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Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Anthony Hoekema on total cosmic renewal

In books, loving jesus, music, quotes, theology on February 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm

First of all, Patty Griffin’s new album Downtown Church is great and you should go buy it right now. Second of all, in doing some reading for my Eschatology class, I came across this excellent quote from my good friend Anthony Hoekema (He’s not really my good friend, but if he were still alive and teaching at Calvin Seminary, I’d say we’d probably be buds) in The Bible and the Future.

While Jesus dying on the cross in our place for our sins is certainly the blazing center of the gospel, many of my fellow evangelicals leave it at just that, forgetting the essential eschatalogical hope of the redemption of the entire cosmos.

“Fully to understand the meaning of history, therefore, we must see God’s redemption in cosmic dimensions. Since the expression ‘heaven and earth’ is a biblical description of the entire cosmos, we may say that the goal of redemption is nothing less than the renewal of the entire cosmos, of what present-day scientists call the universe. Since man’s fall into sin affected not only himself but the rest of creation (see Genesis 3:17-18; Rom. 8:19-23), redemption from sin must also involve the totality of God’s creation.”

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Tullian Tchividjian on “relevance”.

In books, loving jesus, music, quotes, recommendations on January 4, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Today I started Tullian Tchividjian’s excellent (so far) book Unfashionable and let me tell you, my copy already has a lot of underlining in it. I just thought I would share a statement he makes about the church and “relevance”:

“Ironically, the more we Christians pursue worldly relevance, the more we’ll render ourselves irrelevant to the world around us. There’s an irrelevance to pursuing relevance, just as there’s a relevance to practicing irrelevance. To be truly relevant, you have to say things that are unfashionably eternal, not trendy. It’s the timeless things that are most relevant to most people and we dare not forget this fact in our pursuit of relevance.”

Don’t get me wrong, I (and Tullian) think it is incredibly important for Christians to be actively engaging and, as Andy Crouch puts it, creating culture, but if all we do is relate to and copy what is “cool” in whatever culture we find ourselves in, we don’t look like a people who have been changed by the sheer grace of God. If our number one goal is to be a “cool church” then we are already on the wrong track. We need to keep the gospel central, even if it means sounding completely uncool. Paul does call the cross a “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23) and Jesus says that “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). We have the best news in the world, but that news runs completely counter to the world’s way of thinking.

Besides, we tend to be pretty behind the times. If I hear one more song on K-Love that sounds like U2 circa 1987, I’m going to flip out. While U2 circa 1987 was, in my humble opinion, one of the best seasons of rock and roll, we really don’t need more worship songs trying (and failing) to sound like the intro of “Where the Streets Have No Name”. Oh wait… did I just try to be cool by ripping on Christian rock? I still have some work to do…

Ok fine. I have to leave you with one more quote…

“We can’t engineer God’s transcendent presence; we can only fall on our faces and beg for it. In fact, we rob this world of the opportunity to see God high and lifted up–above and beyond us–when we try to program him and fit him into contemporary categories of “cool.” When the size of God grips us more than the size of our churches and leadership conferences, and when we become obsessed with surrendering our lives to God’s sovereign presence, only then will we be redemptively different and serve as God’s cosmic change agents in a world yearning for change.”

Top 10 albums of 2009!

In music, recommendations, reviews on January 2, 2010 at 9:20 am

Here it is. With great jubilation, I present to you my ten favorite albums of 2009. I think we all can agree that this was a great year for music. For serious. At the end of 2008, I had a very rough time compiling my list (and looking back there are plenty of changes I would make). There were only about five albums that stood out. While there were other very good ones, none of them had the elusive “it”. This year, I have a list of about 20 albums that could very easily make the cut. Nevertheless, here are those lucky albums to earn a spot.

1. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You


2. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

3. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

4. Wilco – Wilco (the album)

5. M. Ward – Hold Time

6. U2 – No Line on the Horizon

7. The Swell SeasonStrict Joy

8. Derek Webb – Stockholm Syndrome

9. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

10. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

Now I have to admit, I even had second thoughts while writing this. The number ten spot could have gone to a few other albums (Brandi CarlileJohn Mayer, and Volcano Choir among others), and I’ve been recently listening to several records that could take a spot upon further listening (Joe HenryDave Rawlings Machine, The Low Anthem), but here’s my list and I’m sticking to it.

Current Jamz – 12/12/09

In music, recommendations on December 12, 2009 at 2:42 pm

In no particular order…

A few things to be excited about.

In books, exciting news, loving jesus, music, recommendations on October 1, 2009 at 11:31 am
  1. Jesus is alive.
  2. Tim Keller’s new book, Counterfeit Gods (of which you can download the intro here)
  3. Tim Keller’s new blog.
  4. Michael Horton’s new book, The Gospel-Driven Life.
  5. The Avett Brothers’ new album, I and Love and You.
  6. A free Sojourn demo of “O For A Thousand Tongues”.

Wilco (rocks)

In music, recommendations, reviews on July 7, 2009 at 10:17 pm

I realize that for a lot of people, my endorsement of Wilco’s cleverly titled new album, Wilco (the album) doesn’t hold a ton of water. There are very few bands/artists that I hold in as high esteem as Wilco. Jeff Tweedy is a consistently excellent songwriter and every incarnation of the band has put out some incredible music.

While throughout the years, they have had a constantly evolving cast (Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt are the only original members), Wilco is currently running on it’s longest-lasting lineup and the results have been glorious. While Sky Blue Sky was a great album in it’s own right, it largely felt like Wilco hit the refresh button – it was basically a live album recorded in the studio. Wilco (the album) on the other hand, is a self-consciously studio-driven venture. One of the best parts of the album is that the band sounds like they had a blast making it.

Sonically, there are traces to be found from every stage of their history and this is one of the reasons why Wilco (the album)‘s title is so appropriate – it is the best statement of Wilco (the band)’s complex identity ever recorded on tape. It also reminds us that even throughout the sonic deconstruction of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born, at his core Tweedy has always been a writer of great pop songs.

From the first chords of ‘Wilco (the song)’ to Nels Cline’s jazzy noodling on the close to ‘Everlasting Everything’, Wilco (the band) has once again proven to be one of the most exciting bands in the world and Wilco (the album) is the latest installment of their near-perfect catalogue. It is also some of the finest music you’ll hear this year. Or next.

My week in music.

In music, recommendations, reviews on May 15, 2009 at 6:23 pm

This week has been pretty action packed.  For those of you who didn’t know, my birthday was last Friday and my wonderful girlfriend’s birthday was on Monday.  As a gift, my parents got me tickets to see my musical hero, and on Tuesday night Katelyn and I rocked out at the United Center for almost three hours to the tunes of my good friend, Bruce Springsteen. It was my second time seeing him and he and the E Street Band never disappoint.

I have also been really enjoying Animal Collective’s 2007 masterpiece, Strawberry Jam and Steve Earle’s new album, Townes.  The latter is a tribute to Earle’s good friend Townes Van Zandt, who was one of the best songwriters in America’s history.

Francis Schaeffer, art, and Animal Collective.

In books, music, quotes, recommendations, reviews, theology on May 9, 2009 at 9:00 am

I am giving a presentation on Monday for my Christianity and Culture class on how Christian are to relate to popular music.  While reading Francis Schaeffer’s classic Art & The Bible, I came accross this killer quote:

“For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts.  A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God.  An art work can be a doxology in itself.”

One album that I have really been enjoying lately is Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective.  I bought a few months ago during spring break because it was on sale for $7.99 on iTunes and I had wanted to listen to it for a while.  I was a little nervous because it is very different from the kinds of music that I usually listen to, but I really, really like it.  They are one of the most innovative, strange bands out there, but I would highly reccommend it.  If you give it time, this album gets better with every listen and every beat, layer, synth, and strange, oddball noise points me to our innovative, glorious Creator.

Here is the video for their song “My Girls”:

The album cover:

Bob Dylan – Together Through Life

In music, recommendations, reviews on April 30, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Hey folks.  I have had a really, really busy few weeks and haven’t had a ton of time to post updates.  If you want to hear from me more often, you can follow me on Twitter.  Don’t expect much on my blog over the next few weeks because I’ve got papers to write, presentations to give, and Greek to translate.

Bob Dylan – Together Through Life


This is great stuff.  While a lot of people considered his previous three albums (Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, and Modern Times) to be a trilogy, after this release it makes much more sense to consider Love and Theft, Modern Times, and Together Through Life to be Dylan’s true modern trilogy.  While Time Out of Mind is an great album, his recent three have had continuity in their production/instrumentation and have dealt with similar subjects.  Together Through Life has the loosest feel of the three and, as the title and cover suggest, zooms in to explore snapshots of modern American life.

The new album by The Decemberists is worth the Hazards.

In music, recommendations, reviews on April 2, 2009 at 9:28 am

I would highly reccommend picking up The Hazards of Love from The Decemberists.  Featuring friends such as Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) on vocals, The Decemberists take us through a story from beginning to end, highlighting the (extreme) hazards of love.  It takes work to listen to, but the work pays off.

Two other things:

I have overlooked Animal Collective for years, but Merriweather Post Pavilion is incredible.

I’M SEEING THE HOLD STEADY TONIGHT!