Friday, July 10, 2009

What Matters More?

Love or being straight?

Warning: This post might be slightly offensive to certain people. Proceed with caution.

There are few Christian artists who I support these days (and by few I mean one) and that one artist is Derek Webb, formerly of the band Caedmon's call. His first album created a stir with the song "Wedding Dress" and the lyrics,

"i am a whore i do confess
but i put you on just like a wedding dress
and i run down the aisle
i’m a prodigal with no way home
but i put you on just like a ring of gold
and i run down the aisle to you

so could you love this bastard child
though i don’t trust you to provide
with one hand in a pot of gold
and with the other in your side
i am so easily satisfied
by the call of lovers less wild
that i would take a little cash
over your very flesh and blood"

The "naughty" words in the song got the album pulled from a number of sellers despite the message's clarity and honesty.

With future releases he kept at it with the messages but kept the albums toned down language wise. Until now.

Derek has just released the new album "Stockholm Syndrome" on his website. Well, the explicit version of the album. His record label refused to distribute it without some changes so a "clean" version will release in fall minus the song, "What Matters More". I promptly went and bought the version off of Derek's site.

Here's the lyrics to "What Matters More":

"You say you always treat people like you like to be
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
You love when people put words in your mouth
'Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak

'Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
You wouldn't be so damn reckless with the words you speak
Wouldn't silently conceal when the liars speak
Denyin' all the dyin' of the remedy

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

If I can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it's about
It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
Like chasin' the wind while the pendulum swings

'Cause we can talk and debate until we're blue in the face
About the language and tradition that he's comin' to save
Meanwhile we sit just like we don't give a shit
About 50,000 people who are dyin' today

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

And a link to hear it:

I find it telling that the album is named after a confusion syndrome, where people don't know where their true feelings should lie, aligning themselves with those that hurt them.

As for the song, I can see why the label thought it a little controversial and yet love it that there is someone like Derek bringing issues to the table, issues that no one else in Christian arts would dare to do. He uses his medium to add to the dialogue. I'm not going to discuss my stance on homosexuality because that's not what Derek's doing either. He's not advocating for homosexuality but for an increased love for everybody by Christians. That's a message that is dead on Christ-center.

As for the language, I'm pretty sure that you and I and every Christian artist out there has said worse so why judge? Love matters more.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Jazz in the Park

Last night we celebrated Canada Day by going to check out Jazz in the Park, a weekly free performance in a park not too far from us. This first week was a little Indo-Jazz as we learned about the tabla drums of Northern India. Pretty funky sounds.

It was a nice cool evening and Daija enjoyed the tunes. I think we'll be back to check it out on a weekly basis as they focus on different styles of Jazz. Because it was put on by a local business association it's not affected by the strike.

As we were about to leave I spotted a small commotion caused by the arrival of local MP Jack Layton. I was tempted to join the crowd and shake his hand, pull him aside for a quick word, etc... but what would I say? "I voted for you!" sounds kind of lame, "But I don't think you'd make a great Prime Minister" sounds perhaps a little too harsh... every time I've seen him though he comes across as very down-to-earth.

On the topic of parks, we went for an evening walk in the ravine right next to us and it's quite a nice walking/bike path down there (aside from the slight sewer smell) that can take you meandering through the city right into the heart.

We're slowly getting out and exploring our new city and all it has to offer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Strike Out

This picture is but a small glimpse at what Toronto looks like these days. Garbage piles up on the streets. Parks, rinks, and baseball diamonds have been requisitioned as temporary garbage dumping sites and bags pile ten high as they fill the rink. As you pass certain alleys or dumpsters you smell the sweet, putrid aroma or decomposing food scraps. Welcome to the Centre of the Universe.

While the strike doesn't affect us as strongly as it does others in the city (being part of an apartment management company we have private contractors for our garbage), there are many other aspects of the strike. We found where the nearest swimming pool was to take Daija only to have it closed the next day due to the strike. Daija has been having some trouble eating so we called the public health line only to be told to call back - don't we know there is a strike happening? Today, I have time to write a blog because all Canada Day festivites have been cancelled. Daycares are closes, summer camps cancelled, parks neglected, etc...

Normally, I withhold my minor frustrations with unions because I know their historical importance in fighting for rights I now enjoy. While I argue that they have lost their way and have pervertyed their original goals, I can still see the spirit is there. Unfortunately, this strike seems to have turned all union supporters to the other side. I think it would be hard to find a soul in Toronto (outside of the union) who feels this is a reasonable strike.

Comments on CBC's message boards read something like this: "SHAME...SHAME...SHAME...
..Nothing but organized extortion", "
disband the union, contract's that simple
This is absurd, unions are becoming more and more like cartels holding the public hostage".... and on and on. And this is from a normally far-left audience.

The main quibbles in this dispute seem to be over the ability to bank sick days and cash them in, a perk the union "earned" last contract dispute. The city argues that in this economic climate they simply can't afford some of these bonuses any more.

To this I say: Fire the striking workers; pull a Ronald Reagan. In a time when the private sector is cutting jobs and costs how can the public sector be unaffected? Be happy you get to keep your job! You're striking and making the people suffer because you want to bank sick days? You've got to be kidding me. These guys start at $20 an hour, have great benefits without much training/education - and you want to bank sick days? This has to be the most ill-timed, poorly thought out strike to date. There is zero public support and for once the majority is telling the city to take a hard line with the strikers and I hope they do.

The union gambled, chose a strike date around the summer and Canada hoping to add extra pressure to the city, and has now struck out. It's time for them to gracefully bend and hope that, when their contract comes back up in however many years time, they play their cards better. It's either that or privatization. Job or no job.