There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

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

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

Screwtape Proposes a Toast, C. S. Lewis

Of Magic Rings and Open Doors

I'm preaching on John 10 this coming Sunday, and can't help but think about my favourite Narnia book: The Magicians Nephew.

Remember this one? Andrew Ketterly, is a small-time dabbler in magic who's obsessed with the idea of finding a portal into another world. Digory and Polly stumble into his study just as he's discovered what he believes is the secret—a set of green and gold rings made out of some dust from Atlantis. He tricks Polly into using one, who is instantly whisked off to God-knows-where, and Digory has to use the rings himself to go after her.

Eventually Uncle Andrew’s magic rings bring Digory and Polly to Narnia, where they meet Aslan, who gives Digory this impossible quest: he has to journey to the western edge of the world, where there’s a tree, in a garden, on a green hill. And he has to pick a silver apple and bring it back to Aslan to protect the world from the witch he's inadvertently brought with him into Narnia.

Okay: this is where my sermon prep on John 10 comes in. Because when Digory finally gets to this garden on a hill at the end of the world, he stands in front of its beautiful golden door, and on the door are these words: Come in by the gold gates, or not at all / Take my fruit for others or forbear / For those who steal, or those who climb my wall / Shall find their heart’s desire and find despair.

And Digory wonders out loud: “Well, who’d want to climb a wall, if he could get in by a gate.”

I can still remember the day first I read those words. I was about ten years old, and had just enough Sunday School in me to know that those words—the whole “come in by the gold gates or not at all” part—was a reference to John 10:1. I just knew there was a connection.

But what?

I've probably read The Magician's Nephew some 20 times since I was 10, and every time I get to that part I have this nagging hunch that there's something really deep going on. But I never stopped long enough to wonder it out.

Until just this week. I was working through John 10 and thinking about Narnia and something finally clicked for me. If, like in all the Narnia books, this magical world is a symbol for our life-together-with-God, then Uncle Andrew’s obsession—to find a portal into Narnia?—it's really about the ubiquitous human journey to find a connection with the spiritual.

Uncle Andrew's obsession is really Everyman's quest for a way "in" to life with God.

When you think about it like that, what stands out suddenly starkly is that all the people in the book-- Andrew, Jadis, even Digory himself--really are trying to enter the Spiritual Life by some way other than the gate. With all their magic rings made out of the dust of Atlantis and what not, they're trying to “climb up some other way” into Narnia—trying to "steal in" to life with God--instead of entering by the door.

And so with perfect logic, the gate of the garden at the end of the quest tells Digory the same thing Jesus says in John 10:1: only a thief would try to come in by some way other than the door.
And suddenly I'm seeing John 10:7 and Digory's choice-- and even the magic wardrobe door that will come of his choice in a later/earlier book in the series--all in new light. And in that light I'm wondering about what "magic rings" I've been using these days to try to steal into that life with God of which Narnia was but the dimmest shadow (a certain kind of success in ministry? certain human "tests" of my spirituality? a certain perception of myself as a pastor, husband, father, Christian?) instead of coming through the door.

0 comments: