Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Good Christian Music

The phrase "Good Christian music" used to sound like an oxymoron to me. For a long time I rejected the idea of "Christian" music at all. I don't like it when we categorize our faith, as though there are exclusively Christian moments and non-Christian moments. Is it Christian when a young Sunday-schooler walks an old lady across the street and non-Christian when a gang-banger caps off a drive by? One demonstrates charity and grace and the other reflects grave depravity, but both speak clearly of lynch pin doctrines of the faith. So is sin any less Christian than love? Without sin, after all, there is no need for the sacrificial love of Christ.

Music, in much the same way, can't simply be defined as "Christian" or "non-Christian." It either speaks of the goodness of God or the depravity of man, but themes of faith abound in any form of art. So, the real designator when it comes to the industry known as "Christian music" is the faith status of the singer/performer. The music itself is neither Christian nor non-Christian, but the artist can certainly claim one or the other designation.

Anyway, now that I've cleared that up... Here's my list of good music that happens to be performed by Christian artists. This is not a comprehensive list, but simply a few good things I've listened to lately that seem worth passing along. Enjoy!

  • Phil Wickham - I'm not big on the whole "Worship" genre, but Wickham's music is so artfully arranged that I can no longer deny its greatness. His voice is full of believable passion, and the writing aptly captures the mystery and greatness of God. When you listen to his songs, you feel as though you're being swept up into something bigger (Try "Cannons" or "Heaven & Earth")
  • Sara Groves - Before her latest release, "Fireflies and Songs", I couldn't have told you a single song by Sarah Groves. I'm sure I've heard her before, but nothing memorable comes to mind. But this most recent album is great. It's smart, dignified and moving, and the music moves as naturally as a mountain stream. There's nothing spectacular on this record, but it's the kind of album you can play several times and hear something new with each listen.
  • Glenn Kaiser and Darrell Mansfield - When I was in college, one of my friends bought Kaiser/Mansfield's "Trimmed and Burnin'", and it instantly became one of my favorite records of all time. Imagine two guys sitting on the front porch of a rickety rural farm house with a dobro (a kind of steel guitar) and a harmonica (and maybe a glass of moonshine and a burning cigarette), and you're probably pretty close to envisioning the setting where a lot of these songs were written. This is just gritty, down home blues sung by two gravel throated virtuosos. Every song speaks of the holiness of God, but nothing about this album feels contrived or condescending. I've listened to these guys consistently for nearly 20 years, and they never get old.
  • Ben Shive - I first heard Ben in December at the Behold the Lamb of God show in Cleburne, TX (This show is a must see, so if it comes your way, you must go see it!). I was blown away by his writing. Rich, deep, truly powerful writing. He can really play the piano too, and his album, "The Ill-Tempered Klavier", is quite magical. You should probably buy it.
That's all I've got for you. I know there's more really good music by Christian artists out there, but these are the one's currently lighting my fire. I hope you like them too.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I knew this day would come!!!

I remember back several years ago when we took the dignity defying plunge into Mini-van ownership. Fantasies of driving a big, manly truck or a hip, slick sports car quickly vaporized into the reality of driving a bulky, egg-shaped family wagon. As The Police so accurately wrote in their song, Synchronicity, driving a mini-van is a "humiliating kick in the crotch."

But no longer!! According to Toyota, owning a Mini-van = Pure Awesomeness. I knew this day would come!!!


This is a great video that shows how ridiculous church can sometimes be. I love the church in all its many expressions, but I'm starting to feel less and less like the "cool" pastor type. I can't pull off the designer T-shirts, I don't have any tattoo's, I can't grow a gotee, and if I shaved my head I'd look even more goofy. I'm approaching 40, and I'm just not that cool anymore. This video is sweet justice for me because it points out that the uber-cool church environments that are all the rage aren't very cool either. Good stuff.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Been a long time, Baby

OK, it's been way too long since I've been here. For whatever reason I decided to open up the laptop and dust off Cajun Roast Beef like an old book that's been sitting on the shelf of an abandoned cabin. I'm not sure why I stopped blogging for so long. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I am just busy these days and don't have the time to spend on contemplating "Life, Religion and Stuff" like I used to. Truth be told, I probably didn't have the time then either, but it seemed more important to vent to my online journal than take care of the business at hand. That is no longer the case.

Another reason I stopped blogging is because, honestly, it felt like I was trying to be self-important. It was kind of like saying, "Look, everyone, I've got something cool to say! You should read my thoughts because they're good." While I'd like to believe that I'm capable of some pretty good thoughts, it was beginning to feel weird to consistently publish them to the web. I really felt like I was looking for some confirmation that I could think well or write well or be clever. I'm a people pleaser, and this sort of became my outlet to feel like someone liked me. Sad, but true.

The other reason I haven't posted in a while is because I'm not as creative as I used to be. I don't know whether it's parenting 5 children or running a church or what, but my brain just doesn't have that same spark anymore. Plus, I spend so much creative energy on sermon preparation that there's nothing left for my blog. Sometimes - and I know some of you won't believe this - I just don't have anything to say (or write).

What I've come to realize lately is that I really like to write. Some people like to hunt or play video games or collect memorabilia, but I like to write. It's an outlet, and it's just something that's in me. So I'm going to keep posting here and there because it's something I like to do. I won't do it as much because I'm busy and I don't want to get caught in a self-important trap, but I will try to post something regularly.

Happy reading!!!!