A special Christmas review of noteworthy books, music and TV.
I entered parish ministry with a fair amount of idealism, particularly liturgical idealism. Inconveniently, the liturgical proclivities I picked up in seminary were not especially popular with my first congregation. This became clear as a sleigh bell during our first Advent season together.
While my life and mind have been shaped by both American evangelicalism and political liberalism, I feel little personal connection to either C. S. Lewis or John F. Kennedy. Like a lot of people, I have mixed feelings about both men; perhaps more importantly, I wasn't around yet when they died. In any case, neither anniversary made me catch my breath this week. Here's what did: Benjamin Britten's 100th birthday.
Now in his seventies, Aaron Neville can still locate the incredibly sweet spot between full voice and falsetto. The R&B legend’s singing remains mellow but quietly forceful—as if he could let loose at any moment but chooses not to.
The best hyphenated genres don’t combine disparate worlds; they embrace commonality.
Most Americana duos don’t sound as much like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings as people say they do. But the Milk Carton Kids’ resemblance is uncanny.
Another day, another talented Americana songwriter immersed in the language of a faith he doesn’t profess.
A week from Sunday, on the Feast of the Reign of Christ, Holy Covenant UMC in Chicago—where I work part time as a musician—is holding its second annual service spotlighting the music of Bob Dylan. (Not calling it a Dylancharist.) If you're in Chicago the evening of 11/24, come out and join us. Below is the piece I wrote for the church newsletter.