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Fellow Traveling with Yiddish Stories

posted by Patton Dodd

(Note from Beliefnet editor Patton Dodd: Peter Manseau‘s Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter kept me up for hours the night that I began it. I know Manseau to be a gifted, even gripping writer–his memoir, Vows, is a gorgeous page-turner–but […]

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D.F.W, R.I.P. (David Foster Wallace, Rest in Peace)

posted by Patton Dodd

The news that David Foster Wallace hung himself this weekend came as such a shock not only because it was the news of great loss for literary and academic culture–which it is–but also because it seemed like such a contrary […]

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Tim Russert, Rest in Peace

posted by Patton Dodd

As someone who begins to look forward to Sunday morning’s “Meet the Press” sometime on Saturday afternoon, I am shocked and dismayed at the news of Tim Russert’s fatal heart attack. TV news is so consistently bad that I rarely […]

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Debating the Best of 2007

posted by Patton Dodd

It’s an annual tradition as firmly planted in our culture as Thanksgiving turkey, July 4 fireworks, and Barbara Walters specials: year-end best and worst lists, Top 10s, awards, and all the debates and discussions they inspire. I love this stuff, […]

The Worship-Ness of Sigur Ros

posted by Patton Dodd

Most obvious is the overwhelming sense of awe that comes from Sigur Ros’ music. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote, and compositions like “I Gaer,” are charged with that same grandeur. Starting with a modest glockenspiel melody, the song suddenly cracks open like a raging electrical storm, a billowing frenzy of guitars and drums. The band is joined on many tracks by the Icelandic string quartet Amiina, and together, the musicians build songs that can only be described with breathless hyperbole and metaphor: angels dancing, birds soaring above clouds, flyover shots of glaciers. There’s such a hugeness to this music–the melodies are clearly in service of something more than entertainment or selling CDs.
Also, Sigur Ros understands how to create space for listeners to experience songs. This is true both because of the long moments of profound stillness in their music, and the openness with which their lyrics can be interpreted. While many of Birgisson’s lyrics are in Icelandic, some are also in a wordless vocal style he once called “Volenska” (usually translated as “Hopelandish”). There’s been a lot of unnecessary media hype about this “language,” but perhaps it’s close to what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote of “groans too deep for words.” The lyrics to “Vaka” sound like this:

ee-sai-a-lo,
ee-so ee-saw-ee-slow,
ee-so …
you-shy-naw-no-ee-oh

What does that mean, exactly? Nothing, or maybe everything. “You saw the light?” “He saw you low?” “You shine on us?” Or something entirely different? Combine these vocals with the band’s aptitude for epic, reverent, hymn-like songs, and it seems Sigur Ros has given us a language for worship, a kind of less-spooky speaking in tongues.
“Hvarf/Heim,” along with the band’s last two albums, “( )” and “Takk,” are utterly burn-worthy. Listen, and before long, you’ll be singing along in your own language.

A Nation Turns its Lonely Eyes to A-Rod

posted by Patton Dodd

Barry Bonds is busted. He’ll probably never own up to his guilt, and his lawyers might successfully get him off or significantly reduce whatever sentence he may receive. But he’ll always be an embarrassment to baseball, and he’ll forever evoke […]

Mourning Norman Mailer

posted by Patton Dodd

I was not fortunate enough to be alive during the Norman Mailer heyday of the 1960s and early 1970s, when his writing on the American scene—from electoral politics to boxing to the space program to the Vietnam war and its […]

Burn, Bruce, Burn!

posted by Patton Dodd

Click Here to Listen to “Radio Nowhere” from “Magic” Doug Howe has already spread the good news of the new Bruce Springsteen album in this space, joining a chorus of hand-clapping reviewers since “Magic” debuted this fall. (A.O. Scott at […]

Sorry, Sox Fans, God Likes the Rockies

posted by Patton Dodd

This is the way Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly explains what is happening to the Colorado Rockies this fall: “When it seemed even [Rockies fans’] patience had run out, God looked down and said, ‘Oh, geez, are those people still believers? […]

Radiohead’s Spiritual Business Model

posted by Patton Dodd

Here at Burn or Burn, we’ve been careful not to encourage dishonesty: you’ll notice that when we advise you to digitally burn a record, it’s as an extra copy, say for your car. We’re good citizens, and it is still […]

Iron and Wine’s Bible-Belt Music

posted by Patton Dodd

There are some things we just expect from certain musicians. We know Radiohead will give us postmodern technological alienation. We know Kanye West will give us pious braggadocio. And after five LP and EP releases, we’ve come to know that […]

Mute Math: Is It Christian Music?

posted by Patton Dodd

A Burn or Burn profile of Mute Math almost writes itself. This is a band whose lead singer once fronted Earthsuit, a band with crystal clear Christian credentials. This is also a band who sued its label, Warner, when the […]

Introducing ‘Burn or Burn’

posted by Patton Dodd

Growing up Christian means growing up conflicted about popular music. Different families and churches handle it in various ways, but it’s generally true that all secular music (What Everyone Listens To) is seen as either potentially dangerous or completely taboo, […]

We’re All Barry Bonds Fans

posted by Patton Dodd

Until a few weeks ago, I pretty much knew what to think of Barry Bonds and his inevitable breaking of the home run record. I was on board with Michael Kress in thinking that Bonds was a great player, no […]

Thank God for Rock n’ Roll

posted by Patton Dodd

Yesterday was a bad day. A no-good, low-down, rotten, miserable scum of a day. I won’t offer details because they are a combination of melodrama and mundane, and you’ve all been there. I wanted to bang my head against a […]

Who Needs Faith? Not Atheists…or Kirk Cameron

posted by Patton Dodd

It was no Andrew Sullivan vs. Sam Harris, nor Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson, but last night’s “Nightline” debate (the first in an unpromising new series called “Face Off”) between Christians Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron and atheists Brian Sapient […]

Golfing and Jesus on Easter Sunday

posted by Patton Dodd

One day in my junior year of college in 1997, I excused myself from my favorite class because my stomach was cramping so hard. When I arrived at my apartment, I tossed my backpack into the corner, collapsed onto the […]

Watching “The Sopranos” Religiously

posted by Patton Dodd

Say what you will about “The Sopranos.” Chances are that it’s already been said. In the last decade, no show has been praised more highly, examined more closely, credited with more cultural influence, or been as consistently good as “The […]

Red and Blue Love (and Sex) on Studio 60

posted by Patton Dodd

I’ve written here before that Harriet Hayes, the evangelical Christian character on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” is a credible Christian character. It’s a claim I’ve defended to evangelical viewers who think she’s just an excuse for writer Aaron […]

Are Evangelicals Green?

posted by Patton Dodd

Why are environmental ethics treated with such suspicion among evangelicals? It’s a question that has bugged me for years, but the answer is an easy one: because evangelicals, by and large, vote Republican. I often argue that evangelicals are not […]

“Studio 60″ and Evangelicals Unawares

posted by Patton Dodd

If you’re an evangelical Christian wondering about how you’re being perceived in popular culture these days, you might be planning to see “Jesus Camp.” Change your plans. Watch “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” next Monday night instead. “Jesus Camp,” […]

Oedipus Wrecks

posted by Patton Dodd

Neil Labute is not a writer of tragedy in the classic sense, because tragedy requires a genuine hero, and Labute’s characters inspire only disdain. But his films and plays are undeniably tragic–“In the Company of Men,” “Your Friends and Neighbors,” […]

Previous Posts

Letterman Bids Farewell Tonight
It's David Lettman's last episode interviewing, so what do you do? Well have his first guest, ever, Bill Murray pop out of a cake - of course! [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW8MY9CD-tQ[/youtube] Murray appeared on the first late ...

posted 9:03:34am May. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Finding Neverland - On a Stage!
Calling all fans of Lost Boys!             You loved Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, right? The film about J.M. Barrie in 2004 is back - in the form of a Broadway ...

posted 12:53:47pm May. 19, 2015 | read full post »

Blues Guitarist B.B. King Dead at 89
Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King died Thursday night at the age of 89 in a Las Vegas hospital. King was the son of a sharecropper, and was born on a plantation in Mississippi. He worked his way up from singing in church, performing on street ...

posted 9:27:21am May. 15, 2015 | read full post »

'Where Hope Grows' is a Much Watch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L10tIzZZrA Kristoffer Polaha stars as a baseball slugger with Detroit Tigers who was forced to retire early due to panic attacks at the plate. Calvin Campbell struggles with alcoholism, depression, and battles ...

posted 8:58:33am May. 15, 2015 | read full post »

One Good Fella
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKjent3fFcs Jersey Girl, the Body Guard, and Goodfellas--Mike Starr always plays a wise guy. The graduate of Hofstra University’s latest role is the comedy Dancer and the Dame, a film about a police officer ...

posted 12:13:10pm May. 14, 2015 | read full post »

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