This is War (A Christmas Carol)

Last Christmas, Dustin Kensrue of Thrice released a Christmas album, This Good Night is Still Everywhere. A particularly thought provoking song on the record is called This is War. Kensrue describes it as a different take on the Christmas story—God declaring war on sin, death and Satan. In a way, it’s seeing Jesus’ incarnation for what it really was.

During the introduction to the video, he reminds us that Christmas is a unique opportunity for us, as Christians, to talk about things that are otherwise considered taboo in our society.

Like Jesus.

Even if you don’t believe what Christians would claim about Him, you have to step back and ask why is this man the most famous person who ever lived? This Galilean peasant who was killed in the most dishonoring and awful of ways. Why still is he the person that a large part of the world still thinks is God in Flesh and why is his impact so large?

Enjoy the video. The song is tremendous:

You can also watch the video without the intro here:

If you’re looking for some great Christmas music, buy the album at iTunes and Amazon.

HT: Ransom.tv

Friday Funnies: Ted Kluck's Day-long Rock Bender

Ted Kluck, author or The Reason for Sports: A Christian Fanifesto and coauthor of Why We’re Not Emergent & Why We Love the Church, is working on a new book!

This time, Kluck is delving into the seedy underbelly of Christian music with To Hell With the Devil: 365 Days of Christian Music, from Al Denson to Alice Cooper

“The idea is that I’ll listen to nothing but Christian music (concerts, CD’s, videos) for a whole year.  This will be especially challenging for me since I haven’t listened to Christian music since 1991, when I was 15,” he wrote back in June when announcing the project.

Three months into the project, he succumbed to the siren’s call of rock and/or roll:

It’s October 21 and I just fell off the wagon.  Hard.  If this were a movie I would be Tony Montana falling face-first into a giant pile of blow in Scarface. It’s taken me almost three months into my fast, but I’ve discovered a very troubling, simple truth:  Christian artists can’t write love songs.  There are a few who get close (like Anberlin, “A Day Late,” and Paramore, “crushcrushcrush” and even Stryper, “Honestly”) but for the most part, Christian bands either suck at ballad writing or don’t even try (more likely).  And perhaps the fact that it’s more exciting to hear Sebastian Bach (Skid Row, not the other one) sing about lost love in “I Remember You” than my church’s praise band singing about “Amazing Love,” (about Jesus) says something incriminating about me.  Check that, I know it does.

But here’s the thing:  When I hear “I Remember You,” I think about things, places and people that I actually remember.  I do remember yesterday, walking hand in hand, love letters in the sand, and all of the stuff that Bach sings about.  It’s cheesy, yes, but it’s also the kind of thing that evokes – that makes a person feel.  Ditto for Warrant’s ballad, Heaven, which they probably intended to be less about the real heaven, and more about sleeping with some chick.  (Keep in mind, this is the band that brought us such lyrical poetry as “Cherry Pie.”)  But still, I love it.  It reminds me of driving my tan GMC pickup truck around Hartford City in 1993, wishing I had the courage to talk to girls.  Is there much that’s more romantic than having a “picture of your house, and you’re standing by the door, it’s black and white and faded, and it’s looking pretty worn”…and later, “I’ve got nowhere left to go, and no-one really cares…I don’t know what to do (cue guitar riff), but I’m never giving up on you.”

So I spent the majority of the day in my office with huge, cushy headphones on, belting out the lyrics to ballads that I should have waited until next year to dust off.  And it’s as good as I’ve felt in a long time.

You can click through to read a detailed account of Ted’s rock bender.

Nothing but Christian music for a year? That’s more than I suspect most could endure.

Pray that he survives.

Ripe for Co-opting

Today’s post contains no serious content. It does, however, contain rock music videos. Reader discretion is advised.

Have you ever noticed that there are certain songs that just seem ripe for co-opting? Songs that have something that sound vaguely spiritual—like they could be talking about God, but could just as easily be talking about a girl.

 

U2 is an obvious (and easy) example, particularly with their new record. Check this song out:

 

Now, in all fairness, Bono and the band do profess faith in Christ (true story), and many songs do have some pretty overt spiritual content. There are even a lot of churches that are already playing their stuff during their corporate worship (including some Anglican ones, I believe). But, it just seems, I don’t know, a bit weird to me. Maybe it’s just me.

While listening to the radio this week, I found that there are actually quite a few songs that, if you thought about it hard enough, you could probably co-opt for a Christian worship service.

And I was even more surprised when I realized that one is the newest Our Lady Peace single, All You Did Was Save My Life: [Read more...]

Music Review: Rain City Hymnal

rain_city_hymnalI’ll be honest: I don’t really like Christian music—and I really don’t like a lot of modern “worship” music. Some songs have very God-centered lyrics and theology being espoused, but there’s far too much that (to borrow a phrase) is Christless expounding on nothing.

But I really like old hymns. I enjoy them more every time I listen. This is, in part, because of my theological bend in addition to never having heard them (beyond Amazing Grace in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). I don’t know what it is, but classic hymns like Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing bring joy to my spirit like nothing else.

So when Re:Sound released Rain City Hymnal last week, I was exceedingly pleased.

The album is a collection of 12 classic hymns from centuries past with updated music to better communicate “an ancient message of truth in music for a particular people, time, and place, ” says Pastor Tim Smith of Mars Hill Church.

So how’d they do?

In short, outstanding.

The Christ-exalting message of every song shines through in a whole new way on Rain City Hymnal. While every track is extremely well done, I want to highlight just a few: [Read more...]

RE:Sound – Rain City Hymnal Now Available

UPDATE: Read my review of Rain City Hymnal (Posted 06/18)

Rain City Hymnal, the first release from Re:Sound is now available.

Tim Smith writes at the Resurgence blog:

[Rain City Hymnal is]  a collection of modern arrangements of 12 hymns by 5 different Mars Hill bands and represents our most ambitious project to date. These old songs represent the essence of our task in corporate worship: combining an ancient message of truth in music for a particular people, time, and place.

ReSound Launches with Preview EP

ReSound, the Resurgence’s new record label, has made available a sampler EP for download.

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more about “ReSound Preview Available for Download“, posted with vodpod

Head over to ReSound.org and download before June 11, when the site officially launches.

Sunday Shorts (04/26)

The Gospel Coalition 2009 Conference Online

The Gospel Coalition’s 2009 conference messages are now online. Give them a listen as you can’t go wrong with Tim Keller, John Piper, and more.

22 Essential Words for Writing Cheesy Christian Pop Songs

Guest blogger Josh Harris provides us with the essentials of cheesy Christian pop lyrics at Abraham Piper’s blog. The comments are even better than the actual list (check out Abraham’s song in comment 7).

Matt Svoboda’s take on Mark Driscoll

Matt at Evangelical Village posted a very helpful letter he sent to his pastor regarding Mark Driscoll in light of the recent kerfuffle surrounding him. Here’s an excerpt:

I am not here to beat the drum of Mark Driscoll, but it would sadden me to see people disregard his ministry for inappropriate comments and occasionally taking things further than Scripture permits.  His ministry is gospel-centered as he always points people to the cross.  As you and I would say, he is ‘Our Kind of Calvinist.’  He is theologically and missionally as solid as anyone I know.

Aaron’s on Twitter

I caught the Twitter bug while watching all the hip cool marketing folks at ad:tech this week. Next week I might write haikus.

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me here.

And in honour of this, I once again (ironically) present, The Twouble with Twitter: