Tuesday, November 30, 2004

NY Times and John Stott

This is from the NY Times op-ed today...well said indeed!

by David Brooks

Tim Russert is a great journalist, but he made a mistake last weekend. He included Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton in a discussion on religion and public life.

Inviting these two bozos onto "Meet the Press" to discuss that issue is like inviting Britney Spears and Larry Flynt to discuss D. H. Lawrence. Naturally, they got into a demeaning food fight that would have lowered the intellectual discourse of your average nursery school.

This is why so many people are so misinformed about evangelical Christians. There is a world of difference between real-life people of faith and the made-for-TV, Elmer Gantry-style blowhards who are selected to represent them. Falwell and Pat Robertson are held up as spokesmen for evangelicals, which is ridiculous. Meanwhile people like John Stott, who are actually important, get ignored.

It could be that you have never heard of John Stott. I don't blame you. As far as I can tell, Stott has never appeared on an important American news program. A computer search suggests that Stott's name hasn't appeared in this newspaper since April 10, 1956, and it's never appeared in many other important publications.

Yet, as Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center notes, if evangelicals could elect a pope, Stott is the person they would likely choose. He was the framer of the Lausanne Covenant, a crucial organizing document for modern evangelicalism. He is the author of more than 40 books, which have been translated into over 72 languages and have sold in the millions. Now rector emeritus at All Souls, Langham Place, in London, he has traveled the world preaching and teaching.

When you read Stott, you encounter first a tone of voice. Tom Wolfe once noticed that at a certain moment all airline pilots came to speak like Chuck Yeager. The parallel is inexact, but over the years I've heard hundreds of evangelicals who sound like Stott.

It is a voice that is friendly, courteous and natural. It is humble and self-critical, but also confident, joyful and optimistic. Stott's mission is to pierce through all the encrustations and share direct contact with Jesus. Stott says that the central message of the gospel is not the teachings of Jesus, but Jesus himself, the human/divine figure. He is always bringing people back to the concrete reality of Jesus' life and sacrifice.

There's been a lot of twaddle written recently about the supposed opposition between faith and reason. To read Stott is to see someone practicing "thoughtful allegiance" to scripture. For him, Christianity means probing the mysteries of Christ. He is always exploring paradoxes. Jesus teaches humility, so why does he talk about himself so much? What does it mean to gain power through weakness, or freedom through obedience? In many cases the truth is not found in the middle of apparent opposites, but on both extremes simultaneously.

Stott is so embracing it's always a bit of a shock - especially if you're a Jew like me - when you come across something on which he will not compromise. It's like being in "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," except he has a backbone of steel. He does not accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, and of course he believes in evangelizing among nonbelievers. He is pro-life and pro-death penalty, even though he is not a political conservative on most issues.

Most important, he does not believe truth is plural. He does not believe in relativizing good and evil or that all faiths are independently valid, or that truth is something humans are working toward. Instead, Truth has been revealed. As he writes:

"It is not because we are ultra-conservative, or obscurantist, or reactionary or the other horrid things which we are sometimes said to be. It is rather because we love Jesus Christ, and because we are determined, God helping us, to bear witness to his unique glory and absolute sufficiency. In Christ and in the biblical witness to Christ God's revelation is complete; to add any words of our own to his finished work is derogatory to Christ."

Politicians, especially Democrats, are now trying harder to appeal to people of faith. But people of faith are not just another interest group, like gun owners. You have to begin by understanding the faith. And you can't understand this rising global movement if you don't meet its authentic representatives.

Not Falwell, but Stott.

Monday, November 29, 2004

recovering and relaxing

Before I knew it, Sunday morning was here and family was headed back north. We had a fantastic time together, whether out and about or simply spending time at the house. Saturday night we even got out some games and played a little "Outburst" and "Phase 10". We even made it through discussions on politics and religion, which can be difficult at times in any family due to the personal nature and defensiveness in any person. I anxiously look forward to hosting another family gathering at the house, and am definitely starting to get into the holiday swing of things.

Sam is repeating a lot of the words we say, and has been full of much more energy throughout the day. He loves running around the house--and in place, like a tribal dance--and has been saying "football", "shoes", "thank you", and other words. We now have the joy of hearing his voice and sometimes interpreting his new words as he works on the inflection and syllables. He loved playing with his cousins Matthew and Grace over the weekend!

This week holds a few things in store...two days in the studio working on a couple more songs for the upcoming Jars record, a meeting regarding some Blood:Water Mission-related projects in the near future, and a party Friday night for some friends who are moving to Florida soon. We're trying to establish a rhythm in the household and settle into a purposeful and intentional "schedule" now that I'm off the road for a bit. Unfortunately things will be crazy with the parties and events surrounding the holidays, but I think--and hope!-- we are heading in the right direction.

Friday, November 26, 2004

The day after Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all who read this…I am thankful to have friends and family who care to check out my thoughts and experiences from time to time—some more frequently than others. It thrills me when someone mentions something from my blog and asks more questions. Sometimes I realize I can be confusing, and other times I am grateful for the ability to explain thoroughly. Nothing beats one on one contact, though, so no one can settle for online communication as an absolute .

We have been blessed with the presence of our extended Sands family for the weekend. The 6 inches of snow that hit central IL Wednesday afternoon/evening kept them from leaving as planned, but they made it to the house here in Nashville around 3:30 Thursday afternoon. There were some final preparations to be made, including a turkey that took a little longer than expected to finish cooking, and we finally sat down around 6pm to enjoy our feast in our new place around our new table. How thankful we truly are for the provision by God of the simple things as well as the intense, unbelievable blessings.

Today (Friday), we took advantage of a relaxed morning and then went to Calypso Café for lunch. We were sad that Davinci’s and Baja Burrito were closed, but Calypso always satisfies. It is Jennifer’s birthday (my brother Eric’s wife), and we celebrated throughout the day. Somehow Cari and I were able to be away for an hour this afternoon for much needed exercise down at the Shelby Bottoms. The fresh 60 degree air and sunshine gave us new life and a chance to take a breath together and personally give thanks. We made it back just before Sam woke up from his nap…

Not sure what tomorrow holds in terms of events and festivities, but hope we are not the only ones joyful during this season. God is certainly faithful and His promises never fail. If only we knew how to ask for more and truly desired for more…that is the challenge.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

roman shades

My body seems to be catching up a little from the crazy hours and travel over the weekend, though it was so hard to wake up as I forced myself out of bed this morning. Cari and I worked late last night on more homemade roman shades for the windows throughout the house. The process is getting a little easier and more efficient—we’ll be on a roll by the time we finish! They look great, though, and I’m thankful for Cari’s vision and ideas—and her sewing abilities.

This afternoon I’m meeting with some friends to do some songwriting. They’ve actually started the song, but asked me to come in to help with chords and so forth. It is a City Church original, which is fun to be a part of…and something I look forward to more and more. Speaking of City Church, I’ll be home for many Sundays in a row now, as well as Thursday evening neighborhood group meetings. I’ve been longing to get back into that routine and fellowship, and the time is finally here.

Thanksgiving is drawing near too, only two days away. I’m anxious to spend time with family and re-center around the ideas of thankfulness, gratitude, and giving that are vital to my mental health and growth.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

last day on the road for the year

We are finishing up the year of shows today in Pasadena, CA, playing for the Billy Graham Crusade in the Rose Bowl. I remember first hearing about the place when my childhood favorite University of Illinois Fighting Illini won the Big Ten title and played UCLA in the big New Years game. That was long before the BCS idea or anything...sometime in the mid-1980's. They've certainly struggled over the years since! I always look forward to their basketball team, though, which is just getting going for the year.

Charlie is back on stage with us today, though I'll probably help cover his vocal parts again. The surgery went well and his recovery is off to a good start. Hopefully he'll make it through the red-eye flight back to Nashville via DFW without any troubles. I was happy to have the day off yesterday, as my body felt the toll of being up all night on Thursday evening. We spent the afternoon with a friend who has donated six computers to Blood:Water Mission. What a joy to hear his story and to see the way God has moved in him, around him and through him over the years. And his contibution is a huge blessing for the work we are doing and will begin in the coming months.

I am anxious to get home and help prepare for our family time over Thanksgiving weekend. It thrills me to finally be a little more able to host family in Nashville for the holidays. I have a few things going on early this week, but for the most part I'll be helping prepare some food and enjoying lots of time with little Sam. He started saying "car" yesterday...we love to sit by the front window and watch birds, cars, trucks, people, planes...whatever is passing by.

Time to hit the stage for the crusade. Looking forward to seeing Dr. Graham again, and experiencing such a unique time together. Every opportunity we've had with the organization has been different yet similarly powerful. Glad to be here again!

Friday, November 19, 2004

appendix...as in appendectomy

The show went great last night, though the night was only beginning as we took Charlie to the emergency room at 1am before leaving Vallejo, CA. He had been feeling somewhat miserable all evening and had terrible pain sinking in as the hours moved along. We brought him to the emergency room, and he had the typical long ER wait. Finally they started checking on him, and by 6am a surgeon had been called in and was going through all the information before moving into surgery to remove his appendix. I finally called it a night at that point after calling home and calling his wife Sonja to let them know what was going on. I had been awake, with the exception of maybe an hour on the plane, for 28-30 hours...the bunk was marvelous:)

I woke up around 10:45, and found the showers to get cleaned up and try to get the day going. Though I was still tired, I didn't want to sleep the day away and really mess my body up. Instead of going to Atlanta on a red eye flight tonight, we'll miss that show and just travel back to a hotel near the hospital for a day off tomorrow. Charlie should be released by mid-afternoon, and we'll drive to LA overnight for the Billy Graham Crusade at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. Everyone is bummed to be missing out on Youth Specialties in Atlanta, as they are a great organization that serves youth leaders well in training as well as rest. We love to encourage people working with the youth in churches, as they have special gifts and hearts that are not easily found...and they often work a lot more than they rest.

We raised about $2400 last night for yet another well. God is opening our eyes up to greater and greater things, and we are thankful for the opportunities to share this privilege and desire with others. He is the only answer to the HIV/AIDS issue, though it is hard to approach God about the existence and purpose of suffering. We pray that we continue to learn in this and that we take advantage of opportunities to walk with others along the way.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Now you can find this page at www.aaronsands.com--much easier to remember! This is a day that never ends, as we were up at 4:30am for airport call this morning in Nashville, and our bodies will think it is 10pm when we hit the stage. Thankfully we'll get a great night of sleep on the bus tonight. I spent much of the day editing a friend's script for a short movie he is making about his grandmother, who died last year. I look forward to seeing the finished product, which I think he is trying to have for Christmas gifts this year.
The end of the day goes too quickly here, and my body and mind are tired. Thanks for checking in, and I promise more tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Welcome to the new home of the original Sandblog. I look forward to continuing to share my thoughts and experiences with you, and thank you for listening in. Please bookmark this page and visit often, and always feel free to make any comments regarding a posting.

I have finished my three days at home before the last 4 days of the tour. It will be pretty exhilarating as we fly to California in the morning, overnight to Atlanta on Saturday, back to California on Sunday, and finally overnight to Nashville for a long time off the road starting Monday morning. I'll write more after making it to CA tomorrow!

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