Merry Christmas from The Hartsocks!

We put together a little something to say "Merry Christmas" to you and yours...enjoy.



As I sat listening to one of my favorite bands, Over the Rhine, this past weekend I realized how their music and several others have transformed my perspective and appreciation of music. It wasn't like I devalued music to begin with rather I didn't really appreciate it...I simply enjoyed it.

Music moved from entertainment to a language and story told like no other art form. I became moved by these groups and their mastery. So I thought I would share a few of these bands and the songs/albums that are responsible for this shift as well as so writing about some films, TV Shows and books that have also transformed by perspective.

Transforming Music :: Over the Rhine (Good Dog, Bad Dog)

As Karen Bergquist closed the annual Christmas concert with "Latter Days" I was reminded of how moved I was by this album time after time. There were times I would simply bathe myself in the music and the profound lyrics of this song and also the entire album. I realized that music spoke to something I could simply not connect to with words or conversation.

Transforming Music :: Ennio Morricone (The Mission)

This film lands also in my transforming films...an experience that left be stunned and silent at its end. The beauty of the Amazon landscape, the brutality of the conquests and the searching for meaning and redemption by so many characters was perfectly captured by Morricone's soundtrack. When music evokes images and emotions left long ago in the theater to make them as tangible and fresh as the first time...that's transforming music. This soundtrack also gave me my long-standing love affair for instrumental music especially soundtracks.

Transforming Music :: U2 (Achtung, Baby)

I know, I know...so many refer to U2 as a transforming piece in their musical journey but there's a reason. They are astounding! I was moving out from a relatively sheltered musical life and venturing into the vast sound filled world out there, and what should I find greeting me within days...this innovative and masterful album. I remain convinced this album, if released today, would still be hailed as a defining moment in music. Listening to songs like "One", "Mysterious Ways", "The Fly", and "Ultraviolet" made me believe music can mix deep themes of spiritual significance with amazing music.

Transforming Music :: Sigur Ros ( )

My brother has played a huge part in my musical journey. Almost daring me at times to listen to music outside the box and hard to nail down genre-wise. Sigur Ros has captured the dense sense of deeply layered music and set it free with such unique sounds that it is hard right now to find the words to describe the experience. Watch one of their music videos capturing precisely the ethereal quality of Sigur Ros's music.

Other Transforming Music ::
Dave Matthews Band (Under the Table and Dreaming)
Live (Throwing Copper)
Stone Temple Pilots (Purple)
Mute Math (Self-Titled)
DC Talk (Free at Last)
David Crowder Band (All I Can Say)
Arcade Fire (Funeral)
Pearl Jam (Ten)
Radiohead (OK Computer)

I will be writing soon about some of the transforming experiences I have had with film, TV and books as well. I also love to hear some of your transforming moments...

Four Corners Church :: Sunday, December 16th

Series Message: "Give us a deliverer" in the Keeping Promises Series

We look at the wonder and awe behind the Christmas story as God fulfills His promises then and now. As we peer into the promises He kept we look into a future bigger than we can imagine.

Music Set:
I will celebrate the day - Relient K
Bless His Name - Tony Sanchez
Burn for You - Steve Fee
It came upon a midnight clear (1849) - Edmund Hamilton Sears
O Come, O Come Emanuel - John Mason Neale
Angels we have heard on high - Unknown

Special Elements:
Missionaries from Ghana spoke
Advent Short Film "Peace"


Review :: I am Legend

In many ways this film could be described as a version of Noah and the Ark but instead of a flood, there is a virus bringing humanity to the brink of extinction.

When a cure for cancer goes terribly wrong, most of humanity is wiped out only to leave the immune wanders of the day or the infected sick vampirish creatures of the night. "I Am Legend" throws us headlong into the loneliness and determination of Robert Neville (Will Smith) as he tries to maintain his sanity in a desolate New York City.

The film works brilliantly on many levels. You can almost tangibly feel the tense loneliness of Neville as he roams the streets with his faithful dog, Sam. The cinematography and scant score bring the apocalyptic world to life. The outlook looks grim and hopeless as he searches for the cure...much like the world of Frank Darabont's "The Mist". Gone are the days of good versus evil where a clear strength of good triumphs, and here to stay are the murky waters of a true battle between seemingly equal powers.

Smith's performance is also dynamic and strong. His depiction of Neville's solitary life leaves us deeply symphatheic to his plight and palpably feeling his teeter between a daily routine and madness.

But the film also left me short in many regards. There was a whole sub-plot seemingly crucial to the overall storyline left completely unexplored. For example, why did the leader of the creatures risk himself in the light when Neville captures a woman creature? His analysis seems lacking and myopic especially in light of what happens to him on the road just a day or two later. Why did this leader of the creatures relentlessly pursue Neville to the point of almost killing himself? Why did other creatures follow his orders if they were "de-evolving" into complete chaos? This storyline would have added a dynamic layer to the story and deeply improved an anemic second half.

Overall I enjoyed the film but wish the second half and the end wouldn't have taken such a conservative path. Smith's performance deserves a better payoff. I think Christianity Today nailed it in their review when they said,

"The problem isn't really that the second half of the movie switches from atmospheric to action focused. Instead, the plot becomes action-based instead of the action being plot-based. Smith brings such heart to the movie, but the second half of his fight against the Darkseekers is just impersonal and, well, fake."

So sit back and jump with fear a few times at something close to being great but falling short...


An amazing artist

A new friend of mine had me look at a great friend of his...an astounding artist, Jonathan Queen. His work is eerily beautiful and transfixing. I have a feeling one of those paintings may end on one of my walls soon.

One of the things my wife and I have decided to do throughout our house is to buy and hang original artwork. The last 2 years Jill has bought me paintings and I love them...so we'll see what happens this year.


Stop wasting your time...

Ever wonder how many days of your life you waste doing the menial tasks of life? Parking, changing clothes, doing your hair, untangling what not...

Sprint has a great new campaign called "Wait Less". In a series of brilliant little webisodes they show you how to save hours and days of your life. So in the amount of time you spent reading this blog...you could have chilled a soda or made sorbet.

Can you pass the MAN TEST?

Popular Mechanics published their "Man Test" lately to ensure you're truly a functioning male. I'm about a C- according to them...see where you are:

1. Patch a radiator hose
2. Protect your computer
3. Rescue a boater who has capsized
4. Frame a wall
5. Retouch digital photos
6. Back up a trailer
7. Build a campfire
8. Fix an outlet
9. Navigate with a compass and map
10. Use a torque wrench
11-25. Click HERE to read them

How much testosterone truly pumps through your veins?


The Lie of being famous

"There's not an obligation to be famous. We live in a culture that has impressed on us that everyone not only can be famous, but should or must be famous. And if you're not famous you've failed. If you're making art and the world doesn't cheer you, you're a failure. That's just a lie."

Music Critic Douglas Walk talking about Jandek on NPR's "All Thing's Considered"


Golden Compass is a bomb

I'll write a bit more later about the whole "Golden Compass" hoopla in play right now. But I predicted before all this began that the film would be a bomb and much of the to-do about the film was wasted energy...and it shaping up to be the biggest bomb of 2007.

Read this update about the movie here.


4 Trends of 2007

George Barna has published his observations about trends of 2007. Here are a few:
  1. Americans’ Unconditional Self-love
    • Americans have a high opinion of themselves - and lingering reservations about others.
    • Many Americans want to continue to change and grow… and… are willing to change as long as the pathway promises benefit and enjoyment, and generally avoids pain, conflict and sacrifice.
    • Many Americans are seeking to be viewed as individuals distinct from the ever-growing masses.
    • Adults - especially those under 30 - regularly strive to be connected to a substantial number of other people and yet possess a nagging sense of loneliness, isolation and restlessness.

  2. Nouveau Christianity
    • The image of the Christian faith has taken a beating.
    • The result is that those who choose to remain Christian - however they define it - are also reformulating the popular notion of what “Christian” and the Christian life mean.
    • Some of those changes are producing favorable outcomes, while others are less appealing.
Read the rest of the report on Barna. Thanks to Church Relevence for the heads up.

Sending an E-Card just got amusing

If I mentioned the idea of sending an E-card to someone it wouldn't be something to spark much interest until now. So take a whirl and send a co-worker, friend or maybe just a random stranger an E-Card today. (Warning :: some of these cards could offend)


Four Corners Church :: Sunday, December 2nd

Series Message: "Do you know who I am?" in the Hard Questions Jesus Asked Series

Ever wonder how much easier it would be to follow Jesus if all of your questions could be answered? Ironically, when Jesus walked the earth he did not spend a lot of time giving answers -- instead he asked a lot of questions.

Music Set:
Solid Rock - Delirious
More than Ever - Robbie Reider
Somewhere I Belong - Linkin Park
Salvation is Here - Hillsong united
Happy Day - Tim Hughes

Special Elements:
"Baptism Stories"


Review :: Evan Almighty

Everything "Bruce Almighty" did to make itself so insightful and infectiously funny, "Evan..." did not. A disappointing sequel for so many reasons but mainly that it was just not that funny. Steve Carrell is left carrying a family film more interested in Hallmark moments than true satire and wit. It was a strictly by-the-numbers film in every regard leading to an utterly frustrating movie experience.

If you want to watch Carrell light up the screen with his charisma, charm and off-beat humor...watch "Dan in Real Life" instead.