Thursday, August 05, 2004

Highlights from Vacation

Well, this is my first of many "Highlights from Vacation" posts.

I took about 1000 pictures on my vacation. Some of them I will be doctoring up (reducing, cropping, etc) and posting here.

For those of you who don't know what I was doing, I was on an excursion through Southern Oregon, doing research for a novel I am working on. My novel partially takes place in 1857, in Southern Oregon, and deals with a stagecoach robbery that took place. (The stage coach robbery actually did take place in the summer of 1857, and I was able to track down the location for the most part while I was down there exploring old stage routes, stage stops, cemetaries, museums, roadside markers and stuff like that.)

Anyway, you will see some highlights from my vacation, so stay tuned.

But here's the first highlight. We took a break from the Dusty Trails of the Old West and went to a good old fashioned Rock Concert in Eugene OR.

Here's The Strawmen with Mike Roe of the Seventy Sevens singing with them.

On the prominent left that's Mike Roe (of the Seventy Sevens), then Bill Harmon (a.k.a. Reader Nektarios) in the middle, and his brother Mark Harmon on the right. On the far left in the dark (you can barely see him) is David Leonhardt (formerly of the Seventy Sevens), and somewhere back behind them all is the drummer. (I'm not sure if the drummer belongs to The Strawmen or the Seventy Sevens, and I never caught his name.)

Well, when I took that picture, I didn't like the way the flash seemed to mostly illuminate the backs of the people standing in front of me, so I turned the flash off and took these next pictures. This is what it REALY looked like!

I think the blurrrrr captures the excitement, the energy, the wonderful stage presence these two groups had.

I've been a big fan of the 77s for years. I had all their early albums on cassette tape 20 years ago, and played them so many times I could hear the back side of the tape bleeding through. I have several of their early albums on vinyl and (as my close friends know) still crank them out and play them from time to time.

I actually got to see the 77s in concert at PLU about 20 years ago. They were amazing, and I still remember how amazing they were on stage. Now, a recent sort of personal thing I'm going through, I've started listening to them (and Daniel Amos, and The Lost Dogs, and The Swirling Eddies, and the Choir) all over again.

For my wife and daughter it was a special time. This was their first time at a Christian Rock Concert. This was their first time at any Rock Concert. My daughter was really psyched, and although they didn't stay for the 77's (too tired, I walked them back to the hotel) they did get to see Mike play a wild bit of guitar for a while before I took them back. They loved the Strawmen, which made me happy. I knew they wouldn't care too much for the 77s (too loud and too wild for them) but they really loved the Strawmen. Bill came over and introduced himself and his wife, and it was a true pleasure to meet him. I enjoyed his music a lot and bought a CD.

Then, after I walked my wife and daughter home, I hung out and listened to the 77s. Mike played an awesome guitar (actually at least 4 of them he had there) and Mark a great bass. At least once they were doing a duo that went on and on, and you just didn't want it to quit. In fact nobody wanted that concert to quit. They came back on stage for one Encore at the end, and I think they may have gone back out for a second (I slipped away, somewhat reluctantly, but a bit nervous about walking several blocks in downtown Eugene by myself too late after dark.)

Someday I'll have to explain more about what I like about this sort of music.


Monasticism and Otter Pops

I was inspired to comment on a great post by James and I've too much to say so I'm writing it all here.

"We converts worship the ground that monks and nuns walk on ..." - James F.

LOL - I know what you mean. Particularly at some parishes monasticism is a highly esteemed lifestyle. Monks and Nuns are glorified because of an idealized concept we have of them from reading the lives of so many great saints who were monks and nuns. But do we respect and think highly of them for what their lives are actually like? I personally think not.

"Maybe the monks should consider a pilgrimage to my house?" - James F.

There's the other side of the coin: I've also encountered many Orthodox who look down upon the monastics disdainfully because all they do is "sit around and pray." The idea being that somehow this makes them lazy.

Actually, in my opinion BOTH of these points of view are wrong. And both ideas suffer from an over-idealized concept of what a monk's life is like.

James, you think maybe the monks should make a pilgrimage to your house, because it is so chaotic there. But that's because you have the idea in your head that a monk (or nun) is sitting around in a spiritual garden all day long singing hymns. On the contrary, most monks and nuns have to work a full day (8 hours, 10 hours?) making crafts, selling things, doing yard work, household chores, tending the farm animals, and so on. Then add to this about 4 or 5 hours of services every day.

Monk's don't get to sit around reading their bible or the Philokalia all day long. If they want to read it at all they have to be up late at night reading it (instead of playing video games, James.) They don't get to sit around the camp fire and chat with friends (no less smoking a cigar and sipping a nice smooth scotch.)

Mind you, I'm not trying to criticize. I could never be a monk. I don't think you could either.

You've got an over-idealized concept of what a monk gets to live his life like. Monk's work so hard all day long that they have far less time for prayer than even you do with your four children running around. There lives are filled with as many interruptions as your life is, and yet somehow they preserver. Maybe they don't have to spend 20 minutes a day changing diapers, but they do have to spend several hours a day shoveling manure, or cleaning up after several dozen other monks: taking out their trash, doing their dirty laundry. Try to say the Jesus prayer while doing that.