Thursday, September 06, 2007

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas . . .

. . . At least for this Carolyn Arends fan!

(Okay, that's the second ellipsis-ladened post introduction that I've used in a row on this blog. I'll restrain myself in the future.)

I just got the "green light" this morning from my church to book Carolyn for a Christmas concert in December. My cup runneth over! So, the tentative date is December 9, waiting only to be signed off on by the Big C herself. Merry Christmas to me and everyone else at Calvary Chapel South!

What a delightful way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year! I wonder if we can coax a divergence from seasonal offerings for just one song and request the "resurrection song" that I heard at Barnabas. Or, is that too much of a Christmas hope? It may indeed suit, because, though we celebrate the Holy Birth, the shadow of the crucifixion and joy of the resurrection are always waiting just beyond the stable doors.

Early Merry Christmas!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Being a Carolyn Arends Fan Means . . .

. . . well, for one thing, at least, it means never seeing headlines in the tabloids about your favorite folk-pop-rock star like:

1) Wardrobe Malfunction
2) Checking into Rehab
3) "Forgetting" to Wear Underwear
4) Nightclub Brawling
5) Serial Marriage or Dating

Ever feel really, really, REALLY disconnected with popular culture?

Goodness gracious -- give me inspired songwriting, honest music and an understated, but powerful, stage presence any day. Don't you just feel so sorry for these young people out there who had fame, fortune and folly thrust upon them at such an early age? It is not good for them. A pastor once told me that "we humans are not built for fame -- it most often destroys us." And I wonder how Carolyn escaped.

There are four reasons that come to mind as to why Carolyn is so well-grounded. The first is, of course, that she knows that she is a sinner redeemed by the blood of Jesus. That's enough to knock even the most phenomenally talented person back on her heels with humility and awe. Too few entertainers are sustained by anything more than their own pathetic personalities. They do not have eternal perspective nor anything bigger to trust in than the fame and money that simultaneously make them larger than life and smaller than the people they were created to be.

The second is Carolyn's parents, who obviously did an admirable job in raising her. If you have the stomach to dig at all into the personal lives of the young, rich and destructive, their dysfunctional families are the common melody upon which every variation is based. I've met Carolyn's parents, and they are warm, encouraging, interested people -- and that was how they treated me, a complete stranger! It is easy to see how being raised in that environment would be nothing but a positive inheritance when facing the challenges of living a public life.

The third is that Carolyn was not a goofy teenager when the spotlight was shone upon her. She was in her mid-twenties when she released I Can Hear You, and I remember when first hearing it that it did not sound at all like a "debut album." There was depth and maturity, professionalism and vision that is usually lacking in the initial offerings of even the most in-earnest Christian artists. Here was a woman -- a young woman, but a grown woman -- doing exactly what she was created to do. It could only have helped to have had some living under her belt before hitting the recording studio. She had had time to acquire a life outside of the rigors and imbalances of the music industry.

The last reason that occurred to me is that Carolyn never reached an insane level of fame. I saw her and Mark listed in the phone book when I was in British Columbia on my honeymoon in 1999. That was after she had released three albums and been around the continent on tour. It is difficult to understand, sometimes, why the best and the brightest are not usually the most feted and financially rewarded, but, really, it is often by the grace of God that they are not. While, as a fan, I want to see Carolyn get all of the proper recognition that she deserves for the amazing body of work she's produced, it is God's higher wisdom that keeps her where He needs her to be. She has stability, security and support surrounding her as she writes. She does not have to take up precious creative energy fearing for her safety or her family's safety. She can shop without being hassled at the local grocery store. These can only be conducive to a sense of community and rootedness that very, very few modern celebrities can relate to, with alien cameras flashing constantly and a restful haven nowhere to be found.

What a blessing to be able to enjoy unreservedly the lyrics, music, and person of Carolyn Arends! Though I sometimes find myself wishing she had the fame to fill Key Arena and the wealth to buy her own island, I'm so grateful that the Lord has kept her sane, balanced, focused, and oh so productive. She is about her Father's business, and that sure beats the hell out of being about the world's business, especially the business of celebrity.