• Fred's Blog

    A Cold and Broken Hallelujah

    We all like backstories. I especially enjoy the stories behind songs. Did you know Paul McCartney’s original working title for “Yesterday” was “Scrambled Eggs”? Iron Butterfly’s  “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was originally titled  “In The Garden of Eden,” but the lead singer was so inebriated he could not pronounce the words – so they left the title the only way he could say it. Recently, I read the backstory of Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah,” written and recorded in 1984. Not known as a devout person, it came as a surprise to everyone that Cohen showed up in the studio having written a lyric normally reserved for religious artists. Years later, he said that…

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  • Fred's Blog

    Snakes on a Plain

    There are very few passages in Scripture as graphic and frightening as God’s sending “fiery serpents” in response to the grumbling of the people. Everywhere they turn – like Indiana Jones in the pit of vipers – they are surrounded by them. In a desperate panic they plead with Moses to pray that the Lord would take away the snakes: “So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.” All is well…or so it seems. Someone must have waited until the snakes left the camp and then taken down the…

  • Fred's Blog

    Jesus is Just Alright

    In the last few years I have been paying closer attention to some deep shifts affecting the church. It’s easy for Boomers to label Millennials and say, “They’ll come around when they have a few more years of life under their belt,” but the truth is while a number of these changes are welcome, there are some that are fundamental and, frankly, disturbing. One of these is the growing attraction to selected teachings of Jesus and an increased questioning for those of the Apostle Paul. For a number of reasons, there is a widening divide between the influence of Jesus and that of Paul among Christians today. First, I think Jesus…

  • Fred's Blog

    The Bosom of Fools

    In his documentary film, “Korengal,” author and director Sebastian Junger recounts the stories of a platoon of American soldiers deployed to a tiny and dangerous outpost in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The “grinding boredom gives way to bowel-emptying fear, followed sometimes by episodes of nearly psychedelic blood lust and the frankly sexual pleasure of unleashing a .50-caliber machine gun on enemies who are doing the same to you.” While the film is horrifying to watch, Junger’s newest book, “The Tribe,” makes the case that coming home from war is often harder than risking your life: “There is something to be said for using risk to forge social bonds…Having something to fight for, and…