Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Last Post

Hi all, this will be my last post at this address. My new blog: Dr. Melissa Clouthier can be found at www.drmelissaclouthier.blogspot.com. Or just click on the link up there and put it in your favorites.

Why the change? Well, when I first started, I wasn't sure that I wanted everyone to read my blog. Now, with a better understanding of how it works, my hope is that with my full name, it may reach a broader audience. We'll see. Also, it will more easily come up on searches (since my name already comes up when I'm googled--for better or worse.)

Will the content change? Probably not. Maybe a litte more business stuff. But real business people are often too busy to pay attention to this blog anyway. I try to keep my posts short, sister, really, I do!

Breastfeeding: USA Women Need Support

Yes they do. Most women breastfeed or don't, the research says, based on a decision before the baby comes. But why do the legions of women quit early or never start when they know it is good for them and great for the baby? I have an idea: the woman is either a narcisstic, self-centered person who fears losing her body or wants to get back to work without the hassle or societal pressures make it nearly impossible to easily nurse. Or both.

A woman may not want to sacrifice so much while being shunned socially and losing her body at the same time. Who would do that, right? Let's see: Leers from men, dirty looks from older ladies (remember Barbara Walters stupidness?), public facilities which force women into dirty bathrooms if they want to breastfeed privately (mostly to avoid the leering and sneering), no time or facility at work conducive to the task, a woman must be extraordinarily confident and willing to suffer publicly to breastfeed.

Today, I am such a woman--when it comes to breastfeeding anyway. My child has been breastfed at the top of the Empire State Building (I kid not) and at every Disney theme park in Orlando, Florida--and not at the nursing stations only (who can walk ten miles with a crying baby to nurse? come on.)

But with the first kid, I nursed in dirty bathrooms (are there any other kind?) mostly to spare my child-free girlfriend embarassment. She had made very judgemental comments about her sister-in-law not having the sense to go to the bathroom to nurse. Very subtle.

What an idiot I was to be bullied. But as a new mom, you're not necessarily all pulled together in the baby department. You actually remember a time when your breast belonged to you and was a playground for your spoiled husband. No more. But as a new mother you're still trying to cling to some dignity.

Dignity? Buwahahaaaa! Time to do anything else? Eeeee heeee. (Evil shriek) That goes when children come. Women and men need to be taught what mammaries are for (and their primary purpose is to not to keep Hugh Hefner perpetually infantile): they are to feed babies. It's a boob with the perfect food.

Use it with pride, Sistuh!

Backpacks for Kids Too Heavy

More research of the obvious. The new backpacks, my son has one, that you can pull, are great if the child must carry fifty pounds of books.

Miserable Marriage Bad For Health

You might think that this may lead me to advocate bailing on a stress-filled marriage. No. Being single has its own health risks...for men. Women do okay, it seems.

Mature conflict resolution does not magically happen when you marry a new guy or girl. You're still in the relationship after all. The percentage of second marriages that fail is even higher.

So no, the solution is not divorce, it is to work on you--the only person you have control over. When I read this advice in the past it irritated the you-know-what out of me. But, it is true.

(NOTE: I am not talking about spouse abuse, child abuse, substance abuse, etc. All of you justifying putting up with that garbage "for the sake of the marriage because divorce is a sin" or "sake of the children" are delusional. The relationship is some kind of crutch. Get out, get safe and get mental help or you'll end up back in a similar situation.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christian Music II

Wow, three comments!

This topic tears at the fibers of many churches these days--the older generation (usually) digging in their heels wanting to stick with old standards like Count Your Blessings delivered with a song leader and hymn books and the requisit organ or piano accompanyment with the younger generation (usually) wanting new standards like Worthy is the Lamb backed up by full band and lead by three vocalists while lyrics are projected for all to see.

So, which is right?

Personally, I like both. The old hymns bring continuity, peace and steadiness anchoring us in changing times. The music reveals a timelessness of the church and God. Many strike reverent notes.

But let's not be Amish-folk here, stuck in the "ways" of the 1700s permanently singing musical versions of horses and buggies and turning up our noses at those silly inventions motorcars.

My point about certain Christian Rock tunes was that the music itself delivered an ungodly message even if the intent was to glorify God. It would like me wearing a diamond encrusted thong to God's glory while skipping naked at church--sure it's the best money can buy, sure my intent is to glorify God with beauty, but it is a THONG, for Pete's sake. (We won't even talk about how my naked body would defile the sanctuary. Let's just stop there.)

Other upbeat Christian tunes and even some reflective ones surely praise and worship God--drums, cymbals and all. What makes me uncomfortable is the wholesale swallowing of this new genre of music and checking our brains at the door. Of course, that has been done about other Christian music as well. Singing seven laments rarely has a place in the worship service--but it is done all the time usually by old white guys picking songs written by dead white guys from ages past.

Some questions to ask about any music played for God:
  • Is it Biblical? The truth shall set you free...
  • Is the music spiritual or sensual (that is God-based or Man-based)?
  • Does the music inspire or aggitate? Seek peace, pursue it earnestly.
  • Is the music understandable or confusing? God is not the author of confusion

All music in God's service should praise and glorify and lift up and inspire and unite and instill love, joy and peace. We have six days to bang pots and pans if that is what pleases our ear. One day, only one, is set aside for Sabbath Rest and worshipping our Creator.

Music is such a big part of the day and should be chosen lovingly.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Stress Causes Sickness


Once again, I'm going to plug Mozilla, the web browser (like Internet Explorer or Netscape) that is awesome. The current edition has soooo many cool features, features added because the code is open-source and people write programs that they want. The best is the weather add-on. As I sit here, I can see via tiny icons to the bottom right of my screen, the weather now, a satellite image of my part of the country and the weather for the next two days. (Mom and Matt Helmers, are you reading this?) I also added a feature where I can tag stuff I like with a simple click and it keeps item prices all in one place--a monster wishlist. (This may sound stupid, but stupid is shopping again and again for the same thing and going back to the same sites.)

Anyway, download it, use it and leave IE in the past forever.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Christian Rock

Seinfeld fans will remember the episode where Elaine dumps her car salesman boyfriend when she drives his car one day and finds all stations tuned to some form of Christian rock music. (Having lived in New York, not the city but the state, for a while I find it difficult to imagine that NYC has that many Christian stations, but who knows?) Well, my own car experience happens every time I get the privelage of borrowing Mr. Dr.'s car, invariably tuned to Houston's own KSBJ.

It freaks me out every time. What is wrong with my husband? More ask, "What is wrong with YOU Melissa, that such decadent, hedonistic, vulgar music appeals to you and uplifting Christ-centered music does not?" Here is my answer, base as it may be.

Sex, drugs and rock and roll, ah..... so rotten, so youth and so American. You are simply not a teenager unless in the thros of angst laden lyrics and gonad squeezed falsetto.

It has been thus for the last fifty years of American history. There is nothing new under the sun, so I suppose teens everywhere have rebelled and seduced whether to Bach or the Beatles.

Enter the new millenium in the US of A. Just say no to drugs, be abstinant (not obstinant) and listen to opera or classical music. Wait, hold up on that last one.

Today, be a rebel by listening to Mercy Me (I kid you not) and Third Day, two well-known Christian bands.

One popular lyric to a Christian song is, "I am so in love with you." It is sung over and over like a whiney, pleading mantra to a very detached Jesus. That is the intent, no doubt. But when I hear it and I'm in church hearing it, all that my mind pictures is a sweaty teenage boy lusting through the window trying to engage a vapid, conceited girl. It feels far from spiritual, closer to sensual and maybe just sickly sweet or just plain sick. Like poison.

Music, because it involves the hearing which is our most primal and emotional sense and the first sense to develop and the last to go before death, sways us in many ways.

Rhythm driven by the cadence, timing and beat of the music provides the foundation. Sing sweet lyrics, put dolci notes in proper places but layer these on a march foundation and the message of the music is war not love, not lullabye.

All music possesses a melody--the theme that rides the rhythm. It carries the piece. Like rhythm, a message is delivered with the melody. A major key or minor key determines mood. Is this a happy victorious march or a sad march consumed with loss?

How is this music conveyed? Do we hear one lone wind instrument crying in the night? Does the trumpet drive the point home? Will the full force of a 80 instruments back the message? A single voice can carry power or loss and hold both at the same time. It is a gift few hold and not always the best vocalists or musicians either--Elvis, Sinatra, Yo Yo Ma, Itzak Perlman, Diana Krall, Whitney Houston, Kelly Clarkson, Andrea Bocelli, ... The ability to infuse the music with emotion--to give the notes meaning, depth.

Back to Christian Rock now. My position is that the rhythm, the melodies and the medium deliver a much different message than the lyrics--although sometimes the whole package including the lyrics deliver a crazily congruent message, one that to my ears is far from spiritual.

Am I some prudish Church lady? Well, maybe that should be a goal I strive for more, but no. In fact, my music tastes run from rock-n-roll to opera to jazz. Speed metal might be the only type of music that holds no interest for me whatsoever.

There's a good example though. Speed metal, the domain of nihilist eastern Europeans and self-absorbed Americans who pretend to share rage against "the man", is an angry medium. The message (since it can't be discerned in lyric or melody) is rage. Screaming, incoherent, banging anger--the equivalent of a napless, toddler gone wild with a microphone. And yet, there is "Christian" speed metal. Bull. The message is chaos and unchecked emotions. Screaming "Satan you suck!" versus "Satan is my main man!" matters little. The message people hear, in the music if you can call it that, is the same.

Am I a reactionary? Is the only music fit for God Handel or some humble old hymn? No, I don't believe this at all. In fact, modern rock, in some part can trace back to negro spirtuals, hymns from Penecostal and Baptist churches, sung with a feeling not transmitted by people who had not been enslaved in the same way. The messenger charged the message.

Gospel and rhythm and blues and jazz and then crooners who came out of church and sang music that caused something other than the spirit to soar. Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, The Supremes, Aretha Franklin all transferred their talents to jazz, blues and rock-n-roll.

So why should I object to Christian boy bands? Why should I object to a John Mayer wanna be?

Because this music is imitating imitators--bad ones. Grating, superficial music with tinny melodies and bombastic base and little lyricism and simplistic rhymes provide the foundation for praising God? Some say, "We're reclaiming this music for Jesus!"

Oh no, please no. Tell me we are not going to be singing some gooey supplicant song to the tune of "I want to get in your pants" and change the words to "I am so in love with you Jesus." I don't want to hear a human man entreat me (even a very cute Justin Timberlake look alike) that way, the thought of Jesus being entreated that way makes me want to hurl. A lot. Chunks.

As this is written, no minds will change. I know this. The teenage girls in my church will swoon over the dopey boy band singing for Jesus, wowed that they evangelize at the end of each concert. "They are so committed and so cute!"


That sexy beat, simplistic melody line, pained expressions, the piercing falsetto of a boy in need belongs one place--rock and roll. These same ingredients with "Christ-centered" lyrics is dischordant itself. Like clangy brass or tinkling cymbal, or as a modern analogy like nails on a chalkboard, the music's message clashes with the intent.

Christian rock is an oxymoron. Rock in itself tells a message and God has nothin' to do with it.
More blogs about the woodlands rita.