Posts Tagged ‘sufjan stevens’

The Shack by William Young: book review

April 29, 2010

What Is It?

Giving the feel of spiritual fantasy in real life; Mac, with the help of a buddy, sets out to document the time his youngest daughter fell pray to a serial killer and he was then invited back to the crime scene to spend a long weekend hanging out with the physical manifestation of the Holy Trinity…. “High Concept” is alive and well!

How Was It?
This inspirational Journey seems to even off the book shelf owned byMITCH ALBOM’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven. First time author William P. Young, isn’t going to wow you with his writing style but it’s not going to detract from the story either. (Take note Mrs. Stephanie Meyer)
The story is well detailed and the “just some guy trying to Jot down the details of an amazing experience” motif makes any lack of skill just a plot devise .

The beginning feels like you are being manipulated into liking or relating with this guy so that you will care about his interactions later. The fun thing is, it works.

When he does meet God, it smacks of “the magic minority” (where in a white centered story, the character in the ethnic minority emerges as the inspirational Yoda to cause the protagonist to have their self revelation.) God the son is literally Jesus, a nondescript Jewish man. the Holy Spirit is a mystical Japanese woman and because Mac has a problem relating to father figures, God the Father appears as a black woman named Papa. (Think “the Oracle” from the Matrix, though later in the book they seem to switch over and borrow from “Firefly“). This all “works” in the story but it’s because you are into the story and can gloss over he fact that God has been handed to you in the form of trite racial cliché. Dispute all this, most my criticism is in retrospect because this fun, interesting story informed by many devotional books and Christian rock and folk music, helps you put all that aside so you can just enjoy “hanging out” with the story.

Is It Good For Kids?
It’s reading level and straight forward attitude would make this a very assessable book for kids. (No problem if they are reading Twilight and Harry Potter.) I see two concerns for parents with the content.
First, the story has some harsh situations. Most notably is the abduction and murder of a little girl. Followed closely by the story of Mac’s childhood abuse at the hands of his Alcoholic and Christian father, whom Mac poisoned before he ran away from home as a child. It is all handled well without anything graphic and does not hold a candle to the violent and horrible acts presented in the Bible. Still it will be to much for some kids.
Then there is the fantasy vision of God but it is not couched in a fantasy world through the wardrobe. A fictional presentation of the real God could be confusing for some young people. (Of course it could also be confusing for some adults as well.)

What about spiritual issues?
The ultimate message of this book is that God is three in one, presented to the world in Jesus. God loves you, has forgiven your sins. Now that He has open the way, He wants to have a relationship with you.
I believe (from the Bible and my experience) that God is real and will have a real relationship with anyone who seeks or knocks. Therefore anything that points people to get to know God is a good thing because He will welcome them and He will reveal Himself to them in his love and his truth.

Beyond that, if taken as a fictional presentation of a real God, it is accurate to the Bible. I believe that there are some issues that are not dealt with in the book, or skirted around in a way that may make Christians uncomfortable, but it still does not constitute untruth.
Here are the four things that stood out to me:

  1. Jesus talks about how he is concerned with individuals not institutions. While all the assertions about putting your faith in Jesus not the government are true, it glazes over the fact that God chose rulers and directs affairs of state. It also seems to be down on Church in the same vain. It is down on the dead institution but wants vital fellowship between those in fellowship with God – thus asking for the church the way it was meant to be.
  2. There is a discussion of Hell and sending people there. The final word on this is that Hell is real and Jesus takes our place so we don’t have to go. The book also points out that not everyone chooses the relationship Jesus offer and thus fell the full effect of their sin. Beyond that it never tells us what becomes of those who die out side of a relationship with Jesus.Though it’s never even hinted at, I believe the description of Hell that would go best with this book is that God is not so cruel as to take some one, who has spent a lifetime avoiding a relationship with Him, now force them to spend eternity in relationship with the one they avoided in their life.
  3. Finally, (and this is very picky) there is a forth supernatural character who I think theological could have just been the holy spirit (and the story didn’t need another weirdo character to ponder over)

So, in conclusion, Spiritually, it’s packaging may give people concern, but the content is very conservative biblical information.

What Is your Recommendation?

If you like Christian booksSUCH AS The Purpose Driven Life, or spiritual books like “ The Five People You Meet In Heaven” or “Velvet Elvis” I’m sure you will enjoy this book. Beyond that it’s worth the  read to join into the conversation. As a best seller with a movie on the way, it’s a great book to have in your vocabulary when you talk to others about what it is like to have a relationship with Jesus.

The Shack

William P. Young

 

Though the book defiantly suggests Larry Norman and Bruce Cockburn, by the end, it made me want to listen to Rich Mullins and Sufjan Stevens… I think I will.

Only Visiting This Planet

Larry Norman

In The Falling Dark

Bruce Cockburn

A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band

Rich Mullins

Greetings from Michigan

Sufjan Stevens

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Happy Easter

April 4, 2010

Zoom Daddy

The Swirling Eddies

Greetings from Michigan

Sufjan Stevens

The Miracle Maker

You might also want to check out

What Should My Family and I Watch During Holy Week?

and

Pictures of Jesus in Film and Literature

Have a great Easter

Kids Music for July and Beyond

June 30, 2009

Well, The last Car CD has been spinning on repeat in the Cruiser since March. Thus it was time for a new mix. Realising that my daughter knew nothing of our country’s heritage, this CD is very patriotic (as our latest trips to the Library have been as well.) So here is the “July Car CD” (that may last until October!)

My daughter like many types of music, but the Danielson Familie, Joy Electric, Soul Junk and Sandra Boyntn are her favorites. The Cutest Lil’ Dragon and “I Want This Beat” were Specific requests from the lady herself.


  1. Battle of New Orleans  

    Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits

  2. Star Spangled Banner – Barber Shop Quartet Free Patriotic Songs

  3. American Skies – 

    America

    Havalina Rail Co.

  4. (They have a “thing” for giving music away – Check it out)


  5. Head Shoulders knees toes (as U2)

    Mother Goose Rocks! Volume 5

  6. Ephesians 6:1

  7. Cutest Lil’ Dragon 

    Tri-Danielson, Vol. 2

    Danielson Famile

  8. pi = 3.14159265

  9. Galatians 5:22


  10. Fireworks 

    Schoolhouse Rock!

  11. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag – John Wane – Free Patriotic Songs


  12. No More Kings 

    Schoolhouse Rock!


  13. Johnny Freedom 

    Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits


  14. Here in America (The Music video was directed by Steve Taylor!)

    A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band

    Rich Mullins

  15. I’ve Got peace Like A River 

    You Are My Little Bird

    Elizabeth Mitchell

  16. This little Light of Mine as Sting 

    Mother Goose Rocks, Vol. 4

  17. Children, Obey Your Parents 

    The Word & Song Children’s Bible cd SET 


  18. The Modern Church Historical 


    The History of God and Man

    Paul Aldrich


  19. Tricycle 

    Fascinating Creatures

    Frances England

  20. Mr Buechner’s Dream

    Mr. Buechner’s Dream

    Daniel Amos

  21. Tom Bombadil 

    Lord of the Rings At Dawn in Rivendell

  22. Virse of the Ring

    Lord of the Rings At Dawn in Rivendell

  23. In the Hall of the Mountain King

  24. books of the Old Testament Song
  25. books of the  New Testament Song
  26. Psalm 1 

    1959

    Soul-Junk

  27. Psalm 11 

    1959

    Soul-Junk

  28. Psalm 27 

    The Audio Bible Drama. Audio Drama

    Faith comes by hearing


  29. Courage (Someday I’ll Be Heard), Psalms 27:14 

    Five Stars for Failure

    Joy Electric

  30. I want this Beat

    Motion Factory

    Zero

  31. Ill-M-I 

    1956

    Soul-Junk
    (tobyMac got it from THEM – but my Daughter just does not like his versions – This may be her favorite song)

  32. Psalm 7

    1959

    Soul-Junk

  33. The Gettysburg AddressJohnny Cash Free Patriotic Songs

  34. This Land Is Your Land – Woody GuthryFree Patriotic Songs


  35. Star Spangled Banner (live) – Sufjan Stevens

  36. old testement bible dance WTB – Amnesia CD – Old Testament

    Walk Thru the Old Testament

  37. Sweet to My Soul (White Hot Apostle Mix)

    1956

    Soul-Junk

 

Christmas Music 24/7!

November 28, 2008

OK, This is usually (always) reviews of Movies, I have a degree in film, not music. But I love music in general and especially Christmas Music. My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is that it marks the beginning of a month straight of Christmas Music. (What other time of year can you stop by the Mall and hear a Hymn playing over the speakers.) So, with the title of my blog being vague enough to be inclusive, I ask the question….


What Should I Listen To This Christmas
Season?

On the first day of Christmas my true love played for me a Sufjan Stevens box set of Cd’s

Sufjan Stevens is amazing. There are shades of 70’s rock, well done emo, a lot of folk, banjo, accordion, and honky tonk piano thrown in for good measure. This box set has 5 CDs that he recorded over 6 years as presents for friends. It includes renditions of traditional carols, hymns that once you hear them seem to fit the season, and original songs. “Come on lets boogie to the elf dance” is one of the most fun things you can listen to. While talking about traditional American Christmas, including lines like “K mart is closed and so is the bakery, everyone’s home watching tv, it smoothly transitions into a second half that takes it’s lyrics from Away in A Manger.” This box set covers everything I think of Christmas* (including a healthy view of Santa)
.

Free MP3s:

That Was the Worst Christmas Ever

Sister Winter

http://xmas.asthmatickitty.com/

On the Second day of Christmas my true love played for me Joy Electric

>

Joy Electric is a rock band that only uses a mono synth keyboard layered on multiple tracks, with no loops or computers. The result is fun and well constructed music. On the “Magic of Christmas” album it all fits together nicely. The beats and the bloops and tweets go great with songs like “Hear we go a wassailing” and “Frosty the Snow Man.” This is almost a kids album for adults. Ronnie Martin’s voice can be a bit weird, but I think on this album it’s the most accessible it has been. Winter Wonderland is a stand out track. The only problem here is a couple of the songs are too short. You get it to them and know there is another verse but…

On the Third day of Christmas my true love played for me Terry Scott Taylor

Here is a man who was at the forefront of Christian Rock in the 70’s. His collection of originals, “Songs for the Days After Christmas” mostly centered around the idea of keeping your focus on Jesus and the irony of loosing that in a holiday based on celebrating him. This acoustic/rock album is great music. The lyrics are mostly deep and thought inspiring, with enough levity to keep it from being a downer. The title track will have you move from knowing giggles to a thoughtful sigh

.
(Lost Dogs – “We Like To Have Christmas”

includes several tracks originally featured on Terry Taylor’s “Songs For The Day After Christmas”, now re-imagined and re-recorded by the Lost Dogs)

On the Fourth day of Christmas my true love played for me Happy Christmas Vol 2

This album is mostly traditional Christmas songs done in non-traditional ways by some great alternative rock and electronica bands. Pop/punk MxPx opens with a whimper, but Sixpence None the Richer doing a very detailed arrangement of “…Mr. Grinch” is worth the album and there are still 13 more songs that are wonderful. This is mostly loud and full with a lot of songs on the Heavy/Subdued roller coaster. It closes with the Lost Dogs doing a folk version of the Chipmunks Christmas song that includes a very funny skit about over produced music.

On the Fifth day of Christmas my true love played for me Relient K

I had their first Christmas album “Deck The Halls, Hurt Your Hand” when it came out. Now their second, “Let It Snow Baby… Let It Reindeer” 8 new songs and a bunch of the old one. This is fun and happy pop-punk. There are a few songs that are thoughtful piano. “I Celebrate the Day” is a moving look at our attitude toward the birth of Christ. “Santa Claus is Thumbing To Town” is very very funny. These are worth it just for a full on guitar version of “The Hallelujah Chorus”.

On the Sixth day of Christmas my true love played for me Vince Guaraldi Trio

They did the sound track to all the Charlie Brown specials and movies but the Christmas Special is just that. Jazz music for the masses it may be, but it is great to listen too. Having actual kids do the voices was also a fun move all around. This is the sound of Christmas. (And what music collection is complete without a copy of the theme song “Linus and Lucy”)

On the Seventh day of Christmas my true love played for me Happy Christmas from Bec Records

This was the first of the Happy Christmas series. Heaven’s Got a Baby is a lovely song amids the power cords, but the loud one’s are what it’s about. It’s heavy with ska, punk, techno, and a bit of experimental stuff to make it even more interesting. There is also
Vol 3 that is good and a
Vol 4 that is new Emo.

On the Eighth day of Christmas my true love played for me Glen Miller Orchestra

>

Glen Miller was amazing and developed a sound all his own. (You can see that summed up in “the Glen Miller Story” with Jimmy Stewart.) Glen was no longer with us when this was recorded, but his band is true to his style and sound, which goes very well with Christmas. These are all standards and have some great medleys, some about Santa, a lot about Jesus and a few from the Nutcracker. This is a three disc box set so you get a lot of music for your money.

On the Ninth day of Christmas my true love played for me Lost and Found Christmas Album

This band is a lot of fun. There are two guys who play the piano and the guitar (usual as if they were both in the percussion section.) They have odd voices and their songs seem like they were once “Camp Song Composers”, who have matured. All this combines to be very fun and deep. Most of the songs are Christmas hymns with a few originals that are great.

On the Tenth day of Christmas my true love played for me The Ultimate Lounge Christmas

John Jonethis is a lounge singer with a great voice and a flair for arranging. His first album was “Lounge Freak” which took top Christian rock song and converted them quite successfully. Here he does Christmas standards which seem to be a shorter road to lounge. This is not the most wildly radical idea for an album, but he does it with such style. He moves something that could have been generic, to a great listen.

On the Eleventh day of Christmas my true love played for me I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

(If you are trying to sing this review, you have to say hippopotamus for
Christmas as if it’s one word with two syllables.)

This is just a great song. It’s from the 40’s and written by the same man who penned “Do Your Ears Hang Low.” His young daughter provided the vocals. This song has the fun and magical feeling of the season in it. It is about presents but not about greed, just the silly wonderfulness of childhood. You can actually down load the song for free at
http://www.mediafire.com/?5nzymwjy2j4

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love played for Me, Kenny Rogers (seriously)

You will not find a Christmas version of “The Gambler” here. (Though that might be cool.) This is mostly an adult contemporary album, but it’s still very good. It almost has the feel of the music in the mall when you suddenly notice “Hey, this one is pretty good.” The songs range from soft to powerful and even an acapella song with “Glad.” Most of the songs are original and deep. A cover of  “Mary Did You Know?” kicks it off with Wynonna Judd backing up and it finishes with a great montage called “The Chosen One” This has kids singing questions about Christmas and Kenny answering with recited scripture (inspired by Linus?) and then Carols that celebrate that aspect of the Christmas story. The arrangements are all unique enough to be cool, but still very traditional. Still my favorite song is a ballad that tells the invented story of a solder who fought hard all his life, though he was never sure of anything, until now, when he gives his medal and his heart to a baby king.

Ok….

You got to know when to rap them,

Know when to pack them,

Know when to go up the chimney

and Know when to run

You never eat your cookies

while your sitting at the table

There’ll be time enough for eatin’

when the del’v’rin’s done.

Merry
Christ
mas

from Q&E

*If the thing they are watching on TV is The Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

 

PS

Keep in mind, I wrote this and still have not heard Sixpence None The Richer’s new Album The Dawn of Grace, which I am very much looking forward to!