Dear God

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. To the handful of people who have noticed, I apologize. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about life and observing culture through the perspective of my faith, I just haven’t been making time to share my observations. Let’s not pretend this is the rebirth of anewdoxology.com, but if new content starts finding it’s way to this URL more often I hope a few people will see it as a good thing.

Like anyone else, my musical preferences have been changing, evolving, even maturing throughout my life. The first CD I owned was Hi-Five, but back then I pretty much listened to whatever was on Casey’s Top 40. I also had a Shaq CD (as in Shaquille O’Neal, the now really old basketball player). I’m not one to talk about liking “good” music, at least not when I was younger. In high school I listened to a lot of hip hop (2Pac, Notorious B.I.G. and Outkast being some of my favorites). I played basketball into my first couple years of college, so the rap thing never quite left my system, but I also began listening to a lot more acoustic and folk rock in college.

I realize that many young people’s musical tastes are influenced by their college experience (parties, friends, whatever the people down the hall decided to play LOUD), but for me I think it also had a lot to do with the specific college I attended. The Dave Matthews Band had been to Luther College twice in four years before I arrived in the fall of 1999 (including a live album that was released during my senior year of high school). During my four years as a student at Luther we hosted concerts by Live, Guster, G. Love, Jurassic 5, Blues Traveler and a couple singer-songwriters who at the time I had hardly even heard of; named Ben Harper and Jack Johnson.

College is also the time in my life when I discovered Christian music (and it’s sibling genre “praise and worship” music). Being a person of faith who also likes a lot of mainstream music, I’ve always had a hard time finding music that connected with me on multiple, meaningful levels. During my early music-listening years I probably would have responded to questions about my favorite music by saying “I like what I like, because I like it.” Bring up the fact that a lot of the lyrics in rap music are vulgar, violent and speak poorly of females, I’d tell you “I don’t really listen to the words, I just like the beat.” Try telling me that the content of an acoustic or pop rock song is all air (fluffy and nice, but without any real substance) and I’d probably have said “but it makes me feel happy,” or “it’s good background music when I’m studying.” Ask me how I can listen to cheesy love songs about Jesus and I’d struggle to come up with a response but eventually say it’s “encouraging” even though it’s also corny and unrealistic. (Thankfully, music made my Christians has come a long way in the last ten years and we now have artists like David Crowder, Bethany Dillon, Shane & Shane and the Robbie Seay Band making music that speaks of God and faith while maintaining some sense of human reality and musical quality.)

The music I most enjoy today falls somewhere between genres or categories (by the way, “Christian music” is no more a genre than “80s music” is). I love music that’s difficult to describe, but can be felt (especially at concerts or through really good headphones). Really great music is a form of art, and when the lines between genre, style and even religion are blurred you can experience something that is truly real and beautiful. I love hearing Chris Tomlin and Phil Wickham sing specifically about God’s healing love and the hope they find in Jesus, but after a while I want to hear the vague words of Mat Kearney when he sings to a struggling young girl that “he hung in love just to draw you near” or even Kanye West when he honestly raps “I wanna talk to God but I’m afraid cause we ain’t spoke in so long.” (For an earlier example of this, listen to Jeff Buckley’s version of the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah.”)

Music doesn’t need to include the name Jesus, or any of the other Christianese words to express faith and a longing (or searching) for God. I still remember the first time I heard Matt Wertz sing about life, love and faith in a style that spoke to the core of my music-loving soul, and it wasn’t long after that I discovered his buddy Dave Barnes and felt a similar response. More recently, I’ve discovered Brooke Fraser, Needtobreathe and MuteMath. They all make good music that is honest about life but also recognizes the role of God and the influence of faith. You can add your own favorites to this list, but these are just a few examples. I suppose two obvious bands that haven’t been mentioned yet are U2 and Lifehouse, whose music is laced with God and faith, whose music has inspired worldwide organizations, been used in worship, and even a youtube famed dramatic skit and other/lesser-viewed projects.

There are many artists or bands whose music doesn’t include consistent theological themes or undertones, yet in select songs (or albums) it’s definitely present. Kanye’s “Jesus Walks” is an example of this, as is Coldplay’s Viva La Vida album (check it, yo!). But in the end, the reason I started writing any of this on a Thursday afternoon while sitting in my office is because I ran into a student on campus here at the seminary this morning and he asked if I was going to the Monsters of Folk concert in Minneapolis tomorrow. I mentioned that I hadn’t really listened to their album much, but that I’d check it out soon. “Soon” became reality when not even five minutes later I was back at my desk facing MOF’s myspace page, listening to the first track from their album, “Dear God (sincerely M.O.F.).” Wow! Talk about music in the grey area between sacred and secular, the church and the world, theology and life…this is it. Click play on the video below to listen to the song. I’ll post the lyrics below in case you want to follow along.

Dear God (sincerely M.O.F.)
by Monsters of Folk

Dear god, I’m trying hard to reach you
Dear god, I see your face in all I do
Sometimes it’s so hard to believe in
Good god I know you have your reasons

Dear god, I see you move the mountains
Dear god, I see you moving trees
Sometimes it’s nothing to believe in
Sometimes it’s everything I see

Well I’ve been thinking about,
And I’ve been breaking it down without an answer
I know I’m thinking aloud but if your love’s
Still around why do we suffer?
Why do we suffer?

Dear god, I wish that I could touch you
How strange sometimes I feel I almost do
And then I’m back behind the glass again
Oh god what keeps you out it keeps me in

Well I’ve been thinking about,
And I’ve been breaking it down without an answer
I know I’m thinking aloud but if your love’s
Still around why do we suffer?
Why do we suffer?

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iDilemma (life is…)

I love music. It doesn’t matter where I’m or what I’m doing, music will probably be playing in the background (or sometimes, in the “front-ground”). Naturally, or perhaps obviously, I have an iPod that I have with me pretty much at all times. I bought my iPod as a gift to myself with my tax refund in 2006 (because I worked really hard that year?). Because iPods aren’t cheap and I wanted to make sure to “get my money’s worth out,” I did what most people would do…I got a new stereo in my car so that I could hook up my iPod directly (forget those silly FM transmitters). Looking back, I don’t regret either purchase because, like I said, I love music, and I don’t see the point in spending a bunch of money on a magical little box that holds all my music if I can’t listen to all of it everywhere I go.

ipodwhite1I spent this past weekend at my grandma’s house with relatives celebrating what we called “Thankmas.” Since we were getting together for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, we ate turkey sandwiches and then opened presents (it was like a hybrid holiday). We decided not to draw names and buy gifts for specific people this year. Instead, everyone brought a wrapped gift that cost around ten dollars, and in place of the usual exchanging and opening of gifts, we played a game that included rolling dice and repeatedly stealing gifts from each other until some people had gifts they actually wanted, while others ended up with something that others didn’t want. It was actually pretty fun, at least for me it was.

You might be wondering why I’m telling you about the Thankmas gift festivities at my grandma’s house after discussing my love for music. Well, as it turns out, the two are actually connected. You see, the gift I took home this weekend was a $10 iTunes gift card. I was pretty excited about it. Even more exciting was how I “won” the gift (in an epic dice-rolling battle with my brother-in-law). He wasn’t as excited. He got a fleece blanket.

Life is not always fair.

If you’ve ever received an iTunes gift card, I probably don’t even have to tell you about the stress that come with them. But in case you are not experienced in the realities of iTunes gift cards, here’s a quick rundown of what happens shortly after a person scratches off the label and enters the hidden alphanumerical code online to redeem the predetermined value for purchasing digital music. First, the giftee does the math to figure out how many albums and/or songs can be downloaded with the amount gifted to them. Then, they begin searching for and sampling music in an attempt to determine how they might best use the entire amount of the gift card (minus a penny for every song or album purchased). After spending an appropriate amount of time “researching” their options, decisions must be made. Depending on the amount of the gift card, these downloading-related decisions can range anywhere from “EASY: just click ‘Buy Song'” to “DIFFICULT: the implications of this decision feel like more than I can handle right now.”

itunesgc1

Inevitably, when it comes down to the last $10 on an iTunes gift card — regardless of how much you started with — you will be deciding between two albums. And so, with only enough to buy one, a seemingly impossible decision must be made. If you’ve ever found yourself in this predicament (and I’m guessing you have)…I know what it’s like. I feel for you.

Life is not easy.

I found myself in this very situation last night. Sitting at my computer, trying to decide between two albums (“Simple Times” by Joshua Radin and “The Sparrow and the Crow” by William Fitzsimmons). Now, as a music lover, I face tough decisions all the time. If it’s not deciding which music to buy, it’s deciding which music to listen to. For instance, just last week two new albums came out, each by one of my favorite groups/artists. I bought both, but the dilemma created by having two new albums, each of which I wanted to listen to, led to my facebook status reading “Andy will be facing a difficult question all day; which new album to listen to…kanye or coldplay?” all day long on Tuesday. I ended up listening to both on an alternating rotation, and by midnight I had listened to both of them five times.

808sheartbreakprospektsmarch

Life is full of choices, and sometimes it requires compromise.

Last night’s iTunes dilemma brought back memories of this past summer, when I was faced with an equally difficult decision over how to use a $20 iTunes card I received as a seminary graduation gift. At the time, Death Cab for Cutie’s “Narrow Stairs” album had just came out, and my roommate and I both wanted it. But it was also shortly after I had been introduced to the music of William Fitzsimmons, after hearing him open for Brooke Fraser at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis (I wrote about this back in June). In a decision that I’m still not sure I’m happy with, I downloaded both William Fitzsimmons albums that were out at the time, much to the disappointment of my roommate who was lobbying for Death Cab. As I wrote in my post after the concert last summer, Fitzsimmons “quickly become of my most listened to artists,” but I eventually became dissatisfied with both albums (because there was just something missing), and as a result, I grew to be somewhat resentful about how I had used the gift card.

All that to say, when the decision of how to use this gift card came down to Joshua Radin (whose first album I absolutely love) and Billy Fitz, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the disappointment again, and the 30 second samples weren’t enough to sway me in either direction. I had wanted Radin’s latest album for a while, but I had just learned that Fitzsimmons had released his first album since signing a record deal and I was hopeful that this album might have whatever was missing on the others. On a whim, I clicked the “Buy Album” button next to picture of the goofy-looking guy with a bushy beard, and I’ve been happy ever since.

williamfitzsimmons

I still plan to get Joshua Radin’s album because I know it’s another one that I’ll listen to multiple times per day (at least in the beginning), but for now I’m really happy with my decision. I might change my mind in time, but after listening to Fitzsimmons’ new album at least five times yesterday alone, it is one of the most solid albums, from the first song to the last song, that I’ve heard in a while (including the new Coldplay EP and definitely more than Kanye’s new album). If you’d like to share in the celebration of my good decision, give a listen to one of the hauntingly beautiful songs from “The Sparrow and the Crow” (below). The song is titled “After Afterall,” and it’s a reworked version of a song titled simply “Afterall” from one of his independent albums (“Goodnight”).

William Fitzsimmons – “After Afterall”

Life is tough, but it gets better with a great soundtrack.

OLD school hip-hop

When I started a website exploring the intersections between faith and pop-culture I did not have this in mind, yet while visiting the COLLIDE Magazine blog this morning I found this video and just knew it had to be shared. I mean, isn’t a church choir singing rap songs pretty much the epicenter of the intersection between faith and pop-culture?

I don’t want to ruin any of the surprising humor of the video, but if you’d like to know titles and artists of the choir’s selections, read the rest of this entry.

Continue reading

broken…revisited

I went out for dinner with a friend tonight, and as we were enjoying our burritos and some good conversation, a familiar song came on the radio. Hearing the song led me to think about a seminary class I took last year, since it was for an assignment in the class that I listened to this song at least 100 times in the span of only a few days. You see, we were asked to make a video for the class and in my video I had decided to use a song from a  CD I had recently bought. The album was by Lifehouse, and the song was “Broken” (the same song that was playing when I was eating at Qdoba tonight). I became completely consumed with the creation of the video, and I shared all it’s versions here back in February. Looking back through anewdoxology’s now nearly one year existence, the only post(s) that brought more visitors to this site were my confused thoughts during the food crisis/riots in Haiti back in April (found here and here). The video went on to be used in worship at a few churches during Lent, and was also featured on a popular Christian men’s website. All of which surprised me, since it started as an assignment for one of my classes.

Here is the video (watch it again if you’ve already seen it):

As it turns out, “Broken” is the current single from Lifehouse’s latest album (Who We Are), and the song has been receiving quite a bit of airplay on radio and TV lately (reaching #8 on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart). I obviously realize my video had nothing to do with the song’s success, but regardless of how high it makes it on the charts, it has a very significant meaning to me. The song reminds me that even though I am broken, God enters into my life (and especially my suffering), and offers me hope and restoration…and based on the comments people have left on this site and youtube in response to the video  – along with the emails I received from people who were impacted by the video’s images and message – I like to think there are some people in the world who are reminded that God is with them, helping them through their brokenness and offering them hope and healing, whenever they hear the song on the radio. And to me at least, that’s a beautiful thought.

If you know someone going through a time of brokenness, please forward them this video, because as one of the quotes in the video says so well, “Real caring is the willingness to help each other in making our brokenness into the gateway to joy” (Henri Nouwen).

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It should also be noted that Lifehouse is considered by many to be a pseudo-“Christian band” … whatever that means.

call+response

“Never forget justice is what love looks like in public.”

These powerful words are proclaimed by Cornel West in a new documentary titled Call+Response, a film highlighting the virtually unknown reality that there are more slaves today than at any other time in human history. (By the film creators estimate there are currently 27 million human slaves throughout the world).

Considered to be “the first feature rockumentary,” Call+Response features some of today’s most prominent political and cultural figures (including Cornel West, Madeleine Albright, Ashley Judd and Nicholas Kristof) along with performances by Grammy-winning and critically acclaimed music artists (including Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Cold War Kids, Matisyahu, Imogen Heap, Talib Kweli, Switchfoot and Five For Fighting).

The goal of those involved in the film is simple: abolish slavery in our lifetime.

Is their goal possible? I’m not sure. I think it will only happen if “their” goal becomes “your/our” goal, but the mix of intellect and influence that all these celebs offer to the project – along with their sincere concern about such an unthinkable issue – gives me hope that enough people will not only receive a “Call” to watch this film, but also feel called to be part of the “Response” to do something.

I want to believe that Cornel West’s words will become true in reality and not just spoken in truth…that a movement of justice as a public expression of love will sweep across the world, defeating all forms of hatred and injustice and transforming people’s hearts in the process.

Is this realistic hope or just wishful thinking?

Does it really matter?

What do we have to lose in trying? Is it possible to fail if we never give up?

What does the Lord require of you?
To act justly
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with God.  (Micah 6:8)

Call+Response is opening in select cities on October 10th. For my friends in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area*, it will be playing at the AMC Arbor Lakes Theater (Maple Grove) from October 17-19 and the Landmark Lagoon (Uptown) from October 20-23.

To learn more about the film, including a list of cities where it will be in theaters, visit callandresponse.com.

Here’s the trailer:

* If anyone would like to get a group together to watch the film, feel free to use the comments section below to make that happen.

Viva La Vida | a theological review of Coldplay’s new album

Note (7/22): This is the second draft of an article I posted last week. Many thanks to my editor Heather for all her help.

Growing up in the church I developed a strong faith, but I also grew up watching MTV and caring a lot about popular culture. Today, as a mid/late 20-something, I still have a fascination with popular culture (music, movies, sports, even celebrity gossip), but I also feel a desire to understand and share my faith. Bringing these interests together, I graduated from seminary this past spring with a master’s degree in Theology & Pop-Culture (a degree that didn’t exist until I created it). As a “pop-culture theologian,” I see the world through a unique perspective – seeking to interpret what is happening in today’s culture and translate it in a way that reflects God’s activity in our world. It is through this perspective that I would like to guide you on a search for the sacred in the (perceived) secular, by reviewing Coldplay’s new album theologically.

I became a Coldplay fan while on a trip to New Zealand in January, 2001. It was my junior year of college, and one of the guys I was traveling with wanted to listen to an album called Parachutes (their first album) on our group’s bus. We listened to it over and over while exploring NZ’s south island and it provided an incredible soundtrack to an amazing trip. I loved the music because it was both depressing and hopeful at the same time, much like the tension of real life. I downloaded Parachutes when I got back to campus, and seven years later I’m still listening to Coldplay’s music and they’ve become one of my favorite bands.

Along with millions of other Coldplay fans around the world, I spent the past year awaiting the release of what coldplay.com promised would be “the album people will remember them by.” That is certainly a bold statement to make about an album that was already highly-anticipated; especially since their last album, 2005’s X&Y, received some rather harsh reviews, but since Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends came out last month I have been listening to it on repeat. Although it took me a few weeks to move beyond simply listening to the melodies and feelings of the album, I have now begun hearing the songs on a much deeper level (i.e., the lyrics and meaning of the music) and to my excited surprise, I have come to realize that much the album focuses on issues of faith and theology.

An unexamined album is not worth listening to.

Nearly every song on Viva La Vida contains theological undertones and themes. Taking a quick tour through the track list (although not necessarily in the order they appear on the album), ‘Yes’ seems to be about personal faith and possibly even decision theology; ‘Cemeteries of London,’ ‘Death and All His Friends’ and ‘Violet Hill’ address death and the inevitability of dying; ‘Lost!’ explores the search for meaning and identity; and ‘Viva La Vida,’ ‘42′ and ‘The Escapist’ (the “hidden” song at the end of the album) focus on heaven/hell and the thought or hope of life after death.

While songs like ‘Reign of Love’ lead listeners to more theological questions than answers, I happen to believe that it is in the questions and the search for understanding that faith finds its home. The Greek philosopher Socrates once said “an unexamined life is not worth living,” and many theologians have borrowed from his quote to say “an unexamined faith is not worth believing.” I agree with both statements, and as a theologically-minded music fan, I would like to add another Socratic saying into the mix, “an unexamined album is not worth listening to.” Coldplay’s new album might not be a contemporary expression of Socratic philosophy or theology, but it’s definitely more than just another rock album.

Long live life!

“Viva La Vida” is a Spanish expression, and depending on who you talk to it means “long live life” or “live the life.” (“Viva La Vida” is also the name of a painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, which is where Coldplay got the name of the song/album, although that’s not the art that serves as the album’s cover.)

All four members of Coldplay (Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion) wrote the lyrics and music of Viva La Vida together – at least they all share the credit in the album’s liner notes – and listening to this album as a whole you get the sense that they are all very interested, if not obsessed with thoughts of death and dying, as well as heaven and hell. Viva La Vida is a deeply theological album, and there are moments when Martin, the voice of Coldplay’s music, sounds more like a prophet or priest than a rock star or pop-culture icon.

At times, Viva La Vida hints indirectly at themes that seem somewhat theological – for instance, ‘Strawberry Swing’ is a happy song that creates the mood and images of what a “perfect day” in heaven might be like (either that or it’s about a marching band of Oompa Loompas) – but I would like to focus the rest of this article on a few songs that dive directly into theological waters.

In the album’s co-title track ‘Viva La Vida’ (the song featured in the colorful iTunes commercial), Martin sings “For some reason I can’t explain, I know Saint Peter will call my name.” To be completely honest, the first couple of dozen times I listened to this song I thought Martin was singing “I know Saint Peter WON’T call my name,” as if he thought Peter wasn’t going to be let him through the pearly gates. Even listening to the song really closely several times through didn’t help me determine if Peter “will” or “won’t” call his name. I think Martin’s British accent made it difficult for my American ears to decipher what he was saying, but I was also interpreting and making assumptions based on other songs on the album (see my thoughts on the song ‘42′ below). It wasn’t until I looked up the lyrics online (and checked at least four different websites to make sure they were correct) that I realized Martin was indeed singing, with what sounds like a sense of confused confidence, that he thinks Saint Peter WILL call his name and let him into heaven. This was quite a relief to me, since it hadn’t felt right driving around singing along with a song that was about not making it into heaven.

It’s a cool song musically; I just have no idea what it’s about.

The fourth track on the album is ‘42.’ The musical structure of ‘42′ will be familiar to Coldplay fans, as it starts out slow and peaceful – even somewhat boring (reminiscent of ‘Fix You’) – only to build and transform into an almost entirely different/driving rock song by the 1 minute and 30 second mark. In the second half of the song, after an extended instrumental interlude, the somewhat bizarre lyrics “You thought you might be a ghost” and “You didn’t get to heaven but you made it close” are repeated several times until the song ends with the same disturbing words it started with, “Those who are dead, are not dead, they’re just living in my head.”

I wish I knew who Martin was singing to in ‘42,’ or how he knows that the recipient of the song’s message didn’t get into heaven. As for what it means to “almost” make it to heaven? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s a variation of the Catholic understanding of some sort of in-between place – not heaven, not hell (“purgatory”) – almost like a heavenly waiting room, where people hang out until learn whether or not they will get into heaven. It certainly seems to be based on an understanding of eternal life/salvation that requires good works. In some ways, it reminds me of NFL players, coaches and fans anxiously waiting to see if the call on the field will stand or be overturned after the referee reviews the play in question; since it’s all about performance and based on what happened (who did what, when and why). I personally have issues with understandings of faith that require anything, especially as it relates to salvation, but I will save those words for a different time and place.

Although there are only 10 tracks on Viva La Vida, three of them are two-for-ones (tracks that include two separate songs). Only one track is officially/appropriately labeled as a twofer (‘Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love’), but you can find titles for the other bonus songs online. (The song after ‘Yes’ is ‘Chinese Sleep Chant’ and the song after ‘Death and All His Friends’ is ‘The Escapist’.)

Although ‘Lovers in Japan’ is a nice tune that seems to be a fairly typical romantic love song, it’s the second song of the track (‘Reign of Love’) that is of more interest, for theological reasons. I can’t tell if the “reign of love” that Martin is singing about is of human or divine origins. There are a few spots in particular that confuse me. First, the word “locusts” is used in both the second and third stanzas. The word “locust” is not a very commonly used word these days – people usually just go with “grasshopper” – so when it shows up twice in a fairly short song, I notice. People familiar with the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures may recognize locusts as one of the Ten Plagues of Egypt that God inflicted on the Egyptians to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelite people out of slavery (see Exodus 7-12, locusts were plague #8). The last two stanzas of the song (the post-locust verses) require some theological analysis. I’ll let you read the lyrics for yourself, but then I have some questions for you to think about in response.

Reign of love
By the church, we’re standing (1)
Reign of love
My knees go praying (2)

How I wish
We’d spoken up (3)
Or we’d be carried
In the reign of love (4)

(1) Do you think “reign of love” is another way of talking about God, or God’s sovereign love?

(2) Who is praying and what are they praying about? Since Martin is the one singing, is he praying? If so, what do you think he is praying about? Who is he praying to?

(3) What do he wish they’d spoken up about? Was it perhaps an injustice that displayed a lack of love?

(4) Are they being carried in the “reign of love,” or not? Is the “reign of love” a call for universal love, a worldwide “reign” of love ruling over all? or is it something more specific to faith/religion?

Aside from the few songs that were analyzed theologically above, there is a lot more material on Viva La Vida that could be included in theological conversation(s). I will leave most of that for others to do, but here are a few obvious “God spots” that deserve some attention.

From ‘Cemeteries of London’

  • “Through the dark streets they go searching to see God in their own way.”
  • “God is in the houses and God is in my head…I see God come in my garden but I don’t know what he said, for my heart it wasn’t open.”

From ‘Yes’

  • “Then we were dying of frustration, saying, ‘lord ‘lead me not into temptation.'”
  • “God only, god knows I’m trying my best. But I’m just so tired of this loneliness.”

From ‘Violet Hill’

  • “Priests clutched onto bibles, hollowed out to fit their rifles. And the cross was held aloft.”

From ‘The Escapist’

  • “And in the end, we lie awake. And we dream we’ll make an escape.”

Coldplay’s tour in support of the new album began in July, and as part of the tour, they are offering a free song for download to people who purchased tickets to a show. The song is titled ‘Death Will Never Conquer’ and it sounds a bit like a hymn. It includes the hopeful line “I hope sweet heaven is a place for me,” which seems to express a Christian understanding of eternal life and the hope of spending eternity with God. What do you think?

Is Viva La Vida the album people will remember Coldplay by?

Only time will tell how or if Coldplay will be remembered 30 years from now, and Viva La Vida certainly hasn’t been out long enough to determine whether it will be the album that defines their music (like Radiohead’s Ok Computer); but for now one thing is certain…it is a very good, if not a great album, and it says a lot about their beliefs in God, life, death and whatever comes next.

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In case this wasn’t enough Coldplay for you, here are a few extras:

Rolling Stone recently featured an interview with Chris Martin titled “The Jesus of Uncool” in which Martin opens up about a whole slew of issues related to life, music and even his experiences growing up in the church (a portion of the article can be read on RollingStone.com).

Dan Kimball (pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, CA and author/speaker in the emerging church) wrote an interesting response to the Rolling Stone article on his blog a few weeks ago (it includes a few quotes from the interview that aren’t included online).

Chris Martin was interviewed by coldplay.com just before beginning their current tour and he talked a lot about what’s involved in taking their show on the road, how much control they have in making decisions about the production of their concerts and what you can expect to see if you see Coldplay live.