Friday, March 28, 2008

Caedmon's Call at The Door

Went to the Caedmon's Call show last night at The Door in Dallas. It was great. Here are a couple of observations:

1) Derek Webb was with the band again, and he was wearing a white t-shirt. I picture him opening his closet and grabbing one of the 50 identical white t-shirts he has hanging neatly in a row. Good to know that going solo hasn't affected his sense of style.

2) Todd Bragg has an awesome beard. Nothing else to say about it. That beard is phenomenal.

3) Andrew Osenga stole the show. The solo at the end of "Hold the Light" was wonderful. He is unique and original, and he doesn't even try to be. It's just who he is.

4) The Door is now in the old Gypsy Tea Room building, and there were a lot of wild bands who played that joint over the years. The Backstage "green room" was loaded with interesting wall art. There was a picture of a Unicorn - the most mystical and sacred of all mythical creatures - that was quite disturbing. No one should do such things to Unicorn's. Here is the only part of the picture I can show you that will leave this poor creature with some dignity.

5) The show was impressive, and it was good to see the band back together. CC is a great group of people, and I love watching them play live. I was asking my wife the other day if we liked them because we know them or if we'd love their stuff even if we didn't know them. We both concluded that we'd dig them even if we didn't know them. You should probably buy their stuff.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Beef Eclipses 200 Posts!!

This is post #201 in the illustrious life of Cajun Roast Beef!! "Who cares?", you may ask, and the answer is probably "very few people, and none of them really matter." So, here's to all you people who don't matter. The Beef is here for you, bro. Now go try to do something cool and fail miserably!

To commemorate this awesome event, here's something I think is funny!

Thoughts from a Christian Zombie

Spent the morning at Barnes and Noble after dropping Pierce off at therapy. Looked around the Christianity section for a while, aimlessly wandering the aisles for something that might waken me from my zombie-like trance. Max Lucado... yawn... Chuck Colson... sigh... Latest hip pastor with a gotee... snooze... New book by George Barna... Hmmmmm... "Pagan Christianity"? Must look at book... May find interesting stuff... Feeling blood flow again...

So, I open this book and find a very interesting thesis:

"Have you ever wondered why we Christians do what we do for church every Sunday morning? Why do we "dress up" for church? Why does the pastor preach a sermon each week? Why do we have pews, steeples, choirs, and seminaries? This volume reveals the startling truth: most of what Christians do in present-day churches is not rooted in the New Testament, but in pagan culture and rituals developed long after the death of the apostles. Coauthors Frank Viola and George Barna support their thesis with compelling historical evidence in the first-ever book to document the full story of modern Christian church practices." - taken from the "publishers description"

Only got about 30 pages in before I had to go, and I didn't have any money to buy the book. First reaction: Duh! Of course the church today doesn't look anything like the church of the New Testament. That's probably a bi-product of the fact that 2000 years has gone by since the inception of the church. Anyone who is naive enough to think that what we do on Sunday's is anywhere close to what was going on in the New Testament is fooling themselves. So what if we aren't "doing church" like they did it in ancient times? As long as we're focusing on the glory of God and the magnification of Christ, I'm not sure methods matter much.

Second reaction: Wow, we really have made up some crazy stuff. Not sure Jesus would like us too much.

Final reaction: OK, so now what? Say we're doing it all wrong... what do we do about it now? Do we just blow the whole thing up? And if we do, how can we be certain that what is put in its place will be any more true to the ancient church than what we've done so far?

Not sure where I'm going here, but you might want to check out the book. It raises some interesting questions, but it kind of smacks of the same kinds of ultra-literalism of the fringe elements of religion.

At least that's the opinion of this Zombie..

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cajun Roast Beef: The Origin

When I started this thing a while back, I had a primary task: find a good name. So, I thought and I thought... What would be a cool name that would be fun and a bit mysterious? What would reflect my heritage, while at the same time demonstrate some level of intrigue? After minutes of thought, I finally settled on "Cajun Roast Beef".

Today I went to the place that inspired the name of this goofy little experiment. We are in Lake Charles, LA (my home town) for spring break, and we just had to head over to Kirkman St. to Pronias Deli for the famous Cajun Roast Beef sandwich. I took a picture of the deli and the sandwich for your viewing pleasure. Any place that's advertising "Homemade Family Size Gumbo" has got to be good! Enjoy!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Violently Original Quote

I have a new favorite quote. Not sure why something someone else had to say or write ignites such intense thoughts and emotions, but this something someone else had to say or write certainly stirred my innards into a frenzy. Here goes:

“Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
- Gustave Flaubert

I hadn't heard of Gustave Flaubert before, so I did a little research and found his story to be sad and interesting. Flaubert was a French writer who is widely recognized as one of the greatest Western novelists of all time. He lived a very lonely life, and threw himself relentlessly into his work. A true perfectionist, Flaubert would close himself off from the world and write for weeks and months at a time, sometimes spending an entire week on one sentence or passage. His obsession with writing came from his constant quest to find "le mot juste" ("the precise word").

I am not Gustave Flaubert. I lack focus and find it very difficult to limit distractions. There are a million "violent and original" thoughts in my head, but my life is not "regular and orderly" enough to bring to fruition my creative punch. I often feel guilty about all the things I fail to accomplish because of my inability to impliment ideas into action. It is a paralyzing affliction.

What I find interesting is that Gustave Flaubert was not me either. Flaubert was very lonely, and only had one romantic relationship in his life. Ironically, this relationship was an affair with poet Louise Colet, and it was more tortured than fulfilling. Flaubert was also plagued by venerial diseases, mainly due to his relations with prostitutes. He was financially destitute and lived through hardship after hardship. His greatest struggle, however, was his inability to achieve perfection. He often complained to friends about the strenuous nature of his work, and told of his insecurities related to his lack of true understanding of literary form and structure. He died of a stroke in 1880, alone and broke.

Funny thing is that to this day, Flaubert is used as a model of literary form and style. He is studied by writers throughout the world, and is thought to be near perfect in his exactitude and stylistic precision. Unfortunately, I suspect, none of that mattered when he lay dying and alone.

So here we are, Flaubert and I, both longing for that which we seem unable to obtain, and struggling with insecurities from opposite ends of the spectrum. Regardless of how we get there, the key is that the "violent" and the "original" be unleashed. These are reflected in the epic stories of belief, and they are vividly interwoven into God's story about Himself. Samson's story is so violently original that it hurts, but it is God who weaves these qualities together to bring about His glory in their fulfilment. David's story is a creative masterpiece, although it is not David who achieves stylistic perfection, but God who tells us what it means to follow after His own heart. David is the Flaubert of the story, and God is the one who pieces it together in such a way that we are still studying this masterful model of form and style.

Ultimately we find that regardless of which end of the spectrum we may find ourselves, our stories fail to achieve the perfection that we hope for. What makes our stories "violent and original" masterpieces is the author, not the characters flaws or strengths. In His hands, "le mot juste" is achieved. The perfect work is not negated or fulfilled by my lack of order, or Flaubert's mastery of it; it is achieved when God's pen perfects our faith. And if we have no faith, God's pen finds glory in that as well.

May your "regular and orderly" life be filled with "violent and original" moments.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New Site Alert!! Go Check it out!!!

Check out this pleasantly deep site from musician Andrew Petersen and some of his counterparts. It's called "The Rabbit Room", and it's very cool. Buy some music while you're there.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The High Price of Greatness

I come from a family of ministers. My Father was a pediatrician who spent every spare moment working to give good health care to the needy by opening a Well Baby Clinic in the middle of the most poor neighborhood in the Southwest Louisiana town of Lake Charles. My Mother was a high school guidance counselor who worked tirelessly to help kids make it to college, and she also opened up her home to troubled kids when they needed a place to stay. My big brother is a pastor at a church in the Atlanta suburbs, and is undergoing some pretty heavy criticism for trying to establish a Hispanic ministry at his mostly white church. My big sister is a podiatry resident in Pennsylvania, and she's probably got the biggest heart of anyone I know. So, while us Hayes' have our fair share of dysfunction, we hail, nonetheless, from a rare line of walking wounded who call themselves "ministers".

I bring this up not to toot our respective horns (if you knew my brother, you'd know that he can toot with the best of them!), but to share a truth about ministers and ministry of which many may not be aware. "Minister" is the Latin word for "doer of little deeds", as opposed to a "magistrate", who is a "doer of great deeds." This stands in stark contrast to the idea of ministry as it has come to be understood in recent times. Many look at the minister as someone who is God-like in both thought and deed. Ministers are thought to be "perfect" or at the very least they are considered "better" than most ordinary folk. They are the keepers of the great truths of God, and are shining examples of holiness.

What we see in the Latin, however, is a dramatically different inference. Here we see that ministers are servants, humble and lowly. Ministers are more likely to find the short end of the stick than the pot of gold. Ministry, in this light, is characterized not by the high offices of church or state, but by the lower, more hands-dirty types of tasks. As such, ministry is humiliating.

The reason I'm writing this today is because my sister and I were lamenting my brother's recent troubles as a pastor, and she shared with me my brother's insight into the whole matter. "Anyone who has ever become great has gone through the harsh fire of criticism." was my brother's wisdom on the subject. Spoken like a true minister. Helen Keller, no stranger to hardship and ridicule, had this to say about becoming great, "I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker." In other words, God honors and uses the humble, however humble they may be.

Perhaps the high price of greatness is not the hard work and years of practice it takes to become a doctor, but the one contagious act of humility that turns medicine into ministry. Maybe the greatest thing is not the up-front pulpit savvy of the pastor, but the lowly vision to reach the diverse and marginalized in our ever changing society. God may not use anything more in this world than the accomplished man or woman who commits to become the "doer of little things."