the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyDo you remember that time we were together at that place and we did that thing? Oh man! It was the bombdiggity.

Wait, you don’t remember it? Are you sure? It was bombalicious, yo.

You’re sure, because it was bombtastic. Truly and for reals.

No? Not ringing a bell?

Sorry, wrong number. Sorry to bother you. Perhaps I can offer you some online thought-provoking entertainment? I have collected some links. Why don’t you grab a container of your favorite beverage, put your feet up and peruse.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of 2015.

Download a three-volume mix of Jesusy songs I collected.

R.I.P. Dan Hicks.

R.I.P. Giant Sand.

Meet the 107-year-old’ man who’s “secret to a long life is four bottles of red wine a day”.

See some amazing “these Tiny Hand-painted Wes Anderson Sets”.

Read Rolling Stone‘s interview with Lucinda Williams in which she “Talks Meeting Dylan, Southern Identity, Shopping Online”.

Read Washington Post‘s piece: “A Stanford psychologist explains why spacing out and goofing off is so good for you”.

Read as The Guardian considers” “Villain or victim, Shakespeare’s Shylock is a character to celebrate”.

Browse “10 Paradoxical Traits of Creative People” at Fast Company.

Read about a rare, unreleased Rolling Stones album that was recently stolen.

Read as Warped Speed considers why having a beard is good for your health.

ReadWilliam S. Burroughs on Creativity” at Brain Pickings: “The price an artist pays for doing what he wants is that he has to do it.”

Take a Peek Inside Neil Gaiman‘s Library”.

Read/watch as The Chicago Tribune profiles a new documentary about John Prine.

Maybe movies should end whenever a character says the title out loud“.

Read as Slate wonders “Why Can’t Apple Figure Out Television?”

Meet the man who created Papyrus, the world’s second-most hated font.

Read about the “First U.S. Doctor Sentenced for Patient ODs”. “A California doctor was sentenced to 30 years in prison on murder charges Friday in connection with three overdose deaths from medication she prescribed.”

Read as The Guardian considers “From Berlin’s warehouses to London’s estates: how cities shape music scenes”.

Read about the priceless antique Martin guitar Kurt Russell smashed during the filming of Quentin Tarantino‘s Hateful Eight.

Read as “Andrew Zimmern Explains How to Acquire a Taste”.

Watch Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy sing Stephen Colbert a lullaby.

Read as Inc. wonders: “Why Are Millennials So Unhappy at Work?”

Read: “Proust on What Art Does for the Soul and How to Stop Letting Habit Blunt Our Aliveness” at Brain Pickings.

Ever wonder “What happens to a tiny town when Walmart disappears?” Find out at The Washington Post.

Looking for a new career path? “Stone Temple Pilots Launch Open Audition for New Singer”.

Read as The New Yorker wonders if we’re maybe missing the point in our hatred of Martin Shkreli.

See “What $1 USD Gets You In Food All Around The World”.

Read “Relevant”‘s report: “The Pastor of China’s Largest Official Protestant Church Has Been Arrested”.

Read The Guardian‘s piece: “In 1971, librarian Marguerite Hart asked famous names in the arts, sciences and politics to write to the children of Troy, Michigan, encouraging them to cherish their new public library.”

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Josh Brolin to star in George Jones biopic from Straight Outta Compton writer”.

Browse “America’s Largest Collection of Early Tavern Signs”.

Read “Relevant”‘s report: “Seal Will Play Pontius Pilate in Tyler Perry’s Televised Passion Play”.

Read Ars Technia‘s piece: “The NFL wants you to think these things are illegal”.

Watch the Harlem Globetrotters interrupt Jeff Tweedy at AV Club‘s offices.

Read as Glenn Danzig discusses his recent Portlandia appearance with Rolling Stone.

Learn “How to Read a Book a Week”.

Read Sojourner‘s piece: “Why I’m a Politically Correct Christian (And You Should Be Too)”

See David Bowie‘s art.

Watch a guitarist play “the World’s Last Playable Stradivarius Guitar”.

Read Stereogum‘s report that Belly are reuniting.

See “Gorgeous, Extremely Private Writing Retreats” at Flavorwire.

Read Paste‘s report that Beyoncé told Coldplay that she did not want to collaborate with them.

See the “Last Known Photos of Jim Morrison“.

Read as Alice Cooper reflects “on His Dinner With David Bowie and Ray Bradbury“.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report: “The Pirate Bay now streams torrents in your browser”.

Read AV Club‘s report that a Saved By The Bell-themed restaurant and bar is coming to Chicago.

Learn “How to Make Your Own Moonshine Still from Hardware Store Parts” at Man Made.

Read as Stephen King confirms rumors of a Dark Tower movie.

Read about the Titanic replica set to set sail.

Read Vinyl Factory‘s report that The Gap has now entered the vinyl market.

Read as Noisey considers which musicians have the most positive Twitter followers.

Read Kanye West‘s comments about his new album: “It’s Gospel with a Lot of Cursing”.

Read about the lifetime collection of 1000,000 records now up for sale.

Read reports that the eighth Harry Potter book is on its way.

Read as Peter Gabriel wonders what is the point of music at The Guardian.

Read Pitchfork‘s report that Bruce Springsteen is releasing an autobiography.

Read as “Justin Vernon: Bon Iver Is “No Longer Winding Down” at Stereogum.

Read about “Woodstock Organizers Exploring 50th Anniversary Concert”.

Reading and Listening

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 6.41.46 AMOnce again I’ve got several updates for y’all’s perusing pleasure. A couple of new books, especially since Wilde’s “The Soul Of Man Under Socialism” isn’t so much a book as an essay. Nevertheless, if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Anyways, here’s what’s new this week:

Reading:

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones 

I’m a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki‘s movies and that includes his adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle. However, as good as Miyazaki can be, I’m a firm believer that the book is usually better. I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

OK. I have a confession to make. I have never read this book even though it has come widely recommended by just about everyone I respect. Better late than never, right?

 

Listening:

Banshee by the Cave Singers

OK, so I’m actually just anticipating this one since it won’t be released for another week or so. But I am looking forward to the Pacific Northwest band’s fifth album.

Night Fiction by Cian Nugent

Three years after Born With the Caul, Nugent ditches the Cosmos and the purely instrumental approach. It can sometimes rightly give listeners pause when an instrumental artist decides to add vocals. It just doesn’t always work, especially when the artist in question wants to not only sing themselves but be a “singer-songwriter”. Thank goodness Nugent found a way to smoothly make the transition.

 

Reading and Listening

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 10.44.02 PMHere’s what’s new for the ol’ book holes in the front of my head and music holes in the sides of my head. What are you putting in to your head and why?

Let’s start with the holdovers from the last update:

Reading:

I’m still reading Edward Abbey’s excellent  Desert Solitaire. No reason that it’s a holdover other than life getting in the way of me reading as much as I’d like.

Music:

It may not be their best material, but I’m still holding on to Massive Attack’s Ritual Spirit EP. Though maybe not a complete return to form, it’s exciting to hear the group building on without rehashing the formulas that have made them so great in the first place.

And, now on to WHAT’S NEW:

Reading:

The Soul Of Man Under Socialism by Oscar Wilde.

I am not a Socialist but as a Christian, I am fascinated by any system that strives for fairness and equality. Unfortunately, that is often not socialism, as Wilde points out, with particular care to notice the system’s impact on artists. I have read this piece in the past but picked it up again with the rise of Bernie Sanders and some recent conversation with friends.

Music:

Off The Beaten Track by African Head Charge

Originally released in 1985 and recently reissued along with the group’s other first three releases. Fusing dub, afro, reggae, punk, funk and the kitchen sink, this is Adrian Sherwood set loose. Maybe not as immediately accessible as some of his solo material, Off The Beaten Track is my recommendation for an entry-point into the sometimes confusing world of African Head Charge. Glad to see this finally garnering some long overdue attention.

Old Factory EP by Chris Bathgate

What? New music from Chris Bathgate?! Yes, please. Here he is performing “Big Ghost” at an Habañero Collective house show in 2011:

Interludes For The Dead by Circles Around The Sun

Never intended as an album release, these two hours of music (including several 20-minute or more instrumental jams) came together when Justin Kreutzmann commissioned Neal Casal for five hours of music to accompany the intermission visuals of the Fare Thee Well mini tour. The music was such a hit that it was winnowed down to around two hours for commercial release. Challenged with the task of referencing, even revering but not mimicking the Dead, Neal Casal and his band definitely deliver.

Thought Rock Fish Scale by Nap Eyes

Sleepy indie rock fronted by a guy who sounds a lot like Lou Reed but in a good way. Paradise of Bachelors continues it’s winning streak.

The Ghosts of Highway 20 by Lucinda Williams

Though Ghosts may not greatly expand Williams’ sonic world, it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyThough I have not yet made it over to the Welcome Diner, I welcome you to the Weekly Town Crier. This is the spot on the Interwebs where I regularly collect and distribute links of interest to people of interest. The goal is to think about a wide variety of topics in such a way that we’re all the better for it. Now, go, browse, think, talk with those you love and those you’ve just met. Make the world a better place.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of 2015.

Download a three-volume mix of Jesusy songs I collected.

R.I.P. Toyota’s Scion brand.

R.I.P. Maurice White, founder of Earth, Wind & Fire.

R.I.P. BMX legend Dave Mirra.

Read about the man helping classic punk and hardcore bands get years’ worth of royalties.

Trumpdonald.org.

Read an article claiming that intelligent people have messy rooms and cuss like sailors.

Read Hypebeast‘s report that “Pepsi Is Opening a Restaurant in New York City”.

Read NME‘s report about the petition to get Snoop Dogg to narrate Planet Earth.

Read about sake flavored Kit Kats being introduced in Japan.

See a $30,000, bottle of 75-year old scotch.

See police sketches of famous literary characters.

Visit the website for The Seer, a new film “Portrait of Wendell Berry“.

Read about the study that “Finds That if You Spend More Than an Hour a Day on Social Media, You’re Probably Not Sleeping Well”.

Read Paste‘s report: “Lego Has Finally Released A Wheelchair Figure”.

Browse “Relevant”‘s picks for “12 Francis Schaeffer Quotes That Will Challenge the Way You Engage Culture”.

Watch as a “Custom 3D Printer Turns Songs into Ceramics”.

Read about the history of “The 27th Letter”, the ampersand at Poetryfoundation.org.

Read as Spike Lee reflects on the role of Michael Jackson being cast to a white actor: “The Legacy Has Been Hijacked”.

Browse the “the Greatest (and Only) Stray Shopping Cart Identification Guide Ever Made”.

Read about “What Happened When Muhammad Ali Met Malcolm X” at Time.

Read as The National Post considers “How comics became literature”.

Read as The Atlantic reflects on Groundhog Day.

Read about “How Gin Became The Meth of 18th Century England”.

Read as Daily News Feed argues: “Americans Becoming Less Christian, More Atheist”.

Read Paste‘s report that Elon Musk’s “Hyperloop” transportation system is more than just a pipe dream.

Read as The Atlantic wonders “What Happened to Nina Simone?”

Browse The Telegraph‘s list of the world’s “most ‘hipster’ neighbourhoods”.

Browse Atlas Obscura‘s list of “Awesome Places (Arguably) Ruined By Popular Books”.

Read as T.S. Eliot considers what makes great detective fiction at The New Yorker.

Read as The Atlantic considers the National Endowment For The Arts and the question: Who should pay for the arts in America?”

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Dolphins love Radiohead“.

Watch Stephen Colbert interview motivational speaker, Joel Osteen (whom I refuse to link because I will not be a party to his increased wealth).

Read The Seattle Times‘s report about Mark Driscoll planting Trinity Church in the Phoenix area.

Read CNBC‘s report that Amazon is planning on opening hundreds more brick and mortar bookstores. Read as The Atlantic wonders why.

Read as Sojourners wonders: “Should Christians Be Socialists?”

Browse Paste’s picks for “The 6 Best New Albums of January 2016”. What were your favorites?

Read as The Guardian considers which book the most people lie about having read.

Read Market Watch‘s profile of “the atheist capital of America”.

Read as First Things considers “David Bowie‘s Search For God”.

Read as Aquarium Drunkard considers “The Darker Side of Diddley“.

Browse The Daily Beast‘s picks for “The 40 Most Intriguing Musicians of 2016”.

Read “Relevant”‘s report: “Televangelism Has Started to Come to Netflix”.

Read as Salon argues: “No, America is not a Christian nation”.

Read Paste‘s report that Batman and Wonder Woman are becoming Barbie figures.

Browse photographs of Kurt Cobain‘s “most intimate belongings”.

See “The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy Explained Perfectly With a Simple Animation.”

Read Noisey‘s report that Martin Skhreli has threatened to slap Wu-Tang Clan‘s Ghostface Killah and read about Ghostface’s response: ““I’ll Break Your Heart In Four Days”.

Browse Paste‘s picks for “The 10 Most Underrated Breweries in America”.

See the “Guitar Pee Urinal” that “lets you play a guitar solo as you tinkle”.

Read comicbook.com‘s report that MacGyver is getting a reboot.

Read Consequence of Souns‘s report that John Kasich has promised to “reunite Pink Floyd if elected”.

Read Pitchfork‘s report that “The Flaming Lips and Kurt Vile Were Answers on “Jeopardy!”

Read NME‘s report: “Romantic comedies encourage female viewers to tolerate stalking”.

Read Time‘s report that “McDonald’s Will Serve Happy Meals With Books Instead of Toys”.

Read as The New Yorker considers “Why Apple and Beats Should Sell Turntables”.

Read Brooklyn Vegan‘s report: “Rivers Cuomo, Ben Gibbard, Andy Partridge & more wrote songs for The Monkees‘ first album in 20 years”.

Read as Rolling Stone argues “In Defense of the CD”.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyWell, hello. How are you? How have you been? How you be? How is your present state of being? How’s your week been? Ups? Downs? In-betweens? What’s the dilly, yo? The haps? The lowdown? The upside? The downlow? How’s your soul?

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of the year.

R.I.P. Jimmy Bain, Bassist for Dio and Rainbow.

R.I.P. Barney Miller’s Abe Vigoda.

R.I.P. Concepcion Picciotto, the woman who kept a peace vigil going for 30 years.

R.I.P. Jefferson Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner.

Read as Iggy Pop remembers David Bowie.

Read as “Relevant” wonders “Why Are So Many Christians Scared of Nonviolence?”

Browse So Bad So Good‘s list of “The 15 Most Expensive Artwork’s Ever Purchased”.

Have you ever wondered “Why We Picture Bombs As Round Black Balls With A Burning Wick”?

Browse “Relevant”‘s picks for “5 Movies that Should Have Been Nominated for Best Picture”.

Read/Listen as The Frame interviews “Mavis Staples on her famous family, her new album, and her former suitor, Bob Dylan“.

Read Autre‘s interview with Daniel Lanois.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report: “Wu-Tang Clan Martin Shkreli considering destroying one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang album”.

  • Watch as Martin Shkreli disses, threatens to erase Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang album.

Read Paste‘s interview with Tortoise‘s Doug McCombs.

Read as The Washington Post wonders: “Are smarter people actually less racist?”

Read at Brain Pickings: “Are Writers Born or Made? Jack Kerouac on the Crucial Difference Between Talent and Genius”.

Read comicbook.com‘s report that the Delorean is going back in to production.

Read as CNN offers “3 questions evangelicals should ask about Donald Trump”.

Read as Paste tastes Dave Matthews‘ wine.

Read as Henry Rollins says “‘Our species is a ruinous pain in the ass’.

Read about the advice columnist who fell for a Seinfeld plot.

Relive Bob Dylan’s Legendary Rolling Thunder Revue With Rare Photos” at Rolling Stone.

Browse a “Photographic Love Letter” to libraries, “Humanity’s Greatest Sanctuary of Knowledge, Freedom, and Democracy”.

Watch a robot solve a Rubik’s Cube in 1 second.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report on the rise of heavy metal’s popularity in Africa.

Read comicbook.com‘s report: “DC Comics To Reboot Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, & More Hanna-Barbera Characters”

Browse NME‘s list of 22 “one album wonders”.

Browse Quartz‘ list of “the books students at the top US colleges are required to read”.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Napoleon Dynamite director to unite Rugrats, Doug, Ren & Stimpy in NickToons crossover film”.

Read AV Club‘s report that Circuit City is returning.

See “How The Iowa Democratic Caucus Works, Featuring Legos”.

Read about the “Phoenix-area bar” facing “$90K suit for illegally playing music”.

Read as The New York Times argues: “Touring Can’t Save Musicians in the Age of Spotify”.

Read about people “Retrofitting Old iPods to Keep the Perfect MP3 Player Alive”.

Read AV Club‘s report: ““Weird Al” Yankovic joins Comedy Bang! Bang! as bandleader and co-host”.

Read Washington Post‘s report: “People keep going to this home looking for their lost phones — and nobody knows why”.

Read as Science Friday wonders: “Does Apple Deserve Its Reputation for Good Design?”.

Read about “The Secret to Carrie Brownstein’s Creativity”.

Read Smithsonian‘s piece: “Fairy Tales Could Be Older Than You Ever Imagined”.

Browse as Newsweek considers “Five Reasons Apple Is Ditching The Headphone Jack For the iPhone 7.”

Read/Listen to Aquarium Drunkard‘s piece: “Bob Dylan: Blood On The Tracks – The New York Sessions”.

Read as PRI argues: “Why you should savor the under-appreciated beauty of the American short story”.

Read as Quartz considers: “It’s possible that there is a “mirror universe” where time moves backwards, say scientists”.

See one artist’s recreation of Ferris Bueller‘s room.

Read Newsweek‘s report: “Streaming Is Killing Great Music In Favor of Familiar Formulas”.

Read AV Club‘s report that Larry David will host Saturday Night Live.

See NME‘s piece: “It Turns Out Adele’s Face Fits Perfectly Onto Every Album Cover Ever”.

Read as Ars Technica compares Apple’s Carplay against Android Auto.

Read Fast Company‘s report: “Google Is Offering A Free Online Class About Deep Learning”.

Read Flavorwire‘s report that David Bowie planned the release of several anthology albums, still to be released after his death.

ReadMaurice Sendak on Storytelling, Creativity, and the Eternal Child in Each of Us” at Brain Pickings.

Browse “21 of the Most Tragic and Cringeworthy Christian Music Covers You’ll Ever See”.

Read Brain Picking‘s piece: “Kandinsky on the Spiritual Element in Art and the Three Responsibilities of Artists”.

Read as Zygmunt Bauman says: “Social media are a trap”.

Trumpeters And Gospel Deficiency

12342869_10153827861846450_6195041571918097602_nMuch to my dismay, it’s a mixed bag that the ol’ Donald, who, if you have not heard, is running for President, has been in the press lately in the context of American Evangelicalism, of which I am loosely a part.

I say “much to my dismay” because it pains my heart that some self-professing Christians seem to support Donald Trump as, not only a viable presidential candidate but have come out in support of him. As you may have heard, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. recently endorsed Donald Trump for President.

I say “it’s a mixed bag” because at least this has caused toe “mainstream media” to try and understand Evangelicalism, even if it’s just to say: “Are some of you people really considering voting for this guy who so openly and adamantly opposes so many of your views?!” For example, CNN recently posted “3 questions evangelicals should ask about Donald Trump“. Have we really come to this point where the American Church is being told by CNN why a potential presidential candidate is simply not sympatico with our stated beliefs?

Even with all of this, there may yet to be some good to come of this socio-political fiasco identity crisis. Rightly or wrongly, Christianity has long held a special place at the table of American culture. It has been the assumed religion. So much so that many claim this to be a “Christian nation”. This is dangerous for Christianity because it implies that following Jesus is somehow equatable with the “American Dream”. It is not and it seems that there is a growing number of people coming to believe that the predominant version of Christianity practiced in America is not “Christianity” at all but something called “moralistic therapeutic deism” (oh look, I wrote about this very thing!).

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As a church planting pastor, I do think it’s worth seriously considering the fact that some people who claim to be Christians have publicly come out in support of Donald Trump’s bid for the White House. What, if anything does this say about the version of Christianity adopted by many in the United States? We are left with some serious questions regarding the heart of of how Christianity is or is not practiced.

Trump clearly plays on a competitive spirit. What does the Bible say about trying to get ahead at the possible expense of others? Trump talks tough with threats of violence to adversaries. What does the Bible say about how we should treat others, even our enemies? Trump brags that he has never asked forgiveness. Not even from God. What does the Bible say . . . do I really even have to finish this one? Trump says that he will deport the refugees and build a wall around our suburb. What does the Bible say about how we should treat the foreigner? Those less fortunate? Those seeking safety and security?Trump has repeatedly left his current wife for his next. What does the Bible say about the importance of marriage? Trump has repeatedly denigrated women. What does the Bible say about equality? Trump has repeated denigrated anyone he disagrees with. What does the Bible say about how we use our words? What does the Bible say about the relationship between our words and what’s in our hearts? I could keep going but I’ve even exhausted myself.

What I do want to consider is the saddening fact that those people who do claim to be Christians and express support for Donald Trump may, in fact, suffer from what I have dubbed “gospel deficiency”. We don’t have time (or the patience right now) to address every question raised in the previous paragraph, but I would like us to consider some generalities when it comes to the outlook on life assumed by the Bible for those brought to life by the Gospel (the good news of who Jesus is and what He’s done).

Consider just a few verses in light of Trump’s campaign and public persona:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20-21)

How can people who claim to love Jesus consider supporting a candidate like Trump? I believe that the answer is not political but theological. If you support Trump it’s because you don’t fully understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for life and how we should live. In fact, it is likely that you suffer from Gospel Deficiency. I’m not saying that you can’t be saved and support Donald Trump. Far be it from me to judge someone’s heart. But it does seem that in order to support Donald Trump, you must turn a blind eye to many of the things God says to describe His people.

You can be alive but be iron deficient. I suppose you can be a Christian and suffer from Gospel Deficiency as well. You believe enough to put your faith in Jesus  for salvation but not enough to know that Jesus tells us that our hearts should not focus not found in this world (Matthew 6:21) and to be anxious for nothing (Matthew 6:25:-34). Paul tells us to consider others as more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:1-11). You can identify as a Christian but the truth is that if the Truth has set you free, you will reject principles based on fear, prejudice and anger while Donald Trump openly accepts the “mantle of anger“. When the Gospel takes root, we begin to flower with kindness, meekness, self-control, (Galatians 5:22-23) all things conspicuously absent from Trump’s public persona.

I suppose the real issue I’m wrestling with is this: I just don’t see how you can understand biblical teaching and then support someone like Donald Trump for anything other than class clown.

Can you help me understand?

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copySometimes I just don’t know, man. I mean it all just seems like so much already, doesn’t it? I know that it weighs you down. I know it can feel like a beatdown. Some days it feels like the clouds will never lift.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of the year.

Read as Noisey considers “Why Fugazi‘s Politics Are As Frighteningly Relevant Today As They Were In 1988″.

Read as The Guardian considers David Bowie‘s literary influences.

  • Read FACT Magazine‘s report that Bowie is being honored with a constellation.
  • Read as Noisey considers Bowie’s influence on Hip Hop.
  • Read Billboard‘s report that Blackstar is Bowie’s first Number one album.
  • Watch Fred Armisen pay tribute to David Bowie on Saturday Night Live.
  • Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that a Labyrinth reboot is in the works.

Read Okay Player’s report: “Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) Arrested In Cape Town”.

Read as Brain Pickings considers “The Psychology of What Makes a Great Story”.

Read as George Orwell considers “the Four Questions a Great Writer Must Ask Herself”.

Read reports that “Target Will Soon Let You Drink Alcohol While You Shop”.

Read one music fan’s account of why they protested a Viet Cong concert over the band’s name.

Read as The Atlantic considers “How Sleep Deprivation Decays the Mind and Body”.

HearWendell Berry on How to Be a Poet”.

R.I.P. Glenn Frey of the Eagles.

R.I.P. drummer for Mott the Hoople, Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin.

Read as The Daily Beast considers the rise and fall of Eddie Murphy: “In the ’80s the Beverly Hills Cop star was as hot as it got in Hollywood, and somehow everything went sour.”

See photographs of early Apple prototypes.

Read as Ars Technica spent one week with Apples CarPlay.

Watch Arcade Fire & Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Second Line For David Bowie” at Stereogum.

Hear as “Ray Bradbury Reads His Poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” in a Rare 1971 Recording”.

Read AV Club‘s report that Steven Moffat is leaving Doctor Who.

Read Newsweek‘s report that Elon Musk’s “hyperloop” could be ready by 2018.

Hear David Foster Wallace‘s famous Kenyon College address.

Read as Amin Maalouf considers “How to Disagree”.

BrowseHenry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing and Daily Creative Routine”.

Read as The Atlantic considers “The Racially Fraught History of the American Beard”.

Read as The Daily Beast wonders “Can Whiskey Cure Your Common Cold?”

Read this report that half of all money spent on music in 2015 went to live concerts.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Neil Patrick Harris to star in Netflix’s adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events“.

Read as Salon argues: We spend more time and money on parenting than ever — but we are getting worse”.

Read as Jim Wallis argues: “White Christians need to act more Christian than white: White evangelicals need to repent for how we’ve enabled racism.”

Read Stereogum‘s report that HBO’s new series Vinyl features new songs from Iggy Pop, Chris Cornell and a theme song written by Sturgill Simpson.

Read People Magazine’s report that Girl Meets World‘s Rowan Blanchard has self-identified as “queer”.

Browse the list for the 2016 Penderyn Music Book Prize.

Buy a Drake coloring book.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Netflix is developing a new animated series from Simpsons creator Matt Groening.”

Read Smithsonian‘s report: “The Odds in a Coin Flip Aren’t Quite 50/50”.

Read PRI‘s report: “Your paper brain and your Kindle brain aren’t the same thing”.

Read “Relevant”‘s piece: “Why the Church Should Support #BlackLivesMatter”.

Read as the New York Times considers “The Eight-Second Attention Span”.

Read as SciTechNow wonders if there really is such a thing as Introversion.

He Shines In All That’s Fair (A Three-Volume Music Mix)

He Shines3

Who else could bring together this kind of who’s who of musicians?I mean, come on. Think about some of the artists included in this mix:

And that just scratches the surface. As I’ve said, I’m not trying to read anything in to the heart-motivation of any of these artists. But I will say that each song here has meant something important to me in the years of my own faith journey. I hope you enjoy.

  • Read about the background to the mixes here.

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He Shines In All That’s Fair (01)

  1. Something Beautiful by Sinead O’Connor
  2. Nobody Knows My Name by Rickie Lee Jones
  3. ’40’ by U2
  4. Amazing Grace by Ani DiFranco
  5. The Truth Is A Cave by the Oh Hellos
  6. Thank You by Glen Phillips
  7. His Truth Is Marching On by Mike Doughty
  8. Jesus Gonna Build Me A Home by John Davis
  9. Please Come Home by Dustin Kensrue
  10. Whiskey & Jesus by Owl Parliament
  11. Jesus Shot Me In The Head by Hiss Golden Messenger
  12. You Give It All Your Heart (Live Parable Version) by Vigilantes of Love

 

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He Shines In All That’s Fair (02)

  1. On My Knees by Seryn
  2. Amazing Grace by Daniel Lanois
  3. Walking With Jesus by Spacemen 3
  4. 100th Psalm by All Saved Freak Band
  5. Jesus Is Just Alright by Doobie Brothers
  6. I Was Healed By The Wounds In His Side by Sister Gertrude Morgan
  7. Jesus Gonna Be Here by Tom Waits
  8. Saved by Bob Dylan
  9. To Make A Ring by Wovenhand
  10. Higher Power by Ramsay Midwood
  11. Tree of Life by Wilson McKinley
  12. Spirit In The Sky by Norman Greenbaum
  13. Brazos by Matthew E. White

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He Shines In All That’s Fair (03)

  1. People Get Ready by Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers
  2. Jaya Dev by Aradhna
  3. Though I Have Wronged You by J. Tillman
  4. King of Carrot Flowers Part 2 & 3 by Neutral Milk Hotel
  5. After Forever by Black Sabbath
  6. Amazing Grace by Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues
  7. Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down by Uncle Tupelo
  8. Jesus Walking On The Water by Violent Femmes
  9. God’s Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash
  10. I See Satan Fall Like Lightning by Doug Burr
  11. I Still Believe (Great Designby The Call
  12. The Transfiguration  by Sufjan Stevens
  13. Every Grain of Sand by Emmylou Harris
  14. Doxology by Kelly Joe Phelps

 

He Shines In All That’s Fair: Thoughts On Common Grace, Creativity and Introducing My Music Mix

He Shines3The doctrine of common grace, like many doctrines, can be a contentious one. The basic issue centers around whether or not God is “pleased” by the actions and creations of those not numbered among His people? Because, Christians are in the continual process of aligning themselves, including what we do/can and can not take pleasure in consuming.

While the issue at hand may not seem immediately apparent to those unconcerned with pleasing God in everyday life, the issue may be summarized as something like this:

Christians understand sin to be the heart of idolatry and includes anything antithetical to God’s character. It is, by definition opposed to God since we believe that He is the sole source of all our hearts seek. So to look for fulfillment, security, joy, etc. outside of Him is in fact, opposing Him. It is a question of the posture of one’s heart.

Christians are thus left in the perpexing situation of what to do with anything not done from a heart’s posture to bring glory to God since it is thusly, in some way opposed to God?

Or is it?

What about things that in and of themselves might be benign? Moreso, what about things that somehow point to God’s character, even if they creator doesn’t know it or intend it? Music? Art? movies? Books? Poems? The very creative process remind us of a God who brings order from the chaos and flowers from the ashes. But what if the creator isn’t thinking of this or might even be opposed to such a worldview? Can Christians take pleasure in art made by n0n-or-even-anti-Christians?

As Richard Mouw summarizes the situation in his book He Shines In All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace:

How do we take with utmost seriousness the need to be clear about the lines between belief and unbelief, between those who live within the boundaries of saving grace and those who do not, while at the same time maintaining an openness to – even an active appreciation for – all that is good and beautiful and true that takes place outside of those boundaries?

While some in my own past theological streams argue that the doctrine of “common grace” is not appropriate, Mouw and others have come to believe that it is not only acceptable but appropriate for Christians to celebrate beauty and cultivate creativity. Wondering at a painting, being swept up in a piece of music, moved by a string of words or ideas, marveling at a sunset, hiking a mountain, smelling hops, tasting coffee, laughing, singing, crying, these are glimpses of God’s grace. They remind us of His goodness, of His character.

For many well-intentioned Christians, the fact that such glimpses are not sufficient to bring someone to salvation, they are not worth our while at all. Or more severely, they should be condemned. How else could someone come to believe that burning music albums brings glory to God more the creative process they contain?

I’m not making light of the struggle many Christians face as they try to align their consciences with God’s character as they choose what to watch, read or listen to. I’m simply trying to make sense of how we’ve come to a place where “American Christianity” rejects so much artistic expression without creating anything worthwhile of our own?

Do we believe that the terrific painting by a non-Christian somehow less valued by God than the horrible painting by a Christian simply because of the intent of the heart? Is there not inherent value in both? The value may be perceived differently by the eyes of faith but the eyes of most people would rather look at a great painting than a bad one (now is not the time to enter into the subjective nature of much art).

This may seem like a rather nebulous rambling (even for me), especially since I’m not here today to really look for answers to many of these questions. I’m simply giving you a context for the three-volume mix album that I’ve come up with. All of these questions and more have been rattling around my head for years, especially as I listen to music. Which I do. A lot. So over the years, I have kept various private playlists of songs which have presented me with an unexpected glimpse of God. A bit of grace in the everyday. Not every song explicitly mentions Jesus.

Some songs are by Christians. Some songs are meant as worship. Some songs are meant as evangelism. Some songs are by more skilled musicians than others. But, not every song here is even by someone who would claim to be a Christian. Some have said these songs are not even about Jesus (though they don’t mind them interpreted as such.). Not every song is to be understood as a theological statement or even representative of my own personal beliefs regarding God (specifically Jesus). And, please be forewarned, there is at least one “F-Bomb” for those sensitive to such things.

But over the years, every song here has, at some point, reminded me of, encouraged me on or challenged me in my own journey of following Jesus.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copySometimes you have to make choices in life. Sometimes you even have to make difficult choices. Like what to do with your time. I mean, come on, there’s only so much time in the day and you have to be careful how you spend it

That’s where the Weekly Town Crier comes in. There’s no longer any reason for you wander aimlessly through the nameless paths of the Interwebs. I collect links of varying degrees of interest and you show your interest by clicking on them and reading them and thinking about them and then next week we do it all over again.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of the year.

Ever wonder how to read more books?

Read as The Atlantic considers “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories”.

Read about the push to rename a Jack and Coke to a “Lemmy”.

Read about the recent study finding that $9.99 is too much for most people to pay for streaming music.

R.I.P. country music legend Red Simpson.

R.I.P. David Bowie.

  • Read Pitchfork‘s report that Bowie was planning another album.
  • Read as Gregory Alan Thornbury wonders “What do we learn from the complicated legacy of a beloved icon?” for Christianity Today.
  • Read as Iggy Pop shares his Bowie memories.

R.I.P. Alan Rickman.

Read as “Relevant” argues that people should stop expecting churches to “feed” them.

Read as Time explores rumors that Apple will include wireless earbuds with the next iPhone.

Read as Flavorwire considers rumors that the next season of Arrested Development will be a serialized murder mystery.

Read as Quartz reports: “Philosophers want to know why physicists believe theories they can’t prove”.

Read as Outside magazine considers our “Chris McCandless Obsession Problem”.

Read about Metallica apologizing to a Metallica cover band about the “Cease and Desist” letter they received from an “overzealous attorney”.

See “what America would look like without gerrymandering” at The Washington Post.

Meet the “Super 8″ Camera Designed for Internet Kids” at the Creators Project.

Read/watch as CNN considers “Why Adult Coloring Books Are So Good For You”.

Read Paste magazines report of an all-star Blind Willie Johnson tribute including Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams and others.

Browse the complete Netflix genre list.

Read Salon‘s report: “Donald Trump talks at a fourth-grade level.”

Read about the recent study conducted by Spotify about Spotify playlists finding that Blink-182 is the second-most “punk” band, after Green Day.

Hear “The Only Surviving Recording of Virginia Woolf’s Voice” from 1937.

Read “Galileo on Why We Read and How Books Give Us Superhuman Powers” at Brain Pickings.

Browse a collection of “Ridiculously Outdated Mobile Phones in Movies” at Flavorwire.

Read Comicbook.com‘s report: “Kevin Smith To Direct An Episode of The Flash“.

Read as “Dave Grohl, Slash, Metallica, more share their fondest memories of Lemmy at Motörhead frontman’s funeral”.

Read as “Relevant” considers what many Christians “Get Wrong About ‘In the World, Not of the World’.

SeeThe Raven: Lou Reed’s Adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe, Illustrated by Italian Artist Lorenzo Mattotti” at Brain Pickings.

Read at the Atlantic about the 2016 Oscar nominations having been announced.

Read Stereogum‘s report that SoundCloud is launching a paid subscription service.

Read as The Creators Project considers how “Apple Wants to Teach You How to Get the Most Out of Your Phone”.

Hear A Song From Violent Femmes‘ First Album In 15 Years” at NPR.

Watch Adele sing, talk, and rap in a car ride with James Corden.

Read as The Federalist considers “Why Jaded Adults Are Buying Stacks of Coloring Books”.