Thursday, August 13, 2009

cultural icons

While in California recently my son and I stopped by Neverland Ranch and took photos standing by the gate. I was going to include one of those but for now the computer is not cooperating. The untimely death of Michael Jackson, a giant cultural icon, reminds me of the death of both John Lennon and Elvis. Both were bigger icons for me than Michael Jackson because they were personal musical influences. Even though I respected Michael Jackson's talent and accomplishments, he was never a musical influence.

I learned of Elvis' death when Rick Markberry showed up one summer evening in August to pick me up to go see a local band play at Bogarts and the first thing he told me after I opened the door was, "Elvis died." During our evening, we discussed Elvis, his music and the various ways he was a musical influence on us. I allow myself to eat a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich only in August and January.

A few years later, I returned home late on a Monday night in December from working at Bick's Driving School, turned on Monday Night Football just before Howard Cosell announced that John Lennon had been shot and was presumed dead. Rick Mapes, Hodgie and I sat up all night listening to Peter Leighton on Q-102 as he interviewed people and reported on Lennon's death. The season leading into Christmas, 1980 was very sad. That had been a very sad year for me anyway and his death was a continuation of grief.

It's amazing to think that the death of a cultural icon would have such a personal impact but as I observed the displays left at the Neverland gate, I understood how some of the fans were feeling. I have never visited either Graceland or the Dakota but I would like to.

Cultural icons impact us, influence us, and cause reactions in us.

For some people, the Jesus House probably fits the category of a cultural icon. It was something that impacted people in spiritual and cultural ways. I was always amazed when a new person to the Jesus House would respond with a comment like, "I never knew it was possible to have Christian music in a style that I like." We became so accustomed to the weekly concerts it was easy to forget that thousands of others never had the same advantage. We because accustomed to the different ways we did Bible study or small groups or experienced worship and fellowship together but many others only knew traditional church styles.

Besides the music, the Jesus House also impacted the way people dressed. It was always fun to see someone start wearing a certain style of clothing then over a couple of months see others adopt the style. (Remember leg warmers or Earth Shoes? Yes, both invaded the Jesus House although ten years apart) This also happened with things like Rubic cubes (summer of 1981 everyone had one!), tea drinking (winter, 1974 everyone drank Constant Comment!) and running (in 1979 everyone was running!). Yes, the Jesus House had a huge spiritual impact on people, but it was also a gathering place for shared culture.

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed the Third and Fourth Weeks of August

The Third Week of August

1972 - Doug Yost, Kevin & Doug, Mike & Blain
1973 - Vickie Eaton, Mike Wilshire
1974 - Conglomerate #2!
1975 - Mark O'Hara
1976 - Conglomerate #4!
1977 - Conglomerate #5!
1978 - Conglomerate #6!
1979 - Conglomerate #7!
1980 - Conglomerate #8!
1981 - Conglomerate #9, #9, #9, #9, #9 ...
1982 - Share-it
1983 - Conglomerate #11

The Fourth Week of August

1972 - Mark O'Hara, Vickie Eaton
1973 - Conglomerate #1! Camp Evergreen, not far from where I currently abode!
1974 - Wings of Deliverance singers, musicians, etc. A wild bunch! Also, Sherry Fayard & Sharon Wilson
1975 - Conglomerate #3!
1976 - Tony Ross
1977 - Jerry Gelesppi
1978 - ? It's blank.
1979 - Hymn
1980 - Share-it
1981 - Rob Rodebush
1982 - Share-it
1983 - Terry Fisher

August Occasionally had a Fifth Saturday. Here are the artists who helped us out on those Fifth Saturdays:

1974 - Rising Hope, Cliff & Dave
1975 - Sela
1980 - Prodigal
1981 - End O Summer Bash, Family Nite

Monday, August 10, 2009

another reunion

No, don't get excited. This is not news about another JH Reunion.
Some of the people who attended the JH Reunion in May are planning to attend the Summer of Love Three concert this Saturday, August 15 at the Riverstar Ballroom (formerly the Starlight Ballroom. Wasn't it called Moonlight Gardens many years ago?). Tickets are $20.00, music begins 7:00 pm. I'll be there when the doors open at 6:00 pm and try to reserve 1-2 tables.

This event is hosted by Haymarket Riot and features bands or musicians who played in and around Cincinnati in the 60's. Many of the bands are groups I remember hearing during my high school years. Deny Brigance, longtime JH performer and Executive Producer of the JH Recording Project will be performing with Haymarket.

Also on the line-up this year, Balderdash, The Daybreakers, Bill Bartlett, Sacred Mushroom and lots of others.
Check out the web site:
I attended last year and had a great time. Also, Steve Helwig from Haymarket attended the Jesus House Reunion, so I think we need to return the favor!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


A residual benefit of being on staff with the Jesus House included invitations to perform concerts or speak at churches, schools, campus ministries, camps, retreats and other ministries like the Jesus House. During those fourteen years I appeared multiple times at nearly every major college or university in the area including Miami, UC, Bowling Green, Moorhead and UK. Churches from a wide variety of denominations hosted me either as a speaker or concert performer. I was even a Lenten speaker for a Catholic church! One of my favorite speaking opportunities, one that never paid, was speaking in a Philosophy class at Colrain High School. I was invited the first time in 1978 and spoke in the class every quarter for the next six years. During that time, students at Colrain also invited me to be a Baccalaureate speaker twice. My purpose in the class was to answer student questions as a representative of Christianity. They were free to question me on anything concerning Christianity. Naturally, there were questions about evolution vs. creation, the existence of God, is Christianity the only way to God, why is the Bible so confusing, and may other, probing, challenging questions. I loved the interactions. The teacher, Mr. Colusi always made sure I provided information about the Jesus House Invariably, every time I spoke, students from the class visited the Jesus House the following Saturday night. The following is a fictitious account drawn from several experiences in the class.

"Can you prove heaven exists?"
That was the question from this class of high school seniors. They requested proof from me, the guest speaker in their philosophy class.
Proof before they would believe.
Did they want heaven to exist?
Was that hunger in their eyes?
Or were they hoping that this experience would once and for all settle the question and the answer would be no, heaven does not exist so ignore the rumblings in your heart. The stirring you feel for some other place.
They wanted proof. Proof of a place which cannot be visited, cannot be photographed, cannot be video taped, so how to prove.
I cannot prove.
Cannot give irrefutable evidence.
"No," I respond, "I cannot prove the existence of heaven. At least not any more than you can prove the existence of a cafeteria in this building. Is there a cafeteria?"
"Yes." Declared several students at once.
"Prove it."
"I've been there. I ate lunch there today."
"Proves nothing." I said, " You are giving personal testimony of a personal experience claiming you visited your fictional cafeteria. Jesus claimed to have come to us from heaven. The Apostle Paul wrote about being taken up to heaven either in bodily form or in a vision. The Apostle John described heaven as he saw it in a vision. Yet, these testimonies are not proof enough for you of the existence of heaven. For our purposes today, personal testimony is not enough. Try again."
"I'll go get some food and bring it to you."
"That only proves you have access to food. It does not prove the existence of a cafeteria."
""We will take you there."
"No. I won't go. I do not believe that this fictional cafeteria exists so why should I agree to be taken to a place that doesn't exist. I will not take direction to your mythical cafeteria anymore that you will take directions to heaven."
"You are frustrating!" says one of the students.
"Yes I am, but do you see the point?"
"You see, before I will accept any of the things you tell me about your cafeteria, I must first believe in at least the possibility that it exists. Until then, anything you claim is inadequate. In order for you to accept any of the proofs of the existence of heaven, you will need to believe in the possibility that it exists. I would like to take all of you to heaven. I would love to give you directions in how to get there. But first you must believe it exists or at least in the possibility it exists. This is a dichotomy of faith.

This Week in History: Artists Who Appeared at the Jesus House the First Two Weeks of August

The First Week of August:

1972 - Pam Coburn, John Gould, Kevin & Doug
1973 - Soul Purpose
1974 - John Gould
1975 - Larry & Carl
1976 - One Lane Road
1977 - Grant Edwards & Jon Owens
1978 - Tony Ross
1979 - Zion
1980 - Rob Rodebush
1981 - One Way Players, Grant Edwards
1982 - Minstrial
1983 - Slapstick Saints

The Second Week of August

1972 - Andie Frost
1973 - The Bozo Brothers
1974 - New Birth
1975 - Bob from Chicago (That wasn't really his name. I'm sure he had a last name, but it's not in my notes. I had him listed as Bob from Chicago...)
1976 - Sharon Wilson & Sherry Fayard
1977 - Joni Ridner
1978 - John Gould
1979 - John Gould
1980 - Blank date the week before Conglomerate.
1981 - Bill Williams (Now days known as the Reverend Billy Rose!)
1982 - Conglomerate Weekend featuring Brown Bannister as speaker and guest worship leader.
1983 - Deny Brigance