Distractions: November 2012


  • So here’s the thing, I am not a big fan of the new Mumford and Sons album Babel. I think that Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis of the Sound Opinions podcast nailed it in their review of the album. Also, here is a controversial article from Curator Magazine by Nathan Chang entitled “We Need To Talk About Mumford.” Sorry my friends, I have to agree.
  • Enjoy a free download of Denison Witmer covering one of my favorite Sufjan tunes. You can download “Abraham” via the Asthmatic Kitty Soundcloud page. Or stream Denison Witmer’s new EP The Ones Who Wait – Part II in its entirety here.
  • Speaking of Asthmatic Kitty…Sufjan Steven’s new 58 song Christmas compilation Silver and Gold has been released and is available for streaming and download at the Sufjan Bandcamp page. I’m really looking forward to catching his Christmas show in San Francisco next month!
  • If you haven’t had a chance, check out the new Cardiphonia compilation Songs for Liturgy that I mentioned in my last blog post. Zac Hicks recently wrote a great blog post about the album. I am honored to have been quoted!
  • “… Christians believe that composers can make music out of noise because they have heard something healing in the origin of sound.” Gavin Bryar’s piece “Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet” is a good example with a stunning backstory. Wesley Hill recently posted a couple of great paragraphs about this composition on his Tumblr blog. If you are unfamiliar, it is well worth the time to listen to this piece (including the Tom Waits version) and read about the background. Here is Part One and Part Two from Wesley’s blog Writing in the Dust.
  • “Those who sing, pray twice” -St. Augustine


  • I am being neither cynical or ironic when I say…thank you postmodernity, “The secular needs to be re-thought…”  CBC Radio One recently began broadcasting this series called “The Myth of the Secular.” It’s an introduction to the failure of Enlightenment thought to account for faith outside of the private sphere. Interestingly enough, I think that we are still a few years away from having this type of discussion in the USA. Also, it seems to me that the kind of “secular transcendence” that is discussed in this podcast is itself a type of “religion.” It’s all about narrative, people.
  • Well, the elections are over. These pre-election thoughts from Stanford’s Victor Hanson about a divided California are still worth reflecting over if you find yourself a resident of California.
  • A friend from Texas sent me these two hilarious articles for a post-election chuckle. Best Future Dystopias Where The Liberals Have Won VS. Scariest future dystopias where the Conservatives have won. I guess we are in trouble either way.
  • I thought it was beautiful that David Brooks decided to write a piece entitled “The Heart Grows Smarter” in his NYT’s column the day of the election. Instead of election stuff he wrote about men, emotional intimacy, and happiness, “What goes right is more important than what goes wrong. The positive effect of one loving relative, mentor or friend can overwhelm the negative effects of the bad things that happen,” says Brooks.



    • This terrific series of lectures from William Cavenaugh was recently posted on Youtube. Here is a playlist that I put together. “The Myth of Religious Violence” is a great introduction to his thought. He is one of my favorite living theologians.



“When we get out of here, we will show, that (ecumenicism) is more than personal friendship. We will continue to carry the historical burden of our separated churches, as baggage and inheritance. But never again shall it became shameful to Christ. Like you, I do not believe in the utopia of complete unity stews. But the one Christ is undivided, and when undivided love leads to him, we will do better than our fighting predecessors and contemporaries.“ – Father Alfred Delp, S.J., a German Jesuit priest condemned to death by the Nazis in Berlin, Letter to Eugen Gerstenmaier, in Kollegbrief St. Blasien, Sommer 1965, p. 7-8

“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe.” — Flannery O’Connor

Let us put into God’s hands our heart, our soul, the deep recesses of our being wherein dwell those beliefs and thoughts that govern our actions, so that he may guide us in the ways of the Gospel. – Magnificat Devotional (10/25/2012)

‎”[God is] the one who loves in freedom….As God in Himself is neither deaf nor dumb but speaks and hears his Word from all eternity, so outside His eternity He does not wish to be without hearing or echo, that is, without the ears and voices of the creature.” – Karl Barth, CD III/1, 50.