Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.


Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.


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"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.


Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.


Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.


This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews
The Shallows, Nicholas Carr
In this very readable, very thought provoking analysis of electronic communciations technology and its impact on our brains and culture, Nicholas Carr brings together media theory (think Marshall McLuhan), history (think Gutenberg) and neuroscience (think discoveries in brain plasticity) to show how computer technology is shaping us in ways of which we are only dimly aware. He argues that such technologies reduce our capacity for deep, creative and sustained linear thought (or at least have the potential to do so) and predispose us to the fragmented, the cursive and the superficial. Worth the read.

Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf

Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit, Edith Humphrey
A fascinating and engaging introduction to spiritual theology-- or the theology of spirituality, as the case may be. This book is a very scholarly, devotional, christo-centric, ecumenical and trinitarian overview of what it means for Christians to live in the Spirit and with the Spirit within. Bracing and enlightening.

Leading with a Limp, Dan Allender

five smooth stones for pastoral work, Eugene Peterson

From Darkness to Light: How One Became a Christian in the Early Church, Anne Fields

Life in the Ancient Near East, Daniel C. Snell
Snell's Life in the Ancient Near East offers a social history of the ANE, tracing the earliest settlement of Mesopotamia, the development of agriculture, first cities, ancient economy and the emergence of empire. Bringing together a rich variety of data gleaned both from the archaeological record and extant historical texts, he tells the history of this cradle of civilization with a special eye for the "human" element - focusing on the forces and factors that would have directly affected the daily life of the various strata of society. Worth a read generally, but all the more for someone with a particular interest in the biblical stories that find their setting and draw their characters and themes from the same provenience.

The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament, Richard Davidson
Davidson's Old Testament theology of human sexuality is stunning in its achievement, challenging in its content, and edifying in its conclusions. Davidson addresses every-- and I do mean every-- Old Testament text that deals (even obliquely) with human sexuality, and, through detailed exegesis, careful synthesis, and deep interaction with the scholarly research, develops a detailed picture of the Old Testament's vision for redeemed human sexuality. 700 pages of Biblical scholarship at its best.

Eaarth, Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben's Eaarth, is a call for us to wake up smell the ecological coffee...while we can still brew it. Unlike his previous work, or any writing on ecology I've yet read, however, Eaarth does not argue that catastrophe is pending. Instead, he argues that catastrophe has arrived, and that our all talk about "going green to avert disaster," "and "saving the planet" is woefully obsolete. In ecological terms, the planet as we once knew it is gone, he argues, and rather than trying to "avert" disaster, we need to start figuring out how to live in the disaster that's happened. Key themes he identifies as important for life on planet Eaarth resonnated with me as profoundly Christian ways of being (disaster or no). We must stop assuming that "bigger" is better; we must acknowledge limits on economic and technological growth; we must get reacquainted with the land; we need eschew self-sufficency and nurture community.

Love Wins, Rob Bell
So fast and furious has the furor over this book been, that any review will inevitably feel redundant or tardy. Given the crowd on the band wagon by now, I actually had no intention of hopping on myself, but my kids got it for me for Father's Day. About 15 pages in, I realized that I could probably finish it in on good push, so I got it over with. My thoughts: probably the most over-hyped book I ever read; I loved it and found it frustratingly under-developed at the same time; while he raises some important issues, his handling of them reads like a yoda-meets-Tom-Wright account of salvation; nothing C. S. Lewis hasn't already said more clearly and more cleverly; I'm glad he wrote it, and I'm glad the Evangelical world has errupted over it the way it has, and I hope a much more spirited and generous and optimistic understanding of soteriology and eschatology will infuse the evangelical church's mission as a result.

Rediscovering Paul, David Capes et. al.
Rediscovering Paul is a hepful overview of Paul's life, times and theology. While at times I felt it might have gone deeper, or expressed its ideas more clearly, it provides some interesting and inspiring insights into the man behind the letters. Among these is its discussion of the communal aspect of first century letter writing, and the influence of one's community on one's personal sense of identity, and how those issues might have played out in Paul's writings. Another challenging issue that it tackles is the whole process of letter writing in the Greco-Roman world, especially as regards the role a scribe often played in shaping the text, smoothing out the langugae or providing stock phrases, etc.

Lavondyss, Robert Holdstock
If you've read George MacDonald's Lilith, then think of Lavondyss as sort of a Lilith-for-Non-Christians. It's the convoluted labyrinth of a story about a young girl called Tallis and her adventures in a magical wood that brings the Jungian archetypes buried deep in our subconscious to life. Dense with questions about Jungian psychology, and the spiritually-thin-places of the world, and death and myth and magic and story, it's pretty tough slugging at times, but thought provoking and challenging. At times I felt like I was reading the Narnia book C. S. Lewis might have written if he had pursued the "stab of northerness" in directions other than the Christian Faith where he found it eternally satisfied.

Jesus and Money, Ben Witherington III
My friend John Vlainic once ranked Ben Witheringon as one of the strongest Biblical scholars in the Wesleyan tradtion working today. This thin but powerful volume is evidence to support such an accolade. I opened it expecting (judging by the cover) either a how-to book on Christian finances, or (judging by the other books I've read on Christ and Money) a hodge-podge of Bible verses taken out of context and mushed together as proof texts about the tithe. I got neither; instead, Ben Witherington walks slowly, thoughtful and exegetically through the breadth of Biblical teaching, with special sensitivity to the cultural context of the various texts, the tension between Old and New Testament teaching on the topic, and the differences between modern and ancient economies. If I were to recommend one book to develop a biblical theology of money, it would be this one.

The Gravedigger File, Os Guinness
My first taste of Os Guinness, and, if you don't mind a mangled metaphor, it went down like a bracing pint of... well... Guinness. Grave Digger file is sort of a "Screwtape Letters" project on a church-wide scale. In concept, the book is a series of "training files" for an undercover agent attempting to undermine and ultimately sabotage the Western Church, delivered from the pen of a seasoned saboteur to a young agent recently assigned to Los Angeles. In plot, the young agent ultimately defects, and delivers the "Gravedigger File" into the hands of a Christian, urging him to alert the Church to the operation. It is bursting with "things that make you go hmmm..." and deserves a second, careful read with pen in hand, ready to mine it for its scintillating and eminently quotable lines.

Postcards from Narnia (Part I)

To this day I can still remember opening The Magician’s Nephew, the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia, back when I was 10 years old. My Dad had purchased me a complete box-set of the Narnia books, through the Scholastic Book Order from school, which was a bit surprising. This was the only time I can ever remember him even noticing the Scholastic Book Order forms I brought home each month. But he did. “Oh,” he said when he saw the Narnia books, “I read those as a kid and I think you’d really like them. Can I order them for you?”

A month later, there they were, on the teacher’s desk with the rest of the Scholastic Book Order purchases. This was novel enough, because I seldom had any items in the Scholastic Book Order when it arrived, and as the teacher read through the names and the kids came forward to retrieve their Scholastic treasures from her desk, I was expecting, like always, to be left out. And then, to my surprise (I’d actually forgotten about my Dad’s purchase), she said my name.

“Dale Harris, 1 box set of the Chronicles of Narnia.”

And I went forward and she put into my hand this mysteriously decorated box, all covered over with evocative drawings of dwarves and unicorns and on one side, a picture of a faun (though I did not know at the time that this is what it was called) standing in a snowy wood next to a lamp-post.

The box set actually remained untouched on my book shelf for months. It was just so mysterious, and really, other than my Dad’s recommend, I had no clue what I would find if I opened it. And I sort of forgot about them.

But then came the long, slow days of summer, and one afternoon when my usual pastimes had lost their luster, I saw this almost-magical looking box on the shelf and finally wondered what was inside.

Book 1: The Magician’s Nephew. In my mind’s eye I can still see myself stretching out on the couch in the sunlight and reading that first paragraph:

This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began. In those days Mr Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and the Bastables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road. In those days, if you were a boy you had to wear a stiff Eton collar every day, and schools were usually nastier than now. But meals were nicer; and as for sweets, I won't tell you how cheap and good they were, because it would only make your mouth water in vain. And in those days there lived in London a girl called Polly Plummer.

By the time Polly and Digory had found their way into the Wood Between the Worlds, I was dully enthralled; by the last page I was mesmerized.

I read the rest of the books voraciously; and I can remember as vividly reading the last page of the last book, The Last Battle. I was lying in my bed on a Saturday morning, and I closed the back cover on the last page, and I lay there, completely still, staring at it for what seemed like three whole minutes. I knew I had just read something far more profound, and beautiful and meaningful than I could put into words, so I just lay there, letting it soak over me, hesitant to move for fear of breaking the spell.

I have read and re-read the series dozens of times since those days and each time I do I find new layers of profoundity, new gleams of beauty, new meanings that I hadn’t noticed before, even as an adult. Over the years, I have tried at various times to express the layers of meaning to be found in these deceptively simple children’s books; I have allegorized and interpreted and exegeted these books many times in my heart. And yet none of these efforts to go deeper have marred the simple joy I find in reading them. There is such a mystical quality to the stories, and such a purity to the prose they’re told in, that even today, I am still that 10 year old child stretching out on the couch, about to embark on a spiritual journey he knows not of, every time I come to them again.

I have been rereading them again this summer, and thought that it might make for an interesting blog series if I wrote up a few “postcards from Narnia”—that is , chose some of the especially magical or particularly pure parts and offered my best reading of them. If you’re a fan of the books, too, this may prompt your own journey of rediscovery. If you’re not a fan, it may inspire you to give them a try.

So over the next few months at terra incognita, I will be posting some “Postcards from Narnia,” as I travel once again to C. S. Lewis’s world within the wardrobe.

And as a teaser, let me offer this little tidbit, to whet your appetite. Scholars have often wondered if there was any inner logic to the scope and sequence of the work; that is to say: why seven books? And why do they unfold in such a seemingly haphazard way?

Recently, I came across the work of Dr. Michael Ward, author of “Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis.” He suggests that the seven books of the Narnia series were conceived as symbols of the seven planets in the Medieval European cosmology. While today we understand the solar system as having 8 planets (plus Pluto), in the geocentric system of the Medieval astronomers (which Lewis was an expert in), there were seven “planets”: The Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Dr. Ward’s reading—and he makes a compelling case—is that each of the books, in their themes, symbols and content, were meant to stand as symbols for one of these planets. You can read the whole article here:

In this reading, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, with all its themes of kingship, is Jupiter, the king of the planets. Prince Caspian, with its themes of war and revival, is Mars, the war-god. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, with its journey into the east and the Rising Sun, is the Sun, and The Silver Chair, is the Moon. The Horse and His Boy is Mercury (Mercury governs Gemini, the twins, and The Horse and His Boy has both twin lions and twin boys in it...), The Magician’s Nephew is Venus (themes of creation, fertility abound, plus there is a “false Venus,” an “Ishtar” in the character of Queen Jadis), and The Last Battle, at the end of time, is Saturn (Saturn is named after the god of time; Father Time is his namesake).

No ten year old child, of course, could have known that when he opened that Scholastic Book box set, that they were about to take a spiritual journey through the seven heavens of the Medieval cosmology, but that is the wonder of these books, and the reason why, I hope, they deserve a few "postcards" like this.  Every reading yields fresh insight and yet no new insight detracts from the childlike wonder these books still produce in me.