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I'm not keeping up this blog anymore. I have a renewed desire to blog, but elsewhere.
I won't forget you, xanga. We've had many a good time together.
Miss you lots,
Yes, it's that time of year, when I get to indulge one of my greatest passions: listmaking. My top 10 albums list is always one of my favorite things to compile, and as usual, they're only my favorites (not some objective attempt to pick "the best). My favorites are also confined to those albums which I've heard, which is quite limited since I am not much of a downloader, so I rely on my own cd collection and the public library for my listening.
There are three notable albums that I really wish I had gotten to listen to before the end of the year, but haven't, but I think they're worth mentioning: Boxer by The National, Strawberry Jams by Animal Collective and the new Explosions in the Sky album. Some or all might have made it onto the list, but I haven't heard them. Maybe next time. So without further ado:
10. The Shins Wincing the Night Away - Marcie got me the album for Valentine's Day. As always the melodies are tight, but this one meanders a bit at times, and I find myself wanting to skip over a couple tracks when they come on. It's a good album from a really good band.
9. Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha - Andrew Bird has a great first name. He has a unique sound that is instantly recognizable, which is hard to achieve with all the artists out there. I'm not sure yet if it's as good as The Mysterious Production of Eggs but it's dang good.
8. Iron & Wine The Shepherd's Dog - Sam Beam & Company have placed much more emphasis on the & Company this time around, and it makes for a much different I & W sound. It has been hard for me to get used to, but there are some tracks that are absolutely outstanding, and the one throwback (Resurrection Fern) might be one of their best yet.
7. Interpol Our Love to Admire - Marcie got me this one for my birthday. Interpol's guitar parts are the tightest around, the vocals are distinctive, and the lyrics are always interesting. They're a band that's hard to figure out, and I like that.
6. Over the Rhine The Trumpet Child - Amazing album. OtR now has a steady bass player and drummer, and have settled on a more jazzy sound than the past, and are better off for it. The song "Trumpet Child" is absolutely breathtaking and the rest of the album is quite good as well. There is one track that just isn't very good in my estimation, and I'll let those of you who have heard the album guess which one.
5. The White Stripes Icky Thump - They're always amazing. I gave them number one on my '05 list with Get Behind Me, Satan, though Sufjan would take number one if I did it all over again. This time, I'm putting them at 5, even though this album is probably better than Get Behind Me. It rocks hard once again, there are bagpipes and mariachi horns, and the wordplay is sometimes downright hilarious.
4. Arcade Fire Neon Bible - This could easily be number one, as could any of the top 6. Arcade Fire has released two albums, both of which are masterpieces. "Antichrist Television Blues" might be my favorite song of '07, and this album just drives from beginning to end without relent. I might even dare to call this quite a prophetic/apocalyptic album. If you don't know what I mean by that, read David Dark.
3. Over the Rhine Snow Angels - "Snow Angel" is the saddest song of '07 and this album is flawless. Even next to Sufjan's box set, which was recorded a bit haphazardly, I think this is my favorite Christmas album ever. There are no cover songs her, besides a stanza from "O Little Town of Bethlehem," which receives a new melody. OtR outdid themselves in '07. Always beautiful vocals, jazzy arrangements, and even a tribute to Vince Guaraldi.
2. Radiohead In Rainbows - One and two have been an ongoing debate in my head. Both are worthy. Both are in my top 5 artists of all time. Both are a bit of a return to a more relaxed, less experimental sound. Both are smooth as butter from beginning to end. This album is beautiful. Even songs with obtuse titles like "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" are beautiful. And "You're All I Need"? Forget about it. My only wish is that it was longer. And if I bought the $80 box set, it could be. Maybe for Christmas? Unlikely, but maybe.
1. Wilco Sky Blue Sky - I admit that it's not really groundbreaking for Wilco. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot did that for them, and it gives them licence to just relax for an album. This is the most listenable album I own. Over and over I listen to this with Marcie and Addison, and it is soothing at moments, and literally makes us dance (see "Walken") at others. I already used the term smooth as butter, but this is seriously like sticking a stick of butter into your ear, feeling it melt all over your eardrums. Sorry, what was I saying? I'm going to go ahead and say it: Wilco is the best American band right now. Arguments to the contrary are accepted, but they cannot have anything to do with the Jonas Brothers, okay?
Thanks for reading. Happy listening, and Merry Christmas!
I haven't retired from blogging, I swear.
I finished my first 200 mile commuting semester (henceforth 200mcs) just under a week ago, and I really enjoyed it. The 200 mile commute thing kind of sucks, but in a weird way, it's been really good. A lot of good thoughts swirled in my head this semester, and a lot of my classes interacted in profound ways so that it was an especially meaningful semester.
I wrote papers on the image of God, the incarnation, resurrection and return of Christ, eschatology, eco-theology, sacraments, the Trinity, gospel communication to indie-hipsters, hospitality and the christological basis for ecological preservation and designed a worship service for the first Sunday of Advent. I read some great books (The Way of Jesus Christ by Jurgen Moltmann, Free of Charge by Miroslav Volf, a book on sacraments by Leonard Vander Zee), a lot of good ones (Jesus the Liberator by Jon Sobrino, a couple books by Robert Webber, Whose Religion is Christianity? by Lamin Sanneh, Eyes Wide Open by William Romanowski, Border Crossings by Rodney Clapp, Mosaic of Christian Beliefs by Roger Olson, Selling Out the Church by Kenneson and Street, White Woman's Christ and Black Woman's Jesus by Jacqueline Grant, Luther, Feminism and the Cross by Thompson along with a collection of African christologies), and the occasional forgettable book (...).
I had some great conversations with old friends and made some new ones. I learned a lot about theology, christology, worship, communication and hospitality, and learned the art of sleeping on a six foot couch. I walked the line between guest and mooch, and when I came home I was able to truly be with my family. I got to see Yo La Tengo, Rosie Thomas and Over the Rhine all thanks to my wife's place of employment, Calvin College. Addison got bigger and smarter and more beatiful every day, and I have come to appreciate Marcie more than ever. It's sufficient to say that I don't deserve her and that's a fact.
I didn't blog much because I kept painting myself into a corner, promising to post about something specific, but never feeling inspired to fulfill those promises. From henceforth no more promises will be made on this blog.
You have my word.
And you have my love.
|My third point is that many Christians simply do not take seriously the ecological implications of their theology. |
This can start to look a lot like the first reason, but the difference is that rather than not seeing the connections between the different aspects of their theology, these people fail to see the impact what they believe theologically has on their lives at all. This is the saddest, and perhaps one of the most common deficiencies in today’s churches. What is learned in church is something that is perceived as “good for us” and “good for our kids” but has little effect on how life is lived. Put simply, these people have theological systems in their minds which are largely disconnected from their hearts. Therefore, an intellectual assent to a very orthodox theology which should lead to a very ecologically friendly lifestyle is given the backseat to convenience or fear.
Let's look at a hypothetical situation in the church. A leader of a trustee committee is gung ho about adding a bunch of new parking and plowing down some forest which contains rare foliage and is the habitat for many local animals. This trustee thinks that in order to spread the gospel, we take a "whatever is necessary" approach. There may very well be other trustees in the room who disagree with his assessment, but refuse to speak up because this guy is a respected member of the church.
Or because their business training tells them that it is good business for the church to have more parking spaces for growth.
Or because they are afraid that they cannot articulate their argument coherently, and do not want to be embarrassed by this respected leader in front of all the other trustees.
But they should.
And I hope they do. The gospel means more than just getting people into the doors of the church. A gospel lived well in the church community might just mean that this congregation sacrifices the parking spots as an act of living out gospel principles.
My three "possible objections" are by no means the only three reasons people don't take eco-theology seriously. I just tried to come up with a few primary ones to get the discussion going.
I'll post one more wrap-up for this series in the next week or so with some suggestions for moving forward and hopefully some helpful contributions to the discussion of eco-theology.
This problem reaches full strength in the second reason that ecology is not often taken seriously in churches today; a deficiency in a small number of doctrinal positions.
For many, this is the obvious problem. A deficient understanding of the doctrine of creation can very quickly turn someone into a hippie-hating conscienceless resource consumer. If one embraces a tradition where God’s call for humanity to exercise dominion over creation is seen as license to abuse the created order for our purposes regardless of the ecological consequences, then such abuse will occur regularly. This view is mistaken. God’s call for humans to cultivate and have dominion over the created over is a passing of responsibility to his imagers, who are now responsible to lovingly care for and yes, utilize for the good of the whole created order, not at its expense.
Not as obvious but every bit as dangerous to an ecological theology is a deficient understanding of eschatology (the doctrine of last things or "end times"). There are extremely popular eschatological frameworks (some popularized by fictional novels) which convey the eschaton as the destruction of the earth. The battle of Armageddon is emphasized on the earth, and the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21 and 22 are relegated to a heavenly, spiritual realm. The goal of this eschatological system is escape from this world. The purpose of living faithfully to Christ is that he can save us from the impending destruction of the earth.
A theology that locates the final resting place of Christ and humanity somewhere other than this earth almost has to lead to ecological apathy. What point is there in caring for a world that will face destruction soon, and as part of God’s perfect plan no less? Yet when we see the eschaton as the restoration of all things to Christ and the return of the Triune God to the earth he lovingly created and declared as good, we do no longer look at life as our only chance to use up the fruits of the earth. Rather, we see our lives as a great opportunity to plant the very trees of the New Jerusalem, where the sea is glassy and there are trees which are for the healing of the nations. We no longer spiritualize these words of Revelation, but see them as our duty to the world which God has entrusted to us.