Of Pears, And Lusts, And Conversions, And Music

Of Pears, And Lusts, And Conversions, And Music September 6, 2014


This is Sam

He’s wicked smart. He teaches. He writes. He explores. He expounds. And now he makes good music.

Not just any kind of music. Soul music.

Not just any kind of soul music. Augustinian soul music.

Say what?

You see, my co-blogger at Patheos, Professor Sam Rocha, has written and performed something unique. It’s really a meditation set to music. A meditation utilizing the sum and substance of St. Augustine’s own words, his own life story. Some say that St. Augustine’s autobiography, The Confessions, was really the first of its kind in the West, written around AD 397. So yeah, it’s pretty old.

Augustine, the son of a neither wealthy nor poor pagan father, was a self-confessed “bad boy” of his age. A one-time heretic, he lived, loved, and lusted with extraordinary passion. So passionate was he that, as a youth, he claimed to have “surrendered [himself] entirely to sex.” He fathered at least one child with a woman to whom he wasn’t married. All in all, he was leading what he probably considered a very good, very large life. But it wasn’t enough. He desired more. He needed more.

Through the incessant prayers of his mother Monica, Augustine came back to the Church. Did he ever. He later became Bishop of Hippo. Later still, he was declared a Doctor of the Church because his voluminous writings – thousands of pages of narrative and treatises – had helped to shape the direction and the force of the early Catholic Church. His presence and influence is felt to this day, in both the Catholic Church and in some Protestant traditions.

Yet not many Christians know who he is or know of his impact. I didn’t. Not until recently that is. Having left the Church at age 14, I had never been introduced to him. I found him only upon my return some 41 years later.

Back to Sam.

Sam has interpreted St. Augustine’s incredible journey through original words and music in his debut album entitled Late to Love.

This is indeed soul music. But it’s soul music with a twist:

[It’s] soul music that scans the genres of spirituals, folk, gospel, country, R&B, blues, funk, jazz, hip-hop, neo-soul and nu-jazz. T-Bone Walker, Ray Charles, Gil Scott Heron, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, and Curtis Mayfield—with dashes of Willie Nelson and Pat Metheny

That sounds like some public-relations hype. Of course it is. But that doesn’t make it any less true, any less spot on.

This is soulful, contemporary music, recounting an extraordinary ancient journey, interpreted through the passionate heart of a creative young song writer and singer.

It’s smooth. It’s inventive. It’s moody. It’s passionate. It’s thoughtful. It’s good stuff. Much like St. Augustine’s own writings. And it tells a story in a way that the written word alone cannot.

You can – no, you should – purchase your copy here.

Or you can visit the publisher’s webpage here. But first, listen to some tracks and be convinced.

My secondary hope is that Sam’s music will also encourage you to buy and read The Confessions. You’ll gain a great deal of insight into the shaping of the early Church if you do.

At the very least, you’ll understand why Sam is holding that pear!


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