hate outward. The religious right is NOT National Fascism, which is what makes it so scary. There are reasonable people attaced to this movement.

At 11/01/2005 11:11 AM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

I don't know about the Amish and Chasids. I think the Chasids would have a hard time getting past the whole no-buttons thing, what with their stronghold in the Garment District. "You always with the no buttons!"

The thing about the RR is that sure, there are lots of good reasonable people in the movement. But the leaders are indeed nuts, and they have perfected the invocation of God's name to turn these decent people-- the sheep, as it were-- against whatever is the target of their own hatred. If you endeavor to be a good Christian but you don't much follow politics (which describes, I'm guessing, 60% of the US population), and a religious leader (or just look like one!) tells you that hating fags is what good Christians are doing these days, you may well find yourself shrugging and thinking, "Well, I DO want to be a good Christian..." To me that is the most insidious thing-- the way RR leaders use people's well-intentioned religious devotion to manipulate their political beliefs. Its spam for the soul, but too many people click on the hate links.

Anyway, I think God will be writing another guest column this week. We'll se if He has anything to say about it.

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