Wednesday, September 18, 2013

NEW BLOG. NEW POST. NEW URL.

For those who have been reading this blog, I decided to move onto a new url and a new blog and to really step up my game.

I just published a new post this morning at the-kristensolis.blogspot.com

I would really love for you to check it out.

Thanks!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Relient K’s Collapsible Lung: From End to End


You should know right now that this is not an album review… but more of a reaction to their latest album, Collapsible Lung, and the fall-out it’s causing amongst fans.

Relient K is the band that I forget is one of my favorite bands till I check my Last.Fm account. I’ve been a fan of theirs since middle school. They’ve had a huge influence on me, especially my writing. I grew up with them. They always had a song for whatever I was going through. And I unintentionally quote their lyrics all the time.

After waiting what seemed like an eternity for new songs, rumors of a new album started to spread. I cannot tell you how excited and curious I was especially after Forget and Not Slow Down. The moment any new song leaked or when the entire album leaked, I was all over it. (Don’t worry I pre-ordered it anyways.) 

So for a good month, I had it before a majority of people did. I genuinely enjoyed it. It was a great to jam out to. And I knew there was more to it than just a mere ‘pop album’, that it needed to be listened to a thousand times before the epiphanies would hit, which is standard Relient K.

At this point I completely forgot about the actual release date. I was at work barista-ing when I got a text from a friend of mine (the foundation of our friendship is probably based in our love for Relient K) saying that the fans were not happy with Collapsible Lung.

Now that would be an understatement. If you look at most of the reviews, it’s brutal. But I can sum it up for you guys.

1.     Different sound (aka Relient K sold out to make more cash.)
2.     The lyrics/theme of the songs were too worldly
3.     Therefore, they obviously have lost their spirituality.

And I was enraged. Mostly coming from their Christian fans freaking out over the word ‘sexy’ (Disaster), a whole song about a one night stand (PTL) and some other ‘questionable’ situations.

First off, I need to get this off my chest. I have been that Christian. I’ve been judgmental and self-righteous. This album help reveal that to me. But I don’t want to knock them though. I definitely was more of that type of Christian for another album, which I’ll explain a bit later.

But all I have to say to you guys is which one of you can cast the first stone? Or can see the log in your own eye?

And I kept thinking was that so many of you totally misunderstood the album.

I’ve realized in order to understand Collapsible Lung, we need to discuss their previous one, Forget and Not Slow Down.

I remember when I first listened to FANSD. It would take a while for me to get used to it. It would grow on me over time to eventually become my favorite. Every time I listen to it I get something new. Still. And it’s been out now for at least four years. There is so much raw emotion and depth to the lyrics.

I would learn later on the back-story for FANSD was birthed from dealing with emotional fall out of the failed relationship between Matt Thiessen and his former fiancé.  After hours and days of searching, all I could find out about what happened is that Matt had been unfaithful amongst other hinted unresolved issues based on interview she had when FANSD had first been released.

What I heard was a recording of an interview, and girl-to-girl, she sounded sad and broken and hurt. My heart broke for her. After hearing that I was destroyed. My view of Matt Thiessen and ultimately, Relient K was tarnished. I couldn’t even listen to them. I felt betrayed because I held them to this pedastal because they are Christian. The way many fans feel about Collapsible Lung, I actually felt about Forget and Not Slow Down.

I’m not here to justify or defend anyone's actions. I don’t know and I shouldn’t know what fully happened between Matt or his ex. What I can tell you is that event broke the both of them and that breaks my heart. Not as a fan or as a Christian, but as a fellow human.

I would listen to Relient K again. Like I said, they are one of my favorite bands, the boycott could last only so long, especially FANSD.

Then Collapsible Lung came out and I loved it. At least one song is stuck in my head. It’s catchy and I know Relient K always had an affinity for catchy tunes.

But Collapsible Lung gives Forget and Not Slow Down perspective, or better yet, an epilogue.

Now for all the haters who found the album shallow, the lyrics have a lot of depth that are under the guise of a pop album. Each one is a story, and I’m going to assume that they’re based in a personal experiences.

The attack on their faith and walk with God is uncalled for, self-righteous, and just flat out mean. I think that’s between them, God, and maybe a few close friends. But that’s just me.

Though that was the very reason why I enjoyed Collapsible Lung so much. In the last few years, I’ve done a lot of unexpected “unchristian” things too. With Relient K being so open about their experiences, mistakes, failures, and how ashamed they are of the consequences (It’s been an ongoing theme of theirs for years. A few examples are Trademark, Falling Out, Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been, I So Hate Consequences, Devastation and Reform). I didn’t feel so alone. I wasn’t the only prodigal.

Thanks to Stephen’s Review, it help even shed more light. When you listen to Collapsible Lung straight through, the entire album, each song, is a confession ending with the title song.

Between the miles of open road
I lost sight of what might matter the most
I stumbled into the great unknown and found
That time can’t slow down…

And it’s a slow climb headed back to the sky
And I’m feelin' backwards when I’m trying the most
And I hope haven’t heard the last words from the holy ghost
Cause I think that I’m supposed to be
Well on my way by now…

It closes the book that FANSD started.

I’ve noticed as I live my life, it isn’t so black and white as I thought it would be. Not in what’s right or wrong, but in the choices I made and the consequences they would create. What I thought would be easy choices were not as easy to make. Life is messy and we don’t always do the right thing, even after trying so hard to do the right thing. We lose sight of what matters most quite often. You go through horrible things and experiences, some created by your own words and actions. And when it hits you that you are nowhere near who you wanted to be. You expected by now to be different, to be further ahead.

Matt’s lyrics are probably literal, but I am going to turn it into a very cliché metaphor. Life is an open, unknown road. It’s a journey. There are turns and detours and roadblocks. The journey seems long but it ends way faster than any of us expect. And it’s different for all of us.

I think that was the point of Collapsible Lung. A reason to finally do that pop album, but more importantly, it’s a confession. We all fall short. We all are flawed. Isn’t that the whole point of being a Christian? Admitting we fail and we need a Saviour?

So I think I’ll end this with another Relient K song.

Because the judge of you
Is someone I could never be
Is why you should thank the Lord
That it is Him and it's not me

Don't give up, it's not the end
There's hope for every fallen man
To pick themselves up when they think they can't
Because with every passing second comes a second chance
-Hope For Every Fallen Man 

PS. IF ANY MEMBER OF RELIENT K ACTUALLY READS THIS. I WOULD LOVE TO MEET YOU GUYS SOMETIME. LET'S MAKE THIS HAPPEN :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Till We Have Faces


“Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, ‘Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.’

A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced to at last utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk of the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

-Orual's discussion of the gods.
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

It’s been a while since I’ve last written. I could tell you that I have been busy (which is very true, I recently moved, I have two new, different jobs and I have been attending a new church somewhat regularly – though I still have commitment issues.)

But honestly, that’s not it at all. I’ve been afraid to write. I started to realize the responsibility of this blog and worst of all, I began to feel doubt.

Why would God use me? I’m a mess. I’m childish. I make so many mistakes. I’m selfish. And this is all a terrible thing to believe. Well yes, my failures are true, but to doubt the statement:

Why would God use me?

That doubt followed by the confusion of “Who am I, really?” that I was dealing with, would unravel me.

Suddenly I was 21, and all the rules changed. And everything else changed too. The places I worked. The people I knew. The places I worshipped. The house I lived in.

But I am no stranger to change. I’ve dealt with worse. What was it this time?

I have a rather strange talent. I may forget your name or where I put my phone or what I may have done yesterday, but I can remember the exact date of certain things. Usually it’s the date of when I first meet someone. And sometimes, I’ll even remember what you wore.

Now August will always remind me of someone, someone who I considered to be one of my closest friends. We became friends in August and then we ‘unbecame’ friends in August, almost on the same exact day, just five years apart.

Six years ago, next week, I hung out with a family that I had known most of my life, but it was that day that I met my dearest friend. It’s funny how you could know someone all your life and yet never be friends with them and suddenly be friends. How often can you genuinely say to someone, “You too? I thought I was the only one!”

We would grow closer, but due to distance and time, we would grow apart.

One year ago, next week, we hung out for the first time in a really long time. And it felt like how it used to be.

But the great time we were having would soon end… and turn into an argument that would last two weeks.

One of the last things he would ever say to me was, “I don’t think I could be friends with a girl like you.”

It doesn’t matter whom I was arguing with or what we were arguing about or even who was right or wrong. I’m pretty sure neither of us were right or wrong. But it was a simple phrase that changed my entire view of who I was. It would echo in everything I would do and every decision I would make.

What kind of girl am I? Am I a girl who drinks? Am I a girl who will finish her college degree? Am I a girl who still believes in the Church? Am I girl who writes? Am I a girl who could trust people? Am I girl that God could use, that God would want to use?

All these questions, I became a shadow of the girl I could be. I was so afraid that I simply stopped asking, not doing anything. I just gave up. I gave up on writing. I gave up on art. I gave up on people. And in giving up in all those things, I gave up on God.

See, I’ve been quite lost these last few months and that is why I haven’t really been writing.

But God, He never left me. I found myself in Him again in the last few weeks. And in the last few weeks, the Devil has been throwing so many distractions and doubts my way to keep me lost.

I still don’t know what kind of girl I am. I know I’m a girl who has made mistakes. I know I am a girl who is selfish. I know I’m a girl who has hurt people and has been hurt by people. I know I’m a girl who is terribly afraid of not being enough.

But God found me, and He loves me so much that He gave up His son to die for me.

And really, isn’t that all that truly matters in the end? That is when we have found our face, our true face, His.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Scrapes and Scars... And stories

In my personal struggle to make a living, I’ve found that true success has very little to do with income or comfort. In fact, it seems to me that inconvenience, hardship and discomfort are my best teachers. It’s as though these horrible, wonderful moments where I realize my own limitations are almost exclusively the only ones that matter. So when I’m brave enough, I chase these awkward moments down. I write songs about them. I put my scattered thoughts online. Heck, I even seek therapy from time to time. Love, dreams, confessions, God, women — these are dreadful, awe-inspiring mysteries to me. They put a funny taste in my mouth. They give me scrapes and scars. And stories.” 

-Jon Foreman-


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

we are puddles.


... imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in - an interesting hole I find myself in - fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.  
 
-Douglas Adams-

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Definitions Part 3: Hipster Christianity (Confessions from a Hipster AND a Christian)


Definitions Part 1: Jesus vs. Religion
Definitions Part 2: What is Christianity? What makes someone or something Christian?

Have you heard this phrase being thrown out? HIPSTER CHRISTIANITY. I hear it ALL THE TIME. Every time I hear it, the meaning changes, most of the time it’s used as a negative and then sometimes, it’s not. It’s a very misunderstood and misused term. AND that annoys me.

Let’s start with defining what a hipster even is. Trust me, I would know. I am a hipster.

A hipster could be identified by wearing v necks, skinny jeans, plaid shirts, an assortment of fedoras, beanies and caps, TOMS/Ked’s, behead hair, tattoos, ray-bans, your grandfather’s sweater and probably shops at thrift stores, American Apparel and/or Urban Outfitters.


Everything hipsters like is obscure and indie. The hipster’s choice of music is music you’ve never heard of before (It’s usually sounds like a mix of shoegaze, dubstep, acoustic, unconventional instruments and electronica. Band names are inspired by their favorite authors like Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Chuck Pahlanuik or Kurt Vonnegut). Hipsters will like things for ironic or nostalgic purposes (Labrynth, bow ties, fedoras, ect.). And every hipster is a barista, musician, a freelance designer/illustrator, blogger, and film/literary/art critic. Their coffee and teas are always organic and fair trade. They also love to use the font Helvetica Neue for everything.

(And I sadly fit all of these.)

This was my FB default. And sadly, this isn’t me trying at all.

Hipster is an art/fashion trend as well as a life style and culture.

Now normally when I hear the term “Hipster Christianity”, its usually reflecting the current trend in American churches, kind of like the next step of ‘Seeker-Friendly’ and ‘Simple Church’ movement that happened in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. It also reflects the attitude of a ‘younger’ Christians (I use ‘younger’ loosely because it doesn’t reflect just physical age but rather the mentality.) who had grown up in church and are challenging some of the Church’s legalism and conservative ideas.

So I’m want to explain how ‘Hipster Christianity’ is a misunderstood term that can be painted as both a positive and a negative.

THE POSITIVE

It used to describe a movement towards house churches and small groups where a desire of restoration and reformation from the current ways of ‘corporate’ church. There is a certain aesthetic that is very artsy and organic. It is inspired by artists and musicians looking back at our roots in the Acts Churches and our current post-modernism to seek a more living faith after being burnt out.

They hold art shows to raise awareness for community and mission out reaches. The worship is a combination of original songs, deconstructed Hymns, maybe some current worship songs and even some old fashion liturgy.

The ‘Hipster’ part of the term describes the atmosphere of the church rather than reflecting the attitude - which I will talk about in a bit.

(My best example of this is Bloom in Denver, CO. You might have heard of the band Gungor, this is their home church. You should check out their teaching pastor, Andrew Arndt's blog)

THE NEGATIVE

But here are two reasons why being a called a hipster is a negative: hipsters are often viewed as posers and fakes and the hipster attitude.

The hipster will give off the appearance of aloofness and apathy. The hipster is cooler than you. The hipster already did the popular trend before it was ‘mainstream’. When the hipster talks, the tone is condescending.

And it’s really obnoxious.

So let’s address the term Hipster Christianity again. To sum it up, instead of ‘Holier-Than-Thou’, it is now ‘Cooler-than-Thou.’

There is this obsession with ‘the show’ and cultural relevance, to where it becomes the utmost priority. What I’ve also noticed is the Hipster Christian/Cooler-Than-thou lifestyle is that they are okay, if not proud, of drinking. They love to open their ‘worship experience’ (It can’t be called a service anymore, it’s too ‘churchy’). They intentionally slip in swearing sometimes.

They like to say, “If the music is too loud you’re too old.”

“This isn’t your Grandmother’s Church.”

“Don’t worry about whatever sinful thing you are doing. I won’t judge you like a ‘conservative christian’ would.”

It started of with good intentions, trying to reach out and bring people back to church who didn’t like church. But I think we swung the pendulum too far.  We’ve become obsessed with making Jesus ‘hip’ and ‘cool’. It is a purposeful forgetting of the name we bear as Christians. This isn’t Hipster Christianity, it is Shallow Christianity.

And that is when I get concerned.

It’s not the skinny jeans, or the music choice or volume that I’m worried about. All of that is just appearance and preference. It’s when it affects the heart and the leadership of the church develops that arrogant hipster attitude. When that happens, we lose sight of Christ and everything He did for us to even be Christians in the first place. Christianity and church becomes a glorified competition, something for man to better at than his fellow men.

Does that last sentence sound familiar? It goes right back to my first post about Jesus vs. Religion. Christianity isn’t about us, it’s about Him. We put God first instead of getting fixated appearances and competing- both in our own and other Churches.

When we try to change Jesus and Christianity into something cool, it’s like trying to reinvent the wheel using a triangle. It might slide by for minute, but it will get stuck eventually. And what are we trying to improve anyways? Let us look at Jesus for who He is.

I’m going to start if with that He was the best artist and designer ever. Have you looked outside?
Jesus was a radical and loving teacher who spoke the truth with authority.
He was the most humble man, cleaning the very feet of His disciples.
He cared for the widows, the lepers, the whores, the thieves, and the lowest of the low.
He took on the worst death even to just save one of us.
And, not only did He rise from the dead, He conquered it.

And how is any of that not cool?

By trying to make Jesus cool, it’s basically saying that we are embarrassed of Him. And that is wrong.

“Then Jesus told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat—I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I'm leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn't, you realize, pie in the sky... Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God."

Luke 9:24-27 MSG

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Genuine

I know this is out of my series and a bit different, but this is just a thought of mine lately.

Anyone who knows me will realize I have an obsession for the truth of things. Authenticity. Genuineness. After you’ve finally warmed me up after hanging out for like about 3 or so months (I’m a bit of an introvert), I will instantly tell you how I honestly think about something and would like to know your honest opinion, nothing more and nothing less.

See for me, with knowing the truth, one has nothing to hide, there are no hidden agendas, no selfish motives, it is but simple truth. And from simple truth is born integrity, honor and character. I can trust in truth because it comes with no surprises. Truth is transparent and genuine. Truth can be painful, but it will always set you free.

I am always seeking the truth in things. Constantly searching. I’ve always been, and at this point, always will. Once I find the truth, I have a need to share it because everyone deserves the truth. I am a rebel and this is my cause.

I came to realize this when I was about ten or eleven. Before I was a hipster and loved all things acoustic and obscure, I was a huge fan of bubblegum pop like every other 10-13 yr old girl.

Now let’s go back about ten years (circa 2001) and look at the music then. Both secular music and Contemporary Christian Music had a lovely group of teen bubblegum pop to select from. My parents were very careful about what lyrics I was singing about (and for which I am very grateful for. Really.), so I listen to mostly to CCM such as…

Plus One (saw them a lot in concert. My favorite was Nate.)
Jaci Velasquez
ZoeGirl
Jump5
Joy Williams (please check out The Civil Wars.)
MaryMary (Shackles anyone???)
Raze
Rachel Lampa
Stacie Orrico
True Vibe

These were my Jams till I was about 12 and I discovered Relient K and Switchfoot. And as much as I would love to ramble about how I still know all the words by heart to Plus One’s Written On My Heart (don’t deny it, I’m sure most of you do too), but I did have a point to this post.

Stacie Orrico. Most of you probably remember having a hit back in 2003, ‘(There’s Gotta Be) More To Life’ which was off of her sophomore album and that was pretty much all you knew.

oh. 2000. lipliner and choker necklaces.
Before that, she had two songs that stuck with me (and still do) off of her first album, ‘Don’t Look at Me’ and ‘Genuine’.
What He has is something genuine
Who He is, is someone real
What He gives is something truthful
Its what He has, its Who he is
Its what He gives
And I need Him too.”

-Genuine
Stacie Orrico

It was this song that made me realize that my hunger for pure and simple truth was really a hunger for God alone.

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’”
John 14:6

The only way.
The only truth.
The only life.

We can only cast our eyes toward Jesus, the prize. He is lamp to our feet and the light to our path. When we forget that simple truth, we lose our truth and we get lost. We start wandering into places, following other people down roads we shouldn’t go.

I feel like a lot of us have done exactly that. We get so caught up in the production of Sunday mornings, to make sure we are ‘cool christians’ who are aware of the world, making sure we brand everything in sight, and that we ‘reach’ thousands of people so that we hit this years quota.

With the best of intentions, we’ve somehow lost our way, our truth. Sometimes I wonder what the difference is between ‘the church’ and a non-profit charity.

But I’ll leave you with this.

“Don't look at me if you're looking for perfection
Don't look at me I will only let you down
I'll do my best to point you in the right direction
But don’t look at me
No, no, no
Don't look at me, look at Him…

He's the One who lived a perfect life
He's the One who always gets it right
He's the One and only guiding light, Ohh, yeah
He is everything you want to be
He's the answer to your every need
If you follow Him then you will see He's like no other.”
-Don't Look At Me
Stacie Orrico

I’m 21. I don’t have all the answers.
I’m just a girl who hungrily seeks the Truth.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Definitions Part 2: What is Christianity? What makes something or someone Christian?



Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

My last post was a discussion about Jesus and Religion. I want to continue that with further discussion as to what is Christianity. And to quote C.S. Lewis again, For God humbled himself to become man, so religion humbled itself to become Christianity.” Now this quote really caught my attention. The idea that religion humbled itself to become Christianity just resonated within me.

One can write many books on this topic, so I will try my best to do it in but a few short paragraphs and still come up with a justifying answer.

So what makes someone or something Christian?
Is it voting Republican?
Is it being prolife?
Is it going to church every Sunday?
Is it reciting a prayer?
Is it a genre of music?
Is it a religion?
Is it a worldview?
Is it a list of rules?

When we think of ‘Christian’ we think of it in two ways, as a religion and as a type of label. And I’ve notice, we love trying to clarify and reform that label.

“I’m not a Christian, I’m a Christ Follower.” (Which is just saying the same exact thing.)

Sometimes we get so fixated on the label, that the label itself will lose all of its meaning. The label becomes dead. My best example of when a label loses its meaning and purpose is with Religion. Then labels become weapons to throw at and divide people.

We are not labels, we are more than just mere words. We are souls.

When I was in high school, my nickname was Jesus. The nickname was a weird combination of people being aware of what I believed in and my long hair. At first, I couldn’t tell if people were making fun of me, but then I realized it was like a term of endearment and an acknowledged statement of who I was. And having Jesus as my nickname was a pretty good reminder of who and what I represented.

When we describe Christians, oftentimes we are called the Salt of the Earth, the Light of the World, a City on a Hill. We just hear the words but not the meaning anymore or it was never really explained as to what that means.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that the may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matt 5:13-16 ESV

When salt loses its saltiness, it is useless.
When a label loses its purpose, it is useless. Even if that label is Christian.

We are supposed to be a light in this world, to stand up like a light upon a light stand, a city on a hill.

So what is my answer as to what makes someone or something Christian?

It’s a choice. It’s a daily choice to…
To make God bigger in my life. I must decrease so He may increase (John 3:30)
To love God with all my heart, mind and soul, and to love my neighbor (Matt 22:37-40).
To love my enemies (Matthew 5:43-47)
To die to my selfish ambitions and give all my life away. To be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2)
To uphold the law (Romans 3:31)

When this change happens in your heart and in your mind, (Ephesians 4:22) and it will directly change how you live.

“But the aim of our instruction is love the comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith…Now we know that the law is good, if one uses is legitimately.”
1 Timothy 1:5, 8 ESV

If we are to ‘reclaim’ religion, we have to acknowledge the wrongs that have been selfishly committed for the sake of ‘christian religion’. The only we can do that is to humble ourselves, confess our wrongs, be legitimately sorry about it, and do something to change.

But, if I had to pick a ‘label’, I want to go back to the beginning. I think this is the one that best sums up the miracle, the love He has for us and the responsibility we have:

Image Bearer
“So God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them.”
Genesis 1:27a ESV

But Here's another label that I hear tossed around a lot: 
HIPSTER CHRISTIANITY. 
I hear it as a positive thing, as an insult but never in the same way. What do you think it means?
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