Many Christians seem to have lost the ability to meditate, and for a few reasons. For one, the very word meditation causes some uneasiness in certain Christian circles, bringing to mind new-age subjectivity and Eastern mysticism. Further, the information saturation and overall busyness of Western culture has contributed to our shrinking attention span. We all have a decreasing ability to dwell on one idea for any length of time, even “action” movies are sometimes described as boring by the chronically desensitized.
So in days like these when meditation has fallen out of practice and has been devalued by the cultural status quo, a meditative aid can be productive to assist us in our attempts to sustain focus on God’s word. God has, after all, recommended this practice as “blessed” (Ps. 1:2, among others).
On his way to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum to get inspiration for his next novel, Shusaku Endo was diverted to the smaller, almost hidden, Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum nearby. There he first saw the fumi-e (“trampling pictures”)—brazen images of Jesus hanging on the cross or of Mary with her iconic cucumber (perhaps Eastern-styled as a lotus), representing purity even in the midst of swampy filth.
The unswervingly Buddhist 17th-century Shogunate commissioned these brazen images specifically to be desecrated as a public sign of apostasy, and Japanese peasants would step (or trample “if you prefer a more florid reading”) on the fumi-e as proof that they posed no threat to the order and solidarity of Buddhist Japan.
The Maraqopa trilogy, by Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado, brims over with the uncanny prescience of genuine hope and the bittersweetness of sincere nostalgia. A delicate suspension incorporating choice morsels from at least five decades worth of music, it manages to be both behind and ahead of its time in all the right ways. It is, ironically, the ideal tonic for an age that refuses to live at peace with the present.
Beginning with Maraqopa in 2012 and going further down the rabbit hole with Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son in 2014, Damien Jurado has finally (for now) completed his Maraqopa concept trilogy with Visions of Us on the Land, released March 18.
“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.
Wistful and fierce, Deep Sea Diver’s SECRETS submits the strength of craft to the demands of feeling to yield an exquisitely well-balanced and self-controlled musical recollection of the (sometimes broken) promises of intimacy.
In an interview with the Stranger, lead singer and guitarist Jessica Dobson expressed how she wanted to push her boundaries on SECRETS:
Global annihilation. Epistemology. Belief. Hope for the future. No, we’re not talking about a Bible conference on eschatology. We’re talking about the latest summer blockbuster from Disney. Tomorrowland is certainly similar to most summer blockbusters. It has action, explosions, adventure, suspense, and all the other things you would expect. But it also has a defined, at times even heavy-handed, moral riptide that has been generating some unusual conversations.
I use moral somewhat loosely, however. This is the Disney version of morality. And it has almost nothing at all to do with religion, narrowly defined. Strangely enough, in a movie this preachy, there isn’t even a single mention of Christians. Or a religious believer of any kind, really. Even in the all-inclusive, ham-fisted, politically correct finale montage, not one religious person is included as a “dreamer.” I guess the brave new world of the dreamers is peculiarly free of religion. Or is it?