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‘Contemporary Christian Muzak 2004​-​2007’ is finally here!

It might be 8 years too late, but here it is: Bram Cools presents ‘Contemporary Christian Muzak’ (2004-2007) is finally available as an album. (digital download only now, but if there is demand a CD-R edition might be produced too!)

So what is ‘Contemporary Christian Muzak’? It is not at all elevator music composed for use in megachurces as the name might suggest, but rather a weird lo-fi/indie project from Bram Cools with spiritually-minded songs for all audiences. The songs here are from the time when it had its live incarnation in the ‘Contemporary Christian Muzak’ collective (2004-2007). Since the band itself has not been recorded the versions here are the original demo-versions with Bram going in extreme multitrack mode sometimes, playing a whole noise-orchestra all by himself!

Weird things are going on indeed on this album. The opener ‘St-John opens’ will probably scare some people away already with its free-form impro, but don’t worry: the rest of the album will mostly contain actual songs and not just freaky soundscapes… The second song and  Bram Cools classic ‘father I am tired’ for example shows some of what can be expected: Bram in excessive multitrack with a lot of instruments, vocals and noise, and a psalm-like cry for help in this dark world. Throughout the rest of the songs we find a musical universe that is far from mainstream and will never be commercial, with very diverse arrangements, compositions to express the spiritual struggle and the search for a life centred on Love.

So give it a listen and if you like it you can download it free or at a chosen price, and share with people who might enjoy it.



(And thank you for clicking!)

PS: Find more Bram Cools music for download at (All music is currently ‘choose your price’)


1. St-John opens 01:49
2. Father I’m tired 03:40
3. Elvis has left the building 05:10
4. Qualities 05:06
5. dead end streets 03:19
6. stones cry out 04:17
7. last words to the first Church 03:28
8. Feelings say nothing 05:22
9. the hippie song 04:40
10. Without You I’m nothing 03:46
11. not a tame lion 03:55
12. Yeshua 03:07

Interesting links elsewhere (summer 2015 edition)

Summer break is over, and so is my blog silence, so I better make up for my IMG_1899missed link-list… The featured picture is one with 2 types of stuffed ‘olive cucumbers’ as we call them in Dutch, or achocha (Cyclanthera pedata on the right and under, cyclanthere brachystegia on the left). Which is a very interesting addition to our assorted tapas… These ‘stuffing cucumbers’ are an easy to grow and very cool but rather unknown vegetable…

So what did I see on the internet that was worth reading while in ‘inactive mode’?

In which she underfines femininity by Rachel Heston-Davis  on Jesus creed.

A very interesting impression of 2 wiccans at the hypercharismatic church of Bethel that I’m still processing and might blog about later. part I part II part III. Check also the prophecies she received at Bethel. (makes one think, not?)

The true story of Kudzu, the vine that never ate the South. Lies, media, tall tales and shifting baselines…

Heart-breaking piece by David Bentley Hart about a man who was able to see the spiritual realm until modern psychiatry and medicine messed with him. “Sometimes it is difficult to exaggerate how strange, barbaric, and superstitious an age ours really is.”

Are plants intelligent?

New plant species discovered via facebook. One of the biggest Drosera-species on the planet, and already almost extinct…

A church grown from trees…

Secret Belgian operation to save 244 Christians from Aleppo.

How C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien responded to ‘envirenmental holocaust’

Interesting angle from India: Yes, men get raped too, and they mostly  suffer in silence.

Sensationalist title, but interesting fossils nonetheless: Stunning Fossils Rewrite Evolutionary History of Life on Earth

20 priceless monuments lost in war.

When I came back on the internet, I learned what Ashley Madison was. I wishI had remained ignorant about the existence of that kind of  #@&% but now that I know about it I can as well share some perspectives by Tall Skinny Kiwi and Dan Brennan about it…

that’s it for now…

see you all later


internet break!

Moving from tchinatownhe apartment to a house (we will miss you, ancient Linden tree), and other stuff going on keep me from posting here at tha moment. That in combination with a wifi-free life that will last at least until August the 10th, in which even the coffee-shop where I usually take my laptop is closed due to vacation time, and I’m left with not much chance of posting my link list for July now.

Some internet-detox every now and then is not a bad idea anyway…

I don’t know if there will ever be a link list for July. It might appear later on this month, and might even write posts offline and then post them too while living a practically wifi-free life. There’s so much thoughts that I still need to write down….

But I promise nothing, no-one knows the future anyway… For now I’ll leave the cafeteria of the Antwerp library, leave the internet and live freely with no strings attached.

peace and blessings


(still in Lier, Belgium)


Conversion is more than a change in direction, it’s a change in connection. (Frank Viola & Len Sweet’)

I was recently re-reading the introduction to A Jesus Manifesto jesusmanifestby Frank Viola and Len Sweet, a book that urges Christians to put Christ at the centre of their faith in very powerful language, when my eye fell a sentence which seemed to be filing in a gap in my thoughts somewhere, even though I can’t even exactly say why. But it did remind me that there are much more different factors in conversion than most people think of….

Conversion is more than a change in direction, it’s a change in connection.

Conversion, often simply seen as the change of religion, which can be more accurately be described as the turning towards Something Higher that hadn’t an important place in someones life before, deeply impacts a person, and it does not happen overnight. One does not just become a Christian, or Marxist, or modern Pagan, or very convinced atheist without changes on different levels or domains of their lives.

There are at least 4 different levels that I will explore in this post.
Edit: Note that I’m only talking about the individual level here, and thus about conversion of a human being in one lifetime, not of his family or culture over the generations…. Shifting baseline is a very strong factor here, and things like forced conversions will play out very differently over a longer time and beyond individuals… Even the kakure kirishitans are not recognisable as Catholics anymore…

Intellectual acceptance of information
This is the lowest level of what happens during conversion, and if it happens it’s  not actually a conversion at all yet. Just accepting information as true in the abstract can be a step in a conversion, but it’s not at all the most important thing, even though some atheists and Christian apologists use all their energy to work on this domain. At least that that’s what I would conclude from the way they try to convert people by using a lot of reasoning and logic.(I suppose  personality type is very important here too.)

The issue is that belief and faith are not the same thing at all. Belief is accepting information, while faith is trusting Someone/something. Americans who have faith in the constitution don’t believe that the document exists, but that it is important, and that it should be followed because it will bring liberty for all and yadda yadda… Christians should have faith in God, and thus trust God to take care for them in some kind of way. (See psalm 23 for example) Mere belief in something that goes against the naturalist worldview is not ‘religion’ at all. It is often part of religion, but some people can have just a very intuitive connection to God (or another deity) with no concrete beliefs at all, only a deep natural connection. That’s what faith is, not just ticking the box before every line of the creed…

Acceptance of a Reality in a Paradigm shift
This is a step deeper, and goes beyond the rational to the acceptance of a Reality that is percieved in one way of the other, and thus accepted. Often a paradigm shift happens when the data don’t seem to fit with the beliefs held, and the old worldview is rendered obsolete by the actual world as encountered by the person. This is often not a choice, but a realisation that just needs to be surrendered to.

On the other hand, just accepting a reality does not convert anyone either. I can believe_800happily accept the existence of Loki, fairies, or the information in Marx’ das kapital’ without converting to anything at all. A lot of people believe in God, not just as information but a knowledge of a Reality, without doing anything with it.
That’s no conversion at all yet.
Only if I make a connection and change my life towards one of the things I’ve acknowledged as a reality I really convert myself..

Polytheists are very interesting in this regard. They acknowledge the existence all kinds of gods, but that doesn’t mean that their path involves all of them. The polytheist will have connection with certain gods or deities and not with others that are as real to them, just as a human I do have friendship with certain people and not with others, even though I do completely believe in their existence…

So what’s needed for a real conversion is not just accepting how reality is, but aligning ourselves with that Reality.

Change in direction
So a  change in direction is what is often seen as a definition of conversion. You change your ways, and thus convert. ‘Repent and follow me’ is what Jesus said.
But there is a-one problem: this still can be completely outward, or in other words, fake. One can pretend to convert, and change outward ways without having any conversion at all.

Forced conversions for example are often lacking in this area. People are outwardly converting to the new religion, and become nominal Christians, or Marxists, or Muslims, but in their heart and behind closed door they remain connected to their old gods or God. Crypto-paganism probably lived on underground for centuries after the moment when Christians or Muslims made their religion the State religion.

The same has happened with Christians under rule of other religions that 330px-Maria_Kannonexpected them to convert, sometimes under threat of death too. The Japanese kakure kirishitans are a fascination excample of that: the Japanese Catholic Church went undergound during the Edo period after the Shimabara Rebellion in the 1630s when Catholicism became forbidden, and remained hidden until recent times, slowly evolving to something hardly recognisable.

No-one can really be forced to convert. It’s easier to take someones life than to take away the connection they have with their God in some cases. True believers will keep their connection no matter what happens…

Making a New Connection
Real conversion is also making a New Connection, as Frank Viola and Len Sweet said in the original . Not just an outward change in direction, but an inward change in connection.
We turn away from our former values, and gods, and embrace Something New that will guide our life, and connect with it.
When we become Christians we will from now on follow Christ, make Him the center of our life, and build our life around Him.
Others see that the deep Truth in Marx’ writings calls us to change not only our lives but the world for better. Or or give ourself over to the Higher Truth of science and reason because there’s nothing else to demand our obedience as source and truth. And so on… But it is only when we make the connection to whatever Higher thing we have come to believe in as real, that we really convert…

This does have several implications for us as Christians, as well as for others I suppose…

what do you think?



Bram Cools Music: ‘Father I am tired’ + more contemporary Christian Muzak to come…

Hi readers,Mangocoffeesepia

Probably not everyone reading my blog is aware that I am also one of the most unknown musicians on the planet, but for those interested in my music, here is an update.

The Bram Cools classic ‘Father I am tired’, can now be heard and downloaded in a previously unheard version here  on my soundclcoud. Or click on the coffee if you like.
(Yes, for those who wonder: all instruments and vocals -including the choir!- are just Bram in this one!)

The rest of the news is that this upload of ‘Father I am tired’ can be also seen as the first ‘single’ announcing a coming electronic release of the old ‘Contemporary Christian Muzak’ songs, finally together on one album! This should have happened 5 years ago, but still it’s better soon than never.

For the uninitiated: Years ago now 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 connect to the Creator and make some interesting sounds that haven’t been used 100 times before already. Most of it was not exactly elevator music for a boring Christian radio station providing safe happy clappy Christioa music for the conservative middleclass as the name might suggest, but raither some kind of rough folky indierock, mixed with very weird free-from noise and experimental impro-parts as well from time to time…

We only did a few concerts throughout the years 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. Unfortunately We never did any studio-recordings as a band, and no real CD-worthy live recordings have been made either. So all that’s left is my own home-recorded multitrack-versions with mostly myself on a lot of instruments, some of which were never finished. Finishing them is what we’re going to do now, so that in the near future everybody can listen to Contemporary Christian Muzak as much as they want…

I hope you all enjoy the song and share it with others who might like it.



Some interesting things elsewhere (Februari 2015)

glycymerisAs we approach the end of the month, it’s time to post the new list with ‘some interesting things elsewhere’.  The picture is indeed from ‘elsewhere’ (my offline life even) and is a fossil Glycymeris-shell I found when I was walking along the river Nete here in Lier, Belgium. Most likely a Pliocene Glycymeris varabilis if my determination attempts are correct.

Let’s go from the Pliocene to pre-Christian paganism, or at leeast the reconstructed forms of it: Last month I posted about the New Norse temple in Iceland, the first in 1000 years. If you want to know more about the reconstructed paganism, here is an interview that the ‘highpriest’ Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson in 3 parts: part 1, part 2, part 3. And I also found an older article a new beginning for Greek Paganism too. It seems that our myth of secularisation and linear evolutionary views of religion need some serious reconsidering…

There are certain blogs I will tell you to read every time I get the chance. Lana Hope with Confirmation Bias, Worldview Bias, and Arguments for and Against God’s Existence. Eric from the Jawbone of an ass with The Gods By Any Other Names.  Some criticism of our modern economic views on Holy Spirit activism in The Economy of Need and the Economy of Greed.

Sarah Moon with 16 Things That Happened When I Went to The Creation Museum. Seems to be quite a weird place if you ask me….

Some myth-busting about the middle ages. (I don’t know why it is mostly a certain kind of atheists that like to perpetuate this kind of ahistorical lies, but it can be very annoying and I frankly do expect more from people whose highest ideal is ‘reason’)

David Wilkersons book ‘the cross and the Switchblade’, about how he as a country preacher went to the street gangs of NY in the fifties to bring the good news of Jesus, and did some quite spectacular things was very important for me as a teenager. So reading this on the Wartburg Watch about the organisation he started saddens me a lot: Is Teen Challenge an Abusive Rehab Program?
The Quaker Testimony of… Truthiness? by Micah Bales. How seriously do we take ‘let your yes be yes and your no be no’?

If you want to join the secret society of the Illuminati, please visit their site. And oh, download their printable black’n white folder in  PDF. If I were the most mighty secret society on Earth I’d definitely have a printable black’n white folder in PDF on my website…

Carl McColman with Seven hopes for the Christian (and church) of the future. Based in Karl Rahner’s saying that ‘the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all’, a sentiment which I echo…

New Aaron Strumpel record: Bright Star

(And oh, if you missed my re-release of a very obscure Bram Cools CD-R from my ‘Contemporary Christian Muzak’ period last month and you like obscure Christian lo-fi; go here: CCM II: psalms and prayers in lo-fi)

Twitter bio generator: “Twitter advocate. Devoted coffee evangelist. Wannabe food maven. Amateur travel fan.” Not me, but there are probably a lot of people on twitter to whom it would apply…

Bill Kinnon on Narcissistic and/or Psychopathic Church Leadership.  It seems to me that narcissists in leadership are always dangerous, but are also very common. It might cost us our planet one day…

Christian supernatural author Laura Cowan with Coming out psychic. Raises some interesting questions… Coming out with this kind of abilities doesn’t fare well in either conservative Christian (evil demon-possessed occultist!)vor certain atheist circles (such things are not real because Science™, please let them cure you and don’t  disturb our materialist worldview…)

 What did you see that was interesting this month?


Fleabites, or looking at the crusades from another angle (Philip Jenkins)

Since people are talking about the crusades a lot lately on FB, which seems to have to do with something the American president has said on some breakfast prayer thing, I thought it might be a good idea to bring some balance and  some historical perspective with a quote from Philip Jenkins, from his very interesting but challenging book ‘the lost history of Christianity’

“The story of the Crusades is well known, but less celebrated is the much more acute challenge to Muslim power caused by Christian attempts to create an Eastern Front against Islam. During the thirteenth century, the Muslim states suddenly found lost historythemselves under attack from a lethal enemy whose activities made the Western Crusades look like fleabites. The Mongol assault on the Islamic world began in 1219 when the forces of Genghis Khan attacked the Khwarezmid Empire of central Asia, taking such great cities as Bukhara and Samarkand. Over the next forty years, Mongol power extended over most of western Asia, through a series of campaigns in which they devastated ancient cities. When Merv fell in 1221, the
Mongols slaughtered virtually every man, woman, and child in the city, not to mention many thousands of refugees from surrounding areas. Contemporary accounts claim that the dead ran into the hundreds of thousands, or even millions. Ani in Armenia never recovered from the sack of 1236, while Mongol devastation ended the golden age of the Christian kingdom of Georgia. In 1258, the Mongols under Hulegu, Genghis’s grandson, perpetrated a historic massacre in Baghdad itself, ending the caliphate and conceivably killing eight hundred thousand residents. Over the next century, Hulegu’s successors ruled the Ukhanate, one of the Mongol successor states, a vast empire stretching from the boundaries of India to western Anatolia. When modern-day Iraqis denounce American occupiers as the New Mongols, they are invoking memories of the direst moment of their history. The Mongol threat remained acute until 1303, when Egyptian forces decisively defeated them in Syria.” (p120-121)

Yes, thinking of the crusades as very important to the history of Islamic empires in the middle-East is quite Eurocentric and not very realistic in that it forgets much more powerful and important players, Philips even says the crusades were like fleabites compared to the Mongol powers, who did end the mighty Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad in 1258, the third caliphate to  sucdeed prophet Muhammed himself. (As a sidenote: there were parallel caliphates in this age, but afterwards the caliphate has never been resurrected in the same way, even though two rogue groups did proclaim a new caliphate in 2014, the IS in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria!)

Some more historical notes:

1. The Mongols did have several state religions, afterwards they converted to Islam and they were part of the erasure most of Asian Christianity between the Middle-East and China, often without a trace.

2. the crusades did harm other Christians too, and more than fleabites actually: the fourth crusade, which didn’t even reach Jerusalem did bring a much greater split between the Catholics and the Orthodox than the great schism itself did: when they conquered Constantinople in 1204 and did a lot of evil and very unchristian things there. It was the final break-up between Western and Eastern Christianity!
(Not to mention the later Albigensian Crusade which did erase the heretic Albingensians and  most of the Waldensians from Europe… They just had the wrong religion…)

3. We should not think of the Europeans as being more powerful colonisers and conquerors than the Muslim empires all the time. If we go back and forward in time from the crusades we see that there are other times when a Muslim conquest of Europe wasn’t as unthinkable as it is to us now. Charles Martel had stopped the early Arab conquests into Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732, which might have meant the end of Western Christianity in the heart of Europe (at a moment where Eastern Christianity in the form of the East-roman empire was quite strong btw).
The Ottoman empire after overtaking the Byzantine (East-Roman) empire  by conquering constantinopole in 1453 was a formidable power that, again, could have succeeded in taking over much of Europe. Emperor Philips II of Spain managed to drive them back (a turning point was the battle of Lepanto in 1571)
But don’t forget that parts of Spain (yes, the mighty mighty European Power that not only did send the inquisition and the army of Duke Alva here to the Netherlands long ago but colonised much of South and Middle America) was in hands of Islamic powers between 711–1492. The year the Americas were discovered was the year Europe was freed of Muslim powers, and then they could go on colonising themselves…
By the way: f Philips II wouldn’t have to fight the Turks he probably would have had the power to fight the protestants in the North, and have erased protestantism not just from the Southern Netherlands (He did that very thoroughly, Flanders  and the Southern part of the current Netherlands were quite universally catholic after the fall of Antwerp in 1585 and remained so until the dechristianisatoion of the 20th century…)

(Someone of facebook told me this week that Americans associate Spanish with poor illegal immigrants. We in this part of Europe see the Spanish as a powerful aggressive invading power who brought the inquisition here to rid us from heresies like protestantism. And I do think the Inca and Aztec people would have even stronger opinions about them…)

4. If we’re talking about the Europeans as colonisers we should not forget that the powerful European powers who colonised other continents were often oppressing other Europeans closer by. And the great colonising wave in the last 500 years is only unique in that Europeans did cross great distances. Empires in Eurasia, inculding the Mongols, Arabs and the Ottomans named already and earlier the Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Huns and Greeks have been conquering big parts of the Eurasian continent at least since Alexander the Great.  The crusades against Muslims were not that spectacular at all in this big picture., let alone successful.
The big difference with the European colonisation wave in the last 500 years is the superior technology, not only when it comes to weaponry but also far-distance travel, which made it possible to colonise places far away over the ocean. Something that hadn’t happened before in the history of the planet. The Arabs and Ottomans had conquered a vast empire for example in West-Asia and North-Africa, but only in places they could reach by land or from a short distance over sea… (This includes the crusades.)
The only parallel with  what Europeans colonisers did in the last 500 years might be the Polynesians who did colonise a lot of Oceania and even very remote places as Hawai, Easter Island and New Zealand, but they generally didn’t steal countries from other people with much violence as the modern Europeans did, they colonised mostly uninhabited places. (where they ravaged ecosystems and brought extinctions, but that’s outside of the scope of this post)

Last Note: Islam and Christianity are very diverse religions, and can never be seen as one ‘power’. If I speak about an ‘Islamic power’ or empire, I mean an empire that has the Islamic religion as core part of their identity. But there have always been more different Islamic countries, some of which did fight each other. Lumping all Muslims together is the same as thinking that the Byzantine empire of the 1400s and contemporary America or Mexico are the same thing, because they all are Christian…