Archive for the ‘Lost Book’ Category

Pulling the Goalie audio chap 2 now posted

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

I posted the first audio chapter of my new book project, titled “Pulling the Goalie: My Lesson in How Babies Are Made…Again” a few days ago, and I just finished producing chapter two today.  You can check it out on my main MySpace Page in the audio player by going to www.myspace.com/damienstribe.

Check it out, share the link with others who might enjoy it, and let me know what you think.

Christian

Pics of Baby Zoe and Mattias’ B-day

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

New Book Audio Chapter now available

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

For those who may not yet be aware, I’ve been working for the last nine months on a new book about my wife’s recent pregnancy called  PULLING THE GOALIE: MY LESSON IN HOW BABIES ARE MADE…AGAIN.

I’ve decided to create some audio files of the first few chapters, and I recently recorded and mixed chapter one. To download the first audio chapter of PULLING THE GOALIE for free, CLICK HERE. Unfortunately, the file is too big to fit on my current web hosting site, so you’ll have to check it out on MySpace until my new site (coming soon) is built.

WARNING: The book contains some coarse language some may find objectionable.

I’ll post more chapters as I record and mix them down. In the meantime, enjoy, pass the word along to others, and please let me know what you think.
Thanks,
Christian Piatt

January PULP Faith column

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I’m not the kind of guy who experiences God in any mysterious way on a regular basis. I tend to play my faith a little closer to the vest. But once in a while something happens that’s simply hard to explain.

 

I have a close friend, who I’ll call Randall, who I’ve known since college. Randall is smart, funny, much more outgoing than I, and he was well-connected enough back then to get me into the local bars when I was nineteen.

 

Those were some of the best times of my young life: playing packed-to-the-walls house parties in Randall’s house with my band; traveling up and down Interstate 35 on the weekend, stopping at the Czech bakery along the way; talking in the wee hours of the night about the nature of God, love, fate and how to hook up with girls.

 

It’s hard sometimes to notice when someone is doing more than just having fun: when they’re really dealing with a beast they cannot tame, and with pain they cannot drink away.

 

I’ve worried for years since about Randall’s drinking. He’s built his whole life around it. He had dreams of owning his own business, moving to the country, and raising a family, but none of that has happened. Instead, I got a desperate email from his sister a few weeks ago, begging for help.

 

Randall was about to lose his job because of his drinking, and it was affecting everything from his health to his relationships. He had stopped eating, and his skin had turned sallow and waxy.

 

A couple of years ago, I sent him a letter telling him, in as loving a way as I could, that he either had to stop drinking, or he would die. He acknowledged that he did drink too much. But he was felt he had things under control, and that he could quit any time.

 

What I didn’t know was that he had shared my letter with his younger sister. His dad died when we were in college, and his mom and other sister are generally unavailable, but his younger sister has struggled with addiction too, and thankfully has come out on the other side.

 

It was time for an intervention and she needed help. My father-in-law has been in recovery for more than two decades, and he has performed more interventions than I can count. So the next thing I know, he and I are on a flight to Texas try and help get Randall into treatment.

 

It’s an emotional thing, being a part of just a life-or-death decision like that for someone you care about, but for me, it was about more than Randall. I was mourning the relationship with my dad, particularly given that the break several years ago between us revolved around alcohol. And the conspicuous absence of Randall’s older sister and mom, who opted not to participate in the intervention, touched a nerve in me too.

 

How do families that were bound by blood drift – or break – apart? How can love turn so bitter? All of this came welling up for me during the intervention.

 

I joked with Amy’s dad that we were on a mission from God. But the deeper we got, the more we actually started to believe it.

 

On the plane to Dallas, there was a spirited African-American flight attendant who actually smacked me in the back of the head, mid-flight. She mouthed off back and forth with us the whole trip, and finally offered us a couple of free drinks. I passed.

 

Mark explained that he didn’t drink, which sparked a conversation about where we were going. By the time we touched down, she offered us her blessing.

 

Then we got to the car rental office, and another black woman behind the counter greeted us with some bottled water and a beautiful smile, and started asking about our trip. So we told her.

 

“Praise God!” she shouted. “I’ve been in ministry for five years. You’re doing God’s work here today.” On our way out, she also offered a blessing, and said she would be praying for us.

 

The next morning, while we were having breakfast, our waitress – also African-American – leaned over to my father-in-law out of the blue and, under her breath, said that he reminded her of her first sponsor.

 

In twelve-step-speak, a sponsor is the person who has been in the program a while and now helps new folks navigate sobriety. So, of all the things she could have said, she mentions her sponsor, less than an hour before we head into an intervention.

 

When we told her what we were going to do, her eyes widened. “My goodness, I got goosebumps,” she said. “This is God’s work happening today. I’ll pray for you.”

 

One black woman blessing you is nice. Two is uncanny. Three begins to seem beyond all coincidence.

 

Amy had just finished reading a book called The Shack the day before I left town, and God is portrayed in the novel as – you guessed it – a black woman.

 

A life with God is no guarantee of picket fences, healthy families and two-point-five kids with perfect teeth. The lives we inherit are messy, sometimes painful and maddeningly inscrutable. The good news is our lives also are woven together like a tightly-knit tapestry. Thank God.

 

Our parents may screw us up six ways from Sunday, or we may do plenty of screwing up on our own. But God can still use us. Randall, broken and suffering as he is, bears God’s light. Sometimes we are like a beacon on a hill, and other times, it’s all we can do to keep the lamp lit at all. But Randall’s barely glowing ember was enough to bring us together.

 

And somewhere, in the middle it all, God showed her face, not once, but three times. Then Randall let light into the middle of all of that darkness with two simple words: “I’m ready.”

 

God’s call is not always to safety, comfort or convenience, but it is to joy, hope and healing. What is required of us is to respond with the words: “I’m ready.”

Piatt LOST book now available in Kindle Edition

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

In case you are interested, I wanted to let you know that my book, LOST: A Search for Meaning, is now available as a Kindle edition on Amazon. For those who may be unfamiliar, Kindle is an e-book system, where you can download the entire book to a portable reader, not unlike MP3s for music, but you still can read it just like a book.

This is often a less expensive way to get books, and it also saves trees, so I’m excited to have a book available this way.

Currently, LOST is #13 on one of the “bestseller” e-book lists on Amazon, and it would be great to see it jump up closer to the top. If you know anyone who is into Kindle or similar e-book formats and they dig LOST, please send this their way.

For a direct link to the e-book, click here.

Thanks, and happy holidays.

Christian Piatt, Author 

MySpace to Sacred Space and

Lost: A Search for Meaning

Zoe Marie Piatt video in utero

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Review of MySpace book by Bob Cornwall

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Young adults, that group of Americans under the age of forty, have become an increasingly difficult target for churches to reach. The cultural, social, and generational differences of this cohort are striking when compared with the cohorts that have come before them. Christian and Amy Piatt write from within this generational matrix about issues of faith and culture, offering words of warning and of hope.

Christian is a writer and consultant, while his wife, Amy, is founding pastor of a Disciples of Christ congregation in Pueblo, Colorado. They bring to this book years of working with youth and young adults, and their own experiences inhabiting this generation. They make use of statistics and stories to bring to life the spiritual realities of those adults under forty. Unlike the book, UnChristian, Christian and Amy are sympathetic to the life choices and concerns of this generation. They’re realistic but not judgmental – indeed, even as the authors of UnChristian recognize, this generation is turned off by judgmental and hypocritical religion. They also affirm the spiritual quest of a generation that is truly “spiritual but not religious.”

The book’s title is key to the book’s message. Social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook, are front and center in the life stories of this generation. This is a digital world, even virtual world. Communication is instantaneous, and yet community is often difficult to create. This is a generation that is reachable, but it’s unlikely to come to the church – to reach them the church must go looking for them. But, in inviting them into the community, older generations must understand that the physical plant, rituals and history are of less importance. Sacred space can be created wherever this generation gathers. All of this makes communication between generations difficult. The authors write:

Today’s twenty-year old generally has less in common with someone twice his or her age than ever before. Further, people resist traditional definitions and labels, creating a fuzzier notion of what exactly we’re talking about with regard to young adults (p. 5).

In spite of these differences and difficulties, it’s possible to reach out to those aged 18-40. But, to do so requires listening before talking.

In a series of chapters, the Piatts take us into the lives and needs of this cohort. They help us understand their longings and concerns. As other studies have told us, this is a group that eschews absolutes and is comfortable with differences. For mainline churches to reach them, space must be made for diversity. Churches that put less focus on creeds – churches such as the Disciples – will benefit, as will churches that allow them to tell their stories. As for God, Young Adults often see a disconnect between their view of God and Christianity as a whole. They believe in God, but not in the church and its definitions. Utilizing the Baylor University matrix of God -types, they suggest that the most likely views of God in this generation are either the Authoritarian God or the Distant God, but they’re interested in connecting relationally with God – they’re just not sure how this can happen, and they don’t think the church can help them.

In seeking to reach them, we must be aware that prepackaged ideas don’t often work. And just because they like Starbucks doesn’t mean they’ll come to Christian coffeehouses. To connect churches must provide community, support, welcome, and an encouragement of the imagination. Ironically, while traditional church might not connect well, ritual has its place – but only if it allows for the release of the imagination. More than anything, there is a seeming need for connection with the generations that came before. In many ways this is a generation that has not developed strong personal habits –especially in regard to sexuality and money — and they long for mentors who will help them wrestle with important issues in their lives. Indeed, churches that will address such issues with openness and grace can find important entrees into their lives.

In a chapter on addiction, the Piatts point out the real problems that young adults are having with addiction – whether it is issues of drugs, alcohol, gambling, and eating disorders. They ask the important question: Where is the church? That is, why isn’t the church taking proactive steps to reach out to and support those facing addiction.

Why must we wait for the judicial system to say that these young people need help? Do they have to be arrested in order to receive treatment? Is this the message we send? In a haplessly reactive culure, the church must be a proactive source of hope and healing for these young people, empowering them with the tools they require for self-care before they face these high-risk factors. We must also be there for their families, both before and after a crisis is recognized. We should be on the front lines, helping teachers, parents, and other caretakers collectively identify risky and self-destructive behavior before it eve becomes an issue relegated to the court system (p. 105-106).

Here is a way of connecting, but only if it’s authentic care.

Of course in a book speaking to connecting with young adults, it’s appropriate to talk about music. Music is and always will be a primary expression of spiritual energy and ideals. That churches have been fighting for years over what is appropriate is almost a truism. We recognize it to be true, but find it difficult to have a conversation. In addressing this issue, Christian Piatt writes as one who is a musician and who has spent time working in the music business. He has a strong sense of the role music plays in our lives, and reminds us that much of what passes as Christian music is deficient in quality and content. The issue addressed here is an important one, because the church faces the question of the degree to which music must be distinctly sacred in order for it to be appropriate for church. He suggests four different views, ranging from purist to separatist, while he finds himself somewhere in the middle, in positions he refers to as spiritual reflective and incidentalist.

There is a chapter that wrestles with the question of who is called to serve. Not only is there a looming crisis in ministry – an aging clergy isn’t being replaced by younger clergy – but the definition of who might serve is changing. That is, the ordination of both women and gays is in play, and for the most part the views of young adults are open and expansive. Finally, in a chapter entitled “Church of the Prodigal Child,” the Piatts discuss their research methodology, tell some stories of young adults who are open to the church, but who also tend to be disassfected. In essence they return to the premise that this is a generation that is more spiritual than it is religious. It is a generation open to alternative spiritualities, but also wants to pray, study, engage in community and social justice. Looking at American history, they discern five themes that define America’s religious instincts, instincts that are very present in this generation: 1) “Personal autonomy”; 2) “Sensibility over creeds”; 3) “Impatience with organized religion”; 4) “Present applicability”; 5) “Fascination with the metaphysical” (p. 156).

We often talk about young adults as the church of the future, but in reality they are the church of the present. If the church doesn’t engage them – which involves listening with respect – there won’t be a church in the future. The Piatts offer us an excellent primer on the faith and desires of this broadly defined cohort. They write with energy and commitment. This is a book full of compassion and grace. They call a spade a spade, but do so without judgmentalism. Anyone wanting to connect with younger adults will want to read this excellent book. That the Piatts are Disciples, like me, only makes it better!

MySpace to Sacred Space book update

Monday, September 10th, 2007

I spoke this week to the marketing folks at my publisher and was told that our new book, “MySpace to Sacred Space,” currently is #2 on their bestseller list. It’s a relatively small publisher, releasing 25-30 titles a year, but it’s nice to see the book doing fairly well.

Thanks to those who participated in the initial research, and those who have picked it up since. If you haven’t yet picked it up and want to, or if you’d like to get your hands on my other book, “Lost” A Search for Meaning,” go to my home page at www.christianpiatt.com and click on the links to them both on Amazon.

Please also consider letting your friends and family who might be into these titles know about them. The marketing budget for the publisher is fairly limited, so we depend heavily on word-of-mouth (or word-of-blog or email) to get the message out.

Thanks.

LOST: Thoughts on “Greatest Hits” and the Crucifixion

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Though I enjoyed this episode, it effectively ended up being a lead-in to the finale and little more.

It was cool to learn of the Looking Glass station – another Alice in Wonderland reference. I could have done with a little less pathos surrounding Charlie’s decision to take a dive, though I’ve read posts online where people boo-hooed their way through the whole hour.  I will point out, for what it’s worth, that none of them was male. I think the writers have made more of an effort this year to draw storylines attractive to men and women. I’m not suggesting that women only like the touchy-feely stuff and guys only like action, but let’s face it; such stereotypes exist for a reason!

Anyhow, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the clear Christ metaphor around Charlie in this episode. Forgive me in advance, but this likely will turn into a bit of a rant…

So they set this up so that Charlie has to die in order to save everyone else. Anyone even vaguely familiar with Christianity can recognize that this is reflective of the crucifixion story. HOWEVER, I have to confess it doesn’t exactly align with my personal understanding of the crucifixion.

Anyone who has read my book on “Lost” knows that I present multiple possible interpretations of the crucifixion; did Jesus have to die to save the world, or did he die because the evil of humanity killed him? The concept of the former way of thinking is called Sacrificial Atonement. Other, more direct names for it are Redemptive Suffering or Redemptive Violence. The concept, in a nutshell, is that:

1) God, as a perfect entity, cannot tolerate sin;
2) In order to reconcile a sin-laden people with a perfect God, a sacrifice was required;
3) No sacrifice was sufficient except for a Perfect Sacrifice, which only could be Jesus.

So in essence, God had a thirst for blood that could only be quenched by his own son’s life being taken and blood being spilled. God’s thirst is then quenched, we are purified, and the sacrifice reconciles us with God.

I might point out that this very notion of purgative sacrifices is a Pagan practice that was performed not only before the Christian era (remember folks, Jesus wasn’t a Christian, he was a Jew). The idea was we had to cleanse ourselves of wrongdoing through sacrifice of something of value. Animals were slaughtered and left on the altar, along with “first fruits” of the harvest, and so on. From this practice came things like tithing, which we still practice today as a discipline of sacrificial generosity.

Here’s the thing: if you recall, Jesus’ followers thought he was going to literally save them from the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire. They thought he would topple the empire, take control, and put his people in charge – a New World Order. They also thought the end of the world was coming in the next few years, as indicated by things like Jesus says, when he refers back to the prophet Daniel: “this generation will not pass before these things come to be.” This is a paraphrase, but you get the idea. People thought the end was coming with a quickness, and they believed Jesus would lead them to an earthly rule as all of humanity slid into home base.

When Jesus died, it was a HUGE letdown for his followers. The very fact that he let himself be taken captive was enough to turn a lot of his followers away. So if they believed he was who he said he was, and that he didn’t fulfill what they thought he would fulfill, they had to come up with another explanation. Why not overlay this old (pre Jewish, pre-Christian) concept of purgative sacrifice over his death to explain why he died?

Here are my personal issues with this line of thinking:
1) Jesus forgave sins before he died. If his death was REQUIRED for the forgiveness of sins, then his forgiving of sins – which is one of the big reasons he was crucified in the first place – then are we suggesting all those acts of forgiveness during his life didn’t count?
2) If he was able to forgive sins while alive, but still HAD to die to redeem the world of its sinfulness, then what we’re talking about is simply a matter of volume. Are we suggesting God can tolerate our sins one at a time, but not in bulk?
3) The very concept of redemptive violence is completely contrary to Jesus message of peace. In my opinion, Jesus message is: “Violence NEVER redeems.” There’s no asterisk next to this, so we can say, well, just this one last time, but never again.

So why did Jesus die? Was it in vain?  I don’t think so. Did he have to die to save us? I don’t think so. Was it pretty much inevitable that a person with his influence, power and convictions would eventually be killed for it? Absolutely. He knew it, but he did what he thought was right, to the very end.

So what’s the lesson then? Love is greater than all of the violence and evil of the world. There is something more important than the preservation of human life – that is the preservation of love. So the message at the cross is the same as at the end of the book of Revelation:
1) Love endures all;
2) God is love;
3) God endures all.

I know most of this was not about the show – directly at least – but they are the ones who keep raising these religious themes. I finally had to respond.

Thanks for indulging me.

LOST: Thoughts on “Man Behind the Curtain”

Friday, May 11th, 2007

Well, if nothing else, things certainly are moving forward.

Jack and Juliette finally gave up the ghost and explained what they were up to, which was…(drum roll).

We haven’t decided yet.

Wha?  Seriously? This weeks-long drama leading up to whether or not Jack has turned to the Dark Side is revealed to be a profound lack of decisiveness, and htis coming from the guy who always has a plan in his back pocket. I’m all for the “who’s good, who’s bad” scenarios, as this is a lot of what the show is about for me, but you have to offer a more satisfying reveal than “we we’re being secretive because we didn’t know what to do.”

I’ll go ahead and get my other gripe out of the way while I’m at it. Though I thoroughly enjoyed learning how incredibly bad Ben really is, I was hoping for more than a “Daddy was a drunk” explanation. Come on, give us some big revenge plot, or a major pathology he developed on the island, perhaps because he’s trying to use the island’s powers for selfish means. But what we’re left with is Dharma beer and dad’s crappy janitor job as the culprits behind the baddest villain in the first three years of the show.

All of this having been said, i really did enjoy the episode. I thought the explanation about the elimination of DHARMA was excellent, especially since we know in the backs of our minds that there are some people still manning the stations. We also begin to understand why they wore quarantine gear, seeing that their associates had died suddenly. Evidently they didn’t know they were gessed, but instead suspected an outbreak of some kind.

I was also happy to finally get to “see” Jacob, who I have assumed was the man behind the curtain. However, having him be invisible was a little bit annoying. I’m hoping the next couple of weeks will explicate this further.

My predictions are these:
Locke will live. he’s too cool to kill off. unless his contract didn’t renew, he’ll make it back. he has a special healing connection with the island, which would explain this, though I expect Jacob will come to his rescue, so he can in turn help him, as was Jcob’s plea to Locke in the first place. Aparently Ben is holing him captive or something.

My other prediction is that Eko will show back up in the next couple of weeks. Maybe htis is the way Jacob will manifest himself to Locke. I also think that we’ll see the return of Michael and Walt, and that their return will explain much about the special properties of the island. In an article I read recently, the creators/producers say we’ll learn a lot about what the island is this season, though we’ll have to wait (of course) until the last five minutes of the finale.