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by Jeff
Rated: 18+ · Book · Biographical · #1399999
My primary Writing.com blog.
Logocentric (adj). Regarding words and language as a fundamental expression of an external reality (especially applied as a negative term to traditional Western thought by postmodernist critics).

Sometimes I just write whatever I feel like. Other times I respond to prompts, many taken from the following places:

         *Penw* "The Soundtrackers Group
         *Penw* "Blogging Circle of Friends
         *Penw* "Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise
         *Penw* "JAFBG
         *Penw* "Take up Your Cross

Thanks for stopping by! *Smile*
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February 19, 2022 at 12:40am
February 19, 2022 at 12:40am

"The Soundtrack of Your Life | Day 16

"What I See"
by Elevation Worship feat. Chris Brown

Everything that was true about the last song on playlist is true of this one. I love the rock sound to this song (the way it starts off kind of reminds me of an AC/DC song or something from a similar hard rock band) and I breathed a sigh of relief when the "Chris Brown" that's being featured on the song is a worship leader and not the "other" Chris Brown who's famous for his dance moves and assault and battery charges.

I really like Elevation Worship and almost put a number of their other songs on my playlist this year. I've also been listening to "Jireh" and "RATTLE!" quite a bit over the past year. If you're looking for an intro to Christian worship music that doesn't always feel so... stuffy and religious-y, this is a pretty good worship music band to start with.
February 19, 2022 at 12:31am
February 19, 2022 at 12:31am

"The Soundtrack of Your Life | Day 15

"Surrounded (Fight My Battles)"
by Michael W. Smith

Another of the worship songs that I've been listening to a lot over the past year. And yet another one where Elyssa Smith and UPPERROOM   do an amazing extended cover version as well. I'm not someone who feels particularly "surrounded" by adversity most of the time, but I do find this song comforting in the idea that God is always with us, always around us.

A lot of the worship songs I've been listening to this year have been both really uplifting and often have videos from concerts or worship services where everyone's really into it. I think part of that might come from the fact that our own church services have been either online, or a bit of an understated affair held outside in the church parking lot (thanks to COVID on both counts) with just a guitar, a keyboard, and a cajon. It's not really possible right now for obvious reasons, but I miss the big gatherings with a full worship band plugged into a top-notch sound system. You don't need all that for worship, of course, but I've always enjoyed that kind of worship.
February 15, 2022 at 1:22pm
February 15, 2022 at 1:22pm

PROMPT: Write about the hymn, Wherever He Leads I'll Go

One of the things I find most compelling about the Christian faith is the knowledge that you're not perfect. That you don't have all the answers, that you're going to make mistakes, that you will ultimately fall short of the example that Jesus sets. And yet, God still loves you anyway, no matter how messy you might be.

If I'm being totally honest with myself, prayers and hymns like this terrify me a little. I know the idea of going wherever He leads you is supposed to be one of the cornerstones of our faith, but would you actually go anywhere? I love my life. If He told me to move to Uganda to help reach unchurched people on another continent, would I be brave enough to do that? If He told me to sell all my worldly possessions and give all that money to the church and live on nothing but faith that He would continue to provide one day at a time, would my faith be strong enough to allow me to do that?

I know intellectually that this is literally the point of faith. To trust in God's provision and goodness so profoundly that you grow closer to Him. But in a real world where there is rent and bills to pay, kids to clothe and feed, and a whole lot of other daily rhythms some of which I enjoy (I actually like my job! I like my house!), it's hard not to want to hold a little something back to insulate yourself against losing those things. It's hard to trust so fully in God that you do little to weather the storms of life on your own. My parents, particularly my father, raised me to always be self-reliant and to take care of both myself and my family, so it's a little counterintuitive for me to turn around and say, "Sure, I'll throw all that caution and preparedness to the wind and just trust that God will work it all out."

There's also something to be said about God working in your life in different ways.

One of my favorite parables is the one where a devout man is stranded on the roof of his house during a flood. It's been told a thousand ways before, but it goes a little something like this:

A devout man lives in a town beset by a flood. He retreats to his roof, surrounded by rising waters all around him.

As the waters keep rising, a boat comes by. The man declines help and says, "My God will save me!"

So the boat leaves and a little while later, another boat passes by. The man again says, "I have faith that my God will save me!"

After that boat leaves, a helicopter with a rescue team comes to him. Once again, the man refuses. "My faith is strong! My God will save me!"

The helicopter leaves and eventually the man drowns. When he finds himself in Heaven in the presence of God, he's angry and demands to know why God had forsaken him. "Why didn't you answer my prayers and intervene to save me?"

God: "I sent you two boats and a helicopter!"

It kind of raises a bit of a conundrum, doesn't it? How much are we supposed to trust God's in future provision versus the provision he's already blessed us with? *Thinker*

And I also know that not everyone is called to such radical acts of service. The truth is that most people are called to serve in their own communities in their own ways within their means. But I have a fair number of friends who have been called into radical acts. Church planters who have left the USA to plant churches abroad. Brazilian ministry friends who moved to Mozambique to live on mission for three years. People who have felt called to sell everything they own and live radically simpler lives. So it's not just a theoretical question for me. I've seen God call people to do the kind of stuff that scares the heck out of me.

Ultimately, this will be something I probably struggle with most of my life. The push and pull between me wanting to exert control over my life, and letting Him lead the way. I have no problem letting Him lead in the mundane, or within the confines that I've constructed for my life. But following Him also means "taking up your cross" (it's such a prevalent theme it's literally a line in this hymn AND the name of the blog group I borrowed this prompt from!). And that ain't exactly an easy or pleasant process. The real challenge - and I sure hope I'm not alone in this - is going to be letting Him lead in profound ways, when that path takes me outside of the comfortable life I've constructed for myself.
February 14, 2022 at 7:32pm
February 14, 2022 at 7:32pm

"The Soundtrack of Your Life | Day 14

"Love You For A Long Time"
by Maggie Rogers

It's Valentine's Day, so I figured I should probably go with one of the love songs on my list to mark the halfway point in "The Soundtrack of Your Life. I featured Maggie Rogers on last year's playlist too. Her album Heard It in a Past Life was released in January 19 and spawned four singles. This track was a non-album single (and her most recent one) from November 2019.

I'm actually really curious to see what kind of a career Maggie Rogers is going to have. She's clearly a unique talent and comes up with some really great songs (case in point, this one), but she's also pretty sporadic with her releases (case in point, this is her most recent single). Since the end of 2019 she's done a cover of the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" with Phoebe Bridgers. She also released an album in December 2020 (Notes from the Archive: Recordings 2011-2016) that is "a compilation of songs written and recorded over the past ten years" including material from her previous two independent albums. And, the math error notwithstanding (ten years, but from 2011-2016 *Think*), it's a little worrisome to be from a career longevity standpoint that she's already dipping into the unfinished older materials after all of one studio album.

Something tells me she's not going to be a terribly prolific artist over the coming years, but that's okay... maybe she'll be more like Adele and release an album every few years when she has gathered enough life experience/material (she is only 27). Let's just hope she doesn't end up like the George R.R. Martin or Patrick Rothfuss of pop/folk music, where we're all still waiting on a new album ten years from now and instead get a half dozen side projects that aren't the new album we're all waiting for. #FantasyNovelShade

February 14, 2022 at 7:07pm
February 14, 2022 at 7:07pm

"The Soundtrack of Your Life | Day 13

"66 Days"
by Rozzi

In 2021, I made a concerted effort to listen to more music and find some new artists. To that end, I resubscribed to Spotify and started using their recommendation algorithm (both for specific songs and through their "Discover Weekly" playlist based on your listening habits) to find new music. This was one of the first songs recommended to me that I absolutely fell in love with, and it was heavily listened-to all last year.

According to my "Top Songs 2021" year-end recap playlist, it was my 12th most listened-to song in all of 2021. That's a little misleading because I also listen to songs on Apple Music, YouTube and other sources, but at least on Spotify, it was #12 on my year-end 2021 chart. *Smile* Number 11 has already been featured in my "The Soundtrack of Your Life challenge this year ("Imagine) and at least two or three of my Top 10 will make an appearance at some point.

Rozzi (Crane) has a really funky, soulful sound which I really enjoy. This is a song I listen to a lot because the bass mixed with the vocals is really easy to follow along with and is a good rhythm for when I want to get into a groove at work. Rozzi initially rose to prominence at age 19, after being "discovered" by Adam Levine of Maroon 5. She collaborated with and toured with the band for a while before branching out on her own.
February 13, 2022 at 2:09am
February 13, 2022 at 2:09am

"The Soundtrack of Your Life | Day 12

by Dua Lipa feat. DaBaby

This song has been pretty heavily featured on my work playlist. I tend to go for upbeat, high energy songs that I can play on repeat. Once I've listened to a song like this four or five times in a row, the lyrics kind of melt away and I can use the familiarity with the beat to get into a work rhythm that allows me to focus and be productive.

There are a handful of Dua Lipa songs that I've really liked over the years, but I've never actually listened to a full album of hers. I should probably do that at some point, because even her just-okay songs are pretty catchy.

An interesting detail about this song is that it was at the height of its popularity when DaBaby made some controversial homophobic remarks during a concert, which drew widespread criticism and caused him to be removed from the lineup of several festivals and concerts that he was scheduled to attend. Several radio stations refused the play the song with his inclusion in it. Dua Lipa denounced DaBaby's remarks and actually made a few different versions of the song, including a version with him cut out of it entirely, as well as a "Blessed Madonna remix" featuring both Madonna and Missy Elliott. The other versions actually spent longer on the Billboard charts than the original, so DaBaby was removed from the song's attribution entirely (Billboard rules state that only one version of the song is recognized, and it's the version that spends the most weeks on the chart).

February 12, 2022 at 2:32am
February 12, 2022 at 2:32am

"The Soundtrack of Your Life | Day 11

by Cardi B feat. Megan Thee Stallion

Did I intentionally put this song immediately after an entry with a Christian worship song?

Honestly, when I first heard this song, I must've immediately listened to it again on repeat a dozen times just to confirm that the lyrics really said what I thought they said. I love how ballsy this song is, and how empowered both Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion sound during their respective parts of this song. There are so many unfair social pressures on women, especially with respect to their sexuality, and these two drop a song that gives exactly zero fucks what anyone else thinks of them.

While I'm not sure this is the direction I would take with my own art, per se, I love that this song absolutely goes for it. I hope that one day I'm brave enough with my own work to put something out in the world that's this bold and raw.

This song also introduced me to Megan Thee Stallion, who I've really been enjoying listening to lately. If you think this song is a rare departure for her, you're very much mistaken. "Body" and "Girls In The Hood" are two of my favorites and they definitely have similar themes of female empowerment.
February 12, 2022 at 2:07am
February 12, 2022 at 2:07am

"The Soundtrack of Your Life | Day 10

"Rest On Us"
by Maverick City Music & UPPERROOM feat. Brandon Lake & Eniola Abioye

I've been listening to quite a few worship songs over the past year, and this is one of my current favorites. Like most worship songs, there are lots of different covers and versions of this song. In particular, I'd recommend this one from UPPERROOM feat. Elyssa Smith   and this other one from Mariah Adigun & Jekalyn Carr  .

I think this specific song speaks to me because the Holy Spirit is a Christian concept that I've really struggled with. Within my church community, I know people who hear the Spirit speak so clearly. When they're praying for someone, they get clear visions or words from the Spirit to share. When they're worshipping, they feel the Spirit's presence with them. I'm definitely not one of those people. The Holy Spirit either doesn't talk to me in nearly so clear a fashion, or else I don't know how to listen properly. Honestly, knowing me, it's probably mostly the latter. *Think*

My faith up until this point has been a largely intellectual exercise, but listening to songs like this and seeing how filled with the Spirit other people are capable of being, it makes me want to experience that for myself. Even watching the people in these videos, there's such peace and overwhelming joy on so many of their faces. I'm curious if I'll ever get to the point in my faith where I'm able to have a similar experience.

February 11, 2022 at 2:41am
February 11, 2022 at 2:41am

A third of the way into "The Soundtrack of Your Life, I'm taking a little break from the music blogging to blog about something else. I pulled these prompts from last months current prompts over at "JAFBG, so consider this a little JAFBG Interlude. *Bigsmile* I'm going to post some short responses to a few different prompts:

There has been talk recently about imposing upper age limits on political roles. Do you think there should be a maximum age limit for political positions?

I not only thing there should be a maximum age limit, I also think there should be term limits. I understand the arguments for having seasoned politicians in office who have a wealth of experience about how the system works, so I'm not advocating for one-and-done terms or anything... but I think it's far, far too easy for politicians to get complacent, for self-serving policies to take root, and for corruption when politicians are able to cement themselves into a political office and hold onto it for ten, twenty, thirty years.

If I could snap my fingers tomorrow and make changes, I would enforce a retirement age of 65 for elected officials, and term limits that cap out after 8-12 years or so. For things that are currently lifetime appointments like the Supreme Court and many federal judicial roles, it'd be one-and-done after a 12-18 year term or whenever you turn 65, whichever comes first. Stagger the elections, of course, so you have a mix of "experienced" politicians who are at the tail end of their careers in public service mixing with the newly elected.

That's not to say it should be enforced retirement... if you want to continue working into your twilight years in the fields of academia, the private sector, as a self-employed lobbyist/consultant, or whatever... more power to you. But you shouldn't be in your seventies or even eighties and still clinging onto a public office that you've refused to relinquish for decades.

A healthy representative government is dependent on elected officials that actually represent their constituents. The longer politicians are able to shroud themselves in power and solidify their positions against challengers, the further they get from their constituents. I'm all for age and term limits that refresh the pool of elected officials with some regularity, so that new voices can be heard and not drowned out by the voices of those who have entrenched their position and lost touch with their constituents.

What's something going on in the world or in your local community right now that you think people should be more aware of?

On an international level, I think it has to be climate change. And not just because I think we all need to be a little more wide-eyed about what our choices in the name of business growth and profits are doing to this planet, but because - like my response above - I think we've grown complacent with the way things are. I long for new innovations, for more announcements that someone has developed greater fuel-efficiency, or an alternative power source, or technology that's higher-quality, longer-lasting, and greener. I think ingenuity has taken a backseat to convenience and profitability, and if there's one cause that can rally everyone around this idea, it's the shared goal of making the one planet we all live on a better place to be. I think we all need to take a closer look at how the changing climate is affecting us in so many ways, and knowing those changes are coming, what we can do to innovate truly out-of-the-box solutions to these changes.

On a local/national level, I think people should be more aware of just how much corporate interests are pulling the strings. The money they dump into the political system for advantageous legislation (tax breaks, help with regulatory concerns, anti-unionization efforts, etc.), the way that people are pitted against one another, the lack of loyalty so many companies now show to their workforce. The corporate world has taken on a "profits and growth at all costs" business model (especially in the past 10-20 years), and I wish people would pay more attention to the ways our strings are getting pulled and our attention is being diverted while corporate interests manipulate the levers of power in the background.

What widely-accepted piece of advice is actually total bullshit?

"Write what you know." People have taken "write what you know" to mean that you should only write about topics that you're intimately familiar with. I suppose that's why so many writers try to write about writer characters writing things. *RollEyes* If writers could only write what they already objectively know for certain, there would be no science fiction, or fantasy. There would be considerably fewer action/thrillers about spies and special forces soldiers, and there would sure as hell be fewer "billionaire bad boy" romance novels. *Laugh*

The piece of advice writers should instead be following is "know what you're writing about." You don't have to already be an expert in the topic. You don't have to only write about things that have happened to you. But you sure as hell need to know what you're doing and have an understanding of your subject matter. Know what you're writing about. And if you don't know about it already, start learning.
February 11, 2022 at 1:32am
February 11, 2022 at 1:32am

"The Soundtrack of Your Life | Day 9

"Run It"
by DJ Snake, Rick Ross, and Rich Brian
from the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings soundtrack

I listened to this song a lot last year when I needed something energetic. It was produced specifically for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and I chose a video that included a lot of the stunts and action sequences from the movie, because the song also makes me think of Brad Allan, the Supervising Stunt Coordinator on the movie who passed shortly before its release.

If you're not familiar with the name, Brad Allan got his start as the first-ever caucasian member of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team. That's the team of stunt guys that doesn't just help Jackie Chan design the action sequences for his movies, they're also more often than not, his adversaries in his movies due to the complexity of the stunts and how closely they have to work together. If you're a fan of Jackie Chan movies, you've probably seen Brad Allan as someone Jackie is fighting (he quickly rose to prominence within the group for his incredible athletic ability). Here's a showreel to give you an idea of some of his work:

Later in his career, Brad went from stunt man to stunt coordinator, designing fight and action sequences in his own right. Even if you're not familiar with his face, or his work on the Jackie Chan Stunt Team, if you're at all a fan of action movies from the past ten years, I guarantee you've seen his work before. Here's a 2015 action design reel showcasing some of the action sequences he's designed from popular movies.

Brad Allan was one of those guys that I never knew personally, only by reputation. He had worked with Marvel on a number of different productions, and his passing back in August 2021 was one of those that really affected me because the world so clearly lost someone who was a truly special talent at the thing he did. He was a remarkable athlete, an accomplished stuntperson, and a memorable action designer. I'm incredibly sad that the world won't get to see any more of his work, but the work he leaves behind makes for quite a legacy.

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