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

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

random reads

The Halloween Files (Part I)


next >>

Yesterday I saw the first Halloween decorations on display in our neighborhood. The door of a house around the corner was sporting a ghostly rubber skeleton in a tattered white robe, the lawn of another house down the street was cluttered with a variety of kitschy plastic tombstones, and from the porch across the way, a ghastly deaths-head glowered down on passers by with flickering red eyes .

‘Tis the season.

Personally, I’m ambivalent about Halloween. On the one hand, I see problems with its historical ties to paganism and the occult, its celebration of violence and its glorification of gore. On the other hand, there are things in the Halloween tradition that inspire me to think about my faith more deeply: the questions it asks about “Hallowed-ness” (the sacred and the nebulous), its tenuous connection to All-Saint’s Day, the way it taunts a death-denying culture, for just one night, with the knowledge that we are, after all, mortal.

My wife is less ambivalent. Because of all the problems listed on the one hand, she’s always held Halloween at arm’s length. We had some friends who had immigrated to Canada from South Africa and they were absolutely mortified the first time they encountered a real Canadian Halloween.  This community wide celebration of witchcraft and death was baffling and disturbing to them.  My wife has tended to share their opinion.

For my part, like I say, I’m not sure; but one of the things I am sure of, is that there’s always more going on in the most commonplace trappings of our culture than meets the eye; and it seems to me that if there ever was a cultural trapping that could challenge us to think about the intersections between secular culture and Christian spirituality, it’s the strange stuff that takes place on the night of All’s-Hallowed-Eve.

All this is my way of introducing a series I’m working on for October here at terra incongita. Through the month of October we’re going to be spending some time exorcising my Halloween demons (so to speak) and analysing the theological significance of this most-secular-seeming tradition of Canadian culture.

I hope you’ll join us for the trip. And as we’re packing our bags, let me suggest a few more reasons why Halloween is worth some careful Christian scrutiny.

1) It provides a good primer on the Christian Worldview.  Buzz-Light-Year costumes and pillowcases full of candy not withstanding, Halloween actually asks some pretty significant questions about the veil between the material and the spiritual, and whether or not its as solid as we usually like to think.  Historical Christianity has always held that the veil between the material and the spiritual is made more of gossamer than pall, and that things like angels and demons and miracles and the "supernatural" are closer and real-er to us than we know (and not something you'd ever want to triffle with).  Reflecting on Halloween, then, helps us ask some important questions about how Christian our Worldview really is.

2) Halloween is one of the last community traditions we have.  When else does your neighborhood throw a huge block party and hand out goodies to all the kids? In this it can’t be avoided. It’s like voting: even opting out is significant form of participation, and the way Christians participate inevitably says something about our posture towards the community in general.

3) Theological reflection on Halloween is good practice for theological reflection on culture in general. The Christian faith actually takes the themes of Halloween more seriously than the even monster-garbed kids counting their candy afterward do, so no matter how we participate in it, we need to do things like: read culture through theological lenses, and weigh cultural practices against our Christian convictions, and make faith-shaped decisions about our role (as salt and light) in culture as a whole. This is stuff, actually, that Christians ought to be doing on a regular basis about more regular things than Halloween night (retirement investing, drinking coffee, driving cars, recycling, sexual ethics, the list is endless). Halloween, it turns out, is a good, low-stakes training ground, to develop these skills.

0 comments: