A blog whereby I motivate myself, and my readers, to punch me in the mouth.

  "Punchworthy feeds our deepest Freudian wishes!" --Entertainment

  "The consumate rocker's rocker. Charming, personable... a sucking void of inescapable inner turmoil."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

why "punchworthy"?

It is late. (check first thing off of standard blog-entry list.. "mention how late it is". check.)

It isn't as late as however late my post-clock says it is, but I can't seem to figure out how to correctly set the time. (Look forward to more fascinating posts about this in the future. Also, in other clock news, how I really need a new alarm clock, but I keep refusing to get one because I'm sentimentally attached to this one. Plus, it has HUGE numbers. And I am like, totally blind.)

I am posting not because it's a sane thing to be doing at this hour of the night, but because, in honor of Deb's telling me that I was thinking about it to much and just post already.. I am.

So I thought I'd go ahead and answer the (unasked) question, "why 'punchworthy'?"

Punchworthy is a word that I made up to describe how I feel about pretty much all the comments that I make on other people's blogs.

Inevitably, whether I'm being clever, or being profound, or whatever.. after I listen to the sound of my own voice (or whatever it is that you do when you read your own typing.. "read the transcript of my own internal monologue"..) for a bit, I really want to punch me. Right in the mouth.

I am sure that many of you will understand--most of you, I'm sure, also wanting to punch me in the mouth after almost any period of time in which I talk. (Having now started a blog, I fully expect there to be a line at my door by morning.)

I *may* adopt a system for my posts whereby I label them, right up front, as complete garbage ("Why *do* they put a different number of hotdog buns in the bun package than there are hotdogs in the hotdog package, anyhow..!?") or as horribly pretentious ("and so, I think we can all see why the government should adopt *my* plan for blahbitty-blah-blah..."). But I don't promise.

Might be more fun just to conduct secret research to see which one gets me smacked more often.

There can also be a rating scale for the /intensity/ of the smacking.

I have to go to bed now. Because I am really tired, and I am not going to be doing anymore work tonight. And because Deb (hi hon! lookit! I'm a'bloggin'!) will ask me what on earth I thought I was doing at 12:30 at night, with a big pile of things to do and not near enough currency in the sleep-bank, yammering on stupidly about stupidy-stupid. And right she'll be!

Next time I'll either delve into what the expectations should be for "Christian art" or I'll talk about an interesting new toothbrushing technique that I've discovered.

And the world held it's breath...

(that last comment is in no way intended to reflect on the effectiveness of the above-referred-to brushing technique. that's just a coincidence.)


(oh! and hey! here's how to change the post time! Well now i feel really silly.. i guess**BIFF!!**... ...Gwngnt mwebddy!)

Monday, September 26, 2005

andrew peterson scares the eggplant out of me

I saw a little post on the shlog-blog today about Andrew Peterson. So I went and checked out his site for the first time in a long, and looked at some of his blindingly brilliant lyrics--the kind of lyrics that simultaneously make you want to pick up a notebook and also put it down and never even bother again--and I saw this journal entry of his... Man.. to ever be anything even close to what Andrew is... I should be careful and not bookmark his site, because if I read it to regularly I could inadvertenly end up becoming a "Christian artist".. :
Here's the post I was taken with. Don't have the time, or guts, to read any more...
( from: http://www.andrew-peterson.com )

Fried Eggplant
Aug 26, 2005

Tonight I read a little of Eric Peters’s blog on his myspace site, and I was pleasantly reminded why I love his music and writing. If you get a chance, go visit his website and his myspace page and read a few of his journals. If you enjoy words and prose, you’ll dig it.

I was jogging tonight, iPod in hand (boy, do I sound computer-savvy, what with all the web and iPod talk), and Eric came up: a great song called The Ending, which is cleverly placed at the top of his record Miracle of Forgetting. That set me thinking about music and making records and touring (Eric and I have spent quite a bit of time on the road together), and those thoughts inevitably led me to thinking about my newest collection of songs coming out in a matter of days. And my spirit was greatly troubled.

I have a confession to make.

I care what you think. Whoever is reading this, and I believe that a fair number of folks from all over America, maybe even a few from across the ocean, might end up reading this, believe me when I say that I care what you think. Humility is maddeningly elusive to me, like a dog chasing its tail. I pray for wisdom, ask for humility, and as soon as I think I’ve got a little of it—poof!—it’s gone in a flurry of misplaced pride. Finally, I’m humble! says I. Check me out!

When I hear wiser men than I speak about their own gifts, be it Rich Mullins, C.S. Lewis, the pastor of my church here in Nashville, I detect a comfortable detachment from the gift of which they speak. Lewis said that humility means that you can be as enthusiastic about something you’ve created as if someone else had done it, because you realize that it wasn’t really you doing it in the first place. My ability to write good songs is a gift from God. Period. Am I being arrogant in considering my own songs to be good? I hope not. I can certainly name about fifty singer/songwriters who are better at what they do than I am, but I can also sit back and look at a few of my songs with a smile on my face, thankful that I was able to bring them into the world. Lord knows I have a long way to go, but it’s nice sometimes to see Him working you closer to being who you’re meant to be.

But there’s something flawed with that last thought. My mistake is that I’m operating under the delusion that my songs have something to do with who I’m meant to be. It seems a little presumptuous to say that God is interested in my songwriting, any more than he’d be interested in a farmer’s eggplant harvest. Sure, the eggplant is a central part of the farmer’s work, lying there in the sun, all purple and shiny, but it seems to me that God is concerned chiefly about the farmer. Indeed, He died on a cross for the farmer, not the eggplant. The eggplant is a good thing. It was made by God Himself; the farmer planted the seed, God made it grow, gave it life, said that it was good. The eggplant will feed someone. Some fine southern cook like my mom will slice them up into round little patties, dip them in flour and fry them up in a skillet to be eaten with distrust and ketchup by kids like myself who’d rather have had her chicken casserole.

Can you imagine standing next to that farmer, bib overalls and straw hat, deep red suntan on his sweaty neck, one hand on his hip and the other propped up on the side of his truck while he squints in the sun, spits and says, “That’s a fine eggplant, son.” Now, can you imagine thinking, “Whoa there, farmer Joe. Getting a little cocky, aren’t we? You know, I always figured you for a humble fella. Don’t go bragging about your eggplants.”

I can’t imagine it, either. It is right and proper to find joy in the fruit (or vegetables) of your labor. So I want to joyfully look at my songs and say, “That’s a fine song.” But I’m afraid that people will think I’m getting cocky, that I’m forgetting what a bonehead I am. (I have love-handles. I run like an old man. One of my nostrils is bigger than the other, by a large margin. I am terribly self-conscious and ill at ease even around my closest friends. No, dear reader, I’m very aware of what a goon I am.)

I’m also afraid that I still haven’t grasped something very simple about my work, and that is that my work and I are not one and the same. I tell you one of my biggest struggles is gauging my own self-worth by my own self-works. I’ve gotten a few disparaging comments over the years. Not many, mind you, but enough that I know the sting in your stomach that you feel when someone’s degraded something very special to you, that something being pride. I’ve read reviews that weren’t as glowing as I wished they were, or I’ve felt snubbed by someone whose reaction to my music was apathetic. As artists of any kind, we have to learn early on to be tough-skinned. That stuff has to roll off you, or you’ll never have the grit to write another song, paint another painting, preach another sermon. You have to take joy in the work, not in peoples’ opinion of it.

The problem is, I’ve gotten very good at ignoring the negative remarks, but I haven’t quite gotten the knack of ignoring the good ones, too. Instead, I believe them. I believe it when people write nice things about me. There are days, God help me, when I crave compliments. And what’s so wrong with this? you may ask. What’s wrong with it is that too often I identify myself with my achievements, which is dangerously close to living by the law, and I’d rather not be a whitewashed tomb if I can help it.

Tonight while I was jogging, listening to my buddy Eric sing, I chanced to look up at the sky, which, as you may remember me singing about in Tools, is something that I have always loved. You know what I saw? Not one star. Not a single one. It’s a clear night, if a bit hazy, and there in the orange-ish streetlights, the floodlights on the corners of the cookie-cutter homes in my little subdivision, in the moth-assailed porch lights, the God-made beauty of stars was invisible. Their silver sheen was outdone by those wretched, buzzing streetlights, just like the gently whispered promise that I am a child of Abraham is drowned out by man’s praise and the world’s riches. It makes me think of that second verse of Be Thou My Vision, where it says Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise/Thou mine inheritance now and always. If the writer of that great old song is right, and I believe he is, the praises of man--even good men, family members and friends--are to be heeded not. His insults shouldn’t be heeded either, but heck, I’m in the music biz, like it or not, and insults aren’t the problem here; it’s man’s empty praise.

I’m thinking about all this stuff a lot because of the impending release of my new eggplant. I sincerely, deeply, truly, passionately, desperately, hope you enjoy it. I hope that God uses it to nourish many of His children. I also sincerely hope that thousands of people buy it so that I can afford to keep making eggplants, because those tractors and fertilizers aren’t free, folks, and I love being a farmer. Amazingly, God has a way of using little things like eggplants for His purposes, to affect people deeply, far more than we eggplant farmers could imagine. I get a deep satisfaction when I go on tour and serve up fried eggplant to all of you, and you like it, and you tell me how much you like it, and then you go off to your part of the Kingdom and something about that eggplant I gave you helps you to plant and sow and harvest your own good work (broccoli, perhaps?) that’s really God’s work in you.

And by God’s grace, I can stop chasing my tail. I can rest. Because if you have to try to be humble, then you ain’t it. And you can quote me on that. Christ-like humility is losing yourself; it is no longer thinking of yourself as humble or proud, but rather in no longer thinking of yourself at all. It is being consumed with the Father and His will, while yours shrivels and dies, until what is left is a wide piece of land with rich, dark soil, ready for the planting. That way, when you tell me how much you like my fried eggplant, I can smile and say thank you and tell you that you’re right. It is a good recipe, ain’t it? But it’s not mine.

Pass the ketchup.