If you have the chance to go see Brave, should ya? Once again, Thomas McKenzie braved the ferry system of the San Juan Islands so that you could get a One Minute Review of Brave. Is he a hero? No, but his daughters were glad to go along for the ride this time! If you all are going to Hutchmoot, I would love to have a much longer conversation about some of the elements of this film. I just couldn't even stand how good most of it was.
I'm working on a book, and I wrote this today as part of a chapter. I thought it might be a blessing to my fellow Rabbits this summer. The Celtic Christians, like the Romans, usually worshiped in rectangular buildings (as much as some modern people would love to think of Celts worshiping in forests and glades, or in round buildings where everyone was equal before Mother God, it's not true). The evidence indicates that these Christians stood during worship, with women on one side of the room and men on the other. They required two priests to celebrate the Eucharist, just to make sure it was legitimate. These priests stood before a raised altar at the front of the room. Over that altar hung a large object.
Real Love for Real Life is not only a beautifully-crafted exploration of the calling of caregiving, it is a gift of care in itself. Andi Ashworth writes with great compassion and great humility, and the result is a book that will literally change lives and give souls courage to dwell in Christ’s love in concrete, practical ways. Andi’s perspective is refreshing and rare, in the way that all good, old, true things are: a voice of affirmation to an often overlooked and sadly neglected part of the Body of Christ, and a loving challenge to a generation that seems characterized by isolation, busyness, and hurry. She is such an inspiration, a genuine example of a lifestyle of love. It was my great privilege to ask her a few questions on the occasion of the release of the Rabbit Room Press edition of her timeless--and timely--book.
After taking a hiatus from blogging in order to focus on writing and spending time with my family, I’m dipping my toe back in the waters to give you an update on what's brewing in our world. In November of 2011, Centricity and I talked about doing a Christmas record for 2012, and as I wondered about what that would like—what kind of Christmas record I could get really excited about—I thought about a Gray Christmas tradition that involves one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors: Beyond Words by Frederick Buechner, a kind of dictionary/encyclopedia of religious words and characters that come to new life under Buechner’s observant eye. Every year I pull the book off the shelf and look up each of the characters who make an appearance in the Christmas story, and every year I’m moved by the humanity of these people who find themselves unexpectedly caught up in the middle of The Greatest Story Ever Told. With all that has muddied the waters of the meaning of Christmas in the years since "redemption ripped through surface of time in the cry of a tiny babe," it’s been good for me to be reminded that it actually happened, once upon a time, in a certain place, in the lives of very real people who look much like myself.
I'm on sabbatical on an island that has no movie theater. OK, technically there is one, but not really. It took a great deal of effort to see Prometheus, but I did it for you, the people. And I did it for me, because I have been so excited to see this movie. Behold, the OMR of Prometheus!
I've been a fan of Carolyn Arends since 1995, when I saw her open for Rich Mullins at the Ryman Auditorium here in Nashville. That means that for seventeen years of my life I've been affected by the songs and writings of this most excellent Canadian. I count it a great blessing to call her a friend. Her newest book, Theology in Aisle Seven, is a collection of pieces she wrote for Christianity Today, and is available here. --The Proprietor
-------------------------The day before he died, my father wore what his doctors called the "Star Wars mask"—a high-tech oxygen system that covered most of his face. Pneumonia made his breathing extremely labored, but that didn't keep him from chatting. "Pardon?" my mom would ask patiently, trying to decipher his muffled sounds. Exasperated, he'd yank off the mask, bringing himself to the brink of respiratory arrest to ask about hockey trades or complain about the hospital food. After several hours, he gave up on conversation. He started singing. "What are you humming?" my mom asked. My dad repeatedly tried to answer through the mask before yanking it off again. "'With Christ in the Vessel, I Can Smile at the Storm'," he gasped. "Wow," murmured my mom, before singing it with him. My dad learned "With Christ in the Vessel" at Camp Imadene in 1949, the summer he asked Jesus into his 8-year-old heart. Six decades later, hours before his death, that silly old camp song was still embedded in his soul and mind, and he was singing it at the top of his nearly-worn-out lungs.
Now Available! In 2002, Andi Ashworth, the co-founder of Art House America (along with her husband, music producer Charlie Peacock) published, Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring. The book is Andi's care-filled challenge to find creative ways of bringing beauty into the lives of those around us, and it's become a book beloved by readers everywhere. Sadly, Real Love for Real Life went out of print and copies became scarce. When Andi approached us to discuss the possibility of putting it back into print as a second edition, we were more than happy to help. Rabbit Room Press is now proud to announce the June 26th release of the second edition of Andi Ashworth's acclaimed Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring, featuring a new preface to the second edition written by the author. If you, like many, have been anxious to read it but haven't been able to find it available, fret no longer. It's now on sale in the Rabbit Room store. Books ship on the 26th of June.
Yesterday marked the launch of a brand new website called Story Warren. It's the brainchild of our good friend, S. D. Smith, who's been patiently cooking it up over the last couple of years. Head over and check out the site. You'll recognize quite a few of the names on the masthead. Here's how Sam describes the Story Warren mission: Story Warren exists to serve you as you seek to foster holy imagination in the children you love. We want to do this primarily in two ways: Mostly, we want to write and share posts that will inspire, encourage, and foster holy imagination in you. Trickle-down imagination! I don’t know about you, but I can’t give to my children what I don’t have. Children become engaged when we are engaged. Also, we need the very same thing. Our focus here will center on children, but most of that applies to us as well. Secondly, we want to serve as a connection to storytellers, song-singers, teachers, and others who are doing this wonderful work. Imagine this place to be like Rick’s in Casablanca, except with way fewer Nazis. It’s a place to connect with others who are on the same road, to be exposed to some artists and authors who are potential allies in your battle. We want to be champions of construction. There’s a million places on the internet to fight about stuff. (I know, I counted.) We don’t want to be another place where angry, anonymous people can prove they’re right on the internet. Grab a hammer, or a wheelbarrow. Leave the wrecking ball alone. Let’s build together, loving the little ones by everything we make. We want to be allies in your efforts, coming alongside and sharing our water canteens, maybe telling some dumb jokes. But we do truly hope God uses this place in your life for your deep joy and his great glory. We’re on your side.
Theoretically, I’m a grown man. And yet I’m afraid. When I’m walking alone and the breeze suddenly quickens, fear awakens in me. The grass blades bow low like reverent, pagan slaves. The unconnected debris is caught up and scattered like so many prescient tramps. When the wind comes faster, and the tree limbs yield to the point of snapping, I want to run. Is there a ghost in the wind? Is he angry? May be. Is there magic in the wind? I think so. Enlightenment, be hanged. It was there in the beginning. The Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters in creation, like the Spirit of God would hover over humble Mary and recreate everything in the waters of her womb. The wind is alive, for it is spirit. I’m sure you’ve heard that the Hebrew words for spirit, wind, and breath are all the same word (though with wide meaning variations). Same goes for Greek. Try reading John 3 (or all of John) and think about all the double-meanings as Jesus talks about those born of the spirit, who are like the wind. Where is he from? Galilee? Where is the wind from? Half the time people are wondering where he’s from, where he is, and where he’s going. He is the one born of the wind (Spirit). He is from the sky (same word for heaven) and his father, the Sky God, approves of him. He is the Master of the Wind, and the Sea. He will crush the dragon.
This is a transcript of my opening remarks at Hutchmoot 2011, revised slightly to work as a post here. In case the spirit of the thing comes across as actual irritation, let me say that this is intended to be good-natured ranting, if there is such a thing. I have a lot of friends who use the terminology I'm poking fun at, and the last thing I want is to make enemies. This is just me raising my hand from the back of the class to ask if there's a better way to think about the subject. --The Proprietor
----------------------------------Allow me to kick off Hutchmoot 2011 with a complaint. Many of you have heard of "verbing": the practice of using a noun as a verb. The very word "verbing" is a case in point. Other examples: friend, spam, and Google. You "table" a discussion. Concerts get "booked." I get it. Language is a fluid thing, and part of the beauty of it is the way it changes with the times. Still, as Calvin said to Hobbes, "Verbing weirds language." Allow me to dialogue a little more with you about it. (See what I did there?) There's another word that's popped up recently, and every time I've heard it or read it I've had some kind of reaction. It's not a noun that's been verbed---rather, it's an adjective that's been nouned. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I just verbed the adjective-ing of "noun," and in this very sentence verbed "adjective" too. Nouning verbs is a little more difficult, but it happens every time I go on a run. It happened a few minutes ago when I stood in line for Evie's cooking. I thought to myself, "Gimme some eats." And Evie, in a brazen case of verbing two nouns and employing two nouned adjectives, with some hyperbole thrown in, likely thought to herself, "If Andrew comes back for thirds I'm going to fork him in the innards, and he won't stomach that for a second." I'm certain that made no sense. Let me be clear: this phenomenon is nothing new, nor is it wrong. It's one of the things I love about language. But let me get to the point. The word I'm talking about, the one that galls me a little, is this: "creative." I keep hearing people refer to themselves not as creative but as creatives. As in, "I'm a creative who works in the ministry," or on the occasional Twitter bio, "I'm a wife, a mother, and a creative living in Punxatawney, PA." I'm sure some of you are in this room, and that's fine. But let me push back just a little, lest this "creatives" thing get out of hand.