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JFH Staff Blog | May 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Possibility of a Paradox, by Jonny Diaz

A paradox is defined as something that is “contradictory, inconsistent, or opposite.”  For example, the statements “War paves the way for peace” and “Freedom requires limitations” are paradoxes.  We have trouble processing them.  Our minds can only wrap themselves around so much – they like it when we keep things simple.  Therefore, when it comes to truth, we narrow things down to two sides.  We have right, and we have wrong.  We have black, and we have white.

So, when scripture points out the different characteristics of Jesus’ personality, it’s easy for us to be confused by what appear to be paradoxes.  For example, Jesus was perfectly strong, yet he was perfectly gentle.  Ultimately he displayed these competing qualities simultaneously on the cross.  We also read in scripture that Jesus was the “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  I understand how a person could be full of grace – they would deal with others with tenderness and forgiveness.  I can also understand how a person could be full of truth – they would know the difference between right and wrong, and would stand for what was right regardless of the consequences.  However, it’s hard for me to imagine how someone could perfectly pull off both of these traits at the same time.  Can’t tenderness and truth get in each other’s way?  Aren’t they sometimes too paradoxical to co-exist?  Yet, when Jesus is the person being discussed, the possibility makes perfect sense.

 In 2007, I released an independent CD titled, They Need Love.  The twelve tracks deal with many different aspects of the Christian faith.  However, the theme that ties them all together is found in the title track, “They Need Love.”  It states that we should love a world of strangers in the same way that Christ did.  We should love without question, without hesitation, and without an ulterior motive.   And, if we love before preaching and pointing fingers, a platform to share Christ will eventually and naturally arise. 

In February of 2009, I released my next indie CD, Stand For You.  This CD actually caught the attention of INO records.  They renamed it and released it nationally under the title, More Beautiful You.   I understand and agreed with the reasoning behind changing the name.  However, I think the original title was a better description of the theme behind the music.  The album deals with standing up for the truth.  Truth is always narrow.  By definition it has to be.  We claim that Scripture is filled with truth, and we are commanded to stand up for that truth no matter what happens.  And while standing for a narrow truth we cannot waiver, even if others are offended by our actions.  Jesus never buckled when he challenged the Pharisees’ practices, even though he often upset them. 

So, aren’t the themes of these two CD’s contradictory?  Isn’t it a paradox to say we should love others before ourselves, and then to insist that we should stand for our beliefs even when they might be offensive to others?  Perhaps the more we learn about Christ, the more the seemingly disparate messages of the two CD’s will make sense.  Lord help us to trust you even when things don’t make perfect sense.  Allow us to be so close to you that what we once perceived as paradoxes become possibilities.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

We Recommend - Children 18:3, 'Children 18:3'

I was actually introduced to Children 18:3 right here on this site and, upon reading David Goodman's honest and accurate review, I ventured into purchasing the album that same day. I don't mean to sound like a die-hard fan here, but this album carries with it what you might find to be the most memorable collection of sounds you've heard in a long time. The album hurries through each track with intensity and fall-off-the-bone goodness, keeping you wedged somewhere in-between feeling like you're finally a part of something bigger than yourself and wanting to make some kind of epic, significant change in your world. All I plead is that you keep an open heart and mind for this record, as it is a wild ride and a real poetic experience. - Ben Cardenas

Children 18:3
Children 18:3 (2008)

Click here for a JFH Staff Review.

Our synopsis: "A solid bundle of sound and easily one of the strongest and most memorable punk rock releases of 2008." (Recommended by JFH's Ben Cardenas)
Perfect For: Awakening, Reflection, Venting
Song Highlights: "All My Balloons", "LCM", "You Know We're All So Fond Of Dying", "Even Sleeping", and "Homemade Valentine"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Children 18:3? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Monday, May 18, 2009

We Recommend - Emery, 'The Weak's End'

Several years ago, I was all about watching TVU. My church had it playing in its game room, and whenever I went in there, I sat and watched video after video. In 2004, a new band had one of its videos playing, and from the opening screams of "Walls," I knew Emery was something special. Since then, they have consistenly put out amazing music, and are set to release another great album next month. But in this guy's humble opinion, it may be very hard to top their debut, The Weak's End. Mind-boggling as it is to me, it got the lowest rating on JFH out of all their releases, but it's my personal favorite of the discography. Songs like "The Ponytail Parade" and "As Your Voice Fades" are some of the finest emocore you can find. The Question and I'm Only A Man are definitely really good albums, but if you enjoy screaming amidst some passionate emo music, buy The Weak's End. It's a must-have. - Scott Fryberger

Emery
The Weak's End (2004)

Click here for a JFH Staff Review.

Our synopsis: "The debut album from one of the most passionate and skilled emocore artists in the entire market today." (Recommended by JFH's Scott Fryberger)
Perfect For: Troubled relationships, emotions
Song Highlights: "Walls," "The Ponytail Parade," "Disguising Mistakes With Goodbyes," "Fractions," "As Your Voice Fades"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album The Weak's End? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ode to Joy

Well, it’s been quite a day. Quite a week or two or three, actually.
 
I work in a small bakery. I was filling in for my manager as she took a well-deserved vacation, and along with the responsibility for my department came the stress, grumbles, “ooops-es”, and concerns that go along with management. She’s been away for three weeks, so that was three weeks of getting up at 5 am to be at work for 6 (bakers start early, as you can imagine). My poor family… missing me… needing me… getting by with more-than-usual take out food, limited clean clothes, and dust you could write your name in…
 
Today was the last day of covering for her, and I was (am) excited about that. As much as I’ve enjoyed the new responsibility, it’s time to get back on track and back to a regular sleeping pattern. My constant prayer was that God would hold me up and give me strength, because I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. Every day, I asked Him to lead me, guide me, instruct me. It was a lesson in humility, actually, as I leaned on Him completely.
 
Anyway, as I said, today was the last day. It was still early and I was taking a tray of freshly-baked pies out of the oven. Mmm, they smelled so good and they were the perfect shade of golden-brownness. As I turned with the tray, I clipped the side of the oven door and the whole tray fell to the floor in a sticky, gooey, fruity, steaming mess. Honestly, I stared down at them for a moment, saying nothing…. then it came. No, not tears… the sound that came from my throat was laughter. As I looked down at the carnage wondering if I could save any of them, I delighted in the fact that Jesus is still my Savior, that this had no eternal significance, and mostly that the Bible says we are to count it all as joy. Joy. JOY! My heart was sad because I had dropped these lovely pies, but honestly, I was still joyful.
 
Happiness is dependant on circumstance. Joy is not dependant on circumstance. Regardless of our situation - and we absolutely do have sorrowful and difficult times in life - if you know and love Jesus, the joy is always there.
 
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”
Philippians 4:4 NLT
 
(Oh, and by the way… my co-workers were happy to dig into the mess with plastic spoons.  Apparently, teenaged boys will eat anything!)

Monday, May 11, 2009

We Recommend - Anberlin, 'Cities'

I can’t think of too many others that are so personal to me as Cities.  I had heard of Anberlin before it came out, but I didn't know much about them.  However, something urged me to take a chance and pick up the record anyway.  As one of my all-time favorite albums, there’s always a track that I can relate to, no matter my circumstances when listening to it.  Loving the record so much, I went to see Anberlin live that spring, my first show in years.  The record and the show both changed my appreciation and outlook on music altogether.  While I can readily admit that it’s not exactly a worshipful record, God’s presence in it is very evident, and it looks at life with a very realistic lens.  It’s a solid alternative rock record with a song for every situation. - Roger Gelwicks

Anberlin
Cities (2007)

Click here for a JFH Staff Review.

Our synopsis: "2007’s best record, and the alternative rock album that solidified Anberlin’s status as a force to be reckoned with in the Christian, as well as mainstream, market." (Recommended by JFH's Roger Gelwicks)
Perfect For: Relationships, reflections on life
Song Highlights: "Godspeed," "Adelaide," “A Whisper & A Clamor,” “The Unwinding Cable Car,” “Inevitable,” “Dismantle.Repair"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Cities? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Monday, May 04, 2009

We Recommend - Seabird, 'Til We See The Shore'

Last Summer I had the pleasure of catching Seabird live at Vertical Fest in Shippensburg, PA. I was impressed by the raw passion and the talent this foursome displayed. This one live performance awakened an appreciation in me for this young and promising act. Currently on tour with Jars Of Clay, Seabird recently headlined JFH's second GMA showcase, at 12th & Porter in Nashville, TN (video and review)  and left a lasting impression once again. I've since been stuck on this record and can't get enough of it. Fans of Cold Play will probably dig these guys most (although I am not a fan of CP and I do enjoy this record), but anyone looking for a good piano rock record with beautiful piano pieces and intriguing lyrics will most likely find a lot to like about 'Til We See The Shore. - John DiBiase

Seabird
Til We See The Shore (2008)

Click here for a JFH Staff Review.

Our synopsis: "A solid piano rock record that may get lost in a game of mainstream sound-a-likes, but is well worth discovering and experiencing live." (Recommended by JFH's John DiBiase)
Perfect For: Pensive moments, chilling out or singing along
Song Highlights: "Rescue," "Apparitions," "'Til We See The Shore," "Not Alone"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Til We See The Shore? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

 



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