Monthly Archives: July 2009

yesssss! (soul-junk news)


this

is the best news I’ve had in times!!! Not only is the new souljunk album 1960 out soon, but they’re gonna re-release all the old souljunk-albums on sounds familyre!!!

Thank You!!!

Thank You mr. Galaxy and Mr Smith!!! and all other good people…

To celebrate; here is the Bram Cools version of my favorite soul-junk song… One of my many favorite songs that is…

enjoy

Bram

Derek Webb’s controversy


So I’ve been listening to the supposed ‘controversial’ new Derek Webb single ‘What matters more’. And I was totally shocked… Check it for yourself:

YEs I am really shocked when I heard that song! Really, does he really mean that??? What an awful stupid way to ruin a great song with such a terrible arrangement… sorry Derek, the electronics don’t work for me… sounds to cheap to me, or too empty, don’t know, and it ruins the beauty of the voice. But maybe that’s just me…

Now about the controversy… what’s that about? I don’t understand the whole shit-thing. Maybe a cultural issue, but why even bother about such a word? Americans are really weird people… Remember, all you americans: We in this part of the world have learned to use the S- and the F-word from your great culture… We use them all the time, and no-one gives a bleep… It all is so inconsistent to us. why would anyone be offended by a word that just means poop?

It’s a weird cultural issue. No, a subcultural one really, from some weird conservative kind of ghetto… Frankly, I way am more shocked by this kind of sensitivities than I could ever be by the lyrics of this particular song…

But then again, the Christian music industry is just weird…

The weird thing is some people just are reacting against the use of that one word, and then they don’t even listen to the message. Which is something that should be heard I affraid… But maybe I shouldn’t go in that discussion and just qoute Brian McLaren’s response when asked about gay marriage: ‘You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there’s no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side.’

Gays are not the enemy, hate is.
satan is.
pride is.
and stuff like judgementalism and legalism and farrizeism…

Oh and check out my little song I made with some Shane claiborne samples… (Hope he doesn’t mind…): can’t find a home

shalom

Bram

happy 2nd Annual International Hug a Calvinist Day!!


Today, the 10th of July, is the 2nd Annual International Hug a Calvinist Day…

if you’re predestined to do that that is…

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=97140832129&ref=mf

shalom

Bram

christians and cross-gender friendships


One of the things of american christianity, which sometimes get copied in this part of europe but seems totally alien to me, is the way some people seem affraid of the other sex, and use theology to justify that.

Now, I do know some people just can’t get along with the other sex. In working class circles I noticed that there sometimes was a really large gap between the sexes that I could not understood, but I always noticed that such a disconnection was almost always paired to a porn-like objectification of the female. which is very evident: the more you treat female humans as sex objects, the less you will relate to them as human beings that you can be friends with… So I’m not that surprised when that kind of men would tell me that it’s impossible for them to be just friends with a woman. It is a deep and grave wound in their sexual human-ness, but totally understand, even though it’s sad and evil and it does no goed for man neither woman and brings lots of hurt to both…

But I’ve always seen Christianity as something which goes beyond that, something which bridges the gap between the sexes (‘in Christ there is male nor female’…) and cures the disconnections bethween people. But some people seem to totally disagree with that. I know some ‘true love waits’ type of people disapprove of being alone with the other sex at all, just like some ministries have rules for pastors to never be alone with someone of the other sex. Like this one from saddleback church. For reasons of temptation or reputation if you’d be seen with someone and stuff… But all of this looks so cramped in my eyes….

My whole life is opposed to that anyway, I am the kind of guy who sometimes makes friends with girls more easily than with other guys, even though the girls I like to be friends with are not the type of girl I would be romantically interested in. (Except for one interesting exception, who is now my wife…) I like to be friends with girls and women, and nothing of that did substantially change when I passed from celibate singleness into a relationshop into marriage, au contraire: she likes about me that I see girls and women as humans to be friends with, and not just sexuals things that could tempt me or that I could sexual fantasies about or something like that. Yike! Women are people to be friends with, and sisters in Christ.

In the end, doesn’t common sense and basic ethics tell us that we should consider every woman as a sister, mother, or daughter, depending on age? Or am I too naieve in thinking such things are a matter or logic? maybe I am. Maybe the disconnect is rooted too deep in our societies, and it may be growing with the explosion of porn and R&B-videos…

But still: that has nothing to do with Jesus And reading through the bible I see Jesus also acting against all that cross-gender paranoia. Jesus breaks all taboos when talkin (alone!) to the samaritan woman at the well: a rabbi doesn’t speak to women, and a jew doens’t speak to a samaritan, and one does not speak to people with the sexual history she has when one wants te be respected. That kind of logic is what I recognise in the Saddleback story, but it’s exactly what Jesus opposes.

Besides, I find it sexist and degrading, the idea that being with someone from the other sex should be considered unsafe. Very insulting even if I would be a woman offering to drive some speaker to somewhere, and he would refuse for that reason. Even autistic maybe. But totally unchristlike. Indeed Christ would not be hired at all in such ministry with the attitude he had towards women, if we look at the samaritan woman, and his friendship with Maria and Martha…

I still don’t get the christian intersexual disconnect, it is totally alien to me, and every time I read things suggesting that it is a controversial subject, like this zoecarnate blog-post, I am amazed again.

May we all learn to love…

shalom

Bram

ps:  for people interested in the subject, I do recommend the blog of Dan Brennan, who writes a lot about cross-gender friendships and related subjects from a somewhat post-evangelical perspective…

american synchretism


hi readers all over the world (if you exist at all…) this is another rant from me…
Like I said, sometimes I feel like an alien. That applies to my own secular belgian culture and the evangelical and pentacostel churches I know alike, but it applies even more to some ‘christian subculture’ from other places that I sometimes encounter, which may be promoted as the one and only real christianity in its purest form, or something like that…

Take for example the american evangelicalism. Some of its culture and tradition is very weird to me, and focussing on very irrelevant details which mostly distract from the gospel instead of bringing people closer to Jesus’ eternal Kingdom… Like Marc Driscolls macho-sexism, or the patriotism interwoven in some forms of american christianity, or the whole pragmatic approach to evangelism which seems more like world conformity than anything else. I don’t buy any of it, and though some of it may be cute and harmless, I am affraid that lots of this kind of synchretism are very harmful to the gospel.

And if the church culture you are in in a middle european country is a bad imitation of some american church culture that wouldn’t even be relevant in its own surrounding would, then something is wrong.

We have to contextualise the gospel our way. We don’t have to repeat the irrelevant mistakes of another culture in ours because lots of evangelical and pentacostel churches have american roots. That’b be a very bad idea. We have to get to learn Jesus Christ as the way, the Truth and the Light, and make that true in our own life. And we have to find a way to contextualise that in our own world. We don’t have to use language and structures from another time (when they did still work) or another continent (where I hope they work) to our own culture to bring the gospel.

We have to live the gospel, bring the gospel, and let christ transform our (sub)culture and change our life… And it is unavoidable to have a certain degree of ‘synchretism’ when we are ‘everything to everyone’, or american to the americans, goth to the goths, african to the africans, flemish to the flemish people, to paraphrase Paul. But we as europeans do not need the enlightened american culture to understand the gospel… We need more Jesus, and less hypes, less consumer-capitalistic synchretism, less weird fundamentalism,…

More Jesus, more Father, more Spirit in our lives!!!

shalom

Bram

I’m an alien


hi imaginary readers:

a confession; I’m an alien on this planet sometimes… My own secular post-catholic belgian culture is not mine, but the evangelical and pentacostel churches I’ve grown up in all feel strange to me too. It feels like I never belong anywhere for a 100%.

I don’t fit in in any segment of this society. I’m bored of the status-quo and safety obsessions of the middle class. I’m hardly survived the mentality of the working class when I was working among them for 2 years, and I’m still puzzled by that. It might just be very evil of me, or I’m just too different from the people I was working with, I don’t know. I know I am kinda intellectual, but most of people who go by that label just irritate the peanuts out of me. I don’t have much experience with real rich people, and upper-class stuff, but again I would most likely be bored to death among them… I guess I’m some kind of artist, or wannabe-artist, I don’t know. I don’t fit in.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love people who are inide the categories I described… Au contraire,… I love all kind of people, and even those I don’t like I’ll try to understand and love, and find any common ground with them… Only that might cost me lots of energy…

On the internet I can read lots of stuff, from any kind of writer in any tradition, subculture, or whatever. So I can read what I like, and I don’t even notice most of what I don’t like. That must have it’s advantages, but yet I’m still only moving in my vague segment (whatever that is) without seeing the big bad world outside… Maybe that’s not the best idea either…

I don’t know much, I don’t understand much of this alien planet. But I’m glad that one thing did work out for me: The relationship I’m in is a present from God. If I had to imagina myself a wife I would never have come up with anywthing close to her :p (that might just be a lack of imagination, though on the most areas people say I have too much imagination…) And even though it will never be perfect, the most amazing thing is that it is just a shadow and a vague reflection of something beyond what I can imagine!

YEs, then there is something beyond this world that I know I belong with. or Someone, te be precise. The wholly Other Trancendent and yet Omnipresent, Alpha & Omega, whom I know through Christ Jesus, the one I want to follow. I know He’s the One I belong with. And yet I run off into the nothingness so easily… I get distracted by the opium for the people the new media offer me. Or I just get lost in my own head… How I can be distracted from the Lover, compared to whose love the whole world is just something that could be dissolved in a glass of water, is one of the most dark mysteries, but it’s like that, and that’s the way it is..

And all the time He’s there. Calling me into His Kingdon that is at hand, but which still will only be fully realised at the consummation of all time. Which is beyond my mind, but I know that’s where I belong. And I know that all sense of home that I have in this world somewhere relates to Him, and His Creation, which still points at His greatness is so many ways… And this Kingdom could never be  forced into our human categories without losing it’s essence…

so maybe I should be the alien…
shalom

Bram

blast from the past 3: Love is the first Law!


One last old blogpost from myself, but I think it is an important one… As a soundstrack I would propose the half-handed cloud album ‘we haven’t just been told, we have been loved’, but that one is not listenable on the internet as far as I know… (so buy it, it’s defenitely worth it!!) or my song ‘feelings say nothing’, see the introducing paragraph to my first ‘blast from the past‘ post (including the warning), since the post was named after the other title of that song. Another proposed song is the beautiful  ‘words can’t’ by my friend AdiVa which can be heard at her myspace.

wednesday, december 06, 2006
title: Love is the first Law!!!
originally posted on http://www.myspace.com/bramc
Love is the first Law, the first law of everything, the one that should be obeyed above all, even the first law of the bible: Both Paul and Jesus do summarise the whole law in ‘love your neigbor as youself!! If you love God, and your fellow human and yourself, then the law is fulfilled! If you just try to keep any law but have no love then it’s all useless…
The only way to really live is to give up yourself and give yourself to the other, and the Other!! Self-satisfaction does not satisfy anyone… If you seek only yourself, you will find yourself empty, but if you give yourself, you will live!!
Love is not just a feeling. It is much deeper than our emotions, our feelings are just an expression of it… Love can be also a choice we have to rely on when our feelings do not want to co-operate…
The other forces of this world are seeking the self and will finally end up in emptiness, like power and money. Sex is a lie unless you truly give yourself to the other, and do not take yourself back as long as you’re both alive… Love is the only thing that matters!!!
love and peace
Bram

blast from the past 2: these are the days of great distraction…


This is another repost of one of the few attempts I once had to use my myspace as a blog…  A bit older, and I wasn’t married yet at the moment.. For a soundtrack I would propose some great psalters music, like the songs we are all lepers here and the turn me round slave song. More of their songs can be downloaded @ psalters.org > media.

thursday, januari 04, 2007
title: these are the days of great distraction…
originally posted on http://www.myspace.com/bramc
The city is dark tonight; I’m all alone right now with a messy room and this old crappy computer… So much things that I should do, and what do I do? nothing… It takes me more than one day to clean up this 3 little rooms that I have in this new home in the big city, it takes me forever to do just nothing…
I pick up an old comick, I read it, I chat on MSN, I walk around, I eat something, I do nothing… I could be playing or recording music, I could be writing, I could be drawing, I could be reading… I could be praying, I could be helping friends, I could be loving… But right now the nothingness is calling me to waste my time, waste precious time and energy… And I just give in… Sometimes the devil does not come with sex and drugs and rock’n roll… The results are the almost same. I’m half part of the machine, half sucked into notingness, and as a whole I’m not being what I’m meant to be…
It’s not that I’m unemployed right now; work is just another distraction most of the time!! People ask you ‘what are you doing’ and then expect me to say my job or what I’m studying… As if those meaningless jobs are our identity… As if the way you make money is what you are… What are you doing? Just making money and waiting till the day is over, watching TV, falling asleep,…
All of this, it’s all just distractions. meaningless and chasing of raindrops…
An old radiohead live only songs plays in my head ‘I’m not living, I’m just being lived… What’s the title again? ‘true love waits’? Well the time for waiting should be over… True love is to be lived, and nothing else matters!!! True life is to be lived, and otherwise it’s not worth a thing. If we are alive without being living we are insulting the One who gave us life!!! Like I’ve been doing today!!!!
I’m far away from God, I’m far away from the people who need my love, I’m far away from God… I’m far from living…
Oh If I could just be a who God made me to be, a lover to my lover, a true friend to my friends, oh if I could only love God above all and my neighbor as myself, oh if I could make LOVE the center of this life… Right now I’m still living in the great distractions… I’m stuck bethween nothingness and the machine right now… Let it end tonight!!!!!
Oh God, I need to LIVE!!! WAKE ME UP!!!
shalom
Bram

the fossilisation of Christian tradition…


so what’s the core of Christianity? Go to 10 different Christians and there are 10 different stories. Go to 10 churches and you get maybe 10 different ways of telling it. Which is not necessarily a problem: everybody has his own unique way of telling the story that is much bigger than us… Everybody has his own context, in which God intervenes in another way. The things Christ done on earth were already so much that all the books of the world could contain them, so what about what He’s done in all those places in all those years after that…

I think all christians agree that we have the bible, but then the next question is: what should we do with it? how should we read id? And then we take this verse here, and this idea there, and build theologies on them… And in the end we come with some systemathic theology or some fundamentals and stuff. and no it’s not an exact translation of the bible into our systemathic thinking, but it mostly can be proved with this, verse here, and then this verse, so it’s biblical. And so it’s important… Problem is that pastor A sys X; and church B says Y, and theology C says Z, and they are all not compatible and yet al very biblical… And that’s when christianity gets very exhausting: you have to be very unhealthily post-modern to accept all these stories that are all built on ‘the truth of the bible’ as equally true and all leading to the God of the bible…  And on the other hand it is very unhealthily modern to think that these 5 point or this list of dogmas is all there is to say about the gospel, and that it would totally sum up the bible…

Now, it’s true that every time and culture has its own contextualisation of the gospel. he gospel must be explained in terms the people can understand, and lived in a way that Christians can be salt and light in that particular place where they are…

Something new happens, and maybe God does something, and people built their own structures around that. I guess that’s unavoidable ti a certain degree, but the problem is that in the end the structures and systems take over, and the dynamics get static, and in the end the Holy Spirit has no place to move anymore (so He may start a totally new movement in this stagen totally opposed to the old one…) But the old tradition then is in danger of just getting fossilised…

So in this 2000 years we have accumulated fossilised tradition. I won’t say that a lot of it is initially started as a movement of the Spirit itself, but lots of it are not relevant anymore, and more of an obstacle between us and Christ than that they’re very helpfull… What to do with them?

I would say that all that does not lead to a life closer to the following of Christ should not be given too much time and credit… We should worship God, and not try to just uphold any human tradition…

So maybe it’s always time to rethink all those old ‘fundamentals’ and ‘lists of doctrines’ from older ages that may be based on the bible (but also on a historical context. That’s what I like about fresh expressions that I meet in the blogosphere like ‘the doctrines of grace‘ (the acronym BEERS instead of the old ‘calvinistic’ TULIP) or the ‘five fundamergent fundamentals’. We need that, if we want the bible to be living and if we don’t wat to get fossilised…

Now one note: the other opposite of fossilised tradition is as evil. We have to see that we stand in that Big Tradition, and that we need it, even when there are dangers attached to it. If we throw everything over board and we try to reinvent the wheel and the warm water we are really really really stupid too. Surely we can and should learn from all those Christians and followers of Jesus in other times and places. But we should never let one tradition be absolute. The incarnation of Gods will in Jesus, not a human construction of ideas and practices…

shalom

Bram

blast from the past 1: work, sex, love and God…


hi all you imaginary readers;

Since  I’m starting with using this english blog, so I thought it could be interesting to repost some older posts I made on some other sites. This one is from the few attempts I once had to use my myspace as a blog, from april 21, 2007, not too long after my marriage. for a soundtrack listen to my songs the beauty in this innocence and  feelings say nothing (love is the first law) which can be downloaded free from last.fm (Warning: crappy lo-fi and weird music!!)

date: saturday, april 21, 2007
title: work, sex, love and God…
originally posted on http://www.myspace.com/bramc

and Oh yeah…

My life has been changing so fast: I’m a grown-up man now… I’ve got a job, I’ve got a wife… I’ve made it now!! I’m someone finally would some people say… And yet I’m wondering, wondering about something, as if I’m missing something, maybe missing everything…

Oh yeah, work is important. When people ask you what you do to earn money they might even derive your identity from the answer… I basicaly just take care for the green in the city because I need the money to live with my little family… But I’m happy with this job because at least I do something that makes the world a little better… even if it’s just about working with plants and trees in this city…

Hmm… I once collected bags of garbage on the street formy money, and it was maybe the most useful thing I ever did for which I did to get paid! If people would not do that for some weeks the world would be a big garbage belt!!! Sometimes the most dirty jobs are more important than the big jobs people look up to in this world… But hey, doctors and teachers were slaves in the roman empire…

I don’t believe that a ‘job’ should be your identity… it is important to do things that make the diference… Paid or unpaid… Am I the guy who does the lawn in the stuyvenbergpark, or an I the weirdo who sings ‘father I am tired’, a song of which people tell me they can relate to, but of which i’ve never made any money. Or am I just the friend, the lover, the guy who tries to be a follower of Christ? I don’t know :s

All I wanna be known for is the love that I give!!!! The rest should be just details!!!

about sex then… It is so over-hyped in this world, but I’ve never been interested in it the way the world sells it. I never experienced it that way either…

Call me naieve for my perception of it, but here’s my point of view on sex: I’ve been single all my of life, and I had never even kissed a girl before I started the relationship with she who is my wife now… People don’t believe me when I tell it but it feels natural to me, just to discover everything together… she’s my best friend, she’s my lover, she’s the biggest present God ever gave me, and she will never be replaceable. I am very well aware that such a thing can only happen once in a lifetime. And that it sounds alien to lots of people too if you tell about such thing…

Love is something weird: It is strange when someone really loves you like she loves me… It is strange when she knows everything about you, including all the dark thangs that you hate about yourself, and still loves you more than you can understand… The Eros stuff is just a part of it, and the love would still be there without sex and it would still be complete in a sexless world… Sex is a part of our relationship, and because it is something we have discovered together, it can only be a part of me and her, and not something on itself… And still it is just an expression of something deeper… It is giving yourself, litterally becoming one, and being so vulnerable without being hurt….

When you are loved in such a complete way, and then you feel at the same that God does love you with a love even bigger than this love which seems to be beyond compare and in which you float away, you cannot do a thing but just drown in it…

Love is what matters… Not money, not your job, not sex… Love is the first law!!! The love that you have given will be what matters in the end!!!!

shalom

Bram