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Friday
Apr252014

Reset. (context...tangent...apology)

Last week, Jars of Clay performed at a music festival in Australia. As part of the programming of the event, the festival offered various breakout sessions and panel discussions on a host of topics that might be interesting to the festival attendees.  I was invited to sit on a panel discussion about moral behavior and the church.  The question we were presented was, “Does the western church’s focus on moral behavior undermine the church’s ability to love?”

On one side of me sat the head of a lobbying group that fought against the legalization of gay marriage in Australia.   On the other side of me was a Christian street evangelist.   I was immediately aware that I had not given much attention to the dialogue about gay rights.  I knew it was a focal topic for many people in the church, and that it was a major issue in the growing partisanship of American politics, I just had not had the opportunity to think about it much. 

During the panel discussion, the question was asked of the lobbyist, “Why not legalize gay marriage?”   His response sparked my curiosity.  He said that gay marriage was a slippery slope into other forms of marriage ie:  polygamy, marriage to animals, etc.  He also said that it was harmful to children to be forced into a situation without a father, or without a mother.  He also spoke of the sanctity of the traditional marriage model and how it could be diminished. 

It was a lively conversation, and in the end, I don’t think we reached much of an answer to the question of moral behavior and the church.  I did walk away with quite a lot to think about.  I had so many questions about gay marriage.  With so many angles to consider and so many layers to unfold, it was overwhelming, and so I did what most people do, I got distracted and forgot about it.

Two days later, I was on an international flight traveling back to the U.S.   I should have been sleeping, but the time reversal’s effect on my body kept me awake, and so I caught up on a few movies.   The one that stirred my soul, more than Anchorman 2 or American Hustle was 12 Years a Slave. 

The film had such incredible storytelling and superb acting that gave faces and souls to the men, women and children trapped in slavery.  The thing that continued to swirl around my mind was a scene when one of the slave owners was quoting scripture to slaves.  He was using the words to drive home a point about his supremacy over the slaves, and the wrath they would face if they were disobedient.

He was mis-using scripture to back up his acts of oppression toward another human.  He was using scripture to back up his idea that slaves were less than human, and so should not be given the rights of humans. 

I would not say that the issues of slavery, which are tied to color and race, clearly mirror the issues of gay rights.  But for some reason, all the questions I had surrounding gay marriage came rushing back.

I sat on the plane and thought about the hard questions I would have to ask myself in order to find my way toward a healthy dialogue about gay rights.  If gay men and women were being oppressed, not having an opinion in the matter seemed equal to the acceptance of systemic racism by way of silence.  The common quote, “What is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” came to mind.

Having grown up in the Christian church, I have observed and perpetrated many acts that originated out of fear.  In my career as an artist, musician, and storyteller, I have attempted to illuminate fear-based behavior in the church.

I have attempted to provide questions that could lead to a more love based approach.   This has meant taking a careful and often critical view of contemporary church behavior and culture.  At times this has led me to unproductive and unfair assessments of the church culture.  Other times, it has helped me navigate around unhealthy environments and practices that could have caused me to hurt people.

I wanted to figure out if I had a blind spot.  Was I buying into a form of oppression? 

Or does the legalization of gay marriage actually undermine traditional marriage and the biblical view of how we are called to live our lives?

So… yes, the implications and applications of answers to these hard questions are staggeringly important.   And my engagement of the issue of just under 3 days left me very under equipped to answer my own questions.

 

So that was the background and motivation behind my latest Twitter conversation. 

 

(A TANGENT + EXPLANATION)

 

Why Twitter?  Like most people who use it, I have found that 140 characters is incredibly limiting.  I have to constantly re-sculpt and re-fashion my words.  I am constantly chopping and simplifying my statements… and for that very reason, it keeps me and others from just vomiting opinions into the middle of the conversation. 

I have liked the limitations because some people, me included, like to write doctoral dissertations that cannot possibly be helpful in a live and organic dialogue about an issue.  The format is quick, and it is inclusive.  It is also the only space I know with such a vast collection of different people with different perspectives. 

Now, the draw back to Twitter as a discussion format is that it is sometimes hard to find the nuance in a persons post.  And in my case, I think I’m communicating one thing, but what comes out is entirely different…. In my haste to get the next idea out, I wrote things that were unnecessarily combative. 

For example, In my latest conversation on Twitter, I knew that the immediate response to questions about the gay community would be about whether gay sex was wrong or right.   I do think this is a part of the issue, but I wanted to talk about other areas, and having just been on a panel discussing the ways the church’s focus on moral behavior undermines its ability to love, I didn’t want to get stuck on the “moral right or wrong” part and stall any ability to talk about other aspects of the issue.   So I wrote:

 

@Scribblepetomus:

“It is perhaps less important to know what is “right and wrong” morally speaking, than to know how to act toward those we consider “wrong.” 

 

“I don’t particularly care about Scriptures stance on what is “wrong.” I care more about how it says we should treat people.”

In the heat of discussion, I communicated poorly and thus unintentionally wrote that I did not care about what scripture said.  Thus, the tsunami hit.  It was picked up by bloggers and written into editorials before I could blink.  And rightly so, people were shocked and offended by my statement dismissing the value of scripture.  I got it. And possibly, I got what that combination of statements warranted for response. I should’ve chosen my words more wisely.

 

I care about what scripture says.   It matters.    

The second round of poorly chosen words surrounded the clarity of scripture.  I was trying to communicate that although we often say, “Scripture is clear about this or that,” the very fact that so many people disagree or have alternate perspectives or interpretations of scripture, means that we have to move beyond simply quoting a scripture to prove our point.   We have to dig into the scripture and help translate it and offer context. Simply quoting a scripture can stall out a good honest dialogue.

 

But what I wrote was:

 

“Never liked the phrase: “Scripture clearly says…(blank) about…”

Because most people read and interpret scripture wrong,  I don’t think scripture “clearly” states much of anything regarding morality.”

 

Yeah…. That was definitely not my intended point.  This was also met with a great amount of negative feedback. 

 

So, that said, Twitter is a great place to share selfies and a horrible forum for discussions and a bad place to communicate under the fog of jetleg...which leads me to this:

 

(MY APOLOGY)

In my questions and dialogue with people on Twitter, it became evident that the issue I had chosen to discuss was far too personal, nuanced, and deeply connected to faith and our human condition to honor the amount of wrestling that others have done on this topic.  And though they were my questions and it was a dialogue provoked by me, it bled into the Jars of Clay world, and my other band mates felt people’s dismay, frustration and the projection of my views and ideas back on to them. It is not theirs to shoulder. 

It was a poor choice of venue on my part.  I chose some of my words poorly.  And I was unable to moderate the conversation in such a way that it kept everyone’s views with a shared validity and civility as I had hoped.    And so, I am not going to continue the conversation on that forum.  I do apologize for causing such a negative stir. 

In the coming days, I will begin posting some questions on my blog (www.danhaseltine.com, and even doing some interviews around this topic, as I believe there can be healthy dialogue and better understanding even if there is not shared agreement.  I am dedicated to being a life long learner.  With a full heart- Dan

Thursday
Nov282013

THANKS

To everyone who has entered in to the conversation about faith and art, to everyone who pushed back against the urge to judge someone else, To everyone who walked Inland this year, To everyone who made a choice to give lavishly and help friends in Africa and The Philippines, To everyone who came and sang along with us in bars and theaters and fairs and churches, To everyone who encouraged me to walk with confidence down the creative path I walked, To everyone who has looked harder at the world and thus entered it with compassion and grace, To everyone who helped Jars of Clay and The Hawk In Paris rise above the noise, To everyone who steps into the light and exposed their human story, that others may be free from shame and guilt, To everyone who made the world a better place whether by thought, word, or deed....

 

THANKS! - Dan

 

 

Tuesday
Nov052013

THE HAWK IN PARIS (a primer)

If you have been following me on Twitter(@scribblepotemus) or Facebook (Dan Haseltine Music), you have heard about The Hawk In Paris.  It is a collaboration between Matt Bronleewe, Jeremy Bose and myself. 

Many people are curious to know why such a project has to exist given the creative outlet that Jars of Clay has been over the past 19 years.  So I thought I would take a moment to give some context for this project, how it evolved, what it is, and what we hope to accomplish through it.

 

The Beginning:

Matt Bronleewe and I met in college, and it was only a short time after meeting that we began working together on studio projects.  In fact, Matt was very influential in the formation of Jars of Clay, as his thumb print is all over almost all of the songs written for the self-titled Jars of Clay debut record. 

When Jars of Clay left college to pursue a career in music, Matt stayed behind and finished walking down the college path, and although we continued to be friends, we did not reconnect until we joined forces on the first Plumb record.

Once that record was completed, our creative paths divided once again, and we did not work together again until, on a whim, Matt called me to see if I wanted to write and see what happened.  I have long been a fan of Matt’s work as a producer and writer, and jumped at the chance to reconnect.

So we gathered one afternoon in his studio and wrote the skeleton of a song called, “Curse the Love Songs.”  Our intention was to write without any parameters or genre guardrails.  It was a grand experiment, and it almost worked. 

After writing the song, we lived with it for a few weeks.  I have a distinct memory of walking around the streets of Seattle with the song playing over and over on my iPod.  It was just voice and piano at the time. 

Matt had been collaborating with Jeremy Bose for some time, and we both wondered what he could bring to the song.  So we sent him the track and asked him to develop the idea further.  The result was a cinematic dreamscape that set the stage for the melancholy tone of, The Hawk In Paris.

Jeremy Bose was also a college friend whom I had worked with on the original versions of Like a Child, and Lovesong for a Saviour on the FRAIL demo.  Jeremy actually played flute and recorder on those songs.  So it was equally wonderful to reconnect with him.

I had heard he had become a music genius, a mad scientist of sorts, and was pleased to find that this was true.  So the three of us formed and began writing more and finding some footing as we stretched ourselves to become The Hawk In Paris.

 

So, what IS the Hawk In Paris?...

If you want a musical or genre classification, we are calling it, “dark pop music.”  And it is the result of trust, passion, and creative innovation.

Matt and Jeremy and I have a chemistry that yields electronically grounded, intelligently crafted pop music with a melancholy thread woven through it.  It is just what happens when we gather together. 

Our collective musical histories that span folk, electronic, classical and arena rock from the 80’s mix together and the sound it makes is The Hawk In Paris.

Our motivations were simple.  We just wanted to work together and see if we could enjoy the freedom of working on music free from any of our normal “day job” limitations.  We had an empty canvas, or an empty music hall. 

When I listen to the songs, I smile because they represent a part of me that has largely been untapped.  The songs come from a deeper place, and a younger place then most of what I write.  I love pop music.  I love it as an exhale.  The records of my youth, Abba, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran…etc, all had a chance to have influence on these songs, and I like hearing their echoes in the music.

I have always stood by my single criteria in songwriting, which is to never lie.  I write songs about everything, sex, love, broken hearts, dancing…etc, and write what I know.  It serves me well in the writing of The Hawk In Paris.

The music is free of mission.  It is free from listener prejudices that have stilted quite a bit of my music over my career.  It is a chance to begin something new and something inspiring as I reach 20 years in the music world.

 

What do we hope to accomplish?

Well, the first thing we hope to accomplish is to release the album into the world.  We have been working on this project for nearly 2 years.  The songs have evolved and have finally found their place on the full-length record, “FREAKS.”

In the last 2 years, I have made two records that I am exceptionally proud of.  I have two records that speak well of my creative vision, and execution.  One of those records is, INLAND.  The other, “FREAKS.”

We don’t have any particular message that we want to get across to listeners.  We want them to exhale and enjoy the music.  We want them to become wrapped up in the production and cinematic quality of the sound.  We want them to be able to have pop music that isn’t lowest common denominator sludge. 

We are not naïve to the fact that music doesn’t really sell anymore.  It is telling that 37% of all records that release on iTunes sell only 1 copy.  Do we still want to sell records?  Absolutely.  We do because we believe in the listening experience. We believe that artwork and sound and poetry can change the way we see the world.

Since we no longer have record companies and big budgets for marketing, we rely almost entirely on word of mouth.

We even started a Pledge Music Campaign to give fans some tools to tell their friends about the project, and make bigger investments into the art of The Hawk In Paris.  We hope it works.  As I write this, we are holding at 74%, and we only have about a week to complete our funding goal.  If we don’t make the goal, things get much more difficult. 

We are a self-funded, self-made, self-promoted, marketed, designed, delivered business.  There are no safety nets.  Only  us.  Only you.

Other goals:  We would love to hear this music accompanying film, helping to draw emotion into a scene in a movie trailer or a powerful scene in a television show.  We want to hear this music in the clubs, and convertables in the summertime.  We want this music to find it's way into your world and draw a bit of nostalgia and life back into your environment.

So… I hope this helps give context into what we are doing.   If you want to get involved, it would mean a great deal to us.

Here is how:

www.pledgemusic.com/projects/thehawkinparis  or visit: www.thehawkinparis.com

Thanks -Dan

Tuesday
Aug272013

INLAND...

  “You, you were a sailor who burned your ship and walked on…”  

Every act of leaving is also an act of entering.  We don’t have the luxury of finding ourselves nowhere, ever.  We shake the dust from our feet and take a step.  It isn’t that we forget the step before, or that, for the sake of the lyric, forget the ocean where we thrived until we languished in familiarity and comfort, as if it were the womb itself.  We take it with us.  We walk with it far enough until we reach the point where it serves best to bury it in the ground where it becomes roots in the soil.

 It would be appropriate to conclude that our comfort is a burden we carry.  After all, can a person dismiss their fears in such a way that comfort is no longer a paramount desire?  And what is more comfortable than the place where the paths have been chosen and worn down and deepened by our own feet?  This place where the ocean speaks a common language and the birds sing familiar songs is home, until it isn’t.

In the public square, anyone who would speak of comfort as a disease, some form of slow narcolepsy, would be laughed at until they were stoned for heresy.

We do like our patterns, and our routines, which are also good until they aren’t.  Until we have the privilege of being tossed ashore with nothing but our life experiences, and told to start walking away from what we know, Inland. 

Inland as a metaphorical destination is the place we don’t know anything about.  It might even be a disservice to call “Inland,” a destination at all.  It is, more accurately described, a direction. 

A new job, a new school, a new love, a new way of speaking to an old love, a new place, a new anxiousness, butterflies in the stomach, a new path.

What does it represent for you?  

Tuesday
Aug272013

WELCOME BACK

Hello!  Welcome back.  Now that INLAND is officially out, I would like to jump back into the tall weeds with everyone.  I will try to post a bit more regularly to this site, but as with any "new years resolution' type declarations... we will just have to see.  

 

Keep coming back, and we will dig deeper into the world as I see it.  All the Best -Dan