When I was at Hutchmoot, people kept asking me if Philip and I lived at the beach. I thought they were teasing at first. “Yeah, we do, don’t we?” I’d reply with a grin. But after the third or fourth time I started to wonder. Sure, we don’t live that far from the coast, and we go there as often as we can. This past summer we were blessed with the opportunity to spend a lot of time by the sea in our darling old Airstream trailer, a 24-foot home away from home, and, consequently, pretty much everything I've written over the last six months has made some allusion to the ocean. But it got me thinking. And Hutchmoot itself got me thinking more. When we came back from Nashville, I did something I haven’t done since April: I unpacked.
Captain Phillips was terrorized, beaten, and kidnapped. Then they made a movie about him. Will it make you feel terrorized or elated, or both? The OMR knows ... One Minute Review: Captain Phillips from Thomas McKenzie on Vimeo.
Why do we read sad stories, especially to children? James Witmer is a good dad with a good answer. --S.D. "Sam" Smith, Story Warren ----- ----- ----- Babe is a children’s novel about a pig who becomes a sheep dog. Pig. Sheep-pig! Despite this deeply philosophical foundation, it’s a funny, enjoyable tale. In the last third of the book, there is a scene where wild dogs break in and worry the flock of sheep, killing an old ewe who was one of Babe’s dearest friends. When we finished this sad chapter, I put the book down and looked at my five year old, who seemed to be choking back tears. “Are you sad?” I asked. In a blink she had climbed onto my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck, and was sobbing so hard her little body shook.
A few months after coming home from Hutchmoot 2012, I stumbled onto an analogy for my three-year experience with this conference: Star Wars! That’s right, for me, the very first Hutchmoot could’ve been called "A New Hope." That’s the year Walt Wangerin was my Obi-Wan and through him Jesus placed a stamp on my arm that said "Jedi," which in the Hutchmoot realm meant artist, and for me specifically, writer. The whole weekend, everywhere I turned I was meeting my people. I’ve never felt belonging the way I did that first year when there were suddenly real life, 3D versions of all the rabbits I’d only interacted with online. There were so many little extra touches which felt tailor-made for me that year. From the artistic, delicate salads to the awkward first introductions to people I’d admired for years. Every session I heard and every note I took seemed like a kiss that came straight from God’s lips and landed right inside my heart. In truth, an angel whispered in my ear one night---out in the field, before the days of the white tent---that the world I’d left behind was gone and this place, these people were my real home. Enter year number two, when the enemy struck back. I was so excited to come back to Church of the Redeemer, home of the Hutchmoot, just at the end of Rainbow Place. I was absolutely positive that everything would be wonderful once more. I couldn’t wait to see my old friends whom I’d gotten to know even better since that first year, and I was excited about meeting new people and making new lifelong friends, just like I’d done the last time. My expectations were about as high as they could be and that should have clued me in---but it didn’t. The hay rug was pulled out from underneath me, just as my bunny feet landed.
The audiobook officially releases on November 5th (next Tuesday). It'll be available here in the Rabbit Room store as well as at other digital audiobook outlets (for those who wish to support Russ, the best place to shop is the Rabbit Room store). If you're unfamiliar with Russ's book, here's a sample from the new audiobook in which Andrew Peterson reads from the foreword (which he wrote) and tells the story of not only where the book came from, but of why it matters. [audio:Foreword.mp3] Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative is available in hardcover from the Rabbit Room store. The audiobook will be released on November 5th.
Moby Dick is one of those books that everyone knows about but very few people have actually read---though, for some reason, people feel that they ought to have read it. I wish I could release you, dear reader, from the belief that you ought to read any novel. Read novels because you enjoy them. And if you want to read a book just to be able to say you’ve read it---well, that’s a sophomore’s pleasure at best, and too small a return on the investment required to read a book like Moby Dick. If you can remember one key truth, you can enjoy this book. Here it is: Moby Dick is a book about whaling. If you can accept this fact, your chances of being one of the people who finish and actually enjoy reading Moby Dick improve dramatically. People sometimes assume that Moby Dick is really about something else---obsession or predestination or something---and only pretends to be about whaling. As if Melville started with some abstract ideas he wanted to talk about and, casting about for a way to talk about them, landed on whaling. The reader’s job in that case is to decode the whaling language to get to the abstractions.
[Editor's note: The Molehill Vol. 2 is now available in the Rabbit Room store. If you are a card-holding Rabbit Room member, your free copy is on its way.] “What is the Molehill?” People ask me the question all the time. I usually tell them it’s the Rabbit Room’s literary journal, and then I find myself wanting to apologize for calling it something as highfalutin as “literary.” But at the very least it’s a bound collection of writing that aspires to literature. So maybe the question I really want to answer is this: “Why is the Molehill?” Why this when the literary world is already filled with more fine journals than most of us have time to read? Good question.
I love that scene in The Three Amigos in which Dusty, Lucky, and Ned encounter the Singing Bush. They're trying to find El Guapo, and, in classic fairy tale fashion, they get vague instructions: go to the Singing Bush and there summon the Invisible Swordsman. Here's the scene: I love Dusty Bottoms' (Chevy Chase's) eye-rolling dismissiveness of the Invisible Swordsman. He stands in the presence of a Singing Bush, yet the idea of an Invisible Swordsman---well that's just ridiculous. His skepticism, his off-hand treatment of things that are too much for him to understand, has disastrous results. But even if Dusty accidentally kills his own sense of wonder, the wondrous survives. This is a world of marvels that we live in. We grow accustomed somehow to the wonders that surround us---the pearls that come from oysters' mouths, the spring that emerges from winter's bare, the heart that turns from stone to flesh when grace and mercy elbow in. Yet the idea that new wonders await is something that we have to be convinced of every day. We scoff like Dusty and---praise be---are proven wrong in our scoffing again and again.
Andrew Osenga went into space. Now Sandra Bullock and George Clooney have joined the zero-G party. This is the One Minute Review of Gravity.
Every holiday season, many of us enjoy the old, old story of Christmas told through the songs of Andrew Peterson and friends. Behold the Lamb of God has become a holiday tradition in the last decade, and the Proprietor serves his audience well by inviting such a talented group of friends to carry the message alongside him. Each year brings a new face or two on the winter tour, and this year Ellie Holcomb is the newcomer. For those who aren't acquainted with her work alongside husband Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors or her own solo releases (check out her new EP, With You Now), you'll find that Ellie's delicate vocals fit perfectly into the BTLOG mix. You’re on the Behold the Lamb of God tour this year for the first time, correct? Yes. I’m in a band with my husband and it’s called Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, and every year for the past five or six years we’ve done a Christmas tour ourselves, and it has been awesome. But because of that, I have never been able to actually go to a Behold the Lamb of God show. We just always make sure we’re not doing our Christmas show in Nashville on the same days they’re doing Lamb of God. We usually have to make sure we go to a different city. Last year was the first chance I had to go. We had just had out little girl---she was maybe two weeks old--- and because I’d had a baby, we weren’t doing our Christmas tour to the same degree. So we ended up being in town on the same night as the show, and I just laughed and wept through the whole thing. It was so wonderful. I was like, "This is the best thing ever!"