Monthly Archives: January 2015

Bram Cools music electronic re-release: CCM II: psalms and prayers in lo-fi


(This is an update about the strange music of Bram Cools) Years ago I had a band called the Contemporary Christian Muzak collective (or CCMC). We tried to play some kind of experimental Christian music that did both try to connect to God and make some interesting sounds that hadn’t been used 100 times before already. Most of it was some kind of rough folky indierock, although we had some very weird free-from noise and experimental impro-parts as well… We only did a few concerts but we did have a lot of fun, and I really miss those days! But time passes and things change, and the bandmembers had families and other bands and other stuff going on, so it all sort of fell apart. We never did any studio-recordings as a band, and no real CD-worthy live recordings have been made. So all that’s left is my own home-recorded multitrack-versions with mostly myself on a lot of instruments. (And Bram Beels on didgeridoo sometimes) I still need to finish some of those songs, but the plan is still to have all the CCM songs available one day. But because that day will not be tomorrow, I will make some of that music available in another way:

So today we announce the bandcamp re-release of:

CCM II – psalms and prayers in lo-fi CCMIItracklist: 1. onzevader (intro) 02:30 2. dead end streets 03:17 3. the hippie song 04:28 4. not a tame lion (MiniDisk version) 03:46 5. Elvis has left the building (lo-fi mix) 03:59 6. Father I am tired (MiniDisk version) 02:38 7. stones cry out 04:13 8. last words to the first church (lo-fi mix) 03:52 9. Yeshua (MiniDisk mix) 04:28 10. qualities 05:47 11. feelings say nothing (reduction mix) 06:22 12. dood aan de graankorrel* 03:13 (* originally a hidden bonus track)

It’s very rare Bram Cools demo CD-R (on 15 copies originally) that was available only on one concert of the CCM (Contemporary Christian Muzak) collective in 2006. (Which was actually the last time we played under that name if I remember well) It does contain some classics in standard versions, and other songs in completely different incarnations, but it has most of the songs that we did play live with CCMC in one version or another. Some of those were recorded solo on MiniDisk, others were arranged very sketchily in primitive lo-fi manner…

Find more Bram Cools music for download at bandcamp.com. Or check out this older overview here on this blog.

(All music is currently ‘choose your price’) enjoy (if you’re into that kind of music…)

peace

Bram

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2015: Looking forward, looking back..


This blog haJANUSs been a space to can write out my thoughts and process my spiritual journey in recent years. My readership has never been very big although I’ve sometimes had very interesting comments on my writings (here and elsewhere) from bloggers whom I repsect enormously as thinkers so I don’t think what I’m doing is completely worthless.  I’m writing in the first place because no-one else says what I want to say anyway. The thing is that need to not forget this, an that jumping on bandwagons and writing about ‘canonical’ blog subjects ould probably give me a bigger readership, but it’s not what I’m writing fir.
At certain moments in the past I’ve been influenced here a lot by the international (read: mostly American) Christian blogosphere, but 2014 has seen me finally letting go more and more of any attempt to fit in anywhere in that world. Only by not being chained to the same old consensus as the rest (often in the form of petrified false dichotomies) I can really have something to say about them on the occasion that I stumble across them…

But what did happen here in the last year? You can see it here and here if you want a summary.

2014 might not have been my most productive year but it surely was an interesting one, a year of picking up the pieces and reconstructing what’s left to have something to start over with again after all the things I’ve let go. What started as a year of demodernisation (and more de-Americanisation) got me had me investigating a lot of stuff that doesn’t seem to exist for neither Evangelicals nor academics, and plunging into more occult and esoteric terrain that is completely not taken serious by most people. which is a pity.
I do think the late great ’emerging church’ discussion could have learned a lot about postmodernity, religion and paradigm shifting by studying the principles behind chaos magic for example instead of sticking to the contemporary academic canon.  We can and should go much further out of the box if we want to find our way back in my opinion…

All of this doesn’t mean at all that I’m letting go of my faith in Christ. To use a Pagan term, I’m oathed to Christ and it’s not likely that I would ever let go of Him… He is more real to me than anything I’ve encountered yet, although it’s hard sometimes to make sense of anything at all. In fact I might even be sliding a bit back in the ‘conservative’ direction on the spectrum (which still is as far away from fundamentalism as it is fom liberal theology), towards some basic Christian middle-orthodoxy that I’ve alwayw been seeking… Quoting more C.S. Lewis her might have been a sign of that. I’m also in a new way going back to my more Charismatic roots, including the stuff no academic Christian will talk about, and also with and openness to Truth anywhere.

And yes, I’m eucumenical  as a Christian and go far into dialogue with other religions and traditions, but you’ll see me stay away from any form of enlightenment materialism for a while. I’ve had more of it lately than can every be spiritually healthy for anyone… Letting consciously go of it was big relief

I also need to just be still and know God is God.

God is too big for any of our systems. If we think we’ve completely got him in our system, we’ve only created an idol… God just is, and our thoughts about Him are not that relevant actually. Living in connection with Him, through Christ led by the Spirit is what matters. Loving all of His Creation including all of our fellow humans more than our systems of thought is what it is about.

Listening to everybody (especially those not listened to) might not be a bad idea though. And asking the Spirit for discernemt. The majority can be wrong, as has happened so many times.

2015 will probably be a year of slowing down, re-evaluation what I’ve found, deepening, and throwing out some clutter that I’ve been collecting for years… Learning to ignore the big noise and the cathedrals of wind that have kept me distracted for way too long and held me from developing what’s been waiting to be discovered more from the beginning on. And listening to new voices, Christian or Pagan, Muslim or Atheist or whatever, that have been unheard, and also to a Voice that I’ve been ignoring in all the noise regularly.

Or it could be something completely different…

We’ll see..

I hope to see all of you readers back for this new chapter…

peace

Bram

This post is part of the January 2015 Synchroblog – Looking Back, Looking Forward.

Here are the other participants:

My own top-15 of favourite posts here in 2014


DSCF0083After my list of the 5 most-read posts here in 2014 I now give my own list of favourite posts, with a short description and sometimes the reason why the  posts are important to me, or how they describe a part of my journey this year.

My own 15 favorite posts of 2014  here:

1. So why is there no ‘occult-mergent’?

This post was ironically, among other things, probably my farewell to the whole ’emergent’ thing. I have learned a lot from the whole ’emerging church’ dialogue in its days, as I am both incurably postmodern and a Christian looking out for new ways, but I don’t have too much interest in a lot of things that go under the name ’emergent’ nowadays, and it seems that a lot of people did emerge outside of Christianity anyway. I did miss any intelligent discourse on the supernatural from the beginning in the while ’emerging’ thing, and when the whole thing went closer to naturalist materialism in some corners while never even coming closer to any non-Christian supernatural tradition I summoned ‘occultmergent’ from the realm of non-existence… I still am of the unpopular opinion that Christianity can learn a lot more from neo-pagans and certain ‘occultists’ than from scientism and modern atheism if we want to transition from the modernist clutter we’ve accredited…

 2.Why are asexuals the most ignored sexual minority?
From my usual choice of subjects, you probably already gathered that I don’t like to just jump on the popular subjects, but instead try to address the things that no-one speaks about but that need to be talked about nonetheless. That’s why I do think that awareness of asxuality as a sexual orientation is very important, especially since it seems that a lot of advocates for sexual minorities are good in ignoring it as much as the rest of us does. Obsession with sex and having sex as a part of our identity is quite all-pervasive in our culture, and so the idea of asexuality alone is a threat to some people… At least 2 people from my FB-list outed themselves to me as asexual after this post and thanked me for bringing the subject to the light, so I don’t think writing posts like this one are in vain…

 3.Abundance is the enemy of capitalism…
The title speaks for itself: The basic idea is that our modern economical systems that are built about the idea of ‘scarcity’ are completely incompatible with the biblical idea of abundance as a part of shalom…. Should not be a controversial idea at all…

4.No, the ‘Islamic State’ isn’t medieval.. (it’s even worse: it’s modern!)
Probably partly inspired by my attempts to demodernise myself and look at my own culture as a stranger would: People keep on using the word ‘medieval’ to insult groups with barbaric behavior like the ‘Islamic State’, but they are not at all rooted in modern ideologies but have a very strong basis in modernity. Like the word ‘State’ already hints at the Islamic State is much closer to the guillotines of the French revolution with ‘reason and progress’ replaced by ‘Islam’ than to most medieval wars.

5.On basic human dignity and ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’…
The saying in the title is completely abused out of context when used in discussions about homosexuality, and therefore quite impopular among a lot of people. I do think it is a very important principle though, even though we might to adjust some of our ideas about what sin is…

6.Some thoughts on thoughtform-creation
Even though I coined the word as a joke and for thee sake of protesting, occultmergent became a project of investigating the ideas behind modern ‘occultism’ as some call it, which provided me with a whole new world of ideas that I had never heard. In this post I explored and evaluated the idea of ‘thoughtforms’, entities that come into being from human thoughts. From the tulpas created by an individual as some kind of more-than-just-imaginary friend to the egregores arising of groupthought, I found the subject fascinating, although I remain sceptical about a lot of things, it might explain certain things.(And it can be helpful when writing scifi…)

 7.A Christian reaction to porn that doesn’t dehumanise the objectified further?
Back to my writings about sexuality from a Christian viewpoint, I do think the title speaks for itself here. The bodies portrayed in porn are human beings created in Gods image, and should not be treated as only an evil temptation! That approach is equally dehumanising as reducing them to lust-objects…

8.The power found in the True Language of the Universe…
A more philosophical post that explores an idea that is fundamental to both a lot of magical traditions (real and fictional) and modern science: if you know the language in which the world is written, you do not only understand it fully, but you can also control it.

 9.We’re one, but we’re not the same… (or how different identity doesn’t have to mean violence!)
A reaction to a meme with a Krishnamurti quote that says that every identity we assume for ourselves is a form of violence because it means that we do separate us from the others who are different. I completely disagree…

10.Some postmodern paradigm-shifting: from C.S. Lewis to chaos magic and back…
I never had heard from Chaos magic until I started my inter-religious dialogue with pagans and real occultists (and found out that they were completely not what I expected.), and as someone with an interest in the intersection of religion and postmodernity the philosophy behind it it is completely fascinating… Paradigm-shifting was a word I knew from the emerging church dialogue, but I never imagined that people would use it pragmatically! I do balance it here with good old C.S. Lewis and some pictures from Narnia though…

11.10 old traditional and/or biblical Christian ideas that are sometimes mistakenly seen as ‘progressive’…
A post on the last day of 2014, and not an unimportant one. If the original
‘occultmergent’ post was a parting of ways with all things ’emergent’, this one is a bit of a distancing myself from what goes for ‘progressive Christianity’ these days. In the post I list 10 things that are claimed to be progressive while they actually are not new at all, and have biblical and/or traditional roots in historical Christian orthodoxy. On the other hand this also implies that there’s nothing ‘conservative’ (in the sense of Christian conservativeness that is, American conservatism has some roots far away from Christianity!) let alone ‘orthodox’ about opposing those things…

12.On the magic of willpower and exercising strong faith
With faith you can move a mountain… But does our faith lie in God or do we just use faith as a tool to get what we want (like happens in some magical traditions). I sometimes wish some of my Charismatic fellow Christians would be able to see the difference more clearly…

13.Charles Fort as the ultimate free thinker…
A book by Charles Fort, father of paranormal studies and very original thinker, made me wonder what a real ‘free thinker’ is. My conclusion is that Charles Fort is much more of a ‘free thinker’ than the self-proclaimed modern atheists who use that word can ever be. And it is the question if there’s much merit in just being a ‘free thinker’, nothing guarantees that a free thinker will be more right than the traditions he rejects…

14.On magic, miracles, and the differences between them.
Investigating the thought of people who claim to do ‘magick’ like I did in more posts of my ‘occultmergent’ series will lead to questions about the nature of miracles, and the difference between human magic and miracles. I try to find the difference between both in this post…

 15.Atheism, the supernatural, gaslighting and modernity…
People whose worldview is based around the non-existence of the supernatural can get quite difficult if you talk about experiences with the supernatural. This can lead to them completely denying any validity to your experiences, which might end up as a form of gaslighting. (“Your experiences are not true, and if you insist they are you are probably crazy”) That’s more or less what this post is about…

Apart from these 15 posts I do want to mention a few more posts, starting with 2 of the posts that I excluded because they already were in my top-five list. Our nonmagical modern world as the biggest magical trick ever… is one of my favorite thought-experiments ever, and Some thoughts on the myth that ‘men are visual’ talks about stuff that I’ve written before but that is quite important nonetheless.

To complete my list of farewells, I must add that I not only implicitly parted ways with ’emergent’ and whatever the internet calls ‘progressive Christianity’, but also explicitly wrote a post called  farewell, online American Christianity… which was kind of serious.

The last thing I want to draw attention to because they never had much readers even though it’s very important stuff is my not yet finished series of meditations on 1 Corinthians 13:
part I
part II

part III
part IV
part V

I might evaluate my writings and spiritual journey in 2014 more, but I do think that this is more than enough for one post…

peace

Bram

The top-5 of most-read posts here in 2014


DSCF0083A new year, a new beginning… And a time to reflect on what I’m doing in different areas of my life.

When it comes to this blog 2014 probably wasn’t my most productive year because a lot of other things took more time and energy. I did still manage to write 40 posts on a lot of subjects, including a series of meditations on 1 Corinthians 13 that isn’t finished yet.

I had planned 2014 to be a year in which I would lessen the influence of American Evangelicalism on my faith, and try to demodernise myself a bit while trying to find my way back as a human being, as a thinker and as a believer. All of that is just work in progress and I’m only still scratching the surface of trying to get somewhere, but I do suppose that I did take some steps and explored some new directions.
The most unexpected new direction (which might have cost me some readers) is probably that in letting go of the influence of modernist naturalism I explored the supernatural in new ways and ended up in new and unconventional ‘occult’ territory. I never believed in materialist scienctism anyway as a Charismatic Christian, but I have let it influence me way too much in the past years, which wasn’t very healthy for my faith. The exploration of the supernatural in different ways and interreligous dialogue with modern pagans that I had elsewhere on the internet led to my invention of the word ‘occultmergent‘ (first as a joke), which even turned into a Fb-group. And it may have made me be the first evangelical blogger to mention chaos magic

So let’s have a look now at the top-5 of most-read posts on Brambonius in English in 2014:

My top-five of most-viewed posts in 2014:

1.  on Ishtar, myopic Anglocentrism and sloppy ‘scepticism’…
My first post ever that went semi-viral and thus my most-viewed post in 2014 was a reaction a very sloppy meme that originated from the Richard Dawkins society. I do expect more from ‘sceptics’ than this kind of rubbish…

2. A prayer in C to an absent God (Lilly Wood and the Prick)
Pop culture does seem to get me a lot of readers too, so my second-most viewed post this year was my analysis of the song ‘prayer in C’ by Lilly wood and the Prick, which is one of the big hits of this fall (in a dance remix). The lyrics can be seen a dark prayer to a powerless God who doesn’t do anything to keep this world from ending and will not be able to forgive itself when everything  has ended.

3. Our nonmagical modern world as the biggest magical trick ever…
For the third post we go to my weird theoretical explorations of the supernatural far outside the usual box, with an exploration of the idea that the world is much more magical than we moderns want it to be, but that this wish for a non-supernatural world itself s what gave us this current world devoid of a magic as we know it.

4. Stop being influenced by America?
The only older post in the top-five, from 2013. I have no clue why so much people were interested in my reasons to shake off the influence of the US on my faith, but maybe it’s jest because the map I used to illustrate this post was quite high-ranked in google pictures searches for a while…

 5. Some thoughts on the myth that ‘men are visual’
And with this fourth post we’re back in one of my more usual territories on this blog: combatting sexism from a Christian viewpoint…

If I had to chose my best posts of 2014 the list would’ve been completely different, but that’s for another time

Which ones did you like best?

peace

Bram