“The poet is not a man who asks me to look at him; he is a man who says ‘look at that’ and points.” – C.S. Lewis
Brandon hopes to pay attention. He wants to be like Ricky Fitts in the film American Beauty, who marvels at a plastic bag dancing with the leaves in the breeze (as cliché as that may be). From what he knows, Brandon is not crazy. Rather, little things hopefully remind Brandon that God is present in a world littered with beauty—and Brandon simply wants to point and say, “Look at that.”
Brandon hopes to see where God is speaking and working in all of life: in nature, movies, music, people—specifically what Jesus calls “the least of these” in Matthew 25—himself, and even politics, which he still has a lot to learn about. Brandon found this passion for the intersection between faith and culture at Azusa Pacific University, a small school in Southern California.
Brandon also cultivated a lifelong love for travel in college. He spent a semester studying the humanities at Azusa Pacific’s High Sierra campus near Yosemite, Calif. Brandon flew off to South Africa the next year, serving a local community called Haniville, living with locals near Cape Town, traveling the coast, and doing some studying in between. His last adventure before the “real world” sent him to study C.S. Lewis and poetry at Oxford University in England. There he thoroughly enjoyed a Christmas party at C.S. Lewis’s house.
Brandon is not originally from the Golden State. He hails from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Among many other things, he loves his family, friends, photography, seasons, and nostalgic movies that try to pin down the elusive concept of home.
Posts By This Author
To the Wonder: A Rumination on Love
The last Terrence Malick film I went to see was Tree of Life, in which the critically acclaimed director — and devout Christian — advised audiences to “experience [the film] like a walk in the countryside. You’ll probably be bored or have other things in mind, but perhaps you will be struck, suddenly, by a feeling, by an act, by a unique portrait of nature.” Needless to say, the film was long — extremely beautiful, but a wee bit slow.
So you can imagine the shock I felt when Malick’s latest film, To the Wonder, abruptly ended after almost two hours and I thought to myself, “Wait, it’s already over?”
To the Wonder is certainly different from its immediate predecessor in Malick’s catalogue — there aren’t any dinosaurs in his latest effort. But it does still manage to have both the look and feel of a Malick film (i.e., it intersperses a linear story with lots of fluid, beautiful cinematography shot during “magic hour” with voice overs asking deep questions), albeit one that doesn’t drift off into long montages of the creation of the universe with voiceovers almost lifted from the book of Job.
'Cambodia: Losing Ground' — Stories of Land Grabbing
Photographs tell stories. At least, good ones usually do.
And there were some good pictures on display in Washington, D.C., for Oxfam America’s pop-up photo exhibit from acclaimed photographer Emma Hardy, whose work is regularly featured in The New York Times magazine, TIME, Vanity Fair, and Vogue.
The images tell the particular stories of Cambodians directly affected by land grabbing, the buying or leasing of large pieces of land in developing countries, by domestic and transnational companies, governments, and individuals, which in turn displaces the poor and vulnerable.
Sojo Stories: The Last Bison
Chesapeake, Virginia-based folk band The Last Bison talked with Sojourners about music, creativity, and God before their show in Washington, D.C. a while back. Be sure to listen to their recently released debut album Inheritance and catch them while they're on tour in the U.S.! Their music is definitely worth a listen.
Local Natives and Salvation
Hipsters. Not gonna lie, that was one of the first words that came to mind when Local Natives took the stage at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., on Friday. I wasn’t sure whether it was guitarist Ryan Hahn’s floral skinny jeans, the luscious mustache of singer/guitarist Taylor Rice, or singer/keyboardist Kelcey Ayer’s flannel — buttoned all the way up, which seems to be the latest amendment to hipster fashion these days— or all of the above.
But then again, almost every young person these days seems to have absorbed some of the styles characteristic of hipsterdom, and Local Natives seem to do so in an unpretentious way. They’re cool. And, more importantly, their music is awesome.
Sojo Stories: The Preemptive Love Coalition
A few weeks back at the Justice Conference we had the chance to sit down with Jeremy Courtney, cofounder of the Preemptive Love Coalition, to tell the story of his amazing work in Iraq providing heart surgery for children.
Special thanks to Matthew Willingham and everyone at the Preemptive Love Coalition for providing us with footage from Iraq to tell their story.
The video below is a first in our new series Sojo Stories, where we sit down with individuals to hear their stories about using their talents for the common good.
Tame Impala: Some Psychedelia
When I first listened to Tame Impala, I was almost convinced they were the late-60s Beatles reincarnated. Lead singer Kevin Parker’s nasally yet gentle voice sounds about as John Lennon as you’re gonna get.
But Parker makes it work. And Tame Impala, under his leadership, sounds fresh in a world saturated with music. Critics agree that Tame Impala manage to fuse classic psychedelic rock and blues with jazzier and more modern music. And that seems pretty accurate. Ezra Pound urged his modern contemporaries to “make it new” in regard to poetry, and even though Parker’s project may not be entirely or dramatically new, it is innovative.
Using Spending Power for Good: A Conversation With Nathan George of Trade As One
At the Justice Conference last weekend I had the opportunity to sit down with Nathan George, founder of Trade As One, and ask him about buying fair trade and his company's awesome — and newly launched — fair trade subscription service. Here is the fruit of that conversation.
The interview was edited for length and content.
Links of Awesomeness: February 25, 2013
Dancing lessons from James Brown, water balloons popping in space, chicken and waffles on a stick, a sweet badminton rally, and a British guy finding the Wolf Eel. Some awesome links for an awesome day.
'Change the World of Some:' Thoughts from The 2013 Justice Conference
While everyone was blowing up the Twittersphere decrying the injustices of the Oscars, as movies like Argo walked away with Best Picture honors, I was sitting in a Philadelphia hotel lobby trying to chew on everything I’d heard and seen at this year’s Justice Conference.
The two-day event brought together more than 5,000 people to promote dialogue around justice-related issues, like poverty and human trafficking; featured internationally acclaimed speakers such as Gary Haugen, Shane Claiborne, and Eugene Cho; and exhibited hundreds of humanitarian organizations.
While there is certainly more thinking and processing to be done, here are four things that stood out.
Sojo Session: Branches
Our friends and up-and-coming musicians Branches trekked all the way from California and stopped by our office in D.C. last week to play a couple of their songs during their East Coast tour!
Their songs explore the ideas of doubt, faith, loneliness, love, and above all, hope for life as it was meant to be.
Best friends turned band-mates, the lady and gentlemen of Branches are an independent, self-writing and self-producing collective. Birthed in a living room in the suburbs of Los Angeles in 2010, Tyler, Natalie, Jacob, Mitch, Tyler, and Mike have since spent their time together making friends, playing shows, and writing and recording the songs for their EPs ("O, Light!", "Cabin", "Covers", "Songs For Christmas") and their full-length ("Thou Art The Dream", released 2/12).
Links of Awesomeness: February 20, 2013
Conan, Bonarroo, a 42-wheel BMW dream car, a 7-year-old's interpretations of the Best Picture nominees, Google glasses, and puppies. Yes, these are awesome.
ICYMI: February Music
Just as the winter months tend to bring a mellower, melancholic feel to life, so too can music. And some of this month’s more obscure releases do just that. If you’re looking for an album to check out on a dreary winter morning, look no further.
That’s not to say at all that they’re bad releases. One can quickly point to the likes of Bon Iver or Radiohead as figureheads of melancholy. They’re just different from the bubbly pop one might hear a lot on the radio.
QUIRK: Ex-Benedict — Who Will Be the Next Pope?
Punch Brothers: God-Honoring Musicianship
People often say the mark of a true “master of a craft” is one who makes something ridiculously difficult look easy. Chris Thile, former member of Nickel Creek and front man for folk group Punch Brothers, is one of those people. As my buddy standing next to me at last night’s Punch Brothers show in Washington, D.C. said, “It’s like he’s an extension of the mandolin. He can do anything he wants with that thing.” I mean, the guy can almost flawlessly whoop out some Bach on the mandolin.
While musicianship is certainly present on their recorded material, the talent of each member of the five-piece band is fully realized during their live shows, which are more like jam sessions. With the encore, they ended up playing for almost two hours to a sold out crowd at the 9:30 Club.
It almost got to the point where I didn’t believe they were real. They almost seemed like robots.
Walk the Moon: A Fun Pick-Me-Up
If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, look no further than Cincinatti’s Walk the Moon. The group recently stopped in Washington, D.C., on their world tour and performed in front of an uber-hyped audience.
Their songs blend elements of pop, rock, and dance music — like what you’d expect if you mixed The Strokes, Passion Pit, and sprinkled on some of the overall vibes from the Vans Warped Tour.
Links of Awesomeness: January 31, 2013
An awesome Big Game ad, a trip to the Grand Canyon, some sweet grooves, a dog that wears menswear, and Mumford & Sons jamming with a high school marching band. Yes.
Links of Awesomeness: January 29, 2013
A super clever resume, a cat using the force, a 30-year-old turtle surviving in a storage locker, a Downton Abbey video game parody, and some portraits made out of toast. Awesome.
Links of Awesomeness: January 28, 2013
An ad using YouTube stars, a homemade Star Trek trailer, some puppies in a pinwheel, a hilarious social prank, a dude that makes beach art with a rake, and, in case you haven't been on the internet lately, a viral video from Kid President. Happy Monday!
Links of Awesomeness: January 24, 2013
A kid that's born to play golf, a Microsoft that is still trying to make me think they're cool, a hotel room in a shipping container, an art exhibit made out of used Christmas trees, and a design company that gives away half of its work for free. Woah.
Links of Awesomeness: January 16, 2013
The best selfies, absoluetly amazing kids, a really great short film, a sci-fi adaption of the Odyssey, and the kids of Sandy Hook teaming together with Ingrid Michaelson to sing somewhere over the rainbow on national tv. Okay, that's pretty awesome.