The Song Became a Child

The Song Became a Child
A collection of Christmas songs I wrote and recorded during the early days of the pandemic lockdown in the spring of 2020. Click the image to listen.

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.


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.

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 Story of Christianity, Justo Gonzalez

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

The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis

The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis

Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis

The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis: A Life, Alister McGrath

Planet Narnia, Michael Ward

Transitions, William Bridges

The Wisdom of Qohelet (V)

Here's my fifth sermon in our series on the Book of Ecclesisastes.

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3. Tears

A Few Random Dispatches from the Movies

Not sure if it's because we're trapped in the late-winter doldrums, or what, but the last few weeks at the Harris household we've been watching more movies than usual; and this may be a result of the late-winter doldrums, too, but today I can think of nothing more profound for blog-fodder than to share some of my random impressions of what we've been watching.

Iron Man. This was better than many of the films I've seen in the super-hero genre, and the story of Tony Stark's redemption is not entirely without merit (even if it is a redemption-by-works-not-grace), but the idea that he created an arc-reactor-powered-battle suit out of spare parts while holed up in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan was such a big pill to swallow at the outset that my sympathy for the film was greatly diminished going forward. I'm as willing to suspend my disbelief as the next guy (usually more), but even science fiction has to set the terms of believability somewhere. But then again, lots of things blow up.

The Simpsons Movie. I stopped watching The Simpsons somewhere around Season 11, so maybe this film was just the final throes of a gradual decline that I've not been privy to, but I have to say I was pretty disappointed with this movie. I felt like all their best jokes had been told by the 25 minute mark, all their best characters were reduced to cameos and catch-phrases, and their best satire amounted to little more than obvious cheap shots at easy targets. Probably one of the biggest challenges in producing a film based on a long-running television franchise is to tell a real story that stands on its own merits while staying faithful to the series; this film, I think, did neither.

The Social Network. "Film of the Year" (Rolling Stone) seems a bit grandiose to me, but I really enjoyed this one, nonetheless. With the exception of the final exchange between Zuckerberg and the Junior Lawyer for the Defense, I appreciated how carefully they handled the (fictional) Zuckerberg as a dynamic and complex character. The lawyer's line in that final scene, "You're not an a**h*le, you're just trying too hard to be one" seemed a bit too preachy and transparent to me, as though the film didn't trust the audience to draw its own conclusions about Zuckerberg but had to force-feed us a verdict. Oh yeah, and as characters, the Winklevoss twins were almost embarrassingly flat and cliched.

The King's Speech. This was an inspiring and enjoyable movie, and Bertie was one of the most genuinely sympathetic characters I've seen in a long time: he's dynamic and complex and well-portrayed. The cinematography took creative risks that worked, and the way the film conveys the ominous uncertainty that must have overshadowed this period of history is effective. That said, it lost me (though not irredeemably) at two points: 1) Timothy Spall's Churchill seemed like he'd just stumbled out of a Monty Python sketch, or off the set of SNL (if SNL ever parodied historical British politicians, that is); 2) Bertie's "I have a voice!" assertion when Logue taunts him by sitting on St Edward's Chair seemed almost laughably contrived and transparent. This scene almost sank the movie for me. As with my critique of The Social Network above, it left me wondering: when did film-makers get the impression that audiences were so stupid that they had to club us over the head with the theme of their film at least once before the movie is done?

Sisters in Christ

I feel like I'm always the last to find out about these things, but today they announced on the radio that it's International Women's Day-- a day set aside to recognize and celebrate "the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future."

Of course, you sometimes hear the claim that the Christian Faith is one of the main reasons we need things like an "International Women's Day" to rectify years of marginalization in the first place; but my experience and general impression is that people who make this claim have actually given Christianity at best a cursive and cliched reading. Not everything the Church has always said and done when it comes to gender equality has always been above reproach, to be sure, but it's not for nothing that the (highly macho) ancient world dismissed early Christianity derisively as a religion of "women and slaves."

Be that as it may, for my part on this International Women's Day and all, I began compiling a list of sisters in Christ through whom God has left a significant Kingdom-mark on the world, women whose contributions theological, pastoral, literary or missiological have spiritually enriched the heavenly coffers of the people of God, so to speak. This list morphed into the short quiz below.

Each of the following quotes are by (or in the case of those marked with an asterisk, about) a well-known woman of the Faith, past or present. How many of these Sisters in Christ can you identify correctly?

Who said (or in the case of 5 and 6, about whom was it said):

1. ...the soul is now wounded with love for its Spouse and strives for more opportunities to be alone and, in conformity with this state, to rid itself of everything that can be an obstacle to this solitude.

2. Oh, what a happy child I am, although I cannot see! I am resolved that in this world, contented I will be!

3. The saint in prayer, friends around the dinner table, the mother reaching out her arms for her newborn baby are in kairos. The bush, the burning bush, is in kairos, not any burning bush, but the particular burning bush before which Moses removed his shoes; the bush I pass by on my way to the brook. In kairos that part of us which is not consumed in the burning is wholly awake.

4. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday I talk with Molly, on Tuesday with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thursday with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with Charles.

5. O how great is the devotion of this woman that she should be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle. *

6. For thy hands, O my God, in the hidden design of thy providence did not desert my soul; and out of the blood of my mother's heart, through the tears that she poured out by day and by night, there was a sacrifice offered to thee for me, and by marvelous ways thou didst deal with me. *

7. A great benefit of Sabbath keeping is that we learn to let God take care of us — not by becoming passive and lazy, but in the freedom of giving up our feeble attempts to be God in our own lives.

8. The poets began drifting away from churches as the jurists grew louder and more insistent.

9. So I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.

10. People say to me. ‘What about the rich?’ They need Jesus too.’ Well, that’s fine if you’re called to them, but we’re called to the poor. The rich can look after themselves.

On Sentences and Theolo-tweets

If you're here today because you're like me and you're curious about the relationship between words and spirituality, do yourself a favor and listen to this. It's an interview Anna Maria Termonti had on CBC's The Current with acclaimed literary critic Stanley Fish, about the place and power of the sentence in our lives. He has some thought-provokingly insightful things to say about the power of a well-crafted sentence, and he says them articulately and eloquently. If nothing more, it will inspire you to try your hand at writing
a scintillating sentence.

If you don't have the 25 minutes to treat yourself today, let me offer you this sample of his musings, by way of tantalization:

"A sentence is an admission by each of us who writes a sentence, or reads one, that we are not where we want to be; that is: a sentence is a statement which indicates distance, both from the people we're talking to, and the objects we're hoping to commune about. And in a theological vision of unity with God, everyone is united, speech is not necessary, meaning is full, and sentences need not be produced. [In other words], sentences, and the need to write them, are signs of our mortality."

Later he will talk incisively about modern technologies like Twitter, and the limitations they place on our ability and willingness to express ourselves in sentences longer than 140 characters. He won't say what you might expect a literary critic to say (that Twitter has somehow irreparably "undermined" the sentence). But he will say this: "If your entire imperative or sense of obligation in relation to sentences can be summed up by words like brevity and concision, you've cut yourself off not only from the pleasures of reading other kinds of sentences, but from the pleasure of trying to produce them." (And he'll say that off the top of his head, too.)

But this brings me to the reason I haven't been able yet to shake this interview.

It's because recently, a rather well known, if controversial Evangelical Pastor from Michigan announced that he's got a new book coming out about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person who ever Lived. And he made his announcement by means of a brief 3 minute promotional video that did little more than ask rhetorical questions about the traditional Christian position on our prospects in the hereafter. And true to his controversial reputation, he implied that some sacred cows may be on their way to a theological burger-joint near you; or, put less metaphorically: that he was about to give the traditional doctrine of Hell some sceptical scrutiny.

The book's slated for release March 29th.

Before the book hit the shelves, however, another well-known, if vociferously straight-laced Evangelical Pastor from Minnesota saw a brief blog post which denounced the book (and its author), unread, as "universalist" (i.e. not "believing in" Hell). This third-hand, hear-say evidence prompted the pastor from Minnesota to tweet this cursive dismissal of the pastor in question: Farewell, Rob Bell.

Rob Bell trended, briefly. The barometer of the Evangelical blog-o-sphere plunged, briefly. Bell's publishers moved the release date for the book up to March 15th. And I think I heard laughing on the way to the bank.

But here's where Stanley Fish comes in, because I'm wondering today what light he might shed on this sordid business, with all his philosophical musings about the power of carefully crafted sentences to enrich our worlds and deepen our lives and humble us with a sense of our own limitation. Because a humble, deep, and generous contribution to theological discourse "Farewell Rob Bell " is not.

To be fair, the aforementioned pastor from Minnesota has tackled pastors that he's disagreed with in book-length dissertations, too (he's sort of the Michael Strahan of the Evangelical world when it comes to tackling pastors he disagrees with). But this 4-word dismissal of a man, an (unread) book, a theological issue and all those who are willing to engage it made me feel especially sad. After all: has Twitter really reduced theology to this? Is our dialogue about God and his plan for his creation worth no more effort and grace than we might exert in vetting the Oscars?

To paraphrase Fish quite liberally: "If your entire imperative in relation to theological issues can be summed up by words like brevity and concision, you've cut yourself off from more than just the pleasure of reading a well-crafted sentence." You've cut yourself off, perhaps, from the pleasure of really truthing one another in love.

Seven Words to the Wise

As I mentioned before, I've been working through the Book of Ecclesiastes for about a month now, and finding it challenging, inspiring and poignant. At one point I said to my wife: I feel like I'm being converted, all over again. My tongue was in my cheek, of course, but what I meant was: when I read Ecclesiastes, I discover this way of being in the world that is very wise, but in many ways very different from how I've learned to be Christian over the years.

Here are some of the lessons The Teacher's been coaching me on so far:

1. Don't flatter yourself: ennui over the fact that there's nothing new under the sun is itself nothing new under the sun.

2. All we are and all we do is "under the sun": contrary to appearances, human potential-- even human wisdom--is not limitless, nor was it meant to be.

3. To accept the existential absurdities of life is a source of great wisdom: Everything is "hebel" ("vapor," KJV's vanity, NIV's meaningless) not because it's worthless, but because it refuses to line up with our human intuition of rational cause and effect; don't rage against this, but accept the Creator's prerogative.

4. Work is only good because it's not ultimate: accepting the limitations the Creator has placed on the outcomes of our work (and our ministries) sets us free to enjoy our work for what it is.

5. Savor simplicity: luxury itself is "hebel".

6. Stay in the Now: "There is a time for everything," and right now is the time for what's happening right now.

7. Hold your tongue: "The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools." Full stop.