A New Challenge

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I have started a new challenge, a Patreon page. Here’s the link if you are interested in checking it out. https://www.patreon.com/marvborst. This will stretch me, in a good way. My commitment to creating art is stronger than it’s been in years and this will keep me focused. I’m pretty excited about it. I’d love for you to visit and follow along and even become a patron.

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That Time I Met Phil Keaggy

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I first heard the music of Phil Keaggy in the fall of 1979. It was my first week in college and a bunch of my new roomies and I were driving around the Miami area. Out of the car speakers came a progressive jam of a song, cool vocals and guitar riffs. I was informed that the song was called “Time” and the artist was one Phil Keaggy. Impressed, I headed to the school bookstore the next morning to buy his albums. Keaggy, for those who aren’t familiar, is a world class guitarist, with a multitude of styles. He was, as I found out, the first guitar hero in christian music. And so my love affair with his music began. To date I have seen him in concert somewhere between 35 – 37 times. The number is a blur at this stage.

But this blog is about the first two times I met him. In 1984 I was attending the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale. Over the five years since first hearing Phil’s music, he had never played close enough for me to see him. Sometime in the spring of 1984, I heard that Phil would be participating in a “pro-life” event in Ft. Lauderdale. Excited, I bought my ticket and made my way to a very large church in Ft. Lauderdale. (I’ll point out that I was, and am, against abortion. But that gets tricky, and we’ll talk about that some other time.) To be honest, I attended the event only to see Keaggy. And so three hours of speakers came and went while I waited to see Phil. The only speakers who I remember were Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer (who received a standing ovation for saying the media was “full of bullshit”), and Melanie Green, wife of CCM icon Kieth Green. The response to Frank’s vulgarity was stunning to me, having been raised that good christians don’t say that particular word!

Finally Phil came out and performed two songs. This was very disappointing to me, three hours waiting for two songs didn’t cut it. The photo at the top of this blog is one I took during his performance. I determined that I would wait in the hallway hoping to meet Phil and snag a autograph.

After sitting around for three plus hours, I needed to use the restroom. And of course, as I was using the bathroom, Phil came in and settled into the urinal next to me! My immediate thought was “I’m not going to talk to my musical hero while we are both going to the bathroom”. So I finished up and waited for him in the hallway. Phil was very gracious and signed an autograph for me, I asked a couple of stupid questions, and we went our separate ways.

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Which brings me to the next picture, taken a little over a year later, in the summer of 1985. I had graduated from AiFL and moved back to New York State. A buddy of mine and I heard Phil would be playing in Lancaster, PA. We excitedly made the 4 hour trip to see him. This time there were no disappointments, as Phil and band played over two hours. Afterward Phil came out to meet people and my buddy and I got in line to talk with him. While waiting, I worked up the questions I would ask, determined to not blurt something stupid like I did the previous year. Our turn came and before I could say anything, Phil said “we’ve met before haven’t we? It was in the hallway in Ft. Lauderdale wasn’t it”? He remembered our conversation. Blown away, I once again had nothing brilliant to say, and mumbled a couple of weak questions.

I have heard from others through the years that have had similar experiences with Keaggy. He apparently has an incredible memory, and is very humble and gracious. He must of met thousands over the course of a year plus, but he remembered me. I’d like to think it’s because I’m an incredible guy, but I know that’s not the case! But it made for an unforgettable night.

Needs A Little Work

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I took this photo a few years back. A classic T-Bird that was slowly fading away. I feel that way sometimes lately. Sometimes I feel the potential of what could be with restoration. It would take a lot of work, but this car could be restored to it’s previous glory. And I can feel that possibility about myself. And other days I wonder if that’s all gone. I had cancer recently, and it has made me face my mortality in a way I haven’t before. I think I always felt like I would live forever. But now I’m realizing that I may live a year, I may live 30 years, but it’s going so fast. I think I put off my goals while I did life, family, job, survival, all with the thot that I’d have time later. I may have time, but if I’m going to accomplish any of my goals I’d better get going. Or I can slowly fade away like this car.

Adding A Little Photography To The Mix

 

So far with this blog we’ve covered a bit of art, memories, spirituality, family, music, but not photography. I love photography and fancy myself as a creative, photo taking mess! I try to bring my experience and viewpoint from being a graphic designer and artist into my shot taking. The series of photos I’m featuring here are of a pair of old, abandoned Ford Thunderbirds, rusting away in all their classic glory. My wife doesn’t quite understand my fascination with decaying subjects but I enjoy the “character” of decay. Click on each image to see them larger and I hope you enjoy.

Deconstructing Pt. 1

A week or so ago I wrote about some of the influences on my spiritual journey. It was a brief intro into authors who influenced my thinking. Francis Schaeffer, John Ortberg, Rob Bell are the three I mentioned. We’ll dig in a little here and begin tracing my journey out of american christianity.

A funny thing happened as I grew into my late 40’s. I began to question. As a Baptist, questioning was kinda frowned on. I was big into Apologetics from my mid 30’s into my 40’s, but this was something different. The apologetics and authors I read and listened to had justified why I was right to believe what I believed. I thought I was getting a balanced view, but actually I wasn’t. Lee Strobel’s Case For Faith and the following Case for… books were telling me that I was right to think and believe as I did as an evangelical christian. At first this was very comforting to me. Sure in the Old Testament God ordered the slaughter of entire groups of people, but apologist Norman Giesler convinced me that it was “humane” for God to order the killing of the children, because they would go to heaven as they were too young to understand they were sinners. But in the back of my mind, the nagging thought that something was wrong with this kind of thinking was still there.

And then something big happened. I was already starting to battle with the thought that all who didn’t specifically ask Jesus into their hearts would burn for eternity in hell. And my religious world view was starting to be rocked by Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis. But then Bell wrote a book about questioning the concept of hell, called Love Wins. He didn’t come out and say there was no hell, just asked a lot of very good questions, gave a lot of very good information about Jewish beliefs around the time of Christ. Suddenly I was free to question and think and study. Bell’s book blew my mind because I was raised to believe unconditionally that hell was a real place. I began to read and study, and more importantly to tell my wife what I was doing.

Funny thing, my wife had grown up in fundamentalism and she was not happy with what I was telling her. She was worried I was losing my salvation and going to hell. So she did what she is great at, she dug in and began to study, with the intention of showing me how wrong I was. The interesting thing was, I would bring home something I had read and she would research it and find that what we had believed wasn’t so black and white after all. This caused her to dig in even farther. We began to study Universalism. Now when I was growing up, and into my adult years, I always thought that universalism was a mixed bag of all roads lead to god kind of thing. New age or some mumbo jumbo. But our studies led us to the finding that in the early church universalism was a popular teaching. Now, there are several schools of thought about what happens when we die in universalism, and I won’t get into that here. But the main idea is that God doesn’t burn anyone for eternity in hell.

I was shocked at what we were finding and shocked that I had never been told about this line of thinking in the early NT church. I went to bible school, I grew up in the church, I served as a deacon and small group leader. You would have thought it would have come up somewhere, besides being mentioned as “all roads lead to” heresy. During this time, my wife and I watched a documentary called “Hellbound?” that dived into the thinking and controversy around universalism. Not intended to be overly in-depth, but instead to present an overview of the three main thoughts (universalism, Annihilationism, eternal conscious torment) about hell that the church has had over the last 2,000 years, we found it fascinating. Faced with what we had learned over the period of a couple of years, we planted our faith flag in Universalism and thought we had arrived. We were wrong, our journey wasn’t over. We’ll pickup the trail in the next post Deconstructing Pt. 2.

Baby Violet

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A pretty special event happened over the weekend for my family. My first grand child was born. Baby Violet, mother Eve and father Tyler, my son, are all doing very well. My wife and I are thrilled and Violet’s Aunt Alicia and Uncle Kyle are excited about her arrival. She’s beautiful and tiny and perfect.

I wish my parents had been here to see her. My dad died when I was 25. He died of cancer, and we were all shocked because we believed he would beat death, because he had beaten it twice before. When we heard he had cancer he told me he would beat it because he wanted to be there to see who I married and to see my kids. We were all wrong, the cancer was too far into his body, and he died two months later. My mother on the other hand lived to 94, and saw and lived with and loved my kids. She would have been giddy over little Violet, I can almost hear her excited squeal, the one she would make when she was really excited about something. Like a great meal or family visiting, the things she lived for.

I don’t know about the hereafter. I used to believe I did. But I like the thought that Mom and Dad are aware of little Violet, that they can somehow share in the joy. So even though I don’t know if they can or not, I’m going to go with the hopeful idea that they can, especially dad, who missed so much because his body let him down.

So we’ll go forward, as a family, and do our best to shower Violet with the love and care that my parents would have. I’ll tell her someday about her great grandparents, and the extraordinary lives they lived, simple people who were filled with love. Welcome to the world little Violet!