Aarik Danielsen is the arts and music editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Columbia, Missouri. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Fathom Mag where his column, The (Dis)content, runs weekly. Follow him on Twitter @aarikdanielsen, and find more of his work at facebook.com/aarikdanielsenwrites.

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A New Album Embraces ‘Beatitudes Thinking’

by Aarik Danielsen 03-20-2023
‘And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow’ reminds us that the answer to empire is never more empire.
The cover for the music album ‘And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow’ by Weyes Blood. The artist, Natalie Mering, has long hair and looks to the side. She wears a low-cut dress with her upper chest exposed. A warm light glows from within where her heart is.

And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow, by Weyes Blood

A STORM BLOWS through Weyes Blood’s fifth album, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow. A cold front of disillusionment meets the swirling tones of songwriter Natalie Mering. The effect is gorgeous and staggering.

Sounding both in and out of their time, these songs fuse darkly majestic orchestral arrangements with pop elements such as drum machines, synthesizers, and the occasional guitar. If history took a later start, this could be our classical music. Weyes Blood (pronounced “Wise Blood,” a nod to Flannery O’Connor’s novel set in the “Christ-haunted” South) has said that she craves sanctuary acoustics.

Billowing and hymn-like, “God Turn Me Into a Flower” is the album’s truest prayer. “It’s good to be soft when they push you down,” Mering sings. She sings to stand firm, but never aspires to twist into bramble: “... it’s such a curse to be so hard / You shatter easily and can’t pick up all those shards.”

The Scandal of Oscar Romero’s God

by Aarik Danielsen 10-12-2018

John Paul II and Oscar Romero.

Throughout The Scandal of Redemption, Oscar Romero identifies a God with a balanced concern for individual hearts and the souls of nations.

The book, which collects sermons, radio transcripts and diary entries from Romero’s three years as archbishop of San Salvador, comes at a crucial time. Romero, pierced by an assassin’s bullet in 1980, will be canonized by the Catholic Church this weekend. A saint in every way we use the word, the life this book sketches is a timeless model for faithful political resistance and spiritual revival.