Friday, January 1, 2016

Fresh Air, Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse and the Dap Kings

When I’m in a slump when it comes to writing, I always revert to writing about music. I envy people like my friend Aarik who gets to write about music for his job as an arts reporter for the Columbia Tribune. Some music thoughts struck me today and I wanted to get them down. It is funny how much of my original thoughts were lost because I didn’t originally write them down. But here’s an attempt to give you a picture of my thinking about music.

Today, I was doing what I do when I’m taking down the Christmas decorations around the house: I was getting caught up on Fresh Air podcasts. I was listening to Terry’s interview with record producer Mark Ronson. They spent a bit of time talking about Amy Winehouse’s album, "Back to Black", which Mark produced a number of the tracks. I was reflecting on that album and how many of the tracks I really loved. It had a real 60s, R&B feel. And I’m a sucker for a retro R&B sound. (That probably stems from my mom playing Al Green and Motown records when I was a kid). What really makes the record stand out for me (besides Amy’s voice and lyrics) is the back up band, The Dap Kings. I enjoyed hearing Ronson give so much credit to them for shaping the sound. I love the Dap Kings’ sound. I have many tracks by them backing Sharon Jones. (I regret missing them when they were in Columbia a few years ago, but I learned she was also on the verge of a cancer diagnosis, and it wasn’t the best performance, understandably).

I will give anything the Dap Kings play on a listen and, more often than not, I will enjoy it. There are some cool tracks on the Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings holiday album. I’ll call it “holiday” because the best song on the album is a Hanukkah song.

A final thought on Ronson, he produced the song “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars. You can hear the R&B/Funk  influence. Some may even call it a rip off. I hear “Jungle Love” by the Time, “Groove Line” by Heatwave, and another song I can’t remember by The Gap Band. I loved all of those songs, so I will give Ronson a break, but in the days of “Blurred Lines” lawsuits, I don’t know if the original artists will give him the same benefit of doubt.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A New Price! - Scenes of the Kingdom

I wrote a book! So many books and communicators talk about the kingdom of God but at times it can be a very ambiguous concept without much anchoring in the gospels. That is why I wrote Scenes of the Kingdom.

Scenes of the Kingdom is a book that provides background on the kingdom of God. It examines the royal titles used in the gospels to describe Jesus. It also looks at several of the passages where Jesus talks about the kingdom.

I have had the opportunity to teach in a variety of settings around the world in the past several years. I have also taken my campus community on mission to Argentina. Sometimes these trips are supported, other times I have to raise support for my travel. I am publishing this book for the purpose of having funds available when these opportunities arise. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this book will go into future travels where I am teaching or traveling with Missio Dei or the Missouri Baptist Convention. Any money that I do not use for these purposes will go into the general ministry fund of Missio Dei.

I am offering this book in two forms. You can purchase a physical copy of the book or you can choose an e-book. For the e-book, you can choose .pdf, .epub or .mobi format for the e-reader of your choice.

If you would like to order online, please visit this site:
Order Online

I will mail you a copy of your book through the USPS or email the e-book file.
The paperback book is $10.00 (plus shipping). The e-book is $7.00 (it will read $4.00 plus $3.00 for shipping).
If you would like to pay by check, please make your check out to Stonebridge Community Church (they are the overseers of our campus community) and send it to
Bill Victor
4521 Kentsfield Ln. #208
Columbia, MO 65201

Of course, you can buy it off of me personally as well. I'll bring it to you if I'm making a trip near where you are going to be.

Here is the Table of Contents:


 1. Why Study the Kingdom of God?                           

 2. Royal Titles for King Jesus                                               

 3. The Kingdom of God is about Repentance        

 4. How to Enter the Kingdom                                  

 5. Jesus’ Message of the Kingdom                          

 6. The Kingdom Is Displayed in Power                    

 7. Least versus Greatest in the Kingdom                 

 8. The Kingdom of God is Like…A Man Who
     Sowed Good Seed in His Field                            

 9. With the Kingdom Comes…Persecution?           

10. The Kingdom of God Starts Small                     

11. Implications for Churches Today                                   

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is That the Kingdom of God?

I was listening to a retired pastor speak about an NGO he started. He began his discussion by asking his audience, "If an alien came to earth and asked you, 'What is the kingdom of God?' what would you say?" I was thinking through my answer when he gave me the "correct" answer. It was a version of an answer that I think many people would have given. He gave us the address of his NGO (non-profit business that serves the needy in third world countries). His organization was what the kingdom of God was all about. As he described what his organization did, I thought it was great. It did a lot of great things. There seemed to be kingdom people working on this project seeking to do good things to serve humanity. But it was not the kingdom of God. As he described the people who worked there, he bragged that there were Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, a Muslim and even a "devout" atheist who worked there. Again, it sounded great. But it wasn't the kingdom.
Here is my point (and it may be controversial with some), unless involves repentance and being born from above (implying allegiance to King Jesus), the organization is not the kingdom of God. By its nature and description, bringing people under the allegiance of King Jesus (which implies transforming communities as precursors of new creation) is the kingdom of God. Not merely doing good works.
(By the way, my writing project on the Kingdom of God is almost edited and proofread. I am looking to sell it to raise money for mission project/sabbatical leave. If you are interested, I'll be posting information on how to buy it soon.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten Books

Bri Suitt challenged others and me to compose a list of my top ten or most influential books. I thought about it for a couple of hours, looked at my book cases and came up with this list. It is not in any order and I know I've probably left some books out, but these are all books I have either read more than once or would easily read again.

Surprised by Joy by N. T. Wright – this is the best book on resurrection, Jesus’ resurrection and the resurrection of the believer. Wright provides a biblical view of the afterlife (and the life after the afterlife). Wright writes of the New Creation that is awaiting believers here on earth. In light of that new creation, Wright challenges and inspires believers to be on mission to give the world a taste of that new creation here and now.

One.Life by Scot McKnight – I’m not a fan of the title (the period in between the words in the title) but this is one of the best popular works on discipleship. (I found it more “biblical” than David Platt’s Radical).

Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark – Stark is a sociologist (a Christian one). In this book, he examines how Christianity spread over the first three centuries after the resurrection of Jesus. It inspired me to think that Christianity could do the same thing today.

Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet – read this book in the late 90s early 00s. Sweet gave me insight into the world of postmodernism and how it intersected with pop culture and how it could be a positive thing for the church.

October 1964 by David Halberstam – Halberstam examines the cultural changes of the mid-60s and sees similarities in the World Series participants of that year: the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees. The Yankees were coming to the end of a long period of dominance and were representing traditional/conventional values. The Cardinals had overcome a rocky beginning of the breaking of the racial barrier in baseball to representing a changing, multi-cultural, younger generation.

Sherman: Fighting Prophet by Lloyd Lewis – I went through a Civil War phase in the 90s. I was fascinated by this prominent figure of the War and his views on warfare and how to win.

The Mission of God’s People by Christopher Wright – Wright examines the grand narrative of the Bible and shows how God’s plan of redemption, beginning with Abraham, was about drawing a people to himself, teaching them how to relate to a holy God so that they, in turn, could model this life to all of the nations. He doesn’t skip the Old Testament in his discussion of the grand narrative that so many others want to do (i.e. Creation-Fall-Redemption [straight to the Cross after Genesis 3]-New Creation).

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara – a historical novel with the setting of the Battle of Gettysburg. Vivid portrait of the war with much of the perspective from Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

Bold as Love by Bob Roberts, Jr. – this book shows how Christians should engage the world around them, including befriending those who believe differently than we do. Bob loves interacting with people of many faiths but does so without compromising Jesus.

Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller – this book is based loosely on Miller and director of Blue Like Jazz trying to reedit the book into a narrative (I wish they would have done a better job on the movie). In the process of trying to edit his essays in Blue Like Jazz into a story, Miller is inspired to craft a better story of his life here and now. In the process, he inspires his readers to write better stories of their lives.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Favorite Songs - 1980

Things are getting interesting. I'm inching close to high school. Music is definitely playing a bigger role in my life. Here are the songs that I remember impacting me in 1980.

Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads - one of the greatest music videos of all time. I remember seeing this video on SCTV. Was one of the weirdest things I had seen up til then.
Another One Bites the Dust – Queen - What a great bass line. Closest to disco Queen came.
And the Cradle Will Rock – Van Halen - Saw them in concert in 1982. I had some rivet-head tendencies at times.
Cars – Gary Numan - early New Wave song, iconic.
Theme from New York, New York – Frank Sinatra - The Chairman of the Board. Originally done by Liza Minelli.
Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime – The Korgis - One hit wonders, Beck covered this song for the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
Here Comes My Girl – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - this song still sounds fresh and he is still relevant to this day.
Talk of the Town – Pretenders - this was in the punk rock(ish) movie "Times Square". Horrible movie, great soundtrack.
Canary in a Coalmine – The Police - Saw them in '83 (and 2007). From the same album that had "Don't Stand So Close to Me". This song stayed with me longer.
Generals and Majors – XTC - they should have been bigger. Their lack of touring probably killed them.
Turn It On Again – Genesis - love the live version of this song (saw them in 85)
London Calling – The Clash - iconic (post) punk song with a great melody
I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down – Elvis Costello and the Attractions - Such a great pop songwriter. I liked his collaboration with the Roots this year.
Redemption Song – Bob Marley and the Wailers - I can't help but impose Christian imagery on this song.
Celebration – Kool and the Gang - if you grew up in STL during the 80s, this song holds a special place in your heart.
Hungry Heart – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - as close as the Boss got to pop music in this time.
Double Dutch Bus – Frankie Smith - is it sad that I probably remember all of the words to this song (or is it awesome?)

Just the Two of Us – Grover Washington Jr. - with Bill Withers, this was a great album by Grover. I wore this cassette out during my fusion/jazz phase. I still love jazz (not fusion as much).

For what it's worth...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Favorite Songs of 1979

Here is my list of my favorite songs (as best as I can remember) from 1979. Good mix of AOR, adult contemporary, pop and funk.

Heart of Glass – Blondie - the opening sound was so captivating
What a Fool Believes – Doobie Brothers - huge song from a big album of this year
Shake Your Body – The Jacksons - I would dance to this at school dances (and I would literally shake my body down to the ground).
I Want You to Want Me – Cheap Trick - everybody could mimic Robin's intro to this song. Live at the Budokan
Boogie Wonderland – Earth, Wind and Fire and The Emotions - this song is featured in Caddyshack
Lotta Love – Nicolette Larson - it seemed like I woke up to this song every day in eighth grade.
Goodnight Tonight – Wings - everybody was experimenting with a disco beat. This was Paul's contribution.
New York Groove – Ace Frehley - the best song by the four solo albums by the Kiss members. (Radioactive by Gene was second).
Lay It On the Line – Triumph - Johnny Schorr and I saw them in concert at the Kiel
Rise – Herb Alpert - an instrumental? Why not, it's Herb Alpert. We'll see him again.
Walking on the Moon – The Police - if this isn't my favorite Police song it's close
Take Me to the River – Talking Heads - great cover of an Al Green song.
Goodbye Stranger – Supertramp - from Breakfast in America, stellar album (could have chosen Take the Long Way Home)
Cruel to Be Kind – Nick Lowe - one of the more perfect pop songs of the new wave era.
Soul Man – The Blues Brothers - had the album, not bad (with Rubber Biscuit by Dan Ackroyd).
(What’s So Funny ‘bout) Peace, Love and Understanding – Elvis Costello and the Attractions - still holds up after 30 plus years.
Rolene – Moon Martin - saw this song on a list of hits from the year. Stuck with me.
Arrow Through Me – Wings - I love the bass line to start this song, I had the 8 track for this album
Water of Love – Dire Straits - could have been Sultans of Swing, but went off the path for this.
Big Shot – Billy Joel - they were all impressed with your Halston dress...
Dreaming – Blondie - couldn't decide on a Blondie song so I chose two.
Making Plans for Nigel – XTC - saw this on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. Loved that show (and Midnight Special)
Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen - kind of an early Elvis feel?
Pop Muzik – M - novelty song that stuck with me
Don’t Do Me Like That – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure - I thought this came out later, one of my favorites by them
Shattered – The Rolling Stones - not the biggest Stones fan, but I do like this.
Good Times – Chic - best bass line for a pop/funk song ever?
Train in Vain – The Clash - They had a pop side as well, thanks to Mick Jones
Chuck E.’s in Love – Rickie Lee Jones - this song grew on me during that year.

What did I leave out?

Friday, September 13, 2013

My Favorite Songs of 1978

I've been obsessed with researching and choosing my favorite songs of the years of 1978 to 1991. I then find those songs and create Spotify playlists. It doesn't take as long as you think. I am going to share them with you over the next couple of weeks. Sample some of these songs. You won't regret it (or you will, what do I care?)

Deacon Blues – Steely Dan – from Aja, one of the best produced albums of the 70s.
Turn to Stone – ELO – could have been Mr Blue Sky
You and I – Rick James – there was more than Superfreak and Dave Chappelle
Reminiscing – Little River Band – biggest surprise listing of this year. I loved this song. I could sing along in my register.
On Broadway – George Benson – Love when he scats along with the guitar at the end.
The Groove Line – Heatwave – could have been Boogie Nights from this band.
Magnet and Steel – Walter Eagan - another surprise, one hit wonder, but it was a great hit that stayed with me for 34 years.
Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel – David Sanborn played the sax solo of this song on SNL.
Miss You – Rolling Stones – I know it was Stones’ disco, but it may be my favorite Stones’ song.
Stop Your Sobbing – Pretenders – this whole album is great, tried to pick just one song per album.
Is This Love – Bob Marley and the Wailers – saw a documentary on Bob on Palladia recently. I highly recommend it.
Rockaway Beach – The Ramones – don’t like a Ramones’ song, wait just 2 minutes and it will be over.
Life Begins at the Hop – XTC – one of the perfect pop songs of the 70s. They should have been bigger.
You’re All I’ve Got Tonight – The Cars – I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t realize Ben Orr sang so many of their hits (not this one though).
Can’t Stand Losing You – The Police – I believe Bruno Mars was trying to channel Sting of this era on “Locked out of Heaven”
Jamie’s Cryin – Van Halen – my first real rock concert was Van Halen at the Arena. I believe that the concept of a “contact high” is a myth.
Prove It All Night – Bruce Springsteen – I think many people of my generation (and just a few years older) overrate him, but he is still greatness.
FM – Steely Dan – was the theme song to a movie of the same name. Song was much better than the movie.
I Wanna Be Sedated – The Ramones – great pop song writers
Boogie Oogie Oogie – Taste of Honey – didn’t realize how stupid this song title was. Great bass line though.
Is She Really Going Out with Him – Joe Jackson – one of the pioneers of new wave music. Most ironic song on the list (google image search him and you will see why).
One Nation under a Groove – Funkadelic - takes me back to sneaking listens to Majic 108 FM (didn’t do that in my neighborhood). Great band name.

What did I leave out?