2.23.2017

What exactly is a "normal" Christian anyway? (And yes, my answer sounds elitist)


Alternate Title: 
Why It's Important That People Aren't Coming to My "Liturgical" Church Plant

2.21.2017

How the Church Calendar can speak to modern people (if we allow it to)


This is my sixth article (out of 6 but with a couple of followup article) exploring "liturgical" worship and whether or not it works in my culture, that is "middle American Christianity". Here is our ongoing foundational question: Is the liturgy too elitist and academic for "regular" or mainstream Christians who fall into the general Evangelical, Pentecostal, or Protestant camps?

After several negative articles attempting to dissect the problem, this article (as well as the previous one) make an attempt at rebuilding what the liturgy is and can do amongst God's people, most especially in the role it can take in transforming the Church in the midst of our present culture. Specifically, this article deals with the scope and rhythm of the Church calendar. For more on the Church calendar, check out my interview with Michelle Van Loon about her book Moments and Days.

TRANSFORMING OUR HOLIDAYS INTO HOLY DAYS
There are certain seasonal rhythms that just feel right. They are embedded into our very life cycles. Some rhythms naturally arise with the changing of the seasons and some have been shaped and established through years of cultural practice.

2.16.2017

How the Liturgy can speak to modern people (if we allow it to)


This is my fifth article of six exploring "liturgical" worship and whether or not it works in my culture, that is "middle American Christianity". Here is our foundational question: Is the liturgy too elitist and academic for "regular" or mainstream Christians who fall into the general Evangelical, Pentecostal, or Protestant camps?

After several negative articles attempting to dissect the problem, this article and the next make an attempt at rebuilding what the liturgy is and can do amongst God's people, most especially in the role it can take in transforming the Church in the midst of our present culture.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a comprehensive article. Such a term is an oxymoron, as no single blog article could encapsulate something as complex as "the liturgy" or liturgical studies. So I ask you to please not judge it for what I have left out or failed to mention. I will later post an article with numerous books and resources and practical ideas for the liturgy. Therefore, it is best to approach this article as one entry point into thinking about what the liturgy is supposed to do, especially if you attend a congregation that might be considered "non-liturgical". 

Though it might be a fool's errand, this article is for two disparate audiences: 1.) I am writing for those already fully enmeshed and committed to "liturgical" worship in hopes that they might see how they can teach and practice liturgy amid a culture that is liturgically illiterate, and 2.) I hope to "offer a way in" for those self-described "low church" people who are interested in incorporating liturgical practices in their church but may be intimidated by the prospect and is in need of a primer in order to know what this liturgy thing is all about.

Let's start with one of the simplest set of churchy questions possible: How are Christians called to live? That is, what actions are disciples of Jesus supposed to set about doing? And what actions are universal to all branches of our Faith?

2.14.2017

PCR Podcast Ep39: Pastor Dan Leman talks about sex

In celebration of Valentine's Day, here is my conversation with Pastor Dan Leman about sex, relationships, and overcoming sexual sin. Dan is the pastor of Faith Evangelical Free Church in Germantown Hills, Illinois. Our friendship goes all the way back to high school, so needless to say, we've been talking about sex for a long time.



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Other Articles on Sex and Church Culture
"True Love Waits: What My Youth Pastor Did Right"
True Love Waits: A Woman's Perspective
An Album For My Wife: Introduction

2.06.2017

PCR Podcast Ep38: Musician Jared Grabb


Jared Grabb is a musician and songwriter from Peoria, Illinois. On March 3rd he will release his third full length album Masters, which you can purchase at his site: https://jaredgrabb.bandcamp.com/. Along with his solo work Grabb is also a member of Angry Gods and formerly a member of Scouts Honor and The Forecast. Our interview gets into the making of the new album and his career as an independent artist. Make sure to check out his new video below, for the song "Patch of Green."

You can find out more about Grabb in various other places:
https://sosayweallrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/jaredgrabb
http://www.thinkerthought.com/
Interpunk
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1.30.2017

NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest Original Song Entry



A few weeks ago Tom Hanks' voice appeared in one of the commercial breaks of a podcast I was listening to. The voice of Tom Hanks told me NPR Music was holding a contest for unsigned musicians and that by filming yourself playing an original song, uploading the song to Youtube, and then entering the song in their contest you could win and find yourself touring around the country with NPR (or something like that).

I pretty much do anything Tom Hanks tells me to do, so I rehearsed a song for a number of days and got my video all ready to go.

Above you can listen to "Sweet Little Baby Boy," a song I entered for NPR's Tiny Desk Contest, as part of their ongoing Tiny Desk Concert series, which features numerous great artists playing their songs in NPR's studios. 

This is a song I wrote for my infant son, who is now 8 years old now and sleeping fine, but as a baby caused my wife and I to endure years of sleepless nights. "Sweet Little Baby Boy" is my lullaby lament to commemorate the experience.

You can listen to another version of the song on my Bandcamp page:

We'll see what happens with the competition... I'm sure my chances are slim for getting any attention from the song, but I consider it an accomplishment to simply take the initiative of entering the contest.

I could write a whole essay about this song, but for now I'll let it exist as a work unto itself.

If you are looking for more, here's something I wrote about birth of our children:
Our Birth Story

1.26.2017

Podcast Archive: David Leo Schultz on Directing Ragamuffin


This archive episode of the podcast features my February 2014 interview with director, actor, and writer David Leo Schultz. We discussed Ragamuffin, the biopic he made about the life of singer-songwriter Rich Mullins. It was officially the 4th episode of the podcast, made back in the unofficial days. You can read the text version of this interview here: David Leo Schultz on Directing the Rich Mullins Movie (text version) And you can listen to my more recent interview with David here: David Leo Schultz Director of Brennan.

David's been busy since we first talked. Along with directing the Brennan Manning biopic he also starred in a number of online shorts, started the Ragamuffin Retreats ministry, and is even in the development stages of doing a film about St. Francis. You can find out more info here: http://colorgreenfilms.com/



Subscribe to the podcast on itunes 
Check out the podcast page to subscribe on Stitcher, Tunein, and PocketCasts.

Related Podcasts and Articles:
Pam Destri—The EMT called to the accident that took the life of Rich Mullins
An Interview With Mitch McVicker
Caleb Kruse on Meeting Rich
Joe Cook of the Ragamuffin Archive
So...They Made a Movie About Rich Mullins...
Interview--Reed Arvin: Recording Rich Mullins' 
A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band — Interview With Reed Arvin
Movie Review: Ragamuffin: The True Story of Rich Mullins
Take a look: The Vast Online Rich Mullins Music Library
Rich Mullins was weird, but he was also so good Christian radio had to play him

1.25.2017

Why People Don't Go To "Liturgical" Churches Part 2: It's Un-American!


This is my fourth article of six exploring "liturgical" worship and whether or not it works in my culture, that is "middle American Christianity". Here is our foundational question: Is the liturgy too elitist and academic for "regular" or mainstream Christians who fall into the general Evangelical, Pentecostal, or Protestant camps?

This article, the second of two parts, addresses some of the many possible reasons why worshipping God through "the liturgy" does not seem to work for my context. The particular focus here is why "the liturgy" as a worship practice challenges some of our most cherished "American values." 


The previous articles can be viewed here:
Is the Liturgy Too Elitist and Academic For "Normal" Christians?
Liturgical Worship is Like Being a Radiohead Fan
Why People Don't Go To "Liturgical" Churches Part 1: Liturgy's Superiority Complex

Reason #5). The liturgy "quenches the Spirit". It tells people how to worship and puts words in their mouths instead of allowing them to seek God freely in their own way.

1.24.2017

Why People Don't Go To "Liturgical" Churches Part 1: Liturgy's Superiority Complex


This is my third article of six exploring "liturgical" worship and whether or not it works in my culture, that is "middle American Christianity". Here is our foundational question: Is the liturgy too elitist and academic for "regular" or mainstream Christians who fall into the general Evangelical, Pentecostal, or Protestant camps?

This article, the first of two parts, addresses some of the many possible reasons why worshipping God through "the liturgy" does not seem to work for my context. It is split into two parts for the sake of length.


Here are articles 1 & 2:
Is the Liturgy Too Elitist and Academic For "Normal" Christians?
Liturgical Worship is Like Being a Radiohead Fan

THE DIRE DIAGNOSES 
I am now in the midst of attempting to diagnosis why it is that "liturgical worship" does not work (or does not seem to be working) in my middle class, middle American city. Here are my best guesses. And please note that "the liturgy" is something I am deeply committed to. It is something I will do the rest of my life. It is something I believe to be deeply Biblical, historically Christian, and transformative for today's Church. But perhaps it does not (yet) appeal to a majority of the people in my cultural context. 

1.23.2017

The Ambiguity and Clarity of Scorcese's Silence

PLEASE NOTE: This film review/reflection goes into nearly every significant plot point. It assumes you've already seen the film or don't mind having the plot revealed to you.

The meaning of Martin Scorcese's film Silence emerges to us out of the fog, but then only slowly. And if the film is any indicator, the understanding God wants impart to us can take a lifetime to learn.

Several scenes throughout the film are shrouded in mist: dense, billowy clouds of gray persist for half a minute or more, out of which come people moving steadily toward us, all of whom rarely bring good news. The film's beginning and ending is enveloped with an audio fog, the "silence" of nature: the calming low-hum of insects, birds, and wind, a hum that can oddly enough become deafening and maddening in it's never ending silent blaring.