The Archives

Want Free Tickets to the Tokens Show?

The next Tokens show is Tuesday September 9th at Lipscomb University in Nashville and we've got eight tickets to give away. The show---which the Nashville Scene calls Nashville’s Best Local Variety show and a “grass-kicking shred-fest” with “genre-bending creativity,” and the Tennessean calls “awesome” and a “virtuoso ensemble”---is a mix of music, theology, storytelling, comedy and---did we mention music? The September 9th show is titled "Shame and Presence: Fig Leaves, Truth-Telling, and the Encumbrance of Things Hidden." It features special guests Ellie Holcomb and Andy Gullahorn, along with old friends Jeff Taylor and Buddy Greene as members of the Most Outstanding Horeb Mountain Boys (the house band). It's always an entertaining and thought provoking evening and if you've never had the opportunity to attend, here's a great chance to score some free tickets. We've got eight tickets to give away. Shoot us an email at [email protected] and put "TOKENS TICKETS" in the subject line (let us know if you are entering for 1 or 2 tickets). Tomorrow afternoon we'll randomly select eight winners by means both secret and mysterious. Good luck! Visit the Tokens website to learn more about the show.

The S Towns

There’s a string of three towns outside Fall River, Massachusetts that I nicknamed “The S Towns” because Somerset, Swansea, and Seekonk all line up along the highway as you drive toward Providence. (Technically, Rehoboth is in there somewhere, but for the sake of mnemonic I pretend it isn’t. Sorry, Rehoboth.) In my many visits over the past year and a half, I learned them by their names and landmarks. Somerset is across the Braga Bridge as you’re leaving Fall River, and the first thing you see are the power plant’s water cooling towers (we call them the “cloud-makers”). Seekonk has a freestanding Starbucks in a sea of Dunkin Donuts and the Irish jewelry shop where my engagement ring was found. I think I have relatives in Swansea somewhere. So there are The S Towns. I saw them laid out on a map the other day and it made more sense. Home is where you know how the roads intersect and you can always find your way back to family and a hot meal after a long day of exploring. You don’t have to worry about the oncoming night. You make your way, trust your instincts, and soon you can see the welcoming lights in the window.

Coming Soon: The World According to Narnia

Jonathan Rogers' new (old) book is heading off to the printer today and we thought we'd give you a look at the final cover, which was ably designed by our own Chris Stewart (who also designed the covers for The Molehill). Pre-orders are available here. We expect to start shipping the books in the next couple of weeks. cover store

Sticking It To God: Rebellious Stories As a Cliche to Play Against

“The sacred exists and is stronger than all our rebellions.” Czeslaw Milosz Skipping the qualifiers, we live in an era where rebellion has been mainstreamed. Rebellion is, ironically, very conventional. Pedestrian even. The pervasiveness of rebellion extends to literature and media for children, driving the stories most kids are exposed to every day. I’ll go on record and say this is mostly horrible. Like, civilization-destroying, enemy-embracing horrible. We want our kids to be who they are uniquely called to be. We want them to have disruptive imaginations. Of course, it all depends on what they are disrupting. Since rebellion is conventional now, the unconventional thing is to reject rebellion. What we want is to disrupt this very religious, institutionalized, conventional rebellion. We want to object to this tired routine of being out-of-order. Since we are Christians, we are called to submission. This terrifying word is the primary characteristic of the follower of Christ. It is literally what being a disciple means (to follow behind). We are called to a different story than the conventional rebellion of the ancient dragon in the garden. The story is a familiar one, and here we are, still in it.

Tonight: The Local Show

Mike CardFriday night at North Wind Manor we hosted the venerable Michael Card for an evening of discussion about the Gospel of John. Andrew Peterson both kicked off the evening and closed it with a song (one of them brand new), and in the intervening 90 minutes Michael kept the room spellbound as he talked about his approach to the gospels and researching his commentaries on each of them. He has a way of talking about Scripture that kind of blows my mind. His knack for putting things in context and enabling the listener to see the story come alive in new and exciting ways is something I've rarely experienced. Here's hoping he'll be back for more in the months to come. But enough about last Friday night. Tonight kicks off the first of what we hope will be a long-standing tradition: The Local Show. It's at The Well Coffeehouse in Brentwood (right off I-65) and each show will feature a different line-up of songwriters and special guests. Tonight we've got Don Chaffer (of Waterdeep), Randall Goodgame, Eric Peters, and Sandra McCracken. They'll be playing in the round and having a blast starting at 8pm. Doors open at 7pm and you're invited. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door (Rabbit Room members can flash their cards at the door to get in for only $5).

Rabbit Room Wrap-up 08-29-14

Michael the GreyTonight at North Wind Manor we're delighted to be hosting Michael Card. Mike, who Andrew affectionately dubbed the "Gandalf of Nashville," has just published the last of his Gospel commentaries, this one on the Gospel of St. John. He'll be at the Manor tonight to discuss the book, and more importantly the Gospel. Seats are filled for this event. If you RSVPed, don't forget to bring a snack to share. The event begins at 7:00pm. localshowrrJoin us at The Well coffeehouse in Brentwood next Tuesday for the first of what we hope will become a long-running tradition: The Local Show. This first show will feature Don Chaffer, Eric Peters, Randall Goodgame, Sandra McCracken, and at least one special guest. The Local Show will take place every other Tuesday in September, and then we'll ramp it up to EVERY Tuesday night in October. You never know who'll show up, so you may as well come every chance you get. Tickets are $12 in advance, and $15 at the door. If you're a Rabbit Room member, just flash your card at the door and you can get in for only $5. writing classJonathan Rogers has just unveiled a writing seminar he'll be leading called "From Memory to Story." It takes place on Thursday October 10th from 10am-3pm so if you're coming to Hutchmoot this is a golden opportunity to come a little early and get a little more out of your time in Nashville. Here's how he describes the course: "You have a story to tell--many stories, no doubt. You need to tell your story, not only to be understood, but in order to understand yourself. In this one-day seminar on the short memoir, Jonathan Rogers will help you find your voice and shape your memories into written stories." Click here to visit the website and get all the details. Theater Les MiserablesDavid Bruno fears he may have permanently scarred his children by exposing them to Les Miserables a few years too early. But might some scars be worth carrying? We should clarify that we're talking about the theater production here; No one will ever be old enough to avoid being scarred by the movie abomination---and those are definitely not the sort of scars you want to be saddled with. Read the entire affair in "Comic Parenting Guilt." White stoneWe had an excellent guest post from Shannon McDermott in which she discusses how the Wingfeather Saga has taken old superstitions about names and naming and used them for better ends. The piece is called "A Superstition Transformed" and it's a worthy read. Sadly, however, it does not address why my wife has forbidden me to eat any animal we've named (our chickens for instance---good thing we don't name the eggs). BOSSRuss Ramsey has taken a step into true manhood by committing an entire year of his life to the music of the Boss, Bruce Springsteen. Not only does Russ now have more hair on his chest, he's also got a little gravel in his throat, and way more hats hanging out of his back pockets. He's written this great post about the experience, and I have it on good authority that he plans to dedicate next year to Lita Ford. violin lightSarah Clarkson, student of Oxford University, was in London recently when Britain observed the anniversary of their entrance into World War One. This post about her experience at a concert that evening is extraordinary. Don't miss "Light Eternal in London.

Light Eternal in London

A little over a week ago, my brother Joel and I forayed out into the darkling streets of nine o'clock London to catch a late concert at Royal Albert Hall. We wanted to stave off the end-of-trip rue attending our last night in London by filling it with music. Solemn, startling music as it happened. When Joel discovered that it was John Tavener's Ikon of Light we were slated to hear, he was quite enthused. Even I, with a far lesser knowledge of classical or choral music, was glad to find that this was the concert on offer. Oddly enough, I had encountered snippets of Tavener here and there and found his choral music arresting, if not always easily accessible. photo 2We barely made it in time, fairly sprinting from the Tube stop to the doors of the Hall, sinking into our red velvet seats in a summer flush just as a voice summoned us to settle in for the opening of the concert. The lights dimmed a little as the host for the evening, a calm man in a dark suit, took the stage and addressed us with quiet, engaging gravity. I was still breathing hard, trying to collect breath and body into stillness, distracted by the rustle and thump of the fidgety audience. I was only half aware of the introductory comments, but the man on stage seemed almost to reach up and touch me, abruptly, when he spoke these words: "In tonight's piece, one must think of the string section's part as the cry of the soul, its reaching toward the light. And the answering choir, as the voice of the light itself."

The Local Show!

November 11th - November 11th - Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, Jeremy Casella, Buddy Greene, Randall Goodgame, Eric Peters, Arthur Alligood, Jenny & Tyler, Andrew Peterson, and ??? The Well Coffeehouse @ 7:30pm 690 Old Hickory Blvd, Brentwood, TN 37027 $12 in advance, $15 at the door (or $5 at the door for Rabbit Room members). Buy tickets here in the Rabbit Room Store. Follow the Local Show on Twitter. Like the Local Show on Facebook.

The Year of the Boss

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” ---Jesus of Nazareth Several years ago I decided that I was going to give Paul Simon my undivided attention. For reasons I cannot explain, I had never really listened to him beyond what I heard on the radio and MTV back when MTV played music videos. Since so many of my friends regarded Simon as one of their favorite songwriters, I decided I would download the iTunes Essential Paul Simon playlist and listen to nothing else for at least a month. I was immediately taken in by the brilliance, complexity, and originality not just of the music, but of the artist himself. Paul Simon has been a consistent treasure in American songwriting for over five decades. I find that amazing. Early this year, I decided I would do for Bruce Springsteen what I had done for Paul Simon. This would be The Year of the Boss.

A Superstition Transformed

[Editor's note: Say hello to Shannon McDermott. She wrote this piece after reading the Wingfeather Saga and she's agreed to let us use it here as a guest post. Thanks, Shannon.] Outstanding among those beliefs that are universally characteristic of the religion of superstition is the conviction that “a man’s name is the essence of his being” (one Hebrew text says “a man’s name is his person” and another, “his name is his soul”). ---Joshua Trachtenberg, Jewish Magic and Superstition There’s an old superstition that names are powerful. Many cultures have believed that to know a person’s name is to have power over him, or to be freed from his power. The principle has been extended to the supernatural, with people seeking to conjure up the power of gods, angels, and demons by invoking their names. Like all superstitions, this one shows both fear and a desire to control. Magic, real magic, has made great use of it; sorcerers, too, believed in the power of names. From the eleventh century come reports of witnesses – “learned and trustworthy men” – who claimed “that they had themselves seen magicians write names upon reeds and olive-leaves, which they cast before robbers and thus prevented their passage, or, having written such names upon new sherds, threw them into a raging sea and mollified it, or threw them before a man to bring about his sudden death.” This idea has endured in folk tales – most famously in Rumpelstiltskin - and is now an established trope in modern fantasy and even, on occasion, sci-fi. Despite its various disreputable associations, it has a presence in Christian fantasy.

Comic Parenting Guilt

The inaugural Hutchmoot in 2010 was something else. All the speakers were amazing. Walter Wangerin, Jr. was masterful. Months later, Wangerin visited San Diego to see the premier of the Lamb’s Players Theatre production of his The Book of the Dun Cow. Chauntecleer and Cockatrice battled it out above the stage suspended by theatrical wires. It was awesome. There is a small café next to the theatre and during intermission Leanne and I sat chatting with Walter Wangerin. We mentioned Hutchmoot. “You’re some of those young musicians then,” he said. “No, just fans of the musicians, and of writers like you,” we replied. I added, “Clearly, you have never heard me sing.” We discussed writing and his writing process and publishing and some small talk I cannot remember anymore. The mission of Lamb’s Players Theatre is to “tell good stories well.” It's one of the most simply stated mission statements I have ever read. Over the years we've spent quite a bit of time at Lamb’s and so have experienced their mission statement in action. They fulfill their mission with abandon. When Les Misérables made the lineup for Lamb’s 2014 season, I knew we had to take the kids. Our oldest daughter saw the movie. That's one of my major parenting regrets, that I took her to see that royally stupid movie before taking her to the theatrical production. Just one more topic to discuss with her therapist some day. “So then Eponine sings, ‘...a stranger’s just a stranger...’ and like literally a stranger walks right by her. And I am wondering, what am I missing? Tom Hooper must think I’m like an imbecile.” “Hmm. So, your parents took you to see the movie before the Broadway production?” “Yes.” “We’re going to need at least three more sessions,” says her therapist jotting something down on a yellow legal notepad.

The Evangelizing Power of Beauty

Next Thursday, Joseph Pearce, renowned biographer of Christian literary figures such as Lewis, Tolkien, and Chesterton, is giving his inaugural lecture as Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College. The lecture is entitled "The Evangelizing Power of Beauty: Converting the Culture," and it will rely heavily on the work of both Lewis and Tolkien. Sounds like interesting stuff, and it's free to the public. We hope to see some of you there. For more information about the lecture, visit the event page at Aquinas College's website.

Coming to North Wind Manor: The Gandalf of Nashville

He has a magnificent beard. He seems both old and young. He's wise. I'm pretty sure he has a walking stick. He's always traveling from here to there, there to here, appearing when you least expect him. He's a teacher and a student. He's an author, a singer/songwriter and a banjo player, he's a carpenter, a hobby astronomer, and a hunter. I'm pretty sure there's only one person on Earth who meets all the above criteria, and his name is Michael Card. I first met Mike at an artist's retreat hosted by a ministry in Knoxville, and, knowing his name for years and years as "the guy who wrote 'El Shaddai'," I was surprised that he didn't play us a single song the whole weekend. He seemed perfectly content---eager, even---simply to teach and to talk about the Bible without throwing a guitar into the mix. Truly, his teaching was so stimulating I didn't miss the music by the end, either. Since I didn't grow up paying any attention to Christian music it was a long time before I heard songs like, "Come to the Table" and "Immanuel," and when I finally did it was live, in a church jammed with people singing at the top of their lungs. Goosebumps, I tell you. A few years ago I was in dire need of a mentor. I needed someone older and wiser, a Christian to whom I could stay accountable, someone to encourage me to read my Bible, to guide me in some kind of formal relationship. Late one night I emailed Mike and, with fear and trembling, asked him to be that mentor. He emailed back the next day saying, in effect, "No." He went on to explain that he wasn't interested in a mentoring relationship. "What I need is friends," he told me. "We can get together and hang out, but not just to talk about spiritual stuff. Let's just be friends. And in this town, the only time you really get to hang out with your friends is on the road, so why don't you open for me for a few shows?" I was disappointed at first (about the mentor thing, not the shows), but several years later it turns out Mike was right. I asked for a mentor and ended up with a friend---a good friend, which is a much better thing. My disappointment was a sign of my immaturity. It was as if I had emailed someone and asked if I could pitch a tent in their backyard, and they said, "Sure, you can stay. But you're not sleeping outside---you're going to be in the guest cottage." Mike's friendship, I believe, has yielded far more encouragement and edification than an accountability partner ever would have. Several more Mike Card stories come to mind---like the time he shared the stage with Frederick Buechner and Walter Brugemann, or the time we were watching the History Channel and he read a snippet of Isaiah from a scroll they flashed on the screen, or the time he showed me his new rifle with a laser sight, or the time he asked if he could record "The Silence of God" after he had already done it. I'm so grateful to call this man my friend. AND I'm grateful that he's coming to North Wind Manor in two weeks to talk about his new book. Mike has written about a zillion books, but his latest four are commentaries on the Gospels, part of the Biblical Imagination Series. Think about that for a second. Can you imagine writing not one but four commentaries? On the Gospels? Most of us would feel like we had just run four Iron Man races. So congratulations, Mr. Card, and we thank you for bringing your musical/poetic gifting to bear on the Scriptures so the rest of us can see it afresh. On August 29th, at 7:00, the Gandalf of Nashville will be teaching from the Gospel of John, and I hope you'll join us. Trust me, there's nothing quite like seeing Mike turn into a little kid while he talks about Jesus. Admission to the event is totally free, though we do ask that everyone bring a snack item to share (drinks are on us). Space is limited, so if you intend to come, it's very important that you RSVP via an email to [email protected] There are only 30 seats available. RSVP quickly if you want to secure a spot. We'll include the address to the Manor when we respond to your RSVP. This event is now full. What: Michael Card discussing the Gospel of John When: Friday, August 29th Time: 7:00pm Where: North Wind Manor, Nashville Admission: FREE (but please bring a snack to share) RSVP to: [email protected]

Rabbit Room Review 08-15-14

The big news of the week is the announcement that renowned author and poet Luci Shaw will be our featured speaker this year at Hutchmoot 2014. By way of introduction, Andrew Peterson wrote up a post featuring some great quotes from Luci about the imagination and how it intersects with our faith. If you aren't familiar with her work, I encourage you to read a couple of her books (Breath for the Bones is a good place to start) and check out her website. We also marked the occasion by releasing a few more tickets to Hutchmoot. If you got one, congratulations! If you missed this last chance, don't worry, we're sure to moot again next year. WA2N Cropped 2That wasn't the only big announcement this week. We also pulled back the curtain on the re-release of Jonathan Rogers' long-out-of-print The World According to Narnia. Rabbit Room Press is issuing a new edition that will be available in early September. Click here to read an excerpt from the most excellent introduction, and you can pre-order the book here. imax_jerusalem_cityHeidi Johnston, our resident resident of Ireland, brought us a reflection from her studies of Deuteronomy and Lamentations in the form of a post called "The Inevitable Plot Line." Much like the Israelites of old, Heidi knows what it's like to stand, filled with expectation, on the cusp of the Promised Land, only to find herself later weeping in its empty streets. Beautiful post. Read it here. And a couple more quick notes: 1. Congratulations to Ben Shive on a whopping THREE Dove nominations! 2. Congratulations to Lanier Ivester and Sarah Clarkson on being accepted to Oxford University! 3. Mark August 29th on your calendar. That's the date for the next live event at North Wind Manor. More on that next week. Have a great weekend.

Now Available: More Hutchmoot 2014 Tickets

Did you miss your chance to grab Hutchmoot tickets back in March? Do you need one more so you can bring a friend? Here's your chance. Today we are releasing 12 more tickets to the public---the final twelve. Once these are gone, the Hutch is full until next year. The price is $295 per ticket. We're delighted to have Luci Shaw as our guest speaker this year and if you're looking to do some preparatory reading, we highly recommend her book Breath for the Bones (but anything you read of hers will be a good investment). Click here to get your ticket.