All posts in “Arts & Culture”

Overcoming the monster

by Jim Killam | 4-minute read

 

People who teach writing like to talk about the basic elements of any good story. Characters. Setting. Conflict. A 350-foot-tall lizard that breathes lightning and threatens humanity.

Stick with me here. Any story needs a monster, and according to three dozen movies, Godzilla stands as the king of all monsters. Read More

O Holy Night

Laura Nothnagel, Evonne Johnson and Nathan Fry perform O Holy Night in the sanctuary of First Free Rockford.

Song written by Adolphe Adam and Placide Cappeau (public domain).

Silent Night

Nathan Fry performs Silent Night in the sanctuary of First Free Rockford.

Song written by Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr (public domain).

His Name Shall Be

First Free Rockford’s chorale and orchestra virtually perform His Name Shall Be.

Song written by Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman (ThankYou Music).

The incarnational work of an artist

by Nathan McDonald | 3-minute read

 

These thoughts are inspired in part by Madeline L’Engle and N.T. Wright, and when I refer to the “Artist,” I am referring to the general sense of the word as someone who creates and holds some skill (or skills) in an art form.

 

“I am the Lord’s servant, ready to serve.
May it be with me as you have said”
–Luke 1:38

 

Mary had just received the most mysterious news. An angel declared that she would give birth to a son by the Holy Spirit. She responded with the humility of a servant and the open heart of an artist: I am the Lord’s servant, ready to serve. May it be with me as you have said. Read More

Your 2020 Christmas music sampler

by Jim Killam | 5-minute read

 

We asked First Free’s three musical worship leaders — Renee Cooper, Nathan Fry and Nathan McDonald — for Christmas music recommendations. They came back with quite a variety. Read More

A kintsugi life

by Steve Jensen | 4-minute read

The earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, off the cost of Japan left behind a broken nation. 15,899 people died. 6,157 people were injured. 2,219 went missing. Over 120,000 buildings were flattened and another 280,000 partially collapsed. The event’s price tag came to over $235 billion, making it the single most costly natural disaster in history. Beyond the physical and financial devastation was the frightening reality of radioactive particles released into the air and water for miles around the Fukushima power plant. The nation was broken.

And brokenhearted. Read More

Meet First Free’s one-woman band

by Jim Killam | 5-minute read

 

You wouldn’t know it by watching her play, but First Free organist Karen Anderson controls a warehouse full of electronic relays, pneumatic tubes, wall-sized louvers and — literally — almost 2,000 bells and whistles. Read More

Aliens, seafaring monks and trust

by Jim Killam | 6-minute read

 

The 1997 sci-fi film Contact, based on the book by Carl Sagan, made an unusually good attempt to reconcile science and faith. Both share a search for truth and “a thirst for wonder” that sometimes neither wants to acknowledge about the other.

Sagan himself was deeply agnostic, saying he could find no scientific evidence for belief in God. Yet in Contact he searched for common ground — and found some. Sure, from a Christian point of view we could poke some holes, but when a scientist’s novel and then a major Hollywood offering help their audiences think hard about faith, I’d call that a cultural win.

The film is a generation old, but I’ve been thinking about it during COVID-19. We all feel an alarming lack of control. No one knows what our society will look like in a month, let alone a year or two. Will we be locked down again? Can our economy withstand more? When is a vaccine coming? Read More