Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 22: Review of Dan McKinnon’s book entitled Breadcrumbs

(Left: Dan McKinnon)

Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”

Blog Article 22: Review of Dan McKinnon’s book entitled Breadcrumbs

Many times when I write a review, God always brings me into contact with a humble artist. In this case, God led me to a friendship with Christian author Dan McKinnon that began during a prophetic discipleship night held at Mill Creek Foursquare years ago and most recently this relationship has been built further through their young arts group entitled The Studio.

McKinnon is an old breed of disciples  who embodies the Christian walk with God many of us aspire to be when we reach our elderly years. His daily walk with God models the monastic practices of ancient Christianity that all can learn from such as daily devotion to prayer, Bible study, and allowing God to lead one’s day to encounters with sharing the Gospel. McKinnon’s personal character embodies the definition of humility. He offers warm smiles and encouragement but can also offer criticism in a gentle manner making one want to achieve more. McKinnon offered such a literary critique of my own novel, The Weak and Foolish Things of Seattle.

McKinnon describes the writings within his book Breadcrumbs as follows: “you hold in your hand or see on your screen a collection of short stories, memoirs, and vignettes that I wrote over a period of 15 years” (p.xiii). “It is my hope that each, by God’s grace, reveals a brief glimpse of the Most High, a breadcrumb if you will, that helped me see God in my circumstances. Little is much when God is in it. I hope these stories shine light on your path as well” (McKinnon, 2014, p. xiii).

The stories within this book are like the penetrating rays of the sun; they illuminate the reader with illustrations of God expressed through personal experiences, fiction, and science fiction. His memoirs are rich with the peaks and valleys of life’s journey illustrated by honest reflection on his Christianity. As I partook of each short story and memoir, I was able to understand McKinnon in transparency as a writer. McKinnon’s words illustrate his humanity: both the fallen attributes and the triumphs of a redeemed life.

The first short story that caught my attention was entitled “Chief” and describes a Native American’s perspective of spirituality and discovering of God’s son while illustrating a story of forgiveness experienced by the Native American who endures a drunken beating of brutality at the hands of an American. Being a native born New Zealander, native culture is so integrated in our society that I enjoy learning about cultures in other countries like America. My fascination lies with how God uses their myths and legends to identify Himself within their culture. The Native American culture is so fascinating as their concept of the Great Spirit reflects so many characteristics of the Christian God in the Bible. I hold a personal belief that God identifies Himself to everyone before they believe in His son and this concept is reflected again and again in the Christians I meet. Each one is able to look back at their lives and see how God was identifying Himself to them in times of disbelief. Cultures are no different and this further reinforces the reality that there is a God and He has a son named Jesus Christ that paid for the sins of humanity.

“Three Days and Counting” is a short story staged in a Utopian technological future offering humanity all the pleasures and luxuries of life and while Christianity is a forbidden religion. “Three Days and Counting” reminded me of such science fiction classics in film and literature such as Terminator, The Giver, Blade Runner, Minority Report, and 1984. McKinnon’s ability to dream about the technological advances of tomorrow are carefully balanced with characters who question meaning and the levels of control their machine processing society presents them. This story drew me in and I could not put it down. Characters in the story that do not conform to these rigid societal standards are sentenced to the Bin; a hell no citizen wishes to experience. But as the story progresses, the prisoners of the Bin appear better off than those in the utopian society because they are able to love their Master and their neighbors through meaningful communication and service towards on another. I do hope McKinnon considers taking this short story and making it into a novel. I can see this story among the other greats of classic science fiction literature.

“Thoughts of Mortality” is a reflection by McKinnon about the concept of grace and the shedding of blood much like Jesus Christ endured on the cross for the redemption of humanity. McKinnon describes his first experience with grace through an award ceremony of the Boy Scouts in which all the scouts were given medals for attempting a ten mile hike; whether they completed it or not. Next, McKinnon discusses the atrocities of war and humanity’s inhumanity towards on another provoking the thoughts of the shedding of blood in comparison to Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. I enjoyed this personal reflection from McKinnon the most because it provided an answer to one of the most basic philosophical questions of the human experience: the concept of suffering and why God allows evil in this world. “Maybe God allows some of His saints to be sacrificed so that unbelievers will come to belief. Maybe some people will never believe unless there is blood spilled for or even by them in their lifetimes, pointing back to the perfect sinless blood of the Savior” (McKinnon, 2014, p. 178). One answer I personally developed as I read this story was that God’s capacity of love and forgiveness are so massive that one could commit a lifetime of evil and still be accepted by God through belief in the message of Jesus Christ and repentance of sin. No other religion on the face of this earth can boast such love of a Creator to His creation nor the chance at impossible redemption.

You can support McKinnon through prayer, connecting with him on social media, and purchasing a copy of his book. McKinnon also works as a freelance writer and can be reached for advice, reviews, and critiques on personal literacy projects. As I end my review of McKinnon’s Breadcrumbs, I challenge the readers to reflect on God in your own lives through this paragraph in the introduction of his book.

“We may never see the tapestry from the front as God does; we are finite beings. He generously allows us glimpses of it, however, and He gives us His spirit to view His marvelous workmanship with understanding and appreciation in a number of significant ways, whether by faith, His word, or seeing things from His loving perspective” (McKinnon, 2014, p. xiv).

Dan McKinnon’s pages
Xulon Press: http://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781628718669&HC_ISBN=
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=0EJBJFNU
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dir/Dan/McKinnon
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Breadcrumbs-Dan-McKinnon/dp/1628718668

References
Dan McKinnon. Portrait. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1723120928797&set=a.1652108593533.2088406.1561561550&type=3&theater (accessed April 29, 2014)
McKinnon, Dan. Breadcrumbs. United States of America: Xulon Press, 2014.
Xulon Press book Breadcrumbs Dan McKinnon, YouTube, 1:40, posted by Xulon Press, February 21, 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=0EJBJFNU (accessed April 21, 2014)

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Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 21: Interview with Christian musician Dustin Miller

Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”

Blog Article 21: Interview with Christian musician Dustin Miller

Barry Irwin Brophy’s Closing thoughts on the interview:
Since this is a video interview, I will not be transcribing our entire conversation but I encourage all my readers to check the video out. There is much wisdom to glean from Miller’s views on worship music, God using the arts to minister to people, and how to solve some of the problems that have crept into the Christian Church.

I have known Miller since 2007 and since we have gone our separate ways in ministry it was good to sit down and discuss his calling to worship music. What makes Miller stand out from other Christian musicians is this supernatural anointing by the Holy Spirit that can be discerned by others when he sings. Many musicians can play the mechanics of music but it takes a special calling to lead a congregation in worship. Even with the many attempts at establishing bands and watching them collapse, Miller possess a drive to persevere and believe in the calling on his life. I encourage other distraught and downtrodden Christian musicians to emulate the same tenacity in contending with their calling.

Miller brought up the topic of fear in the corporate Christian Church. Over my decade of walking with God, I too have encountered watered down versions of the Gospel message and have struggled with how to adapt this message to this generation. Fear can strangle the life and fruit of the Christian as Jesus Christ discusses in the Parable of the Seed. Paradoxically, fear can be overcome through the perfect love of Christ as discussed in Luke 8:1-15. Like Miller discussed, Jesus Christ is the archetype for the Christian and our message is to speak the Truth in love; even when it conflicts with the values of society. Every generation must face this obstacle in with new methods. If you are a back sliding Christian, it is time to return to the narrow path of following Christ as identified in Matthew 7:13-14.

In the next few months, Miller will be loading more of his music on YouTube and you can share it with other people who may be interested. You can support Miller through your prayers, connect with him on social media, offer chances to perform his music solo or with other musicians, and help him create a worship CD. He has a bunch of songs written and is still searching to find the means to record. Help him out if you can. Many fledgling Christian musicians need the support of the local Christian community to get established. I look forward to the day when he will join the ranks of such titans of worship music as Todd Agnew, Hillsong United, Jesus Culture, and Jeremy Camp.

Dustin Miller’s pages
Email: Bigmoosemusic22@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dustinmillermusic?ref=hl
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dustin-miller/48/b96/835
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGD2b40H0P-WF7C5P7t71nA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BigMooseMusic

References
Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 21: Interview with Christian musician Dustin Miller, YouTube, 18:42, posted by Barry Brophy, April 19, 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gozm_SiI0dQ (accessed April 19, 2014)
Dustin Miller Music. Portrait. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=282063768627704&set=a.282063731961041.1073741827.280777422089672&type=1&theater (accessed April 19, 2014)

Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 20: Poet James Thomas Thorn

Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”

Blog Article 20: Poet James Thomas Thorn

James 4:6b states “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Throughout the Bible, there are many passages speaking this same concept of that if an individual humbles themselves before God, He will raise them up to success. Many within the Christian arts community are humble to the point of nonrecognition but I have felt it is my calling to identify these individuals as I have expressed again and again in my blogs. At times, our work feels tedious and to the point of where we want to quit but we keep going because our goal is to honor God with out talents. As I was reflecting upon this concept and what to write for my twentieth blog review, one such Christian artist came to mind: Poet James Thomas Thorn.

I discovered Thorn’s poems through a previous WordPress blog article after he commented on the review and offered his own poems to read. When I ventured to Poetry Soup to partake of his poems, I was enthralled at how many he had written and felt that God was calling me to review his material. If you are someone who enjoys a daily devotional, I found Thorn’s poems a good tool to use in connecting with the Holy Spirit. Many of Thorn’s poems are three to four stanzas long and are an excellent reminder to keep one’s focus on God throughout the day. Thorn’s words are like refreshing glass of water on a hot summer’s day for one’s soul. Each whimsical rhyming of his verses illustrates the simplicity of the Gospel message as well as Thorn’s own relationship with God.

“Believe and Receive” is my first poem I enjoyed reading from Thorn’s collection. It possesses a simple rhyming of words yet captivates the reader with a message about Thorn’s reflection of oneself looking back over life in a parallel comparison to the death and life process experienced in the Christian salvation process. Thorn describes how the captivating hand of God’s workmanship is observed in creation through various descriptions of mountains, forests, rain, the sun, and snow. As the poem progresses, the reader is left with the interpretation that Thorn is reflecting on his life and is nearing the end of this journey. My favorite stanza of the poem reads “lead me and love me and I will believe, it is You God who I am about to receive, into my body You did completely enter; My life have now become its center” (James Thomas Thorn, 2014b, n.p.).

“Futility and Humility” was my second poem I chose to review. I enjoyed reading this poem because Thorn provides a description of the short comings one experiences while ending with an encouragement of wanting to be a “Crazy Christian” for the Gospel message. My favorite line from this poem is “I have often found that failure and futility, should never have a home with humility” (James Thomas Thorn, 2014c, n.p.). The next verse identifies a theme of masks, concealment, and regret. I enjoyed this stanza, too, because the current church culture of concealment is often reflected well in Thorn’s description. While Christian churches proclaim that they are environments of transparency, openness, and acceptance, members still feel the need to conceal their shortcomings. Thorn’s poem spoke to me about how the Christian Church needs to do a better job of fostering transparency but in the same regard not compromise Biblical morals. This can only be achieved when we emulate the true love of Christ to the chaotic social culture around us.

“Always Remember Me” is a poem that describes the beauty of nature and acts as a farewell address to the listener. The poem felt morose and like a good bye address by Thorn. “So here on earth still live on and on, and even when I will finally be gone, often you still can remember me, who now is with God for all eternity” (James Thomas Thorn, 2014a, n.p.).

Many of Thorn’s works, I read, give the reader the feeling that Thorn is reflecting on life and how God was seen in different aspects of it. His writings remind me of the book of Psalms and even parallel some of King Solomon’s works in their poetic sense of reflection and self-examination of the world and God’s interaction within the realities of humanity. The Holy Spirit felt alive in all the works I read and the observance of God was expressed with humility and simplicity. Sometimes it’s just the simple explanations of God that are needed to bring us closer to Him. This review would reflect quite an analogous comparison to an anthology of stories if I had the time to write about every piece of poetry he has written but I will challenge the reader to seek out his other works for yourself at Poetry Soup or his WordPress blog below.

Thorn is an active member in his church and serves on the vestry board while also volunteering for Shallotte, North Carolina’s local Meals on Wheels program. You can help support Thorn in his pursuit of poetry first and foremost in prayer. You can also follow his WordPress blog at the link below, like his poems on Poetry Soup, and offer him a chance to publish his work! If you are ever in Shallotte, North Carolina, drop in on the St. James Episcopal Church’s Sunday service and you might have an opportunity to meet Thorn in person.

James Thomas Thorn’s pages
Poetry Soup: http://www.poetrysoup.com/me/jthorn5656
WordPress: http://jthorn5656.wordpress.com
Church Homepage: http://stjames.ecdio.org/

References
James Thomas Thorn, “Always Remember Me”, Poetry Soup (Blog), April 2, 2014, http://www.poetrysoup.com/poems_poets/poem_detail.aspx?ID=554282 (accessed April 7, 2014)
James Thomas Thorn, “Believe and Receive”, Poetry Soup (Blog), February 11, 2014, http://www.poetrysoup.com/poems_poets/poem_detail.aspx?ID=554282 (accessed April 7, 2014)
James Thomas Thorn, “Futility and Humility”, Poetry Soup (Blog), January 30, 2014, http://www.poetrysoup.com/poems_poets/poem_detail.aspx?ID=554282 (accessed April 7, 2014)
James Thomas Thorn, “Home”, WordPress (Blog), http://jthorn5656.wordpress.com (accessed April 9, 2014)
Thorn, James Thomas. “Poems by James Horn”. Poetry Soup. http://www.poetrysoup.com/poems_poets/poems_by_poet.aspx?ID=33466 (accessed April 9, 2014)