Oct 31, 2013

CD Review: Winterfold by Jeff Johnson, Brian Dunning, Wendy Goodwin

I like listening to instrumental music while I write, and I've found Jeff Johnson and Brian Dunning's work to be among the best--gentle, inspiring, and decidedly Celtic.

I posted an interview last year with Jeff Johnson here. So when he asked if I'd like to review his latest CD, I said, "Yes, please!"

Winterfold is the perfect combination of gentle spirit-lifting music and rhythmic toe-tapping pieces. Johnson is accompanied as he is on many of his CDs by Irish musician Brian Dunning, but this time they've also featured Wendy Goodwin on violin. A few other musicians join in as well, and the result is a nice long CD you can play this winter without the usual holiday tunes. Not that I don't love Christmas music, but sometimes you want something new and fresh, and this is it.

The CD was inspired in part by the writings of George Mackay Brown, a Scottish poet.

One of my favorite tracks is called Watching Clouds. It made me feel like I was back here, watching these clouds at Rosses Point, County Sligo, Ireland:

But it's hard to pick a favorite because all the tracks are inspiring. I hope you'll check out Winterfold!

You can find this CD on iTunes, and on the Ark Music site. Check out the sample of Watching Clouds!

FTC disclosure: Jeff Johnson and Ark Music provided me with a promotional copy of Winterfold for the purpose of a review. I was not otherwise compensated or required to write a positive review. This review is nothing but my own honest opinion.

Oct 30, 2013

Let's Talk About Halloween

Not my favorite holiday, but I don't have anything against trick-or-treat fun. It's fun for the kids, and some adults are still kids at heart. No one I know is out to promote evil on this day. Those who do, do it on any day of the year, I would imagine. So I'm not up for a rant on the evil nature of Halloween.

But I do think some Christians latch on to what could be described as a spiritual downside of the celebration. And that has led to some misunderstandings. I believe you have to try to understand the ancient people who held the beliefs some Christians are opposing today surrounding Halloween.

Yes, the holiday comes from pagan beliefs. So do many other traditions we don't seem to object to on other holidays such as Christmas and Easter. The fact is paganism predated Christianity, and the pagans had no knowledge of Christ, although I don't believe that is entirely true. They were attuned to nature because their lives depended on understanding and respecting (or fearing) the natural world. God can be found in nature, which is something we tend to forget as we spend our days and nights inside of buildings. The word pagan does not mean "evil Satan worshippers." I just want to make sure we're clear about that. The word means "country people."

For more about of the Celtic roots of Halloween, click here.

There is true evil in the world, and I do believe we are fighting a spiritual battle. I do believe we should dwell on things that are "true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." ~Philippians 4:8. So in my view I try to do that and not spend time telling people Halloween is evil. The Celts believed that on that night the veil between the worlds was very thin. The veil between heaven and earth was thin, so I'll dwell on that and try to see God, especially on Halloween.

These views are my own. I won't be debating them. But, tell me, do you see God here?

Sleepy Hollow Halloween Bonfire

Easy, right?

Sometimes it's harder, but God created all of us, so look hard.