Wednesday, October 1, 2014

LeCrae and Christian Rap: His New Album Review

Here's an interesting take on LeCrae's new album and the concept of Christian rap. I wouldn't agree with everything said in this article, but it has some interesting points.

Who is Lecrae? He has the no. 1 album in the United States. That album,Anomaly, is classified as Christian rap, because he’s widely thought of as a Christian rapper.
Not a rapper who is Christian, but a Christian rapper.
In addition to topping the Billboard 200, Anomaly holds the no. 1 spot on the gospel charts (his sixth album to do so) and the no. 1 spot on the Christian charts (his fifth album to do so). He is the first person to pull off this feat. And it very much is that: a feat.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rend Collective Concert Recap

Chicago traffic added more than an hour to our trip. There was no restaurant within a 10-minute radius from the church venue, so we grabbed some snacks at a lonely Walgreens nearby. Due to our lateness, we had to sit on the far side of the balcony. But it was a landmark refreshing experience, both spiritually and musically.

Rend Collective (formerly known as Rend Collective Experiment) is a family of songwriters and worship leaders from Ireland who've been around for a few years but are starting to get some deserved international attention. My wife bought me their album Handmade Worship by Homemade People last Christmas, which shows impressive versatility. In this album, they matched the skills and creativity of any professional worship band, as well as Sarah MacLachlan and Mumford, and they involved the banjo, cello, dulcimer, mallet percussion and brass, just to name a few instruments. Their latest album, The Art of Celebration, was released this past St. Patrick's Day and focuses on Celtic folk very well. Their currently on their Art of Celebration Tour.

Rend Collective's lyrics and approach are very mature and biblical. They refuse to list band member names on their albums and say there are no rockstars here, just servants. "Collective" refers to the fact that we are all the Body of Christ. One member took time to tell us about Compassion International, while another told us about the devotional theme of the album.

"I don't know about you Americans," he said, "but us Irish are really grumpy. Don't believe the Lucky Charms. This is why it's called 'the art of celebration,' not 'the natural inclination to celebration.'" Through the lyrics of the songs, we were all well-encouraged to celebrate our freedom from condemnation and the power and love of God, and to choose joy.

Rend Collective is a creative, mature and much-needed addition to the playlist of Christian worshippers today. Again, their live worship leadership was a very refreshing and encouraging experience. If you're not familiar with Rend Collective's work, I'd encourage you to visit their website and YouTube page. Below is their video about the story of their most recent album.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Fun: KLM's Lost & Found

As someone who has flown KLM in and out of Amsterdam, I think this is creative and innovative customer service.

But what about the people who are horribly allergic to dogs? And if someone left homework, would the dog eat it instead of returning it?

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Novel Christian Worshippers Should Read

TGC's Justin Taylor is finishing a blog series (with guest writers) on what novels Christians should read. After some thought, I thought I'd add one to the list. When I studied philosophy of the arts, I was required to read through My Name is Asher Lev, a fictional story about a painting prodigy named Asher Lev, born into a Hasidic Jewish family in 1950's Brooklyn. It's still on my shelf.

The story will strike a chord for many. It portrays the tension between uninhibited artistic genius (similar to what we say in Forman's Amadeus) and religious tradition. My Name is Asher Lev will can raise many questions about the purpose of art, especially in religious contexts, and what religious traditions can mean to the artistic community.

You can read about and order the book here. I would have loved to see it become a movie, and may have to buy the sequel.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Must Art Be Evangelistic to Be Christian?

HT: Alex Medina

Out of our zeal we have only given merit and value to things that are evangelistic or seeking to communicate Christian doctrine. Only then have we labeled it to be "Christian" when in reality Christianity is "not just involved with 'salvation' but with the total man in the total world," as Francis Schaeffer would say.

You can read the rest here.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Christianity in Iraq is Finished

Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters
An important read from The Washington Post:

In the part of his Sept. 10 speech on confronting the Islamic State that probably drew the least attention, President Obama mentioned the need to help Christians and other minorities, expelled from cities and villages in northern Iraq, return from where they came. “We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homeland,” he said.
Obama got that wrong. Christians, of whom around 120,000 have taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan, will not be going home even if their tormentors suddenly disappear.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Why I Stopped Hating Christian Music

Beatrice Murch/Flickr
Some provocative thoughts from a new blogger at ChristianityToday.

My beef is that even though the music has such high production values and is performed by such high caliber musicians, it often lacks realness and authenticity. Amazingly, it manages to sound shallow even when talking about ideas of incredible depth. The lyrics are prosaic and affected, and the themes that it covers are shockingly narrow. There are the "I'm a bad person but you love me anyway" songs, the "Teach me to love like you songs", and the "Don't give up" songs. Aaaand, that's about it. Of course, I'm being facetious and stupid, which comes as no surprise to those of you who read this blog regularly.
But in mid-tooth grit this week, I realized something that made me have a lot more respect and compassion for people who are in the Christian music industry: they are in a ridiculously impossible position.
You can read the rest here.