September 25, 2012 § 4 Comments
June 28, 2012 § 4 Comments
We’re gradually working through preproduction on the Cancer movie. We have, of course, never actually made a movie, nor even set out to make one. Be that as it may, there is a screenplay in its second draft (it seems to be formatted correctly, for the most part) a pile of professional sounding lists and charts and a huge chalkboard that looks as though that dude from A Beautiful Mind scribbled all over it. The millions of folks endlessly more qualified to actually make a movie would no doubt peer into our process and think of an ape learning to use a fork and knife for the first time. Say what you will about the creation of the movie, but the album on which the film is based, now mixed and mastered, is, in my estimation, the finest work I have ever been involved with. A release date, album details and first song are all coming next week.
However disjointed (and technically “incorrect?”) the process may be, it’s swallowing up all of my time. Sadly, it has become evident that I will be forced to break my streak of releasing a new novel every year. Once shooting is wrapped up and I dump all the hard work into Peter Rollo’s lap, I’ll be able to power through the first book in what will be the trilogy of Cannibals novels—easily the strangest of all my books thus far. Book one will definitely be released in 2013, hopefully in the first quarter.
January 31, 2012 § 3 Comments
The Ziz return in this bizarre sequel to Joshua S. Porter’s sophomore novel Nevada. Several years after a discovery in the Mojave Desert that changed the world, things are better (or worse) than they’ve ever been. Join a group of subversive rebels, a few gay teenagers who have been kicked out of their homes, some white supremacists and a conflicted sociopath as their paths prepare to cross in a most unusual way.
January 10, 2012 § 19 Comments
Why hate when you can love?
An open letter to The Flaming Lips
Dear Wayne, Steven, Michael and Kliph,
Let me introduce myself: My name is Josh, and I am a follower of Jesus. Not much farther down the list of things I am you will discover that I am a Flaming Lips fan. I bought my first Flaming Lips record in 1993, when I was ten years old and The Flaming Lips have been my favorite band ever since. Like most of your admirers, I have been an enthusiastic fan. I listen to your entire discography regularly, I sing along at your concerts, I hosted Zaireeka listening parties, I wore my oversized Flaming Lips t-shirts all through junior high as often as Wayne used to wear that old Sonic Youth t-shirt. I even showed up on Wayne’s doorstep with a stack of my band’s albums.
In fact, The Flaming Lips are one of the major reasons that I myself have been a musician, touring the world and releasing rock records for more than a decade. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
As I mentioned in the first sentence of this letter, I am a follower of Jesus. I prefer this title to the term “Christian” because of the dreadful and unfortunate connotation the word Christian conjures up. Believe me, I am by no means ignorant to the horrific reputation Jesus’ followers have earned both for themselves and for Jesus himself. Christians, by and large (and especially here in America) are thought of as hateful, highly politicized, right wing, republican, flag-waving, gun-toting, war-mongering bigots. Sadly, I cannot argue that this perception of Christians is entirely misplaced.
I realize that Wayne (and perhaps the lot of you?) has been an atheist for a long while, but I suspect that the bands aggressive stance towards Christianity in particular stems from the largely accurate description of them I mentioned above. That is why I am writing this letter, to apologize on behalf of Jesus’ followers and to clarify: we—Jesus’ followers—are not all like that. And, for that reason, to petition you with this simple request: do not hate us all.
I am, of course, an intensely imperfect person. But, I am by no means a racist, hateful, highly politicized, right wing, republican, flag-waving, gun-toting, war-mongering bigot. Neither is Jesus. In fact, actually following Jesus requires unconditional love for all people (including enemies), rejection of violence, rejection of faith in politics and rejection of patriotism. In short, the exact opposite of the traits american Christians are most notorious for. I’m not suggesting that these are or should be your ideals per se, I just mean to point out that an authentic pursuit of Jesus is, sadly, quite the opposite of public perception.
Let me be clear, my letter’s intention is by no means converting any of you to my way of thinking. Nor do I plan on complaining that your anti-christian rhetoric has offended me. It hasn’t. On the other hand, I’m afraid some of your more blatant statements might be—regardless of your intentions—misconstrued as hateful toward some of your very sincere admirers.
When Kliph wears a t-shirt that says “Christianity is stupid”—as is his prerogative—I’m not sure I’m mistaken in assuming that he is making an effort to point out that he believes that I am a fool. I love Kliph. He is enormously talented and has been very kind to me in person. I wonder why he would—without knowing me at all—think me a fool simply because of what I believe? Should we all be judged in this way? Would Kliph condone a generic statement that Islam is stupid? Or that buddhism is stupid? Or that atheism is stupid? Does he mean to say he believes that a certain set of beliefs are misplaced or that all who disagree with him are, well, stupid?
When Wayne sings “burning the Bible tonight,” I would honestly not censor him or suggest that he ought to change his lyrics. My faith is not so shallow that those who disagree frighten or offend me. I even suspect that I might understand, in a way, the sentiment behind the statement. But I wonder if beneath the lyric and the frustration with religion there is a more personal vendetta against an entire group of people. Please forgive me if I’m being presumptuous here. I am asking non-rhetorical questions, not making statements.
It may come as a surprise to discover that you have a great deal of devoted fans who are also devoted followers of Jesus. In my years on the road and in the music industry as a Jesus-follower myself, I have met countless creative individuals who have been inspired and influenced by The Flaming Lips who also believe that Jesus is God. They come to your shows, they buy your records, they cover your songs. They even share the stage with you.
I sympathize with the fact that Jesus-followers believe some crazy-sounding things. Yes, I believe Jesus is God, I believe in a literal, corporeal resurrection of the dead, I believe a personal, loving God created the universe, etc. I sincerely believe in all these things, but I do not hold these beliefs over the heads of those who reject them. I do not believe that these beliefs make me, in any way, better than any other human being. I do not believe that those who reject my beliefs are idiots or that they should be treated differently. In fact, I believe that Jesus wants me to love and serve everyone, especially those who deeply disagree with me, without an agenda to make them more like me.
Do you hate me? Do you think that I’m stupid?
Don’t get me wrong, I would never suggest that you should relinquish the passion that motivates your own personal beliefs, but does that passion direct you to dislike strangers who care deeply for your band and your art and even you as individuals outside of The Flaming Lips?
I hope that it will not offend you (or weird you out) to learn that I pray for your band daily. I DO NOT pray that you will become like me, or that you will “cease to be heathens” or some such nonsense. I pray that you will be safe in your travels, that you will be blessed each day with joy and laughter, that you will have life—as Jesus puts it—to the fullest! Now, I understand and that you believe those prayers disappear into thin air, perhaps you even think me a fool for praying them. But do you resent me for doing so?
It is my sincere belief that Jesus needs new PR. I find it a terribly upsetting irony that by and large the equal rights, social justice, creative and expressive community of artists here in the states are so hostile towards Jesus. In reality, the Flamings Lips sentiments of peace and love, kindness towards animals, and hope in the face of death are not at all dissimilar to the way of Jesus. The american Christian sentiments of war, anger, retribution and judgement on the other hand have more in common with Satan than they do with Jesus. Those “god hates fags” folks are NOT Jesus-followers. The people who would have you believe God hates homosexuals and disapproves of interracial relationships are DEAD WRONG.
To quote Charles Dickens via the Ghost of Christmas Present : “‘There are some upon this earth of yours,’ returned the Spirit, ‘who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.’”
And hey, you love Christmas right?
I guess all this is to say, though I do not seek to correct or convict you with this letter, I do hope to convince you that many of the fans you promise are the greatest on earth, love your band with a very sincere affection and also love Jesus. We are by no means a religious lot. On the contrary, we think the myth of a Christian religion is an incredible fallacy. We are a subversive movement of rebels and lovers with an insatiable desire to see the world’s wrongs righted, the world’s hungry fed, the world’s widows and orphans cared for and most of all to see that those with no joy and no love receive both to the point that their cup runs over. We believe that this is what Jesus is after, not unquestioning minions who conform to arbitrary rules and regulations, but a group of rescued lovers who are deeply loved and who love others.
It’s true that many who claim Jesus would have you believe otherwise, but know that Jesus himself warns against them. When you rail against their type, I believe Jesus rails with you.
But do not hate us all. Why hate when you can love?
With unwavering devotion for many years and many years to come,
Josh Dies and Showbread
December 7, 2011 § 1 Comment
Most of the emails coming in as of late are questions about the status of upcoming projects. Here are all the updates:
My new novel An Edict of Worms—the sequel to Nevada—is still in the editing phase and running slightly longer than expected but on track for a January release. Pre-orders will be announced in the coming weeks.
An announcement about my next book is coming soon.
Issue #2 of The Black Meat has been suffering a terrible delay due to complications with the artwork, which is out both mine and Patrick’s hands. Issue #3 is completely finished and will follow issue #2 when it is finally finished.
Issue #2 of Remission has been delayed because of Kyle’s (our artist) very busy schedule. It’s coming.
The book about horror movies that Patrick, Landon and I had planned on writing has been inactive for a few of years now. No current plans to move forward with it.
Knife To Meet You has two new songs. One about Jaws and one about The Fly. No current plans to record or perform any time soon.
The Thieves Guild seems to be dead or hibernating. I text Reese about it a couple of months ago and he insisted the band should live on, but I’m not sure how a band in a coma lives on. The good news is, with Five Iron returning we’ll at least hear something new from Reese. Patrick and I will either put the songs we’ve written in a vault to await the unlikely day Theives Guild might stir, or we might turn those songs into another project. They are good songs.
Showbread has announced our new album will be called Cancer. The concept and lyrics are both written and the music is being drafted daily. It is the biggest project we’ve ever attempted. We’re talking to Sylvia about returning to the studio early 2012 for a release shortly thereafter through Come&Live!. More announcements about the album, its release and fundraising are all coming soon.
Just about all the other emails i get are questions about or debates over theology stemming from conversations going on here or at Showbread’s formspring site. We are currently looking for an adequate and healthy outlet to funnel all those discussions into.
Also, Abi and I got a big Christmas tree.
October 8, 2011 § 10 Comments
Christian pacifists are constantly asked what we would do if a violent person attacked someone we loved. Of course, we have answers that never involve violence, but the other day I read across one such response that struck me as terribly eloquent:
“‘Well,’ says the objector, ‘I should like to know how you would manage matters if the ruffian should actually break into your house with settled intent to rob and murder. Would you shrink back like a coward and see your wife and children slaughtered before your eyes?’ I cannot tell you how I might act in such a dreadful emergency—how weak and frail I should prove. But I can tell you how I ought to act—how I should wish to act. If I am what I ought to be, I should be calm and unruffled by the alarm at my door. I should meet my wretched fellow-man with a spirit, an air, a salutation and a deportment so Christ-like, so little expected, so confounding, and so morally irresistible that in all probability his weapons of violence and death would fall harmless to his side. I would say, ‘Friend, why do you come here? Surely not to injure those who wish you nothing but good? This house is one of peace and friendship to all mankind. If you are cold, warm yourself at our fire; if hungry, refresh yourself at our table; if you are weary, sleep in our bed; if you are destitute, poor and needy, freely take of our goods. Come, let us be friends, that God may keep us all from evil and bless us with his protection.’ What would be the effect of such treatment as this? Would it not completely overcome the feelings of the invader, so as either to make him retreat inoffensively out of the house, or at least forbear all meditated violence? Would it not be incomparably safer than to rush to the shattered door, half distracted with alarm, grasping some deadly weapon and bearing it aloft, looking fiery with wrath and mad defiance at the enemy? How soon would follow the mortal encounter, and how extremely uncertain the outcome? The moment I appeared in such an attitude (just the thing expected), would not the ruffian’s coolness and well-trained muscular force be almost sure to seal the fate of my family and myself? But in acting the non-resistant part, should I not be likely, in nine cases out of ten, to escape with perfect safety?”
Adin Ballou, Non-Resistance in Relation to Human Governments