Archive for March 2009

Idol Power Rankings, Top 9 (iTunes Week)

March 31, 2009

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Here are my Power Rankings for Top Ten week on Idol.
Previous Rankings: Top13 | Week 1 | Week 2 | Top 10

  1. Adam Lambert, “Play That Funky Music”. Adam is by FAR the most consistently awesome contestant. I think we are seeing the winner unfold before our eyes. Simply amazing. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to attempt next. He’s starting to distance himself from the other contestants. They all have a lot of catching up to do.
  2. Danny Gokey, “What Hurts The Most”. Danny is still one of my favorites on this show, but I wasn’t in sync with the judges this time. I felt he pushed a little hard and oversang it. He certainly did that on the big high note, (whch squeaked out) and might have been a little sharp on the very last note of the song. I did agree with Kara, though – he does bring his heart and soul every week.
  3. Kris Allen, “Ain’t No Sunshine”. When I heard the song he was singing, I was very skeptical – but I think he actually worked it out really well. I was pretty impressed after all. It turned out to be one of his best performances.
  4. Allison Iraheta, “Don’t Speak”. She continues to amaze me that she is just 16 years old. Her tone and control is astounding for that age. I really don’t get the whole judges commenting on her looks and dress so much. I don’t really care that much about it and it wasn’t that distracting to me. And having a daughter myself that is into Hannah Montana and HSM and iCarly and everything, I think what she wore is right in line with her age.
  5. Lil Rounds, “I Surrender”.  Celine Dion? Really? You can pick anything you want off the iTunes charts and you picked straight-up, white, adult contemporary? LIL – You are an R&B singer. Why do you keep running from that? The back half of the song was better than the beginning, but still – I don’t get it. You are an awesome singer – but WHY CELINE?
  6. Matt Giraud, “You Found Me”. He might have been feeling it, but I wasn’t. It was a class in Oversinging 101. Not good. It was back to the Matt that did Viva La Vida.
  7. Anoop Desai, “Caught Up”. I was really not impressed this week. Sorry Anoop. Perhaps you are just a balladeer. Everytime you try to do an uptempo song you prove how cheesy you are.
  8. Scott MacIntyre, “I Love You Just The Way You Are”. Scott, it may be time to go, buddy. That was not very good, dude. Cheesy. Cruise Ship. The opposite of something hip and contemporary. Kara and Simon were wrong. It was lame.
  9. Megan Joy Corkrey, “Turn Your Lights Down Low”. I am really tired of Lady Caw Caw’s act. Please send her home America!
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Idol Power Rankings, Top 10 (Motown Week)

March 25, 2009

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Here are my Power Rankings for Top Ten week on Idol.
Previous Rankings: Top13 | Week 1 | Week 2

  1. Adam Lambert, “Tracks of My Tears”. I’m absolutely speechless. That was the performance of the year so far. Absolutely stunning. Beautiful. Passionate. Perfection.
  2. Danny Gokey, “Get Ready”. It was good. It was really good. But Adam was better. Danny drops a spot to #2 this week!
  3. Allison Iraheta, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”. She really brought it tonight! Very very good. She jumps up 4 spots from me this week!
  4. Anoop Desai, “Ooh Baby Baby”. I might be an outsider on this, but I really really liked it. The falsetto wasn’t perfect, but the feel and interpretation was dead ON. Simon’s criticism about showmanship was good feedback, I think.
  5. Matt Giraud, “Let’s Get It On”. I was very impressed at the beginning, but it turned a little “boy band” for me near the end. The judges seemed to really like it, though. I tend to judge ANYBODY who sings Marvin pretty harshly though – he’s one of the top male vocalists of all time in my opinion.
  6. Lil Rounds, “Heat Wave”.  Is it me or did she sound nervous and out of breath throughout the song? It sounded like she was struggling to keep up, and kind of oversinging it. I was expecting her to come out with this genre and just KILL, but I was kind of disappointed. I agreed with Kara completely.
  7. Kris Allen, “How Sweet It Is”. It was a really smart song choice for him. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m just not a big fan of Kris’s. He did a respectable job with the tune, but I’m just not impressed with him. It was OK – but again I say – So What? I think the girlies all just like the way he looks.
  8. Scott MacIntyre, “You Can’t Hurry Love”. I just figured it out. He’s Richard Carpenter! (Great composer/arranger/musician – but so-so vocalist.) He needs a Karen.
  9. Michael Sarver, “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”. White boy got completely exposed this week. Simon was spot on accurate with his criticism.
  10. Megan Joy Corkrey, “For Once In My Life”. Lady Caw Caw finally showed us the truth tonght, and everyone saw it – including all 4 judges.

Biblical Compassion

March 23, 2009

What is a Christ-follower’s responsibility regarding compassion? What does the Bible say about it?
Lately it seems that there are about a million good causes that a Christ-follower could get involved with. They offer an entire range of opportunities from the obvious soup kitchens and food drives and global poverty initiatives, to the more personally time-consuming tutoring or hospital & prison visitation, to the more obscure projects like christian animal rescue or outreach to sex-industry workers or helping scattered Jews return to Israel.

If you’re anything like me, it can be a bit overwhelming. Where do I start? There are so many worthy causes! For myself, personally, I thought the best place for me to start was to open up the Bible and review what was there. After all, if I am going to give my time, talents, and resources to compassion ministries I want to be sure that I am at least fulfilling my Biblical responsibilities. So I’ve been researching a little while.

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What I Found
One of the first things I noticed was that God’s heart on the matter has not changed. You can find scriptural references to helping and caring for the disadvantaged in every section of the Bible – Law, Prophets, Poetry, Gospels and Letters – they all have something to say on the subject. This means God has consistently been trying to teach humanity to be givers and to have compassion for people since the beginning. There are no lame excuses allowable (ie: “well that part of the Bible only applies to the Jews”, etc.)

One thing is for certain – God is on the side of the poor. Big Time. “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” Proverbs 29:7. See also Isaiah 41:17.

Another thing I noticed was that it is clear that the early church, as described in Acts and Paul’s letters acted as sort of a social services agency – caring for those who had no one else to care for them. The church pooled their resources in order to care for the needs of not only the church members, but also others whom society had neglected.
[*see footnote]

So who are we talking about? Whom does the Bible say we are to care for?

The Poor. There are a TON of verses about caring for the poor. I like this verse in Luke 3 because I think it captures the proper, balanced spiritual perspective all in one verse. By that I mean that it is clear that our giving is to come from our surplus (we should take care of our immediate family needs first, and then give of our abundance.) “John [the Baptist] answered, ‘The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.'” Luke 3:11

Widows. The Bible is clear that we are to care for widows and the elderly who cannot take care of themselves. It says that the first responsibility is that an adult child should care for their own Father and Mother. (1 Timothy 5:4, 1 Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 6:2, Proverbs 23:22) If that responsibility is in neglect, then it is up to the Church to take on that responsibility. (James 1:27, 1 Timothy 5:3). In my opinion, we should also include single moms who struggle financially as widows. Certainly single moms who do not receive proper child support and help with the kids would qualify! If a man leaves his family and does not step up to his financial and parental responsibility then he may as well be dead.

Orphans. The Bible mentions orphans and the “fatherless” more times than I can count. The problem with this one is that society has changed. In Biblical times, if a child’s parents were killed and there were no grandparents or extended family to take them in, it was highly likely that the children would live on the street. There were no orphanges or foster homes then. So the church had a very real, specific need to fill there. In today’s society, the State cares for “true orphans”. So does that mean we are released from this obligation? I think we’d have a tough time just throwing these scriptures out the window. So what does a 21st century orphan look like and how would we care for them? That question leaves us with several possible answers:

  1. Children of single parents often have needs that go unmet, especially when family income may be at or below the poverty level. How could you help these kids?
  2. Maybe you could partner with an organization that cares for children of drug addicts, who are physically and emotionally unable to care for their children.
  3. Perhaps you could give money to support organizations that care for AIDS orphans in Africa.
  4. Perhaps God would lead you to be a foster family.
  5. Perhaps God would lead you to adopt from China, where girls are aborted by the millions. Or from Russia or other countries where life expectancy is very low.

The Sick and Disabled. Jesus says we should invite the lame, blind, etc. to feast with us. He tells the story of the Good Samaritan to show that tending to the sick and disabled should cross any kind of social barrier. And he says that anytime you help “one of these” it is the exact same as if you were doing it to him. This is a no-brainer. All Christ-followers should care for the sick and reach out to the disabled.

Prisoners. The Bible explicity says that believers should care about, remember, and visit those in prison. (Hebrews 13:3, Matthew 25:36, 2 Timothy 1:16-18)

The Opressed. Social Injustice offends God (numerous Biblical examples). Therefore, it ought to offend us. It should give us a holy discontent when people are abused, taken advantage of, ripped off, silenced, persecuted, tortured, or neglected. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Proverbs 31:8

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CONCLUSION
I don’t know about you, but God is stirring me up about this stuff. I feel convicted for not doing anything significant about compassion initiatives. I feel that God is trying to teach me something about his character that I should do a better job modeling. I tend to just get caught up in my own life and my own cares and responsibilities and to just neglect my Biblical compassion responsibilities. What about you? Where are you with this stuff?

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[* footnote: It is no secret that I am of the conservative political persuasion. Just check out some of the other articles on this blog site for confirmation of that. So people ask me all the time, “How can you be a strong conservative – believing in free market capitalism and no redistribution of wealth – yet also defend the obvious socialist model of the Acts church? How do you reconcile the two?” Well, the big difference is that we are talking about two completely different kinds of entities – Government and the Church. I believe in both – but I believe they shouln’t try to do each other’s jobs! Government should do what is best at – maintaining an army, establishing a currency, building roads and bridges, uhhhhhh remind me…what else do they do well??? <grin> But the CHURCH – well, that is an awesome socialist organization! (The difference being that participation is voluntary, not mandated by law). I have absolutely no problem with voluntarily pooling my resources into the church, who will then use that money to aid the poor, etc. My problem comes when my government takes money out of my pocket – by force – to give to my neighbor. Charity should be voluntary, otherwise it’s not charity – it’s a punishment for succeeding.]

Song Suggestions for Idol’s Motown Week

March 21, 2009

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Adam Lambert: It would also be nice to see Adam’s softer side with “My Cherie Amour” (Stevie Wonder), but if he wants to keep the energy flowing, he could go with “I Was Made To Love Her” (Stevie Wonder).

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Allison Iraheta: “What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted” (Jimmy Ruffin). This song has a lot of grit in the vocal, which would suit Allison nice.

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Anoop Desai: “Baby I Need Your Loving” (The Four Tops). My advice to Anoop is to keep capitalizing on how strong your vocal is and don’t fall victim to feeling like you have to do something wild.

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Danny Gokey: “Reach Out I’ll Be There” (Four Tops), or “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours” (Stevie Wonder). Both songs would give Danny some optimum time in his power range and let his natural growl shine through.

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Kris Allen: It will really surprise me if Kris can do well in this round. I had a tough time finding a song I felt like he could pull off well. But Michael McDonald’s newer version of “I Second That Emotion” could work well for him because it has the white-boy funk/pop thing in the groove.

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Lil Rounds: Lil would absolutely kill “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (Gladys Knight version).

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Matt Giraud: “For Once In My Life” (Stevie Wonder) or “Mercy Mercy Me”(Marvin Gaye)

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Megan Joy: What can I say? I think she’ll butcher any Motown song I throw out there – so maybe “Baby Love” (The Supremes)?

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Michael Sarver: “Groovin” (Marvin Gaye) or “Walk Away Renee” (Four Tops)

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Scott McIntyre: “How Sweet It Is” (James Taylor Version). If not that one, then I would definitely try to find some cover version that de-emphasizes the soul part and emphasizes the musicality.

Idol Power Rankings, Final Round Wk 2

March 17, 2009

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Here are my Power Rankings for Week Two of the Final Round.
Previous Rankings: Top13 | Week 1 |

  1. Danny Gokey, “Jesus Take The Wheel”. What is he wearing? popped collar? really? But MAN this dude’s top range is absolutely unbelievable. So much passion and guts and tone…wow. Kara was right – the 2nd half was stunning. Before I heard Danny I was considering moving Adam up, but I just can’t do it. Sorry Adam fans!
  2. Adam Lambert, “Ring Of Fire”. WOW…not comfortable with him trying to make out with me through the TV camera, but the vocal performance was FANTASTICO! The dude really has a range and a style that is out of this world. I disagree with Simon again. Even though it was weird – I liked it. I think he would do great as a contemporary artist on a major label. He realy know who he is and what he does well.
  3. Anoop Desai, “You Were Always On My Mind”. WOAH! What happened? Dorky Anoop went away and an awesome singer showed up instead! wow. still geeking out about it. It made me totally forget about “Beat It” last week!
  4. Alexis Grace, “Jolene”. Overall I liked it and she’s got a great texture and tone. The only thing that kept bugging me is her tendency to sing behind the beat. But I admit that’s something that bugs me in a lot of music nowadays (esp. Beyonce)
  5. Matt Giraud, “So Small”. Good singer. Good pianist. But so what? I thought the song choice didn’t really work. There was nothing that made me lean in or really care. I did not agree with Simon or Randy at all – he did NOT outsing Danny tonight.
  6. Lil Rounds, “Independence Day”.  Pretty solid effort for a genre that’s clearly out of her comfort zone. Pop people may not be familiar with the original Martina McBride version, which I would say borders on one of those “untouchable” songs that is just so hard to try to copy. It is THE signature song for Martina. Hard to compete with that.
  7. Allison Iraheta, “Blame It On Your Heart”. Her vibrato got a little out of control on her. She ran out of air a few times. Overall I think she was just trying too hard. Patty Loveless’s original version was very fun and flirty and bouncy – and Allison came out all Janis Joplin in-your-face. I was slightly disappointed. I think she would have done better with a Tanya Tucker song – which would have fit her voice style perfect.
  8. Kris Allen, “To Make You Feel My Love”. I disagreed with Simon here. Vocal quality was OK I guess, but snooooooooze! I was bored.
  9. Scott MacIntyre, “Wild Angels”. It was a good effort for him – I think he’s giving us the best he’s got. Unfortunately for him, there are just much more talented people in this competition than him.
  10. Michael Sarver, “Ain’t Going Down Til The Sun Comes Up”. Yeah…not so good. Not anywhere near the standard that Garth Brooks sets for infectious energy. He seemed stiff and pales in comparison to the real thing. And contestants – when are you going to learn? You look like a cocky idiot when you “talk back” to the judges. It might play well in the studio, but it doesn’t carry to the television audience.
  11. Megan Joy Corkrey, “Walking After Midnight”. Her old-soul, 40’s style came off cornball for the 2nd week in a row for me. I didn’t get it, dawg. It was like a last-minute replacement act for the Jerry Lewis Telethon. I don’t care if she was sick or not – it just wasn’t good.

No Secrets

March 16, 2009

This post is the 5th in a series about addiction recovery. If you are not an addict or married to one, then this probably won’t make much sense. To see a list of the entire series from the beginning, go to this page.

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When your addiction comes out and your spouse knows about it, it is time to enact a new modus operandi – “No Secrets.” In this mode, you voluntarily forfeit any right to privacy from your spouse. An addict will be resistant to this practice, but I have found it to be critical to my personal recovery, and for the rebuilding of trust in our marriage.

No Secrets mode is necessary for several reasons:

  1. Trust has been shattered between you, so you must do anything it takes to re-establish it.
  2. All addicts are good liars. “No Secrets” mode establishes new habits of behavior.
  3. Addictions live in the dark. The more light we can shine on them, the less power they will have over our lives.
  4. Spouses can usually sense danger, see warning signs, and predict patterns well before the addict can. Having no secrets allows the spouse to help in the recovery process.
  5. It helps build humility. It is humbling to submit to a spouse and admit you need help.

So what does it look like? What do I mean by No Secrets? Here are some examples.

No Secrets with Time. Your spouse has the right to know where you’ve been. Immediately. On Demand. Without hesitation. If you are separated at the department store for 10 minutes, and your spouse wants to know what you did in those 10 minutes – you’d better spill. And stick to the facts – no embellishment. The longer it takes to tell where you’ve been and why, the more suspicious it looks!

No Secrets with Companions. Who were you with? Who did you have lunch with? Who else did you see while you were there? Who was at the meeting? Was (name of a person) there? Who did you ride with? Addicts hate these types of quetions, but they are essential to rebuilding trust.

No Secrets with Money. Your spouse has a right to know what you did with every single penny. Period.

No Secrets with Technology. Your spouse has the right to look through your web browsing history, through your email, through your text messages, through the Pay-Per-View history and through the online banking accounts. Is your computer setup with multiple user accounts? If so, then your spouse needs to have your login name and password.

No Secrets with Acting Out. Did you stumble? Did you indulge in an addiction activity? Your spouse deserves to know. Immediately. The sooner the better.

No Secrets with Your Thoughts. Have you been feeling tempted lately? Have you felt depressed or stressed or angry or frustrated? Have you thought about other women (either real or imagined?) Have you seen something you shouldn’t have seen? Have you been in an environment that was difficult for you because it triggered an addictive response? Have you hung around people that trigger that response?

The Addict will hate this. It makes them feel like a child. It makes them feel nagged. It makes them feel like they have no control and no privacy. And here is my answer to that. YOU ARE A CHILD! (at least part of you is.) All addicts have an arrested development of some kind. You have proven again and again that you cannot be trusted on your own, and that you need the help of others to stay on track. So don’t resist this. It is good for you. Submit to your spouse. Let go of your “rights”. Embrace truth.

It could save your marriage.

It could save your life.

New Federalism works

March 11, 2009

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While I have a mostly conservative outlook with some admittedly libertarian economic views, one of the “isms” that I fully endorse is the concept of New Federalism. At least, I think I do. (It seems no one can agree exactly on what a New Federalist believes, for sure.)

At the heart of New Federalism, however, is the belief that the U.S. Government is doing many more things than it should be doing, at least according to the Constitution. The Constitution says that anything not specifically addressed in the Constitution as belonging to the national government is reserved for the individual states to decide. Sometimes they call this States’ Rights. But the general idea of the word “federalism” is that our government system is made up of a coalition of individual states – a Federation. In such a system, the governing is shared between the national structure and the state structure.

When this type of system is working properly, you basically have a system where states would “compete” with each other. What are they competing for? Your support. Your tax dollars. Your settling down and raising a family there and bulding a life there. Your kids going to college there. You buying a home and paying property taxes there. They compete for people to agree with their system of living. In this system, they are also free to experiment with new ideas, systems, structures, and strategies without interference at the national level.

Two recent news stories highlight how New Federalism works:

The first is from Hawaii. After  months of Universal Health Care for children, the state is cancelling the program. (story here) Why? Because the program didn’t work. It caused unintended consequences. It hurt the state more than it helped the state. Hawaii tried an experiment and it failed. Is that the lesson? NO! The lesson is that all the other States now benefit from that experiment. They all now know a way of providing for child health care that doesn’t work – and if they are wise – they will learn from it. This all happened WITHOUT any national program, and it happened without risking every single state. It was a laboratory experiment that all 50 states can now learn from.

Here’s another example. NY Governor David Paterson abandoned his idea of the “nuisance tax”, also called the “fat tax”. (story here). The lesson learned here, for poiticians everywhere, is that these kinds of taxes are NOT the way to be re-elected! But again – this is a great example of how New Federalism would work. New York tried something that hadn’t been tried before – and now all 50 states get the benefit of seeing what happened and evaluate why.

Ronald Reagan tried to return some balance to the states during his tenure. One of the ways he did this was through the use of “block grants”. A block grant is a chunk of money given to a state to solve a specific issue. How the issue gets solved, what program is to be implemented, what strategy to use is up to the individual state. (of course I have to mention that it would be better if the money never went to Washington in the first place – but let’s take this a step at a time, shall we?) But again, this allows the state to decide how best to solve the issue and keeps accountability closer to home – which is always a good thing in politics.

You Libertarians out there should be all for this idea, too, because it is a first step toward your way of thinking. Think about it this way: If California wants to have gay marriage and abortion-on-demand and open borders and universal health care – then LET THEM. Let the people of California govern the lives of Californians! If they spend themselves into oblivion and make a mess of things – LET THEM. (as long as it doesn’t harm the other states and they don’t come running to the U.S. for a BAILOUT!)

But if Indiana (the state I live in) decides NOT to have those things be true, then we should be allowed to decide that for ourselves, too. If I want to live in a state that is the opposite of the Californian beliefs, then I could choose to live in one! If things go well for a state, then that state becomes an attractive place to live. If not, then people would have some incentive to leave the place. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?

The U.S. Government does too much. It does far more than is spelled out in the Constitution. The current administration is even seeking to expand the role from where it is now!

When thinking of New Federalism, I often think of that Lending Tree commercial that says, “When banks compete – You Win.” The same could be said of New Federalism: “When States Compete, You Win.”