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.

inversions

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.

soundings

soundings
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.

bridges

bridges
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.

echoes

echoes
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.

Accidentals

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.

blogs I follow

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.

Programming and Fatherhood

When I was a boy, the closest thing we had to the world wide inter-web was The Rainbow, a monthly computer magazine for our TRS-80 Color Computer 3 (a.k.a the Co Co 3). The Rainbow published the printed code for a variety programs and applications, which you "downloaded" into your machine by typing them out, line by painstaking line. Hours (sometimes days) later, you'd finally run the program, hoping beyond hope that you hadn't made an error in the transfer from print to screen...and inevitably you had, and inevitably you'd spend hours (sometimes days) going back through it again, line by painstaking line, looking for the proverbial "needle of error" in the proverbial "haystack of code."

But at 14, I loved my Co Co 3.

Pardon the maudlin moment of nostalgia here, but I logged untold hours on this little 128K wonder (yes, that's a "K," as in kilobyte. That was it: 128 of 'em. And you had to save your programs using cassette tape. Those were the days). Some of those untold hours were spent entering code from the pages of The Rainbow Magazine, but more of them were spent working on code of my own.

I programmed exclusively in the Co Co 3's Extended Basic language, and, though I did develop a clunky-but-working word processor that I used to type up homework assignments, my primary interests were in the far less practical field of Game Development. I tried my hand at writing just about anything playable I could think of: text-based adventure games, first-person maze exploration games, shoot-em-up arcade-style games, Tolkien-inspired role playing games, weird versions of chess, flight simulators and battleship-type strategy games. And I learned first-hand about things like algorithms and symbolic logic and applied algebra, and Cartesian geometry and matrices and multi-dimensional arrays and animation and visual story telling and literary narrative devices and graphic design and systematic problem solving and who knows what else as I did so.

I even submitted one of my programs to The Rainbow. It was a game called "Karate," where two stickmen squared off in a joy-stick-controlled melee to the bitter death. The game was actually accepted and printed (I think they paid me $25.00 for it), and almost a full year later I got a letter from some 14-year-old boy somewhere who had typed it in, line by painstaking line, and was now wondering if I could help him figure out where the needle of error was in his haystack of code...

I was reminiscing about my Co Co 3 the other day because my son's been working lately with some game development software called Game-Maker that he downloaded from the internet . As I've watched him become impressively proficient with Game Maker's drag-and-drop interface, programming his own versions of pong, and dodge ball and shoot 'em up arcade style platform games, I've been thinking a lot about apples falling close to trees and chips off old blocks and stuff like that.

After my son had taught me the basics, I thought for old time's sake I'd try my hand at programming a game, which brings me at last to the point of today's post. Because part way into the project, I hit this wall where I wanted the little man to follow a path and slash at the bad guy with a sword, but it just wouldn't do it. I tried everything I could think of, but the little man just wouldn't follow the path.

And in a moment of desperation I called out to my son, who was playing Wii in the basement: "Son! I need you."

"What is it Dad?"

"I can't make the little man follow the path..."

"Be right there." He thumped confidently up the stairs. Looked for about 30 seconds at my code. Found the needle. A few clicks as he explained in patient tones what I'd done wrong, and suddenly the man followed the path as faithfully as a prize winning terrier graduating from obedience school.

And as he went back to the basement and his Wii, having helped his Dad in his moment of need, I thought back to that day when the issue of The Rainbow hit the shelves with my karate game in it, and my Dad took me down to the local Radio Shack and bought every issue in the store. And I thought about how he told the clerk as he paid that his son had a program published in that issue. I'd looked away shyly, but deep down inside I stood up a bit taller, because here was this man that I most admired in the whole world telling a stranger: my son has what it takes.

I wonder if this isn't one of the richest gifts a father can give his son: to call on him in a moment of need, to turn to him for help, to buy out the local Radio Shack when his accomplishment is on display, boasting on him to the clerk as he does so. Because when we, as men most admired by these boys who look up to us, assure them that they really do have what it takes, in these modest but potent ways, we invite them, too, to become men.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

This evoked some memories of my own, Dale. I remember the CoCo computer, but I was a Commodore 64 man myself! My first word processor was one I typed in from the corresponding magazine for the C64 called "Compute!" (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COMPUTE!) I used that word processor during my first 3 years of College to write all my papers!