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September 2009

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Current Reading

Current Listening

  • The Kinks -

    The Kinks: Lola Versus Powerman & The Moneygoround, Part One [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]
    This release of the 1970 album also contains the soundtrack to film called "Percy," which, I think got about all the critical acclaim it deserved (scant). But the album contains some classics, like "Lola" and "Apeman", demonstrating that leader Ray Davies misses his era and calling, Vaudeville.

  • Jim Reilley -

    Jim Reilley: Return of Buddy Cruel
    I had forgotten how good this record was! It was, in actuality, the swan song of my Silent Planet Records - pithy, witty, folk-pop with some beautiful lines, great musicians, and pop sensibility. Get it.

  • Jayhawks -

    Jayhawks: Sound of Lies
    Every time I hear this band, I miss them. They were awesome pop-americana, and this recently reissued Gary Louris fronted band (Mark Olsen had left) explores a variety of sonic landscapes --- beautiful yet with harrowing lyrics no doubt influenced by his divorce and his breakup with Olsen.

  • Van Morrison -

    Van Morrison: Astral Weeks
    Stellar. Recorded in an amazing 48 hours with an all-star jazz backing bank, this album is classic Morrison, soulful, celtic, R&B, Jazz. Amazing.

  • Van Morrison -

    Van Morrison: Moondance Expanded Edition (2 CD)
    I always end up cycling back around to this classic record. I listened to Morrison the most while I was in grad school. "Into the Mystic." "Crazy Love." it seemed to settle me.

Essential Reading

  • C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity

    C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity
    I suppose I could list ALL of Lewis's books, but this one is a great place to start. His defense of basic or mere Christian belief is compelling.

  • Rebecca Manley Pippert: Out of the Saltshaker

    Rebecca Manley Pippert: Out of the Saltshaker
    Beautiful, practical advice on "lifestyle evangelism," Pippert's classic book is simply about how to listen, ask good questions, communicate well, and be a friend to nonChristians -- that is, to simply be who you are. Much better than the "four spiritual laws" or any other formulaistic approach to evangelism. (****)

  • James W. Sire: The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog

    James W. Sire: The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog
    Navigating all the belief systems thrown at me in college, this comparism and critique of worldviews was extremely helpful. It's clear, concise, and practical. Sire covers the basics of such "isms" as theism, deism, xistentialism, "New Age" philosophy, and postmodernism in this fourth edition. (*****)

  • John White: The Fight: A Practical Handbook for Christian Living

    John White: The Fight: A Practical Handbook for Christian Living
    As a new Christian in the late Seventies, I found this book's practical and tenderly pastoral chapters on the basics --- faith, prayer, temptation, evangelism, guidance, Bible study, fellowship, and work --- immensely helpful, worth reading over and over again. That it has stayed in print is a testimony to that. Classic. (*****)

  • Larry Woiwode: Beyond the Bedroom Wall

    Larry Woiwode: Beyond the Bedroom Wall
    Long, but compelling, Woiwode's 1960s book looks at three generations of the Midwest Neimoller family. Though I have not read it in several years, parts of it are seared in my memory. (*****)

  • Beryl Markham: West With the Night

    Beryl Markham: West With the Night
    This book has some of the most delightful prose I have ever read. The first page alone draws you right in. Markham, a contemporary of Karen Blixen ("Out of Africa") writes of Africa, horses, and flying (she was the first to fly solo from east to west across the Atlantic.)

  • J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings

    J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings
    Likely my favorite books of all time, this fantasy tale opens up an entire mythical world of good v. evil played out by a small hobbit named Frodo and his perilous quest to destroy the one Ring of great (and corrupting) power. Behind it all -- the unseen hand of Providence.

  • C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia

    C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia
    A classic allegory for the gospel, and well-known to most all by virtue of the film series. I read these to my son at age 4 and keep on reading them. Not nearly as long or dense as The Lord of the Rings. (*****)

  • Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird

    Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
    A true classic of Southern writing, and also a great movie, I love the characters in this story, particularly the young girl, Scout. Harper Lee never wrote another thing after this. (*****)

  • Mary Oliver: Thirst

    Mary Oliver: Thirst
    A beautiful collection of new poems from this Pulitzer-prize winning writer, probably her most faith-based ever. I read and savor one each day. Very accessible, not depressing (much poetry is), and well-crafted. I think this one will hold up over time. (*****)

  • Wendell Berry: Fidelity : Five Stories

    Wendell Berry: Fidelity : Five Stories
    A wonderful collection of short stories about a set of overlapping characters in rural Kentucky, where Berry lives. A wonderful wirter, Berry brings to life the setting and its people in the way only a native could. This, along with Silent Passengers (by Larry Woiwode) is one of the two best collections of short stories I have ever read. (*****)

  • Leland Ryken: The Liberated Imagination : Thinking Christianly About the Arts (Wheaton Literary Series)

    Leland Ryken: The Liberated Imagination : Thinking Christianly About the Arts (Wheaton Literary Series)
    The best single source for developing a Christian view of the arts, Ryken's book is well-written and organized and useful for personal study as well as use in a small group or class. The Introduction itself is a wonderful outline of a Christian view, and the quotes he collects are worth the price alone. (*****)

  • Susan G. Wooldridge: Poemcrazy : Freeing Your Life with Words

    Susan G. Wooldridge: Poemcrazy : Freeing Your Life with Words
    The absolute best book to get you writing poetry or anything else for that matter, Woolridge helps us fall in love with words. The book consists of a series of 60 short, two to four page chapters, many of which end with a simple exercise to get you writing. It's a pleasure to read and will "free the poet within." (*****)

  • Frederick Buechner: Godric

    Frederick Buechner: Godric
    A favorite novel by one of my favorite authors, Buechner writes a tale of an Irish monk gripped by grace and yet aware of his sin. Most said this was too religious for the mainstream and too earthy for the church. I think it's just right. (*****)

  • Alexander McCall Smith: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Today Show Book Club #8)

    Alexander McCall Smith: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Today Show Book Club #8)
    In the book that launched the popular series, Smith portrays in beautiful language the life of a middle-aged, overweight African woman who opened her own detective agency in Botswana. This unlikely premise makes the warmth and generous nature of this story a real surprise! A wonderful story, and wonderful characters. (*****)

  • Anne Rice: Christ the Lord : Out of Egypt

    Anne Rice: Christ the Lord : Out of Egypt
    A fascinating fictional and yet not unbiblical account of the seven-year old Jesus coming to grips with his divinity. (****)

  • Leif Enger: Peace Like a River

    Leif Enger: Peace Like a River
    One of my favorite books of all time, Enger's novel of a father rasing his three kids in 1960s Minnesota is endearing, warm, full of crisp prose and seductive characters (particularly the children). It's a world where miracles happen, and God is reality, and if you don't believe it, you may by the time you finish. It's one of the only books I have read that, upon finishing it, I wanted to immediately read again because I missed the characters so much. (*****)

  • Neil Postman: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

    Neil Postman: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
    A social critic with near-cult status since his death, Postman's seminal book from 1986 traced our descent from the Age of Typography (written word) to the Age of Television (image), and all its deletrious and silly consequences. He reminds us what's so bad about TV, if we really need the reminder, but provides few clues as to how to stop the slide into ignorance. Call him Luddite, but he's right. A must read. (*****)

Essential Listening

  • u2 - October

    u2: October

    Since I purchased the deluxe reissue of this second album by U2, I had not given it a full listening until now. I'm not sure it's my favorite U2 album, but it's certainly the most overtly religious and most passionate. I loved it when I first heard it, and I still do.

  • Jackson Browne -

    Jackson Browne: The Pretender
    A gem of folk-pop Seventies sound, this mellow and melancholy record served as a soundtrack to my college years. Every song is great, something that can rarely be said about an album.

  • Bob Dylan -

    Bob Dylan: Slow Train Coming
    I'm praying for Dylan to be saved. Then, a few years later I'm driving down the highway and "You Gotta Serve Somebody" comes on the radio, and the announcer says Dylan is a born-again Christian. I nearly drove off the road. This is my favorite Dylan record. (*****)

  • U2 -

    U2: War
    The record that kicked Irish band U2 into the bigtime. I loved the record, and listened to it incessantly. Big rock.

  • The Beach Boys -

    The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds: 40th Anni- versary Edition
    A watershed record in its time, Pet Sounds was the Sgt. Pepper of America, forever changing the Beach Boys and marking out Brian Wilson as a harmonic and production genius. This is about its thousandth reissue, but well worth it for the 5.1 Surround Sound mix. (*****)

  • Bruce Cockburn -

    Bruce Cockburn: Humans
    Of all of Bruce's many records, I like this one the best. Very folk. Lyrically intelligent with a pulsing undercurrent of Christian belief. (*****)

  • Joni Mitchell -

    Joni Mitchell: Blue
    Guarantted to bring you right down, Mitchell's record is a classic in melancholy folk, with that unique voice and style. Inimitable. (*****)

  • David Wilcox -

    David Wilcox: Big Horizon
    Wilcox may be one of the best songwirters out there. I love this record best, with "That's What the Lonely Is For" and "Big Mistake." It really showcases what he can do. (****)

  • Yes -

    Yes: The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniver- sary Collection
    The greatest prog-rock band of all time! This collection includes a new and more melodic take on their signature song, "Roundabout," and three other new songs, as well as collects some great tunes from their huge body of work. (*****)

  • Jane Kelly Williams -

    Jane Kelly Williams: Tapping the Wheel
    Absolutely gorgeous singer-songwriter with an arresting voice, Jane sings wonderfully, plays piano and guitar in a unique style, and is a great friend. This enjoyed a national release onMercury back in 1995, when the business was still interested in singer-songwriters. Out of print, but you can still buy it in the Silent Planet store on this site. (*****)

  • Various -

    Various: Making God Smile
    A Silent Planet release in 2002, this record was a gift to Beach Boy Brian Wilson on his 60th birthday, a tribute by artists such as Phil Keaggy, Sixpence None the Richer, Kate Campbell, Kevin Max (D.C. Talk), Brooks Williams, and more. Beautiful. What a privilege to be involved. For sale in the Silent Planet store on this site. (*****)

  • Aaron Sprinkle -

    Aaron Sprinkle: Bareface
    Talented producer, writer, and performer, best known for his work with Poor Old Lu and more recently Fair, Sprinkle serves up great power-pop. (****)

  • Jan Krist -

    Jan Krist: Love Big Us Small
    While many may gravitate to Jan;s best known release, "Curious," I prefer the mix of songs on this one, particularly "Tarzan Tells All." I also like the alternate and more rockin' takes on earlier folk tunes recorded by here, a la Armand Petri. This one is out of print but for sale in the Silent Planet store on this site. (****)

  • Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs -

    Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs: Under the Covers (Vol. 1)
    A delicious 45 minutes of pure pop delight. Sweet and Hoff ("The Bangles") cover classic Sixties pop tunes. (****)

  • The Beatles -

    The Beatles: LOVE
    All I can say is WOW. This album hit my list of top records immediately! The Beatles have never sounded better. It's like listening to a 26-track medley, one continuous stream, with bits and pieces of other Beatles songs underlying the main track, and so on. Very cool. A must buy for any Beatles fan and essential for anyone who enjoys great music. (*****)

  • Bruce Hornsby -

    Bruce Hornsby: Intersections
    Probably the best box set in existence, no kidding. This is not a collection of hits and outtakes and demos, but rather, a career-spanning retrospective, gathering song-gems from all over along with live performances and a full DVD of live renditions. Well worth the price. Hornsby is a gifted songwriter, player, and performer. There's nothing not to like here. (*****)

  • Rich Mullins -

    Rich Mullins: A Liturgy, A Legacy, & A Raga- muffin Band
    One of my all-time favorite CCM albums, this album is marked by beautiful songwriting that focuses on the transcendant (liturgy) and the immanent (a legacy), rooted in the stuff of this world and yet calling us beyond to worship God. Every song is a gem. (*****)

  • Brian Wilson -

    Brian Wilson: Smile
    A sonic delight, in 2005 the former Beach Boys leader finally recorded the long-lost advant-garde project of the late 1960s, what some called the American Sgt. Pepper. The largely impressionistic lyrics evoke images of the American landscape, and the music is varied instrumentally but always with Wilson's trademark attention to vocal harmonies. It was worth the wait! (*****)

  • Rosanne Cash -

    Rosanne Cash: Black Cadillac
    This is one of the best singer-songwriter albums I have heard, both musically and lyrically. Rosanne, daughter of Johnny Cash, writes openly of her grief, anger, and wrestling with faith (with no final resolution) at the loss of her father Johnny, stepmother June, and mother Vivian (Johnny's first wife), all in the course of two years. It's emotionally difficult to hear, you might say it's "blood on the tracks." (*****)

  • Jimmy Webb -

    Jimmy Webb: Ten Easy Pieces
    Though I discovered it a decade late (it was released in 1996), this album proves that Webb, who penned such familiar songs as Galveston, MacArthur Park, If These Walls Could Speak, and more, is one of America's best songwriters. You've heard them all made hits -- by someone else. With the understated musical accompaniment and Webb's own voice this time around, it's the songs that shine here. Marvelous. (*****)

  • Adrienne Young and Little Sadie -

    Adrienne Young and Little Sadie: The Art of Virtue
    Adrienne Yound and her band, Little Sadie, can out-Allison Krauss the queen of bluegrass herself on this excellent blend of folk, bluegrass and country. Lyrically, it resonates with virtue enough to warm the soul and remind us of the Giver of all good music. Great playing (particularly the fiddle), great voice, and wisdom beyond her years. (*****)

  • Sufjan Stevens -

    Sufjan Stevens: Illinoise
    Though truly indescribable, this folkster's most recent outing is a sonic and lyric delight, soothing and a bit strange, but ultimately uplifting. Lyrically, Sufjan cuts a path through Illinois place and time, writing about John Wayne Gacy, or Superman, and yet, he speaks to each of us ultimately. Beautiful. (*****)

About OutWalking

  • Welcome to OutWalking, a likely over-ambitious source of reflection on the true, the good, and the beautiful in the world. (more). . .

Selected Essays, Reflections, Stories, and Poems

ProCreation: A Poetry and Prose Journal

  • Volume 3, Issue 2

  • Volume 4, Issue 1

You Might Be Interested In. . .

  • Into the Wardrobe: A C. S. Lewis Web Site
    The definitive site for all things Lewis. I love the new quote posted everyday.
  • Ruth Bell Graham - A Pilgrim Journey
    This audio biography of Billy Graham's wife was produced by Kevin Auman and I for Stone Table Media. It combines interviews with the Graham family and friends with dramatic performances by The Lamb's Players with Jeanette Clift George in scenes adapted from Graham's poetry, prose, and journals. The program also features original music by Windham Hill artist Jeff Johnson and legendary hammer dulcimer musician Jerry Read Smith along with performances by acclaimed Irish musicians John Fitzpatrick and Brian Dunning.
  • Ruminate Magazin: Faith in Literature and Art
    A quarterly magazine for artists who desire the space to share short stories, poetry, creative non-fiction, memoirs and visual art that resonate with the complexity and truth of the Christian faith. I haven't gotten deeply intot his resource, but it has a nice look to it.
  • Festival of Faith & Writing
    The web page for Calvin College's bi-annual fest of faith and writing -- for Christians, broadly defined! I attended in 2008 (along with 1800 other people, and it was eclectic, provocative, and enjoyable.
  • Ransom Fellowship
    The writing, speaking, and mentoring ministry of Denis and Margie Haack, Ransom is devoted to the four "d"s: developing discernment and deepening discipleship. They publish a great couple of newsletters and regularly critique curent films and provide discussion questions.
  • The American Chesterton Society
    Great resource for lovers of this prolific writer and thinker (and eater). I love the quotes. Also links to a well-maintained Chesterton blog.
  • Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
    I'm a big fan of Zacharias' provocative teaching, primarily on culture, and his daily email devotional is insightful and often artful.
  • Mars Hill Audio
    One-time NPR correspondent hosts this bi-monthly subscription audio journal of interviews and commentary on current events, books, music, and more. Ken reads and interprets for us books that many of us do not have time (or inclination) to read. The commentary is thoughtful and even handed -- all from a clear but not strident Christian worldview.
  • Image: Art, Faith, Mystery
    A bit high-brow at times, Image is still the paramount arts journal (print and online) from a Christian perspective. You'll find essay, artist profiles, full color art and photography, short stories, and poetry. It can be a challenging read!

Interesting Blogs

  • Embrace Uganda
    A local non-profit started with some friends that seeks to make a difference among the orphans in the small village of Kaihura, Uganda and as an outreach of Agape Baptist Church in Kampala, Uganda. My family took a two-week mission trip with them in the Summer of 2008 that was a tremendous experience and will be returning during the Summer of 2009.
  • ObviousPop
    My friend Tony knows his music, particularly power-pop. He also has some interesting shots of life in the music business and a great podcast! If you're interested in good music, check out this site.

Tucson, Arizona

  • Dscf0107
    One of my family's favorite places on earth, Tucson is located in Southeastern Arizona, about 1 hour from the Mexican border. The climate is great for all kinds of outdoor activities -- biking, hiking, swimming, and eating outside. It has beautiful mountains surrounding it, so you can be in the trees and out of the desert in 30-45 minutes.

Music Biz Moments

  • Backstage with Jeffrey Foskett
    Snapshots of life in the music business.

Western National Park Tour

  • Glacier Park Hotel
    In the Summer of 2004 w etoured several Western National Parks, including Glacier, Yellowstone, the Tetons, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosmite. It was memorable!