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

Creative Being (II): Creative Spirituality

Creativity is hard to define but impossible not to notice when it’s happening. It’s a musician who somehow takes a traditional form and produces something entirely original with it, all while respecting the bounds of the form; it’s an artist who puts brush to canvas and produces an image that captures the essence of something everyone else had looked at before but no one had ever really seen; it’s a novelist who tells a story that no one has ever heard but is for all that hauntingly familiar.

Creativity is one part discovery, one part remembering, one part observing and one part expressing.

Interestingly, many authors attribute a spiritual quality to creativity. According to Rollo May, creativity “brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points to new life. The experience is one of heightened consciousness, of ecstasy.” Dieter Uchtdorf called the desire to create “one of the deepest yearning s of the human soul.” Brene Brown said, “Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.”

What these and other authors seem to be touching on is the sense that when we are being creative, we are coming into contact with something deeply interior—something inside of us—and at the same time, something profoundly transcendent—something above, beyond or outside the everyday—and that whatever else spirituality is about, it, too, has to do with the coalescence of these two things: the interior and the transcendent.

Whether or not there is, in fact, something genuinely spiritual about creativity (my jury is still out on that one), there is, I think, something profoundly creative about spirituality. Put differently: it may or may not be the case that through creative activities we can “encounter and express the spiritual,” but it is most surely the case—at least, from a Christian perspective it is—that when we truly encounter the Spiritual, something very creative happens in us. I say this in part because of the themes of New Creation woven like a gilded thread through the tapestry of the New Testament witness: if anyone be in Christ, there is New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17); our Lord is the one who (behold) makes all things new (Revelation 21:5); he admonishes us to forget the former things for (again, behold) he is doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:18). The Scriptures pulse with this promise: that something brand new, original, unprecedented and above all creative happens, and is happening, whenever men and women discover their true nature as Children of God through faith in Christ.

It may not involve composing a musical score or drafting an epic novel, but to the extent that creativity is about seeing things that never existed before and bringing them into being, to the further extent that creativity is about discovering worlds of possibility where before there were none, and to the ultimate extent that this is actually what happens to us, spiritually, when we come to Christ, as God reveals in us an identity that had not previously existed and opens up for us a world of hope that was not there before—to that extent, Christian spirituality is deeply and profoundly creative.

In his spiritual autobiography, C. S. Lewis talks about the role that poetry played in his coming to faith. He says that as he approached the point of conversion, he discovered a "ludicrous contradiction between [his atheist/secular] theory of life and [his] actual experiences as a reader." Namely: "those writers who did not suffer from religion and with whom in theory [his] sympathy ought to have been ... all seemed a little thin. ... The roughness and density of life did not appear in their books."  At the same time, the authors he felt he could feed on most deeply, and did—George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton, John Donne, Spenser, Milton, Herbert—all "by a strange coincidence" shared the same unfortunate "kink": their Christian faith.

As he puts it: “Christians were all wrong—but the rest were all bores.”

At the time, he assumed these authors were good "in spite of" their faith. But as he reached the threshold of his own Aldersgate moment, he began to believe they were good "because of it."

To this we might say: of course they were; what else would you expect? The Christian experience is an opening of the eyes to things previously hidden. It is an expanding of the heart’s capacity to feel, a piquing of one’s thirst for truth, the ultimate (and most literal) of inspirations, the fulfillment of God’s own promise to give dreams and reveal visions to his people.

The real head-scratcher would be a Christian who had encountered Christ and afterwards did not see things afresh, or feel things deeply, or thirst for truth, a believer who was not daily inspired and dreaming big dreams by the Spirit.

This head-scratcher happens, of course—there is such a thing as a dull Christian, to be sure.  But my experience is that as people take steps forward in their faith, as they take risks following Jesus and let him lead them out of their comfort zones, he awakens this Spiritual Creativity in them. The business man who spent a life time making rich people richer starts looking at the world afresh and creatively redirects his business efforts into justice for the poor and the oppressed. The teacher who up till now only saw his career as a path for personal advancement comes to Christ and creatively starts speaking grace and truth and love into the lives of his students. The construction worker who simply punched the clock all these years discovers in Christ ways to use his skill creatively, building churches on the mission field.

These are all examples from my own circle of acquaintance. And again, none of them have to do with writing music or painting pictures for Jesus (though I could share those stories too), but they have to do with something far deeper: the way Christ, when he touches us, also touches something in us: a human longing to act creatively in the world. Christ wakens it in us, and by his Spirit, he awakens us to it.

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