Friday, October 05, 2012

The Secret We Can't Talk About

What if I said to you that I’d like to give you control of a fortune five hundred company? First off, some of you would jump at the chance while others of you would balk. Some of us are built for that and some of us know that we’re not. Keep that in that back of your head. We’ll discuss it in a minute.

How much do you consider the topic of spiritual gifts? You should be thinking about it every day. Once we’ve decided to follow and serve Christ the very next thing we need to figure out is how, exactly, we’re supposed to serve him. That decision should be based, in part, on what spiritual gifts you’ve been given. No doubt, for some, figuring that out may take a while. But you ought to know. You should be figuring it out. Without this knowledge, not only is the church and the world missing out on your gift, but most likely you’re left unfulfilled, as you should be, because you’re not fulfilling the role you’ve been put on this earth to do.

We’ve all been given gifts. 1 Corinthians talks a lot about spiritual gifts. It’s very specific. Many believe that there are gifts beyond those described in 1 Corinthians. I don’t happen to be one of those believers. My own opinion is that Paul listed them all. From there many believe that various gifts were done away with once the apostles died off. I also don’t agree with that. I think all of the gifts listed in Corinthians are still available to us. But no matter what you believe concerning the specifics of spiritual gifts, I think we all believe, at least in theory, that we are endowed with certain gifts from our creator and that we are to be using those gifts to better the church and, ultimately, the world around us.

One of the things Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 is that we’ll not be given all of the spiritual gifts: that each of us will be given a portion of the gifts. With that in mind let’s talk a little again about that fortune 500 company. Imagine being given the keys to a fortune 500 company, without the support system a CEO would normally have to run such a company. In other words, not only is it your job to make the tough decisions, but you also have to answer the phones, think of clever marketing ideas, create those marketing ideas, make sales calls, handle HR issues for internal employees, get the payroll out every week, etc., etc., etc. Sound like a good plan?

I think we can all agree that that’s a company that won’t be a fortune 500 company for long. In fact, in just a matter of days, that company will likely find itself with angry employees, bad press, and a CEO that’s ready to get the heck out of Dodge!

I’ve never liked the fact that the role of pastor, in so many churches, is like that of a CEO. The pastor makes the decisions. But what’s worse is that, in most denominations and churches that I know of, that pastor is expected to excel in quite a few very specific gifts. Consider that most churches expect their pastor to be a teacher, preacher, pastor, evangelist, and administrator. Sometimes more. Those are FIVE very specific spiritual gifts and, to be honest, I’ve never met anybody who had them all. I know plenty of evangelists who are amazing preachers, but I don’t know many (or any?) who have the gift of evangelism AND the gift of pastoring. I mean, just personality wise, those two gifts don’t work very well together. Yet we expect it of our pastors. ???

I was ordained when I was twenty-three years old. I entered that ordination service with a handful of gifts, and I exited that service with exactly the same gifts. When I was in my late thirties, I earned a Masters Degree in theological education and, while I had grown in some areas between the age of twenty-three and thirty-eight, that degree didn’t add one single more gift to my allotment. And I promise you that this is the case for every pastor and minister that I’ve ever known or know of.

So what does that mean for you and the church? Do I really need to spell it out?

Your pastor has some very specific gifts, and it is HIGHLY unlikely (improbable, implausible, doubtful, far-fetched) that those gifts happen to be teaching, preaching, pastoring, evangelism, AND administration.
I’ve heard it said that many churches take on the “personality” of their pastor. Why is that? Maybe because their pastor focuses on the spiritual gifts that he has and leads the church in that very specific direction. Consider how many churches you’ve come across who are amazing at evangelism, but horrible at discipleship. I can’t tell you how many churches I’ve come across whose doors are only big enough for the number of people who are coming in and getting saved because people are leaving out the back doors in droves! You can only hear the gospel story so many times before you eventually start asking “what’s next?” Unfortunately most evangelists aren’t all that concerned with what’s next. That’s not their job, focus, expertise, or passion. Likewise, I know just as many churches who are great at discipleship (though I question how great it is if it doesn’t involve teaching and leading on evangelism, but I digress) but haven’t seen anybody saved in years. Again, that’s a church being led by a pastor whose gifts are in discipleship, not evangelism.

So is this okay? I mean, is it okay to have some churches who are focused on discipleship, while others are focused on evangelism (or whatever their pastor’s spiritual gifts happen to be)?
I say no way. And not because I think that every congregation needs to hit all the marks but because I can’t believe that there aren’t people in the congregation who DO have the other gifts needed to make it a well-rounded church/ministry. And that’s where we need to rethink the whole thing.

You show me where the Bible suggests that a person with the spiritual gift of “pastoring” is supposed to be in charge and I’ll show you that God didn’t really mean it when he told us to have no other gods before him. You won’t find it because it isn’t there. In fact, the only mention of “authority” is when the Bible talks about elders.

For the record, I’m not taking shots at pastors who’ve been given authority. That’s not my intent here at all. It could very well be that your pastor is considered one of the elders and, as such, has been given a measure of authority in your church. Fine. But what of all those other gifts that go unused? What I mean is this: Who says that a teacher, preacher, evangelist, pastor, or administrator must be a full time, paid staff member? What if you have an evangelist on board who happens to work a full time job as an electrician? Or for that matter, what if the best teacher or preacher in your congregation happens to be a full time pharmacist? Does that mean that he doesn’t have the spiritual authority to teach or preach? Is the stage reserved only for the guy who gets paid to occupy it? How is that scriptural?
Answer? It’s not.

So what I’m proposing is this: What if a church actually put people in positions according to their spiritual gifts? I’m not suggesting that we don’t have paid staff members, but what if the paid staff members weren’t the only ones who could exercise their spiritual gifts? What if we asked Jo, who clearly has the spiritual gift of preaching, to preach?

I remember being asked by a church to submit my resume. They had an opening for senior pastor and thought I might fit the bill. I knew this church well and knew this was an opportunity to challenge them whether I was meant to be pastor there or not. So I wrote them a rather lengthy letter. Among the things I suggested was using people according to their spiritual gifts. I knew this congregation, in part, and knew that they had several in their midst who were not only good teachers but absolute scholars when it came to the Bible. I did make the “mistake” of also suggesting that there were women in their congregation who were clearly gifted with leadership skills and that they should be allowed and even expected to lead. I knew that one wouldn’t be a winner but was surprised when I got no response at all. Mind you this is a church that I still maintain contact with to this day. But we’ve never talked about it. It was all just too much.

And I suspect the same would be true of most any church. We’re so ingrained with this idea of pastoral authority that we don’t know and can’t imagine anything different. In my own extended family, after I was ordained, it fell to me to lead times of family prayer. There was this sense that I was chosen in a way that nobody else in the family was, despite the fact that they had raised me and instilled in me this love for God and knowledge of the word. Somehow that ordination certificate (found nowhere in the Bible) gave me the trump card for spiritual authority, even over my own father. I thought it strange back then and still refuse to accept it to this day.

And truth be told, it would require egos to be set aside in a way that may be impossible. As it is, pastors, worship leaders, and youth ministers have already drawn lines around their respective zones with the expectation that people stay within their zones and walk very gently if those zones are crossed. I can remember serving at a church where I made a simple suggestion of how to get the young people more involved in the worship service. It was my belief that young people are endowed with spiritual gifts, just as I am, and that it was our job to get them involved in the entire life of the church. Shortly after suggesting this I had a meeting with the Senior pastor where I was warned to be careful not to tread on the youth pastor’s turf. And it goes without saying that “lower” staff members should never attempt to make suggestions on the senior Pastor’s sermon. Lord, God what might happen if that occurred?

It’s a strange, twisted, and very tragic thing that has happened to spiritual gifts. They can best be described, under most circumstances, as dormant and even hidden. Wonderful tools from a bygone era. Tools meant to change the world and edify the church, now buried under years of tradition and dogma. It’s almost like a race of people with super powers who don’t know that they have them. What amazing things they could do if they were only aware of the powers they had. But somebody came along years ago and talked them out of it. Generations later and they’re descendants not only don’t believe in them, but in many cases aren’t aware of their existence at all. Meanwhile the world continues to slip beyond the reach of the few who have the certificate of approval to do anything about it. And so we trudge along, singing our songs, listening to sermons that sometimes speak to us, and hoping for a revival that will likely never come.

If only somebody with the authority to do something about this would…

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Is Your Music Department a Warzone?

In light of several posts by several friends who are full or part time worship ministers at their church, I post the following thoughts and sincerely request your feedback on the matter.

Leading worship is hard. There’s a tightrope to be walked between worship and performance. Many, many, many people fall head first from this tightrope into the valley of performance; it’s an easy thing to do. Worshippers make it even easier by subconsciously worshipping the music and sometimes even the leader themselves. It’s a big issue and I’ve found it very difficult to address. Everybody wants to “be in the band”. It’s always difficult to discern why. Many will argue that they are “gifted” in this area, but playing an instrument/singing is not listed in the Bible as a spiritual gift. And there’s not much Biblical support to argue that your “talents” should be used; especially when your “talent” in a particular area is questionable. This leaves the decision of whether or not you’re talented and whether or not your heart is in the right place to the worship leader. The bigger the church, the harder it becomes.

I’ve always battled with distractions in worship. Is what I’m doing a distraction from people worshipping? Some may call it immature to be distracted in worship. And to be sure, it is. But it’s still a fact. When a person takes the stage who is not gifted or talented in the particular area where they’re trying to publically take part, it can keep an entire congregation from worshipping or even being open to the spirit. It takes an incredibly mature “audience” to get past the distractions of a bad musician or speaker.

So what is a worship leader to do? It’s clear that many believe that anybody who wants to participate on stage musically should be given the opportunity. I’m still amazed at some of the flack I took for not putting certain “musicians” on stage. Sometimes people even suggested that we simply put them on stage and turn their mic or instrument down. What exactly is the point of that? Wouldn’t it be more pastoral to try to point that person in the direction of their actual spiritual gift or talent? For me this argument becomes almost child-like. This isn’t a school play or a Christmas pageant. This is, I believe, a spiritual calling and anointment to lead worship. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known truly spirit filled worship leaders who could not play an instrument; leaders whom I’ve literally advised to lead worship WITHOUT playing their instrument simply because their instrument was getting in the way of their leading. So I certainly believe that God may anoint somebody to lead worship though they may not be musically talented. After all, music isn’t worship and worship isn’t music. Music is only a tool and one of many ways to worship. Still, if you’re going to take the stage under the premise that you are, in fact, a musician, then shouldn’t there be somebody there who has the spiritual authority to say, “this isn’t your area”?

I’d like to contend that for many churches and worship leaders, they actually need to put their instruments in their cases for a while and truly learn how to worship; how to cry out to God; how to give him the praise that is due him. I believe that in most of the situations I’ve encountered as a worship leader and even as a congregant, “singing songs” doesn’t necessarily reflect worship of any kind. It may be called that in the bulletin, but people aren’t worshipping their creator, they’re just singing. This, btw, has nothing to do with old or new styles of worship but has more to do with the spiritual maturity of the leaders (including the pastor/preacher) and the congregation. Matt Redmond’s pastor famously asked Matt not to lead worship through song for several months in an attempt to teach his congregation about true worship. Many know that from that time came the song, “Heart of Worship” which, ironically, has become a focus of worship for some rather than the confession it was meant to be. Again, I contend that most churches need to go through the process of putting down the instruments, the hymnals, and the projectors, and learning how to praise and worship the creator without the crutch of music. Good luck with that, btw. Though most pastors and congregants would not admit it, Sunday morning has become Christian theatre. And most aren’t open to theatre that does not include a concert. It’s going to take a lot of courage for leaders to take on the task of teaching their congregation to worship. And it’s going to take an openness that they too may not truly be worshipping. Again, good luck with all that.

I once heard somebody describe the music department of a church as a “warzone”. And it was. Nobody had the maturity to teach those involved the true meaning of worship. I can’t tell you how many worship leaders I’ve seen let go quite literally because of their “style” (shaking head). We’ve completely lost the plot when it comes to worship. For some congregations I question whether there’s anybody present who EVER understood the plot to begin with. I have to admit, when I hear that a worship leader was let go because his “style didn’t fit ours”, my immediate thought is; that we’re talking about an incredibly immature congregation; at least in the area of worship.

To those trying to lead through this, my prayers and hopes are with you. And for all of us, I pray that we will get past the music and focus our efforts on worshipping the maker.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Favorite Songs...

Well I’ve done it. After years of talking about it, I’ve actually come up with the ULTIMATE Top 5 list. My Top 5 favorite songs of all time.

It was a tough list to make and I put a few rules in place to make sure that I wouldn’t regret my choices a few years from now. One of the most obvious rules is that new songs or songs and artists that were new to me could not make the list. This actuall
y left off a couple of songs and artists that I really like. However, this also means that the list is subject to change in the future if some of these (now) new songs and artists continue to be must listens for me.

Let me just say that the most surprising thing about this list (for me) is that some of my top five favorite artists and albums don’t necessarily have songs on this list.

So below you will find a list of songs that I find myself constantly adding to playlists or going back and listening to on a pretty regular basis. Often monthly. They are as follows and in this order.

1. Copied Keys by Kathleen Edwards – There are a few things about this song that keep bringing me back (for one I’m a sucker for sad songs), but the weeping guitar is what really pulls at my heart strings and keeps me coming back for more.

2. Silver Springs by Fleetwood Mac – As far as I know, the only version of this is a live version and it is amazing. It is Stevie Nicks at her best. It is both soothing and inspiring as a song writer.

3. ‘Round Here by Counting Crows – the 10 minute live version – Counting Crows have always been masters of rewriting their own music. The live version of nearly everything they write is better than the original. They themselves have often said that it takes a while after the recording process to figure out how the song should really sound. I would put this ten minute live version of ‘Round Here up against some of the greatest, most historic live versions of any song I’ve ever heard. At one point the band brings the song down so low that lead singer Adam Duritz shushes the crowd only to bring it back up to a point where the crowd actually cheers.

4. Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen – I love this song because it is both acoustic (another thing I’m a sucker for) and a song of protest. At one point in the song, singing from a first person’s perspective, Springsteen sings, “Now Tom said ‘Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy. Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries. Where there's a fight against the blood and hatred in the air. Look for me Mom I'll be there.’”

5. Calling Out Your Name by Rich Mullins but performed by Chris Rice. The Rich Mullins purists are going to kill me on this one, but as talented as Rich was on the hammer dulcimer, I prefer Chris Rice’s dueling acoustic guitars version. Calling Out Your Name is a song of nature reflecting and crying out the name of God. In the song Rich paints a portrait of nature and indeed of America when he talks about the moon moving past Nebraska and painting laughter on those cold Dakota hills. Mullins also talks about a silence in the Badlands, a line that literally inspired me to plan a trip to the Badlands. The chorus ends with the line, “and I hear the prairies calling out Your name”. It’s hard to try and sum up this song by pulling out a line here and a line there, and that’s exactly why it made my list. It is one of the most complete songs I’ve ever known.

Honorable Mention –
- Where The Streets Have No Name by U2
- Fortunate Son by Credence Clearwater Revival
- Man of Constant Sorrow covered by Dan Tyminski
- Did You Hear The Mountains Tremble by Delirious?

Friday, May 11, 2012

If I had it to do all over again...

Today I begin a series entitled “If I had it to do all over again”. A series I hope will be an encouragement and learning tool for others who may be facing some of the same dangers and decisions that I faced over the past forty years.

There will be no order to the coming articles. In other words, I will not start with the first bad decision I ever made and work my way to last week. I’ll write about them as they come to me. And be sure of the fact that they will, indeed, come to me. While I’ve heard others say “I have no regrets”, I do not share their confidence in believing that the man I’ve become is awesome and can only be attributed to all the decisions I’ve made in life, even the bad ones.

While I’ve certainly (I hope) learned from my decisions and, in many ways, become a better man as a result of that learning, I’d still go back and change a million decisions if given the chance. And so I begin this series with the following:

If I had it to do all over again, I’d have never thrown out those couches.

When I was a young teenager we had a couch in our church’s youth room. One Sunday night, while most of us were upstairs in the worship services, two hormonally charged young people found their way down to the youth room and did what two young people, who are attracted to each other and have no accountability, do when they’re all alone on a couch together. As a result, one of them ended up pregnant.

Several years later a new youth director came to our church. Upon finding out the news that that very couch had been used as a launching point for a new life, he took it upon himself to immediately throw out that couch. I was seventeen, preparing for a life of ministry, and was furiously taking notes in my head. As far as I was concerned, this young youth minister was a genius, and so I tucked this particular gem of wisdom away. At the time it wasn’t the wisdom of the decision that attracted me, it was the strong decisiveness of the decision. I admired that and also wanted to be seen as a strong, decisive leader.

Three short years later I would move to a small town in America and take over as leader of my own youth group. I arrived on a Sunday night and, upon surveying the youth room, immediately noticed three walls that were lined with couches. Two days later, before I’d even led my first youth meeting there, I loaded up all those couches and donated them to a charity. It was a strong decision and it made me feel like a leader! That Wednesday night, however, it was quickly made clear that not everybody agreed with my decision. In fact, nobody agreed with it; not the young people nor the volunteers. As far as they were concerned I was just a twenty year old on a power trip (which I was). A year later and I was still trying to win over the boys (in particular) who despised me for invading their turf and throwing out what was theirs, not mine.

Two years later I would leave that church and move to another church in small town America. Upon arriving, once again, I spotted a couch in the youth room. This time I did not immediately throw out the couch. I waited a couple of weeks and THEN I threw it out. I was still under the impression that “no couches in the youth room” was one of the foundational building blocks of youth ministry and also still very much believed that “moving in and taking control” was the sign of a good leader. While this particular youth group was a little more gracious than the one before, I still had to spend a good deal of time overcoming the image I’d created of myself: that of a power monger.

Two years after that I would move to a church in the suburbs. This time there were no couches. Instead I was brought in to replace a guy who had been serving as the volunteer youth minister for more than a year. I was under the false impression that he wasn’t doing a very good job of it but upon arriving there I was greeted by a youth group of more than forty young people who absolutely adored the volunteer who had been moved out to make room for me. Furthermore it was suggested that I get rid of one of the Sunday school teachers who wasn’t particularly exciting. I did. For the next year and a half I watched as the youth group dwindled and, as a result, I was eventually let go.

I was devastated but had learned little from the experience except to be leery of people.

After a few short months I was hired on by an international denomination and charity. My job was to help reinvigorate the youth ministry of more than 40 churches in an Eastern State. I eagerly accepted the challenge and, in just a very short amount of time decided that tradition was the hold up. Be it the songs they sang or the clothes they wore it was my opinion that it all needed to go if they wanted their denomination to move forward. I spent five years there pushing my agenda and, while I had some success in small group discipleship, my hope to change a denomination was an utter failure.

From there, in what I can only guess was an utter lack of wisdom on the part of leadership, I was asked to move to one of the largest cities in the world and help reinvigorate the youth ministry of not only that city, but the country itself. Our idea? Change the name of the denomination itself.

You read that right. We decided that the only way for the denomination to move forward was to undergo a complete and utter change of name and identity. Mind you this was and is one of the most well respected denominations/charities in the world. Maybe the most respected. But from within, the few of us who had somehow found ourselves with far too much decision power, had come to the belief that undergoing an identity change was the only way to reinvigorate the denomination.

Mind you, this denomination did and does face some challenges where its values are concerned. In many ways its quaint traditions are held in higher regard than its tradition of absolute excellence. But in hind sight our decision to throw out the couch, the sign, all the old people, the song book, and its reputation (which is very good) was the kind of decision that young, unwise men make. Hand a boy a bike, a board, and three tires and you can bet he’s going to make a ramp that’s far too high and is going to leave at least one of those boys with a sprained or broken neck: which is exactly where we found ourselves. Fact is, most of those involved with that decision (including myself) are no longer working or even involved with that denomination anymore.

From there I moved to a church back in the States. By this time I thought I’d learned my lesson. Even my wife thought I’d learned my lesson. Tread carefully on the things that are sacred to others. Those things might very well be getting in the way of progress, but tread lightly, earn their trust, and try to help them see and make decisions concerning any sacred cows that may need to be nudged out of the way. Until now my practice had been to slaughter sacred cows on the front lawn of the church. Now my plan was to help guide and nudge.

I arrived at my new church excited and ready to be a part of something special, but before I had even started I was informed of a great many changes that needed to be made. Upon arriving at the church and discovering some pretty difficult situations in tact, I approached the lead pastor about the possible way forward. His reply? “Yeah, we’ve known for some time now that there were problems but frankly, we just didn’t want to deal with them so we decided to let the new guy do it.” That’s pretty much verbatim.

I remember thinking that that was a setup. I also remember thinking that that particular decision had lacked some serious wisdom on the part of those who’d made it. That said, I still agreed that the changes needed to be made.

I prayed about it. I asked for advice on the matter. I even spoke to my wife about it who reminded me of the couches I’d thrown out in the past. In the end I decided to ask for the support of the senior leadership on the matter and, after getting their approval, began to move forward with some pretty scathing changes.

Without question there was a backlash of mammoth proportions. Many feelings were hurt. Many egos were bruised. Many reputations were at stake; Including those of the senior leadership who had agreed and approved the changes. I was convinced that the changes were necessary. What I didn’t understand were all of the dynamics playing in the background. The church itself had already gone through some major changes that still stung, and many within the church resented a new guy moving in and making vast, sweeping changes which suggested that they’d been doing it wrong all along.

In hindsight I could not tell you today that I believe those changes were necessary. Certainly the changes could have taken some pretty mediocre programs and made them better. But whether or not they were worth the fall out, I may never know.

In the end the senior leadership decided to make me the fall guy. As far as I know they took no responsibility for what took place and were pretty happy to have somebody else to pin it all to. I left devastated and, frankly, am still pretty broken hearted over it all. But I’m learning, slowly, what’s important. And I’ve definitely learned the importance of LEARNING, truly LEARNING from my mistakes.

If I had any advice for a young minister, based on the above, I’d tell them to pay attention and learn from their mistakes. I’d also tell them to be careful when treading on other people’s sacred cows. Maybe things really do need to change for that ministry to advance, but who are you to make that decision before ever really becoming a part of the community first? They don’t trust you. They don’t know you. And they have no reason to believe that you’re doing it out of love. Fact is, I probably wasn’t. I can’t say that I made any of those decisions out of love. I did think they were necessary. Many of them were made out of a sincere desire to make the ministries more fruitful. But in almost every case I left people in my wake. Mind you, some of the decisions did improve the specifics of the ministry I was charged with overseeing, but I moved too quickly and left too many broken hearts and egos to have made any of it worth it.

If I had it to do all over again, I’d have set aside the identity of hired gun and seen myself more as somebody who was trying to become a part of the community. And only after becoming a part of that community (which would have taken two to three years of building relationships) would I begin to try and help that community of believers begin to make the changes they, in my mind, needed to make to become prosperous again.

Ministry and leadership are difficult. Many of us see ourselves as CEO’s brought in to make the business more fruitful. But we are not CEO’s and the church is not a business. We are pastors, friends, and we’re supposed to be members of the community: a community of people with hearts, souls, and strong connections to the very things we see as road blocks to progress. We should treat both the people and their sacred cows with respect and sensitivity. If I had it to do all over again, that’s what I would do.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The battle in the modern day church’s music department isn’t about music. Music is only the symptom of THE problem. The problem lies in the hearts of the people who refuse to be moved: moved by the call to mission. Moved by the call to community. Or simply moved by the Holy Spirit to worship the creator no matter what medium of “worship” is being used; whether music or simply spoken word; shouts of hallelujah, words of thanksgiving, heartfelt words of praise. These are at the heart of worship, lest we forget. Music is only a medium but in many churches, it has become the point. The very thing in which we worship and the only medium by which we are moved. Could it be that in many churches across the world, the musicians need to be asked to have a seat and a true worship leader needs to emerge who can lead a congregation in holy worship that isn’t music centric? To stop trying to patch the symptom and get down to truly performing emergency surgery on THE cancer that is killing so many churches?

Incidentally, when I speak of a refusal to be moved by the call to mission, I speak of those who refuse to allow the style of music to progress, but when I speak of the refusal to be moved by the call to community, I speak of those who insist that the music progress lest they exit the community.

Friday, December 26, 2008

the challenge of recession

"The tottering economy gives faith groups new pastoral challenges, greater charity obligations and emptier offering plates. How they respond may define them for decades."
TIME Magazine, December 22, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

hollywood hair

Today I went for a haircut. My normal barber is on holiday (and as he’s Greek, I’m betting he’s in Greece, which is not a good thing at the minute) so I had to find someplace else to go.

I landed in a Paul Mitchell’s which actually went by the name of Hollywood Hair. I had visions of running into Bret Michaels (as opposed to Brett DeMichaels….totally different guy) but had no such luck. Mind you, I’m not a Bret Michaels fan, still, it would have made for a very interesting haircut had he made it and I might have been able to get in a couple of digs on him for writing “Every Rose”. However, Bret Michaels was not needed because Hollywood Hair was tacky enough on its own.

I suppose they were going for “classy”. They offered me something to drink when I came in (one of those pretentious little drinks that Jamie and Becca….and pretty much all of my Americans friends love to mention on their facebook updates) and took my coat. Then, because there weren’t enough stereotypes in the place, they sent over an Italian man named Antonio to cut my hair. Antonio looked a lot like Russell Brand, if you’re familiar. He had long black hair, tight black jeans, lots of weird bracelets, an earring or two, and some groovy facial hair. He was on his game.

He came over, got a little too intimate with my head, and then asked, “How you like your hair?”, going on to make a few suggestions. I informed him that I was just looking for a simple haircut; number two on the sides and back, and even it out on the top. “You like it cut up to here?”, he said, motioning with his finger to describe how far up the side of my head he might use that number two. “Do whatever you do”, I said, “I’m not real picky”. And so the haircut began.

During the course of the haircut, I got the same questions I always get from somebody I’ve just met and am forced to spend some time with. “Where you from?” “You like George Bush?” “You vote for Obama?” “You like it here?” “Why you leave America?” “I would like to go to America.” “I have friends in (fill in the blank)” And then we usually cover one of the three major American theories; Who shot JFK? Did America really land on the moon? Do you think George Bush faked 911? Antonio also suggested some coloring. “It bring out your highlights”, he said. I wasn’t sure if he was referring to my gray highlights or what, all I new was, I wasn’t getting any coloring. I managed to make it out with only a haircut, a decent one at that, and a reminder of why guys like me don’t go to Paul Mitchell and why we definitely don’t go to places called Hollywood Hair. Still, I do think that I’m looking rather fabulous. At least from the ears up.

That’s all for now. More soon.