Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Vanity... Or what happens when you think before you drink coffee

So I was having this crazy dream right before I woke. Modern day Old Testament times and Jesus and myself are taking down the pagans. Well, Jesus was taking down the pagans. I was building a sandcastle temple made out of mashed potatoes. Anyway, Jesus flew over to these dudes fleeing him, spoke a handful of words, they turned to run and he blasted them. Jesus came over to be and in my destruction of my mashed potato sand castle, I struck up a conversation with Jesus on why we must go around killing all these people and isn't this in contradiction to his New Testament teachings. And then my alarm went off. But my brain kept working.

Note: I am not a theologian and I really know nothing. My in-depth biblical knowledge and church history knowledge is nothing I would ever say is my strong suit. But I like to think and my brain as a bunch of thoughts happen and the point of blogging about things I have no real knowledge of his so I can talk things out and question my perspective of thinking publicly.

So that crazy weird dream leads to me to thinking about the Jewish law and how it relates to both modern christianity and modern Judaism. Or more to the point, because you couldn't ever attempt to keep the whole law in our modern society, why Judaism doesn't work without Jesus. I will probably offend people with this blog and that's not my attempt in writing, and I apologize. But I feel like this is something that I never hear discussed and I think as Christians we should really be talking about how Judaism fits into out lives. Christianity comes from Judaism and Jesus was a Jew so this is kind of important.

I will say that when I mention the law, I am talking about the Levitical law. Let's be honest, there's a lot of crazy ideas in the book of Leviticus. You would never think about obeying probably two-thirds of Leviticus. We can't stone people in the year 2010. We might want to but we couldn't. We'd go to jail. The excuse, I was just obeying the Jewish law wouldn't work in court.

But I can't really tackle this from a Jewish perspective. I'm not Jewish. I don't know how things work. Do they still making sin offerings to atone for their wrong doings? Are their still ceremonial cleansings? I don't know. But the thought in my head is that without Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for our sin, and without him making atonement for our sins, and the clear lack of being able to uphold even a third of the law, can you be a "good Jew" in the year 2010? Just a thought.

Anyway, there's another side that I started to thinking about while I was running. And that is how the law fits into Christianity and if we haven't misinterpreted our freedom from the law.

Paul said that the law makes us aware of sin. So without the law, we wouldn't know we have a need for forgiveness. And this thought popped into my head; Maybe I need to be following the law a lot more then I am. This isn't the first time I've pondered this. Whenever I read through Leviticus I have this thought. I mean, it's in the bible. And of course I know that the argument comes to mind that it's there so we can see what Jesus freed us from. And that's awesome. I'm super glad that Jesus came and freed us from the Law and I don't have to stone my neighbor for stealing my donkey. But what if I need to be striving to live in accordance with the law? I mean, just a what if.

I love my freedom from the Law. I'm a freedom guy. I exercise my freedom all the time. I'm super glad Jesus came. Yay Jesus. But it's an interesting mind exercise to think about what I would have to do to try and living my life to accordance with the whole law. And I think maybe this is the crux of why the thought comes to mind. Because I think we take that freedom for granted. Because we don't have to live our lives by the Levitical law. Most of us never have and never will and will never give it a second thought because really, it's irrelevant to us. No one could do all those things and in the year 2010, you'd go to jail for most of them. And so we take that freedom Jesus has brought us and we put it into our 2010 perspective and go from there.

I've started to read the bible with two views. One is it's relevance to me and how I can apply it it to my life and how the word of God and it's commands affect me. But I've also tried to read it in context of the audience it was written for. The purpose of the New Testament letters was to reach a certain group of people, who had a certain group of issues. My limited knowledge is a hinderance in this most of the time but I think if we don't think about the intent of why things were written, we miss out on a lot of the importance in the scriptures. I miss out on a lot of things in the bible if I don't give them some perspective first. Because their are too many kings in the old testament that I just don't really care about (you feeling me on this?) God's word is full of interesting stuff and full of applicable stuff, but it's also full of a lot of stuff I find boring. And that's where context helps me through it. Because sometimes it feels like the bible wasn't written for me. And in part, it wasn't.

So what's the point? Well, there is no point. If you ever read this blog you know there's no point. I start somewhere and then drift to ending that has nothing to do with where I started. And like I said, I don't really know what I'm talking about, but that makes it all the more important why I talk about it. Christians need more dialogue about stuff that's not talked about in church all time. And I'm just trying to opening up the dance. Here's a point:

God is great, Freedom is awesome, and I'm crazy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lay It Down

I've taled off blogging the past couple of days. Maybe longer. Not as productive in my nonsense on this blog in February as I was in January but my time is being kept differently. I don't really have much to say. Being in transition has brought good days and bad days. Lacking in productivity more then I hoped and my job searches haven't really progressed outside of sending resumes and following up, but no work in reach. It's pushed my trust in God. Mostly it has me questioning how much I trust him... Not really a good thing. I don't think I'd really call it a lack of trust, just not enough trust. ANd not a 24/7 trust. I guess that's the best way to describe it.

I'm trying to hold onto my sanity. It's looking like a move is on the horizon.

Edit: And then as if to answer my blog I read this tonight;

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you."

Hebrews 13:5

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate Cereal

I'm sure people will argue with me about many things all the time. If someone has ever read this and been upset with my theology or spiritual views they either don't care enough to comment or e-mail me about them, or they just stop reading and move on with their life. Or no one is reading. I bet no one is reading.

But this might cause a stir. Why??? Because everyone loves cereal. Well... Alright, not everyone. But normal, sane, average, well respected people eat cereal. And as any good person will tell you, Fruity Pebbles is the greatest cereal of all time! Hands down.

But this blog is not about Fruity Pebbles, it's about chocolate cereal. Chocolate cereal is a joy. Coco Pebbles are great! Coco Puffs not as good but still delicious. The best part about chocolate cereal is the fact that when you're done, your milk has been turn into chocolate milk! It's like a great surprised in the morning, or at any other time you eat your cereal.

But let's be honest, I'm getting older. I've been eating a lot more in the ways of healthier cereal. The sugary and chocolate cereal has been lessened if not completely eliminated from my diet. It's not cereal but the chocolate rice cakes taste just like Coco Pebbles, which is awesome. But what about chocolate cereal? I tried the Special K Chocolate and honestly I wasn't impressed. The chunks of chocolate really took away from cereal eating experience.

But there are two cereals I've tried recently that deserve some mention.

The first is Chocolate Cheerios/ And when I saw this posted on twitter I got excited. Normal Cheerios aren't great. I'm not a fan. But all the other flavors of Cheerio are great! Apple Cinnamon, awesome! Honey nut, great! So of course Chocolate Cheerios has to be amazing right? The answer DUH! Chocolate Cheerios are going to be a new staple in my cereal diet! Great great stuff. I love them.

The other cereal is Bite Size Frosted Chocolate Mini Wheats. Sounds pretty good. Mini Wheats has been killing it with their flavors. Blueberry Muffin and Strawberry are just great cereals. But the Chocolate falls short. It's not terrible, it's just not that special. The biggest downfall, it doesn't turn your milk to chocolate milk! What's the deal with that? It might as well not be a chocolate cereal at all if it doesn't turn the milk chocolate!

Anyways, Chocolate Cheerios are awesome!

p.s. That's right, I just blogged about cereal!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Clear the Air

My mind has been in transit the past couple of weeks. Not that this is a bad thing... It happens every couple of months and it's good for me because it normally means I refocus myself on where I stand with God and where my heart is. I think it's become less about theology (because my theology is ever shifting and ever changing) and more about my relationship with God and just the condition of the life I'm living.

I feel like the nature of life is will change things in your spiritual life. Because life just happens. I can wake up each day with a general idea of what's on tap but I don't know exactly how my day will fall and what will happen to me and how I'll react. And everything that happens is a chance to show to the love and grace of God. Every interaction is a chance to show a little bit of Jesus to someone. Every motion is opportunity to put your faith into action and step out and trust God. And I know personally, most of these moments and opportunities are squandered because of my lack of stepping out in faith or my lack of love.

And I know I've been very vocal in how Love is the driving force of my spiritual life and Christianity. And I don't think that's wrong and I think it's biblical... I know a lot of people would disagree with me in a lot of things and that's an area that I will probably always have to work on because I do enjoy arguing with people. But it's pointless and hurtful and doesn't do the church any good.

Jesus said people would know we are his followers by our love for one another, for fellow believers. There are people and pastors and church ideas that I don't like very much at all, but it shouldn't matter that much to me, because I don't attend these churches or spend much time around these people. But when I do there's no need to argue. I think love and finding a common ground are important. I understand I can be a bit radical... But that's what makes me me and if I wasn't radical then I would be another clone of someone else.

I struggled for a long time with trying to tame who I was. I struggled with the christianity I had grown up in. Who I was and what I believed and how I lived didn't match up with the Christianity that I knew from growing up. And not to say anything bad about my childhood and teens years. I love my parents. My parents did a great job raising me and I thank God every day for my family. And there were people in the youth group I went to that were very encouraging and were ok with challenging what was being taught and were ok with asking questions. I think that without how I grew up I would never have gotten to this place in my life.

But having said that, it took along time for me to come to a place of being comfortable and ok with who I was. Because I always felt that even though I was living my life one way and believed certain things, that one day I'd have to come full circle and I'd have to fit into this certain mold to be a "real" christian. I remember praying one day and just feeling that weight lift from my shoulders. It was like God was saying, It's ok to be who you are and you don't have to worry any longer about all this other stuff. And I just remember laughing and crying and being so relieved. And it's been good because I don't worry about what I'm not, which helps me focus on what I am and how I can be more like God, more like Jesus.

And that where life happens and changes things still. Because there are still things that I always associate with being a christian, and some of those things have changed. I don't want to say that my theology or convictions change as a way to justify sinning. There are still black and whites and things that the bible says are wrong but there are a lot of grays... and a lot of things that because of the context of when and how things are written that you can't just say this is this. I believe people pick and choose the Old Testament and the Old covenant laws to fit there beliefs and to prove their points. You can't say this verse in Leviticus is still relevant but the one under it isn't. We would all agree you can't stone your neighbor to death.

And that's what makes meaningful conversation with others so great. Because me and my friends can sit and talk for hours and not always agree about our theology or beliefs... And that's alright. Wisdom and doctrine and theology aren't a part of the fruit of the spirit. It goes back they will know us by our Love. And my goal in life is to be better at Loving people.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Heart to Heaven

Next Tuesday is the 16th. It's the release date of my bands full length album, My Heart to Heaven. This album is 4 years in the making.

I started Echo Broke Alone in the summer of 2006. It was just a renaming of my project Old Town Heroes. I was looking to go in a new direction musically and needed a new name for the transition. In the fall of 06 I recorded an album called Lost in Paris. The original goal with Echo Broke Alone was to be a shoegaze outfit, in the vain of My Bloody Valentine ands Slowdive. So I recorded an album and in the mix phase I had decided I didn't like the album. The songs were subpar and not really in a musical direction that I was thrilled with. So I threw the entire out except for the title track, Lost in Paris.

Lost in Paris musically was very sweeping and grand. It had a lot of reverb and delay and had a Slowdive feel to it. And that was the song I intended to base my new writing direction in. So I started to write an album.

The album remained titled Lost in Paris for a year or so longer while I was writing. While I was writing the album I started to really get into John Cage, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass. I started reading John Cage. I started to explore ambient music more. I started paying around with reverb and delays and looping. And the music slowly took on a new shape. I wrote the song Something Beautiful and somewhere along the line that became the name of the album. Lost in Paris still had a place on the record but it didn't fit as a title anymore. I continued to write and work on music and even performed with a bass player for a couple of months. The music was moving in a weird ambient, post rock, Philip Glass world, and it was exciting.

But I had a perspective shift. And the idea of recording an album was weighing heavily on me. It wasn't that I didn't want people to hear what I was doing musically but the dynamics and the way things were put together didn't fit recording an album. Everything was spontaneous and a beautiful chaotic mess that putting it to tape and saying this is how these songs sound seemed so wrong to me. This was art. This was performance art and having it captured and having a representation that wouldn't be true to what it was didn't sit well with me. And I had decided to again, shelve making that record.

So I started working on ambient drones. I was listening to a lot of Stars of the Lid and decided to hang up my guitar for a while and sit at the keyboard and compose a drone based album called My Heart to Heaven. The title of the album and the idea for the drones were to have them be companion pieces to poems I'd written about my struggle with God and spirituality. About halfway through the writing process for My Heart to Heaven I decided to not have it be a ep but to make My Heart to Heaven a full-length album that would contain the drones I had been working on and to go ahead and record the songs that had been written for Something Beautiful.

My Heart to Heaven never got recorded... Not in that form anyway. The drone pieces didn't feel right with the music I had written for Something Beautiful and I took a pause. I had decided to record the songs and continue writing My Heart to Heaven. To make an album. But I had decided to work on ep first. Just so Echo Broke Alone would have something to show for, other then a handful a crappy demos on myspace.

So I began work on Heart Condition. Heart Condition took shape really fast. It probably took me 5 days to write and record the album. I had taken a bunch of concept photos for a flyer for the first Echo Broke Alone show and one that didn't get used I used for the Heart Condition cover. I honestly had no intent recording that album. Just to put down a bunch of new songs, that would tell a story and stand on their own as a body of work. I did use Something Beautiful, adding some cello and violin to the guitar tracks (I had recorded the guitar track at least a year earlier). And when I listened to Heart Condition I was proud of it. It was short and simple. I'm very proud of that ep. It was something I'd never done and until I had started writing, had never even considered doing.

That album came out in February of 09. My goal was to then start My Heart to Heaven, and record that in ernest for a fall release, possibly summer if I buckled down. And I didn't. There was always something with the songs that didn't seem to be quite what I wanted.

The first song written for My Heart to Heaven was The Speechless Heart. I was fooling around on the guitar one day and came up with the chord progression. I didn't want to forget it, so I set up a mic and recored the track. Played the chord progression once through, got it to my loop station and record the "lead" line over top (what you hear on the album is me playing it for the first time). I threw a little reverb on the guitar, recorded some cello and was done.

To Fall Asleep in Your Arms was the second song actually written for the album. I wrote and recorded a demo version one night over the summer. Just two chords, a lead line, and a lot of reverb.

Out of To Fall Alseep in Your Arms came Save Me a Sinner. Save Me a Sinner is one chord, drench in reverb, played backwards, and a lot of e-bow love. The idea was that the reverb could drown away whatever musicality the chords had because I was going for a sound more then a song.

All That's Left is Broken was only one of two songs record in parts. Every other song on the album, all the guitar parts were played at the same time. I tuned my guitar down to C. Played two chords from an Old Town Heroes song. Went back and recorded the lead line over top of the base chords. Did a little e-bow and fades at the beginning and end of the track. Added cello sometime later.

My Heart to Heaven I recorded one night on a whim. I had a chord progression in mind, and it was kind of a song I had written when I was writing Something Beautiful but it didn't really work with what I had recorded so far. So I added a ton of reverb to take away any distinction in the chords. There's a lot of weird things happening on this track but I love it. It's just one guitar.

The rest of the album I recorded one day while I was on vacation in September. I had three songs and in two hours knocked them out. I rerecorded Something Beautiful, making it slightly slower and giving it more reverb. The last two tracks on the album, To Small For This World, Yet Not Small Enough and I Have Yet to See Life on The Other Side of the Looking Glass are both hold over songs from when I was writing Something Beautiful (the album). To Small For This World was a more upbeat song with a grooving bass line and strong kick drum backbeat. I removed those, added reverb (because you can never had too much reverb) and record cello.

I Have Yet to See Life as recorded has more reverb but is basically in tack from when it was written. I had intended to just leave this songs as recorded, one guitar, very ambient. But the second half of the song seemed very blank and when I played it live I did a lead guitar part that I went back and recorded and then recorded drums with that. Giving it a fuller sound.

So the album was finally finished. 4 years in the making I had the music recorded.

The album art work was done by a talented young artist named Jenni Tousignaut. The concept for the artwork was an idea I had when I first decided to do My Heart To Heaven. She did a great job and I'm thrilled with her work.

I'm really proud of My Heart To Heaven and if it took 4 years to come up with something this good that I can be proud of then it was worth the wait. It'll be available online next week and physical copies will be available for those that want one. I can't wait for you guys to hear the album.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday

So congrats to the Saints and whatnot. I actual game seemed to be boring to me. I watched the first half by myself(being snowed in and all) and the second half was spent listening to conversation between my roommates girlfriend and her sister. The Who was nothing special. This old man band deal with the Super Bowl halftime show has got to stop. Let's talk about a game that mattered.

The Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins met for the second time this season and the outcome yesterday was the same as it was in the first meeting, with Caps victorious. Making that 14 straight wins for the Caps. The victory not only continues their longest win streak as franchise but also continues Jose Theodore's longest win streak of his career.

I said it in the earlier meeting between these 2 teams, The Penguins hit hard harder, skate faster, and pass better. And through 2 period the Pens were clearly the better team. But the Penguins doesn't have Alex Ovechkin. And yes Crosby is a great play and Malkin is a great player but Ovechkin is the best player in NHL! Hands down, no argument!

The start of third period had the Caps down 4-2 and the Penguins had a 2 man advantage with the 5-3 to start the period. Great PK from the Caps killed that power play and Ovechkin had 2 goals in the third to give him the hat trick and to tie the game. A late penalty kill and the game went into overtime.

Up until the third period it looked bleak for Caps. Their goals in the first and second period, from Ovechkin and Fehr, were one on one breakaways and through two periods it looked like the Caps were going to have a real tough time getting anything past Fleury. The Penguins were the better team and at one point in the second period I posted on twitter that this was starting to feel like Game 7 all over again.

But going into overtime I don't believe there was a person watching that game that didn't think the Caps were going to come away with the win. A penalty to Pens put the Caps on the power play and that was all it took. Ovechkin with a slap shot that Fleury had but Mike Knuble, as he has been all season, was right at the net to give the Caps the goal and victory.

The Caps have the most wins in the NHL and the most points. They have three more games before the Olympic break. If they can win all three they will hold the longest win streak in the NHL. The Caps are hungry and want the Cup. The near two week break might hurt some of their momentum but Boudreau has the team playing in top form and although the South East division isn't as strong as some of their western counter parts, I can't see a situation where the Caps don't win the East if they keep playing like they are now.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Batterson Interview

A funny interview with Mark Batterson.

NCC Leadership Retreat 2010 - PM Interview from Andy Pisciotti on Vimeo.

Is the Future Unwritten?

I mention a couple weeks back that I started listening to Jay Bakker. I'm a big fan of Jay Bakker. You can listen to him here;

Jay's not always the easiest guy to listen to because he's not your standard preacher. But Jay asks questions and makes you think about things differently then you have. And I'm a big fan of that.

Props to Jay Bakker.
Rick McKinley had two keys points in his sermon this past weekend that I wanted to make mention of (and give my useless opinion to).

First he talked about openness and honesty in the community of christianity. The need to be honest with each other and stand with each other in repentance and grace. And I know this is something I've talked about before here. Being truthful and honest about our shortcomings and sins with other believers is hard. The idea that we'll be judged and looked at differently is always at the back of our minds. Our fear at sharing our sins holds to keeping a lot of things to ourselves and holding onto things keeps us trapped to freedom from our sins and I think without confession among believers, true repentance isn't fully reached. I've had great, honest conversations with my close friends over beer and cigars just talking about our spiritual struggles and sins. No judgement, just honesty and grace among brothers. I believe having a place and people we can be honest and share ourselves with is essential for followers of Christ.

The other thing was repentance. I don't much to say on this. I feel like I spend a lot of time repenting for the same thing. I feel like I spend most my time repenting. I don't want my love for myself to be more then my love for God and I don't want my needs to over power what God wants for me. I need to spend more time in repentance.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


So it's supposed to snow here in the Washington Metro area. And a lot of snow. Another 2 footer.

I love snow. Sitting by the fire, with hot chocolate, and the one you love, watching snow fall is a great time to be had. Really, it's movie-esque. A great way to spend a Saturday or a Sunday. Just curl up in a blanket with a hot drink and watch movies or tv all day. Maybe spend some time reading while listening to records. A great time.

But this is too much. I like it when it's an inch or 2 of snow. Just powder falling from heaven to make our landscape a gorgeous white. God's little gift to us, a beautiful view that we don't get everyday. It makes the cold of winter easier to deal with. But 2 feet?

Seriously, 2 feet again? We had this right before Christmas. 2 feet of snow never happens in this area and we're getting it twice this winter season. I will enjoy watching the snow fall. But being snowed in again might be a little more then I can take. No pretty girl to keep me warm. This has got to end. All the nasty salt the will littler the earth and the piles and piles of disgusting gray snow that will be left in the 2 foot wake?


Snow is Coming!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dear Academy Awards...

If Up doesn't win best picture somethings wrong!

p.s. I love this movie!


Car said something the other day that isn't really profound, but it's such a Home Simpson Doh moment, because we all come to this place (over and over again). Car said this:

"I guess my plan was not Gods plan."

It feels dumb to have to acknowledge but I've had to say this a lot. I've had to say this recently. I feel like this statement always comes when I think I am doing what God wants, but in actuality I'm just doing what I want or what I want God to want for me. Mark Batterson tweeted this the yesterday;

"Is your vision your agenda 4 God? Or is your vision His agenda 4 you? "

I've said it to people recently, that I'm not sure what God's calling on my life is. And I'm alright with that, I'd just like to knowing his calling on me right now. Right? But I don't even have that. But I'm spending time in prayer trying to figure this next step out. Whatever it may be.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Bible Tells Me So

So... the bible is fascinating. And I'm slowly coming to an appreciation of the Old Testament. There are things that I still don't get it's usefulness to me and admitting this would get me flogged in certain circles but it's true. But as I go through it, there are things I love.

I'm currently reading Song of Songs. It's love poetry. It's awesome. There was a moment when someone said this was a book you should read when you're married and not before. WHAT! I've never read it until now. I'm a big fan of poetry and I'm really digging Song of Songs. Why would you say this shouldn't be read until marriage? There's a youth leader somewhere that should be backhanded.

I'm also reading Kings. Kings... is mostly boring. The lineage stuff isn't as exciting or seemingly helpful to my life as other books of the bible. But there are single verses in there that jump off the page to me because they are verses that aren't really ever talked about and some of them change other stories and verse I've heard before and make me rethink things I've been taught and learned my entire life.

Anyway, the bible is super interesting and I enjoying discovering things.