The Song Became a Child

The Song Became a Child
A collection of Christmas songs I wrote and recorded during the early days of the pandemic lockdown in the spring of 2020. Click the image to listen.

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.


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"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.

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random reads

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 Story of Christianity, Justo Gonzalez

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

Screwtape Proposes a Toast, C. S. Lewis

The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis

The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis

Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis

The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis: A Life, Alister McGrath

Planet Narnia, Michael Ward

Transitions, William Bridges

The Theology of Bruce Springsteen (Part 2): Blinded by the (Everyday) Light

Spend much time with Bruce Springsteen’s music and you’ll become keenly aware of an intense yearning, throbbing in the heart of all those last-chance losers and hopeful romantics that haunt his lyrics.

It thrums like an urgent pulse in the unsettled soul of “Hungry Heart,” who’s got a wife and kids in Baltimore while he sits in a Kingstown bar, confessing the truth about the money he laid down and the parts he played, only to discover in the end that “everybody’s got a hungry heart...”

It pounds like an engine roar in the breakneck passion of the street-racers in “Night,” who forget the sweat and toil of the work-a-day world in the split-second glory of the drag race; who “work all day / to blow ‘em away in the night.”

And it echoes like a plaintive cry in the unrealized dreams of the teen aged dad in “The River,” who acts like he don’t remember his hopes for the future, and whose shotgun bride acts like she don’t care.  “Is a dream a lie if it don't come true,” he wonders, “Or is it something worse / That sends me down to the river / Though I know the river is dry / That sends me down to the river tonight?”

Though each of these characters—and the many more that lurk in the dark alleyways and wander endless highways of his songs—feel it in different ways and salve it with different balm, each are yearning, fundamentally, for the same thing: to escape the drudge and disappointment of the everyday world in some unfettered, extra-sensory, soul-illuminating experience of liberation.

If everyone does indeed have a hungry heart, what all the hearts in Springsteen’s songs are hungry for, it seems, is that mystical experience of "otherness" that theologians call the transcendent.

As a theme in his song writing, the yearning for the transcendent finds its most Springsteen-esque expression, of course, in the two broken heroes of “Born to Run,” the never-grown-up street racer, and his dreamy, visionary lover, Wendy.  From its unforgettable opening lines, the entire song gapes like an unhealable wound with an unfilled ache for transcendence:  “In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream / At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines.”  The whole highway is jammed with “broken heroes on a last chance power drive,” of course, but it’s Wendy and her desperate lover whose yearning for escape crystallize the need for transcendence in us all:  their town (our worlds) may indeed be a death trap, a suicide rap, but together, with a delirious street to die on and an everlasting kiss between them, Wendy and her Peter Pan might just leave it all behind, if only for this moment, for this night: “Together Wendy we can live with the sadness / I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul.”

In his autobiography Springsteen describes the thematic impetus for this rock and roll classic (ranked #21 on the Rolling Stone List of Greatest Rock Songs of All Time).  “I wanted to use the classic rock ‘n’ roll images,” he writes, “the road, the car, the girl . . . what else is there?  It was a language enshrined by Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, Hank Williams and every lost highwayman going back to the invention of the wheel.  But to make these images matter, I would have to shape them into something fresh, something that transcended nostalgia, sentiment and familiarity.”

We find a similar desire for “something that transcends ... familiarity” in Mary of “Thunder Road,” whose streetwise saviour freely confesses that although he’s no hero (that’s understood), he has a kind of redemption on offer (beneath this dirty hood):  the redemption of a passionate embrace and an open road, of escape from loneliness and fading beauty in a roaring car on a winding highway, of “one last chance to make it real / to trade in these wings on some wheels.”

It’s the same kind of transcendence the street racer and his partner Sonny are chasing in “Racing in the Streets.”  Unlike those guys who “give up living and start dying piece by piece,” they come home from work and wash up, “and go racing in the streets.”

And it’s the same kind of transcendence that the young tough of “In the Streets” is hunting, who loads crates down on the dock five days a week, and then takes his money and meets his girl in the streets, where he can “walk the way [he wants] to walk,” and “talk the way [he wants] to talk,” and so escape the drab realities of his otherwise small, restless, harried world.

As a songwriter, Springsteen is hardly alone in his quest for transcendence, of course.  Jim Morrison was stalking it, in his surreal musings about riders on the storm and his psycadelic speculations about breaking through to the other side.  Bono was pining for it, in his ode to a place where the streets have no name and his prayer for a time when all the colours bleed into one.  Arguably even the party rockers like Van Halen were chasing it in their Dionysian anthems to wine, women and rock n’ roll.

What distinguishes Springsteen from the rest, however, is that instead of sending his characters on metaphysical walkabouts to mystical mountaintops, or losing them in hedonistic debauches with drugs and sex, his quest for transcendences drives them continually back to the earthy, the ordinary, the commonplace.  Passionate love, the togetherness of community, the mysterious bonds of friendship, the thrill of a fast car, the joy of release after a hard day of work: these are the sources of transcendence in Springsteen’s songs.  In his best lyrics we experience something reminiscent of what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration, where the ordinary stuff of earth is given an unexpected second look, and found suddenly scintillating with the stuff of heaven.

That last line is a bit hyperbolic, perhaps, comparing a Bruce Springsteen song to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration; but it is an intentional hyperbole.  Because the quest for transcendence is not just a theme in rock and roll; it is also a theme of Christian theology.  Way back in the 5th Century AD, St Augustine said it like this:  “You (God), have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.”  Some 1400 years later, C. S. Lewis famously put it like this: “If I find in myself a desire which nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.”  What each of these thinkers were trying to put their finger on is that there is, in fact, a yearning for transcendence throbbing in all of us, and that though we seek to fill it in all sorts of ways, metaphysical, hedonistic, ordinary or otherwise, that yearning will never be satisfied until we experience the ultimate transcendence: the beatific vision of and mystical union with God that is the goal of Salvation and the hope of the Christian Faith.

As Christians of course, we recognize that it is only Christ, the Living Water, who can quench the thirst for transcendence that Springsteen’s yearning heroes and searching lovers pique in us.  But like Springsteen, Christianity is also convinced that the stuff of heaven is indeed found most compellingly in the stuff of earth: a broken loaf of bread and a homely cup of wine that becomes inexplicably for us the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus, an old book that trumpets suddenly as the Word of God, the simple refrain of a familiar hymn that transforms suddenly into the habitation of the High King of Heaven, a ramshackle gathering of everyday sinners that becomes, mysteriously, the Body of the Christ.

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