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Recommended Music: "Songs for Christmas Time" by Lowland Hum

Recommended Music: “Songs for Christmas Time” by Lowland Hum

Last Christmas my wife and I had a revelation that it seems everyone has, sooner or later. We actually started listening to Christmas music. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire?!” We’re millennials. We barely know how to start a fire, much less roast chestnuts on an open one. Forget keeping Christ in Christmas; it sometimes seems like Christmas isn’t even in Christmas. And yet here I am this year, eagerly watching as city workers string up cedar garlands downtown, checking my weather app for LED snowflakes, caught up in the internal tug-of-war that this season always brings: the longing for,…

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Every Tear That Falls Must Converge: A Review of The Dusk In Us

Every Tear That Falls Must Converge: A Review of The Dusk In Us

After five long years, hardcore legends Converge are back. Their first album since 2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind, The Dusk In Us is an aptly titled exploration of the hurts and promises latent within a world receding from the light. And while Converge have matured with this album, that maturation in no way implies a mellowing of their characteristically caustic delivery. Scabrous, frenetic bombardments of metallic guitars and hyperkinetic drums support Jacob Bannon’s gargling-with-broken-glass vocals in ways both more damning and more life-affirming than ever. For no other band in this vale of tears better encapsulates the law/gospel…

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Waiting At the Altar (No Longer!): Bob Dylan's Gospel Years

Waiting At the Altar (No Longer!): Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years

As promised, a review of the long-awaited Trouble No More boxed set documenting Bob Dylan’s gospel years, courtesy of resident Dylanologist Ken Wilson, who’ll be seeing his 55th (!) show on Friday.

In a career full of surprises, the most amazing is still the “born again” period. Sure Bob Dylan had shocked his folkie fans, and enraged Peter Seeger (or so the legend goes), by going electric, i.e. commercial, at Newport. Sure, he’d retreated from public view and been rumored dead in the wake of a serious motorcycle accident, rhymed “moon and spoon” and crooned with Johnny Cash, and toured…

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November Playlist

Not easy to find tracks that fit the quincentennial theme…

The Art of Memoir and a Divine Glimpse of Stefani in Gaga: Five Foot Two

The Art of Memoir and a Divine Glimpse of Stefani in Gaga: Five Foot Two

I spent the better part of my 20s working with teenagers in one form or another. Whether as a youth minister, a creative writing teacher, or a photography TA, one dazzling thread remained the same: Gaga. I spent time with kids who didn’t just adore her music, they worshiped her. They felt freed in some way by who she allowed them to be; she allowed them to be themselves (or whatever version of themselves they wanted to be) in all their average weirdness. In Gaga: Five Foot Two (a documentary released last month on Netflix), one of Lady Gaga’s fans…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Twenty-One Verses Thirty-Three Through Forty-Two

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Twenty-One Verses Thirty-Three Through Forty-Two

The following sermon was preached yesterday by our friend Dave Johnson at Christ Church in Valdosta, GA.

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are in fifth grade and whenever you are hanging out in your bedroom your radio is tuned into the local Top 40 hit station.  It is a beautiful spring evening and your window is open, an occasional cool breeze enters your room with the scent of freshly mown grass and that sense of hope that accompanies spring reawakens in your heart.  A song comes on the radio that immediately grabs your attention, immediately resonates with…

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Gospel Moshing: Adventures at Metal Shows with a Spooky Friend

Gospel Moshing: Adventures at Metal Shows with a Spooky Friend

Maybe we, why don’t we
Sit right here for half an hour?
We’ll speak of what a waste I am
And how we missed your beat again

I swear we need to find some comfort in this run down place
To bridge the gap of this conscious state that we live in
And I’m short on time

– “Writing on the Walls,” Underoath

Nearly all of my best memories from college center on my close-yet-mysterious best friend named Tyler, who became mythical in our friend group because of his penchant for mischief and his unerring tendency to seek out and bask in all of the absurd things of…

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Tom Petty, Three Chords, and the Church of Free Falling

Tom Petty, Three Chords, and the Church of Free Falling

This piece was written by Andrew Johnson. 

My mom texts me Monday morning to let me know that Tom Petty had been hospitalized after a cardiac arrest. I follow the news off and on the rest of the day, seeing conflicting reports over whether or not he had died. This confusion over Petty’s death, especially following Sunday’s news of 59 people killed in Las Vegas, leaves me feeling particularly helpless and disillusioned with how quickly we as a nation can share bits of information but somehow fail to find shared meaning.

So I leave work a bit early, walk half a mile…

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October Playlist

Bonus Track: In light of the horrible news out of Las Vegas today, I commend to you Russell Brand’s video response, “When Mass Murder Becomes Normal – What Does It Tell Us About America?”. If you, like me, think it might be a little soon to be drawing conclusions, just be sure to watch til the end. His new book, Recovery, is out tomorrow.

"Jesus Take the Wheel" Is Not Enough

“Jesus Take the Wheel” Is Not Enough

Carrie Underwood has offered many the willy-nilly soul “spinning on a thin black sheet of glass” a sense of relief since her 2005 hit, “Jesus Take the Wheel.” There is an immediate comfort to the notion that when we’re “running low on faith and gasoline,” God might step in as if he were a sub, tagging us out of the game of life; as if to say, “Thanks for keeping us on the right track, soldier! You rest a while. I’ve got it from here.”

Upon closer observation, this is a pretty flimsy picture of a God who “created the heavens…

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Exploring the Oddball World of Leftfield Christian Music, Pt 2 (1973-1987) – John Zahl

At last, the one we’ve all been waiting for! Firefighters not included unfortunately… But you can check out the initial installment here:

Exploring the Oddball World of Leftfield Christian Music, Part 2 ~ John Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

JAZ was also kind enough to furnish us with a recording of the first two hours of his set at this year’s Episcodisco. Stream below or download here:

Dancing Pandas and The Search for Everything

Dancing Pandas and The Search for Everything

“And that’s how John Mayer ended up with dancing pandas.”

It’s not every day that one reads such a sentence in a New York Times piece, but when it comes to John Mayer, is anyone really surprised?

Mayer has made quite the reputation for himself, not only as a talented musician but as a man who can’t seem to control his “stupid mouth” in a number scandalous interviews. In the aftermath, he escaped to Montana, where he moved toward redemption, apologizing for many of those wrongdoings in Paradise Valley (2013), identifying many of his shortcomings (“I Will Be Found”), and promising maturity…

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