Church in PA Does Peter Gabriel Mass


No more miracles, loaves and fishes/Been too busy with the washing of the dishes.-- “Lay Your Hands on Me” Peter GabrielThere was a buzz among some of my Facebook friends last week when one of my former students, The Rev. Lauren Schoek, posted an upcoming service at the church where she serves, St. James Episcopal in Lancaster, PA. It was a Saturday-night Eucharist featuring the music of Peter Gabriel. Many prog-rock-and-theology nerds (and there are more of us than you think) on three co … [Read more...]

The Art of Forgetting Fossils: A Review of Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Carrie and Lowell’

Sufjan Stevens Portraits

Benjamin Griffin is back. Now a resident of that hipster paradise of Austin, TX, he reviews Sufjan Stevens' latest album, Carrie and Lowell.The Art of Forgetting Fossils: A Review of Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie and LowellBy Benjamin Drew GriffinWe don’t know who Sufjan Stevens is. Some have claimed him as this generation’s greatest folk artist, a master of Americana orchestration and literary construction – but they were foiled by the glittery psychedelia and opaque personal deconst … [Read more...]

‘Montage of Heck’: A Gospel of Kurt Cobain

Cobain Wings 1

Last year I got a chance to see and review Seattle’s Experience Music Project’s exhibit on Kurt Cobain and the grunge era. The occasions for the exhibit were the 20th anniversary of Cobain’s death and Nirvana’s induction into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.Now director Brett Morgen has added further to the Nirvaniana with a documentary on Cobain’s life, Montage of Heck. The film debuted at Sundance this year and had a limited theater release before being broadcast on HBO May 4th . It is now ava … [Read more...]

The Sixties Were Groovy — But So Is Today

Open the door

Last week, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. This was a beautiful moment for my family as we gathered with friends in our adopted home in Northern Kentucky. By “adopted” I mean our extended family mostly lives in and around the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where my mom grew up and my parents met. I’m the only member of my immediate family that was born in the Bluegrass State. My parents are transplanted Southerners in a border state.The fun part for me as a student of cu … [Read more...]

The Apotheosis of Grunge: the Nirvana Exhibit at Seattle’s Experience Music Project


In Seattle this past weekend, I had the opportunity to take in the Experience Music Project’s Nirvana exhibit. The show at Microsoft founder Paul Allen’s personal rock-n-roll hall of fame draws connections between the iconic grunge band and the blossoming of the Seattle sound in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It marks the 25th anniversary of Nirvana’s first album and the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death.At one particular moment in the exhibit I was struck by a spark of a memory while st … [Read more...]

The Grammy Wedding: ‘Same Love,’ Different Interpretations

The Wedding Party.

Last night, we were treated to one of the stranger spectacles in awards show history, even taking into account Miley Cyrus’ twerking on the MTV Video Music Awards last fall. This was a mass wedding of gay and straight couples, presided over by Queen Latifah, with music supplied by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, and Madonna. It’s a strange commentary on equality when you can say same-sex couples are now “free” to participate in legally-binding rituals every bit as weird as the straight m … [Read more...]

Finding Grace in the Loud Places


I'm slowly gearing up for my first extended writing foray into non-film subject matter with a book on the prophetic implications of the work of singer/songwriter Todd Snider. I've got a stack of music and theology/religion books to get through. The first (and shortest) is Don H. Compier's Listening to Popular Music, part of Fortress Press' Compass Series, a Christian exploration of daily living. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking (or daring) here, but Compier does lay a strong … [Read more...]

Favorite Songs of 2013: Part 2

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“With you it’s always Nick Cave and David Bowie…”-       Dave Lemley (@lemdavely) Guilty as charged.  When putting together the five most spiritually significant songs this year, I’m always going to start with St. Cave and the Thin White Duke.  Push the Sky Away is a slow burn of an album that is pregnant with sacred themes which I have spent most of the year digging into and Bowie's The Next Day talks a ton about coming to grips with the world passing by.Overall, pop music s … [Read more...]