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

random reads

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
The Shallows, Nicholas Carr
In this very readable, very thought provoking analysis of electronic communciations technology and its impact on our brains and culture, Nicholas Carr brings together media theory (think Marshall McLuhan), history (think Gutenberg) and neuroscience (think discoveries in brain plasticity) to show how computer technology is shaping us in ways of which we are only dimly aware. He argues that such technologies reduce our capacity for deep, creative and sustained linear thought (or at least have the potential to do so) and predispose us to the fragmented, the cursive and the superficial. Worth the read.

Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf

Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit, Edith Humphrey
A fascinating and engaging introduction to spiritual theology-- or the theology of spirituality, as the case may be. This book is a very scholarly, devotional, christo-centric, ecumenical and trinitarian overview of what it means for Christians to live in the Spirit and with the Spirit within. Bracing and enlightening.

Leading with a Limp, Dan Allender

five smooth stones for pastoral work, Eugene Peterson

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

Life in the Ancient Near East, Daniel C. Snell
Snell's Life in the Ancient Near East offers a social history of the ANE, tracing the earliest settlement of Mesopotamia, the development of agriculture, first cities, ancient economy and the emergence of empire. Bringing together a rich variety of data gleaned both from the archaeological record and extant historical texts, he tells the history of this cradle of civilization with a special eye for the "human" element - focusing on the forces and factors that would have directly affected the daily life of the various strata of society. Worth a read generally, but all the more for someone with a particular interest in the biblical stories that find their setting and draw their characters and themes from the same provenience.


The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament, Richard Davidson
Davidson's Old Testament theology of human sexuality is stunning in its achievement, challenging in its content, and edifying in its conclusions. Davidson addresses every-- and I do mean every-- Old Testament text that deals (even obliquely) with human sexuality, and, through detailed exegesis, careful synthesis, and deep interaction with the scholarly research, develops a detailed picture of the Old Testament's vision for redeemed human sexuality. 700 pages of Biblical scholarship at its best.


Eaarth, Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben's Eaarth, is a call for us to wake up smell the ecological coffee...while we can still brew it. Unlike his previous work, or any writing on ecology I've yet read, however, Eaarth does not argue that catastrophe is pending. Instead, he argues that catastrophe has arrived, and that our all talk about "going green to avert disaster," "and "saving the planet" is woefully obsolete. In ecological terms, the planet as we once knew it is gone, he argues, and rather than trying to "avert" disaster, we need to start figuring out how to live in the disaster that's happened. Key themes he identifies as important for life on planet Eaarth resonnated with me as profoundly Christian ways of being (disaster or no). We must stop assuming that "bigger" is better; we must acknowledge limits on economic and technological growth; we must get reacquainted with the land; we need eschew self-sufficency and nurture community.

Love Wins, Rob Bell
So fast and furious has the furor over this book been, that any review will inevitably feel redundant or tardy. Given the crowd on the band wagon by now, I actually had no intention of hopping on myself, but my kids got it for me for Father's Day. About 15 pages in, I realized that I could probably finish it in on good push, so I got it over with. My thoughts: probably the most over-hyped book I ever read; I loved it and found it frustratingly under-developed at the same time; while he raises some important issues, his handling of them reads like a yoda-meets-Tom-Wright account of salvation; nothing C. S. Lewis hasn't already said more clearly and more cleverly; I'm glad he wrote it, and I'm glad the Evangelical world has errupted over it the way it has, and I hope a much more spirited and generous and optimistic understanding of soteriology and eschatology will infuse the evangelical church's mission as a result.

Rediscovering Paul, David Capes et. al.
Rediscovering Paul is a hepful overview of Paul's life, times and theology. While at times I felt it might have gone deeper, or expressed its ideas more clearly, it provides some interesting and inspiring insights into the man behind the letters. Among these is its discussion of the communal aspect of first century letter writing, and the influence of one's community on one's personal sense of identity, and how those issues might have played out in Paul's writings. Another challenging issue that it tackles is the whole process of letter writing in the Greco-Roman world, especially as regards the role a scribe often played in shaping the text, smoothing out the langugae or providing stock phrases, etc.


Lavondyss, Robert Holdstock
If you've read George MacDonald's Lilith, then think of Lavondyss as sort of a Lilith-for-Non-Christians. It's the convoluted labyrinth of a story about a young girl called Tallis and her adventures in a magical wood that brings the Jungian archetypes buried deep in our subconscious to life. Dense with questions about Jungian psychology, and the spiritually-thin-places of the world, and death and myth and magic and story, it's pretty tough slugging at times, but thought provoking and challenging. At times I felt like I was reading the Narnia book C. S. Lewis might have written if he had pursued the "stab of northerness" in directions other than the Christian Faith where he found it eternally satisfied.

Jesus and Money, Ben Witherington III
My friend John Vlainic once ranked Ben Witheringon as one of the strongest Biblical scholars in the Wesleyan tradtion working today. This thin but powerful volume is evidence to support such an accolade. I opened it expecting (judging by the cover) either a how-to book on Christian finances, or (judging by the other books I've read on Christ and Money) a hodge-podge of Bible verses taken out of context and mushed together as proof texts about the tithe. I got neither; instead, Ben Witherington walks slowly, thoughtful and exegetically through the breadth of Biblical teaching, with special sensitivity to the cultural context of the various texts, the tension between Old and New Testament teaching on the topic, and the differences between modern and ancient economies. If I were to recommend one book to develop a biblical theology of money, it would be this one.

The Gravedigger File, Os Guinness
My first taste of Os Guinness, and, if you don't mind a mangled metaphor, it went down like a bracing pint of... well... Guinness. Grave Digger file is sort of a "Screwtape Letters" project on a church-wide scale. In concept, the book is a series of "training files" for an undercover agent attempting to undermine and ultimately sabotage the Western Church, delivered from the pen of a seasoned saboteur to a young agent recently assigned to Los Angeles. In plot, the young agent ultimately defects, and delivers the "Gravedigger File" into the hands of a Christian, urging him to alert the Church to the operation. It is bursting with "things that make you go hmmm..." and deserves a second, careful read with pen in hand, ready to mine it for its scintillating and eminently quotable lines.

My Evangelical 2014 in Review

I always feel like I'm late for the party on this one. Most people do their year-end reviews in December, before the New Year starts, but who's got the time in December? So my Year-End retrospectives usually happen in the opening throes of January rather than the dying throes of December. Anyways, if you're not already too far into 2015 to look back on 2014 one last time, here are some of the headlines that stood out to me last year as telling, concerning, intriguing or otherwise noteworthy, from a Christian perspective.

February 4: Bill Nye the Science Guy debates Ken Ham, founder and president of Answers in Genesis
Creationism created controversy early in 2014, as the poster-boys for popular science and biblical literalism respectively went head to head in a much-touted debate. Debates like these generally feel like way too much barking up all the wrong trees to me, so I didn't watch the bout; but the murmuring I heard in both the "Science Only" and the "Christian is as Christian does" camps suggested to me that the stakes in this fight have really changed over the years, and both camps are unhappy with how we've traditionally drawn the battle-lines.

February 28: Mark Burnett and Rona Downey release Son of God film
2014 was the year of the Christian Cinema, it seems, with a whole slew of Faith-based, Bible-themed or otherwise religiously-inspired movies coming out. I went to a special screening of Son of God, and, while it had its moments, I didn't really think much of it as a movie. The acting was stilted, the story-telling clunky, and Jesus just way too good looking (why do they always make him a supermodel?). So I won't say much about the movie itself, but inasmuch as it was followed by God's Not Dead (March 4), Heaven is For Real (March 21) Noah (March 28) and Gods and Kings (December 3), it's hard not to wonder if Hollywood wasn't trying to woo (or lure, depending on your view) Christians to the Box Office this year.

March 28: Russell Crowe's Noah hits the big screen
Okay, just one more thought on Bible-based movies in 2014. While I struggled with many of the aforementioned made-for-Christian films, I did like this movie (if "like" is the best word). Much was made of the additions to the narrative-- the stone Watchers, for instance, or Tubal-Cain as a stow-away on the Ark--but overall, I thought the movie handled the biblical material insightfully and respectfully, and drew out some of the very profound themes in the Noah story that Christians often over-look because we're so eager to explain how and why the story is in fact plausible. I preached through the Noah story this Spring at the FreeWay, and this movie was a helpful point of contact for me.

April 30: Mayor Rob Ford takes a leave of absence from his job as Toronto's Mayor
You may wonder why the salacious saga that was the Rob Ford scandal appears on this list, but consider: 1) I live right next door to Toronto and really couldn't escape it; 2) through the worst of Rob Ford's struggles, I was dealing some mental health struggles of my own, and found the whole story mesmerizing; and 3) there are actually a ton of very significant theological themes to be studied here that, if I'd had my wits about me, I would have loved to have chronicled as they unfolded. From Rob Ford's misappropriation of Jesus' teaching that "he who is without sin should cast the first stone," to the theological problems with the cult of personality (as represented by Ford Nation), the theological difference between apology and repentance, the theological difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, the spiritual dynamics of addiction and the spiritual dimensions of the news media, from the call for Christians to pray for our leaders to the promise of Jesus that the truth will set us free ... this story had it all.

July 14: The Church of England votes to appoint women bishops
Having been Free Methodist for so long that I'd almost forgotten there were still some rooms in the big house called Christendom where they were still wrestling with the question of women in leadership, I was first surprised, and then quite pleased to see that the Holy Spirit seems to have poured some old wine into some new wineskins on this one for our Anglican brothers and sisters across the pond.

August 9: Michael Brown shot in Ferguson, Missouri
Many of the American-Christian blogs I read dealt with this tragedy in raw, honest and reflective ways, calling on American Christians to start taking more seriously the problem of racial relations in their society and their churches. While it may be tempting for Canadian Christians to look down self-righteous noses at their southern brothers and sisters in Christ, I think there is a clarion call ringing for all of us here, about our vocation to be peace-making salt and reconcilatory light in a world that is growing increasingly divided along political, cultural, racial and economic lines.

October 13: The Synod of Catholic Bishops (possibly) changes its tone on the issue of homosexuality
Some pundits thought the Catholic Church said too much on this one, others not nearly enough, and apparently the tone of hospitality and pastoral care in the original document was vetoed by a vote of the bishops a few days later; but still: that the Catholic Church is facing this issue speaks volumes about the seismic shift that is happening, or has happened, when it comes to sexual identity and the Faith.  It's no longer possible to pretend the ground hasn't moved on this one, and where ever we end up standing when we regain our balance, it won't be where we once did.

October 15: Marc Driscoll resigns as pastor of Mars Hill
I have followed Marc Driscoll's ministry over the years oscillating between concern, distaste, and ire, so when the controversial pastor resigned from his post as the lead-and-founding pastor of Mars Hill in Seatle, after a long season of accusations and counter-accusations, with tales of bullying and church-politicing and misappropriation of funds leaking out of the woodwork at every turn, I at least noted it down. I wonder if we're witnessing the beginning of the end of mega-church-celebrity-pastor-culture.  Or maybe that's too much to hope for?

November 19: Rosetta Probe lands on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Though we may not have connected the dots, 2014 sort of ended where it started: with questions of origins. The feat itself-- landing a robot on a comet, for crying out loud!-- is remarkable enough; but even more remarkable is the justification they gave for the billion-dollar, decade-long project: the hope of discovering clues about the origins of life on planet earth. Go figure. They could have saved 10 years and $999,999,990, and just bought a Bible from their local bookstore.  In the beginning, God.  'nough said?

December 9: The US Senate releases its report on CIA "enhanced interrogation methods" for suspected terrorists
There are very serious questions here that more Christians should ask, about violence and truth and what we're prepared to sacrifice for our security, and the uneasy relationship between the Christian and Empire in its modern forms. Some Christians were asking those questions when this report came out (one incredulous blogger I read pointed out the startlingly high number of American Christians polled who felt that torture was justified for the sake of national security).  Given the fact that the New Testament is shot through with counter-Imperial rhetoric, we probably all should have taken notice of this one.

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