Tuesday, October 23, 2007

the devil and daniel johnston

Last night I watched the documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, and my mind is blown. It tells the story of a manic-depressive American singer/songwriter/artist who has been covered by nearly 150 artists, including Pearl Jam, Beck, Bright Eyes, the Eels, and Tom Waits, and who is and was revered by people such as David Bowie and Kurt Cobain. His art has been exhibited in studios from New York to London. While I was intrigued by his work, and managed to find several of his singles which I’ve now included on my ipod, I was just as intrigued by those who idolized the man.

It was easy to watch the documentary and see the similarities between Johnston and Dylan (lyric wise), as well as Johnston and Brian Wilson (madness wise), but I was more interested in the similarities between Johnston and a dear friend of mine who is also manic depressive (also known as Bi-polar). My friend is just as much the artist and, like Johnston, if my friend could ever get it together long enough, could easily get their work published for others to see and be touched. This friend often sends me work and I’m always blown away, but they are just as quickly in the hospital dealing with their latest episode. It’s such a frustrating and sad cycle to watch from the outside and must obviously be even more frustrating and sad from the inside.

As I’ve spoken with my friend about finding an agent, their response is always that an agent will make them do public appearances, something that they are extremely uncomfortable with.

Anyway, it’s a great film if you have the means.

Believe it or not, I’ve actually written quite a bit in the past couple of weeks, just nothing I felt like posting. Topics have included but have not been limited to:

- When Cell groups don’t work – a discussion on why one size never fits all. Ask a tailor if one size fits all and he’ll turn his nose up at you. That’s because a tailor is committed to the idea that everybody is different. When we try and take one model of church programming, and squash it into a different context, we often get a programmatic version of a one size fits all t-shirt. In some cases it gets us by, in others it doesn’t work at all. Either way, it could be better with some thought and effort.

- Successful Discipleship and Outreach? - If a church isn’t succeeding in youth ministry, senior adult ministry, or ministry to those with special needs, it isn’t succeeding. My argument is that if a church is reaching young adults, they should be encouraging/discipling those young adults to reach out to their community. This will include other young adults and should also include the discipleship of people younger than themselves…namely teenagers. If a church is reaching adults, where are their children? Therefore, if a church is targeting and reaching either of these targets, and not reaching teenagers, it is not a successful discipling community. However, you could have a very successful ministry to senior adults or to people with special needs, and not reach any teenagers because neither of these two groups would necessarily be associated with teenagers. I also included an encouragement that reaching and leading a group of 5-10 teenagers a week really isn’t that difficult.

- Know Thyself – One of the greatest problems the church faces right now is one of identity. Nobody knows what their local church should be. Is it a place to uphold the traditions handed down by the generations before? Or is it a place for something else. My problem is that I’m so biased I couldn’t write the article without demeaning one side and making it very obvious which side I stood on. Still, I quoted Socrates which would have surely given me cool points.

- The Big Move - Another exhaustive discussion of the church’s attempt to move from modernity to post-modernity and why it struggles so much to do so. It points out that the church is rooted so much in modernity that it struggles to figure out a way to shift into post-modernity and still sustain significant continuity with its past and, therefore, what it considers to be its makeup.

- Universalism? - A discussion of theologian Karl Barth, somebody I’ve been reading lately and somebody with which I have at least one thing in common. It seems that Karl Barth was often labelled a Universalist for suggesting that all humans are children of God and are in a “covenant partner relationship” with Him. I’ve also had it suggested to me that I’m a Universalist for the very same reason. Neither Barth nor myself are Universalists, though I admit to having tried to be for a while.

So that’s my past couple of weeks summed up in a nice little post. Where have you all been?

Comments on "the devil and daniel johnston"


Blogger Phil said ... (5:38 AM) : 

hey, i lost your email address. can you shoot me an email at youareiam@mac.com


Blogger Bram said ... (3:27 PM) : 

I've studied a bit of Barth over the years. Amazing stuff! Last month I read a new book about his theology titled "Barth for Armchair theologians. It's well worth a look if you're interested in the man.



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