Vinyl To Jesus Freaks

Having gone through this vinyl-rippin’ exercise, I found myself thinking about the impact of this music on my own life, as well as the life of the American church. I find both impacts to be positive.

Personally, what is noteworthy about these pieces is that they fueled my own (very) mediocre musical talents. Not only were these great talents affirming the gospel but they were also affirming the expression of the gospel through my generation’s ‘heart music.’

Decades later, I appreciate the missionary work they did in reaching into a different culture than the American Church had not, up to this time, been able to penetrate. Today, Christian thinkers such as Ed Stetzer confirm the observation that American culture is finally being recognized as fragmented and those barriers are cultural: language, dress, behavioral norms, music, worldview, etc. Today, among those Christians sensitive to reaching people with the Jesus News, this is obvious. Back in the Day, no – not so much. The expectation was an Old Testament ethos: “The people need to come here to learn of the Lord.” That is, bring people to church and not only convert them to Jesus, but also ‘church culture.’ But the New Testament ethos is: “As you are going about your business, make disciples: convert and teach them how to live.” That is, go out, meet lost people, learn how to talk to them, and tell them the Jesus Story so they can respond.

I am reminded again of the Third Great Awakening in the United States. What we now know of as the “Jesus Freaks” was the engine to modern evangelicalism. Back then, it was clear – it’s supposed to all be about Jesus. “He’s the Real Thing” was, though bumper-sticker theology, still an indicator of the ethos of the time. Now, it is more confusing.

Ask your average un-churched, post-Christian, culturally engaged person what “Evangelical” means and you’ll get an answer about politics, ideology, or culture. Rarely will you hear, “an emphasis on the good news about Jesus.” Ask them to describe Jesus and you’ll probably hear: “loving, kind, gentle, wise, forgiving” – and they would be right, wouldn’t they? Ask them to describe an Evangelical and you will probably not hear any of those words. Something is wrong with that picture.

We’ve lost something from the days of the Jesus Revolution – not only the one during the 1970’s, but the even bigger one during the first century. Christ is now proxy for ideology and the gospel is something to run away from.

What have we done?


Rippin' Vinyl

Here’s an update on my vinyl rippin’ efforts. First, it is amazing how well I remember these tunes, the lyrics, and what appealed to me about the music back in the day. Second, I listen to some of these albums and can’t help but react: “What was I thinking??!” My only defense was that my musical tastes were ‘evolving.’

So here’s what is now in my digital library:

Maranatha Music – Growing up in SoCal as a Christian coming of age in the days of the Jesus Freaks, there was pretty much one show in town and that was Saturday night concerts at Calvary Chapel. This was just after they moved out of the circus tent into their (at the time) brand-spankin’ new auditorium. It was my first exposure to a mega-church and was the emerging church of its day. As part of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa’s (CC/CM) outreach, they had several ‘worship teams’ (bands) of top-notch talent. These bands would not only play at home, but toured and recorded. CC/CM created its own record label, “Maranatha Music,” and here are the titles I bought and have ripped to digimedia:
Love Song – while some would say that “Children Of The Day” was the first, “Love Song” was the flagship group of the Maranatha label
Daniel Amos – country style with some Big Band fun
Mustard Seed Faith – “Sail On Sailor;” like several albums side B much stronger than A
The Way - title album
The Way – “can it be?” [note the lack of capitals, e.e. cummings was Very Big then]
Maranatha x – a series of compilations ranging from “The Everlastin’ Living Jesus music Concert” to Maranatha VIII; I have ‘volumes’ 1 through 5
Issac Air Freight – “Fun In The Son;” IAF was a trio of guys who did Christian comedy; it’s a bit dated now, but was very cool back then

Solid Rock – created by the Bad Boy of Jesus Rock, Larry Norman. Solid Rock operated under the principle, “Why Should the Devil Have All The Good Music?” Larry was my role-model for the Angry Young Man thing (the problem was that *I* stayed angry long after my youth). Larry was personally problematic but pushed the envelope in several directions that the church is only now coming to grips with (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Norman). Larry discovered several talents. It seems to me that the most significant was Randy Stonehill. The sweet guitar work in this album was done by Stonehill.
Larry Norman – In Another Land; very serious, full of the thundering prophet
Randy Stonehill – Welcome To Paradise; as Larry was serious, Randy was playful

Spirit – a division of Sparrow; Jesus Rock now getting some commercial attention.
Benny Hester – fun, loud, impossibly high tenor

Myrrh – a division of Word and distribution channel for Solid Rock
The 2nd Chapter of Acts – wow, a trio of siblings who sang real pruty-like
Power Music – a collection of some of their artists and albums for 1977: Chuck Girard, B.J. Thomas, Michael Omartian, Tom Howard, Randy Stonehill, Larry Norman, Phil Keaggy, et al.
Bob Ayala – “Joy By Surprise;” an interesting album themed by great thinkers within the faith; Bob was blind and would comment that his first sight would be of the risen Jesus – which sure beats what the rest of us have to look at day to day.
John Fischer – “Johnny’s CafĂ©;” apparently somewhat panned by critics, I actually loved it


Fun Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day!

I have to report a major endorphin rush. My children, God Bless ‘em, bought their Ol’ Man a wonderfully thoughtful piece of technology. Perhaps you’ve seen these at Costco or elsewhere. These are turntables – yes, “record players” (for those under 30) that have a USB connection and software to capture the playing of vinyl into an MP3 (or other format). Sweet!

So, in yet another way for me to waste time rather than read theology, I’ve started ‘ripping’ my vinyl into MP3 files. Now this is Major Fun. First, I haven’t heard these cuts in maybe three decades and so that in itself is a treat. Second, to hear what my taste in music was like when I was 15 years old or such is also a (pardon, I’m an old guy now) “hoot.” Additionally, with the software (Audacity), it is possible to clean up some of the hiss and scratch of some records that were never well taken care of back in the day.

So, for a guy who has a thing for music, this was a wonderful Father’s Day.

Thanks, kids!

Love, Dad.


25th Anniversary

Just a quick update on our trip...

Barb and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this last weekend. A quarter of a century! I remember as a child thinking that a quarter of a century was a very long time indeed. Now: no, not so much! We did some reminiscing and I felt like the years really have flown by. We did a mini-vacation while the kids were at home.

First, we went to a Bed’n’Breakfast near Port Angeles. Let me recommend this place to you – let me HIGHLY recommend this place! It is called “A Hidden Haven” and run by Chris and Jodi Jones. The facility was wonderful, the grounds beautiful, and the service excellent. If you’re thinking of a weekend getaway, please check these folks out (www.ahiddenhaven.com). We enjoyed the local San Juan de Fuca Arts Festival going on that weekend – also much fun.

Then we took the ferry and crossed to Victoria, B.C. and stayed two nights at the Empress. We’ve been to Victoria several times over the decades and enjoy Canada very much. The weather was picture-postcard-perfect! We rented scooters and rode around the peninsula, had very nice dinners (I recommend “Milestone’s” right on the Inner Harbor), did tourist-shopping, went to the Butchart Gardens (we were there once before 15 years ago), and generally goofed around.

We took the ferry back through the San Juan Islands, then drove down Whidbey Island (the second longest island within the contiguous 48 states), merged with I-5 and came home last night.