Another week has passed and the time has come to reflect on the pieces of entertainment I have consumed…or at least the top 5. Let’s do this.
1: Gungor, One Wild Life:Spirit (Music)
If you are like me, when you hear the term “Christian music,” you may want to run away as far as possible. From my experience, most things with the word “Christian” preceding it’s genre is usually fluff that amounts to nothing but messages being forced down your throat. But now, in the past 5-10 years, a new movement has begun. There are artists out there who are also Christian but aren’t trying to proclaim a message and instead incorporate it into their music because it is apart of who they are. Gungor is one of these artist and I’d say one of, if not the, leaders of this movement. Every single album Gungor has released has interesting and depth defying lyrics mixed with orchestral, folksie, and even 80’s synth instrumentals. Combine those things with the masterful voice work of our two main singers, Michael and Lisa Gungor, and you have what may be the best musical artist on the charts today. “One Wild Life: Spirit” is the second of three “One Wild Life” albums. The first, released last year, is titled “Soul”. This new one, which was just released last week, is titled “Spirit” and the final one set to release later this year is titled “Body.” When this family of albums was announced, I signed up to receive the albums early…probably the best decision I could have made. “One Wild Life: Soul” is one of my all time favorite albums. Obviously, after experiencing and loving that incredible record that stepped past all boundaries of the “Christian music” genre, I was looking forward to the next two in this series. “Spirit” does not disappoint. The best piece of advice I can give you in this blog is to buy this album now! Every song carries a unique weight to it, filled with beautiful synthy sounds and diverse instrumentals. The lyrics of each song clearly expect more of the listener to be an active participant with the music. It asks us to be present and intentional about the sounds we put into our ears. I love every single track on the album so it is hard to pinpoint specifics but let me just say that my favorite track is “Anthem,” a song that gives off a pure 80’s vibe and has such a celebratory tone. The bridge does become a little dark but only can Gungor make it work. Buy it now on iTunes or buy a physical copy as well as it’s predecessor here!
2: Never Pray Again (Book)
The very idea the title of this book presents must scare the crap out of some Christians. Indeed when I showed it to one person they cringed at the very sight of the book, pulling away as if touching the book would send them to hell. But it isn’t a book of blamsphemy like many may believe. The premise the book presents is that praying has become more of a comfortable action than one that holds meaning. When someone says they lost a loved one, we automatically say, “I will be praying for you,” because we feel uncomfortable and that is the appropriate thing to say when there is nothing else to say. Or when we want something, we pray about it as if God is the almighty Santa Claus waiting to place our wants and desires like gifts in our laps. But the truth is, prayer has become a way for most Christians to remain passive instead of active in the church. And I won’t deny that I too am one of these Christians. See, most of us Christians don’t like to admit that we pride ourselves on going to church every Sunday and don’t bat an eyelash when people go hungry every night. That is a big problem. This book offers ways that we can stop praying and start doing; to escape our comfortable lifestyle and do the work Jesus called us to do (and no, that doesn’t mean vote for Donald Trump. Please God, don’t do that). Without a doubt, this has to be one of the best faith related books I have ever read. It has earned a place on my favorites shelf and I am trying my best to work my way out of living comfortably to practicing what I preach. Buy the book here.
3: Firewatch (Videogame)
Early this year I bought a PS4. It’s the first game console I bought in years (here is a tip if you want to save money: buy the console from Newegg.com and buy it open box. It just means someone ordered it and got the wrong color or something of the like, so it is virtually brand new for half of the actual price), mainly because there are some awesome games coming out (Kingdom Hearts 3 anyone?). But since a lot of the games I want to play aren’t out yet, I’ve been stuck on what to play. Then StoryWonk decided to release a podcast episode on a game that I knew straight away I had to play called “Firewatch.” “Firewatch” is a first person adventure game where the player becomes a man named Henry who has just started working as a fire lookout at the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming. The year is 1989. Henry’s only form of communication is through a walkie talkie. His only correspondence is Delilah in another tower. Through exploration and completing certain tasks, Henry encounters a lot of strange things and soon a vivid mystery ensues. This game is addicting. My favorite aspect of it, besides the beautiful graphics, is the character interaction. There is a real story going on and it is both compelling and rich. The player gets to choose how Henry responds to certain situations while also exploring and trying to figure out what is going on. This is a great juxtaposition to Henry’s life outside of this job, which is what begins this game and what he is trying to escape from but soon realizes he can’t. I haven’t finished the game yet (I’m on Day 77) but let’s just say I played for 4 hours the other day…I’m not going to say my day didn’t feel a bit wasted but I will say the game was fun and addicting. Plus, there are other Easter eggs the game has littered throughout that are just awesome and only add to the story. The game is only available digitally as far as I can tell. Buy it wherever digital games are sold!
4: The Last Best Hope of Earth (History Blog)
History is not my strong suite, but I am very aware how important it is. Studying history helps us understand our present. The problem is that I often get bored when studying history and disinterested. For the longest time I have been searching for a realiable source that will give me a well rounded view of history yet also keep me interested and engaged. The Last Best Hope of Earth blog fills that quota. The blog’s title comes from a speech Abraham Lincoln made in 1862, the address to Congress during the Civil War. It focuses on American history. It’s goal is to uncover the past and “[juxtapose] it with contemporary events…[it] aspires to both inform and inspire the reader by showing that despite the doomsayers (modern and historical), the United States is not only mostly adhering to its founding principles but also on an upward trajectory, as it generally has been since its inception,” (via the about page). One thing I love about this blog is that it is short and sweet. The author is an excellent writer and says exactly what needs to be said to get his point across. Posts are daily history lessons and unlike history lessons in school, you don’t grow to hate the subject altogether. Another thing I love about this blog is how objective it strives to be. It isn’t trying to sway the reader to believe certain things, it only states the facts and tries to keep the reader informed. There is a lot of myth travelling around the history of America. This blog aims to reveal the truth and I love it. I’m currently catching up my reading and can’t wait to read more! Read the blog here!
5: Feast of Fiction (YouTube)
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie that had a delicious dish of food and suddenly felt your stomach growling? Yeah, me too. Luckily, we have Feast of Fiction to fill that void that was once unattainable to us. Chances are, if you have thought of eating it, chances are they will have a tutorial on this channel. Some of my favorite recipes include The Naco from Kim Possible, the Krabby Patty from Spongebob, Jake’s Sandwich from Adventure Time, Pumpkin Pasties from Harry Potter, and…the list could go on and on! Each video has a unique tone to it, usually building off of the tone of the work they are cooking. The hosts are funny and creative. Standard cooking videos with standard hosts are all well and good, but these hosts go above and beyond to create a unique experience with each and every video. The best word I can use to describe them is fun! And you can tell that they are enjoying themselves while making these videos. There is a clear love for food and the works the food comes from. The hosts will even dress up in honor of the work they are cooking! They allow every viewer to have fun while they cook which is nice because, if you are like me, cooking can be extremely frustrating. View all of their videos here!
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