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

The Halloween Files (Part VI): Feasting (with egg on your face) in the Upside-Down Kingdom


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Admittedly, I was not thinking about the theology of the Halloween prank, that cold November first morning a few years back, when I stood shivering in my PJs, scouring egg yolk from the windshield of my car.  But I am thinking about it this morning, working my way through a theological analysis of the themes of Halloween and all; because anyone who’s ever cleaned smashed pumpkin guts from their porch the morning after can tell you that “the prank” is a significant, if inconvenient part of the festivities on Alls-Hallowed Eve.

In this it shares good company with a number of chaotic festivals from the Human Family’s Book of Memories.   The Saturnalia of ancient Rome, for instance, was marked by role-reversals (slaves and children become the lords and masters for a day), role-playing (which probably included disguises and costumes), and licentiousness on a scale that would make the most seasoned Halloween prankster blush through his mask.

A kissing-cousin of the Saturnalia is the old, nearly forgotten tradition from Medieval Christendom known as “The Feast of Fools.”  Here’s how theologian Harvey Cox describes this strange festival:

During the medieval era there flourished in parts of Europe a holiday known as the Feast of Fools.  On that colorful occasion, usually celebrated about January first, even ordinarily pious priests and serious townsfolk donned bawdy masks, sang outrageous ditties and generally kept the whole world awake with revelry and satire.  Minor clerics painted their faces, strutted about in the robes of their superiors, and mocked the stately rituals of church and court.  Sometimes a Lord of Misrule, a Mock King, or a Boy Bishop was elected to preside over the events. 

The Feast of fools was never popular with the higher-ups.  It was constantly condemned and criticized.  But despite the efforts of fidgety ecclesiastics and an outright condemnation by the Council of Basel in 1431, the Feast of Fools survived until the sixteenth century.  ... In the age of the Reformation it gradually died out ... [but] its faint shade still persists in the pranks and revelry of Halloween and New Years Eve (emphasis mine).
Festivals like the Feast of Fools, while inconvenient and somewhat unsettling, played an important role in the cultural psyche of times gone by.  As Harvey Cox suggests: “The Feast of Fools ... demonstrated that [we could] imagine, at least once in a while, a wholly different kind of world—one where the last was first, accepted values were inverted, fools became kings and choirboys were prelates.”

Did you connect the dots there, too?   The “shade” of our age-old desire to imagine “a wholly different kind of world,” where “accepted values are inverted” persists “in the pranks and revelry of Halloween."

And suddenly I’m thinking of the Kingdom of God.

To be clear:  I am not suggesting that hurling an egg at an unsuspecting domicile on Halloween Night is a legitimate expression of the Christian Faith.  I’m not saying that at all.  What I am saying is that perhaps all the chaos of Halloween—the treats and the tricks—perhaps that’s really an expression of our deep down desire to imagine a world where the power-structures-that-be get turned on their head. 

And I’m saying that this desire has a long pedigree in the Saturnalian Chaos of which the Halloween Prank is just a faint echo.

And I’m saying that the Kingdom of Heaven is actually God’s answer to this age-old desire for a radical inversion of the Status Quo.  After all, didn’t Jesus himself say it: in his Kingdom the first do come last; the greatest are the least; and the ones who weep are blessed as the Master becomes the Servant of All. 

In Donald Kraybill’s words, the Kingdom of God is an Upside-down Kingdom.  Though it’s often neglected in the wealthy, complacent, bourgeois Christianity of the West, this is one of the central themes in its proclamation:  God’s Kingdom turns the value systems and the power structures of the World upside-down. 

And if that really is a longing for the radical inversion of the status-quo that I see, lurking there the bottom of the traditional Halloween Prank, then I suppose we have the glorious fulfillment of every Halloween Prank ever played in this message:  “The time has been fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the good news.”

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