1. Jesus pop
I like it when unusual songs end up in the pop charts. A couple of weeks ago a song called “I’m in Love with Jesus” by Arise church turned up at number 29, wedged between Katy Perry and Drake.
Arise is a big charismatic church group. They’re based in Wellington (and use the Michael Fowler Centre for their Sunday service), but they have congregations in Hamilton and Christchurch (“the three main centres”, sez the church’s website). That enough people bought the single to get it into the top 40 is either an indication of the power of Arise church, or a sign that you don’t have to sell many copies of a song to get into the bottom end of the top 40 these days. Or a bit of both.
The single sounds like a fairly ordinary contemporary pop song with synthy flourishes. I’d maybe compare it to the Naked and Famous, but with less edge and more pop. It’s about a minute too long and gets really repetitive near the end, but I suspect for the song’s biggest fans, it isn’t long enough.
The strangest thing about the song is the choice of words for the chorus: “I’m in love with Jesus”. To me, “in love” suggests romantic love. It’s how “I’m in love with my wife” is sweet but “I’m in love with my mum” is weird. But maybe that’s how things are in the world of Arise – everyone in the church is in a romantic relationship with Jesus, accepting him as their personal lord, saviour and boyfriend.
The YouTube comments are, as to be expected, very entertaining. There are boring teen atheists who think Christians shouldn’t push their beliefs on everyone, but there are also Christians who think the song is disrespectful to Jesus. Most of the comments, however, are from fans of the song who think it’s the most amazing uplifting song ever and it makes them sooo proud to be a Christian and/or a New Zealander.
“I’m in Love with Jesus” charted in the week of 18 November. The following week it had dropped out of the charts entirely.
2. Straight up
Nothing written on this paper is a euphemism. This is the reality of my surroundings.
3. Home alone
Recently I’ve been playing a video game called Gone Home. It is (according to Wikipedia) a first-person interactive story adventure video game. The most important part of that description is “interactive story”, because that’s what it mainly is.
The game is set in 1995 and you play Kaitlin Greenbriar, a young woman coming home from college. It’s a dark and stormy night and she returns to her family’s new home to find her parents and younger sister are both missing. So the aim of the game is to figure out what’s happened to the Greenbriar whanau.
The house is a spooky old mansion, and much of the game involves wandering into dark rooms and trying to find the light switch. If you’re a wuss like me, you will find this enjoyably terrifying.
As the game progresses, as room are unlocked, secret passages explored, Kaitlin discovers more about what’s been going on with her family. Having the game set in 1995 means there’s a substantial paper trail offering clues – diaries, invoices, memos, books, letters. If the game was set today, Kaitlin would just be looking through at her family members’ computers, discovering porn on her Mum’s laptop and getting all icked out.
Another bonus of being set in the ’90s – cassette tapes. It turns out Kaitlin’s younger sister Sam is well into the riot grrrl movement and various rooms have tapes with songs from Heavens to Betsy and Bratmobile that can be played as a bit of spirited music to accompany your searches for clues. That’s also a strong hint that the game passes the Bechdel test and wouldn’t end up getting critiqued in the Tropes vs Women in Video Games series.
The game has a really sweet and somewhat emotional ending. I like games like this – ones that involve exploring and thinking and aren’t all doof-doof-fight-fight.