Kevin Prosch and the Music Coope

January 12, 2010

Kevin and I have been friends for many years and share a lot of similar passions for Christ and His community.  As many of you know Kevin is one of the leading worship leaders in the Body of Christ and has been a mentor to many young bands including Delirious.  Kevin is starting a new venture by launching the Music Coope.  Rather than me taking the time to explain it I asked Kevin to do it in his own words.  I encourage you check out his website and keep up with the new music that will be launched from the Music Coope.

What is the Music Coope?

Musicians have always been a cagy crew.  Typically narcissistic and brooding, they are relentlessly in pursuit of euphoric inspiration that conjures heroic sensations usually reserved for superheroes and floating spacemen.  Biblical accounts paint their origins in a rather suspect shade.  Lucifer, the original angel of music who’s very being was interwoven with pipes and strings, was so intoxicated with ambition that he was cast down from the heavens.  Jubal is the name of the first recorded musician passed down from the Hebrew oral tradition.  No surprise that he is descendent from the infamous Cain who slew his brother Abel in a fit of jealous rage.  When questioned by God about the whereabouts of Abel, Cain’s calloused response went something like this: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”   The Music Coope is a family of musicians dedicated to being their brother’s (or sister’s) keeper.  “Survival of the fittest” loses its’ intellectual glory when applied to human relationships.  The Coope is about cooperation, believing artists will render their purest and best work in the context of community.

Founder and leading visionary of The Music Coope, Kevin Prosch, has a vision that harkens back to the Great Depression era.  Prosch says: “Many farmers fell on desperate times in those days and for most the only means for survival was to form cooperatives, or Co-ops.” Farmers found strength and stability in pooling their financial and intellectual resources and many families and farms were rescued from abject poverty.  Music Coope artists are using these same principles to create, promote and release their music while intentionally breaking down communication barriers between artists and their fans.  Rather than selling out to an industry that has little regard for the artist apart from bottom-line production, Music Coope members are sowing into integrity based relationships with each other and fans of their work while creating a market place that is less “hustle” with more “flow”.  Prosch says:   “At the end of the day these artists are real people with families that have tangible needs just like every other human being.  The Music Coope allows them to make an honest living in their craft while fans find themselves privy to an insiders look at the creative process of music making and intimate portraits of the artists themselves.” The first annual Music Coope Festival will be held June 9-11 in Amarillo, Texas.  Registration information (registration discounts) and Festival details can be found at www.themusiccoopefestival.com

The Music Coope website will launch shortly and will offer fans an opportunity of membership at a very low monthly cost.  Benefits will include free monthly downloads; free annual compilation CD featuring Coope artists, video diaries and interviews with Coope artists and monthly newsletters.

The Power of One

July 24, 2009

“You Are More Than You Know”

Bryce Courtenay, in his autobiographical novel The Power of One, begins with a chilling and yet wonderful episode. It begins with a six year old boy. He is an English little boy. His father has been killed by a rogue elephant and his mother has gone into a sanitarium after the killing of his father.

It takes place in the late 1930s in South Africa, and that leaves the little boy to be raised by his Zulu nanny and because he is six years old and he should go to school, she ships him off to a boarding school, but the boarding school the boy finds himself in is a boarding school of all Boer boys, B-O-E-R, and the Boers and the English hate each other for very, very good reasons.

Well, when he finds out that he is the only English boy in this Boer boarding school, he begins to have a bed-wetting problem. Night after night in his anxiety and fear, he wets his bed and it is not long before the other boys find out, for they have to drag his mattress out in the morning and put it in the sun, and so the older Boer boys form a “kangaroo court”, and at night they drag him out and they tie strips of rags around his eyes, and then they have a mock trial, with a mock verdict and a mock sentencing. And since the punishment must fit the crime, they make him crouch down on the ground, where they all urinate on him. This does not happen once; it happens many times.

Finally, there is a break in the school year and the little boy goes home and falls into the arms of his Zulu nanny, and he cries and he cries and he cries and he cries and he tells her these terrible things that are happening to him at this boarding school. And she tells him to hush, that she will put the word out and the great medicine man Inkosi Inkosikazi will come and with one shake of the bleached bones of an ox, he will cure this boy of the terrible problem of this “nightwater.”

Well, the boy waits patiently, and four days later there comes down the dirt road of their farm the largest black buick the boy has ever seen. And out of it steps the oldest man the boy has ever seen, clad only in a loin-cloth and with a rug tucked under his arm. He walks over to a tree; he puts the rug down. He sits down on it. The farm hands have all gathered around in hushed silence at the great medicine man. And he looks up and he sees the boy and he says, “Boy, come here!”

And the boy comes and sits down on the rug next to the medicine man, and then the medicine man looks up at the farmhands and says, “Bring me five chickens!”

And five chickens they bring. And the medicine man takes the first chicken and he grabs it up-side the head and he tips it upside-down, and he draws a circle in the dust with the chicken. And then he sticks the beak of the chicken in the middle of the circle and the chicken falls dead asleep.

Five times the medicine man does this with five chickens. And then he goes back and he sits down on the rug next to the small boy, and leans over to him for the first time and says, “You see these people here? They think this is magic. It is not; it is a trick, and I will show you how to do it.” And then the medicine man looked up at the people and said, “Take these five chickens. Kill them, pluck them, cook them; we will eat them tonight.” And the mesmerized farmhands leave with the five chickens. And the medicine man leans down a second time to the small boy, and says, “Before I teach you the trick with the chickens, there is this unfortunate business of the night-water.”

Well, the boy’s heart began to sink, but before it could sink too fast the medicine man said, “Close your eyes,” and the boy closed his eyes. And the medicine man said, “It is night. The moon of Africa is bright. You are standing on a ledge. Beneath you there are three waterfalls. The first one plunges into a pool; it sweeps over that pool, plunges into a second pool; it sweeps over that down and plunges into a lake. And on the lake there are ten black rocks leading to a beach of white sand. Do you see it?”

The boy nodded that he did see it, and the medicine man said, “Then hear it!” And there rushed through the boy the sound of water. There was water in his mind and water in his body and water in his heart. There was water on both sides of him. There was water underneath him, water above him. And in the thunder and crash of the water that was everywhere came the voice of Inkosi Inkosikazi, the medicine man, and it said to him, “You are a young warrior. You stand on the ledge above the waterfalls of the night. You have just killed your first lion. You wear a skirt of lion-tails. You are worthy to be in the honor guard of Shaka himself. Now here’s what you must do, my little warrior. You must dive, and when you hit the first pool you will go to the bottom and you will count ‘3-2-1’ on the way up and you will be swept over that pool. You will go to the second pool; you will go to the bottom. You will count ‘3-2-1′ on the way up. You’ll be swept over into the lake. You will jump on the first black rock and you will count ’10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1’ to the beach of white sand. Do you understand?”

The boy nodded that he did. The medicine man said, “Then, my little warrior, dive.”

And in the imagination of his heart, the boy left the ledge. He hit the first pool, 3-2-1, swept over into the second pool, 3-2-1, swept over into the lake, 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, until he lay exhausted on the beach of white sand, with the thunder and crash of the water inside him and outside him. And once again, the voice of the medicine man returned. It said, “You have crossed the nightwater. There is nothing more to be feared. If ever you need me, come to the ledge above the waterfalls of the night, and I will be there.” Then the medicine man leaned down to the boy and said, “Open your eyes!”

The boy opened his eyes and the medicine man said, “Now, the trick with the chickens.”

The story continues in Bryce Courtenay’s own voice, only now he is a man looking back on that time: I went back to school. I never again wet my bed, but that didn’t stop them. They were Boers; I was English. Night after night they’d drag me out, but they could never make me cry. And I knew this bothered them, for I knew they had little brothers who were six years old and they knew how easy it was to make a little six year old boy cry, but they could never make me cry. For when they tied the dirty strips of rags around my eyes I would take three deep breaths, and there I was on the ledge above the waterfalls of the night, the voice of Inkosi Inkosikazi in my ears. It said, “You are a young warrior. You have just killed your first lion. You wear a skirt of lion-tails. You are worthy to be in the honor guard of Shaka himself.” And it was then I knew that the outer me was a shell to be pushed and provoked, but inside was the real me, where my tears joined the tears of all the sad peoples of all the earth, to form the three waterfalls of the night.

A PARADIGM SHIFT

June 24, 2009

“…advancement is not evolutionary, but rather is a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions, and in those revolutions “one conceptual world view is replaced by another”. (Thomas Kuhn)

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution in which he developed and popularized the concept of paradigm shift. Kuhn argued that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather an invasive and aggressive alteration of the way that we perceive and experience the world around us.

He encouraged us to think of a Paradigm Shift as a change from one way of thinking to another. It’s a revolution, a transformation that impacts. It just does not happen; agents of change drive it. Here are some key quotes from Kuhn taken from his book:

“Agents of change helped create a paradigm-shift moving scientific theory from the Plolemaic system (the earth at the center of the universe) to the Copernican system (the sun at the center of the universe), and moving from Newtonian physics to Relativity and Quantum Physics. Both movements eventually changed the world view. These transformations were gradual as old beliefs were replaced by the new paradigms creating “a new gestalt.”

“Likewise, the printing press, the making of books and the use of vernacular language inevitable changed the culture of a people and had a direct affect on the scientific revolution. Johann Gutenberg’s invention in the 1440’s of movable type was an agent of change. Books became readily available, smaller and easier to handle and cheap to purchase. Masses of people acquired direct access to the Scriptures. Attitudes began to change as people were relieved from church domination.”

“Similarly, agents of change are driving a new paradigm shift today. The signs are all around us. For example, the introduction of the personal computer and the internet have impacted both personal and business environments, and is a catalyst for a Paradigm Shift. We are shifting from a mechanistic, manufacturing, industrial society to an organic, service based, information centered society, and increases in technology will continue to impact globally. Change is inevitable. It’s the only true constant.”

“In conclusion, for millions of years we have been evolving and will continue to do so. Change is difficult. Human Beings resist change; however, the process has been set in motion long ago and we will continue to co-create our own experience. We are moving at an accelerated rate of speed and our state of consciousness is transforming and transcending. Many are awakening as our conscious awareness expands.”
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I was born in 1946 and that makes me among the first of the baby boomers. Over the last fifty years I have watched my world reshaped by the paradigm shifts in technology, economics, politics and religion.

Technology has changed the way that we interact with our world. We have transitioned from floor model black and white televisions with only three networks to watching digital wide screen televisions with hundreds of network choices.

Travel has changed dramatically. I flew on my first airplane in 1966, flying from Great Falls, Montana to Calgary, Alberta returning to Bible College after the Christmas holidays. What were the elite airplanes of those days; we would call ‘puddle jumpers’ today. Oh, by the way, smoking was allowed at the back of the plane.

In 1972 my wife and I and our two children sailed on an ocean liner from Lisbon to Maputo, Mozambique. That trip took us three weeks. We might have been one of the last missionaries to sail to Africa. By that time, everyone was enjoying the power and speed of the jet airliner— a much better and faster way to get around the world.

I have watched the evolution from rotary phones to the iphone. I have gone from vinyl records to 8 tracks, cassettes and now CDs. I remember when I was in high school that I would help my Dad prepare the bulletins for Sunday morning, using a mimeograph machine. What a mess!  Now we have laser printers that can do the job much faster, cleaner and better.

A whole new world has been created—full of instant information, economic transactions at the drop of a hat, social interactions and business opportunities at the click of a button.

Economically I have watched the great shifts in salaries, jobs and commerce. It was in 1966 when I got my first job that paid over $100 a month. Micki and I went overseas as missionaries and lived on $200 a month. Today, kids make more than that in one week working at their local convenience store. Convenient—that is the word that drives the economy.

However, all is not well in Camelot. In the last six months the wealth of this nation has taken a devastating blow. None of the economic guru forecasted this economic down turn and none of the prophets of Wall Street can tell us where it is taking us. We are charting through dangerous waters and who knows if there is another iceberg lurking in the fog of mounting debt, corporate greed, lack of regulation in the real estate industry, the devaluation of the dollar, and crisis in the credit industry. None of us can escape the tectonic shifts that are happening on Wall Street and Pennsylvania Ave. What people do above us drastically affects the life of those of us living below them.

Politically, we are watching the subtle and not so subtle erosion of our personal freedoms. The increasing encroachment of government into our personal lives is a bit frightening, needless to say. Although the government has never proven that it can effectively solve any problem, it continues to portray itself as a Corporate Savior, prepared to deliver us from our corporate and personal dilemmas.

The battle between liberals and conservatives still exists, but the emerging nemesis is a new kind of government that no longer serves the people (if it ever did). In Washington it seems inevitable that the left will merge with the right in a way that is creating an attrition of our individual sovereignty and establishing an aristocracy of government that is disconnected with the American people.

Christianity has been embroiled in its own paradigm shifts. They might not be as evident as the global shifts we see portrayed every day in the different forms of media that crowd into our lives. Nevertheless, they are there. The history of the church over the last forty years has been saturated with a variety of emerging movements and focuses. Like many of my friends we have walked through most of these.

Liberal theology and the death of God movement, the Jesus seminars, emergence of the social gospel, critical theology, the charismatic movement, emphasis on the five fold ministry, prayer movement, apostolic and prophetic focus, discipleship, marketplace ministries, church growth, renewal and revival movements, Promise Keepers, purpose driven churches, seeker sensitive churches, faith churches, emergent churches, mega Churches, house churches, and the renewed emphasis on signs, wonders and miracles and the kingdom.

Change is to be expected. That is the nature of the world that we live in. The imperative issue is can we discern what is happening in our world and how do we react to that change. Change is at the heart of every paradigm shift and in my next blog I will explore this issue further looking at the personal implications of ‘impressed forces’ and how they push us towards change.

Words Create Worlds

June 9, 2009

Every trade has its own unique tools. The tool of the mathematician is numbers, for the carpenter it is his hammer, and for the writer it is words. In order to become a great writer one must first understand the philosophy associated with writing and how words are put together in a way that will attract the reader.

Writing is more than simply stringing words together. It is an art and there are basic principles that will guide the writer in the effort of creating a book that will communicate what his mind has discovered and his spirit has seen. Writing is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. There are many pieces to the puzzle and the good writer knows how to find those pieces and put them in their proper place.

ABRAHAM HESCHEL, a Jewish Philosopher, was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement in the 60s and often marched with Martin Luther King. In 1938 Heschel was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Poland. Six weeks before the German invasion of Poland he left for London and then eventually ended up in New York where he became part of the faculty at Jewish Theological Seminar of America. Heschel’s sister Esther was killed in a German bombing. His mother was murdered by the Nazis, and two other sisters, Gittel and Devorah, died in Nazi concentration camps. One of the books in my library is God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism and is a companion volume to Man is Not Alone. The spiritual realities unveiled in his writings are drawn from a well of rich contemplation on the nature of God and His deep love for man.

God in Search of Man is provides an amazing analyses of “Awe,” “Wonder,” and “Glory.” He rips these words out of their religious context making them live for the reader. Heschel was the master of using words to create dramatic images of the unseen realities.

In one of his conversations with his young daughter. Heschel maed this incredible statement: “Words create Worlds.”

The preeminent writers of the past and present understand this truth and how words can create or confuse. By our words we can create new worlds that are multidimensional and come to the reader in living color. Or, we can simply add to the confusion and boredom that already exists in the Christian culture.

Another Jewish writer, Ellie Wiesel, put it this way. “Writers help readers construct larger, more expansive frames of reference so that more of God and our world can be accurately perceived. This is called change writing. Writers are cultural brokers for the world of ideas. Our job is to share as best as we can what we know. “words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deed.”

Writers should be culture brokers that are not afraid of the margins of life. Through their words they become bridges between that which is seen and that which is not so easily seen. They pay attention to what their subject is trying to teach them. They pause to analyze and examine what others so easily miss.

William Blake, the distinguish English mystic described it well with these words. “In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.” The great challenge of the writer is to find those doors and through the power of their words lead others to the open door.