Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gender, Race, Etc Or Creed: I Don't Care What You Look Like...


"A creed, confession, symbol, or statement of faith is a statement of the shared beliefs of a religious community. Creeds are not intended to be comprehensive, but to be a summary of core beliefs. The term "creed" can also refer to a person's political or social beliefs, or is sometimes used to mean religious affiliation."

Etymology[edit] See also: Credo

"The word derives from the Latin credo, which means "I believe" (because the Latin translation of the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed both begin with this word) so a creed may also be called a credo. A creed is sometimes referred to as a symbol signifying a "token" by which persons of like beliefs might recognize each other.[4]"

I do know that racism exists. Believe me. I believe and in fact know first hand that prejudice exists. And to be perfectly honest I have actually experienced more prejudice from "my people" than from other ethnic groups, because I have lived my life according judging by content of character versus skin color. (Mind you not by a lot. I have not suffered too terribly in life at all.) I believe this is because of God's grace and the fact that I was raised to work hard and respect people. So, I have generally received that respect in kind. Most (and I say most because I usually don't like to make "allness" statements) of the conservatives or Tea Partiers or whoever, I know vote their conscience and their values. And most of those values are birthed from a biblical worldview.

Race is a very tricky deal. And I think that in large part, like with other 3rd rail issues both sides would do well to actually talk to each other... But it appears in our current society where most of the voices would probably consider and indentify themselves as progressive or liberal that to even discuss some of these issues is racist, sexist etc. My favorite talk show host is Dennis Prager . (This link is for his website, specifically for one of his articles on racism) He came up with this acronym. SIXHRB: sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, racist, bigoted. Put any of these in the mix and you stop all discussion. Are there people out there with SIXHRB-ian views? Of course! But I truly believe much inportant discussion and debate is eliminated because once you are ACCUSED of any of the above the all bets are off and you lose. Not "convicted" but accused. For many, the fact that I could easily be called an "arch conservative" or "right winger" makes me "self loathing" as a black man. (Personally, I have ALWAYS considered myself a moderate. One of my main philosophies of life is this. BALANCE IS EVERYTHING.) Or a traitor to my color. I seriously do not care about color, gender etc. Mine or anyone else's.

I vote the way I try to live. I measure positions, people, ideas, and what not in this manner: Do the ideas or positions measure up to biblical standards as I understand them? Do the people act with integrity and goodness towards me and others, as far as I know? Do the ideas work in the real world? Are the ideas the best thing for our society as a whole? (Not just me and my needs, not just any particular group. But society as a whole.) Back in the day, I often debated internally about which of two of my talk show hosts that I listened would make a better godparent for my kids or a better political official. One was a straight, black male Libertarian. The other was a gay, Jewish male (I believe) Republican. (Please forgive me for not having a female Democrat in the mix.) Based on what I knew of them from their broadcasts, I would have chosen or voted for the gay Republican. Because in a relatively close race, his values won on over the other candidate.

Life is complex, but at the end of the day, try to know what you believe and why you believe it and seek the truth of every matter that is presented before you. I don't vote for anyone based on their skin color or what their opponents say about them. I let their own record and their own words define them. Heck, they're politicians. That could be hard enough to parse through...

“From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two — the “race” of the decent man and the “race” of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people.”― Victor Frankel

To draw from the Prager well again, we don't need to reach agreement, just clarity. Or to paraphrase myself, I don't care if you dislike me as long as you dislike the real me.

Matthew 12:25 NIV

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.

Different context? Yes, but Jesus' words and this principle seem pretty clear. Let's figure out what we can agree on and work from there...

With that knowledge, maybe the decent can join together on the things we have in common and passionately yet politely discuss the rest. I believe we can do this if we try hard enough. Regardless of our different creeds etc. True tolerance doesn't mean everybody will think and feel and act the same way about everything. It just means, to quote the Rev. Rodney know.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Nice IS (Often) Different Than Good

My son and his awesome drama troupe did Into The Woods this past spring and you can learn a lot in the woods. In the song I Know Things Now we find little Red Riding Hood straight from being rescued from the belly of the Big Bad Wolf singing this. "Mother said, "Straight ahead," Not to delay or be misled. I should have heeded Her advice... But he seemed so nice." We can a learn from this line alone. Sometimes, "old", "ancient", "out of date" advice is really wisdom.

I Know Things Now from Into The Woods by Steven Sondheim

Mother said, "Straight ahead," Not to delay or be misled.
I should have heeded Her advice... But he seemed so nice.

And he showed me things Many beautiful things,
That I hadn't thought to explore.
They were off my path, So I never had dared.
I had been so careful, I never had cared.
And he made me feel excited- Well, excited and scared.

When he said, "Come in!" With that sickening grin,
How could I know what was in store?
Once his teeth were bared, Though, I really got scared-
Well, excited and scared-

But he drew me close And he swallowed me down,
Down a dark slimy path Where lie secrets that I never want to know,
And when everything familiar Seemed to disappear forever,
At the end of the path Was Granny once again.
So we wait in the dark Until someone sets us free,
And we're brought into the light, And we're back at the start.

And I know things now, Many valuable things,
That I hadn't known before:
Do not put your faith In a cape and a hood,
They will not protect you The way that they should.
And take extra care with strangers, Even flowers have their dangers.
And though scary is exciting, Nice is different than good.

Now I know: Don't be scared.
Granny is right, Just be prepared.

Isn't it nice to know a lot!
And a little bit not...

Proverbs 14:12 NCV
New Century Version
Some people think they are doing right, but in the end it leads to death.

Red found that out the hard way and if not for the courage of the fearless butcher...excuse me baker Red and Grandma would have been lost. There ARE times to get off the beaten path but wisdom would suggest not at the invitation of a wolf.

There are things in this world that SEEM nice and beautiful and fair and good. But nice is often different than good. It would be nice to just raise the minimum wage for everyone. But not necessarily good. You can't just start paying all of your employees higher ages without consequences. If your company only makes so much money and suddenly is required to pay out a lot more money what do you do. Contrary to popular believe not every business owner is rolling in dough and exploiting their workers. Most small and medium business owners are fighting for their own survival. So what happens when the government acts nice and forces them to page a higher wage than they can afford? It's most likely that one of two things will happen. Either they comply and pass the difference on to their customers (because the government can't suddenly make the business a lot more revenue) or they can keep their prices the same, raise the wages the pay and (because the government can't suddenly make the business a lot more revenue) let some employees go. Raise, nice. Laid off, different than good.

Or *transgender bathrooms for elementary school children.
(*Click on link for full article.)

Transgender Bathroom Rights Bill Passed By California Lawmakers

By DON THOMPSON 07/03/13 09:01 PM ET EDT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday that would require public K-12 schools to let transgender students choose which restrooms they use and which school teams they join based on their gender identity instead of their chromosomes.

Some school districts around the country have implemented similar policies, but the bill's author says AB1266 would mark the first time a state has mandated such treatment by statute.

The issue has become a battle in some local school districts around the country. For instance, a Colorado family filed a complaint with the state's civil rights office in March, claiming that their local school had violated the state's nondiscrimination laws. The family had been told that their first-grader, who was born a boy, could not use the girl's bathroom and would have to use the restroom in the nurse's office or the teachers' lounge.
California's bill would give students the right "to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities" based on their self-perception, regardless of their birth gender."There should be certainty that every kid has the chance to go to school and be treated equally and fairly," said Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who carried the bill in the Senate. "We know that these particular students suffer much abuse and bullying and denigration. We can't change that overnight, but what we can do is make sure that the rules are such that they get a fair shake."

That may seem nice and good and beautiful and fair for the minute portion of the elementary school population that identifies themselves as transgender. Please hear me. I AM NOT ADVOCATING BULLYING, NAME CALLING, ETC. But you literally cannot be nice and fair to all parties in this instance. You cannot be fair to the children who do identify with their own gender and are uncomfortable with sharing a bathroom with the opposite sex and with the children who are not comfortable within their own birth gender. Please forgive the Star Trek analogy here but you cannot always sacrifice the needs of the many for the needs of the few...

Our society is becoming so fragmented and relativistic that it could soon be impossible to say anything is nice, good, fair or beautiful because there are so many views of what is nice, good, fair or beautiful.
It's nice to say that everything is equally good. Everything is equally beneficial to society. It's actually impossible to live out tolerance of everything. To do so, you would have to be tolerant of...the "intolerant". Which isn't "nice"...

In the words of the Rev. L. Red Riding Hood "Now I know: Don't be scared. Granny is right, Just be prepared. Isn't it nice to know a lot! And a little bit not..." 

There are so many other instances in life when it would be great just to be nice. There is much wisdom to be found in the ancient, old-fashioned bible. And yes, I do admit there are things that are very difficult to reconcile, comprehend, interpret and apply in our modern world. But with a great deal of patience, study and discernment it is actually good, if not always nice. Sometimes it is better and even best to gain from the knowledge and wisdom of the past.

Rev. Hood also said "And I know things now, Many valuable things, That I hadn't known before: Do not put your faith In a cape and a hood, They will not protect you The way that they should.And take extra care with strangers, Even flowers have their dangers.
And though scary is exciting, Nice is (often) different than good."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Roller Coaster of Musical Love

I am a full time musician. My professional life is in many ways based on this one concept. A lifetime of training bringing you to a moment of freedom. In other words, do your homework and be prepared because you never quite know what is coming around the corner.

A few weeks ago, I went to sit in with some other musicians as a bass player. I didn't know the lineup of musicians and since it was supposed to be a pretty small group I brought my keyboard, affectionately named Fanny Roland, to play a few backing tracks if we needed to. As it turned out, the group was minus a keyboard player that day but had a drummer. So suddenly my bass gig turned into a keyboard gig. I ended up sightreading the gig on keys as opposed to bass. I am not a stellar reader but I know my way around, though I was very I didn't have to sight read the head (melody) on all these tunes. It was a great first time thing for me. I am a pro on both instruments but in a jazz setting I am virtually never the keyboard player. This was a time where the years of training really paid off.

Jazz is not just JAZZ:
Not every musician is interested in jazz, as far as they know. But I think our perception of jazz is often limited. I think much of the best music in all styles could be classified as jazz, as the simplest definition of Jazz is improvised music. "A broader definition that encompasses all of the radically different eras of jazz has been proposed by Travis Jackson: he states that "it is music that includes qualities such as swing, improvising, group interaction, developing an 'individual voice', and being open to different musical possibilities".[8] An overview of the discussion on definitions is provided by Krin Gabbard, who argues that "jazz is a construct" that, while artificial, still is useful to designate "a number of musics with enough in common to be understood as part of a coherent tradition".[9] In contrast to the efforts of commentators and enthusiasts of certain types of jazz, who have argued for narrower definitions that exclude other types, the musicians themselves are often reluctant to define the music they play. Duke Ellington, one of jazz's most famous figures, summed up this perspective by saying, "It's all music".[10]"

I do music in a very wide variety of settings. For instance, I play with my own band as well as several others. I play/sing for my worship team at church and I also lead worship. I am often asked at rehearsals, "Are we going to do it just like that Sunday?" My answer is usually something along the lines of "There's always that possibility, but just watch me and be ready for anything..." Worship is often jazz regardless of the musical style. Because sometimes things happen in the moment and you don't want to stifle God if you have prepared but He has something else in mind. The same can be true of any type of show, concert etc. Sometimes 8 bars is just not enough time for a soloist to tell the entire story, so you go another 8. Even if it's straight up rock that just became jazz, improvised music.
So any time you are playing beyond just what you learned or what you are reading it's jazz.

"Throughout the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, improvisation was a highly valued skill. J.S. Bach,Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and many other famous composers and musicians were known especially for their improvisational skills."

Jazz is not just advanced harmony and swing rhythm etc, it's musical freedom regardless of what form of music you are playing.

I want to invite you to come see the Aaron Gayden Band and experience... Well, it's like a musical roller coaster and only God Himself knows where the tracks will run! I think you'll enjoy yourself. Even if we're playing rock or R&B or Gospel we're still playing jazz.

Aaron Gayden Music Services:
Are you a young or inexperienced musician? Are you looking to broaden your horizons musically? Are you a trained musician that feels stuck or limited? Do you want to be able to play more than just what is on the page? Then you are interested in "jazz". If you are interested in learning how to stretch your musical muscles, please talk to me. I am in the wonderful position of being able to in my small way teach freedom. I teach bass, keyboard, voice and how to "jazz"up your musical life. One more of my musical services is custom music. I can help you arrange/record your original song or compose/record/perform a song for your special event. (Wedding, graduation, birthday, etc)

Contact me and let's take a roller coaster ride!

For a live shot of jazz...

Aaron Gayden Band Live June 6 and June 21