One Faith, Many Paths: Kyle Maximilian Sweeney

This month, I’m interviewing a fellow Catholic named Kyle Maximilian Sweeney, a fellow Catholic I met through Geeks Under Grace.

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  1. How long have you been a Christian? 22 years
  2. What was your childhood like? It was good. My parents were very supportive, pushing me to do my best: not to do my best, but to do my best, which is a very important distinction. They sent me to good Catholic schools for both a good religious and secular education.
  3. What evidence can you give for God’s existence? The teleological argument works well for me. The simplicity of the laws of physics which then produce all of these amazing reactions.  It’s strong proof of a creator.
  4. Do you have a favorite Bible verse? Why? Don’t have one. Though I like “Be still, and know that I am God” as it can be very reassuring. Also it can be challenging.
  5. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus? Moses is pretty rad and bad ass, but I don’t have a favorite biblical figure.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Kyle Maximilian Sweeney”

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Jason’s Jukebox: Red Hot Chili Peppers’ The Getaway

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Last year, I posted a Jason’s Jukebox article where I rated each Red Hot Chili Peppers album, starting with their debut and ending with what was their most recent album at the time, I’m Beside You. Since that time, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have signed on a new producer, Danger Mouse (whose real name is Brian Joseph Burton). Danger Mouse has also worked with Ceelo Green (as part of the band Gnarls Barkley) and produced the Gorillaz’s album Demon Days.

Danger Mouse actually seems like a good fit for the Chili Peppers. He’s a bit different from Rick Rubin, but he’s helped the band evolve. He helps them keep the funky sound we know them for, but he adds a nice edge that’s his own. Most notable is Joshua Klinghoffer’s riffs. Now that we’ve moved further from John Frusciante’s tenure with the band, Klinghoffer can finally shine, which he had trouble with on I’m Beside You. Flea shows off more prowess by playing piano prominently on “Dark Necessities”, as well as several other tracks. (He played trumpet on “Taste The Pain” on their Mother’s Milk album) The great Elton John himself guest stars as pianist on “Sick Love”.

While I can’t say this was an excellent album, I would say it’s worth a listen. I’m giving it 3 1/2 stars.

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: Red Hot Chili Peppers’ The Getaway”

Film Freak: The Peanuts Movie

peanuts movie

Last year, in celebration of the Peanuts comic strip’s sixty-fifth anniversary, Blue Sky (the animation company most famous for its Ice Age movies) released a CG movie based on the strip. As a life-long fan of the strip, I had to watch it.

First of all, I enjoyed the animation style. It fit Schulz’s art style. They used both 3D computer animation and 2D styles. There were also references to the classic TV specials. For instance, the movie opens in winter, and many scenes from the Christmas special were re-created.

The children cast in the roles of the Peanuts kids also did an excellent job, which was good since they were mostly unknowns (only the Little Red-Haired Girl’s voice, Francesca Capaldi, had any prior acting experience. She stars in the Disney Channel’s Dog With a Blog). This was a continuation of the classic specials’ practice of using children for voices instead of adults. Schulz felt that this would sound more authentic and honest. At its core, Peanuts is a celebration of the innocence of childhood. The movie felt as though it followed a whole year with the gang, and had many subplots allowing us to see Charlie Brown as a true underdog, as he should be.

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Jason’s Jukebox: Jars of Clay

thSo tie me to a tree, let the smoke and ash collect
No, I won’t regret to let love do what love will let
And we can drown in mixed emotions, walk across an angry sea
This is the cost of being free

I’m gonna show you love in every language
I’m gonna speak with words that need no form
I’m gonna give you what you never had before

–“Show You Love”

In 1995, an improbable thing happened: a Christian rock band managed to crack the top 40. There had been cases where certain Christian musicians managed to get into the list (not counting U2, which is really more secular than spiritual), but not one like Jars of Clay. Their name is derived from 2 Corinthians 4:7 (“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”) They’re one of my favorite Christian rock bands, mostly because their presentation is so different from most of what Christian rock is known for. This time for Jason’s Jukebox, I’m ranking each of their 11 studio albums. (I’m excluding any Christmas and remix collections)

The members are:

  • Dan Haseltine–vocals
  • Stephen Mason–guitar
  • Matthew Odmark–rhythm guitar
  • Charlie Lowell–keyboards, other instruments

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  1. Jars of Clay (1995) ***

Singles: “Liquid”, “Flood”, “Love Song For a Savior”

Jars of Clay’s debut is a great start. They didn’t stay in the Top 40 scene that this album entered into for long, but it’s still a good example of what they became famous for.  In fact, this was one of the few Christian albums of the mid-nineties to go platinum.

Best Tracks: “Sinking”, “Art in Me”, “Flood”

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2. Much Afraid (1997) ***

Singles: “Crazy Times” “Fade to Grey”

This album began Jars of Clay’s current status as a Christian rock band. Their success in the Top 40 scene began to dwindle, but their fandom in Christian rock grew. I think this album is one of their best from their more acoustic period.

Best tracks: “Tea and Sympathy”, “Crazy Times” “Much Afraid”

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3. If I Left the Zoo (1999) *****

Singles: “Unforgetful You”, “Collide”, “No One Loves Me Like You”

I consider this the best album so far. The band took on a more folksy sound from before, indicating a new direction. That’s one of the things I like about this band, they have changed their sound and still managed to sound great.

Best tracks: “No One Loves Me Like You”, “Collide”, “Sad Clown” “Can’t Erase It”

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4.  The Eleventh Hour (2002) ****

Singles: “I Need You”, “Fly”, “Revolution”, “Whatever She Wants”

This was the first album to be produced by the band themselves. The band took on a more “worship band” like feel. They were no longer played on mainstream radio, which allowed them to adopt a more truer sound than previous albums.

Best Tracks: “Fly”, “I Need You”, “Silence”, “The Eleventh Hour”

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5. Who We Are Instead (2003) ***

Singles: “Show You Love”, “Sunny Day”

This was the first album to feature covers, which would continue for the next two albums. The album has a more relaxed feel, and contains one of my all-time favorite songs, “Show You Love”.

Best Tracks: “Lonely People” (America cover), “Trouble Is”, “Show You Love”, “Jesus’s Blood Never Failed Me Yet” (Gavin Byars cover)

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