My New Favorite Album: “Soul Still Remembers”


Pictured above: The Critics’ CD release concert in Shreveport, LA.

I’ve just posted a review of the the Critics‘ debut CD on the “CD Baby” website (click here). “Soul Still Remembers” really is my new favorite album, and the Critics are my new favorite band.

Musically, “Soul Still Remembers” deserves a place among the all-time greats. I am a fan of bands like Counting Crows, Vertical Horizon, and Train, and this album surpasses them all. A written review cannot do justice to the Critics by way of description. You simply have to buy this album and listen to it for yourself.

To enjoy the album as it was intended, you really have to buy the CD. The songs are not arranged willy-nilly, but actually appear in an intentional sequence. The CD jacket is printed like a book, complete with chapter divisions and endnotes. Each song comprises a chapter (or “canto”) in what is supposed to look like a book of poetry. And the lyrics are indeed poetry.

The lyrics portray the ruminations of an individual who is grappling with the issue of repentance, and each chapter opens up new vistas into the human condition before God. All of this is mixed with a profound understanding of the Word of God and how it describes our plight and salvation. Every time I reread these lyrics, there is a new insight that I hadn’t seen before.

One of my favorite songs of the album is “To Jeremiah,” a poem about the prophet and the Biblical book bearing his name. This song illustrates what is true of the rest of the pieces on the album; the lyrics can stand alone by themselves as poetry. Here’s “To Jeremiah”:

Sing to me, Jeremiah,
of pickled skin and cracked bones,
of wrists rusted by chains
and feet cut by the stony road
where lion and bear wait
to kill your view of faulty Zion,
stripped down from her hill.

Tell me, Jeremiah,
about this town with no King,
where you, pressed face-long to the ground,
taste your teeth broken down
for the least of these.
Women eat salty skin
boiled and baked within them,
in their own hands,
and the prophets lie
and see clever fantasies
to calm the captives.

Let me, Jeremiah,
bear the yoke while I’m young
that I might sit down and shut up
disgraced in my own ashes—
a “harlot-town’s son”—
so I can better know your hope
because, sir, I’ve seen your King.
Oh, Jeremiah sing,
for your King, at last, has come.

A new kingdom has come.

Do not delay. Make haste and add this album to your collection.

(When you visit the CD Baby website, listen to the following songs: “A Floor Below,” “Worse Than I Thought,” and “Soul Still Remembers.”)

Pictured below: Me (left) and the lead singer Myles Roberts (right) after the CD Release concert.

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The Gender Wars and Harvard University

President of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, has gotten himself into a catfight because of comments he made recently at a session on the progress of women in academia organized by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass. Although there is no transcript of his remarks, he reportedly claimed “that the shortage of elite female scientists may stem in part from ‘innate’ differences between men and women.”[1]

He shared an anecdote about his daughter to illustrate the point. He once gave his daughter two trucks in an effort at “gender-neutral parenting.” His daughter soon began referring to one of the trucks as “daddy truck” and the other as “baby truck.”[2] The event led him to ponder whether there was any truth to the notion that certain proclivities are connected to gender. For his daughter, at least, despite his best effort it seemed clear that something inside her compelled her to play what little girls are often wont to play. His is the kind of observation that many parents make when they actually deal with reality and not with ideology. Boys and girls are different.

Not surprisingly, Summers’ concurrent analysis of the shortage of women in math and sciences was not received well by the dogmaticians of political correctness that inhabit the halls of academia. Indeed, at least one listener received his words as a personal vote of no confidence with respect to the role of women in the academy. Nancy Hopkins, a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, actually got up from her seat in the middle of the speech and walked out. She said, “I felt I was going to be sick . . . My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow . . . I was extremely upset.”[3]

A faculty committee of Harvard University has responded to Summers’ remarks with a reprimand, saying that his words “did not serve our institution well. Indeed, they serve to reinforce an institutional culture at Harvard that erects numerous barriers to improving the representation of women on the faculty, and to impede our current efforts to recruit top women scholars. They also send at best mixed signals to our high-achieving women students in Harvard College and in the graduate and professional schools.”[4]

Dr. Summer’s remarks were hardly an assault on women or modern feminism. He has subsequently said that he did not mean to imply that women were mentally inferior or somehow less apt for scholarship in math and sciences than men are. His words were merely an observation concerning the differences between men and women. Yet the storm of controversy that has erupted reveals the extent to which feminist dogma has gripped the popular consciousness. One cannot even make the suggestion anymore that there are innate differences between boys and girls without causing an uproar.

It never ceases to amaze me how anti-feminine the feminist movement has become. At least in some of its more radical wings, the movement encourages females to pretend that there are no differences between men and women beyond the biological accidents of their anatomies. The practical effect of this ideology has not really been a thoroughgoing egalitarianism, but a suspicion of everything male. Ironically, women are encouraged to act less and less like women, and more and more like men. Who would have thought 100 years ago that the feminist movement would result in a suppression of traditional femininity? Yet this seems to be what has happened.

The controversy surrounding the Harvard President’s remarks reveals that there is still a pitched battle going on over the meaning of gender in our culture. Ultimately, this conflict can only be resolved by a willingness to listen to what the Creator of gender has to say about who we are and what he intends for us. As long as the feminists keep up their effort to shut Him out of the conversation, however, the fight will have to continue.
_________________________
[1]Washington Post, Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page A02, accessed on-line: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19181-2005Jan18.html.
[2]Washington Post, Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page A02, accessed on-line: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19181-2005Jan18.html.
[3]Ibid.
[4]New York Times, Wednesday, January 19, 2005, accessed on-line: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/19/education/19harvard.html.

The Gender Wars and Harvard University

President of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, has gotten himself into a catfight because of comments he made recently at a session on the progress of women in academia organized by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass. Although there is no transcript of his remarks, he reportedly claimed “that the shortage of elite female scientists may stem in part from ‘innate’ differences between men and women.”[1]

He shared an anecdote about his daughter to illustrate the point. He once gave his daughter two trucks in an effort at “gender-neutral parenting.” His daughter soon began referring to one of the trucks as “daddy truck” and the other as “baby truck.”[2] The event led him to ponder whether there was any truth to the notion that certain proclivities are connected to gender. For his daughter, at least, despite his best effort it seemed clear that something inside her compelled her to play what little girls are often wont to play. His is the kind of observation that many parents make when they actually deal with reality and not with ideology. Boys and girls are different.

Not surprisingly, Summers’ concurrent analysis of the shortage of women in math and sciences was not received well by the dogmaticians of political correctness that inhabit the halls of academia. Indeed, at least one listener received his words as a personal vote of no confidence with respect to the role of women in the academy. Nancy Hopkins, a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, actually got up from her seat in the middle of the speech and walked out. She said, “I felt I was going to be sick . . . My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow . . . I was extremely upset.”[3]

A faculty committee of Harvard University has responded to Summers’ remarks with a reprimand, saying that his words “did not serve our institution well. Indeed, they serve to reinforce an institutional culture at Harvard that erects numerous barriers to improving the representation of women on the faculty, and to impede our current efforts to recruit top women scholars. They also send at best mixed signals to our high-achieving women students in Harvard College and in the graduate and professional schools.”[4]

Dr. Summer’s remarks were hardly an assault on women or modern feminism. He has subsequently said that he did not mean to imply that women were mentally inferior or somehow less apt for scholarship in math and sciences than men are. His words were merely an observation concerning the differences between men and women. Yet the storm of controversy that has erupted reveals the extent to which feminist dogma has gripped the popular consciousness. One cannot even make the suggestion anymore that there are innate differences between boys and girls without causing an uproar.

It never ceases to amaze me how anti-feminine the feminist movement has become. At least in some of its more radical wings, the movement encourages females to pretend that there are no differences between men and women beyond the biological accidents of their anatomies. The practical effect of this ideology has not really been a thoroughgoing egalitarianism, but a suspicion of everything male. Ironically, women are encouraged to act less and less like women, and more and more like men. Who would have thought 100 years ago that the feminist movement would result in a suppression of traditional femininity? Yet this seems to be what has happened.

The controversy surrounding the Harvard President’s remarks reveals that there is still a pitched battle going on over the meaning of gender in our culture. Ultimately, this conflict can only be resolved by a willingness to listen to what the Creator of gender has to say about who we are and what he intends for us. As long as the feminists keep up their effort to shut Him out of the conversation, however, the fight will have to continue.
_________________________
[1]Washington Post, Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page A02, accessed on-line: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19181-2005Jan18.html.
[2]Washington Post, Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page A02, accessed on-line: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19181-2005Jan18.html.
[3]Ibid.
[4]New York Times, Wednesday, January 19, 2005, accessed on-line: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/19/education/19harvard.html.

The Demise of Sloan and the Fortunes of “Baylor 2012″

After the Board of Regents fell short by one vote last May to oust the President of Baylor University, opponents of Robert Sloan finally got their way on Friday without firing a shot. It was announced on Friday that Sloan would step down from the position of President and CEO of Baylor and move into the position of Chancellor. Though the public face of the transition appeared very amiable, it is an open secret that this transition was the result of pressure from opposition both within and without the University.

Sloan had become a lightning rod of sorts, advocating a vision for Baylor University that would make it a top-tier academic institution while maintaining a distinct Christian mission and identity. This vision is called “Baylor 2012.” In Sloan’s words, “Baylor University has the opportunity to become the only major university in America, clearly centered in the Protestant traditions, to embrace the full range of academic pursuits.”

In the November 2004 issue of First Things, Richard John Neuhaus expressed precisely what was at stake in this vision:

“The crux of the conflict at Baylor is over the nature of truth, and whether it is possible under evangelical Protestant auspices to build a world-class research university and thus provide a counterforce to the dreary history of the declension of Protestant (and Catholic) higher education from Christian seriousness, a declension powerfully narrated by James Burtchaell’s The Dying of the Light. . . . The cultural and intellectual influence of Christian higher education in this society has a lot riding on the bold, and predictably embattled, experiment underway at Baylor” (First Things, November 2004, pp. 71-72 ).

I fear that the vision of “Baylor 2012” will have a whole different character or be perhaps entirely lost without Sloan at the helm. However, I am reminded by a good friend that the glass may not be half empty, but half full. He writes:

“Don’t forget that the board is pretty well Sloan’s board. The chairman is a member of Prestonwood. Wouldn’t it be ironic if a greater than Sloan was elected President? Also, remember the Provost, who will run the school in the interim, is Dr. David Jeffrey, a Wheaton grad who has hired about half the present faculty, all of whom are conservative evangelical Christians who know how to integrate faith and learning. If this is a movement of God, not just of Sloan, who can stop it?”

I will be hoping and praying that my friend is right.

The Demise of Sloan and the Fortunes of “Baylor 2012”

After the Board of Regents fell short by one vote last May to oust the President of Baylor University, opponents of Robert Sloan finally got their way on Friday without firing a shot. It was announced on Friday that Sloan would step down from the position of President and CEO of Baylor and move into the position of Chancellor. Though the public face of the transition appeared very amiable, it is an open secret that this transition was the result of pressure from opposition both within and without the University.

Sloan had become a lightning rod of sorts, advocating a vision for Baylor University that would make it a top-tier academic institution while maintaining a distinct Christian mission and identity. This vision is called “Baylor 2012.” In Sloan’s words, “Baylor University has the opportunity to become the only major university in America, clearly centered in the Protestant traditions, to embrace the full range of academic pursuits.”

In the November 2004 issue of First Things, Richard John Neuhaus expressed precisely what was at stake in this vision:

“The crux of the conflict at Baylor is over the nature of truth, and whether it is possible under evangelical Protestant auspices to build a world-class research university and thus provide a counterforce to the dreary history of the declension of Protestant (and Catholic) higher education from Christian seriousness, a declension powerfully narrated by James Burtchaell’s The Dying of the Light. . . . The cultural and intellectual influence of Christian higher education in this society has a lot riding on the bold, and predictably embattled, experiment underway at Baylor” (First Things, November 2004, pp. 71-72 ).

I fear that the vision of “Baylor 2012” will have a whole different character or be perhaps entirely lost without Sloan at the helm. However, I am reminded by a good friend that the glass may not be half empty, but half full. He writes:

“Don’t forget that the board is pretty well Sloan’s board. The chairman is a member of Prestonwood. Wouldn’t it be ironic if a greater than Sloan was elected President? Also, remember the Provost, who will run the school in the interim, is Dr. David Jeffrey, a Wheaton grad who has hired about half the present faculty, all of whom are conservative evangelical Christians who know how to integrate faith and learning. If this is a movement of God, not just of Sloan, who can stop it?”

I will be hoping and praying that my friend is right.