Tag Archives: Music

Meet the Austins…

Dear reader, check out this link to know what the point of this “review” is about; Madeleine L’Engle.  This is one of her books I just read for the first time…I’d met the Austin family previously in books that come later in the Austin family series.  I really enjoyed this story, and it did serve as a good introduction to the Austins, which in turn, sets up the rest of the books in the series.  It is a very quick read, and “easy” reading.

What suppers did the Austins enjoy? Standing rib roast with roast potatoes and carrots, spaghetti with carrots and garlic bread, Spanish rice, Shepherd’s pie, strawberry mousse, pork roast with applesauce and carrots, pot roast with deep-dish apple pie, bread pudding with raisins, tapioca, jell-o, raisin bread, steaks with baked potatoes and salad, baked beans with hot dogs chopped up in them, and the ever present beverages of coffee and hot cocoa.

What did they listen to while preparing all of this?  Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto, Rosenkavalier, Schonberg’s Verklarte Nacht, Handel’s the Cuckoo and the Nightingale, Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, Handel’s Royal Fireworks, and John liked to listen to “The Gambler.”  The crew liked to sing; Cockles and Mussels, The Eddystone Light, You take the High Road, Oh, Susannah, Ash Grove, and Tallis’ Cannon.

What were the kids reading or the adults reading to them? The Jungle Book, Charlotte’s Web, The Secret Garden, The Sword in the Stone, and Doctor Dolittle.  Also, a book on Albert Einstein’s spiritual views was quoted and talked about, but no title was ever given.

Their furry companions that curled up at their feet?  Colette their french poodle, Mr. Rochester their Great Dane, and at least three cats; Prunewhip, Hamlet, and Creamy.

What was the fam up to in this story?  Skywatching as usual, including star gazing.

Good prayers and quotes included?

St. Francis’ Prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

A quote from Hildevert of Lavardin;

God is over all things, under all things; outside all;
within, but not enclosed; without but not excluded;
above, but not raised up; below, but not depressed;
wholly above, presiding; wholly without, embracing;
wholly within, filling.

A poem from Thomas Browne;

If thou could`st empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
And say, `This is not dead`,
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou
And hast such shrewd activity,
That when He comes, He says, `This is enow
Unto itself – `twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for me.`

Fun book to read, the themes of childhood, change and death were interesting.  This book, more than L’Engle’s others that I’ve read, seemed geared toward “younger” readers, but adults who like her style and characters will enjoy this book as well.  On to read the second in this series…

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Filed under Humor, Musings, Of Interest, Prayer, Reviews, Sacred Secular, Uncategorized

Dear Agony…

Yes, it’s been awhile; major internet issues for months.  Anywho, Breaking Benjamin’s new album is out in stores and on itunes; Dear Agony is the title.  I’ll have a longer review later, but will just say that the sound is definitely different.  Not really better, nor worse, just different.  Some of the differences in sound could be due to the way it was recorded or edited or enhanced, but some come from Ben changing up his vocals.

It’s definitely worth the money, though I do have to be honest and say it isn’t my favorite album, and I will probably enjoy the songs more when they are mixed in with their other songs in my playlists.  There are several really good tracts, to mention two;  my favorite “Give Me a Sign,” gave me (the good kind of) chills the first time I heard it (I do like to hear Ben playing around vocally with the various notes), and the title track is definitely worth listening to several times.  Here is a link to an interview with Ben; if you are getting the album listen to it before reading this, then listen again afterward, it changes how you listen, and what you take away from the songs, IMO: Ben Burnley Interview

Chad, Mark, and Aaron do an amazing job on here as well, though I do have to say I would have liked to hear Aaron’s guitar a bit more, and a bit heavier in places.

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Filed under Of Interest, Reviews, Sacred Secular

Breaking Benjamin back in the studio…

Yes, my favorite band (secular alternative rock band Breaking Benjamin)  is back in the studio working on their next album.  The updates aren’t all that regular, but their first new single “I Will Not Bow,” which is said to be in the movie Surrogates, staring Bruce Willis, will be released on the radio  sometime around August 10th.  It should be available on itunes close to September 1st.  As far as the album itself goes, a set date hasn’t been announced but is tentatively (probably really tentatively) scheduled to come out around Sept. 29th.

My regular readers my not care, but I can’t help it…I’m excited!

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Music news: Creed reforming…

Got an interesting email today about one of my former favorite bands; Creed is reforming with all its original members, including bassist Brian Marshall. That means it will be Scott Stapp as lead singer, Mark Tremonti on lead guitar, Brian on bass, and Scotty P (Scott “Flip” ;) Phillips) on drums.   After Stapp got a bit “squirrelly,” and the band broke up, I quit listening to him, but followed Alter Bridge for a bit…but I always wished Mark would just sing, as I couldn’t ever really take a liking to their lead singer.

So, anywho, they are coming out with a new album and will be touring this Summer here in the US…let’s all hope that Scott got some vocal coaching, and will not a repeat of losing and almost damaging his voice every other concert.  I also hope he got whatever that was out of his system, and is firmly grounded in reality once more (hopefully without an ego).

I really do hope it all works out, as Tremonti is one of the reasons I’m taking guitar lessons (he always seemed to have so much fun and/or energy when he played…he really enjoyed it), and Creed was one of the first bands that I really listened to every part of the song; each instrument, and the lyrics as well.   They also mixed the sacred and the secular in powerful ways…Scott’s lyrics tended toward religious images and themes, yet the band was not a “Christian Band” (I wonder if that old debate will crop up again?).

Creed.com is back online with the tour dates.

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Make a joyful noise…

Psalm 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Well, as long as the noise doesn’t have to be in tune, I think I’m ok… Hehehe.  Do you notice how much music is a part of being human, and also how making music is one of the ways we are called on to worship the Lord?

Music touches a part of us that is beyond even the emotional; it is indeed on a spiritual level.  Now, I can’t sing…well, I can sing, but not in tune and not very well.  I can, however play the clarinet, or rather I could and probably still can.  But I haven’t in a long time, and every now and then I get a longing to make music, or participate in it at least (and no, the clarinet doesn’t fit the bill for me now…have you ever tried to make joyful music to the Lord on a clarinet when you don’t even like jazz? ;) ).

For a long while I’ve been wanting to learn another instrument; guitar, piano, or violin.  I’m also thirty years old…hmmm… too old to learn a new trick? I wonder.  So, I bit the bullet and went and bought me a guitar yesterday, and have tracked down a teacher.  So, should I jump in and really take lessons, or let my doubts and vanity get in my way?  You see, I have a non-Christian hang up with looking like a idiot, and I’ve no real idea about how, or what to start playing, I am truly a beginner, hence the lessons, hence the hang-up.

See, Christians are human too.  I thought if I posted about it here in my blog, it would light a fire under me, well, I guess we’ll see.  May the Lord be with my fingertips, and everyone else’s ears!

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Filed under Guitar n00b, Humor

Jesus; The Lamb and The Lion via Breaking Benjamin

Yesterday I talked about finding the sacred in the secular.  Today, I want to give an example of what I mean, while getting to the point of this post.  My current favourite band is Breaking Benjamin, and I can’t really recommend them to my Christian brethren, though there are many fans of theirs that are Christian; BB is alternative rock, secular, and like to add in the occasional (well placed) curse word.  However, Ben (Benjamin Burnley, lead singer) writes music that hits people on different levels, and encourages fans to find their own meanings to their songs.

One of the reasons that I like this band is their ability to capture certain emotion, and I don’t just mean when they’re screaming at the top of their lungs (which they occasionally indeed do, to very good affect). And, I don’t just like them for the themes that their songs make me conjure up, though that is part of it.  Sooner or Later, a song off their We are not Alone album, makes me think of Jesus and His position as King, and as a Lion, and of life and death without Him.  Now, to make this perfectly clear; I do not think this was Ben’s intent in any way, shape, or form (the song is more a self-reflection style song, and they are not a Christian band, although we know Mark and Chad believe, and ex-band member Jeremy); however, this is what certain verse make me think about.

Sooner or Later
…You’re like an infantile
I knew it all the while
You sit and try to play me
Just like you see on TV
I am an oversight
Just like a parasite
Why am I so pathetic
I know you won’t forget

These lines call to mind the way Jesus is often portrayed by TV preachers; like He’s standing head bowed, hat in hand knocking on your heart’s door, begging, for His own sake, to be let in out of the cold.  He’s also portrayed like a sure-fire celestial slot machine; a genie-type wish granter.  On the other hand, legalistic TV preachers often portray Him as a cosmic killjoy.  These images, that make me personally ill, stick in the minds of non-believers, and it definitely affects how they think about Him and even how they think about Christians.

People, even some believers, like to think of Christ as a Lamb, which He is; what they don’t like to dwell on is the fact that He is the Lion as well.  He is both suffering servant and conquering King, He brings mercy and forgiveness but also a sword of truth… in fact, I read a non-Christian’s write-up about The Chronicles of Narnia in which Aslan, a lion, is the Christ-figure.  The writer bemoans the fact that a lion is used; says it doesn’t fit Jesus’ character…he’s apparently never read the Bible, or he’s listened to too many of the “preachers” this song makes me think of.

…Just call my name
You’ll be ok
Your scream is burning through my veins

We are promised in scripture that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  All it takes to get the relationship going is for us to call upon Him with a true desire to know Him better in our hearts.  When we do, He hears us, and wants that relationship too.  One of the images I love to mull over is the idea that we are called sheep in the Bible…and sheep need a shepherd, ours just happens to be a Lion, full of power and protection for those that call upon Him, and He indeed should be a point of fear to those that come bringing trouble to His sheep.

…Sooner or later, you’re gonna hate it
Go ahead and throw your life away
Driving me under leaving me out there
Go ahead and throw your life away

These lines make me think of what will come to pass if someone dies still rejecting God and Christ, unfortunately, and also not to let those image of Christ being peddled on TV stick in your mind; learn of Him on your own, through scripture.  If someone doesn’t come to Him, and embrace eternal life, they are in effect, throwing their lives away.  Most humans, believers and non, and I really mean this, strive to make their way through life the best way they know how.  Many people try to leave the world a better place than they found it…but in essence all of that, without Christ, won’t wind up having a permanent effect.  Even those that don’t believe in anything acknowledge that; our short lives are over far too soon, and we will all probably be forgotten within two or three generations…but, with Christ, our lives find their true meaning, ultimate fulfillment, and we carry on after death, even to a new Heaven, and a new Earth.

Why is it such a bad thing to deny Christ…the next lines in the song change “Throw your life away,” to “Throw my life away.”  By denying Christ, we are basically spitting on His life, and His death.  He suffered horribly, and died so that we might live, and if we deny Him,  we deny His life.  The next go around, the lines get changed to “Throw our life away…” which is ironic, because the name of the album, as I mentioned is “We are not Alone,” God is with us, for sure, and the relationship He offers is such a close one, He offers to be with us in good times and bad, that He will never leave us nor forsake us…imagine throwing that relationship in the garbage…  I love the power, and emotion in Ben’s voice, and the music to underscore the idea of a Person in the position of power, again, just in my own thoughts.

I have two main points in this post; first, just because something is indeed labeled “secular” doesn’t mean we can’t pull something out of it to add to our spiritual lives, we just have to be careful and follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.  And Second, Jesus isn’t a pushover.  He’s not a beggar.  He’d not only the Lamb, but also The Lion.  In Him, God’s Mercy and Justice meet, and He displays both God’s love and His power to mankind.  Whatever the preachers push on TV, and there are some good ones alongside the bad, don’t forget the seek Him one-on-one and through the scriptures and really learn about Him.

For anyone interested, here’s Breaking Benjamin’s video for Sooner or Later at youtube:

Edited on March 19, 2010 to add this link to a relevant article; Breaking Benjamin interview.  Ben and Chad mention issues of faith in the linked interview.

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Filed under Apologetics, Sacred Secular, Theology