Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Mothers, Founders and the One

From 2009 Ski UP Best Of

So its been a long hard Michigan winter...but it has been great for introspection! This last January I experienced some uncanny events that all linked together a kind of life philosophy for me about music and community.

In early January, Andrew and I were sitting at the bar at the best brewery in the country, Founders, when a Mothers of Invention song came on. We both started to nod our heads and have a conversation about The Mothers when the guy next to us (a twenty-something guy I never would have assumed knew anything about The Mothers, let alone think we had anything in common with) started to tell us a story about what he was doing the first time he ever heard The Mothers song "More Trouble Everyday" that was playing. I asked him if he knew "Live at the Filmore East" and he said that was his first Mothers album.

The next song "Concentration Moon" came on; we all sang along.

When Andrew and I were walking home, we talked about how crazy it was that we met some random guy at Founders that knew a lot about The Mothers and about Zappa. It makes sense to meet someone like that at Founders, but it is so rare that people our age are educated about The Mothers and Zappa. Then, we realized that there are so few places in the country period where you can drink fantastic beer, listen to The Mothers (in public) and actually run into someone who sings along.

A similar experience about how we are all connected happened a week later at the Week for Prayer and Christian Unity service that I played and sang for at St. Andrews. Rev Robert Schiesler from St. Mark's told a story in his sermon about helping a young homeless guy who came to his office one day while he was working on him sermon to ask for help. Schiesler explained that his initial response was one of annoyance (this was an interruption to his regular sermon writing routine), but realized that he was hungry and decided to take the young guy across the street to McDonald's for lunch.

The two ended up having a lively and unexpected conversation about life and faith. When they parted their ways Schiesler offered to buy the guy a dinner for the road. (The young guy was hitchhiking to make it to some friends in Chicago who could help him.) The young man explained that he had already stowed half of his hamburger for dinner that night and that was all he needed to get by. Bewildered, Schiesler dropped the young man off by the side of the road and then went back to the church to try to finish his sermon. Schiesler said all he could do was just sit there and cry.

Schiesler ended his story by explaining how we are all one, despite who we think we might connect with, or who is like us or not, we generally have more in common with one another than we think. He also explained that while the institution of the church can be good for setting structure and boundaries, the church is not alive. It is really only the people that matter, they are the ones that are alive and help us to remember that we are all one.

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