Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Stomping Ground – Dion
****

I first became interested in Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dion (DiMucci), now 82, when he recorded five Contemporary Christian Music albums between 1980 and 1986. I’ve enjoyed his music ever since.
Dion follows up his 2020 album Blues with Friends (one of my favorites that year), with Stomping Ground, a blues album that again finds him collaborating with music greats with whom he shares mutual admiration. Most of the album’s fourteen songs were written by Dion and his songwriting partner Mike Aquilina. The sole non-original is “Red House,” the Jimi Hendrix song that has become a blues standard.
The album was produced by Wayne Hood with Dion, and features guests Boz Scaggs, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Patti Scialfa, Bruce Springsteen, Billy F Gibbons, Keb’ Mo’, Sonny Landreth, Joe Menza, Mike Menza, Marcia Ball, Jimmy Vivino, Rickie Lee Jones, Wayne Wood, Joe Bonamassa, and G.E. Smith. The liner notes were written by Pete Townshend.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


The Babylon Bee Guide to Wokeness. Salem Books. 214 pages. 2021
****

If you are tired of all of the wokeness in our culture, this hilarious new book from the folks at The Babylon Bee is for you. On the other hand, if you want to be woke, and thus be on the right side of history, this book is also be for you.
I’ve been a fan of the Christian satire site The Babylon Bee for several years. The book is creative and extremely funny as it looks at wokeness in America (and it doesn’t even touch on our military (perhaps in volume 2), and uses stick figure illustrations throughout.
To give you a flavor of the book, here is their definition of what being woke means:
“Realizing the problems in your life are not your fault. In fact, when you really think about it, nothing is your fault. Blame everyone else for your problems. This is the first step to being woke.”

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13 New and Upcoming Books You Might Be Interested In 

As we do from time to time, let’s take a brief look at new and upcoming books that you might be interested in. Here are 13 of them, in a variety of genres, from authors such as Bono, Tim Keller, Albert Mohler, Jordan Raynor, Paul Tripp, Bob Dylan, Dane Ortlund and more:

Retiring Well: Strategies for Finding Balance, Setting Priorities, and Glorifying God by John Dunlop MD
Here is the Amazon description for the book:
“What Should Retirement Look Like for a Christian?
Preparation for retirement requires more than just financial planning. For most people, and especially for Christians, it comes with a host of other considerations—when to retire, where to live, and how to spend one’s time. Many find themselves asking, Is there a right way to retire?
Drawing from his work with geriatric patients and his own retirement experience, Dr. John Dunlop shares practical strategies for Christians as they approach their retirement years. With Scripture as his guide, he promotes balance between rest and activity—encouraging intimacy with God, service to churches and communities, time with friends and family, and care for one’s health. Among the uncertainties of major life change, readers will be equipped to make decisions for their future as they seek to glorify God in their retirement. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEW:  “Strange New World” by Carl R. Trueman

Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution by Carl R. Trueman. Crossway. 198 pages. 2022
****

In 2020, the author published The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution, a 434-page book, to wide acclaim. Trueman was encouraged by Ryan T. Anderson (who wrote the Foreword to this book) to write this condensed version of the original book, making it more accessible to a wider audience, but still a bit of a challenge to read. My wife and I read and discussed this important new book – using the helpful study questions at the end of each chapter – which we found to be excellent.
Trueman tells us that for many people, the Western world in which we now live has a profoundly confusing, and often disturbing, quality to it. Things once regarded as obvious and unassailable virtues have in recent years been subject to vigorous criticism and even in some cases come to be seen by many as more akin to vices. He welcomes us to this strange new world and states that we may not like it, but it is where we live, and therefore it is important that we try to understand it. To respond to our times, we must first understand our times. That is Trueman’s goal in this book.
Trueman offers much to take in and ponder in this book. In this brief review, I’ll try to share some of the main takeaways my wife and I had from the book, which we recommend that you read and discuss with others.
Trueman addresses the modern self early in the book. He writes:
“The modern self assumes the authority of inner feelings and sees authenticity as defined by the ability to give social expression to the same. The modern self also assumes that society at large will recognize and affirm this behavior. Such a self is defined by what is called expressive individualism.”
He adds that the modern self is one where authenticity is achieved by acting outwardly in accordance with one’s inward feelings. Continue reading


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My Review of Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick, rated PG-13
****

The long-delayed (due to the pandemic) Top Gun: Maverick, is an exciting action-packed sequel to the 1986 film Top Gun. The film, whose release was delayed five times, and has plenty of nostalgia from the first film, was directed by Joseph Kosinski (Only the Brave) and written by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie, Peter Craig, and Justin Marks. Only Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer return in their roles from the 1986 Top Gun film.
As the film opens, Maverick, played by three-time Oscar nominee Tom Cruise (Magnolia, Jerry Maguire, Born on the Fourth of July), is a test pilot pushing himself and an experimental aircraft to Mach 10. This is against the wishes and order of the program’s Rear Admiral in charge played by four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris (The Truman Show, Pollock, The Hours, Apollo 13), who is ready to shut the program down.
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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes



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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Scottie Scheffler wins Masters, says “reason I play golf is I’m trying to glorify God”. Fifty-six days ago, Scottie Scheffler was a 25-year-old beginning his third full season on the PGA Tour, ranked 15th in the world but still seeking his first victory on the game’s top circuit. As of March 27, after winning three of five events, Scheffler shot up to No. 1 in the world. As of the evening of Sunday, April 10, Scheffler is now a Masters champion as well.
  • Dealing with Disappointment at Work. John Kyle offers five specific suggestions that might help if you or a friend are dealing with disappointment at work.
  • We’re Not Having a Work Crisis; We’re Facing an Identity Crisis. Denise Lee Yohn writes “For many of us, recent times have revealed the shortcomings of our current work.  But that doesn’t mean we should take our job and shove it.  Work remains a path toward fulfillment, but we’re better off pursuing it as a path toward formation.  Work can be a way that God forms us into the people He intends for us to be – we just need to let Him.”

  • Should an Employee Ask for Health Insurance? Charlie Self responds to the question “I work for a Christian nonprofit that doesn’t provide health insurance for its employees. On the one hand, I know health insurance is very expensive, and I don’t want to seem greedy or faithless by asking to be insured. On the other hand, I don’t want to be fiscally irresponsible. I know that it just takes one accident or major surgery to bury a family in debt for decades. Should I ask for insurance? If so, what would be a gracious way to ask?
  • How Can I Think About the Billy Graham Rule? Courtney Powell responds to the question “My job involves occasional one-on-one meetings with people of the opposite sex. Should I use the “Billy Graham Rule”? Are there other ways to protect others and myself, particularly in ways that are cognizant of my sin nature and don’t treat others as the problem?
  • Is Business Always Kingdom Business? Andy Jones writes “The challenge of integrating faith and work is especially challenging for business owners.”

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  • My Review of Mission Possible: Go Create a Life That Counts by Tim Tebow with A.J. Gregory
  • Snippets from the book Discipled Leader: Inspiration from a Fortune 500 Executive for Transforming Your Workplace by Pursuing Christ by Preston Poore

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


The End – Trip Lee
**** 

The End is the multi-talented (pastor, conference speaker, author, rapper), Trip Lee’s first new album since 2016’s The Waiting Room. Lee has said that the title symbolizes coming to the end of ourselves, where one door closes so another can open. Themes on the album include Lee’s return to music after six years, dealing with illness for fifteen years, Christ being better than riches, Heaven, divisions in our society, fame, things he wishes were different in the world, having nothing left to prove, love for his wife and new life in Christ.
Here are a few brief comments about each song:
Let Go – This song was written and produced by Lee. Most of the vocals on this song are handled by Chastity (Chazz). Lee sings only the fourth verse.
Key lyric:
Lord, grab my soul
Lose my hold on things that hold me back

Right Out the Gate – This hard-hitting song was written and produced by Mashell and Lee. Some thought he had left music, but he’s back, still on his game.
Key lyric:
Thought he was gone, I think He back
He ain’t wait long, on the attack
Still unashamed, you know it’s facts

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Paul McCartney The Lyrics 1956 to the Present by Paul McCartney and Paul Muldoon. Liveright. 905 pages. 2021
****

This book is the result of approximately 50 hours of conversations about Paul McCartney’s songs over 24 sessions between McCartney and Paul Muldoon that took place between 2015 and 2020. In all, 154 of McCartney’s songs are included in the book. The lyrics of the songs are included, along with McCartney’s thoughts about the song, including what specifics lyrics were about, and how the song came to be. Many rare photographs are included in the book. McCartney wrote the Foreword and Muldoon the Introduction.
Along the way, you’ll find out interesting information such as:
•“Here, There and Everywhere” is McCartney’s favorite of his songs.
• He would include “I Saw Her Standing There” among his best work.
• McCartney’s parent’s attitudes weren’t religious, but they were good people and they showed McCartney and his brother a good way. In school and in church, he was given more formal religion, but he writes that his own sense of goodness, of a certain kind of spirituality, had already come from home. Today, he is not particularly religious in any conventional sense, but rather believes in the idea that there is some sort of higher force that can help us.
• 98% of his songs come from a musical idea, not a lyrical idea.
McCartney states that the life he has led – as a musician, performer, singer, songwriter – is incredible. He still feels like he’s just playing at it.
The book, which is beautifully put together, includes some adult language sprinkled throughout. Although in excess of 900 pages, the book is not intimidating, as the lyrics and photos included make the book read much shorter.
The book is a joy for McCartney/Beatles fans, and is a good companion to the six-part McCartney 3,2,1 television series McCartney did with Rick Rubin.


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BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • Should Our Sexual Desires Determine Who We Really Are? Watch this short video from Carl Trueman, author of Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution.
  • How to Focus in Prayer: 7 Tips. Wondering how to focus in prayer and fight the distraction that derails you? Kevin Halloran, author of When Prayer Is a Struggle shares 7 practical tips for fighting distraction in prayer in this video.
  • How to Offer Correction. Guy Richard writes “Giving criticism is frequently necessary, but if we cannot give that criticism constructively then we ought not to give it at all.

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