The Archives

Make Believe Makes Believers

My son plays happily. He flits easily between two worlds: the world that is and the world he imagines. His conversation assumes the extraordinary. His play is an adventure in make believe. How like faith. Perhaps nothing is more like faith than play. This “admission” would no doubt make Christians raised in an era of apologetic zeal begin to sweat. It may also delight anti-theist scolds, those champions of unhappiness and pretense. But it is no great surrender to say faith is like play. If in a young boy’s imaginative play he sees himself brave and trustworthy in the good fight, then we are glad if he grows into a man who is like that in “the real world.” Likewise, if a little girl tenderly cares for a baby doll, devoting herself to its care while at play, then grows up to become a loving, tender mother, we are happy. And we should be. I call that good.

How to Make a Record, Part 2: The Edges of Things

Like I said in part one, this isn't meant to be a definitive piece on record making, because there are a zillion ways to approach it. I just did the math and realized this is my eighth studio record. That doesn't include live stuff or Walk or the Slugs & Bugs CDs, nor does it include occasional shorter recording sessions like "Holy is the Lord" (for City on a Hill) or the appendices A, C, or M. I only say that to say that as I look back at all those sessions, one of the only patterns that emerges is a lack of pattern. This may be super-boring, but just for fun I'm going to try and remember a thing or two about the making of those records. Walk (1996): I mention it here because even though it was an independent record, it was my first time in a legit studio with legit musicians. It was recorded in three days by my buddy Mark Claassen, who was interning at a studio that let us use a room after hours. To be honest, I remember little about the process except that it was maddeningly rushed. Also, we had no idea what we were doing (but we felt really cool doing it).

On Possessing Beauty

On the second-to-the-last day of September, in the year of our Lord 2011, I came into possession of a hill in the English countryside. I marked the event that evening with all due solemnity and appropriate honors. My husband and I had ostensibly walked out in the late afternoon to watch the sunset from a neighboring slope, but with a few quick modifications, and all the young joy of a first-time hill-owner, I adapted it into a celebration. I cut a few swinging strands of ivy that hung over the rutted path we took from our cottage, and as soon as we had spread our blanket on the grassy prospect, I sat down and began weaving them into a coronet. Philip grinned a little ruefully as I studded it with tiny thistles—the bane of any pasture-keeper’s existence; the amethysts and jasper of the woodland lapidary. But when I opened our tea caddy and produced, not the expected and well-traveled thermos and tin cups, but a bottle of champagne, his smile registered genuine surprise. “This is a momentous occasion,” I said gravely, attempting to loosen the cork and then passing it to him in a sudden fear of flying consequences. “It’s not every day you come into property.”

What is Love? Part II – Gethsemane

What Is Love? Part I - Definitions No discussion of love can be complete without regarding Gethsemane. In this second Garden, the divine love of the Father in the spirit of Jesus wrestled with the soul of Jesus, a war inside one body. This Man who had gone around saying “I and the Father are one” and “When you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” saw a separate will within himself, self-preservation rising up, self-love. “If there is any other way, let this cup pass from me.” I don’t want to die by execution, have my soul be despised, rejected, and to become sin and have my spirit separated from my Father. Anything but that. Was it wrong to feel this way, wrong to desire a way less painful? Obviously not. Temptation is not sin. “Let this cup pass from me.” He wrestled, like Jacob with the angel, but Jesus wasn’t saying, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” It was, “Please, if there’s any other way, get me out of this.”

Kingdom Poets: Sydney Lea

Sydney Lea is the author of ten collections of poetry including Pursuit Of A Wound (2001) which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He has also published a novel, A Place In Mind (1989), and two collections of essays. Lea is the founding editor of New England Review, where he served from 1977 until 1989. He has taught at several colleges, in Europe and the United States, including Yale, Wesleyan, and Dartmouth. He is the new poet laureate of Vermont. Jeanne Murray Walker wrote of his new collection, Six Sundays Toward a Seventh, “In this book Sydney Lea invites us to take a spiritual journey . . . By the end of Six Sundays, the narrator and the reader step together into radiant light. What is so moving about Six Sundays is not only its wrestling with spiritual questions, but also Lea's affirmation that life is a spiritual journey and that this journey is of paramount importance.”

Christian Storytelling Part III: The Story of the Scriptures

Christian Storytelling: Part I Christian Storytelling: Part II

In our journey through the Christian story and Christian storytelling, we have to take a look at the Bible. Since we're all big fans of Sally Lloyd-Jones here, I don't think I'll have to do much convincing when it comes to talking about the Bible as a story. But whenever the subject of interpreting Scripture comes up, lots of very strongly-held opinions clash. I want to say that at the outset, because I think we can have a very gracious and charitable discussion about how to approach the Bible.

What we think of the Scriptures will dictate how we interpret them. I want to propose some ideas (mostly not my own) about how to approach the Bible as a story, but first, I’ll start with two often-held views of the Scriptures and their interpretation.

Lightly Scratched, Mildly Dented

The Christmas season left us with a sizable pile of books and CDs that have suffered varying degrees of damage while in transit from place to place. The CDs have cracked or broken jewel cases and the books have minor tears or crumplings or other oddities, but each book is still readable and each CD still playable. I've listed all of these castaways in the store (click here) and they can be yours for just $3.99 each. We've also added quite a few new (and completely unbroken) items to the store lately. Here's a look at some of the new stuff in what amounts to something of a Song of the Day bonanza (not to mention the books and other goodies).

How to Make a Record, Part 1: First Things First

This post should really be called, "How We Make a Record", or even "How We're Making This Record". There are a thousand ways to skin a cat, or to write a song, or to make a chocolate chip cookie--this just happens to be our recipe. That said, in some ways I'm still as mystified by it as I ever was. I remember lying on my bed in high school with two cabinet speakers on either side of my head, listening to Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason, getting delightfully lost in the music and wondering how on earth this band of Brits transferred their music to two-inch tape, then to cassette, then to the record store, then to Lake Butler, Florida, to my speakers, to my ears, and finally to my adolescent noggin.

Live at The Rutledge: Eric Peters, Jill Phillips, Andrew Osenga

Want to be one of the first to hear new songs from Eric Peters' upcoming Birds of Relocation? How about a sneak peak at what Leonard the Lonely Astronaut has been writing about in the deeps of interstellar space? Or maybe you just want to hear how awesome Jill Phillips is. If you're in Nashville Monday night, come out to the Rutledge where there will be a trifecta of great music on display. Not in Nashville? Time for a road trip. Feb 6th at 7:30 PM $5.00 Cover The Rutledge 410 4th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37201-2212 (615) 782-6858‎

One Minute Review: The Grey

The Grey is one of those films that could really go either way. It stars Liam Neeson, which is good. The trailer makes it look pretty cool. But it comes from the guy who made the recent A-Team movie, which does not bode well. Is it a throw-away action film, or is there some substance there? Luckily, the One Minute Review has the answers.