Reading List: Have A Little Faith: Mitch Albom

I guess you would have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of Mitch Alboms first book, “Tuesdays With Morrie”. And there’s good reason to have heard of that as well as “The Five People You Meet In Heaven”, his second book, because they were both turned into movies.

I write here to urge you to read his third book, “Have A Little Faith”. Be ready tho to feel the lumps in your throat, the gentle aching of your heart, and to reach for the tissue. It’s a beautiful story. I think it’s a story we all need to hear. For me I need to hear it again and again. I think it’s wonderful how God uses so many different mediums to re tell me the same story. He gave me a hard head and knows I’m always a work in progress.

“Have A Little Faith” holds many lessons for us all, especially the more subtle stories of tenderness, patience, and reaching in to get “the gold” that our elders hold. If you are not prone to books on faith or religion, you will still find a warmth and a peace that you might not have known your heart was looking for.

The read is quick and easy and when you are done you will want to find a quiet place just to read it again.

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Shine A Light: Stevie Wonder

Wow. Where would one start to talk about the career of Stevland Morris, known to all of us as Stevie Wonder. Remember Little Stevie Wonder, with that hot harmonica on “Fingertips Pt.2”? Growing up in the 70’s, Stevie was everywhere, and his stuff had more groove than most bands could dream of. Check out this You Tube clip of “Superstition”. The groove is so cool. It’s not forced or aggressive, but deep and soulful. But hey, that’s Stevie in a nutshell !

If you are at last the age of 45, then Stevie’s songs are part of the soundtrack of your life. From “I Was Made To Love Her”, “My Cherie Amour” to “Living For The City” and just about everything from the LP “Songs In The Key Of Life”. His is a master, writer, performer and producer. I could go on forever about Stevie Wonder because I really think he is one of the greatest musical talents of my lifetime, but I will leave it at just that. A genius. Thanks Stevie for a lifetime of soul !

Jesus

I wonder how many folks either immediately gravitated to or away from the very title of this post. It’s a word that comes with a lot. I have known many people that had no interest in organized religion and as a matter of fact probably ran the other way as its mention, but I don’t think I have ever met anyone that didn’t like Jesus ! I just wonder if people, particularly the ones that distance themselves, are doing so to religion or Jesus.

For me, Jesus is just the purest form of love there is. I feel he is there walking beside me always. A comfort and a guide. I don’t feel fear simply because he knows me. Therefore he knows my heart, my weaknesses and efforts. I am simply human doing the best I can most of the time. It’s that relationship full of love, mercy and grace that I value.

For some I guess Jesus represents a doorway to rules. Of punishment when you slip up. I have members of my family that through people with good intentions, but not much subtly, tact or grace, pushed them so far from the doors that they might never return.

The conversation of salvation and the respect for other world religions,  can be left for another time, but to me that means they will journey on without that comfort, without that understanding of how deeply they are loved, even if they find it on their deathbeds. I think the journey is equally important as the destination and really, they go hand in hand.

Perhaps my wish is for people to find Jesus on their terms and in their own way. And church, well, hmmm, how would I say it, maybe not essential. I personally attend and there are many good aspects of church and worshiping with fellow believers. But if all the churches were destroyed, you’d still have Jesus, and as the old saying goes, “the church is a body of people not a structure”.

So what do you think? Any difference for you in accepting or running from Jesus and the Church/Religion? Does the mention of either name strike a different emotion? I just wonder if these questions ever tug at your sleeve in those quiet moments alone. I don’t have any answers but my own. No judgments, just a heart full of questions as I journey looking for the many faces of truth.

Postcards From The South: The Gulf Coast

Here’s a few shots off of old highway 90. The pics were taken on a section just east of Mobile Bay to Biloxi Mississippi. We rarely have the time or make the time for the journey these days. It’s more about the destination. But the journey can be full of surprises. Once the Interstate system cam along much of Americas personality was missed.

Old radio station and USS Alabama, Mobile, Alabama

There’s a famous bar on the Florida-Alabama line about 30 minutes from where I grew up called the “Flora-Bama”, and I guess the folks on the Alabama-Mississippi line just couldn’t resist. The have their own little honkytonk, the “Miss-A-Bama”.

Many places in the South claim to be the buckle of the bible belt. I don’t know if the Gulf Coast is the buckle, but it sure wears it’s beliefs everywhere you look.

The Vietnam Memorial and Lovelace drug store are both in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The drug store still has a working and popular soda fountain. Unfortunately the young innocent faces on the wall never made it home alive. They gave their lives in too big a number, robbing families of the most precious ingredient for someone else’s politics. Looking in the bright young faces of men with so much ahead of them was really sad.

For anyone who has spent time on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Biloxi, there must be a sadness in their hearts seeing it now. It was that way for me. Along the Gulf road, Hwy 90,  was once lined with wonderful, beautiful, southern plantations style homes. Most were probably built in the early 1800s. The were really amazing homes and reminders of the old south, with all its grandeur.

When hurricane Katrina ripped thru, she took all of them. Every single one ! I’m sure there will be some big ugly chain hotel there soon. Empty, empty, feeling to know they had made it so long even surviving storms like Camille in 1969.

The casinos were rebuilt quickly and show no signs that a storm ever happened. They say when times get hard people turn not only to their faith but also to their vices. I guess the churches, liquor stores and gambling halls, fare pretty well, as citizens try to wrap their minds around what a new reality looks like.

The Rock Church is in Flomaton, Alabama. My Grandparents attended it on occassion in the 1920’s. It was too far, 4 miles by mule to go every Sunday. They had traveling preachers in that area, so there probably wasn’t services every Sunday anyway. You can bet that place was full of spirit. Just looking at it on that sunny day, reminded me how much the physical house of God has changed over they years. This sure harkened back to a simpler time. It was pastored in part by Lee Rush Golden. Mr. Golden was grandfather to Oak Ridge Boy William Lee Golden. He was great grandfather to Rusty and Chris Golden, who’s band “The Goldens” filmed a music video called “Little Piece Of Land” in  Rock Church in the early 90’s. You can see the inside of the church in the video.

So if you ever have the time, wherever you live, take the old roads. They will connect you with a forgotten part of yourself and remind you also of the wonderful personality of this great land and its people.

Shine A Light: The Wrights

Here’s the weekly “Shine A Light” post. It’s my honor and priviledge to shine it on my friends Adam and Shannon Wright, known in the music world as “The Wrights”. Great writing, harmonies that are usually saved for blood relatives, fine musicianship, and no finer folks to be found to top it off !

They are household names just waiting for their audience to find them, and they will ! They have a few CD projects on i tunes, so give em a listen. You won’t be disappointed. Below is one of their songs that’s being covered by Solomon Burke aided by some of Nashvilles finest studio cats !

Support live music, please. There are folks out there like the Wrights, working, singing, writing from the heart and hoping to keep the dream alive. Beware though, if you start listening to good writing, writing from the heart, crafting of a lyric, much of the stuff you find on the radio will begin to lose its appeal and its realness. Happy listening and discovering !

Too Much News ?

Is it just too damn much of everything? I’m sure this comment will mark my age, but I remember as a kid we had 3 T.V. channels and although I’m sure there was news at 10pm, I just remember the 6 o’clock news with Walter Cronkite. Now hundreds of channels, 24/7. Ok, so with that out of the way,  and at the risk of just sounding like an old guy complaining, here we go…

Does anyone feel overloaded with not only the amount of information coming at us, but need for constant updates and communication. It permeates everything in our lives. This constantness. Whether its T.V. news, talk radio, blog, text, IM, and twitter. I’m guilty of some of it for sure. I hate the hold it has on me. The wonder if the inbox has something in it.

The thing of it all is that most of the time the incoming info ain’t worth the time of looking it up ! I saw a guy on T.V. the other day that was helping people simplify their lives, and he suggested to detoxify from all of that stuff and none of it after 9pm. Can we do it? Can I do it? Maybe I can’t be the best but I’ll go for the “er” part and just be better, and better…..

I have a friend that intentionally leaves his cell phone at home, and when he’s on the road, he turns it off for extended periods of time. We all say “but what if something happens”. So are we living with this attachment of constant communication, for the one bad thing that may or may not happen.

I guess each generation has to find its own comfort level with that. I know friends and especially family will just say “ole Glenn is just getting old”…Maybe they are right, but here’s the other thing about getting older, “I just don’t care” . So what do you think? Do you ebb and flow with all of this information?

Shine A Light: Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

This weeks Shine A Light artist is Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, or Iz as he was called. Iz had one of those voices that stops you dead in your tracks. Native son of Hawaii, Iz passed away a few years ago. His funeral was held in the state capital and was the first artist to ever be given that honor. He was loved for his passion for Native rights, his gentleness and of course his voice.

When I watch these videos I’m remninded of what music should more often be, a communal thing, bringing people together, and the singer is part of the community. Aloha Iz. Thank you for sharing your gift in your short time here.