Welcome!

Welcome! I’m Yankee Gospel Girl (formerly Southern Gospel Yankee), but you can call me Esther O’Reilly. I’m an old soul with many interests, and I promote southern gospel music along with everything else good, true and beautiful.  If you’re a first-time visitor, thanks for reading! Check out my “About” page, follow me on Youtube, and browse around in the filing cabinet for my musings on all genres of music, movies, faith & culture, and old stuff. Whether you’re a fan of gospel music or just another old soul like me, I hope you like what you find! God bless.

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A Few Thoughts on the Duggar Debacle

Well, I had determined not to say anything about this mess, but after I read one particular Patheos article about it, it did occur to me that I had something to say. I’ll try to limit this to the specific points I want to make, though I realize how tempting it is to render a verdict on the situation as a whole. I do have my opinions, and I suppose you can read between the lines and put together what I think. But my intention is not to open up a whole can of worms about abuse issues writ large.

(In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what I’m referring to, the Duggar Family’s 19 Kids and Counting show may be canceled in the wake of the reveal that son Josh Duggar fondled his sisters inappropriately at the age of 14. As you can see on the right, Josh is now a grown man with his own wife and family.)

So, with that in mind, I want to come down really hard on a few points made in this response piece. Specifically, I want to focus on how the writer uses the Duggar case to criticize homeschooling in general. While she doesn’t come right out and gloat, “See, I knew you should just send your kids to school like everyone else!” it’s implicit in the whole thrust of the article. She makes these points in bold:

Good sex education is very important.

Sheltering children from the world doesn’t work.

Homeschooling can limit children’s ability to report abuse.

Okay. Let’s dismantle this piece by piece.

*cracks knuckles*

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Memorial Day: Where We Left Off

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Poll: How do you read?

The explosion of mobile devices has re-shaped how websites everywhere are designed. As more people read articles on progressively smaller screens, designers are accommodating them and making content more readily accessible at the touch of a finger. While I don’t anticipate making any earth-shattering changes to my little blog, I am curious to know how my readers are viewing it. So here’s a small poll:

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Andy Stanley’s Disturbing Leftward Spiral

I’ve been catching myself up on Pastor Andy Stanley’s recent comments regarding the issue of homosexuality. They’ve created a little stir in liberal media circles, who are triumphantly running pieces that contrast Andy’s more relaxed approach with Stanley Sr.’s hard-line rhetoric. Andy Stanley has a wide following, particularly in the South, and so far he’s managed to tiptoe around hot-button social issues without saying something outright heretical that would alienate his fan-base. (This fan-base includes a number of relatively conservative Christians, including readers of this very site, and it clearly includes the same kind of people who attend Gaither events, since Gaither has invited him on their latest cruise.) While not all the remarks being quoted on leftist sites are taken from the same context, it’s not hard for us to look at the individual pieces and notice a leftward drift that should concern Christians who follow Stanley Jr.’s ministry. I’ve already mentioned his remarks in a USA Today piece dissing the Kansas religious freedom bill, where he said that he found it  “offensive that Christians would leverage faith to support the Kansas law” and continued, “Serving people we don’t see eye to eye with is the essence of Christianity. Jesus died for a world with which he didn’t see eye to eye. If a bakery doesn’t want to sell its products to a gay couple, it’s their business. Literally. But leave Jesus out of it.”

Most recently, he gave an address to young church leaders in April in which he set up a list of three things that he “wishes would change for the local church in our generation.”

1. The local church should be the safest place on the planet for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.

2. The church must stop expecting outsiders to act like insiders while insiders act like outsiders.

3. The church must capture and keep the hearts and minds of students.

You can probably tell already that there are a lot of directions he could go with all of these points, and some of them are not good at all. And you’d be right.

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Monday Morning Humor: No Frills Airline

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Christians in Entertainment: Denzel Washington

‘Tis the season for pretentious, overly long commencement speeches. But one commencement speech has been getting particular attention in the media recently: Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington’s address to the graduates of Dillard University. Dillard is a small, private school for black students in New Orleans. When Washington stepped to the podium, he announced that he was going to “keep it short,” unlike his commencement speaker, who “went on forever, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…” (Yes, this is pretty much spot-on. I speak from experience.)

Here is the short, simple message Washington wanted to convey: “Number one: Put. God. First. In everything you do, put God first. Put God first in everything you do. Everything you think you see in me, everything I’ve accomplished, everything you think I have (and I have a few things), everything that I have is by the grace of God.”

The speech has gone viral. There’s some unfortunate prosperity gospel business towards the end, but on the whole it’s pretty great, and you can read more quotes here, or watch it in full here if you don’t mind handheld video. The passion and conviction of Washington’s delivery is disarming, considering his stature in Hollywood. But then, Washington has never been one to shy away from talking about what he believes.

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Anatomy of a Song: “Ireland,” by Garth Brooks

Last week, I remarked on the pros and cons of Garth Brooks’s stance on digital music (in short, he’s agin it). However, I scraped together a few favorites from Youtube, which happily included the deep album cut “Ireland.” I’m using it to revive my “Anatomy of a Song” series, which was sorely neglected after only one entry.

“Ireland” comes from the 1995 release Fresh Horses, a project that tinkered with a wide palette of sounds. This stirring ode to the Emerald Isle has Garth getting in touch with his inner Irish tenor. It was co-written by Brooks with Stephanie Davis and Jenny Yates in the style of a folk ballad, and it’s one of the best-crafted song lyrics I’ve heard. Aspiring and professional writers alike should take note. Continue reading

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Monday Morning Humor: Life After the Internet

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Garth Brooks vs. Digital Music

A while back, I blogged about the fact that Youtube is setting itself up as a competitor to Spotify by putting out artists’ digital music, including both new releases and back catalogues. Reader and musician Kyle Boreing noted that technically, since these videos are ad-supported, artists are supposed to receive some revenue. Well, if the kind of revenue they get from Spotify is any indication, that’s probably small comfort. And it probably means streaming platforms like Spotify aren’t economically sustainable at all in the long run.

While most artists have chosen not to fight it, a few big names have pulled their music from Spotify in order to make a statement. Taylor Swift is the most popular artist right now who’s chosen this. And for a while, the Beatles estate wouldn’t even agree to put Beatles music on iTunes. That changed a few years ago, but Beatles music still hasn’t made its way to Spotify, along with fellow oldies band Led Zeppelin and a couple current ones like Black Keys.

But of all the digital-resistant artists I’ve found, nobody beats Garth Brooks. Not only is Brooks anti-Spotify, he’s anti iTunes AND Amazon Mp3 AND Youtube. In fact, in his words, Youtube is “the devil.”

Brooks is more than happy to elaborate on his decision in this article, among others. It’s not that he’s hurting for cash. For him, it isn’t about money. It’s the principle of the thing.

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CD Review: Freedom, by David Phelps

Summer has officially begun for me, and I’m excited! I have many plans, but writing more is certainly among them. I decided to kick it off by answering a request from some readers to review David Phelps’s new solo album, Freedom. I poked some fun at the album cover a couple weeks ago, but people wondered if I was actually going to comment on the music. So, for the first time in a long time, here’s my track by track take on the project. As you all know, I’m unfailingly honest in my reviews. So I’m anticipating that some Phelps Phans may read some of my feedback and get upset, even though I’m preparing to compliment many things about this album. Be it known, therefore, that I intend to monitor comments closely. With that out of the way, let’s talk about the music!

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