Friday, December 30, 2016

The Letter Black - Kickstarter

We discovered the band The Letter Black at Cornerstone 2010, and became instant fans. They had a driving rock sound, great lyrics, and Sarah Anthony's power-packed vocals made them stand out from the crowd. We chatted with them after that first show, and they were friendly and fun. We've seen them play at least twice since then, and enjoyed their first 2 albums, both on Tooth & Nail Records.

They are now working on a third, independent album, and have turned to Kickstarter for funding. As of this post, they are about halfway to their goal, with more 2 weeks left in the campaign. We have supported the effort, and hope others will consider joining us.

Here are videos from some prior songs, to get a taste for their style.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Podcast #010 - DC Rebirth Holiday Special

"Happy Holidays"

On this Holiday-themed episode, Emily & Alan discuss the brand-new 2016 DC Rebirth Holiday Special #1.

They talk about all of the stories in the special, which feature a wide range of DC Comics characters, including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Nightwing, Oracle, John Constantine and Detective Chimp. No, really Detective Chimp. It's not a DC Special until a talking monkey shows up!

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Link: The music of Anderson Cale
Link: The music of Insomniac Folklore
Link: Billy Tucci's A Child is Born graphic novel

We would love to hear from you about this issue, the podcast episode, or the podcast in general. Send e-mail feedback to 

You can follow Alan on twitter @ProfessorAlan

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Holy Holiday Specials, Batman!

Happy Holidays! It's the season of giving, so we at Dorkness to Light want to give a gift to you. Lots of people spend December 25th watching their "Christmas canon" of holiday specials, and this is our personal list of must-watch episodes. Cheesy, heartwarming, and full of good will - each one of these episodes examines a different aspect of what the holidays "really" mean.

Community (2.11) "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
Abed wakes up on the final day of class before winter break in a claymation universe right out of a Rankin/Bass Christmas special. Unfortunately he is the only one who can see it. Under pressure from the psychology professor, Abed and his friends embark on a magical journey through the winter wonderland of Abed's subconscious to find the True Meaning of Christmas(TM). Rife with wit, sarcasm, and social commentary about "politically correct non-denominational holiday" observances, this special is both cynical and heartwarming. There is also a pterodactyl.

Justice League (2.23) "Comfort and Joy" 
How do Earth's heroes choose the spend the holidays? This episode highlights the annual traditions of Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl. Featuring special appearances by Ma and Pa Kent, who love to welcome in strangers and aliens in need of a place to feel at home on Christmas. Not even Martian Manhunter is immune to their holiday cheer.

The Librarians (1.4) "Santa's Midnight Ride"
Santa is kidnapped the day before Christmas and its up to Team Librarian to get him to the North Pole and help him deliver The Gift. This takes a very literal interpretation of the "magic of Christmas" and examines "Santa Claus" and his many, varied historical aspects (beginning with Odin). The power of human Good Will to change individual hearts and the world takes center stage in an incredibly moving conclusion. Also, Bruce Campbell gifts us with a great performance as "Nick".

Moonlighting (2.10) "Twas the Episode Before Christmas"
The spirit of Christmas envelops Maddie, David, and Ms Dipesto when they care for an infant sought by three men named King. A very tongue-in-cheek plot based of a modernized Nativity story, this was one of the earlist shows to jump on this concept before it became a trope. Humorous and very self aware, it is the perfect episode to warm the heart of anyone who rolls their eyes at Christmas specials.

Saint Young Men (Christmas OVA) 
This anime is one of Emily's guilty pleasures. A slice of life anime featuring Jesus and Buddha on vacation in the mortal world, it is a perfect example of our catchphrase "irreverent, not sacrilegious". The Christmas episode is particularly endearing, as Buddha desperately tries to plan a birthday party for his roommate in secret. Fortunately, Jesus has no idea what "Christmas" is actually about - a humorous nod to the fact that Christmas is a largely secular holiday in Japan. This episode has plenty of jokes, but what comes through the strongest is a feeling of sincerity and joy. It's a sentimental love letter to Japanese Christmas traditions, as fluffy and sweet as Christmas cake

Warehouse 13 (2.13) "Secret Santa"
This is one of the few series i have seen to feature a "Hanukkah" episode. The A Plot features a MacGuffin that grants the powers of Santa wreaking mayhem, but the B Plot is what landed it on the list. Claudia decides to find Artie's beloved childhood piano and give it to him as a gift, but when she finds the piano she also finds Artie's estranged father. She decides to reunite the two men, however there are tough consequences as tempers flare. It takes a hard look at the trope of "making up at the holidays", addressing the painful and messy parts of trying to put a family back together again after so long. There are bared souls and lots of apologies, but eventually everyone sits down with a prayer and has a meal together.

The Weekenders (3.25) "The Worst. Holiday. Ever."
Tino, Carver, Lor, and Tish have decided it's time to experience a snow-laden Christmas so they leave Southern California for the weekend and head up into the mountains with Lor's grandmother. They get stuck in a blizzard, and begin telling "So you think this is bad?" stories about their worst holiday experiences, as Granny reminds them no matter how bad things get, at least you're spending time with the people who love you. Each section is about five minutes long and cover Solstice, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and Hanukkah.

Our well-wishes and prayers go out to everyone this holiday season. May you be surrounded by love, light, and good cheer at this blessed time of year.

- Dorkness to Light

God Bless Us Every One

Friday, December 2, 2016

Podcast Recommendation

We have mentioned our friend Tyler Smith before. He is a film critic who in addition to being a co-host on the general movie criticism podcast Battleship Pretension, runs the blog and podcast More Than One Lesson, dedicated to providing "movie talk for the discerning Christian." More Than One Lesson spun off a podcast a few months back, The Fear of God, which I recommend.

And their network has grown again! Salty Cinema is a monthly podcast hosted by filmmaker and writer Jacob Kindberg, in which he interviews the film industry's most talented and influential Christians. It is a great idea for a podcast, and the first two episodes have been very enjoyable.

In the first episode, Kindberg interviews Craig Detweiler about the value of mentoring in the entertainment industry and film education. In the second episode, he talks with film marketing specialist Mark Joseph about the extent to which "faith-based" film is a genre.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book Review of "The Case for the Psalms"

Book #35. The Case for the Psalms, by N.T. Wright. Unabridged audio.
Most of N.T. Wright’s long bibliography is made up mostly of academic and semi-academic works, focusing on life in first-century Israel. He has made great strides in explaining the world that Jesus and Paul came from.
But in this small book, Wright is more reflective. He turns his attention to the Psalms, the Hebrew book of prayer and worship, the great hymnbook of the Bible. He calls for modern Christians, whether they worship in a liturgical manner or not, to include regular reading of the Psalms in their daily lives. He takes a broad swipe at modern worship music, calling musical leaders in church to write more songs that incorporate or reflect content from Psalms.
The subtitle of the book is “Why They Are Essential.” In answering that question, Wright talks about his own devotional practices, giving many examples of how Psalms have been meaningful in his life. This is perhaps the most time that Wright has spent in any of his books talking about himself and his life.
The walks through the Psalms, section by section. This structure enables Wright to bring his academic expertise to the material. He provides historical, literary, and spiritual contexts for reading these hymns, but is able to do that in a highly readable manner.

Source: HOOPLA.

This review originally appeared at: Alan's Eyes and Ears.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Audiofeed 2016 - Glamping

For as long as they have existed, music festivals have been camping events. And Christian festivals kept that tradition going, by offering camping options for attenders. On my own, I attended the Creation Festival a few times in the early nineties, and camped in a trailer that we owned at the time.

But as soon as we began to attend festivals as a family, hotels became out mode preferred mode of lodging for festivals. And at this past summer's Audiofeed, we stayed at the nearby (less than a mile away) Comfort Suites.

There are some advantages and disadvantages to "glamping" during a festival. Better sleep is a huge advantage, as is the ability to stay dry during the summer rainstorms that are regular features of festivals, especially those in the Midwest. Starting the day with hotel breakfast helps as well. Festival food tends to be of the fried variety, so snagging a few pieces of fruit every morning from the buffet adds that needed bit of health to the festival menu.

So many festival attendees do camp on site that I am occasionally embarrassed by our choice to "glamp." But whenever I see somebody at breakfast with the telltale wristband ... I don't feel so bad.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

New Comrades Album

We met the band Comrades at Audiofeed 2014, and saw them again in 2016. In addition to having terrific album designs, they play a nice groovy brand of modern hard rock. Their first album"Safekeeper" has an interesting mix of vocal songs and instrumentals.

Their second album, "Lone/Grey" came out in October on Facedown Records. This has the same mix of harsh male vocals, sweeter female vocals, and hard instrumentation that the first album contained.

The first official video from "Lone/Grey," for the song "Dark Tongues Part II" has been released.

The new album is available at the record label's website, iTunes, or Amazon.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Podcast #009 - Over the Garden Wall

"Into the Unknown"

On this Halloween-y Times episode, Emily & Alan discuss Emily's new favorite creepy, weird production, the 2014 Cartoon Network mini-series "Over the Garden Wall."

In the course of the discussion, we talk about Halloween, American folk religion, liminal spaces, scary forests, and demons. And we reply to some of the lovely things that our lovely listeners have said to us recently.

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Link: The music of Anderson Cale
Link: A doctoral dissertation on liminality and the Bible

We would love to hear from you about this issue, the podcast episode, or the podcast in general. Send e-mail feedback to 

You can follow Alan on twitter @ProfessorAlan

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review of "Strength For The Journey"

Strength for the Journey, by Diana Butler Bass. Hardcover.
Diane Butler Bass is an author, retreat leader, and seminary professor. In this book, she combines her personal church history with sociological and theological insights to present this look at the present state and future of mainline churches in the United States.
Bass’ main point is that although mainline churches have spent the last few decades losing members (hemorrhaging, some may say), that there is in fact renewal taking place in those denominations. Her focus is on the Episcopal Church, of which she has been a member since her twenties, but she believes that what she sees there applies to other mainline American churches.
Bass talks about her post-college drift away from Evangelicalism, and being drawn towards the Episcopal Church. She spent a few decades moving from city to city for career and family purposes, giving her experience at a number of different congregations. She was able to experience shrinking and growing congregations, older and younger congregations, and stable and changing congregations. All of this experience is woven skillfully into the work.
Her conclusions are interesting, and counter-cultural. I am not convinced that she will eventually be proven right, and that mainline churches will recover a leadership position in society, but her arguments are interesting. Bass has an academic background, but the personal aspects of the narrative help keep the book easily readable. She saves the most traditionally academic analysis until the last few chapters.
Source: public library. I sought out a book by this author after hearing her interviewed (in relation to a different book) on the Nomad Podcast. 

This review originally appeared at: Alan's Eyes and Ears.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Summit on Race Relations

On a weekend in late September, Senior Pastor Rich Nathan and campus pastor Dr. Charles Montgomery preached a joint sermon on  building a multi-ethnic church. Their church, Vineyard Columbus, has over the last decade transformed itself from a standard overly-white evangelical church into a congregation representing nearly 100 nations.

In this sermon, the two men take turns telling their stories of how racial reconciliation became important to them. They talk about the positives that have come from a commitment to building a multi-ethnic congregation, as well as the sacrifices that each had to make as a result of that commitment.  It was a fascinating and eye-opening event.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Major Milestone for "The Podcasting Priest"

We have mentioned Father Roderick from SQPN previously, regarding his YouTube videos that use LEGOs to present church teachings.

Father Roderick is  also a pioneer in the world of podcasting, and recently released the 1000th epiosde of The Break, his flagship show.

The show has gone through a few iterations over the nearly 10 years that it has been around. For a time, it was a daily show, but now comes out (mostly) weekly. The show includes reviews of geek-related movies and TV, along with discussions of current history and information about the Catholic Church.

Congratulations to Father Roderick on reaching this impressive podcasting milestone. Here is to another 1,000 more!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Happy St. Francis Day!

St. Francis lived from approximately 1181 to 1226. His legend was such that he was canonized just a few years after his death. In his 44 years of life, Francis accomplished quite a bit. He founded multiple religious orders that still go strong today. He was a skilled poet, and a great teacher about the value of God's creation. He witnessed to the world the value of poverty, and is credited with creating the first Nativity scene.

In addition to penning the famous Canticle featuring "Brother Sun" and "Sister Moon," he was known as a lover of animals. He once left a group of traveling companions, asking them to "wait for me while I preach to my sisters the birds."

Many Catholic churches recognize Francis' commitment to God's world by offering a "blessing of the animals" service. Mostly that's for dogs, but I've heard of more exotic animals coming being brought to these services, as well. My pets have always been cats, and I wonder how many well-meaning cat owners have been clawed and scratched attempting to have their felines blessed.

The current Pope took inspiration from this saint in selecting his name upon being raised to the Papacy. This is reflective of both men's commitment to the cause and care of the poor.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Podcast #008 - The Grab Bag

"A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That"

In this grab-bag of an episode, we explore the connections between the 4th century churchman Athanasius and new Broadway star Alexander Hamilton. And we ask the important question: whose severed limb was that anyway? We also point out a couple of Christian comedians who are actually funny. And we reply to the lovely things that our lovely listeners have said to us recently.

Click on the player below to listen to the episode:

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Link: The podcast "The Fear of God"
Link: Episode 351 of the podcast "Catholic Under the Hood"
Link: More Than One Lesson episode about "Christian Satire"
Link: The band Insomniac Folklore
Link: Comedian John Crist
Link: The Babylon Bee
Link: Anderson Cale's music 

We would love to hear from you about this issue, the podcast episode, or the podcast in general. Send e-mail feedback to 

You can follow Alan on twitter @ProfessorAlan

Thursday, September 15, 2016

New Music From One Of Our Faves!

Cornerstone 2012 was festival of musical discovery. That sounds strange, because it was the last year for that festival. Yet we found a range of wonderful artists there, many of whom we have followed since. 

One of those was the Canadian singer Lauren Mann, who played at that festival with her band, The Fairly Odd Folk. We are big fans of her 2012 release "Over Land and Sea." Lauren has a new solo album, Dearestly. The new album is available in various forms, including a pay-what-you-want digital download.

For a preview of the new album, check out this music video from the first single, "Brave Face."

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

John Crist: "How Christian Music is Made"

We posted a John Crist video a month or so ago. Well, he's put out another excellent video, this one about how to have a successful song on Christian radio. More videos and other information can be found at Crist's website. 

"A, D & G. It's the holy trinity of Christian music."

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Podcast Recommendation

I wanted to give a "shout-out" to a new podcast that is taking a look at a genre that many Evangelical Christians are very wary of, to say the least.

A spin-off from More Than One Lesson, the podcast The Fear of God is a show that analyzes the horror genre from a Christian point of view. Hosts Reed Lackey and Nathan Rouse plan to look mostly at movies, but have mentioned that TV and comic books could eventually be discussed, as well. The first few episodes includes coverage of the movie Devil, and discussion of the Conjuring films is coming up soon.

I am not a fan of horror, but I am looking forward to listening to the discussions of horror that this show will bring. Check out their show for a weekly dose of the scary stuff.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

John Crist in "Christian Mingle Inspector"

This is the first video I ever saw from comedian John Crist, Most of his work that I 've seen is very funny, making him one of the few Christians in comedy who consistently produces material that is ... you know ... funny.

He pokes fun at the Evangelical sub-culture in a way that points out its shortcomings, but not in a harsh or biting way. Here is his take on faith-based dating sites:

"Personally, I just don't see how someone can be a Christian and wear yoga pants."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Kickstarter: Insomniac Folklore

One of our favorite bands, Insomniac Folklore, has a Kickstarter campaign going! The link to the campaign is here. As of this post, they are 45% funded, with more than a week to go. They have a range of great premiums available, although the homemade cookies are all gone!

They are describing their new album as "apocalyptic," although I doubt the album will be all that dark. They are from Portland, for crying out loud. Their website described the band as: "lovable hooligans that would probably be considered offensive, if only they weren’t so darned cute." Did we mention that band includes Wallace the Musical Sheep?

We saw the band at Audiofeed this year, and chatted with them for a while after their show. They are some of the nicest people around.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Podcast #007 - Kingdom Come

"It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's A Podcast Crossover!"

In this episode, we continue a conversation that began on episode 243 of Michael Bailey's Views From the Longbox podcast. Over there, we covered the basic comic-book stuff in Alex Ross and Mark Waid's 1996 graphic novel "Kingdom Come."

In this episode, the three of us talk about the spiritual and religious aspects of the comics. We cover Reverend McKay's pastoral style, whether Superman should be presented as an analog of Jesus or of Moses, and whether an atomic bomb could really create a mushroom cloud in the shape of a cross.

Because we had a guest on this episode, we did not cover feedback from our terrific feedbackers. But please send in feedback on this episode, and we will cover it all on the next one!

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Link: Michael Bailey's View from the Longbox
Link: Anderson Cale's music 

We would love to hear from you about this issue, the podcast episode, or the podcast in general. Send e-mail feedback to 

You can follow Alan on twitter @ProfessorAlan

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dead Theologians Society: St. Ignatius of Loyola

One of the most significant figures of the 16th Century, St. Ignatius left behind a legacy of accomplishments that still resonate in the Church to this day.
Born in 1491, the nobleman spent his early adulthood in military service. His legs were severely injured by a cannonball, and in his convalescence read a “Life of Christ” which influenced the rest of his life. After his recovery, his conversion led him to a life of service.

In 1534, he and six companions created the Society of Jesus, whose member became known as Jesuits. In the nearly 5 centuries of its existence, the Society has become a leading voice in Catholicism promoting academic excellence and cultural pursuits. Currently, the Jesuits offer spiritual retreats, minister in hospitals, and promote social justice and ecumenical dialogue. The current Pope, Francis, is the first Jesuit to become Pope.

His “Spiritual Exercises” have long been a critical component of spiritual formation in the Catholic Church. Over the last few decades, many Evangelicals and other Protestants have also found value in Ignatian spirituality.

Among the many words of wisdom that Ignatius left behind is this encouragement to service: “Teach us to give and not count the cost.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Audiofeed 2016 - Listening to Friends

I was going through the performer schedule a few weeks before the festival, to plan out my days and cross my fingers that two acts I want to see wouldn’t be playing on different stages at the same time. And during that process, I ran into the spoken-word performer Keyoung, and mentioned to my wife that his name seemed familiar. I wondered if we had seen him perform at a festival before?
It turns out that I remembered the name because my wife had mentioned it before, as she actually knows Keyoung. He used to work at the church where she still does work. The whole family was not able to see him perform at Audiofeed this year, but my wife heard his show, and they chatted after the show. Here is a link to a song of his.

This reminded me that at Cornerstone 2010 we were able to see another set of friends, Marco and Sara Castro. I’m pretty sure at least one of them also worked at the church where my wife works – to be fair, it’s a big church. Anyway, they are an acoustic duo who perform around town a fair amount, but it was great to see them on the bigger stage of Cornerstone. As it was with Keyoung at Audiofeed this year.
Always great to see friends play at a big event.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Audiofeed 2016 - Aracely & Maron

Our first day at Audiofeed began with a tour of the fairgrounds. The Festival was definitely bigger than 2014. There were a few new performance tents in the main area of the grounds, and one large tent was set up in the “outskirts,” all by itself on the other side of the grandwtands.  We later learned that this was the screamo heavy metal tent.
We started our festival by setting up in the Radon Lounge, which was more often than not the singer-songwriter stage. And we saw the first two acts of the day, Aracely and Maron.
Aracely is a bilingual performer, and most of the songs we heard from her were in Spanish. She played Audiofeed last year, but this was the first time we had seen her perform. She had a very pleasant vibe, and I enjoyed her set. She has an album out on Grrr Records, the label associated with the Jesus People USA community.
Maron Gaffron was a regular at Cornerstone. I saw her in 2007, my first time at that fest. I was immediately impressed and bought her album “Uptown.” Along with many of the Cornerstone / Grrr artists, she made the move to being an Audiofeed regular. She plays piano and guitar, which is a good thing because her guitar stopped working during her set, and she ended with three piano-only songs. What I like about her is that she has “down to earth” lyrics, giving her songs a “lived-in” feel.  I also like that she hangs out at the fest for its duration, often joining other performers as a backup singer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Podcast #006 - Talking "Spirit Blade"

"Exploring a World of Shadows."

In this all-new sixth podcast episode, Emily & Alan talk about the Spirit Blade audio drama series, a gripping, futuristic sci-fi tale. The third part of the trilogy, "A World of Shadows," has just been released.

We talk with Spirit Blade creator and producer Paeter Frandsen about the 10-year journey that he has gone on to complete the trilogy.

The episode closes with some great listener feedback.

Click on the player below to listen to the episode:

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You may also subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or the RSS Feed.

Link: Purchase "Spirit Blade: A World of Shadows" 
Link: The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast

Link: Anderson Cale's music 

We would love to hear from you about this issue, the podcast episode, or the podcast in general. Send e-mail feedback to 

You can follow Alan on twitter @ProfessorAlan

Friday, July 15, 2016

Audiofeed 2016 - Travel Tales

For as long as I have been attending Christian festivals (which is pretty much as long as I’ve been a Christian), Cornerstone was the Holy Grail. Eventually, once, I was going to make it there.
But at the time, the drive was in the 16 hour range, which made it unreasonably far away. But it was still on the long-term “to do someday” list. In 1999, we moved about halfway closer, cutting the drive to about 9 hours. Even though the last hours, past nothing but cornfields and windmills, seemed like half a day.
Audiofeed made the drive much easier, moving from the western edge of Illinois to the eastern. This cut the travel time to less than 6 hours. Not having to get p at the crack of dawn makes for a much less stressful start to a family vacation. And a particular Steak-n-Shake is turning into our go-to lunch place.
About 100 miles out from Audiofeed, we passed a van painted like the Scooby-Doo “Mystery Machine,” with a Jesus-themed bumper sticker. We joked that they were obviously headed to Audiofeed. I actually thought it was possible, maybe a 40% chance that they were actually Audiofeed-ers.
When we drove through the front gate of the fairgrounds the next morning, what was parked in the front camping area? That same van, with that same bumper sticker.