Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Ronnie James Dio, 1972The 'Holy Diver' has taken his final swim - 5/16/2010.

I grew up in the 80s - class of '87... The music of the era for white kids was big and loud - punk, hair rock, and heavy metal.

Though I've acquired a finer taste for heavy metal over time - there's no denying how influential bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Rob Zombie and Metallica were in the 80s. Without exception each of these bands, and a myriad of others, pay homage to the music and vocal stylings of Ronnie James Dio (RJD.)

Like the music or not, Dio is recognized as a pioneer in the heavy metal and progressive metal genres - first with Rainbow, then for a while with Black Sabbath and then as a solo artist. When asked about the 'dark' nature of his lyrics, he once said something like, "you can't fully embrace the light unless you've experienced some darkness."

And he seems to have had a heart for moving people toward the light. He and his wife founded the organization 'Children of the Night' which helps adolescent runaways, sexual abuse victims and prostitutes in Los Angeles get off the streets and reenter society.

So rest well 'King of Rock and Roll' - musician, husband, father, grandfather, son, and inspiration to many musical innovators around the world.

Monday, May 17, 2010

An update from Arizona

UCC minister, activist, community organizer and all-around great guy, Noel Anderson, is keeping me in the loop regarding actions in opposition to Arizona's new immigration law - SB 1070.

Here's his report from a Friday evening (May 14) protest in Nogales, Ariz. It is the U.S. side port of entry with Nogales, Sonora, Mexico...

Over 100 people gathered on the U.S. side to rally against the SB1070 law calling it unjust, unethical, uncompassionate and just plain racist. A mix of Latino and African American Freedom Riders bused in from Dallas and Texas to send the message clear they denounced this law and felt the responsibility and necessity to come to Arizona in order to support and be part of this growing movement to repeal SB1070.

Local speakers such as the Nogales Mayor who was part of passing a city resolution against this law stepped forward. Some of the Freedom Riders had actually been part of the original freedom riders down to the South during the Civil Rights Movement. Many organization are calling for a Freedom Summer to organize with greater strength over the next three months to repeal the law before it’s inception on July 28th.

In Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, protesters were present all morning and all afternoon blocking traffic from entering the United States. There was a boycott decree put out for the Friday and Saturday to ask Mexicans to not cross to Nogales on the U.S. side to show their economic power, while the stores remained empty all day.

Most people don't realize that “at least 23,400 jobs in Arizona depend on the more than $7.35 million that Mexican visitors spend every day in stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses, according to a University of Arizona study sponsored by the state’s Office of Tourism(see link below).”

Not only was business empty or non-existent on the U.S. side, but shop keepers on the Mexican side said that business has been much slower as well since the Governor Jan Brewer signed the law, because people aren't coming to Arizona, and not visiting the border as they used to.

Noel has updated images on his Facebook page too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Write me on your skin

So... I'm thinking about getting a tattoo - rather, thinking about getting two of them.

At nearly 41 I know this is a crazy thing. The last time the thought passed my mind I was about 27 and wanted to get a full-back Celtic knotted triangle symbolizing the Trinity. Not sure if it was the $1200 or the three six-hour sessions in the tattoo artist chair that turned me off...

With age comes realism. I'm still looking for something spiritual, but not quite as huge.

Twenty years ago (that is SO hard to believe) one my my favorite bands, The 77s, wrote the song "Tattoo." The main refrain says "If you say I'm written on your soul, then write me on your skin." Just awesome - it's sort of 80s/90s, but take a listen to it and anything by Mike Roe you can put your hands on.

Speaking of hands - the theological dimension I'm leaning towards came from a project I was working on that communicated the merging of spirit with human effort. The phrases "Spirit of God" and "Human Hands" combine to mean a lot to me personally - guided by God's spirit, we are agents of change and transformation.

So to be really cool, it has to be in a biblical language. Right? The Hebrew for spirit/breath of God (as in Genesis 1:2) is Ruach Elohim. Human hands is Yadayim Adam. Here's the image...

Anyone want to contribute to these puppies being inked around my biceps?

The whole project leads to a few bigger questions. What theological/spiritual concept moves you deeply enough to consider adding to your "bodily testimony?" What would prevent you from doing so? Do you think there is any comparison of such tattoos to religious identifiers of old and not-so-old (tonsure, collars, tunics, saffron robes, kirpan, etc.)?