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A Night Out With My Daughter

Jun 11 2017

One of the huge blessings of being the dad of three daughters are the father-daughter dates we've had through the years.  Whether it's taking Naomi out to breakfast, Jona-Lynn to the Portland Museum of Art or Rose swimming, these are the moments I will remember forever, and I hope they do, too.  Some of these daddy-daughter moments aren't exactly 'dates': taking Naomi to have her wisdom teeth extracted, Jo to the emergency room or staying home with Rose when she's sick, but they're all sweet memories. 

This week, Rose and I had one of those magical moments.  We are both big fans of Noah Gundersen, an indie folk singer from Washington state.  My oldest daughter turned us onto his music, and Jo and I have already seen him in Austin, Texas. So when he came to Portland, a mere 40 miles from home, I made sure I purchased tickets.

Noah's music falls primarily in the folk genre, and almost all of his songs are original. He headlined the Newport Folk Festival a few years back, and is all over the internet.  It's hard to compare him to anyone specific. His lyrics are a bit of Janis Ian and a bit of Bob Dylan.  Vocally, he reminds me of early Eric Andersen, but not really.  He sings with an emotion that is rare. While he often tours with his sister, Abi, who plays violin, but in Portland Noah was solo.

The State Theatre in Portland is an interesting venue. There's an open area near the stage where much of the audience was standing, but we sat toward the back, high enough to see over those standing up.  The concert opened with "Fear and Loathing" a brand new song that we felt was one of the best of the night.  "Ledges", the title song of the CD Rose and I play often in the car, was played half way through. What it lost by not having Abi to play the violin part was made up for by Noah's slowing the tempo down so that each word was filled with heart: "Here I stand on the edge of the ledges I have made, trying to be a better man for you."

The concert was so good, we weren't even bothered that he didn't sing our favorite Noah song, "Jesus, Jesus". This heart breaking ballad is the anthem of so many church kids (Noah's dad is a pastor) who have been hurt by the church world and who struggle with questions, refusing the cheap, pat answers often preached at them:  


Jesus, Jesus, if you're up there won't you hear me
‘Cause I've been wondering if you're listening for quite a while
And Jesus, Jesus, it's such a pretty place we live in
And I know we fucked it up, please be kind
Don't let us go out like the dinosaurs
Or blown to bits in a third world war
There are a hundred different things I'd still like to do
I'd like to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower
Look up from the ground at a meteor shower
And maybe even raise a family

Jesus, Jesus, there are those that say they love you
But they have treated me so goddamn mean
And I know you said ‘forgive them for they know not what they do'
But sometimes I think they do
And I think about you...

Yeah, not easy to listen to, but a plea that we in the church need to be ready to really hear and speak truth to.

What I loved about our evening together is that Rose is at that age where we can really talk about the issues Noah Gundersen's songs bring up.  We even talked about why he might be bitter toward Christianity, and how his songs reflect the tension between wanting to walk away, but also knowing that there really is more to life than the physical, even if those who profess that have caused him so much hurt.

But mostly we talked about how cool it was to go to this show, see one of our favorites sing songs to us with nothing but a guitar and harmonica. And how nice it was to have an evening together.

 

"Jesus, Jesus"

Jesus, Jesus, could you tell me what the problem is
With the world and all the people in it?
Because I've been hearing stories about the end of the world
But I'm in love with a girl and I don't wanna leave her
And the television screams such hideous things
They're talking about the war on the radio
They say the whole thing's gonna blow
And we will all be left alone
No we'll be dead and we won't know what hit us

Jesus, Jesus, if you're up there won't you hear me
‘Cause I've been wondering if you're listening for quite a while
And Jesus, Jesus, it's such a pretty place we live in
And I know we fucked it up, please be kind
Don't let us go out like the dinosaurs
Or blown to bits in a third world war
There are a hundred different things I'd still like to do
I'd like to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower
Look up from the ground at a meteor shower
And maybe even raise a family

Jesus, Jesus, there are those that say they love you
But they have treated me so goddamn mean
And I know you said ‘forgive them for they know not what they do'
But sometimes I think they do
And I think about you
If all the heathens burn in hell, do all their children burn as well?
What about the Muslims and the gays and the unwed mothers?
What about me and all my friends?
Are we all sinners if we sin?
Does it even matter in the end if we're unhappy?

Jesus, Jesus, I'm still looking for answers
Though I know that I won't find them here tonight
But Jesus, Jesus, could you call me if you have the time?
And maybe we could meet for coffee and work it out
And maybe then I'll understand what it's all about

A Few Testimonies Minimize

 

The presentation was fun and encouraging... The gospel message was clear and encouraging. I purchased your book and just finished it. Your scope is broad and again encouraging. May God continue to bless your ministry. I will encourage others to read your book. -Parishioner of a local church

"Hey, I just wanted to say that was a great message in chapel today! It touched something:) thanks for doing it!" -High School Student  

"We are so grateful that you brought your amazing ministry back to our church this year... The Gospel message you bring applies to all!  It is such a positive, valuable work that you do."  -Coordinator of Christian Ed. UCC Church

"There's no questioning it. This is powerful stuff. It's extremely touching at times, never less than entertaining, and I see a lot of sincere love for Jesus in you guys."  -Dwight Lilies, song writer

The Lord has given you a wonderful window through which to present the Gospel!   - Field Director of Alliance Missions to Paraguay

"What a wonderful ministry to both children and adults.  In past years it has been a struggle to arrange programing that would hold the attention of all ages, but also challenge each heart with God's gift of Salvation.  Thank you for sharing your ministry."  -Sunday School Sup't.

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