Christianity Is Always Political

We are fortunate to live in a country in which we get to re-choose our major leaders on a rotating cycle. The up-side of this is that we get to regularly examine how we come to our political positions. We regularly have the opportunity to discover anew how our worldviews create our political opinions. The down-side is that it is easy to simply take party loyalty for granted and simply assume that (if you are a Christian as am I) our party affiliation is, “of course the most biblical choice” without continually re-examining whether our votes really align with biblical values.

In other words since voting for major offices is such a regular part of our life in this country, it’s tempting to simply fall in to patterns of voting without really thinking about why we’ve aligned with a certain candidate or party. It seems even rarer still for adults to switch party loyalties once they have been ingrained.

But Christians are called to continually re-examine their beliefs, “taking every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5, etc.), striving for a maturity that is not easily swayed (Ephesians 4:9-16). We are told to strive after maturity and expected to think deeply.

The 2016 election cycle has been contentious to say the least and it has caused lots of division among Christians. Many (including myself) have felt as though the Republican candidate is completely and utterly out of step with what I value as a Christian. Others have argued that the Republican party is always the more biblical choice regardless of the candidate. Still others take it a step further and say that Donald Trump is actually God’s candidate.

As I’ve dialogued with family and friends about the different positions Christians might take over this election cycle, one view repeated itself enough that I’ve been thinking a lot about it. In short, many people told me that they have actively tried to separate their faith from their political opinions and votes. Several people told me that Christianity can be interpreted and applied by people of both major political party and can be inconclusive at best and divisive at worst, so they have decided to vote aside from their faith. 

As I’ve tried to understand this position, I’m driven more and more to the conviction that Christianity is always political. Our faith cannot be separated from our politics. In fact, I would argue that our politics are an outworking of our faith. Christianity addresses how we should care for the poor (Psalm 34:6; Proverbs 22:9, 31:20; Daniel 4:27; Matthew 19:21; Galatians 2:10, etc.). Christianity addresses our attitude to violence (Exodus 14:14; 1 Samuel 17:47; Psalms 11:5, 17:4, 20:7; Matthew 5:9, etc.). We could go on, but my point is that Christianity directly addresses issues which fuel our voting habits.

We tend to forget that Rome viewed Christianity as a political threat. Part of being a citizen meant declaring that Caesar was Lord. But as people came to faith in Jesus, they were no longer able to declare such things because Jesus was now their Lord. This might be difficult for us to understand in our current political day and age but it is fairly easy to see why political leaders would not only view this as insubordination but as a threat to their own positions of power.

We tend to forget that it is the Christian faith which has led many to acts of civil disobedience and to become directly involved in politics. Whether abolition, women’s suffrage, the fight for civil rights, Christianity has not only always been political, it has often been quite unpopular.

Christianity in America has often been co-opted to support the pursuit of wealth and comfort. It has been used to justify oppression rather than combat it. Christianity has been turned upside down and used to endorse power structures which directly oppose biblical convictions.

We live in a time whose importance will only really become apparent with time. Christians in America have the opportunity to shed the skin of consumerism and leave behind (and fight) systems of oppression. Christians in America have the duty to follow Christianity rather than America. Christians have the chance (and perhaps obligation) to reclaim the practice of civil disobedience. Part of our prophetic voice in culture has always been to speak truth to power, not to court favor.

The heart of Christianity is for social justice, care for the poor, nonviolence and the flourishing of our cities. These convictions have unmistakable political ramifications. Christianity is always political and it’s up to us to work this out in public.

I look forward to your thoughts.

the Weekly Town Crier

towncrierAnd there you go. Just like sand in the hourglass, like waters under a troubled bridge, like the sound of silence. Another week gone by. And what do you have to show for it? Did you help someone this week? Did you do your part to make the world a better place or did you just complain? Did you encourage someone? Bear their burden? Come on now. What’s your problem? Get out there and do some good. Cultivate thanksgiving and let it fuel a life of blessing.

In the meantime, here’s a bunch of links you might or might not find interesting.

R.I.P. Patty Duke.

R.I.PGato Barbieri.

R.I.P. Merle Haggard.

Read Brooklyn Vegan‘s piece: “cult ’80s series ‘Night Flight’ is back as a streaming channel Read More: cult ’80s series ‘Night Flight’ is back as a streaming channel.”

Watch Spike Lee Interview Bernie Sanders.

Read as PopMatters considers the troubled legacy of the Replacements, profiled in Bob Mehr’s book Trouble Boys.

Read as Sojourners considers what happens “When Religion Makes People Worse”.

Read reports that Ron Perlman is confirmed to play Tom Waits in the upcoming biopic by David Lynch.

Read as Ozy considers “The Invention of the ‘American Dream'”.

Read AV Club‘s report that the Animaniacs are now on Netflix.

Read Pitchfork‘s report: “Here’s Why Musicians Won’t Stand for Illegal Uploads Anymore”.

Browse Tom Waits’ top 20 albums.

Read Uncut‘s report: “Keith Richards criticises modern artists for not writing their own music”.

Read The Guardian‘s profile of Richard Fariña, “lost genius who bridged the gap between beats and hippies”.

Browse The Brewer’s Associations‘s list of the U.S.’ ” top 50 breweries for 2015″.

Listen to NPR Music’s piece: “How A Stressful Night For Miles Davis Spawned Two Classic Albums”.

Read Paste‘s report: “John Oliver’s “Donald Drumpf” Segment Broke Every HBO Viewing Record”.

Read “An Interview with case/lang/veirs“.

Ever wonder “‘How Did This Song Get In That Commercial?’ NPR has your answer.

Browse Rolling Stone‘s picks for the 100 greatest drummers of all time.

Read Gizmodo’s report on the recent study finding that “People Who Point Out Typos Are Jerks”.

Read Okay Player‘s report that A Tribe Called Quest was working on a new album at the time of Phife Dawg‘s passing.

Listen to NPR Music’s tribute to the Stratocaster.

Browse Paste‘s list of “The 100 Best Movies on Netflix (April 2016)”.

Read NPR’s review of Don Cheadle‘s new Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead.

  • Read Paste‘s piece on the movie.

BrowseNeil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing” at Brain Pickings.

Browse Men’s Journal‘s picks for “The 101 Best Beers in America”.

Read The Guardian‘s profile of Shuggie Otis: ‘I could have been a millionaire, but that wasn’t on my mind’.

Read/Listen to NPR’s piece: “Alan Lomax‘s Massive Archive Goes Online”.

Read Fact‘s report that Fugazi has returned with a 5-song EP commenting on the “horrorshow” of our presidential election.

Read as the AV Club wonders: “Can the new wave of faith-based filmmaking transcend propaganda?”

Read Reuters‘ piece: “Tesla says Model 3 orders top $10 billion in first 36 hours”.

Read The Atlantic‘s “Case Against High-School Sports”.

Read as The New York Times investigates “the Minds of Mass Killers”.

Take a peek at 15 of the world’s most exquisite libraries” at CNN.

Read: “Beverly Cleary on turning 100: Kids today ‘don’t have the freedom’ I had” at the Washington Post.

Read as The Atlantic argues: “Liberal arts and the humanities aren’t just for the elite.”

Read Christianity Today‘s piece: “More Americans Agree Christians Face Intolerance But Complain Too Much About It,” arguing; “tone matters when advocating for religious liberty.”

Read as The New York Times considers the revival of PBR.

Read as The Atlantic considers “The Importance of Eating Together”.

Browse Flavorwire‘s picks for “The 10 Albums You Need to Hear in April”.

Read as Atlas Obscura considers “The Doomed Effort to Make Videos Go Vinyl”.

Read Rolling Stone‘s report that the Rolling Stones will release a new album this year.

Read as PopMatters considers Jon StewartThe Daily Show and “the Rise of Media Accountability”.

Spreadable Beer. Because.

Read the Art of Manliness‘ list of “9 Things a Grown Man Can Learn From the Hardy Boys“.

Read Slate‘s report: “After Seven Long Years, There’s a New Answering Machine Tape on Homestar Runner”.

Read Uncut‘s reflection on “Miles Davis, Hank Williams and the current crop of music biopics”.

Read FACT‘s report: “Bandcamp has made $150M in artist profits in the last eight years”.

Read a report finding “People Who Point Out Grammatical Errors Are JERKS, Says Science”.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyI don’t know about you but I love spicy artichoke jalapeño dip. I mean, with some wavy potato chips or the thicker plain chips. Not the thin ones because the dip is too thick for those sissy chips. No sissy chips up in he-yah. Know what I mean, Vern?

Man, sometimes it just hits the spot if you know what I mean. No? Well, you really should try some.

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. Harper Lee.

R.I.P. Umberto Eco.

R.I.P. Samuel Willenberg, “the last known survivor of the Nazi death camp Treblinka.”

R.I.P. Jeb Bush’s presidential bid.

R.I.P. Ben Carson’s presidential campaign.

R.I.P. First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Browse the lineup for this year’s Pitchfork music festival.

Browse Phoenix New Times‘ list of “Arizona’s 30 Most Influential Musicians.”

Learn about caffeinated toothpaste.

Read about Sub Pop Records offering “college scholarships to ‘losers’ and ‘art-enthused misfits'”.

Read as Smithsonian considers “How the Phonograph Changed Music Forever”.

Read as Salon argues: “Stop buying old Bob Dylan albums: “Every time somebody buys a reissue, they’re just taking money away from new musicians”. But I like Bob Dylan and new music . . .

Watch a “1970 documentary about Hunter S. Thompson‘s run for mayor of Aspen”.

  • Read as The Washington Post opines: “If only Hunter S. Thompson could have lived to take on this election”.

Browse as NPR’s Jazz Night In America considers the history of “Jazz slang”.

Read as The Washington Post considers three cocktails that “pair perfectly with classic literature”.

Read USA Today‘s profile of Mavis Staples.

Browse as The Guardian compares streaming services.

Browse Paste‘s picks for “10 Essential Short Story Collections”.

Read as The Guardian considers: “Slave to the algorithm? How music fans can reclaim their playlists from Spotify“.

Read as Consequence of Sound reports that a “Fall Coachella Festival” is imminent.

Read reports that Apple is implementing a trade-in program for iPhones.

Read Vinyl Factory‘s report that new printed city guides for vinyl are being made available for select cities.

Read The Atlantic‘s report on the return of Planet Earth.

Ever wonder why you sometimes feel “phantom phone vibrations”?

Read Smithsonian‘s piece: “Long Before Jack Daniels, George Washington Was a Whiskey Tycoon.”

Read as Gillian Anderson talks about Dave Grohl‘s X-Files cameo and how it came to be.

Read as AV Club urges us to reconsider “the grim and gritty Dark Age of superhero comics.”

Read Live For Live Music‘s report: “The Leaked Tracklisting For The National‘s Extensive Grateful Dead Tribute Is Incredible”.

Hear “a giant 800-track alt/indie-focused 90’s playlist in chronological order”.

Read about the new vinyl-pressing plant promising tw0-week turnaround.

Read CNN‘s report: “Beyoncé offered security for concert by Louis Farrakhan“.

Browse as Consequence of Sound considers “Which Artists Are Still Holding Out on Streaming”.

Browse “Relevant”‘s list of “8 Biographies Everyone Should Read”.

Read Paste‘s report: “Pixar Made an App That Helps the Blind Experience Movies”.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report: “Discogs sold 6.6 million records in 2015”.

Watch Bill Gates DJ on Jimmy Fallon.

See shoes that grow with you.

Read “Relevant”‘s piece: “Justin Bieber: Without God I’d Be a Terrible Person”.

Listen as the BBC discusses poetry form.

Read as Lucinda Williams discusses her discography with Spin.

Browse Flavorwire‘s picks for “The 10 Albums You Need to Hear in March”.

Ever wonder: “How Does ‘A Wrinkle in Time‘ Look on a Map?”

Read Paste‘s: “4 Questions for Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver”.

An Introduction to the “Ugh-Churched”

ugh-shirtI am Ted Wiggins and I speak for the trees!

No, that’s not right. I am Brent Thomas and I speak for . . . well, I might not speak for anyone other than myself. However, I have the hunch that I speak for a growing number of Christians who are increasingly frustrated by American Christianity.

Discipleship is the primary task Jesus left His people (Matthew 28:18-20). This simply means helping ourselves and others become more like Jesus. This is the fundamental task of Christians and encompasses all of life including all of our relationships. We are publicly trying to live out the ways of Jesus and striving to help others (no matter where upon the faith journey they might currently find themselves) to see the beauty in doing so (This is different from evangelism. Evangelism is not a thing in and of itself but is a subset of discipleship. Maybe more on this later.).Many churches grasp this, using pithy, easy-to-remember phrases like: Make, Mature and Multiply (Disciples), or Gather, Grow, Go.

Few seem to argue the fact that the core of Christian Living is discipleship. Over the years, I’ve asked over a hundred people: How well do you think the American Church as a whole, has done at the fundamental task of Discipleship?

I have yet to have a single person tell me that “as a whole,” we’re rocking it. Several people have been able to point to specific times when they have been spiritually cared for and encouraged and seen significant growth but these cases seem to be the exception rather than the norm. No one has argued that, “as a whole,” we’re doing well. There was one guy who was adamant until I realized that he was arguing that Young Life did a great job of discipling, not the church.

93434191-einstein-tongue_custom-36fb0ce35776dc2d92eda90880022bf48a67e192-s6-c30And yet it seems like just about every church is doing the fundamentally the same things. You remember how Einstein defined insanity, don’t you? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. That seems to be the current predicament for American Christianity. Sure, the flavor might change but nearly every church seems to have the basic, Sunday-driven, education-based, program-driven structures. Two or three songs, a sermon and some more songs. Some churches are showy-er about it than others. Some churches have different emphases within those parameters but nobody seems to question the basic. passive, education-based approach.

But there is a growing number of people who believe that the Christian life is more, not less than the modern church experience. Many people sincerely want to follow Jesus and find a divide between how we see that suggested in the New Testament and how it is largely practiced here in the United States of 2016. Drawing from researchers like Thom Rainer and others who discuss the “pre-churched,” the “de-churched,” the “un-churched,” etc., I have come to think of this group as the “ugh-churched”.

The “ugh-churched” as I understand them, are not abandoning their faith nor do they want to abandon church participation. Much ink has been spilled rebuking people who say that they love God but feel no need for church. These are not the ugh-churched. The ugh-churched, if I may speak for a category I’ve just made up, believe that the current model is lacking at best and broken at worst. The ugh-churched believe that so many modern churches rely on programs because real relationships simply don’t exist.

But it’s a catch-22, isn’t it? Many churches see the New Testament’s expectations that we will “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:1-2), that we will rejoice and weep together (Romans 12:15), that we will speak the truth to one another in love (Ephesians 4:25), that we will live as family and so we create programs in which these things are supposed to occur but these things do not occur in programs because programs are not relationships. People oftentimes don’t know how to have these types of relationships because they’ve been caught in programs. A growing number of people have become disillusioned with the current approach and long for Christianity to be lived out in the context of meaningful, challenging relationships. Though there’s lots to do in the American Church, it just doesn’t always seem worth the time and energy and many are left wanting more.

As my friend April recently said:

I’m at a point in my Christian faith where I don’t want to go to a church with a “tag line” or catchy mission statement. I’m so over it, like way way over it. I want to go to a church that really wants to be the Church and not some cool kids club, that strives to be relevant, or hip, or urban, or progressive, or liberal, or seeker sensitive, or “down to earth”. I’ve found that there’s a lot of flavor out there without a lot of substance (kinda like Doritos). Hoping God will bring us into a community of believers who want to do honest, raw, life together for the long haul. Keep our family in your prayers, and keep me in your prayers that God will show Himself to me in his people and that I would be encouraged.

The problem is that we’re left with cliché’s like “authentic”, “genuine” and “organic”. They sound great but have largely lost their meaning in the current church context because every church uses these terms but seems to mean something different by them and the result is has simply become a standardized approach to how we “do church”. This is why many of the ugh-churched feel increasingly disenfranchised from the American church; they want more, not less. They want substance over performance and they believe that following Jesus is about more than superficial slogans like “Win at Life”.

This means that we must stop doing church the way we’ve always done it. Far from being threatened by the ugh-churched, we should revel in the desire for deep and meaningful community faith. This is an exciting time for the American Church. We are faced with an identity crisis and we have reached a tipping point. How will we emerge? Will we embrace the growing desire for simplified schedules and deeper relationships or will we create another church program?

 

 

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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 4.23.26 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 4.34.15 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 4.40.13 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyI think you know what I mean. I think you know what I really mean. Well, actually. Hold on there a minute. I haven’t said anything yet for you to even know what I could mean. Much less what I really mean.

So I suppose I should come up with something really clever to say here. Something about how the Weekly Town Crier is where I collect links of varying levels of interest and pas them along to you for your interest in the interesting links.

Enjoy.

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 NPR’s piece: “Learning Soft Skills In Childhood Can Prevent Harder Problems Later.”

Now you can have a robot act as maid of honour at your wedding.”

Read as Salon considers “How the Samurai warrior inspired the Jedi Knights.”

Read as Sojourners considers “‘Firefly‘ and the Dignity of Humanity.”

Read an account of “Kurt Vonnegut’s Daily Routine.”

Read as NPR considers “The Neuroscience Of Musical Perception.”

Watch as The Atlantic considers “Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive?”

Read as The Atlantic considers the public zoning backlash against small community libraries.

Read as Consequence of Sound‘s catches up with Henry Rollins.

  • See Henry Rollins build and destroy a gingerbread house.

Read as Mother Jones considers Pete Seeger‘s FBI file.

Read as T Bone Burnett considers “Our culture loves music. Too bad our economy doesn’t value it” for The Washington Post.

Read as No Depression asks: “How Did You Find Your Favorite Albums This Year?”

See the “Secret catalog of gadgets police and feds can use to spy on your cellphone.”

Read as the Atlantic considers “Machines That Can See Depression on a Person’s Face.”

Read The Creator‘s Project‘s piece: “The Art of Reflection Within the Rothko Chapel.”

Read about “The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy.”

Read as The Guardian considers “Hidden gems of 2015: great records you may have missed.”

Read as KJZZ considers the “Mixed Reactions To Anheuser-Busch’s Plans To Buy Four Peaks Brewing Company.”

Read as Rolling Stone considers the impact of the Grateful Dead‘s farewell shows.

Read Okay Player‘s piece: “Killer Mike, Big Boi + More Will Testify On Hip Hop’s Behalf In Front Of The Supreme Court Today.”

Browse The Washington Post‘s ranking of the country’s best “food cities.”

See Shane McGowan’s new teeth.

See someone “Pouring a Thermos of Hot Tea at -40°C Near the Arctic Circle.”

See the card that caused Steve Harvey’s worst nightmare.

Browse “A Beginner’s Guide To Frank Zappa“.

Read Stereogum‘s report that Lenny Kravitz is being accused of illegal dentistry in the Bahamas.

Read about many Muslim women asking non-Muslim women not to wear the hajib “in the name of interfaith solidarity.”

Read Noisey‘s interview with “The Founder of ‘Yeezianity’, The First Religion Based Onn Kanye West“.

Meet the finalists who could design the Obama Presidential Center.”

Read CNN‘s report: “Vatican paper says ‘The Force Awakens’ is not evil enough”.

Fueling the rumors that Apple is ditching the 3.5mm headjack, read Hypebeast‘s report: “Apple is Developing its Own High Quality Audio Format.”

Read Rolling Stone‘s article: “Cheap Trick‘s Bun E. Carlos on Possible Rock Hall Reunion: Any friendship we had went away when I had to file a federal lawsuit,” says drummer.”

Read as Christianity Today considers “Why We Get Religious About ‘Star Wars’.

Read The New York Times’ article: “New Novel From Jonathan Safran Foer Coming in September.”

Read “The Story Behind The Famous Portrait of André The Giant Clutching A Beer Can.”

Read CNN‘s piece about companies with “mandatory” vacation policies.

Read Noisey‘s report about the “rebirth” of CBGBs . . . as a NJ airport restaurant.

Browse Pixar color palettes.

Read Rolling Stone‘s interview with Leon Bridges.

Read about the new “451” internet error code for internet censorship.

Read The Stranger‘s piece: “How Christianity Infiltrated Seattle Music with a Little Help from Mars Hill Church and the City Council.”

Read as Noisey considers the rise and fall of Ozzy Osbourne.

Read as The Washington Post considers “Why it’s a good sign if you curse a lot.”

Read Amazon one-star reviews of some of the year’s biggest albums.

See bonsai skulls.

Browse Flavorwires‘s picks for the best literary criticism of 2015.

Read as Christopher Hitchens considers George Orwell.

Read as AV Club considers the year in band names.

Read as Literary Hub considers how “White Christmas” started the trend of popular Christmas songs.

Browse this list of “The Most Googled Artists of 2015”.

Read “Relevant”‘s report: “The Sultan of Brunei Has Literally Outlawed Christmas.”

Read The Washington Post‘s piece: “My husband read to me while I was sick. It changed our marriage.”

Watch as The Atlantic asks what you wish you had learned in college but didn’t.

See a fountain in China made from 10,000 toilets.

Read as Techly considers “Five Things You Don’t Know About Beer (But Probably Should).”

Go with Fast Company into the secretive world of Freemasonry in this photo essay.

Read the Washington Post‘s report that “The Republican debate stage could shrink considerably next month” based on new rules.

Watch Steve Harvey announce the wrong winner for the Miss Universe pageant.

Watch what could happen to your body if you drank 10 cans of Coke every day. Please don’t drink 10 cans of soda every day.

See “inflatable hotel rooms.”

Read Outside magazine’s ode to the VW Vanagon.

Since we no longer live in a culture in which people own important albums, you will soon be able to stream The Beatles‘ catalog.

Poor Nicholas Cage has been forced to return his T-Rex skull.

See the decaying church building repurposed as an artsy skate park.

Read as Slate considers the impact of “bro country”.

Read about how Facebook helped solve the riddle of an ancient artifact.

Read as Salon considers the possibility of an R.E.M. reunion.

Read about U2‘s Bono buying the Eagles of Death Metal new phones to replace the ones they lost in the Paris attacks.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyI know what you’re thinking: Gosh-dangit, this guy is at it again?! Does he really think we care this much about what he found so interesting this week?! Yes, yes I do think you’re interested in what I found interesting this week. That’s why you’re hear, isn’t it? Admit it, you’re interested. And that’s interesting, isn’t it?

Welcome to the Weekly Town Crier: where I collect links to various things I found interesting this week. You read what interests you and skip what doesn’t and we’ll all be happily interesting together. Separate. On our computers.

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.”

It’s the most wonderful time of year: year-end list time!

  • * = Added to the list this week.
  • Listen as All Songs Considered considers the year in music.
  • Browse American Songwriter’s picks for the “Top 50 Albums of 2015.”
  • Browse Aquarium Drunkard‘s unranked picks for music of the year. *
  • Browse AV Club‘s picks for “The 15 best albums of 2015.”
  • Browse AV Club‘s picks for their favorite books of the year. *
  • Browse AV Club‘s picks for: “graphic novels, one-shots, and archives of 2015.” *
  • Browse as Christianity Today hands out their annual books awards. *
  • Browse Consequence of Sound‘s picks for the “Top 50 Songs of 2015.”
  • Browse Consequence of Sound‘s picks for the “Top 50 Albums of the Year.”
  • Browse The Daily Beast‘s picks for “The Most Overlooked Movies of the Year.” *
  • Browse The Daily Beast‘s picks for music of the year. *
  • Browse David Dye’s (World Café) dspicks for albums of the year. *
  • Browse Design Week’s picks for their favorite album covers.
  • Browse Drowned In Sound‘s favorite albums of 2015. *
  • Browse FACT‘s picks for the best record labels of the year.
  • Browse FACT‘s picks for albums of the year.
  • Browse as First Things considers their year in books. *
  • Browse Flavorwire‘s picks for “The 50 Best Independent Press Books of 2015.”
  • Browse Flavorwire‘s picks for the best nonfiction books of the year. *
  • Browse as Bill Gates picks his favorite books read in 2015. *
  • Browse The Gospel Coalition editors’ picks for books of the year. *
  • Browse iBooks‘s favorite books of 2015. *
  • Browse iTunes‘ favorite music of 2015. *
  • Browse iTunes‘s favorite movies of 2015. *
  • Browse as the KEXP DJ’s make their picks.
  • Browse The New York Times‘s picks for their favorite albums of 2015. *
  • Browse NME‘s albums of the year.
  • Browse as No Depression considers “Great albums at the bottom of the list.” *
  • Browse Noisey‘s picks for songs of the year.
  • Browse Noisey‘s picks for albums of the year.
  • Browse NPR Music’s “50 Favorite Albums Of 2015.”
  • Browse NPR’s picks for the best books of 2015
  • Browse OkayPlayer‘s favorite albums of the year. *
  • Browse as Pandora reveals the top 100 “thumbed up” songs of 2015.
  • Browse Paste‘s picks for the “The 50 Best Songs of 2015.”
  • Browse Paste‘s picks for albums of the year.
  • Browse Paste‘s picks for “The 10 Best Box Sets of 2015.”
  • Browse Paste‘s picks for “The Best Comic Books of 2015.”
  • Browse Paste‘s picks for “The 20 Best New Bands of 2015.” *
  • Browse Paste‘s picks for the best canned beers of 2015. *
  • Browse Paste‘s picks for the best fiction books of the year. *
  • Browse (part one/part two) Phoenix New Times‘s picks for best AZ songs this year. *
  • Browse Piccadilly Records‘s choices.
  • Browse Pitchfork‘s top 50 albums of the year. *
  • Browse as Pop Matters‘s makes their picks for “The 80 Best Albums of 2015.”
  • Browse The Quietus‘s picks.
  • Browse “Relevants” top 10 albums of 2015.
  • Browse Rolling Stone‘s picks.
  • Browse Rough Trade‘s picks for their favorite albums of the year.
  • Browse Spin‘s picks for “The 50 Best Albums of 2015.”
  • Browse Spin‘s picks for the “101 Best Songs of 2015.”
  • Browse Stereogum‘s picks for their favorite new bands of 2015.
  • Browse Stereogum‘s picks for albums of the year.
  • Browse Stereogum‘s picks for their “80 Favorite Songs Of 2015.”
  • Browse Time‘s picks for the top 10 movies of the year. *
  • Browse Time‘s top 100 photographs of the year. *
  • Browse Tiny Mix Tape‘s 50 favorite albums of 2015. *
  • Browse Uncut‘s favorite albums of 2015.
  • Browse Under the Radar‘s 2015 picks. *
  • Browse Vogue‘s picks for albums of the year.
  • Browse the favorite music from Zia Records‘ staff. *

See Banksy remind the world that Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian immigrant.

Read Vanity Fair‘s piece: “Frank Sinatra’s Drummer Tells the Story of His Final Concert.”

Browse as Marie Claire recommends: “6 Graphic Novels By Women You Need To Read.”

Browse as the Rumpus recommends books about Bob Dylan.

Browse Baeble‘s list of “The 10 Most Ridiculous Moments In Music In 2015.”

Browse Paste‘s picks for “18 Documentaries about Writers.”

Browse Paste‘s “Complete Guide to Music Snobbery in Noah Baumbach Movies.”

Watch the Oh Hello’s perform a Tiny Desk Concert.

Download a vintage holiday mixtape from Aquarium Drunkard.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Pandora executive says Steve Jobs “eviscerated the music industry”.

  • Read the New York Times‘ report that “Apple Gains Exclusive Streaming Deal With Taylor Swift.”

Read as The Atlantic considers “Why L.L. Bean’s Boots Keep Selling Out.”

Read CNN‘s report that scientists claim that the Mona Lisa is actually hiding another painting.

Browse “Relevant”‘s picks for “The Best Christmas Movies on Netflix.”

Watch/read CNN‘s report: “5 things you didn’t know about satanists”.

Read as The Atlantic considers “Why Americans All Believe They Are ‘Middle Class'”.

Watch as The Atlantic ponders near death experiences.

Read Slate‘s piece about Walmart entering the pay-account business: “After Refusing to Take Apple Pay, Walmart Launches Walmart Pay.”

Read/listen as NPR’s Here and Now considers Kentucky’s “First Woman Master Distiller In Modern Times”.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is Giving You Over 400,000 High-Res Digital Images For Free“.

Read about the North Carolina town who “rejects solar because it’ll suck up sunlight and kill the plants”.

Browse NME‘s list of “100 Lost Albums You Need To Know.”

Read as The Daily Beast wonders “Is This Stone the Clue to Why Jesus Was Killed?”

Read Uncut‘s report: “Iggy Pop, Buzzcocks and The Damned to celebrate punk’s 40th anniversary at Isle of Wight Festival.”

Read as The Atlantic considers why “There’s No Such Thing as Free Shipping”.

Read the Guardian‘s piece: “Rachel Dolezal: ‘I wasn’t identifying as black to upset people. I was being me’.

See what “$1,000 Per Month In Rent Will Get You Around The U.S.”

Read/see Salon‘s piece “Scientists claim this is how Jesus Christ really looked”.

Read as Andrew Jones considers the little-known Christian roots of Yoga.

Read Brain Picking‘s piece: “Bob Dylan on Sacrifice, the Unconscious Mind, and How to Cultivate the Perfect Environment for Creative Work.”

  • Read as the Washington Post considers why Bob Dylan lyrics pop up so much in medical literature.

Read Flavorwire‘s profile of Jukely, the subscription service for concerts.

Read The Daily Beast‘s report that MLB will not reinstate Pete Rose.

Hear Neko Case on NPR’s quiz show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

Read National Geographic‘s profile of Joe Pug.

Read a report that Mark Driscoll has filed incorporation papers for a new church in the Phoenix, AZ area.

Read as Christianity Today considers the infiltration of multi-level marketing into American Evangelical churches.

Browse Turntable Kitchen‘s holiday gift guide for music lovers.

Read Harper Lee‘s 1961 piece My Christmas in New York.

Read Stereogum‘s report: “Amazon Developing Scripted Series About The Grateful Dead.

Browse Vice‘s “Definitive Guide to Hipster Music Genres.”

Read Pitchfork‘s piece: “Lowell Brams Discusses Sufjan Stevens‘ Album About His Life.”

Read GQ‘s profile of Hillsong, NYC, church to, among others, Kevin Durant and Justin Bieber.

See a man’s beer can collection, worth over $1 million.

Read about the Wheaton professor suspended after saying that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

Read as Christianity Today considers the recent surge of hymns in the spotlight.

Read as Merle Haggard discusses his recent health scare.

Try Charles Mingus‘ potent egg nog recipe at your own risk.

Read Flavorwire‘s piece: “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Seals Its Irrelevance With Another Year of Sad Boomer Inductees.”