Keep Your Hands To Yourself (Especially If They’re Praying…)

Over the past several days, I have seen at least two dozen friends and acquaintances on Facebook and Twitter post a link to this web comic from The Oatmeal entitled “How To Suck at Your Religion.” This comic, written by Oatmeal founder Matthew Inman, was re-posted several times by friends of mine who are atheists and agnostics and who frequently pepper my news feed... Read More

Interpreting Sea Change

  This has been a rough six weeks for all us progressives living in North Carolina. Back on May 8th, we became the 31st state in the union to restrict the rights of same-sex couples through a constitutional “marriage” amendment (NC Amendment One), and this week the state legislature voted to allow “fracking,” a largely untested form of natural gas drilling which will... Read More

Mad Men and the Pursuit of Happiness

One is immediately suspicious of any attempt to distill the glorious complexities of Mad Men down to any single theme. Depending on who you ask, it is a show about the birth of the cool, a nostalgic look at the 1960s (some people talk as if it deserves an official papal pronouncement: “It is how it was”), a byproduct of our late capitalist love of sociopaths, or simply... Read More

The Spiritual Children of Sigur Rós

Before moving to North Carolina to begin a Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill, I lived just outside of Nashville, TN. During my four years there, many of my friends were Nashville natives and even more of them were aspiring audio engineers, producers, and recordings artists who came to the city hoping to find work on Music Row. For this reason, the Ryman Auditorium held a special spiritual... Read More

Exercising Your Second Commandment Rights: Luther and Calvin on Music

Many of the most important debates of the recent “worship wars” in evangelicalism (including the form/content divide identified in yesterday’s post) have their origins in two important conflicts from the first few decades of the Reformation: first, the debate over the exegesis of the Ten Commandments or “Decalogue,” and second, a broader conversation about... Read More

On Praise and Worship Music: An Essay to its Cultured Despisers

“Praise and worship” music is one of the most oft-evoked and heavily contested markers of evangelical Protestantism in the United States. Its most vocal advocates herald praise and worship and its meteoric rise since the 1960s as nothing less than the rebirth of Western Christianity, citing its unique ability to attract an entire generation of “lost sheep” into... Read More

Theologians Don’t Know Nothing: A Thought for the Day from Wilco

Now that I have a daughter, I can look forward to some day standing in front of a puzzled class of Grade One students on Career Day explaining that I am not a doctor, lawyer or carpenter but a “theologian.” (Or better yet, a “theologue.”) I’m the first to admit that it’s a strange career choice. It sounds like I spend each day meditating on obscure... Read More

CCM, Heavy Metal, and the Lure of Possibility

Just last week, I was reading Deena Weinstein’s landmark 1991 study Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology and I was nearly stopped in my tracks by the final chapter, which deals with metal’s “detractors” from across the political spectrum. While conservative criticisms of heavy metal are well-known through the work of groups like the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC)––most... Read More

“Living Into Focus”: Recovering Clarity in the Age of Technology

Technology is an integral part of the human cultural “envelope.” Once we used stone implements to kill mammoths and sabretooth tigers; now we have iPads. Marshall McLuhan famously called the media the “extensions of man”; but in a sense, all technology could be described by this phrase. Our tools, as is manifestly evident in the twenty-first century, have... Read More

James Blake and Marks of Specters

The idea of “deconstruction” has achieved a somewhat surprising ubiquity in our current culture. In addition to relatively long-standing applications in literary and cultural criticism, deconstruction has also found a home in political punditry and haute cuisine (what does it mean to “deconstruct” a meatloaf anyway?). But perhaps most enamored with the idea... Read More