MONEY, Part 3: Suggestions to Chew Upon

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I so appreciate all the discussion. Your comments have been moving and encouraging and have pushed me to think deeper about these things. Here’s the recap:

First: wealth is a burden. Poverty is a burden. As one of my Bible college professors Twila Sias (hey, Twila!) pointed out in last week’s comments, Proverbs 30:7-9 sums it up beautifully. In the words of good ol’ overlooked Agur:

“Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD ?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

The beautiful Jill Phillips song “Daily Bread” was inspired by this very verse. (What’s that you ask? Is that song available in the Rabbit Room store on her album Nobody’s Got it All Together? Yes. Yes it is.) It’s a good way to remind yourself that to be stuck somewhere between relative wealth and relative poverty is a fine place to be, which is hard to believe when you’re stuck in the comfortable, entertaining, enjoyable, discontented mire of American culture.

Second: better what you can. One comment in particular from EmJ brought up the buzz word “sustainability”. I think he (or she?) is right that it’s a little faddish, but it’s not such a bad idea. Writers like Wendell Berry and Michael Pollan are refreshingly wise when it comes to the environment and local economy, and there are worse things in the world than practicing what those guys preach about food and land and community.

I’m going to make an analogy here, so bear with me for a paragraph or so. The much-debated documentary film Food, Inc. was fascinating. It was also disturbing. And whatever you may think of the film’s bias, the end is brilliant. After all the information is presented, the screen fades to black and we see a collage of practical ideas for how to change things. They didn’t just expose a gigantic problem; they also gave us a hundred small, attainable solutions. The big one for me was this: we cast a vote three times a day. Three times a day we choose what aspect of the food economy we’re going to support. We can either buy junk and fill the pockets of the corporations–or we can try to buy from local farmers, or grow our own vegetables, or at least purchase responsibly grown food. It’s going to cost a little more, sure. But if enough people make tiny changes, the corporations will feel it where it counts, and big changes will follow. The corporations won’t collapse, but they will follow the money; if it becomes more profitable for them to produce responsibly grown food, they’ll do it. I think that’s a sound theory.

What if we applied the same theory to music and the arts? What if we chose the artisan equivalent of locally grown food?

Whenever a new U2 album comes out we’re probably going to get it from iTunes (or Amazon or wherever), just like we’re probably going to get our spaghetti noodles at the grocery store. But if a local farmer (artist) is nourishing you by doing good work and working hard at it, then it’s worth it to go through the trouble to head to the farmer’s market (the artist’s website or–the Rabbit Room Store!) and cast your vote with your money. A little at a time, help the people whose art is helping you. If you’re reading this, you’re probably reading it on a computer. That means you aren’t starving. (If you’re starving and you own a computer, something’s very wrong.) That means you have–and this is a phrase that troubles me–disposable income. It means you have enough money to occasionally buy a book or album, and every time you buy one you’re casting a vote. So as often as you can, vote for the artists tilling their field and sowing seeds that bear (hopefully) lasting fruit. That’s all. Easy, right?

Having said all that, I thought I’d make some practical suggestions. Food for thought. Ideas to chew on. (See how well this food analogy works?) Feel free to print these out and tattoo them on your ankle like all the hip kids are doing. I propose the following:

1. Buy the record, don’t steal it. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. If you like someone’s music, buy it. It costs a lot of money and time and heartache to make that album you love. Lots of artists are using things like Noisetrade to get their music out there for free, and that’s great. But there’s still an exchange happening–Noisetrade asks for your email address so the artist can communicate with you about their shows, new records, etc.–so whether it’s with your email address or your dollar bills, buy the music. You’ll be glad you did. I’ve downloaded free albums before, and you know what? I still haven’t listened to them. They’re sitting there on my hard drive gathering cyberdust because they were free. There was nothing at stake. On the other hand, I bought the new album by the Weepies last week and have listened four or five times already–partly because I’m a fan, of course, but also because it cost me something to acquire the songs. Whenever I do a concert for people who have bought tickets, it’s a more intense show than when I do them for free. The audience has something invested (even if it’s only $3); they’ve come with some expectation so the exchange carries more weight.

2. Go to concerts. You may think of yourself as a person who doesn’t like live shows. Maybe you don’t like the noise. Maybe it’s the crowds. Well, if you’re at a Square Peg Alliance show, chances are it won’t be loud and there won’t be a crowd. Har. Seriously, it may feel funny to choose a sit-down concert over a movie, but try it. Go to the websites of your favorite artists and see if they’re coming to a town near you. They’ll be glad you showed up, I guarantee it. Most of the time the tickets are about what you’d pay for a movie, only in this case your money won’t be lining Jerry Bruckheimer’s silken pockets–it’ll go to diapers or the new transmission or the mixing engineer for the new album.

There’s a local theater company here in Nashville called Blackbird Theater Company. Jamie and I went to an original production called Twilight of the Gods, a philosophical, literate murder mystery. It was really, really good. Tickets were $15 each. If we had gone to a movie we’d have paid ten more dollars, total. I think ten bucks is a bargain for the set design, the beautiful theater, and the twenty actors playing their hearts out on the stage not ten feet away.

Most of us who play music pay the bills by touring. CD sales are helpful, but touring is where the rubber meets the road. We need you to come to the shows. We like to play our songs for other members of the human race. We like meeting you. We love the crackle of spiritual electricity when our songs and your stories intersect. Bring your friends. Concerts–event bad ones–are usually more memorable than movies.  Plus, it pays the mortgage.

3. Choose individuals over avatars. Choose humans over screens. Know people by more than their screen names. Someone asked Wendell Berry what he thought of online community and his answer was exactly what I would have wanted Berry to say: “You’re not in community with someone until you’ve pulled their cow out of a ditch or spanked their child.” Hilarious. When the Rabbit Room left the cyber-world and took on flesh at Hutchmoot 2010, we caught a glimpse of this. Things were bettter, messier, more meaningful. They were more like real life and less like this pseudo-life we call social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and, yes, the Rabbit Room). I’m not saying social media is all bad, but we must remember it isn’t a replacement for flesh and blood interaction with the crown of God’s creation. Social media can be a good means to the end of true community.

Everybody who plays music ought to have a website. They ought to have a Facebook page. It’s a great tool for interaction with listeners. But we need to defy the seduction of the screen and remember that when online communities become a destination unto themselves and have stopped being a way to something better–a way to incarnational connection with other humans–we be become disembodied, unmoored, lost in a world of ideas and theorems detached from the terrible mystery of flesh and blood, without senses, without the awkward mutual interaction of heart, mind and physical expression, without the ineffable language of human souls in proximity. (If you didn’t notice, I just described pornography.) Pull your eyes from the computer and the television screen, go outside and touch the bark of a tree. Dig in the garden. Muster the courage to accept the invitation to the cookout instead of staying home and updating your Facebook status. Try this: look someone in the eye. It’s scary, isn’t it? Scary because we’re not used to it, scary because the eyes are the windows to the soul and we’re as afraid of seeing as being seen. Facebook is a giant auditorium full of people hiding under the pews. Take heart and climb out.

4. Book a show. This is the one most of you will shake your head at. Concerts are planned by promoters with slick shades and limos, right? People often ask on Facebook and via email, “When are you coming to [insert state or country]?” The answer now and always will be, “I’ll be there as soon as someone like you is crazy enough to bring us in.” We don’t choose where we play. You choose us. We can’t open the phone book and call every church in every city and invite ourselves over. It would be a tremendous waste of time. I know because I’ve tried. We all have. Mike Petrucco and Sharon Frazier are just folks with jobs who like our music and made the call. It’s a ton of work (as I’m sure they’d attest), but I think they’d also tell you it’s rewarding. You may be surprised at how attainable it is, and how fun it can be.

5. Become a patron. Eric Peters was the first one in our community to try this idea. He needed money to make Chrome, so he set a goal: he needed, say, 200 people to donate $50. That’s $10,000. For that $50 everybody got a few copies of the album, their name in the credits, and most importantly the blessing of helping an artist create something beautiful and meaningful that would go on to bless many. The beauty is multiplied; the blessing is compounded. You, dear patron, can add to the beauty (thank you for that fine phrase, Sara Groves) by midwifing projects you believe in. A.S. Peterson did it with his novel The Fiddler’s Gun, and will soon be raising support for the sequel Fiddler’s Green. Randall Goodgame is about to head into the studio to record a Slugs & Bugs Christmas album (which I’ll help with as much as I can), and Ben Shive is about to record another album of mind-blowing songs. None of these people is rich, and all these people are doing beautiful work. You can help us tell our stories and shed light with our gifts. I mention all these upcoming projects because I know most of you aren’t loaded either, so you may need to choose just one. You can’t throw money at us willy nilly. But it looks like one of the ways the Rabbit Room is going to support local “farmers” is by helping artists and authors raise money by way of patronage, so I wanted to warn you: artist patronage is on the horizon.

Two more quick things.

6. If you have deep pockets, dig deep. If you’re wealthy and have a heart for authors and artists who are doing Kingdom work by telling the Story, let us know. Email us at info@rabbitroom.com. We have dreams too big for our current budget. I often drive past this subdivision of enormous houses in Brentwood and think, “If just one of those people caught the Rabbit Room’s vision there’s so much we could do.” If we need to set up a non-profit to make that easier, we’ll do it (and have been thinking about that for a while). If we need to come over and present our vision we’ll shave, shower, and bring laser pointers and Powerpoint. You may not make any money, but you’ll be a part of something that shines.

7. Finally, don’t give a cent to the artists before you’ve given to your church. We don’t want your money until you’ve tithed and given to those called to the far reaches of the world. I hope you don’t think we’re begging for money. Sure, it can be hard, but that’s fine. It’s part of the deal. As stressful as the artist’s life can be, none of the folks in our little community have missed a meal or a mortgage payment (though I know many of us have come really close). All I’m saying is, if you have enough money to go to movies, pay for cable, own a cell phone, and buy albums, then consider the artists who have blessed you, encouraged you, or have been a small part of your journey with Christ–and choose to spend some of your entertainment budget there. A little goes a long way. Trust me.

But as much as I believe in the importance of songs, books, and works of art that tell the truth and tell it well, we must remember the fatherless and the widow, the disenfranchised and abused and enslaved. We should support our churches and pastors and their families. We should support missionaries and IJM or Compassion International or World Vision or Blood:Water Mission–something, for Heaven’s sake. Do that first.

Tomorrow is part four of a three-part series that is actually five parts long if you include the 2.5 part. Oh! Six if you include Ron Block’s George MacDonald addendum. Either way, I have a quick story to tell you in closing. Thanks for reading.

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


37 Comments

  1. RG

    I love you, Andrew Peterson. I was just up working on a lyric for the S&B Christmas record and though I’d check the Rabbit Room and give my brain a rest. Well done, friend. I already believe all this stuff and I was inspired.

  2. BB

    Ahem! Jill Phillips’ song “Daily Bread” is on her Nobody’s Got It All Together album, AP. She would be nice and not say anything. Me, not so much. Also, these postings are v. thought-provoking. You go.

  3. LauraP

    I’ve had that notion of a non-profit foundation to support the birth of worthy projects for awhile now. Glad to see you mention it here. If ever there is a way I can help with that, I’m in.

  4. Stan Longhofer

    Thanks for your extended thoughts on the challenges of living in the balance between wealth and poverty. I’m wondering if the Counting Stars Pre-Order Tiers are still available for purchase? God has blessed me and I would like to use it to support your work and bless a good friend of mine with a cup of coffee with you, but I can’t find the offer any more. Still available?

  5. Dan Kulp

    Great post. I started reading thinking have a concert near me & I’ll be there; then I hit #4. Well, I’m working on it. I think we’re getting SB&L out our way in the spring, and we’ll squezze a Goodgame concert from it as well.

    Habitat for Humanity has a great base principle that comes to mind for me (especially coupled with sustainable).
    Adequate.
    On a building trip to Guatemala it came across that we aren’t building the Taj-Ma-Hut. We were building adequate. Adequate for the area and the people.

    Likewise I don’t need a Caddy, or BMW; while nice cars, they are well above adequate. I also do not need to be fixing a car every other day to keep it on the road. I will support my local mechanic, but not that much.

  6. Will Livingston

    These keep getting better. I’m tempted to start a Non-Profit for your non-fiction budget. Something with a catchy title. Perhaps the title of a song I can’t seem to write. “Elephants in the Pews.”

    One thing I’ll add is what I came away from listening to a recent Andy Stanley series on Money titled “How to be Rich.”. As Mr. Peterson alluded to if you’re reading this then you are rich. We Americans have a bad habit of only comparing our wealth to the Jones’ of this nation rather than the entire creation. This might work if you reside in an average nation but fortunately and unfortunately we are among the wealthiest. And the giving statistics are staggering when you look at them.

    Thanks Andy (Peterson) for the reminder to tithe and give to the kingdom above all. Unfortunately it seems we are more influenced by our government to give taxes than our God to pay a tithe.

  7. Becca

    AP, I’d like to ask a question about something you mentioned here.

    I’m hearing a lot these days about virtual community v. face-to-face community. Wendell Berry has been one of my fav writers for more than a decade. And I’m halfway through a grad program that emphasizes the value of the spoken (v. written) word. Smack talking e-forums, e-identities, e-social networks is sort of my briar patch these days.

    One of the books we had to read for class (ironic, I know, but bear with me) was _Orality v. Literacy_ by Walter Ong. It explores the overlooked richness of cultures rooted in spoken history.

    I’ve wrestled with some of these concepts inwardly for some time. There’s a part of my heart that wants to believe the most primitive, earthy form of communication is also the most authentic. Sitting in front of a machine typing my thoughts on plastic keys makes me ashamed. Little mother earth angel on my shoulder keeps asking, WWWBD? (What would Wendell Berry do?)

    Surely even this exchange would be more “real,” if I were sitting next to you sharing a cup of coffee. Or helping you plant a new field of pawpaws. Or spanking your kids while we talked. (OK, maybe not that.)

    But then again, I’ve been to women’s lunches in the flesh, and I’ve shared a drink with uber-manicured Stepford chicks reciting the platitudes holy women recite whenever they gather. I’ve sat there frozen, staring into my plastic cup of pink nuclear froth that females feel inclined to consume at these places. Skin-to-skin with orality, locked out of authenticity via Mary Kay and Jesus-speak instead of a laptop screen.

    I’ve also been to more earthy forums. The cosmetics are different in that circuit. People like “us” are trying not to look all Waverly and Talbots. We are trying to discuss thinky, real things. We are trying to be in community. Trying to create closeness like we create art. So much trying. There seems to be a subtle inauthenticity in that as well.

    Maybe it’s because I’m a little shy and bookish. Maybe I’m the one who is being fake. Not maybe, I think that is definitely a big part of it.

    But I’m just not convinced that the vehicle of communication is the only key to authenticity. Sharing coffee is grand, but I think the written word is OK, if it’s used well. And I think online conversations have the potential to be tender and real.

    So, I guess what I’d like to know is this.

    If there is a possibility for inauthenticity in any mode of communication, how much effort should we put into trying to create a certain model of relational exchange? And how much effort do we spend maximizing what we’ve already been given in the most authentic way? Can I sit a spell guilt-free and absorb the benefits of a community like this? Is it necessarily a secondary thing?

    Maybe so. To be totally honest, I’m an introverted chicken looking for an excuse to hang out where I can be myself most easily. Please don’t make me go drink the punch.

    Could you just push on all this a little more for me when you get the chance?

    TMI, but I was hiding out in the bathroom to write this. My toddler just busted in and found me. He’s cracking up. And he’s right. Vulnerability is a funny thing. Privacy invaded. Community indeed.

  8. Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    RG: Thanks, amigo.

    BB: Good eye. I just fixed it. Just don’t tell Jill I got mixed up on which record it was on. Please. PLEASE.

    Stan: The tier options have expired, sadly, but we ought to be able to work something out. Email info@rabbitroom.com and let us know what you’re thinking.

    Will and Dad: Adequate is a great word for what I’m talking about. Adequate with stuff, extravagant with all that matters.

    Becca: You raise some GREAT questions. And, you’re a good writer. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using your gift to communicate well. Lord knows, I love the written word. But it isn’t the only thing. What I noticed about the examples you cited (the ladies’ group and the granola gang) is that they’re pretty focused niches, right? What if you didn’t bother hanging with either and instead spent time with your good friends–usually that means people with different jobs, different life stages, and even different spiritual points of view. The discussion will be lively, and it’ll certainly be authentic. We should pay attention to the community that springs up unbidden. Your questions deserve a better answer, but I don’t have the brain-ergy to do it right now. (I just made up that word: brainergy.)

  9. John Barber

    As someone that’s booked house shows before – we’ve had Eric Peters a couple of times and Bill Mallonee a couple – let me be the first to attest that it’s worth the hard work and expense.

    The last time, we had Bill and Eric do a kind of double-bill for us and it was amazing. The only problem was, we had about 15 people show up. Financially, it was a big chunk of change on this church staffer’s salary. But, as I told Bill and Eric that night, it’s a small price to pay. When I think about how much beauty and nourishment that I’ve received from their records, I get a little overwhelmed. How many times have I listened to Bill’s Blister Soul or EP’s Scarce and had my soul filled up? And that’s for ten or fifteen measly dollars? When I really start pondering the impact that these guys and their music have had on me, I feel a little like I’m stealing from them – like I should be dropping ten bucks every time I listen.

    That’s why, to me, hosting a concert is a tangible way to contribute. And it’s a great way to get to know these artists better. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It can be a lot of work, and it might hit your wallet kinda hard, but really, haven’t they earned it?

  10. Aaron Roughton

    Andrew, I have really appreciated these posts and the heart behind them. Thanks. “Facebook is a giant auditorium full of people hiding under the pews.” Brilliant.

    And I second John Barber’s comments. We’ve hosted a couple artists for house concerts, but this Sunday will be our first Square Pegger. If anyone in the Austin area is interested in seeing Andy Gullahorn work his musical magic in our living room let me know. We have about 10 spots left. House concerts are by far the most intimate way to experience the craft of an artist, and an easy way to contribute to his bottom line, especially if you can catch them when they’re passing through or already booked in your area.

  11. JJ

    What a ton of great things to think about. I really appreciate that you put #7 in there. Honestly I hadn’t even thought of it but when I got to #7 I nearly applauded you out loud (my coworkers would have been a little weirded out). It seems like a no-brainer but it’s something that needs to be said.

    I also liked your example of Food Inc. It’s a great comparison. My wife and I after watching it decided that we would try and do what we could to help local farmers. We might only be able to get a half gallon of grass fed whole milk and 1lb of grass fed ground beef a few times a month but it’s better than nothing. Supporting The Rabbit Room is the same way. Can I buy the new AP record or Pete’s The Fiddler’s Green from Amazon? Sure. Will I? No. Not because I have a problem with Amazon. I use it all the time. But I want to support the folks at The Rabbit Room. Their stuff has blessed me tremendously. The least I can do is return the favor in any way I can. They need to sell records and books, I want to hear or read them.

    And I haven’t given up on getting AP to my church. I just need to try and ask again. I think the last concert we through required a lot of work from our staff (as if the visiting bands didn’t have people of their own). But I would be more than happy to volunteer to do all the grunt work and recruit people to help with whatever is needed (I know A LOT of people who would love AP at our church). I’m sure it’s hard work, but we can get all the red M&Ms taken out of the bowl before AP shows up.

  12. Becca

    Thanks, AP. This phrase is particularly helpful: “the community that springs up unbidden.”

    The link I’m about to post is for a dead blog, so I’m not trying to collect fans. (I actually had to shut that blog down and reopen privately because this post made someone I love so upset with me.)

    But ever since we returned from our adoption trip a few months ago, I’ve really been wrestling with how to do community (money, ministry, etc.) in light of what we experienced. In light of where we are in time. In light of where we are in modern church history.

    http://mosessupposes2.blogspot.com/2010/08/i-dont-know-answer-to-this.html

    Anyway, here’s some of what’s behind my question, if you want it. Or if others have thoughts. ‘Thought a link would save space on the wall.

  13. Derek Brown

    AP,

    This is an incredible post. This morning I was reading through “Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community” by Mr. Berry and your thoughts echo so many of his. I feel like I need to read through your post a few more times to really grasp the truth of what you are saying. Most of all, I love that you include ways to help the local artists. That, too, was what I most enjoyed about Food Inc…the practical, actionable ways that we can “cast a vote three times a day.” Thank you!

  14. Jen

    Well said! There’s nothing like going to concerts and buying music directly from the artist’s table, but I would also add find a good independent book/music store and shop there too, because then not only are you helping artists by buying music, but you’re helping a local business and people who really care about what they’re selling. I’m fortunate to have a great store near me where you can ask the staff what’s playing over the speakers and they proceed to tell you what it is, the history of the artist, and other stuff you would like. 🙂 Sadly, I haven’t found a bookstore like that yet, but I’m looking!

    Becca – I absolutely feel what you’re saying. I’m pretty sure I’d die if I tried to sit through the ladies’ lunch you’re describing. 🙂 I crave authenticity and connection, but all too often have a hard time fitting in. So I second your request… I’d love to see this idea explored more here.

  15. Becky

    This is a great post and helps those of us who would like to be patrons see what the next step(s) could be. It’s easy to get into the rut of “I’d like to be a patron but I don’t know what to do.”

    Becca, that is a great blog post and wonderful video. It is making me think, especially since I have a few items currently on my CBD wishlist.

  16. Nick and Susan

    *raising my mug of tea from underneath my pew* to Becca’s and Jen’s post.

    I remember reading in a homeschool book quite recently a statement that I didn’t want to admit the truth of, “Facebook friends are easy friendship is hard”. That author was spot on of course, but I often feel like running for the hills when it comes to ‘cookouts’ like AP suggested and want to go into hiding when it comes to ‘womens’ meetings’ because of the scenario Becca shared.

    I’ve been pondering the above for quite some time, why it is I can ‘connect’ quicker via email, fb, and forums such as this, and yet feel struck dumb when sat in a room with members of my own church. I think it is due to the fact that it is hard work getting to know people, plus it takes so long to get past the ‘pleasantries’ that people go through…you know, “how are you” “oh I’m fine”. Add to that my introvert nature and the fact that the *real* people who are Christians in one’s life seem to still be trying to look like they’ve “Got it all together” (another brill Jill Phillips song!!) and point 3 in your post Mr.Peterson was painful to read.

    Thankyou – sort of.

    Susan

  17. Amy

    Becca,
    I loved your comment because this is something I think about a lot. Writing, keeping a blog, reading a book a friend has written, I always feel this is when I am finding one’s true soul, the inner world of their thoughts, i am reading them to know them. It absolutely presents some complications, but I have found that writing and the ability to read one’s thoughts has both introduced me to new life long friends as well as deepened existing relationships.

    I, though, also struggle with verbal communication, what I say never quite seems to be what is in my head. I’m certain others feel the same way about writing.

    I do actually believe that there is a degree of community that happens online. I have had friends support me in amazing ways that I met through online community. No it’s not the same as seeing someone every day and not being able to escape, but it is something. I have been both surprisingly rewarded and deeply hurt from friends I first knew online.

    In any case, not to totally derail this amazing post, but I wanted to say I hear you Becca! One of my favorite episodes of House explored this issue this past season…it was about blogging and how the internet means no one ever has to feel lonely again, but also how that can get a bit extreme. The entire show was about the different ways we perceive one another and know one another. whether it’s on the internet, reading a book one has written, or our faces..it was truly brilliant.

  18. Becca

    I feel like I’ve already taken up too much wall room on this topic, so just a very brief response here. Deep thanks for your comments, everybody. It’s such a gift to hear from kindred souls.

  19. EmJ (EmmaJ)

    Just for the record… “she.” And henceforward using a more complete screen name for myself 🙂

    Glad to be able to contribute to the discussion!

  20. EmmaJ

    I’m really diggin’ this patronage idea. That’s the life I’m leading, only from a different angle (thanks for including that bit at the end about supporting our churches, organizations and specific folks in local or cross-cultural service). I couldn’t survive without ministry partners (actually, I’m not even allowed to really start my assignment until a few more sign on), and I was just thinking about how some of the funds those partners share with me support me in everyday life things… like buying food, and sometimes an encouraging book or recording. This patronage thing then becomes kind of a circle in which friends support me, allowing me to do the work that I’m called to do, and the money that goes into putting food into my mouth and good thoughts into my heart supports folks who are doing quality work in other ways. (That’s kind of simplified picture of course, in addition to my super-splendid fave local grocer, my brilliant and wonderful local mechanic, and creators of artistically meritorious music and writings, like most of us I am also driven by necessity to purchase needful items such as headphones, light bulbs and motor oil from large corporations. One would like to live in a world devoid of dirty things such as motor oil, but that is a different subject. What I can do is alter the proportions of how much is spent in which places. Yes, that is what I can do. Veggies from Cox Farms, light bulbs from Target.)

    Wow. As I’ve been writing this a fabulous downpour has begun. I must pause a moment to enjoy the vertical curtain of precipitation and the foggy mist which obscures the distant suburbs.

    Becca, I must heartily agree with your comments. Thanks for sharing those thoughts. This comes from a fellow introverted chicken. Only, I go for the punch. It is handy for hiding behind in awkward moments where I don’t know what to say. I do think it is a dreadful shame when people meet together and only speak in trivialities while there are so many thoughts and experiences that would be beneficial and edifying for us to discuss.

    AP, “Facebook is a giant auditorium full of people hiding under the pews” – so true! Well said, brother! I confess to being a pew hider. Thanks for putting that truth into words.

  21. EmmaJ

    Becca… just read that blog post of yours. Those disparities tear at my heart, as well. Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.

  22. David Axberg

    It sounds as if we need a “Rabbit Room CSA” (Community Shared Artistry). It works in the Farming Community (Agriculture) get the money up front and reap the benefits for the season. God Bless Now!

  23. Derek Brown

    David —

    You took the words right out of my mouth. It’d be very similar to an album pre-order, but way in advance (read–before the artist even started the process). The logistics of this are interesting, since fronting an album costs way more than the production costs, etc. associated with produce (traditional CSA’s). That being said, I’d love to have next year’s crop of Square Peg Alliance releases 🙂

  24. Yasu

    Now, imagine a country where every simple foreign cd costs 100 bucks and the minimum wage, which is what a great portion of its population receives per month, is equal to 500 bucks. Those kind of people don`t deserve access to music industry?
    Obviously, singer is not to blame, neither his record label. But neither those who doesn`t have the a opportunity of living the american dream, or aquire almost everything they want.

    Ya all have an occidental way of living that may hinder eyes from the real situation in other places. If you wanna know what poverty is capable of, please read a book called “Meu pé de laranja lima” (My sweet-orange tree – from Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos, Translated from the Portuguese by Edgar H. Miller – available at Library of Congress online catalog).

  25. I. Ray Schikuns

    Yasu,

    Physical poverty is an issue that is incredibly close to my heart. Please know that my question is asked with a great deal of gentleness and respect for your heart.

    How might someone in an impoverished country listen to recorded music? We recently brought our son home from overseas, and the most impoverished people of his birth country did not own enough food or clothing, let alone electronic equipment capable of playing music. And, most of those dear folks would not understand English lyrics.

    There was also a flourishing stolen music market there. Christian music was not desirable to buyers there, but copies of stolen American pop hits were sold everywhere on the streets for pennies.

    So I am fascinated by the question you have raised. I just haven’t been exposed to this need well enough to know how to help others. Can you please help me understand what you have seen? Do you have some specific countries/situations in mind? How might someone like me serve others in this area?

    I would like more information about your vision, so that I can help.

  26. Joy C

    Andrew,
    “And in other news” – as I played “The Reckoning” at a prison Bible study tonight, the women said, “Hey, that song is on the radio all the time!” – Just thought you’d like to know. I told ’em your name and that you’d played here before and said you wanted to return. They were psyched!
    Blessings. Joy

  27. Yasu

    Ray Schikuns,
    I am sorry if I seem a little bold in my comment. I said that because its a personal experience.
    As you can see, my English is not perfect (I`m always with my dictionary by my side). That happens because I had to learn it all by myself, studying, listening and translating american music to my mother language. English courses are too expensive here, around $200 per month.

    I grew up in a brazilian favela, a place where violence and poverty are familiar to all. Everyone would call this place hideous. There was no sofa in my house – we had to sit in the floor, tv was always broken, light and water sometimes were cut off and food was scarce.
    The only thing we had was ourselves – My mother, me and my brothers.

    My mother was a teacher, so I made her spend all the money she had in an English dictionary for me. She knew that education was very important and I was very lucky for having her encouraging me. With a tremendous effort, we found a communitarian internet in our city and I started downloading `pirate` christian music from rapidshare, etc. I recorded all them in a cd and played in a old radio of my uncle. Thanks to that, I`m capable of speaking/understanding English language now.

    You know, I was very lucky for having a mother-teacher. Today I`m in one of the bests Colleges of my country and I receive a federal scholarship.
    I always knew that `pirate` music was wrong, but I had no choice. I liked it and I need it, but I couldn`t pay for it.

    My point is: even though my mother had money to grant our survivor and drink coca-cola sometimes, she hadn`t for our education. And we craved for that.
    But almost everyone living in a favela doens`t know about education importance. Violence marks (physically, morally, socially) are so profound in this people that they have no more hope.

    I`m a huge exception of this favela-world where people have nothing, neither money or education.

  28. Becca (I. Ray)

    Dear Yasu,

    Thank you so much for telling me your story. And you did not seem too bold at all. You only seemed to have seen something of this world that I had not. That is why I was so curious.

    I am humbled and thankful that you took the time to share what you have learned with me. Your difficulty makes my heart more sensitive to the hardships many others are enduring tonight.

    I grieve with you, that you were not only challenged financially, but also because the impossible choices placed before you added heavier burdens to your heart. I have nothing but admiration for your drive and tenderness. You desired what was ultimately best, despite a hardened and dangerous world. This is heroic in my eyes.

    Too many wealthy American worship leaders know the rules, but they still pirate music without blinking an eye. You were in true need, and you hurt while using what you needed. If there is a Christian music artist (or label) who wouldn’t extend grace for such cases, shame be upon them instead of upon you.

    Do you have any ideas for how we might help others still living in such need? How can we reach them? The thought of spreading the love of Jesus through English music is brilliant.

    Meanwhile, I would love to help you pay for the songs you used. This way, you can leave your past behind in peace. My husband is a pastor, so we don’t have a lot of money. But I will do what I can over time. If you could post any of the songs you remember, I will look and see who produced them. I will send the companies a check for as many songs as I can afford. I would be honored to carry this burden with you, my friend.

  29. Becca (I. Ray)

    (Also, sorry about the two different forum names. I need to just pick one and stick with it. OK, that’s all.)

  30. Yasu

    Becca,
    your gentle words bring tears to my eyes.
    I see that you truly want to help. I can see reflections of God in your attitude. Thank you.

    You know, what makes me sad is that so many people have a lot of things and they don`t even know that. They haven`t the foggiest idea that they can share what they have, no matter what is it.

    Injustice is a constant in Brazil. People with a good financial condition ignore those in need. If you could visit my country you would see that the poorest favela of Rio de Janeiro is in the middle of the richest part of the city – Yes, there are a lot of rich people here, too.
    But, like you, some people really wanna help.
    There are some projects and volunteers working with these communities, teaching basic English, music, ballet and hiphop, acting and bringing free internet. Generally, these volunteers are from the inside of the community and don`t have much money. I for example have a book reading project where we bring books to those who haven`t access to literature.

    Becca, I can tell you that the best way you can help is praying. It will help a lot.

    And about your proposal of help: I have no words for your kindness.
    I`m really, really grateful, but I can`t accept that.
    Now a have a little bit of money thanks to my scholarship, and I have already bought some cds such as Avalon`s The Creed and AP`s Carried Along (acquired on clearance in a bankrupt store) – My next step is to buy Bethany Dillon`s, Plumb`s and Sara Groves` =D

    But as I told you before, English christian music is expensive here. I lend my cds to everyone at my church and I give `em translated lyrics to portuguese. There`s quite a community of fans here, haha. There`s also a girl that is studying English through the songs `cause she wanna be an English teacher.

    Just knowing people like you who wants to help, Becca, makes my heart smiles from side to side. Thank you from the bottom o` my heart.

    “From piece to piece tenderness is made” – (My sweet-orange tree –
    from Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos, Translated from the Portuguese by Edgar H. Miller – available at Library of Congress online catalog) – Give it a shot and read it =D

  31. Becca (I. Ray)

    “For Yasu.”

    The chrysalis we have been watching
    chose this morning to turn black
    despite the rush of backpackings,
    and toothbrushings
    and lunch makings.

    I knew this meant the time was close.
    I asked the kids to delay;
    to stay home with me and watch.

    But they are at the scheduled ages,
    of life waiting other places.
    So we crawled into the van, and we talked
    about digital things.

    When I opened the kitchen door alone,
    there it was.
    Post-miracle.

    Hanging perfectly hand-painted.
    A map of orange, and black,
    and starry night.

    I cried staring at it. Watching its paper wings open and close.

    I cried because this is how metamorphosis should happen.
    It is how I wish mine could happen and yours,
    tucked into the safety of maternal, gentle places
    instead of in this war zone where glass bulls herd us into corners
    so that no choices are the right ones.

    What liturgy can we make
    with these malformed wings
    touched too soon and bent
    by hateful things?

    In that room with no couch,
    I am digging for hope with you,
    sifting through hymns
    pried from a foreign land.

    We have different poverties, Yasu.
    But I feel bound to yours because of mine.
    So I will sing the gleaning songs with you,
    even if our voices shake.

  32. Larry LaPlue

    My daughter sent me this letter several weeks ago, which I planned to hand deliver the next time I made it to a concert. But it seems so appropriate to this discussion that I thought I would go ahead and post it here.

    Besides, its a great story.

    (And someone needs to tell me the best way to pay.)

    Andrew,

    I owe you some money.

    This is a little unorthodox, you might say, but it’s not my first time to be unorthodox. The reason I owe you money is actually quite exciting for me, and I thought perhaps you would find the story interesting as well. 🙂

    I am spending two years serving as a missionary on a ship (again, a little unorthodox) which is called the Logos Hope. I work alongside Christians from all over the world, and we sail all over the place doing many types of ministry. We are unique in that we are the only ship in the world which opens its doors freely to the general public; we invite them to visit our large book shop, located on the ship itself. We’ve been in Africa for a while, and currently we are in Liberia, which is characterized by civil war and devastating poverty.

    We hosted onboard an event for the many missionaries serving in Liberia, and after the event they came to visit the book store. I was approached by a young man with a strong Scottish accent who asked if I could search the computer to find a certain singer. I replied, “No, our system can’t do that, but who are you looking for? Maybe I know who he is . . .” When he answered with your name, I could hardly believe it! Not everyone has the good fortune to be acquainted with your music, and of all the people he could have asked, he asked me!

    I was sorry to have to tell him that we didn’t have any of your cds in the book store, but I couldn’t help but think of all of your music that I had brought with me on my computer. I knew he couldn’t just get it somewhere else – certainly not in a store in Liberia, and even amenities like internet are quite limited here. Ten minutes after he walked away, it was really driving me crazy that this missionary in Liberia had asked me for something very specific that I just so happened to own. I wanted to give it to him, but the problem was that God has been very strict with me recently about copyright infringement issues, so I couldn’t just make a copy for him . . . finally it occurred to me that if I just paid you the appropriate money a different way, he could have his music, you could have your fair earnings, and I wouldn’t be stealing! I ran to my cabin, hurriedly put Resurrection Letters and Far Country on my USB stick, and was able to give it to him before he left – along with a prayer that he would be as blessed by them as I have been. I was excited about it for the whole day!!

    Thanks for making excellent music – you have been a tremendous blessing and encouragement to me, my family, and the global church!!

    Sincerely,

    Jessie LaPlue

  33. Pracades

    Just want to say thanks to Sharon Frazier for bringing these artists to my community. I have been attending concerts at Faith for years and am so thankful I’m not the one having to do the work! Although, I am beginning to think I would love to…

  34. James

    Andrew:

    You need to add something to your list – if a musicians music really impacts you, share it (i.e. buy a few extra to give to friends and family). Your music has been such a blessing to my life, and last Christmas I was thrilled to buy several of the 10 pack of Behold The Lamb of God and give a copy to every single family member and friend that I give a gift to. I know that your music has also been a blessing to some of those people who might not have listened to it otherwise. I’m thinking I might need to buy a bunch of copies of Resurrection Letters Vol. 2 for this Christmas.

    Also, thank you for making music that is full of joy and hope in Christ even in difficult times and is also rich in God’s Word. I can’t wait for the Houston Behold The Lamb Of God show.

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