just in time to see
one yellow leaf
at last let go, slowly
through morning sunshine
to quietly ripple the stillness
of the pond
On mornings like this, I can begin to understand why the ancients set aside sacred groves and sanctuaries of nature as places for communion with the gods. I think [...]
I have always thought it a happy coincidence that in my country Thanksgiving Day occurs the fourth Thursday in November. That same Thursday happens usually to be the last Thursday in Trinity Season, at the end of what the Church sometimes calls Ordinary Time. That makes it the last Thursday before the season of Advent, the first Sunday of which is the New Year’s Day. As such, the American Thanksgiving Day is an ideal occasion to reflect upon blessings given us in Ordinary Time before proceeding into Advent and the New Year. This summing up of Ordinary Time in Thanksgiving, by another happy coincidence, falls somewhere between November 22 and 29---a week I sometimes call “C. S. Lewis Week.” The earliest day on which Thanksgiving Day may fall is November 22, the anniversary of Lewis’s death; the last day on which Thanksgiving may fall is November 28, the eve Lewis’s birthday. So just as the approach of Thanksgiving Day reminds me that a resetting of the Church calendar is just around the corner, it also reminds me that I may be overdue for some extended meditation on some essay or story by Lewis. I give thanks for Lewis every time I read him, which is often. I give thanks for him because he has taught me much of what I know about how to give thanks, and to Whom I give thanks. Take, for example, this passage from Letters to Malcolm:
Gratitude exclaims, very properly, “How good of God to give me this.” Adoration says, “What must the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!” One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun . . .
Jill Phillips is celebrating her album release tonight by hosting a live concert online via Concert Window. Don't miss it. The show starts at 7:30 CST / 8:30 EST. Click here to go to Concert Window and watch the show.
For the past two years, we've offered Rabbit Room memberships to our readers, and a whole lot of you have put your membership benefits to good use. For some strange reason, though, we began by offering memberships in May, which meant that the 2014 benefits were good from May of 2014 until May of 2015 which, if you think about it, really makes it a half of a 2014 membership and half of a 2015 membership---or something. Weird. So this year we're setting things right. Memberships for 2015 are on sale now and they will be good for the entire duration of 2015. It just makes sense. So what are the benefits of Rabbit Room membership? I'm glad you asked. Read on: ---A free copy of the Molehill, vol. 3, which should be shipping before Christmas ---A free download of the Hutchmoot 2014 audio archive (that's over 18 hours of audio!) ---A free 2015 Certified Member mug only available via membership (ships as soon as they come off the potter's wheel---which may or may not be before Christmas.) ---deep and abiding satisfaction ---15% off of all purchases in the Rabbit Room store (we'll email your membership ID right away so that you can use it in the Rabbit Room store during the holiday season.) ---A nifty membership card that you can flash at certain Rabbit Room events (like the Local Show) to get free or discounted admission rates ---powers of tremendous insight That's a good bunch of stuff, but some of you are asking yourselves, "Wait a minute, I just bought my 2014 membership a few months ago, does that mean I'm getting short-changed?" Happily, the answer is no. In order to get the membership schedule on track, we're extending all 2014 memberships until the end of 2015. So technically, you're getting long-changed. You can still purchase the Hutchmoot 2014 audio archive separately by clicking here. And your copy of the Molehill will be on its way soon. So that's the deal. From here on out, each November you'll be able to renew your membership for the following year, and that means you'll always have access to the Hutchmoot archive for current year. If you were paying attention, you noticed that this was a double announcement. 2015 Membership? Yes. The long-awaited Hutchmoot 2014 audio archive is available? Yes, that too (click me and see). Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales coming up? Yep, we've got some of that too. Stay tuned.
We've been slacking on the Friday review posts, but only because there's been so much stuff going on that we haven't had time to talk about it! What kind of stuff? Well, read on. Let's start with Rebecca Reynolds' post, "A Mother's Repentance," about the complexities of motherhood, which apparently resonated with the entire internet. If you are one of the few who hasn't yet read it, click here to amend that. "I am also learning that there is a huge difference between parenting your children with Christian principles and trusting Christ with your children." ---Rebecca Reynolds Last Monday After All These Years, Andrew Peterson's new "Best of" album was released. The CD features a mix of old songs, new versions of old songs, and just plain new songs, like "Everybody's Got A Song"--which you may recall from the Behold the Lamb show at the Ryman. And speaking of Behold the Lamb, the tour hits the road right after Thanksgiving. Check the tour dates here for a show in your area. Also in new-release news, Jill Phillips' beautiful new album, Mortar & Stone, came out earlier this week. She premiered the songs at her Hutchmoot 2014 concert and Hutchmooters were lucky enough to get advanced copies of the record, but it's available to everyone now. Click here to check it out in the Rabbit Room store. And on Monday, November 24th, Jill is hosting a special FREE online CD release concert that you can stream directly into your living room. Click here for details. Another album just hit the streets that we forgot to tell you about. Steve Taylor's long silence is over; Goliath, by Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil hit the streets this week. Steve spoke at Hutchmoot last year and I know a lot of rabbits out there have been anxiously awaiting this new record. Check out Steve's record in iTunes. In "The Madman and the Believer" Jonathan Rogers pulls out his favorite book and goes all Don Quixote on us---which, it turns out, is a very good thing indeed. "I’m not entirely convinced that Cervantes saw his fool Quixote as a holy fool or as a true agent of grace. But if any literary character ever invited willful misreading, surely that character is Don Quixote." ---Read the entire post here. While Eric Peters was trapped in the tundra this week, he poked his head out of his hole long enough to talk about the Book Mole and the history of his love for the smell of old books. Read the post here and put the Book Mole to work doing your bidding. A few months ago, Jamin Still showed us a glimpse of his work-in-progress Christmas cards. If you were at Hutchmoot you've seen the fruit of his labor, and now those cards, both the Merry versions and the Scary versions, are available in the Rabbit Room store. Check them out here. A pack of 12 cards is just $18.00. Supplies are limited. Get them while you can. Jamin also gave us a glimpse into some of the new work he's doing and you should read the whole post here. Ron Block put down the banjo and talked George MacDonald for a while, choosing several favorites selections from his Unspoken Sermons (GMac's not Ron's) to share. "It is you who think so much about your souls and are so afraid of losing your life, that you dare not draw near to the Life of life, lest it should consume you." --click here to read the whole post. Ooops! Almost forgot. Jonathan Rogers also posted an awesome interview he did with Jill Phillips and it's completely delightful. So in addition to checking out her new record and watching her free show on Monday, be sure to read Jonathan's interview with her. Too much Jill Phillips is never a bad thing. Yesterday we announced that we'll be hosting a special Christmas concert at North Wind Manor featuring Buddy Greene, Jeff Taylor, and Michael Card. Apparently you guys thought that sounded like fun as much as we did, because it sold out in about an hour. Zounds. And finally, we'll leave you with Thomas McKenzie's review of Christopher Nolan's incredibly disappointing Interstellar. For more reviews, like Gone Girl, Nightcrawler, and Birdman, go to www.OneMinuteReview.com or facebook.com/oneminutereview
The Local Show is on hiatus for the rest of the year, but that doesn't mean the Rabbit Room is done with live music for 2014. The Behold the Lamb of God show is getting ready to hit the road, and while they're off galavanting around the country, we've got a special treat coming to North Wind Manor. Harmonica wizard Buddy Greene (co-writer of "Mary Did You Know"), time-jumping accordion and keyboard virtuoso, Jeff Taylor, and Nashville's very own musical Gandalf, Michael Card, have put together a traveling Christmas show of their own and we've talked them into coming out to the Manor to play a special one-night house show for the first 30 people to snatch themselves up a ticket. Holiday fun guaranteed. The show is on Saturday, December 6th, at North Wind Manor just south of Nashville in the Cane Ridge community. Tickets are limited to 30 seats and available in the Rabbit room store. We ask that folks show up no earlier than 7pm and bring a snack item to share. Drinks are on us. The show starts at 7:30pm. We'll see you there! Christmas at North Wind Manor with Buddy Greene, Jeff Taylor, and Michael Card --- click here for tickets.
It’s release day for Jill Phillips’s new record, Mortar & Stone (available here in the Rabbit Room store). Last week I chatted with Jill via Facebook about her record and other things. Mostly other things. She was just coming in from tutoring a student at her kids’ school, which draws students from very expensive neighborhoods, from housing projects, and from every sort of neighborhood in between. That was where our conversation started. Your kids’ school is pretty interesting—this meeting point between families of privilege and families who don’t enjoy nearly the same advantages. I agree. I want my kids to go to a school where people don't have all the privileges they have. I want them to know that in all the important ways, those other kids aren't that different. I think the things they see there hopefully build character and compassion. We talk about their school and friends in the context of the gospel all the time. I want them to see Jesus there and in their classmates. The thing that makes people the most anxious about sending their children there is really its greatest gift. I think that has some relevance to the music you and Andy [Gullahorn] have been making—and the life y'all have been living—for a long time. So many of the songs on Mortar & Stone are about the blessings that come out of things you didn't want at all. That's really interesting. I do think that's true. I don't think we can avoid pain. Our kids can't avoid pain growing up. I can't avoid pain in my daily life. Part of maturity is knowing who to turn to when hard things happen- who is Lord of it. I want to sing about all of those things. Every grownup in the world will tell you that the things that made them a better person are the hard things, and yet most of us don’t want hard things for our kids. As much as I know I need Jesus, I don't want my kids to have to need Jesus I know, it's so true. Even as I write that and know I believe it I fight it every day. I don't want them to suffer, I don't want to suffer. Kids are the final frontier when it comes to the gospel.
Jill Phillips' brand-spanking new full-length album, Mortar & Stone, is now available. If you were at Hutchmoot 2014, you were there for the release concert (and maybe even picked up an advanced copy). If you pre-ordered the CD, it's probably already on your doorstep. If you pre-ordered the download, you can log in to your account page and start downloading the full album right now. And if you haven't heard the songs yet, get thee to the store and listen. Jill's songs have always connected with listeners on a deep, personal level, and this collection is no different. They meet people where they are and join them along the road, both in darkness and in light. It's a beautiful piece of work. Stay tuned for a release day interview by Jonathan Rogers. Go grab yourself some great music while you wait.
I’ve started reading through George MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermons. It’s a book I’ve read piecemeal for years, skipping around here and there, but for the first time I am reading it straight through as one long progression of thought. The gems of revelation in Unspoken Sermons remind me of Golg in The Silver Chair telling Rilian, “I have heard of those little scratches in the crust that you Top-dwellers call mines. But that’s where you get dead gold, dead silver, dead gems. Down in Bism we have them alive and growing. There I’ll pick you bunches of rubies that you can eat and squeeze you a cup full of diamond-juice. You won’t care much about fingering the cold, dead treasures of your shallow mines after you have tasted the live ones of Bism.” Here are some of MacDonald's live treasures:
Hey all! I wanted to let you know that those Topiary Christmas cards that I've been posting about for years are ready for purchase! Pop over to the Rabbit Room Store to get your Merry or Scary cards today. Since Hutchmoot, I've shifted gears and have begun my next project. As you may have seen in a previous post, I've been doing paintings with Ellen for some time now. Her story has been vague and unformed, but is slowly taking shape with each new painting I do of her. This last month I've done a couple more and have decided that it's time to tackle the story. This will help direct me with creating the remaining images. I've also been getting ready for my first ever (and possibly last) House Show. My wife is graciously allowing me to clear out the furniture, put a bunch of nails in our walls, and invite a ton of people into our house to look at and hopefully buy some paintings, prints, and cards. This is happening on Saturday, November 15th. So if you're in Wichita or the surrounding area, I'd love to see you at my house on the 15th. Details can be found on my Facebook site (link below). Here's a detail of one of the images I did last month - Ellen with a giant skeleton key. It's called - you guessed it - Ellen and the Key. I'll share more images with you as they come. Follow Jamin on Instagram Follow Jamin on Facebook
When it comes to books there are all kinds of people. To identify a few: ---Those who have no interest in reading (no one at the RR). ---Those who have slowly gained an appreciation for pleasure reading, perhaps scarred by having been required in high school to read and report on Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge in English lit class (may or may not have been me). ---Those who would not bother cracking open a book for the obvious reason that it’s easier to watch television. ---Those who devour books, not necessarily paying attention to the book’s condition or its edition/printing/binding. Then there are those who, like me, have fallen off the far end of the spectrum when it comes to persnicketiness---admitted book snobs, who for incomprehensible reasons must have in our personal collections the very first printing of the very first edition of the title as it first appeared in the world. The thrill of the hunt for our tiny populace is, in the heat of the moment, not really knowing what we want until we find it staring back at us. Mass paperbacks hold no allure for this stubborn breed. Avid collectors---not to be confused with avid readers---do not pretend that in their lifetime they will have time enough to read the entirety of their libraries, but they bask in the sheer joy of being surrounded (literally and figuratively) by the literati adorning their floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. In such homes, book stacks may as well be furniture. Into this eccentric category I have fallen.
One night a few months ago, Stephen Trafton performed his one-man show, Encountering Colossians, in Nashville. As a bonus, he sang "The Impossible Dream" from the musical The Man from La Mancha. Stephen's song and his remarks about Don Quixote sent me back to one of my favorite books of all time. This post first appeared on Justin Taylor's blog on The Gospel Coalition. It’s hard to know how to take Don Quixote. He is as thoroughgoing a fool as any figure in all of Western literature. Addled by many years’ obsessive reading of old stories of knight-errantry, Quixote is unfit for life in the (early) modern world where he finds himself. His foolishness is not entirely harmless, either. When he sallies forth with his sidekick Sancho Panza to enact his chivalric fantasies, they leave behind them a trail of property damage, bodily harm, and high dudgeon. At one point, Quixote frees a chain gang from their captors, releasing hardened criminals into the Spanish countryside to commit who knows what depredations. Cervantes makes it clear that his hero is a menace to civil order, however good his intentions. Yet for all that, we cannot help but love Don Quixote. He is a man of vision; rather than getting comfortable with the world around him, he forever strives for another, better world. Where other people see squalor and ugliness, he sees dignity and beauty and hope.
Andrew Peterson's newest album is now available! If you pre-ordered, your CDs are in the mail and should arrive soon. If you pre-ordered a download, you can access your files by logging into your account here. If you pre-ordered your CD at Hutchmoot, your CD is on the way and you'll receive a link to download the record later today. If you haven't ordered yet, here's what you're missing: After All These Years is a collection of 18 songs (20 if you buy the download), including four new songs and eight brand new recordings of old favorites like "After the Last Tear Falls," "Isn't It Love," and "Nothing to Say." That's a jam-packed CD full of good music. Here's the title track (one of the new songs). Grab the whole album in the Rabbit Room store. [audio:Afterall.mp3]
Assignments have been sent! It's time once again for the Rabbit Room Christmas Exchange. Click through for full details. Assignments have been sent. Check your email and have fun. If you expected an assignment and did not receive one, please email me at [email protected]
In Nashville, on July 22nd, Andrew and I celebrated the conclusion of our journey creating The Warden and the Wolf King. That same night, another group of young men celebrated the launch of a new journey. Colony House, a rock band made up of brothers Caleb and Will Chapman and friend Scott Mills, threw a party for the release of their first album, When I Was Younger. I could tell it pained Andrew that he wasn't able to attend their release party. The next morning when Gina and I left the Peterson's to return to Ohio, Andrew gave me some parting gifts, and among them was Colony House's new album. It took me only two listens to realize that I had just been handed one of the finest albums I've heard in a decade. Fine from start to finish. Each track unique yet cohesive and tied together with common threads of longing, heartache, hope, and the understanding that the only real control we have is in letting go. As I listened, I wondered how well they could perform such heartfelt music in a live setting, and this past Wednesday evening, Gina and I were afforded the opportunity to experience just that. It was the final night of the band's two-month, nationwide tour with indie-pop rockers, Knox Hamilton.