Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.


Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.


click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.


Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.


Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.


This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

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random reads

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
The Shallows, Nicholas Carr
In this very readable, very thought provoking analysis of electronic communciations technology and its impact on our brains and culture, Nicholas Carr brings together media theory (think Marshall McLuhan), history (think Gutenberg) and neuroscience (think discoveries in brain plasticity) to show how computer technology is shaping us in ways of which we are only dimly aware. He argues that such technologies reduce our capacity for deep, creative and sustained linear thought (or at least have the potential to do so) and predispose us to the fragmented, the cursive and the superficial. Worth the read.

Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf

Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit, Edith Humphrey
A fascinating and engaging introduction to spiritual theology-- or the theology of spirituality, as the case may be. This book is a very scholarly, devotional, christo-centric, ecumenical and trinitarian overview of what it means for Christians to live in the Spirit and with the Spirit within. Bracing and enlightening.

Leading with a Limp, Dan Allender

five smooth stones for pastoral work, Eugene Peterson

From Darkness to Light: How One Became a Christian in the Early Church, Anne Fields

Life in the Ancient Near East, Daniel C. Snell
Snell's Life in the Ancient Near East offers a social history of the ANE, tracing the earliest settlement of Mesopotamia, the development of agriculture, first cities, ancient economy and the emergence of empire. Bringing together a rich variety of data gleaned both from the archaeological record and extant historical texts, he tells the history of this cradle of civilization with a special eye for the "human" element - focusing on the forces and factors that would have directly affected the daily life of the various strata of society. Worth a read generally, but all the more for someone with a particular interest in the biblical stories that find their setting and draw their characters and themes from the same provenience.

The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament, Richard Davidson
Davidson's Old Testament theology of human sexuality is stunning in its achievement, challenging in its content, and edifying in its conclusions. Davidson addresses every-- and I do mean every-- Old Testament text that deals (even obliquely) with human sexuality, and, through detailed exegesis, careful synthesis, and deep interaction with the scholarly research, develops a detailed picture of the Old Testament's vision for redeemed human sexuality. 700 pages of Biblical scholarship at its best.

Eaarth, Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben's Eaarth, is a call for us to wake up smell the ecological coffee...while we can still brew it. Unlike his previous work, or any writing on ecology I've yet read, however, Eaarth does not argue that catastrophe is pending. Instead, he argues that catastrophe has arrived, and that our all talk about "going green to avert disaster," "and "saving the planet" is woefully obsolete. In ecological terms, the planet as we once knew it is gone, he argues, and rather than trying to "avert" disaster, we need to start figuring out how to live in the disaster that's happened. Key themes he identifies as important for life on planet Eaarth resonnated with me as profoundly Christian ways of being (disaster or no). We must stop assuming that "bigger" is better; we must acknowledge limits on economic and technological growth; we must get reacquainted with the land; we need eschew self-sufficency and nurture community.

Love Wins, Rob Bell
So fast and furious has the furor over this book been, that any review will inevitably feel redundant or tardy. Given the crowd on the band wagon by now, I actually had no intention of hopping on myself, but my kids got it for me for Father's Day. About 15 pages in, I realized that I could probably finish it in on good push, so I got it over with. My thoughts: probably the most over-hyped book I ever read; I loved it and found it frustratingly under-developed at the same time; while he raises some important issues, his handling of them reads like a yoda-meets-Tom-Wright account of salvation; nothing C. S. Lewis hasn't already said more clearly and more cleverly; I'm glad he wrote it, and I'm glad the Evangelical world has errupted over it the way it has, and I hope a much more spirited and generous and optimistic understanding of soteriology and eschatology will infuse the evangelical church's mission as a result.

Rediscovering Paul, David Capes et. al.
Rediscovering Paul is a hepful overview of Paul's life, times and theology. While at times I felt it might have gone deeper, or expressed its ideas more clearly, it provides some interesting and inspiring insights into the man behind the letters. Among these is its discussion of the communal aspect of first century letter writing, and the influence of one's community on one's personal sense of identity, and how those issues might have played out in Paul's writings. Another challenging issue that it tackles is the whole process of letter writing in the Greco-Roman world, especially as regards the role a scribe often played in shaping the text, smoothing out the langugae or providing stock phrases, etc.

Lavondyss, Robert Holdstock
If you've read George MacDonald's Lilith, then think of Lavondyss as sort of a Lilith-for-Non-Christians. It's the convoluted labyrinth of a story about a young girl called Tallis and her adventures in a magical wood that brings the Jungian archetypes buried deep in our subconscious to life. Dense with questions about Jungian psychology, and the spiritually-thin-places of the world, and death and myth and magic and story, it's pretty tough slugging at times, but thought provoking and challenging. At times I felt like I was reading the Narnia book C. S. Lewis might have written if he had pursued the "stab of northerness" in directions other than the Christian Faith where he found it eternally satisfied.

Jesus and Money, Ben Witherington III
My friend John Vlainic once ranked Ben Witheringon as one of the strongest Biblical scholars in the Wesleyan tradtion working today. This thin but powerful volume is evidence to support such an accolade. I opened it expecting (judging by the cover) either a how-to book on Christian finances, or (judging by the other books I've read on Christ and Money) a hodge-podge of Bible verses taken out of context and mushed together as proof texts about the tithe. I got neither; instead, Ben Witherington walks slowly, thoughtful and exegetically through the breadth of Biblical teaching, with special sensitivity to the cultural context of the various texts, the tension between Old and New Testament teaching on the topic, and the differences between modern and ancient economies. If I were to recommend one book to develop a biblical theology of money, it would be this one.

The Gravedigger File, Os Guinness
My first taste of Os Guinness, and, if you don't mind a mangled metaphor, it went down like a bracing pint of... well... Guinness. Grave Digger file is sort of a "Screwtape Letters" project on a church-wide scale. In concept, the book is a series of "training files" for an undercover agent attempting to undermine and ultimately sabotage the Western Church, delivered from the pen of a seasoned saboteur to a young agent recently assigned to Los Angeles. In plot, the young agent ultimately defects, and delivers the "Gravedigger File" into the hands of a Christian, urging him to alert the Church to the operation. It is bursting with "things that make you go hmmm..." and deserves a second, careful read with pen in hand, ready to mine it for its scintillating and eminently quotable lines.

Deep Economy and the Economy of Jesus

Yesterday I needed a new stapler. Simple item, simple solution: I drove down to the local Stuff-Mart, found the stationary section and grabbed the cheapest one out of a selection of about ten. I turned it over in my hand and paused for a fatal moment. Imported by Wal-Mart Canada, it said. Made in China.

And I started thinking about how strange a world we live in, one where we can drive down the street and, for the price of about 10 minutes labour, satisfy our slightest need, buying some whimsical item that a faceless stranger snapped together in a place we’ve never seen, and more faceless strangers shipped thousands of miles to us from somewhere we have absolutely no connection to, to be set on a shelf next to ten others just like it. We take this arrangement for granted, but when you compare it to the overall history of human economy, this is one of the most bizarre and unnatural systems our kind has ever set up. (I stood there for a second, trying to imagine the actual hands working monotonously in some huge factory somewhere in China, assembling this particular stapler—and then imaging it actually sitting in a cargo crate on a ship somewhere in the middle of the Pacific coming to Moose Jaw—sort of gives you shivers).

It’s bizarre and unnatural. I just finished this book, Deep Economy, by Bill McKibben, who claims that it’s also unhealthy and unsustainable. McKibben critiques Western culture’s “economy of growth,” documenting the dehumanizing consumerism, the ever-growing pile of junk, and the environmental exploitation that goes along with it. He argues pretty lucidly that what we need most of all, for the health of our planet and our souls, are economic practices that intentionally build rich community, not an ever growing pile of stuff. And the whole time I read it, I kept thinking over and over about the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus might point us to Matthew 6:19-34 and say: “I told you so.”

McKibben’s call for economic practices that emphasize community and human-scale over the unsustainable myth of unlimited growth, is forcing me to imagine what a Christian economy might look like. The vision is still pretty hazy, but I’ll try out some concrete details here: simplicity—we’d live on less and stop buying stuff we don’t need; human scale—we’d share more, lend more, repair more, grow more and create more of the things in our lives; connectedness—we’d start buying local as much as we can, and develop meaningful relationships with the actual flesh-and-blood hands that supply us our food, furniture, clothing, entertainment and so on; community—we’d live in homes and neighbourhoods and market-places that made room for life together, not just cavernous spaces for our piles of stuff.

As the world tries desperately to stimulate a flaccid economy, maybe the Church has a vital opportunity to speak prophetically, by pointing people to the economy of Jesus. If only we could figure out how to live it ourselves.


Dale D said...

Good thoughts, Dale. I read "Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire" while I was in India. Challenging stuff.


TomLind said...

Yeah, I think it sounds good, but do you really think mankind can reverse the tide of consumer stock piling? Let's face it, we like going to Staples and getting our gadgets. Even if I decided to stop buying things, I will still need to get stuff to keep going. We may be able to reduce, but I can't see all of culture going in that direction. This brings me to another question, that you might want to comment on...Jack Van Impe talks about the world never ending, I.e. quoting Is. 45:17, Ep 3:21. I was wondering what you think is the future of our earth. Do you believe it will continue on forever? 2 Peter 3:7 says, "But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire..." I take this that the present world will be destroyed. I have talked to others who say that God will redeem this earth, i.e. reverse pollution, ozone, etc. What are your thoughts?

Jon Coutts said...

glad to have you blogging dale!

my first word verification here is "supecab".

dollar stores make me sick.

i do shop at walmart though.

Taylor Family said...

Yes, I think of these things all the time, especially when I look at my credit card bill and see the "Stuff Mart" entries, typically a few each month. Cheap, yes, useful, debatable. We are such a consuming society we sometimes (often) forget the need to live as you suggest... with simplicity.

Bradley Penner said...

Hi Dale,

Welcome to blogworld! A really good book on consumerism and Christianity is Paul Louis Metzger's "Consuming Jesus"(ISBN9780802830685). Although he takes a very American persepctive (he is American after all) it does hit home to us Canadians as well.

I have a blog too, if you are interested in my meanderings: Stop by if you like.