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.

Whirling Dervish, a song



And I had no rhythm when I first met you
But you called me out onto the floor
Just these clumsy feet and no dancing shoes
And my heart was heading for the door

But you caught my eye with your mysterious ways
And you took my hand and you compelled me to stay
As the music swelled I thought I heard you say
That tomorrow’s gonna be my dancing day

And You, you, you came into my life
Like a whirling dervish
Knocking over everything
And dancing like a ray of light
On the water’s surface
I’ll follow you as you dance

And I had no style and I had no poise
And I kept on fumbling the beat
But you didn’t mind when I kept stepping on your toes
With my stumbling heart and heavy feet

But you caught my eye with your mysterious ways
And you took my hand and you compelled me to stay
As the music swelled I thought I heard you say
That tomorrow’s gonna be my dancing day

And You, you, you came into my life
Like a whirling dervish
Knocking over everything
And dancing like a ray of light
On the water’s surface
I’ll follow you as you dance

Spin around and around and around and around
Spin around and around and around x 2

And they say King David liked to dance before the Lord
Well he must have known a thing or two
A secret step to match his secret chord
For a secret song he learned from you

But you caught my eye with your mysterious ways
And you took my hand and you compelled me to stay
As the music swelled I thought I heard you say
That tomorrow’s gonna be my dancing day

And You, you, you came into my life
Like a whirling dervish
Knocking over everything
And dancing like a ray of light
On the water’s surface
I’ll follow you as you dance

Filthy Lucre, a song



Billy was a big shot on Bay Street
Waiting for his ship to come in
He didn’t wanna miss it when it landed so he stole
His anchor from another man
He said, everybody wants a little bit of sugar
All its gonna cost you is some filthy lucre

Filth, Filthy, Filthy Lucre
Did you get some on your hands?
Filthy, Filthy, Filthy Lucre
Waiting for your promised land
We’re all filthy

Lady couldn’t seem to make ends meet
Wearing down her fingers to bone
She didn’t wanna beg or borrow so she sold
The only thing she had of her own
You could find her working nights until the streets took her
With nothing in her pockets but filthy lucre

Filth, Filthy, Filthy Lucre
Did you get some on your hands?
Filthy, Filthy, Filthy Lucre
Waiting for your promised land
We’re all filthy

Joey was a preacher for hire
Praying over innocent souls
He dressed his Bible up in a bright white suit
So they wouldn’t notice what he stole
He could work the room
Till the spirit shook ‘er
With nothing in the plate but filthy lucre

We’re all innocent
But nobody’s clean
Everybody’s money
Is the same shade of green
We’re all in this tub together
The butcher, the baker
The hooker, the preacher, and me

Wally had a way to get rich quick
Working on a pyramid scheme
He didn’t wanna wake up when the nightmare came
And shatter his American Dream
He didn’t have to go out and commit murder
All he had to do was make some filthy lucre

Filth, Filthy, Filthy Lucre
Did you get some on your hands?
Filthy, Filthy, Filthy Lucre
Waiting for your promised land
We’re all filthy

Hey There St Christopher, a song



Hey there St. Christopher,
If you’re out there will you say a prayer
For a world wand’ring rambler like me?
Will you ask the Lord to smile down
On this road I’ve walked for miles now
Till I’ve seen all the green earth there is to see?

I’ve seen the sun set sinking over the Serengeti
I’ve watched the camels racing the sands of Dubai
I’ve seen the white ghost walking the trail to Michupichu
I’ve watched the wheat fields ripen under a prairie sky
On trains and planes and elephants, on rickshaws on the run,
They say a pilgrim’s work is never done, so...

Hey there St. Christopher,
If you’re out there will you say a prayer
For a world wand’ring rambler like me?
Will you ask the Lord to smile down
On this road I’ve walked for miles now
Till I’ve seen all the green earth there is to see?
I’ve miles to go before I sleep
And the open road is calling to me, so...
Hey there St. Christopher,
If you’re out there will you say a prayer
For a world wand’ring rambler while he roams
Will you ask the Lord to guide my feet
On these open roads and these city streets
Till I walk the final road that brings me home.

I’ve played with polar bears way up in Churchill, Manitoba
I’ve stood upon the sun-scorched slopes of Sinai
I’ve kissed the lucky herring in the Antarctic waters
I’ve found my winding way through the streets of Mumbai
In boats and cars and wheelbarrows, on camels in the sun,
They say a pilgrim’s work is never done, so ....

Hey there St. Christopher,
If you’re out there will you say a prayer
For a world wand’ring rambler like me?
Will you ask the Lord to smile down
On this road I’ve walked for miles now
Till I’ve seen all the green earth there is to see?
I’ve miles to go before I sleep
And the open road is calling to me, so...
Hey there St. Christopher,
If you’re out there will you say a prayer
For a world wand’ring rambler while he roams
Will you ask the Lord to guide my feet
On these open roads and these city streets
Till I walk the final road that brings me home.

I’ve seen the sunrise gleaming on the peak of Everest and
I’ve stood upon the banks of the bridge on the river Quai
I’ve heard the kookaburra singing in the old gum tree and
I’ve filled my lungs with the air of a rocky mountain high
In tractors, trucks and motor homes, from Ares Rock to the Yukon
They say a pilgrim’s work is never done, so...

I’ve miles to go before I sleep
And stories to tell and people to meet
And places to know and sights to see
I’ve miles to go before I sleep ... so!
Hey there St. Christopher,
If you’re out there will you say a prayer
For a world wand’ring rambler while he roams
Will you ask the Lord to guide my feet
On these open roads and these city streets
Till I walk the final road that brings me home.

Caedmon's Hymn, a song

Diamond in the Rough (a song)



I didn’t know that the day that I sat down beside you
I was sitting down next to my destiny
And I didn’t know that the day you smiled at me the first time
I was meeting a long lost piece of me
And I’m so glad you didn’t let the disguise fool you
I’m so glad you didn’t fall for my bluff
Cause if you had we might have never learned the truth about us (that)
Whatever else we had together
Together we had a diamond in the rough

I didn’t know the first time I felt your breath upon me
How much grace was breathing over me
I didn’t know the first time I held you in my arms
How strong a heart was beating next to me
And I’m so glad all my mistakes never deterred you
I’m so glad that we held on when the going got tough
Cause if we never had we might have never learned the truth about us (that)
Whatever else we had together,
Together we had a diamond in the rough

So place me as a seal upon the hinges of your heart
Like a lover’s seal engraved upon your arm
Cause love is strong as death, more jealous than the grave
And its flame burns with the fire of the Lord

I do not know all the ups and downs that lie before us
And where we’ll be when its all said and done
And I do not know what we’ll see there in the rear-view mirror
When we look back after its all said and done
But I hope it’s true we’ll say we savored every moment
I hope it’s true they’ll say we left a trail of love
Cause if we do that’s how we’ll finally know the truth about us (that)
Whatever else we had together,
Together we had a diamond in the rough

A Thousand Words, a Song



They say the Inuit up north
Have got a thousand words for snow
And well, honey, I just don’t know if that’s true
But if you need a thousand words
For the stuff of life you need the most
Then I guess I ought to have a thousand words for you

They say that Earnest Hemmingway
Could write a thousand words a day
Well he must have had a most prolific muse
But if you give a thousand words
To the thing that most inspires you
Then I guess I ought to have a thousand words for you

And I remember how they say
That a picture’s worth a thousand words
Well honey, give or take a word or two
But a thousand pictures won’t suffice
To tell you just a single thing
Out of the thousand words I want to say to you

A thousand words could never contain
The one thing I most want you to know
A thousand words could never describe the beat of my heart
I know its not much, I know it’s absurd
And I’ll never say something you haven’t heard
I know it falls short, but it’s all I’ve got
A thousand words, a thousand words

It’s better to be thought a fool
They say than open up your mouth
And prove to the whole world that its true
And if brevity’s the soul of wit
Then maybe all I have to do
Is just hold my tongue and let the silence speak to you

Your Faded Blue Jeans, a song



Every eye in the place
Is fixed on you
You can feel their gaze
Following you
And they’re sizing you up
And they’re weighing your soul
And you can’t get away
No matter where you go

Everybody’s watching you
As you’re walking down the street
(you can feel it)
Shining like the sun in your faded blue jeans
With your hair done up and your defenses down
And the world at your feet (and you know)
You’re the most magnetic thing they’ve ever seen
You in your faded blue jeans

You were breaking their hearts
But they just didn’t know
While you’re playing your part
We can’t stop the show
And you’re turning their heads
We can’t look away
And you’re knocking them dead
To live another day

Everybody’s watching you
As you’re walking down the street
(you can feel it)
Shining like the sun in your faded blue jeans
With your hair done up and your defenses down
And the world at your feet (and you know)
You’re the most magnetic thing they’ve ever seen
You in your faded blue jeans

You’re more beautiful than you could ever know.
You’re more beautiful than you could ever know, you never know, you never know

Everybody’s watching you
As you’re walking down the street
(you can feel it)
Shining like the sun in your faded blue jeans
With your hair done up and your defenses down
And the world at your feet (and you know)
You’re the most magnetic thing they’ve ever seen
You in your faded blue jeans

Purple City, a song




Diana, do you wanna come on out and play?
I’ll show ya a little bit of homemade ecstasy
I know ya, that you’re bored and you got nowhere to be
We’ll go there together

Diana, do you wanna come along for a ride?
I’ll take ya to a place where you’ve never felt more alive
It’ll wake ya to all the emptiness inside
We can chase it forever

Purple City, just keep staring into the lights
Looking for Purple City, trying not to lose your sight
Cause the night is young
And the truth still hasn’t hit me
That we’ll lose it when we find it, Purple City

And Tommy, do you wanna head out for a run
On a highway that takes us past the setting sun?
The lights are sparkling on the horizon
We’ll go there together

And Tommy, I think I’m ready to take the leap
Cause falling is better than dying in your sleep
They’re calling, all the things we know we just can’t keep
We’ll lose them together in …

Purple City, just keep staring into the lights
Looking for Purple City, trying not to lose your sight
Cause the night is young
And the truth still hasn’t hit me
That we’ll lose it when we find it, Purple City

Diana, I guess it’s time we headed home
The sunrise is gonna find us both alone
But your heartbeat is still aching in my bones
I’ll always remember ….

Purple City, just keep staring into the lights
Looking for Purple City, trying not to lose your sight
Cause the night is young
And the truth still hasn’t hit me
That we’ll lose it when we find it, Purple City

This Town, a song

I grew up in the small town of Gibbons, Alberta.  Set on the prairies with a population of 5000 and open farmland in every direction, it was not an especially cosmopolitan community to grow up in. It never felt small to me, though, or especially provincial. 

I had the good fortune to go home a couple of summers ago and spend a full day wandering my hometown, some 35 years after the fact, reminiscing and reuniting and rediscovering how truly remarkable this small town was.  I had no clue, for instance, that the freedom to explore the Sturgeon River valley unsupervised for hours on end was a great gift to a growing child's psyche, or that living a stones-throw from every good friend you had gave you a profound feeling of connectedness and belonging.  Growing up in little old Gibbons, I realized, was a beautiful gift from God. 

A year or so later, I wrote this song as a tribute to the Town of Gibbons, and a word of thanks to God for having given it to me, and me to it.  I hope you enjoy, and I hope it inspires you to reflect on your own childhood, and all the things you never knew at the time were shaping you into the grown-up you've become.



We were chasing dragons
With our homemade wooden swords
There in your river valley
At the edges of our world

We were making legends
Out of never ending days
On your forbidden rooftops
In your back alleys

You don’t always know how who you were
Is who you are today
Or how the man that you’ve become was born
In child’s play (oh)

This town was big enough
For the three of us to run around in
Till we were tall enough to ride
With fireworks on the summer nights
While lightning played across the sky
It wasn’t much but it’ll last me till I die

We were chasing lovers
When all the dragons had been tamed
The mystery discovered
And all the heroes had been named

We were forging friendships
Under never-ending skies
Out on your open highways
Under your watchful eyes

You can never say how wounds
Will grow up into dreams
Or how the ground beneath your feet
Is firmer than it seems (cause)

This town was big enough
For the three of us to run around in
Till we were tall enough to ride
With fireworks on the summer nights
While lightning played across the sky
It wasn’t much but it’ll last me till I die

If nature’s brightest gold is our first green
This town will always hold a special place
In the treasury, of my memory (oh)

This town was big enough
For the three of us to run around in
Till we were tall enough to ride
With fireworks on the summer nights
While lightning played across the sky
It wasn’t much but it’ll last me till I die

Warrior Poet, a song

This song started vaguely as a riff on the idea that being a preacher is sometimes like being a warrior-poet, carrying the paradoxical double duty of both comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. It morphed in the writing (as most songs do), and became a much more general anthem for anyone who has been knocked down and kicked around because they didn't feel they could do what it takes to fit in.  Well: whatever it means to you to stand your ground like a Warrior Poet, may it speak to you today.



Oh, you don’t have to hide your scars
You can wear them like a soldier’s silver star
That he brought home from the war
For an act of uncommon valor
And when it’s all been said and done
When every battle’s lost and won
And when the victory’s begun
They will make you beautiful

Cause just when you thought that you were
Down for the count
You turned your cheek
And raised your glass
With perfect nonchalance (and you)

You stared them down like a warrior poet
If you felt fear, you didn’t show it
Through blood and tears you found
The fight was coursing in your veins and you
You stood your ground like a warrior poet
At a loss for words but you didn’t show it
They knocked you down but you will rise again
You’re a warrior poet

So keep your heart upon your sleeve
Don’t let them steal what you believe
And you’ll bring this world to its knees
If you don’t give up the good fight
And somehow you’ll beat the odds
Breaking through glittering façades
While the host of heaven all applauds
As you take it up, your last stand

You ran the gauntlet when you
Threw the gauntlet down
You toed the line
And raised your voice
And took the fight to them

You stared them down like a warrior poet
If you felt fear, you didn’t show it
Through blood and tears you found
The fight was coursing in your veins
You stood your ground like a warrior poet
At a loss for words but you didn’t show it
They knocked you down but you will rise again
You’re a warrior poet