Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

While I am still on a movie-watching spree so I can finish my list of Top Ten Films of 2006, I thought I would share with Idol Chatter readers the books and music that are some of the best of this past year, but which, in my estimation, are also the most overlooked. So it’s not too late to return that “Left Behind” videogame or that “Purpose Driven Life” coffee mug that you found under the tree and pick up one of these titles instead to start the new year off right.

Books:
“Secrets In The Dark” by Frederick Buechner: No one reflects on the mysteries of the Christian journey more eloquently than Buechner. He is perhaps the first author I have ever read who seems more comfortable with questions about faith than he does with answers. This book is a compilation of some of his sermons from years past on a variety of topics and makes for a great devotional for the new year.

“Accompanied by Angels” by Luci Shaw: Shaw has always been adept at combining the earthbound and the sacred in unusual ways, and in this latest anthology, the focus is on man’s relationship with angels. Specifically, many of the poems are related to Christmas and the birth of Jesus. If you haven’t read any of her work, this is a great place to start

Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? By James K.A. Smith: Calvin College philosophy professor James Smith takes a sharp, insightful look at some of the tenets of postmodern philosophy and various Christian responses to it. In particular, I appreciate that he articulates some of the flaws in certain factions of the emergent church movement, as they adhere to postmodern thought in an attempt to be “culturally relevant.” What’s impressive is that he does all that in a very accessible, reader-friendly way.

Music:
Ashley Cleveland “Before the Daylight’s Shot”: Mix Bonnie Raitt, Diane Krall, and a tiny bit of Aretha Franklin together, and you will come close to describing the talent of Ashley Cleveland. She’s always been too raw for the contemporary Christian music crowd, and she’s never been a commercial sell-out, so mainstream success has eluded her, but the smoky, soulful-voiced Cleveland has been my favorite female singer/songwriter for years. She finally has a new recording out this month–available only on her website–with more songs about her passionate longing to grow deeper in her faith in spite of her failings. Her song “The Blessing” is probably going to become my anthem for 2007.

T-Bone Burnett: “The True False Identity”: As a little girl I just knew T-Bone as the guy who married contemporary Christian singer Leslie–now Sam–Phillips. Most music buffs know him as the award-winning producer of numerous soundtracks ( “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) and many other hits. But his latest solo recording is a reminder that he is a genius as a singer/songwriter who mixes so many different but awesome spiritual metaphors together it just might make your head hurt.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus