Sidewalk Prophets Release New Full Length Christmas Album!

The following is based on a real conversation I had this morning with my intern, Jordan:

Me:  Good morning, what’s new?

Jordan:  I think most of your readers think you’re dead

Me:  What? Why?!

Jordan:  Because you haven’t posted anything about the new Sidewalk Prophets Christmas CD and it’s been over a week since it came out.  I’m starting to get a lot of angry e-mail.

Me:  It’s just October 2nd!  I’ve been busy with the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus thing, and the Scott Stapp thing, and I’ve got Royal Tailor work to do and besides I just posted a blog yesterday! I assumed I had at least until after Halloween to put something up on the blog about a Christmas CD!

Jordan: (shaking his head)  Beth, you of all people should know by now how those Sidewalk Prophet fans are since you are one of them…(Jordan takes his pointer finger and makes a circular motion around the side of his head)  Cra-zay!

Me:  (I don’t say anything.  I just pick up a file and throw it at him.)

 

I stewed over Jordan’s insinuations for a little while that I might be perceived as either dead or crazy, then I moved on to other more pressing issues.  In fact, I had almost forgotten about the debacle of the morning completely when I checked my e-mail this evening.  There, sitting atop a pile of 900+ other messages in my inbox was a message entitled “Sidewalk Prophets Merry Christmas To You on Fervent Records” from a record label publicity manager.  

My reaction was, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Apparently, the universe wants me to post a blog about this CD today, so buckle up ’cause here we go!

First let’s get my one and only critique out of the way.  (I know, I know, this is shocking, because I normally never critique anything, particularly not the Sidewalk Prophets…horror of horrors!  Please don’t send me hate mail!)

I’m not sure I like the album cover artwork.

There, I said it.

When my friend Jill called to tell me that she had bought a copy of the CD last week, she made the comment that cover was, and this is a direct quote, “whimsically fun and kind of creepy all at the same time”.  I didn’t know what that meant until I saw a .pdf of the cover today.  Now, I think “creepy” might be a bit harsh, but “whimsical”, yes, I can definitely see that.

Here’s the good news, though…this is a music blog, NOT an art blog, so I could really care less about the cover art.  What I care about is the content of the tunage contained on the CD tucked away inside the cover art.

With that being said, I feel like I need to say upfront that my expectations for this project by the Sidewalk Prophets may have been unfairly sky high.  Usually, I try to keep my expectations ridiculously low so I’m not disappointed all the time, but in all honesty, 2 of my very favorite neo-classic Christmas songs, Hope Was Born This Night and Because Its Christmas, are Sidewalk Prophets tunes.  If the Sidewalk Prophets didn’t knock this new project out of the park, I was going to be epically disappointed; like, so-disappointed-I-might-consider-boycotting-Christmas-this-year-and-proceed-directly-to-Easter disappointed.

Well, I’m happy to tell you that not only is Christmas on like Donkey Kong in 2013, my ancient Harry Connick Jr When My Heart Finds Christmas CD and Michael Buble Christmas CD will definitely have some fierce competition for rotation in the old CD player come December.

Merry Christmas to You, much like the album cover, is whimsical and fun, but that is where the similarities (thankfully) end; the CD is packed with 12 songs, some old, some new, and my two favorite neo-classics.  Each song shows a distinctive creative flair and a passion for music, two of the hallmarks of any Sidewalk Prophets album and two of the traits that I might argue that progressively endear this unlikely group of lyricists and musicians to fans with each subsequent musical release.

 

Let me address a few of the high points of this project, at least from my perspective:

Listening to Merry Christmas to You, I am sort of struck by how merry the CD actually sounds.  If you think about it, that isn’t always the case with Christmas albums.  Sometimes, Christmas music sounds more like dirge than the happy and joyous event it is.  I think Merry Christmas to You really captures the merry essence of Christmas just perfectly, even in typically more solemn songs like What Child is This and Silent Night.  Plus, what is not to like about a CD that incorporates the kazoo?  Seriously, that’s awesome.  I love the kazoo!

With that being said, let me be clear about one thing:  even though Merry Christmas to You sounds very merry indeed,  it doesn’t mean there aren’t moments that warm the heart and, quite possibly, wet the face.  (For me, that moment came early in the song What a Glorious Night…I’m known to cry like a baby when Linus tells the true meaning of Christmas found in Luke 2:8-24.)  If A Charlie Brown Christmas isn’t your thing, you might enjoy (read: get emotional) over the song Hey Moon.  I think Hey Moon may soon by joining Hope Was Born This Night and Because Its Christmas on my short list of neo-classics.

So, it’s not a well kept secret that I LOVE it when bands re-do hymnal or other traditional “church” music with a more modern twist; both Kutless and MercyMe have put out great examples of this type of album in last few years.  Needless to say, when I saw my two traditional favorite Christmas hymns listed as tracks on Merry Christmas to You, Silent Night and What Child is This, I was excited (and rightfully so!)

I love what the Sidewalk Prophets did with these two songs; if I could draw a big red heart and a happy face on my blog right HERE to show you how much I liked it, I would.  I’ve never heard a rendition of What Child Is This quite like this one before, and I was enchanted by it.  I thought it was lovely, to say the least.

As for Silent Night, well…it was beautiful.  Magical.  Perfect.  Brought tears to my eyes, and I promise you, I am not a crier.  Simple and elegant, and fit for the King of Kings. To me, no other version of Silent Night will ever top this one.

Now as much as I love listening to music, I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a technically trained ear to be able to pick out most musical instruments.  I know enough to get by, but for me to be able to say, for example, “Hey, in the 25th measure on the 2nd beat in the 4th track, that was some epic drumming, Justin!  Right on!”

I know, I’m a disappointment, but at least I’m honest, right? 🙂

This leaves me with a limited number of things I can comment on without sounding like an idiot, such as cover art work, song lyrics, and, well, singing.  Unfortunately for lead singer Dave, this means I am going to pick on him for a little bit.  (Okay, not really!) 

It’s no secret that Dave can sing; in fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone in my hometown of New Haven has come up to me since the Sidewalk Prophets played a show here in June and said, “Man, that guy could sing!” I could be sitting under a big umbrella on a beach somewhere reading a good book instead of writing this blog.

Alas, here I sit on my couch in good old Indiana.

My point is, if I had to come up with something that truly disappoints me about Merry Christmas to You, it’s this:  the vocals are so, so good on this album, its truly bittersweet that the album is seasonal and only meant to be enjoyed 2, maybe 3 months max a year.

Yeah, so thanks a lot, Dave, thanks a lot.  (I kid, I kid!)

I like to think of myself as a bit of a connoisseur of Christmas music; I’ve been known to break out the Michael Buble and Jingle Bells in the middle of July just because I feel like it.  I find that a lot of the time, however, when artists put out a Christmas album, the results are sub-par.  Ho hum.  Blasé.  Yawn.

I’m so happy this was not the case with Merry Christmas to You.  The Sidewalk Prophets remained true to the message of Linus in his iconic opening monologue,  creating a sweet treasury of  holiday tunes that everyone will enjoy.  These songs seem to capture not only what the Christmas season is all about, but in a small way, what the Sidewalk Prophets represent all year long:  loving the family we are blessed with, caring for the friends we meet along the way, cherishing the memories we have from days gone by and sharing the hope that only comes from the baby that was born on that first Christmas for the days that still remain.

Yes indeed, my dear readers, Christmas has come early this year.  Whether you are a fan of the Sidewalk Prophets matters not; if you have a working set of ears, Merry Christmas to You is a must-have CD for your musical library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RESCHEDULED!! BIG Announcement! OBB To Appear Today on RemedyLive.com’s GONG Show!

Due to technological malfunctions (read: OBB has A LOT of awesome fans and totally crashed the servers!), we had to reschedule our Skype party with the brothers for NEXT WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18th, 2013 at 4:30 PM EST!

While you wait, you can check out my feature story about the band and photos from their appearance at the WFRN Friend Fest in June of 2013 by clicking here!

Be sure to tune in to Remedy Live.com today at 4:30 pm EST because 3 of my favorite brothers will be Skyping in to the GONG Show!  That’s right, Zach, Jacob, and Nich will be Faup & the gang’s very special guests this afternoon so be sure to check it out!  (And, if for some reason you can’t watch it live today at 4:30 pm EST, I will post video of the chat right here on Spin: the Blog tomorrow!)

Prayers for Luke of fK&C

As all you diehard for King & Country fans out there probably already know, 1/2 of the dynamic duo, Luke, recently had to miss a few appearances due to health related concerns. 

Not much is known about Luke’s condition, with the exception of what Joel has posted on the pair’s Social Media feed–Luke has an unnamed digestive disorder and was to be seen by a specialist on Monday of this week for treatment. 

Also, according to Joel, “I spent a few hours w/ Luke yesterday & there’s been a slight improvement in his condition! Your prayers are being heard. Thank you! -Joel.”

So, keep those prayers coming for Luke!  If you’d like to send Luke and his family a note of encouragement for his health, I’ve been told they can be sent to:

Smallbone Management, Attention: Luke Smallbone, PO Box 1524, Franklin, TN 37065

Of course, the most important thing of all is to remember Luke and his family in your prayers! 

Call upon me, and I will answer you; I will be with you in trouble, I will deliver you and honor you.  ~Psalm 91:15

Christian Music Baby News!

Congratulations are in order on the birth of two brand new babies to two phenomenal first time Mommas! 

I bet the lullabyes these kids are going to be treated to will be out of this world!

First up, on July 24th, 2013, the lovely Britt Nicole and her husband Joshua Crosby welcomed a darling daughter into the world:  Ella Brave Crosby!  According to momma Britt’s Social Media feeds, she and baby Ella are doing well and she’s enjoying being a new mom.  Congratulations to the happy family on the new addition of little Ella (and what a sweet name!)

Next, just a day later, Blanca Callahan of Group 1 Crew announced via Social Media that she and her husband Benjamin Callahan welcomed a healthy and absolutely beautiful baby boy, London Rey Callahan, into the world on July 25th, 2013.  Of course, she shared a picture of the little fellow and he is adorable!  Congratulations to the Callahans (and Uncle Manny of Group 1 Crew!) on the arrival of baby London!

 

 

The Story Behind Fuze Music’s ‘By Your Blood’

Fuzed Worship Group Shot
Story By Christa Banister

In every Christ-follower’s journey of faith, there comes a point when he/she makes the important discovery about God’s sense of timing, namely that our heavenly Father’s wristwatch definitely has a tick-tock all its own.

But what often feels like lateness to oh-so-impatient mankind, however, is always right on schedule with God, a theme that runs particularly deep in the story of Fuzed Worship.
Co-founded by Daniel Meyer, CEO of U.S. Operations for Joyce Meyer Ministries, and Nate Edmonds, a worship leader and songwriter, Fuzed Worship includes a revolving lineup of like-minded musicians unified by a singular cause. Rather than simply playing music for music’s sake, they want to write songs like “Lost in You,” “Forever You Reign” and “My Heart Burns For You” that inspire a generation to not only serve Christ, but also demonstrate His love in tangible ways.

Emphasizing a life centered around worship where justice is upheld and compassion is lived out, these core beliefs are naturally what fuel the songs from the group’s stunning new album By Your Blood. Produced by Tedd T (Newsboys, Mutemath, Rebecca St. James) and featuring a bevy of talented musicians, the soundtrack itself may be diverse and full of intriguing textures, but the heart of the project is what Fuzed Worship has always been about.

“If the focus becomes more about building our momentary kingdom than uplifting the Kingdom of our heavenly father, we’ve completely missed the mark and settled for less than He intends,” Nate shares. “For us, it’s always been about taking the music and allowing it to breathe and encounter people on a daily level. We just create, stand back and watch God do what He wants.”

The Origins of an Unlikely Partnership

In what’s truly a testament to the mystery of God, Fuzed Worship began rather unexpectedly. Daniel Meyer had written lyrics about the injustice he’d seen while traveling around the world, while God was working in Nate Edmonds’ life in a completely different way. After stepping away from Joyce Meyer Ministries to pursue his own musical dreams, Nate felt the call of God not only nudging him back to the ministry, but also asking him to lay down his own desires by fasting from the very thing he loved so much—music.

One Sunday afternoon, Daniel asked Nate if it was possible to put what he’d written to music. Even though Daniel wasn’t a musician, he felt that song might be the right vehicle for expressing what he had experienced; an avenue for sharing what, in some ways, was too powerful for words alone. And sensing God’s blessing in this unlikely partnership, Nate was more than willing to give it a try.

As strange as it seemed at the time—a guy who didn’t have an outlet for expressing what was on his heart and the guy who hadn’t sung or touched an instrument in a year—Daniel and Nathan started making music. Later that night, the duo had already written their first song, “Revolving Love.” Inspired by a sweet five-year-old girl named Ababa who was suffering from malnutrition and countless others like her that Daniel has met along the way, it was a defining moment in Fuzed Worship’s journey.

Since then, Daniel and Nate have been joined by numerous others in their vision for Fuzed Worship as an organization and collective specifically created for God’s glory.

Looking Ahead

While it hadn’t been part of Daniel and Nate’s plan to connect Fuzed Worship with Joyce Meyer Ministries, it was a natural marriage that was “God’s plan all along” even if they never saw it coming.

“We made it a point to have no lofty goals at all. We simply wanted to write songs from our heart to God,” Nate says. “But when Joyce heard some of our rough demos, she felt God wanted to bring Fuzed Worship under their wings.”

Now with the release of their third project, By Your Blood, Fuzed Worship will continue to lead worship at several Joyce Meyer Ministry conferences, but will also share their songs of hope and renewal in Christ in other capacities as well.

“Every song on By Your Blood focuses on the very tenets of our faith and has a message about worship,” Nate concludes. “As we continue to focus on worshipping from the heart, we’re always seeking God for what He has in store. In the meantime, we’ll continue to create music to unite and inspire a generation to serve Christ and demonstrate His love.”

For more information on Fuzed Worship, go to http://www.fuzedworship.com. To buy their music, please visit http://www.joycemeyer.org/bookstore, iTunes and your favorite digital retail outlets.

City Harmonic to Release New Album, Heart!

I am beyond excited about this!  Since my words alone cannot convey how awesome this project is going to be…you should read the press release below and mark your calendars for September 3rd!

 

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THE CITY HARMONIC RELEASE HEART GLOBALLY SEPT. 3

 

An Album On Being, And Becoming, Human, HEART Poetically Shares Band’s Personal Joy,

Suffering, Wrapped in Grace, Discipleship, Centrality of Christ

 

The ‘Heart’ of Album, “City On A Hill,” Releases To Radio This Month

 

Band Relaunches TheCityHarmonic.com, Adds Tour Dates, Photos, More

 

Internationally acclaimed band, The City Harmonic, is set to release globally its highly anticipated sophomore album, HEART, September 3 through Integrity Music.  The 14 songs on HEART are underscored by the cinematic and communal aesthetic prominent in all of the band’s music while building from where the band left off with its widely acclaimed, JUNO Award-winning I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home).  Reflecting life lived by the band members since their full-length debut, the new album shifts from the dream of what could and should be to the complexities of how to follow the true humanity of Christ’s example in the world.

 

Co-produced by the band – vocalist/songwriter and pianist Elias Dummer, bassist Eric Fusilier, guitarist Aaron Powell and drummer Josh Vanderlaan – and Jared Fox, HEART places Christ at the center while delving into themes of grace, discipleship and being, and becoming, truly human, all the while giving the listener permission to sing out in hope, in hurt.

 

“We set out to write an album ‘on being, and becoming, human,’ but, in a way, it’s about image bearing,” says Elias.  “By that I mean that yes, we’re human — and the Bible tells us that we’re made in the image of God and each and every human has an inherited dignity as a result. But there’s more to it than that…God made this universe around us and often refers to the cosmos as a temple. I mean if you stop and think about the role an ‘image’ or ‘statue’ might play in a temple, you begin to see that we humans have quite a role to play. Whatever our present circumstances, the biggest challenge before us is to recognize that in Christ we’ve been given the responsibility and capacity to become like Him, and as we do, we are becoming exactly the kind of humans we were meant to be from the beginning. 

                                                 

“People have always talked about ‘the square’ representing the physical, the tangible, and the circle representing the spirit, God,” continues Elias, making reference to the new album cover artwork. “How do you square the circle? How do you make these things connect?  Jesus was the perfect man and God.  Only in Jesus do we have the ability to say, ‘I’m a whole person, not a broken apart thing, whole but broken.’ On HEART, we try to unpack what it means to be fully human.”

 

At the core of the new album is the first radio single, “City on a Hill,” which is steeped in the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5.

 

“‘A City On A Hill’ takes the high concept view of Christ and brings it down to earth in the form of the very things he said in the Sermon on the Mount,” says Elias.  “It also forms a natural transition into the balance of the album which attempts to marry the ideals with our real lives.

 

“In Christ, God has given us the perfect example to live by, and the means to live that way,” adds Elias. “For the Christian, discipleship isn’t simply adding knowledge to our lives, but it’s to become increasingly more like the human example we’ve been given – to become ‘little Christs,’ and carry our cross through the mud and mire of a broken world in the knowledge that by the grace of God we arise brand new.”

 

In the past two years, life has hit The City Harmonic ‘square on.’ They went from working day jobs to recording and touring full time. Aaron had his first child, Josh was married, Elias had his fourth child and Eric was diagnosed with cancer. In a very real sense, life set the context for HEART.

 

One of the songs on the album, “Strong,” written by Elias and Eric, grew from a place of vulnerability in the middle of Eric’s battle with cancer. “I wasn’t really in a place to write anything,” Eric confesses. “Emotionally, I felt like a child who had been let down by his parents for the first time.  I just couldn’t see [my illness] as a blessing.  I couldn’t connect with God. To confront that stuff and write, ‘I am strong in my weakness,’ was really difficult because I couldn’t deny how I really felt…” 

 

Near the one-year anniversary of the stem cell transplant that saved his life, Eric’s cancer is in remission. “Being on the other side of it, my emotions now line up with what I believe. God really has been there the whole time, using this for the good. It’s a clear picture of God’s people coming together, working together… a profound experience.”

 

With Eric planning to rejoin the group on the road, having been sidelined since his cancer diagnosis early last year, The City Harmonic launches their headline tour with special guests Shawn McDonald and The Royal Royal in October.  Watch the recently relaunched site, www.thecityharmonic.com, for all the latest tour dates and more as the band is about “getting people in on the act—hearts pounding and feet moving.”  Listeners continue to resonate en masse, instinctively joining the chorus while the band’s music dynamically bounces from sparse intimacy to soaring celebration and back again.

 

Forming nearly three years ago, The City Harmonic went from anonymity to widespread acclaim, headlining tours across North America and gathering numerous awards along the way.  In addition to the Juno Award, the band has a Gospel Music Association (GMA) New Artist of the Year Dove Award nomination, four GMA Canada Covenant Awards and nearly 3,000,000 YouTube channel views. The band’s “Manifesto” has sold well over 100,000 copies, marking the only song from a new artist in 2011 to break into the top 10 of the SoundScan Top Current digital singles sales chart.

 

All the latest detail on the band and its touring can be found at:

 

The Funniest Thing My Aunt Has Ever Said

So last week, I was visiting my Aunt Laura who lives in Hebron, Kentucky.  She works at a museum in the greater Cincinnati area that is really,  really awesome and is known to draw famous people for private tours and such.  (Im not going to say where, because I dont know what the policy is about her talking about work stuff outside of work.)

While we were eating dinner at Chipotle last Tuesday night, my Aunt says to me “Hey, you know a lot about Christian music don’t you?”

Well, uh, kind oh.

“Why, what’s up?” I wondered.   Did she have some interesting tidbit of information?  The inside scoop on someone famous coming to the museum? 

“Have you ever heard of Skillet?” she said slowly,  meticulously,  almost like she couldn’t believe she was actually saying it out loud.

“Why sure!” I replied.   “I love Skillet!  They have a great new album out, and are going to be on Conan O’Brien this week!”

“Well, it’s coming to the museum soon and I was wondering…how can I tell which one is the Skillet?” my Aunt asked sheepishly.

I tried really hard not to laugh, but I couldnt help it.   “Skillet refers to the whole band, not one person,” I explained gingerly.

“Thank God,” retorted my Aunt.  “I thought that was a horrible name for a baby!”

Young Abolitionist Zach Hunter Leads With Honor in Chivalry

So technically this isn’t about music, but it is about a book, which is another one of my passions.  It also has me very intrigued because it sounds interesting.  Check out the info and see if it sounds interesting to you, too…I have a feeling I will be reading this in the near future!

FROM PRESS RELEASE:

“It can be tough for Christian young men and women to navigate our post-Christian landscape.
In order to successfully do so, they need to embrace a code of honor. Zach Hunter outlines that code in his excellent book Chivalry. It will equip readers to faithfully reflect the heart of Christ in their everyday lives.”
—Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family

Why are many young people today passionate about social justice, but unkind to people in their personal lives? Since self-centeredness is the cultural norm, it is vital to have a clear sense of how to treat others in our daily lives. A fresh take on the ancient code of chivalry can help determine what and who deserve our consideration, respect, and protection. Chivalry: The Quest for a Personal Code of Honor by 21 year-old human rights activist Zach Hunter, dares readers to view life as a quest, developing a personal code of conduct to defend others both abroad and at home, live with integrity, and do battle for good—and God.

“To the knights of old, another person’s behavior did not dictate the chivalry of their response. . . . Chivalry is a completely radical standard. But it’s what Jesus calls us to. The behavior of others is not our responsibility,” Zach writes.

Each chapter examines a different element of the knights’ code through a modern lens, putting the quest in a culturally-relevant context for men and women—not simply rules of courtship for men—to help both genders recognize broader relational issues. As Zach walks readers through the principles of modern-day chivalry, he shares biblical wisdom, insightful stories, and real-life examples to help readers develop their own creed and code—and live out a life of significance and honor.

Check out the book trailer, or watch Zach discuss Chivalry here.

Chivalry: The Quest for a Personal Code of Honor by Zach Hunter, is published by Tyndale Momentum, and is available in stores now.

Zach Hunter, currently a university student in Colorado, spends his free time speaking to hundreds of thousands of people about God’s heart for the hurting and oppressed, sharing his dream that his generation would discover God’s great love for them and be motivated to care for their neighbors around the world. Zach is the author of three books dealing with modern-day slavery, compassion, and activism. He appears regularly on TV and radio and contributes to magazine and newspaper articles. Zach has appeared at a White House event and was honored by CNN as a modern-day hero. He also served as the global student spokesperson for The Amazing Change, a social justice campaign launched by Bristol Bay Productions in conjunction with the major motion picture Amazing Grace. Pulitzer prize–winning author Nicholas Kristof has called Zach a “brilliant social entrepreneur” in his New York Times bestseller, Half the Sky.

Mixing it Up: Man of Steel Review

I recall with vivid clarity going to see the Avengers movie last summer with my husband Jon and our friend Barry Sturgill.  ‘Why?’, you may be thinking to yourself, ‘Was the Avengers movie that great?’

Well, it was good, but not good enough to warrant vivid clarity (at least not in my mind).  The part that really jumped off the screen for me was, in fact, one of the previews for a movie to be released on my birthday, June 14th, 2013:  the brand new Superman movie, Man of Steel.

As an unabashedly unashamed child of the 1980’s who grew up watching the original Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, I was beyond thrilled.  Of all the superhero franchises, Superman has always been my favorite.  When I was little and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say, “Lois Lane!” partly because I wanted to be a reporter and partly because of, well, Clark Kent.

Needless to say, when I found out I was going to get to see Steel first in 3-D  compliments of Wal-Mart for free last night at a pre-release showing of the movie, I was pretty ecstatic.

When I had originally learned that Henry Cavill was going to fill the cape previously worn by Christopher Reeve in the role of Superman, my first thoughts were, ‘This could actually work.’   The only reason I watched The Tudors on Showtime was because of Cavill’s work portraying Charles Brandon in a supporting role as one of the mentally unstable king’s advisors.

In Man of Steel, Director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) gives Superman fans a compelling look at the backstory of what initially brought Superman to the Kansas farm of his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent (portrayed by Kevin Costner and an almost unrecognizable Diane Lane).  Without giving too much away, Superman (or Kal El) is born in the midst of chaos on the planet Krypton—fearing for his safety, his father Jor-El (portrayed by Russell Crowe) and mother Lara (portrayed by Ayelet Zurer) send him to Earth to ensure not only his survival, but to make a way for a piece of Krypton to survive the coming planetary apocalypse.

Of course, this does not fit into resident bad guy General Zod’s plans and he vows early on to make it his life’s mission to find and destroy Kal El.

Meanwhile back on earth, outsider Kal El, now known as Clark, struggles with questions that we all face in life:  ‘Why Am I Here?’  As Clark’s path crosses with feisty Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (portrayed by Amy Adams) and nemesis General Zod, he begins to figure out the answer to this question in the midst of eye popping, heart racing action sequences as he races to save Earth.

Here’s a breakdown of what I liked about Man of Steel:  Henry Cavill is the perfect actor for this role.  The storyline was tight, with no major plot holes that I could see on a first viewing (and a lot of subtle humor and a few discreet tributes to the original movies, which I enjoyed).

Perhaps this might sum up what I liked the most about Man of Steel.  Justin Sheehan of New Haven sent me a Tweet last night asking if I thought Man of Steel was better than the Batman movie the Dark Night.

They are both really, really good movies, but really, really different.

The Dark Night is, as you might guess from its title, an exploration of the darker side of heroism, and humanity.  Of course, it is also notable for its legendary portrayal of the Joker by Heath Ledger.

Man of Steel, however, is more focused on exploring the inherent good in people, about delving into the hope that drives and sustains us.  In one of the key scenes in the movie, Lois Lane asks Superman what the S on his chest stands for, and he tells her it isn’t an S at all, but a symbol of hope on his planet, a symbol that every person will be a force for good.

Another key scene in the movie is when Superman goes into a church and the pastor is sweeping the floor.  He tells the pastor that he is the one General Zod and the alien invaders are looking for, but he doesn’t know if he should turn himself in.  He doesn’t trust General Zod, but he doesn’t know if he can trust humans either.  The pastor, after swallowing hard, tells Clark, “Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith first.  The trust part comes later.”

I really enjoyed Man of Steel more than the Dark Knight from this perspective because I think it’s precisely the kind of story the world needs more of, not less of.

Here’s what I didn’t like:  Concessions at the movie theater are ridiculously expensive.  For two buckets of popcorn and 2 medium drinks for 5 people last night at the theater, it cost almost $50.  $50!  If the tickets had not been free, that would have been $55 for tickets, plus another $50 for concessions…we’re talking over $100 for 5 people to go to the movies.  Craziness, I say, craziness.

At the end of the movie, the theatre was filled with applause (for the film I would assume, not the popcorn prices).  I was also filled with nostalgia for my childhood, when my little brother Brent would be beside me in his Superman underoos , red cape flying in the wind, while I was at the helm of my invisible jet in my Wonder Woman underoos, the two of us racing off to save the world from evil baby sisters everywhere.

Interesting New Kickstarter Fund…Storms in the Desert

I received an e-mail this afternoon about the following Kickstarter project that is looking for backers—I thought it looked rather interesting, and a bit different from the kind of music that I usually feature here on Spin: the Blog (but music I like nonetheless!)  Check it out below and see if it is something that might interest you, too!

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Storms in the Desert is a biblically-rooted music project by two Christian artists. Inspired by Jacob’s last words to his twelve sons, Storms in the Desert will bring together the power of the orchestra with a rich biblical passage to produce a high-quality recording. Gustav Hoyer, the creator of Storms in the Desert, says, “Many of Western Civilization’s most enduring works draw on its Judeo-Christian heritage. There is incredible drama in the words that the patriarch Jacob speaks to his sons on his deathbed.  This project will bring the majesty of the orchestra together with the power of Mr. Webb’s voice, bringing this iconic moment to life through music.”

Hoyer sees art and beauty as very important in the life of a Christian.  He says, “Thus, the works of the theologian, the philosopher, and the scientist, each devoted to a pursuit of Truth, become beautiful in their representation.  But the artist joins their company as an expositor of Truth through the creation of Beauty.  Art matters.  Artists matter.  The active pursuit and perception of Beautiful things is a mandate that stems from our shared heritage as bearers of God’s image.”

At the time of this posting, the project only has 26 more days to reach its funding goal, and it will not be possible without the support of people like you. If you are interested in supporting this biblically-inspired, exciting project, from a duo of award-winning, Christian artists, the Kickstarter link is below.

Will you join our efforts to create Biblically-inspired art? We need your support…we only have 25 days left. The Church has long history of lofty art in the tradition that spawned Augustine, Aquinas, Milton, Donne, Bach, Mendelssohn, Hugo, Tolstoy, etc… the Art of the church lives in our time too…please help us by spreading the word!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/972274617/storms-in-the-desert-the-sons-of-jacob

 

Skillet to Tour Europe with Nickelback this Fall

Yes, you read that correctly.

Skillet.  Nickelback.  One Tour.  One Continent.

My first thought was, how does something like that even happen?  

My second thought was Romans 8:28:  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Perhaps there are some things, like Skillet touring with Nickelback, that we will never understand this side of heaven.  Rest assured, we can trust that Romans 8:28 is true.

I will leave it at that, because this is supposed to be a positive and encouraging blog.  (Granted, I’m being tested today.  Really, really tested.)

If you would like more information about the tour, check it out here.

Also, if you are one of my many beloved European readers and happen to go check out this tour come fall, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.  Send me an e-mail at Beth@BethStauffer.com

 

Finding Favour Releases Video For New Single

I recently shared with y’all my review of Finding Favour’s self-titled debut project right here on Spin: the Blog.  You may recall reading about it because the project was SO GOOD my friend Jill, my niece Alyssa, and Jon all stole either expensive Apple products containing the tracks or the CD itself from me.  (In other news, since that posting I’ve been able to recover my iShuffle from Jill and my iTouch from Alyssa.  Jon, ahem, still waiting to get back that CD.)

One of my favorite songs on the EP was a track called ‘Shake the World’.’  While strolling thru the Twitterverse just now, I saw that Finding Favour had posted a video to their new single over on YouTube.  As fast as my WiFi speed could carry me, I sped over to YouTube to find out which song it would be, and was super happy to learn that the new single is ‘Shake the World!’

Mark my words, folks, this song is going to be BIG!

‘Shake the World’ has that perfect summer vibe to it, know what I mean?  A positive message and great music that makes you want to roll all the windows down on your car while you drive around town changing the world one smile and wave at a time.  (OK, so that might work for me here in Small Town, Indiana….in larger metropolitan areas, you might want to come up with a different approach!)

You can check out the video below, which, by the way, I love, and be sure to spread the word…Finding Favour is about to Shake the World!

 

PS–If you are in my neck of the woods in Northern Indiana, you can actually go SEE Finding Favour (most likely) perform this song LIVE next week at the WFRN Friend Fest at Amish Acres in Indiana!  They will be there on Saturday June 22nd, 2013 (don’t have a stage time yet, will keep you posted!)