Queue This Up: Trip Lee’s “Robot,” “War”

Every so often, I listen to or read something that speaks for itself, needs little commentary, and I recommend adding to your reading list or iPod for your next long wait, run, or drive. Queue this up:

 

Art can accomplish many types of good. It can magnify greatness, reveal evil, and persuade people. Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son shows what words cannot describe. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces draws us into truths about divine sovereignty we would otherwise overlook or reject. Art can also clarify understand and even evoke better emotions on subjects we’re already familiar with. On his 2012 album The Good LifeTrip Lee accomplishes these last two purposes particularly well with his tracks “Robot” and “War.”

The first, “Robot,” is a helpful reflection on the idea that Paul expresses in Romans 6 when he calls us “you who were once slaves,” but declares that in Christ, “sin will have no dominion over you.” Though the essence of the truth is fully expressed in the word of God, Lee effectively amplifies its tone. In his holy defiance and desperation, he attempts to draw a generation back to this doctrine, which they have not made space for, but desperately need.

The second track, “War,” reveals the spiritual battle we live in the midst of, with a rare and proper tone of significance and victory. What are we to make of the one called Faithful and True who, “in righteousness judges and makes war”? What does it mean, for our daily lives, that “death is swallowed up in victory”? Amidst the chorus, “When death and life go to battle, ain’t no tellin’ what’ll happen,” Lee calls us back to these questions, which should arouse neglected celebration.

Good music cuts us like a scalpel. The artist’s character and worldview determine whether they will leave life- or death-giving implants in the spaces they’ve carved. Hopefully you can find some time to listen to these two songs today. More importantly, I pray you can value and recognize the kind of music that cuts clean and implants the mind of Christ.

Queue This Up: Feisty Solzhenitsyn

Solzhenitsyn boards a train in Vladivostok, Mikhail Evstafiev, 1994. License

Another whirlwind author-romance swept me off my feet on Tuesday. I was minding my own business, reading a book for class, when a quote jumped off the page: “[Writers and artists] can vanquish the lie…One word of truth outweighs the whole world. And on such a fantastic breach of the law of conservation of mass and energy are based my own activities and my appeal to the writers of the world.”*

Solzhenitsyn? I tried to remember his name coming up in conversation over the last few years, faintly recalling philosophy majors with bears. I headed to Google, referred to wikipedia, puzzled over an incomplete bibliography, and finally found myself in the basement of Goddard Library, stooped over a dusty periodical from 1985.

I quickly fell for the exiled, Russian Orthodox author and Nobel Laureate, reading about his family’s earnest simplicity and intensity. The biographer, Edward E. Ericson Jr., suggested Solzhenitsyn’s Templeton acceptance speech as a brief primer on his philosophy and vision for the world. I was arrested, as I hope you are, by the opening lines:

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.**

If you have time for a good read today, I recommend sitting down with the rest of the speech. In it, Solzhenitsyn grieves over 20th century Russia and berates the Western world for voluntarily choosing the same depravity that was forced on his countrymen.

“The free people of the West could reasonably have been expected to realize that they are beset by numerous freely nurtured falsehoods,” he asserts, “and not to allow lies to be foisted upon them so easily. All attempts to find a way out of the plight of today’s world are fruitless unless we redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all: without this, no exit will be illumined, and we shall seek it in vain.”

*Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. Nobel Prize Speech, 1970. Quoted in: Stott, John R. W. (1994-01-01). Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today (p. 105). Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

**Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. Templeton Speech, 1983. Translator: A. Klimoff. Available at: http://www.roca.org/OA/36/36h.htm

Queue This Up: Keller on Green Faith

Photo Credit: Marcus Quiqmire

Have a drive or run ahead of you today? Queue up this thought-provoking audio to make good use of the time. 

I listened to Keller’s November, 2008 sermon, “Can Faith Be Green?” as I drove to Staples last night for some printer paper. Even though I was only halfway through the message by the time I got to the store, I ended up getting the 100% post-consumer recycled paper, so you know it’s good. Seriously, though, this sermon is worth a listen if you:

  • Question whether Christians have any reason to care about the environment
  • (Or) Have a feeling Christians should care about the environment, but can’t verbalize why
  • (Or) Have ever wondered why God bothered to say “don’t muzzle an ox as it treads out the grain”
  • (Or) Would be encouraged by a couple American Christians who are attempting to radically care for the environment in Jesus’ name

This is one of Keller’s monthly free podcasts and you can stream or download it here. You can also access it and other Keller sermons on the Redeemer Pres App.

Queue This Up: John Piper on C.S. Lewis

I have read as much C.S. Lewis lately as I read John Piper in my late teen years, and I heartily recommend the latter’s treatment of the former. If you have a long drive or run sometime this week, you can find the audio here or on the Desiring God app. It’s well worth an hour of your time because it will:

1) Help you experience the “unfulfilled desire” of joy.

2) Remind you to find wonder in everyday life.

3) Reassure you that logic and beauty fit hand in hand.