Songs as Sanctuary: Maren Grossman on Lady Gaga

Pope Francis has spoken of “credible witness,” the kind of witness that makes Christianity seem believable. I’m not sure that it’s opposite has a name, but I’m sure I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the kind of witness that makes Christianity seem like a cruel joke and a broken promise. I’ve seen it writ large, and I’ve seen it up close.                     “You’re giving me a million reasons to let me go, you’re giving me a million reasons to quit… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Cassidy Hall on Alanis Morissette’s “Head Over Feet”

  In middle school I had no idea who I was. I was mostly known for wearing adidas track suits and writing notes to all my friends and their boyfriends. Looking back, I can see the inner workings of a late bloomer — always uncomfortable, usually awkward, curious about everything without really knowing how I felt. From confusing crushes on other girls to strange obsessions with female musicians, middle school was a constant brush with the mystery of myself.  … Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Rob Saler on REM’s “E-Bow the Letter”

  When you grow up in a small town, it’s easy to assume that the world more or less mirrors the hierarchies and values of that microcosm, just at a larger scale. As a kid who didn’t hunt, play sports, or drink (although one of those would change dramatically in a few short years), the social and symbolic economies of my hometown did not really have much of a place for me. One thing I remember vividly is how the… Read more

Dark Devotional: That’s the Wrong Baby

How do I forgive someone from my heart, when my heart still stings and I find it hard to respect them? Read more

Approaching Mystery: Brian Doyle Attends “The Viewing”

Walked into the chapel at dusk last night, and there she was, in the casket off to the left, with her son standing sentinel. He is a priest and he was smiling a little in welcome as people walked up to him and hugged him, if they were young, or shook his hand, if they were older men. The older men who shook his hand would take his right hand with their right hands and then cover the two clasped… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: John Robinson on Project 86

I’m not a cheery feel-good person. In fact I’m quite misanthropic and struggle with fitting into positive-smiley-handshaking-company. I have frequently found myself a reject of mainstream Christian circles.   86’ed. Thrown out, gotten rid of, banned. In food service, it refers mostly to an item no longer being on the menu, but can also mean to deny someone service. In church, I’ve been that guy.   It’s no coincidence that shortly after becoming a Christian in 1995, I discovered a… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Jonathan Ryan on Matisyahu’s Crossroads

Matisyahu came into my life when I was as a Presbyterian minister at THE Ohio State University. I had just been elected to be the president of the Inter-Faith counsel and through that position, made friends with a woman who was a Jewish rabbi. We attended each other’s student groups and would often discuss various theological viewpoints. We were talking music one day and she said, “I think you should check out Matisyahu, you’ll dig him.” I don’t think that… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Eve Alexandra on Depeche Mode’s “Blasphemous Rumours”

I was raised without music or book censorship, for the most part.  My parents were not church goers. The first time I encountered the music police was when I was 17.  My friend turned off Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” and said, “I can’t listen to this one.  It’s against my religion.” Two years later I converted to Christianity, and I was surrounded by music police.  I stopped listening to Depeche Mode, too.  Which is kind of a bummer.  I missed out… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Kristen Allen on Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”

I love music. I love all kinds of music. My mind uses music like a label on a file folder. Like so many of you, different songs or artists or sometimes genres will help me recall a specific person, event, or period of my life. The Beach Boys will never fail to remind me of my late father, and  “Walking on Sunshine” always transports me to a morning at summer camp, right after I got a letter from the boy… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Michael Delp on Bob Dylan’s “Ain’t Talkin”

Once, decades ago, Dylan went nuts, jumped from one universe into another and called himself a  Christian. Get this: I believe Bob is a prophet, and for proof, all you have to do is ask yourself what kind of mind writes as if he is channeling a Ouija voice, and is dipping his pen in an electrified ink well? He moves so easily between mysticism and sarcasm, dancing the edge of irony. But, Bob lost me for a time, back then,… Read more

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