Saturday, August 28, 2010

Atheists Don't Have No Songs

In these days of culutrual decline, it's a constant temptation to forget the Church's enormous contribution to the world of art. But thankfully the Lord delights, occasionally, to raise up someone who denies God's existence in order to remind God's people that He does indeed exist, and is actively blessing His creation (including those who hate Him) with music and song, poetry and hymnody. Go figure.

Favorite lines:
"Born-again sing 'He is risen', but no one ever wrote a tune for godless existentialism."
"Catholics dress-up for Mass and listen to Gregorian chants. Atheists just take a pass, watch football in their underpants."

HT: Doug Wilson/Nathaniel Carswell

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Common Sense vs Learned Reason

"We have elevated common sense above learned reason. Magazine editors and network executives make writers cut references and words they think most people won't know - even though everybody has Wikipedia. We are becoming a country that believes the rich have earned their money but the well educated have not earned their intellectual superiority. This leads to a nation that idolizes the Kardashians." (Joel Stein in Time Magazine August 23, 2010)

Stein is commenting on society in general, but his observation applies easily to the Church as well. When entering in to discussions about liturgy, music, missions, preaching/teaching and community we would all do well to discern whether our current position on the current consideration is an unstudied-prejudice or a studied-conviction. And then, and only then, enter into the debate with a modesty befitting our actual understanding of the issue.

Stein continues, "Yes, it's unfair that much of our future is determined by what we did in high school, as if we were some Soviet Olympic team. But until we come up with a better system, if I have brain surgery, I want it done by a doctor who went to an amazing medical school. Just like I want my Brazilian jujitsu instructor to have a red belt, my prisoners of war to be rescued by a Navy Seal and my technical support phone operator to speak passable English. In fact, I wish more jobs had clear forms of elitism. Specifically, building contractors."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tronson Ridge Trial

My son Jason dropped Doug and me off at the Mission Ridge parking lot at 6:30am. From there we biked west on the Liberty-Beehive Road, north along the Tronson Ridge Trail, up and down Sand Hill, up Peavine Canyon and then down No. 2 Canyon to Wenatchee. Thirty-seven miles of breathtaking vistas, a gain of 5800 vertical feet, one gi-normous rattlesnake and 8 1/2 hours of good company and edifying conversation.

This was definitely a "bucket-list" ride. For several years I've been admiring Tronson Ridge from the east and wondering what it would be like to ride down the trail that follows its spine. About half-way down Tronson Ridge, Doug and I agreed that we would encourage some of our friends to ride this trail, but only the ones that we don't very much like.

As we were descending the east side of Sand Hill Doug was (as usual) a minute or two ahead of me. As I zoomed down the track I had to stop suddenly to avoid running over a rattlesnake that was coiled up in the middle of the two-foot wide path. The serpent showed no signs of moving on so I hiked my bike through some sticker-bushes to get around him. I caught up to Doug a few minutes later he asked me why I was delayed. When I showed him a picture of the rattler he grinned and said, "Oh yeah, I just bunny-hopped* that." (Sheesh!)

If you're interested you can see the whole buncha pictures here.

*Definition of "bunny-hop": Some mountain-bikers (like Doug) ride clipped into, i.e. attached to, their pedals and can, by throwing the weight of their torsos upward, "hop" their bikes one-to-two feet in the air as the hurtle down the trail.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Music, Poetry, and Prose

(Exodus 15:2) The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

The Creator God of the universe has a very intimate and fundamental relationship with music. Note that Moses and the children of Israel did not declare "The LORD inspires my singing." No, they sang, "The LORD is my song." If this is true (and it is) then Peter Kreeft's statement (see below) cannot be construed as mere hyperbole.

"Music is not ornamented poetry, and poetry is not ornamented prose.
Poetry is fallen music, and prose is fallen poetry.
Prose is not the original language; it is poetry made practical.
Even poetry is not the original language; it is music made speakable, it is the words of music separated from their music.
In the beginning was music."
(Peter Kreeft, The Philosophy of Tolkien, p. 162.)

HT: Justin Taylor

Pop Tarts

As someone who grew up eating this food-like substance, I really enjoy the quote and video below. Can I get a witness?

"There’s a new Pop-Tarts cafĂ© opening in Times Square. Finally, a way to enjoy Pop-Tarts without the hassle of making them myself." (Jimmy Fallon)

Friday, August 06, 2010

Now Unto Jehovah (Psalm 29)

This is a test. I just discovered a nifty little tool for sharing original music called "Sound Cloud." In theory, you'll be able to listen to a track off my CD, "Thy Rod and Thy Staff." Now Unto Jehovah (Psalm 29) by ghelsel

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Frodo and Me

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." (King Solomon)

Most Mondays I take a longer than usual bike-ride up into the hills above Wenatchee. About two-thirds of the way up there is a rock upon which I like to sit, reflect and pray through events and conversation of the previous week and to begin praying for the events and conversations of the coming week. At some point, surrounded by the handiwork of Yahweh, I am quite regularly "undone" by the greatness of God's grace to me, and the huge accumulation of divine blessings that keep pouring into my life despite my ongoing sin and rebellion.

And somewhere near the top of that wholly undeserved "heap-o-blessings" are the cadre of friends that I have at Trinity Church who are aptly represented in the words of Merry (below.) My cup runneth over. May the Lord grant me grace to be the same for them.

“It does not seem that I can trust anyone,” said Frodo.

“It all depends on what you mean,” put in Merry. “You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours–closer than you yourself keep it. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the ring. We are horribly afraid–but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.”

–J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (Houghton Mifflin 1994), 103

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Keith Getty on Writing Hymns

Keith Getty is the co-author of one of my favorite modern hymns: In Christ Alone. Here are his thoughts on the disciplines and purposes of hymn-writing and congregational singing.