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.”

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyYeah, you know that’s right. This is how we do it. and other stuff all you cool kids say on the beat. Wait for the drop. Get your groove on.

Actually, I doubt anyone actually reads this first part so it doesn’t really matter what nonsense I come with, now does it? Let’s be real. There are lots more important things for us to consider. Like, for instance, some of the links I found interesting this week. I hope you find them interesting as well.

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.”

Browse Taste of Cinema‘s picks for “The 15 Most Memorable Songs Used In Wes Anderson Movies.”

  • Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Bill Murray signs on for Wes Anderson’s next film.’

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 AV Club‘s picks for “The 15 best albums of 2015.” *
  • 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 Design Week’s picks for their favorite album covers.
  • Browse FACT‘s picks for the best record labels of the year.
  • Browse FACT‘s picks for albums of the year. *
  • Browse Flavorwire‘s picks for “The 50 Best Independent Press Books of 2015.”
  • Browse as the KEXP DJ’s make their picks.
  • Browse NME‘s albums of the year.
  • 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 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 Piccadilly Records‘s choices.
  • Browse as Pop Matters‘s makes their picks for “The 80 Best Albums of 2015.” *
  • Browse The Quietus‘s picks.
  • 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 Uncut‘s favorite albums of 2015.

Read The Atlantic‘s piece: “Quick Thinkers Seem Charismatic, Even If They’re Not That Smart.”

See A Rare Video For Bob Dylan‘s ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues’ at NPR.

R.I.P. Robert Loggia.

R.I.P. North Face founder Douglas Tompkins.

Listen To Wilco’s Episode Of Song Exploder.”

Browse Fast Company‘s list of “7 Common Public Speaking Tips You Should Ignore.”

Read Time‘s report: “Samsung to Pay Apple $548 Million in Patent Case.”

  • Read The Verge’s report: “Apple waited too long to get into music streaming,” ending with the line: “If Apple is serious about winning in music streaming, the bar must be raised. The name on the door isn’t enough anymore.’

See “A Stunning Scale Model of Our Solar System, Drawn in the Desert.”

Read/listen to NPR’s piece: “After Mass Shootings, People Turn To Prayer — And Prayer Shaming.”

Read The New Yorker‘s piece: “How Jane Vonnegut Made Kurt Vonnegut A Writer.”

See “What Happens When Millennials Try To Use Their Grandparents’ Technology.”

If you’re in the Phoenix area and looking for a way to help others this Holiday Season, browse Flourish Phoenix‘ list of “11 Ways to Love Our Neighbors this Christmas.”

Read The Atlantic‘s piece: “Why God Will Not Die: Science keeps revealing how much we don’t, perhaps can’t, know. Yet humans seek closure, which should make religious pluralists of us all.”

Read as First Things considers the disappearance of Advent from the regular practice of many churches.

Read Slate‘s report that “Amazon Just Bought Its Own Fleet of Semi-Trucks.”

Read as The New Yorker considers “How Energy-Drink Companies Prey On Male Insecurities.”

Browse NME‘s list of “61 of the Greatest Film Soundtracks Ever.”

Read as The Daily Beast considers: “A new study finds that people who love bulls**t inspirational quotes have lower intelligence and more “conspiratorial ideations.”

Watch as “Colbert Explains Why ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ Matter”.

Read as Russell Moore reminds us “Why Christians must speak out against Donald Trump’s Muslim remarks.”

Read as Pitchfork considers “How Playlists Are Curating The Future of Music.”

Read BBC News‘ report that Jimmy Carter is now cancer-free.

Read as the Smithsonian considers “How Twitching Frog Legs Helped Inspire Frankenstein“.

Read as Scott Weiland’s ex-wife and children share some sobering thoughts about the man behind the songs.

See “Inside Walt Disney’s Immaculately Reconstructed Office.”

Read as Paste considers “How The Internet Killed Late-Night Comedy.”

Read as “Rush’s Neil Peart says he’s retired from music”. Wait, no. Read this report that says Rush are not breaking up after all.

Read Thom Yorke‘s letter to Father Christmas, asking for reading clashes and letting oil companies have it.

Read as Christianity Today wonders: “Do Babies Go to Heaven?”

Read as Gary Clark Jr. considers five songs he wishes he’d written with Rolling Stone.

Read Rolling Stone‘s report that Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, and the Weeknd Lead this year’s Grammy Nominations.

Download Noisetrade‘s 2015 Holiday Mix.

Read Lifeway’s report: “Successful new churches share four factors” at Christianity Today.

Read Pitchfork‘s report that The Replacements biography has been announced, with participation from band members.

Read The Concourse‘s piece: “Happy 20th Birthday To This American Life, Which Is Way Darker Than You Think.”

Read/Listen to NPR’s report that Germany’s Angela Merkel has been named as Time‘s Person of the Year.

Read NPR’s report that Diane Rehm will retire from her long-running broadcast show after the 2016 presidential election.

Read as The Gospel Coalition considers “How Twitter Helped Fred Phelp’s Granddaughter Walk Away From Westboro.”

Meet Kanye West‘s pastor who has his own reality show, “Rich In Faith.”

Browse Food & Wine‘s list of “50 Amazing Nanobreweries in 50 States.”

Read Boing Boing‘s report that Marriott hotels will be “removing desks from its hotel rooms “because Millennials”.

Read “A Christian Case for Ending the War on Drugs The unintended consequences of America’s drug policies” at “Relevant”.

Read Christianity Today‘s report: “Pastors and Pews Vastly Disagree on Discipleship Success.”

Read OkayPlayer‘s report that Wu-Tang Clan has given themselves and/or Bill Murray permission to legally steal their $2 Million album sold to “Pharma Bro”.

Read Christianity Today‘s report that C.S. Lewis was a secret government agent.

ReadNietzsche on the Power of Music”.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyWell, I don’t know what to tell you. Another week has gone by. We’re all a few steps closer to the grave. Perhaps we should have a moment of silence to consider our mortality . . .

Now, what are you going to do with the rest of your days? Sit here and read interesting links on the internets? I sure hope so.

Welcome to the Weekly Town Crier, where I collect said interesting links, you read them and then we discuss. Though most of you do not not discuss, so I end up discussing with myself which isn’t quite as interesting, though we do come to a consensus much quicker.

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!

  • Listen as All Songs Considered considers the year in music.
  • Browse American Songwriter’s picks for the “Top 50 Albums of 2015.”
  • 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 Design Week’s picks for their favorite album covers.
  • Browse FACT‘s picks for the best record labels of the year.
  • Browse Flavorwire‘s picks for “The 50 Best Independent Press Books of 2015.”
  • Browse as the KEXP DJ’s make their picks.
  • Browse NME‘s albums of the year.
  • Browse Noisey‘s picks for songs 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 Piccadilly Records‘s choices.
  • 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 Uncut‘s favorite albums of 2015.

Browse Brain Pickings list of “The Greatest Books of All Time, As Voted by 125 Famous Authors.”

Browse “15 Reasons Drinking Beer Makes You Live Longer.”

Read Aquarium Drunkard‘s interview with Neko Case.

Browse FashionBeans’ list of “25 Pieces of Timeless Style Advice All Men Should Hear.”

Read as Noisey dissects “Song Exploder”.

Read NPRs report: “Loneliness May Warp Our Genes, And Our Immune Systems.”

Meet the guy whose job it is to let you know if an album has leaked yet.

Read as J.K. Rowling recounts meeting Morrissey.

Browse “A short history of photographic cameras before they went digital.”

Browse Paste‘s picks for “10 EDM Albums For People Who Don’t Like EDM.”

Read/Listen as PRI reflects: “The music of Vince Guaraldi helped make ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ a cultural icon.”

Read as Noisey considers “The Shifting Image Of The Teenage Female Pop Star: How We Got From Britney Spears to Lorde.”

Browse Pitchfork‘s list of “The Muppets‘ Best Musical Moments.”

Choose from “7 Whiskey Drinks That Could Help Cure Your Cold.”

Read “Relevant”‘s report: “Tracy Morgan Says He Had an Encounter with God After His Accident.”

See “A Perfectly Symmetrical Photo of a Kingfisher Diving for Prey, Nearly 6 Years in the Making.”

Read Pitchfork‘s report that Peter Hook is suing the other members of New Order.

Read as Noisey wonders why Black Metal fans are so elitist.

Read AV Club‘s report that Samurai Jack will return to Cartoon Network in 2016.

Read as The Guardian asks why so many writers feel the need to share so much and when is it too much?

Read as Salon considers: “Buy less, do more: 5 reasons why experiences make us happier than things.”

  • Read REI‘s take: “Less stuff, more life.”
  • Read as The Atlantic weighs in: “Buy Experiences, Not Things.”

Take the Poll: Would You Use a Playground for Older People?

Browse Noisey‘s picks for “The Weirdest Records Of All Time.”

Read as The Atlantic considers the Milli Vanilli legacy: “Twenty-five years ago, the lip-syncing models were dethroned—and a class of more sophisticatedly manufactured stars took their place.”

Consider “How Independent Artists and Labels Are Getting Squeezed Out By The ‘Vinyl Revival’.”

Read as Ozy wonders why the US just can’t seem to get on board with high speed rail.

Read as The Washington Post considers “Why today’s college students don’t want to be teachers.”

Meet the app that will “play Nickelback every time you try to contact your ex.”

Read as Fast Company profiles Tesla’s move into the battery business.

Read as The Washington Post considers “Why Americans dress so casually.”

Browse The Phoenix New Times‘s list of “25 Legendary Tempe Music Venues: Then and Now.”

Read The Daily Beast‘s piece: “The Story of Orion: Elvis Presley’s Mysterious, Masked Doppelganger Who Hoodwinked the World.”

Read The Guardian‘s profile of John Fahey: “the guitarist who was too mysterious for the world.”

Read NME‘s report: “Cloud storage backups of personal music collections made illegal in the UK”.

Read as “Relevant” considers “How ‘Peanuts’ Took Faith to Culture”.

R.I.P. Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyWhy hello there. How are you? How was your week? Open any good cans of worms? I mean, come on, what fun is life unless you really think deeply about issues and discuss them with people who might disagree with you? Don’t we all get better when we humble ourselves to consider other people’s opinions?

I mean, something weird and unexpected and less preachy.

Welcome to the Weekly Town Crier. This is where I collect links I found interesting throughout the week. I pass them along for your consideration and then we come back to discuss. It’s all really good fun when you think about it.

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!

  • Browse American Songwriter’s picks for the “Top 50 Albums of 2015.”
  • Browse Design Week’s picks for their favorite album covers.
  • Browse Flavorwire‘s picks for “The 50 Best Independent Press Books of 2015.”
  • Browse as the KEXP DJ’s make their picks.
  • Browse as Pandora reveals the top 100 “thumbed up” songs of 2015.
  • Browse Piccadilly Records‘s choices.
  • Browse Rough Trade‘s picks for their favorite albums of the year.
  • Browse Stereogum‘s picks for their favorite new bands of 2015.

Browse other random lists:

  • Browse Dazed‘s picks for “Ten artists you should be listening to in 2016.”
  • Browse NME‘s picks for the “100 Best Songs Of The 00s.”
  • Browse Pitchfork‘s 2015 Holiday gift guide.

Listen to Amazon‘s playlist: “Indie For The Holidays.”

  • Browse The Portland Press Herald‘s list of “Five Christmas albums that pluck heartstrings without fraying nerves.”
  • Download “Relevants” Christmas playlist.

Read as Christianity Today asks four questions to determine: “What Is an Evangelical?”

See “Rock Stars And Their Cars” at NME.

Read as BBC reports on a new trend in British law enforcement/civil rights: “Subculture abuse classed as hate crime.”

Read as NPR wonders “Why Do Young People Like Socialism More Than Older People Do?”

Watch Tony Hawk skate the first ever horizontal loop.

See a map of America’s favorite swear words by region.

Read/listen to NPR’s profile of Sam Phillips: “The Man And The Mistakes That ‘Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll’.”

Read FACT”s report: “Wu-Tang Clan have sold Once Upon A Time in Shaolin to a “private American collector” for a price “in the millions.”

Read the Daily Beast‘s report: “Your ‘Craft’ Rye Whiskey Is Probably From a Factory Distillery in Indiana.”

Oregon joins Northern California state parks in offering free entrance on Black Friday.

Learn from Paste‘s suggestions: “How to Sleep in Your Car (with Pictures).”

Read “True Myth,” Pitchfork‘s conversation with Sufjan Stevens.

Read as Salon considers “Thomas Jefferson vs. the Bible: What America’s founding father really thought about religion.”

Read Rolling Stone‘s piece: “Pope Francis Calls Christmas ‘A Charade’: ‘The Whole World Is at War’.”

Last week belonged to A Tribe Called Quest. Apparently, this week belongs to Star Wars:

  • See “A Japanese Star Wars knock-off almost as weird as the original.”
  • Ever wonder “What It Would Look Like If David Lynch Directed Star Wars”?
  • Read Boing Boing‘s piece: “Alan Moore‘s brilliantly bonkers lost 1980sStar Wars comics.” Have you seen them?
  • Read as George Lucas says: “I’m done with ‘Star Wars'”.

Remember “When Meth Was an Antidepressant?

  • Do you know “How LSD Microdosing Became the Hot New Business Trip”?
  • Read as Boing Boing considers “Microdoses of LSD and mushrooms as an alternative to Adderall (or coffee!)”

Read Pitchfork‘s piece: “Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy Working on Memoir.”

Read Alana Massey’s beautifully written piece: “Theological Scars”.

Read The New Yorker‘s Piece: “Unfollow: How a prized daughter of the Westboro Baptist Church came to question its beliefs.”

Read as The Washington Post considers: “NPR is graying, and public radio is worried about it.”

Read FACT‘s piece: “The biggest album of all time is now intrinsically worthless” and download Michael Jackson‘s Thriller for free in the process.

Read AV Club‘s report: “Innocence ends for good as Winnie The Pooh’s skull goes on display.”

Browse as the New York Public Library recommends “31 Bookish, Brainy, Beautiful Blogs for Readers.”

Browse LitReactor‘s picks for “10 Albums Based on Books and Literature.”

Browse Time‘s suggestions for “The 12 Worst Habits for Your Mental Health.”

Browse The Telegraph‘s picks for “The 10 most overrated films of all time.” What do you think?

Ever wonder “How to make facial hair grow faster”? Browse these “tips, tricks and myths”?

See  the “Amish man wearing his full traditional clothing” who “clocks great time in marathon.”

Read The Atlantic‘s piece: “Donald Trump Threatens Religious Liberty.”

  • Read Boing  Boing‘s report: “Donald Trump confirms, then denies, his father’s arrest at a KKK rally.”
  • Read as CNN considers “Why some conservatives say Trump talk is fascist.”

Meet “the man who’s been photographing David Bowie for 40 years.”

  • Trace David Bowie’s musical evolution through his hair.”

These portraits show the dramatic effect of good lighting on changing perceptions of people’s appearances.”

Meet the “Florida cop fired for joining a death metal band on stage.”

Browse Paste‘s picks for “7 Thanksgiving Beers Without Pumpkin.”

  • Browse SF Gate‘s list of “11 beers you think are craft but have ties to big breweries.”

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that John Carpenter is developing four shows for TV.

Consider “The Uphill Battle for International Acts Touring in America.”

See “The Entire History of ‘Doctor Who’ Illustrated as a Tapestry.”

Read as NPR considers “Justin Timberlake And The AC/DC Rule.”

Read Rolling Stone‘s report: “Robert Carlyle Talks ‘Trainspotting 2′”

Read as Hypebeast considers “Are Expensive Running Shoes Really Better for You?”

Read as Sojourners considers “Pixar‘s New Film Takes Gamble on Hindu Theme.”

Read as Apple Music’s “Jimmy Iovine thinks finding music is too difficult for some women.”

Read as Christianity Today considers “What ‘The Hunger Games‘ Taught Three Millennials.”

Read Rolling Stone‘s report: “Tom Petty to Curate Own SiriusXM Channel.”

Read as The Atlantic considers why it’s so difficult to know who really writes pop music hits.

Browse Flavorwire‘s picks for “10 Perfect Books to Cozy Up to As You Cook, Eat, and Drink This Thanksgiving.”

Read Paste‘s report: “Frank Miller on Dark Knight IV Details: “It’s none of your damn business.”

Read NPR‘s report: “Evangelical Groups Tell Political Leaders: ‘Jesus Was A Refugee'”

  • Read NPR’s piece: “What Does the Bible Say About Refugees? Depends Who You Ask.”
  • See the photo series “Where Syrian Refugee Children Sleep.”
  • Ever wonder “How ISIS Got Its Flag”?
  • Read as “Stephen Colbert cleverly points out the obvious Christian flaws in the GOP’s opposition to Syrian refugees” according to The Week.
  • Read as NPR offers “4 Things To Know About The Vetting Process For Syrian Refugees.”
  • Browse “What The 2016 Candidates Would Do About ISIS, In One Chart.”
  • Read as Slate wonders: “Why Are People So Scared of Syrian Refugees?”
  • Read the CATO Institute‘s report: “Syrian Refugees Don’t Pose a Serious Security Threat.”
  • Read as The Washington Post considers something apparently no one has ever thought of before: “Want to stop Islamic terrorism? Be nicer to Muslims.”

Read as The Gospel Coalition considers “One Trait that Set Apart the Earliest Christians.”

R.I.P. The Microsoft Zune.

R.I.P. “Cynthia Robinson, Trumpeter and Co-Founder of Sly and the Family Stone.’

See “The nine circles of hell from Dante’s Inferno recreated in Lego.”

  • See “12 Works of Literature Recreated in LEGO.”

Meet “A bookstore built on a concept: 100 of the world’s most engaging people each choose their top 10 “desert island” books.”

Browse Time‘s list of “10 Things Millennials Won’t Spend Money On.”

Browse “17 Books Everyone Should Read, According to Bill Gates” at Time magazine.

Read as Justin Taylor considers “What To Do If You Are Offended or Confused by Flannery O’Connor‘s Stories,” because it’s going to happen at some point.

Browse “The FOODBEAST Guide to In-N-Out Burger’s Menu Hacks.”

See “The best way to explain to your kid why there’s a limit on “screen time.”

Read Stereogum‘s piece about the Pogues‘ Shane MacGowan’s Dental Work that’s Coming This Christmas.

Read as The Washington Post considers: “Is Stephen Colbert too liberal for his own (ratings’) good?”

Read Consequence of Sound‘s opinion piece “Why holograms are the future of live entertainment.”

Read as Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke says the British government tried to bribe him.

See “The pen that can mimic every colour in the world.”

Read as Smithsonian considers “Why a Yam Is Not a Sweet Potato.”

Read as The Atlantic wonders “Why Affluent Parents Put So Much Pressure on Their Kids.”

Read Boing Boing‘s report: “LAX to build terminal exclusively for celebrities and generic, boring rich people.”

See “55 Vintage Book Covers Brought to Life.”

Read NME‘s report that Ringo Starr will auction the “first-ever copy of The Beatles‘ ‘White Album‘ ”

Preview Eagles Of Death Metal’s First Interview About Paris Terrorist Attack.”

Read Salon‘s piece: ““It’s unacceptable to give religious privilege only to those who believe in the supernatural”: The Satanic Temple challenges the religious right.”

See illustrations that “perfectly capture what real love looks like.”

Consider with Noisey “How Freaks and Geeks Predicted Our Adult Personalities.”

Browse “The John Waters Guide to Holiday Party Etiquette.”

Read Christianity Today‘s report: “How 1,000 Women Who Aborted Feel About the Local Church.”

Read The Guardian‘s profile of Public Enemy’s Chuck D.

Browse Noisey‘s picks for the “Ten Strangest Bands From TV.”

Consider “A Brief History of the Government Suppressing Music” at Noisey.

Revisit David Lynch’s Twin Peaks-themed Japanese coffee ads from the 90s.”

Read NME‘s report that Morrissey has proof his record label blocked the release of a single in honor of the Paris attacks.

Read AZ Central‘s report that hosting the Super Bowl was a flop for Glendale, AZ.

Browse this list of 16 People Sharing “The Best Thing They’ve Ever Heard A Child Say”

See “3D Printing Classical Paintings for the Blind.”

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that “John Frusciante just gave away a boatload of music for free download.”

See “New Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” at Lost at E Minor.

Hear the previously unreleased demo for R.E.M.’s classic track “Fall On Me”.

Read about the Georgia sheriff who paid out of his own pocket to place a sign urging people offended by right-wing-whack-jobism to not visit his town. OK.

Read about the artist who has created a “synthesizer using his own stem cells.”

Read Time‘s report: “Watches Are Bad Investments—With One Notable Exception.”

See Colossal‘s post: “Art Meets Cartography: The 15,000-Year History of a River in Oregon Rendered in Data.”

Read as Noisey considers “How A Kid Running An Obscure Music Forum Became The Target of the UK’s Biggest Ever Piracy Case.”

the Weekly Town Crier

Town CrierWell howdy do Scooby Doo? What’s up Buttercup? Hope to sure by golly that you’re having a heckuva day. If not, why not? What’s got you so blue, Sue? Turn that frown upside down. Because, you know, things aren’t usually as bad as they seem. Except for then they are. Then that sucks. I’m sorry for you. Is there anything I can do to help?

In the meantime, here are a bunch of links I’ve found interesting. Maybe that will help? Maybe not. Either way.

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

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

See the first pictures from the set of the new Clash biopic.

Ever wonder how much the Pentagon paid your favorite sports team for its patriotism?

See the personal tattoo machine.

R.I.P. Gunnar Hansen, the Original Leatherface from ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’.

R.I.PAllen Toussaint.

R.I.PMotörhead drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor.

See “Fordite: a rare mineral only found in old Detroit auto-painting facilities.”

Browse Phoenix New Times‘s picks for the 20 best kids’ movies of all time.

Browse “A History Of Insane Art Prices.”

Watch David Lynch perform ‘Polish Night Music” with Marek Zebrowski.

Read Laughing Squid‘s report that Youtube has released an app dedicated solely to music.

Read/listen as NPR considers the process of editing tracks for airplay.

Read as The Atlantic urges: “Study Theology, Even If You Don’t Believe in God.”

Read about the woman who “shredded $1 million before death to spite relatives”.

Read as Trevin Wax asks Christians: “Does Your Facebook Rant “Honor Everyone?”

See an art instillation made from thousands of dead bugs.

Read The AV Club‘s report: “Sony to stop making Betamax tapes decades after everyone thought it did.”

Read as “Talib Kweli reviews Pitchfork‘s review of Talib Kweli.”

Follow “The Strange Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe‘s Hair” at Atlas Obscura.

Watch “Veterans Talking About How They Felt About Killing Someone.”

Browse as 20 musicians pick their favorite music memoirs.

Read/listen as Gordon Lightfoot tells Steve Earle  how/why he “wrote The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Browse this visual collection of 15 beautiful turntables.

Read as U2‘s Larry Mullen says ‘the music industry is broken’.

Learn how to make a “terrarium in a coffee pot.”

See “Typewriter portraiture.”

See Bill Nye get gritty Photoshop makeovers.

Listen to “Steve Albini and Ian MacKaye Interview Each Other.”

Browse Time‘s list of “The 5 Things Your Kids Will Remember About You.”

See “Willy Wonka cast members reunited after 43 years.”

Peep The Creator’s Project‘s piece: “Fibonacci Sequence Makes “Perfect” Celebrity Portraits.”

See restaurant that “only serves food from countries the US is in conflict with.”

Read about the recent study claiming to find that “religious” children are more selfish.

Read The Denver Post‘s report that Adidas is offering to help high schools eliminate Native American mascots.

Read The Atlantic‘s piece wondering if “Dorms for Grownups” could be a solution for lonely “Millennials”.

Read Christianity Today‘s piece on the Southern Baptist Convention: “The Southern Baptist S(p)ending Crunch.” The missions agency of the largest US Protestant denomination faces a $21 million deficit. Could it spell the end of the fulltime missionary?”

Watch a man interview himself . . . 38 years later.

Read as The Atlantic considers Albert Mohler and “Hating Queerness Without Hating the Queer.”

Read as Pitchfork remembers Sparklehorse frontman Mark Linkous.

Browse Lost at E Minor‘s collection of “Movies and their colour palettes.”

Read as Paste interviews Son Volt‘s Jay Farrar.

Read Arizona Central‘s report: “Mormon church issues rules aimed at gay members, their kids.”

Read The Atlantic‘s report: “Karl Marx’s Resting Place Has an Entry Fee.”

See the Japanese restaurant where you catch your own fish.

Ever wonder “What people talk about before they die”? A hospice chaplain shares.

Read Reuters report that Apple employees must submit to bag searches.

See a machine that visualizes the wi-fi waves surrounding us.

Watch NOFX get lectured on selling out.

Read Salon‘s piece: “Our stuff is burying us alive: Hoarding and the mountains of garbage we call “collections”

Read Newsweek‘s report that Sea World is phasing out its killer whale performances.

Read “The Unfair Truth About How Creative People Succeed” at Entrepreneur.

Read as Aziz Ansari talks to Pitchfork about the music on his new show, Master of None.

Read BBC Earth‘s report that dogs can tell if you’re untrustworthy.

Read The Gospel Coalition‘s piece on “Why Denominational Identity Still Matters.”

No friends? No problem. Japan’s Moomin Cafe has stuffed toys to keep you company.

Read about the UK couple being fined after installing an anti-child noise repellant outside of their home.

Read bout the who spent time alone in caves as part of an experiment on the effects of isolation.

Hear the “Aztec Death Whistle” used to intimidate enemies.

Read Vanity Fair‘s piece: “On the Existential Beauty of Peanuts.”

Read Time‘s report: “Kurt Cobain’s Unplugged Sweater Sells For $137,500.”

Get the clip on manbun at Groupon.

Read The New Yorker‘s piece on “The Curious Persistence of Poetry Shops.”

Read FACT‘s report that vinyl sales have had another record-breaking year.

Read as The Washington Post considers “The problem with following your passion.”

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that (the artist again known as) Prince once fires Questlove from DJing to show Finding Nemo instead.

Experiment with the “Bob Ross lorem ipsum generator.”

Read Time‘s report that “Early Morning is Actually the Worst Time to Drink Coffee.”

Read as “Relevant” wonders “How Much Should I Care About Ethical Food?”

Read Pitchfork‘s report: “Michael Stipe Opens for Patti Smith With Covers Set.”

Read AV Club‘s Character Study piece: “With Lady Eboshi, Princess Mononoke presents something more subtle than a villain.”

Read reports that Joe’s Crab Shack has become the first US chain to do away with tipping.

See an octopus typewriter.

Read as “Spotify names its most streamed track of all time.”

Read about the voice of Charlie Brown who is being charged with an assassination plot on the sheriff of San Diego.

Browse Paste‘s list of “15 Really Polarizing Foods.”

See the very cool photo series The Mystical Origins of Fruit and Vegetables by Maciek Jasik.

See “The loneliest whale in the world.”

the Weekly Town Crier

Town CrierWell I don’t know why you have to get all snippy about it, there Snoopy. I mean, come on. It’s not like it’s really a big deal. Chillax already, yo.

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

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Watch a short documentary about an evangelical Christian who has left the Republican party over gun rights.

Read as The Gothamist talks to Anthony Bourdain about “Sushi, Tipping & His New Graphic Novel.” Also read as Bourdain says: “‘Every Restaurant in America Would Shut Down’ if Donald Trump Elected‘.

Hear a clip of James Franco narrating Slaughterhouse-Five.

Browse “Vintage mug shots of iconic actors and musicians.”

Read Hypebeast‘s report that “Vice Media Is Working With Disney to Have Its Own TV Channel.”

Read as The Guardian wonders whether or not the Star Trek television reboot can “live long and prosper in the Netflix era?”

See the “Henry Rollins Driving App” that “Tells You How Hard It Would Have Been to Get There in the 80’s”.

Read as The New Yorker considers “Humans of New York and the Cavalier Consumption of Others.”

Read Time‘s report that Seattle’s famous “gum wall” will soon be scraped clean.

Read FACT’s report that David Lynch’s Twin Peaks reboot has been delayed until 2017.

Read Time‘s report that “Ireland Plans to Set Up Heroin-Injection Centers.”

Read The Telegraph‘s piece: “Bearded men ‘more likely to be sexist’.”

Ever wonder “Why You Can’t Draw a Perfect Circle?”

Read as “Relevant” considers “The Problem with Saying ‘All Lives Matter’”.

Read reports that The Greatest American Hero is returning to television.

See the $43 million gas station the U.S. military built in Afghanistan.

Read as Phoenix New Times profiles Huss Brewing Company.

See the world’s most expensive cocktails.

Read Stereogum‘s report that “Kurt Cobain’s Unplugged Cardigan Up For Auction.”

Read as “Relevant” wonders: “Is Technology Killing Relationships?”

Read as “Students in public school say Christianity is being forced on them.”

Read about “The scientist who transplanted monkey heads.”

See a new-fangled contraption that lets you bicycle and ski at the same time.

Apparently Subway‘s footlong subs are now a foot long.

Browse “8 Pearls of Wisdom from Hayao Miyazaki” at the Creators Project.

Read as Christianity Today considers “Why Guatemala Elected an Evangelical Entertainer as Its New President.”

R.I.P. ‘Happy Days’ Star Al Molinaro.

R.I.P. Fred Thompson, former U.S. senator and actor.

R.I.P. noted intellectual René Girard.

Read as Salon considers “The frightening effects of indoor pollution on our brain function.”

See a  “Living, Hearing Copy of van Gogh’s Ear.”

Praise the  “Return of the Flying Toasters”!

Read Salon‘s piece: “Too poor for pop culture.”

Read FACT‘s report: “Napster returns in Canada as music streaming service.”

Listen to Animal Collective’s 24-minute improvised jam “Michael, Remember

Read as Rachel Dolezal admits: “I Was Born White.”

See a squirrel feeder that turns unsuspecting hungry little critters into Cybermen.

Read as José González tells Salon: The most interesting music isn’t on the radio.”

Read as The Atlantic considers “The Decay of Twitter”.

Read/listen as PRI considers “Why we may be headed to a completely cashless society.”

Read about Willie Nelson‘s crusade against corporate influence on the ever-growing likelihood of legalized marijuana.

Hear “Musical Illusions” at RadioLab.

Read as the Guardian reminds us that “There’s more to life – and people – than academic skills.”

Read Boing Boing’s report of the new Marwencol book.

Read Interview‘s profile of Laurie Anderson.

Read about the night David Letterman devoted to just one guest; Warren Zevon.

See Sennheiser’s new $55,000 headphones.

See “random splash of seawater, magnified 25 times.”

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

Read as Pitchfork considers the link between punk and country: “Why So Many Punks Grow Up to Be Cowboys (and Cowgirls)”

Read “Bernard Sumner on Ian Curtis and His Joy Division Bandmates.”

Read as The Village Voice‘s attempt to interview Jonathan Richman is met with a hand-written letter.

Watch Danny Elfman Play Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” For The First Time In 20 Years.”

Hear Mariachi covers of Morrissey.

Read as Christianity Today tries to come “to Terms with a Post-Christian World.”

Read NPR’s report that Amazon has opened a bookstore in Seattle.

Read as Slate talks to Sarah Vowell about her new book Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.

Read Paste‘s report: “Kenny G Wants to Break His World Record of Holding a Single Note on the Saxophone.”

Read about Jon Stewart’s new deal with HBO.

Read as The Atlantic wonders “Is It Harmful to Use Music as a Coping Mechanism?”

Read Time‘s report that “Guinness is Going Vegan.”

See the “Library where you can check out dead animals.”

Read The Washington Post‘s report: “Google confirms it will launch a drone delivery service in 2017.”

Read about the backlash against Manhattan’s decaf coffee shop.

Read Paste‘s report: “Activision Buys the Makers of Candy Crush Saga for $5.9 Billion.”

See Istanbul’s Breaking Badthemed cafe.

Read The Atlantic‘s piece: “The Closest Look Yet at Gentrification and Displacement.”

Browse “The Popularity of Music Genres, 2005-present.”

Read NME‘s report that Steven Moffat has said that Doctor Who will last at least five more years.

See “Every Watch James Bond Has Ever Worn.”

Read Time‘s profile of the documentary What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy.

See “how Richard Scarry books have been updated for more P.C. times” at the AV Club.

Read as “J.K. Rowling Reveals the American Word for Muggle.”

Read Alternative Press‘s piece: “These songs are the most effective at getting you out of bed in the morning, according to science” to help you get your daily groove on.

Hear T.S. Eliot reading from his last major work

Read NME‘s report that James Franco has signed a record deal for an album and film derived from poems he’s written about Smiths songs. The album will feature Smith’s bassist Andy Rourke.

See the 67-year-old woman who fronts a grindcore band.

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.

Why Aren’t We More Troubled By Christianity?

downloadFor the past nine months, I have been wandering in my own sort of desert. Yes, I live in Phoenix, but that’s not what I mean. I have given the bulk of my professional career to what many call “vocational ministry.” I have served in some sort of paid capacity in three different churches in three different states and my two-fold theme has remained the same:

  1. No matter where you find yourself in your faith journey, may you be drawn closer to Jesus.
  2. Equip God’s people to do God’s work.

You might summarize this as helping people “love God and love people” and, though this can take on many different looks, it is more than enough to keep any local church busy until Kingdom Come. Literally.

Nine months ago, I resigned from ministry for personal reasons. The ensuing time has given me a different perspective on the Church in America and what we do and what we don’t do. Did you ever watch the show Monk, about an OCD private investigator played by Tony Shalhoub? There would often be a scene in which the police would be fumbling about the crime scene and Monk would enter the building and almost immediately see things the police didn’t. I know, I know, it’s a tired plot device used by Psych and countless others, but indulge me for a moment.

These private investigators enter the crime scene with a different perspective than the police. They are asking questions the police might not be asking. The past nine months out of vocational ministry have prompted me  to ask questions, not just about how I am doing in ministry or how our local church is doing but how are WE  are doing. By this, I mean the royal “we”, “the” Evangelical Church in America. And I’m left with more questions and concerns than ever.

One of the questions that has haunted me recently is why “we” are not more troubled by Christianity. David Dark has superbly summarized this question in The Sacredness of Questioning Everything:

Will we let the double-edged indictments of the scriptures cut us to the quick, creating problems in the lives we are living? Or will we enlist the words to serve only in our projects of self-congratulation, skipping the bits that question our beliefs and practices? Will we read the Bible only to reaffirm our beliefs and practices?

I worry that much of what passes for Christianity in America simply uses the Bible for affirmation and self-congratulation. Instead of submitting ourselves to the Spirit’s questioning of our lives, we use the Bible to simply affirm what we’re already doing.

How else can we explain the complacency of so many professing Christians? How else can we explain the prevalence of poverty in our midst; our acceptance of and participation in injustice? “Worship” gatherings that resemble rock concerts more than worship? Local churches who spend more money on buildings than widows and orphans? So many professing Christians chasing the American Dream of upward mobility and Suburban stability? How else could we be so sure that God supports our political agenda except that we’ve stopped listening?

The list goes on and is equally directed at me. I include myself in tis indictment. But it is an indictment nonetheless. There is certainly assurance to be found in following Jesus. But what if we’re sure about the wrong things? The message of Jesus should cause us to question ourselves more than we do. It should cause us to squirm and perhaps sweat a bit. Though there are many angles through which to view this issue, I want to focus today on the broad notion of social justice.

After all, Jesus is pretty clear about what He expects of His people: love people, even (especially?) your enemies. Share your stuff. Practice forgiveness and practice reconciliation. Look out for those who can’t look out for themselves, especially children. If you say you love Jesus, do these things. It’s that simple. And yet, for some reason, we believe it is not. We say it’s more complicated than that with the result that we do very little except assure others that God is on our side.

How well are “we” doing at the things Jesus says mark His people? Are we pursuing peace through meekness? Are we sacrificially caring for others, even those we don’t like? Are we pursuing reconciliation or taking partisan sides?

Francis of Assisi is credited with trolling Reformed Christians with the saying (even though it is likely he never said any such thing):

Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.

My Reformed friends immediately point out that the Gospel is “good news” and that it must be articulated in words or it is not the Gospel. Yeah, yeah, I get it. But Francis is certainly in line with Jesus Himself who told us to live lives of light so that those around us might glorify God (Matthew 5:16) and I worry that, while we argue about the articulation of the Good News of Jesus, we fail at its demonstration. We argue with one another’s proclamation while few of us actually do anything with it. Why else is the call to live “radical” lives for Jesus so prominent except that we are simply swallowed by the mundane and even vain expressions of faith in commercialism masked with spirituality?

When we sit under God’s Word rather than over it, we should be deeply unsettled. We should be willing to question our lives. Do they match Jesus’ descriptions of His people? More and more, I’m worried that my life does not. More and more, I’m worried that we have lost our witness in America simply because we don’t do the things that are expected of us (no, our actions do not merit our salvation but they are certainly not negotiable).

And I am not alone. Lest you think I’m just alarmistly promoting a “social gospel,” Stephen Colbert calls us to the carpet quite directly:

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

How in the world can we write off such sentiments so quickly? Do we have the ears to hear what Jesus expects? How in the world can we pursue lives of comfort when Jesus calls us to sacrifice?

I am convicted that it’s been far too long since I’ve been deeply unsettled by the call of Jesus to give up everything (maybe even literally) and follow Him. Truth be told, our lives are our primary apologetic. We can use words, but if we don’t live it, we must question whether or not we actually believe what we’re saying. Can we say we love Jesus and not love others?

Lord, wake us from our slumber. Remind us once again that forgiveness breeds forgiveness. Convict us once more that they will know we are yours, not by our political affiliation or the family-friendly movies we watch and “uplifting” radio we listen to but by our love.

Unsettle us. And move us to action.

There is work to be done.

 

 

 

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”.

Art Is A (Necessary) Luxury

IMG_6362I’ve got a sketchbook that’s found itself a special place in my heart. It’s not a particularly special sketchbook except for the fact that I’ve place a stretch of weird tin-fin-foil-duct-tape that my son Danny received for his birthday across the front of it.

I know this is an odd observation. But  it’s been with me for at least several months now which has got to count for something. It’s been responsible for pieces like this and this and this and this and this . . . (you get the idea, weird doodles one guy makes so he doesn’t have a nervous breakdown.)

It’s been a great sketchbook and I’ve really appreciated it. But there are only a few pages left so I know by experience that I’ll be lucky to get one more piece (by my own subjectivity) out of this particular sketchbook.

I know that in a few days, I won’t have this sketchbook anymore, so I’m in the midst of a weird grieving process that will likely only make sense to those who weirdly attach themselves to inanimate objects.. I go through the same thing every time I finish I finish a writing journal (I prefer Moleskine Classic if you’d like to buy me one) as well (though I don’t “journal” in the traditional sense).

This has set me to thinking (as many things do).

I am under no illusions of grandeur (at least in this area of life). I am not a particularly meaningful artist in the grand scheme of the universe. But art is very meaningful to me. I understand that I have been given just enough artistic ability that I am continually frustrated by normal suburban life but not enough that I will make a living selling my art. And I am OK with that. But I’ve been thinking a lot about a couple of ideas lately:

Art is a luxury (Art always costs):

For purposes of today’s conversation, we’re going to simply define art as:

the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination

I’m thinking of a broad spectrum of things. Things like dance, painting, music, poetry, drawing, Andy Kaufman, writing, knitting, sculpting, theater, and the like. I’m thinking of such a broad spectrum, 01) because they all fit the definition: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, and, 02) because they all cost. You cannot participate in these activities without giving something in exchange. Like a sort of modern alchemy’s equivalent exchange.

I was made keenly aware of this fact the other day as someone who is currently between opportunities. As you may know, I dabble a bit in the doodlings (sample my dabbles here or here). I prefer Staedtler pigment liner markers and my 0.8mm marker went dry on me in the middle of a doodle dabbling. Ever the Proverbs 31 woman, my wife had a Michael‘s coupon. But that didn’t change the fact that I’m currently unemployed and (even more than normal) every cent counts. I had to stop and think about how we were going to pay for the marker.

Art always costs. I have a friend who sits inside a closet after his family goes to bed so he doesn’t wake them while he practices guitar or writes songs. Art is a luxury because it always requires something from the practitioner. Whether it be the cost of an item, the time taken from some other task, art costs, which means that many view it as prohibitive.

Art is necessary:

Art may be a luxury, but unlike caviar, art is necessary. I can only speak from the microcosm of my own existence but I know that, for me, practicing creativity has helped me through some of my most difficult times. There is a therapeutic (and/or cathartic) value to externally expressing one’s self in a creative venture. It forces you to either take your mind off of something that’s bothering you (hopefully then being able to return to that vexing issue later with more clarity and calmness) or to work through the issue in some sort of external manner, forcing you to consider the issue issue in different ways.

But art is not only necessary because of its internal personal benefits. Art gives us the unique opportunity to see the world the way others see it. It broadens our thinking in often challenging ways. Art can soothe or stir. Art can critique or celebrate. Art can gives us windows into complex issues and help us understand one another in deeper ways.

The Faith-Art Connection

My faith teaches me that I should be content with food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8) and that I should give sacrificially, expecting nothing in return (Luke 6:35), considering others more significant than myself (Philippians 2). In other words, sacrifice is at the center of my religion.

My faith also teaches me that I have nothing to prove. Because of Jesus, I have all of the love and acceptance I could ever hope for (and more). When God the Father looks at me, He says “this is my child in whom I am well pleased”. I am able to work from my identity rather than for my identity. My being produces my doing.

This may seem initially unrelated to topics of art, but for me, it is integrally related. I have known many artistic people over the years and many of them view their art as a way to give their lives meaning. They find their identity in their art (in their doing) and therefore, by necessity, they are also tied to the continual pursuit of approval. I don’t know about you, but when I am seeking the approval of others, I take fewer chances. I’m more likely to find a winning formula and stick to it.

It is not necessary or helpful to believe that every single piece of art we produce will be a sea change. But art is always tied to creativity and creativity naturally pursues growth. Most artists mature over the course of their careers. But this always means that there were evolutions in their style and approach. And this means that they had to be willing to change. And this means that they had to be willing to take a risk. And this means that they had to be willing to fail.

The freedom to fail does not come easily.

I have scrapped many, many pieces of art. And that’s OK. It does not mean that I’m a failure. I have also let people see pieces I probably should have kept to myself. This also does not mean that I’m a failure but it does mean that lots of people know that I’m open to failure. The freedom to fail can only come when our identity is not tied to the task at hand. If my self-worth comes from my art, I will not take chances because I can’t risk my identity. The freedom to fail only comes when our doing flows from our being and our being (our identity) is tied to something greater than ourselves. Something not shakeable by our failures or successes.

Art requires vulnerability.

Putting a piece of creativity out into any sort of public sphere (sharing it with anyone) always requires vulnerability because it always involves the possibility of exposing more than you’d wished and that it will bring criticism.

Since art is often the expression of something deep, it requires vulnerability to share it. But sharing our creative expressions also means that we are aware that others may not like it or may not “get it”. Once again, if I find my identity in my doings, in my art, then I will either not take risks with my creativity or I will now share them with anyone.

Those With the Least to Lose Have the Most to Give, or, Those With The Least to Prove Should Take More Risks

It pains my heart to know that some of the worst “art” in recent generations has been produced by Christians. This pains my heart because this has not always been the case. Some of the best art the world has ever known has been produced by Christians. I believe that Christians should be at the forefront of every artistic endeavor. We have the freedom to fail because our worth comes from Jesus! We have the security to be vulnerable because we live to give rather than to receive.

It’s time for Christians to once again value art as more than propaganda. Go, create something today and share it with others.