Inside (Out) the Christian Life, Sadness and Depression

45173My family and I love most of the Pixar movies. We haven’t seen The Good Dinosaur yet, but Inside Out was no exception.

Inside Out tells the story of 11-year old Riley and her family as they move from the midwest to San Francisco. But there’s a catch. Most of the movie takes place inside Riley’s head and the main characters are five emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust.

I don’t want to drop too many spoilers but let’s just say that the plot takes a twist when Joy tries to prevent Sadness from having too much influence over Riley. In fact, much of the conflict revolves around Joy trying to limit Sadness’ influence.

The assumption, of course, is that it is “better” to be happy than sad. So much so that Joy is willing to pursue this agenda even at the cost of betraying Sadness, generally belittling her and suggesting that Sadness has little to offer and generally made things worse. The optimal state, according to Joy and many of us is happiness.

Most of us would probably agree. We would say that we would rather be happy than sad. After all, Americans have dedicated our country to “the pursuit of happiness.” We deserve to be happy, right? Happiness means that things are better.

And it seems that much of this mindset has found its way into “American Christianity” (moralistic therapeutic deism). Whether it’s Joel Osteen telling us that we deserve our “best life now” because we’re children of God or local megachurches promising people they can “win at life,” much of “American Christianity” seems barely one-step removed from simply wanting to make people feel good about themselves.  Our worship gatherings resemble rock concerts and our preachers mimic self-help snakeoil-men.

But, of course, one of the things that makes Inside Out brilliant is that everyone, including Joy, is forced to not only accept Sadness but cherish her. Because, they realize that, without sadness, empathy is next to impossible. Without sadness, happiness is simply a hollow masking over of the circumstances. Without sadness, we’re willing to make harmful choices to keep up the thrill of “happiness”. We may not long for sadness but we cannot truly grow without it.

I wonder, then, why so little of “Christian worship” welcomes sadness into the chorus. After all, isn’t our “worship music” supposed to be an extension and elevation of the everyday? Then why is it all in major keys? Life is not always joyful and triumphant. Sometimes you feel as though you’ve been kicked one too many times and you’re just not sure you’ll get up this time and you just need to sing, “How long do I have to wait patiently for you, God?”  Where are the songs that acknowledge that God’s help may not come until the morning (Psalm 46:5) and the sun feels as though it’s barely set.

We have equated worship with a positive emotional response because we have come to understand that faith in Jesus is ultimately about making us happy. We have signposts everywhere telling us that we’re on the wrong path. But it’s so smooth and everyone else is on it. You really want me to go through that narrow gate that hardly anyone else is going through to that really difficult looking path (Matthew 7:13-14)?

But a faith that serves primarily to make its holder happy is not a faith that will stand the storm (Matthew 7:24-27). We even have “Christian counseling” movements that tell people that their depression/anxiety, etc. is a result of sin. And they’re simply compounding sin if they take medication to deal with their already sinful sin of disbelief that God’s Word is not somehow sufficient to deal with their unrepented sin which caused their depression in the first place.

We have pushed sadness and depression and anxiety and frustration beyond the city gates because they just bring us down, man. But following Jesus is so beautiful because it envelops all of life. Of course there is a place for sadness and of course Jesus can see us through it because He himself wept (John 11:35). Jesus could have simply told his friends that “God works in mysterious ways” and that He was working even this difficult situation for their good and rebuke the sadness. But He didn’t. He wept. Because sadness is real and must be accepted because it gives depth, it makes us richer, it brings us closer, it gives us empathy and shows us the true value of happiness when it comes. It also reminds us that it’s not realistic or healthy to expect to be happy all of the time.

I’m not sure what it looks like but I want a Christianity that’s ministry to me when I’m sad is not just to point out the reasons I should be happy or to rebuke for the reasons I’m not. There may certainly be times when rebuke is necessary but I wonder how much richer our faith would be if we were simply willing to meet with people in their sadness and sit with them? What if more of our songs, sermons and gathered worship helped us understand sadness and depression rather than try to give us tips to avoid them?

Maybe it means writing more worship songs in minor keys? Maybe it means simply reading more of the Psalms together? Maybe it means more preachers admitting that following Jesus is sometimes really difficult and it will not always feel like our “best life now”? Maybe it means recognizing that there are parts of the Bible that we’d rather skip over? Maybe it means that it won’t be until we values the lows as much as the highs that our faith truly means anything in the everyday?

Am I the only one who feels like “American Christianity” deserves the Flanders stereotype? I guess if I am, I’ve got issues other than depression to work through. But if I’m not, I wonder why so many churches seem to take the same approach. I’d love your thoughts.

In the meantime, here’s a unique take on a “Christian classic”:


the Weekly Town Crier

Town Crier

Yeah, whatever, nevermind. Where is my mind?

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

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Read the New York Times‘ piece “Independent Musicians Find Unexpected Rewards in Streaming.”

Watch Keith Richards Teach Matt Sweeney Some Acoustic Licks” at Stereogum.

Watch a Japanese Kokeshi Doll Emerge From a Spinning Block of Wood” at Colossus.

R.I.P. Joe Moss, manager of the Smiths and Johnny Marr.

See “Dually Sinister and Playful Solarplate Etchings by Jaco Putker”.

Read Time‘s tips: “How to Avoid Having Your Posts Show Up in Facebook’s New Public Search”

Browse Consequence of Sound‘s “Brief History of Prince the Weirdo”.

Read as Clickhole asks “How Many Of These Hayao Miyazaki Films Have You Seen?”

See the “new Super Mario Bros. speedrun record.”

Read Slate‘s piece finding that “Highly Religious People See Little Conflict With Science”.

Read Smithsonian‘s piece finding that “27 Percent of U.S. Adults Didn’t Read a Single Book Last Year.”

Read about the upcoming tour of Andy Kaufman and Redd Foxx holograms.

Read Uncut‘s piece: “The story of Television, by Richard Lloyd”.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Anthony Bourdain to open giant Blade Runner-themed food market in New York City”.

Browse CNN‘s collection of “7 terrifying airplane seat patents.”

Read Vox‘ piece: “The philosophical problem of killing baby Hitler, explained.”

Read AV Club‘s report: “Wes Anderson would like to make a horror movie”.

Read as Consequence of Sound reports “Maynard James Keenan wants nothing to do with Tool, or their fans” and Phoenix New Times‘ report: “Maynard James Keenan Has Two Things On His Mind: Puscifer and Wine. Tool Fans Will Just Have To Wait“. Also Read NME‘s piece: “Tool frontman labels band’s own fans as ‘insufferable retards.’ And don’t forget Keenan’s response to the hoopla surrounding his original remarks: “Our core fanbase aren’t fanatics. They’re music lovers & artists & good people. Its the fanatics that are insufferable,” Maynard James Keenan says.”

See “Newly Digitized ‘Phenakistoscope’ Animations That Pre-Date GIFs by Over 150 Years”.

Read KTAR‘s report that Phoenix has been named one of the top pizza cities in the country.

Ever wonder “What Happens When Your ‘Jeopardy!’ Response Goes Viral.”

Read as Aquarium Drunkard interviews Phil Cook.

Read as Paste reports that “Ballast Point is Going Public”.

Read as NPR considers the enduring appeal of Dungeons and Dragons after 40 years.

Watch free documentaries.

Read/Listen as NPR wonders “Why Are Old Women Often The Face Of Evil In Fairy Tales And Folklore?” and read as the Atlantic wonders “Why Are All the Cartoon Mothers Dead?

Browse “Augustine’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers”.

Read Food and Wine‘s report that Canada has a burger stuffed with peanut butter cups.

Read “A Deeper Look Into The Life Of Mansa Musa – The Richest Human Being Who Ever Lived.”

Read Wall Street Journal‘s piece “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God.”

The Keurig of Home Brewing Batches Craft Beer at the Push of a Button.”

Take “A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day.”

Listen as Terry Gross talks to Carrie Brownstein about her new memoir Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl. Also read Noisey‘s interview and read Spin‘s interview.

See a $39,000 knife.

Read Stereogum‘s interview with Son Volt’s Jay Farrar. Also read amNewYork‘s interview.

Read as the Daily Beast speaks with Ta-Nehisi Coates on “Why Whites Like His Writing”

Read as the Los Angeles Review of Books interviews Stephen King.

Read PopMatters‘ interview with Kurt Vile.

Read/Listen as Gloria Steinem speaks with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.

Read about the French vending machine that will print you a short story.

Read Relix‘ interview with Jason Isbell or read The Planet Weekly‘s interview.

Read/Listen as NPR talks with Elvis Costello about his new memoir Unfaithful Music And Disappearing Ink.

Read as James Franco speaks with Variety about adapting William Faulkner’s The Sound and Fury for the screen.

Read Rolling Stone‘s report that Phil Collins is unretiring.

Read Paste‘s report of the new (unauthorized) Beastie Boys musical, Licensed to Ill.

Read BoingBoing‘s piece: “The more unequal your society is, the more your laws will favor the rich.”

Read Steve Martin‘s picks for “5-10-15-20” (featuring “people talking about the music that made an impact on them throughout their lives, five years at a time”).

Read Hi Fructose‘s profile of Mark Mothersbaugh.

Read as Consequence of Sound’s report: “Study suggests Spotify doesn’t have a negative impact on record sales.

Read as Richard Mouw considers the ever-growing Christian opposition to Halloween.

Watch the trailer for the upcoming Dave Navarro documentary detailing the murder of the Jane’s Addiction/Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist’s mother.

Read FACT’s report “Jimi Hendrix’s London home to open as museum.”

Read Pitchfork‘s report that Digable Planets are reuniting for a Seattle show.

Browse “the 9 rarest plants in the world.”

Read The Guardian‘s profile of Mark Hogancamp, subject of the fabulous documentary Marwencol.

Read Hypebeast‘s report: “Apple Records Largest Profits in Corporate History.”

Read as NPR considers Ben Carson’s Seventh Day Adventism.

Read about the Hatian roots of zombie myths.

Read Salon‘s report about Katy Perry campaigning for Hillary Clinton.

See a “floating” record player.

Read about the Japanese manga series revolving around a cast on unemployed men who decide to become great housekeepers to attract women. The series was pulled by the author after several men complained.

Read about the sock company making a point about differences through mismatched socks.

Read as Techly wonders if the music you listen to is having long-term effects on your brain.

Read a profile of the “hyena men” of Nigeria.

Watch an animated Bill Murray interview from 1988.

Read The Guardian‘s report that Anonymous plans to release the names of approximately 1,000 Ku Klux Klan members.

Read The Stranger‘s interview with Richard Bishop about the reissue of Sun City Girls’ class Torch of the Mystics.

Read this report that Goonies 2 has been confirmed, including the full original cast.

the Weekly Town Crier

Town CrierI’m in Boston town, in some restaurant
I got no idea what I want
Well, maybe I do but I’m just really not sure
Waitress comes over
Nobody in the place but me and her

It must be a holiday, there’s nobody around
She studies me closely as I sit down
She got a pretty face and long white shiny legs
She says, “What’ll it be?”
I say, “I don’t know, you got any soft boiled eggs?”

She looks at me, says, “I’d bring you some
But we’re out of ’m, you picked the wrong time to come”
Then she says, “I know you’re an artist, draw a picture of me!”
I say, “I would if I could, but
I don’t do sketches from memory.

Welcome to the Weekly Town Crier. A weekly world wide web page where I gather links of interest for your interest. Please show your interest by browsing.

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

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Read as Quora wonders “Why Do Car Buffs Dislike Tesla?”

Read as Ozy considers the cost of weddings: “the more you spend, the shorter your marriage is.”

Read as CNN wonders about “How to think straight in the age of information overload” and why so many smart people wear the same outfit every day.

Read Smithsonian‘s piece: “Columbus Day Is Now Indigenous People’s Day in Seattle And Minneapolis.”

Read as the New Yorker considers Max Richter’s new eight-hour album: Sleep.

Browse Paste‘s list of “10 Hip-Hop Albums For People Who Don’t Like Hip-Hop.”

See “Gorgeous animated pixel-art depicting everyday Japan.”

Read The Art of Manliness‘ piece “The Lost Art of Cheap Recreation.”

Read as the AV Club reports: “Joss Whedon made more money from Dr. Horrible than the first Avengers.”

Read Pitchfork‘s report that “St. Vincent Working at New Dallas Restaurant.”

R.I.PThe Stooges‘ Steve Mackay.

See The World’s Largest Man-Made Wave.

Read Atlas Obscura‘s piece about “The Doomed Effort To Make Videos Go Vinyl.”

Read as Slate wonders how to “Become More Articulate in Everyday Speech?”

Read as The Atlantic considers: “The Cheapest Generation Why Millennials aren’t buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy.”

Read The Daily Beast‘s piece: “Lou Reed “was a monster”

Read Fast Company‘s piece: “Getting More Done At Work Won’t Make You As Happy As Just Working Less.”

Read as First Things considers whatever happened to liturgy in gathered worship.

Read as American Songwriter considers “Lucero’s Never-Ending Tour.”

Read the New York Times‘ report that “Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found.”

Read IFL Science‘s report: “Study Claims People Who Like Their Coffee Black Are More Likely To Have Psychopathic Tendencies.”

See “A fully transparent solar cell that could make every window and screen a power source.”

Read as The Atlantic considers “Twilight of the Headbangers How long can the legends of heavy metal keep on rocking?”

See a “Bicycle That Lets you Play Records On Its Wheels.”

Read as Draft Magazine considers “Why the DOJ is investigating AB InBev” (SPOILER: It’s their war on “craft” beer).

Read Stereogum‘s report that Urban Outfitters will now carry cassettes.

Watch/read as AZ Central considers the “Day of the Dead” ritual.

See tattoos made from one continuous line.

Watch First Teaser for Netflix’s A Very Murray Christmas” at Paste.

Read about the move “to put DRM in JPEGs.”

ReadRelevant”‘s piece: “Playboy’s Move Away From Nudity Is Actually a Bad Sign.”

Help your kids discover punk music with this new new children’s book.

Watch Natalie Prass cover Slayer.

Read as the Guardian profiles Kristin Hersh’s new book on Vic Chesnutt: Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt.

Browse this list of “The ten best rock docs of all time.”

Browse this list of “must-read books by musicians.”

Read/Listen as NPR’s Fresh Air talks to Berke Breathed about the return of Bloom County.

Browse as Pigeons and Planes makes their picks for “2015’s top indie music labels.”

Read/Listen as NPR‘s All Songs Considered profiles Elvis Costello’s memoir: Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink.

Read as Paste profiles singer/songwriter Josh Ritter.

Browse years and years and years’ worth of KMart muzak.

Browse “a primer to the works of Flannery O’Connor.”

Read ABC‘s report that Phil Collins‘ “autobiography will be published in October 2016.”

the Weekly Town Crier

TownCrierAnd then they lived happily ever after. Except there was this pesky little feeling that they were missing something, they had forgotten something. One night, as sleep evaded them, they whispered to one another: we forgot to check the Weekly Town Crier . . .

This is where I collect links of varying degrees of interest for various reasons.

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

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Paste‘s list of “8 Beer Hacks.”

ViewErnest Hemingway‘s life through his mementos.”

See images from visual artist Eduardo Terrazas‘ first solo exhibition in the UK.

Read as Paste argues: “Anthony Bourdain Is Still the Best Critic We Got”. Thoughts?

See photos of “people devoured by nature”.

Browse a visual list of “The 50 best-selling albums ever”.

Take “a look at Taco Bell’s first alcohol menu”.

Read Salon‘s profile of Memphis’ Lucero in honor of their terrific new album All A Man Should Do.

R.I.P. Phyllis Tickle.

R.I.P. Yogi Berra.

R.I.P. Jackie Collins.

Read as Drowned in Sound considers “the Ineffable Joy of Pop” as they talk with Carly Rae Jepsen.

Read as Ryan Adams talks about his album of Taylor Swift covers.

See the art of 10 serial killers.

See “Kintsugi, The Japanese Art of Fixing Broken Pottery With Gold.”

Browse as the Huffington Post makes their picks for Fall book releases.

Read Pitchfork‘s report of the posthumous release of “Over 40 Rare Instrumentals” by Dilla.

See the “New Caption That Works for All New Yorker Cartoons.”

Ever wonder why you can’t print without color ink?

Listen to Johann Johannssen‘s score for the film Sicario at Noisey.

Browse Paste‘s list of “7 Hotels for Artists and Art Lovers.”

Read reports that Kenny Rogers will quit touring.

Browse as the Orange County Register picks their favorite surfing books.

Read as the Guardian examines “the history of feuds between pop stars and the press.”

Read as Rolling Stone talks to Kurt Vile about his fantastic new album: ‘B’lieve I’m Goin Down…

Read as Kim Gordon interviews Kurt Vile.

Morrissey has released his debut novel and the reviews are not good: “It is an unpolished turd, the stale excrement of Morrissey’s imagination.”

Read as the Guardian examines John Peel’s lasting musical influence.

Read as Ivan and Alyosha pick their favorite music to listen to while touring.

Read the New York Timesreport that Ta-Nehisi Coates will write a Black Panther comic for Marvel.

Read as Literary Hub considers the convergence of books and music festivals.

Read as the AV Club considers the history of music bootlegging and browse as they make 15 “essential” picks.

the Weekly Town Crier

towncrierBlippity bloppity boo to you too. So what of it?

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

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Outside‘s 2015 list of “The 16 Best Places to Live in America”. Did your town make the list?

Read about the “121-year-old bottle of whisky” found in a “Scottish time capsule”. Would you try it?

Browse Paste‘s list of the 10 best things on Crackle (other than Seinfeld, though Jerry does make an appearance).

Read as Oregon Live catches up with NPR’s/”Portland’s Own” Ari Shapiro.

Read Time‘s report: “J.J. Abrams Says Nazis Inspired the New Star Wars Villains”.

Read about “One Woman’s Attempt to Become a Wrestling Fan”.

Browse this list of “15 Composers To Watch” in 2015.

Read reports that “Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence are writing a movie together”.

Read as Salon explores “Why the ’90s are literally disappearing from history”.

Read FACT‘S piece reporting: “Spotify demands access to your contacts, photos and location”.

Adding traffic sound effects on ants makes them entertaining to watch“.

Browse Time’s list: “14 of China’s Finest World Monument Replicas”.

Read Outside‘s piece: “John Muir Knew How to Live”.

Read The Atlantic‘s piece: “How Coolness Defined the World Wide Web of the 1990s”.

Enter the debate: “Are Older Whiskeys Really Better?”

Read as Banksy interviews Run the JewelsRead about Banky’s Dismaland. See the trailer.

Read about “Pop Tart Beer”.

Watch Seinfeld Recut as a Devastating but Heartwarming Lifetime Movie.

Apparently “Axl Rose and Slash are friends again” prompting many to wonder about the possibility of a Guns n’ Roses reunion.

BrowseUncut’s 50 best bootlegs”.

Read Paste‘s report: “Paul Thomas Anderson to Release Documentary on Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood”.

See a $20,000 opal, which looks like “a nebula trapped in a gemstone”.

Read NME‘s report: “Morrissey announces release of debut novel. See the cover.

Browse Paste‘s list of “6 Fictional Languages in Literature”. What’s your favorite?

Read as the Washington Post laments: “We’re now averaging more than one mass shooting per day in 2015.”

Read Flavorwire‘s report: “Bruce Willis Probably Got Fired From the New Woody Allen Movie”.

Hear “Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp’s Hollywood Vampires cover The Who’s ‘My Generation’.

See photos of rarely seen cultures.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that Odd Future rapper Tyler the Creator has been banned from the UK.

See “Harry Potter re-imagined as the villain of a horror movie”.

Read the Washington Post‘s report that the Mormon Church will continue its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.

Watch “a Supercut of All the People Batman Has Killed”. For a guy with a no-kill policy . . .

Browse Spotify‘s list of “the most timeless songs ever”.

The Problem (We Should Have) With The Interview

imagesIn full disclosure, I should say that I have not seen The Interview, nor do I have any plans to do so. But then again, I haven’t seen Titanic. Do I really need to see a movie to know I wouldn’t like it? Why should I? We all know I would hate it so why make any of us sit through 2 hours of formulaic media merchandising?

Similarly, with The Interview, I’m not sure you have to see the movie to have a fairly accurate idea of what’s in it. I mean, come on. Seth Rogen. James Franco, and the justification for the “R” rating being:

“R (for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence)”.

I’m sure there are some fart jokes, some marijuana references and lots of genital jokes. Do I really need to sit through it to know that I wouldn’t like it? I mean, if you’ve seen it and say I’m way off base here and the artistic merits of the exploration of themes surrounding the struggle against dictatorial leadership outweigh the fart jokes, then maybe I’ll see the movie (After all, Bob Mondello saw it so I don’t have to!).

But until then, I’m un-nerved at the response to the brewhaha surrounding this (otherwise would-have-been forgotten) film and the ensuing events. As we all know by now, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un denounced the movie before it was released, (securing the PR bonanza // in fact, NPR reported that initial versions of the script did not name Kim Jong Un but that it was later added. Why name a specific person other than to spark controversy? I wonder how Obama would respond to a movie depicting his state-sponsored execution?), which depicts his US-sponsored assassination. He might have used some bloated language calling the movie an “act of war“, but hey, would you want a movie made in which you are the villain to be assassinated?

Then, Sony movie people had their information technology security breached and someone dumped a bunch of internal documents, e-mails and such. Though it is debated whether or not North Korea was actually behind the hack-attacks, there were physical threats that began to appear for any theater that did screen the movie. Sony, thusly blaming a lack of distribution, pulled the 12/25/14 release of the movie, to the public scorn of President Obama, who is ever at the ready to defend our rights to project our fart jokes on the rest of the world. Or was Obama using this sophomoric movie to send a political message, thus once again propelling this inane movie it into the Pop Culture Universe to heights never before imagined? After all, the movie depicts the US sanctioned execution of Kim Jong Un. And Obama chastised Sony for not releasing it. Or maybe I’ve just stepped into conspiracy theorist territory.

But wait, our drama isn’t over yet. In a sudden change of heart, Sony Pictures decides to screen the movie in limited-release theaters and in some streaming formats, garnering far more publicity than this movie ever could have hoped for had things been any other way. In fact, The Interview has now set sales records for Sony.

So here we are, entering a new year. Looking back on one which saw the Leader of the Free World defending a crass, lowest-common-denominator fart-joke movie as some sort of political expression. We have seen a movie that otherwise would have come and gone relatively unnoticed, garner international spectacle.

In The Day of the Doctor, faced with the possibility of Americans having a time machine, one character warns: “Americans with the ability to rewrite history?! You’ve seen their movies.” No one is claiming that The Interview is thoughtful or a meaningful statement. In fact, it seems to be middle-of-the-road, if not lowest-common-denominator fare that struck a media zeitgeist.

By rushing to defend “liberty”, we have found ourselves rushing to defend a society in which people put plagiarized stickers of Calvin peeing on the “other brand” because, hey, FREE SPEECH, SUCKAH! I might not like what you say, but I’ll defend your right to say it, right?! I mean, am I right?

So now we have the chosen leader of the free world going to go to bat for a movie full of fart jokes? Seth Rogen says that if you are going to see the movie, you’re a patriot. We have a chance to step on to the world stage and say something meaningful concerning dictatorial rule and human rights and this is what we put forward as some sort of statement? You tell me that I’m supporting freedom by going to this movie?

We have so confused what’s worth fighting for that we’re willing to fight for things that end up embarrassing us. In the end, I wonder if our rush to defend The Interview reveals more about what we value than we’d like it to?

Two Book Series That Should Be Films

3813e557e99d02aca03ae9f82f8206f85f5b35f1Despite our continued best hopes to the contrary, Hollywood continues to turn our favorite books into lowest-common denominator drivel. The Narnia movies weren’t that great. The Harry Potter movies ranged from fairly decent to pretty good. The Lord of the Rings movies may have been OK but they certainly didn’t hold my interest long enough to find out.

And yet, with all the common sense of a leaping lemming, I sometimes think Hollywood might one day get it right. There are two series in particular where I would love to see filmmakers get it right. Centering

First, N.D. Wilson’s 1oo Cupboards series. Centering around Henry P. York, a young man who finds his connection to otherworldly adventure through a series of cupboards, this tale of discovery, loss of comfort and search for identity has everything a good Fall blockbuster should.

Second, I would love to see The Wingfeather Saga. The Igiby family’s struggle will draw you in and keep you to the end.

What are some books you’d like to see made into movies?

 

My Favorite Stuff of 2014

2014 ReviewIt’s no secret that I love year-end lists. I mean, come on. For someone perpetually interested in popular culture, it’s the most wonderful time of year. You get to see what other people liked and didn’t like. You get to be introduced to new things you would have otherwise missed. And you get your own disproportionate sense of self-worth inflated when the “real” publications agree with your great taste. What could be better?!

So, every year I not only read many year-end lists, I like to compile my own. It’s more for me than anyone else but I have found that some people find them interesting, so I post them for all the honest world to feel.

In keeping with last year, my list originally appeared at Habañero Collective. But I do want to take some of your megabyte space and add some elaboration  on some of my picks. I want to share some thoughts about a few of them. So, we’ll start with listing lists of lists:

My Favorite Music of 2014 (In Approximate Order)

  1. Modern Kin by Modern Kin

  2. Everything’s Different, Nothing’s Changed by Armon Jay

  3. Live In Ravenna by Moon Duo

  4. Sunday ’91 by Annie Eve

  5. Lost Colony by William Tyler

  6. Singles by Future Islands

  7. Dark Was The Yearling by the Bones of J.R. Jones

  8. Dark Night Of The Soul by Jimbo Mathus the Tri-State Coalition

  9. Our Lobe by Caribou

  10. Single Mothers by Justin Townes Earle

  11. You’re Dead! by Flying Lotus

  12. Heal by Strand of Oaks

  13. Lese Majesty by Shabazz Palaces

  14. Invisible Hour by Joe Henry

  15. Small Town Heroes by Hurray For the Riff Raff

  16. They Want My Soul by Spoon

  17. Forget Where We Were by Ben Howard

  18. Intensity Ghost by Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band

  19. Blind Water Finds Blind Water by Adam Faucett

  20. Way Out Weather by Steve Gunn

  21. Skinned Alive At The Last Exit by Shawn Skinner

  22. Benji by Sun Kil Moon

  23. Metamodern Sounds in Country Music by Sturgill Simpson

  24. Lateness of Dancers by Hiss Golden Messenger

  25. Lost In The Dream by the War on Drugs

My Favorite Song Of 2014 Was Not Released In 2014, Sorry
OK, OK, OK, I will go ahead and point it out but my favorite song of this year wasn’t actually released in 2014. This song first appeared on a live release from October 2013. There are unreleased demos of the upcoming Shawn Skinner and the Men of Reason album but those cannot be shared yet (but trust me, they are excellent).

But this song has meant more to me this year than any song actually released in 2014. This year has been one of some major transitions  (read here and here) and the themes in this song have meant quite a bit to me. Lines like: “letting go and holding on, not so young and not so strong. With no need to get ahead, just thankful for our daily bread. And even when the sunset seems so far away, you’ve got to hold out hope for a better day.”

There is something about this seeming contradiction about letting go of what you can’t control while holding on in faith that has really been my theme for 2014. The fact that this song was written by one of my favorite people on the planet who is not my wife makes it all the more powerful. There is hope, even when the daybreak seems so far away.

Stream “Letting Go and Holding On” by Shawn Skinner.



  • Read some thoughts on my list here.
  • Stream a mix of my favorite songs of the year right here: