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It’s time for an update, and a question

Wow… a lot has happened since last time I sat down to write something. I think most of you know already, but here’s the scoop for those that don’t, and the details for those that already do.

Yesterday I finally moved closer to work. It was a long process finding the right place, but I eventually found a great place in a stellar location. So I’m now officially a resident of Arlington, VA. I’m a mere 12 minutes from work, only 200 yards from a Metro station, and less than 5 miles from the Pentagon. It’s pretty crazy. The downside to all of it is the fact that I had to move away from Nate and Maria. Even though I’ve been working at the church for a couple of months now, Nate and I still got to hang out a lot, even if it was me going into his office and distracting him on my days off. It does indeed suck to move away from one of my greatest friends ever, but we are at least close enough that I can still make the trip up once in a while. It really doesn’t even feel like that long of a drive since I’ve been doing it several times a week for several weeks. But it’s not the same as being neighbors.

Work seems to be going well, and we’re gearing up for the Holiday push. After my crazy work week at the beginning of the month, things have slowed down a little bit and I’ve been able to recover some of that time with a couple of extra days off. I’m actually at the end of a 4-day stretch right now. Last week I did lighting for Charlie Hall, who is one of the big touring worship artists right now. I don’t think he’s quite a household name yet, but his music is becoming increasingly popular, and the best part about it is most of it is very theological and meaningful. I’m also looking forward to the end of this week, because it means a week off for me to come home and see family and friends. I’ll be home for a couple of days, and then I’ll be down to see family at my Uncle Jesse’s down in KY. I haven’t seen a lot of family recently, including Grandma, so it will be really great to see them all. I’m also looking forward to seeing people at IWU. There are several people I really, really miss from there. Great friends.

And in an effort of full disclosure, I also had my first accident of my driving career. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to talk about it, but it was a fairly minor thing, and God definitely protected me and my truck. I was turning left, and this guy was not turning right as his turn signal indicated. We didn’t hit extremely hard, and thankfully almost the entire impact happened on my front left tire. I had a small panel between the tire and the door dented in, and that was it. He had some front end cosmetic damage–it looked to me like he’ll need a new fender, hood, and grill. There didn’t appear to be any mechanical damage to either car. It definitely sucked for both of us, and I felt bad because the gentleman had just bought his car the day before. Did I mention his car was a Mercedes? Yup, a Mercedes (but not brand new, just new to him).

So on to my question for the week. I’ve been considering life a lot the past six months or so. It’s been interesting for me to actually move away from family and friends and begin to live life as an individual. Getting my first place by myself, starting my first real job, moving away from my family for the first real time. Part of what I’ve been going through is the whole family withdrawal thing that most people go through when they first move to college. Since I never really moved away, now for the first time I’m going through all those feelings. Up until now, I’ve had Nate to hang with, and besides being the only reason I moved out here, he’s also the only reason I maintained my sanity living out here where I know no one else. So now I’m out on my own. Sure, I’m living in a house with other guys who I think will become friends over time, but it’s still going to be hard for a while. So I’ve been asking myself, “Why do we move away from the people we love and out on our own all in the name of a job?”

Obviously we can’t live at home our whole lives, and if I was still in Marion I would be living in my own place. But why is it that it feels so necessary to chase a career first? My friend Josh Cash is a great example. He despises the idea of being away from home. Given his choice, he’d be in Bluffton, IN right now. But he’s in a great position at a church in Atlanta, and already feels like he’ll be there for a long time. I could probably have stayed home and found a livable job in Marion, or even in Indy (this breaks down a little because I originally moved out here because Nate lived out here, but stay with me). And now I’ve got a really great job that is a blessing, and I’ve moved away from everyone and everything I know to work it. Why? During Survivor tonight, one of the “tribes” won a reward challenge and got to experience a feast with an indigenous culture to the Cook Islands (they’re several hundred miles due south of Hawaii). It struck me at how simple these people’s lives were, and yet the things that are most important to them–family, honor, respect, loyalty–are the things that seem to be the first to go in our American culture.

I’m not planning on going back home and living in a hut anytime soon, but it just makes me think. My life is full of technology and advancement. My whole job revolves around those things. Yet at the end of the day, I have to wonder.

On a brighter note, I had the most fantastic experience today while I was out exploring my new hometown. I stumbled upon a little hair salon, and being in need of a haircut, I decided to try it out and see what happened. I ended up meeting Mailynn, a Vietnamese woman who moved to America when she was thirteen, and heard her whole life story during the haircut. I don’t think I can fully recreate the experience that I had today, but it does give me hope that I will enjoy living out here. There’s so much culture and so much diversity, that maybe if I can get past myself, I will learn a lot from a lot of people that I least expect it from.

Okay that’s it for now. Come visit me in the capital! I’ll take you to all the cool places, and give you all the insider tips on hanging out, and it’ll be fun! Yay tourism!

I’ll make it up to you

No writing this week. I’m in the middle of a 70+ hour work marathon. From Wednesday to Monday (that’s six straight days). Six straight isn’t all that bad by itself, but here’s the kicker–of the six days, four will be longer than 12 hours. One will be about 10. Sunday I get a break, it should only be an 8 hour day.

After two days: 25.4 hours, not including 6 hours of driving. Yay salary.
I’ll write two next week to make it up to you. I’ve got one in the works on excellence vs. perfection, and after a long meeting today I’m beginning to work on one about church volunteers. Expect them in that order next week, maybe late Tuesday and then Friday.


Eternal Sunshine of the Housing Boom

Tonight I went over to Nate and Maria’s and watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It came out in 2004, but with my track record of seeing about 1.6 movies per year in theaters, it shouldn’t really surprise anyone that I’m just now getting around to it. It’s a romantic comedy starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, and some other less famous people. Basically Carrey and Winslet’s characters, Joel and Clementine, fall in love, then out of love, and then they both decide to have the memories of each other erased. 95% of the movie happens during the erasing of Joel’s mind, when he discovers things really weren’t so bad, and he tries desperately to awake during the procedure and stop it before all his memories are gone. I can’t say a whole lot more than that without giving away the twists in the plot, because I want those of you who haven’t seen it to see it. (Be warned it’s rated R because some writer lacked enough vocabulary to avoid multiple F-words.)

I can tell you that I enjoyed two particular things about this movie. For one, it was weird but not in a bad way. It’s one of those flicks that leaves you in a weird mood when you’re done; you can’t help but just sit there and think about it for a few minutes. Even now I’m still considering all the depth and meaning that was in it, or at least trying to decide if there really was depth and meaning in it. To me, a movie that evokes such strong emotion is pure art. You can criticize and dislike it all you want, but the most brilliant cinematography in the world, if devoid of that emotion, is just another movie. Why do we like poetry, painting, and music? Because it evokes emotions. It brings up something unexpected. There is some intangible which smacks us in the heart, and helps us discover a little bit of humanity which we’ve lost in the hustle and hurry of modern life. There is no doubt in my mind God gave us art for these reasons, and I’m thankful for it. (That is not to say that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is divinely inspired. I’m just saying I liked it.)

Second, I enjoyed the movie because, for once in my life, I figured out the ending of the movie really early on and got to watch almost the whole thing with that knowledge. I’m always jealous of people, and I think it’s mostly women, who get ten minutes into something and already know what the ending is going to be. Props here to my mother, who is most definitely one of those people. But tonight, I had that “OH!” moment early on, and enjoyed every second of the remaining 90 minutes as I watched with delight. And it’s a good twist, I liked it.

In the completely unrelated happening of the week, the futility of my housing search seems to have no end. Today I looked at what originally was a very promising prospect. A basement room in a townhouse, with private bathroom, for $590/month including all utilities. It even had a personal washer/dryer in the closet, and was only about 15 minutes from the church. It sounded like it could be a winner–until I got there. I was met by a pile of building materials in the foyer, and an improvised bedroom to my immediate left. Ahead was the room in question: about 10′ x 10′, and laid out in a way that no furniture would ever comfortably fit in it. I would have about enough room for my bed and one of my bedroom dressers, but not both. My existence in that room would be cramped, and helplessly messy all the time because I’d have all my crap there with no room to put it. A peak through the outside window revealed 12″ tall grass with junk strewn throughout the tiny yard. I thought I was trying to move OUT of West Virginia.
Upstairs fared little better, as I was greeted by primer-painted walls and filthy carpeting. The living floor, which has kitchen and living room, screamed bachelor pad with every ounce of its existence. The most visible features of the whole floor was the huge car stereo in the living room, and the washer/dryer crammed into the kitchen. I ventured upstairs only briefly, before I had seen quite enough to make my decision. On the way out, I noticed the amount of beer bottles in the trash, and was pretty convinced I’d decided correctly. This room may be listed on the church message board, but I have the strange feeling that none of the other tenants actually found it through that avenue.

Earlier I had traded a couple emails with a guy who was in a similar situation, needing an affordable room and wanting to live with Christian housemates. I thought at first there was potential that connection might amount to something, but as quickly as it came, he vanished into internet oblivion. I came to find out he had found what he was looking for. Good for him.

So now I move on again. My latest search of the church message board has produced two new possibilities, and both of them sound somewhat promising as well. One is for a basement apartment being advertised as a huge amount of space. Bedroom, full bath, kitchenette, private entrance, and lots of storage space. It’s near George Mason U, and would be probably 20 minutes from the church. Lots of space probably equals lots of money, but I’ll nonetheless check it out. The second listing interests me. It’s a large townhouse being shared by 5 Christian guys who are looking for a 6th. A decent sized bedroom, but a shared bathroom. The guy made it clear they were looking for a good Christian to fill the room, but also want someone easygoing who knows how to have fun. It’s $595 plus 1/6 utilities, but it’s also in Arlington which means close access to the city and driving against rush hour traffic. They’re having an open house of sorts Saturday, so I’ll be checking it out before work in the afternoon. It definitely sounds interesting.

Some of you may be wondering how I can talk about renting a bedroom for $600/month and thinking it’s a good deal, but trust me, it is. Remember the words “housing boom” in the title? In the last ten years or so, housing has appreciated to double its value. Many of the people who have lived here for 15 years or longer are living in a $300,000 house that they paid $150,000 for. Single bedroom apartments generally start in the $750/month area and go up from there. In a perfect world, I’d be trying desperately to find a house I can afford to start buying. But in the world that is Metro DC, it’s just no possible. Maybe in 8 or 9 months, if I have some friends willing to do it, I’ll buy a place and become a landlord myself.

It’s a crazy life here. I’m not honestly sure I’m entirely up for it. Suddenly the slow, small city, Indiana feel isn’t as bad as it was 6 months ago. But I am determined not to dwell on the past, so I’ll move on. I’ll learn to enjoy living in the city, averaging 12 mph in traffic, and being forced to share a house when I’d rather be buying one. Things are going very well at my job, I’m learning a lot, and I know I’m in the right place.

And I think knowing that makes up for everything else.

Must be confident, love dogs

Confidence has never really been a strong suit of mine. My mom would immediately claim that comes from her, but regardless of where it comes from or why I lack it, the fact is I’ve lived the majority of my life scared to take a risk, comfortable playing second fiddle or being wingman. Even when I evaluate my role in most of the friendships I’ve had in the past, I’ve always been in a fabulous cast, as the supporting actor. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that role–some people are just born to naturally lead the pack and steal the show. But being wingman doesn’t mean you should be any less capable or confident. You just play that role socially; a role which is vital in any group of friends.

Social comparisons aside, though, there’s something intangible about a man who lives his life with confidence. Some of the greatest icons of recent history have been men who weren’t afraid of themselves. Regardless of how you feel about FDR as a politician, you have to admit it takes some serious balls to lead a nation which has historically devoured weaknesses like, say, the inability to walk because of polio. Jackie Robinson was confident enough in his abilities that he dared to play baseball outside the negro leagues, and he became one of the most revered athletes in history because of it.
In the world I find myself in today, there’s little room for insecurity. If you sell yourself short, you end up standing in the road wondering what happened while the bus rumbles down the road in front of you. Back home, and I think more specifically while you’re a student, that same mentality doesn’t exist. Yes, there are always the top students who prove themselves early and often, but typically speaking if you work at it long enough, eventually someone will give you recognition for what you do. You’re paying to be there, so it’s not like there’s a boss breathing down your neck to be more productive, or a colleague vying for the same promotion as you. In the real world, you get one chance to make yourself look better than the next guy.

I can recall a whole lot of times, just since I graduated in April, when I’ve sold myself short for whatever reason. Honestly, part of it comes from an immature understanding of humility. Growing up, my concept of humility was doing just that–selling yourself short, or not owning up to your full potential. What kind of terrible sin it was to actually accept the fact you were the best at something, or you had unique talent at something! A good Christian doesn’t take compliments. If someone tells you that you did a great job, deny it and just say, ‘Oh it was okay,’ or ‘It was nothing, really.” It also stems from my self-esteem problems and feelings of inadequacy. For whatever reason, I’ve always been exceptionally sensitive to what I perceive other people think or feel about me. It doesn’t even matter if that perception is right or not, if I’m feeling that they think I suck at something, well then I must suck at it.

What is that?! Humility is dissing yourself? Not being confident in your abilities?

One thing I’ve always admired about Spencer Lloyd, a friend and longtime Chorale roommate, is the confidence he has in himself. I mean, he has confidence in himself to a fault. But the guy is not afraid to be talented at something, or to feel like he’s talented at something. He steps up to every challenge, and gives it his best. And for better or worse, you have to respect the guy for not being afraid to try.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from the great Nelson Mandela, who said,

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we powerful beyond all measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

How amazing is that quote for a person who struggles like I do? There are a lot of things that I’m talented at. I’m a good writer. I learn remarkably quickly, even if I’m just watching someone and not actually doing the work myself. I’m a great listener, and am pretty good at facilitating discussion in a group, even though typically all I’m doing is just asking the right questions. I’m a pretty decent musician. And if I had a better work ethic, there’s about 1000 things I could be good at if I worked at it. I mean, there are very few things I feel like I couldn’t do well given the practice and time to learn. So why don’t I live with that confidence?
I remember writing a while ago about how I felt like I never went through a rite of passage–I never had that moment where you shed your childhood and accept the manhood that comes with growing up. At the time, I was looking for some specific event to do it. I thought maybe if I took a trip somewhere, or did some specific thing, it would serve as my rite. And maybe there still will be a specific event that will happen. But I think more likely that rite of passage has something to do with not fearing the person God created me to be, and instead embracing that. I’m not sure how it happens, but I realize it needs to, and I want to begin the process of changing.

I’m just not sure exactly how.

How life is different in DC

Okay, I don’t actually know how life is different in DC because I don’t actually live there. And technically I work in Northern Virginia (which will be henceforth known as NOVA), not the District. But still, if you’re going to classify me, that’s where you would have to put me.

I gave serious consideration to the standard ‘write on current events’ post, mainly for two reasons: One, they’re easy to write about. You just pick something and then state your opinions, usually laced with truthiness but not based in it, and all is well. And two, there’s a lot to say about the world right now, what with schools becoming battlefields, North Korea alienating itself from the world, and all the political turmoil which is building towards election day. But while I think you like to hear my thoughts on those things, I think you’re more interested in just hearing about my life. So I’ll give it to you as best I can.

There are lots of good things about living in DC. For one, I’m working in a job that I like. I don’t love it–that is to say it’s not necessarily the ideal job that I would craft given the opportunity–but it’s great, and is certainly an amzing place for me to start with out of college. Actually, I look at it a lot like I’m still in school. The atmosphere is a little more intense; you have to actually bring something to the table here, which is great because I became really adept at doing what was necessary to just ‘slide by’ in school, so being pushed is a nice thing. As things are right now, I’m also looking to be here for 2 or 3 years, which is also pretty similar to me being in grad school. Of course, that could change either way, so I’m not exactly making plans for 2009 yet.

I say it’s not the ideal job because, well, it’s not. I don’t particularly care for the fact I’m in such a professional role, and have absolutely nothing to do with the pastoral side of working in a church. Not that I expect to be preaching sermons anytime in the near future, but I have always enjoyed being involved in the creative & planning aspects of church services, and I do miss that involvement. Especially now that I’m in a place that makes an effort to involve people, try new things, and stay out of the routine. So when I do eventually leave here I’d like to go to a place where I’ll be more involved in those kind of things (or to Hollywood or Broadway, so I can win Tonys and Emmys).

I don’t like being out here by (almost) myself. Right now, the Lails, and specifically Nate, are all I have out here, and when I move closer to work, I’ll be giving up the ability to call Nate and hang out at a moment’s notice. And I will certainly miss that. Having one of your very best friends around is such a valuable thing… Nate’s the only reason I’ve keep my sanity all this time, being out here by my lonesome. Score one for the people who got married, I guess. Having a constant companion sounds like a nice thing.

Speaking of marriage, I can say that I do very much appreciate my status as a single person. It’s not nearly as uncommon as northen Indiana would have you believe, and I like the fact that I can pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want. I mean, I still expect and hope to get married in the next few years, but really I’m quite content being single so long as I can maintain a social life. I just have been sucking at maintaining a social life, because all people do in West Virginia is get drunk. And alcohol is too expensive to spend my time getting drunk. (That was a joke… I haven’t the desire either.)

I’ve had to grow up and become responsible, which kind of sucks. I’ve spent boatloads of money on things like rent, groceries, and car repairs, and almost nothing on fun things, cool things, or impractical things. There was a time in my life when I expected to buy one big-ticket, high-tech gadget every year; you know, something to keep the inner child alive. Now it seems that money is better spent by not spending it at all. Saving so I can make trips home whenever possible, planning for a deposit of an extra month’s rent, and even cutting out of my paycheck in order to fund health insurance, retirement funds, and school bills. Man, do I miss that college ‘half-responsibility’ mode. Just in case anyone’s wondering, I did diversify my portfolio, so don’t worry. It’s a very aggressive allocation, because I’m trying to retire by 32.

Hey, you gotta have something to hope for.

What? It’s Friday already?

Okay, so I have to admit to you that Friday caught me a little off guard, and there most certainly will not be 1,000 words for you to read today. But, in my defense, I work on the first Thursday of every month, something I forgot to take into account when I decided to post every Friday morning. And because I worked a hard 10 hours today, and drove a tiring three more, I’m tired. I don’t really have anything worthwhile to say because I don’t have the presence of mind to actually write it.

But I would still like for this post to be productive, so I ask a question (which will no doubt reflect the fact that I live in the middle of politics now). What role does government play in our lives? I ask that question because of this article. I’m sure it happens with a lot more than just this one drug, but I am still floored by the fact that millions of people are suffering from a disease that is not only preventable, but actually reversible. Okay, so it’s not an outbreak of bubonic plague, but the point still remains that millions of people are suffering from a perfectly cureable disease. All because some necktie behind a desk decided that the investors would be happier if we sold this drug for $2,000 a dose instead of $200. Or $20. Or whatever. I’m not even sure how this makes sense! Let’s do a little math:

Let’s assume there are 1 million people suffering from macular degeneration. The average American wage is in the low to mid 40,000s, but let’s call it 50k to make it easier. So most of these people can’t afford to spend $24,000 a year on this medication. They just can’t. But of those 1 million, the top 1%, or 1,000 people, can.

$24,000 x 1,000 = $24 million

Now, let’s say the necktie decideds to sell this medice for $200/month. Still $2400 a year, but much more affordable, especially to someone who values their eyesight. At this rate, let’s say now 1/3 of the suffering can pay.

$2400 x 333,000 = $799.2 million

Go to the extreme and propose this medicine costs a mere $80/month ($960/year), and all people suffering either pay or are covered via medicare. Now look at the math.

$960 x 1,000,000 = $960 million

Now, I realize that these numbers are gross profit and don’t reflect the cost of production, but can anyone tell me why 24 million is a better number than 800 million? Or 960 million? If anyone¬†has a good explanation,¬†help me understand why this math is wrong.

Which brings me to my point. What exactly is the purpose of government? I guess the most correct answer would be something about providing and caring for the people of its nation, or something to that extent. So where is our provider? Why hasn’t the government found a way to provide this treatment to the people who deserve it? I mean, at some point you have to stop and ask yourself what the government really does for its people. I’ve always been a supporter of the Iraq war, yet I have to admit there are a lot of better ways to spend the nearly $1 Trillion dollars we’ve spent funding it. It’s great to see the Iraqi people free from a terrible dictator, but while we’re spending millions of dollars to blow up empty buildings, then millions more to rebuild them later, we could be spending that money somewhere else. Say, maybe to support music programs which are being epidemically cut across the country. Or perhaps on nursing homes, or maybe towards medical research, or maybe towards finding familes for orphans, or helping the homeless find jobs and lives again.

I don’t like the fact that I’ve come off very unsupportive of the war, and also of the fact that I’ve just sounded amazingly democratic (I’m still very much not). And I realize that American welfare would never have benefited from that money, even if we hadn’t spent it on the war. But it’s a thought.

I told you it would be here Friday morning.

I told you it would be here Friday morning. I just didn’t specify which one. Okay, I’m gonna get the necessary out of the way quickly, because it’s not really what you want to read from me, but you will be happy to see it. A couple of not long agos, I came to the decision that I have some sort of talent for writing. Now, it is certainly not the amout I would like it to be–I still struggle to not idolize Rich Eisen or Rick Reilly every time I read their writing–but I have accepted the fact that it’s pretty darn good. Keith Drury once told me he thought I was good enough to be a published writer if I wanted to be. That’s a pretty big compliment from a guy who doesn’t make empty ones. Which brings me to one of my favorite parables, the parable of the talents.

Now, there is no question that when Jesus told this story in Aramaic, and as it was subsequently written down in Greek, there was not the double entendre that we read today in the English translation. Had Jesus told the story in English, it would have been the parable of the five dollars. But thanks to a coincidence which seems far from coincidental, we get a little bit extra. If you study the meaning of the parable, it’s quite obvious that Jesus was talking about a lot more than money, so there’s no problem with applying our gifts and abilities here. Which brings me to the point I’ve been meandering towards.

I’m going to begin writing on a regular basis. And because I feel pretty strongly about this being something God expects of me, I’ve written a set of rules to govern myself and judge my performance by. I won’t be instituting them all ot once, because I think all at once they would make me quit. So for starters, I’ll be posting a thousand word entry Every Friday morning (probably late Thursday night for the fellow night owls). In the future, I’ll be upping to two or even three articles a week, increasing word counts, and eventually adding some guidelines to the content and so on. But for now, it’s anything goes, as long as it makes the word limit. And, to help me get started, I just wrote a whole bunch explaining. Way to go me.

For now, I think it’s appropriate to talk about what exactly is going on in my life. A lot has changed in the past month or so, and certainly a lot has changed since the times when I was blogging about hating my job and searching for new ones. I now work at McLean Bible Church, a church of just over 10,000 in the DC Metro area. McLean Bible Church

McLean Bible Church

I perform a couple of distinct functions as a member of the tech staff at McLean. As far as production goes, I am one of the lighting designers on staff. My responsibilities include designing and running lighting for events in the Smith Center, our smaller auditorium. I’m training with Robby, who’s the #1 LD (lighting designer) in the Smith Center, and I also do some training with Brian, who has experience in Broadway and ballet, and from my understanding has more or less trained every person on lights for the past few years. During the week, I work on the maintenance/install team of technicians. There are countless things which must be done to maintain an operation of this magnitude, and the install team are responsible for getting those things done during the week–everything from equipment repairs to new electrical work to even some construction. We’re not responsible for maintaining the building itself, but we do a lot of work with the building in the name of system maintenance or upgrades.

You are probably wanting to know a little more about the church itself, and I shall oblige you. We have three Sunday morning services upstairs, all of which have a blended worship style and live preaching by Lon Solomon, our senior pastor (whom I’ve never met). There is also a similar Saturday night service. While these blended services happen, we run the Edge, which starts at 10:53 Sunday morning. At the Edge, the music is much more contemporary, like you might find in an IWU chapel. Drums, bass, electric guitars and so on. Likewise, the lighting is very contemporary. We have a handful of intelligent fixtures, do a lot of color and haze, things like that. It’s not rock concert (I’m not allowed to have any visible movement of the fixtures during worship), but it’s still very cool. We start at 10:53, 5 minutes after church starts upstairs, because the sermon is piped in via video. In fact, it’s one of the few places I know where music leaders can go as long as they want, but can’t be short, because we record the sermon upstairs and show it on a delay.

On top of regular church, there’s also Frontline, which is often referred to as ‘a church within a church.’ It’s specifically targeted at the early 20s to 30s young professional community in DC. If I have my numbers right, they run around 3500 between their two services on Sunday evening. Frontline is big, loud, and has lighting similar to the Edge downstairs. I must admit I’ve never stayed in the evening to go to Frontline, but it is a ministry to an age group mostly missing from churches, and once I move closer to church, I would very much like to get involved in the community that is Frontline.

For your visual connections, here are some more pictures. Sorry for the color being so terrible in them, but I was taking most of them in the dark with long exposures, so I was just happy they came out in focus and at least good enough to use. I should mention that in the Smith Center (second panorama) the auditorium looks nice and rectangular, but it’s not. It’s actually shaped like a baseball diamond. From where I’m standing on stage, the two sidewalls move out 90 degrees from each other. So think baseball diamond, with the stage being the infield, the seating being the outfield, and the back wall curved just like the homerun fence.

Main Auditorium

Smith Center

Oh yes, this is what the parking lot looks like:

Parking Structure!

2400 spaces on two levels, and it’s so overcrowded we have to run shuttles to offsite parking. And you wonder why the neighbors love us so much…

Something is coming… I won’t say what, but it may be here Friday morning.

What’s new, version 2.0

First of all, I wanted to thank those of you who commented on my last blog. I would say from the results I’ve got a pretty good feeling of where the website is headed from here.

No no, there’s two “t”s in cutting sarcasm.
I don’t care if it’s my own fault. I don’t want to hear it.

I’ll update you on my job search. I guess just for the heck of it. I went back to McLean on Saturday, knowing I was going to actual get some board time in. That excited me. What I wasn’t expecting was for that time to be running Front of House (sound) for the band while the normal FOH guy played bass with the band. As soon as they told me I was running sound, I knew right away that the next couple of hours would play a large role in how this job opportunity would shape up. Most likely it would solidify whether or not they were interested in hiring me, and it probably had a lot to do with how much I would end up getting paid, as well. So the nerves hit all at once when I realized this was big–but that didn’t last long. Instead of worrying about it, I just told myself to have fun. I had one of those Independence Day speeches. You know, the one where the President rallies the troops against staggering odds and the possible loss of life, and convinces the civilians to get in the planes and fight for independence. It went something like this:

“Okay, now you’ve got a choice to make. You can either be nervous the whole time and screw up, or you can do this with the confidence you’re good at what you do and that you can do a great job. I mean, you’ve done this hundreds of times before. So if nothing else, have fun. Even if you never speak to the church again after today, at least have fun getting to run sound in a new place and with really cool equipment. Hey, you should put that on the website when this is all done.”

I think things went pretty well. After the rehearsal, I talked with Dave, the Tech Director (he would be my boss) about what was next and where exactly we were in the process. I found out I need to have one more interview, with Don (Dave’s boss), and then after that it would be time for them to offer me a job or not. Needless to say, I’m excited. I think things have gone really well, and I think there’s a very good possibility I’ll be spending the next few years of my life working at McLean Bible Church. When I say next few years, I’m thinking probably 3-5, unless God has other plans. Then after that I think I’d like to go to seminary and get some more schooling under my belt. But that’s all a long way off and a lot can happen between now and then. It’s just my thinking right now.

Anyways, you should look for the weekly columns to start in probably a month or so. I think I might opt for a second website for them, that way I can still write randomly about my life on this one. We’ll keep it a big secret, so all the masses can go to the second website, which will have a wicked-sweet name, and then the special people will know to come here and keep it real.

What lies ahead

What lies ahead in my near future seems to be about all I think about these days. Obviously the biggie is what’s going on with McLean Bible Church, and what it will mean should I get a job there (or for that matter, what it will mean should I not get a job there). But that’s not the only issue I’ve been dealing with. Another is the future of joshmorton.com. About 10 months ago, I had finally started to build a following. There were people reading from all parts of the country, and I even had readers I had never met, who had never met me. Finally I was beginning to realize the vision I’d had when I bought my own domain some 5 years ago. Now I’m in a great battle, testing whether that domain or any domain so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

My future probably doesn't involve this place.

But seriously. It’s time for the website to head one of three ways. Number one is for it to remain exactly what it is, eating away $7/month to provide me email, host my backup files, and see the occasional random, meaningless post. TWO, it can be like every other blog out there, where I write about things people don’t really care about, and I consider myself web-savvy. Or THREE, it can actually become the home of my well-conceived, purposeful writing where ideas abound, creativity is unleashed, and I say lots of things that aren’t socially acceptable and make people I’ve never met very angry. I’d really like to opt for the third, which probably means a cleaner, more visitor-friendly look and absolutely means writing deadlines for my posts.

So here’s where you, the faithful few, come in. I want to know what you like to see me write about. What topics of mine most intrigue you, and which ones do you like to hear my opinions on? For now, my goal is to pick two topics and begin writing about each once a week, thus rendering joshmorton.com a bi-weekly, you-know-on-Tuesday-and-Friday-there-will-be-a-post website. I’m not going to limit what the options are, but i will give you a few of the things I’m considering right now:

One day will probably be related to my career or profession. Not so much the KOA Snack Shop, but the one I studied in college and intend to go into. As such, it could be strictly technical in nature. Maybe you’d like to hear me write my theories about proper gain staging, or why light fixture sockets sometimes corrode, or why a Big Gulp and a $500,000 sound board don’t belong together. As a less boring option, maybe you’d like to hear me talk about some Biblical principles and philosophies about technology and worship together. I must warn you that option sounds like I’d actually have to do some homework to write about. I’m not really sure what you want to read, but in the time it took to write this last paragraph I have already decided one of the days will definitely be this category. I do want this to be a resource site for people doing the things I’m doing.

The second day is pretty much wide open, though. I’m up for talking theology, baseball, mass transportation, the space program, Einstein’s theory of relativity, C.S. Lewis books, Arthur Miller plays, television, movie reviews, or even classic Nintendo games. More than likely the category will switch periodically (I know myself well enough to expect that). But at least your input will give me some direction.

I’ve been told that you can’t write for other people, you have to write for yourself. I think that’s partially true, but I’ve also never heard of a second book deal with a writer who only sold 7 copies of their first.