About Me

My photo
Child of God. Husband. Father of four. Pastor. Triathlete.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017 Reading List

Bolsinger, Tod. Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2015.

Burrough, Bryan. Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence. New York: Penguin, 2015.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Humans Origins Debate. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2015.

Grillo, Ioan. Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields, and the New Politics of Latin America. London: Bloomsbury, 2017.

Nieuwhof, Carey. Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow. Cumming: ReThink, 2015.

Mouw, Richard J. When the Kings Come Marching In: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.

Wright, N.T. How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels. New York: HarperCollins, 2012.

Keller, Timothy. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical. New York: Viking, 2016.

Faulkner, John. My Brother Bill. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2010.

McMurtry, Larry. Lonesome Dove: A Novel. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985.

Faulkner, William. Selected Short Stories. New York: Random House, 1962.

De Kat, Otto. The Longest Night. New York: Quercus, 2017.

Roach, Gerry. Colorado's Fourteeners, 3rd Ed.: From Hikes to Climbs. Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 2011.










Monday, December 26, 2016

Reading List 2016

January
Keller, Timothy. Encounters with Jesus. New York: Dutton, 2013.

Barrett, Colin. Young Skins: Stories. New York: Grove Press, 2015.

Simenon, Georges. Chez les Flamards. London: Penguin, 1932.

Wilson, Charles Reagan. Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980.

Leonard, Elmore. Gunsights. New York: Harper Torch, 1979.

Chan, Francis. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. Colorado Springs: David Cook, 2009.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. London: SCM Press Ltd., 1959.

Simenon, Georges. En Crime En Hollande. Paris: Fayard, 1931.

February
Leonard, Elmore. Get Shorty. New York: William Morrow, 2009.

Plantinga, Cornelius. Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.

Percy, Walker. Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World. New York: Picador, 1971.

Percy, Walker. The Thanatos Syndrome. New York: Picador, 1987.

Hoagland, Edward. Sex and the River Styx. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011.

March
Owens, John. Spiritual-Mindedness. New York: Robert Carver, 1884.

Lewis, Clive Staples. Till We Have Faces. Orlando: Harcourt Books, 1980.

Moore, Brian. Catholics. Chicago: Loyola Press, 1972.

West, Christopher. Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Blessed John Paul II's Sexual Revolution. West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, 2004.

Simenon, Georges. Pietr the Latvian. New York: Penguin Classics, 2013.

Robinson, Marilynne. The Givenness of Things: Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015.

Wallace, David Foster. Consider the Lobster and Other Essays. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2006.

DeGroat, Chuck. Wholeheartedness: Busyness, Exhaustion, and Healing the Divided Self. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016.

April
Simenon, Georges. The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien. New York: Penguin Classics, 2014.

Simenon, Georges. A Man's Head. New York: Penguin Classics, 2014.

Wallace, David Foster.  The Girl With Curious Hair. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1989.

Classis Grand Rapids East Study Report on Biblical and Theological Support Currently Offered by Christian Proponents of Same-Sex Marriage. Rev. William DeVries et al.  January 2016.

May
Grossman, Paul. Brotherhood of Fear: A Willi Kraus Novel. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2014.

Simenon, Georges. The Yellow Dog. New York: Penguin Classics, 2014.

Simenon, Georges. The Madman of Bergerac. New York: Penguin Classics, 2014.

Simenon, Georges. The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin. New York: Penguin Classics, 2015.

Simenon, Georges. Liberty Bar. New York: Penguin Classics, 2015.

Simenon, Georges. Lock No. 1. New York: Penguin Classics, 2015.

Simenon, Georges. Mr. Hire's Engagement. New York: Penguin Classics, 2015.

June
Shaw, Hayd. Generational IQ. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2015.

Hallberg, Garth Risk. City on Fire. New York: Knopf, 2015.

Fujimura, Makoto. Silence & Beauty. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016.

Stott, John. Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today. 2nd edition. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1975.

July
Gawande, Atul. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. New York: Holt & Co., 2014.

Simenon, Georges. The Shadow Puppet. New York: Penguin, 2015.

Poythress, Vern S. “Modern Spiritual Gifts as Analogous to Apostolic Gifts: Affirming Extraordinary Works of the Spirit within Cessationist Theology,” The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 39/1 (1996): 71-101.

Simenon, Georges. The Two Penny Bar. New York: Penguin, 2015.

August
Simenon, Georges. The Misty Harbor. New York: Penguin, 2015.

September
De Pree, Max. Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.

October
McChesney, Chris with Sean Covey and Jim Huling. The Four Disciplines of Execution. New York: Free Press, 2012.

Witvliet, John. Worship Seeking Understanding: Windows Into Christian Practice. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.

Vogt, Christopher P. Patience, Compassion, Hope, and the Christian Art of Dying Well. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.

Luther, Martin. "A Sermon on Preparing to Die." Luther's Works, Vol. 2: Devotional Writings I. Ed. J.J. Pelikan, H.C. Oswald, and H.T. Lehmann. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999.

Luy, David. "Dying for the Last Time: Martin Luther on Christian Death." Colloquium on Christian Dying, March 17-18, 2014.

Shteyngart, Gary. Super Sad True Love Story. New York: Random House, 2010.

Maymudes, Victor & Jacob. Another Side of Bob Dylan: A Personal History on the Road and Off the Tracks. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2014.


Smith, James K.A. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2016.

Simenon, Georges. L'Affaire St. Fiacre. New York: Penguin, 2015.

Collins, Jim and Morten T. Hansen. Great By Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.

November
Beck, Richard. The Slavery of Death. Eugene: Cascade Books, 2014.

Husbands, Mark. "The Word Became Flesh: Setting the Context for the Church's Discussion of Issues Involving Sexuality," RCA Commission on Theology, 2016.

Swierenga, Robert P. "Walls or Bridges: The Differing Acculturation Process in the Reformed and Christian Reformed Churches in North America." Morsels in the Melting Pot, eds. George Harinck and Hans Krabbendam. Amsterdam: Free University Press, 2006.

Bird, Warren and Jim Tomberlin. Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work. A Leadership Network Publication. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012.

Ambrose, Stephen E. D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II. New York: Touchstone, 1994.

December
Keller, Timothy. Hidden Christmas: The Hidden Truth Behind the Birth of Christ. New York: Viking, 2016.

Richter, Sandra L. The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008.






































Best Music of 2016

You've been waiting for it all year...so here it is: my "Best Of" highlighting the most interesting music of 2016. Sadly, just as Chuck Prophet sang, it was a bad year for rock and roll.

10. Ghost of a King by The Gray Havens. They are good kids. And they played a lovely house show in our living room back in February. The music is pop-y, literate, and edifying.
9. Eternally Even by Jim James. Jim James' solo stuff is dark but always somehow encouraging, melodic, and almost guaranteed to have many guitar freak-outs.
8. Signs of Light by The Head and the Heart. The critics generally disliked this album. While not a solid overall as their first two albums, this entry in the H&H catalogue has its high points.
7. Schmilco by Wilco. Cerebral, quiet, and of unusual depth, this is Jeff Tweedy's finest songwriting since Sky Blue Sky.
6. Sunday Music by Hymns from Nineveh. Have you heard of Jonas Petersen? Probably not. He is a spectacularly gifted Danish singer/songwriter making wonderfully melodic pop. Give him a listen.
5. The Wilderness by Explosions in the Sky. Saw them in Minneapolis in September. Producing guitar virtuosity of epic proportions, this post rock band has been doing it well for a long time.
4. Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. Umm, this is the most disturbing and beautiful album you will hear this year.
3. Visions of Us on the Land by Damien Jurado. I am biased, believing that everything DJ produces is wonderful and life-changing. This is his final chapter to the trilogy that began with Mariqopa.
2. Why Are You OK? by Band of Horses. As bad as this year was for rock and roll, BoH did their part. This is simply a great album from beginning to end.
1. A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead. Radiohead continues to be the most creative band out there. Breath-taking beauty mixed with dread.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Books of 2015

Jobbing, John. U2: The Definitive Biography. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2014.

Brown, Daniel James. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. New York: Penguin, 2014.

Duncan, David J. The River Why. New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1983.

McDonough, James. Shakey: Neil Young's Biography. New York: Anchor, 2002.

Morrissey. Autobiography. New York: Penguin, 2014.

DeGroat, Chuck. Leaving Egypt: Finding God in the Wilderness Places. Kalamazoo: Square Inch, 2011.

Spufford, Francis. Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense. New York: Harper One, 2012.

Naipaul, V.S. A Bend in the River. New York: Knopf, 1979.

Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.

Fadling, Alan. An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus' Rhythms of Work and Rest. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2013.

McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses. New York: Vintage, 1993.

White, James Emery. The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2012.

De Moor, Robert. Reformed: What It Means, Why It Matters. Grand Rapids: Faith Alive, 2009.

Halter, Hugh & Matt Smay. The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Jurek, Scott. Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2012.

Gardner-Sharp, Abbie. History of the Spirit Lake Massacre and Captivity of Miss Abbie Gardner: The Raid of the Santee Sioux Against the Iowa Frontier Settlements, 1857. Whitefish: Kissinger, 2011.

Brown, Dee. The American West. New York: Touchstone, 1994.

Peterson, Eugene H. Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.

Krakauer, Jon. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town. New York: Doubleday, 2015.

Rohr, Richard. Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013.

Davis, Thomas J. The Devil Likes to Sing. Eugene: Cascade Books, 2014.

Billings, J. Todd. Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015.

Laskin, David. The Children's Blizzard. New York: Harper, 2005.

Buning, Sietze. Style and Class. Orange City: Middleburg Press, 1982.

Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest. New York: Back Bay Books, 2006.

Rogers, Michael Allen. What Happens After I Die? Wheaton: Crossway, 2013.

Hackett, Pat. The Andy Warhol Diaries. New York: Warner Books, 1989.

Meier, Lee and Bonnie. Letters From Ralph: A Soldier Writes Home During World War II. Lulu Publishing, 2015

Gordon, Kim. Girl in a Band: A Memoir. New York: HarperCollins, 2015.

Lee, Harper. Go Set a Watchman. New York: Harper, 2015.

Scheer, Amy. Frames: A Picture of Death, Drugs, and Forgiveness. Grand Rapids: Schuler Books, 2015.

De Kat, Otto. News from Berlin. London: MacLehose Press, 2012.

Colacello, Bob. Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up. New York: Vintage, 2014.

Moore, Russell. Same Sex Marriage and the Future. Nashville: Leland House, 2014.

Keller, Timothy. Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Viking, 2015.

Moore, Russell. Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel. Nashville: B&H Books, 2015.

Krueger, William Kent. Ordinary Grace. New York: Atria, 2013.

Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and Your Life. Boulder: Sounds True, 2012.

Swenson, Richard A. Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2004.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015.

Taylor, Jeff and Chad Israelson. The Political World of Bob Dylan: Freedom and Justice, Power and Sin. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas. Lament for a Son. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987.

FitzSimmons, Matthew. The Short Drop. Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2015.

Honnold, Alex and David Roberts. Alone on the Wall. New York: Norton & Co., 2016.

Egan, Timothy. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. New York: Mariner, 2006.

Auden, W.H. For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1944.

Nieuwendorp, Bob. God's Plan for Church Multiplication: A Biblical Blueprint. Minneapolis: NextStep, 2015.

Howey, Hugh. Wool. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012.

Else, Travis. Idolatry, the Powers, and Cultural Formation. Holland: Western Seminary, 2015.

Keller, Timothy. The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. Chorley, UK: 10 Publishing, 2012.

Carr, J.L. A Month in the Country. New York: NYRB, 1980.

Honnef, Klaus. Warhol. Cologne: Taschen, 2015.

Bernanos, Georges. Diary of a Country Priest. New York: Macmillan, 1937.




Friday, December 11, 2015

Best Music of 2015


It is time again for my annual "Best Of" edition, featuring the music that I've most enjoyed in 2015. Julie heard from me at least once every week, "It's a terrible year in music." That is not entirely true.  There was some outstanding stuff (especially if you are a big fan of rap). However lacking in transcendent LP's (see last year's Lost in the Dream by The War on Drugs), the class of 2015 is altogether a pretty strong class. If you've not yet given a listen to the albums on this list, now is a great time to start. Enjoy!

10. Our Own House by MisterWives--There is no way this album shows up on the list if not for my daughter Sophie. She likes them...a lot. So we listened to MisterWives...a lot. And the thing of it is, this is a pretty wonderful album. Mandy Lee, in addition to having a cool name, can sing. And is it possible to get the chorus to "Reflections" out of your head (and would you want to even if you could)?

9. Why Make Sense? by Hot Chip--These Brits have been around for a long time and they know how to make folksy, techno-influenced dance pop. Turn up "Huarache Lights" really, really loud and thank me later.

8. No No No by Beirut--These psychedelic indie-folkers led by Zach Condon are brilliantly understated. They actually seem to be pretty normal people who happen to make delightful, thoughtful music. The title track is wonderfully simple and you will likely have the whole family singing along.

7. Thank Your Lucky Stars/Depression Cherry by Beach House--I'm including both albums in the list because they were both released in 2015, in fact about two months apart. These are expansive, dreamy pop soundscapes that pull you into a different, not altogether welcome world. Dark and brilliant.

6. Wilder Mind by Mumford & Sons--Okay, so very few people wanted to like this album. Critics lamented, "Where are the banjos? And the upright bass?!!!" Yes, it was different. But here's the thing: Brother Marcus knows how to right catchy, listenable pop-rock music. And, yes, I like it!!!

5. The Helio Sequence by The Helio Sequence--Why are these guys not famous? Keep Your Eyes Ahead was the best album of 2008 that no one ever heard. The duo's eponymous 2015 entry is engaging at every level. It is simple, really: guitar/vocals, drums/loops, alliterative lyrics that actually say something, and melody that resonates.

4. Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens--Listen once, you become bored. Listen twice, you become depressed. Listen multiple times, you become wise. This is a thrillingly stark, sad album, but the moments of sweetness are profound. I'm not sure any other musician could get away with such vulnerability, and compose such beautiful music as a backdrop. Pretty wonderful and pretty dark: "We're all gonna die..."

3. Star Wars by Wilco--It might be dad rock (and these dudes are getting old), but Wilco can still play. Distortion-heavy guitars, Glenn Kotche's super-bad drumming, and Jeff Tweedy's literate, weird lyrics make for yet another wonderful album and a significant return to form after two general disappointments.

2. B'lieve I'm Goin' Down by Kurt Vile--While no single from the record could match the production of "Jesus Fever" (Smoke Ring for My Halo) or "A Girl Called Alex" (Wakin' on a Pretty Daze), B'lieve showcases a mature singer-songwriter mastering his craft. Vile remains one of the best guitarists out there, too. A brilliant, even funny record.

1. Currents by Tame Impala--There were few times over the course of the summer when this album was not on. Kevin Parker knows how to write, play, and produce wonderfully catchy, trippy, and melodic psych-pop. This album just sounds like summer. A departure from his guitar-heavy freakouts, this is a smooth combination of psychedelia, techno, rock, and pop. I dare say it: this is 21st century disco. And it is very, very good.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Vacation Listening and Reading List 2015

Once again, the Else Family is gearing up for vacation. This means pulling together music and literature! Here's what we're listening to and reading this year:

Sound
Tame Impala, Currents--Kevin Parker's newest release is an epiphany...a delightful summer record that eschews guitar freak-outs for bass & synth driven psychedelic pop. We will be listening to a lot of this on the boat!
Wilco, Star Wars--Tweedy & Co. surprised everyone with this free release (www.wilcoworld.net) of new music (their first since 2011). It is a throwback, of sorts, and upon initial listens hearkens to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (which remains my favorite Wilco album).
The Helio Sequence, Negotiations--Melodic indie pop rock released in 2012 remains a touch above their most recent eponymous release.
Mumford & Sons, Wilder Mind--Kevin Parker (see above) changes direction and the critics swoon. Marcus Mumford changes directions and the critics seethe. Evidently, you don't let go the banjo. Critical resentment aside, this is a wonderful record.
The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream--This album defined 2014 in many ways, and remains in my playlist. It will get a lot of play on vacation, once again.
Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell--However a little depressing, this a great album for early, hazy mornings.
Mansionair, Hold Me Down EP--More Australia. More catchy techno soul.

Word
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest--I actually just finished this book, so it won't be coming along on vacation. As I just finished it, I'm including it on this list. It is one of the more fascinating, difficult books I've read in a long time.
Patricia Hackett & Andy Warhol, The Andy Warhol Diaries--This book will be hefted along (it would not be if we were flying). I'm not sure how much time I'll spend in it, as it appears to be a catalogue of Andy's many dinners and nights out with interesting people. I would prefer to live my own life, and not live through the life of a long dead artist, but may warm up to it as we go.
Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman--Critics are ambivalent; booksellers are cashing in. Fifty years after To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee has the perhaps impossible task of meeting expectations. We'll see.
Ralph J. Mouw, Letters from Ralph: A Soldier Writes Home During World War II--Orange City native Ralph Mouw provides a firsthand account of life in the theater of war. There is a lot of buzz in Northwest Iowa about this book!
Nicole Baart, The Beautiful Daughters--Sioux Center resident (and friend) Nicole Baart's seventh book has gotten a lot of attention nationally. I am excited to read it!
Kim Gordon, Girl in a Band--Sonic Youth riot grrrl! Kim Gordon's, er, autobiography?
James Michener, Centennial--This would be a better book if we were going to Colorado. As it is, Michener, the West, and vacation make a pretty good trio.



Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Music of 2014

Back by popular demand, my annual listing of favorite musical recordings in 2014...
(This is an amended listing. I discovered after its publication that Damien Jurado's wonderful Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son was released in January 2014, not December 2013 as I had originally thought. Bumped off the list is Moon Duo, who produced a great album, but a live album. A little movement amongst the others, as well...)

10. Taylor Swift, 1989--I am no fan of pop music, in general, nor Taylor Swift, in particular, but this woman pulled off what I had thought was impossible: an interesting pop record I could listen to and enjoy. Amazing.
9. Sharon Van Etten, Are We There--A lovely album that made me think of Lucinda Williams in her prime. Excellent, personal song-writing that affirms every bit of sadness you've ever felt. It probably won't change your life (see 1.), but you will enjoy.
8. Foxygen, ...And Star Power--A pretty weird and thoroughly psychedelic offering from some strange dudes. I'm not sure what most of it means, but it is very entertaining.
7. U2, Songs of Innocence--Exhibit 1A in support of the argument that U2's worst is still far better than most groups' best. Perhaps this is not the highest praise for the Irish rockers, and I'm the first to admit that the group is past its prime, but I'm sentimental, and there are some very good songs in here.
6. Tweedy, Sukierae--I am a sucker for nostalgia (see 7., above). Jeff Tweedy isn't doing anything on this album that he hasn't already done before, but he is still making pretty fantastic music, this time with his son.
5. Grouper, Ruins--Sad, sparse, and even a little depressing. This is perhaps the perfect ambient album for cloudy autumn days in Northwest Iowa.
4. Real Estate, Atlas--Finally, a return to jangling guitars and melodic song-craft. Even if these elements are not completely fashionable (and haven't been since Coldplay's heyday), Real Estate put together one of the most delightful albums of the year. A joy to listen to.
3. Young Oceans, I Must Find You--Who are these guys? Gifted musicians and songwriters who love Jesus, evidently. (Btw, their Advent recording got me through the holidays last year.) I'm pretty sure this is what worshipful post-modern music is supposed to sound like: thoughtful, musically exceptional performance art.
2. Damien Jurado, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son--One of the finest singer-songwriters of his generation, Jurado continues to churn out remarkable, inventive music. This album presents a world of its own. Truly spectacular.
1. The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream--Those who know me well have heard me gush about this album since May. Let me be clear: this is the best recording I've heard in decades and, yes, it has changed my life.