The Archives

The Audacity of Hallelujah

In his poem, “A Footnote to All Prayers,” C. S. Lewis insisted whenever we speak to God we must acknowledge,

He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou, ... And all men are idolators, crying unheard To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word. Take not, oh Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in Thy great, Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.
Saint Augustine expressed it succinctly in his small book, On Christian Teaching, “God, although nothing worthy of His greatness can be said of Him, has condescended to accept our praise.” This is one of the most remarkable paradoxes of the Christian life. The more one realizes how no expression of praise could possibly be worthy of God, the more one feels compelled to shout Hallelujah! It is nothing short of audacious that for the past two thousand years believers have gathered every day to worship Him whom they know they could never adequately worship.

My Secrets Exposed: True Confessions of a Professional Illustrator

[Editor's note: Welcome illustrator Joe Sutphin to the Rabbit Room. If Joe's name sounds familiar, that's because he's been working on illustrations for Andrew Peterson's forthcoming The Warden and the Wolf King. You probably saw a lot of his work on display during the Kickstarter campaign. Joe has now joined the Rabbit Room as a contributor and he's here today with his debut post---and illustration.] As an illustrator, the most common question I'm asked is “what kind of utensil, paper, paint, ink, pen, etc., did you use to do this?” I'm always forthcoming in my response---at times in great detail. I have nothing to hide, there are no tricks up my sleeve when it comes to my art. I am aware that there is no magic pencil to be pulled from a stone, no special paper that arrives like a flying carpet and somehow transforms one into an amazing artist. There is however, a common misconception in the minds of artist-hopefuls that the artists they admire actually do possess those items and are simply hoarding them. “Let us make man in our image.” That's what the Creator said, right? My humble mind has come to understand that “our image” was possibly referring to two major aspects of likeness: the possession of one's own will, and the ability to create. Both of which I am grateful for, the latter more so than the first, as creating gets me in much less trouble than my will. Although one's will, driven by faith, is the beginning of creation . . . but that's for another day.

Viking Boots

Summer of 2012 found me flying over to Europe for three weeks of touring with Alison Krauss and Union Station. One of the best parts of playing in a band is that it funds my bent for wandering and taking in beauty. In the past 20 years, Europe, England, Ireland, and Scotland have skinned me of more shoe leather and per diem than I care to count. St. Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, the British Museum and Library in London, and Heidecksburg Castle in Rudolstadt, Germany, have all been food for the eyes and soul of this wandering boy. Four days into the 2012 tour we flew to Oslo, Norway. It was a day off, but much of it was burned up traveling, so I walked around the town for a bit, bought some food, and went to my room. I got online to research Oslo, and a thrill ran through my stomach when I saw The Viking Ship Museum---three ships used for burials---was three miles away. Sound check at the venue wasn’t until later in the afternoon the next day.

Rabbit Room Review & Reprise 03/07/14

It's been a busy week in the Rabbit Room office where final typesetting and design is underway for The Warden and the Wolf King and its Kickstarter rewards: a hardback edition of Monster in the Hollows, Pembrick's Creaturepedia, and a giant full-color map. You guys are going to love this stuff. We're hoping to start handing artwork off to the printer next week. While that's been happening around here, here's what's been happening on the website. Antigone_And_The_Body_Of_Polynices_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_14994Enter Rebecca Reynolds with her first official Rabbit Room post, "Writing Our Tragedies," in which she begins with Oedipus and Antigone and ends by taking a look at the importance of perspective in viewing our own tragedies. "Our sad stories are important, too. And knowing how terribly they end can invite us to rewind through them, looking not for the great reveal, but for bits of sea glass hidden on broken shores." love-music-wallpaper-20203-hd-widescreen-wallpapersThis week's Monday Music Update includes news from Ron Block, Rebecca Reynolds, and Jeff Taylor (they've got a new project in the works!); Jeremy Casella; Don and Lori Chaffer; Jason Gray; and Randall Goodgame. Read the update for full details. LoveJasonOn Tuesday, Jason Gray released his new album, Love Will Have the Final Word. We posted a video of a great acoustic performance of our favorite track from the record, "Not Right Now," and Jason gave us the story behind the song. Check it out. the-swanPainter Jamin Still is one of our new contributors. He's busy right now preparing for an art show, so he hasn't had time to write at length, but he did pop up this week to say hello and give folks a quick look at a bit of the magic he brings to his work. Can't wait to see more from him. BenBen Shive has been Andrew Peterson's full-time right-hand man for over a decade. But with his producing schedule bursting at the seams, he's decided to step back. As this season of his life comes to an end, Ben looks back to say thank you and reflect on what it means to serve from the sidelines. FOIf you're near Nashville next week, take advantage of this opportunity to catch some great lectures by Baylor University professor and Flannery O'Connor scholar Ralph Wood. He'll be speaking on a range of topics and authors including O'Connor, Tolkien, Lewis, Dostoevsky. The lectures are free to the public. Click here for the schedule. And finally, here's a trifecta of One Minute Reviews for you. Enjoy.

Public Lectures on Lewis, Tolkien, O’Connor, Dostoyevsky

Baylor University's Ralph Wood is one of the great Flannery O'Connor scholars. His Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South has done more to shape my thinking about O'Connor's work than any other secondary source. He's just as strong on Lewis and Tolkien. Also Dostoyevsky. He is the best sort of literary scholar: while his colleagues in English departments throughout the land are going to work on the texts, Dr. Wood gets out of the way and lovingly allows the texts to do their work. Dr. Wood will be giving four public lectures in Nashville on Monday and Tuesday of next week (March 10-11). These are going to be great. All four lectures are free and open to the public. If you are in Middle Tennessee, you really need to attend as many of these as possible. I insist. Here's the lineup: Monday, March 10, noon to 1pm "C.S. Lewis and the Matter of Moral Formation for Physicians" Vanderbilt University Medical School, Light Hall 208 2215 Garland Avenue (615) 343-4664 Monday, March 10, 5:45 to 7pm "C.S. Lewis on Driving the Devil out with Laughter" Montgomery Bell Academy, Lowry Hall, Dead Poets' Society Room 4001 Harding Road (615) 298-5514 Tuesday, March 11, noon to 1pm "J.R.R. Tolkien: Writer for Our Time of Terror" Aquinas College 4210 Harding Road (615) 297-7545 Tuesday, March 11, 6:30 to 8pm "Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Flannery O'Connor, and Christ Pantocrator" Vanderbilt University, Benton Chapel 411 21st Ave S. (615) 322-2457

Don’t You Want to Thank Someone? Yes, I do.

Twelve years ago at a Wesleyan college in Indiana, I played my first show as Andrew Peterson's full-time right-hand man. Tonight in Greeley, Colorado, I played my last. At least for now. In January of 2002 I was 22 years old and newly married. I had come to Nashville two years prior to pursue my goal of playing sessions. I also hoped to be a sideman to a great songwriter. I just didn't know who that might be. Rich Mullins had died in 1997, my freshman year of college. I figured eventually somebody had to pick up that torch and run with it. I wanted to run alongside. I met Andrew through my friend Mark, who was AP's college roommate. Mark told me I was meeting the next Rich Mullins. The magic words! I wrote a string arrangement of Andrew's song "Faith To Be Strong" for a class project and sent the recording to AP. It worked. He hired me to write strings for Behold The Lamb Of God, which was then in its second year of touring. After the show, AP asked me to come on the road in the spring. Little did I know . . .

A Glimpse in the Window

I’m so grateful for the invitation to contribute to this community. When I learned what many of you write and listen to, what some of you sing about, I often think, “Yes! That’s what I paint! We mine the same material, plumb the same waters.” The themes of rebellion and redemption, brokenness and restoration resonate with me as they seem to with many of you. And so it’s a privilege to offer you a glimpse into my world. I’m currently preparing for an art fair in April and so every few weeks I’ll update you on what I’m working on. I look forward to getting to know you all better. ellen-and-the-swan1

Not Right Now

[Editor's note: Today is release day for Jason's new record. Click here to order.] Following is the piece I wrote as an essay for the special edition of my new record, Love Will Have The Final Word. The suffering of others can make us talkative, loosening the tongues of even the most timid among us. We mean well, we want to help, but more often than not we end up being like Job’s comforters: doing more harm than good by offering half-baked answers, which are no comfort at all and leave the hearer feeling even more alone. When we do this we are asking the suffering person to be okay, to cheer up, and in doing so we are rejecting their pain. The loneliness of our own suffering can make us introspective. It can lead us into the shame and regret buried deep in our hearts, warranted or not (a friend of mine who had a miscarriage told me that all she wanted to say over and over again was, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” though she had done nothing for which she needed to apologize). In this we see how pain has the power to unearth our deepest wounds, driving them to the surface where perhaps God can begin to heal them. Several years ago, I experienced one of the most healing moments of my life. It happened in the back lounge of a tour bus. I had just poured out my broken heart to my friend, Andy Gullahorn, when I recognized in the silence that fell between us that I was bracing myself for what he would say next. Would he try to fix me? Correct me? Would he reject my pain by offering answers?

Monday Music Update – 03/03/14

Ron Block and Jeff Taylor are working on a new album that Ron describes as “sparse and restful.” The album features lyrics from RR contributor Rebecca Reynolds and will feature 12-13 new songs, many in the style of old hymns. Some tracks have already been featured here at the Rabbit Room. Check out “Come, Children of this Long, Discarded Night” and “Everything Broken and Everything Beautiful” for a preview. Jeremy Casella successfully met his Kickstarter goal for his forthcoming album, Death in Reverse. Don’t miss Jeremy’s post on the album’s background entitled "My Search for Joy in the Presence of the Future". Don Chaffer has been busy writing and producing, including a new instrumental album for licenselab.com. As a producer, he finished up a new album for Sara Swenson and is working on another with Ben Kilgore. Don says he and Lori are slowly working on a new Waterdeep album. Randall Goodgame has an upcoming Slugs & Bugs StageIt show on Saturday, March 15. Check out the Slugs & Bugs Facebook page. Official details coming soon. Jason Gray's new album, Love Will Have The Final Word, will be available this Tuesday, March 4. Check back tomorrow to listen to one of the new tracks. Andy Gullahorn has a show on March 15 in Columbus, GA at Crosspointe Church for their Poets, Painters, and Storytellers concert series. He will be joined by songwriter Allen Levi and painter Wellon Bridgers.

Writing Our Tragedies

[Editor's note: Rebecca Reynolds is a gifted writer, and is no stranger around here. She's written a couple of guest posts, is a two-time Hutchmoot speaker, and was Ron Block's collaborative partner on last year's "Walking Song." But for all that, today marks her first post as an official Rabbit Room contributor. Welcome, Rebecca. I'm glad you're here.] Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working through two Greek tragedies with my students. The first is Oedipus Rex, a devastating story about a man who unknowingly murders his own father before accidentally marrying his mother. The second tragedy is Antigone, which describes the pathetic death of a daughter conceived in the incestuous marriage of Oedipus.