Commentary

Christmas Music for a More Sober Joy

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I used to love Christmas music. I used to love it so much, in fact, that I convinced the rest of my family that it is acceptable to listen to Christmas music on November 1st (the previous acceptable time was exclusively post-Thanksgiving). However, I’ve found myself listening to less Christmas music with each passing year.

This year, as I’ve become more vested in the philosophy of aesthetics thanks to my involvement with the Nehemiah Foundation, I’ve been pondering why I have experienced this gradual divorce from holiday tunes. What I’ve found are some serious pitfalls within the genre and some solutions to renewing the arts that surround Christ’s birth.

Death and Electric Puritans: A Narrative Report on “Death is Their Shepherd”

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This is a guest post by Quenton Frank Brooks, an adjunct literature professor currently living in Israel. He was gracious enough to allow the Foundation to publish his thoughts on Death is Their Shepherd. Since not much has been written on the narrative portion of the project, we’re pleased to present this report in honor of Death is Their Shepherd’s one-year anniversary coming up this Halloween/Reformation Day.

And just in case this sort of thing matters to you, consider this your spoiler alert.

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.

Naysayers Go to Hell and Other Things I Learned with Micah Stout

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I remember every time I played “Naysayers” with Micah Stout. People would cringe. I could see their faces changing when Micah would get around to the chorus, singing in a bracing nasal register just slightly above his range:

Naysayers go to hell! I think you will do we-e-e-ll … Naysayers go to hell, I think you will do well … to say yes to Jesus.

Being Taught a Lesson in Dying: A Brief Explanation

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This post is the first of a new series the NFfCR is beginning which couples a song with its story, as told by the songwriter. Today’s post is from the record The Great Commoner by Brock’s Folly. (You can buy it right here.)  It is the song Lesson in Dying from Heather written by Jesse Murray, and the following text is his explanation of the song. But first, you should listen to the song and read the lyrics.

The Song: Lesson in Dying from Heather

How to be a Gracious Critic When You Love to Hate

Gracious Critic Wrecking Ball

Something has been weighing on me quite a bit lately. I was very gently rebuked recently for how negative I usually am. This wasn’t an attack from some wounded outsider. This was from my closest business partner and friend, Justus. Second only to my wife, I rely on him to keep me in check. He said, in so many words, “I don’t want the Nehemiah Foundation to be characterized by naysaying. And you are often very negative. It leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths.” Especially after my article on Left Behind, I wanted to take this opportunity to begin a public dialogue on (some of) my shortcomings, and to ask for help in developing a constructive and gracious program for the destruction of mediocrity and corruption in the church’s arts.

Demolition in God’s Kingdom Plans

First, demolition and critique clearly have a place in God’s redemptive plan. If you look at God’s commission to Jeremiah (Jer. 1:10), two-thirds of it is destructive: