Friday, October 28, 2016

October 2016 Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for October...

1. This month I read Sacred Habits, the third book in the Intersections series of which my own is a part. Friend and colleague Chad Abbott has curated a number of clergy voices reflecting on practices that can help lead to greater creativity in ministry. This includes reading scripture, public office hours, practicing community on social media, alternative worship, and running, to name just a few. I'm in a season where I was surprised at how much I needed this book. The essays are thoughtful and personal, and for me provocative in what can be possible when pastors intentionally nurture their creativity.

2. I also read Very Married by Katherine Willis Pershey this month. I've been glad to know Katherine for almost as long as I've been blogging, and was interested in her latest especially after reading Bromleigh McCleneghan's Good Christian Sex and Glennon Doyle Melton's Love Warrior this year. Katherine explores the joys and struggles of marriage borrowing extensively from her own as she explores topics such as intimacy, mutuality, fidelity, divorce, and much more. Katherine has a light touch with her subject matter, approaching even difficult issues with a pastoral awareness and well-timed humor. This might be a good one for clergy to give to couples to read together.

3. After hearing such great things for months, I watched Stranger Things on Netflix in its entirety. The show is about a group of four boys who enjoy all manner of geekdom. After one of them goes missing, various members of the town including the kids' families and a worn-down sheriff become pulled into several interlocking mysteries that involve experimentation, shadowy creatures, and a strange girl. The show has a Goonies or E.T. vibe, right down to the aesthetic of the '80s-style opening credits sequence and background music. Those were nice touches that, beyond the well-told story, made the whole thing more enjoyable.

4. Regina Spektor released a new album at the very end of September called Remember Us to Life. I've enjoyed Spektor's music since I first heard her very eclectic Begin to Hope. She's so creative with her arrangements and pulls from so many different sounds, which is again true here. She's dialed up the whimsy on this one, such as on "Older and Taller" where she playfully tackles aging and on "Grand Hotel" where one can take a trip to hell, which as she tells it isn't such a bad place. Here's the music video for "Small Bill$," which critiques consumerism in a very Regina Spektor way:

5. Ever since I heard that Phantogram was releasing a new album this year (simply titled Three), it has shot up to being one of my most anticipated of the year. I loved their previous album Voices, and the first single "You Don't Get Me High Anymore" told me this new offering was going to be another great one. And it has been: "Same Old Blues" is a lament about lingering memories, "Cruel World" is a final farewell as the singer cuts off ties, and "Run Run Blood" describes the ways we indulge in various forms of escape at our own expense. The beats and arrangements are strong and crisp. Here's "Cruel World:"