I wrote an article for the Christian Post which looks at the Bible being part of someone's leaving faith and deconstruction process. There are many factors that lead to someone leaving faith. But the Bible is often part of it.
The article is here
I will interact with any comments or questions, and if anyone disagrees would love to hear your insight.
It's also on Christian Post Facebook and I reposted on my Facebook.
In 2021 I officiated 4 funerals, one of them was my younger brother. The other 3 were people from our church who died young of cancer. There was also very dear friends of ours who lost an infant.
I was going to create a “2021 Songs of the Psyche” playlist exchange with my friend Megan where we were sharing songs that were meaningful in 2021. We had to keep it at 25 songs and one song had to be put out in 2021.
As I was putting a playlist together, I realized how much music was a very deep part of grieving, songs resonating with depression and processing angst as well as songs of hope and future reminding me of Truth.
They playlist are songs that personally really helped me in 2021. The playlist ended up being somewhat of a flow of the calendar year in layout. In three parts.
1) Normal life songs and the whole list would have continued for the whole year with songs like this. But because of the death, it takes a turn in mood and selection.
2) Dealing with death. Angst, denial and reality.
3) Songs reminding of truth and hope.
Here is the Spotify playlist
Here is the iTunes playlist
Brief explaining the songs that I gave Megan for understanding the song selection.
1) Strange Things Happening Every Day – Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1944)
This is a traditional unknown writer gospel song that Sister Rosetta made popular. Johnny Cash and others also recorded it later on. It could be the start song of every year’s summary as it is so true what the title of the song and lyrics say. I love Sister Rosetta.
2) Every Time I Feel The Spirit – Little Richard (1960)
This is a gospel roots by unknown author dating to before the US Civil War. The story of this song is that Little Richard was originally going to be a minister but got into rock and roll. He went through a few times in his life where he battled the rock lifestyle and would then give it up and return to his faith. This was a time when he gave up rock and went back to gospel singing for a season. After this he went back to rock and roll. But, later in his life he returned back to his faith and the last years of his life he was super public about his faith in Jesus. I love Little Richard. It was so great to see his later years return to faith.
3) Lead Me To Jesus – The Soul Stirrers (1961)
The Soul Stirrers were a gospel singing group that started in 1926 and over the years kept going with different members. Sam Cooke was part of The Soul Stirrers for several years before going solo – and he wrote this song. I love The Soul Stirrers.
4) Rock Billy Boogie – Johnny Burnette and The Rock 'n Roll Trio (1956)
Johnny Burnette and The Rock ‘n Roll Trio are so underappreciated and not known too much. They are true rockabilly founders. They had several songs like Train Kept A Rolling that bands like Aerosmith covered.
5) Soul Drums – Bernard Purdie (1967)
A really well-known drummer in the jazz and blues world. He recorded a solo album and this is just an uplifting instrumental song that makes me happy listening to it.
6) Madness – Madness (1979)
This is the Madness (the band) version of the 1963 Prince Buster song “Madness”. Prince Buster was a Jamaican ska music founder that bands in UK later made popular (Madness, Specials etc). The song “One Step Beyond” by the band Madness was also a Prince Buster song. This song comes into my head all the time when watching the news, seeing trends and beliefs that many of us buy into with emotions without thinking and looking at the facts. Major implications to when we do this about spiritual beliefs. The video "One Step Beyond" was filmed at the Hope and Anchor in London and that stairway in the beginning of the video is one I carried my drums up and down several times when we were living there and played that club. I’m seeing Madness in Oakland in May. Been wanting to see them for a long time.
7) Safe European Home – The Clash (1978)
This song was written when Joe Strummer and Mick Jones when to Jamaica for 2 weeks to write songs in 1977. When they got there they felt they weren’t welcomed in that world at the time. The song was about them knowing they would be safe back home in England but didn’t feel safe at the time there in Jamaica.
I sometimes see this as being Christian in a world where historical beliefs are increasingly unwelcome in the world. We could retreat to our "safe Christian home" and Christian community and subculture of friends, but then we aren't on mission to the world who needs Jesus. One day we will be "home" for all eternity but for now we have a mission we are on. I love The Clash. I believe they would my all-time favorite band.
8) You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side – Morrissey (1992)
From what I understand this song is about Morrissey knowing he needs a band post-Smiths. But whatever it meant originally, the same thing is for any Christian on mission. Knowing we need someone on our side as we are in this world and community. It’s just a great song musically and Boz Boorer is the guitarist who was in the rockabilly band The Polecats.
9) The Hungry Wolf – X ( 1982)
This song was written inspired by a painting 1890 painting “The Lone Wolf”. Exene from X said about the painting” “It depicts a wolf looking over a village in the winter. He's looking down, and there is this little idyllic cabin house, and there's smoke coming out of the fireplace - it's a winter night. He's just looking at this house.” – Here’s the painting:
Which I can’t help but think of then equating it with the metaphor of warnings from the New Testament about “wolves” being false teachers who come in to twist truth and confuse people etc. The song is great and the drums are great. I love X. They would be in my top 5 bands of all time.
10) American Music – The Blasters (1982)
The Blasters were the band that changed the trajectory of my musical life when I saw them in college. They play roots rockabilly and American roots music. This is just a great song that represents The Blasters well.
*** This next section of songs was/is processing the death of my brother and other deaths this year***
11) Death Don’t Have No Mercy - Reverend Gary Davis (1960)
Death Don’t Have No Mercy is a song by the great guitarist Reverend Gary Davis who wrote many gospel blues songs (he was a believer). My brother was a major Reverend Gary Davis fan and this is the song that immediately came to my mind when I heard of his death as the lyrics are true. Death is real and is not in our timing.
The hurt from loss is a “sting” (1 Corinthians 15: 56-57) and I am thankful that a solid Christian named Byron befriended my brother at his workplace in the year before he died. I learned that my brother was reading a Bible, prayed with this fellow and this explained why my brother had texted me some Bible verses in the months before his death. I am thankful for the truth:
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
12) People Who Died – The Jim Carroll Band (1980)
My brother liked The Jim Carroll Band we played this song together. So naturally it is true about that there are people we know who die. Jim Carroll was a poet/former heroine addict who wrote this song about people he knew who died (obviously). But death is real and this song basically says the truth we know people who die and it’s meaningful to me as we played this song together.
*The next couple of songs I won’t comment much on, but each one was one that expresses the various emotions of grief and I listened to these songs a lot.
13) I Wanna Be Sedated – The Ramones (1978)
14) Used To be – Violent Femmes (1981)
15) Unsatisfied – The Replacements (1984)
16) I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore – Airborne Toxic Event (2020)
The Airborne Toxic Event album "Hollywood Park" was one of the main albums I listened to during 2020 first year of Covid and it’s more of a “I don’t want to deal with all this anymore about Covid, stress of church leadership, my brother etc). This is really a great album you have to listen to in its fullness that has a whole storyline of someone leaving a cult to it when you look into it.
17) Waiting On A Friend – The Rolling Stones (1981)
18) Water Song – Hot Tuna (1972)
19) We Are Not Alone – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (2021)
Needed to include at least one 2021 song in this list. A beautiful song which I believe is talking about all that is in nature as this is a soundtrack to a documentary. But I apply this to the reminder that we are not alone as God is always with us and we are in life with friends and family to support us. I am really getting into Nick Cave. I somehow have not paid attention to him and doing a deep dive into Nick Cave lately and not sure how I didn’t listen to him much more before.
20) Jesus – The Velvet Underground (1969)
Such an interesting and beautiful song written by Lou Reed who to all I know was not a person of faith. But captured this about Jesus and calling to Him in the struggle in life.
21) No Burden (Intro) – The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers (2013)
A beautiful song by a current band The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers that talks about the day when we will see loved ones again who have died before us. I really like this band as they are influenced by gospel-roots music. I wish our church’s music was primarily music like this. This band is really worth getting to know and listening to all their music. I want to be in this band.
22) Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down – Brother Claude Ely (1953)
This song was written by 11-year-old Claude Ely in 1934 when he almost died of tuberculosis. He recorded it later on. Brother Claude Ely was an Appalachian preacher and songwriter. Johnny Cash and others have recorded this song. Good truth written by an 11 year old.
23) The Backseat – The Gaslight Anthem (2008)
No special meaning except an uplifting keep going song and The Gaslight Anthem is so great. This song is from The ’59 Sound is a great album. And they are from New Jersey.
24) I’ll Be Alright Someday – Reverend Gary Davis (1961)
25) Pressing On – Bob Dylan (1980)
Well I'm pressing on
Yes, I'm pressing on
Well I'm pressing on
To the higher calling of my Lord.
Many try to stop me, shake me up in my mind,
Say, "Prove to me that He is Lord, show me a sign."
What kind of sign they need when it all come from within,
When what's lost has been found, what's to come has already been?
Well I'm pressing on
Yes, I'm pressing on
Well I'm pressing on
To the higher calling of my Lord.
Shake the dust off of your feet, don't look back.
Nothing now can hold you down, nothing that you lack.
Temptation's not an easy thing, Adam given the devil reign
Because he sinned I got no choice, it run in my vein.
Well I'm pressing on
Yes, I'm pressing on
Well I'm pressing on
To the higher calling of my Lord
I was on The Bible Project podcast which can be listened to here:
We chatted about unicorns, violence and the strange things in the Bible.
I watch the Bible Project videos all the time and as I read through the Bible in a year, I watch the overviews of each Bible book that they do. the Bible Project is what I am constantly recommending to people for a great and trusted resource.
Update: We had the discussion - more coming in 2022! ------- The past several Thursday nights we have been having discussion on Zoom about the various contents of "How (Not) To Read the Bible" - and we had a discussion onthe topic of world religions and the claims of Christianity. A friend of mine who isn't a Christian once said Christianity feels like it is a "My God can beat up your God" against other world faiths. Understandably so, as there are very direct claims that are made that Jesus is the one way of salvation and the path to God.
If you would like to join us on a Zoom chat for discussion on difficult Bible topics, the next one is:
Thursday, December 2 at 6 PM Pacific Time. We will be discussing the topic of violence in the Bible. It is chapters 16-18 of "How (Not) To Read the Bible"
If you want to leave comments about this topic and I will be checking daily to interact, go to the:
I have had a lot of great interaction doing book clubs with a couple of churches going through How (Not) To Read The Bible online. We are going to be doing another one on Facebook live at 6 PM Pacific Time for six weeks on Thursday nights beginning on October 14.
Here is the event link to the first week - https://www.facebook.com/events/258415152845306
I will be going on live for some interaction about big questions such as:
- What do we make of the strange Bible verses about not eating shrimp or planting certain crops side by side or not wearing polyester blends?
- What about the Bible verses that seem to indicate God was OK with slavery?
- What about the Bible verses which are mocked as being anti-science with there being a “talking snake” or a “rib-woman” in the creation story?
- Does the Bible promote misogny?
If you can’t be there live at 6 PM Pacific time for discussion as we walk through the 6 sections of the book's contents – please leave comments and any questions on Facebook. I will be going on daily and responding to everything. Positive, negative, critiques and questions.
Zondervan Publishing is putting promos up about this 6 week book club that you may be seeing on my Page.
For those interested in the study helps for the How (Not) To Read the Bible book - I apologize for the delay. Over the summer, Zondervan Publishing has filmed six teaching sessions which will be released with a formal study book for the six videos. This video curriculum and study book will be coming out in January 2022. It will be for classes or small groups to use.
However, what will be free here on this web site are the teaching slides, set-up animated videos and two pdf study guides (for adults and for youth). if you are leading groups or teaching this. It's been a really intense last sixth months for me - my younger bother unexpectedly died. As a local church (as many of you know) its been the craziness of relaunching so many things. So I do apologize for the delays in getting these finished and posted here. If you sign up for the email updates I will send out an email the moment they are done and ready. Thank you for your interest in seeing people understand the Bible better and by doing so, understand how much God loves them and how to live the lives He wants us to.
The How (Not) To Read the Bible book came out in December and it's been super encouraging to see it being read and used in churches. The good and bad news was that the book sold out the first printing fairly quickly but then it was well over a month before the book got back in print and available again. It is now back on all the usual places you can get books.
I wrote the book with it divided into 6 clean sections so it could be used in a 6-week sermon series, or in a youth or young adult group or class. I am almost done with what will be free downloadable pdf study guides for youth and for adults - making two versions. I also will have PowerPoint and Keynote slides for teaching that will be free and downloadable and you can edit or add your church's information on it. Zondervan had 6 really great animated videos made which is 90 second set-up videos to promote a teaching series or use as set ups for the weeks of going through the book.
Study and teaching helps available by end of July
With all these study helps, I greatly apologize for the delays in getting them ready to have available. The plan now is that they will be available sometime soon here on this web site. If you sign up for the email updates (sign ups are on the home page here on the right), I will be emailing everyone on the list when they are done.
I know that groups have been using the book for book clubs and teaching already. I have dropped into a few of them and its been so fun interacting with those going through the book. If there are churches or groups that are using the book for a series or study, and if you wanted to have me pop in for a meeting, schedule-permitting I certainly can try to join you. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org if that was something you'd find helpful.
I will be starting a 6-week online summer book club going through the book section by.section on Facebook. I will be sharing how that will happen soon if you wanted to interact on that live and then in comments.
Thank you for your interest in the topics of the book as I believe they are super critical and I want to be able to support and encourage the important issue of how to make sense of the pro-violence, pro-slavery, anti-women, anti-science, anti-shrimp and other crazy sounding things in the Bible. My hope is if we grasp how to respond to these from propoerly understanding the Bible, then other difficult things will also then be able to be understood. If there is someone who can't afford the $11.99 on amazon for the book, I will personally buy one for you. I have given out all the ones I got originally, but I don't want to see anyone not be able to learn these things if they want to as it is so important.
I wish more and more church leaders were like John Dickson.
He is someone who is wicked smart and has his Masters degree in Theology and a PhD. But what I find the most refreshing is that he never forgets what it is like looking into the church and "Christianity" from the outside.
He is from Australia and we have some things in common as we both were in bands (he is a singer and I am a drummer) but we also had an elderly person who was our main influence in becoming a Christian. I got to meet the woman who was that for him when I spoke in Australia at an event once. But John is passionate about seeing the local church train people in theology - not just for head knowledge or to use to fight battles with other Christians. But learning theology to be able to share about Jesus in intelligent, kind, winsome ways with those who aren't Christian and asking questions.
In this podcast John makes a challenge to read at least 100 pages of the Bible in 2021. So we talked about what happens when you do read it and see talking snakes, slavery, a lot of violence and even unicorns. He also included a little bit of my drumming in the podcast from when I was in a band way back with my brother and my buddy Mark Frauenfelder from Boing Boing.
I received a box of copies of a book I wrote that comes out next month “How (Not) To Read The Bible: Making Sense of the Anti-women, Anti-science, Pro-violence, Pro-slavery and Other Crazy Sounding Parts of Scripture”. It’s an experience when you finally see the actual book you’ve worked on and it is now printed and you get copies before it is released. More about the book is here.
I really hope it is a helpful book for building confidence in the Bible. I am personally buying a case or two to give away to anyone who lets me know they want one and can’t afford it and wants to read it. I believe it’s such an urgent topic for today and I want anyone who does want one to be able to read this. So contact me and let me know.
It comes out in December and starting in January after the holidays, I will be posting some articles and free study guides for the book on this web site. I also will be positing some interviews with friends who did endorsements for the book about Bible verses they find the strangest and most diffuclt to understand.
I’m staring at these books that I pulled out of the box and I do like the bowling pin and book visual combo. All books look good with a bowling pin next to it.
I recently bought a new Ludwig Classic Maple Vintage Black Oyster Pearl drum kit. Becky has allowed me to turn part of our living room into a music area. I now never want to leave this room.
I know they are just drums, but they look like a beautiful art installation. Ludwig designed some sweet looking vintage chrome hardware with 1940's-50's looking chrome automobile-like features.
Behind the drums, I hung up some signed photos of big band jazz drummers Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich who have been such major influences. And I put up a large Sun Studio photo where rockabilly was pretty much birthed from and many amazing blues and roots artists recorded there. I will also be adding a Danny Seraphine item as he was/is another incredible drummer that I idolized growing up and is a living drum legend. He was the original drummer in the first version of the jazz-rock band Chicago before they later changed and became a ballad band. I know this is drum talk, so maybe not interesting to non-drummers…..
Thank you Becky, for letting me set these up in the living room. I am going to call in sick today as I just want to stay home and just look at the drums.
A few notes for drummers:
It's all Zildjian cymbals and I have a DW 9000 double-kick pedal I am learning to use. I have Low Boy Custom Beaters for the bass pedals.