The Complete 2014 Christmas Playlist

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It started as a spur-of-the-moment experiment. I asked Joe Henry if he'd be willing to share his Christmas favorites playlist. I so admire the way that he listens, and I wanted to hear what he hears at Christmas time. But by the time I finished writing him an email, I began to think of other listeners I wanted to ask. And before long, I'd send out so many invitations that I made myself stop.Maybe two or three of them will respond, I thought.Almost all of them responded. … [Read more...]

The Last 2014 Christmas Playlist : Some of My Own Personal Favorites

Our perfect backyard snow-blanket (That s a maple

I couldn't have asked for a bigger Christmas surprise, or a more enjoyable Christmas blessing, than the personal, thoughtful, revealing Christmas playlists that so many friends have sent in over the past few weeks. Thank you, one and all.I sincerely hope to host Round Two next year.Are you tired of Christmas music yet? I hope not. I have a few favorites of my own to share, some that move me, some that bring back memories, some that mystify me.I could echo many of those have already … [Read more...]

Nurse Claire Nieman Presents a Christmas Playlist

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For unto her, a child is born every few hours.It just made sense. Inviting people to share Christmas playlists, shouldn't I invite someone who spends her days welcoming newborn babies — each one beloved of God, all of them bearing eternity in their hearts? … [Read more...]

W. David O. Taylor and Phaedra Taylor Present a Christmas Playlist

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"David Taylor is one of the leading pastors in the church's effort to reach out to artists." Thus sayeth the visionary painter Makoto Fujimura in his high praise for the anthology of essays about art and faith called For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts.I first met W. David O. Taylor and Phaedra Taylor at Laity Lodge several years ago, and we only scratched the surface of our first conversation about art and faith. It was enough for me to discern that they wer … [Read more...]

Andy Whitman Presents a Christmas Playlist

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I read about music every day. I read reviews, interviews, personal reflections... anything I can get my eyes on. When I became an arts reporter for my college newspaper, my passion was for music criticism much more than film criticism. In fact, I still enjoy writing about music more than I enjoy writing about film.But you know the old saying: "... dancing about architecture," right? Writing about music seems impossible. There is no art form that reaches so far beyond language, casting nets … [Read more...]

Overheard at the Movies: Will Unbroken Inspire You to “Hate Your Enemies”?

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How many movies that promise to "inspire" you actually inspire you?I don't mean "Do they make you feel good?" Inspiration changes people. It motivates them. It spurs them into action.In my experience at the movies, 9 out of 10 that promise they will be "inspiring" ... aren't inspiring. (It may be closer to 99 out of 100.) Films that are marketed that way usually conform to simple storytelling formulas about determination and the power of "the human spirit," mining for meaning no more … [Read more...]

Robert Deeble Presents a Christmas Party Playlist

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I first encountered Robert Deeble's music on Seattle alt-rock radio, and I was immediately taken with his hushed delivery, his haunting lyrics. Think Leonard Cohen meets Sparklehorse. Earthside Down was my first Deeble album. … [Read more...]

Steve Taylor Presents a Christmas Playlist

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If I have anything resembling a "mission" here at this blog, it began to take shape when I was a teenager whose world was comprised of a Conservative Baptist church, a "Christian" school, "Christian" music, "Christian" fiction, "Christian" textbooks, and "Christian" visual art — an overwhelmingly Protestant Evangelical culture.I remain grateful for most of the gifts and rewards of those experiences. But I am still struggling with the lingering influence of certain delusions that were p … [Read more...]

Award-Winning Author Robert Clark Presents a Christmas Playlist

Robert Clark in Prague

You may know the name Robert Clark because of his celebrated writing.I'm a big fan of his fiction: In the Deep Midwinter — a poetic drama about infidelity, loss, and crises of faith — and an enthralling murder mystery called Mr. White's Confession both commanded my attention over the last few years, and I'm looking forward to Love Among the Ruins, and The Lives of the Artists. But he's an accomplished author of creative nonfiction as well. Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of M … [Read more...]

Christmas, Calling, Carols, and #Ferguson: Jeff Keuss Hosts a Conversation with Rev. Richard Dahlstrom, Dr. Brian Bantum, Anna Miller, and Myself (with Music from Eric Miller)

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What can we learn from Mary, the mother of Christ, that can help us understand what is happening in Ferguson?What happens to a pastor's understanding of Christmas when he finds himself and his family exhausted in a foreign country where there are no spare beds to be found?Those are just two of the subjects that surprised me at the Kindlings Muse Christmas show. … [Read more...]


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