“Fuck Cancer” is a perfectly appropriate response

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/11/24

John Spalding, Fuck Cancer

Photo courtesy of the talented sarah joann murphy
Roo & Tug —

A friend of a friend died last night of cancer. His name was John Spalding and he used to be in a few bands with our friend Mr. Jeff.

Mamacita and I didn’t know John — I do remember seeing him at a Raft of Dead Monkeys house show in 2000 or 2001 — but even though we did not know John, we’ve both had this visceral reaction to the disease that killed him yesterday —

Fuck cancer.

I want to say as your dad that you will have responses like this to some things in life — whether they come at you from the periphery or dead on — and I want to let you know that it is a perfectly appropriate reaction.

An important part of the big Story which surrounds us is that we are all dumbstruck in these moments by an intense notion that THIS IS NOT THE WAY THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.

Especially when someone is young and talented or so very good and undeserving of untimely death — Folks like your Grandpa Gordy, my friend Marc Kaser, my friend Stuart Berry, my friend Tom Music, my friend from Gnomedex Derek Miller, or a visionary like steve Steve Jobs.

And I want to take this timely moment to encourage your future selves on some very important points.

When these sort of “FUCK CANCER” moments hit you — I want you to take some time to ask where these deep reactions of justice and fairness come from.

= = =

There are three books that have persuaded me that Jesus is the capital “S” Story of what life is all about.

In one of these books called “Mere Christianity” (written as an explanation of where God was amidst the devastation of the 1st and 2nd World Wars), C.S. Lewis has an amazing section about two chaps arguing in a bar over something.

The important point he makes has nothing to do with what they are arguing about.

Instead, he points out how quickly they appeal to a notion of “that’s not fair” in their discussion.

He uses that bar conversation to illustrate how deep and natural this idea of fairness is ingrained in us (and all of humanity).

I will go into greater detail on this later, but I wanted to take a moment to point out three things —

  1. Your Mamacita and I believe that the only rational explanation for this sort of reaction is that God is real and good in the concrete and understandable sense found within the Bible — and that this Goodness is what we footnote in these viseral reactions.

  2. I want you to look closely at the picture above of Mr. Jeff — look at that wicked smile — that grin is a book of systematic theology put in a t-shirt and walking around a club in Seattle — that smile contains one of the most important and juxtaposed truths that Jesus puts in the hearts of folks who follow him in spirit and in truth — it holds “FUCK CANCER” and “physical death is not the end of the story” in a dramatic and deep tension.

  3. These are the things that poetic lives are made of.

Rest in Peace John Spalding.



Bumps, bruises, and uncanny inoculations

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/11/13

All around us we observe a pregnant creation.

The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within.

We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.

We are enlarged in the waiting.

We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Romans 8:22-25 (The Message)

Roo & Tug —

Again — hindsight years from now will tell you how these tilting at windmill notions of your Mamacita and I have turned out.

Just yesterday, out of a simple question to Roo, about who you had eaten lunch with at school — we moved from a standard issue “how was school today” debrief into a war zone of “why can’t we all just get along” race relations.

Seems a girl at school said you could not eat lunch with a certain group of friends because you are white.

This prompted an unkind reaction in your heart, and with that that, in one fell swoop, the weight of the knowledge of good and evil had fallen heavy on the household.

And you are only 5.

And this is only kindergarten.

Mamacita and I jumped into action — conversationally digging into an incongruent comment — emailing your teacher for her help on getting to the bottom of things — working through what it means to be generous in the face of horrible actions.

We talked through how God woos us to Himself through his kindness in the midst of our fuck-You-itiveness.

This is where we’ve chosen to put down roots — and time will tell what fruit this approach bears.

It’s the sorta thing that makes us, as your parents, turn in our sleep — Are we doing the right thing? Shouldn’t we be shielding you more from such a world? Isn’t a mashup of “Charlotte’s Web” and Rodney King a little over the top?

And right now, the best answer we’ve got is that it seems wiser to us to work our way through these things as they come — to not sequester either of you from the sorrow and reality of the world until some far off day.

Instead, we’re struck by the uncanny inoculation offered by a life of bumps + bruises + a large dose of loving and protective oversight.

Here’s hoping it all works out.

Peace —


Matrimonial Expectation Pyrotechnics

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/11/08

Tug & Roo —

The coolest weddings we get to go to have a line where the officiant sets fire to the “happily ever after” expectations that we all tend to smuggle into such gatherings.

These matrimonial expectation pyrotechnics often go something like this —

Officiant — “I’d like to take a moment to point out the only problems that exist with this marriage…”

Crowd thinks — “WTF? Why talk about problems on what is to be such a happy day?”

Officiant continues — “The only two things that have me worried about this marriage are…”

Long pause (this draws a crowd in)…

“Him,” pointing to the groom.

“And, her,” pointing to the bride.

At this point, the crowd always laughs — and those who have been married for any length of time laugh harder.

One of the reasons we are followers of Jesus is because the story of Christianity makes the most sense to us in explaining the big story of what life is all about.

This is what we call the Meta-Story — or “The Story” that frames all other small ‘s’ stories.

A core element of this Meta-Story that Jesus is pretty persuasive on is this —

Responsibility for the problems we see in the world (from daily relationships to the grind of work to natural disasters) is, first, to be laid at our own feet.

Before we go pointing fingers at any “other” person or entity, we need to take a very hard look at ourselves.

Only when we have begun to look at our part in any problem can we hope to make any real sense of any conflict or situation we face.

That’s all for now. More later on how mud pies figure into the equation.

— Daddio

Rejoice with those who rejoice

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/11/05

Love must be sincere.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Honor one another above yourselves.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.

Share with God’s people who are in need.
Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you;
bless and do not curse.

Rejoice with those who rejoice;
mourn with those who mourn.

Live in harmony with one another.

Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.

Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

The letter from Paul, who had been a murderer,
to the Believers gathered in Rome.
Chapter 12, Verses 9-17

Roo & Tug —

Years from now you will reflect on the dawning of this day, when a black man was elected president of the United States, not because of the color of his skin, but because of the infectious content of his character.

One of the funny things you will eventually notice about your old man is that I tend to overflow with intense hope coupled with intense skepticism.

In times when everyone is criticizing one another, you will likely find me calling for the spread of gracious dollops of “benefit of the doubt” (which is, in many ways, the ancient wisdom of Ruth).

In times when everyone is dancing in the streets, you will most likely find me cautioning against the unexamined zeal that glorifies something just before crucifying it (which, in many ways, is the ancient wisdom of Thomas).

But I think today is a day to stave the skepticism, and join others in calling this a time to rejoice.

Much Love —


What has you worried?

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/11/04

Roo and Tug —

A few of the values we hold as a family are those of service, creatvitity, and the examined life. I helped pastor Tim from church produce this video last week that interviews folks in the Financial District in downtown Seattle.

With the election, financial crisis, and wars going on right now, we figured we’d ask —

  • What’s got you worried?
  • What gets you through?
  • Where do you turn when the shit hits the fan?
Here’s what people had to say…

Much love —


(Note: I edited out the “shit” part cause we showed it in church on Sunday and some people can’t get past “colorful” language, even though Jesus and Paul used it a ton — I will write more on that later).

Let the children fly…

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/10/25

So let the children fly,
and question all they see.
They’ll grow up wise and penetrate
the life that lives unseen

“When” by The Call, from the album “Let The Day Begin

Roo & Tug —

The last few years have been busy — at work, at home, in our spiritual community — across the distributed places God has planted all of us as a family.

One thing that this sort of busyness drives me toward is reflection — particularly toward the things I pay attention to.

Let’s face it — after the maintenance of life, there are many amazing ways to spend my time — art, film, story, books, philosophy, friends, writing, the creative life, rest, play — the list goes on and on.

And through all of these, I wonder —

What is the best use of my time and attention?

When I am confronted by a collision of best things, all radiant in necessity and wonder — which things should fashion a consistent rhythm in my life?

Thinking long and hard about this, I’ve decided to begin writing some notes to you.

What follows are reflections on the keepers I’ve picked up along the way — things I’ve picked out of the pocket fuzz — stories that’ve stuck as I’ve wandered among the star fields.

So buckle in kids — from what I know of the journey so far, it’ll be some kind of ride.

— Daddio

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