Del Toro Wants Puppets to Invade “The Hobbit”; Plus, Andy Whitman on Great Christian Rock Albums

At Arts and Faith, Peter Chattaway comes up with two interesting links on The Hobbit.The first one is an interview, in which Del Toro says things that make me want to cheer.The only thing I will be pushing for more in these films that the other three are full animatronics and animatronic creatures enhanced with CGI, as opposed to CGI creatures themselves. We really want to take the state-of-the-art animatronics and take a leap ten years into the future with the technology we will develop … [Read more...]

NY Times: Ten Great Christian Rock Songs

It's not hard to demonstrate that Christian rock is often... even usually... cheesy, derivative, and shallow. Much of it sounds like commercials for Jesus rather than artistic endeavor.But there are exceptions, although I'd prefer to take the modifier "Christian" off of those songs and just call them Songs... Good Songs.On April 16, The New York Times ran a column by Daniel Radosh, who identifies himself as a secular Jew, author of Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of … [Read more...]

Phil Keaggy Speaks the Truth

Here's a revealing interview with Phil Keaggy, where he's saying some of the things about the Christian music industry that I've been saying at Looking Closer for a decade or more.This is just a piece of that article... Considering the fact that some Christian music listeners expect a certain number of Jesus references in their songs, where does wordless music fit in with ministry?Keaggy: I don't know. It's always made me feel odd when I'd get a Dove Award for an instrumental album that … [Read more...]

Sufjan Stevens is my new hero.

I liked his Seven Swans album.Then I grew to love it.I liked his Illinois album.These days, I love it more than I can say. The two songs "John Wayne Gacy Jr." and "Casimir Pulaski Day" are better on their own than any other full album I've heard all year.And now this... NPR has rated Illinois as the album of the year, and says, "Sufjan Stevens new album isn't just this year's best album, it's the best album to come out in several years. In an era when most of the music we hear is … [Read more...]

"Do you dare to gaze into their hollow eyes?"

Looks like the system finally beat them. Looks like they finally did say "die." About 20-or-so years past their prime, Petra is over.If you feel like reminiscing through your tears, go here.P.S. And if you are one of those offended by this post, for the record, let me confess that I still own several Petra albums and I used to be a big fan of Greg Volz when he was singing. … [Read more...]

Is "Illinois" the best "Christian album" of the year?

Sufjan Stevens' new album Illinois is very, very strange. And very, very good.And, judging by the critical response it's getting, it looks like the most highly praised album recorded by a Christian singer/songwriter in many years. (Am I forgetting any similarly celebrated titles?)Check it out. The song called "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." is so heartbreakingly beautiful, it's worth the price of the record. … [Read more...]

What’s wrong with CCM? (installment 1,006…)

Kate Bowman is becoming one of the most interesting new voices in the dialogue about faith and art. … [Read more...]

Josh Hurst Calls for Closing the Doors on CCM

Josh Hurst at Reveal ( has just posted an editorial that should be read, discussed, and passed around. In it, he asks the blunt question (which I'm paraphrasing): Who needs the contemporary Christian music industry anymore, when there is music about spirituality from a Christian perspective being offered frequently in every mainstream and alternative genre?He goes on to answer that question persuasively. Nevertheless, I can't help but chime in with my own proposed answer … [Read more...]