I have changed the template which you might notice or might not. It would be awesome if you would try some of the features (like commenting) and letting me know if it is working and/or if you like the way it looks. The main thing that is different is the little tabs that are on the header, we can put links up there to where we want, however they still have the generic links to whatever sites the designer thought were important. If you click on the 'Gecko and Fly' link you will be taken to the designer's blog and design site if you want to look at more of his work/redo your own blog.

Thanks in advance for your helpful comments.

Tank

UPDATE: I just took out the pictures of us three on the right because I think it makes it look better.

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Education and Procreation



I just finished my first week. A week of yelling, laughing, spitting, falling, running, jumping, playing, teaching, resting, pleading, disciplining, (and a lot of other words ending in "-ing"). My new job is with Tulsa Public Schools. I work at an Elementary school that brings together, monday - friday, little people of varied ages, races, personalities, and dimensions. My job description is a Sign Language Interpreter for the Deaf. However, my real responsibility is to be a role model, communication facilitator, and teacher. No, i dont have a license to teach, but "illegal teaching" happens everyday, everyplace, and in everyway. I am a rebel of the educational system. I have to teach. I have to tell the little boy in the bathroom to wash his hands after he pees. I have to tell the kids who pushes the other one that his behavior is not proper and he needs to apologize. I have to show the student who is struggling with his math problem a new way of thinking about it. I am an educator, and proud of it.

Little people are funny (as in young people, not physically challenged people). Their abashed honesty is sometimes disconcerting, but attractive. Sometimes they pee their pants...that is funny. somtimes they laugh at things you shouldnt laugh at, again, adorable. They can be bratty and pains in the ass, but really, they are mostly innocent and good hearted. They havent had much time to be jaded by all the shit in the world. its nice.

I had a little convo with a fellow educator who works for TPS. We shared a mutual satisfaction that is recieved from being involved in a young one's education. it really is spectacular. You can look back and say "I taught them how to READ!" I mean reading is pretty important and to teach that is pretty dang cool. So, the long and short is, Ive got a kick ass job. Thanks Dad!

Oh...the procreation part of the title:
sometimes other kids make me NOT want to procreate. being involved in education has, so far, definitely made me WANT to procreate. i mean not here and now, at Shades of Brown, but somtime and somewhere and with someone. LOL. scary.

Give peace a Chance.

M. Josiah Fehlauer

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I don't know if you have listened to the new Nick and Josh Podcast yet, but you should. I highly recommend you all skipping to the end where they do the tallskinny because you will hear a very special guest, me. You should listen to the podcast and then go to Nick and Josh's blogs and let them know how much they have changed your lives. All the links are on the right side of the page for their blogs and the podcast.

Tank

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I came across this website the other day with this band giving away their music for free and I like what I've heard so far so I thought I would pass along the website for all to enjoy. You can download or listen to their album here. I think the song called Metropolitan (Watercolor) is the best so far, so maybe you should start there. You can also get a quick listen to them at their myspace before you commit to downloading their music and wasting your hard drive because we all know how annoying that is.

Tank

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I'm still on the search of a healthier life although I haven't updated nearly enough. As far as exercise I don't do it enough, but I have gone to the gym a few times in the last week which is always an improvement.

Pt. 2 : Diet

Before Super Size Me came out I wasn't very conscience of what I ate. I got food because I thought it tasted good and I was hungry, those were my requirements. In fact I regret seeing that movie in some respect because it was easier for me to eat fast food because I didn't think about it. I haven't stopped eating fast food, but I eat less, and now I can't help but think about what the food (with its steroids and other chemicals) is doing to me.

I think it is important to eat food that is good for me. Organic foods, salads, etc. Is it also important that I eat food that is good for other people. Who benefits from the money that I am spending on this food? In the case of fast food, restaurants, grocery stores, I have no clue, probably a corporation somewhere. I still eat/shop at all of these places and I won't completely stop anytime soon, but I have started buying food from my state's coop (found here). I know that my money is going directly to local farmers because I buy food directly from them and it is delivered to me for prices that rival the prices at my grocery store. Not only that but 90% of the products sold are organic which is a huge plus because I am buying organic foods for the price of non-organic foods found at Wal-Mart. I think it is healthier to spend as much money as I can of food where I know I am helping support my local farmers, and benefit my health in the process.

I go through most of my life dehydrated, not extremely dehydrated, but dehydrated. If you would like to check for yourself if you are hydrated or not go pee-pee and if it is yellow then you are not hydrated like your body needs. I have started watching how much water I drink daily and try to drink at least 8 8oz glasses of water a day (which is 64oz). I think I feel better when I am hydrated, I feel like I sleep better. This is something I hope to practice for a long time to come.

My biggest goal as far as my diet is concerned is to cut out fast food altogether and only visit restaurants every once and awhile. I want to cook at home, and not only that but become a good cook. My biggest problem with this is time, it is hard to set aside the time to prepare food, cook food, eat food, then wash the dishes for the next meal. To be able to do this I need to learn how to schedule my time and use it wisely. I think if I am going to be healthier and slow down my life so I can spend more time doing quality things I need to be intentional with my time and that requires planning.

Tank

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The impact of art



who would i be today without the inspiration of the creators that have challenged, impacted, and changed me. you can tell a lot about a person by when entering their house, examining their book, movie, or music collection. is this because certain types of people prefer certain types of art? or because the art itself has made us who we are. i argue more for the later.

this is a list of people who have impacted me so greatly that i am who i am because of their work. this is one of those lists that may change every few years or even every few weeks, but tonight, this is mine.

the creators who have created me:

1. Bono

i am one of those annoying, adoring u2 fans. the first time i really listened to the joshua tree, i heard music that i had never heard before. life, death, love, pain. never has a writer better delt with basic human emotion like these songs do. i believe that Bono is the prime example of what a Christian should be. he is not perfect by any means, but his love for people has inspired me to be a better person. why do i want my music heard? is it for me? or is it something bigger? i know that i am bias, and that if bono pooped on a cd, i would still buy it. but this man has earned my trust. Musically, spiritually, and humanly, my iconic hero.

(recommendations : the joshua tree, war, atomic bomb, zooropa)

also 1. Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game is not only the reason that i love to read Sci-Fi, it is the reason i love to read. beyond that, Card's understanding of humanity has helped me understand who i am. the way the people in his life turned Ender into who he became connects with me more than any other work of art ever has. Josiah has recently fallen in love with this series the way i did in the 8th grade. talking with him about it makes me sad. only because i can never read those books for the first time ever again. it is like a first love. the memory is probably more beautiful than the reality actually was, but nonetheless, i still feel like i am Ender. he has become a part of me, and i am better for it.

(recommendations: the entire Ender series, songmaster, enchantment)

3. Jim Henson

there is nothing like the mystery of childhood. Henson created a universe for me that made me dream about bigger things than the world around me. not only that, but the mupet moves are still freakin hilarious to this day

(recommendations: the mupet movie, mupet christmas carol, mupets take manhattan)

4. matt damon/ben affleck

ok, both of these have done some crap as well, but if one work alone can bring someone to this list, these have done it. Good Will Hunting is the most brilliantly written/acted movie that i've seen. i know a lot of snobs would probably disagree, but this stands as my favorite movie of all time. Definitely made me who i am on many levels. side note: this movie also introduced me to eliott smith.

5. Rivers Cuomo

well, once again, i have to somewhat ignore his late career, but the blue album violently ripped me from my christian music bubble. brilliantly crafted songs from start to finish. if i had three wishes, one of them might be to have never heard only in dreams before only so that i could listen to it again for the first time. that song, in my mind, taught me how to love....or i should say, made me want to love.

(recommendations : blue album, pinkerton)

6. lennon/mcartney

more of a slow progression for me, however, as i evalutate my musical journey, the beatles were always a part of it. i remember watching the beatles anthology as a kid and knowing that what i was watching was bordering magic. and today i listen to their songs and know that none like them have yet been written.

(recommendations: white album, abbey road, revolver)

7. Cameron Crowe

his movies play like albums. you can watch them over and over, and it is more about the emotion of what is happening than any individual line, actor, or shot. these movies make me fall in love with life.

(recommendations: almost famous, vanilla sky)

8. C.S. Lewis

i must admit, i am not as well versed in Lewis as i would like to be. but from what i have read by him, i can say that never has spirituality been communicated more clearly on an intellectual level than the words that Lewis has written have. the kind of guy you wish you could have been friends with.

(recommendations: space trilogy, the great divorce, the weight of glory)

9. Chaim Potok

when you read his books, you feel like you are the main character. 'my name is asher lev' has done much to reconcile the desire to create true art with my faith.

(recommendations: the chosen, the promise, my name is asher lev)

10. Jim Carey

a stretch to call an actor a creator, but there must be a reason that i adore every movie i have seen him in. i think a great actor can take a scripted character and add his own elements of creation to bring the character to life. i have never laughed as hard nor cried as hard as i have while watching this man on screen.

(recommendations: dumb and dumber, eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, the truman show)

ok, i hope you stayed with me through this possibly agonizingly long post. i have been working on it for an hour and a half now. just felt a little inspired. feel free to comment, disagree, or share your own influences.

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Ramblin' and Gamblin'



I won 70 dollars playing poker last night. I lost 8 dollars tonight. Im still up..I consider that successful. I didn't like losing 8 dollars... I like winning money. I dont like losing money. What should I do with the money I won.....? I should invest it...no, I should blow it...no, I should put it in my piggie bank..I dont know. What am i talking about? its late....


LATE!!!

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So, let's face it, diets are scams. There is no simple way of becomming skinny fast that doesn't pose serious health risk to your body or create a situation where you will gain back the weight and more the moment you stop the diet. I could lose a few pounds and if I decide to lose those pounds I want to do it in a way that is healthy and will last. Of course I have made attempts, or at least talked about making an attempt at this before, but I really want to do this. Why? Because I know if I don't stop the problem it will most likely get worse. Of course I wouldn't say I am on the slippery slope to morbid obesity, I have lost 20 pounds in the last three months working at QuikTrip, and most of my weight gain can be attributed to my first year of marriage, but I wanted to lose weight before I gained this weight. I am not only interested in losing weight either, I want to be healthy in all aspects of my life; marriage, friendships, intellect, etc. I don't know where this series is going or where it is going to stop, but hopefully I will have worked through some of these ideas on how to live a healthier life.

Pt 1 : Exercise

So we start with a no brainer. I know what you are thinking, "Exercise, duh." But, it has never been that easy for me. I like to exercise, but working my schedule around exercise has been the problem. There are few things that make me happier than a good game of tennis (although I suck), but finding someone to play with consistently has been a problem since high school let out and I am now at the point were a need practice to even be able to play a good game. I also like to walk and jog, but I can always find something to do that I like more than walking or jogging, like blogging, watching the T.V., or hanging out with friends. I guess my problem is not exercising, but getting the motivation to exercise.

Motivation seems to be a problem for me. I often have ideas that I get excited about and then lose all motivation. I have worked out on two of the last three days, but keeping that going after one week, two weeks, etc. will be the real test. There is not much room for discussion here, we all agree that exercise is important and will lead to a heathier life. I need to find a way to motivate myself and set aside time so that I will exercise.

Exercise will lead to a heathier life.

Bonus Discussion Question:

Do you think that it is our responsibility to be healthy? And who are we responsible to?

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I want to recommend to you the podcast of a couple of friends who I have been listening to since podcast one. This is their tenth podcast and they have already interviewed the likes of Mix-Master Doug Pagitt, Tony 'Big Papa' Jones, and now the Godfather Brian McLaren. And if these facts don't make you want to watch it, maybe this endorsement by Dubya himself will convince you. The link is over there...to the right of this post.

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I've worked at QT for almost 3 months now and have seen a few things, but the other morning I had one of the most exciting so far. About 5:45 a.m. a man stumbled into the door during one of my morning rushes with a glazed over look and drool running down his chin. I knew immediately that this was going to get interesting.

I kept helping my customers who were waiting in line because I was the only one in the store at the time and knew if there was a serious problem I could call security or just wait for another one of our managers who would arrive in 10-15 minutes. I watched him walk up to our food module (which would be the counter near the food) and begin to empty all the contents of his pockets onto the module. He counted out some money, proceeded to come up to the counter and tell me he wanted 4.57 in gas for his Harley, but he handed me 5.60. I told him I would put it all out there for him and then he asked if I had a cup so he could get a drink because he was very thirsty. I gave him a small cup and forgot about him for a couple of minutes because of all of my customers. In fact the reason I remembered he was still in my store was when the police came in and asked me what the deal was with the guy who keeps drinking and drinking. I told them that the guy was wasted and they went to go talk to him.

The policemen then began to ask him questions and give him all these test right in the store, which caused all sorts of comments and questions from my customers. They finally decide to take him outside, and I knew full well he was going to be arrested for drunk driving, but there was an added bonus to make it even more exciting, one of the policemen came in and told me that the bike he was riding was a stolen bike. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins knowing that I was part of a big crime bust and that I might even get a reward...okay no reward and I didn't really do anything, but it did make the day a little bit more enjoyable.

The End...til next time...

P.S. I just read this post and realized how horrible my writing is in this particular post, but I don't care.

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Leadership



I was listening to this podcast of an interview with Donald Miller and Derek Webb. the guy who was interviewing them asked them a question concerning "Christian counter-culture," since it seems that these are two who are at the forefront of the current "movement." he implied that when someone writes songs or books, they inherently take on a 'mantle of leadership' for that community. i loved their responses.

Derek's response was that he has no idea what the current "movements" are. he just does the best he can to do the work that he does well, and stay involved in his community in Nashville.

Donald answered more directly with "no." he said that the idea that if you write a book makes you a leader in the church is an idea of culture rather than an idea of the Bible. he said that he considers himslef 25% prophet and 75% writer, and that was it. his job was to engage people in his ideas and stories. he also said that he has written with the idea in mind that you can read the bible for systematic theology, but it was intended to be a relational book.

i loved both of their takes. Derek answered like a musician, Donald answered like a writer, but both with the same principals. neither of them will become something that American Christianity, or the christian market wants them to become.

this question of leadership is something that everyone who is in the limelight is probably dealing with on some level. not that i consider myself to have had anything that resembles the impact that either of these two have, but i can still relate.

when i have played in churches in the past, i feel like i am seen as more of an icon than a person. a little girl literally asked me for my autograph after i lead worship in a service once. i feel like i can't really let them see who i am or i will disappoint them.

why has western christianity, or americans for that matter, put artists on this pedestal. do we discount the Passion of the Christ because Mel Gibson is an alcoholic and possibly anti-Semitic? no. a person's art and a person are two different things. i heard a quote from Amy Grant once that i always think about. Apparently there were theological discrepancies about one of her songs, and when questioned about it, she said that she was a musician not a theologian. theology was not her job.

i play music. i believe in the music that i play. i do not believe however that i am supposed to be anything that i am not. i can only do the best i can with my own walk with God and be honest about that struggle. i think that honestly speaks much louder than having it all together.

recently someone told me about a struggle that they were having. this person probably somewhat looks up to me because of my music. i hope he looks up to me for who i am, but he enjoys my music anyway. when he confided in me, i could have easily taken the stance of 'you know that is wrong...i will be praying for you...look how good i am.' instead i confided in him about things that i struggle with. i think that relationships are much more valuable than 'leadership'...or at least the idea of leadership that we have in our culture today.

musicians, artists, writers...are people. we can only hope that we are daily working out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

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When The President Talks to God



"When The President Talks To God"

When the president talks to God
Are the conversations brief or long?
Does he ask to rape our women’s' rights
And send poor farm kids off to die?
Does God suggest an oil hike
When the president talks to God?

When the president talks to God
Are the consonants all hard or soft?
Is he resolute all down the line?
Is every issue black or white?
Does what God say ever change his mind
When the president talks to God?

When the president talks to God
Does he fake that drawl or merely nod?
Agree which convicts should be killed?
Where prisons should be built and filled?
Which voter fraud must be concealed
When the president talks to God?

When the president talks to God
I wonder which one plays the better cop
We should find some jobs. the ghetto's broke
No, they're lazy, George, I say we don't
Just give 'em more liquor stores and dirty coke
That's what God recommends

When the president talks to God
Do they drink near beer and go play golf
While they pick which countries to invade
Which Muslim souls still can be saved?
I guess god just calls a spade a spade
When the president talks to God

When the president talks to God
Does he ever think that maybe he's not?
That that voice is just inside his head
When he kneels next to the presidential bed
Does he ever smell his own bullshit
When the president talks to God?

I doubt it

I doubt it

This song was written and performed by Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst. Obvioulsy a political message. I dont necessarily want this post to be political in nature, im not much of a politician myself and get pretty lost in politcal jargon. What did strike me about this song is the package Conor chose to wrap his political message; the well-known fact that George W. is a prayin' man. I do thank God for a president who prays. This song brings up a good point though. Agenda driven prayer. I know i have been guilty on many occasions of "praying" to feel more justified in whatever answer I already have. Prayer can be nothing more than an inscrutible defense of faulty reasoning....if one makes it that. Communion with God is tangible and very real, and does give us insight, guidance, and truth. But is it possible to "pray" and not really seek any of those things....or to even attempt real communication. Prayer can be dishonest, insincere, and littered with hidden agendas and selfish motivations. Obviously, because of Oberst's political opinions of George W. Bush, he sees his prayers as inneffective, and only to serve his personal, political gain. Pretty big judgement. Technically possible...but probable?

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I would like to make a short post letting you all in on a band I've been listening to lately and a t.v. show I've been watching lately. So here I go.

Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos

The band first. I don't know if you have heard of these guys lately, I got their CD "The Dust of Retreat" a couple of months ago and I liked it alot, but didn't listen to it very often until the last couple of weeks and I am hooked. You should definetely click on their name above which will send you to their myspace and have a listen for yourself.

Psych.

And now to the show. I downloaded a free pilot of a show on iTunes a week or two ago, watched it, and liked it. The premise of the show is about a kid who grew up with a detective father who made his son learn how to be a detective, now he is grown up and he gets in trouble for something he didn't do and one thing leads to another and he has to pretend to be a psychic and solves all these crimes with the training his father gave him, etc. It is one of the worst ideas for a show, but for some reason I think it works. Please hear me, it is no Arrested Development, not even close, but it is funny and I look forward to the next episode (which will be on USA on Fridays 10/9c).

Please do yourself a frickin' favor and check these out.

Tank

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Honesty. Disagreement. Unity.



First, an honest confession. One of my blogmates, if you will, Chris Mcleod, recently blogged about Anathallo and music in general. He is a brilliant writer, and I hope you ALL have already read his entry, but I must say....i have not. But, really, I will link directly to "view blog" after entering this blog and read it, love it, and soak in the fresh aroma.

I co-lead a "life group" (a small group of people that meet and talk about life. God. Relationships. etc.) for a community im involved with that meets on Saturday nights. Its a good community and a good life group. We JUST got done meeting. It was GREAT! People were disagreeing left and right! One sais that there is no segregation between spiritual and natural, another sais there is, another sais that spiritual disciplines are essential...others say that they are only vaguely important. Anyway, the disagreement was positive. I appreciate people that engage themselves intellectually in their spirituality. I appreciate people that appreciate differing opinions and approaches to spirituality.

The book that spurred all of our discussion is one by the name of "Messy Spirituality," by Michael Yaconelli. Great book. His premise is that we are all "messy" at least to some extent. Spirituality may just look different than what the church has spoon fed us for most of the last century. Spiritual disciplines can be good, sure. They can be great guides to thinking and life application. I want my spirituality to first of all be honest. If I am able to be honest about my own messininess, only then can I be honest with God about my relationship with him. Who would want to be in a relationship with someone who only adheres to a prescribed method of living because it is the "right" and "christian" thing to do. I treat anyone in my life a certain way because I feel obligated to do so. God included. I wont read my Bible, Pray, etc. out of obligation. I will read my Bible and Pray, sure, but it will be because I long so much to know my savior and creator. Bottom line, I will screw shit up. I do. But, I do believe that God knows my heart. I may not know how to love God like I should, or even love people like I should, but damnit Ill try. hard.

Well, if you read this entire blog,kudos. it was very scattered, but just what was on my mind at the end of my life group meeting. If you care or if anything i said spurrs a response in you....comment. let me know what you think......

Give peace a chance.

MJosiah

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Feeing bored, inspired, and alone, i devoted myself to attempt to fully comprehend and grasp the album that has been changing me for months now. I made a playlist with the four parts of Hanasakajijii in their proper order from Anathallo’s “Floating World.” I first read the Japanese folk story included in the liner notes. I then put on my best ear phones and began the journey.

After my attempt, feeling almost as confused about these songs as when I started, i played the rest of the record. I then searched online reviews and blogs to look for someone else’s interpretation but found none. Has no one else yet tried to explain what this album is about?

Is the dog supposed to be God? who am i supposed to be? Maybe I’m the wicked man killing out of my own selfishness. Or maybe God is the good man, and he brings life through...the dog? Or maybe the dog represents Christ, but he bruises the heel of the wicked man. Doesn’t quite line up with the Biblical account.

I guess my modern mind likes to easily label even things of symbolic substance. I want it to easily fit within my understanding of life, learn something beneficial, and move on with my day. It is scary to admit that I don’t understand something. It gets in the way of my pride, so in my own defense I lash back at the artist and think things like “he’s trying too hard” or “too confusing.”

But the fact remains that something about this art stirs me. It makes me want to stand up and shout how beautiful this world is.

Music has the ability to travel beyond our knowledge into the depths of the unknown. Lyrical content and our modern spiritual boxes of understanding are not the only things that can change us. Before you sleep tonight, sit in your dark room with a candle lit, and play Sigur Ros’ “Track 4.” Then you will understand what I am driving at.
Music is to be experienced, felt, and mysterious.

About a week ago, i was riding in the car with my mom and sister listening to the country radio. A song came on that had some reference to something spiritual, and my 15 year old sister said that it was a “Christian” song. My ears heard the catch phrase and could not resist a conversation. I asked her what a Christian song was, and she said something to the effect that a Christian song was a song that had lyrics that “glorified God” that was sung by a Christian. I asked her about classical music (she being a classical pianist). “What about Mozart? Is that Christian music?” She said that instrumental music was in a different category, and that it was the lyrics that made the song a Christian song.

It made me sad that she was conditioned by popular Christian culture to think this way. My sister Joy spends probably between 4 and 8 hours a day at a piano bench. She is playing songs at the age of 15 that many pianists play for the senior recitals at Universities. She loves it too. She gets so excited about the songs that she plays, and so nervous when she plays recitals, and so alive while she is creating such beautiful sounds. For her to believe that the music that she was playing was even remotely outside of the realm of worship and “glorifying God” was heart breaking.

Worship has been classified as a musical style. I think that the biggest change in church music from last century to this, is that no thought is required to understand the songs that we sing. There is no room for growth or knowledge or understanding. We just want to get pumped up before the message.

“All that is good comes from God”

This is hardly an album review as much as it is a soap box. However I encourage you to not only soak up “Floating World” and gleam what you can from it, but to also not settle for less than pure and thoughtful music. Beware of separating and categorizing music into easy, comfortable boxes. And never be afraid to learn new things, and question old things.

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Welcome to a new experiement in blogging for me (Tank), and some of the first blogging for a couple of my friends (Josiah and Chris). I have read a blog for a little while now called liquidthinking which I don't know much about how it started, but I liked the idea of a group of people blogging. So here finally is my, or I should say our, endeavor into group blogging. We might add more people as we go, but who knows for sure. We would love this to be a place of great coversation and friendships. If you want to be one of our friends just leave a comment saying something about wanting to be our friend and I will gladly put you on our friend list and maybe we can dialogue on each other blogs and what-not. I am excited about blogging with my two fellow men because I think they have better things to say and better ways to say them than I could ever hope to achieve and hopefully together we can wrestle through some things. So, without further ado I give you 'atypical spirituality'.

P.S. I'm really crappy at introductions, but I'm really good at not introductions.

Tank

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