Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Just thinking about what Halloween means to me.

I remember trick-or-treat with the family in the Westwood Lake neighborhood. Around the block from our house, our mailman (who lived in the same neighborhood he did his route), would set up his house to look like a haunted house, with Frankenstein, Dracula, zombies and other full-sized figures. He and his wife loved doing this every year. What I remember most about his house was 2 things -- the full-sized zombie statues, and the smile on his face. We would do our rounds for candy, come home and dump the bag on the dining room table. Mom would look through all the candy, because my teachers at Tropical Elementary would always show us the reel-to-reel films warning us about razor blades in apples, or poisoned candy-corn. Then, they would let me have a few pieces of candy, and we would watch Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

My other Halloween memory comes from our home church. Every year up until I was about the age of 12, our church held an annual Halloween party (I was going to insert negative commentary here about how the fundamentalist Christians of America put a stop to that, but I want this to be a happy blog). This was usually held on a Saturday right around Halloween time. The youth group was in charge of the haunted house. The most memorable Halloween parties were given by our church when we rented space at an Episcopal church off of Okeechobee Road in Hialeah. the expansive fellowship hall and adjoining classrooms were perfect (the classrooms were set up as different "spooky" themed rooms). It was the 70's, so the spookiness included a zombie stable, complete with cemetary, another room had a beheading, complete with a head falling into a bucket, mad scientists, and other spooky scenes. The rest of the time included Cuban food, live music (Christian themed sing-along songs we called "coritos"), funny skits and time with friends and family.

My favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving. But growing up, Halloween was up at the top of the list. Not because of a bag full of candy, but because it was a tradition I experienced with family and friends. Today, it prompts memories of a great American tradition. Let's not complicate it too much.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Siempre Hay Musica - from Babalu Blog

Love this picture: A scene from a Cuban neighborhood; music in the streets. One day hopefully, I can be jamming on those congas under a Cuban sky.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006



Monday, October 23, 2006

Perceptions 2: Mr. MacPhisto

At the prompting of my friend Rick at yelloutsite.com, I bought a copy of U2's Zoo TV DVD, a concert given by the band during their Zoo TV tour in the early 90's.

First of all, yes it's true. U2 is the greatest rock band -- ever. I hesitate to say that, because I know everyone has their own favorite rock gods, but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

I first listened to U2 when I was in high school, probably in 1986. I wasn't really a fan (back then I was to busy listening to hip-hop music and watching YO! MTV Raps), but you couldn't deny their music was stellar.

Right around 1990, I decided that I couldn't let televangelists, the Spanish Inquisitors and other assorted greedy and mean so-called Christians dictate whether or not I was going to believe in an eternal God, so I did my own search and found that God and Christ made sense, not only to me but in the realm of reality, and that I was going to stick with Him for awhile.

Still, I grew up as most Christian children in America do; believing that the Bible is "the Good Book" of rules to be followed and anything weird or outside the realm of what I had been told was "right" is suspect and "of the devil".

Which leads me back to U2.

I had heard that Bono was a Christian. I later read that 2 other band-mates were also Christians. But I didn't get the words to "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For".

"You broke the bonds, and you loosed the chains Carried the cross, of my shame, of my shame You know I believe it. But I still haven't found what I'm looking for"
It was a beautiful song, but what was Bono saying? That he believes in Christ's death on the cross for his sin (shame), but he still hasn't found what he was looking for? Was there something more?

I heard other rumors here and there about Bono's beliefs, and drew my own conclusion that Bono was not content with Christianity and assumed he'd be making the inevitable celebrity trek to the mountains of Tibet to run away from Christianity... I mean to find enlightenment.

I still listened to U2 over the years. Over time, they became one of my favorite rock bands (up there with Zeppelin, The Beatles and Queen).

So here I am, with a copy of Zoo TV in Sydney, Australia, a concert given by U2 in 1993...

...which leads me back to Perceptions.

In 1993, I was still carrying a judgemental attitude, wearing my Christianity on my sleeve. U2 was a great band, but Bono's faith was questionable, and could confuse weak-minded believers.

I was such a schmuck.

I now watched the Zoo TV concert. Performance? Amazing. Theatrics? Cool and over the top. Imagery? Thought provoking (Is this "The Clockwork Orange" or a philosophy and religion class?).

Faith? Zoo TV is riddled with it. Bono is a master in acting out his own struggle with belief, temptation (how 'bout that belly dancer), and the duality of man. Through song and screen shots coming off the huge stage monitors, he unravels humanity, and brings the true observer to question... everything. In fact, unravel is a great word. Zoo TV takes the viewers perceptions (whether you're an atheist, Christian, Buddhist, etc...) and rips them apart; unravels them.

Watching Zoo TV, I realized how much my perceptions have changed over the years; because of life, age, wisdom. Mostly though, my perceptions changed out of a desire to think, an openness to truth, and the acceptance that there is more to this life.

Maybe I was reading too much into Zoo TV. All deep thoughts and exaggeration aside, it's an awesome show. You should get a copy.

As far as "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", it dawned on me while watching the concert that Bono was crying out from his heart. He doesn't want something other than Christ. He wants to experience the fullness of Christ. He wants to touch the face of God. I can relate to that.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Eternal Life

"A vague religion - all about feeling God in nature, and so on - is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work; like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Altantic, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I've written before on Perspective. Today, what haunts me is perception.

I had a conversation last night with a person who is struggling with a dilema. She is a Christian, who believes she has not been walking "the path" (I put that in quotes because it's something she said, which I guess is a path subject to her interpretation of something she has been told we as Christians are required to follow). She was tormented over a life and relationship issue that anyone today (Christian or non) may struggle with. But as with most Christians, her universal struggle came down to questioning herself and her relationship with God.

I talked to her about Grace. I told her that just because something terrible, bad or inconvenient happens, it doesn't mean God is punishing her for some wrong she had committed. I told her that God was not mad at her for not walking "the path". I told her that God was and always will talk to his children through trials and blessings, all in an effort to keep us close to Him, and that He does this out of love for us.

She didn't get it.

Why? Her perception of Christianity was shaped by a fundamentalist, "you must be doing something wrong" mentality. She grew up in a very legalistic faith community, that preached the gospel of "accept Jesus as your savior, or else".

This is not a deep theological blog entry, so I'm not going to break out scripture to prove my point. I just think it's sad. It's sad for different reasons:

1. Because of wrong teaching, people are robbed of the love and freedom found in Christ.
2. Because of wrong teaching, people see Christianity as rules and guidelines to follow.
3. Because of wrong teaching, people see God and faith as something you do when you have kids, because it's good for them (and isn't "Jesus Loves Me" such a cute song?).
4. Because of wrong teaching, people see Christianity as something you turn back to when things get rough, and not as something that becomes your identity.
5. Because of wrong teaching, people fail to see the vastness, magnificence, and mystery that is God, the Trinity, and our ancient, ethereal faith.

Perceptions are such dangerous things. They lock us into an idea, and don't let us move. Perceptions can paralyze.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Cigars, Rum and Google

Interesting factoid. If you go to Google, and type in "cigars rum", the first website that comes up is NOT Cohiba, NOT Bacardi, and NOT Montecristo (props to all of these great companies)....


Anyway, I thought that was pretty cool. Thanks to my friend Al for pointing that out.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained. Christianity, unlike Christian spirituality, was not a term that excited me. I couldn’t share something I wasn’t experiencing. And I wasn’t experiencing Christianity.

- Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Eric Cartmans Discontent (click here for link)

"Democrats piss me off" - Eric Cartman

Along those lines, click the link for a great post on Babalublog.com, written by George Moneo.