When a public teacher on the roster of Synod can without consequence publicly advocate the ordination of women (even participate vested in the installation of an ELCA clergy person), homosexuality, the errancy of the Bible, the historical-critical method, open communion, communion with the Reformed, evolution, and more, then the public confession of the Synod is meaningless. I am saying that if my Synod does not change its inability to call such a person to repentance and remove such a teacher where there is no repentance, then we are liars and our confession is meaningless. I do not want to belong to such a synod, much less lead it. I have no intention of walking away from my vocation. I shall rather use it and, by the grace of God, use all the energy I have to call this Synod to fidelity to correct this situation.
Monday, January 26, 2015
FW: Regarding a recent decision of a panel not to proceed with charges regarding a public false teacher in the LCMS
When Strivings Cease
It is with great pleasure that I announce that I must cease my striving. When this blog began almost six years ago, one of its primary objectives was to herald, champion, promote, persuade, propagandize, coerce, ramrod the burgeoning retuned hymns movement. In addition to retuning hymns myself, especially on my first (The Glad Sound ) and second (Without Our Aid ) albums with Cherry Creek Worship, I wanted to highlight all the church musicians and independent artists who were taking seriously the movement to re-gift old hymns to new believers.
Along with others, I wanted to help turn the tide of contemporary/modern worship by undertaking the massive project of backfilling its gaping holes with the songs of the past. I consulted and networked with inspirational forerunners like Indelible Grace and Red Mountain Music, and I discovered some new partners in the vision, who would over time become great friends--Cardiphonia, Sojourn, and others.
So I launched a page that would chronicle the movement by cataloguing the artists and pointing to their work. As I heard about more projects, and as they found my home base, the list increased, and I watched before my very eyes the spread of this movement to more and more places in the United States.
The Propaganda Campaign
At the same time, I began a concerted propaganda campaign to highlight these churches and artists and observe the "infiltration" of the vision in the contemporary/modern worship mainstream. The following highlights track some of that campaign throughout the years (notice I hit the gas hard in 2010-2011). Just glance through the titles to get a glimpse of what we were thinking and doing:
Somewhere along the way, as the conversation widened and the rehymning multiplied, I think we can say that this became a bona fide movement. The artists and churches became more aware of each other, and as networking possibilities increased through the saturation of Facebook and Twitter, conversations led to collaborations, and influence multiplied. With this spread came a diversification of styles, too. Retuned hymns went beyond the Southern, country, bluegrass, folk, and Americana roots of Indelible Grace and Red Mountain into the new waters of funk, blues, indie rock, pop, gospel, EDM, and experimental. In other words, the hymns began to take on more indigenous clothing as they were retuned in the accompaniment of their local contexts and influences.
Why I'm Shutting It Down, and a Vision Forward
As you can see, the retuned hymns movement is at the point where I simply can't keep up. If it is to be chronicled and catalogued, it's going to take efforts (and probably algorithms) that I don't have the bandwidth to generate. Thankfully, though I can't share much now, I know some people who are in the middle of a kind of cataloguing project and I'd ask you all to pray for its success.
I'll no longer be updating the hymns movement page, but I will leave it there in the meantime as a kind of mile-marker and time capsule.
The retuned hymns movement was never a be all and end all. There are deficits to the church's worship if all we do is recover a previous generation's hymns to the exclusion of the "new song" of other generations/cultures and our own. (I point out one of those deficits in a post about traditional worship here.) I gave heavy influence early on because I felt that a thick injection of hymnody would serve as a kind of "gateway drug" to other important worship reforms and correctives: historical connectivity, theological depth, gospel-centeredness, thoughtful cultural engagement--things that this blog is deeply committed to. I still believe that this strategy is an effective one at the local level, so if you're a worship leader whose church doesn't sing many songs except those of the present, I'd encourage you to slowly incorporate some historic hymns (retuned or restyled to suit your context) to begin broadening the doxological appetites and sensibilities of your flock.
I'm grateful that the retuned movement is at this point, and I cheer on its continued growth. Recovery and retrieval of this sort can only be a good thing. In fact, throughout history, recovery and retrieval were at the heart of every reform-movement of God's people, from Bible times down to the present. So, let's keep digging up these old gems, polishing them off, and casting them in new settings and display cases for the sake of Christ and His Bride!
Friday, November 14, 2014
What's the Big Deal?
A few weeks ago we posted a crash course on Bible cover materials, and now we turn our attention to the interior of the Bible.
You may have seen buzzwords like "opacity," "PPI," "ghosting," or "readability" flying around the internet, especially when it comes to "high-quality Bible paper." So what's the big deal? It's just paper, right?
The production of Bible paper is so technical that only a handful of companies in the world make it. The average ESV Bible, without any extra study content, has more than 700,000 words, and the ESV Study Bible has over 2.2 million words! Arranging this much content in an organized, cohesive, and readable way is a remarkable feat in and of itself. Then there's printing everything on paper—a challenge that can only be described as a lesson in paradoxes and chemistry. Once produced and run through massive printing presses, the pages are bound (sewn or glued), then finished off with a cover.
You could make the case that Bible printing is one of the most complicated printing projects in the world.
Here are some some key terms to know related to Bible paper:
Common Types of Bible Paper
There are three main categories of Bible paper:
Identifying High-Quality Bible Paper
In light of this information, the question naturally arises, "How will I know high-quality Bible paper when I see it?"
Well, there's no magic formula, but it comes down to a variety of factors and your prefernces. The next time you're looking for high-quality paper, consider this checklist:
Think of "high-quality Bible paper" as being on a spectrum rather than in a static, black and white category. There are some widely accepted non-negotiables (opacity, PPI, and brightness), but the rest comes down to subjective preference (whiteness, creaminess, texture, etc.). In the end, "high-quality" is in the eye of the beholder.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Friday, July 25, 2014
Another great post over on Pastoral Meanderings by Pastor Peters:
"Wow! That is a lot to take for someone who has had only a passing association with church before!" So said one visitor to a Sunday morning Divine Service at my parish. She did not say it but clearly her comment meant "I wish the liturgy were more accessible" to a stranger to the church like me…
It would not be the first time someone has uttered those sentiments. It IS a great deal to take in for those who have not had much association with the church before. I will not deny it one bit. Neither will I suggest that it is a fruitful pursuit to try and find a way to dumb down the liturgy just in case there may be (and there always are) people who are strangers to the church and to the mass). I am sure it is overwhelming and even shocking. I would be disappointed if it were not — for what would it say of us if the Divine Mystery of Christ (both efficacious Word and Sacrament) were easy enough to get and dismiss out of hand!
I tell such folks not to make a judgment quickly but to return to the liturgy over and over again. Only then, with familiarity, can come the deep appreciation for the mystery and its grace bestowed upon us by Christ through His Word and Spirit. The liturgy is one of those things learned by doing as much as by studying.
If you are an avid reader of this blog, you know that I do not quote Aristotle — not ever — but one of his tidbits of wisdom certainly applies to the Divine Service:
Though some find it offensive that any person off the street, a stranger to God and His worship, cannot enter the church and feel perfectly at home, I find just the opposite offensive. If a stranger to God and His worship feels at home in the liturgy, there must be something wrong with the liturgy. The liturgy or mass is off putting — not because it is designed to offend but because it goes against all that the sinful heart values most — easy, comfortable, feeling oriented, self-centered pleasure. What is most disarming about the liturgy or the Divine Service is that it compels us to shed ourselves and to become focused upon and open to the work of the Lord through His means of grace. Such is the domain of the Spirit and not simply the training of the human heart but, that said, it is discipline whose value is learned by experience.
We tell parents all the time that the repetition of the liturgy is helpful to the child learning by the experience of it who God is, what He has done, and how He communicates to us the fullness of His grace and gifts. Would not the same be also true of adults who come as infants into the presence of God in the holy ground of the liturgy?
Hardly any sport is transparent or obvious upon first view. Watching the game being played is one of the most important ways we learn its rules and an appreciation for the sport. In the hospital we have interns and residents who continue their education by watching and doing — believing that this is the most effective way to train our doctors. Why do some insist that we must make worship cogent for and accessible to the unchurched who know little of God or His ways? Why do some visit once and presume that they have seen and learned enough to make a reasonable judgment against the church?
To the stranger come upon us, I say stay here long enough to get to know the liturgy. Study it and learn the faith from it, to be sure, but resist the great temptation to judge what you see or experience until you learn its words, its rhythm, and its tempo. To the parent worrying about a child growing distracted from or bored with the liturgy, I say hang in there. Children learn by doing and they are absorbing from the liturgy more than is obvious to you. Reinforce what happens in the Divine Service, to be sure, but do not reject what happens as they experience the church's liturgy and song over many years of growing up.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Delivered as a workshop at the Liturgical Institute at Valpo in April of 2014. Again, not a polished paper, but might provide some food for thought.
...I was going to go through and clean up this paper, but I never can find the time. So I'm posting it, blemishes and all. It is what I delivered at the Making the Case Conference in Collinsville last month: