I’ve had these dreams.

For a long time, I’ve had these dreams. Rock and roll. Music-making. Art. The Creative Life.

Things got in the way: lots of them. Got married (no regrets, but we married before we knew each other, and hence ourselves, and a lot of drama and tragedy and missteps ensued), had children, tried a “safe” career, got debt, got out of debt…

All of these couple with the fact that I was probably never healthy enough for it in the first place. As my loving sister (who will no doubt read this) said emphatically (though lovingly), “Maybe you’re just not healthy enough for success!”

On top of that, I’ve never been the most, um, driven person in my family. Lots of talent, no drive. That’s the rap on Eric. The only thing I ever had was this deep-rooted, concrete-stubborn streak to never. Let. Go. Of. The. Dream.

Well, after making music inside the wall of a church for about 10 years now, I’ve slowly become healthy (and driven) enough to venture—seriously—outside. Got a group of guys together who simultaneously push and protect me, both relationally and creatively, and we made a record…

And I started to dream.

I saw it all laid out before me: a business built, a ministry that trades in transcendance and art and music. Five guys who should have never been a band but somehow came together and even though they almost broke up once a week managed to stick it out and make some decent tunes.

I saw my dream.

And so we made a “plan,” and we started to follow it.

And now, things are starting to happen.

+ A friend of ours, who owns the place we record, has now decided to give—that’s right, G-I-V-E the studio to us because he respects what we could possibly do with the gear. Bam, into our lap. A studio worth tens of thousands of dollars. (No exaggeration).

+ In five days, we leave for a two-day trip to Nashville—where we will play a Friday night show in a good room, and then to Chicago where will play a Saturday night show in a great room. We are taking ads out on Facebook, we are pursuing media coverage.

I feel like I am getting the chance I’ve always wanted. For once in my life, everything is lining up, and I seem to able to say, “The ball is in my court.” I can show people what is in my heart, what I was “meant” for (no sermons from the Believers out there, please; I know what I was really meant for).

… And now I am nervous as hell.

What if I’m really not that good? What if I really am too old, too insecure. What if this is the only way that God could have me understand that this door in my life, this chapter, should’ve been opened/written a long time ago, and that I need to just be a family man, and raise my children and love my wife?


So I fight against the tendency to self-sabotage, the broken shard inside me (largely, I believe, inherited from my mother) to just see the worst thing that can happen, and then wait for it.

I fight against the tendency to just freak out, and tense up so much that it will be impossible for me to bring my strengths to the table this week (and beyond).

I fight against the tendency to overreact, to throw the baby out with the bath water, on the odd chance that we fail.

The ball is in my court.

This is what I’ve been waiting for?


Interesting phenomenon going on here at our little faith community.

Like most churches, we are consumed with dollars: What's the budget doing? Why are people not giving? How can we get them to give them more? or in a more timely manner? or consistent with our budget?

Maybe that's not fair, but alas we are, indeed, behind budget to the tune of about $20k. Nobody's freaking out here (because we know there's an author in the community who regularly tithes a $10 - 20k royalty check in the spring - how messed up is it that we know that?), but we are preparing to start bringing to this the larger community's attention.

But in the meantime, a strange thing is going on...

We have a fund that exists outside of our general budget. We maintain it for people who fall on unexpected hard times. Very much birthed out of Acts 2 in the bible: all the believers sharing out of their wealth and blessings with those who had needs. If someone is in need in our community, they answer a few questions, and a few mature people make a determination whether or not the church can/should respond to those needs. For most months since I've been at this community, the fund has limped along at a couple of hundred dollars, which was enough to help someone with a car repair or something like that.

But lately, it's been growing. Mind you, it's not really publicized or pushed from the "platform". Some people know that it's there, and that's about it. Yet, week in and week out for about the past 6 weeks, as our budget has been falling further and further behind, it has grown to about $10 thousand dollars. TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, freely given for needs.

I have two reactions to this. First, I am exceedingly proud of our community for taking initiative to take care of our own. Second, however, it forces uncomfortable questions into my mind. JESUS questions. GOSPEL questions. Like, "What does this say about people's attitude towards the church, and giving to its work?" I mean, if the measure of a a person values can be found in his or her pocketbook, it's awesome that they value helping those in need, but is it also a cautionary tale about our bloated programming budgets and hefty salaries?

What is God trying to tell us through this community's giving, and how can the church get behind it and/or join with it? To date, we've almost been talking about it like it's a problem: "Why won't they give this money to the general budget?' That's the most terrifying thing. We treat it like a problem.

I think God is trying to hint at something that he wants to do in His Kingdom.



What if we had a war, and we tore into each other for a season, only to find at the then we were more real and had a more concrete existence then we had before? What if battle had this unexpected outcome: that our masks were destroyed in the collateral damage, and we were left securely naked and approachable to each other?

What if we had a fight like cats and dogs and ripped and tore the false flesh from our bones, exposing the beautiful mess underneath, bleeding and honest?

For most, the alternative is best: a comfortable peace, an armistice born of cowardice and fear of seeing one another’s faults and failures. Most rest in this uneasy peace while our loved ones disappear and fade before out eyes, until the one we attempt to embrace is a vapor and a mist.

But what if we had a war?


Then we’d learn who we really are, our best moves and secret silences. Our sneak attacks and vicious faces, unable to conceal the raw anger and flesh that accompanies humanity.

What if we had a war?

Then at the end we’d fall exhausted to the floor and hold each other in the middle of this life alone.

Gods and generals would govern our drilling, marching us on into a field of friendly fire.

What if we had a war?

Then we’d enrich the pockets of our hearts.


How to make a record for free.

We just made a record for free. No, really, for free. It doesn’t really sound like a “free” record. That’s the cool part.

We are lucky to have some really talented friends, one of which lives inside a studio. Or a studio lives in his house. Whatever. At any rate, we tracked drums there, and then we took our little computer box of files to our homes and started plugging away. Guitars at Josh’s house; vocals, more guitars, banjo and percussion at mine. After all that, we picked up our little computer box again and went back to the studio and it was mixed and then mastered.

It defies the odds: no sanitized rooms with exquisite wood paneling and bass traps (well, a couple in the studio). We just took mostly reasonable mics and stuck them in front of amps and cut loose.

You know how we did it?

We played. Just. Played.

I believe in technology; I believe in using it and abusing it for all it’s worth, bending circuits and stretching processing power (btw, it doesn’t really stretch – that’s a metaphor).

But I also believe – and this band believes – in the sheer ability and power of five people sitting down in a room together to play notes and listen to each other and capture the art that flies by. Tone comes from your fingers and your heart.


It’s not cool in the entertainment/music business to admit insecurities.

We are expected to emerge as fully-blown myths, creative titans that go away and cook up intoxicating dishes of escapism that help people transcend their lives. We are supposed to be focused assholes, existing on the power of our unrestrained egos. Even those of us who choose to be vulnerable are sometimes simply wallowing in the power of their own self-pity.

But that is so far from the truth, and so I’m going to pray.

God, I really don’t know what I’m doing…

I’m almost 40 years old, and I’ve begun a band, an enterprise that most 26-year olds are already too old for.

Twelve months ago I was so sure: that somehow this was/is what I was made for. Parker Palmer says that “vocation” lives in the place where your deepest joy and the world’s deepest need meet. My world needs transcendence and pastoral music. My deepest joy is to play music and lead people.

But now, Lord, I am 10 months into this, and I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. We are about to drive 16 hours to play a 75 minute set, and though I thought I understood what the “point”—the strategy—was, but I am riddled with self-doubt.

What is this enterprise going to cost me, and can I pay it? Nights away from my family? Distraction from my “other job”. Hours of sleep (8? Puh-lease!).

So God, I am asking You to continue to lead. The good news is that Maida Vale is now bigger and more dynamic than anything I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we’re capable of. But I am spinning and drowning, overwhelmed by the multiple “wings” and arms of our business and ministry.

I need focus, and I also (selfishly) ask you to do a mighty, unexpected, undeserved work in our midst. A song in a movie, a critic who hears something, a casual mention on a music blog. Anything that would help us to “leapfrog” the levels of this business that I should’ve been navigating 13 years ago.

And protect my family. Guard my marriage and children, and keep my mind focused, alert, and safe.

I’m thankful for this group of guys; I’m thankful that we were able to make a record that represents so much of the artistic vision of the band; I’m thankful that we’ve gotten breaks already.

But I’m hopeful for more. I know it’s more than I deserve. I just wanted to be honest.


Tonight I finished (mostly) two songs.

Revisited one that I’ve been working on for about a month and then hit on another one that’s been stewing for about a year. Funny thing, songs: some of them emerge like unexpected blooms over night; others buck and fight for days and months. Most of the time you give up when you can’t get the rhyme just right or (in my case) the story gets too loose and obtuse.

But you just don’t let go of them. Put ‘em down for a while, and turn aside and then come again from a different angle, a different perspective. Maybe it’s a groove, maybe it’s a new chord change. Just be patient and be aware of when to wrestle that sucker to the ground, and when to let him wander off like Sasquatch and wait for another chance to capture its secret, its essence.

How do you know when it’s done?

I know when I can sing it and I don’t get to a phrase or a line and pause and wonder, “Is that it?” I know when it just feels bulletproof, when the lyrics start to take a life of their own. They tell their own story, start to speak for themselves.


Okay now we're REALLY done.

To studio on Friday night. 9:30pm start time to review tracks and prepare for mastering. 4 hours later, we are still reviewing, trapped inside the rabbit trails of guitars that are too loud and drums that have no crack and pop.

We argue.

We drink a beer (or two).

We argue some more.

We sweat.

Six hours later, we are crafting and nudging our little sonic babies until we sit in rapt silence and glimpse a shot of the glory, enfolded in cascading notes and rhythms.

This is what the kingdom is. This is why we do what we do.

Only a few more days, kids.

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Going back again
To the end of the beginning
Of the end

And ashes fortify
Twenty-five parking lots and unplanned twilights

Vacancies, vacancies
Truant children wait upon exit wounds
Pulling the chain up

Bitter green vines
Choking the illusion of new life
As a dollop of breath
Sinks into the deep brown underground.

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I've been stolen!


A Poem...

Speak, the Voice

Did your
voice, calling from eternity
penetrate the pallid skin,
moving the tiny, dead bones
of the world of sound?

Did the
command, flying through reality
incise the shadow,
splitting the curtain
that divides?

“Come out,” you said – and still say,
coaxing us out of our freshly dug
that hold us gentle, faithful,
and insidious.

Will I wake?

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Why I may not be a Christian…

Who is this guy that I follow?

What does my faith mean?

What do my every day actions have to do with those pesky red letters?

He says, “Sell everything you own and give it to the poor.”

I really want a Wii

He says, “The first will be last.”

I like being first.

I was “saved” a few years back—multiple times, in fact—but I’ve always wondered, “saved for what?”

For another church’s capital campaign?

As an insurance policy?

I was saved into His Kingdom. But what do I do for that Kingdom, besides take up space?