Q & A: 3 comments, not questions really …

One on worship songs … one on military spending … one on a former pastor in pain.
… with my brief replies

I’ll be at “Everything Must Change” starting in Kansas City tonight. You may get this sometime in the dim, distant future.
This is in response to your “open letter to worship songwriters.”
If you haven’t seen it, get a copy of the “Upper Room Worship Book” from Cokesbury Press. It contains some of the freshest singable poetry I have ever seen — new, bright images; beautiful theology of inclusion, justice, kingdom now; music that challenges the brain and rejoices the heart. They make you think. Also, you probably already know my favorite four of the most amazing lyrics writers today: Fred Pratt Green, Brian Wren, John Bell, Shirley Erena Murray.
Those are all mainline “hymn” writers. For the most part, they create four-verse hymns — stuff that might not work in a rock-band setting, but that should get well known.
Three of my favorite titles:
Bring Many Names – Brian Wren (images God as “Strong mother God, warm father God, old aching God, young growing God, great living God)
God Weeps – Shirley Erena Murray (the last phrase of one of the verses: “and till we change the way we love, God weeps”)
Till All the Jails are Empty – John Bell
BRIAN: Thanks for these suggestions. I’m glad to pass them on! I continue to be amazed at how far and wide the “Open Letter” has spread … and the great replies that come in. A lot of us share the same sense of dissatisfaction and the same desire for more “worthy” worship music, in content and form.
I’m very impressed by “Everything Must Change”, and especially for your focus on military spending. The article below was forwarded to me today and contains analysis of the most recent US military budget figures for the 2008 financial year, which now exceeds $1.1 trillion! I hope you or others may find it useful.
The Pentagon Strangles Our Economy: Why the U.S. Has Gone Broke
By Chalmers Johnson, Le Monde diplomatique
Posted on April 26, 2008, Printed on April 26, 2008
BRIAN: Thanks. One of the most unsettling quotes in the article, to me, was this:

This sum of staggering size (try to visualize a billion of something) does not express the cost of the military establishment to the nation as a whole. The true cost is measured by what has been foregone, by the accumulated deterioration in many facets of life, by the inability to alleviate human wretchedness of long duration.”

“What has been foregone” – there’s a haunting phrase. With all the talk of our troubled economy, this subject needs more attention. The “military-industrial complex” continues its trajectory of growth, and the promised peace and security don’t seem to be forthcoming. Maybe there’s another way to peace than through the sword after all
Thank you for a wonderful weekend in Seattle! It blessed my life, and particularly my friend’s. He has really been struggling after his rejection by a church where he pastored for almost 20 years. This was the first time in two years that he has stepped into a church setting without fear, and I saw him moved to tears to realize he was not alone in his pain. It was the pinnacle of his healing journey, re-discovering the grace of our Lord and His love, acceptance and forgiveness.
BRIAN: Thanks so much for this encouraging note. As you know, I have some loyal and highly energized critics who don’t seem to understand the pain of people like your friend. In fact, they are often the ones who unwittingly create this pain. So your words mean a lot to me. Thanks. And I hope that readers of this blog will stop for a minute to pray for your friend and the many like him who are “walking wounded,” suffering “post traumatic stress” from “friendly fire.”