12.30.2019

Ep 80: Dr. Susan K. Roll on December 25 and the origins of Christmas




Episode 80 of the podcast features my interview with Dr. Susan K. Roll with her expert and scholarly insights into the origins of December 25 as the date for Christmas. The author of the book Toward the Origins of Christmas, my conversation with Dr. Roll touches on the earliest documents adhering to that date and how to address the pagan origins and influences on the holiday (as well as how the early church distinguished itself from them). As a Catholic lay woman, we also discuss her passions, insights, and ongoing work of being an advocate for women's ordination in the Catholic church.


You can purchase Dr. Roll's book Toward the Origins of Christmas from her publisher
(because Amazon is far too expensive!) and find one of her published articles here:
Christmas in Fear—or looking over one's shoulder at the creche
Also, the Christianity Today article mentioned in my opening can be found here: C.S. Lewis Was a Grinch

This interview was done in research for my own book 
Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, which can be purchased on:
Amazon
Christian Book Distributors
Wipf and Stock
Barnes and Noble
Google Play
Faithlife
Cokesbury

Subscribe to the podcast on itunes 
or
Check out the podcast page to subscribe on Stitcher, 
Google Play, Tunein, and PocketCasts.


Other related podcast episodes on Christmas and theology:
Ep 79: Blair E. Clark and the Artwork for the 12 Days of Christmas
Ep 79: Dr. Michael Ward on C.S. Lewis, Paganism, and Christmas
Ep 71: Happy Pagan Christmas!
Ep 72: The 12 Days of Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany
Ep 69: Ex Mormon Ministry Found Lynn Wilder
Ep 68: E. Byron Anderson on his book Common Worship
Ep 62: Stephen Backhouse on the Life of Kierkegaard
Ep 45: Religion and Philosophy Professor Brooks McDaniel
Ep 49: Doug Chu on White Churches, Multicultural Worship, and the Asian-American Experience
Ep 47: Dr. Lester Ruth on the history of Contemporary Worship
Ep 26: Zac Hicks author of The Worship Pastor
Ep 07: Pastor Luke Edwards on "why churches should stop giving stuff away"
Ep 11: Thom Blair on the Hebrew English Interlinear O.T. and Logos Bible Software

12.16.2019

Ep 79: Blair E. Clark and Artwork for the 12 Days of Christmas


Episode 79 features an interview with Blair E. Clark about the artwork she did for my book Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas. A native of Michigan, Blair is a Central Illinois artist whose work you can find at: https://blairjeffers.wordpress.com/. At the moment she is in the process of starting her own business Rabil Illustration (stay tuned for more info), but she also co-founded and helps lead the Emerging Artists Collective, a group of artists in Peoria, Illinois looking to equip developing artists to become more established. Blair and I have known each other a number of years now. She and her husband are family friends whom I go to church with and respect deeply. 


Image taken from Peoria Magazine article
"Rediscovering the 12 Days of Christmas"
When I began writing my book I knew I wanted to collaborate with Blair on the artwork. I also wanted to give her the opportunity to have her work featured on and within a book that people can buy all around the world. It was tremendously enriching to sit down with her every few months and check in about how her piece was coming along, discussing what influences, symbols, and general direction we wanted it to take. In our conversation, Blair talks about her process, some of the imagery embedded in the her work on the book that might not be immediately obvious, and also her approach to making Mary and Joseph people who were not white Europeans and yet still universal figures we can all relate to.

Here are two recent articles featuring her art and community work (one of which I wrote):
"Rediscovering the 12 Days of Christmas" in Peoria Magazine
"Collecting Growth" about the Emerging Artists Collective in Peoria Magazine



Subscribe to the podcast on itunes 

Check out the podcast page to subscribe on Stitcher, 
Google Play, Tunein, and PocketCasts.

My book Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas is available most anywhere you can purchase books online:
Amazon
Christian Book Distributors
Wipf and Stock
Barnes and Noble
Google Play
Faithlife Ebooks

You can also listen to the previous more longform interview I did with Blair on episode 22.

Other related podcast episodes and articles:
Ep 79: Dr. Michael Ward on C.S. Lewis, Paganism, and Christmas
Ep 71: Happy Pagan Christmas!
Ep 72: The 12 Days of Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany
Episode 63: Artist Jaci Musec




11.29.2019

Ep 78: Dr. Michael Ward on C.S. Lewis, Paganism, and Christmas


Dr. Michael Ward is a professor at both Oxford University and Houston Baptist University where he teaches on imaginative apologetics. Dr. Ward is perhaps best know as a C.S. Lewis scholar and for his groundbreaking work Planet Narnia. You can read more about his life, his research focus, and find links to many of his articles at his websites:
http://www.michaelward.net/
http://www.planetnarnia.com/
Purchase my book on Amazon.

I interviewed Dr. Ward in research for my book Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas. I specifically wanted to ask him what C.S. Lewis' approach to "paganism," and mythology was in the hopes of gaining a broader understanding of how that can help us view some of the pagan influences embedded into our Christmas customs and traditions. I also wanted to ask him about Lewis' views on Christmas and what some of his own Christmas traditions were. This episode was released on November 29 to commemorate Lewis' birthday. In my book there is a section on paganism and Christmas that was directly influenced by my interview with Dr. Ward as well as his writing, which can primarily be found in these 3 articles:
"God the Father of Lights: C.S. Lewis on Christianity and Paganism
C.S. Lewis, Jupiter, and Christmas
C.S. Lewis and the Star of Bethlehem








Subscribe to the podcast on itunes 

Check out the podcast page to subscribe on Stitcher, 
Google Play, Tunein, and PocketCasts.


Related Podcast Episodes and Articles:
Ep. 29: Melody Green—Tolkien Scholar
Episode 15: Mike Foster Tolkien Scholar and Author.
Ep 71: Happy Pagan Christmas!
Ep 72: The 12 Days of Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany
Ep28: Dialouges With Brandon: What Makes a Good Novel?
Introducing Classical Education
Why Study LIterature: a concise answer
The Confessions of a Failed Literature Graduate



11.13.2019

Ep 77: Artist and Musician Jimmy Abegg


Jimmy Abegg is a veteran of both the music and art worlds. He also has a heart of gold and is generous with everyone he meets. Currently Jimmy is in need of financial help to complete the building Blind Jimmy's Lighthouse, an art and music studio he's building behind his home. You can support Jimmy through direct donations on his website or by simply buying his artwork, such as hi-resolution prints of his album cover of Charlie Peacock's Lie Down in the Grass. Associated with Rich Mullins's Ragamuffin Band, Charlie Peacock, and the band Vector, our conversation intentionally focuses on his own art and music, especially his plans once his studio gets completed, including recording albums, offering art workshops to the community, finishing his podcast, and writing his memoir. Please take a look at the videos after the episode link for examples of his work throughout the years.

Other Jimmy Abegg related links:
Purchase Charlie Peacock's West Coast Diaries Vol. 1 on vinyl
Stu G's Beatitudes Project that Jimmy did artwork for
Jimmy's Between the Songs Podcast Interview about Rich Mulllins and the Ragamuffins

Also, please check out my book on the 12 days of Christmas

Subscribe to the podcast on itunes 

Check out the podcast page to subscribe on Stitcher, 
Google Play, Tunein, and PocketCasts.

Music Related Podcast Episodes:
Bonus: Stu G on the Beautitudes Project 
Ep 74: Charlie Peacock
Ep 73: Phil Joel of Newsboys and Zealand
Ep 53: The Mosleys—Husband and Wife Duo
Ep 67: Singer-songwriter John Van Deusen
Ep 70: Glenn Kaiser


Examples of Jimmy's work:

10.31.2019

Ep 76: Tim Barnes on the World Wide Refugee Crisis


Tim Barnes is the executive vice president of International Association For Refugees (IAFR) a non-profit organization that seeks to empower and support refugees and displaced people groups around the world. By partnering with church communities in various refugee camps and settlements, IAFR has been able to help the people there move past the initial crisis of being forced from their homelands and into thriving and loving communities who serve the needs of those around them, even while still being displaced themselves. Tim travels to various countries around the world building relationships with refugee peoples, but he is also an advocates on their behalf in the U.S. by going to different churches and communities hoping to gain support for the work of IAFR. Our conversation touches on the complexity of the current situation, where there are over 70 million displaced people in the world, and also offers some insight on what we might be called to do about it.

For a more in-depth look into the refugee crisis, please check out IAFR's "toolbox" page.



Also, my book Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas is available most anywhere you can purchase books online:
Amazon
Christian Book Distributors
Wipf and Stock
Barnes and Noble
Google Play





Ep 72: The 12 Days of Christmas, New Year's, and Epiphany
Ep 71: Happy Pagan Christmas!
Ep 69: Ex Mormon Ministry Found Lynn Wilder
Ep 68: E. Byron Anderson on his book Common Worship
Ep 62: Stephen Backhouse on the Life of Kierkegaard
Ep 45: Religion and Philosophy Professor Brooks McDaniel
Episode 49: Doug Chu on White Churches, Multicultural Worship, and the Asian-American Experience
Episode 47: Dr. Lester Ruth on the history of Contemporary Worship
Episode 26: Zac Hicks author of The Worship Pastor
Episode 07: Pastor Luke Edwards on "why churches should stop giving stuff away"
Episode 11: Thom Blair on the Hebrew English Interlinear O.T. and Logos Bible Software



10.16.2019

Ep 75: Jeff Frankenstein of Newsboys



Episode 75 features an interview with longtime Newsboys keyboardist, programmer, arranger, and even bass player (on synth!) Jeff Frankenstein. He details what it has been like to navigate changes in the music industry over the past decades as well as changes within Newsboys as a band. He also describes how they've found a balance in being a touring band with families back home. Jeff's kindness and enthusiasm shines through in whatever he does and it's worth listening back to the many Newsboys albums in order to pick out his particular contributions to the band's music and performances. You can find tour dates and much more at Newsboys's website.

It is also worth noting that my book Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas has now been officially been released, which you can purchase on the Wipf and Stock Publishers website or on Amazon. Those who supported my Kickstarter campaign will be receiving their books soon. I'm also in the process of booking interviews and speaking engagements about the book, so if you are interested please contact me! 




Subscribe to the podcast on itunes 

Check out the podcast page to subscribe on Stitcher, 
Google Play, Tunein, and PocketCasts.

Music Related Podcast Episodes:
Bonus: Stu G on the Beautitudes Project 
Ep 74: Charlie Peacock
Ep 73: Phil Joel of Newsboys and Zealand
Ep 53: The Mosleys—Husband and Wife Duo
Ep 67: Singer-songwriter John Van Deusen
Ep 70: Glenn Kaiser

9.26.2019

Bonus Ep: Stu G on The Beatitudes Film and Study Guide

Stu playing "Heaven Is Around Us" with John Mark McMillan.
Featured are The Beatitudes Project film and study guide.
Two years ago I got to interview Stu G, one of my musical heroes, and formerly of the band Delirious. At the time he had just released The Beatitudes Project and Words From the Hill, an ambitious album and book, both based on Jesus's "Sermon on the Mount." He said he was also finishing a film documenting the making of the album as well as interviews and discussions with the people who helped inspire the writing of his book. Tantalizingly, Stu didn't exactly know when the film would be complete. Now, two years later, the film has finally come out on both Blu-ray and available to stream, and he was written a study guide to go with it for small groups and churches. His Beatitudes project is finally complete. You can visit their website to find out more or to purchase it individually or in packages: 
https://www.thebeatitudesproject.com/ 

And you can listen to my full interview with Stu G from 2017 here: 
Ep 50: Stu G on The Beatitudes Project


Subscribe to the podcast on itunes 

Check out the podcast page to subscribe on Stitcher, 
Google Play, Tunein, and PocketCasts.

Here is one of the trailers for the film:



Music Related Podcast Episodes:
Ep 74: Charlie Peacock
Ep 73: Phil Joel of Newsboys and Zealand
Ep 53: The Mosleys—Husband and Wife Duo
Ep 67: Singer-songwriter John Van Deusen
Ep 70: Glenn Kaiser

9.16.2019

Ep 74: Charlie Peacock—Artist, Producer, and Writer

Ep 74 features an interview with Charlie Peacock, an artist with four decades of experience in the music industry as a songwriter and solo artist and a producer for renowned artists like Switchfoot, The Civil Wars, Audio Adrenaline, and Marc Martel. Our conversation ranges from his thoughts on fame, the state of the Christian music industry, and the wisdom he's gained from getting debilitatingly sick after years of pushing himself past his limits. His new album Lil' Willie is available on various streaming services, his recent autobiographical writings and podcasts done with his wife Andi can be found at https://thewriterthehusband.com/ and more info on what Peacock is currently working on can be found at https://www.charliepeacock.com/ Much of his recent music is available for free on Facebook, which you can find here: www.facebook.com/sound
Peacock is one of my life-long musical and artistic heroes, and it was a true honor to spend some time with him. Finally, those wishing to purchase his recent re-release of West Coast Diaries Vol 2 on vinyl can do so through Discogs.
  Subscribe to the podcast on itunes 
Check out the podcast page to subscribe on Stitcher, Google Play, Tunein, and PocketCasts.

Music Related Podcast Episodes:
Episode 73: Phil Joel of Newsboys and Zealand
Ep 53: The Mosleys—Husband and Wife Duo
Ep 67: Singer-songwriter John Van Deusen
Ep 70: Glenn Kaiser

8.05.2019

Ep 73: Phil Joel on his new book and being in Newsboys and Zealand


On Ep 73 of the PostConsumer Reports Podcast we have Phil Joel, notably of the bands Newsboys, Zealand, and also a prolific solo music career, who has just released his first book Redwoods and Whales. You will need to read the book to discover Joel's inspirational meaning, but essentially it is much better if we end up like a redwood and not a whale (of the beached variety...). You can find links of where to buy the book at his website: http://www.philjoel.com/. While currently gearing up for another Zealand album, Joel is also in the midst of the successful Newsboys United "Greatness of Our God" tour, which finds him reuniting with Peter Furler, his former bandmates, and Michael Tait of DC Talk who has be leading the band for the past several years. In our conversation we discuss the tensions of songwriting in the Christian industry, what led him to write his book, and his reflections on the lates chapter of being a Newsboy.

Please check out these past PostConsumer articles on the Newsboys:
PostHumous Record Reviews: Newsboys' Love Liberty Disco
Record Review: Peter Furler Band's Sun and Shield
Peter Furler: His New Album and 15 Greatest Songs



Subscribe to the podcast on itunes 
Check out the podcast page to subscribe on Stitcher, Google Play, Tunein, and PocketCasts.


Related Podcast Episodes:
Ep 53: The Mosleys—Husband and Wife Duo
Ep 67: Singer-songwriter John Van Deusen
Ep 70: Glenn Kaiser

4.02.2019

Revisiting the Liturgy of "Divorce": a reflection on Moda Spira's new album



Today's post features guest writer (and musician) Rachel Wilhelm. Please look for her bio at the end of the article, including links to her music.

Twenty-two years ago I was 18, a mother, and shocked (I don’t know why) when I received divorce papers from my estranged husband of barely a year. I thought I was fine. But one morning I broke out into a fiery rash that went up and down my back and I couldn’t stop shaking. I got some anxiety pills for a month, the rash cleared up, and I dropped 30 pounds. I didn’t even notice. When I went to put on my white uniform work pants, they fell right back down, just like in my current far-off fantasy world where metabolisms don’t slow. When I think of that time, I think of a hollow young woman moving way too fast because she had to—because she made a lot of decisions that would affect her life forever. Youth is truly wasted on the young. 

We think we can just race forward and get away with filling up our hollow selves with enough life where the wounds won’t show. Get a rash, take a pill, shake the weight off and push onward. I mean, what else can be done? 

Fast forward 22 years later: I’m a mother of three almost grown children and happily married to an incredible man. I’m a seasoned runner but can’t seem to get back to it. I’m really feeling my age. Three years prior I was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition that for me, gets worse during the winter. Six months prior my family and I moved to the South so I could heal. Two months prior I am on my way to Nashville for a songwriting retreat and I play Moda Spira’s sophomore release, Divorce, in the car. How do I describe it? A beautifully ethereal sound with raw words sung by a hauntingly sultry voice. It unlocked an ancient door that had been rusted over after being slammed shut. What on earth was happening to me? 
I couldn’t stop crying. It was like an age-old sock in the gut. 



I think it was its own liturgy of lament. Each song is in order, from the moment the artist felt love to the moment she had to forgive. Every song is a stage of grief or a stage of becoming—swimming from the deep end to the shore, through the valley and up the mountain of forgiveness. And I was a mess. It was a recognition: I walked that liturgy before and had no names for any of it. I didn’t even allow it to have a voice. 


So I started running again. As my body is healing, my soul is finishing its healing too as I have listened to this record nearly every time. Truth has a way of doing that. It’s the power of repetition.  It’s a story from start to finish, from love, to shock, to grief, to rage, to doubt, to acceptance, to forgiveness. And this timeline forces me to wade backwards and stretch out my hands to the 18 year-old who hasn’t quite caught up yet. I’m now running backwards to run forwards. Sometimes healing is re-opening the scab to create a better scar. 

In my efforts to re-connect with my 18 year-old self, I started to think of all the things I would say now, to coach her along this endurance race of suffering. Latifah Alattas of Moda Spira, in her podcast, would say “have grace on yourself”. This is wisdom I did not have at 18. I stepped around in a portable prison, constricted by my own impossible expectations. I was working from knowledge I didn’t even have yet, pretending to know everything. All I knew was pain and I acted from it. 

So I want to tell her to slow down. I want to tell her to ignore the advice and demands others have on her. I want to tell her she has value and worth and she is good enough. She could do all of it on her own and she doesn’t need a single unhealthy person to pull her forward. She doesn’t have to do any of it, or owe anyone anything, except her son. And divorce doesn’t make her “used goods” as she so commonly refers to herself; she is now wiser than she was before. It is all being used for good.

I want to tell her that God has her. That God, in His providence, will give her more than she expects she will receive or deserve, and that she will have such a wealth of friends who love her at the other side, that it will bring tears to her eyes. That this pain will help her get through the death of family members, the loss of relationships, the trial of sucky churches and church leadership, the pain of abuse, the loss of health, the grief of family loss, the shock of betrayal, and so much more. Most of all, this pain will build so much compassion for others that she will cry when others are in pain too; and sit with them in grief. 

My youngest son just left for Navy boot camp, and the gaping hole he left behind feels a little like a death. He carefully boxed up his room and laid out his things in perfect, orderly lines to make it easier for us. My daughter and I quickly painted his room the day after to obliterate the blaring absence. The house seems too big. Later in the week a box came in the mail with all his things. I called it the “rapture in a box” because everything I saw him wearing last, including what was in his pockets and his phone, were there to greet us: everything except him. Even this sadness-mixed-with-hope is something that I’m healed enough to cope with now. 

We can’t escape pain. Ever. There is no guarantee that everything will work out the way we expect. In fact, I’ve found that it never works out the way I expect. But somehow along the way I’ve given myself permission now to feel things and not deny them. I love this line in one of my favorite songs by Sarah McLachlan, “And if I feel a rage I won’t deny it; I won’t fear love.” My 18 year-old self was never sure what that meant, but now I can run backwards through the hazy thickness, stretch out my hand, and explain to her what it means. 


You can listen to Moda Spira’s new album Divorce on multiple platforms such as Spotify, purchase it on vinyl and CD through Bandcamplisten to the Moda Spira Podcast, or find out lots more including tour dates at  http://www.modaspira.com/

Rachel Wilhelm is Director of Worship Arts and Artist in Residence at Redeemer Anglican Church in the Atlanta area. She released her record Songs of Lament in 2017, writes articles from time to time, and enjoys serious time travel. You can purchase her music on Bandcamp or read more of her articles and find out more about her music on her website.
Please check out the PostConsumer Reports article on Wilhelm's album of lament songs "Lamenting Through Lent With Rachel Wilhelm and Bifrost Arts."