I am a writer, photographer, filmmaker, print designer and typesetter, political junkie, and above all else a Christian. This site collects all my work in one location, so come on in and take a look around!


Latest Ramblings

Thoughts On 2010

by johncalvinyoung | January 1st, 2011

Coming to the end of this amazing, incredible, difficult year, I remember where I was a year ago, and realize that though I had my usual, detailed plans for what I wanted to do with my year, the Lord chose to surprise me. I couldn’t have imagined where I would end up, what happened and where I have been, the highs and lows He has brought us through. Some of my big plans came to fruition…many more changed or just didn’t happen. But I can scarcely have imagined how this year could have been better. He knew better than I could have ever predicted what I would be faced with, those ups and downs…and He brought me through them.

Praising God for his mercy and grace: my father is cancer-free (hardly able to hope last New Year’s), and my baby sister is doing well with her heart condition. I have family love, deep friendships, and treasured memories to look back on from this year. He brought me friends at times when I needed them worst, solid Christian fellowship that we know need not be limited to a summer, a decade, or a life–but will continue even beyond the grave. Forget friends for life. Friends for eternity, more like! You know who you guys are.

He has blessed my relationships with my family, and even though I haven’t been at home nearly as much as I’d like this year, I have delightful memories and traditions to remember and take back with me to Britain, where I will be living nearly half of this next calendar year. I’m closer to my brothers than I’ve ever been, and enjoying watching everyone grow up, particularly my adorable little sisters.

I’ve been unusually blessed with special memories this year–for one that loves to travel as well as come home, there’s been plenty of both in 2010. Exploring the high country in Colorado with my family, London and Oxford by myself and with friends, DC at the end of the summer with my whole family and friends from church, and the end of the holidays with another awesome batch of friends. Swing and shag and contra dancing all summer long, and arguing books and philosophy and theology into the night afterwards. Reconnecting with old, old friends, and making awesome new ones…

It’s mighty convicting, that our best-laid plans are so paltry and often misdirected when set beside God’s will. We think we know what we need, or even what we want–the Lord knows what we need, even what we want, and what we should have. He delights to give good gifts to His children, and we have seen his abundance of grace time and time again. My family went through a lot of challenges this year, but the thing we learned through it all was that we needn’t worry about the future or about provision we need. Rather, we need to trust that He knows and cares and His will is best!

So that was 2010. A long, busy, tumultuous year…full of happenings and travel and fun and business, even as I worked on a contract job up until 11PM on the 31st. But a good one. Next year may carry boom or bust, abundance or abasement, excitement or boredom…but we can trust the Lord with it. ‘Twas a good year to trust the Lord. And may the next be better!

Posted in: News | 1 Comment

Resurrection Sunday Dance

by johncalvinyoung | August 28th, 2010

Under the category of things-that-don’t-agree-with-me-aesthetically-but-are-nonetheless-awesome, we have here an incredible, spine-tingling, heart-lifting video put together by Faith Church of Budapest Hungary: on Easter Sunday this year, 1300 young folks gathered in Heroes Square in downtown Budapest and very publicly put on a choreographed worship dance to a Hungarian praise song.

The music doesn’t all appeal to me, neither does the dance moves they chose for the video. But the very fact of their being there sends chills up and down my spine. You see, I’ve been there. I spent some time in Eastern Europe six years ago, and stood in this very square in front of the Millenium Memorial. It’s an old, patinaed monument–this wasn’t erected at the turn of the millenium, but in honor of the thousandth year of Hungarian history in 1898. And it sits in the middle of a bleak square with an acre of paving stones around it in the heart of Budapest–a city still very much under the shadow of its years of Communism and repression, when Christians were not allowed to practice openly.

This church that started small in those dark days has grown to encompass a significant portion of the community, now holding multiple services of tens of thousands apiece on Sunday morning. I’m not wholeheartedly comfortable with the trend of megachurches in US mainline evangelical circles, but the Lord appears to be doing a mighty work here. For even just six years ago I couldn’t have imagined so many of Budapest’s youth (and older folks, too) standing joyful in one of the bleakest spots in downtown Budapest and dancing and singing the good news. For the song they were singing was particularly meaningful to me, having seen the damage statism and tyranny has done to their country in the past century.

That day will be remembered as the greatest day in history
The fate of the world changed in one glorious moment
When Life triumphed on Resurrection Sunday

The hope of a people searching for life
The day will be brighter
The message of freedom rings in the sky
Spreading the fire
The flag of a nation ready to fly
Taking them higher
The heart of a land that rises to fight
Full of desire
When nothing is as you want it to be
Look up to heaven
Freedom was paid for on Calvary
The chain is broken
Making a way right to destiny
Borders are open
And Jesus has granted the victory
That Sunday morning

Joy in this life time, utterly free
More than the world gives, beyond what you see
For nations its time to rise their hope is in Jesus Christ
If the giants come, just hold on, the advantage is now on your side
Jesus, will take the final fight

A light dawned that Sunday Morning
It broke through the boundaries of time
Hearts start shining, calling to all mankind
Lets celebrate eternal life

When nothing is as you want it to be
Look up to heaven
Freedom was paid for on Calvary
The chain is broken
Making a way right to destiny
Borders are open
And Jesus has granted the victory
That Sunday morning

Joy in this life time, utterly free
More than the world gives, beyond what you see
For nations its time to rise their hope is in Jesus Christ
If the giants come, just hold on, the advantage is now on your side
Jesus, will take the final fight

Watch it. I can’t hear this without crying. For a country that’s been through so much, come through the fires and flames of secular humanism, it is time to rise, and their greatest hope is in Jesus Christ. Jesus will take the final fight!

Posted in: Church, Music, News, Video | No Comments

Mists of My Own Sight (Sabbath Poem)

by johncalvinyoung | July 30th, 2010

Last Saturday night I was tossing around a couple rhyming lines in my head before going to bed, and they just weren’t fitting correctly. I got up Sunday morning and headed to church, not really thinking about what I had been working on the night before. I was sitting in church, listening to the sermon, when suddenly the lines just fell into place in my head. As I sat there, a second verse came to me, then a third. I realized it wasn’t going to stop, got up (we run a rather informal service), stepped out to my car and found a notebook, and returned to my seat. Before I really realized it, I had a dozen or more verses in my notebook! I’m posting it here for others to read and enjoy…it’s not fully finished, so comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated!

Lord, show me Your way,
When I walk in the gray
Not in darkness, or in light
But the mists of my own sight.

Lord, how can I know
How to walk, and then to grow
In the fog, when I cry out
In the midst of fear and doubt.

Lord, I cannot stand,
Unless You’re with me in this land.
Lest then from Your path I stray
And be found out of Your way.

Lord, here in my storm,
Is little light and less of form.
Let me hear the blessed sound,
In trackless waste, of solid ground.

Lord, faith give to me,
That I may walk this stormy sea.
Let me trust now that Thy arm
Shall protect me from all harm.

Lord, I cannot steer,
My own course, through storms of fear.
Without Your light I soon should fail;
My soul be swamped, unless you bail.

Lord, when I shall guide
My own steps, from this side.
Then I cannot help but sink
‘Neath the waves and o’er the brink.

Lord, I cannot see
What Your will would have of me.
Let me cry, lest I should fall
Thy Word be my all in all.

Lord, please clear mine eyes
Balance all, and let me prize
In my heart Thy Word aright
That I may safe come through this fight.

Lord, now help me fight
Long as I stand within Your light.
Yet when clouds shall cover me
Let not my thoughts stray far from Thee.

Solid truth shall set me free
Bring safe to harbor, near to Thee
Let not me trust my darkened sight
Be thou, my Lord, my perfect light.

This event got me to thinking about the nature of creativity. I would hesitate to use the word “inspired”, because that implies a lot of other things. But this was one of the stranger experiences I’ve had with creativity…usually, I spend some time over a poem, constructing each verse and rhyme–rarely does anything of length come to me fully- (or mostly-) formed. Yet all our creativity stems from God, subcreationally, so should we be surprised when He takes different paths with it?

Note: I don’t have a tune for this, and so if anyone’d like to tackle it, shoot me a message! I did notice while I was writing this post that it fits fairly well with the traditional Celtic tune arranged by the Scottish band Runrig for “One Thing” on their The Stamping Grou

Posted in: Church, Hymns, Music, Philosophy, Portfolio, Theology, Writing | No Comments

Highway to the Stars

by johncalvinyoung | July 19th, 2010

After the excellent CHEC 2010 Family Conference in Denver, I had a single day to see as much of Colorado as I could with my father and mother, baby sister Katie, and younger brother Matthew. The highlight of our trip was an excursion up Mount Evans along Colorado Highway 5–the Highway to the Stars. The highest paved road in the world, Highway 5 runs from below Echo Lake around 7,000 feet to a parking lot slightly below the summit at 14,130 feet. For this flatlander, 14,000 feet was a new experience–with atmospheric pressure down to only ~65% of sea level, the high barren alpine meadows and ridgelines were a far cry from the wooded mountains of my beloved Blue Ridge, reminding me of the “Scottish Soldier” folk song:

Because these green hills are not Highland hills
Or the island hills, they’re not my land’s hills
And fair as these green foreign hills may be
They’re not the hills of home.

That said, it was an incredible, breathtaking experience…but don’t let me tell you, you can see for yourself!

Highway to the Stars

An album from our expe­di­tion up Mount Evans in Colorado, along the breath­tak­ing Highway to the Stars, the high­est paved road in the world.
Mount Evans, CO
28 pho­tos
Posted in: Photography, Portfolio | No Comments

Pixar’s WALL-E Filled With Wordless Wonder, Yet Preachy

by johncalvinyoung | July 14th, 2010

Another one from the files–here’s my review of WALL-E, published in the August 2008 Carolina Journal.

Disney/Pixar’s latest animated odyssey opens to a much bleaker world than the one outside the theater doors. A shell of abandoned satellites rings a wasted Earth mounded in trash and studded with spent nuclear reactors and empty cities. The sky has taken on a copper hue from the continual duststorms, and even the ultramodern transit systems and starports are empty and windblown. When the Earth’s pollution accumulated to an unlivable level, the humans boarded cruise-ships-to-the-stars and left an army of Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth Class robots to deal with the ruined planet.

The only problem is the project failed. Only one robot still works on, and he is lonely. WALL-E, voiced by Ben Burtt, toils cheerfully during the day, but spends his evenings wondering what it would be like to have a friend. Pollution-ruined robots dot the landscape, and WALL-E’s only companion is a cockroach.

When an inquisitive Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator, a gorgeous but sharp-tempered space probe named EVE, Elissa Knight, suddenly drops into his environment, he is instantly smitten. He takes her to his “home” to show her the oddities he has collected in his work. When she finds a seedling in his hoard, though, she collects the plant and goes into hibernation. When her carrier rocket returns to pick her up, WALL-E stows away as the spaceship leaves for the Crab Nebula.

When the robots and their precious plant reach the Axiom, an immense starship sheltering the human race, they encounter another troubled world. Waited on hand-and-foot by a crew of obsequious robot stewards, the humans have lived a life devoid of physical exertion or personal responsibility. They are unable even to act for their own good.

EVE’s plant, like the olive sprig the dove returned to Noah’s ark, indicates that Earth can support life again and humanity can return. The robots are not so ready to relinquish their power, and a colossal struggle erupts over who will control the plant. EVE and WALL-E must race against time to rouse the humans if they are ever to return to Earth.

WALL-E is a personable little robot, and his cheerful labor and innocent curiosity will endear him to viewers. EVE is initially cold, until she replays her memories of Earth for the starship captain and realizes the little things WALL-E did for her. Her subsequent devotion to WALL-E, who risks his life to recover the plant and complete her mission, is touching. It raises interesting questions about robot romances but plays out well in the movie.

The underlying themes are more problematic, though. Humans are depicted as finally having ruined the earth with nuclear reactors, oil tankers, satellites, and the excess of consumerism — symbolized by billboards on the moon. The film issues a strong indictment against modern society, portraying the human race as a selfish horde of consumers focused solely on leisure and entertainment. BNL, the global corporation that built and operates the Axiom, is actually short for “Buy-N-Large.” Every human on board the starship lives in a motorized hoverchair, their every whim supplied by the robot stewards. Virtual golf and tennis are common pastimes on the Axiom, but few of the grotesquely obese passengers even know that there is a real swimming pool aboard.

These adverse impressions are mitigated somewhat by a plot that pushes the humans finally to develop some muscle and that shows the environment finally becoming habitable again. Political jabs are less balanced, though. The briefing room of the White House is shown twice, with the BNL logo substituted for the Great Seal, as the former CEO of BNL, Fred Willard, issues disastrous advice in a heavy Texas accent, urging his listeners to “stay the course” in a not-so-subtle comparison to President Bush.

These environmental and societal premises have a decidedly alarmist slant, but the actual plotline balances it to a large degree. The characters are masterfully drawn, and Pixar’s animation is flawless as always. Taken altogether, “WALL-E” is a supremely entertaining film, with more serious themes. It will be enjoyed by all ages, and well deserves a place next to “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” and “Cars” on the family DVD shelves.

Posted in: Carolina Journal, Film Reviews, Portfolio, Writing | No Comments

The Legend of the Dogwood Tree: An Eternal Remembrance

by johncalvinyoung | July 13th, 2010

Around Easter, in either late March or early April, the dogwoods around my home in North Carolina and my school in Virginia burst into bloom. Although they come in many different colors, white, cream, pink, and near-orange, it is the deep pink/red ones which are my favorite, for they have a story behind them.

As you will find if you ever have to cut down a dead dogwood tree, the wood is a beautiful thing. It’s a clear, smooth pink hardwood, with a fragrant scent—a wood seemingly excellent for any of a number of projects. But if you look closely at the trees, you see that there are very few branches larger than a half inch, and the trunk and major branches both are short and branch often, leaving few straight sections suitable for anything bigger than minor woodcrafts. But the legend states that the dogwood was not always this way. Supposedly, the dogwood was once a tall, straight tree, easy to grow and easy to work. So easy, in fact, that the rough cross hacked out for Jesus’s execution was cut from a dogwood. In punishment (or commemoration, depending on how you look at it), the Lord remade the dogwood, making it a low, twisting, largely ornamental tree, so that never again could it be used for a purpose so heinous.

Its flowers and blood-red berries are also said to carry a memorial. In the dead of winter, in the season of our Savior’s birth, you will notice almost alone among the trees the dogwood stands laden down with deep red berries that sustain birds and other beasts through the worst of the winter. And then when Easter comes, its delicate flowers open at last, a storm of creamy petals, mostly in pure white and a red-tinged pink. Each flower tells the story, for at the edge of every smooth petals appears a wound or scar, marring the perfect beauty of the four petals with a symbol of Christ’s hands, feet, and side. A wash of red, like blood, stains each white petal. In the center of the flower* appears a crown of thorns. These spectacular flowers appear typically shortly before Easter and stay for a short period, then fall in a rain of velvet petals, leaving the “crown” to bear fruit for the next winter.

Do we know what tree the cross was made from? No, we don’t. Is it even important? No, of course not. But like the shamrock, every symbol we can find in creation is worth remembering that all creation cries out to remind us of the truth? And like Lewis’s Ransom, with a God like ours, how can we be sure of coincidence? When we consider the love and purpose of God, how can we say the dogwood was not originally created like that to remind even one of us, when we walk among the red-tinged flowers at Easter, of the true story and meaning of the season? In this way does the humble dogwood memorialize Christ’s death until this world shall pass away.

* technically, the dogwood bears inflorations, flower clusters with bracts, but we’ll call them flowers for now.
Posted in: Theology | No Comments

“The Clouds Be Rolled Back Like a Scroll”

by johncalvinyoung | July 12th, 2010

Sunday, driving down through the wilds of rural South Carolina, we crested a hill and realized that in advance of the front edge of a storm system, wide beams of light were breaking through the light cloud cover, reaching down to touch each hilltop. I wish I had a picture–it was an incredible sight, but I was driving, trying to make up the time after getting lost, and couldn’t get out my camera.

Such beams of sunlight are nothing more than that–bright light catching the dust or wisps of cloud in the air and lighting them up, much like a flashlight’s beam can be seen in a dusty room. Artists (particularly in computer graphics) call such beams of light “god-beams”, since people are fascinated with such ethereal phenomena–they appear to reach from heaven to earth and look so real, yet are intangible and hard to capture on film. The incredible sight that afternoon put me in mind of a few things appropriate to the Sabbath we were traveling through–the incredible beauty of even a broken world, and what Christ’s return may hold.

I’ve always been fascinated by hymns such as It Is Well With My Soul that speak to what our Savior and King’s triumphant return may look like (lyrics quoted below from Cyberhymnal):

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Such incredible, spine-tingling sights such as a brilliant patch of sunbeams breaking through the clouds from an unimaginable brightness make me think about what that day may look like. The Lord gives little-to-few details, but what he does mention hint at a pretty spectacular event. From 1 Thessalonians 4, 16-18 (ESV):

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Or Isaiah 34:4, also from the ESV:

All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree.

Whenever I see sunbeams like that, I think of His return. It may be just be the poet in me, but I imagine a clear sky, bluest of blues, cloudless…when suddenly like the sun breaking through the clouds, the true light of heaven breaks through into our world, out-shining the sun, and the very fabric of our reality rolls away. I have no doubt it will most likely happen differently, probably in a way unimaginable to me on this side of the event. But the thought excites me nonetheless…to crib from C.S. Lewis, when Christ returns, why, then it shall be spring!

May we always live in the knowledge that Christ is coming–neither to forget the Master is returning, nor to atrophy our talents idly waiting, for we are to be found working!

(I’m not delving into the niceties of interpreting end-times prophecies here, as legitimate as those discussions may be. Suffice it to say that I believe that the Second Coming of Christ is indeed set forth as a physical, actual, (if more-than-physical, as well) event that will occur, but has not yet. The details of the timing may indeed be a legitimate theological discussion, but this is not the forum or time to go into that.)
Posted in: Hymns, Theology | No Comments

We Are All Minotaurs

by johncalvinyoung | July 11th, 2010

After yesterday’s post about the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where I mentioned Prince Caspian‘s disastrous deviation from the original story, I realized I had never posted this article I wrote shortly after seeing the film on the thematic structure and motifs of Prince Caspian. (I intentionally did not comment on the interpolated romance between Caspian and Susan, which I consider to be extremely distracting and damaging to the film as a whole and possibly the franchise.)

We Are All Minotaurs

Last week I went opening night with three of my brothers to see the new Chronicles of Narnia film, Prince Caspian. The film does not follow the book really closely, but it did do some things very well, and it set me thinking. Before I watched the film, I had always thought of Prince Caspian as a rather pointless  book. It wasn’t a grand allegory like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or The Last Battle, but it didn’t have a particular theme of its own like Dawn Treader or The Silver Chair—or so I thought. Although they discarded massive chunks of the book when making the film, the filmmakers retained every line of the dialogue that dealt with the spiritual side of the story, emphasizing the thematic and allegorical elements that made it what it was. As the film closed I was amazed—they hadn’t added anything to the familiar lines from the book (in that particular realm), but they had drawn out a theme which I hadn’t really seen as integral to the story.

It really dawned on me when Lucy finally meets Aslan—when towards the end, she talks to him at last. Aslan asks her, “Little One, why didn’t you come to me?” She answers, “But…but—the others wouldn’t believe! They wouldn’t listen to me!” “Yes, I know, but why didn’t you come?”She looks down, and with a catch in her voice admits, “I-I guess I was scared. But-but Aslan?!–if I had come when I saw you, would the others be dead?” “Lucy, how many times have I told you that you cannot know what would have been? But what will be—that is a different matter!” I realized that that was the true meaning, the real theme of the story—that sometimes we have to take things on faith, and not waver—that Caspian had to trust the Professor, trust that the horn would bring help, trust that the children and then Aslan would truly help him. Peter, Susan, Edmund and not least Lucy had to place their faith implicitly in Aslan, even when it looked like they had been pulled into Narnia only to die. They needed to follow him, even when it looked like he was leading them over a precipice to their doom. When things looked darkest, they had to take it on faith that Aslan would save them, that they were to be found fighting for the cause when he came. This theme was brought out powerfully throughout the movie, resulting in perhaps an even more thematic film than book.

When I was sitting there putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, I remembered a strange detail I had noted earlier in the film. There were Minotaurs fighting alongside Centaurs and Fauns in Caspian’s army! In the book, there were remnants of both good and bad Narnia in the forest, and they had joined forces originally, but the evil elements were soon found to be unable to work alongside the good. True, that happened in the movie, but the Minotaurs were not involved in the mutiny. I suddenly realized that the filmmakers, in transforming the story for the silver screen, had created a very interesting visual metaphor in the participation of the Minotaurs in Caspian’s army. One Minotaur had even been highlighted, when in one battle, a gate is dropped behind much of the army and a Minotaur throws himself beneath it, bracing himself to hold it up and allow his comrades to escape. Even when gut-shot by one of Miraz’s archers, he stood there long enough for most of the army to escape. Something seemed strange here. Thinking back, what were the most visible members of the Witch’s army in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? The Minotaurs, of course! And yet here they were, fighting and dying for the right side this time. How could that be? They didn’t deserve it! It was then I realized that the themes of redemption, repentance, and salvation were only strengthened by this motif. The Minotaurs were unspeakably evil, in fact the very symbols of the dark army, but after the death of the Son they too were offered grace. Now, despite their heritage, they had the privilege of fighting in the King’s army, and giving their lives for Him. The allegory dawned on me—what are we but Minotaurs in the cosmic sense? We are the “unspeakably evil” ones, the ones whose kindred were present and participated in the death of the Creator’s Son. Yet we had been offered free grace, and we were the ones who should be awed to be asked to give our fortunes or our lives in the King’s service. Truly we too have more to appreciate than any other. We are all Minotaurs. We ought not to forget it, either.

That’s how book adaptations ought to be—the filmmakers using the strengths of the medium to enhance and reinforce the themes of the original work. Not to say that the filmmakers did everything right with Prince Caspian—far from it—but that the metaphor of the redeemed Minotaurs fighting in the King’s army left me with a poignant image of the theme, one which left me thinking for days. That’s the way it ought to be.

Posted in: Film Reviews, Theology, Writing | 1 Comment

Voyage of the Dawn Treader Trailer Released!

by johncalvinyoung | July 10th, 2010

With great excitement I watched this trailer for the first time–the sea of lilies, the star’s daughter, the beach at the end of the world, the very appearance of the Dawn Treader, and the Dufflepuds…come majestically to the silver screen, and in 3D no less! It was on my second, and third, and fourth rewatching with my fellow C.S. Lewis friends, that we noticed a couple of significant discrepancies…

  • Where does Jadis (the White Witch) come in? The shot in the trailer seems to hint at some sort of vision, so I suppose it could be part of the Dark Island sequence, but somehow she looked more…corporeal…than that.
  • Where’s Eustace and/as the dragon? Apparently he is in the movie, as an effects house has been contracted to provide 200 shots of the dragon, but he’s not in the trailer almost at all (only one shot, in his bedroom).
  • I was incredibly excited to see the sea of lilies, and the beach at the end of the world. But where do Peter and Susan come in? They weren’t supposed to be there! (H/T: I noticed this one only after seeing someone mention it in a Youtube comment…) One other thing–is that Aslan’s mountain behind him in one of the final shots? I can’t wait for the Silver Chair!
  • What’s the deal with Lucy and the snow? I presume it’s meant to be another spell she experiments with, but I can’t remember anything like that.

A friend of mine got to see some very advanced footage from VDT over two years ago, early in production–he stated that he was worried about the final film, because it appeared that they have emphasized the darker parts of the tale to the detriment of all else…

I will be very excited to see it, but I’m concerned about what the new director will do to the film, possibly deviating from the original in the disastrous way Prince Caspian did (although PC at least stayed relatively consistent thematically.) December cannot come quick enough!

P.S. My brother correctly identified the music swirling into the final sequences as “Heart of Courage” by band “Two Steps from Hell”. Can’t say I like the name, but it sure sounds awesome…

Posted in: News, Video | 1 Comment

“Remember Me, Not My Shame” — Fernando Ortega

by johncalvinyoung | July 10th, 2010

My good friend Tristany recently reintroduced me to an artist I’d heard of before but had never had time to check out properly. Fernando Ortega is a classically trained pianist, singer, and songwriter whose music draws on classical, Latin American, country, and Celtic influences to create some of the most beautiful, reverent acoustic music for worship and life I have ever heard. The first song of his I heard, and still my favorite (although he has an excellent collection of old hymns done RIGHT) is the following, “Shame”:

Though I am weak, sometimes weary
In times of trial I hide my face
In the balance, judge me wholly
Please don’t judge me
By my shame

In dark hours of confrontation
When words may fall too soon to unsay
Don’t mistake them for my true meaning
They are measures
Of my shame

I have tried to live life humbly
Not a coward, not in vain
When my meekness overcomes me
Remember me, not my shame
Not my shame

I am small and self-conscious
Every mirror reflects the grain
Judge my essence by my kinships
Remember me
Not my shame

I am weak, sometimes weary
Sometimes small, I hide away
When my hours are all accounted
Please don’t bind me
To my shame


Ortega’s arrangements of traditional hymns, particularly little-known Celtic hymns, are among the best I’ve ever heard. His music is typically expressive, without being overly embellished–the hymns in particular are well-suited to sing along with. I hope you will find his music, as I do, unusually appropriate for a Sunday morning, and well worth listening to throughout the week.

Posted in: Hymns, Music | No Comments