Tone Police

Tone Policing is a logical fallacy (ad hominem). “The ad hominem fallacy occurs whenever the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing an argument is criticized instead of seeking to disprove the argument provided.”

[Philosophy Lander.edu]

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I’ve observed a disturbing trend in the American church.

Tone Policing is a problem among leaders. It needs to stop immediately. Are you a church leader? You are held to a higher standard.

What is Tone Policing?

Tone Policing is “a conversational tactic that dismisses the ideas being communicated when they are perceived to be delivered in an angry, frustrated, sad, fearful, or otherwise emotionally charged manner.” [dictionary.com]

Wikipedia says, “Tone policing (also called tone trolling, tone argument, and tone fallacy) is an ad hominem (personal attack) and anti-debate tactic based on criticizing a person for expressing emotion.

Tone policing detracts from the truth or falsity of a statement by attacking the tone in which it was presented rather than the message itself… it prioritizes the comfort of the privileged person (in authority) in the situation over the oppression of the disadvantaged person.

While anyone can engage in tone policing, it is frequently aimed at women as a way to prevent a woman from making a point in the discussion. It is a means to deflect attention from injustice and relocate the problem in the style of the complaint, rather than address the complaint itself.

Note: Women can be guilty of Tone Policing. This is directed at male church leaders.

Tone Policing is a logical fallacy (ad hominem). “The ad hominem fallacy occurs whenever the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing an argument is criticized instead of seeking to disprove the argument provided.” [Philosophy Lander.edu]

Often times, a personal attack using tone as the offense is converted into a strawman fallacy by someone I’ll call the “Tone Policeman.”

[Cue the siren and the red and blue lights]

A Tone Policeman assumes the role of; victim, hero or social justice warrior in order to coerce, criticize, or manipulate. Accusations of tone crimes shame, silence, degrade, abuse, or bully in order to achieve a desired result (submission or silence).

Interestingly, Tone Policing contains a resemblance to Herbert Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance” with a more pronounced psychologized expression. Think ‘Cancelling’ someone based on their tone (expressed emotion).

Tone Police reside in the domain of organizational power and authority. They typically employ psychologized therapeutic language in order to manipulate. They create an offense where there is no offense.

Tone Policing is a speech code similar to Political Correctness. Instead of censoring certain words or phrases, Tone Police attempt to govern intent and meaning based on vocal inflection or perceived emotion. Both Political Correctness and Tone Policing are extremely toxic and unloving.

How is Tone Policing used?

Tone Policemen attempt to relocate a substantive statement or argument into the domain of style or tone (expressing emotion). It is a deflection tactic that dismisses or ignores the core issue(s). The issue is not the issue, Tone is the issue. In other words, tone trumps substance or truth. A guilty verdict is pronounced by the one in power over someone else for expressing emotion (tone).

Most often a Man’s Game

Typically, the Tone Police tactic is used by men in authority to manipulate women who do not possess power. While women can be guilty of using the Tone Tactic, its most often men. Occasionally, men in authority use it against other men as a power play, defensive/deflection tactic, or psychological manipulation.

Ultimately, this is a passive-aggressive tactic wrapped in therapeutic language.

Left unchecked, a Tone Policeman will go on to gas-light, damage relationships, and toxify an organization.

Example: Mary brings a substantive problem to her male boss with urgency. Because women are perceived as more emotional than men, her boss (Tony) dismisses the substance of the problem. Then he makes perceived emotion (tone) the problem – regardless of the validity of the claim being made by Mary.

Tony says something like, “You know, Mary, I don’t appreciate your tone.” Or “I find your tone very hurtful.” Or “Your tone is so abrasive and harsh.” Or “Mary, you seem joyless, what’s wrong with you?”

Tony is saying, “What you are telling me is true but I don’t like the way you are telling me truth (tone). So, I’ll negate the truth and attack you personally based on your tone. You are guilty of expressing emotion!”

Content and validity are brushed aside while subjective tone is reframed as the issue.

Christian Tone Police take cues from worldly sentimentalities and pop-psychology rather than the Bible.

Sometimes, Tone Policemen produce man-tears. One can cry and lie at the same time, you know. Ask any parent of a 4 year old child. Other times, tone is attributed to body-language. “She had an aggressive posture toward me.” Or “I didn’t like the way she looked at me, it hurt my feelings.”

Most commonly, men in authority use this hurtful and deceitful method to silence or dominate women. Instead of trying to understand the substance of an issue, they create presumptions, inferences, and deflections.

Increasingly in America, we see grown men in Christian leadership roles wallow in feigned self-pity, contrived offense, psychological fragility, and hurt feelings. And men who have experienced actual abused or exploitation are overrun by a crowd of charlatans.

The Darker Side of Tone Police

Some Tone Policemen are so enamored with the spurious glittering therapeutic power of spells they cast, it’s astounding. They relish silencing and controlling others in order to insulate themselves, protect their psychological comfort, or dominate and humiliate others. These males are cowards and don’t deserve the title of ‘Man’ in a biblical sense.

Dealing with Tone Police

Remember, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” [Proverbs 15:1]

Bring the issue forward to one in authority with confidence. I recommend the following steps:

1. Write down the problem – This helps you articulate it and ensure you have a valid issue. To the best of your knowledge, is it true?
2. Pray over the issue and interactions.
3. Invite someone else to the meeting (if appropriate).
4. Take a few moments to breath deeply.
5. Be kind, be firm, be honest, and be courageous (Fear of man is a snare – Fear of God leads to wisdom and peace)

Dr. Henry Thompson says, “Have emotions but don’t allow emotions to have you.
James 3-4 teaches about our tongues and worldliness.

Self-awareness:

Tone Policing is subconsciously learned social behavior. It is catechized through culture via various means (family, media, entertainment, etc). That does not excuse it. If you are not self-aware enough to understand you are manipulating someone, you are not mature enough for leadership.

Responding to Tone Police:

If you are on the receiving end, take a moment and assess yourself and the situation. Then tell the Tone Policeman that their ad hominem (personal) attack is irrelevant to the issue at hand. Expose the logical fallacy and offer them an opportunity to re-address the issue. If they continue to pull the Tone card, tell them you won’t be manipulated or entertain it any longer. Leave their presence. If they continue, report it to someone else in authority [Follow Matthew 18].

Tone Policing is Sin:

Tone Policing is a sin because it’s a manipulation of another human being. The cure is repentance before God and reconciliation with those manipulated and harmed.

Warning to Tone Police:

If you engage in Tone Policing, you run the risk of alienation from community, co-workers, and friends who you depend on. Back-sliding and destroying your Christian witness become growing risks.

Additionally, you run the risk of misreading scripture because you will read God’s Word through a lens of ‘tone.’ That is dangerously thin theological ice.

Someone will say, “But wait, Jesus He was kind and gentle. He used a compassionate tone.” True, but Jesus Christ offered stern words and harsh language without sinning.

Read the texts below, see if Jesus Christ would be pulled over by the Tone Police and given a Tone Ticket for speaking the truth in an off-putting, emotionally-charged tone.

Matthew 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

Matthew 12:34-35 “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

From Luke:

11:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces….

11:46 “And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers….”

11:52 “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

11:53-54 “As he (Jesus) went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.”

Warning from Luke:

12:1-3…. “[Jesus] began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.”

What is the Alternative to Tone Policing?

Listen and speak truth plainly, firmly and humbly as before the Lord. Try to discern truth even as you are being harshly criticized or confronted by an emotionally charged person. Remember, you are a Christian leader! You have a higher calling. If you are so insecure that you resort to Tone Policing, you need to choose another profession. Or you can Repent!!! Ask for forgiveness! Then, work towards restoration with others!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”
[Pslam 139:23-24]

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” [Proverbs 19:11]

In all things, charity.

The prophet is specially called to critique and challenge the people of God when they have forgotten or betrayed their original calling. Thus Moses confronted the people of God over the golden calf, Elijah over the prophets of Baal, Jesus over legalism and hypocrisy, Martin Luther over the distortion of faith, and Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer over the idolatry of nationalism. Such prophetic critiques were often delivered with outrage, but they were not denials of the chosenness of those attacked. On the contrary, the purpose of critique is restoration, not dismissal. The prophets were specially called and their prophetic messages were special calls to bring God’s people back to the original calling from which they had fallen away.
Os Guinness

The Call

Leadership: Your interactions today will be the topic at dinner tonight

As a leader, you must have the self awareness to understand that every interaction you have with your team today will have an impact. Like waves that radiate from a stone thrown into a tranquil pond of water, your interaction will wash into the lives of the families and friends of your team.

Have you heard the name Stephanie Louise Kwolek? Probably not.

Kwolek was a Polish-American chemist who worked at DuPont for nearly 40 years. In 1965, she invented one of the most significant materials in modern times. This material has saved millions of lives.

Five times stronger than steel. Kevlar is an unbelievably durable material. It’s mainly known for use in “bullet-proof vests.” But, Kevlar can withstand 500 °F for seventy hours. It holds up in −320.8 °F cold.

“Kevlar is used as a material in more than 200 applications, including tennis rackets, skis, parachute lines, boats, airplanes, ropes, cables, and bullet-proof vests. It has been used for car tires, fire fighter boots, hockey sticks, cut-resistant gloves and armored cars. It has also been used for protective building materials like bomb-proof materials, hurricane safe rooms, and bridge reinforcements. During the week of Kwolek’s death, the one millionth bullet-resistant vest made with Kevlar was sold. Kevlar is also used to build cellular telephones; [Wikipedia]

At nearly 48 years old, I’ve been in the trenches and learned so much about relationships – often times the hard way.

In leadership roles, I’ve failed more times than I’ve succeeded. My failure file is much larger than my success file.

When asked about all the failures he experienced attempting to invent the first lightbulb, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” In other words, Edison saw failures as vital steps toward success. I imagine Stephanie Kwolek failed a few times as well on her journey to create Kevlar.

Today, I see my failures at creating durable relationships as steps toward success. While I’m still a work in progress, I’ve at least made progress at becoming a bit better leader than I was yesterday (I hope).

As I see it, every interaction I have with someone adds credit to a relationship account. Every time I open up and allow the team into my life to see the good and bad, more credit is added to that account. Every time I can own a mistake or ask for forgiveness for doing something wrong, more credit. Every time I can celebrate with a teammate, credit. Every time, I can come along side and help them through a tough time, credit. Every time I pray with and for my teammates, credit. Every time I invest even a moment acknowledging their contribution to the mission and vision, credit is put in that relationship’s account.

My cup runneth over!

This is not about some flimsy transactional relationship model. I use the word ‘credit’ because that’s the best way I can think of to describe how to build and cultivate deep relationships on a team.

Perhaps, I’m trying to be like Stephanie Kwolek, I want to create the most durable fabric possible within the culture of my team. I don’t want to create cheap thin polyester fabric, I want Kevlar relationships – bullet-proof relationships with a lot of grace and dynamism.

Your interactions today will be the topic of conversation around the dinner table tonight.

As a leader, you must have the self awareness to understand that every interaction you have with your team today will have an impact. Like waves that radiate from a stone thrown into a tranquil pond of water, your interaction will wash into the lives of the families and friends of your team.

If you stop and think about it, as a leader, you have the power to shape the conversations long after the work day is over.

If you have such significant influence in someone’s life, don’t you think it’s important to understand the consequences of every single interaction with your team whether its verbal or non-verbal? It’s a relational stewardship – a huge responsibility.

How was your day?

Imagine someone on your team whom you lead going home after a hard day at work and sitting down at the dinner table with his or her spouse and children. Perhaps, the spouse asks, “How was your day?” The children pause eating and cast their gaze exhausted parent.

This is where your earlier interaction has the power to shape the entire evening of that family.

What if your team member responded with a description of how you ignored her or berated her over a mistake, or lost your temper, or didn’t listen, or made them feel like a cog in a wheel, or didn’t communicate something important, or allowed conflict to fester within the team?

What a sad story to tell at the dinner table, right?

That story will have a ripple effect beyond dinner. The children sharing their winning goal at the soccer game, or good grade on a math test matter very little when their father or mother is demoralized and feels unloved or unseen by their leader.

On the other hand… What if that person on your team responded to the question, “How was your day?” differently.

What if, their eyes lit up, a huge smile crossed their face, and a tear of joy moistened the corner of their eye as they excitedly shared what their leader said to them today? They tell the family how you (the leader) stopped by and took time to remind them they are important to the organization. How you said, that the project you’ve been working on for weeks matters, despite the challenges. How you thanked them for their hard work and grace with you as the leader. How you asked about their family or prayed for them on the spot!

Perhaps, you as the leader asked for forgiveness for being short or owned a mistake? Maybe, they tell the story of how you recognized their contribution or comforted them or asked for advice on an important project. What if it all you did was simply give your team member a big smile, a nod of approval, and wink of the eye just to acknowledge their contribution or a job well done?

That interaction will not only place more credit in your account, it will strengthen the relational fabric of the team – making it more bullet-proof and fire-resistant.

Most importantly, your interactions with your team today will be the topic of conversation around the dinner table tonight – and beyond.

What is the story you want told tonight?

Not a story all about you, but about how you made someone feel significant, appreciated, cared for, valued, and connected to something bigger than themselves.

That should be the story every leader should want told about them around the dinner table tonight.

So, why don’t you create that story when you go to work today? Don’t just pass by your team members without being aware that you have the privilege of shaping their story.

What that story will be is up to you. Make it a good one.

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
– Proverbs 22:1

Special Thanks to my mentor and coach, General David Warner (Ret.) for making me aware how my attitude and actions impact the people around me. It makes me want to be a better leader, a leader who leads like Christ.

Video: How to Navigate and Guide Conversations During the Holidays

This video is designed to help the Christian to guide and navigate discussions in a helpful and positive direction.

This video is designed to help the Christian to guide and navigate discussions in a helpful and positive direction.

Biblical Foundation:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
PROVERBS 15:1

Focus on what is Good, True and Beautiful

Ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What is good that we can celebrate, promote and preserve?
  2. What is missing we can contribute?
  3. What is evil we can stop?
  4. What is broken we can restore?

Share your story and encourage others to share with you.

  • Share your best memory from this year.
  • Share your biggest challenge, loss, failure, or heartbreak.
  • Share what you learned or how you changed this year.
  • Share one thing you would change about yourself or the world around you.

Help people to think by asking really good questions:

  • What do you mean by that?
  • How did you come to that conclusion?

Respond with kindness and a gentle answer… “Thank you for sharing your point of view. This conversation has been valuable to me.”

Break the stereotypes and narratives by allowing people who may be at odds with you to see a really Christian.

Remember, you are not called to ‘win’ arguments, you are called to be a witness.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” MATTHEW 5:14-16

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Reflections of September 11, 2002 from Ground Zero, NYC

Reflections of September 11, 2001 from Ground Zero, New York City

Today (November 11, 2005), my wife and I decided to journey to the WTC site. I was apprehensive about what I was about to experience.

Never in my life had I hated clear blue skies, but for a few moments today, I did.

Below are photos from my 2005 visit to World Trade Center site. Click to enlarge. My reflections follow the phots.

This is from my Myspace blog from Nov 12, 2005 upon my visit to NYC and Ground Zero. I decided to dig it out, reflect and repost. 

How some things change and yet some things are meant to linger…

[November 12, 2005] We’re currently in NYC. I played a DJ gig last night at Spirit (formerly Twilo).

This morning my wife and I headed down to WTC Ground Zero. I have not been to New York City since prior to September 11, 2001. Of course, like many of you, those events had a profound effect on my life. For some reason I’ve been fighting with demons in my mind from that day for a number of years.  I decided that I would lay them to rest with this visit to NYC. My trip to the Ground Zero site was more important that the gig that brought me here.

Since I found out that I would be coming to New York, I wondered how I would feel when I got down to the site. I’ve known since 9/11 that I would someday visit the place where the attacks occurred.

I have many fond memories of my visits to NYC prior to September 11, 2001.  My trips in the past have always included a visit to the World Trade Canter (WTC) and sometimes staying at the WTC Marriott. One of my best friends worked at Cantor-Fitzgerald on the 105th floor. I’ve visited him there and went to dinner at Windows On The World restaurant (107th floor) . I’ve looked out of his office window and seen helicopters hovering directly across from me. I’ve seen clear endless blue skies so brilliant that your eyes water. I’ve looked down from the 105th floor to the street below as a parade passed by. Have you ever seen a parade from above? It was amazing. Words unable to fully describe the image.

It was a great experience to share a typical Friday work day with my friend – and make some new friends along the way.  Needless to say, some of the people I met at Cantor that day are gone from this earth. I remember their faces like I remember the New York City skyline.

Fortunately, my good friend at Cantor started working else where a month prior to the attacks.

When we flew to NYC, I saw the hole in the night sky where the buildings once stood.

Today (November 11, 2005), my wife and I decided to journey to the WTC site. I was apprehensive about what I was about to experience. The streets we as I always remembered them in my many visits to NYC. I’ve been there so many times I sort of know my way around. It’s strange that this boy from Texas feels completely comfortable in NYC – just walking the streets. But this time was different. Today, I was on a pilgrimage. So, we walked slowly and silently as the city was going about its business. The deeper into lower Manhattan we walked and the closer to the WTC site we got, the quieter and slower things seemed to become.

As we turned the corner and I saw empty sky where my favorite land marks once stood. It took my breath away. It was like diving into cold water. The skies were clear and blue much like the day that I visited my friend there so many years before.  To say that it was surreal is an understatement – it was like a dream.

I felt deja vu…. but I HAD been there before. The loud streets of the city were silent as hundreds of people moved in slow motion around at the site. I tried to focus on something in the sky that had been there before. It was no longer there. I was like my memory was trying to replace the images in my mind…  I closed my eyes and could see the two giants. I wanted the giants to be there when I opened them again. I wanted everything to be the same as it was before…  I opened my eyes and I was greeted with blues skies.

Never in my life had I hated clear blue skies, but for a few moments today, I did.  I hated what those blue skies meant in that place. My two giant friends were gone.  Out of the blue skies came the attacks that toppled them and cause sane, able-bodied people to jump to their death. As I walked closer to the pit, I could feel that I was in a special place, a place were a terrible thing happen – a terrible thing that had left a wound on my soul. It still hurt every time I remember that day.

I will never forget the chill in the wind today. I’ll never forget what it felt like or what it smelled like. I walked up to the fence to see what was not there. It was strange… I stood at the fence a peered in. I was in disbelief. I was afraid and confused.  I was afraid that I was going to breakdown in front of everyone. God gave me strength as tears filled my eyes…  I had my sunglasses on, so I would be ok.  No one would know my tears. Suddenly, I felt like I was the only one there.  I was alone.  Just me and that place. It was quiet and still as the sun warmed my face in the chilled air.

I closed my eyes and saw the buildings crumbling in my mind. It was real.  I opened them and nothing. All those poor people… gone.

I was battling with my demons from September 11, 2001 in the spot where it happened. I picked the place for the fight. I had already decided that I would win. I would win it on the very spot where it began 4 years prior. I had prepared for this day. I knew it would come. I mumbled a little prayer to myself.

A cold wind hit me in the face and I was awakened, as if from a dream. I returned to reality. It was as if God had allowed me to have a moment for just me in a busy city full of people. For me to battle… To finish the fight and release the grief and anger to him. And it was a good fight. I could only imagine what my wife would be going through if we had a different life and we happened to live in New York and I worked at WTC… and went to work that day not to return. I felt so thankful when she walked over and put her hand in mine…

My life changed today. My reality changed. As we walked around the site, I noticed men working…  machinery moving earth. I noticed grass and wildflowers growing in the excavated area – life!  Life was moving. There was life in this place.  It was wonderful to see. My sadness turned to joy. I knew all was good in the hands of a good God.

I looked into the blue sky and I was thankful for its blueness.  I will never curse a blue sky again.

Sacred moments in a special place… Returning to Texas tomorrow.

-Lance

(Orignally Posted Nov 12, 2005)

VIDEO: The 9/11 Survivor Tree – The last living rescue from 9/11—a charred and battered pear tree—has been recovering at a Bronx nursery. Now, it’s finally returning home.

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*This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.

Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.

Do you know your role in the story of which you inhabit?

We live in an extraordinary moment in history.

Do you know your role in this world?

What are your responsibilities and opportunities in this cultural moment?

Where do I start in the square inch God has placed me?

If you are redeemed in Christ, then you inhabit the greatest story ever told. The Gospel is not limited to the way of salvation. It is bigger than that. Yes, your faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life is important. But, the Gospel I believe is not the Gospel of Lance. It’s not about me. Neither is the Gospel about you. Our salvation is not the end game nor is it the over-arching theme of the Bible. Jesus Christ proclaimed the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom.’

Michael Craven said, “The Gospel is so much larger than the personal plan for salvation. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the in-breaking rule and reign of Jesus Christ as King over all creation – redeeming and restoring all things. Through Him, the Kingdom of God has come into this world. Jesus has completed the atonement (payment) for our sin on the cross. By his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God the Father, He is presently ruling and reigning over creation. Christ is reinstating his righteousness on the earth.”

J.I. Packer said, “The Gospel starts by teaching us that we, as creatures, are absolutely dependent on God, and that he, as Creator, has an absolute claim on us… Only when we have learned this can we see what sin is and understand the salvation from sin.”

The bad news is that our modern American gospel is man-centered not a God-centered Gospel. A God-centered Gospel is indeed Good News. There are two competing gospels, the gospel of the world vs the Gospel of the Kingdom. The former leads to death and destruction the latter leads to eternal life and human flourishing.

“Calling is at the heart of scripture.” – Os Guiness

God calls us, moreover, God invites us to inhabit His story. “When Christians see everything as calling from the Lord, we realize the dynamism of our faith” (Os Guiness). As we respond and enter into the overarching story of all of history, we go about setting things right in the world. In other words, we bring order to the disorder we find in our time and place.

“The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.” – The Colson Center

A Unifying Vision:
As Christians, we must cultivate a unifying vision of the Lordship of Christ over the domain of our individual and collective lives as the local church. We shall live lives that are holy and pleasing to the Lord as we exercise dominion over that which God has placed in our care. The hallmarks of Christian maturity are; holy living, the ability to articulate a Christian vision of total reality, and a zeal to bring ALL things under the Lordship of Christ as co-reagents of His Kingdom – redeeming and restoring that which is lost and dying in the place and time in which we live.

We are witnesses to the ‘in-breaking’ rule and reign of Jesus Christ into history as we redeem and restore that which God has placed in our care. We beseech the lost world to be “reconciled to God” in Christ Jesus as we take our place in His great story.

As Christians, we are transformed through Christ. We are commanded to share the Gospel of the Kingdom with a lost world. We are also given another command called the Cultural Mandate or Dominion Mandate. “The cultural mandate is the command to exercise dominion over the earth, subdue it, and develop its latent potential (Gen. 1:26-28; cf. Gen. 2:15).” (9Marks) We create good, true and beautiful culture that transforms the world and the story we inhabit.

The late Chuck Colson said,Transformed lives transform lives – transformed lives transform culture.

We live in an extraordinary moment in history. We have an extraordinary God. We inhabit an extraordinary story. You Were Made For This Time and Place.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Author’s note: The piece I’ve written above are deeper reflections of my experience and what I’ve learned through the Colson Fellows program over the last two years. “Gain wisdom, live faithfully and act courageously.”

 

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*This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.

The Music in My Head – DJing, Raves and Redemptive Vision

The Music in My Head - DJing, Raves and Redemptive Vision

As I sit in my home office, I am surrounded by music that connects with the old raver, the old man – the DJ. I see it all through new redeemed eyes and a new heart.

Do you ever reflect on the past and think to yourself, “I have lived many lives”? That happens to me quite often.

We moved into a new house a few months ago. Every time we move, I pack about 500-600 vinyl records in boxes for the journey to our new home. The other day I was rearranging my new home office and reorganizing my record collection. At the height of my collection, I had over 5000 records. Over the years I sold off some and gave away the rest. I’ve kept my favorites – the ones I’ve esteemed as “classics.” Some are one-of-a-kind acetates – which are single cut records that were once used to test new songs in live environments. Some in my collection are ‘test-pressings’ which are limited to 25-100 copies.  The rest of my collection are just records I love.

How did I end up with so much vinyl? Well, that is a long story. I don’t have time to share the journey in its entirety at this time – it would require a book. I will share that many moons ago, in a galaxy far far away, I was a DJ. Now, some of you remember “Lance the DJ – the raver.” That may be your last and most prominent memory. Mind you, I may also remember YOU as the raver because of time and distance that is the last memory I have of you. Others may have more recent perceptions of me – a financial advisor or more recently (last 7 years), a pastor. I’m the same Lance but also a different Lance in a very real sense. Often times, I think to myself, “I have lived many lives.” Perhaps when you reflect on your life you feel the same way. We’re very much the same person we once were but at the same time we’re different. Life is so bizarre and yet strangely beautiful in this respect.

(Note: a “rave” is a massive all-night party centered around, friends, electronic music, dancing, drinking and drugs. “Ravers” are the folks that comprise the community centered around these events. At the time I considered myself a ‘sophisticated club-kid’ but let’s be honest – I was a raver.)

Every time I unpack and shelve my vinyl collection, I go on a journey. I don’t have a photographic memory but for some reason I can look at a record and remember where I played it and who was there. In fact, I have dozens of “white labels” that have no markings whatsoever. However, I can remove them from their sleeves and look at the grooves cut into the vinyl – the music in those tiny grooves pops into my mind. I may not be able to tell you the name of the track, but I can tell you what it sounds like and where I played it. Again, this is both bizarre and beautiful – that the mind can make such strong connections across the expanse of time and space.

Within every sleeve lies not just a slice of vinyl but a piece of music – a story – connecting to something beyond itself. There is a gift-nature to it all.

Think about it, 25 years ago, a producer had a vision – an idea for a song in his mind. In the audio studio – ex nihilo, he brings forth sound out of silence. He plays the music in his head and it manifests in reality. He creates, forms and shapes sounds into a song. The producer thinks to himself, “Hey, this is good – I’ll record it for the world to hear!” So, he records his beautiful song and sends the tape to the record press. From there an acetate is cut, a plater makes a mold of the acetate in silver with electro-plated nickel. Then the plate is placed on a stamper where the vinyl is pressed. The end result is music neatly embedded on a vinyl record – the finest analog playback in the world, I might add.

I was a professional DJ and producer in what seems like a different life long ago. Much of my time and money was invested in music. I would seek out those vinyl gems to play at raves and club events each week. I would lug of hundreds records in flight cases to various venues around Austin, Dallas, Orlando, Miami, Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Montreal, Chihuahua, Juarez and the rest of North America. I was welcomed into people’s homes and lives.

Perched in the DJ booth, with music thundering and people dancing – I would find the right track and gently place the record on the turntable. Then, I would place the needle (stylus) where the groove on the vinyl began – matching the beats of the previous song. At the precise time with the tempos in sync, I would add upward pressure on the volume control on the mixer. And like being a pilot of an aircraft, I would throttle the volume higher – keeping the beats in sync with the pitch control, monitoring the EQ and ensuring the two tracks being played at once stayed in key. Once mixed, we were “wheels up” and full volume! I’d check the dance floor below to see how that producer’s idea – the music that was once in his head was effecting the crowd. Then, I would repeat that process hundreds of times – taking people on a journey. If you take a moment to think about it, this entire process is so rich and powerful.

I have thousands of those visions lining my shelves of my office. Every record is linked to memories. I look at a record and I can hear the music in my head. I see the faces of the people. I see old friends and my mind is flooded with more and more memories. It as if I’m right there with them again – even if it is just for a moment. Some of those people are no longer on the earth. Like my good friend and DJ partner-in-crime, Jamon – gone. I preached at his funeral a few years ago. Other old faces I’ve lost track of. Time and distance separates us. Some of the songs on my shelves are attached to long time friendships that exist today. It is all so very prismatic and beautiful – kind of like a spinning disco ball. Even the darkness and brokenness of the DJ / raver lifestyle can be brought into the light and transformed
– redeemed.

Nearly 15 years have passed since I hung up my headphones. But even as I look at the records around me and all that has passed by in the river of life, I have come to realize the goodness and beauty of God working.

I see how he created us in his image with the ability to bring forth an idea – transforming music in someone’s head into music that somehow connects to the hearts of others. Then, stories, memories and lives are given a soundtrack. This is a thing of goodness, a reflection of the creative nature infused into the human creature by his Creator. Whether you are the producer, the DJ, the raver or the gal on a jog – we are listening to art that has in some way contributed to our lives. Sometimes silence is beautiful and good. Other times, we bring forth music and song into our little worlds. I mean, imagine a world without music? Given, not all music is good, beneficial or life-giving. Some music (if you want to call it music) brings out the worst in people. Perhaps we need to stop listening to that kind of music and play a new song.

As I sit in my home office, I am surrounded by music that connects with the old raver, the old man – the DJ. I see it all through new redeemed eyes and a new heart. I hear the music without even playing it. I close my eyes and see the gift-nature of it all – even as it is distorted in this broken world. I see the old friends and the times we shared. The fact that I had the privilege to entertain, meet and know so many incredible people in my many lives is deeply moving, particularly as I get older. As the memories fade as one song ends, I pray for those faces – many who I can’t even remember their names. I put that memory on the shelf…. and in true DJ fashion, I reach for the next memory dust it off and play the music in my head..

We can see the qualities of God’s beauty and goodness that He has lovingly infused into His image-bearers in the domain of human experience. This is the truth. Take it from a redeemed raver peering into the past with redeemed eyes – reaching for the next memory – just one more time before the night is over.

Author’s Note:
My wife recently shared with me a story about two college-age guys who shared the Gospel at a rave in Tennessee. Over 400 rave-goers placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior and most are being discipled today. That is an extraordinary story of faith and how God even pursues ravers at raves. It is interesting to think that even in my dark days as a DJ, He was working to redeem and restore one who would become a pastor – from death to life. When I hear about the guys in Tennessee, if brought back memories and inspired the story above.

For those interested in listening to some of the music I was playing back then. Below is a link to a compilation album I released for Proton Radio in 2004 entitled “The Sound” (named after my radio show on 93.3FM in Austin and ProtonRadio.com)

Lance Cashion ‘The Sound’ Disc 1

Lance Cashion ‘The Sound’ Disc 2

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