Being a Water-Walker

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Relient K: A long way from “K Car” December 13, 2007

Filed under: Bands,Music,Review,Uncategorized — judgedbyhim @ 10:21 pm

Relient K. Different generations will see different things in that name. Those who were teens or adults in the 80’s will say, “Oh, cute little car” or something to that effect, followed closely by, “But they spelled it wrong.” Some will say, “Huh?” Others (mostly Gen Y-ers) will exclaim, “I love that band!” or perhaps “Sadie Hawkins Dance!”

Relient K is a band that has been around almost ten years now. A punk rock band with a happy feel somewhat uncharacteristic of the genre, they were named after the Plymouth Reliant K, which was the guitarist’s car. Yes, it was intentionally misspelled; no one wanted copyright infringement. They started out humbly in Canton, Ohio, 5 teens who had known each other for years. Lead singer Matthew Thiessen, who also plays guitar and keyboard in the band, along with several other instruments, is definitely the life of the group. Wacky, fun, and charismatic, the blonde 27 year old’s personality is reflected in the band’s songs, of which he is the primary writer. Songs such as “Sadie Hawkins Dance”, the humorous tale of a guy getting a date to the dance, have become legendary classics among the fans, played at most if not every concert. Even Christmas gets their comical attention, as evidenced by their 2 Christmas albums, Deck the Halls and Bruise Your Hand and Let it Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer.

The band does not classify themselves as Christian, rather as Christians in a rock band, much akin to the Jonas Brothers. Despite that, many of their songs, mixed into fun and thoughtful mainstream music, are direct worship songs or challenges against a complacent and sinful life. “What Have You Been Doing Lately”, a heavy, loud rock melody, rebukes fallen away believers with the words, “What happened to the salvation you claimed? It breaks my heart to see how much you’ve changed. “Down in Flames” lashes out at the selfish and arrogant feuding between Christian denominations with the view that it will bring about our destruction. “Give”, “These Words Are Not Enough”, and the acoustic “Getting Into You” are a few of their wonderful worship songs whose lyrics give me chills.

Relient K is a fantastic influence on the teen and young adult crowd that makes up its fan base. Many of their fans are not Christians, yet they get ehat could be a soul-saving dose of Christ thrown into their fun, as well as challenges to live well no matter their religion. “Marilyn Manson Ate my Girlfriend” is a whimsical look at girls caught up in today’s raunchy patterns of behavior. “Forgiven” talks about bitterness and holding grudges.

For girls (and guys, I guess), Relient K is not without romance. “Best Thing” tells how precious his girl is to him (“we should get jerseys cause we make a good team. Yours would look better than mine because you’re out of my league.”). “My Girl’s Ex Boyfriend” sings how grateful he is to his girlfriend’s ex, because all of his happiness is owed to how blind the ex was to the girl’s value.

Relient K is spinning a very positive message. They have come along way from their humble beginnings and “K Car”, their ode to their namesake. Six albums from the start, they have only two original members remaining. The others have been skillfully replaced by others who can also rock it and haven’t modified the group’s sound. It tells you something about the strength of a band when their makeup can change so much without affecting their fan base. Undoubtedly, Matt Thiessen is the backbone of the group, but a backbone is pretty useless without a body.

Bottom line: Try out Relient K! Even if you don’t become a fan, you’ll be amused. Who knows? You may find yourself knowing the significance of the squirrel, Youtube and Woodland Forest, the 80’s, and Sadie Hawkins’ “Oh, oh, oh!”, in which case you could be considered a loyal fan.


Jonas Brothers: Answering Hollywood’s S.O.S.

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgedbyhim @ 3:03 pm

Britney Spears loses her kids, has a nervous breakdown, shaves her head, and continues to reveal more of herself with immodest clothing. Amy Winehouse deals with a drug addiction, eating disorder, and self-harm. Mary-Kate Olsen continually struggles with anorexia. Keisha Castle-Hughes, child star of acclaimed film Whale Rider, expects a child at seventeen years old with her boyfriend. Rapper 50 Cent tells proudly of his drug-dealing, inner city, gunshot-ridden past and proclaims that he will do whatever he needs to do to make a living. Hollywood is a mess. The people I named above, and many more with similar stories, are the role models for today’s kids and teens: half-dressed girls with no self-respect; immoral guys with no decency.

That’s why I like Disney Channel. Yeah, they push a liberal agenda, and the shows tend to be corny, juvenile, and even stupid. Still, they are shows I can turn on in front of my brothers and two year old sister and not feel embarrassed. Some of the humor is too dumb to be funny, some of the characters are annoying in their brainlessness, but many of the shows still make for clean, funny entertainment.

Even Disney, however, has fallen into the trap of declining morals. Life With Derek shows Derek with posters of bikini-clad women on his walls. Suite Life of Zack and Cody has one of the boy stars trying to “get alone” in the apartment with a girl (he’s 13!). The stars’ lives outside of the shows aren’t any better–in fact, worse! Ashley Tisdale bumps and grinds in a miniskirt and teensy tiny top to the raunchy He Said She Said, while acting as sweet brainiac Maddie on Suite Life and vicious but clean Sharpay in High School Musical. Vanessa Anne Hudgens croons some suggestive tunes, then takes nude photos of herself which are accidentally leaked to the public, including young fans. While it was not a purposeful release, she did take the pictures, supposedly for boyfriend and HSM costar Zac Efron. When children, teens, and even adults become a fan of an actor or singer, they become interested in the person’s life. This is what even Disney Channel gives children as role models! How saddening. I do feel sad for these young stars growing up way too fast, and in all the wrong ways. The fans and viewers aren’t the only ones suffering.

Enter the Jonas Brothers. Super-cool, highly styled, and crazy with energy, the three boys, ages 20, 18, and 15, are creating a place for themselves in Hollywood with blinding speed. They are a pop-punk rock band signed by Hollywood Records and promoted by Disney Channel. There is a marked difference between these guys and their Disney and Hollywood peers, however. Kevin, Joe, and Nick are Christians and–get this–they live like it! The sons of a former pastor, all three wear bands on their left ring fingers pledging to themselves and God that they will be sexually pure until marriage. They have clean mouths, respectful attitudes, and mature personalities (with an admittedly hyper edge). Their music matches their lives. Instead of glorifying sex, drugs, profanity, and disrespect towards women, they talk about issues relative to their lives in a decent and clean manner.

Easily half, if not more, of their tunes, described by oldest brother Kevin as “music on Red Bull”, are love songs. From the sweet, acoustic “Hello Beautiful”, a ballad about missing a long-distance sweetheart, to the upbeat “Australia”, about leaving behind a bad relationship and waiting for the loving, caring dream girl they are sure will appear, their lyrics ooze undefiled romance that melts their countless fangirls. Even the several breakup songs (the famous S.O.S; Broadway-inspired “Goodnight and Goodbye”) aren’t done in a mean manner, but rather express sorrow for what could have been and an eagerness to start anew. An exception to this would be the unnerving “Move On”, not on either of their albums, which is uncharacteristically spiteful. Most of their songs, however, portray sincerity in their relationships and a genuine desire to do what is best for the other–something uncommon in today’s music.

The Jonas Brothers are not a Christian band; they define themselves as “Christians in a rock band”. This is despite Nick’s hit solo singles “A Christmas Prayer” and “Dear God”, the subtly spiritual “Time For Me to Fly” and the blatantly Christian, stirring “Eternity” (listen to this on Youtube; it will give you chills every time). However, they are bringing a much needed cleanliness to Hollywood. Currently a part of the best-selling concert tour in the nation and perhaps the world, the Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds tour, they brothers are taking America by storm, and with only their second album. It took me a while to discover these guys, but once I did I was lost. I have the bonus edition self-titled CD, the bracelet, and the email updates. I’m searching futilely for a moderately priced edition of their first CD, It’s About Time, which, because of its limited initial success and consequent low production, is now selling for $80-200. My family calls me obsessed, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say I’m at least addicted.

I find no shame in the fact that at 17 years old I adore a band whose primary fan base is preteen girls and who are promoted primarily by a “children’s” TV station. Fact is, their music can relate to me and even to adults, and can do it while keeping it clean. I choose a band who prays before every show and sings innocent love songs over the Satan-glorifying bands the world says someone my age is supposed to adore. For the record: no, I don’t like them for their looks, I like them for their music, lives, and integrity–that sets me apart from 75% of their fans already!

Bottom line: Give the Jonas Brothers a listen. You may come away hyper, energized, encouraged, and even–be careful–addicted.


How Confused! December 2, 2007

Filed under: Dating/Courtship,Family,Growth,Marriage,Prayer,Uncategorized — judgedbyhim @ 8:23 pm

I don’t know… life is just crazy right now. I’m so weirded out by things in general. I guess it’s also known as stress. I quit my second job because of situations I don’t feel like talking about. Trying to find another, knowing my options entail either a suffocating, greasy work atmosphere or a harassing, verbally abusive boss, is not encouraging. Work in general is getting to me, even though my other job is relatively pleasant.

I got sick on Thanksgiving, and I’m still trying to recover my voice. It’s not going so well, even worse now that I sang (pitifully) in the choir today and wore out my vocal chords more than usual. My college application is stressing me out, because I have to get a doctor’s appointment scheduled for it, which is bad enough, but it includes a shot and I’m scared stiff (and shaking) of needles.

Finally, I’m having some spiritual struggles. I’m still in the letdown after the spiritual high summer camp gave me. All the commitments I made over the summer are throw into sharp relief against the reality of my life and my own humanity. Specifically, turning the pen of my love story over to God has turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. It’s not as scary as it was, I’m committed to it, and I love the ease of knowing it’s taken care of. Still, it’s so hard for me to keep my emotional sanctity. I’m a female, which means I tend to be emotional; I’m 17, which makes it even worse; and I’m also a hopeless romantic. So it’s really hard for me to keep my heart out of things. I’m trying, I really am, but I keep thinking, “What if he’s the one?” and just taking it too far emotionally. I’ve also been receiving some tough criticism about my standards from people very close to me, which hurts a lot though I think it’s meant to be joking.

What’s left, then? When I don’t know, I’m too weak, and I’m glaringly helpless, what do I do? I can only do one thing: turn back to the One who made me. Just as I relied upon Him to write my love story, just as I rely on Him for providence in my future education, just as I rely upon Him to strengthen me again Satan’s attacks, I must turn to Him when my own humanity gets in the way. My self-reliance and selfishness is doing the opposite of what I need; it only weakens me further. It hurts so much to ask God to break me when I already feel bruised, but if I just let go it wouldn’t hurt so much!

I need to realize just how much I need God and just how little I need myself. The significance of God casts such a shadow of insignificance upon my own abilities that it’s quite the reality check. So, God will handle the stress. I remember the old chorus, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus/ Look full in His wonderful face/ And the things of earth will grow strangely dim/ In the light of his glory and grace”.