Monthly Archives: December 2008


If A Tree Claps In A Forest And No One Actually Hears It, Is It OK for Sufjan Stevens to Write A Song About It?

So, on a lark, I decided to Google the phrase “the trees of the field will clap their hands” because of the tune “Ye Shall Go Out With Joy” that the ICC worship team pulled out for the 1st Sunday of Advent.

What I found was a Youtube video of a song by Sufjan Stevens, a song called “All the Trees Will Clap Their Hands.”

Now, I understand the Scripture reference (Isaiah 55). And I kind of understand the lyrics, a little. What I don’t understand is what’s happening in this video. Or, more to the point, the meaning behind it. What’s the drinking, and the shower, and water, have to do with trees and clapping?

Hmm… after reviewing that chapter of Isaiah again, I’m convinced that it has to do with water, and the Word. But I still think I’m missing something. Either that, or this video is just not that interesting.


Gay adoption remix: Steve Chapman vs. Me

I’m more than a little flummoxed by this column by politically moderate columnist Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune, who wrote a scathing indictment of conservatives who use political means to prevent gays from adopting children. His thesis is that doing so is particularly spiteful because it means that more children are prevented from being in the homes of loving parents. I agree with his general point, although I also see the flipside to his argument, one that I’m adapting from a recent piece on transracial adoption in Seattle’s alt-weekly, The Stranger. (If that link and subject matter seems familiar, it’s because I just posted extensively on it.)

The flipside is this.

When it comes to transracially adopted kids that grow up and become adults, many of them do not want to talk about their fractured upbringing, because of their gratefulness. They don’t want to talk about the ways in which their parents were ill-prepared for the reality of racialization in America, because in their mind, the alternative would have been no home with no loving parents of any sort.

This sort of response is understandable, but it ignores the broader reality. Is a home with White parents better for a Black child than a home with no parents at all? Probably. But just because they are plucking these children out of abject poverty does not absolve them of the responsibility they have as parents to help prepare them for the reality of racialization in America. To assume otherwise is tantamount to sticking your head in the sand, and then wondering how you couldn’t see the storm coming.

To me, the issue of gay adoption is similar. Is a home with two gay parents better than a home with no parents or foster care? Maybe. Dare I say, probably. But that doesn’t mean that those gay parents are off the hook in their parental responsibility of providing a balanced outlook in the form of one or more key role models for their children of the opposite sex. Two loving men or women can do a lot to parent a child in a healthy manner, but blithely assuming that their good intentions will compensate for what they lack biologically is naive at best and perilous at worst.


A Little Too Much Bucket Love

Kevin Bruursema, the man who married my wife (to me, that is) is a brutally honest dude, considering he’s a pastor. Most pastors I know are not as straight shooting as this cat. I mean, Dr. Laura probably thinks this guy is blunt. Anyway, he posted recently about the idolatry of buckets, which is what happens when you have too many little gods that you’re trying to please:

I’m not sure this bucket bonanza approach to life is healthy. Okay I am sure. Its not healthy. Lots of compartments for everything, no mixture, lots of stress to keep all the buckets working. I think that bucketization is fracturing and fracturing is the hallmark of idolatry.

Think about idolatry for a minute. In idolatry, if I need help in this area, I go to this god and please it and it helps me a little. I need help in this other area, I go to this other god and please it and it helps me a little. God after god, a god for every bucket, make all the gods happy, don’t mix the gods around, life is good as I run around pleasing all these gods that in turn please me.

I was relieved once I read the post, because at first I thought he was attacking the theology of street drummers who play the buckets. As for these four, I don’t know what their theology is, but I know they’re tearin’ it up:

And while I’m on the subject of buckets, here’s my own bucket list, things that aren’t what Kevin was talking about:

Bust A Bucket, the early 90s rock/rap ode to the Portland Trail Blazers
The Buckets (a comic strip)
The wikipedia definition of a bucket (more than you possibly could ever want to know about buckets)
An explanation of the term “kick the bucket” from World-Wide-Words


Extreme Abstinence, Chicago Style

I was alternately excited and saddened at this story in the Chicago Tribune about a couple whose abstinence before marriage extended all the way to kissing.

Excited because I think it’s great to see positive mentions of abstinence in the news, especially when it’s not connected to politics. (Even more of a bonus that they’re a couple of color.)

Saddened, because… well, I’m not gonna lie. I was a little jealous of the coverage. My wife and I had that same standard before we got married in 2004… where were the cameras and reporters then? Is it more newsworthy somehow because the couple is of Latin descent? I’m just asking because, well, I went to a Puerto-Rican church for a few years when I was in college, and I remember there were plenty of folks in that church who would kiss on the cheek at the drop of a hat. Maybe that’s why.

I’m just saying… maybe a little news coverage could’ve gotten us a few more wedding gifts.

Then again, maybe I should stop being so venal.


Apparently the story is even better. The reason why it’s so newsworthy (both the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times covered it extensively) is because both Melody and Claudaniel teach abstinence in Chicago Public Schools. And, ironically enough, once I read through the article, I realized… the church where the wedding was held? Maranatha Christian Revival Center… the same church I attended off and on during college for three years. Small world.