Thursday, February 19, 2009

Top Ten: Black (Not African American) Mix

10. Tribute - Tenacious D. I actually like this song too well for it to be in this position on the list...except for the part where the title nor the "artist" has nothing to do with black. However - lead singer? Jack Black. Go me. A classic of my high school days, an intriguing little ballad, with the delightful point that this is not the greatest and best song in the world - this is just a tribute. Saw these cats live with Weezer and Jimmy Eat World in high school. They had stomp rocket pyrotechnics. Hot to death.

9. War Pigs - Black Sabbath. Although Cake's cover is pretty song, I know it best from Guitar Hero II. It blows my mind how effective their pauses are, and how the song manages to hold energy despite it being nine years long. Even so - another untouchable classic.

8. Little Black Back Pack - Stroke 9. Dude. Remember high school? Just a catchy little tune, light and playful on the chorus - perhaps a precursor to emo? This song is 100% pure high school for me.

7. Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden. And this one is middle school. An alternative classic - though I hear it might be "Black-eyed Son"? I'm not quite sure. Chris Cornell's voice rocks my mind.

6. That Old Black Magic - Spike Jones. An old family classic. Spike Jones' take is the most...soulful...I've ever heard. =P You can find other covers out there, but I think Jones has the definitive version.

5. Supermassive Black Holes - Muse. Not my favorite Muse song, but fits other criteria. Muse's harmony/backup work perpetually impresses, and this song is no exception. This album, and its key single, Knights of Cydonia, are college songs for me.

4. Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance. For some reason, this song always tags in my head as "anthemic." Something about it hooks to nationalistic/patriotic music for me (appropriate, considering the parade imagery, etc. I heard this one on my radio station in do they come up with this stuff?

3. Paint it Black - Rolling Stones. A tune introduced to me by Guitar Hero III, with its irresistable Stonesian hook. Don't you ever just want to paint things black?

2. Heart Full of Black - Burning Brides. Another GH special, this one from GH1. This was the first song in GH that was uniquely mine amongst my group of friends. I still get pumped thinking about it.

1. Many Shades of Black - The Raconteurs. Preferable to racketeers, the Raconteurs bring a delightful retro feel (which seems to be on the resurgence everywhere I look) to the "I've broken up with you" song. Too addictive to be allowed - and I hope it's stuck in your head now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Christ n' Culture II: Patristic SMACKDOWN

So there are these two early theologians: Augustine (of whom you may have heard) and Tertullian (of whom you may have heard if you are a CHURCH NERD). They were chillin', doing their early church father thing, living lives as Roman citizens, etc.

Now, Augustine, from time to time, was seen down at the show - which, in Rome of the time, meant the gladatorial games. These were brutal blood sports - think Gladiator meets Saw III. Yes, the honor of the slave, of combat, blah blah blah, but seriously folks - if you think we're voyeuristic? At least we don't generally cheer on the spectacle of real people being eaten by real bears. But Augustine went to these things sometimes, and hung out with his boys, at least partially as a ministry to those same heathens.

Tertullian, on the other hand, avoided these entertainments like the plague. Christians, he argued, should avoid anything which might detract from their love for/of and devotion to Christ. The entertainments were pure evil (to some degree) and should be shunned. Christians should be separate.

These have be come, due to the offices of one Paul Tillich, to be called the "Christ in Culture" (Augustine, kinda) and "Christ against Culture" (Tertullian) models. Christians should be in the world, but not of the world...well what the devil does that mean?

My thing, after Tillich's argument, is Christ Transforming Culture. We are here, but we want to be different from the ills of the societies that surround us, and we want those societies to be as much better as we can. If that's through reading and espousing good literature, or even writing good films and books, more power to us. But the first step, as always, is to examine the culture in which we live, particularly (in my case) through film and the sci-fi/fantasy genres.

So, I hope that answers your question, Dawn.

Any other ones troubling you out there, O Internets? Shoot 'em. I got time.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Christ n' Culture

So, Dawn quite fairly asks me the question that has defined much of the last few months for me. Why do I study films at Princeton Theological Seminary? Why am I reading Fantasy Literature for class? Whence the obsession with popular culture?

First: You are what you eat. Nobody seems particularly inclined to dispute the truth of this statement. The foods you input into your body will affect your body's overall health.

It seems logical to state, then, that you are also what you see. Films go into your mind - they're a visually powerful medium. How often have you seen a shot or an image in a movie that, later, you couldn't quite get out of your head?

Same holds true for books. You are what you read. This I can say even more definitely. In this one respect, I regret playing Dungeons and Dragons in my youth - I can never quite elude the paradigm of Lawful and Chaotic, Good and Evil in my own head. The books that I read as a child, and the books I read now, shape the way I see and interact with the rest of the world.

Therefore, it seems to me that I can be a better and more critical reader and moviegoer. I can consciously choose to accept or reject the worldviews of everything that I read, from a covertly Marxist opinion piece on the BBC today, to Fight Club, a favorite film of mine, to the Twilight series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and about which I may have more to say later.

The best way I know of, though, to become just such a careful thinker, is to practice. I think a generation of pastors trained to think carefully about popular culture and how best to interact with it can only be of eventual benefit to the Church.

Second...well, I think second will wait a day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


So how's this for a sad state of affairs?

I have a writing assignment for my Children's and Fantasy Lit. class. Gotta write 20 minutes a day. Doesn't necessarily have to be for my writing project, although that's encouraged, but I must write for 20 minutes, at the very least, every day.

I am so uninspired, not only by my fantasy project, but by EVERY OTHER PROJECT ON MY LIST that I have been forced to resort to my BLOG to fill out the time.


I was writing today (which doesn't count - work-related) on some good advice for bloggers - how to create and maintain a good blog. As a part of the project, I looked back over this blog and read some old posts, both good and ill. The only really embarrassing one was one where I got frustrated with the post towards the end and commented on how bad it was. Sort of tongue-in-cheek, I told these aspiring bloggers to not permit their audience to see the man behind the curtain.

And now I'm doing it again, in a neverending spirally cycle of self-referential doom.

Five minutes for this post. For the record.