About Nick Rynerson

Nick Rynerson lives in Normal, Illinois (no, seriously). In his free time, He writes, attempts to play mandolin, reads and hangs out with his groovy wife. Nick has a soft spot for any song with a banjo and thinks Bruce Campbell is the best actor on earth. However, he is a terrible golfer and has particular distaste internet controversy . Nick is passionate about the Church, (lower case) orthodoxy and whatever he's been reading about recently.

Follow Nick on Twitter: @Nick_Rynerson
or at his website: nickrynerson.com

Listening Closely to Wolf of Wall Street: Music as a Moral Clue in the Films of Martin Scorsese

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As far as film directors do, Martin Scorsese is the king of being misunderstood. Ever since Mean Streets in 1973, Scorsese has drawn heat for his seemingly sympathetic portrayals of awful people and glorification of depravity. Forty years later The Wolf of Wall Street is drumming up the same criticisms.Not much more needs to be said in defense of Scorsese’s intent and morality. Tons of great reviews and commentaries have come from both inside and outside of Christendom in the last few weeks, … [Read more...]

18. Jason Isbell – Southeastern: “Some of the Most Powerful Fiction of the Year” #CaPC25

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All this week, the writers of Christ and Pop Culture unveil their 25 most loved things of 2013.  Previous #19: Feminism#18. Jason Isbell - Southeastern Jason Isbell has always been a great songwriter. For the last decade the Muscle Shoals native has been cranking out good song after good song. But in 2013, Isbell has outdone himself. Coming on the heels of a new start—sobering up and marrying fellow Americana virtuoso Amanda Shires—his fourth solo album, Southeastern, marks a new level of s … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: 5 Christmas Country Songs That Aren’t Awful

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As much as I love Country music—even the bad stuff—when Christmas comes around, Country music seems to spit out some really bad tracks (it’s not that I don’t think Alan Jackon’s Christmas album isn’t very good it’s just… okay, it’s exactly that). But I want you know that it doesn’t have to be this way! There is some wonderful Christmas music that has that high and lonesome sound—you’ve just got to look for it.Christmas albums are by nature somewhat stale. It takes real talent to make a beauti … [Read more...]

Jason Isbell’s Decoration Day and Stories of Truth

Image- nffcnnr Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A Jason Isbell song is not just a song; it’s a 3-5 minute novel. His 2013 album Southeastern is being regarded as one of the best (and my personal favorite) albums of the year—primarily because of its beautiful songwriting. Isbell’s whole career has been marked by exceptional storytelling, songs like “Danko/Manuel”, “Chicago Promenade”, and “Codeine” hit me in the same way as the powerful short stories of Flannery O’Connor, Elmore Leonard, or Harry Crews.Like O’Connor, Leonard, and Crews, Isb … [Read more...]

Celebrating C. S. Lewis: ‘Letters To Malcolm’

Photo: Adrian van Leen via sxc.hu

Editor’s Note: November 22, 2013, will mark the fiftieth anniversary of C. S. Lewis’s death. On that day, he will be given a place in Westminster Abbey’s renowned Poet’s Corner. In commemoration of this event, all this week Christ and Pop Culture contributors will be writing about the works by C. S. Lewis that have been most personally significant to them.A dear friend much older and wiser than myself first introduced me to C.S. Lewis’s Letters To Malcolm. At the time he suggested that I read … [Read more...]

The Understated Power of Influence: Why Lou Reed is Such a Big Deal, Even If You’ve Never Heard of Him

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During the time pop-art legend Andy Warhol was running around with the weird, obscure, protopunk outfit The Velvet Underground he told reporters that in the future everybody would have their own 15 minutes of fame. Who could have known how right Warhol was. We have fulfilled Andy Warhol’s prophecy. Not only do we assume our 15 minutes, we crave it. The Internet is our global soapbox, blogs unite and divide into homogenous tribes, and hero worship is streamlined by flawless digital self-branding o … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: Stories and Reformation in Outlaw Country

Image Source: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1218/1010478337_56c5695c92_o.jpg

In God and Country Music, Nick Rynerson examines the world of Americana, folk, alt-country, and popular country music.Ever since Hank Williams got kicked out of The Grand Ole Opry, country music has been outlaw music. Well, country music has been a big stew of church songs, traditional rural folk tunes, western cowboy, and ruff, unruly outlaw music. But the outlaw mentality has been one of country music’s most prominent and continual threads.Outlaw country, as a genre, came into its own i … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: Shovels & Rope’s Punk-Rock, Incidental Spirituality

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As a writer who covers predominately alt-country, Americana, and folk music, I say to my shame that I didn't know who Shovels & Rope were until they won Best Song and Best Upcoming Artist last month at the 2013 Americana Awards. Maybe you don’t either, so let me introduce you.Shovels & Rope is the alt-country project of Charleston, SC based husband and wife duo, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. They've made the rounds—touring with the likes of Hayes Carll, Justin Townes Earle, and t … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: Eric Church’s “Springsteen” Is Sort of Like Heaven

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I don’t listen to the radio very often. It’s not that I don’t like the radio—the real issue is that I am a CD junkie and my truck is my sound booth. Lately I have been listening to Rhett Miller’s live cover album The Interpreter and Jason Isbell’s new album Southeastern. But when I am with my wife, the radio gets some love. On my way to the grocery store last weekend my wife and I were listening to country music radio and my ears were piqued by a fantastic song: "Springsteen" by Eric Church. … [Read more...]

God and Country: Echoes of the Church in American Music

O Brother Where In the World Are Youuu

Church history is a vital subject for any serious student of theology. Without church history, we don’t have a historical framework for the development of liturgical styles, church music, culture, and doctrine. Church history is not confined to pews and hymnals, though; because of the seeping nature of Christianity, Church history interacts with and affects everything around it. When the dots are connected, sacred and secular prove to be moot terms in the scope of history. Culture and s … [Read more...]


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