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.

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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).


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


There’s a new form of visual art called HDR time-lapse that I recently discovered and I think it’s one of the most incredibly beautiful expressions of creativity that I’ve seen in a long time. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and although it appears to be just really stinkin’ clear video footage (as in High Definition), look a bit closer and you’ll realize it’s even more brilliant than HD (I bet you didn’t think that was possible, I know I didn’t). Here’s an example: (For the best experience, I suggest watching in full-screen and make sure your sound is on).

Believe it or not, HDR time-lapse is a type of photography, with some editing of course, and pieces like the one above are actually chronological collections of individual photographs. This video of the sunrise in San Francisco was created by a man named Chad Richard, and although his video is only 41 seconds long, it is the result of photos he took over the course of 2.5 hours at a rate of about 7 pictures per second…each at slightly different light levels/settings, and then rendered to produce a composite of all 7, which means there is one super clear image from approximately each second. When put together, the result is an amazingly clear video that looks almost as beautiful as if you had woke up early in the morning to watch the sunrise from the top of the hill with Chad and his dog.

Although it’s not exactly an HDR time-lapse (the pictures were not taken as rapidly, nor were they rendered together), here’s another really creative example of individual photographs edited together to create something that looks as if it’s a video. This one is described as the “collision of three convergent paths through a city.”

I really like how the three paths become two and eventually join to become one. There are a lot of methaphors to be drawn out from this and connections to be made with life, faith, relationships and community, but I’ll leave those interpretations for others to make. Feel free to share if you’d like…

kiwis, fitzsimmons and albertine

I had the chance to see Brooke Fraser in concert a few nights ago. Brooke is a kiwi (a New Zealander) who I just started listening to about a year ago. She doesn’t tour a whole lot in the US, so I have been excited ever since I saw that she was coming to Minneapolis to play at one of my favorite venues, the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown. It was a great night of music, including a short set by my friend Elizabeth Hunnicutt followed by an incredible new and still unsigned artist named William Fitzsimmons, who nearly stole the show. I just couldn’t get enough of his music, and in the days since the show I have bought both of his albums on iTunes and he has quickly become one of my most listened to artists. If you like really chill/acoustic music you should definitely check out his myspace to give him a listen (his style is similar to, but not exactly like, Joshua Radin and Iron & Wine).

When Brooke first came on stage I was a bit surprised by her quirky personality – her NZ accent kept reminding me of Flight of the Conchords, a comedy/music duo also from New Zealand – but she also showed a very kind and serious side (which is what I expected, given that she is closely connected with Hillsong Church in Australia, where she has written and recorded some of today’s most well-known modern worship songs, like “Hosanna” and “Lead Me to the Cross”).

Before closing the night by playing her “favorite song,” Brooke told the incredible story of an experience she had a few years ago in Rwanda that inspired  the title track of her new album, “Albertine” (the song she was about to play), which is named after a young woman she met there. I had seen the video for this song on youtube and thought I understood a bit of the story behind it, but hearing the story from Brooke took it to a completely new level. Later that night, after getting home from the show, I was reading through the liner notes of Brooke’s CD (I bought it at the show) while listening to the album on my headphones and I ran across the story of Albertine again, this time as it had been written by Brooke. Albertine’s story is one that Brooke felt needed to be shared through her music, and I feel it needs to be shared here as well.

Here is the video for the song (much of which appears to have been filmed in Rwanda) and below that is Albertine’s story (in Brooke’s word, as found inside her album).

Albertine by Brooke Fraser

In 1994, the tiny Central-East African nation of Rwanda was devastated by genocide. Almost one million Rwandans were killed at the hands of their neighbors, friends and community leaders within the short space of 100 days…the catastrophic outcome of decades of tension and fighting between two ethnic groups – the Hutus and the Tutsis – a conflict that did not exist before Belgian colonists moved in during the first part of the 20th century and introduced an alien politician divide.

My first visit to Rwanda occurred in June 2005, eleven years on from the atrocities. I visited local authorities, churches, schools, official memorials and living ones: child-headed households and communities living with AIDS, facing life without adequate medical care or basics like clean water. I met a people who are humble, joyous, diligent and in deep pain.

One day before I was to fly out and onto Tanzania, my friend and guide Joel Nsengiyumva took me to a village school in a district called Kabuga. He wanted me to see that Rwanda had hope – and no better way to see it than in the next generation. The kids and I exchanged songs and dances, and as things wrapped up and we were about to leave, Joel asked if we could take a few minutes and meet with an orphan whose personal history he was familiar with.

Throughout the trip Joel had introduced me to people as a musician from the other side of the world who was going to go back to my people, tell them about the people of Rwanda and help. No pressure. That afternoon we walked across the schoolyard into an empty classroom, joined by a tall, beautiful girl wearing the school’s cobalt and navy garb, where Joel’s introduction was about to become a kind of commission.

Just before he shared her story with me, that of one person laying down their life for another, he uttered these words:

“You must go back to your people and you must write a song,
and I will tell you what the name of the song is going to be.”

He motioned toward the girl.

“This is Albertine.”

Albertine is alive today because of the selfless, sacrificial love of another. Funny thing is, so am I. And now I want to know what it’s like to love other people like that, so have decided to spend my whole life on the experiment.

Feel free to join me. We might just change the world.

Join, Tell, Give…Thanks Mom 2008

This is a bit different than what I usually post, but I got an email from a woman at my church last night about a program her daughter has been involved with and it’s something I think you should all know about, and consider responding to, because taking just a few minutes out of your day could save someone’s life. Read on for more info…

Thanks Mom 2008
The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) helps patients in need of marrow transplants find a matched donor. May 5th marked the start of “Thanks Mom,” a national effort by NMDP to bring people to the national marrow Registry during the two weeks surrounding Mother’s Day (May 5-19). They need 46,000 people to join the Registry in the next two weeks.

How to join the Registry
Joining the Registry is incredibly easy – you can register online at www.marrow.org (click on the “Grow the Donor Garden” link near the top) and provide some basic health information, or there is a list of locations in your area if you’d rather register in person. (I just registered online and it only took me 6 minutes.) After registering, NMDP will send you a kit with directions explaining how to swab the inside of your cheek a couple times, and then you just send it back to them in the provided, postage-paid envelope.

Seriously, who doesn’t have time to do that? And during the next two weeks, the cost has been covered by generous sponsors, so now is the time to join the Registry!

What happens after I join?
If you are ever identified as a potential donor, NMDP will call you. Donating marrow can be as simple as donating blood or plasma. In case you’ve never done either, that’s okay. Here’s a video that shows just how easy it is.

“Thanks Mom” will help patients across the country who need a marrow transplant to live. Many don’t yet have a possible donor on the Registry, and many will die while waiting. Every day, 6,000 patients across America – that’s 6 THOUSAND people EVERY DAY – are searching the Registry for a match. Imagine if one of these people was your mom, dad, brother, sister, husband, wife, child, friend….or you.

Visit www.marrow.org to register today…or, if you really don’t have six minutes to do it right now, please make sure you register before May 19th.

Pass this on to friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, or anyone else you can think might register. Every bit of awareness about how easy it is to help save lives will make a difference. You can even become a fan of NMDP’s “Donor Garden” on Facebook.

Still not sure?
Watch this video to meet Matt & Alexandra, a brother and sister who are alive today because someone like you took the time to register with NMDP and donate when they were called.


If you know me you are most likely aware of my involvement in Haiti through a non-profit organization some friends and I started a few years ago called the Haiti Mission Project. The HMP represents a huge piece of my heart, and the opportunities I’ve had to work alongside my friends in Haiti — both my American friends and my Haitian friends — is probably the closest experience I’ve had to the mission and kingdom of God here on earth.

It’s because of my personal involvement with HMP that I want to request your prayers for the current situation in Haiti, where people have been rioting the past few days in the capital city of Port-au-Prince in response to rising food costs. Violence of many forms is not a new thing in Haiti (it is the only nation with UN peacekeepers permanently in place although they are not at war), but the current situation is of particular interest and concern to me and my friends because we are planning to go to Haiti this Saturday to spend a week in Port-au-Prince visiting and working in orphanages, hospitals and churches as well as hanging out with our Haitian friends who we’ve gotten to know over the years.

Among our good friends in Haiti is a young boy named Jean who I have sponsored through Compassion International for the past four years, and who I will (hopefully) get to see again next week. It’s been an incredible experience to meet and spend time with the child who I have been exchanging letters with, sending money to and praying for since we were randomly paired together four years ago. In the beginning he was just a kid from a country I didn’t know anything about who was in a picture on my fridge, but now I have pictures and memories with him and the country he lives in is in my daily thoughts and prayers.

Here’s a powerful video from our trip to Haiti in 2006 that was made by a talented guy in our group; it includes images of Haiti (the country and its people), a glimpse of some of the typical work we’ve done there (building an orphanage in this case) and footage of the first time I met Jean (you may recognize him from a few of the pictures in the “Witness” video).

Many people don’t know much about Haiti except that it’s often listed as the “poorest country in the Western hemisphere” (which is true), but it’s actually an island nation with a long history of slavery, corruption, violence and injustice. Yet, through our partnership with several individuals and organizations (including a Lutheran church) in Port-au-Prince, we have been able to help fuel the hope that many Haitians have for their nation and its people, a hope they have found through their faith in Jesus. It’s a hope that is often hard to understand and is rarely seen in visible/physical ways, but it’s a future (“eschatological”) hope that is wrapped up in the message of Easter; the death and resurrection of Jesus that gives freedom, life and hope to all people at all times in all places, even especially Haiti.

To be honest, looking at Haiti in the big picture often makes hope seem hopeless, freedom look like oppression and life doesn’t appear like its worth living if it’s filled with so much hunger, suffering and violence. I realize I wrote earlier that my experiences in Haiti have provided me with the closest glimpse of God’s mission and kingdom that I have ever seen, but my time in Haiti has also led to some of the most difficult questions and doubts (of faith) that I have ever faced. It just does not make sense that a world created by a loving God would include the blatant poverty, suffering and injustices that I have seen in Haiti; it’s not fair. Yet I believe that God not only created the world but God loves the world (John 3:16), all of it, and through that love, God is continually active in the world — working in and through people, powers and movements of other forms — but unfortunately this world is contaminated by sin (not just blaming sinful people), and so this means that God is doing as good as God can given the current situation. Just because things aren’t changing for the better doesn’t mean God has abandoned the situation, in fact, I believe that God can be found even in the suffering, since the understanding of God that I have is of a Father who watched his only Son die a painful and innocent death (God knows suffering and God suffers with us).

The discussion we’ve been having about missions in my systematic theology class lately has helped me realize that the group I’m involved with does not bring Christ to Haiti, in fact, we have actually discovered that He is already there in the efforts of others to help the poor and oppressed, to look after the sick and to comfort the forgotten and vulnerable. When we go to Haiti we are meeting God where God is already at work.

We are planning to wait until Friday to make a decision about whether or not it is smart for us to go ahead with our trip. We have already sent several emails and made phone calls to our friends in Haiti asking them if it’s safe for us to come (trust me, we aren’t going to put ourselves in a bad situation intentionally, and our friends there would tell us not to come if it wasn’t safe). Please pray for our team as we face the next couple of days uncertain of where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing next week, and definitely pray for Haiti as they deal with these difficult times.