That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

As John Mayer said, “Keep me where the LIGHT is!”

So, let’s see… In a span of two weeks we have a congressman heckling the President in hallowed halls, Serena Williams gets all un-Jehovah’s Witness on a line judge, and Kanye interrupts a live broadcast to demand a recount.

And now everyone’s lamenting the loss of “civility.” As if it only JUST broke the surface! I was angry at Joe Wilson, ashamed at Serena, and ready to re-break Kanye’s jaw. But these latest incidents are not what we should be decrying. We lost our minds a lonnnnnng time ago! These people are just ratifying what this society has been lobbying for for years.

We wanted fewer restrictions on what was considered “normal” behavior. We wanted to be free to say whatever and hear whatever we wanted on the airwaves. (Remember when, “Frankly, my dear…” was controversial?) Now, you can see a naked butt and have it accurately described at 7 PM. No biggie. In fact, no sexual organ is off limits as to the basest description of it. I’ve heard pretty much all of them. Every few years another of those forbidden words — thirteen of them, I believe — is knocked off the list and available for my three-year-old to perfect. Yeah, I can turn the channel and turn the other cheek, but after a while there will be no channels left, and I’m out of cheeks! And I can’t disappear.

We wanted to be like France, Amsterdam, and other progressive European countries. We got it. We are in the process of being given over to our collective desires. They have legalized drug use and whorehouses set up like Macy’s (I’ve seen them). They have affairs like we have lunch in the afternoon. They have no sexual hang-ups. They have soap commercials with lathered up boobs floating on the water and no one gets uptight.

“If France jumped off a bridge, would YOU?!?”

We’re on our way, though! We have daycares in schools for all the students’ babies, we throw them baby showers rather than counsel kids on the seriousness of the problem they’ve created. Little girls dance like strippers, and every month another leader has to drag his haggard-looking wife in front of a phalanx of cameras to apologize for hooking up with a co-worker! 

 And rather than deal honestly with the growing issue, we laugh at Christians and call them sexually repressed. The deck is stacked.

 

When I was a kid, if we accidentally cursed in front of an adult somewhere, we could expect to get snatched up quicker than the Rapture! Now, kids cuss in front of me and anyone else with impunity. They know their little butts are made of gold. Thanks, Oprah! Your work here is done!

Marijuana and ordinary cigarettes have switched places. Weed is cool, but if you smoke nicotine, folk look at you like you’re fondling a kid!

You can’t tell a child in school his answer is wrong anymore. You can’t even frown at them. You surely can’t spank them! When I was a kid — we used to call them that. Kids — we didn’t have car seats. You put the baby up in the back window, the middle one in the front between Ma and Pa, and the other four or five were in the back somewhere. We could even ride in the back of pick-up trucks (I loved sitting on the hump or the toolbox!)! Now, if you have to get gas and you have more than two children and no debit card, be prepared to haul all those suckers into the Mapco! If Li’l Johnny’s nose starts to run, we rush him to the doctor. They can’t ride bikes in the street or play out of our line of sight.

My point is that we enact surface rules to seem as though we care so much more nowadays, but we poison their minds and make them weak and soft. We give them everything they think they MUST have, but we let them talk to us any way they see fit. (not MY kids!!)

We deify celebrities. They know they are unassailable. They can be on camera in a hot tub screwing around with the wife and the nanny, and it is all good! Cover of “People” magazine the next week! They can leave a heartbroken spouse, shack up with the co-star, adopt a couple of Cambodian babies and be labeled “Humanitarian Power Couple.” We are SO stupid!! They can get married and divorced like we change pants, and we rush to be just like them.

Things which used to be hands-down egregious wrongs, which were debatably errors recently, are now just fine — in fact — laudable! The only sin nowadays is to notice one. We’re eVOLving!

Don’t get me started on that! As if, just because a monkey has thumbs, we used to BE monkeys! Chairs have legs, too! Was my great-grandmama a Queen Anne?!?

The word “Stigma” has been stigmatized. We are ashamed of the word “Ashamed.” It’s wrong to say, “Wrong.” Saying “No” is a no-no.

But we want to have conferences and panel discussions because Serena cussed a heffa out in the heat of battle and denied saying what she said thirty seconds later!

Why should she edit herself (like I do!)? We gave her the license to do it. She re-invented the booty.

Why should we scold Kanye West for running up in an awards show choking a bottle of Hennessey like it was a lifeline and snatching a little girl’s moment away forever? He’s Kanye, fool! He makes the heads nod!

“Don’t judge me!” you all said. And NOW, you wanna judge what these folk did?!? On what basis do YOU judge? Your own  sense of right from wrong? Your own  standard? But don’t you remember, you’ve spent the last few decades stripping away  at that standard so you can say a$$ on teevee! Don’t start trying to make judgements now!!

These folk — and Joe, and Roger Federer,  and the town hall criers and the sexual lobbyists and the teenyboppers on stripper poles and the rest — are but acorns on a giant oak tree of iniquity that threatens to darken us all with its shadow.

Prince pushed the envelope back in the eighties, but now the IS no envelope. We got e-mail… And one heckuva virus!

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September 16, 2009 Posted by | Celebrities, Celebrity, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Civility, Culture, Current Events, Glory, God, Joe Wilson, Kanye West, Rant, Serena Williams, VMA's | 3 Comments

Ingreat?

I want to be great.

I struggle with this. I know that God says that He will give His glory to no man. I ask myself constantly if the reason I have not yet achieved my goals is that I want to be glorified in some way. Maybe God knows (I want to say, “Maybe God THINKS,” but I know He doesn’t wonder) that I would not be as humble as I need to be if He allows me to do the same things as those as whom I know I am at least as good. (prepositions! whew!)

Or maybe I simply have not worked hard enough.

I play music and I write words. I often think, when I see humorists and columnists and hear certain saxophone players, “I KNOW I can do this! I’m at LEAST that good! Why can’t I get a break?” I know I’m kind of good, but I want to be great. And not obscure. And I begin again to wonder if what is blocking me is simply my thought process.

Maybe my thinking has to change… Maybe I have to think more about what greatness will mean for God than what it will do for me.

From day one I have been Charlie Brown. I was the insignificant kid, the ridiculed kid, the unremembered kid. I was the one who the girls looked at from the edges of their eyes. I was the one who either ate alone at lunch or went and found others with whom to eat.

I was never at the center of the action, always at the outer ring. Never the life of the party.

When I started to play music, it wasn’t to get girls or to be cool. I just wanted to learn how to play an instrument — something no one in my neighborhood did. All through school, the fact that I could hear a tune and reproduce it and improvise a little bit did nothing to initiate me into that cool musical circle.

When I grew up and began doing it for a living, my mother, who worked at my high school, would ask me to come back and play for assemblies. My own band director (with whom I rode to school EVERY DAY for three years!!!) was shocked when he heard me, remarking to my mother, “I had no idea Derrick could play like that! When did this happen?”

He had not bothered to notice or nurture my talent. He never pushed me. While the cool kids were taking theory classes and playing in the jazz band, I was at home picking out Grover Washington and Spyro Gyra solos. Teaching myself.

When I was in the eighth grade and on the verge of academic mediocrity as a student in the first Optional School class in Memphis, my English teacher brought a knarry tree stump into the classroom and asked us to write a story based on what we saw. I, thinking myself a failure at English, got the highest grade in the class. In me was born the love for words I now have. I changed at that moment. And a lot of the arrogant kids in the class looked at me differently — although being good at English doesn’t make you cool.

Writing didn’t become cool for me until I began getting paid to write love letters for guys — something I was scared to do for myself for a long time.

This very blog is all about me trying to be great. It is more than a geek with a computer corrupting journalism. It is me trying to not just rant, but to make literature. I want to leave my children with something that shows them that their father did not just consume resources, but that he THOUGHT. I want to not get to God’s throne and have Him disappointed because I left unused some gift He gave to me.

I want to MATTER — to be necessary. I want to be great in His eyes AND send my kids to college. Can’t you do both? There is the rub… That which makes ascent uncertain…

Being so consistently rejected bred in me this thing, this need, to prove them all wrong. To prove to — whomever — that I was worthy of note. Not of exaltation, but just valuable enough to be heard, to be listened to. It is the same drive, I think, that led Michael Jordan to prove wrong the coach who cut him when he was a kid. The same drive that made my father put cement and a pole into buckets to make his own barbells back in the fifties when kids laughed at him and called him scrawny.

I hate being treated as “less-than.” HATE it! I am the first one to esteem my neighbor as greater than myself, as long as my neighbor doesn’t presume to assume that position! I’ll get in the back seat as long as you don’t insist that I belong there. It is for this reason that arrogance is one of the things I hate most in the world.

 I want to show all those who belittled me and dismissed my contributions that they are what is wrong with the world. (But it doesn’t consume me as much as it may sound)

Maybe in a twisted way, though, that is revenge… I don’t know. I mean, I don’t have a desire to hurt anyone, or to repay in like fashion, so maybe it’s not vengeance. But maybe my thinking is wrong. Maybe I need to focus more on how GOD would be proved worthy of note if these things happened for me the way I want them to… I know I am not arrogant — I am PROUD of how humble I am! I make way too many mistakes to have an exaggerated idea of myself.

God, however, sees things in a different way than do I. Maybe my thinking is out of synch with His. Maybe if I can figure out how greatness and fame intersect, that last door will open.

Or maybe it is just not time yet.

I know He has not closed the door though, because I have continually been able to support myself, and because step by agonizing step, I have done a little bit better. I have worked with some pretty big acts and have played as though I belonged there.

We all live and eat by having people give us money to do something we are good at doing. Our gifts make our way for us. That is all I want. No Bentley, no floor length mink, no gaudy jewels. No breathless fans or VIP status.

Just ample recompense for art rendered. Commensurate compensation.

Lord, I don’t want Your spot or your shine. And if I don’t speak up enough, it is of shyness, not of usurpation. Create in me that right way of thinking, and even closer fellowship with You.

I’m not so haughty, reader, as to think that my life is so compelling that you just HAVE to know about it. I just hope the words are interesting enough to keep you reading them.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Arrogance, Artistry, Christian Life, Christianity, Fame, Food for Thought, Glory, God, Greatness, Humility, Life, Music, Saxophone, Words, Work, Writing | 9 Comments