Sunday, December 11th, 2011
Much like seasonal foods, Christmas music is made more special because it comes out for a little while each year. Some songs make me feel like my dad is about to start the video camera rolling and turn me loose into the living room on Christmas morning. New favorites provide a little boost of cheer as winter sets in. Then there are the special few that spur me to ponder the mysteries of Christmas.
What’s your “desert island” Christmas album? Mine would be this longtime family favorite from Julie Andrews. (Note: the last three songs are not exactly Christmasy, and I don’t know why they are on this album. But Julie can do no wrong.)
Sunday, November 13th, 2011
It’s pretty rare that you get to hear two of your favorite choral works in concert together. (Well, I don’t know if you have two favorite choral works, but you can substitute another type of music ). Today we heard the Choral Arts Society of Washington perform Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna” and Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms.” I sang “Chichester Psalms” (which is in Hebrew!) in my college choir and loved it. It is so unique and lots of fun to sing. The Lauridsen is one of the most beautiful pieces of music, and by far the best modern composition (composed in 1997), in my opinion! I encourage you to seek it out and give it a listen.
Saturday, October 29th, 2011
My husband and I attended a choral/orchestral concert last night, and I got tickets to see Switchfoot in December. I like a lot of different kinds of music, and I’m glad there is more than one kind.
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
I’m thankful for a band.
Once upon a time (11 years ago), a new friend handed me a CD and said, “Listen to this. I think you’ll like it.” It was Switchfoot’s album “New Way to Be Human.” I had never heard anything like it. The lyrics were personal; the songs had variety of sound; the rock rocked and the ballads were beautiful. And though their words were solidly Christian, they didn’t sound like a Christian band. (That could be another post for another day, but a lot of Christian-labeled bands have a certain similar sound.)
One of the reasons I like Switchfoot is that they have successfully broken out of the Christian label and boldly taken their theology to the world. They live and perform in the public sphere, not just at churches or Christian music festivals. This invites heightened scrutiny of their lives and their music from all sides. I believe this is what Bob Briner was talking about in “Roaring Lambs” – he had a vision of Christians working in all sectors and producing excellent products for general consumption, instead of producing art, music, or writing only for each other.
If you listen to their lyrics, they don’t sound like rock stars. They’re not cooler than you. They speak to downtrodden people – people outside the circle of coolness. People who are brokenhearted, down on themselves, questioning God, trying to hold on. They’re not just playing guitar riffs to distract us from our daily struggles; they are hitting our deepest issues head-on.
It was a beautiful letdown when I crashed and burned. When I found myself alone, unknown and hurt. It was a beautiful letdown the day I knew that all the riches this world had to offer me would never do. In a world full of bitter pain, bitter doubts, I was trying so hard to fit in until I found out I don’t belong here.
This approach is intentional. Lead singer and songwriter Jon Foreman explains that “Switchfoot is a surfing term. We all love to surf and have been surfing all our lives so to us, the name made sense. To switch your feet means to take a new stance facing the opposite direction. It’s about change and movement, a different way of approaching life and music.”
Since I was captivated by “New Way to Be Human,” the band has gained two members and released six more albums. I associate each album with the time in my life when it came out, and in many cases, certain songs spoke directly to my situation.
I was working an incredibly tough summer job when “Gone” hit my CD player and encouraged me that this too would pass – and soon.
“Golden” hit in another phase of life when I had recently uprooted. I was struggling with deep questions and needed to know the struggle would be worth it.
She’s alone tonight with a bitter cup… she’s been staring down the demons who’ve been screaming she’s just another so-and-so… You’re a lonely soul in a land of broken hearts – but far from home is the perfect place to start. You are golden. You are golden, child. Don’t let go.
Listening to the first chords of their newest album, which came out yesterday, I was nearly giddy. The lyrics, once again, are killer, and I love hearing the new twists on their sound.
But even after all these years and all the songs, my favorite is still from their very first album. It’s called “Home,” and they’ve never played it at any of the four concerts I’ve been to. It sums up faith so well with this one line that has brought me comfort enough to fall asleep many nights: “All that’s in my head is in Your hands.”
Saturday, July 16th, 2011
I don’t have a great sense of spatial reasoning. It’s not my strong suit. So anyone who can design things in 3-D gets great appreciation from me. I visited Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello today, and that is an impressive place. Jefferson designed basically every aspect of the house, including innovations ahead of his time. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the unique rooms inside, which featured tall ceilings with skylights and beds hidden away in alcoves. One of his guest rooms was an octagon. My favorite was the tea room, which had large windows on the multi-sided wall. I have a new appreciation for Jefferson.
Sunday, June 19th, 2011
I’ve mentioned my rediscovering of fiction, and lately I’ve been reading the Hunger Games trilogy. It amazes me how the author creates whole new worlds – complete with flora and fauna – not to mention characters I can care about. Without her imagination, there would be no story; without my imagination, the books would be doorstops.
Adults often lament losing their childhood imaginations – but just because we don’t play dress-up in our free time doesn’t mean our capacity for imagination goes away. I think that’s why these books have become so wildly popular, and fans of books are rarely satisfied with any movie version of their favorites. That’s how spectacular our imaginations are.
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Can you imagine a world without singing? I can’t. From silly made-up songs to rock bands and classical masterpieces, it’s fun to sing and listen to singers. If given the choice, I would rather be singing than listening. I have sung in choirs since I was a tiny tot at church.
Tonight our church did an Evensong service, which meant the choir was the majority of the program. It was a joyful time for those of us in the choir (and I hope for those listening!). It’s very cool to be able to share the meaning of the Lenten season through song.
Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
I finally decorated my new office. Over the years I’ve collected more than a goodly amount of office stuff, so I tend toward the overboard side of decorating. When you come and visit me, you’ll find a full candy jar, a red “Office Space”-esque stapler, the obligatory Dwight Schrute bobblehead, a multicolored Slinky for you to play with, and now, walls covered with meaningful objects.
I’ve got my new “Atlas Shrugged” movie poster (signed by the producers!), my disturbing wall calendar, and photos of me with members of Switchfoot (also with band autographs!). A friend gave me an “Alias” calendar years ago that featured a fabulous picture of the original cast (no latter-season shenanigans), and it has a place. I have my favorite “Far Side” cartoon framed. And there’s a panoramic view of Samford University, my undergrad alma mater. (In case you’re wondering, yes, I do have my family and friends represented as well…)
I love being surrounded by fun things that have meaning to me.
Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Even though I haven’t met them in person, and they didn’t know they were doing it, Jon and Holley encouraged me to start this blog. They are the two bloggers I read most frequently, and I am thankful for their examples. Both are very human in their writing; I imagine that every other reader, like me, feels kind of like we are friends.
Jon Acuff, who writes Stuff Christians Like, is a fellow journalism graduate of Samford University (Birmingham, Alabama). Due to this fact, I keep trying to claim him in some way. I’ll let you know how this turns out. His blog is absolutely hilarious. If you’re a Christian, you’ll immediately go “Yes!” when you read it. If you’re not, you’ll really appreciate how he pokes fun at a lot of things that put on the name “Christian.”
Holley Gerth writes Heart to Heart with Holley and is co-founder of the (in)courage blog network. Her daily thoughts are transparent and simple, yet beautifully written, and they always point the reader back to the ultimate Author.
I hope to get a proper blogroll going on here soon, and these guys will be at the top of my list.
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
At the Newseum, we saw two fascinating photography exhibits. One was made up of
Pulitzer Prize winners, and the other was a collection of photos of famous athletes. I have always loved photography – it’s my favorite hobby, and I considered becoming a photographer instead of a writer years ago. It captures artful moments, to be sure, but for most recreational camera users, it captures warm memories with loved ones. I can’t imagine a world without it.