I'm reading The Selected Poems of Donald Hall. The book ends with Hall delivering a very interesting "postscriptum" about his life as a poet, how the experiences in his life changed what and how he wrote, etc. The postscriptum ends with this paragraph, which I think is not only worthy of reflection for poets, but writers of all sorts, pastors, creatives, artists, thinkers, and, well, most anyone. Apply these observations to your life and family and work...
People have long assumed that poets flourish when they are young, but for most poets their best work comes in middle life. Wallace Stevens said, "Some of one's early things give one the creeps." A friend insists that no one should publish a poem written after eighty (Note: Hall is over 80). I hope I wrote good things, young and old, but my best work came in my early sixties. Over the years I felt my poems gradually diminish. I lost my powers as everyone does. It was frustrating at first, but finally I accepted the inevitable. How could I complain, after seventy years of ambition and pleasure? Happily I am able to write prose.
- The Stories We Tell by Mike Cosper ($1.99)
- The Daring Mission of William Tyndale by Steven Lawson ($3.99)
- Imagination Redeemed by Gene Veith ($2.99)
- The God Who Is There by D.A. Carson ($3.99)
- Crazy Busy by Kevin Deyoung ($0.99)
- The God Who Justifies by James White ($2.99)
The key attraction of the suburbs for artists is comparatively cheap and spacious accommodation; the same imperative that drove the first wave of artists who settled in the inner city.
- Experiencing The Trinity by Joe Thorn
Fear of missing out is a problem as old as humanity and has practically become an epidemic in our culture. Some suggest it has to do with social media. Others suggest it’s our fast-paced, technology-heavy lifestyles.
Others still say it’s a character flaw in the “next generation.”
No matter what you say the cause of FOMO is, there is one thing no one can deny and that is FOMO is impacting our lives in a couple of really important ways — namely our productivity.
...to the 21st Century music industry, he is the Antichrist. Love, lust, and sex sell because they are believed to be substitutes, to solve problems, to save you from a boring hell of a life. They are sold as a drug, marketed as a painkiller, a treatment for the culture in which you feel slightly ill most days. Hell, they’ll even give it away for free if they can keep you hooked on it!
- Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear - A great album from an artist who is good at saying something when everyone else is saying nothing much at all.
- Screaming Females -Rose Mountain - This album is basically on repeat for me. It's everything I wish I could hear from Sleater-Kinney. And it's just rocking my face off with it's blistering-yet-mannered rock onslaught.
- Sojourn - New Again - New worship album from a church I love in Louisville, Kentucky. Of their last few albums, this might be my favorite.
WTSBooks.com has a big sale on Kindle books, including these for $1.99 each...
- Systematic Theology by John Frame ($45 book!)
- Ministries of Mercy by Tim Keller
- The Shepherd Leader by Tim Witmer
- Puritan Papers Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3, Vol 4, Vol 5 ed. J.I. Packer (Fantastic vols with essays/lectures on Puritans on various topics. I've used these for years.)
What A War Artist Brings To War (Richard Johnson)
I’m heading back to Afghanistan this week to spend some time with the U.S. International Security Assistance Force troops overseeing the end of combat.
As I was packing it all up recently I decided to also pack all the gear and supplies into an information graphic on what a visual journalist brings to war. So here’s what is in the old kit-bag this time around
"It gets the neurons to fire and expands the mind."
...churches should seek to establish a dynamic of ministry that cycles between church to campus. As the church impacts the college campus, the campus is enfolded into the life of the local church, and then that church equips those students to walk with God and labor for the gospel back on campus.
Dear College Students, Read These Books (Matt Smethurst)
This year I’d like to recommend six books for three different groups of students: non-Christians willing to learn about Christianity, new Christians, and students serving on (or preparing for) a ministry leadership team.
I've recently joined the writing staff of ChristandPopCulture.com (CaPC). Here are my first two pieces: "Saintseneca's Dark Arc: Stripping Off The World's Varnish" and "Must Music Be Authentic? Roger, Wilco."
I've known of and read pieces by CaPC for years and have been thankful for their voice(s). Pieces there have often informed me and helped me think about cultural issues through the lens of faith in Christ. Even when I've disagreed I've gained much from interaction, even when only internal.
Now, as a writer, I've been even more engaged with the articles, website, podcast, and in the writer's-only forum where I realize how thoughtful, funny, and engaging these folks are when off the record as well.
CaPC is starting a new phase of life offering memberships that gives you access to some free shtuff (ebooks, music, magazines), a members-only forum to discuss things on CaPC or start discussions on whatever you are engaging with in the culture, and more. As a writer the greatest benefit of CaPC for me, beside having a place to publish my writing, is the discussion happening behind the scenes. Now that gets expanded to include you as you become a member. Really excited about that.
Check out ChristandPopCulture.com, memberships, and even learn how you can become a patron. This website has produced so much for almost nothing for years now and this is a way to help build a CaPC for the future.
"It takes a while, it's gonna take you a while, it's normal to take a while, and you just have to fight your way through that." -Ira Glass
- I Take It Everywhere
- I Tell It Everything
- I Use It To Eliminate Paper
- I Use It To Collaborate
6 ways to serve your pastor's wife on Sunday by Ryan Huguley
Instead of enslaving the pastor's wife with expectations, we should seek every opportunity to love and serve her; this is especially necessary on Sunday mornings, as she doesn't have the help of her husband. So here are six simple ways you can serve your pastor's wife on Sundays when your church gathers for worship:
“Photography is really perception,” Adams once wrote. “As with all art, the objective of photography is not the duplication of visual reality, but an investigation of the outer world and its influence on the inner world.”
Best albums of 2013 lists are being gathered in one place - Metacritic
9 thoughts on writing from Madeleine L'Engle - Here's one of the nine...
7. Who should write? “In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do his work, to bear his glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no danger that we will confuse God’s work with our own, or God’s glory with our own.”
...the pop-culture view that the suburbs are the place where the American Dream goes to die has an amusing flip side: That culture owes a huge amount of its inspirational vitality to hating the very place where many of its artists grew up and its audience lives. As both these movies and so many other novels, films, TV shows, music and plays over the years have proved, there’s nothing like suburban boredom to generate dramatic excitement.
Very excited about Jerram Barrs' new book, Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts.
Been looking forward to it for a while, on an important topic that I think Barrs is well-equipped to tackle. Barrs was formerly involved for 18 yeas with Francis Schaeffer and L'Abri. Now he teaches at Covenant Theological Seminary and is Resident Scholar at the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute
You can get Echoes of Eden now at Amazon (Kindle), WTS, and amazingly for $2 you can get the eBook from Crossway!
I love Makoto Fujimura's art and reading his thoughts on art, in his book Refractions and elsewhere. Mako lists and gives some comment on his five favorite books on creativity at Christianity Today. Read his comments each book there, but here's his list...
- The Gift: Creativity & The Artist In The Modern World | Lewis Hyde
- On Beauty & Being Just | Elaine Scarry
- Walking On Water: Reflections On Faith & Art | Madeleine L'Engle
- The Mind of the Maker | Dorothy Sayers
- Four Quartets | T.S. Eliot
Neil Gaiman (Twitter), author of Coraline and a bunch more, gave a graduation speech at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He says some great things about making art. You won't agree with everything, but it's well worth checking out if you are an artist or not. I'm going to watch and discuss this with my two oldest kids (my artists). [found via]
Now Dr. Joel Beeke has weighed in on the discussion on Propaganda's "Precious Puritans." It's a more critical take. And I LOVE Dr. Beeke and own several of his books on the Puritans, including his new, massive work A Puritan Theology. So while I want to respond here to his post, I want my readers to know I highly recommend his books and benefited greatly from hearing him at Desiring God Pastor's Conference on prayer.
Here's my response to critics who are receiving "Precious Puritans" as Dr. Beeke has: Critics are not hearing the song as art, and not discussing art and how it should be critiqued.
Critics are doing exposition of it as if it's a sermon or merely a message, but it's far more creative than that. Critics are discussing the emotional response to the beginning of the song, but not the all-important end! The beginning is designed creatively to get you to feel emotions about the Puritans as a judge and then to smack you down for being a hypocrite! It's a trick, and if you won't view it as art and allow yourself to be tricked, you miss the whole of it and you write blog posts to defend what you find precious, as if the first part of the song is merely propositional.
Francis Schaeffer writes that one bad way to view art is to see art as "a vehicle for the propagation of a particular message." That view "reduces art to an intellectual statement and the work of art as a work of art disappears." I think critics of "Precious Puritans" are receiving it through that lens, and therefore aren't receiving it well. It isn't seen as art (even when the critics think they are seeing it that way!), and therefore the artist isn't given ground to point to truth creatively.
What I think is great is that so many have heard the song and just loved it, even when it has unsettled them. Art spoke to truth and it was well received. But when someone criticizes the song and misses the truth because they've missed the art as art, I think that says we need more discussion on how to view art.
- Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree ($3.03)
- The Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard ($2.99)
- Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture by Wayne Grudem ($4.99)
- When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself by Fikkert and Corbett (forward by David Platt) ($2.99)
- The Doctrines of Grace by Boyce & Ryken ($4.99)
- With: A Practical Guide to Informal Mentoring by Alvin Reid ($3.99)
- Create: Stop Making Excuses & Start Making Stuff ($2.99)
- Amazing Grace: God's Pursuit, Our Response by Timothy George ($3.03)
Though we have never done so before, Redeemer’s elders are excited to include spoken word in our worship gathering this Sunday. The main reason we are happy to include it is because spoken word, in this context, is an earnest appeal to look to Christ. Thomas will bring a theologically rich, compelling, confrontational, message to God’s people based on God’s word. And the fact that it is poetic in nature is not a hit against it, but a strength. God loves poetry and has given us much of his word in that very form.
It's a very comprehensive post on what spoken word is, how it conveys truth, he gives some video examples and more. Joe also answers these questions (questions I had too) in his post...
- Isn’t this just entertainment?
- Isn’t this merely trying to attract people through an act?
- Isn’t this worldliness?
Go check out "Spoken Word in the Church" from Joe Thorn. Comment there with your thoughts and questions. Interesting topic.
Get new The Welcome Wagon EP for free, or leave the artist a tip! If you don't have their first album, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon, you are missing something great. Get the free EP or try out samples below.
Parent-teacher conferences aren't just about grades. Last autumn my daughter's high school art teacher, during a parent-teacher conference concerning my daughter's art (which is wonderful, by the way), also told me about Starline Gallery in Harvard, IL. It sounded great: an old factory converted into art studios, a monthly gallery called "4th Fridays", etc. Every time one came up on the calendar, there was something else I couldn't miss. Last Friday we finally made one...and it was spectacular.
We brought our four kiddos and they loved it too. Afterwards we all discussed our favorite piece(s). Here are some of mine...
Wonderful, thoughtful discussion between Scotty Smith (Pastor, Christ Community Church, blog), Greg Thornbury (Union University), and Mike Cosper (Sojourn Music) on good art and bad art. I've been thinking through some of themes they discuss as they relate to some music I've been listening to this year. I'm working on a post on one singer/artist in particular who I think many Christians would hate, but for all the wrong reasons.
Anyway, that post is for another day. Watch this great discussion (via). And by the way, this is the best video thumbnail of my friend Greg Thornbury EVER.
Curator Magazine has this excerpt from Franklin Einspruch on excellence in the arts & middlebrow taste...
So I have worked out a pragmatic answer: Excellence is art’s reproductive drive. Excellent traits in art trigger the feelings, emotions, and attentions of the viewer. Thus aroused, an artist sets out to reproduce those traits in a new arrangement of materials. Thus the cycle begins anew. It’s not subjective or objective because it’s dynamic……
We don’t use the term “middle art,” and in my opinion there is no middle art. There doesn’t have to be, with so much overlap between high and low. There is, however, middlebrow taste. Middlebrow taste is a kind of chickening out of taste, in which you settle for familiarity instead of demanding excellence……
Go high, go low, but demand it. Whatever you do, don’t chicken out.
Read the rest: High and Low: What is Excellence in the Arts?