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

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

random reads

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.