Finding the Art in Everything

31 December, 2008

For Those Wondering How I Spent My Break

they should consult the following tableau:

The only significant thing missing is George Herbert, who is 2 years old today.

30 December, 2008

Top 50

It being the end of the year, my ipod's Shuffle and I were reflecting on some of our most significant moments. We came up with the following list of our fifty favorite songs this year (give or take a couple of months).

"A Billion Bees" - Kevin Devine
"A Perfect Fit" - Tilly and the Wall
"Bad Education" - Tilly and the Wall
"Big Casino" - Jimmy Eat World
"Cemeteries of London" - Coldplay
"Chase This Light" - Jimmy Eat World
"Colly Strings" Manchester Orchestra
"Deliver Me" - David Crowder
"Disappearing World" - David Gray
"Disintegration" - Jimmy Eat World
"Dream" - Priscilla Ahn
"Faithful to Me" - Jennifer Knapp
"Falling Slowly" - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
"Grapevine Fires" - Death Cab for Cutie
"Gray Room" - Damien Rice
"Hawkmoon269" - U2 (Rattle and Hum)
"His Truth is Marchin On" - Mike Doughty
"How Lucky We Are" - Meiko
"I Was A Cage" - Right Away, Great Captain
"I'm Winning the Race" - Inkwell
"Is There a Ghost?" - Band of Horses
"Lonely" - Yael Naim
"Lord, I Know We Don't Talk" - Kevin Devine
"Love, Come Save Me" - Right Away, Great Captain
"Love, Save the Empty" - Erin McCarley
"Martyrs and Thieves" Jennifer Knapp
"My Sister, My Bride (I'm Taking on Your Hell)" - Alexander
"Nobody Knows Me At All" - The Weepies
"Now That You're Home" - Manchester Orchestra
"Own Me" - Ginny Owens
"Painting by Chagall" - The Weepies
"Peace" - Jennifer Knapp
"Plasticities" - Andrew Bird
"Please Stop Time" - Tyler Ramsey
"Resurrection Fern" Iron and Wine
"Shine" - Shawn Starbuck
"Sodom, South Georgia" - Iron and Wine
"Sorry" - Maria Mena
"Starting Now" - Ingrid Michaelson
"Surely We Can Change" - David Crowder Band
"The Call" - Regina Spektor
"The Chain" - Ingrid Michaelson
"The Funeral" - Band of Horses
"The One Who Loves You the Most" - Brett Dennen
"The Trapeze Swinger" - Iron and Wine
"These Streets" - Paulo Nutini
"Tightrope" Inkwell
"Viva la Vida" - Coldplay
"Where Have You Been?" - Manchester Orchestra
"You Remind Me of Home" - Ben Gibbard

24 December, 2008

Christmas Carols

Over the years, working retail has demolished all of my appreciation for Christmas music. There are too few songs played far too often. I have noticed them trickle in as early as Halloween!

This year I was fairly successful at avoiding not only Christmas music, but the whole run up to Christmas. As every year, much of this can be blamed by school's end-of-term madness. I miss out on a lot of the season's festivities due to school stress. (It's why I mail valentines instead of Christmas cards). More than ever, however, my season was marked by musical underexposure.

This is significant because the songs I heard and sang at the Christmas Eve service actually meant what they were supposed to--a profound religious reflection of the second most--that's right, second--most important Christian event. Christians celebrate the birth of Christ because it is the miraculous beginning to the story that results in the redemption of humanity.

For me, though, I have always had a hard time connecting stars and livestock and mute infants and local princes to the adult Gospel. Much of the Christmas carols concentrate on what seem to be fictitious or impractical accounts of that night. There was no little drummer boy at the birth of Christ, and it was NOT a Silent Night--it was high-risk medical procedure inadequately performed on a teen mother, likely producing an infant who was cold and screaming, supernaturally announced to a processional of strangers. What teen mother is ready to receive a crowd of strange men hours after she had been through labor in a barn? Add a child with a percussion instrument to the scene and someone will be punched.

"O Holy Night" is my favorite Christmas carol, and by that, I mean one of the few I look forward to hearing. And I wish everyone could hear the one I heard at the service, with my friend Jon adding some really powerful drums. It was breathtaking. The song is already really beautiful, but this the best version I'd ever heard. I like this song, because it IS one of the ones that connects the events of Christmas to the adult Gospel. When people say that the "true meaning of Christmas is Jesus," they still might miss the point if they concentrate his infancy for the month of December. "O Holy Night" explains why the night is so magnificent, and worth everything that we call, on our best days, true Christmas:

O Holy Night -

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

O night divine, O night, O night Divine.


Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

The song, unlike many of the others, not only reminds us that Christ was born on Christmas, but that He was the Savior to a world that was desperate for it: people in sin and error, those in chains and those who face oppression, a world that is collectively weary of itself. And for those who believe in the Gospel, what happens on Christmas is extraordinary; the moment Christ is born, God's process for real restoration--the kind that restores the worth of a soul--commences and no day is the same after.

The birth of Christ begins a new era in human history, and no matter how familiar the tune, the Truth of this song ensures the song's purpose is not lost: I really do fall to my knees in awe and praise.

04 December, 2008

This makes me very happy

From the Google Reader Blog:

Hide unread counts

We've heard you loud and clear. For some of you (and some of us on the Reader team), unread counts are a source of anxiety and can feel more like a to-do list than the random awesomeness of the Internet. So to help you sleep better at night, we've added the ability to turn off unread counts for each section of navigation independently. Subscriptions with unread items will still appear as bold, and you can see the number of unread items if you hold your mouse over the subscription name. To really set yourself free, try turning them off for all sections. (Ahhhhhh, now doesn't that feel better?)