Todd Durrant’s Random Thoughts
Follow the efforts of a creative, crazed entrepreneur.

May
16

Hello folks.   Well, I don’t know how many of you are still checking this blog.  If you are, you’ve noticed that I have not written and update in several weeks.  I’m sorry to keep you waiting.   It is not that my life has become dull.   Actually it is the opposite.  Because of the need to focus my attention on so many things, and my attempt to juggle different activities that demand my time, I need to set aside a couple those time consuming activities.   This blog is one of the items that I’ve had to set aside.

Yes, I have enjoyed writing it and sharing feelings both mundane and semi-interesting.   But alas, I just don’t have the time to update it as I would like.   I’m keeping the link alive rather than wiping it out altogether, so that one day I CAN come back and make use of it.  So, thanks for reading, and one day I’ll write a real blog entry again.

-Todd

Mar
10

Yes, I am missing in action when it comes to this blog.  I’ve been busy.  You know…busy with work, busy with family, busy with life.  I’ve had to focus much more intensely on the activities that may help my immediate future and push a few of the extra things to the side.  As much as I love some of those little extras, like writing this blog, they take time, and time seems to become more and more of a precious commodity these days.

When I say that I need to focus on activities that help my immediate future, I mean that I need to focus on things that make at least a little bit of money.   Yes, it is a sad truth– money is necessary in this crazy world.   And as far as necessities go, it is something I’ve been lacking.   However, in my attempts to carve a living out of one thing or another, I’ve discovered that I don’t find it boring or tiresome.  Whatever I do, I end up enjoying it.  I must be crazy that way, or maybe I’m just lucky.  Let me explain while I give a little…

RANDOM UPDATE FROM TODD…

I’m still working several hours per day on the weekdays to keep A Different Drum up and running.   Though business is not nearly what it used to be, there are still a few dedicated music fans and collectors who love to keep up on the newest synthpop releases, so I keep the trickle of inventory coming in, and I keep shipping out the orders.   I am slower in the order fulfillment because I’m dividing my time with other things, but I do my best to keep it going.   I have a significant amount of debt that still needs to be paid off, so that is yet another reason I have to keep the shop open.    Do I love this work?  Of course!  I’ve worked in the music business for going on twenty years in one way or another, and I don’t think I would have stuck with it this long if not for the love of the work.   It is a bit tedious doing the little things like putting CD’s in boxes and writing addresses, but those little tasks are an important part of the job, so I smile and give thanks for every order I must fill and every box I must pack.

I get up pretty early on weekdays.  The alarm goes off at 6AM.  I stumble out of bed, get lunches ready for my son Dylan to take to school and my wife Myra to take to work, have some breakfast, play basketball for an hour if it is Tuesday or Thursday, and then settle down to get a start on the other part of my regular work day now– stock trading.   When I used to think of stock traders, I would say to myself, “Now that has to be a very boring job!”  I couldn’t see the thrill of buying intangible items on the hopes of earning some kind of living.   The movies always depicted guys in suits screaming and running around like insects on the floor of the New York stock exchange and I thought, “yeah, right.  They’re just trying to make a boring job look interesting!”   Well, I’m not one of those guys…after all, this is a new age of trading where regular folks like me can sit and do it at our computers in our homes, and there just isn’t much yelling going on when you hit keys on homepages to buy and sell.   But you know, it can definitely be a thrill!  I suppose it is sort of like the adrenaline rush from gaming or gambling?  I don’t know why, but even when I haven’t been winning, I find myself quite enraptured by the effort.   I’ve taken a few hours every week trying to learn more.  I still have a long way to go, but I’m starting to work out my own game plan, and I think I may even be able to make money on a regular basis trading volatile penny stocks.   I’ve made a few friends during the learning process, and I’ve had some emotional ups and downs.   I’m excited at the beginning of each new day as  I prepare to see what is coming my way.   I’m always anxious to see the results of my choices, good or bad.   Yep, I know it sounds crazy, but I do love it.

On Thursdays I leave work at my office computer earlier than on other days.   I drive a few miles to my mother’s house where I moved my music studio.  I needed a place that was more quiet and organized than my own home so I could have students come over for music lessons.   I’ve had a couple of fun students that have stuck with the lessons that I began to offer last fall.    I help the kids improve their songwriting skills and we work together to play and record their original songs.   These are the kinds of music lessons I would have loved as a kid, where it is all based on the student’s own creativity.   They can learn music while making it in their own way and expressing their own ideas.   Again, it is really fun! I enjoy working with their fun personalities and hearing what they come up with.  Really, my “teaching” is just giving my feedback and sharing my experience, but they are the ones that take themselves on the musical journey, and it’s a pleasure to watch.   I hope to pick up a few more students this spring and summer when school isn’t filling up schedules.

While I am at my studio in my mother’s house, I usually spend an hour or two working on my own songs, just to let my own creative juices flow.   Lately I’ve been working on the mellow, moody songs that are part of my future song collection called “Disciple’s Lament”.   The songs are not very poppy and a couple are very piano-heavy, but yep, I love doing it!  I’ve always loved melodramatic music.   Whoops!  This doesn’t make money!   It only helps to keep me sane, and that is worth something.

On the weekends I do get a little work in with my writing.  Lately I’ve been proofreading my second novel, “Gracie Twofeet”.    After I finish each chapter I then read it to my three youngest kids before bedtime.   Trying it out on a real audience gives me a sense of whether or not it is entertaining enough and comprehensible enough to a younger audience.   This fantasy novel is for younger readers, and it has been fun to change my writing style in an attempt to appeal to a different age group.   I should be finished with the process this month, and then I will return to by 3rd novel which is now called “Target” (a sequel to “Trigger”).   Whoops again!  This doesn’t make any money either, but you know, I hope that some day it does.  I’ll call it “working on my long-term future”.    Or chalk up another one for my sanity.

That’s about all I have time to write at the moment.  I need to start crunching numbers for taxes.    Yes, business taxes are due next week and I haven’t really started on them yet.  So, here I go, and I will tell you right now, I DO NOT enjoy this part of my work.  I hate keeping track of my checkbook and I hate doing taxes.    Oh well.   I can’t expect to love everything, right?

-Todd

PS.  Since I like sharing music videos in my blogs, take a look at this one that my son Dylan just produced.   It is for the song “The Valentine” which I co-wrote together with Marcus Fellechner.  Marcus produced this young artist named Susanti in Germany and then asked Dylan to help with a video.   Dylan included three of his friends and just finished editing it last night:

Jan
11

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day I was able to experience a very rare treat.  I was able to get together in one place with my siblings!  We are scattered all over the country, from California, to Utah, to Tennessee, to Georgia.   I hadn’t even met some of my newest relatives in person yet, including my little sister’s new husband and his two girls, or my brother’s latest child.   So, it was an event to be cherished and remembered.  My mother rented a cabin at Bear Lake (in Garden City, Utah) for a nice, wintry atmosphere and we all hunkered down together for a few days.

We watched movies, played games, sat in the hot tub on the deck, played in the snow, and of course found a little time to film some crazy music videos.   I filmed three of them, but have only had the time to edit two so far.  One other short video starring my nephew, Ethan,  is yet to be pieced together.    The first video came to life as I was talking to my niece and nephew who were a bit bored at the moment and wanted to simply “do something”.  I said, “hey let’s go for a walk down to that little store about a mile away and make a video on the way.”   The first reply was, “eh…no” because Christine didn’t necessarily think that walking out in the cold sounded like fun.  But Alexander was game, and we started talking about any random video concept.

I explained that any idea was a “good one” as long as it was bizarre and we could film it with a “serious look on our faces”.   Alex grabbed a handful of mints for the walk and we joked that we could use the mints in the video.   But how do we use the mints?  Well, we could throw them at other cabins…great suggestion!  Christine was now interested, so we grabbed our coats and the camera and headed out the door.  I grabbed a couple other items on the way, like a coin for flipping, and a bottle for spinning, and we set out to make a video that could mean…well…anything…0r nothing.  And I will admit, it took several attempts at some shots because there was so much laughing going on.

So, here it is, the video for Saudade’s “A Lifetime”:

As a side note on this particular song, “A Lifetime”, the concept was recorded back when I was a teen.   To this day I like the strange mood and atmosphere that I achieved back then, so I wanted to recreate it again with better technology.   I liked the results of my attempt, but didn’t really like the way I sang it (and I’d changed some of the minimal lyrics as well).    Before we left to the cabin for my family reunion, some of us met up at my mother’s house where much of my studio is currently set up.  I was showing the setup to my two nephews, Ethan and Seth.  They both sing in the San Francisco Boys Choir, and they are very interested in anything musical.   I threw some headphones on them and propped them in front of the microphone and asked them to try singing with me on the chorus.  It was fun, and they did a great job considering they’d never heard the song before and I just threw them on the spot.   So, my family contributed to this song in more ways than just the video.

During the last day at the cabin, I decided to film a video which could include anybody who was in the mood for some silliness (or who wasn’t otherwise involved in a couple of intense games of Risk 2210).   Since my siblings have a great sense of humor and don’t mind doing strange or even mildly painful things for kicks, it wasn’t hard to get a lot of footage quickly.  The basic concept was built on a video game / mind control idea.   We had a lot of fun with it!

Now, when it came to adding music, I thought of a track that I had just reworked called “The Answer” because it only has a few lyrics saying things like “I am the master!” which fit the video really well.   I’d originally recorded the song as something of a joke over a year ago, and that original version had a processed, high-pitched voice rapping some verses.   I’d recently removed those verses and had stuck with just the strange chorus chant.   But there was a problem matching it up to the video– it was only three minutes long, and we’d shot a lot more footage than that!  So, I after returning home, I had to find some time to extend the track to more than twice it’s original length, ending at just over seven minutes.   But the music fit so well that I had to do it!   Here is the result…the video for Sauadade “The Answer”:

See what utter craziness can happen when my family gets together?   Ah…good times!

-Todd

Dec
28

Again, I’ve gone through another long stretch of silence on this blog.  I’m sorry to any of you who may still check it from time to time.  Though I’ve been silent here, I haven’t been sitting on my hands in real life.  I’ve been quite busy with several endeavors, and that is part of the reason I never seem to find the time to write a new blog entry.

I’ll start off this one just like I did the last one, with another video production from my son, Dylan, and I.   This is a very different musical piece from my Saudade project.  Though I’ve done somewhat “new age” tracks in the distant past, I haven’t done anything like this recently, where the focus is on the piano and the mood.  There are no lyrics–just the instrumental mood music.

This track is called “Disciple’s Lament” because I like the sound of that title, and it does sound somewhat mournful.  The actress in the video is a friend of Dylan’s named Cassie Burns.  She did a great job.

This is the title track to a future release I’ve also called “Disciple’s Lament”, intended to be a 5-track EP with all piano / new age style music– only a couple with lyrics.   It would not see a digital or physical release until after the “Restricted” collection.

On another creative front, yesterday (December 27th) I finished the first draft of my youth fantasy novel called “Gracie Twofeet”.   It had been a new year resolution for 2009 to finish the first draft, so I’m happy to say that I did it!   It has been a very enjoyable project.  The main characters are children, and I found it to be a new challenge to write a story which would not only draw the interest of young readers, but which would portray those young characters in a realistic and interesting way.   I found that I ended up liking those characters a lot– I cared about them, almost like real children.  I wanted everything to turn out OK for them, and since I’m in charge, things do work out OK for them.  Though all conflict is not resolved, they find happiness in their new situation.   Yes, there’s the main antagonist who is a mysterious witch who was banished 100 years ago to the sea (her spirit is thus trapped in the waters until she can find a way out).   I know… it is very much along the lines of other popular books in the new youth fantasy boom (thanks Harry Potter).

Tomorrow I will head out to a cabin at cold, snowy Bear Lake (on the border of Utah and Idaho) to spend a couple of days with my brothers and sisters and their families.  It has been years since we’ve all been together, so it should be a lot of fun.   It will be the perfect way to end the year and head into the new.  Wow, I can’t believe 2009 has passed so quickly.   I hope to be better with my efforts to write interesting blogs in the coming weeks and months.  Maybe I’ll hit some hot topics again instead of boring you with my little creative updates.

Thanks for your friendship and interest!

-Todd

Nov
26

I’ve neglected this blog lately.  It isn’t that I haven’t had a lot on my mind.  I’ve been thinking a lot about things, and I have would-be articles in my head, but the time never seems to become available.

So, just to make sure this blog isn’t stale for too long, I’ll share a new no-budget video with you.   Dylan and my other kids are out of school for the Thanksgiving holiday, so we have a little time to shoot silly videos.   Yesterday (November 25th) we shot footage for two videos, and finished editing one of them.

The first is one of my poppy songs called “Where You’re Going”.   It is one of the songs on the upcoming “Restricted” album which is a concept album loosely focused on the changing music business and my own personal struggles to find a professional place in the world (how to make a living).   We kind of went with a little of that theme in the video, though as usual, it was mostly just for fun.  Also, Dylan took a lot of the initiative in filming this one and just vanished for a few hours with his friends, since I was working most of the day.   We noticed afterward that his camera lens had been dirty– you’ll see the effect of that.   But we ended up liking what he called the “Cloverfield effect” of the cheap, hand-held camera.

Here is the video for “Where You’re Going (Rename’s Video Mix)”:

Oh, and in case you’re interested, there is also a “Rename DJ Club Mix” which will be on the album, and the original version of the song which has what my little girl called a “conga line beat”.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I’ll hopefully be back to this blog soon.

-Todd

 

Nov
05

I’m sure that many of you are like me and have a handy application on your computer screen that shows you what people are “tweeting” through Twitter and what they are posting on their Facebook pages, or other social media.  It can admittedly become a sort of background noise of people’s thoughts and actions.  Often I find myself oblivious to what is being said because I can’t focus on so many different fragments of information.   Other times I find myself pulled in by what people are saying.

For example, lately I’ve found it interesting to watch Senator John McCain’s tweets as he once again goes through a daily list of “top 10 earmarks” in current budget legislation.  Wow, it is simply eye-popping to see how much money the US government throws in every possible direction for any little pet project the politicians can think of.   Though each project may seem noble in it’s own little way, it all adds up to million upon millions of dollars in unnecessary spending, using tax money that we don’t have.   But as much as people seem to hate the idea of reckless spending by the government, nobody in charge seems to want to end it.

At other times I’ll see people quote song lyrics, or popular sayings, etc.   One of my Facebook friends criticized all the lyric quoting this week, saying that you should only quote lyrics that you wrote yourself.   Well, if you think some song lyrics nicely express what you’re feeling, then go ahead, quote them.  I won’t mind.  I might not make the connection to your own life, but I don’t mind.    Today I saw this particular quote scroll across my screen:

“Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.” Robert Anton Wilson

It made me think for a few seconds.  Hmm.  Interesting idea.  And then I thought, “Who is this Robert Wilson person anyway?”  I looked him up and it turns out he is the typical author / philosopher / mystic / dead guy.   I see that he is known for this basic goal in life (in his own words):

“My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything.”

Let me try to translate that quote by dumbing it down to my own very basic, non-philosophical level.  After all, when it comes to philosophy, I rank right up there with somebody like…oh…Beaker from the Muppet Show:

Beaker_muppet

Basically, Robert Anton Wilson was saying, “My goal is to see that nobody knows anything.”

I told you, I’m not a very smart person.  But I do, however, believe that it is possible to actually know things.  I, for one, believe there is such a thing as “truth” and that it can ultimately be found, from the smallest, most trite bit of information, to doctrine on grand scales.   Once you find the truth, either by study or by accident, then why live with a belief that you’d be more intelligent by throwing it out the window so you can consider other possibilities?

[Beaker] “Wow, I just ate a piece of this chocolate cake and I love it!”

[Robert] “What?  But how do you know?”

[Beaker] “Because I put it in my mouth, and I liked it…”

[Robert] “Wait!  You have simply convinced yourself that you love it, but by so doing, you’ve ignored the possibility that you may hate it.”

[Beaker] “Really?  I hadn’t considered that.” [picks up remaining cake and throws it out the window]

[Robert] “Why did you do that?”

[Beaker] “You said I might possibly hate the cake.”

[Robert]  “But I wanted a piece!  You know…so I could consider the possibilities of liking or not liking it.  It could take several pieces for me to consider the ways I might feel about that cake!  Now I don’t have the chance to even taste it!”

[Beaker]  “Well, you’re no better or worse off anyway, since you already don’t know if you like it or not.”

[Robert]  “Ah, very true, Beaker.  I’m glad you pointed that out.  I don’t know as much now as I didn’t know then, and that’s refreshing.”

[Beaker] “Glad to be of service.”

No offense to fans of Robert Wilson, or to fans of Beaker, but I think the quote that flashed across my screen today is both philosophically impressive, and completely insane.    It’s funny when the two go hand-in-hand.  It’s fun to be a great thinker, I suppose, and even more fun to call oneself a “mystic” because it is…oh…so mystical.   But here is my rebuttal quote, from a non-mystic, mainstream idiot:

“One who is wise not only seeks intelligence, but lives in a constant pursuit of truth, willingly putting aside personal prejudice, pride, and preference when discovery delivers a taste of divine truth.  To wander endlessly through the ever varying philosophies and foibles of man without desiring to learn and recognize truth is not wisdom, but merely an entertaining journey where one lives and dies not having known anything at all.”

OK, I used too many words for it to be a good quote.  Phooey!  That won’t even fit in a twitter post!  Maybe I could have said it better if I’d written it as song lyrics?

-Todd

Oct
28

It has been a while since I’ve written in my blog.  I’ve tried to think of something to say, but nothing has inspired me.  That isn’t to say that my mind is completely silent– I still think about things a lot, but that doesn’t mean that anybody else is necessarily interested in those thoughts.   My inability to write anything hasn’t only applied to my blog, but to the writing of the two novels that I have in the works.  I haven’t been able to motivate myself to write for about a month now.

I looked up the term “Writer’s Block” online and of course was pointed to Wikipedia where it says:

“Writer’s block is a condition, associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task in hand. At the other extreme, some “blocked” writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers.”

Writing is not my profession.  I wouldn’t mind if writing eventually made enough money for me to buy a few groceries now and then, but at the moment, my writing is for my own personal fulfillment.   Even publishing my book was a way to emphatically declare, “I did it!  I finished a novel!”  I spent more on the publishing of “Trigger” than I’ve made…in fact, I don’t think it will ever break even.   But I do want to press forward in my efforts and hopefully improve my skills.

The book I’ve been working on most recently is called “Gracie Twofeet” and it fits into the growing arena of “youth fantasy” along the lines of Harry Potter.  The protagonists are children (well, most of the time) and the antagonist is an unseen witch.   Though there are similarities in my book with other stories out there, including Harry Potter, it is my own story and I have had fun telling it.   That is, up until a few weeks ago when I finished writing a sort of high point in the book, and I haven’t been able to sit back down and write any more since then.   I have a goal to at least begin the next chapter this weekend.

I have worked a little on music during the last few weeks, though not at a pace I was keeping earlier this year.   Since I now devote some of my time to teaching children how to write and record their own songs, I don’t have as much time to work on my own songs.  When I do get to my own songs, I become even more impatient than usual and don’t want to spend time on the details.  Thankfully, most of my next album was already near completion before hitting this lull, so I should have “Restricted” ready for release in early 2010.   I just finished a song this week called “Where You’re Going” which fits into the album concept  nicely, and my friend Marcus of Rename is making a remix of that song as well.  I’ve also sat down at a real piano every couple of days to practice some songs I’m writing for a future album which will be much more mellow and piano-oriented, in a Philip Glass sort of way.

What else have I been doing with my time?   It seems that time flies a lot these days because I am doing so many different things.  I wake up early at 6 AM.   On some days I go to play basketball with some friends at 6:30 so I can get at least a little exercise.   Other days I wander downstairs to my computer and begin answering emails and researching online before breakfast.   As the day progresses and jump between processing and packaging CD orders, updating the catalog, and checking the stock market.  Though I still don’t have any real money for investing, I enjoy learning how the market works and use small amounts to test different strategies.   It’s strange that I enjoy buying and selling stock since I never once even considered it in my life until just over a year ago when the market crashed.   The stock market was always a mystery to me and something that other people worried about.  I was more concerned about selling music…not stocks.

Here is an interesting piece of news– I was invited by a club promoter in Mexico to come to Mexico City as a guest DJ for a party.   He wanted to know how much it would cost for me to make the trip.  I looked, and it was rather expensive (around $700 just for the airline ticket).  Plus, I don’t exactly have a passport and visa ready to jump on a plane to Mexico for a party in November.   I turned down the offer, but it is the first time I remember somebody offering to pay me to take a trip to be a guest DJ.    You know, I used to DJ in a club years ago.  Back then, I played Latino pop / rock / dance music most of the time, and had little stints of playing 80’s and modern synthpop.   I enjoyed working in the club until it became tiring and I lost my interest in playing what the crowd wanted, over and over again.   The last club I worked at back in the early and mid 90’s paid me $50 per night.  You know it was no longer “fun” when I decided to turn down $50 just to play dance music.  I’d probably do it now for that little bit of money, but back then, it just go soooo old.

Speaking of being a DJ, I was asked to be the DJ for a Halloween dance at  my son’s small high school, InTech Collegiate High.   It is a charter school that focuses on science, engineering, and math, so it is principally made up of laptop-savvy, geeky kids (also very cool kids…I’m joking about the “geek” factor).   The school focus effects the demographic of students, meaning that there are probably two boys for every girl, which also means that dances are usually informal so that everybody can show up regardless of whether or not they have a “date”.   Usually they have a teacher there with a laptop and he just plays whatever music the kids give him on their ipods.   That means that the music is often not very danceable– they all stand around and sway to stuff like Coldplay (nice music, but not dance music).   Then when the teacher decides to get everybody moving, he defaults to what he has, which is corny stuff like Crazy Frog or “The Hamster Dance” (good stuff if you’re about 8-years-old).    So, my son convinced the teacher in charge of the Halloween dance that it would be more fun if his dad could bring a laptop loaded with cool dance music and 80’s hits.   It will be funny to see how the kids react to a bunch of music they’ve never heard of before.   Of course, I’ll throw in a couple of their usual rock stuff, just to give them a touch of familiarity.   But hey, this is a dance!  People will be in costume and will be there for a party, so I think the music I’m going to play will add to the mood nicely.

Here is something else I do with my time now.  I have taken upon myself more of the household responsibilities like laundry and dinner preparation.   Wow, it’s more work than I thought!  I never completely neglected those particular chores before, but now it is mostly MY job, so I do it all the time.  Yikes!  I’m still trying to figure out which socks belong to which feet!

OK, that’s enough rambling for now.  I suppose I really shouldn’t be writing anything at all during a writer’s block.  Otherwise you end up with a blog like this– full of nothing.

-Todd

 

Oct
16

Though I digitally released Saudade’s collection, “The Guts to Be Good” a couple of months ago, I never felt like it was properly released.  As I’ve explained before, I feel like a legitimate musical production should be released in physical format.   By “legitimate”, I mean in the eyes of the person who created the work, even if not commercially viable.   After all, anybody can pay a few dollars and have their songs released on iTunes and other major digital stores.   These days, fewer dedicated artists bother to pull together the money to put out their music on a factory replicated CD with proper packaging, but when they do, it says loud and clear, “I think it’s worth putting this in your collection.”  Or at least it says, “I believe in my music enough to have hundreds of copies sitting in my closet for years to come!”

So, I’m happy to say that on Monday I’ll receive my shipment of Saudade “The Guts to Be Good” CD’s.  I kept it very simple, with a very cool sleeve design by Stijn Coppens.   It is a cardboard sleeve (no jewel case) with no extended booklet.  This way, it looks good, but I can keep the price very low (retail $6).

CD Cover Image by Stijn Coppers

CD Cover Image by Stijn Coppens

“The Guts to Be Good” represents songs that were written in 2008 and 2009, as apposed to the previously released singles, “Bad Dreams” and “Like You” which consist of remakes of songs I wrote when I was a teenager in the 80’s.   These newer songs seem to follow a general theme, but in different ways.  I like concept albums, but don’t like everything on the album to be too similar or too obvious.   This album takes different looks at the attempt to be a good person, both in a melancholy way, and in a light, fun-loving way. It begins by asking whether anybody has “the guts to be good” in a world where the right way is often not the easier path.  Then, with the song “Almost Perfect”, there is a description of those seemingly perfect days when everything seems to be going great, and you feel like “you’re there!”  Yet you know that there are still struggles ahead, and it may not be until some far future time when you can finally look back and see that the journey was worth taking.   “Missing” is more of a song about longing for something, or someone that is lost.  “Mocking” was written mostly as a pop song and the lyrics are more on the silly side of the spectrum, using wordplay and rhymes while lightheartedly exploring the feelings of being mocked or misunderstood.  Sure, there is a misfit in most of us.

“The End of This Disease” was written and recorded in a day, after I found that my brother had been hospitalized for Crohn’s disease.  While he was recovering from surgery he made a social network for people dealing with Crohns.  I wrote the song as a sort of theme song for him.  We are often asked to deal with disease and suffering in life, regardless of how “good” we try to be– again, that’s part of the journey.

There are two little tracks on the CD that are mostly instrumental.  I made them as little experiments while playing with ideas.  One of them, “Something in the Sky” drives some people crazy (like my wife) because there is a synth pattern that plays five pulses per “beat”, and five pulses per beat just sounds “off” because it isn’t the usual, easy-to-hear 4, and it’s not even a triplet.   Hey! I like breaking the rules.  The pattern is right on the “beat” but just doesn’t sound natural, which I think makes it cool.

“Thoughtless” was a short song where I wanted to snap at people who question the faith or belief’s of others, treating them as if they are unintelligent or even complete idiots for believing in things they can’t see.  I don’t mind if people believe differently than I, or if they don’t embrace any kind of faith at all, but I don’t appreciate when I’m called a fool for my own view.  Insults never promote understanding.   I didn’t want to follow a typical song structure with several verses and chorus repeats.   I thought it best to just blurt it out, then leave it.   After all, when your faith is being attacked, you usually just want to walk away.  There is no convincing somebody who can’t see things through similar eyes of faith.   Knowledge of things unseen can only be won by those who try and test their own faith.

“Kansas Again” was written while I was on a long road trip with my son.  We were driving from Smithfield, Utah to Dallas, Texas, and back again.   The lyrics were jokingly adapted to the places we were driving through (Wyoming and Kansas) and are meant to talk about how it feels to be stuck where you are, unable to leave when your life seems like you’re stuck in Kansas again.  Now, I know Kansas has its own charm, but for a guy who has lived most of his life around beautiful mountains and scenic landscapes, that particular state seems pretty dull.  It is so flat, and it’s just farm fields as far as you can see on every side.  Anyway, the song is not very profound.  The challenge was that I had to make the song about 12 minutes long because we shot a photo through the windshield every 10 seconds during the entire trip.  Then we played back the photos at many frames per second to show a time-lapse of the entire round-trip.  My song would be a soundtrack for the video.    Since I’m a fan of old extended versions anyway, I thought it was a fun project.   The finished video has the rough mix of the song (not the final one on the album).

There are a couple of remixes on the collection from friends of mine.  One is a remix of “Mocking” by my great friend, Marcus Fellechner, who I work with for the band Rename.   He has a great feel for pop music and make the song much better than the original, as he usually does.   There is also a remix of the song “Her Way” which was from my 2nd Saudade single.   Steve Mork from Somegirl has a great way with melancholy, moody songs (the first Somegirl album was ideal for that) and he made a great remix of that overly dramatic song from my youth.  I wanted to release it on a CD, so I put it here.

The album ends with a somewhat heartbroken look at a life spent in an endeavor that collapses due to changes in the world, while suggesting that even at the end of the dream, some things can’t be taken away.  I admit, I was feeling very emotional and disappointed at the time I wrote this song.  I just wanted to get my feelings off my chest, so to speak.  During the spring of 2009, the long, downward path of my music business, A Different Drum, seemed to worsen.   I was particularly upset that I’d made contracts for some great new artists, then had to tell them over and over again that I didn’t have the money to release their albums as planned.  Without sales, there couldn’t be new releases or my debt burden would become insurmountable.    There were already a lot of debts and my own income was down to pretty much nothing, just so I could pay the bills.  I felt unemployed, even though I was working all the time.  I’d tried other things, but nothing had worked out.  I eventually took a summer job selling corn for a neighbor because I couldn’t see things getting better during the traditionally slower summer months.  It seemed everything was crumbling.   It still is, to some degree, but I wanted to write a personal song about the way it felt to wake up from the dream I’d been living for so long.   I intentionally sung the song in a more whiny style, thinking it sounded more like I was cracking.  It had worked nicely for Robert Smith (The Cure)  so many years before.   Though I don’t expect many people to connect with this song, it became my favorite and I felt like it was a sort of anthem for me at the time.    Oh, I had also contact a singer named Sheri Shaw about contributing her great voice on the chorus because she has a certain vocal timbre that I felt fit the mood perfectly.   I ended up liking her voice so much that I not only used it in “Somnium Finis” at the end of the album, but I created a little intro for the album using her chorus vocals and called it “The Dream”.   So, she kind of ties the album together from beginning to end.

One of the fun parts of working on my Saudade project is that I decided to accompany as many of the songs as possible with no-budget, home-made music videos.   My son, Dylan, became a big part of that endeavor.  Last year he became very interested in photography and in video recording.   He only had a little $60 hand-held video camera (very cheap and low quality) but we decided to work with it and make some silly videos.   I tried to think of ideas that only loosely tied into the lyrics of the song.  Thus the videos could cause for a different interpretation, or could simply be a background visual.   Lately, I’ve felt like Dylan and I have put together some pretty cool no-budget videos and are improving every time.   He has since purchased a new camera– it’s still cheap at under $300, but provides much clearer shots, and we just picked up some inexpensive editing software (for most of the videos to this point we’ve used free software for editing).  Keep in mind, these videos are always shot and edited in a day…usually in three hours or less.

There are videos for songs from the first two Saudade singles, and there are also videos for songs from the future Saudade release “Restricted”, but here are the videos that are tied to songs from “The Guts to Be Good”.   These include more interesting productions, the time-lapse road trip, a couple of videos that were added to the instrumental tracks just for kicks, and even a video that Dylan shot entirely with his friend while goofing off one day…it fit nicely with “Mocking”.

ALMOST PERFECT  (we went to the park with the kids and friends on a nice day and shot a video while there)

MISSING (I loved this concept and still think it’s cool, even though our file format was messed up in editing)

MOCKING (Dylan and his friend Jacob mess around on a dull afternoon, but it suits the “misfit” theme of the song)

SOMETHING IN THE SKY (music and video were worked together as an experiment, for kicks)

THOUGHTLESS (video is pretty silly and doesn’t fit the lyrical theme, but we didn’t care)

KANSAS AGAIN (I can’t embed a Youtube video here, since it is over the Youtube limit of 10 minutes.  So, here is a link to Facebook)

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/video/video.php?v=121842175639

A MINUTE AND A HALF OF SPRING (The kids were setting up the trampoline in early spring and filmed it.  I added the video to my music.)

SOMNIUM FINIS (Another favorite.  Dylan was suffering horribly from allergies at the time we shot this…sneezing every few seconds.)

Well, there is some unsolicited insight into my Saudade album, “The Guts to Be Good”.   I am nearing completion of the next collection of songs called “Restricted”.  There are already a couple of Youtube videos for songs from that concept album, but I won’t go into that during today’s blog.

If you’d like to order “The Guts to Be Good” then you can jump to A Different Drum and go for it:

http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/ADDCD1302/Saudade-The-Guts-to-Be-Good

You can also order it here from my own website:

http://www.todd-durrant.com/toddsshop.html

The CD will be available in about a week from Amazon.com as well.

Oh, and Dylan is helping to build a website for Saudade.  You can check it out here:

http://www.saudadesongs.com

-Todd

Oct
08

It has been a while since I posted a new blog, but it is not entirely my fault.  I did write a new blog a few days ago.   I wrote a fun discussion of how to live cheap, sharing some of my personal insights from my own family’s ventures into penny pinching.   But once it was written, I clicked “publish” on WordPress, and it suddenly asked me to login.  Crap!  I knew I was in trouble then.  Once I logged in, my post was gone.  All that was left was my two paragraph intro which had auto-saved.   I guess I should be more careful and save a draft every couple of minutes.  But alas, I had already logged into the dashboard, had written my post, and have never been asked to login just to publish my blog before.  Grrr.

Anyway, I didn’t have the heart to start typing it again. Instead, I picked up the softest thing I could find on my desk (a roll of toilet paper for those runny nose moments, or for when there are spiders in the room) and chucked it at the wall.   I felt better in a minute or two, but I still haven’t been in the mood to write it again.

So, today you are stuck with another memory.  I need to write down a couple of things about the first show I ever promoted back in the mid 90’s because I’m already forgetting a lot of things from that part of my life.  I might as well write what I do remember.  I partnered up with a good friend of mine named Gary who had his own music shop called New Wave Records.  We were both very much into the 80’s and any remnant of the new wave scene that was struggling to stay alive in the 90’s.  We both ran small record shops and wanted to bring a couple of concerts back into Utah.   We were both in Provo at the time and thought it would be nice to hold our shows there instead of in Salt Lake City where most shows happened.

Since I had been selling Anything Box’s self-released CD’s in my store, I already had contact with the man in charge of what they called Orangewerks Records.   Actually, that’s kind of a funny part of the story too.  I would call from my store every couple of weeks to order more CD’s and would talk to a man who I will just call Bob, since the name he used is not too important.  Anyway, Bob was very helpful in resupplying me with CD’s and was also helpful in putting me in touch with the band’s booking agent so we could arrange the details of an Anything Box show in Provo.   The booking agent gave us the dollar amounts required, told us to buy four airline tickets (three for the band, and one for a manager) and faxed a list of the equipment that we’d need to have at the venue, etc.   I was new at this whole business, but it seemed pretty straight forward.   We paid the advance so we could announce the show and begin advertising, and then I purchased the airline tickets.  Thinking myself rather clever, I booked the tickets for the three band members:  Claude, Dania, and Gary.   Then, since I was supposed to book a forth for the manager, I also bought one for Bob.   It was during a later phone call to Bob that he stuttered, stammered, and said, “oops, I’m not going to be coming…well…most likely…um…anyway, just give me the airline information and I’ll change the ticket.”  Needless to say, there was not really a Bob.  That was just a business name for handling phone calls  so people wouldn’t hound the phone lines thinking they were talking to the band.   Oops.

Promoting the show was tough.  Anything Box was a good one-hit-wonder in Utah, and it was frustrating that no matter how much you tried to convince the alternative radio stations that they had new stuff that was worth playing, the stations wouldn’t touch it.  Still, we had to get the word out to the people who had heard “Living In Oblivion” or nobody would show up at the concert.  So, we coughed up a couple thousand dollars for advertising on the radio.  I would listen to the radio during the scheduled times to make sure they played the ads.  One time the DJ played the ad spot announcing the show, and then followed up by saying sarcastically, “Wow, that should be a fun show, with one song.”

I called Gary who said that he had heard the ad too, and we called the radio station to say, “We’re not paying for that ad.  You can’t jokingly criticize the people that pay you money for advertising.”  The ad rep apologized and said they’d run a couple extra ads for us.  Oh, and then there was our other advertising approach– to spread fliers all over the apartment complexes where the tens of thousands of college students lived.  That took hours and hours of walking around, and in the end I think we got 1 or 2 people who showed up because of that.   Though the turn out was nearly good enough to break even on expenses (breaking even is a great thing in the small concert business), most of them came because of the radio ads.

Here is another little memory from that show.  On the list of equipment needed for the show, there was a very specific, high-end keyboard that I couldn’t rent anywhere near Provo.   I finally found a music rental shop in Salt Lake City that had this specific keyboard available for rental, so I drove there, payed hundreds of dollars to use it for the weekend, and took it back to our club venue.   Later, as the band was setting up, I proudly told Claude how hard it had been to get that keyboard, but here it was for their performance!  He smiled and simply told me that I didn’t need to go all the way to Salt Lake City to pick up that particular keyboard.  I could have brought anything legit.  What?  It had been on the equipment list.  Claude explained that the model on the list was just an example of a “professional keyboard” to make sure we had something nice instead of a Casio from K-mart or something.   Shoot.  I owned a very cool Roland synthesizer from the 80’s that I happily would have brought to the show and it wouldn’t have cost me a dime.  I didn’t know it was just going to be a prop.

Now, here is another interesting part of that whole experience.   When we went to the airport to pick up the band, I was a nervous wreck.  I had never really walked and talked personally with a band that had a relatively large following.   I’d mingled with new artists that were just trying to get going, but not with anybody who’d been on the radio– especially a band who’s music I really loved.   For some strange reason, when you have created a sort of idol in your mind, and you’re waiting to see them in person, you get very nervous.  But it’s not just the nerves– you also forget that they are normal people.  In your mind they are so large that you almost expect them to be seven feet tall when they walk off the airplane.   So there I was waiting for the band, with images in my mind of superhero synthpoppers with spiky hair and leather jackets, certainly towering over everybody else.  They pretty much walked right past me, then stood around looking lost, since they would need us for a ride.  My friend, Gary, thankfully recognized them within seconds, but I felt kind of stupid.  We shook hands and made introductions, meeting these perfectly normal, and perfectly short synthpop heroes for the first time.

If you have looked at the band photos of Anything Box from those early days when they release their big “Peace” album, you instantly remember Dania, the girl in the band with the long hair that defies gravity.  It was so darn new wave!  But here she was, looking like an attractive, but rather mellow long-haired woman.  Her hair just hung down like everybody else.    During dinner with the band, my friend finally said to Dania, “I just have to warn you that a lot of the fans tonight are going to be really disappointed if your hair isn’t standing straight up.  That’s just what they’ll be expecting.”   Dania was such a great sport that she went back to the hotel and actually fixed her hair.  She had enough goop in it to make is as hard as wood and she looked like the old photos when she came out on stage.  The crowd did love it!   And I’ll say it right now, with the Anything Box shows that I’ve seen, I think that Dania was always the bright spot.  She knew how to work the crowd!  She was like the band’s official cheerleader and even when things got a bit dicey (like when the power to the sound system cut out in the middle of a song), she could shout things to the audience and work them into a frenzy of excited cheers.

Yeah, we almost broke even financially.  I think in the end we lost two or three hundred dollars.  But Gary and I both felt like it was a few hundred dollars well spent on the experience of a lifetime.   The band was very kind and felt very welcomed by a good audience.   From then on, whenever I’d call for more CD’s, “Bob” was a bit more casual and friendly, because after all, we’d had dinner together.  We’d had a fun night and now shared some memories.

-Todd

Sep
22

Until now I have purposely avoided writing a blog about anything that is extremely sensitive and potentially inflammatory, which would obviously include subjects such as religion and politics.  After all, those are the two topics people always say to avoid if you want to sidestep any conflict among your friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, etc.  I think that general rule is a bit of a bummer because it suggests that people don’t talk about the things that are possibly the most important to them.  But yes, I have seen many places where a person’s simple statements of personal belief with regards to religion or politics have fueled angry and insensitive debates or even rampant flaming.

I suppose I’m simply ready to take the heat or something because I’m going to throw caution to the wind and talk about both of those things in an interesting way (I hope).   So, first of all I offer my disclaimer:  This blog is based on my own random thoughts!  It represents what I think.  My thoughts are not necessarily gospel and doesn’t represent the collective views of any group of people, my friends, or my family, etc.  It’s just me talking, and I don’t expect people to agree.   But hey, you are here, reading a blog called “Todd Durrant’s Random Thoughts” so that’s what you’re going to get.  I suppose you’re reading because you care what I think, for better or for worse.   Hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

A few weeks ago I read an interesting blog article about conservatism and what is often called in the USA, “the Christian right wing”.  You see, in the USA, if you talk about Christianity or those people who tend to go to church on Sundays and hold a faith in God and particularly in Christ as their savior, then it is assumed that those people are politically conservative and most likely republican.  Of course, there are a good number of actively religious, openly Christian members of the democratic party.  Take the democratic senator from Nevada, Harry Reid as an example.  He is generally viewed as quite liberal, but is a Christian of the LDS faith– in fact, during a recent speech at BYU when asked how he could be a Mormon and a liberal democrat, he basically responded that he is a democrat because he is a Mormon.  That suggests against common opinion that any true LDS believer in Christ would naturally lean to the democratic party rather than the republican party.

Anyway, the article I mentioned was basically saying that it doesn’t make sense that Christians would be conservative when the very things they claim to believe seem more obviously part of the liberal agenda, or at least closer to positions espoused by the democratic party.  There were several scriptural passages quoted which show of Christ’s core teachings of loving one another, watching out for one another, giving liberally to the poor, and caring more about the welfare of others than for ourselves.   Well, yes, that is exactly what Christianity is meant to be.   It is a belief that in order to find yourself, you must first lose yourself in Christ and in the service of others.  It is a belief that the two great laws upon which all commandments are based are 1) love God, and 2) love your neighbor (which basically means, love everybody else).   Yeah, I’m sorry Whitney Houston fans — “learning to love yourself” is not “the greatest love of all.”  In fact, an overly intense focus on yourself leads more often to destructive self indulgence, self pity, and a tendency to hurt those around you.

The greatest Christian love is to love God (and thus desire to do God’s will over your own will) and to love God’s children.   And that is where this particular blogger was making his point– the republican party and “conservative right” tends to shout rather loudly against any government program or proposal which hints at a “redistribution of wealth” (to take from the rich and give to the poor), or which suggests that people should give up certain hard-earned extras for the good of the nation’s citizens as a whole.  Typically, the conservative side says that people should work hard and struggle through school, a career, etc. to get where they are and to prosper accordingly, and that people who have made the struggle in a capitalist society to become rich have earned and deserve their riches.  The rich shouldn’t be more heavily taxed or apparently “punished” simply because they succeeded.   Conservatives do not like the idea that everybody should have to pitch in a large portion of their paycheck so that the “poor” can get government welfare, free health care, and have every need handed to them on a platter.  The basic conservative sentiment is, “Yes, you may be poor, or I may be poor, but we can rise above through our own efforts and it is not anybody’s responsibility to give us a free ride.”

If capitalism or aspiring for financial independence and success appears to be selfish and anti-Christian, then how is it that Christians are generally conservative?  The answer in some ways can be over simplified, as it so often is in places like talk radio.  For example, it is said that Christians are believers in freedom (or in religious terms, “agency”).  They believe that any social role the government takes over, even for the so-called benefit of the citizens, is an attack on the freedom of the people.   To take over or dictate the means of education is to take away a freedom.  To take over health care is to take over a freedom, just like it would seem that taking over any private enterprise (automobile industry, banking, farming, etc.) is to take away a freedom.  To impose gun control is to take away a freedom.  So, conservatives believe that taking away people’s hard earned money for pretty much any government program other than self defense is to take away a freedom.  They believe that the government’s role is to watch over the safety and security of the people, and of course to maintain a rule of law that keeps people from hurting and taking advantage of one another.   But they don’t believe it is the government’s job to impose and run new programs that delve into otherwise personal parts of people’s lives, even if the claim is for the “good of the people”.   History shows how horribly oppressive governments came to power because the people of the land trusted their government to make sure everybody was equally cared for.  If you send a message to government that you’d rather not handle your own problems and you’d prefer that they do it for you, then they too often will, and the result is usually not pretty.   Here’s a nice quote for you:   “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”  (Doctrine and Covenants)

But wait, I’m not giving a definitive answer– I said I was over simplifying.  Sure, conservatives love freedom.  But have you ever heard a liberal or a democrat say that they don’t love freedom?  Of course they love freedom!  Maybe they see freedom in a different way?  Maybe they look at those in our society who seem to have a disadvantage from the get-go and they have a truly “Christian” desire to see those people helped.  They see the sick, the lame, the afflicted, the poor, the hungry, and they think, “we need to do something to help these people, because they are not free to pursue a life of comfort and happiness.”   So, they stand up for programs which would take steps to insure that those who are at a disadvantage can have the same opportunities as everybody else.  The poor shouldn’t miss out on education simply because their family has never had the kind of money to afford it, right?  The chronically ill shouldn’t have to live in poverty because the free market health care system is beyond their reach, right?  These are loving thoughts of concern for our neighbors!  They are not wishes of communism or total government control.  They are not attacks against freedom, but could instead be seen as dreams of freedom for all men and women who have otherwise lived under the yolk of disadvantage and hardship.

So, it is not a fair argument to say that liberals do not love freedom.   But it is also not fair to argue that conservatives are merely proponents of capitalism, greed, and growing class distinction.   Both are judgmental and short-sighted views, but we seem to live in a political environment these days which tries to polarize the two sides and display them in harsh opposition.  It’s the same approach used to claim that science and religion are “at war” and that you can’t be a good scientist and believe in God, or that you can’t be a person of faith and be a student of science.  Hogwash!   People of faith and people of science (and there are many who belong in both groups) are after the same thing– truth.   If religion seems to conflict with science, or science seems to conflict with religion, then you either have bad religion, or bad science.  Or at least you have incomplete religion or incomplete science.   Likewise, it is untrue to say that conservatives are right and liberals are wrong, or vice versa.   They just see things differently, and to polarize the two is to misunderstand all sides of the argument, or to avoid looking at the big picture.   If they seem in horrible opposition, then it’s usually bad conservatism or bad liberalism (or perhaps deserving of the term, “extremist”).

Now, before I continue, let me say that I personally am a person of faith.  I believe to the very core in a loving God and that we are all children of God, brothers and sisters who need to love one another and look out for one another.  I am a Christian, and I do tend to be politically conservative.   I do believe in a free market (less government control), but I also believe in watching out for one another and believe it is our moral responsibility to do as Christ taught and care for the poor and the afflicted, and give up our own self interests for the greater good.  See…I’m not a guy that believes I have a right to as much money as I can get.  Some people have money, and some don’t.  Some people succeed in business, and some don’t (I know that very well).   What I really want to say is this– I feel that there is not really such a strong divide between what conservatives want and what liberals want.  The only real divide is how the sides propose to reach those goals, and even more important, in whom they trust to do it.

You see, for pretty much any law you can think of, there is a higher law.  Christ taught that principle during his famed sermon on the mount.   There is a law (or religious commandment) that says you shouldn’t kill your neighbor, but Christ explains that you shouldn’t even think ill of your neighbor or call him a fool.  There is a law or commandment that says you shouldn’t commit adultery, but Christ explains that you shouldn’t even lust after another woman because that which you seek in your heart defines who you really are.   Basically, if you name a law, there is a higher law of better code of conduct that would override the need for the lower one.   Laws against every variety of fraud wouldn’t be necessary if people lived a higher law of honesty.   Basically, laws of the land protect us from those who break higher laws, the highest being to love God and your neighbor.  If you love your neighbor, then you won’t commit fraud, petty theft, or cheat on your spouse.   Now, don’t you wish you could just rewrite the volumes and volumes of laws of the land and wrap it all into the basics?   But we live in a land of imperfect people (which includes myself) so we too often need it all spelled out for us.   This is the point I’m getting at– if you understand the higher laws, then you start to understand the differences of opinion between the so-called conservatives and the liberals.

There is a financial law of the land that says you must pay taxes so that the government has money with which to implement their programs.   There is a religious financial law as well that says you pay a tithe of your income to help pay for the growth of the Lord’s kingdom on earth (basically, you need money to buy land and materials with which to build churches, etc.).   But I believe there is a much higher financial law.   Basically, the higher law (called “the law of consecration”) is where you give everything to the Lord (or in other words, to everybody).   Wait!  That’s communism!  Actually, it isn’t.  There is a huge difference between communism and consecration.  In communism, you are compelled to give up everything, and the “good of the whole” is dictated by a governmental body which is most likely not based in a love of God and a love of their neighbor.  In fact, we’ve seen where such a governmental structure put God in exile entirely.   In the higher law of consecration, you would give up everything for the love of God and your neighbor and you would trust God to reveal how the wealth is distributed based on real needs, every person giving their all and receiving everything they need.   Also, every participant in such a system would not only be a willing participant, but would work hard to contribute, not for their own gain and own greed, but because they want everybody to have the best.   This system would be 100% based on freedom, where other attempts at socialism or communism operate in an absence of freedom.

Well, we don’t live that higher law.  People aren’t ready for it, and I think very few would choose of their own free will to do it, because they lack the faith that God could or would run such a system (if they believe in God at all).  So, they go for the next best thing in their minds– they want the government to run the system.  They look to the government as the body that could possibly become the great equalizer.   That is where I personally see the main difference between conservatism and liberalism in the USA.  Somebody like Harry Reid says he is liberal because he is religious, and he means it– he wants everybody to have a shot, and rightfully so.  But I would be quite fearful of a belief that says our country’s governmental system has the righteousness and goodwill (or intelligence and all-knowing vision) to pull it off correctly.   That is why so many Christians are conservative– not because they want something ultimately so different in terms of care for the disadvantaged, but because they believe it is not the government’s role to take over what they see is the job of an all-knowing God and His children.  They don’t believe that God-given agency should be removed in the care for the poor, but instead that man should use his own agency to choose to help one another.   But what if you don’t believe that God exists or that such a being is interested in running the political system?  Well, then you look to the government as the higher authority.   So, you may see a liberal side of the spectrum that wants very good things and turns to the government to provide it, possibly because they don’t think it is realistic to believe that anybody else will, or that mankind is capable of rising to a high enough level to do the right thing of their own accord.

So, is true Christianity conservative or liberal?  I don’t know that it is right to claim one or the other.  I simply say that I understand why so many Christians are conservative.  It’s a matter of where they put their trust.   But I also understand why a liberal view is based on righteous desires of goodwill, and thus fits a true Christian view of the world.  Again, where do they put their trust to achieve that better world?

You can look at many “hot topics” in the political realm to not only see the differences between the two sides, but to see how both sides may have more similarities than you think.  Take abortion as a “hot topic” example.  Everybody knows that conservatives (generally republicans) are “pro-life” and that liberals (generally democrats) are “pro-choice”.   Well heck, who isn’t pro-life, and who isn’t pro-choice?  Didn’t I say above that Christians believe in the God-given gift of agency, which in itself means “pro-choice”?  I believe in choice!  And can you honestly suggest that liberals are “anti-life”?  Of course not!  They love life!  Whenever somebody asks me if I am “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, I say that I am both.  But how can that be?  Well, remember, I’m religious, and I believe there are certain laws by which we should live.  I believe if you break a law or a commandment, there is always a consequence.  You can choose to live the law or not, but you cannot choose the consequence of your original choice.  You can choose to take a five-finger discount on a cool wrist watch at the store, but if you get caught, you can’t choose whether or not you want to do the jail time, because that is the consequence of your actions.   Apply that to the abortion argument now:  If you choose (yes, a choice) to engage in sexual activities which could result in an unwanted pregnancy, then you have already made your choice.   Yep, pr0-choice.  But when you find yourself or your partner pregnant, you are now dealing with the consequence of that choice which you freely made.  You can’t choose to avoid the consequences, even if you think it is within the reach of the medical world to get rid of the consequence for you.  Abortion isn’t about pro-choice, but is usually a question of anti-consequence.   Can I choose to smoke my entire life, then choose not to suffer the consequences of terrible health?  Well, what if a doctor could take the life of an unborn child to replace my lungs?  Would that make it OK to avoid the consequences by sacrificing the budding life of another?  I don’t think so.  See…both sides are “pro-choice” but you don’t see it unless you look at the bigger picture.

Both sides are also Christian, if you look at it in different ways.  But when you break things down to the higher laws, and when you understand the reason religious people think the way they do, then maybe you can understand why so many Christians are conservative.  And hopefully, more of those conservatives can understand that the other folks ultimately want the same thing, but have a different way of approaching the challenge.   I hope for a country where both sides can work together and understand one another, and most of all, have a true love and respect for one another despite the differences that become apparent.

At this point I’ll avoid a debate about whether Christianity or a belief in God is right or wrong.  Remember, we want to understand one another, and that can’t be done if you just throw out the core beliefs that define us.   In all fairness, I’ll be the first to say I’ve seen horrible Christians (based on their choices vs. their beliefs) and I’ve met atheists who are very good people (based on how they choose to treat others).   I remember reading another blog article saying that all people who believe in God are idiots.   Now that argument is far to intellectual for me to handle.  Whew…

-Todd

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.