H&S: T. David Gordon

A very special H&S has now come and gone. T. David Gordon was his typical incisive self, and gave a very thought-provoking overview of his book Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal. A little different format than usual, the main course kind of blended straight into the Q&A, so I left it as just a single .mp3:

  • Download (15mb) (previously corrupt, it should be better now, please drop a comment below if you have problems)

If you want to read some more, there’s a ton of great material on Dr. Gordon’s website, especially the articles on the Media Ecology and Theology tabs (note in particular the articles about Worship). Also, if you want to hear more on Gordon’s views on worship, I highly recommend this four-lecture series: Reformed Worship in the Electronic Age (and of course, you can’t go wrong with either of his popular books, Why Johnny Can’t Preach, and the sequel Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns!)

And some more audio from Dr. Gordon’s same trip. Thursday he lectured at WSCAL, Friday he lectured at the Cambridge School Parent Academy, Saturday he was with us, and Sunday he preached at Christ URC, Santee.

Here is my introduction:

If you were diagnosed with cancer, and a 25% chance of survival, what would you want to say to the world? Tonight’s speaker, T. David Gordon, was faced with just that question, and the result was the remarkable little book Why Johnny Can’t Preach: How the Media have Shaped the Messengers. With clarity and urgency, Gordon diagnoses the cancer that has reduced the landscape of contemporary homiletics to a wasteland, and even offers an effective cure, which if I can oversimplify, boils down to three elements: learn to read (to deeply engage texts of all kinds: sacred and secular), learn to write (to retrain the mind into the habit of composition), and preach Christ (resolve, like Paul, to know nothing but Christ and him crucified). Every preacher should read this book. Moreover, every Christian should read this book, to learn what preaching should be, and to encourage and pray for their pastors to attain to it. (Incidentally, you can’t imagine the pressure I am under, trying to compose a text to introduce a man who wrote a book lamenting the scarcity of the craft of composing text)

(Anyways), thanks to God’s smiling providence, Dr. Gordon survived, to turn his critical attention to the state of worship music in the church today, in the book about which he will speak tonight, Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal.

At this point, I could bore you with a litany of Dr. Gordon’s scholarly achievements, publications, and positions; but such biographical data is readily available online, and I would much rather allow more time for Dr. Gordon to speak, than waste anymore myself. So please join me in welcoming Dr. T. David Gordon.

June Recital

Here are 2 pieces played by #2: Promenade, Spanish Caballero.

Here is 1 piece played by #1: Bach C Minor Prelude BWV 999.

#1 on top plus #2 on the bottom = an adorable 4-handed duet!

Paul McCartney, Watch Your Back!

I present, for your enjoyment, a brand new song composed by #3. Not only are the music and the lyrics original, so is the spelling!

This is what it sounds like, and this is what it looks like:

Hoagies & Stogies: Exclusive Psalmody

Well, another Hoagies & Stogies has come and gone. The unanimous verdict of those 29 hardy men (is that what Hardy Boys grow up to be?) who braved the cold and risk of rain was, “that was a lot better than I expected!” So kudos to our two debaters (Pr. Mark England of SDRPC, and Jonathan Goundry, Gene Cook’s right-hand-man at Great Oak Church and The Narrow Mind) for their excellent preparation and presentation.

Some highlights:

Continue reading

Hoagies & Stogies: Exclusive Psalmody MP3

You can listen directly from The Narrow Mind Aftermath blog, or you can download from (or subscribe to!) the Unchained Radio RSS feed.  Or you can read a little about it, and discuss, here.

Good Things

Without belaboring my obvious recent absence from the blogosphere, I’ll just provide a number of links that you might find interesting:

RiffTrax: Don’t you miss MST3K? Years ago, Forester had the idea to make his own MST3K-type spoofs, but the original MST3K guys ended up beating him to the punch. Now, for only $5.98, I’ll be able to watch the Star Wars Episode I and II DVDs that came packaged with Revenge of the Sith!

MythTV: One reason I’ve never plumped for a TiVo or other type of DVR is that I would rather buy a device, than buy a device AND pay a subscription fee. Turns out you can take any old Intel box, add a special card for converting cable signals into digital video, install Linux, and (voila!) MythTV turns your computer into an open-source DVR. Program information is free over the web (for instance, from zap2it), and the bigger the hard-drive, the more it can store (about 1 GB/hour of non-HD television).

Finale Notepad: As a musician, I’ve occasionally had the need to jot something simple down. For instance, when I got married, one of the hymns that I wanted as part of the service was not in the hymnal of the church we were using. I managed to enter and print the hymn as a leaflet inserted in the bulletin, using a 30-day evaluation copy of some software or other, but I wish there had been (or I had known about?) Finale’s Notepad back then! As the name implies, Notepad is a lightweight, free music composition software. I say lightweight because it is a limited version of Finale’s full software, but the limitations are surprisingly unrestrictive. You can have up to 8 staves, you can enter lyrics, you can have all manner of special notations (tuplets, slurs and ties, fermatas, repeats,…), you can perform transposition, there is MIDI playback, you can save and print — I really think Finale has gone overboard in their free offering, such that I might never have a need to pay for anything better!

On a more serious (and less geeky) note,

The PCA: Following the OPC (my church‘s previous denomination), my denomination has produced a report about Frank Valenti. The PCA report is smaller than the OPC’s report, probably because it narrowed its focus on standards rather than scripture. The report has not yet been adopted by GA, but it concludes quite clearly that all of the following hallmarks of FV are contrary to the Westminster Standards: monocovenantalism, temporary “covenantal” election, denial of ICAO, denial of merit, imputation subsumed in union, baptismal regeneration, saving graces without perseverance, and final justification partly based on works.

Good Grief: My sister recently wrote a very personal, very touching post about our sister that we both lost. If you have ever lost anyone, I think her post will be edifying for you.

You Might Be an Arminian If…

Here’s one we can all enjoy. My Arminian buddy Albino Hayford can listen and be inspired and affirmed. The rest of us can enjoy it as satire. Continue reading


An article from USA Today, via Albino Hayford:

The U2 Eucharist is not some kind of youth service held in the church basement but is a traditional Episcopal liturgy that uses U2’s best-selling songs as hymns. …

Much of U2’s songbook is explicitly Christian and perfectly suitable for a worship service, even if some people might need time to get used to the idea, Blair says.

Needless to say, I disapprove. I have tagged this post under Music and Religion, and I’m this far from checking the box for my Heresy tag. As for my Hymns tag, that’s right out!

This newsflash desperately cries out for comment from this Stranger, who is not only an intentional Episcopalian, but also U2’s (and Bono’s) biggest fan (as well as appreciating traditional hymnody).

Piano Notes

A couple of interesting observations from just a few days’ worth of #1’s piano practice. Wow, that really does sound interesting…


So last night was #1’s first piano lesson. He had a great time (they went for a full hour instead of just 45 minutes), and was excited about practicing that same night. We’ll see how it pans out for 20 min twice a day, including at least one weekend day.

The bad news is …How could this be bad?