The Music Post

Major confession: Lately I’ve been listening to Christian music, pretty regularly. I even made the local Christian station a preset in my car.

For those of you who don’t know me, or don’t know me well, this is unremarkable. But I mentioned this to a friend recently and I think her jaw dropped slightly. Here’s the thing: like many of the people in my bubble, I left the clean acoustic worship music of my youth behind several years ago, in favor of musically complex and theologically sound hymns on Sundays, and “secular” music during the week. People who love things like art, liturgy, and…excellence…don’t do contemporary worship music. We scoff at it, and trade stories of how back in the day we loved Hillsong or whatever (“ugh it’s so embarrassing. I had their CD”). Continue reading →

Coming Home

My favorite part of traveling is coming home.

I tried to think of a way to explain this without sounding like a boring and ethnocentric ass, but it’ll be easier to just tell the truth.

I like America, a lot. Not in an overly patriotic “God Bless America” kind of way (I’m pretty sure millennials aren’t allowed to think like that) but in a lifestyle kind of way. It’s the little things that make me defend my nation to naysayers (who are, by the way, often American): 24/7 grocery stores, air conditioning, big cups of coffee, etc. Nothing idealistic or political, just the things that make my life as I know it easier and more comfortable. Do I think America is the best country on earth? No, of course not. Do I think it’s the best country for me, a happy American? Yes, I do. Continue reading →

Energy, Urgency, and Mission

As previously mentioned, I’m really into the concept of church. And though I’m pleased to have been in a committed relationship to a church community for nearly six years, it means that I don’t see other churches very often. So it’s a treat for me when I get to check out a different church, especially a different kind of church, especially in a different country.

I recently attended a young, international, Pentecostal church in Norway. The Holy Spirit led me there insofar as it was the first result of a Google search. The lights were dim, the music was loud, the oldest person in the room was barely 40. There were flashy videos and catchy songs. The amount of energy in the room caught me off guard, and honestly, I couldn’t get into it. During the first song, one of the music leaders graciously informed us that “we’re dancing and clapping like this today because we’re excited about Jesus.” Continue reading →

Work & Identity

I am unemployed on purpose.

To be clear: I left a job that I loved because I was worried that someday I would stop loving it. I knew I wouldn’t stay there forever, and I wanted to be able to look back on that season of my life with fondness and gratitude, not bitterness. The timing was right, so I can do that now: I am immensely grateful.

So now I’m unemployed, and I have been for nearly two months. On purpose though. As of this writing, I haven’t even seriously looked for a new job. Continue reading →

This Isn’t A Travel Blog, But…

…I’m about to take off for a five week trip to Europe, so I’ve had travel on the brain lately.

In general, I’m pretty content being settled in one place and having a normal routine, but I suspect that that contentment is the result of regularly satiating my natural desire for adventure and exploration. I’ve been really fortunate to see and do some amazing things in my life, and I’ve learned some things along the way. Before departing for this summer’s trip, I thought I’d share some of those things with you all.

Here we go: Continue reading →

Book Review: Dreamland (Sam Quinones)

At first glance, Dreamland – Sam Quinones’s expose on the opiate epidemic that’s destroying rural America – seems like a terrible beach read. And yet, on more than one occasion this summer, I’ve found myself sitting by the water with a drink in one hand and this book in the other. Despite its tragic and at times infuriating nature, Quinones does what good journalists do: he tells a story, and a captivating and compelling one at that. So as strange as this sounds, reading Dreamland was a surprisingly pleasant experience.

It was also an (unsurprisingly) educational experience. Quinones spent years doing hands-on, in-person research for this book. Facts and statistics stand to support the evidence unearthed through hundreds of conversations, interviews, and anecdotes told by doctors, judges, coroners, activists, dealers, junkies, addiction experts, DEA agents, cops, district attorneys, and onlookers who watched people, families, and communities crumble over the last several decades. Dreamland brings together people who will likely never meet, and who have nothing in common except that they’ve been impacted by the opiate epidemic. Continue reading →

What is Church For?

I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about church. Not God, or scripture, or prayer, but church. My church, their church, the Church, all the churches. Church culture fascinates me, even when I disagree with it. This fascination has buoyed me through several traditions, through years of studying things like history, art, philosophy, and theology, and led me to a season of working at a church doing some of the on-the-ground stuff that makes ministry happen. So I’ve invested a lot of energy – mental and otherwise – in this aspect of the faith. Which is why I feel okay tackling this question.

There was a season in my life where I was really pissed at the church. I had gone through an evangelical phase that left a weird taste in my mouth, and made me not want to be affiliated with Christianity. I started to come back around in college, but even then, I wasn’t totally on board with the idea of church. It seemed kind of like a useless formality: I was getting an excellent Christian education in school, which was supported by a strong community of peers who loved the Lord. But I went to church anyway and kept going back. It seemed like the right thing to do, even before I understood why. Continue reading →

Let’s Talk Bodies

The other day I got one of this summer’s pop hits stuck in my head – Tove Lo’s “Talking Bodies.” Not one to reject pop music outright, I will grant that the melody is catchy. But the lyrics make me feel gross. The bridge is particular frustrating:

Our baby making bodies we just use for fun
Let’s use them up ’til every little piece is gone

This made the hyper-vigilant anti-gnostic in me cringe. Here we have a song, which has probably been heard, danced to, and sung along with by millions of people, making the claim that bodies should be “used” and even “used up,” as if they are tools or objects. The implication is that the body is separate from the rest of the person, and is just not as important. Continue reading →

On Beauty & Brokenness (and Dementors!)

Once again, I’ve found myself working my way through J.K. Rowling’s world-famous Harry Potter series. As a strong believer of re-reading books, including (especially??) children’s books, I feel no shame here. Strip away the movie franchise, the amusement park, the vast amounts of memorabilia, and the general hubbub of pop culture, and we’re left with a genuinely compelling and thought-provoking story, filled with interesting themes and characters.

This time around, I’m thinking about dementors, a species that we’re introduced to in the series’ third installment. These dark, cloaked creatures feed on human happiness. Their mere presence causes a place to go cold, and people who encounter them instantly recall their worst memories, losing all hope and joy. Dementors were traditionally used to guard the wizard prison, which is fitting, as physical restraints would be useless against magical criminals. Instead, they’re bound by their own despair, thus greatly limiting their physical abilities. Rowling has said that dementors were inspired by her struggle with depression – they are a physical manifestation of the kind of suffering and anguish that can only come from within the human mind. Continue reading →

A Letter to a Young Philosophy Student

Dear Young Philosophy Student,

You are living the dream. You might not realize it as you pull all-nighters trying to solve the problem of evil whilst employing excellent prose and incorporating only the most acclaimed source material, but you are. Your job right now is to read, write, talk, and listen, and nothing is at stake.

Someday you’re going to graduate, and like 90 seconds later you’re going to need to find a job. You are going to fret over that future job – is it meaningful? Does it incorporate my glorious studies? To what end, employment?

Continue reading →