The Complete 2014 Christmas Playlist

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 his music, the projects that he chooses to produce, and the way that he listens. 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 … [Read more...]

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

"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

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...]

Robert Deeble Presents a Christmas Party Playlist

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

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

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)

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...]

Poet Tania Runyan Presents a Christmas Playlist

I got to know Tania Runyan at The Glen Workshop in Santa Fe. It was her sense of humor that got my attention first.Then, when she attended the film seminar that I taught there, I was delighted with her insights about the films that we watched, and how she saw right to the heart of one film in particular — Summer Hours — connected with her in a powerful way.Since then, though, I've become convinced that I should be the one signing up to attend her seminars. … [Read more...]

Author Shannon Huffman Polson Presents a Christmas Playlist

One of the best things that happened to me and Anne last year: We joined a small writers group that has given us additional encouragement, inspiration, and companionship in our writing.It's a remarkable meeting of imaginations. In that group, we've had the privilege of meeting a published memoirist; an Army veteran who was the first woman to qualify as an Apache attack helicopter pilot at Fort Bragg; an native of Anchorage, Alaska, who loves adventures in the outdoors; an … [Read more...]

The Bruised Hearts Revue Presents a Christmas Playlist

One of the biggest musical surprises for me in 2014 was the discovery of a local Seattle band called The Bruised Hearts Revue.If you're a fan of Wilco, Over the Rhine, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, or Neko Case, you'll hear their influences here. I'd have a hard time picking a favorite cut from the album, but if you want to sample just one song, try the title cut of their debut record — "As Bright as It Burns" — here at Bandcamp, where you can also purchase the CD or download the whole thin … [Read more...]