Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Andrew Peterson - Light for the Lost Boy

Andrew Peterson’s boldest, most imaginative work

Light for the Lost Boy
Artist: Andrew Peterson
Label: Centricity
Length: 10 tracks/48:57 minutes

Light for the Lost Boy by Andrew Peterson is his boldest, most imaginative work. The theme and music are more fully realized than any of his previous releases, with the possible exception of Behold the Lamb of God: the True Tale of the Coming of the Christ, a Christmas classic.

Aside from the winsome songwriting, a major reason is the production team of Jason Cooley, Ben Shive and Andy Gullahorn, all long-time collaborators, who take Peterson’s music to a new level. It’s not radically different; they just make the production a little more sophisticated and include some programming and other embellishments.

“The Cornerstone” is the most obvious example. Vocal layering, a snatch of ethereal keyboard reminiscent of Jeff Johnson, a haunted swirl of B3 and unhinged guitar imagine a God strange and wild. It’s Peterson as you have rarely heard him. It’s a child’s view: a God inscrutable.

The latter is what also makes this noteworthy. Much of Lost Boy is a perspective on childhood and the loss of innocence. It is fertile ground for exploring mystery and wonder along with questioning and doubt. The hard-edged notes underscore that the world is fallen. All is not as it should be.

Peterson directly addresses his children on “You’ll Find Your Way.” Most songs are more subtle, lighting a path for them to follow. This is record that they can return to when older, encouraging them to order their ways aright.

Songs like “Carry the Fire” bring the welcome reminder that we are not alone. God gives marvelous comrades that support us when we falter.

This steadfast, unconditional love is highlighted on “Rest Easy,” which Peterson wrote with his wife in mind, but also represents Christ’s love for his church. A wondrous thing happened when they began conceiving a video for what is perhaps the finest single that Peterson has ever done. Why not have a contest and let fans interpret the song? Check out the first place winner with tissue in hand. This is a near perfect piece of pop with a bittersweet video.

The epic, “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone,” clocking in at nearly 10 minutes, offers this resolve to the recurring storyline: “Every little boy grows up, and he’s haunted by the heart that died/Longing for the world that was before the Fall/Oh, but then forgiveness comes/It’s a grace that I cannot resist/Oh, I just want to thank someone/I just want to thank someone for this.”

One can surmise that Peterson’s work as an author of children’s books has influenced this work, including the enchanting cover. Since this may be his best release yet, let’s hope that in addition to writing whimsical adventures, he keeps singing them. I will keep listening as long as he does.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

VeggieTales: The Penniless Princess—God’s Little Girl, DVD

Remake of a classic is brilliant, as the British might say.

VeggieTales: The Penniless Princess—God’s Little Girl, DVD
Publisher: Big Idea Entertainment (www.veggietales.com)
Running Time: Approximately 50 minutes

Larry the Cucumber dons British attire and accent to introduce The Penniless Princess, an adaptation of the classic children’s book, A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The stage is set for this London story by a question: How do you love those who are less than kind? The answer comes with knowing the true source of our worth. Hint: it’s not derived from material things. It has to do with who we are in God’s sight.

This has it all: a compelling story, biblical values, gorgeous animation, excellent music, simple but witty dialog, and moving moments balanced by the zany humor that is uniquely VeggieTales. Speaking of the latter, upon arriving in London, Papa Razzi with his filmless camera, remarks to his companion, who wants to see a musical, “Musicals are so unrealistic, people bursting into song for no reason.” Immediately, a porter appears singing, “Might I fetch your bag?” Suddenly, he is singing in reply.

This is a musical of sorts, but it is not overdone, for those who might not fancy “people bursting into song for no reason.” It is similar to previous DVDs. A new silly song, “Best Friends Forever,” a humorous take on all kinds of texting acronyms, serves as an intermission in the middle.

In the story, Miss Minchin, who is as mean as Sara Crew is kind, indirectly provides some of the comedy. On almost every occasion when the former’s name is mentioned, there is an ominous neighing of horses. She also happens to be allergic to Mortimer, Sara’s teddy bear, which leaves her in a disheveled state that is most unbecoming. It serves as just punishment for her cruelty.

Unwittingly, Miss Minchin (horses neighing), brings out the best in Sara, who goes from a life of privilege to having nothing. Here a parallel is draw between her and Joseph, the Old Testament patriarch. Joseph went from wearing a princely robe and dreams that exalted him above his family to an extended stay in an Egyptian dungeon. It’s not the change of circumstance that he or Sara would choose, but we learn that with God, one is a prince or princess in any situation, no matter how difficult.

Before having his life cut short by cancer, my dad was greatly comforted by Max Lucado’s writings. One day he insisted that my mom write down the words he read in A Love Worth Giving: “God loves you simply because He has chosen to do so. He loves you when you don’t feel lovely. He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you. But God will love you. Always. No matter what.” As I watched The Penniless Princess, I could not help recalling these words, which are continually repeated almost verbatim in this marvelous story.

Since we are all made in God’s image, we all have worth. It’s what inspires Sara’s kindness to everyone. We can love because God loves us and each person is his unique creation.

Should we ever doubt God’s love, the closing lesson from Romans 8:39 provides assurance that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God ….”
VeggieTales has created a classic of their own from this engaging children’s story. To borrow a phrase from the British, this is brilliant.

It might even lead people to the book. Books tend to excel the movies they inspire. Even so, let’s hope that this won’t be the last to inspire a new VeggieTale. 

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