Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Brief Musing on Church

About a week ago I was listening to a podcast where someone had been discussing the community she used to find in church and then transitioned to discussing the community she found in the comedy scene, but then that got a disclaimer as well. She said something along the lines of, "Some people think you should put the community above everything, and I'm like, 'No, that community isn't going to protect me.'"

And it was like a punch to the gut with the realization that that's been exactly the feeling I've had about the church for years now.

The church is not going to protect me.

It's so obviously not going to protect me. Never in any of my years growing up did that ever even cross my mind as a possible function of the church.

And yet, I feel like that must be an element of any true community. Protection, security, safety, the sense that you can go in there and be all right because the people there are on your side. Because that's when you grow.

I have never felt like anyone in church was on my side.

In all my deepest struggles, my most passionate moments, so many times the church immediately jumped to spouting out verses to prove me wrong, rather than protection -- wrapping their arms around me (metaphorically, anyway) and keeping me safe. I think it comes out of a desire to see people do the "right" thing, and the idea that tough love is the truest love, and so any time they see me going down a path that is not what they believe is right for them they have the urge to fix it. I think it CAN be well-intentioned... but it makes it not safe. There have been so many times where I'm TRYING to follow God the best I know how, only to be abandoned by his people because I like an Eminem song or I learn from a Rob Bell book or I vote for a Democrat or I have a tough time going to church. (All things that have actually become huge rifts between me and other Christians.)

This is one of the many reasons I have so much baggage dealing with it now. Church is a battleground for me. Church is a place where I must be ready at any moment to protect myself, because those around me won't help me. Stepping into my church puts me on the defensive. And since I only hear from God in moments of openness and vulnerability, and I can never let down my guard in church, I can never hear from God in church.

Friday, February 8, 2019

"Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band" by Yoko Ono (150 Albums By Women #136)

NPR compiled a list of the 150 greatest albums created by women. I've decided to listen to these albums, from #150 all the way up to #1. But to give myself a bit of forward momentum and have a sense of when I was "done" with each album, my method is to listen to the album one time all the way through, then with each subsequent listen, I'd remove my least favorite. This lets me listen to the best ones most frequently without having to sit through too many that didn't work for me at all.

Last time I announced that my next album would be #137, Ofra Haza's "Fifty Gates of Wisdom." Well, halfway through my survivor playlist listen of that, it was actually removed from Spotify. Sheesh. So I moved onto Yoko Ono's "Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band" album instead, which I anticipated would be the most challenging listen of the entire project so far.

It's only six songs long on the original version (I opted not to include bonus tracks that got added later), but avant-garde music is so not my thing that I found myself completely at a loss after the first listen to find anything positive about it, but I kept chugging along. And then, on the last two songs... it somehow clicked? I was astonished, but I actually kind of dug these last two by the fifth listen.

A top 5 is ridiculous for an album with only six tracks, but I will share my thoughts on those top two. So here we go.

2. Greenfield Morning I Pushed an Empty Baby Carriage All Over the City
This apparently has lyrics going on (the title lyrics, it appears) but the sound of this is pretty intriguing to me. It's one of the more musical pieces, and definitely an atmospheric one. The title apparently references a miscarriage, and there's a very empty melancholy feel to this one. Ono's voice is not as abrasive as it is in some of the other pieces, making it easier to lapse into the emotional tone of it.

1. Why
And everything I just said about the previous track doesn't apply to this. This IS abrasive and busy and obnoxious, with Ono wailing what I believe is the word "Why" over and over again in various vocal styles. John Lennon is on guitar here, and the guitar sounds great -- providing a much-needed musical foundation for Ono to essentially riff all over. One review I read called this track "primal," and that's absolutely the right feel here. I'm so fascinated by it.

The albums I've listened to thus far in this project, in order:
  1. The Roches - The Roches
  2. Robyn - Body Talk
  3. Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
  4. The Breeders - Last Splash
  5. Patty Griffin - Flaming Red
  6. Iris Dement - My Life
  7. Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas
  8. Alicia Keys - Songs in A Minor
  9. The Bangles - All Over the Place
  10. Yoko Ono - Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
  11. Oumou Sangaré - Moussolou
  12. Terri Lyne Carrington - The Mosaic Project