1. A Christ-haunted death spiral
John J. Thompson reviews the self-titled album from The Civil Wars, which releases next week:
The Civil Wars is darker, more desperate, more brutal and more spiritual than their debut. When pressed for answers about the tension, Williams says that their story is told through the songs. How sad. The opening track and first single, “The One That Got Away,” aches with Williams’ opening line, “I never meant to get us in this deep. I never meant for this to mean a thing. I wish you were the one that got away.” Then it’s White’s turn to wail. On “I Had Me a Girl,” he does so with electric guitar and a blues romp that could just as easily have slipped from Jack White’s snarling lips. He and Williams take turns in a sweaty call-and-response, capturing something deeply tense and true about passion and longing. Nothing will drive a person to his or her knees like a broken heart. It reminds me of that great G.K. Chesterton quote: “Any man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.”
2. Perspectives on Mouw
The Perspectives journal has devoted its July/August issue to Rich Mouw, a hero of mine. The entire issue is available for free online. Here’s an excerpt from the contribution by Nicholas Wolterstorff:
Rich is a theologian, no doubt about it, but a theologian of a rather unusual sort. In all his thinking and writing there is what I shall call a disposition toward the concrete. He has little interest in purely abstract theology; his goal is always to get his readers to perceive reality and to imagine alternatives through biblical and theological spectacles. I am intentionally borrowing a metaphor from Calvin here; Calvin speaks of the Christian as seeing the world through the spectacles of Scripture. It is this disposition toward the concrete that accounts for the whimsy in much of Rich’s writing, for his frequent use of the illustrative anecdote, and for his conversational style.
Were it not for baseball’s PED scandal, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens both would have been inducted into the Hall of Fame last weekend. Sadly, this was the first time in nearly 50 years no living players were there to take the stage. Meanwhile, Jim Caple (@jimcaple) writes for ESPN about the magic – and the reality – of Cooperstown:
As I found, during a week I spent in Cooperstown, the people and stories outside the Hall of Fame are much more compelling than those honored on its walls. Some stories will produce a lump in your throat or goosebumps on your arm. Some will make you laugh. Some, especially the one about a shooting, will make you shake your head. And some, like the autistic baseball hero, will make you want to stand up and cheer. Forget this year’s long-dead inductees. There is life in the village of baseball.
4. I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry, and I Love You
I’ve gotten the chance to get a sneak preview of the newest record from Derek Webb (@derekwebb), and it’s some of his best stuff yet, and definitely his most personal. Here’s the crowdsourced music video for the title track.
[Image: The Civil Wars by Allister Ann, via theswiftagency.com]