Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wait...YOU'RE NOT BEAUTIFUL...and YOU CAN STILL SING!??

Okay, I have to chime in here. Because it's been bothering me for far too long.
It started with Susan Boyle...the vocal wonder who wow'd and amazed folks on Britain's Got Talent. Now, years later, it's Charlotte and Jonathan.

Can these people sing? Absolutely. Amazingly so. Powerful voices. Beautiful voices.

That's not what bothers me.

What bothers me is that the world is shocked that they can sing...because they're not "beautiful." I actually heard a network morning news anchor introduce the video clip of Charlotte and Jonathan by saying "he doesn't look like he can sing..."

REALLY?

What does that even mean?

What happened to our love of music? When did we become a world of people who will shell out ridiculous amounts in ticket prices to see so-called "beautiful people" dance on stage, LIP-SYNCHING to an AUTO-TUNED track that they could never pull off live...and drop our jaws in shock when an "unattractive" person can actually stay on pitch, hit the notes and deliver an arousing performance?

Why does that shock us?

In the words of the old song, "video killed the radio star"...we allowed it to happen. When video came on the scene, all of the sudden, we wanted our music stars to be beautiful as well as sing. Now, we've gotten to the point where the latter doesn't matter, just as long as they're appealing to look at.

Shame on us.

Shame on us for making music about waist size, or performers who are willing to wear outrageous outfits (or no outfits at all) to get our attention. Shame on us for expecting airbrushed beauty in place of talent. Seriously, some of our "pop stars" today are an insult to true musicians.

It used to be about the music.
It used to be about the talent.
It used to be about the message that someone put into their song.

Jonathan, I hope you do have a wonderful career ahead of you. Not because of the shock value. But because of your talent.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Unfinished

Like many people in this world, I have dreamed of writing a novel. Well, actually I’ve done more than dream about it. I’ve started a few. But I have yet to finish a single one of them.

Years ago, I started a fiction novel called Prompting the Apocalypse, about a cult that thinks they can prompt God’s hand to start the end of the world—if they just do something horrible enough. I sat it aside and starting working on my life story, growing up an orphan in a small, south Texas town. That turned out to be overwhelming, trying to remember details and honestly wondering if anyone would be interested in that at all. So I put that one on the shelf.

I moved onto another autobiographical piece called Lessons in Failure, which focused on my many missteps in life—and what I learned from them. But that was terribly depressing, so it’s sitting in a folder somewhere. I worked on a devotion piece that focused on Matthew 11. I love the story of John the Baptist sending two messengers to ask Jesus a very important question. More importantly, I love His reply. But, at about 75-percent of the way through, I lost interest. I worked on a short story called The Roaring Gnat. I couldn’t even finish that. A short story!

Currently, I’m writing another fiction piece called Ghosts of the Potential, about a retired travel photojournalist who finds himself living in a slum in Kenya when he encounters something he never imagined possible. I still have no idea how it’s going to end.

And I can’t begin to tell you how many half-songs or choruses I’ve written that have never seen the light of day. For some reason, I just can’t seem to finish these projects.

Why is that?

Part of me wants to say that unfinished products are useless. They are worth nothing until they are completed. What good is a car that sits in your driveway without an engine? What value does a home with no roof bring? But then I am reminded of this verse:

“Be confident of this, that He who began a good work

in you will carry it on to completion until the day of

Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

And I am thankful. Thankful that God doesn’t see unfinished work as worthless. Thankful that He knows how to finish a story. My story. (Even if I can’t.) Unfinished doesn’t mean without value. And—as the verse says—until Jesus returns, there is always time to work on the project more.

I don’t know if I’ll ever finish any of these writing projects. But I am learning to see the value of them even in their current state. They are a part of me. They allow me to hone my creative skills. They challenge me. And, finished or not, they are part of my story.

(Hey look! I finished this blog post! That’s something, right?)