Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CHRISTMAS SOUNDTRACK.

I thought I would share with you the three discs that I appreciate most during the Christmas season. Here they are:

1. The Jackson 5 Christmas Album, Jackson 5. This album was the soundtrack of every Christmas of my childhood. Christmas officially began when we got our tree home, set it up in our living room, and started hanging the plethora of Christmas ornaments from my mom's bountiful collection to the sounds of the Jackson 5 singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." This is actually a really good Christmas album, and the arrangements and vocals are really well done.

2. Acoustic Christmas, Brian E. This is an album that I happened upon by chance. My buddy Dan was going to a church where one of the guys who plays on this album attended, and they were selling these at the church. This isn't available on iTunes or Amazon or anything like that, but the music is beautiful - the arrangements are rich with violin, acoustic guitar, piano, and vocal textures, and the song "You Became Nothing" has become one of my favorite Christmas songs.

3. Christmas Songs, Jars of Clay. I just came upon this disc in the last week (I'm listening to it right now), and I've listened to it over and over again. It is definitely not your "normal" Christmas album. "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is in a minor key, and all of the songs employ some very unique and eclectic instrumentation and production. But I've fallen in love with it. It paints a beautiful picture of the Christmas season in sound that is sublime, humble, and full of wonder and thankfulness.

See you soon.

Monday, December 17, 2007

WOW - PT. IV

I came across a Christianitytoday.com blog posting that noticed in a NY Times article that the Penthouse Media Group just purchased a corporation called Various Incorporated, which runs a variety of social networking sites. One of those sites is bigchurch.com, a Christian dating site that is "bringing people together in love and faith." Wow.

[I'm not saying anything about couples who met on the internet. My wife and I met a really nice couple who met online this last weekend. But this story seems pretty ridonkulous.]

Sunday, December 16, 2007

THE PASSING OF THE TORCH.

[This post is a long time in coming, but I wanted it to be known.]

When I got my permit, my parents let me drive them around in our automatic 4runner. The week after I turned 16, I went to the Pleasanton DMV to get my driver's license. When my dad got home, he handed me the keys to what would be my car for the next 6 years of my life - a silver 1992 Ford Escort that he had driven off the lot brand-new - with a manual transmission. After I informed my dad that I didn't really know how to drive a stick, he took my out for a lesson or two, and then I was left to sweat over getting the car rolling and stopping on hills.

I drove that car everywhere - to school every day, through blistering heat (with the windows down because of the absent air conditioning), through snow, to Davis and back countless times, to Southern California and back numerous times. I drove it on camping trips, I drove it to Yosemite, I drove it to Lake Alpine. I drove it in the wee hours of the morning, and across silent streets on many dark nights. It heard many a prayer, many tearful sobs, many loud and boisterous conversations as it carried my friends and I anywhere and everywhere. The car was a part of me.

This last August, I was blessed to be the recipient of a new car - the first "new" car my family had purchased since 1996. The new car was [and is] a blast to drive, but I knew that a familiar and treasured chapter of my life was to come to a close at last.

One of my favorite movies growing up [and still one of my all-time favorites] was Herbie the Love Bug. The movie had a special affinity for me because my dad raced Volkswagen bugs on dirt tracks around California, and I would sit in my dad's bug and pretend that I was racing in Herbie. But what I loved most about the story was the gratefulness that the main character felt for Herbie - a car that was more than a car.

My car got 35 miles to the gallon, and in all the years that I drove it, it never pooped out on my or overheated. But beyond the mechanics, it was more to me than a chunk of metal - it was a gift from GOD, and it's trustworthiness and dependability was a reminder to me of the surety of GOD's providence. What a joy it is when creation is redeemed in the little things of life, to do what they are created to do: a sturdy pair of shoes, a good walking stick, a worn hammer, a tattered hat, a jacket passed down from father to son. Then these things are no longer a piece of cloth, metal, or wood, but a whisper in our ears from GOD himself - "I'm watching over you. I'm with you. This is my creation doing what it was supposed to do."

Thanks for the ride, Jesus - every good and perfect gift comes from you. See you soon.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

THE GOLDEN COMPASS.


Over the past few weeks, I've been hearing a lot about the movie The Golden Compass, a movie that is based on the first of a series of books by Phillip Pullman. There has been a lot of controversy about the movie in the Christian community because although this movie doesn't really deal with it, Pullman's later books espouse his antagonistic views of what he perceives as the oppressive and power-hungry nature of the Christian Church and the delusion of Yahweh being the creator-god of the universe. I've been told that it is really imaginative and clever fantasy writing, but as his atheistic views become more and more prevalent in the development of the story, the story loses its luster and beauty.

I got that observation, and a lot of other helpful ones, from a christianitytoday.com article that came into my email inbox today. I found it to be a balanced, loving, and truthful piece on how we as Christians should be thinking about this movie and the ideas that it presents. Here's a quote I liked:
"Essentially, don't behave in ways that the Magisterium [Pullman's straw-man, negative representation of the Church] in Pullman's books would behave. You'll just make his stories more persuasive, by confirming for the culture around us that Christians only really get excited when they're condemning something. Instead, respond with grace and love. And truth."
See you soon.

Fear Not The Compass