August 22, 2009

Who Am I?

Posted in Christian Music, Christianity at 7:39 pm by bryantc17

Oy Vey it’s been a long long while ladies and gentlemen.  So I haven’t forgotten about this blog.  As I posted in June, I’ve been busy, super busy.  You see I’ve been so busy that if you don’t know who I am, all you know about me is that I write this blog.  So while you might expect this post to be about the Casting Crowns song “Who Am I?” it’s actually about me… how selfish is that?

My name is Bryant and I was baptized when I was 9 but did feel God’s call in my life until I was 13 and began reading the Bible.  I was Word thirsty and eventually finished reading it when I was a senior in high school.  Somewhere along the way I noticed that the scriptures revealed characteristics about God and his Providence that my church wouldn’t touch on despite walking through Romans.  Those characteristics were the 5 points of Calvinism, which through my study of the word I agree with.  As I’ve said in posts before I’ve had some faith testing events in my life that could have resulted in me not trusting God’s plan for my life, but by the grace of God I was able to stand on His good and perfect Word.

I married my high school sweetheart nearly two years ago after dating for 3 years.  She’s pretty awesome.  She’s beautiful and loves to cook (and is great at it).  We both attended the University of Tennessee “enjoyed” 4 years of terrible football… to be fair one year was all right because we got to the SEC championship due to a technicality.  I graduated in Accounting and returned this fall to pursue a Master of Accountancy degree.  The reason I haven’t been posting is because I’ve been studying during all of my free time for the CPA exam so that I may be one day a Certified Public Accountant.  I took two exams this summer while I entered for one of the Big 4 accounting firms, where I will be working when I finish up my degree.  Let me just say that working and studying is terrible.  Imagine working 55 hour weeks performing a sit down intellectual job then sitting down and studying until you are ready to pass out.  That was how my summer was.  Just today I received the score of one of the two tests I took this summer and I passed!  I’m 1/4 a CPA right now and it feels amazing.

I really enjoy studying theology.  It’s frustrating for me because I don’t have the time that I wish I could to sit down and read some Calvin or Lewis or Driscoll, etc.  All I have time to read is accounting related stuff and let me tell you that is very uninteresting 90% of the time.  I try to listen to podcasts when I can, but I do attend a really good church here in Knoxville.  The teaching at Fellowship Church never ceases to amaze me.  It’s not about the band that plays or the number of people that attend, it’s about Christ Jesus.

I hope this gives you a little more background on me and where I come from when I write certain things.  I didn’t start this to blog about my life (but obviously it happens) but to bring you some perspective on Christian music.  It’s funny.  I’ve got a ridiculous ear for music.  I can identify a song in less than two seconds based on the baseline, etc.  I can’t sing which might be why I don’t enjoy Chris Tomlin as much as everybody else… his range is simply too high for me to sing along.  I can play a little guitar but it doesn’t seem to be something worth me pursuing.  But I do love listening to music, good music.  And that is why I do this.

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June 14, 2009

1995?

Posted in Christian, Christian Music, Christianity, Reform, The Church tagged , , , , , , at 12:24 am by Bryant

In anticipation for a move, I’ve allowed myself to go without an internet connection for a few, maybe 3 weeks or so.  I didn’t think it would be that tough because I’ve never completely relied on facebook as a means for communication, and if I don’t complain about Christian music the world will still go on.  Needless to say it felt like living in pre-internet dominant life… like 1995.  Oddly enough I did find myself watching movies on VHS, a correlation or just an unwillingness to purchase Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on DVD?  So as far as I can tell from my drive from Knoxville to Nashville and from Nashville to Atlanta, not much has changed in CCM.  I did hear a few unheard before (by me) songs in Nashville which is encouraging, but I don’t recall if they were good.

So is there any good CCM out there?  You tell me.

I’ve been in Atlanta since Wednesday, and I won’t be leaving until this coming Friday.  I’m never in a car, and so I’m not in a radio friendly environment.  Oddly enough I’ve been dwelling on some songs by Chris Tomlin and Casting Crowns.  If you have read nearly anything I have written, then you have a decent chance of knowing that I am not a fan; however, I do respect their ministry and them as artists.  I find myself singing their songs in my head, which has to be better than the many terrible alternatives that my mind could be thinking of.  They’re causing me to dwell on whatever is pure, noble, etc.  So they are fulfilling their purpose of singing a song that keeps me focused on Christ… and I honestly did not see that one coming.  Props.

Derek Webb could have released his album by this point online, and I would not have known (due to the offlining).  I have heard some buzz that we can expect something more substantial by early July.  Relient K should be contributing some new sweet sounds in October.

Meanwhile I came across a video from Derek Webb that I is applicable to the purpose of this blog, see below.

A good friend of mine recommended John Mark McMillan.  JMM is an unsigned artist, but he sounds similar to Matt Kearney.  Click his name to go to his Myspace. I found him very relaxing and fun, but I’ll try to give him a more detailed review in the future.

Some fun experiences today:  Chatting with an executive of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  Let me just say that there seemed to be a thousand Presbies flocking at the hotel here for the Big Tent Conference.  Now when I kick it Presbyterian, I try to kick it PCA, but that’s not what this story is about.  We had an interesting conversation about doctrine and how some denominations and churches miss the point of focusing on Jesus.  I wish this conversation could be had with the executives of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Congregational Church, the United Methodist Church, the Church of Christ (but we’d probably argue more about Christian music), etc.  Possibly, if this conversation about focusing on Christ could be had with those that lead the organizations that govern the churches, it could trickle down into the churches and we could be more like what the Apostles established and less like what our non biblical traditions/limitations dictate.  Now I’m not saying our conversation is going to reform the PCUSA, but if we aren’t talking about Jesus then we are probably just wasting our breath.

May 11, 2009

I Hate All Your Show

Posted in Christian, Christian Music, Christianity, Reform tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:29 pm by Bryant

Despite how the title reads, this is actually a positive review.  First, please notice the quick updates to the right side of this.  That serves to quickly update any readers of news or stuff that happens that doesn’t warrent a post at that instant.  The Derek Webb concert was great.  The Ellery opened for him, and they were really good live.  Try their MySpace to hear what they sound like in the studio.  Derek brought the folk as usual and took almost all requests.  His new studio projet is called Stockholm Syndrome and should come out this week; however, as Derek explained to us… his label has some issues on the content of the album and so he might be forced to have it released through a different medium.  I would guess he would release it through NoiseTrade.com which is a website set up where people can download artists’ music for free by referring 5 people or paying what you want for it.

I bought the new Jars of Clay album The Long Fall Back to Earth Extended Edition which includes 2 remixes and “The Story Behind the Songs” video which should really help me understand their vantage point playing the songs.  Upon the first listen-through, I really loved the album.  It was very chill, a sound I had only really appreciated from bands with the letter U and the number 2 and Coldplay.  So I’ll try to go through the album a few more times to give you a substantial review and see how great the lasting appeal  is.  I also purchased the new Remedy Drive album and the new Anberlin album for $5 from Amazon.com.   They have 50 albums that are offered at this price, with some Christian bands represented.  I haven’t had an opportunity to get to those albums either, but I usually only listen to music when I drive, and I guess I haven’t driven far enough anywhere to knock these albums out, much less my podcasts.

This post is dedicated to reviewing some of Jon Foreman’s work, namely Read the rest of this entry »

April 17, 2009

I’ll say the words that rattle your nerves…

Posted in Christian, Christian Music, Christianity tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 12:23 am by Bryant

So I’m going to fight back… slowly… possibly and most likely insignificantly against bad music on the weekend 22 by joining their “Hit” Music Crew.  What they do with this information and the impact of my opinions are totally up to them, but I’m going to try never-the-less.  So what does make a really great song, one that does not make me immediately turn the station (also see/hear the weekend 22’s number one song for the nth week… “Free to Be Me”)?  For me it has to do with the lyrics and music, but I guess that’s pretty obvious, I mean what more is there to a song?  But quality in both is hard to come by.  What is more powerful over the listener, the music or the lyrics?

On the surface, it’s clearly the music because if the song sounds terrible, why would you listen?  But have you ever listened to the lyrics and wondered why you were listening?  There are plenty of good sounding songs with less than stellar songs (also see my post “Let’s Dance…”).  These lyrics effect us, not only the mainstream songs that inspire people to do some pretty sinful, but especially the religiousongs.  I’m willing to bet (which was totally inspired by one of those mainstream songs) that lyrics come to most Christians’ minds in situations before scripture does.  Is that a bad thing?  Maybe and probably Read the rest of this entry »

April 10, 2009

Jesus paid it all, and thanks for Heaven

Posted in Christian, Christian Music, Christianity, Reform, The Church tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:58 pm by Bryant

Sometimes I wonder about the focus of our worship.  I sit through some churches that sing more about Heaven and about how great it will to be there so we can see all of the people we have lost and can enjoy the reward than the one who made it possible to be in Heaven.  I see people “accept” Jesus as their Lord and Savior because of a sermon that spoke of fear of hell and not fear of God.  Are we that selfish?  Now I know the answer to that is yes, but we eat this stuff up.  I’m not sure if it is wrong to sing about Heaven in and of itself, but everything put ahead of Christ and the holiness of God is an idol, even characteristics of God that are put in front of holiness (see Idol of Love by Greg Pinkner).  I’m just not sure of our motives to have salvation.  I get some of it.  I sure don’t want to go to hell, but I see the reward of Heaven as getting to be able to worship Christ in all his glory without all of the sin that separates me from a pure relationship with Him.  Is that not enough?  Christianity is more than not going to hell; it is pursuing, trying to love, and trying to glorify the One who first loved us.  Obviously Heaven is important as Jesus talks about how he is preparing a place for us, but let’s not lose focus of the Way, the Truth, and the Light.

Heaven-worship sounding music is one of the things I don’t like about much of the music we sing in Church.  There seems to be a break down of honesty in worship music.

Oh worship music.  Hymns or Choruses? Witnessing a church move from hymns to choruses is quite the sight.  I’ve heard it been put as the “Shout to the Lord” stage.  The hymns the churches are moving away from leave much to be desired as well.  C.S. Lewis called them “fifth rate poetry set to sixth rate music.”  If they don’t have sound hymns, then they probably won’t have sound choruses.  Let’s dive in Read the rest of this entry »

April 1, 2009

It’s all because of Jesus…

Posted in Christian, Christian Music, Christianity, The Church tagged , at 3:11 pm by Bryant

I love Christian music.  It combines my love of Christ and my love of music.  Unfortunately I find myself getting angry at what I hear on Christian Radio and even at some churches.  Ever wonder if Christian music and worship misses the point?  I know I do.  And even if it doesn’t miss the point as much there is a decent chance the music will try to take you into what I call “the Pit of Despair” and leaves you with negative feelings and confusion.

We live in a time where worship is the 30 minutes of standing and singing in church before we sit down.  Our butts in the chairs mean worship is over.  Our eyes reading scripture and our ears listening to a spiritual leader speak of our Lord and Savior mean worship is over. We forget that worship is more than music before church, it is the pursuit of meeting with God.

We then leave the church, get in our cars and Read the rest of this entry »