Sunday, August 31, 2014

Eugene Peterson on the honesty of pastors being subversive

“But isn't [being subversive] dishonest? Not exactly, for I’m not misrepresenting myself. I’m simply taking my words and acts at a level of seriousness that would throw [the congregation] into a state of catatonic disbelief if they ever knew.”  -Eugene Peteson.. more

Taylor Swift or Lamentations?

great post from Rick,  on Taylor Swift or Lamentations?

Friday, August 29, 2014

2 articles for white folks to wrestle with

Two articles:


1)What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege  By Jeremy Dowsett:

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive. (Especially those who grew up relatively less privileged than other folks around them). And I’ve seen more than once where this happens and the next move in the conversation is for the person who brought up white privilege to say, “The reason you’re getting defensive is because you’re feeling the discomfort of having your privilege exposed.”
I’m sure that’s true sometimes. And I’m sure there are a lot of people, white and otherwise, who can attest to a kind of a-ha moment or paradigm shift where they “got” what privilege means and they did realize they had been getting defensive because they were uncomfortable at having their privilege exposed. But I would guess that more often than not, the frustration and the shutting down is about something else. It comes from the fact that nobody wants to be a racist. And the move “you only think that because you’re looking at this from the perspective of privilege” or the more terse and confrontational “check your privilege!” kind of sound like an accusation that someone is a racist (if they don’t already understand privilege). And the phrase “white privilege” kind of sounds like, “You are a racist and there’s nothing you can do about it because you were born that way.”
And if this were what “white privilege” meant—which it does not—defensiveness and frustration would be the appropriate response. But privilege talk is not intended to make a moral assessment or a moral claim about the privileged at all. It is about systemic imbalance. It is about injustices that have arisen because of the history of racism that birthed the way things are now. It’s not saying, “You’re a bad person because you’re white.” It’s saying, “The system is skewed in ways that you maybe haven’t realized or had to think about precisely because it’s skewed in YOUR favor.”
I am white. So I have not experienced racial privilege from the “under” side firsthand. But my children (and a lot of other people I love) are not white. And so I care about privilege and what it means for racial justice in our country. And one experience I have had firsthand, which has helped me to understand privilege and listen to privilege talk without feeling defensive, is riding my ...CONTINUED HERE
--

2)Man Arrested While Picking Up His Kids: 'The Problem Is I'm Black'
A controversial video documents the St. Paul resident being harassed and tased.


HHA124L/Flickr
If you've never experienced arbitrary harassment or brutality at the hands of a police officer, or seen law enforcement act in a way that defies credulity and common sense, it can be hard to believe people who tell stories of inexplicable persecution. As I noted in "Video Killed Trust in Police Officers," the dawn of cheap recording technology has exposed an ugly side of U.S. law enforcement that a majority of people in middle-class neighborhoods never would've seen otherwise.
Today, what's most disheartening isn't that so many Americans still reflexively doubt stories of police harassment, as awful as it is whenever real victims are ignored. What vexes me most is police officers caught acting badly on camera who suffer no consequences and are defended by the police agencies that employ them.
The latest example of abusive, atrocious police work posted to YouTube comes from St. Paul, Minnesota, where a black father, Chris Lollie, reportedly got off work at Cossetta, an upscale Italian eatery, walked to the downtown building that houses New Horizon Academy, where he was to to pick up his kids, and killed the ten minutes until they'd be released sitting down on a chair in a skyway between buildings. Those details come from the Minneapolis City Pages,where commenters describe the area he inhabited as a public thoroughfare between commercial buildings. If you're 27 and black with dreadlocks, sometimes you're waiting to pick up your kids and someone calls the cops to get rid of you. The police report indicates a call about "an uncooperative male refusing to leave," which makes it sound as though someone else first asked him to vacate where he was; another press report says that he was sitting in a chair in a public area when a security guard approached and told him to leave as the area was reserved for employees. The Minnesota Star Tribune visited the seating area and reported that "there was no signage in the area indicating that it was reserved for employees."
So a man waiting to pick p his kids from school sits for a few minutes in a seating area where he reasonably thinks he has a right to be, private security asks him to leave, he thinks they're harassing him because he's black, and they call police. This is where the video begins, and that conflict is already over. The man is walking away from it and toward the nearby school where he is to pick up his kids.
So problem solved? It could have been.
Instead, this happened:story continued here



____________






ANd --------------- OK

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dave Caves: Ice Bucket Challenge

Yes, even though I protested (see 327 reasons NOT to do it)

 ..I took up the Ice Bucket Challenge..


but I did it my way.


It's here.



Watch at own risk.  Your mileage may vary.


P.S. I take off my shirt., and Noah makes a brilliant cameo.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Austin Farrrer on "probable tracks" of Jesus' temptations: subversion of Paethon and temple tantrum connections

hotel in Israel
Austin Farrrer , though apparently "one of the most profound and prophetic theologians of the twentieth century"  (so back cover says!) was new to me....but the price was right on one of his books (1.50):  "The Triple Victory: Christ's Temptation According to St. Matthew."

As one with a special interest in the temptations of Jesus, literary structure of Matthew, I wouldn't have resisted the testation to buy it at double the price (:

Come on..NO reviews on Amazon US or Amazon UK (He was British)?!...

"His activity in philosophy, theology, and spirituality led many to consider him the outstanding figure of 20th century Anglicanism. -Wikipedia

Turns out he was  well-respected by C.S. Lewis,and had an intriguing solution for the synoptic problem.  Wiki calls him a "maverick."

 I like him already...even if/especially if he is sometimes wrong (:

Even in the preface,  Frederick Borsh partly agrees with accusations  of  Farrer's sometimes fanciful flights into literary structural analysis, midrash and typology.  But he defends him as being  very thoughtful, creative..and ahead of his time as far as redaction/compositional criticism etc.  "He may have seen too many typologies, but he was not wrong in understanding that biblical writers often thought in typological categories.  This keen awareness pays particularly rich dividends in his study of Christ's temptations." (p. 2)

He does well, as does Donald Kraybill, in seeing many links from the temptations  to the rest of Matthew's gospel.

I haven't read enough for a review yet, so I'll  just

1)ask if any are familiar with this work

2)quote this:

Satan's insinuation...contains a hidden poison: "If you are the Son of God..If you cannot or dare not, what sort of divine Son are you?"...

Jesus declines..not because it is wicked..but because it is wicked to make a willful use of spiritual power...

"throw yourself down"...The suggested action is so utterly useless in itself, it can have one purpose only:.."Jump and find out; if you won't jump you can't really believe it."

...Christ refused to do what Phaethon did [doubt his paternity].  But could he have even thought in those terms? We may give a double reply.  First, though Christ did not think that God was an inhabitant of Jerusalem, he took the sanctity of the holy place with complete seriousness  He can, indeed, be  said to have pulled his own death on his head, by taking the law into his own hands and cleansing the temple from trade.  Second, we must say that in dreams or visions symbols become realities...

..It would be absurd to claim any sort of certainty for the suggestions we have advanced.  We cannot be sure what paths of association Christ's visionary thoughts, as St Matthew represents them, follow out.  Yet our guesses are not valueless.  They were the sort of lines along which a devout Jewish imagination ran; and the exercise of working out probable tracks and junctions in the movement of such a mind puts us in sympathy with the author we are trying to understand.Chapter IV








Women are upset that the Bible includes women??

Full article





















Argggg.. don't get me started on this magazine, or the translation wars (see TNIV posts below, if interested..

GQ inteviews 30-year hermit, who reveals Meaning of Life

Fascinating article, complete at link:

The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit

For nearly thirty years, a phantom haunted the woods of Central Maine. Unseen and unknown, he lived in secret, creeping into homes in the dead of night and surviving on what he could steal. To the spooked locals, he became a legend—or maybe a myth. They wondered how he could possibly be real. Until one day last year, the hermit came out of the forest  link

 --------------

 Excerpt:
"But you must have thought about things," I said. "About your life, about the human condition."


Chris became surprisingly introspective. "I did examine myself," he said. "Solitude did increase my perception. But here's the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn't even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free."

That was nice. But still, I pressed on, there must have been some grand insight revealed to him in the wild.

He returned to silence. Whether he was thinking or fuming or both, I couldn't tell. Though he did arrive at an answer. I felt like some great mystic was about to reveal the Meaning of Life.

"Get enough sleep."

He set his jaw in a way that conveyed he wouldn't be saying more. This is what he'd learned. I accepted it as truth.

"What I miss most," he eventually continued, "is somewhere between quiet and solitude. What I miss most is stillness.

Crushing family jewels or sneaking a peek to pray? Is Scripture an anaphrodisiac or sex manual? Are we Jesus and/or rapists? elevation or transference?

At first glance, the whole swath of Jewish teaching on sexuality/spirituality seems  like a muddled mash-up (midrash-up).  It may depend on which stream/rabbi/Judaism one attaches to..

But an underemphasized component (core?) would be "elevation":


...For the chasid, prayer is not something one recites, it is rather an exercise that one performs, or an
experience that one enters into.... There is no room for inhibition...singing and dancing are essential means by which ...he expresses his emotional cleaving to God….but
that desire for God has to be so overwhelming that any extraneous thoughts are excluded…If distractions are erotic in nature…and (one) faces up to the predominance of the sexual urge at both conscious and subconscious levels, and
its capacity to intrude even during prayer...then he has learned to take measures…Chasidism dealt with this by introducing the doctrine of the "elevation of strange
thoughts." This...technique not of sublimation, but of thought conversion, whereby the beauty or desirability of the woman is latched upon and used not as a sexual but rather as a mental and spiritual stimulus.... taught to "elevate" these thoughts by substituting the beauty of God for the
physical beauty that is currently bewitching us. (The pray-er) has learned to immediately contrast the pale reflection of beauty that humans are endowed with, on the one hand, and the supreme Divine source of authentic and enduring beauty,
on the other…
link

 Of course, U2 picks up the elevation theme with their song of that
 same name.  (See "Elevation leads to Vertigo 2.0":):
  "[Elevation] is fun and frolics but the goal is soul.  It is about sexuality and transcendence, a playful piece about wanting to get off, or in this case, to literally get off the ground.  I can't actually remember writing it, it was all over in minutes, which is probably not the greatest admission to make in a song about sex." (  Bono, in U2 by U2, p. 296)




Some funny and fascinating dilemmas (and trilemmas) arise in the debate and literature.


Is sex inherently sinful outside of the need to procreate?
Is sex the very starting place of spirituality?
What happens at the point of lust?

What to do/how to pray... if Rob Bell even partly right:

"For many, sexuality is simply what happens between two people involving physical pleasure. But that's only a small percentage of what sexuality is. Our sexuality is all the ways we strive to reconnect with our world, with each other, and with God." (Rob Bell, "Sex God," p. 42).

Maybe that word "reconnect" is crucial..maybe it even completes/transcends/ends elevation.  Isn't the Kingdom message about restoring Imago Dei, the "reconciliation of all things," and redemption of all creation..
Creation, in Romans 8,  "groans in longing"  Is that a "sexual" groaning/longing?   Have you noticed we often use "consummation" language about Kingdom come?

We are gnot gnostic.
 We duel dualism.

Bell has well made the point that "everything is spiritual."
 What if everything were also sexual?

Russell Willingham, my favorite  biblical sexpert, sometimes opens talks with this silencing salvo:

"Jesus had erections."

Can Jesus teach us how to deal with them?



"Eros and the Jews" may be TMI for some readers...and ironically too sexy...but it collects, like no others source, some of the rabbinic remedies:

  • Torah has been called an anaphrodisiac.
  • Cirumcision  has been seen as peeling back/cutting off  desire

  • Rabbi Mendel of Kotz offered appointments with young men with issues of lust, promising he could "crush it one for all"  I'm not sure I want to know what that "crushing" involved....(But we all know "some were made eunuchs for the Kingdom.")
  • "instead of imagining a woman during prayer, one must strive for the opposite" (that line caught me.  What is the opposite of a woman?  If you're thinking "man," you'll laugh, as that doesn't solve the dilemma.   He meant God; imagine God before you.

    Baruch of Kosov  even suggested that "sexual pleasure is the source of sanctification"
     


Crush your family jewels?
    But what if the jewels aren't the issue?
                     Circumcision of the heart, anybody?
                                       Remember a stunning sermon on a mount which dealt with sexuality?

I sometimes fantasize about speaking at a men's conference and saying,
"I'm now going to point to my primary sex organ.."

Then I point to my brain.

(:

Whether it's a mind or heart issue..or both/and..

Maybe for many  the test is the "ten second rule," how long, or how to, linger/focus on the temptation/image...

You won't be surprised that some rabbis suggested actively seeking out temptation,even sexual sin, as the only way to learn.  (Shades of  a Maria McKee song)

Not recommended.. in fact such a strategy St. Paul explicity called B.S.

And if everyone is at heart ( and heart-level) either exhibitionist or voyeur,
acknowledging that may be the key.

I do recommend about Russell Willingham's section in "Breaking Free"  about why certain body parts/fetishes are attractive to us, and praying (explicity!) about what that indeed means..

Every sexual addict has a recurring fantasy (the internal ritual).  However, if he is constantly acting out, he doesn't have time to look behind the obvious scenes of nude bodies and sexual acts.  It is the longing behind the erotic symbols he is trying to satisfy.....

"Well, I guess you could say I'm a 'breast man''...
....How does this knowledge of the female body and its symbolizing of deeper issues  help us?  It helps us by showing us exactly where Jesus Christ needs to make his entrance.  The information I'm about to give you is the practical conclusion of everything this book has been moving toward: an intimacy with God that I believe the recovering sex addict is uniquely positioned to experience.  I call it the great transference.    "Breaking Free," pp. 169, 171, Read all of chapter 13


Once a group of pastors were praying for each other.  One confessed a struggle with lust.
I prayed(with words of compassion and encouragement)for the brother; then another pastor prayed
(a bit more prophetically, apparently).  At the close, the pastor who had confessed said something like:  "When Dave prayed for me, I felt like he was calling me Jesus.  When Bob prayed for me, I felt like he was calling me a rapist."

Aren't we all both?
If we get that, maybe we can start getting spiritually formed, reading the Book that is (among other things) a sex manual (see Willingham on Song of Solomon here)...........and the great Transference can be activated.


two heartbreaking songs about attending church

 Two heartbreaking songs about attending church..too bad they can't be played/sung/prayed in church..(along with this classic happy-clappy hymn)













"They Eye of the Needle" by The Divine Comedy

They say that you'll hear him 
if you're really listening 
And pray for that feeling of grace 
But that's what I'm doing, why doesn't he answer? 
I've prayed 'til I'm blue in the face 

The cars in the churchyard are shiny and German 
Distinctly at odds with the theme of the sermon 
And during communion I study the people 
Threading themselves through the eye of the needle
I know that it's wrong for the faithful to seek it 
But sometimes I long for a sign, anything 
Something to wake up the whole congregation 
And finally make up my mind 

The cars in the churchyard are shiny and German 
Completely at odds with the theme of the sermon 
And all through communion I stare at the people 
Squeezing themselves through the eye of the needle --
--------------
"Secret of the Easy Yoke" by Pedro the Lion

i could hear the church bells ringing 
they pealed aloud your praise 
the member's faces were smiling 
with their hands outstretched to shake 
it's true they did not move me 
my heart was hard and tired 
their perfect fire annoyed me 
i could not find you anywhere 
could someone please tell me the story 
of sinners ransomed from the fall 
i still have never seen you, and somedays 
i don't love you at all 

the devoted were wearing bracelets 
to remind them why they came 
some concrete motivation 
when the abstract could not do the same 

but if all that's left is duty, i'm falling on my sword 
at least then, i would not serve an unseen distant lord 

could someone please tell me the story 
of sinners ransomed from the fall 
i still have never seen you,
 and some days i don't love you at all 
if this only a test 
i hope that i'm passing, because i'm losing steam
but i still want to trust you 

peace be still 
peace be still 
peace be still 

Monday, August 25, 2014

NT Wright and CS Lewis on pointing your dog to something: sign>signified>signpost>sacrament

photo
The whole video here by NT Wright is worth watching.

He so reminds me of C.S. Lewis with his series of apt metaphors.  Here are three


  • Think if I offered you a drivers license, claiming  i had authority to issue it
  • -Think if someone destroyed all bank records and evidence of any debt you owe? 
  • Think what would happen if you pointed at something, hoping for your dog to look at it?
  But let's focus on  the third (4:13ff) here:



 The telling and true-to-life illustration of pointing your dog towards something;
and the temple being a signpost pointing to something (Someone) else is so good.

Try it on your dog, I double dog dare you(:

He may have clarified this in the longer video of which this is an excerpt, but it's likely Wright is  actually drawing (as he often acknowledges) on C.S. Lewis:

The sunlight in a picture is therefore not related to real sunlight simply as written words are to spoken.  It is a sign but something more than a sign, because in it the thing signified is  really in a certain mode present. If I had to name the relation I should call it not symbolical but sacramental..
..I have tried to stress throughout the inevitableness of the error made about every transposition by one who approaches it from the lower medium only..You will have noticed that most dogs cannot understand pointing. You point to a bit of food on the floor; the dog, instead of looking at the floor, sniffs at your finger. A finger is a finger to him, and that is all. 
-"Transposition," from The Weight of Glory...someone has uploaded the whole essay here)

--
Related:

When did dogs figure out pointing?

Dog Breeds: pointing




-"

the "elegance of language" allows a crude "loud fart": prophetic paranomoasia and structural synesthesia in Isaiah 5:7

The  multiplex literary canvas of Isaiah 5 includes the well-known  verse 7 phenomenon of...well, a very little-known literary term,  paranomoasia (Paronomasia - Merriam-Webster Online).
 You might call it a pun or a play on words; but hey, impress your friends by calling it a proleptic and prophetic  paranomoasia.  Or   "paranomoasia plus"  (:





I looked for justice,  but I saw oppression.
I looked for  righteousness, but I heard an outcry (of pain).

justice   (A)                           oppression  (B)
righteousness  (A)                 outcry   (B)

--

Jim posts:

Since I’m presently working on Isaiah for the series it’s only natural that I’d wind up in Chapter 5 with it’s stunningly beautiful pun

לְמִשְׁפָּט֙ וְהִנֵּ֣ה מִשְׂפָּ֔ח לִצְדָקָ֖ה וְהִנֵּ֥ה צְעָקָֽה׃

God looked for justice (mishpat) but only saw oppression (mispach). God looked for righteousness (tzedakah) and instead he heard an outcry of pain (tz’acha).
This pun is virtually impossible to render in English. The Common English Bible tries, but meets the same resistance as every other rendition has-
God expected justice, but there was bloodshed; righteousness, but there was a cry of distress!
The REB is essentially the same. What this shows, it seems to me, is that the rendition of puns from one language to another is excessively difficult. Perhaps translators, and especially commentators, should indicate the pun in transliteration in a footnote or in their comments so that readers of English can at least have some sense of the beauty and brilliance of the underlying original. link



Or try this on:

and he looked for justice — Both the administration of justice by magistrates, and justice in the dealings of the people with one another: but behold oppression — From the powerful upon their inferiors; and for righteousness — For equity, mercy, and benevolence; but behold a cry — From the oppressed, crying to men for help, and to God for vengeance. “The paronomasia, or play on the words, in the Hebrew, in this place, is very remarkable;mispat, mispach; zedakah, zeakah. There are many examples of it in the other prophets; but Isaiah seems peculiarly fond of it. The rabbis esteem it a great beauty: their term for it is, elegance of language.” Bishop Lowth, in Benson Commmentary

I have color coded the words above to highlight the obvious contrasts between what God was looking for, and what he found.  This the vertical connections:

Justice                                           oppression
righteousness                                  ":cry 

But  once one reads the above in the original Hebrew, it;s clear the color-coding should (also) work horizontally:

mispat                                            mispach

zedakah                                         ze'akah

AA
BB



I keep expecting this to create a chiasm; but it's   a powerful punch of a  paranomoasia  kind of parallelism.

And to reinforce the contrast, another striking feature: a kind of structural synesthesia in the league of Revelations 1:8's  "I turned to see the voice."
Did you notice the (literally) non-sensical:


I looked for justice,  but I saw oppression.
I looked for  righteousness, but I heard an outcry (of pain).

How do you hear something you're looking for??
(See Webb's "The Divine Voice" and Cytowic's "The Man Who Tasted Shapes")

Brueggemann quips about this exact literary/thematic connection and it's practical application:,"This comes as close to a  synergism as a Calvinist could want" (Using God's Resources Widely," p. 49; he also spins this out in another article.
The prophetic pronouncement is devastating. And it took a lovely literary "elegance of language" to provide the ugly practical app.  The words must have landed like...well, in Eugene Peterson's classic line about  yet another poetic device, metaphor... " a loud fart in the salon of spirituality."



Being quite steeped in Scripture (and known to love Isaiah), I think Bono nodded to Isaiah's pun (and maybe a line from a Jackie Pullinger book)  in his live introduction to "Last Night on Earth"  (See  "I wanted to know Jesus, but you gave me a library").

atonement and Christus Victor: Luther hugely misunderstood?...or covered up?

Aulen:
Luther's teaching on the atonement [the "classical' or Christus Victor idea/motif] was not followed either by his contemporaries or by his successors...Without hesitation or delay they reverted to the Latin  [legal,  traditional, Latin model; penal substitution] doctrine....his idea of the atonement formed one organic whole with the central proclamation of the Reformation..
Obviously, Luther's contemporaries failed to understand his teaching on the subject, and they never grasped his deeper thoughts.  They interpreted him from the first in light of the traditional belief, inherited from the Middle Ages.  Either they failed to see the gulf...or in so far as they had some inkling of it, they did their best to cover it up..
 ..The inner tensions within Luther's theology, the vigour and force of his thoughts, and his sharply paradoxical language, Melancthon wholly lacked the power to understand."  -Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor, p. 124

To Ice or not to ice? 3 possible reasons to not take up the ice bucket challenge

Click a number for an article
photo credit



Se
1 (need/influence/urgency)

2  (it supports embryonic stem cell research

3  (where we donate)






See also:

10 ALS ice bucket challenge haters


--
For more on the stem cell issues on #2, see





Friday, August 22, 2014

"Princess Bride" will preach

video
video

"But religious people have been covering up obscene language in the Bible for years"

"What the Bleep Does the Bible Say About Profanity?

Political correctness, vulgarity and the scandalous nature of God's Word"

    One of my favorite and most uncomfortable memories as a Bible professor was when I had Old Testament scholar, Tremper Longman, give a guest lecture on the Song of Songs. Tremper specializes in ancient near Eastern love poetry. No, he’s not some creepy old guy who gets off on ancient erotic 
...  CONTINUED HERE

REM Links : Songs of Losing Religion and Finding Faith and Revenge

Interview w/Michael Stipe of REM:
NSKEEP: I wanted to get to that line, "all you sad and lost apostles hum my name and flare their nostrils. That could be wicked. It could be playful. It is fun. It could be biblical. It could be profound. It could be meaningless."


Mr. STIPE: I'd like to think it's all of the above.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Speaking as the man who wrote the line. You know, there's a lot of fun in rhyming apostle and nostril. I don't know that it's been done before. 

R. E.M. Tackles Songs of Faith and Revenge : NPR

=

 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ecclesiologist Rev. Sinead O’Connor at prayer

John J. Thompson, one of the best music critics ever, on the new  Sinead O' Connor album..excerpts:

Singer, priest, boss: the latest from Sinead O’Connor by John J. Thompson

Is it a coincidence that Irish alt-rock pioneer Sinead O’Connor has released a song called 
 “Take Me To Church” just as fellow Irish singer-songwriter Hozier is making waves with 
 a song of the same name?

....When she belts out “Oh, take me to church / I’ve done so many bad things it hurts. / Take me to church, but not the ones that hurt / ’cuz that ain’t the truth / and that’s not what it’s for,” it feels much more like a prayer than an accusation.

On her new album, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss, O’Connor continues the comeback she began with 2012’s confessional, guttural and blatantly Christ-haunted How About I Be Me (And You Be You?)...

..the songs that follow underscore the truth that there is a lot more to womanhood than being with a man. The album’s journey unfolds through several musical iterations that include snarling rock, sensitive pop and even African rhythm and blues until taking a left turn in the song “The Voice of My Doctor,” which begins a set of edgier, darker tunes exploring the true underpinnings of desire. That act climaxes with the fantastic shuffle “8 Good Reasons,” in which her character defies suicidal thoughts and turns yet another corner. It is at that point that she begs, “Take me to church!”...


...As many contemporary artists reject their connection to a community of faith when its leaders make bad choices or its message becomes unpalatable to the rest of the world, O’Connor continues to call herself a Catholic despite her deep disagreements she has with many in that community. When she speaks about the “smoke screen” role religion often plays in keeping people apart from God, her words come across with the authority of a boss and the compassion of a big sister.

I’m Not Bossy is a fascinating set of tunes from one of the most consistently creative artists of the last 25 years. The fact that so many of its songs fade out before really feeling finished reinforces the idea that this discussion is far from over.