Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Music and books and U2, oh my!

A few weeks ago wooed me back with 75 free songs, so I have joyfully added to my collection:
• A bunch of stuff by Andrew Osenga, including Photographs, Souvenirs & Postcards, and The Morning. It's all good. The more I listen to him, the better I like his music. His story songs remind me of John Mellencamp or Springsteen (more Mellencamp than Springsteen, though). A lot of his newest is more acoustic and I really like that. His music is informed by his faith, but it's not all "worship" music (but Swing Wide the Glimmering Gates is an awesome song to worship to, though I can't quite picture us singing it in church ...). Anyway, it's great.
• I don't know what it is about guys named Andrew (or Andy) -- I also got a couple of albums by a Topeka guitarist named Andy McKee. Again, this is great stuff. He has some incredible videos on YouTube. It's good instrumental music to listen to in the evening. (The albums I got were Dreamcatcher and Gates of Gnomeria.)
• Music by another Andrew -- Bird, that is. I got Armchair Apocrypha. Andrew Bird is more of an acquired taste, but this is a good album.
• Thanks to the Rabbit Room guys, I discovered a new group (to me) and got some of their songs -- The Weepies. I got part of Say I am You (I was running out of picks for this month or I would have gotten the whole album). I like it. I think I would like more of their music.
I've also downloaded some other stuff -- individual songs from a few different artists, but the above listed albums are the highlights.

I have become a fan of Nada Surf -- I already had a song or two of theirs and have recently added The Weight is a Gift to my collection. Their kind of poppy modern rock is fun to listen to and you don't have to be 20 to enjoy it.

I will also recommend the soundtrack of Once -- great movie, great music. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova wrote the music and starred in the movie and it's a perfect marriage of artistry, if you ask me.

I think I mentioned books in the title -- I just got Rethinking Worldview by J. Mark Bertrand. I've just started it, and there's a lot to absorb. I like Mark's approach to the subject, though, and I think I'll learn a lot as I read it.

Finally, U2. In my blog reading this morning, Jeffrey Overstreet pointed his readers to this post about U2's Elevation tour and I discovered the incredible, goose-bump inducing video contained therein.
Here it is -- Enjoy:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

CFBA Tour: Winter Haven

I'm back to blogging today with a plug for a book I really enjoyed: Winter Haven, by Athol Dickson. Here are the links, along with a bit about the author and the cover blurb. After that I'll give my take on the book.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Winter Haven

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)


Athol Dickson


Athol Dickson's university-level training in painting, sculpture, and architecture was followed by a long career as an architect then his decision several years ago to devote full time to writing.

Athol Dickson’s writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler (Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, and FlanneryO’Connor (The New York Times).

His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and a finalist for Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006.

He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California. Visit for more information.


Boys who never age, giants lost in time, mist that never rises, questions never asked...on the most remote of islands off the coast of Maine, history haunts the present and Vera Gamble wrestles with a past that will not yield. Will she find refuge there, or will her ghosts prevail on...Winter Haven

Eleven years ago, Vera Gamble's brother left their house never to be seen again. Until the day Vera gets a phone call that his body has been found...washed ashore in the tiny island town of Winter Haven, Maine. His only surviving kin, Vera travels north to claim the body...and finds herself tumbling into a tangled mystery. Her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him.

Determined to uncover what happened in those lost years, Vera soon discovers there are other secrets lurking in this isolated town. But Winter Haven's murky past now seems bound to come to light as one woman seeks the undeniable and flooding light of truth.

What I thought: I've been a fan of Athol Dickson's writing since I read River Rising a couple of years ago. The man has a gift for setting the scene and approaching a story from unexpected directions. While I'm not sure that Winter Haven is quite the same quality as River Rising, it's still a very good book. Dickson turns his attention to a remote island off the coast of Maine and the secrets it holds. It's a place where nothing is what it seems to be and the reader, along with Vera Gamble, must discern what is true and what is false. A lot of the suspense hangs on perspective and it works well. I thought the resolution came a little too easily, but it was still satisfying.

I found that Winter Haven stayed with me after I read it, and I suspect it will stay with you, too. Along with a good suspense story (with a healthy helping of romance), Dickson explores themes of truth, trust, and dealing with the past. It's a page-turner (I read it in one sitting) with some meat to it. That's a rare accomplishment for a writer and part of what makes Athol Dickson one of the best writers of fiction (of any genre) around.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday links

Scot McKnight (and his readers) celebrate three years of the Jesus Creed blog.

There is a glimmer of hope for the Kansas City Royals.

Go 'Hawks!

A very good book: Winter Haven by Athol Dickson (more about it later this month).

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I want to call your attention to some good posts that deal with Christian response to art. It's an issue I've thought about a lot, maybe because I often see God's fingerprints in the oddest places (Buffy, anyone?). Most recently, I loved the movie Once, but I find myself recommending it to fellow believers with cautionary words about the language. Others have written better words about this, so check these entries out:
Once, at Decompose
He said a wordy dird, at The Rabbit Room
Sin in movies -- see the heart of art, also at The Rabbit Room
Both of The Rabbit Room posts call attention to "heart" issues and the need for individual discernment. I appreciate the emphasis on recognizing the beauty in the world, wherever we find it.

I really think that our response to the world's art should be more than a list of words and actions to avoid. Too often, though, that's what Christian movie and music reviews revolve around. At the same time, we need to be aware that people are responding to art from different places in their own faith journeys. So I suppose we do need to mention things that might be stumbling blocks for some. I just hope that isn't the only criteria we use for evaluating art.

One more link, in a different but somewhat related vein: A Market for Science Fiction/Fantasy, at Forensics & Faith. Brandilyn Collins posts the comments of another author about the obstacles to publishing this genre by Christian publishing houses. It kind of comes back to the same issue -- science fiction and fantasy crosses some lines for some Christians and publishers seem to find that an obstacle. The market is changing, and there are some good comments on the post about that.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A little googley April 1 fun

There's a certain geeky charm to Google's April 1 offerings (and evidence of people with way too much time on their hands):
Custom time
Google wake up kit (if only it were so for certain hard to rouse children)
Virgle -- Virgin and Google combine for a Mars mission. Criteria include "inadequate Google and Virgin personal performance reviews."