The Archives

Proper Introductions: George MacDonald

G.K. Chesterton called him “one of the three or four greatest men of the 19th century.” Madeleine L’Engle said he was the “grandfather of us all—all of us who struggle to come to terms with truth through imagination.” “George MacDonald gives me renewed strength during times of trouble,” she wrote elsewhere, “times when I have seen people tempted to deny God.”

An Ethic for Aesthetics

Walt Wangerin is working on a great series of posts at his blog. They make for a fascinating window into the mind of a world-class writer. He's laying out his case for craft and it's worth paying attention to. Here's an excerpt:

As far as I am concerned, art occurs. It happens. It is always an event rather than an object — though it is by means of objects that art takes place. The painting, then, that hangs in a nighttime darkness on the museum wall is not itself art. It is a medium for art. When the light comes on, when a viewer steps before the shapes, the textures, and the colors composed upon the canvas, when the viewer enters the thing by playing her sight from part to part of the painting — that progressing event is art. Likewise, when this post is closed and unread, it has the potential to become art, but it still awaits the moment of its happening. It waits for a reader. It waits for you. Art is its own peculiar form of human communication.
  Read the full article at his blog via the links below. An Ethic for Aesthetics (Intro) An Ethic for Aesthetics: What Is Art? (1/6) An Ethic for Aesthetics: The First Covenant (2/6)

The River Fox Chapter Seven: Tombow Love You!

[Fantasy adventure and slapstick cartoon humor. Martin runs from dragons and bandits, while Marco tries to break out of a desert camp.  The River Fox, volume two of The Dragon Lord Saga is now premiering one episode a week at Webtoons (also check out volume one, Martin & Marco).] 7

The Psalms

If you haven't watched this yet, take 20 minutes out of your day and enjoy this conversation between two icons. They discuss the effect the Psalms have had on them, including great thoughts about the importance of art and the need for approaching art with honesty. If nothing else, it's worth it just for Eugene Peterson's infectious smile and his introduction to the mash pit.

To My Girls, On Your Baptism

To my beautiful daughters, Last night in our church, surrounded by so many of the people we love, I watched you stand up together and publicly share your faith in Christ. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I cried. Not just last night but countless times over the past week. I cried again this morning as the reality of it hit me. You know that I cry easily and often. It's been that way for a long time. Happy things. Sad things. Beautiful things. They all make me cry. You've been around me for long enough to know that. However,  as I reflect on what took place last night, I want to take a moment to explain why the emotion that has overwhelmed me this week has a deeper root than I suspect you fully understand.

The Heartfelt Hilarity of Olan Rogers

The advent of YouTube in 2005 created an unprecedented opportunity for average people to create content and share it with the world. Of course, a lot of people took this opportunity to just create cat videos (and where would we be without them). Ten years later though, it has led to the rise of a new kind of entrepreneur and celebrity—the YouTube star. These are creative people who have found a niche and created a following, sometimes of millions of subscribers, by producing regular content of some form, whether that's makeup tutorials, video-game playthroughs, or humorous vlogs. A rare group of these people have even become successful millionaires, as companies have tapped the advertising potential of their large audiences. My favorite YouTuber isn't one of these millionaires. He only has about 840,000 subscribers---which is a pittance considering that the top channel on YouTube has 43 million subscribers. He also doesn't take advertising deals just for the sake of earning money off his fan base. His name is Olan Rogers.

New Music from Eric Peters

Eric Peters' new record, Far Side of the Sea, is rounding third and almost home. Last night Eric surprised the unsuspecting public by streaming a track from the new record on his website. This is 100% new material and it sounds fantastic! If you're a fan of Eric's work, you'll be delighted by the musical evolution evident in this track. We can't wait to hear the rest. How long do we have to wait, Eric? Click here to visit his website and stream the song.

2nd Annual Shakespeare Celebration

Looking for a good way to spend your weekend? The Center for Faith & Culture at Aquinas College is presenting the 2nd Annual Shakespeare Celebration on Saturday, April 23---a full day of talks and performances, featuring Dale Ahlquist, Joseph Pearce, Kevin O’Brien and Theater of the Word, Dr. Aaron Urbanczyk, and the drama clubs of St. Cecilia Academy and Father Ryan High School. Click here for more information and the full schedule of events.

Liturgy in the Garden (Thoughts from the Festival of Faith & Writing)

We planted a new garden this year. We tried once before at another house, but the yard was nearly all in the shade. We spent months worrying over it and weeding it, until it all paid off when we harvested four pieces of okra and a cherry tomato. Lesson learned: Don’t plant a garden in the shade. I learn most things the hard way; gardening is no different. But this year we found a nice sunny spot, fenced it in to keep the deer and chickens out, and built seven raised beds. Big hopes. I mentioned deer and chickens—but let me be thorough. We have seven hens (Babs, Clementine, Henrietta, Wynona, Goodness, Mercy, and Early) and two roosters (Tom Bombadil and Shirley (Yes Shirley. Don’t ask.)), in addition to our three guineas (the Swat Team), six ducks (Mr. & Mrs. Meatball, Mrs. Waddlesworth, Mrs. McGillicutty, The Colonel, and Miss Peggy), dog (Penny), and a rabbit (Gus McCrae). Yes, we own a rabbit; no, I can’t explain why (Jennifer’s defense will no doubt entail a measuring of the exponential increase in cuteness when multiplied by a factor of cuddliness). If you count all that up, you’ll find we have twenty critters in our little parish.

Mouse Guard

Welcome to the Mouse Territories. Blacksmiths, masons, healers, and craftsmice ply their trades in grand cities and small townships, from the libraries of Lockhaven to the homey inn in Barkstone. But who seeks out the safe ways from village to village? Who patrols the borders and defends the paths from savage beasts and the weasel armies? The Guard. Mouse Guard is a graphic novel series by David Peterson, published by Archaia comics. The series has won four Eisners and hit the New York Times bestseller list, as well as garnering the greatest award of all: a cult following of loyal fans. I am one of those fans, and a recent rereading of the series gave me a new appreciation for the power and artistry at work here.

Again

I’ve been traveling through a strange season for the past few years. It’s been heavy with snow and cold. In my struggle to keep stepping forward, I decided to fill my time by becoming a Certified Master Gardener. Even though my life has always involved gardening, I still lacked a vast amount of knowledge. And the more I learned, the more I saw how closely plants and seasons resemble the cycles of human life. Some seeds literally cannot grow until they have waited through a period of cold, hoping for the spring. If you plant this type of seed in the spring, even in the most perfect of conditions, it will fail to germinate, rot into the soil, and disappear forever. It must undergo the pressure of freezing and thawing. It must be weighted under the silence of thick blankets of snow, left all alone. Then, and only then, can it grow to its full potential. Spring has a way of coming without notice.

The Writing of Branta and Other Affections

On Walt Wangerin's blog there's a fantastic series of posts about children and the power of stories. If you love stories (for adults or children) this is a great opportunity to sit at the feet of a master and soak in some wisdom. One:  Wild Things Maurice Sendak once told me of the furor that followed the publication of his children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are.  By pictures and elementally simple language, the story follows a small boy to bed, and then into his vivid, funny, and sometimes disquieting imagination as the bedroom itself morphs into a terrible woods and frightening creatures appear: the wild things.  Many parents and some reviewers were downright upset that small children would see such stuff.  They believed it would damage the children, implanting frights and fears in innocent brains, inspiring nightmares.  Sleep?  Sendak hath murdered sleep. [Read the entire series at Walt's blog.] Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Designing A Book Cover, Part 2: Gorilla Tactics

Around this time last year I received the manuscript for Book 2 of Dr. Critchlore’s School For Minions, tentatively titled The Search For The Great Library. For anyone who does not know, this is a 4-book, middle grade series written by Sheila Graw that I am illustrating for Abrams/Amulet. The first thing we always do with these books is begin designing the cover. Some reasons for this are because the cover is then used in sales meetings, sales materials, and other ways to get everyone excited about the book, long before my interior art is complete. After I read the manuscript I began to compile a short list of important or prevalent aspects of the story to be hinted at in the cover image. For you to get a look at my thought process, I’d like to share my list, which looked just like this:

Chapter Six: Slaves and Nomads

[Fantasy adventure and slapstick cartoon humor. Martin runs from dragons and bandits, while Marco tries to break out of a desert camp. The River Fox, volume two of The Dragon Lord Saga is now premiering one episode a week at Webtoons (also check out volume one, Martin & Marco).] 6-2I'd like to give you a quick biography of my childhood. It goes like this: Several time a week, I would beg for a trip to the public library or the bookstore. I'd come home with a book containing Peanuts comics by Charles Schultz. I would read and re-read the book until bedtime; then, after lights-out, I would sneak a flashlight under my blanket and read it some more. That covers most of my childhood. The only other thing you need to know is that when I was a few years older, I gained an appreciation for Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson and added that to my endless re-reading.

Adam Whipple @ the Ghost Motel

Knoxville-based Adam Whipple is no stranger to most of you. But check out this fantastic video from Ghost Motel. This is Adam at his best. Check out the Ghost Motel website for more great music.