An Aesthetic Critique of Youth Ministry: Miley Cyrus vs. Bonnie Raitt

MARC BARNES' CRITIQUE OF YOUTH MINISTRY has, predictably, gone viral. Today there is a measured and intelligent response posted at Fr. Robert Barron's site, The Word on Fire, written by Fr. Damian J. Ference.This back and forth reveals many studious and sophisticated things: church documents and properly understood Catholic teaching and tradition. The important stuff.The only thing I will add to that discussion is this: there is no reason to assume that, if parents are the primary ed … [Read more...]

LIVE at The Empire UPDATED

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Last night I played the first all-original set I've played since 2006, at Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis, at The Empire theatre in downtown Grand Forks, North Dakota. The show lasted just over an hour and a half and I played songs I've written from 2003 to the present. I was joined by my brother-in-law, Shawn Kolles, on drums. Here is most of the full show (with part II below)  and, below that, I'll add links to the individual songs as they get uploaded. Enjoy!SPANISH CHOIR THERE WAS A … [Read more...]

A Sunday Letter: Bikers and Fishing, Rhythm and Harmony

My dear readers,Happy Pentecost! Here's something of a weekend review:Friday I played drums for the opening act and guitar for the headliner --- "Little Bobby and the Storm" --- at a biker charity event in St. Hilaire, MN. It felt very retro. Biker leather and tattoos don't age much and there were not the usual smart phones everywhere. I never knew that bikers like to slow dance as much as they did. The beer was unlimited and the outdoor stage allowed for smoking, so the air was ripe … [Read more...]

Open Mic Night: Is this the New Evangelization?

It's not everyday I get to post on Patheos Catholic from a neighborhood dive bar.But I'm headed to Wabash College today, to give a noon talk and an evening lecture on Thursday, and I need to give you something in the meantime. (I had a warm-up talk/conversation here at the University of North Dakota on Monday. I'll post all three here once I get back, in case anyone's interested.)On Tuesday nights, I've started attending a local open mic, in hopes of knocking off some rust to start p … [Read more...]

Solidarity in Vulgarity: The Funk in Racist Jokes (A Reprise)

As a sequel to my previous Black History Month re-post, "White History Month," from earlier this month, here is an essay I published in the X-Position, the journal of  The Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies at Wabash College, last year. Enjoy!  Solidarity in Vulgarity: The Funk in Racist Jokes“I don’t want your stupid ethnic dances, I want dirty jokes!”-Slavoj Zizek“Gonna have a funky good time, gonna have a funky good time!”-James Brown“The man of knowledge must b … [Read more...]

Beyoncé and My Legs

I started shaving my legs in high school, from the calf down, to get my ankles taped. By the time I was in college, I went all the way up.In men’s rugby, shorts are too long if you can’t genuflect and urinate discretely---through your leg hole. If you’re an inside forward (numbers one through five), you need to be sure your shorts are snug; that way, the binding in the scrum is tight.I played on the wing my freshman year and eventually found my way inside to flanker. I never needed super … [Read more...]

Les Miz Sux: In Defense of Lisa Hendey’s Mom

Lisa Hendey's mother is exactly right: the latest film adaptation of Les Misérables is terribly depressing.It is a depressingly cheap and sterile substitute for a classic, beautiful story. It's opportunistic, cast in serviceable plastic celebrities, and overwrought to compensate for the vividly clear failures of the cast. It surely wins every time for its literary content, obviously, but it fails miserably on its many demerits as visual and performance art.Again: the depressing parts abou … [Read more...]

“One Pop Harem,” a bedtime story by Sam and Sam

Another "former student and present friend" (I've been blessed with several of them) and I wrote a book of poetry together last year, entirely by accident, in a dialogue written on paper plates, serenaded by the music of Spencer Ellliott.We transcribed the poems and interviews, edited them, and self-published the collection as a chapbook: Poems by Sam and Sam. I consider it the best thing of mine in print to date.We're going to co-author another, much longer book this spring: Distance … [Read more...]

A Moving Interlude of Sand Animation

It is the first week of classes for the spring semester. Cold. It is also the week of my first formal tenure and promotion review. A busy week. In the middle of it, my dear friend and mentor, Tim Leonard, sent me a gift via e-mail. The YouTube clip below. I am using for my course tonight and share it here as an "I'll be right back," while I am away from the keyboard and blogging.Animation has to do with the soul; to animate is to give life, Spirit. To ensoul. This soulful sand animation p … [Read more...]

A Tale of Three Cubicles, Part I

I was first assigned to the beam-cutting station, but I asked to be reassigned. I wanted to weld. It seemed honorable and I wanted to be somebody. But I guess no ones asks to be a welder once they get to the cutting stations. I was given the materials: gloves, sleeves, apron, mask. I needed boots. No tennis shoes. I don't recall the details or the exact time, but I passed an initial inspection of some kind. I was first assigned to be a go-fer, which sucked. I took naps and wasted a lot of time. … [Read more...]


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