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Monthly Archives: December 2011

I ain’t no music critic. That aside, here are my 10 favourite albums from 2011.

10. Metals, Feist.

This chick is dope. ‘Nuff said.

9. Bad As Me, Tom Waits.

It’s unimaginable to me how anyone can listen to a Tom Waits record all the way through without a stiff drink in hand (preferably whiskey, scotch, or some sort of blend).

8. The King Of Limbs, Radiohead.

Then again, Radiohead could put out an album of complete silence and I’d love it. John Cage.

7. Allen Stone, Allen Stone.

The only reason this dude is so low on the list is because I only heard of him about a month ago (and I’ve listened to the album almost daily since then).

6. Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Girls.

Just heard of these guys for the first time this year and I likey. Listen to the track, you’ll see.

5. The Whole Love, Wilco.

Another solid album. Seriously, can these Chicagoans make a bad album?

4. Burst Apart, The Antlers.

I liked Hospice but I loved Burst Apart. I listened to this album countless evenings on the porch this summer and saw them live at the Mod Club. Good show!

3. Watch The Throne, Jay & Kanye.

Niggas in Paris. “Psycho, I’m liable, to go Michael / take your pick, Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, Game 6.” UGH!

2. David Comes To Life, Fucked Up.

Two words: Rock Opera.

1. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, M83.

“When I heard this album I went insane!” – Actual Person.

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The in-laws got me this book for Christmas and I just cracked it open this evening.

I have a thing for opening lines in a book, and I thought the first paragraph of this one was great.

I did not intend to be “Stanley Hauerwas.” I am aware, however, that there is someone out there who bears that name. Stanley Hauerwas is allegedly famous. How can a theologian, particularly in our secular age, be famous? If theologians become famous in times like ours, surely they must have betrayed their calling. After all, theology is a discipline whose subject should always put in doubt the very idea that those who practice it know what they are doing.

Classic!

So, it’s Advent.

In light of the season I thought I’d post a few of my favourite carols/hymns from this time of year. I want to start with my favourite, Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing. This hymn was written in 1757 by a young English pastor and hymnist named Robert Robinson, at the age of only 22 (geez, what was I doing at 22?!).

See the video below, a live rendition by Sufjan Stevens followed by the lyrics (so you can follow along while you watch, duh).

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

I’m not sure why exactly this is my favourite hymn for the season. I think though, it’s because it has so much to do with God and so little to do with us (unlike much of what passes for praise/worship music these days). We call that grace.

Grace isn’t easy though. It’s very difficult, I think because it means admitting that there is absolutely nothing we can do to merit or deserve anything from the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But we so desperately like to think there is something we can do. Some action or word that can give us some sort of meritorious standing before God (or that we’ve already earned it simply by being good folks). To this grace says, ‘no’.

The fact that our hearts and minds are turned inwards and downwards (as T.F. Torrance might put it) by sin only makes this matter all the more difficult and our need for grace all the more pressing. In this hymn, we begin with the words, “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.” Then again, “Teach me some melodious sonnet.” What? You mean my heart cannot “sing Thy grace,” all by itself? You mean I don’t already know the words to this “melodious sonnet”? Not an easy pill to swallow, for most. No, indeed, our hearts need to be tuned. We need to be taught how to sing. And just how are our hearts tuned? How do we learn the words? I think, by allowing the unceasing streams of mercy to flood our hearts and minds so that “songs of loudest praise” are called forth.

Oh what grace, that tunes our hearts and teaches us to sing. Indeed, may we recognize and daily confess our debt to such grace so that our wandering hearts may be bound to Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen.

Are humans sinful beings? Are they a doomed creature? Are they ultimately good? Well, I suppose it would depend on who you ask.

But, the final word has already been spoken about human creatures and to human creatures and that final word is Christ Jesus. On the resurrection of Jesus, T.F. Torrance says:

“Thus the resurrection means that the Word which God sent forth in creation, and sent forth in a new way in the incarnation, did not return void but accomplished what it was sent to do. In creation and the affirmation of creation, in recreation and the finalising of creation, the resurrection is the establishing of the creature in a reality that does not crumble away into the dust or degenerate into nothingness or slip into the oblivion of the past. This is a reality that arises and endures, for it is positively and faithfully grounded in its own ultimate source of reality in God,” (Atonement, 239).

The last word has already been spoken.

Or, as Torrance says, the resurrection is the actualisation of human reality, the humanizing in Jesus of dehumanized man. Humanity in Christ is the creation God made it to be and may not now cease to be what it is (239).

During this season of Advent, may we remember the coming of this Word into the world, made flesh. And, may we long for the day when this Word will come again to fully and finally usher in the kingdom of God. Until then, may we live in this world but play by the rules of that future world which has already begun to dawn. For that final word has already been spoken. It is already real.

Amen.