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

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

random reads

Three Minute Theology 2.7: It Takes All Kinds



I grew up in the Canadian province of Alberta. Now: if someone were to ask me, “What is Alberta like?” there are, obviously, many ways I could answer that question.

I could refer them to one of the many history books written about Alberta. Or, I could give them an AMA Travel Guide to the province. I could give them Thomas King’s classic novel Green Grass Running Water, which is about the Native American experience of colonialism and is set in Alberta. Or I could sing them Ian Tyson’s famous song called “Four Strong Winds.”

In literary terms, we call the different forms of these various texts—a history book, a novel, a poem and so on—we call them genres. And we intuitively recognize that in order to make proper use of a text, we need to take its genre into consideration.

For instance, Green Grass Running Water wouldn’t be all that useful if I simply wanted to find my way from Calgary to Edmonton. But then, if I wanted to reminisce about my childhood in Alberta, it’s not likely I’d turn to the AMA Tour Book. “Four Strong Winds” might help with that, but then, just because the song has a line in there about how “the weather’s good there in the fall,” doesn’t mean I should use it to help me plan my next vacation to Alberta.

Perhaps this all goes without saying, but the genre of a piece of writing naturally determines how you interpret it. And at the same time, if you want a complete picture of something, it’s helpful to have a variety of genres to draw from. You’ll get a fuller picture of Alberta if you include “Four Strong Winds” and Green Grass Running Water, than if you simply read “The History of Alberta.”

All that may seem obvious, but, for some reason, it’s often overlooked when it comes to the Bible.

Because, while it’s often recognized that the Bible is a collection of different books, written over the course of thousands of years by many different authors, it’s less often recognized that the Bible is also a collection of different kinds of books: books of prophecy, books of history, books of poetry, stories and genealogies and personal letters and so on.

And just like a whole bunch of different kinds of writing help us better answer the question, What is Alberta like? The Bible’s range of genres—from prayers to temple inventories—are all included to help us better answer the question, What is God like?

Hermeneutics is the fancy word theologians sometimes use to describe “the art of interpreting the Bible.” And the point is: recognizing and understanding the particular genre of any given Bible passage is an essential part of good hermeneutics.

For example, in debates about whether evolution is true or whether God created the world in six literal days, neither side usually mentions the fact that the creation account in Genesis is a very specific genre of writing—an Ancient Middle Eastern Cosmology, that is—which was written to answer specific questions for a specific reason, and we ought to keep the specific conventions of this genre in mind as we interpret it.

As another example, there are popular interpretations of the Book of Revelation—the last book of the Bible—that try to line up modern day political events with its strange dreams and visions. Many of these interpretations get extremely elaborate and detailed, but they seldom acknowledge that the Book of Revelation is a very particular kind of writing—what we call an Apocalypse—with specific literary conventions that should guide how we interpret it.

Reading Revelation as though it were a modern political commentary is sort of like trying to find your way to Edmonton using only “Four Strong Winds” as your guide.

While this may seem overly complicated to some, and just plain common sense to others, understanding and considering the specific genre of any given part of the Bible is crucial if we want to be what the Bible itself encourages us to be: “Approved workers, who correctly handle the Word of Truth.”

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