Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Now on Itunes Now

The 2007 in-the-studio Jonathan-and-a-guitar recording "Now" is now available for download from itunes, amazon, rhapsody. Adam Fleming wrote:

"The emotions JR wrestles with on this album exhibit a deep maturity brought on by hardship. They say the best wine is grown in regions where vines struggle to survive. This is why so few people write great songs. JR does it at least four or five times on this album, and that’s pretty good."

I'm not selling many cds these days (partly b/c I'm not touring). However, there is a steady and growing stream of people downloading songs and joining the csm, so that's good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Airport Sketches

Moving closer, her slack white fine-knit tshirt sags
jauntily over her
spare, muscled frame.

Comfortable, at home in her bones and sinews
Filling her space between
the bulk and hammer, strong-tongue barrel of her husband
and the zealous, eager sprouting of her two daughters.

They move
A triangle of unselfconscious strength
Taking their space
Breathing their air
Moving across batwing airport carpet.


He movie-star slouches against the gray-white speckles
Sports jacket clean
Beige paints
Black bag, balding head.

His strength is in his neck, leaning forward,
not in his chest or hands.


Written returning from a trip to Texas.
Copyright 04.09 Jonathan Reuel.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Draw In and Part: Christian Communion

For those of you are here for the art, music and reflections on creativity and NOT for thoughts on spirituality: skip this post.

Here's a concrete example of the Jesus and Rules issue from our community regarding Christian communion.

Jesus told his followers to have this meal as a way of remembering him. In all my years in a wide variety of Christian churches I rarely experienced that particular goal of the ceremony. It was usually about examining our own lives (and failures) or building community (lovefeast) or thinking about Jesus' suffering and sacrifice (and the theological implications of it), but not really about remembering Jesus -- the person.

How do we remember someone? We tell stories about them. We point out details -- how they walked, their particular way of speaking, activities they loved or hated, things that pissed us off or that we loved about them, things we did together.

Recently our community tried to remember Jesus in this way. It was weird -- much easier to just ditch the whole practice or do it in the way it's been done before. Trying to actually "remember Jesus" felt like something different altogether. It was weird and uncomfortable -- and eventually meaningful -- for all of us, including those having issues with the traditional Christian practice of communion and those who deeply value it and are fed by it.

People sat around and talked about what they liked or what frustrated them about Jesus. Some people told stories from their own lives that they interpret as interactions with Jesus. We talked about stories we'd read about Jesus in the Bible or in other places, and what we remembered from those, and how it impacted us. It felt more like we were remembering a real person than one event in a person's life or a theological idea regarding a person. It felt like remembering Jesus. Go figure.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Drawing Apart Part II: Jesus dealing with Rules and Guidelines

For those of you coming from or actively a part of a religious tradition, or interested in Jesus, here's some more thoughts coming out of last weeks blog about days off, rest, "sabbaths" and religion and rules. If you're not interested in those things you may want to skip this post:

I think one challenge with religion is that because practices are tied to God and the Eternal and the Holy and Sacred we feel like we don't have the right to change anything. We don't want to step on God's turf -- which makes sense -- so we become cautious, conservative and sometimes fearful. We can end up getting stuck with rules that don't achieve the purposes they were established for. Then you have people like Jesus coming around challenging the system and getting hammered for it because people think he's challenging God when he's really giving people a chance to get back to God and the original point behind the rules...

It's not that Jesus was destroying all rules and guidelines, just busting up the ones that had calcified to the point that they were actually doing the opposite of what they were established for. For instance, people jumping through all kind of strange hoops to not work on the sabbath -- which ended up taking more effort than a normal day and getting the focus way off of God and rest to the point that you needed a day of rest after the day of rest.

Friday, May 15, 2009

CSM and a Clipped Carbon Blanket

I just posted the spring delivery of songs for my CSM* so I thought I'd
post a clip of one of the songs, a couple lyrics and thoughts about the

"I am standing, wind tearing through the fields
Leaves are flying overs hills and down the valleys
I need to meet you, the ground is aching to be healed
She's speared with iron, choked in rust and a carbon blanket"
(From Carbon Blanket)

I've played this song at three shows now -- the JRL Farewell gig,
Bluffton University and the OCP. It seems to really take off in a live
setting. It's a a series of prayer images wrung from someone who is not
as young as they once were, but who isn't finished yet either.

* Bryan Moyer Suderman started the Community Supported Music initiative. In a nutshell it's a way for people to support an artist and get
a glimpse into their creative process and download work before it
becomes public. Christa and I set up CSArts groups in 2008. I have a
small membership that's slowly growing. Find out more or follow the CSM link on my website. If you join the CSM in May or June you get a free cd.

A clipped Carbon Blanket:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Drawing Apart

Christa and I try to take a day off each week. For us this means not working and not talking about work. Because a lot of our work is creativity, art and community building, this makes for an interesting day. What do you talk about? What do you do?

I can understand more now why religious groups and traditions develop complex sets of rules to govern behavior (for example -- traditions regarding the Jewish or Christian sabbath): if the goal is rest and revitalization it can be pretty complex to actually figure out how to do that. Some guidelines are necessary. Rules can help.

If the goal of the guidelines and rules is to help a person rest, be revitalized, and refocus (physically, spiritually, emotionally), the challenge is coming up with a set of rules that fits everyone at all times and places. I think it's impossible. I think we have to take responsibility ourselves, try some things, learn, and be willing to adjust as we and our surroundings change.

Right now drawing for me is (mostly) a relaxing discipline rather than work. I started this drawing during a recent day off, and finished it afterwards.

Friday, May 8, 2009

itunes and other online songslingers

I'm not sure how to feel about this:
I've had two of my cds on itunes, rhapsody and some of those other online tunehandlers for six months now. I've sold a couple songs a month, an album here and there. Last month I sold five or six albums. Here's my quandry:

I'm sad because I don't get any personal contact with the people buying the music. I value relationship.

I'm happy because there is less environmental cost to this -- no plastic, cases, cds, etc -- and because new people are listening and it will help us pay bills.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lurching towards excellence

Lurching towards excellence

Three benefits I'm enjoying because of being "between" (bands, projects, creative focus):
1. rest and freedom from the pressure to produce something
2. room to explore and collaborate
3. time and energy to do things previously impossible

I haven't been writing a lot, but when I have I'm
a. collaborating more
b. spending more time lurching towards excellence than my usual "just git 'er done"

In the seasons of the creative life, we often move from spring (which is all about exploration) to summer (which is about focus and growth and not quitting). Then fall comes and we see what grew up during that last season (strengths, weaknesses, and the value of the work), and then everything shuts down and we have time to rest, reflect and recoup because it's winter.

The idea is that when spring comes and we start exploring again we get to build on everything that happened before. The trees are a little bigger, the roots deeper.

We also must start from scratch again each spring, as if we've never created before.

We build on the wisdom and experience of past endeavors, but must not rely on that alone. If we forget the mystery, the gift , the x-factor and the fact that it's more than our abilities and experience that makes creativity work and art emerge, our creativity scuttles into it's shell and our art is stillborn. The worse part is that sometimes we're too in love with our ideas, our successes/failures and our power or weakness to notice...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Invisible Sounds

Saw this amazing group at the Second Street gallery in CVille tonight. They are sculptors and musicians. They created this installation in the gallery of handmade crazy instruments, tvs, video feed of a typewriter they typed on during the show. They improvised. Amazing. Check out the video of them if you get a minute. Crazy what people create in garages andliving rooms.