The Archives

The Illness of Mental Horror: Sketching At Coffee Demons

Or is it the horror of mental illness? Sometimes, something as simple as your morning cup of coffee can evoke a sensation of horror---given the right mental state. I don't hear much in the way of a conversation about mental illness, particularly in Christian circles. After all, if we supposedly have the Holy Ghost living inside of us, somewhere, working something "good" in and through us, then I can understand why, for some, there doesn't seem to be much room for mention of anything as dark as mental illness. But I'm particularly interested in a conversation about those of us who are what I will call The Functionally or Marginally Un-Well. You know who I'm talking about. Perhaps you or someone you know fits this description. You (or they) are, or may be, a believer, a professing Christian. They manage to hold down a job, go to the store, talk on the phone, mingle with friends, go to movies, produce creative work, etc. They manage to keep up an appearance of mental stability, of wellness. I'm only able to write about this because I'm confessing here. I'm one of those "Functionally Un-Well" people. I manage to keep up appearances, on good days at least. I've never been institutionalized. I am a Christian, whatever that means---I hold to the creeds, eat and drink Christ's body and blood, and cry out to God in my utter helplessness. I'm a confirmed Anglican, although I've never felt so adrift, so un-confirmed if you will, as I do now.

The Force Awakens: Teaser #2

Because some things are far too awesome not to share. December sure does seem like a long way off.

England: Day Four

[Day One] [Day Two] [Day Three] DAY FOUR OXFORD 22/02/2015 Our London hosts, Tom and Rachael, generously send us on our way to Oxford with bellies full from a(nother) hearty English breakfast. The Brits are either unafraid of consuming sausage, and lots of it, or they are just showing off. The reasons for me to like these folks continues to mount. Though blander than I am accustomed, I find that English food is nowhere near as poor as some Americans report. This fallacy is likely a myth first concocted and perpetuated by a Cajun cayenne-junkie. I'm starting to get the hang of ordering my coffee properly: "Americano white, please. Cheers." In my fumbling attempts to quietly assimilate and count out correct change, at no point do I get the sense I am putting any employee out in my struggle to articulate my food, drink, or book order. The English further cement in my mind their reserved, level-headed, and patient nature. I suppose a thousand-year-old culture has a way of tempering the soul.

The Audacity of Cinderella

Yesterday I watched Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella. After the movie began, I sat in the dark theater measuring my expectations, waiting for the old, familiar fairytale to be deconstructed. I've seen enough modern adaptations of classic stories to worry about a director pulling the rug out from under me. Just a few minutes into a plot, there's often a cynical jolt, and my innocence becomes the butt of someone else's joke. Out of nowhere comes the sarcasm, the crude humor, or the cheap political slam, and I feel my face flush with shame that I had once again hoped that a world---even an imaginary one---could be honest and beautiful.  Indeed, the first few scenes of Cinderella are idyllic. The film opens to a lovely meadow adorned with flowers and a blue sky full of puffy clouds. Ella’s family members are tender with one another. Their home looks like it was built from a vintage storybook drawing, so unabashedly sweet that I heard little girls and their mothers coo with delight as we walked through the rooms. In fact, it was all so perfect that I couldn't relax. I felt like the high school geek about to walk in on a locker room prank, so I steeled myself, preparing for that awful moment when the director would lift his leg and mark an old fairy tale as his newest territory.

Tokens Tickets

Congratulations to Matthew Clark and Pedro Navas, winners of two tickets each to tonight's Tokens Show at Lipscomb University. Enjoy the show! For those who didn't win, tickets are still available. Check out www.tokensshow.com for more information.

Why It Matters

Why do the arts matter? Why does beauty matter? I don't believe I have ever heard a better explanation than the song "Why It Matters," by Sara Groves. I can still remember Gina coming to me years ago while I typed away at my first novel, battling discouragement (as always), and saying, "This song is what you're doing." I hope so! Even if it's just in a small way for a few people, I hope so. We love Sara Groves in our home and this is one of many reasons why. She (like Andrew Peterson) always seems to be singing about our life. Do you have that experience too? Thank you, Sara. Like a single cup of water, oh it matters. Lyrics below. Here's the record, Add to the Beauty (and it's all so wonderful).

Hutchmoot 2015 Registration: Round 2

Today at 4pm CST we'll be opening up the final 70 spots for Hutchmoot registration. Once these remaining tickets are sold, we'll begin tracking a waiting list. Please do not ask to be added to the waiting list until it's been confirmed here that all tickets are sold. The ticketing system operates on a queue, which means that users are let into the registration site on a controlled basis and once inside have a limited amount of time to purchase their tickets. Please be patient. Click here for registration via iTickets. Click here for more information on Hutchmoot 2015.

Tokens: Broken and Beautiful World

Tokens has a jam-packed show lined up for tomorrow---and we've got a pair of tickets to give away. The theme of the night is "A Broken and Beautiful World," and the featured author of the evening is our own Jonathan Rogers, who will be interviewed about his book The Terrible Speed of Mercy. Musical guests include David Crowder, and Matt Haeck & Sara Jean Kelley (who will be doing 3 songs from Studio Tenn's original hit show The Cash Legacy). That amazing line-up will be joined by Tokens regulars like Buddy Greene, Brother Preacher, and the Most Outstanding Horeb Mountain Boys, all led by host Lee Camp. If you've never been to a Tokens show, now's your chance. Send an email to [email protected] and put "TOKENS" in the subject line to enter. We'll select a random winner to receive two tickets to the show. To buy tickets, and for more information, visit TokensShow.com. (Rabbit Room contributor Chris Stewart also designed this awesome poster.) tokens_2015-01-poster_web-large-667x1024

Music City Marathon

Last April I ran the Music City Half-Marathon with my fifteen-year-old son. I ran most of it, anyway. Between Mile Marker 10 and Mile Marker 11 I decided I'd had as much fun as I could stand and sent my son on ahead while I walked a little, trotted a little, walked some more. I was walking, and not very briskly, near the foot of Capitol Hill when I felt a hand on my shoulder. "You can do this," said a woman's voice. "Don't walk. Run." I looked to see who my encourager was, but I didn't recognize her as she passed. I could see that she was a few years older than I. My first thought was, "If this woman can keep running after eleven miles, I can too." My second thought was, "I've got nothing to prove here. She can run if she wants, and good on her. I'm tired of running." My third thought was, "Wait, is she wearing a beauty pageant sash?" A white satin sash ran across the woman's torso from left shoulder to right hip. On it the name "Carolyn Corlew" was emblazoned in royal blue letters. I started running again, not because I had the Eye of the Tiger, or even because I was ashamed that I was being outrun by a woman who clearly had a decade or two on me. No, I ran because if I didn't catch up with the woman with the sash, I would never know her story.

Guest Post: Southern Inklings and a Texas Oasis (by R. M. Sanders)

[Editor's note: On March 26-29 Laity Lodge welcomed us back to the Texas Hill Country for the 2nd annual Rabbit Room Retreat. The weekend was an enormous delight and today's guest writer, Randi Sanders, recounts the experience.]

“Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves)
Our company of four – whom I shall refer to as Merry, Pippin, Bilbo and Frodo – consisted of two musicians, an aspiring writer, and an all-encompassing creative. For months we collaborated in anticipation of a retreat at Laity Lodge that, we hoped, would prove to be a unique and inspiring adventure. Having been at least ten years or more since I last attended a “retreat,” when Frodo mentioned this opportunity I agreed to go in blind enthusiasm. Graciously, all of our spouses indulged our whims – and off we went.

Hurting

I find that some writings come together relatively quickly. Others I tinker with off and on for years before I'm satisfied. And still others languish in a state of stunted realization perpetually, perhaps never to be completed. I find this equally true of stories, songs, poems, and essays. I have fragments of up to 40,000 words languishing (or percolating) on the backburners of these hard drives. Some are perhaps only the initial workings out of an idea that eventually finds incarnation in some other form or piece. But others seem to be their own thing, such that either I will one day bend them to conclusion, or they will simply sink into the peat bog of the half-finished and the forgotten and the might-have-been. In celebration of the not-fully-realized, I offer the following found poem. This is one I created some time back, probably ten years ago, limiting my source material to a single page from a history textbook. I never had the settled sense that the poem was complete though, so I never did anything with it. In looking back at it now, I concur with my initial instinct. This poem still needs one or two additional closing lines; some sort of clincher that ties it all up or brings the reader to a new place. Even so, I like what it is and where it's going.

Eating Reality

I’ve been lately enjoying George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie. Many of the ideas in those books echo the thoughts in one of MacDonald’s other fantasy books, Phantastes. MacDonald’s characters are often on a journey of some sort which prompts all sorts of surprises and discoveries. There is nearly always some sort of tension between faith and unbelief, virtue and temptation, courage and fear, and MacDonald never fails to give me deep, life-changing prompts for my own journey. I’ll highlight just a few of these to keep this post from being a novel of its own. The first example is that of unbelief, that progressive losing of the childlike mindset that sees wonder and potential and possibility all around. Curdie is a miner boy whose stealthy spying on the goblins in The Princess and the Goblin uncovers a plot to kidnap the princess. But in the beginning of the sequel, The Princess and Curdie, he is losing his grip on true reality:

Tonight: The Local Show with Andrew Peterson & Friends

We've got a great line-up for tonight's edition of the Local Show. Andrew Peterson is hosting and he's invited this great group of songwriters to share the stage. Leading the pack is a name you're all familiar with: Rabbit Room alumnus Jason Gray. We're thrilled to have him at the Local Show for the first time this week. Next up, the too-young-to-be-so-talented Caleb Chapman (of Colony House) returns. And finally, an acclaimed songwriter with no less than 12 Dove Awards and 21 #1 hits to her credit, the great Cindy Morgan. Tickets are available for $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Rabbit Room members can purchase a $5 admission at the door with their membership card. Show time is 7:30pm at The Well coffeehouse on Old Hickory Blvd. Doors open at 7:10pm.

England: Day Three

[Day One] [Day Two] DAY THREE MUSWELL HILL, LONDON 21/02/2015 We drove east from central London (sometimes keeping to the appropriate side of the road) to a place called Dagenham. I overheard someone explain the pronunciation: "It's DAG-en-HAM, yes, but to sound local you just mash it all together so it sounds like 'Dagnum.'" We stayed with the Harts, a family we met on the Petersons' European adventure almost two years ago. In July of 2013 they picked up Jamie and the kids and me from Heathrow and drove us to their home in Dagenham, charming us with their accents the whole way. Tom grew up on a farm in England and Rachel is from the highlands of Scotland, and now they live in the manse of a little church in a little neighborhood called Osborne Square. In a delightful case of Englishness, their proper address has no house number---it's just "The Manse, Osborne Square." Tom, whom I don't think I've ever seen without a smile on his face, cracked up me and my boys right away when he asked, "So what's the deal with July 4th, anyway? What are you guys celebrating?" I love that I had to explain Independence Day to the first Brit I met. Evidently, it's a bit of history they've chosen to ignore, for understandable reasons.

An Easter Poem from Dorothy Sayers

[Thanks to Lanier Ivester for introducing us to this gem. Happy Easter, folks. He is risen.] Desdichado ---This is the heir; come let us kill him. ---Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved? Christ walks the world again, His lute upon His back, His red robe rent to tatters, His riches gone to rack, The wind that wakes the morning blows His hair about His face, His hands and feet are ragged with the ragged briar’s embrace, For the hunt is up behind Him and His sword is at His side,… Christ the bonny outlaw walks the whole world wide, Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me, Lie among the bracken and break the barley bread? We will see new suns arise in golden, far-off skies, For the Son of God and Woman hath not where to lay His head.” Christ walks the world again, a prince of fairy-tale, He roams, a rascal fiddler, over mountain and down dale, Cast forth to seek His fortune in a bitter world and grim, For the stepsons of His Father’s house would steal His bride from Him; They have weirded Him to wander till He bring within His hands The water of eternal youth from black-enchanted lands, Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me, Or sleep on silken cushions in the bower of wicked men? For if we walk together through the wet and windy weather, When I ride back home triumphant, you will ride beside Me then.” Christ walks the world again, new-bound on high emprise, With music in His golden mouth and laughter in His eyes; The primrose springs before Him as He treads the dusty way, His singer’s crown of thorns has burst in blossom like the may, He heedeth not the morrow and He never looks behind, Singing: “Glory to the open skies and peace to all mankind.” Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me? Was never man lived longer for the hoarding of his breath; Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain . . . If we perish in the seeking . . . why, how small a thing is death!” ---Dorothy Sayers