Four Witnesses: A Book Review


Four Witnesses | Rod Bennett
Ignatius Press (2002)

Imagine: living among the first Christians.  What must that have been like?  How must it have felt to hear the preaching of Peter or Paul or encounter a passerby who knowingly traced the symbol of a fish in the dust at their feet?  How terrifying, when the Roman persecution of those professing the name of Christ began in earnest? Continue reading

Twilight / Dawn

Thus turns the world to sleep
Like the thoughts, revolving
Behind my eyelids
                  I see you, there
And I shut them so much the tighter
For I hear a thousand voices
Intone so bright a chord
I know I could never quite dance
Suitably, to such a song.
Thus I clench my fists around
Every word
           and they fall,
Broken, to circumstance
And to some future skyline,
Forgotten like a picture book.
How could I ever dream of days
Filled with anything but despair
And false wells to drown in
Except...  You.
                 except for You.
You are
        a singularity,
                      a ray: simplicity
Ebullient and towering and glorious
And altogether baffling
For countless are the days
I've spent, floundering in puddles
Of my own design, silencing
The whispered corners of my mind.
       even now
You do not forsake me
And still,
           the words I claim are rubble
They all will fade to retrospect
As dust, beside You.
                     Heard softly,
Your words are all that I shall ever need.

Not the prettiest type in the world, but until I find a better way to preserve the structure, it’ll suffice.  🙂

Ooh, I need a song to leave y’all with, don’t I…  So here’s a song about the Transfiguration.  Because, why not have a song about the Transfiguration?  So there you go.  And it’s pretty.

Good old Sufjan never lets us down…

I hope that wherever you may be this evening, dear reader, that you are feeling the peace and joy of Christ that thaws every winter into spring.  (Maybe it won’t for a little longer if you’re up north.  But He will.  Just you wait.  😉

Peace to you, now and always.  Stay classy.

WP Review: 7 Best Tracks of 2015


2015 was a year of grand triumphs for some, and of bitter defeat for others.  Hip-hop saw the release of an incredibly acclaimed album, and the pop scene soared with the triumphant return of Adele.  At the same time, indie veterans like Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie released LP’s to disappointment from fans and critics alike.

But all is not lost, as a new cast of characters appears to be emerging from the wings.  Some have fully embraced the 21st century’s gradual shift toward a more intense, electronic sound.  Others have rebelled into a sort of folk revival, painting lush and intricate scenes with the sparest of instrumentation.  Either way, the face of music may look very different in a few years as these artists continue to grow and the stars of the 2000’s slowly wave goodbye.

We’re now halfway into this decade, and while some decry the music of this modern era, 2015 was home to a handful of standout tracks.  Here are some of the ones I most enjoyed, in the hopes that you will enjoy them too.


| Beach House

Kicking Beach House’s fifth studio LP into high gear after its dreamy opening track is this dance of hazy vocals, guitar distortion, drum machine, and organ that is an atmosphere unto itself.  What makes this track stand out from the rest of the material Beach House has released this year is the way it melds these seemingly disparate components so cohesively.  Sonically, it’s unlike anything they’ve released to date, and I can only hope they continue to engage in such experimentation in the future.

“Should Have Known Better” 
| Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens went back to his roots in 2015.  Nowhere on Carrie and Lowell are the electronic experimentations of The Age of Adz, and even the lush, orchestral Illinois seems but a distant memory.  Yet with nothing but his guitar and his whispery vocals, Stevens spins his most mature and haunting album to date.  “Should Have Known Better” is a deeply personal retrospective of the relationship between young mother and son, spun together by the poetry of its lyrics.  In a world where music often equals cacophony, the track stands as a reminder that sometimes, simpler is not only better but far more moving.

“Stressed Out”
| Twenty One Pilots

Loyal fans of Twenty One Pilots will complain that people only like this song because it has just now skyrocketed to popularity months after Blurryface‘s initial release.  But the fact remains that “Stressed Out” is a tightly packaged synthesis of the band’s synth-driven alt-pop experimentation over the past six years.  It features some of frontman Tyler Joseph’s most relaxed, precise, and deft rapping aggressive poetry to date, and its lyrics strike a chord that fails to resonate with none.  The world is a stressed out place, and the burden of making money inescapable, but at least there are still glimmers like this one in the top 40, reminding us of home when we were young.

“Hello” | Adele

It is almost embarassing for me to admit that a song with almost a billion views on YouTube from an album that has vastly outsold records I feel more deserving of acclaim is my fourth favorite song of 2015.  But it’s true.  I really do like this song.  It eschews the aural bombardment that most #1 hits these days entails, and isn’t afraid to give its subject matter five minutes of space to breathe.  And there’s no denying that while Adele’s voice may still be pointlessly auto-tuned, her delivery of the heartbroken lines in this song is moving in its emotion.  Indeed, her powerful vocals help set this song a cut above the rest of the pop charts, and I won’t deny that it’s something of a triumph in an otherwise bleak mainstream musical landscape.

“Fourth of July” | Sufjan Stevens

Tucked amongst the many tear-stained tracks on Carrie and Lowell is “Fourth of July”.  The album’s centerpiece, it’s also the track that deals most explicitly with his mother’s death, a theme that runs throughout the album.  It’s a quiet serenade that invites one to listen intently, washing the listener in its distant, ethereal tones and its plaintive lyrics, even as the melody and the steady tempo of Stevens’ keyboard buoy the track until the end.  Underneath the surface of “Fourth of July” is the tension of staying afloat amidst tragedy, but it never runs aground, musically or lyrically.  Of an album full of gems, this one shines the brightest.

“Let It Happen”
| Tame Impala

Of all the tracks on this list, “Let It Happen” is easily the one that takes the most risks.  It’s also one of the most sonically complex, not just in the interplay between the sounds, but the artistry of the sounds themselves, from the nasally synth during the intro, to the more atmospheric chords that flow throughout the piece.  And there’s no denying the cleverness of the way Kevin Parker utilizes the endlessly looped section in the middle.  Simply put, “Let It Happen” is a work of art, and it might have been a masterpiece if it just hadn’t dragged itself out so long.  But hey, even if you hate electronic-influenced music, give this track a spin, if just for the novelty of hearing how much Parker’s voice sounds like John Lennon’s.

“Space Song”
| Beach House

Beach House never showed more consistency in their artistic vision than on their 2012 LP Bloom, but this year’s Depression Cherry did showcase a more refined sound that was absent from past releases.  Nowhere did this sonic growth showcase itself more than on “Space Song”.  Quite simply, it is the summation of everything Beach House has worked on up to this point.

I don’t think there’s a whole lot I could really say about this song, except that.  Every moment is perfectly placed, from the way the Alex Scally’s shimmering guitar fades on the verse to showcase Victoria Legrand’s incomparable vocals, to the breathtaking ascending synth line on the refrain and the rhythmic intonation of the line “fall… back… in… to… place…”.  It may not be Beach House’s most moving song (that honor would have to go to “Myth”), but it is a testament to their artistic ability, a late-night anthem whose dreaminess is sublime.  And it is, in my opinion, the best song to emerge out of Anno Domini 2015.

So what do you think?  What were your favorite songs of 2015?  What do you look forward to most about music in 2016?

As always, thanks for reading through to the end, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the music.  🙂  Cheers!

Blessings and peace to you.

– L.



Autopsy report conducted December 31, 11:50 pm EST.

Subject: Anno Domini Two-Thousand and Fifteen.

Cause of death: it’s compicated.

Other notes:  It would appear from preliminary examination of the body that the subject died of natural causes.  However, death may have been hastened by a number of causes, including but not limited to severe depression, distraction from electronic devices, and meme overdose.

What am I saying?  You can never get enough memes!

Look at it long enough.  You’ll see it.

Every time the end of the year rolls around, the first thing I think to write about is the fact that New Years celebrations are really kind of arbitrary.  Important things never happen on New Years or birthdays, only on dates of entire randomness and seeming insignificance.

On the other hand, one of the things I’ve realized more this year is that even if celebrations like those are arbitrary, that doesn’t mean they’re not important.  Even if one has to deal with annoying people singing annoying songs on stages with flashing lights and such.

The eve of a new year stands as a sort of moment of collective mindfulness.  Mindfulness of the fact that time passes more quickly than we often think.  It’s a moment when for once we slow down, take stock of where we stand and who we are.  Am I on the path I truly believe I’m meant to be on?  The path that God wants me to be on?

Of course, New Year’s Eve and our own birthday, fine and dandy as they are, i’m gonna keep typing the same thing over and over and see if mom notices.  I’m gonna keep typing the same thing over and over and see if mom notices.  I’m gonna keep typing the same thing over and over and see if mom notices.  I’m gonna keep typing the same thing

There is no denying now that you can read what I’m typing mom, because you started laughing, so don’t tell me it looks like a blur because you’re not wearing your reading glasses.


This is our family.


Of course, every day of the year should be dedicated to this kind of mindfulness.  New Year’s Eve and our own birthday are fine and dandy, of course.  I, at least, sometimes have a tendency to shove mindfulness to the back burner of my head so I can focus on more important things.

But really, can we focus on important things if we’re not mindful of what “important” means?

Maybe you’re in a place where you’ve got the hang of mindfulness a lot more than I do.  And if so, that’s absolutely wonderful.  I’m just thinking out loud here.  🙂

To be honest, I have no idea what 2016 will be like.  We’ll get a new president, which should be interesting.  And we’ll have an extra day of February, which should be fun.  Beyond that, only time and people who know more about the world than I do can tell.

It’s been the best of times.  It’s been the worst of times.  I feel like I’ve seen the flag flown at half-mast many times too often this year.  It’s a terrible world out there.  And yet there is such beauty in it.  One has to wonder how the two things can exist simultaneously; beauty and evil, goodness and pain.

I suppose we can only trust in God to reconcile the two in the end.  And ask Him for the strength and wisdom to further His kingdom in this world as we advance towards the next.

So here’s to another year of advancing.

And here’s to those moments when you’re bored, your iPod is out of batteries, and it’s late, but you stop and take the time to be thankful for being alive, for the fact that you’ve just come from church, that you’ve gotten to stroll briefly around downtown Manassas, VA, and that you’re listening to U2 with your dad.  (It’s been a long evening, but a good one.)  Moments of unusual, healthy, necessary silence in an otherwise cacophonous world.

That’s all I got.  To all of you my dear followers, I love you.

But it wouldn’t be a new year if I didn’t quote this song…

So everybody put your best suit or dress on
Let’s make believe that we are wealthy for just this once
Lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn
As thirty dialogues bleed into one
I wish the world was flat like the old days
And I could travel just by folding the map
No more airplanes or speed trains or freeways
There’d be no distance that could hold us back

– “The New Year”, Death Cab for Cutie

To anyone and everyone reading this, I wish you a merry Christmastide, and a blessed new year.  Peace to you.

In Terra, Pax


“What ever happened to White Christmases?” is kind of a silly question where I live, because they never existed in the first place.  To be honest, I hold nothing against any of the people who enjoyed a nice 6-inch-think sheet of snow outside their houses as they sipped their hot cocoa and opened gifts this morning…  But even I think that a high of 70 is a bit ludicrous.  Evidently it’s just not in the town budget to afford snow on Christmas Day, which is understandable.  It’s definitely in high demand this time of year.  As long as we get a respectable amount in January and February, I’ll be happy.

So, it was fog and not snow through which the streetlamps shone in the streets of the town below as I stood in the church parking lot last night.  And it was strange.  But I was kind of okay with it.

Funny how the more you think about things, the more sense they seem to make.  Because as I drove slowly through the ethereally backlit clouds of mist on the way home, it occurred to me that what I found so enchanting about misty evenings is being limited in how far you can see.  When the edges of reality are hidden behind a sheet of monochrome, one imagines that anything could exist behind them.  You could be on a cloud, or somewhere in Europe.  Or in an uninhabited, vaguely magical carbon copy of your own hometown.

And it occurred to me that this visual handicap is an appropriate metaphor for Christmas.  When Christ the Lord was born in Bethlehem, two-thousand and sixteen years ago, give or take, how few people realized the implications of his coming.  For though He appeared but the average child of a poor / middle class young family, His coming was heralded by an army of heavenly splendor, and a fantastical star illumining the sky.  And at the edges of reality, shrouded by the mist, lay His future, His Passion, death, and Resurrection: the future of the whole human race.

That such awe-inspiring power and divinity came down to earth contained in human form is a mystery we will never entirely understand, though many have explicated its essence well.  It too hangs over our lives like a mist, and is equally as enchanting and mystifying…

Just some thoughts this Christmas Day.  Or night, that is.  I hope you, dear reader are enjoying your evening, and I wish you peace, and joy, and a very merry Christmas, and pray to God to bless you abundantly.

But what would Christmas be without the annual Window Philosopher Christmas Playlist?  (And there is still plenty of time to enjoy it, right?  Epiphany’s still a ways off.  🙂

God bless, and good night.  Christus est natus!  Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax, alleluia, alleluia!