Thursday, December 28, 2017

More Funny from John Crist

We have all been here. We may well have been here just a few days ago.

In this video, John Crist presents the 6 possible reactions to Christmas gifts.

Many more videos are available at John Crist's web site.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Salvation of 'Napalm Girl'

This op-ed originally appeared in the "Houses of Worship" section of the Wall Street Journal, Friday, December 22, 2017. Kim Phuc Phan Thi is the author of "Fire Road: The Napalm Girl's Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace," from Tyndale Momentum, 2017.

"You may not recognize me now, but you almost certainly know who I am. My name is Kim Phuc, though you likely know me by another name. It is one I never asked for, a name I have spent a lifetime trying to escape: “Napalm Girl.”

You have probably seen my picture a thousand times. Yes, that picture. The image that made the world gasp. Some called it a turning point in the Vietnam War—a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of me in 1972, age 9, running along a puddled roadway in front of an expressionless soldier. I was photographed with arms outstretched, naked and shrieking in pain and fear, with the dark contour of a napalm cloud billowing in the distance.

My own people had dropped bombs on Route 1 in an effort to cut off the trade routes for the Viet Cong rebels. I had not been targeted. I had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Those bombs have caused me immeasurable pain over the course of my life. Forty-five years later I am still receiving treatment for the burns that cover my arms, back and neck. But even worse than the physical pain was the emotional and spiritual pain. For years I bore the crippling weight of anger, bitterness and resentment toward those who caused my suffering. Yet as I look back over a spiritual journey that has spanned more than three decades, I realize the same bombs that caused so much pain and suffering also brought me to a place of great healing. Those bombs led me to Jesus Christ.

My salvation experience occurred on Christmas Eve. It was 1982. I was attending a special worship service at a small church in Vietnam. The pastor, Ho Hieu Ha, delivered a message many Christians would find familiar: Christmas is not about the gifts we carefully wrap and place under a tree. Rather, it is about the gift of Jesus Christ, who was wrapped in human flesh and given to us by God. As the pastor spoke, I knew in my heart that something was shifting inside of me.

A decade removed from the defining tragedy of my life, I still desperately needed peace. I had so much hatred and bitterness in my heart. Yet I was ready for love and joy. I wanted to let go of my pain. I wanted to pursue life instead of holding fast to fantasies of death. When Pastor Ho finished speaking, I stood up, stepped out into the aisle, and made my way to the front of the sanctuary to say “yes” to Jesus Christ.

When I woke up that Christmas morning, I experienced my first-ever heartfelt celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. I know what it is like to experience terror, to feel despondent, to live in fear. I know how wearying and hopeless life can be sometimes. After years in the spiritual wilderness, I felt the kind of healing that can only come from God.

I had spent so much of my life running—first from the bombs and the war, then from communist Vietnam. I had always assumed that to flee was my only choice. Looking back, I understand the path I had been racing along led me straight to God. Today I live at ease. Yes, my circumstances can still be challenging. But my heart is 100% healed. 

My faith in Jesus Christ is what has enabled me to forgive those who had wronged me—no matter how severe those wrongs were. Faith also inspired me to pray for my enemies rather than curse them. It enabled me not only to tolerate those who had wronged me but to love them.

No matter what type of pain or sorrow you may be experiencing, as Christmas approaches, I encourage you not to give up. Hold fast to hope. It is hope that will see you through. This peace I have found can be yours as well. I pray that it finds you this Christmas."

Sunday, December 24, 2017

"My Kind of Santa"

A terrific essay about the historical St. Nicholas appears on the St. Nicholas Center website, by James Parker III. He is a professor at he Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Check it out.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Reformed Santa Claus

The Babylon Bee gets it. Again. Although the thought of Santa with a pipe and a goatee makes me shudder a bit. And I doubt he'd be a hit at shopping malls.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Crowdfunding Follow-Up: Imari Tones (#2)

The previous post included a link to the YouTube for a song from the Imari Tones' album "Revive the World." This was part of the package of CDs we received from the band's successful crowdfunding campaign. That campaign revolved around the concept album "Jesus Wind." From that album, about the history of the church in Japan, here is the song "Bushido."

Enjoy and rock on!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Crowdfunding Follow-Up: Imari Tones

A few months back, I posted info about a crowdfunding campaign for the Japanese heavy metal band Imari Tones. We received our CDs recently, and wanted to post some of the band's music, now that we've been able to listen to some.

In addition to the concept album Japanese religious history, we also received a prior album, Revive the World. Find below one of my favorites tracks from that album, "Ripping Through Hell."

Enjoy, and rock on!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

This One Could Happen

What makes satire work is when it has a ring of truth to it. And this one -- sadly -- has the ring of truth to it. Not that this IS happening.But it COULD happen. Great work, Babylon Bee.

VeggieTales Returns In Explosive Michael Bay Reboot

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Jolly Ol' St. Nick!

In honor of the feast day of that great heretic-puncher and orthodoxy-upholder, here is a classic meme about the man.

And just in case you wondered that it couldn't hurt that much to be punched by a theologian, what if that theologian had clear Klingon ancestry?

For more information about the saint behind the legend, check out the St. Nicholas Center.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Black Friday

Enjoy your shopping today, if you are fortunate enough to have the day off work. And if you're fortunate enough to be visiting another side of the family today ... 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Babylon Bee: Faux Calvinist!

Never trust a Calvinist without a beard. Or with a beard, but that's just our view. Not everything the Babylon Bee puts out is funny, but when they nail it, they nail it.

Beardless ‘Calvinist’ Outed As Arminian Spy

Click through for the full article.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Reformation Day (x500)!

Traditionally, October 31 is thought to be the date in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The church still stands, and the door is still there, although it is not easily accessed. When we visited Wittenberg a few months back as part of the "Luther 500" celebration, we were housed very near the church, now called Castle Church. And I took this picture of church history's most important door.

The door. The actual door.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Podcast #014 - Scooby-Doo Team-up #13


On this Halloweeny episode, Emily & Professor Alan talk about a nice light tale, from the delightful Scooby-Doo Team-Up title. Ghosts are disappearing all across the Earth, and the Phantom Stranger and Deadman seek out the expert ghost-finders of Mystery, Inc. to find them.

Em & the Prof also cover some great listener feedback.

Click on the player below to listen to the episode:

Right-click to download the episode.

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

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, October 27, 2017

One Legacy of Luther

The following appeared in the October 27, 2017 edition of the Wall Street Journal, and was reprinted at

How Martin Luther Advanced Freedom

An oil on panel
portrait of Martin
Luther, circa 1526.

The Reformation brought a radical egalitarianism to Christendom.

 By Joseph Loconte

Martin Luther was an unlikely revolutionary for human freedom. When the Augustinian monk hammered his “Ninety-Five Theses” to the Wittenberg Castle Church on Oct. 31, 1517—and unleashed the Protestant Reformation—he was still committed to the spiritual authority of the Catholic Church and retained many of the prejudices of European Christianity.
Yet Luther’s personal experience of God’s love and mercy—“I felt myself to be reborn”—supported a democratic approach to religious belief. In his theological works, Luther introduced a radical egalitarianism that helped lay the foundation for modern democracy and human rights.
Born into a German peasant family in 1483, Luther came to despise every form of spiritual elitism. He sought to replace rigid church hierarchies with “the priesthood of all believers,” the proposition that there are no qualitative differences between clergy and laity. “Just because we are all priests of equal standing,” he wrote in “An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility” (1520), “no one must push himself forward and, without the consent and choice of the rest, presume to do that which we all have equal authority.”
It was a message at odds with the vast superstructure of 16th-century Christendom. Only the monastic orders, with their vows of celibacy and poverty, could produce the spiritual athletes of the church, the thinking went. But to Luther the monasteries were hotbeds of avarice and pride. He wanted them abolished, writing in “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church” (1520) that “pretentious lives, lived under vows are more hostile to faith than anything else can be.”
Luther applied the same logic to the doctrine of Christian vocation. Resisting the stark divisions between “secular” and “religious” occupations, he dignified all legitimate work. “A shoemaker, a smith, a farmer, each has his manual occupation and work; and, yet, at the same time, all are eligible to act as priests and bishops,” he wrote.
An oil on panel portrait of Martin Luther, circa 1526. 
Luther took an ax to the legal culture that shielded priests and bishops from criminal prosecution simply because they held church offices. “It is intolerable that in canon law, the freedom, person, and goods of the clergy should be given this exemption, as if the laymen were not exactly as spiritual, and as good Christians, as they, or did not equally belong to the church.” Here was a religious basis for the principle of equal justice under the law, a core tenet of liberal democracy.
Perhaps Luther’s most subversive act was his translation of the New Testament into German, a feat scholars estimate he accomplished in three months. The papacy had controlled the interpretation of Scripture, available almost exclusively in Latin, the language of the clergy and the highly educated. But Luther wanted the Bible translated and read as widely as possible: “We must inquire about this of the mother in the home, the children on the street, the common man in the marketplace,” he explained in “On Translation: An Open Letter” (1530). “We must be guided by their language, the way they speak, and do our translating accordingly.” 
Luther always elevated the individual believer, armed with the Bible, above any earthly authority. This was the heart of his defiance at the Diet of Worms: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand.” Neither prince nor pope could invade the sanctuary of his conscience. This, he proclaimed, is the “inestimable power and liberty” belonging to every Christian.
It would be hard to imagine a more radical break with centuries of church teaching and tradition. Luther’s intense study of the Bible—part of his anguished quest to be reconciled to God—made these great innovations possible. Convinced that the teachings of Christ had become twisted into an “unbearable bondage of human works and laws,” he preached a gospel of freedom. Salvation, he taught, was a gift from God available to everyone through faith in Jesus and his sacrificial death.
In 1520, some three years after publishing his theses, Luther released “On the Freedom of a Christian,” his manifesto on the privileges and obligations of every believer. It became a publishing phenomenon. “A Christian has no need of any work or law in order to be saved,” he insisted, “since through faith he is free from every law and does everything out of pure liberty and freely.” Christian liberty of this kind provided no excuse for libertinism. Just the opposite: “I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me.”
Luther offered more than a theory of individual empowerment. He delivered a spiritual bill of rights. Generations of reformers—from John Locke to Martin Luther King Jr.—would praise his achievement. Half a millennium later, his message of freedom has not lost its power.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Dan Brown Does it Again :O(

A researcher who was turned into a character in Dan Brown's latest novel "Origin," rebuts how he is portrayed in the book, and whow Brown characterizes what his research implies.

From the Wall Street Journal, 10/13/2017, reprinted at

Dan Brown Can’t Cite Me to Disprove God

I recently learned that I play a role in Dan Brown’s new novel, “Origin.” Mr. Brown writes that Jeremy England, an MIT physics professor, “was currently the toast of Boston academia, having caused a global stir” with his work on biophysics. The description is flattering, but Mr. Brown errs when he gets to the meaning of my research. One of his characters explains that my literary doppelgänger may have “identified the underlying physical principle driving the origin and evolution of life.” If the fictional Jeremy England’s theory is right, the suggestion goes, it would be an earth-shattering disproof of every other story of creation. All religions might even become obsolete.

It would be easy to criticize my fictional self’s theories based on Mr. Brown’s brief description, but it would also be unfair. My actual research on how lifelike behaviors emerge in inanimate matter is widely available, whereas the Dan Brown character’s work is only vaguely described. There’s no real science in the book to argue over.

My true concern is with my double’s attitude in the book. He is a prop for a billionaire futurist whose mission is to demonstrate that science has made God irrelevant. In that role, Jeremy England says he is just “trying to describe the way things ‘are’ in the universe” and that he “will leave the spiritual implications to the clerics and philosophers.”

Two years ago I wrote in Commentary magazine that it is impossible simply to describe “the way things are” without first making the significant choice of what language to speak in. The language of physics can be extremely useful in talking about the world, but it can never address everything that needs to be said about human life. Equations can elegantly explain how an airplane stays in the air, but they cannot convey the awe someone feels when flying above the clouds. I’m disappointed in my fictional self for being so blithely uninterested in what lies beyond the narrow confines of his technical field.

I’m a scientist, but I also study and live by the Hebrew Bible. To me, the idea that physics could prove that the God of Abraham is not the creator and ruler of the world reflects a serious misunderstanding—of both the scientific method and the function of the biblical text.

Science is an approach to common experience. It addresses what is objectively measurable by inventing models that summarize the world’s partial predictability. In contrast, the biblical God tells Moses at the burning bush: “I will be what I will be.” He is addressing the uncertainty the future brings for all. No prediction can ever fully answer the question of what will happen next.

Humans will always face a choice about how to react to the unknowable future. Encounters between God and the Hebrew prophets are often described in terms of covenants, partly to emphasize that seeing the hand of God at work starts with a conscious decision to view the world a certain way.

Consider someone who assumes that all existence is the work of a creator who speaks through the events of the world. He can follow that assumption down the road and decide whether God seems to be keeping his side of the bargain. Many of us live like this and feel that with time our trust in him has been affirmed. There’s no scientific argument for this way of drawing meaning from experience. But there’s no way science could disprove it either, because it is outside the scope of scientific inquiry.

Some religious adherents do make claims that deserve to be disputed by science. For instance, they may openly acknowledge that their deepest beliefs are incompatible with the existence of dinosaurs. The fictional me—and perhaps Mr. Brown too—might hope to put these holdouts back on their heels. But disputes like this never answer the most important question: Do we need to keep learning about God? For my part, in light of everything I know, I am certain that we do.

Mr. England is a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Comic Book Review: Martin Luther

Martin Luther: A Monk Changes the World, by Johannes Saurer & Ulrike Albers. Translated by Christine Gollmart.

Martin Luther lived a very action-packed life, and condensing it into 26 comic book pages is a very difficult task. But this short graphic novel manages to hit all of the high points, and tell the story with the drama that it deserves.

The book rarely stays in one location for more than a few pages, and manages to play scenes in Eisleben, Mansfeld, Erfurt, Augsburg, Worms, Wartburg Castle, Schmalkalden, Torgau, and  (of course) Wittenberg.

The book also manages to include as characters a number of Luther's allies, including Justus Jonas, Philipp Melanchthon,  and his wife, the wonderful Katharina von Bora.

This is an informative and interesting biography. And considering the pace the story has to move at to cover the highlights, it is also quite entertaining.

The graphic novel may be purchased here, from Amazon.

Source: We picked this graphic novel up at a small store in Wittenberg, when we visited Germany during the Luther 500 celebration, which he talked about on a podcast episode here. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Crowdfunding Christian Music Podcast

We have posted about multiple musical crowd-sourcing campaigns here (including from The Letter Black, Mad the the World, and Von Strantz.). And since there are podcasts for everything these days, it should come as no surprise that there is a podcast designed to promote crowdfunding efforts by Christian musical acts. It is called, no surprise, The Crowdfunding Christian Music Podcast. It releases episodes intermittently, but each episode features information about approximately 5 - 10 campaigns, covering worship music, modern hymns, singer-songwriter acts, and rock music.

It was on Episode 69 of this podcast that we learned about the Imari Tones campaign, which we discussed here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Babylon Bee: Luther Echo

I love the fact that the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (which we talked about here, for starters), has brought Martin Luther to prominence, along with his acerbic wit. Not everything the Babylon Bee puts out is funny, but when they nail it, they nail it.

New Martin Luther-Shaped Amazon Echo Will Rudely Answer All Your Theology Questions

Click through for the full article.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Luther 500 photos

We have talked about our "Luther 500" trip to Germany, as well as some of the events and exhibits we attended, but we haven't posted many of our own pictures. Here are a few pictures from various Reformation sites, inside and outside of churches. .

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Japanese Heavy Metal About Christian History

We have posted a number of music crowd-funding campaigns here, but it's hard to think of one that has more "Dorkness to Light" elements than this one. The Imari Tones are a Japanese heavy metal band raising money to fund a CD release of their latest album, "Jesus Wind." This is a concept album about the history of Christianity in Japan. Loud music, church history, and an international perspective? That's what we are all about.

The YouTube video for their Indiegogo campaign can be found here:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Podcast #013 - Justice League Dark

"Constantine & His Amazing Friends!"

On this lucky thirteenth episode, Emily & Professor Alan talk about the Justice League Dark. They focus on the recent animated movie, but also talk about the New 52 comic of the same name, and the "Constantine" TV show.

And then for the first time in a long time, they cover listener feedback, most of which is pretty awesome.

Click on the player below to listen to the episode:

Right-click to download the episode.

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

Link: The music of Insomniac Folklore

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

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Babylon Bee: The Introvert Service

I can't be the only one who thinks this would qualify as "Heaven on earth," right? Not everything the Babylon Bee puts out funny, but when they nail it, they nail it.

"Local Church Offers ‘Introvert Service’ Where Nobody Has To Talk To Anyone Else"

Click through for the full article.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Osteen vs. Luther

Adam4d is a Christian humor website that is occasionally quite funny, even if we aren't always on the exact same page theologically. But the site hit a home run with this, a series of actual Joel Osteen tweets, followed by actual Martin Luther qoutes.

In addition to having a grasp on the theology of grace, Luther also had quite the way with words.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Unfolding the Wiedmann Bible

We mentioned recently the artistic achievement that is The Wiedmann Bible. Expaining the unfolding aspects of the mile-ling work is one thing, but seeing it unfolded is another. In this video, the complete Wiedmann Bible is unfolded for the first time.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Wiedmann Bible

We learned of this work during a recent trip to the "Unser Buch" ("Our Book") exhibit in Wittenberg. It is a fascinating work, and an impressive achievement. 

The book, which consists of 3,333 images, was painted by Willy Wiedmann over the course of 16 years, although it was not discovered until after the artist's death. It contains extensive depictions of both the Old and New Testament, all presented in Wiedmann's unique polycon style. 

We did not see the actual book, but the exhibit included a digitized version of parts of it, giving us a chance to see the (literal) unfolding of the story. It was the most memorable part of a very memorable exhibit. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Graphic Novel / Rock Opera

During our recent visit to Wittenberg, Germany, we witnessed a sneak preview of Michael Bridges' upcoming project "Luther: The Rock Opera." The intent of the project is for it to be performed while panels of "Luther: The Graphic Novel" are displayed. As inherently dramatic as the story of the Reformation is, and as larger-than-life as some of the characters are, a graphic novel could be an effective way to tell the story. 

The 72-page graphic novel is available for order here. The hardcover costs $14.99, and the digital version costs $4.99.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July

From the 1990  album "Powerhouse," here is White Heart performing one of their best songs, along with one their 1990-est videos, "Independence Day."

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The "Unser Buch" Exhibit

One of the highlights of our recent trip to Wittenberg was the "Unser Buch" ("Our Book") exhibit, put on by the Museum of the Bible. The exhibit, subtitled "The History of the Bible form Moses to the Moon," traces the history of the Bible, and includes examples from a variety of time frames and languages.

They have a working old-style printing press, which each day is set up to print a single verse. There is also a very cool exhibit regarding The Wiedmann Bible, an illustrated version of the book that includes over 3,000 illustrations.

It was a wonderful, meaningful, and impressive exhibit.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Spirit Blade Podcast Turns 10!

On episode 6 of the Dorkness to Light podcast, we spoke with Paeter Frandsen, creator of the Spirit Blade audio dramas and the Spirit Blade Underground podcast. With the recent episode 465, Paeter celebrated the podcast's 10th anniversay. 

On that podcast episode, Paeter re-released his very first episode, along with commentary. He cringes. he laughs, and he celebrates. Congratulation, Paeter, on 10 years of faithful podcasting!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Here I Stand: A Lutheran Mixtape

As mentioned in our recent podcast episode recounting our experiences with the "Luther 500" event, we heard Andy Pokel perform a few songs from his album "Here I Stand: A Lutheran Mixtape." The album takes a "Hamilton-style" spin on Martin Luther and the events of his life, and is pretty excellent. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Podcast #012 - Luther 500!

"Luther 500"

On this super-sized episode, Emily & Professor Alan talk about the religious, spiritual, and cultural aspects of their recent family vacation. After a brief discussion of their time in London, they spend the majority of the episode talking about their week-long experience in Wittenberg, Germany, at the "Luther 500" event.

They discuss the devotional, historical, theological, and church history aspects of what they learned and experienced at this commemoration of the start of the Protestant Reformation.

Click on the player below to listen to the episode:

Right-click to download the episode.

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

Link: The music of Lost and Found
Link: The music of Andy Pokel
Link: The Luther 500 Tour 
Link: The Wiedmann 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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

More Funny From John Crist

If you've been to an evangelical church, especially in the South, you've run across the person with a Bible verse at the ready for every situation.

In this video, he perfectly portrays this woman.

Many more videos are available at John Crist's web site.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Another band, another upcoming Kickstarter

Mad at the World was one of our absolute favorite bands int he late 1980s and 1990s, putting out such terrific albums "Seasons of Love" and "Through the Forest." And we are excited to see that they will be doing a Kickstarter for a new album. Soon, the say. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Coming Soon!

To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the musical act Lost and Found has organized a number of tours to Wittenberg and surrounding area. There will be a range of cultural, social, historical, and devotional events included in the event.

And we are attending!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Another band, another Kickstarter

Kickstarter season keeps rolling on! This time it is Von Strantz, another band we discovered at Audiofeed a few years back. We enjoyed the band's rawness and quiet intensity. 

The album "Apple of Your Eye" is scheduled for digital release in September, The purpose of the campaign is to generate pre-orders, as well as to raise funds to press the album onto vinyl. 

The band's kickstarter campaign can be found here. Here is a video of a performance of their song, "Nothing Good in Me," to give a sense of their music. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Audiofeed 2016 - Sunday

Sunday was a bit rainy, and that greatly limited our time at the fest. And the late Saturday night combo of One Bad Pig & Timbre also wore us down a bit.

Sunday started with another Imaginopolis seminar, this one by Melody Green about the intersections between Christianity and fairy tales. Then our old friend Harry Gore did a set, and we watched an energetic performance by Destroy Nate Allen.

We also spent some time wandering the merchandise area, and my wife had a lovely chat with a few very nice fellas from the very loud band Send the Advocate.

We spent the evening in town, and had some terrific pizza. A good end to a good fest, and we drove home on Monday, July 4, arriving home just in time to catch some local fireworks.

We have made a habit of attending Audiofeed every other year, so it may end up back on the agenda for 2018.

Monday, May 8, 2017

John Crist's "Church Hunters"

Comedian John Crist is one of the few people in the Christian comedy scene who manages to be consistently ... funny. We have a few of his prior comedy videos here. And here.  

In this new video, he goes after the idea of "church shopping," by comparing the process of finding a new church to shopping for a new house. It's "Church Hunters," episode 1. 

Episode 2 is available at John Crist's web site, as are a range of other humorous videos. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Another Band, Another Kickstarter

We discovered Marah in the Mainsail at Audiofeed 2014. Any time a band uses a 20-foot metal chain as a percussive instrument, we are in. Their music struck us, and we supported the Kickstarter effort for their debut album "Thaumatrope." It immediately became one of our favorites.

The band is currently funding their second album,
another concept album. This one is called "Bone Crown," and is an attempt "to capture the darkness and beauty inherent in the animal kingdom, all the while telling a very human story of trust, deception, and rebellion." They intend for the album to include a narrated story that exists alongside the music. It's a bold idea, all the way around.

The band only has a week or so left in the campaign, and is still a few thousand dollars short. A link to the Kickstarter page can be found here.

To get a feel for the band, here is the official video for "Wendigo," one of our favorite tracks from the first album.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Audiofeed 2016 - Saturday Highlight

This Saturday highlight was also the overall highlight of the fest. As I’ve mentioned before, the fest is growing enough to bring in non-musical events. On Saturday morning, the Asylum (Goth) tent hosted a screening of the movie “The Phoenix:Hope is Rising.” This is a documentary by Phil Gioja and Isaac Musgrave about the issue of homelessness in Urbana, Illinois,

Every year, the city hosts the One Winter Night event, a fundraiser for a homeless drop-in shelter. Participants in One Winter Night spend a night on the street, living in a cardboard box, experiencing for 12 hours what it is like to live on the street. Gioja and Musgrave decided to document the event, as well as tell the story of the shelter, The Phoenix. In the course of the filming, changes to the city’s zoning regulations put the future of the shelter at risk. 

For a low-budget movie, the quality is surprisingly high. Interviews are well-lit and have clear audio, and are integrated well into archival and news footage, as well as coverage of city council meeting. It is a compelling film that tells a compelling story. It is hopeful, annoying, and heartbreaking. 

The trailer for the movie can be found here. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Another Podcast Recommendation

Author Nate Fleming, of the YA novel Thimblerig's Ark has become Nate Fleming, host of the podcast Thimblerig's Ark. This new podcast has joined Tyler Smith's More Than One Lesson family of shows.

On this show, Nate looks at Christian film, asking hard questions about why they often aren't as good as they could be. He examines each film in a number of areas, such as whether they challenge the audince. He also asks is a film take risks, and recognizes the different between the pulpit and art. It is an entertaining podcast, and represents an important voice in the Christian community,

Over the first few episodes, he has looked at a recent offering (God's Not Dead), and a "classic" in the field ("A Thief in the Night"). He promises to cover movies of various genres, various budgets, and various eras.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Kickstarter for Tyler Smith

Our buddy Tyler Smith from the More Than One Lesson website and podcast network has a new crowd-funding effort. The specific details about the campaign, including the giving levels and rewards, can be found here. 

Tyler has attended a number of Christian pop culture and movie festivals over the last few years, and has found himself with nothing of his own to give away or sell at these events. The purpose of this Kickstarter project is to raise money to print a collection of Tyler's reviews and essays.

Tyler is an important voice in the world of Christian film criticism, and a work like this could help bring critical thinking and understanding of the role of film criticism to Christians interested in the arts.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Audiofeed 2016 - Saturday Events

No surprise, but Saturday was the busiest day of the festival. Busiest both in terms of the musical acts and activities, but also in terms of attendance. If any person or church group is going to come for one day, most often it's Saturday.

We were busy all day long. The three of us stayed together for some events, and split up for others. Between us, we attended another seminar, morning prayers, an excellent movie (more on that in a later post), a worship time, and concerts by some of our favorites. We spent a little bit of time chatting with Insomniac Folklore after their set, and frontman Tyler Hentschel provided us with an opening clip for our podcast.

We saw other concerts during the day, ending with a terrific back-to-back. Twenty-five years after the only other time I saw them play live, hard rockers One Bad Pig put on a terrific, energetic show.  They sang some pieces from their new album, as well as the classic songs "Isaiah 6," "Red River," and "Ice Cream Sundae." They even had a Johnny Cash impersonator join them for "Man in Black."

We ended Saturday with a harp concert. It's the kind of musical juxtaposition that made Cornerstone what it was, and that has been translated over the Audiofeed. Timbre Cierpke played a terrific show, as intense in its own way as the One Bad Pig show was in its way. She played many tracks from her latest release, Sun and Moon, which was based on works by George MacDonald. As was mentioned in a previous post, there was a surprisingly strong presence of MacDonald-related content at Audiofeed 2016.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Podcast #011 - Religious Fandom & Spiritual Head Canon

"Religious Fandom & Spiritual Head Canon"

On this super-sized episode, Emily & Professor Alan talk about some of the similarities between religion and pop culture fandom.

Then they spend most of the episode talking about their own individual faith journeys, doubts, beliefs, questions, and oddball notions. 

Click on the player below to listen to the episode:

Right-click to download the episode.

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

Link: The music of The Choir
Link: The music of Iona
Link: The music of Anderson Cale

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You can follow Alan on twitter @ProfessorAlan

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Alan's Christian Comic Corner

The Unforogttens: Mission of Tranquillity #2, Trinity Comic Ministries, 1994. The story, “Of Giants and Dragons,” was created by Timothy A. Gagnon.

Our story continues from issue #1 (reviewed here), where three teenagers discovered that dabbling in the occult had consequences they were very unprepared for. The spiritual warfare continues in the hallways of the local school, with and angel-demon battle. And at the end, we are set up for a face-off between the angelic Unforgottens and the demonic Brotherhood.

I had a problem with the quality of the lettering is the first issue, and that problem exists here, as well. However, there is a two-page feature at the end of the book that has much better lettering, clearly done via computer. If that was meant to test a new lettering process, I hope that it continues into the next issue.

There are moments of decent art, mostly in individual panels and figures. Yes, some are drawn in the over-the-top style of the 1990s, but glimpses of artistic skill are evident. The storytelling aspect of the comic is weak, but that is much harder skill to learn and develop,

This issue has one great advantage over the first. Issue #1 was printed on traditionally-sized paper, but comic books tend to be published on slightly smaller paper. Starting with this issue, the series is produced in traditional comic book size. What that means for me is that the first issue is a little bit of a mess, crunched up at the top, etc … while this issue and the others are in pretty decent shape, even after more than two decades. For what it’s worth, the paper quality is extremely high.

The series contains two more published issues, and they are on the to-be-reviewed list.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Audiofeed 2016 - Friday Highlight

I mentioned in a prior post a few of the musical acts that we saw the first day of the festival. But another highlight of that first day was the return of seminars.

Seminars were the hidden strength of the old Cornerstone festival, especially those put on in the Imaginarium. This was the first year that seminars of that type appeared at Audiofeed, this time under the name Imaginopolis. Describing themselves as “an annual celebration and exploration of film, literature, and other narrative media in an inclusive, Christian-rooted community,” the group put on an interesting series of seminars at the Festival.

The theme for their tent this year was fairy tales, with the works of George MacDonald. We started our first day at the fest by attending talks titled “Tangled in Redemption: The Feminine Christian Image,” and “In a Galaxy Far Far Away: Star Wars as Fairy Tale.” It was great to have seminars at Audiofeed this year, and hope that the Imaginarium returns again for future festivals.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Book Review of "Wounds That Heal"

Wounds That Heal, by Stephen Seamands. Paperback.
Stephen Seamands, a professor of Christian doctrine at Asbury College, has produced a very readable and insightful study of the healing work of the Cross. His point is that in a world of wounded people, we have hope. Through the ministry of Jesus, God enters our painful situations to bring healing and redemption.
The book does a good job balancing biblical analysis and pastoral care. The book is filled with real-life stories of people finding healing and redemption amidst their painful experiences. Seamands also includes a range of quotes and examples from people from a range of Christian experiences.
The book is valuable for personal or group use. Each of the 10 chapters ends with a half-dozen or so questions for reflection. Along with the wealth of personal stories included in the text, these questions make sure that the book is as practical as it is theological.
The book starts with a discussion of hurt, rejection and shame. He then moves to a discussion of freedom, liberation, and healing. The overarching theme is that at the Cross, Jesus felt all of the emotions of humanity, including shame, abandonment, and rejection. And through His work, all people have the opportunity to receive the benefits of His love and acceptance.

Source: My wife purchased this book, most likely from the bookstore at this church. 
This review originally appeared at Alan's Eyes & Ears. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

I Need to Read This Paper

  This was posted in a Facebook group that I am part of. All that the author posted was this title page, but all that did was whet my appetite to read the entire paper. I appreciate that this Australian university approved this paper as a Master's Thesis, and  wish the author success in having this research paper approved. And maybe then ... he'll post the entire paper.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Our friends at Monk Rock have a bunch of interesting T-shirt designs, but this one is our current favorite. Among the many differences between Fundamentalism & Catholicism ...