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Song of the Week: “The Mantis & The Moon”

We were honored to host Chris Slaten, a.k.a. Son of Laughter, for the inaugural house show at North Wind Manor earlier this summer. Chris is currently working with producer Ben Shive on a new album, and the new songs peppered throughout the show gave beautiful glimpses of the full-length record to come. The night was also highlighted by familiar songs we’ve grown to love, and our song of the week is the title track from Chris’s debut EP, The Mantis & The Moon. Few songwriters can craft such meaningful stories, let alone keep things as beautiful and lively as Son of Laughter. “The Mantis & The Moon” is a great example of why we all fell in love with this EP in the first place.

“The Mantis & The Moon”
by Son of Laughter
from the album The Mantis & The Moon

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[Use coupon code "Mantis" to get 20% off the EP in the Rabbit Room store this week. And grab your tickets to tonight's Local Show featuring Andrew Peterson, Buddy Greene, Ben Shive, and Lori Chaffer.]

Rembrandt Is in the Wind

[The following is an excerpt from my essay by the same title in the forthcoming Molehill, Vol. III.]

Rembrandt is in the wind.

The sea surges and swells. The little fishing boat has no hope of holding on to the churning foam below. The bow rides up the back of one white breaker while the stern dips in the valley beneath it and the next.  Waves break over the sides. The half dozen men to Rembrandt’s right shout and strain at the sails, struggling to keep the ship from capsizing. The five men to his left plead with Jesus of Nazareth to save them. Rembrandt stands in the middle of the boat, his right hand tightly clutching a rope, and his left pinning his hat to his head. His name is scrawled across the useless rudder, as though this is his boat on his sea and they are all caught in his storm. He and everyone else in the ship are soon to be lost unless their leader intervenes.

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt’s only known seascape, is one of his most dramatic paintings, capturing that moment just after the disciples knew they would die if Jesus didn’t save them and just before he did.

The five foot by four foot canvas hung in the Dutch Room on the second floor of the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum for close to one hundred years. Everyone who looked at it saw the same thing; Rembrandt looking out through the frame to us—looking us dead in the eye. The terror on his face asked us what the disciples were asking Jesus: “Don’t you care that we’re perishing here?”

Rabbit Room Recap 09-26-14

photo-mainHutchmoot planning is in full swing. We made the big announcement last week that Jill Phillip’s will be the musical anchor for the weekend as she celebrates the release of her new album, Mortar & Stone (which will be available for pre-order soon). She’ll be playing a full-band show on Friday night—you guys are in for an evening of fantastic songs.

Hutchmoot-20141-535x266Hutchmoot sessions are nearly finalized and we’re lining up a few extra guests and special events. No spoilers though. You’ll just have to wait and see. Click here to take a gander at how the sessions are lining up.

Singer-songwriter team Jenny & Tyler got together with Sara Groves and a whole slew of internet folks to record this awesome cover of U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Speaking of U2, what’s everyone thinking of the new album?

Last week’s Local Show was a blast. The show featured Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, Andrew Osenga, and Jeremy Casella—who realized once they got on stage that they all went to college together. We didn’t plan that, but it was great to see old friends supporting one another. They closed the evening with a beautiful Rich Mullins cover, which you can see below. Tickets are now on sale for next week’s show, which features Andrew Peterson, Buddy Greene, Lori Chaffer, and Ben Shive.

The Local Show – “Calling Out Your Name” from The Rabbit Room on Vimeo.

mirny-diamond-mine-russia-Cum1David Bruno has been reading his Wendell Berry. Check out Dave’s post, “Sustainability & Place” in which he discusses the importance of finding a place and sticking to it. Easier said than done? Almost certainly. Worth the commitment? Dave thinks so. Let us know what you think.

ed0239-signatureJen Rose Yokel takes a look back at how she fell in love with poetry in a post called “Emily & I.” We’ll give you three chances to guess who “Emily” is. Hint: It’s not Emily Rose—but wouldn’t it be awesome if it was? Read Jen’s post here.

lizard-sheddingDr. Rogers took a break from all his bow-tie wearing, grumbling, and waffle-eating to share some sage advice for writers. In a post called “Tradecraft: Seeing What You See,” he points out that writing down the concrete details of what’s happening around you often makes for far more interesting reading than you may at first suspect. Listen to Dr. Rogers. Smart he is.

cover_clippingAnd speaking of Dr. Rogers, he’s got a new (old) book available. The World According to Narnia has been out of print for years, and Rabbit Room Press has amended that situation. The book is now out in a brand new edition and is available wherever great books are sold.

Not to be stopped at merely offering advice and writing books, Dr. Rogers also has an online writing class and an in-person seminar coming up. Click here for details.

Cat HairAnd yesterday, Joe Sutphin recounted the nearly-fatal tale of “Bonnifer Squoon and the Cat Hair of Doom.” This should not be confused with the Dog Hair of Doom, which is, even now, lurking along the baseboards of North Wind Manor and awaiting the howl of a Hoover.

That’s it for now. Grab your Local Show tickets now. They are going fast.



Bonifer Squoon and the Cat Hair of Doom

This past February, the Wolf King team hit crunch time. I was in full swing, inking one illustration per evening after work and two per day on the weekends. I was also in the throes of finalizing art for an early readers picture book. I was on the home stretch and had reached a scene with the brothers and good old Bonifer Squoon, which I was anticipating with excitement.

I began cranking away at inking the “Spidifer” scene and was about 75% finished when it happened. After one of my frequent dips into the inkwell I realized there was a small cat hair resting on my nib. Without a second thought, I blew a quick puff at the hair to toss it off. And then my eyes focused on the illustration below and the spray of black acrylic ink that freckled its once-pristine surface. My heart cramped. My instinct was to somehow brush this dust off of my drawing. But it wasn’t dust, and I knew it. It was there to stay. I could barely believe it had happened.

Now Available: The World According to Narnia

Imagination is a serious business. It gives substance to our yearnings for something beyond ourselves. Imagination is what convinces us that there is more to the world than meets the eye. And isn’t that the first principle of faith?

The Chronicles of Narnia awaken the reader to the imaginative possibilities of the gospel that have been there all along. The Chronicles serve as a reminder that if the gospel doesn’t fill you with overwhelming awe and joy and fear and hope, you may not have really understood what the gospel says.” —from the Introduction

Rabbit Room Press is proud to announce that Jonathan Rogers’ long out-of-print The World According to Narnia is back on the shelves. It’s available through the Rabbit Room store and wherever great books are sold. Special thanks to Chris Stewart for the great work on cover design.

Writing Classes with Dr. Rogers

Also note that Jonathan has opened up a new section of his online creative writing course, “Writing Close to the Earth, Part 1,” which is now open for registration. And on Thursday, October 9th, he’ll be holding a one-day in-person writing seminar here in Nashville. It’s called “From Memory to Story: Writing the Short Memoir”—and if you’re coming to Hutchmoot, don’t worry, class will adjourn in plenty of time to make registration and dinner.

For more information about Jonathan’s classes, visit his website. And click here to pick up your copy of The World According to Narnia.

Tradecraft: Seeing What You See

Originality may be the most overrated of the writerly virtues. Much more important is the skill of seeing what’s in front of you and rendering it faithfully. The world is a varied place; every person in it is a miracle; every setting is unusual; every event, every encounter is a thing that has never happened in the long history of the world. On top of all that variety is the fact that every observer’s vision is unique. If you will allow yourself to see what you see, and then write what you have seen, you can be sure that originality will take care of itself.

That’s not an easy thing to do. Few people write what they have seen. More often, they write what they think they ought to have seen, or they shoehorn experiences and people into familiar categories. It’s a hard habit to break; categorizing and sorting the firehose-blast of experiences and ideas that come our way is a necessary survival skill. But writing is different. Writing is a chance to release experience from man-made categories and say, “Look at this—this thing that exists in the real world.” Writing comes alive when you do that. Oddly enough, faithful imitation is the front door to originality.

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