Feb 20, 2015

Reading: “Chrindie” Music, Sufjan Stevens, Protecting Kids from Porn, Parks and Recreation, Coptic Martyrs, and more

Also: Jeffrey Overstreet discusses prayer songs, transhumanism as gnosticism, and more.

Concert
Rockin’ for the Lord

I’m very excited to announce Chrindie ‘95, a collaborative writing project that celebrates the great Christian indie/alternative music that was released in 1995. “Much has been written about the weird world of contemporary Christian music, but whatever you think it is — a manipulative charade, a cheesy Jesus Juke, the best devotional music since Hildegard von Bingen, a lame facsimile of real rock and roll — you’d be surprised by how many genuinely great Chrindie records were released twenty years ago.” My initial contribution will be for Starflyer 59’s Gold album, and other contributors will be writing about Sixpence None the Richer, The Prayer Chain, Poor Old Lu, and The Innocence Mission, to name but a few.

Jeffrey Overstreet’s latest “Listening Closer” piece discusses prayer songs and the liturgical nature of music. “In recent years, the activity of, yes, going through motions has become for me a rich and meaningful practice of worship. I now attend a liturgical service on Sundays. And, as exercise or dietary discipline rewards the body over time, the liturgy — repetitious though it is — rewards my head and heart. I pray prayers and sing songs that restore my perspective, that lift me out of my immediate circumstances and self-absorption and unite me with the church across centuries and cultures. I become part of something tremendous. Communal. Timeless. And, yes, mysterious.”

Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens

Ryan Dombal interviews Sufjan Stevens about his new album, Carrie & Lowell, which was inspired in part by his mother’s tragic, troubled life and death. “I’m being explicit about really horrifying experiences in my life, but my hope has always been to be responsible as an artist and to avoid indulging in my misery, or to come off as an exhibitionist. I don’t want to make the listener complicit in my vulnerable prose poem of depression, I just want to honor the experience. I’m not the victim here, and I’m not seeking other peoples’ sympathy. I don’t blame my parents, they did the best they could.”

James Hoskins considers the similarities between transhumanism and gnosticism. “Even though the transhumanist vision of the future is fueled by technologies that are relatively new, the values and assumptions that inform it are not. Those values were around in Lewis’ time, and they were around in Irenaeus’ time. But what if, in all their excitement to jettison their biological limitations, transhumanists, like the Gnostics before them, have overlooked something essential? What if transhumanist assumptions about the world are horribly mistaken, both on a value level and on a physical level?”

Kid on Computer
Oh be careful little eyes…

If there’s one thing I dread discussing with my kids, it’s pornography. So I’m thankful for my friend Maralee’s article about broaching the subject with young children. “We don’t want our kids to feel shamed for the very natural feelings of curiosity or even desire. They just need to be put in the right context. If we get angry with our kids, they are not going to be likely to come to us. If we don’t bring up this topic with our kids, they may not feel safe bringing it up to us. I think it’s important to talk to them with the assumption that they WILL view porn, we just want them to know how to deal with it when it happens.”

Most critiques of pornography seem to come from conservative circles, but here’s a pretty damning critique of pornography from the left. “There are few people on the left who grasp the immense danger of allowing pornography to replace intimacy, sex and love. Much of the left believes that pornography is about free speech, as if it is unacceptable to financially exploit and physically abuse a woman in a sweatshop in China but acceptable to do so on the set of a porn film, as if torture is wrong in Abu Ghraib, where prisoners were sexually humiliated and abused as if they were on a porn set, but permissible on commercial porn sites.” Note: This article contains some stomach-churning details that aren’t for the faint of heart. Via

Parks and Recreation
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope

As it nears ever closer to its finale — which will be a very sad day in the Opus household — Nathaniel Valle sings the praises of Parks and Recreation. “Over the first six seasons, Poehler and her cast transformed a show about communal and political minutia into a message about forging lasting relationships and friendships, creating a series where hyper-libertarians, aimless interns, and radical believers in the power of government could work in a shared space to better their town and themselves. It was rarely easy and seldom pretty, but the show’s dynamic shaped a vision where realizing individual potential depended upon one’s community.”

An eleven-year-old girl who loves comics asks why DC Comics doesn’t have more female superheroes. “There are Superman and Batman movies, but not a Wonder Woman one. You have a Flash TV show but not a Wonder Woman one. Marvel comics made a movie about a talking tree and raccoon awesome, but you haven’t made a movie with Wonder Woman.” Yo DC, you want some aloe for that burn?

Coptic Martyrs
Behold the martyrs

There are some claiming that the Coptic Christians recently murdered by ISIS weren’t real Christians; Rod Dreher is having none of that. “I’m not God, but if I were a betting man, I would place my money on Coptic Christians who called on the name of Jesus as they were about to be killed for being Christian to make it into the Kingdom before Americans who stand on doctrinal differences to deny the faithfulness of the martyrs… I believe I hold the correct doctrines, but I have absolutely no doubt that there will be countless Southern Baptists (and others) who go before me into the Kingdom (assuming that I will make it!) because however incorrect their doctrines, they embodied the spirit of Christ in the lives they lived.”

The brother of one of those slain by ISIS speaks out, and his words are deeply profound and convicting. “Asked by host Maher Fayez what he would say if he were asked to forgive ISIS, he related what his mother said she would do if she saw one of the men who killed her son. ‘My mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [him] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.’” As I said, deeply profound and convicting.

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