How does one begin blogging again? It seems the more energy poured into the announcement that someone is going to start blogging is directly related to the lack of blogging they will actually do following said announcement. So there.
My much hipper than I friend in Seattle, Andrew Galore, recently posted his top 10 albums from 2010 and 2011. They are pretty good lists minus the amazing, unbelievable, unexplainable, incomprehensible exclusion of Kanye West from his 2010 list (that is unless he has a secret number one that is too great to mention: Kanye’s album.) As part of the deal of him posting his lists, I told him I would post my best albums from the past year. Mr. Galore’s lists are probably better for helping you discover some hidden gems and music you haven’t heard of, whereas my lists contain things you have heard and the fact that I do listen to some CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). I’m sure I am missing plenty of things I really enjoyed over the past two years but these are the ones that stick out right now (Isn’t that really the fault of digital that I can’t really think of everything I listened to?).
- Pick of the Year
Fiest, Metals: I just love this album. The lyrics, the music, the depth, and top of that it’s a much different type of style than her previous music. It was kind of a weak year compared to last year but this is just the most complete album of the year.
- Christian: For Christian music I listened to two artists who released albums in back to back years. Individually the album are pretty good but if they had take the best from each album we would looking at some of the top CCM of the last 5 years.
John Mark McMillian, Economy & The Medicine
Gungor, Ghosts Upon the Earth & Beautiful Things
- Rap: All in all I spend more time listening to Kanye’s album more than any other rap album. But I found Drake’s album last month and I have really take to it.
Drake, Take Care
- Indie-ish: I am not really sure what to classify these albums are but I am sure you have heard of most them and seen them on plenty of lists.
Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
Iron & Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean
The Head the Heart, The Head and the Heart
- Pomo Crooners: I wanted to list these two together because I think they represent a new genre of music for me. The style, at first, was something I had to adapt my music listening tastes to, but in the end they are both amazing albums. Bon Iver was close to pick of the year but was knocked off by Fiest in December.
James Blake, James Blake
Bon Iver, Bon Iver
For fun what I would listed for 2010
- Kanye West
- Sufjan Stevens
- Mumford & Sons
- The National
- Sara Groves
- Over the Rhine
- The Black Keys
- Brooke Fraser, Flags
“The God who is present in Jesus Christ is the one who is enthroned over heaven and earth and therefore the God who is present specially in His work of revelation and reconciliation and generally in the world at large. He does not mere give his creature, as He gives all other creatures, his space, created space, from the fullness of his own un created and creative space. But he also gives him his own space itself. He is with this man. He takes him up to sit at his right hand, to occupy his supra-heavenly throne. And it is in doing this that God is, and reveals himself to be, the one He is, omnipresent in himself and as such outside himself, in his special work, and in his general work which is subservient to his special work, finding its goal and completion and there having its meaning and origin in it, and there in Jesus Christ himself.”
I am not sure if we can declare this blog dead, but it has been dead for awhile. That said I am still plugging along. Maybe I should write something at some point.
This was posted at the Barth blog, but I guess my lack of writing goes for here as well.
“Will you pray for us tonight Mark?” She asked the room.
“Are you asking me to pray for us tonight?” I responded.
“Ok. But before I start I want to say my name is Matt.”
This was the scene this past Monday as I prayed before the meal at the Lebanon Soup Kitchen. It hadn’t been long since I started serving every Monday and it is understandable that my name was lost in the shuffle that is Monday night. Normally I arrive at 4:15pm to the wonderful smell of food that has been cooking all day and begin to help by pouring the milk for the diners to grab after they get their food. After doing this we all stand around in clumsy circle and wait for Janet to pray for our meal, our service in community, and for those who will partake in the food the volunteers have prepared. Janet, the soup kitchen coordinator, wasn’t there this week so the praying instantly fell to the pastor in room. Except only one person knew I am a pastor and she was the one who asked. Normally I like to put thought into my prayers, but I was caught off guard so I led us out in a feeble short prayer, nothing like the one Janet offers.
Afterwards, we broke into our jobs, worked swiftly but efficiently for the next hour as people poured in from the cold rainy conditions, grabbed something to eat, and enjoyed the warmth within the church hall. This week a young man from church played Christmas hymns on the piano as people ate and I couldn’t help but sing along looking at the people whom we were serving, people who might know more intimately what a “Silent Night” feels like when there is no room in the inn. I couldn’t help but imagine what side of the table we might find Jesus on in this situation. Of course Jesus fed the poor so he would be helping right? But he also was without a home, an itinerant preacher, who seemed to wander with people like the ones I was serving. Would he be outside waiting to be invited in while I offered up a feeble prayer within the empty hall? And I remember the words of Matthew 25 in which the those gathered ask “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?” only to have the response be, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Lost in the wondering of what it all means, I can forget that answer. Christ is here amongst the poor and that even in feeble prayers before a short time of volunteering I have a chance to do something for the least of His brothers, and in that sense, I am doing it for him.
This is the ultimate context into which we are born: God’s hospitable generosity, creatively relating, to us, free of creatures in creating and attenively delighting in them in their otherness to God, self-committed to that which is created.
David Kelsey, Eccentric Existence.
I just finished Freedom by Jonathan Franzen this weekend and if you are looking for a good Christmas gift this time of year I would recommend this novel. Although I read a couple of reviews that said by the end you still don’t care for any of the characters I found too much of myself and others in many of characters to dismiss them so easily (although early in the book I felt that exact way). As the book stands quite well as just a reflection on messed up a family can be in the modern world but it also lives well as a essay on its title. One of my favorite scenes is when the mother is visiting her daughter at college and see a big sign that says: “USE WELL THY FREEDOM.” And reflecting on the novel I think that is one the real interesting concepts to both view the book through as well as modern life. Here is quote from Franzen himself on why he choose the title:
And I will say this about the abstract concept of ‘freedom’; it’s possible you are freer if you accept what you are and just get on with being the person you are, than if you maintain this kind of uncommitted I’m free-to-be-this, free-to-be-that, faux freedom.
It was a blast to read and I was kind of sad to goodbye to family as the book came to a close. I do think that these words from Dr. Carter work well as a postscript for the Christian reading the book:
God-with-Us means we are free to be for another, for their good, for their flourishing, for their well-being. In this sense, Christmas is liberation, which is love.
“This reminds me of a comment I heard Bruce McCormack make about a year and a half ago at a meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society, in a paper addressing the question, “Why Should Theology Be Christocentric?” In explaining why it is that we must resist the temptation to abstract from the stark claim that “God is what Jesus does,” he paused to say, “Because the church should not stutter when it says, Jesus is Lord.”
“We need to be people confident that God will help us speak and live appropriately to the speech we have been given. So I hope what we do in the divinity school is give the confidence that you can use the language of the faith “Jesus is Lord” without apology because if you do that God will show up and scare the hell out of you.”
Stanley Hauerwas in an Interview with David Crabtree