Jared Witt l June 29, 2017
When he started out over a decade ago as a Hasidic JewIsh beatboxing reggae rapper, people thought for sure that Matisyahu must be nothing more than a novelty act. When he and his band were invited onto Jimmy Kimmel live, it was not to perform but to be grilled (and mocked) as the host tried to figure out their gimmick.
Having told Kimmel's people that he would refuse the show if he and his band couldn't get a spot on stage, it took all of three seconds into his lyrical firestorm, "King Without a Crown," to show the world that he isn't about gimmick; he is about soul, spirit, love, loss, and a very earnest longing for the Divine
It occurred to me while listening to this recent interview with the comedian Pete Holmes that it's not wholly intangible why one of my favorite lyricists and performers writes with so much more fascination and profundity than most of his counterparts in the Christian music industry, there are articulable reasons for it.
1) His search for God is a genuine search.
Jared Witt l June 22, 2017
"They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three."
- James Russell Lowell
This is taken from Martin Luther King Jr.'s essay, "Transformed nonconformist," written for a world in which unrestrained violence, stockpiles of nuclear weapons, standing militaries, unthinkable economic disparities, racism and nationalism both casual and systemic, and greed are the unquestioned norm.
Jared Witt l June 15, 2017
We've mentioned on this blog how there is really only one story that the world has ever truly loved: Winners win. Losers lose. We hear this story everywhere. Our economic system is built around it, our political system is built around it, our criminal justice system, our sports, our movies. Even in many families, the one place in the world where, by definition, you should belong just by fact of birth, people are expected to compete for supremacy and become the “favorite child” or risk losing and being labeled the “black sheep.”
Such a stranglehold does this story have on our consciousness, that not only are most of our great religions essentially steroidal expansions of it out into eternity such that, even in death, you can’t get away from it, but even the world’s biggest religion, which is supposed to exist for the sole purpose of contradicting this story, has thoroughly absorbed it to the point that very few people inside or outside of it ever presume that it would be about anything else.
But Jesus actually has something different to say. He brings a new story into the world.
Jared Witt l June 8, 2017
Let me make some disclaimers. First of all, I like Billy Corgan, the lead singer of The Smashing Pumpkins, Zwan, and several side projects. If he’s ever gone off the deep end, I think it’s because his prolonged status as a bona fide rockstar would do that to most people. And how much more vulnerable is someone like Corgan?
I sometimes like to think of humans as having a sort of seismograph in our souls capable of reading waves of pain, beauty, love, ugliness or what have you. This seismograph is variously referred to as empathy, emotional intelligence, conscience, or some such. And where sociopaths have a seismograph that is either malfunctioning or completely broken, great artists have the most finely tuned of all of us. Billy Corgan is the latter, one of those rare, beleaguered souls, who can channel the vulnerabilities of the human experience into meaningful poetry. And that is a deeply admirable quality to me.
Jared Witt l June 1, 2017
Alright, you’ve given up on trying to swallow the cold, inedible borscht which our culture feeds to us as “Christianity.” You've tried finessing your fork around barely identifiable chunks of blind patriotism, state-sanctioned violence, and small-minded tribalism hoping to get to the good stuff...only to find more unappetizing bits of bumper sticker sentimentality, insufferable moralizing, and some medieval fantasia about the afterlife.
Good. You’ve officially been de-vangelized, and you're ready to start de-vangelizing others.
Now, hang on. Calm down, all you good pious folk. I’m talking about deprogramming from the bad kind of evangelism. To “evangelize” someone, when the word is used correctly, is quite literally a good thing. It turns "Good News" into a verb. You “good news” someone when you share the story of God’s unconditional love and grace for the whole world without exception, evidenced and guaranteed by the raising of Jesus, the one who taught us how to love. If that’s what you hear when I say “evangelism,” then you’re good. That’s not a trip you need to come down from.
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.