Call and Response: Religious Songs

As we come to the high frenzy of this holiday season, I’d like to turn to one of my favorite exchanges from the past year, when my brother and I stopped being silly and got a little serious about, you know, religion and stuff. It seems that this is the season for that sort of thing, right? So, this is a re-post, but updated and just right for the longer nights and the colder days.

In last year’s honest, and soul-baring post, my brother daringly ventured into one of the two subjects verboten at dinner tables and water-coolers throughout the country—religion (we crossed the politics line a few times in the past few months, so why not get this one over with?). I responded with an ambling, sometimes senseless, and mostly unclear comment.

My brother’s moment of clarity and its relation to music, however, deserves more thought. It deserves more time. It deserves a weighted and patient consideration. Yet, I fear, I may not be the right person to do this. As I said in response to my brother, music is the one thing that has made me feel a sense of something greater (unlike writing, music can be powerfully communal). Despite these feelings, I remain skeptical and unsure whether feeling something beyond yourself has anything to do with the divine.

“Down to the River to Pray”, Alison Krause

This beautiful song has been in my head off and on since I first heard it on the soundtrack to O, Brother Where art Thou. The fact that the “Sirens” sing this song in the movie points to an uncomfortable connection between Homer’s seductive and dangerous creatures and religious music…

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Oatmeal Stout Playlist

Winter has sucked but it seems to be looking up. I just might be getting a real job soon and, a few weeks ago, I got a free keg from a pretty reputable local brewery.

Now how does one get a free keg? It was an odd turn of events with multiple excruciating moves of a very heavy keg of Oatmeal Stout and the continual drunkenness of my illustrious neighbor whom I have written on before. Basically, the neighbor gets the post brew grain from aforementioned local brewery and feeds it to his various livestock. The chickens seem to eat anything; however,  the pigs turn their nose up at it. After doing snow removal a few weeks ago, my neighbor/boss tricked me into going to help him pick up the grain.

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Call and Response: Religious Songs

In a recent, honest, and soul-baring post, my brother daringly ventured into one of the two subjects verboten at dinner tables and water-coolers throughout the country—religion (we crossed the politics line a few times in the past few months, so why not get this one over with?). I responded with an ambling, sometimes senseless, and mostly unclear comment.

My brother’s moment of clarity and its relation to music, however, deserves more thought. It deserves more time. It deserves a weighted and patient consideration. Yet, I fear, I may not be the right person to do this. As I said in response to my brother, music is the one thing that has made me feel a sense of something greater (unlike writing, music can be powerfully communal). Despite these feelings, I remain skeptical and unsure whether feeling something beyond yourself has anything to do with the divine.

“Down to the River to Pray”, Alison Krause

This beautiful song has been in my head off and on since I first heard it on the soundtrack to O, Brother Where art Thou. The fact that the “Sirens” sing this song in the movie points to an uncomfortable connection between Homer’s seductive and dangerous creatures and religious music…

Continue reading

Religious songs for the non Religious

I would not consider myself a religious person. I am certainly not an atheist or agnostic or any kind of Satanist, I just sort of meandered through my Lutheran upbringing. I ambled through years of Sunday school and somehow also got confirmed, much to the happiness of my elderly mid-western Lutheran grandmother, although I always felt like I was just going through the motions. It’s not that I didn’t believe in what I was doing, I just never felt strongly about any of it and my main goal was to appease my grandmother and parents. This is not a good basis for strong faith.

Recently, I was walking my dog on a freezing cold Sunday morning when I heard the Avett Brother ‘s song “Me and God” on a gospel station I had flipped to because I was rocking my old FM radio since my iPod has no juice in it. I was having a rough morning, contemplating my love life, my hangover, and my general grip on existence in this long cold winter.  It was sunny despite the cold and the rays of light picked up the billions of tiny ice crystals on the grass of the field and I just thought “there has gotta be  a God”.

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