(Edited to add remarks on the music videos. And to add the Life Model to the list of spiritual streams.)
The week received a surreal and troubling start when I learned on Sunday that one of the first video game YouTubers I watched had died in his sleep the night before. He was 22. His real name was Michael, but online he was known as Random Toon because of his main game, ToonTown Rewritten. The cause of death is unknown.
I’m noticing how death changes your definition of the person who died. Instead of “the guy whose future streams and videos I can take for granted,” Random Toon is now “the guy who will never stream or make another video again.” Instead of “the fun-loving guy with a thriving community of fans,” he’s “the guy who was tragically and mysteriously ripped from life way too early.” But he’s still the guy whose past we can remember fondly. And luckily his videos are still around to help us do that.
One episode that sticks in my mind was a livestream in which he edited one of his upcoming videos. When I’m creating content, I tend to work on my own and consider all the pieces very carefully. Michael threw together random elements, took suggestions from viewers, and molded it all into something that worked. Watching creators who are different from me expands my understanding of the creative process.
I’m still apartment hunting. Last week I finished the budget, found some apartments, and made Jeremy take me around in his air conditioned car to look at them. But I didn’t go on any tours to look inside. That’s this week’s task.
In last week’s update I touched on researching my current audiobook categories, and my ideas on the spirituality category were still developing, so I put off talking about them till this week. As I said then, my difficulty is that there isn’t much religious thought I feel able to take seriously. But it turns out there are some streams I do feel are worth following, even if I don’t like everything about them.
One is the spiritual disciplines tradition. These are the ideas and practices that were brought into evangelical awareness by Dallas Willard. They treat spiritual progress as a matter of gradual, persistent, holistic training. A lot of writers have followed in his wake, so there’s plenty more material in this category.
A second is NT Wright. I don’t really want to tie these categories to specific people, but at the moment I don’t know what else to call this category. I think of his theology as revolving around the spiritual exile of Israel and the redemption of the physical universe. I’ll need to explore this stream more to refine my summary of it.
A third is what I’m calling Inkling Christianity. I’d characterize it as an approach to Christian spiritual and intellectual ideas filtered through the British, liturgical, literary, classical lens of CS Lewis and his writer friends. This is where I’d put the Wingfeather Saga, which is the series that got me thinking about these streams.
A third is the Christian Hedonism of John Piper. I have to qualify this one, because I have plenty of reservations about Piper and the neo-Reformed movement. I only care about the ideas around Christian Hedonism, the notion that God is the fulfillment of human life and that joy is therefore part of our duty toward him.
A fourth is the Life Model, a paradigm of spiritual formation based on neuroscience. It’s associated with the Immanuel Prayer ministry I used to be involved with. It largely explores the role of relational connection in coping and growth.
A fifth is Eastern Orthodoxy. I don’t know that I’d ever become Orthodox, but I want to mine it for ideas. I have a few print books on it. I haven’t found much in audio.
The last is stream is a genre–biographies. If I can’t deal with lectures on the way God must be, I can at least benefit from the stories of people who tried to devote themselves to him. If they’re authors I’d read, it also gives me a backdrop for understanding their writings.
After finishing How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker for the cognitive science category, my next audiobook will be NT Wright’s Surprised by Hope.
I’ve been watching more music instruction and other related videos, and it’s making life feel strangely magical. Here are some highlights from last week.
- MAJOR “Feel Good” Chords!!! – PrettySimpleMusic – He has his own system for constructing chords that I think all have other names in mainstream music theory. But I love his enthusiasm, and the chords really do sound nice.
- Music Theory – The Dorian Mode – Rick Beato – I never knew what modes were for, but this gives me a much better idea. It also reminds me of the power of music to take over my emotions. The demonstrations give the whole video an otherworldly feel.
- KEYSCAPE – Greg Phillinganes: Electric Piano Hits! – SpectrasonicsVIDEO – I didn’t know who this was, but he’s a well-known session musician. Judging from this video he knows every pop song ever written. And he’s really fun to watch. My favorite part is his comment about Stevie Wonder at 7:56.
- KEYSCAPE – Jacob Collier: Piano Improvisation – SpectrasonicsVIDEO (transcription, cover) – Jacob Collier is my current favorite YouTuber. A brilliant young person and a music theory nerd. And although I’m sure his performances are meant to be part of a serious career, he makes his videos from home and seems to have a great time doing it.
- Watch a prodigy create — from four notes in a hat – 60 Minutes – Now for something different, classical. I didn’t know what to expect, and she still surprised me. Another brilliant young person.