Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

The Deal

Here's the (abridged) deal. I don't have it in me right now to do a full post, but here are a few ideas floating around in my mind:
  • Thanksgiving is good
  • Los Angeles is bad
  • Bach is hard
  • Lincoln Towncars suck
  • Brothers (especially named AJ) are good
  • Education is of debatable value
  • My Giuliani paper was not good, but got a good grade
  • God is patient
  • I am distracted/too busy
  • The Firefox popup blocker messes up blogger spellcheck
It was good to see the few people I got to see on the break, here's hoping that for as much as I hate L.A. I'll get back down there soon to see you all again.

I'm Done!

With the first draft, anyway. I know, I know, I should be finished with my first draft a little earlier than two days before the paper is due. Well, to prove that I've finally gotten through, here's my concluding paragraph:

Mauro Giuliani was an important figure in the development of the guitar as a serious instrument. While there is no direct evidence to support the myth of his friendship with Beethoven, there is ample evidence establishing Giuliani as a prominent virtuoso in Vienna in the early 1800s. Above and beyond any reputation earned by association with other musicians, the greatest testament to Giuliani’s relevance as a guitarist and composer is the legacy of great music he left behind. The guitar still struggles for relevance today, and that relevance will not be found in myths associating the guitar with iconic musical figures such as Beethoven, but in the virtues of well crafted music for the guitar such as that of Mauro Giuliani.

I'm Really Not a Slacker

You've probably noticed that my posts for the last week or so have come with decreasing frequency and quality. Sorry about this. I'm going through a mini quarter-life crisis (it's an early mid-life crisis) which happens to have overlapped with a research paper for Music History which is due on Tuesday. I guess the one redeeming quality of the situation I'm in now is that it all ends, for better or for worse, on Tuesday. Tuesday is also the day that Jeni and I are flying back to LA for T-day. Hopefully I'll get a chance to see you, if you live in La, next week. Since my quarter-life crisis will be simmering down and my research paper will be done with I'll be able to tell you all about my new direction in life and Mauro Giuliani. But for now it's back to the grindstone for me.

Oooo, Brains...

Some people who are smarter than me read this blog. I want to use this opportunity to pick your brains. I've checked out the internet for some info, but I'm wondering if anyone out there has some knowledge about this symbol:

Thanks for the use of your brains!

New Church Music Post

Well, I finally did it. You can find the new post here. Hopefully I'll be able to update that more often after T-Day.

Tonight the end of a long weekend. Tomorrow is the beginning of a long week. Urgh.

Won't You Spare Me Over til Another Year?

As Anastasia pointed out, our society has sanitized death through embalming and carefully preparing the corpses of our loved ones to remind us of the way they were in life, not in death. I've had several experiences with death. When my grandfather died, the casket was open at the memorial service with his body looking like a molded plastic representation of the person he was in life. My mother's casket was absent at the memorial service and closed at the gravesite. I was with my father when died and got to see him again after the doctors had done their work trying to revive him. I never saw his body prepared, I only saw it as a corpse actually is.

Hang on while I shift gears. Everyone knows what an apple from the supermarket looks like, they're bright, shiny happy looking fruits. I remember the first time I went to an orchard and pulled an apple off of the tree. It wasn't bright or shiny, supermarkets put wax on the apples later to make them more appealing in the store. The skin of the apple was rough and dull, but its color, while not as bright, seemed somehow more serious, more real. But what do we prefer? What do we have given to us? How many people are there in the world who don't know what an apple really looks like and only know it as the supermarkets present it to us, bright and shiny?

How many people don't know what death looks like? When you see an embalmed body, you try to think of that person the way they were in life. You hide death with fantasy. You cling to the idea that that person is still alive in your memory. When you see the body of a loved one unprepared, you realize that the person you love is no longer there, all that's left is an empty shell. For me, I knew this meant that my father was alive somewhere else now, I didn't have to take the responsibility of keeping him solely in my memory. Pastor Jim, my pastor back in Granada Hills, is a very wise man. He urged me to go in to see the body that used to hold my father. I'm glad he did, and I'm glad I took his advice.

When we clean up death we can't become convinced of it. How selfish we are! We want eternal life, but we refuse to acknowledge death! Death is a monster under the bed and has gained boogie-man status to Americans and even (especially?) American Christians. When we see a picture of a dead person, is our first thought of that person or of our own mortality? And if our thought is of our own mortality, or the mortality of a close family member or friend, how quickly do we try to repress that thought? And how uncomfortable do we become when we find that we can’t push this thought completely out of our minds?

I guess that’s all I have to say and Jeni’s head is about to explode from reading all those rhetorical questions, so I’ll get off of my soapbox and go play my guitar.

I choose...

...not to do a serious post. I'm thinking about some serious stuff, but instead I'll follow the current trend and offer some recent quotes.

My music history teacher on Mendelssohn:
"He got people know...jacked up about Bach in the 1800's."

My guitar teacher on Rodrigo's "Danza de las Hachas":
"Yeah, don't be afraid to get into it, this guy's a hacha, whatever that means..."
(As best I can tell, a hacha is either an axe or a candle.)

Forrest Baird, philosophy professor extrordinaire, on fog machines?
"I got this fog machine and tried it in my garage, it works great! But it left a film on everything..."

Forrest again, this time on pottery:
"It's an ashtray, ok. Shut up."


...about all sorts of crap. But never mind all that. Deschutes Brewery, which brews the excellent Black Butte Porter, also makes another quite fine dark beer called Obsidian Stout. I think I need to spend less time being frustrated and more time drinking beer.

Broken Churches Part 2

Error! This was too long to post in the comments section of the last post, so it'll find a home here. See the comments of the last post for context.

I think there are plenty of completely opposing positions held by Christians today. One church may choose to focus on Christ's nature as he walked on this earth teaching and acting for our salvation. Another church may focus on Christ sitting at the right hand of God or coming again in judgement. Both of these views are legitimate; the danger comes only when you completely reject one for the other.

On many doctrinal issues I think the split is more apparent but the consequence less severe. Take the issue of infant vs. adult (or believer) baptism for example. There are plenty of people who stand on each side condemning the other's opinion. However, I don't believe God is going to let this human arguement keep anyone out of the kingdom.

I think there is a time and a place to take a stand against beliefs or practices that go against God's will, but you must always be careful not to condemn and to truly be open to God's will. It is only for God to condemn and who knows, maybe that person you're looking down on actually has a better idea of God's will than you do.

God in Broken Churches

Where else can God be? When Jesus walked on earth, he hung out with the sick and the sinners. The Holy Spirit does the same now in our churches. The topic of imperfect churches has come up recently, and it brought to mind a recent experience. I don't know if it's really relevant, but I'll share it anyway.

A friend of mine is Christian and his wife is Jewish. They have two kids who have been raised in the church and have come to have a remarkable understanding of the connectivity of Judaism and Christianity at an early age. My friend's wife was disappointed that the kids where not getting more Jewish influence, so they started attending a messianic synagogue. Messianic Jews are Jewish people who retain their Jewish identity while accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah(Christ) as well as Gentiles who are sympathetic to the Jewish people and love Jewish culture. My wife Jeni is a believer in Christ who comes from a Jewish background, so we decided to try attending. We attended a messianic synagogue down in LA for a while and then found one up here in Spokane. Messianic Judaism is a cool movement, but it has some aspects that I don't agree with. (Just a disclaimer, Messianic Judaism is a young movement and doctrinal issues vary from congregation to congregation and from year to year. After being in Spokane for a year, I visited the synagogue back in LA and the liturgy had almost completely changed.) Some synagogues give ethnic Jews a higher status spiritually and in leadership than they give to gentiles. Many Messianic Jews are very Zionistic, and a large point of the movement is to support the political state of Israel. Another idea driving Messianic Judaism is to unite the remnant of the Jewish people under Yeshua, at which point the second coming will occur. Jeni and I were told at one point that we needed to belong to a Messianic synagogue because no one with Jewish blood will ever truly 'belong' in a Gentile church and needed to be a part of the Messianic movement.

But this also happened:

One Saturday morning we went to the shabbat service and before the service the rabbi stood in front of the congregation with two members who had started sleeping with each other and where not married. We postponed the start of the service for about an hour to pray for and offer support for these two people.

Is this a broken church (using "church" to mean a gathered group of believers)? In my opinion, yes, but that is just my opinion and doesn't mean a thing, except that I don't choose to worship there. God is working in that church, despite its shortcomings, just like He's working in broken churches all over the world.

New Music Ministry Blog

I promised a week or two ago that this blog would become a place to discuss music and its place in the church. Well, I decided in simply for the sake of order and to feep all the music ministry post organized to start a separate page for church music. The address is easy enough to remember, Please visit to share thoughts on music in the church!

Ecumenical Rant

This post is a response to some comments left on this post from a few days ago. I wanted to respond in a new post so this important issue wouldn't get lost in a comment box halfway down the page. I had posted an article published by the Presbyterian church which I thought would be good for Whitworth students to read and Andrew replied (paraphrased), "Good luck getting someone from Faith Bible to read that article." Andrew, let me know if I interpreted your comment correctly.

I believe Andrew is referring to a non-denominational church up here in Spokane. Whitworth seems to be split about 50/50 between people who grew up in mainline churches and people who grew up in non-denominational congregations (I'll run over to the registrar's office and check on those stats). I personally don't care whether a church is mainline or non-denominational as long as they put Christ at the center of their worship. The problem Andrew is alluding to (I believe) is that many people who go to non-denominational churches have an inherent distrust of mainline churches. I think this is really a shame. For God's sake people! (and I'm not using the Lord's name in vain here) If you're mainline protestant, non-denominational, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Catholic, Fundamentalist, or whatever so long as you worship Christ, you are all worshipping the same God and are a part of the same body of Christ!

I think it's unfortunate that denominational differences have separated the church. For God's sake people! Get it though your head that denominational differences are only human imposed divisions in the church. Can't you learn to see and appreciate the way the Orthodox tradition sees God or how the Evangelical tradition sees God or how Presbyterians see God or how Methodists see God? Now don't get me wrong, I'm not promoting an every man for himself kind of faith here, I think we always need to guard ourselves against the temptation of conforming God to our paeronal ideas in a heretical way, but for the most part, I think different doctrines are simply human divisions on the church. I don't know if all the Christians in the world from all different denomoinational backgrounds will ever join in a united church in earth. In fact, I'm more apt to believe that humans are incapable of doing this. Fortunately though, what is impossible with man is possible with God. Geez, won't it piss some of us off when we find ourselves sharing the same heaven with Catholics, Pentecostals, Lutherans and even (ick!) Presbyterians?!?!?!?

(Disclaimer: The last sentence was sarcastic, just in case you couldn't tell. I don't believe denominational differences will carry over into heaven and I don't think in heaven we'll give a second though to what branch of Christianity someone was a part of in their earthly life. That's kind of the point of the whole rant.)

Rant over (for now)

A Good Manhattan is Also a Thrill Ride

Well, The last ten posts or so have all been pretty serious. First there was the Whitworth poster thing, then the real world dilemma and then the election. Oh, yeah, there was that pickup truck with the toilet guy on it and the Kerry-Got-Rocked Dragon, too. I figure it's about time to post about absolutely nothing at all.

I don't usually do "list of everything that happened in my day" posts, but I think I'll give it a try. If nothing else maybe reading about my day will make you feel better about yours. Nothing bad happened today though, I don't want you to think that, it was just kind of a boring, run of the mill day.

Jeni had to get up early this morning to go do an improv show at the Whitworth for a bunch of elementary school aged kids. Saturday morning before we get out of bed is just about the only time Jeni and I get to have just for each other. You might think I was sad about having her gone this morning, but I figured out a way around it: I just slept in till she got back! When she got back Jeni crawled under the covers with me and all was once again right with the world.

After a little quality time with the missus it was time for me to go to my guitar ensemble meeting. This semester I am playing guitar duets with another student here at Whitworth and getting ensemble credits for it. We're playing a few Renaissance pieces, mainly stuff out of the Jane Pickering Lutebook. Renaissance music is really cool. It's so different from anything Baroque, or especially Viennese classical, and after. It almost feels like you're playing music from some other world. Anywho, today was the first day that these pieces where actually coming together and starting to sound like music. That's nice, since we perform at the end of this month.

Well, I was now stranded at school because Jeni had taken the car to go castrate a horse so I got started on my reading for my Music History research paper. I am writing about Mauro Giuliani, one of the heavy hitters of guitar in the Viennese classical era. I'm still having trouble nailing down an exact topic, let alone a thesis, but I think I'm going to do something comparing and contrasting his use of the sonata allegro form on guitar from different parts of his life. Here's a handy little tip just in case you want to become a music major: the answer's probably "sonata allegro." Or "augmented sixth." (Of course the next question would be: is it an Italian, French, or German augmented sixth? Of the three it would probably be the German. The German augmented sixth is the coolest one because it's enharmonically equivalent to a dominant seventh chord. Blah, blah, blah...)

After reading about Giuliani for a while I decided I'd rather be playing music than reading about it, so I went over to the music building and dusted off Giuliani's Op. 15 sonata. This was the first substantial piece I cut my teeth on in my studies but I haven't played it in a while. I was surprised by how much of it I remember and how much easier it was this time around. I guess that's a good thing, seeing how I'm shelling out cold hard cash to learn to play the guitar better.

At about 4:30, Jeni got back from the castration (which they actually couldn't do because one testicle was still undescended) and we went to Costco. This was a good thing for us to do because we needed food. (duh) We also bought paper towels and toilet paper. It's amazing how your perception of size changes when you go into Costco. "That's the largest pack of toilet paper they have? Well, I guess we'll get it, but it doesn't seem like a much better deal than at Safeway." Of course, when we got home the aforementioned package of toilet paper barely fit into our bathroom and when unpacked more than filled our storage space allotted for TP. So, if you've got to crap... I think we may have bought the special 'econo-prankster size' promotional pack they had left over from Halloween. Of course I topped off the Costco experience with a $1.50 polish dog and drink, the best meal money can buy!

We got home and I realized-Crap!-I'd forgotten to buy soap. Ok, I know this doesn't seem like that big a deal, but I've been out of soap for weeks and have been meaning to buy more. Of course, the only time you remember you're out of soap is when you get into the shower and-Crap!- realize that you have to use Jeni's 'fuzzy peach' bodywash again. So I went to Target and bumped into some friends from school while I was there and explained to them the whole soap fiasco that I just explained to you, cause I'm that kind of person, and bought some soap. I bought Dove, which is the most expensive soap there is but Jeni says it will be better for me than the stuff I usually buy. Buying the most expensive soap was no easy task, I was raised to buy cheap at all costs and the 96 pack of Zest was on sale for $5. (Ok, it was more like the 14 pack.) I also bought hardware to hang a poster on our bathroom wall. Hardware...? Listen, it's a serious poster and I like to do things right.

I got home, put up the poster and cut my hair. I've been cutting my own hair for a long time and now when ever I get a haircut, no matter how good it is, I always feel ripped off. So I cut the old hair and trimmed the old beard. Oh, yeah, many of you probably aren't familiar with the beard. Before Jeni and I got married I decided that I wouldn't shave for about a month before the wedding to grow a really nasty looking beard to freak out Jeni's family ("He's going to look like that for the wedding?") Unfortunately, the beard actually ended up looking kind of good which ruined the joke. Well, I shaved the beard off for the wedding but grew it back again once I got up to school. Everyone says it looks pretty good and I like it, too. I don't think it really makes me look any older, I think it just makes me look less like a goofy little kid, and more like a goofy little kid with a beard.

So, by this point I'd spent most of the day. I made a bowl of Italian wedding soup for a late second dinner and then mixed myself up a Manhattan since I haven't had one in a while. Now I'm blogging and drinking my Manhattan. A good Manhattan is also a thrill ride. Well, this one isn't great, but it is big, which makes up for it in the end. Now I'm gonna finish this guy off and head off to bed. Goodnight.

Final Confession Part 2

Boy, this is getting ridiculous! I promise I'm about to drop the Confession thing, but I just wanted to follow up on a recent post. Today I sent this letter to the Whitworthian, Whitworth's student newspaper:

Dear fellow Whitworth students,
We have just re-elected President Bush who led us into pre-emptive war against Iraq. While we do not know for sure what the next term will bring, the President has made it known that he feels pre-emptive war against nations which may pose a threat to the USA may play a part in the war on terror. This year the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (which Whitworth is affiliated with) released a report titled “Iraq: Our Responsibility and the Future.” The report “condemns the U.S. policy of pre-emptive military action against nations perceived as a threat to the United States as ethically indefensible and contrary to the “just war” theory that has been the basis of much Christian theology on warfare” ( I would like to urge the students of Whitworth College to consider carefully and pray about the President’s policy of pre-emptive war. If you find yourself convicted on this issue, write to the President at The White House / 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW / Washington, DC 20500, or call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111. Whether we voted for President Bush or not, it is our responsibility as American citizens and as Christians to make our voice heard in Washington.
Matthew Price
Music Major

Just wanted to keep you all up to speed. Thanks to my brother for posting the General Assembly article on his blog a while ago.

The Best Election Analysis I've Seen

Move over CNN and Fox News. Exit polls mean nothing. Even my beloved NPR can't hold a candle to this election analysis.

I don't like politics. Maybe I'm too young, maybe I'm too idealistic, maybe I need to become jaded or force myself into blissful ignorance. I didn't think there was any good choice in this year's presidential election. I was disgusted at how the race was run on both sides. Neither candidate put forth an actual plan for the next term should they be elected. The campaign was spent simply insulting and smearing the other candidate. I didn't want any part of it. I did not, and still do not, support Bush, but I could not vote against him because Kerry gave me no reason to think he was worth having in office. Andrew said, "when is ANY politician direct about the things that he/she wants to do?" Ok, this may be the way the political game is played, but I don't like it. I'll have to wait till I'm older and numb to the world before I can play along with this kind of politics. Aside from that, I heard on NPR today a commentator remarking on how unusual it was in this campaign that neither candidate spent much time putting forth his plan for his presidency. The way campaigns are run in this country need to change.

So, you can call me a failure of democracy, but I don't think I am. I spent a lot of time thinking long and hard about this election and decided that I could not in good faith give my support to either candidate. I was definitely more against Bush than I was against Kerry, but I'm not ready to reduce myself to choosing the lesser of two evils.

"That's all well and good," you say, "but what are you going to do for the next four years now that Bush has won?" Here's what I think is going to happen in the next four years and this is what I plan to do about it:

William Strauss and Neil Howe wrote a book entitled The Fourth Turning in which they describe the four stages of what they see as the cyclical flow of history. The four stages are:1. Crisis, 2. Stability, 3. Revolution, 4. Unraveling. The cycle then repeats. Here's how they view the last half of the 20th century:

WWII: Crisis
50's: Stability
60's-70's: Revolution
80's-90's: Unraveling
2000: Crisis

You can already see how Bush is struggling to bring stability to the world thrown into crisis by global terrorism. This stability is coming at the cost of personal liberty, the USA's global reputation and the lives of our soldiers and foreign citizens. The period since 9/11 has been marked by militarily enforced stability, at least in the US homeland. As Bush's supporters are quick to point out, there has not been a terrorist attack on the US since 9/11. It seems to me like the stage may be set for revolution in the next four years, and I'll be ready. If there comes an opportunity to march on Washington D.C. to protest a proposed pre-emptive war in Iran, I'll be there with bell(bottom)s on. I'll even paint a peace sign on the back of my very fuel efficient Toyota.

"Ok," you say, "but what if revolution doesn't come and we don't get that opportunity?" Well, I'm going to send a letter to President Bush (this time via the post office, not my blog) asking him to refrain from any more pre-emptive wars. Other than these two options, I'm not really sure what I can do. Ideas? Leave a comment, I'd be glad to have them.

Confessions part 3

It's the 11th hour (well, I guess it's actually about the 7th hour, but I hope to be asleep by about the 10th) and I'm still up a creek (crik) without a paddle when it comes to making a decision about who gets my support tomorrow. I thank everyone for all of the comments which have certainly served to help convince me that Bush is not the right way to go. However, no effort was expended in conveying any of Kerry's merits (other than not being Bush). Fortunately, both candidates are regular readers of my blog so I will use this forum to write a letter to both of them.

Dear President Bush,

I would really like to vote for you tomorrow, but there are some things that are weighing on my mind. I don't really like the way you started the war in Iraq, turning your back on the Congress and the UN and all, but I'm willing to forgive this. I'm more concerned about the future than the past. I don't like war, Mr President, and I would like for it to stop. I know you think it would be a sign of weakness to try out any option other than the one we've already started in Iraq, but innocent people are having their heads sawn off at least once a week! If this keeps happening, no one is going to want to help you rebuild Iraq whether they are American contractors or Iraqi police. We need to figure out a way for people to stop getting their heads cut off because it's not very good for the public morale.

Also, I would like to support you in finishing the Iraq war, but I want this to be the last one. No more pre-emptive war, please. You have all but laid out a list of countries you want to invade as soon as we free up soldiers from Iraq. Look at how hard it has been to "liberate" Iraq; you must realize that Iran will be a thousand times harder. So please, no more war unless there's a really good reason and we are directly provoked first. Diplomacy is also nice. I know you aren't too familiar with it but I'm sure there's someone around in one of those pretty big white buildings who could explain it to you.

One last thing, I appreciate your religious beliefs, but don't be so quick to try to enforce them as law. Please don't pursue the marriage amendment and please let scientists do the work they think is worth doing. And please, play nice with the constitution, it's really a pretty handy little document.

That's all I want. Finish this war and don't start anymore. Remember that not everyone has the same religious beliefs as you do and it's not your job to legislate them. And be careful with my personal freedom. That's all I want this election year. You can keep giving out huge corporate tax breaks and bowing down to the NRA; we can deal with that sometime down the road. That's all I want, do all these things and this year I'll vote for you.

Your friend and registered voter,

Dear Mr. Kerry,

Who are you? What do you want? What do you plan on doing as president? Yeah, I know, middle-class, health-care, blah, blah, guys say that every year but we all know that the Republicans will never let you do any of it. So what are you going to do? What are your real plans? How do you plan to make America better in a realistic way? Let me know and you might get my vote, because I doubt W will go along with what I've asked from him.

Your friend and registered voter,

Well, in the unlikely event that neither candidate leaves a comment responding to my letter, I do have a back up plan. Some of you may be wondering who that floating head on the right sidebar of my page belongs to. That is the visage of Whitworth philosophy professor Forrest Baird who has edited the textbook series "Philosophic Classics." If neither candidate responds, I will be writing in Forrest Baird for Philosopher King. I figure he could straighten things out.

Confessions part 2

Here's the first update of what I'm sure will be several on my Confessions of an Undecided Voter post. I stated in that post that I was personally against abortion but didn't know if that was my political stance as well. I'm still against abortion, I think its one of the worst things ever to be introduced into our society. Under the guise of "choice" we have made available a procedure that removes responsibility from the men who get women pregnant, causes all sorts of health problems for women including drastic increases in breast cancer and causes incredible feelings of regret, loss and self-hatred in many women who choose to abort their child. How can anyone think this is good for women!?!? In my eyes, abortion hurts the feminist cause rather than strengthens it. You can see the evil of abortion without even touching on the moral issue of killing an unborn child. But should we make abortion illegal? Unfortunately, abortion and the "right" to have an abortion has become so ingrained in America that not even prohibition would be able to stop people from seeking abortions. As my brother and Jeni pointed out to me, if you make abortion illegal you would probably have the almost the same number of aborted kids but way more dead women who would be forced to have illegal underground abortions. Do I like abortion? No. Do I think we should make it illegal? No. I hate to say it, because it always seems like a cop-out answer to me when applied to things like illegal drugs, but this is one of those situations where we need to raise awareness of the truth of abortion. Too many women think abortion is a quick fix with no lasting side effects. I thought this until I had exposure to "The sex lady"(old school 1st Pres people help me out here with her real name) in high-school and especially once in college who told us her own experiences with abortion and venereal disease. Anywho...

I don't like abortion, but don't outlaw it. Educate people so they know the truth about abortion and I believe it will become much less popular when seen for what it really is.

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