Author Archives: Justus Stout

Why I Gave Up Politics for the Arts

art and politicsWhen I was eleven, I wrote a daily devotional I imaginatively titled  “Daily Devotions.” I started at Proverbs 11, because of my age (of course). I made it as far as Proverbs 11:7—a whopping week long. Surprisingly, it never got picked up by any publishers, but my parents asked for a copy.

The unreasonable self-assurance I had then is a little embarrassing to me now, but I am proud of myself for being so dedicated, early on, to one goal: revival. Years before I could vote, I would often respond to the classic question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “Either a pastor or a politician.” This was met with mixed responses, which I have come to understand.

With fire pumping in my young veins, I volunteered for countless political campaigns of upstanding, dedicated, righteous individuals. This turned into full-time summer work.

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Is It Right to Be Sad in Church? A Review of Bifrost Arts: Lamentations

Bifrost Arts Lamentations cover

“How long will you turn your face away?”

Lamentations, the latest release from forward-thinking music collective Bifrost Arts, encourages Christians to make room in their worship for lament and sadness, and it gives what it encourages. Few things could be a better balm for the modern church.

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Lecrae Addresses His Harshest Critics

Lecrae

Since 2004, Lecrae has been making Christian hip hop music. Even as his popularity has grown, his message has remained the same, based in Romans 1:16: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.”

But as Lecrae has gained acclaim, he has also received heightened criticism—not so much from the world for his shameless proclamation of the gospel, but (should it even surprise us?) from Christians. They accuse him of becoming worldly, distancing himself from the church, and “selling out” for money or fame.

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The Music Industry: The High Cost of Low Brow

Rihanna Music Industry header

We all think of different things when we hear the term music industry. But what does that actually mean? What does the music industry actually do?

Rihanna’s recent single “Man Down” was analyzed by NPR’s planet money team, led by Zoe Chace, and what they found is “a hard act to follow… and a hard pill to swallow.” (Maroon 5?)

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Sufjan Stevens – Silver & Gold

Sufjan Header

For hipsters and Indie-listeners everywhere (and other people too complicated to be labeled), the question is heavy in the Yuletide air: What the heck is going on in Sufjan’s massive new Christmas album? Heads still ringing from Age of Adz, many fans almost want to give up hope on their favorite banjo-strumming story-teller of the more simple times… before handlebar mustaches were cool again.

Well, friend, I feel your pain. Mostly in my ears. For the first two weeks of listening to the album, I hated it. I thought Sufjan had succumbed to the fate of many who receive sudden acclaim: his pride swelled, his standard became himself, and his music sucked forevermore. It’s like the emperor’s new clothes, but instead it’s Sufjan’s new disjointed guitar solos and miserably performed home recordings of songs too stupid to use words to describe.

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