My Interview With Sara Groves

For several years I've been a rather exhuberant fan of the singer/songwriter Sara Groves. Recently, I had an opportunity to interview her about her extraordinary new album (Tell Me What You Know) for Christianity Today. I learned about a lot of things during our conversation, including and especially the work of International Justice Mission. You can read our interview here

 

Tags | Music

WAR/DANCE

Yesterday, the 'short list' of 15 contenders for the Academy Award for Best Documentary were announced.   I'm cheering for my favorite doc from 2007, WAR/DANCE.  It documents the tragic civil war in Uganda introduced by the grassroots film, Invisible Children.  But within horrible circumstances, War/Dance finds hard won hope.

War/Dance documents the dire situation facing war refugees in Northern Uganda. Over two million members of the Acholi tribe have been exiled from their homelands because of the ill-named Lord’s Resistance Army. WAR/DANCE follows the stories of three children amidst the 60,000 refugees gathered at a “displacement camp.” It is set against the backdrop of a national music competition, where war orphans from Patongo Primary School hope to compete. Produced by Shine Global to raise awareness and funds for the refugees, WAR/DANCE celebrates the power of music and dance to overcome the most overwhelming conditions.

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Tags | Film

Monkey Day

Even for a Monday, it's a little crazy. Monday should be called Monkey day, because trying to get a handle on Monday stuff is like trying to organize a group of Monkeys. If you don't do it right, by the end of the day you're going to have Monkey waste (decorum prevents me from using a more graphic term) all over you.

On this Monday, we have the release of Kindle, the new eBook reader from Amazon. There are articles and reviews all over the place, and already Amazon has more than 150 customer reviews posted on its site, many from people who don't even have the device. This is the kind of wide-ranging response Amazon should expect. Delivering content electronically is a hot issue, both for the content generators (the writers) as well as for the content managers (the publishers). As for the end users (the readers), embracing a device like this is going to come in fits and spurts. Some will love Kindle, some will hate it, but most won't care. Until there is a "killer device" along the lines of the iPod, there won't be anything near universal acclaim. And from the early reviews, Kindle is not a killer device. But it's a start in the right direction.

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Maria Taylor - Leap Year

Having a fiance living in Mongolia makes you a sucker for some really sappy songs. Wait, thats not true. I've ALWAYS been a sucker for songs about longing, especially when they're done with droning and swelling instrumentation, and always when they're done with a girl singer. Don't be fooled though, Maria Taylor still does it with intelligence and sincerity - if her previous band Azure Ray and her connection to Saddle Creek and their ilk are any indication. The most basic comparison I could give is that her music is like if Death Cab for Cutie had a girl singer. It's music for super cool indie films and people who look at the world like cinematographers - and for guys who listen to songs on repeat for an hour and a half.


Anyway, enjoy. I've been loving it.


You can hear more of her stuff at http://myspace.com/mariataylor


Tags | Music

WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY?

The white suit, the bottle blonde hair, and the booming voice echo the worst of televangelist excess. Reverend Billy has the cadence we’ve come to expect. His congregation sways and moves with every word. But instead of passing the plate, Reverend Billy implores his followers to “Stop Shopping Now.” And the only demon he wants to cast out is rampant consumerism.

What Would Jesus Buy? is a smart and savage satire. Like the Reverend Billy, it keeps viewers off balance. Are we watching performance art that mocks religion? Or are we following the struggles of a nascent church? The answer is, “Yes.” What Would Jesus Buy? challenges, disturbs and energizes. It makes me long for Christmas and question my spending. It gets into your wallet and into your head.
Tags | Film

An Introduction

You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. Shouldn’t the same be true in regard to movies?

Let’s try an experiment…

If tied to a chair and forced to make a statement, I would probably confess to Anglophile tendencies (the early suspense comedies of Alfred Hitchcock, the dreamy fantasies of Michael Powell, the pessimistic tone poems of Carol Reed), with a soft spot for what Carlos Clarens calls the “classic era” of horror and science fiction (1895-1967). I find few things more bracing than the existential puzzles of Alain Resnais (Last Year at Marienbad, Muriel), few things more heartbreaking than the spiritual inquiries of Robert Bresson (A Man Escaped, Pickpocket), but I also like to unwind to the soothing rhythms of an old fashioned Disney adventure (Treasure Island, In Search of the Castaways) or a Charlie Brown holiday special. I prefer Buster Keaton slightly to Charlie Chaplin (although there’s room in my heart for both), French crime, Italian neorealism, and anything with Orson Welles’s name attached to it (yes, even the wine commercials). I also sometimes think that happiness is watching Laurel and Hardy perform a soft shoe dance.
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Tags | Film

Back into Praise Music

When it comes to praise music, I'm old school. I grew up on Maranatha! praise music (you can tell I know my stuff because I put an exclamation mark after Maranatha!--there, I did it again), but then lost interest during the whole Integrity/HillSong era, which featured some decent songs, but got a little soft for me. I like my praise music with a little more umph. Besides, my wife and I joined a Presbyterian church, and the only praise music they knew was the old stuff, mainly Maranatha! and Integrity songs.

That's the way it was until we got a new music director in our church, and he began introducing some of the newer praise music, in particular the songs of Chris Tomlin. I started perking up my ears on such songs as "Indescribable" and "How Great Is Our God." Then I found out that Tomlin was part of the Passion Conferences, and that impressed me. So I decided to purchase both of his worship CDs on iTunes, and that's all I've been listening to lately. The music is great, and the lyrics are very God-centered.

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Tags | Music
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