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

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

random reads

The 2012 Literary Awards

Reading forms a pretty major piece of the spiritual jigsaw puzzle that is my life.  I read for work; I read for leisure; I read for spiritual formation; I read for recreation.  My habit of recording the books I read each year started sometime back in 1999, when I was teaching High School English and trying to catch up on "the classics."  The habit stuck, and 13 years later I still find it satisfying to look over the year's reading list and reflect on what I found and who I met there. 

The habit of awarding "literary awards" to the good, the bad and the ugly reads of the year started three years ago, as a bit of an experimental blog post.  In the hopes of nurturing this habit into a tradition, I am pleased to present here the third annual terra incognita literary awards.  You can check out previous awards ceremonies here and here.

Most Annoying Read:  Leading with a Limp, Dan Allender

Judging almost entirely by the cover, I bought this book thinking it would be a refreshing change from the more typical "purpose driven" books on leadership I'd read.  In awarding it the "most annoying" honours, I don't mean to imply that I disagreed with Allender's main thesis-- that godly leaders must be authentic and transparent when it comes to their weakness, flaws and mistakes.  It's just that his style was so rambling and unfocused that it often left me wondering where he was going, or where he had been with his point.  This confusion at times bubbled over into annoyance.

Most Traumatic Read:  Dragonslippers, Rosalind B. Penfold

This was one of the required texts for a course in "the dynamics of abuse" which I audited this spring.  Presenting her book as the "illustrated diary" of a woman who has escaped a sexually and emotionally abusive relationship, Rosalind B. Penfold (pseudonym) tells her story in a series of deceptively simple, but haunting cartoon drawings. Although it was indeed a traumatic read, it was also one of the most vivid and compelling illustrations of the dynamics of abuse I have ever encountered.

Most Disappointing Read:  Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Wolf.

I first read this ground-breaking stream-of-consciousness novel for a University course on the English Novel, back in my undergrad days.  Some 20 years later, I remembered little of it, except that the account of Septimus Warren Smith's suicide had deeply moved me back then.  I reread it last winter for old times sake, and, while I still found Septimus Warren Smith a sympathetic character, the rest of the book was far more tedious than I ever remembered.  Since it's unlikely the novel itself has changed, I can only assume my reading tastes have; that, or the many shots of espresso I consumed before reading the novel the first time, at 3 am the night before the big final exam, gave Mrs. Dalloway's quest for the flowers (which she said she would buy herself) a certain je ne sais pas which I will never recapture. 

Most Rewarding Re-Read:  The Power and the Glory,  Graham Greene

Another re-read, though this one was satisfying in every way Mrs. Dalloway was not.  Graham Greene's story of a failed Catholic priest on the run from the communist government in revolutionary Mexico is one part redemption story, one part spiritual odyssey, one part spy-thriller.  I love this book, and the longer I do ministry, the more sense it makes to me.  It helps, perhaps, that this time I read it while on vacation in Mexico.
Most Enraptured Read:  Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson uses the megaloth--the five traditional books read on the five feast days of the Jewish Calendar (Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther)--as thematic entry-points for the five practices of pastoral work (prayer-directing, story-making, pain-sharing, nay-saying and community-building).  This book was food for the head and balm for the heart.  I read it as much for Eugene Peterson's whimsical style as for the deep insights he offers into the real nature of pastoral ministry.  A must-read for any fledgling pastor.

Most Willing Required Read:  From Darkness to Light:  How One Became a Christian in the Early Church, Anne Fields

This one was required reading for a seminar on the "theology of conversion" our ministry network hosted this year.  It's essentially an anthology of readings, sermons and liturgy excerpts from the early church's catechism for baptismal candidates, peppered through with a bit of commentary from Ms. Fields herself.  It showed, essentially, what a third Century prosylete would undergo if he or she wanted to become a member of the Christian community.  The forty-day ordeal of daily sermons, scripture lessons and exorcisms which culminated in a public baptism on Easter Night (a naked, public baptism, mind you), makes the "ask Jesus into your heart" fare of now-a-days look like the TV dinner of conversion experiences.

Most Unexpectedly Interesting Read:  Evoking Change,  Anna Christie

The reasons why my expectations were so low when I started this one are complicated, but among other things, let me say that the dust-cover's claim that this book will "put you on a foolproof path that will positively impact all aspects of your life and eventually improve the world" seemed a bit grandiose for my taste.  There was much I disagreed with here, both theologically and psychologically, but its overall thesis resonated with me: that leaders can only effect outward change in the systems they are called to lead when they are willing to do the painful work of inward transformation.  And, important theological quibbles notwithstanding, Anna Christie offers some very helpful and challenging insights into human psychology and systems theory in her unpacking of this thesis.

Most Edifying Read:  The New Testament and the People of God,  N. T. Wright.

I've blogged before (and effusively) about N. T. Wright.  I have been waiting for a while now for the fourth installment in his Christian Origins and the Question of God series, breath bated ever since The Resurrection of the Son of God heralded for me the end of the world as I knew it (but I feel fine).  Anyways, rumour has it that part four, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, is due any day now, and to brace myself (or while away the time, as the case may be) I started re-reading the first three books in the series.  I finished The New Testament and the People of God this week and found it as edifying as before, and perhaps twice as rich, academically speaking, coming as it did after a couple of years in the ministry trenches.  What can I say:  I'm a Bible Geek.


o1mnikent said...

Just a heads up... Paul and the Faithfulness of God will be out later this year. It's now available for pre-order: