[This is a short piece I wrote for Story Warren that may resonate with Rabbit Roomers as well. --S.D. Smith] ----- ----- ----- “Wonder is involuntary praise.” Edward Young said that and I’m glad he did. What are we doing to facilitate wonder in our families? C.S. Lewis said we need an enchantment to set us free from the bondage of worldliness. How are we working for our children’s liberty? If it is only in books and art and literature, then we are only making them more interesting slaves. As Lewis says, the true thing comes through the books, or the art. The art is not the thing. Beauty will not save the world, really. I believe we fail our kids insofar as we perpetuate in their lives the mirage of Godless Delight. We fail them if we convince them, by the forms of our lives or by our words (or both), that the basic reality of the world excludes God. The sad reality is that this is an assumption that flavors much of the stories and art we receive and which shape our spiritual formation. I confess I sometimes live like this.
At Hutchmoot 2012 we invited Greg Greene and Wes driver, the creative team behind Nashville's Blackbird Theater Company, as well as Broadway actor Stephen Trafton, who has appeared in shows such as Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera, to discuss the many ways in which faith and theater interact to provide a deep and meaningful experience. [audio:Episode38-1.mp3]
Well, it's time. High time. I've been hoarding a literary treasure for far too long. I did tell a few good souls about this gem of a writer at Hutchmoot, but really, the whole world needs to know and its time I sound the trumpet. Have you ever discovered an author who speaks the language of your inmost thoughts? A writer who answers the questions that were just beginning to ghost about your mind before you even knew what to call them? Have you, moreover, discovered such a writer who is also a poet, a priest at a Cambridge college, a masterful sonneteer, a folk musician, and, well, has an air definitely hobbit-like? Let me introduce you to the inimitable Malcolm Guite. I first encountered this lovely writer several years ago as a speaker at a C.S. Lewis conference, where he gave an intriguing talk on the spiritual value of poetry. I loved it, but several years passed and I forgot the encounter. When my Dad got me his just-published Faith, Hope, and Poetry last year for my birthday, my memory stirred and my curiosity was piqued. But when, in the first chapter, I encountered Guite's central theme of defending “the imagination as a truth-bearing faculty,” I was captivated.
Last night I saw it on Twitter: "Brennan Manning has died." His death has been coming for quite some time now. I've been expecting it. However, I questioned the news initially, not having seen any legitimate source for the information (an obituary, a news article, his website, or his Facebook page). But this morning it was confirmed on his website. If his recent autobiography is correct, Brennan's drinking killed him. Depending on how you view alcoholism, Brennan was either the victim of a terrible disease, or he was just a lush. In any case he made a long habit of lying (at least through omission) about his condition. That, by the way, is a symptom of the disease. He was a victim and a perpetrator, a liar and a sufferer, a vow breaker and a people pleaser. He was no plaster saint, no image on a holy card, no bearer of hagiography. Brennan Manning was a man who loved Jesus and, most importantly, was beloved of Jesus. He was a sinner but a forgiven one. He was a liar who spoke the truth. He was a broken vessel, a jar made of clay, who nonetheless bore the Good News of Jesus Christ to millions---myself included. Brennan Manning taught me the Gospel. If I have ever shared the love of Jesus with you, you can be sure that Brennan was partly to blame. If I have ever pointed anyone to kindness, forgiveness, or hope, you can be sure that Brennan's words helped to form my message. Though I only met him twice, he was one of my most important mentors in the faith. Now he joins most of those mentors in glory. I commend to your reading the treasures Brennan left to us. Abba's Child and Ruthless Trust are my favorites, but The Ragamuffin Gospel was his best-known work. If you read him, please remember that the Holy Spirit is working through him in spite of all his personal failings. Thank God, because that's how He works in all of us.
When Jarrett J. Krosoczka was a kid, he didn’t play sports, but he loved art. He paints the funny and touching story of a little boy who pursued a simple passion: to draw and write stories. Watch the video. It's well worth your time.
Randall Goodgame has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the production of the fourth Slugs & Bugs album. This time around the album will include 20 songs taken straight out of scripture, and it will feature specials guests like Sally Lloyd-Jones and the African Children's Choir, as well as a passel of others. Check out the video and visit the Kickstarter page for all the details.
There was a bad storm rolling, so we piled in the basement to wait it out. As far as I can remember, I was five, which means it was probably the spring of 1977.Your grandparents have always been fond of simple, self-driven entertainment. They respected me enough to believe I could find something worthwhile to do in an hour alone, so they handed me a pencil and seven pieces of pink paper. The pages were ripped from a carbon copy stack, fronts scribbled with charts and numbers, backs blank with potential. Mom showed me how to fold them in half and staple the middle to make a binding. I sat on the cool concrete floor and began to mark out chubby new sentences. “Once there was a wolf. He did not eat girls. He ate wolf food.”
[Editor's note: We're really excited about having Jeffrey Overstreet as one of our guest speakers at Hutchmoot 2013. Jeffrey has long been one of my favorite film critics and his book Through a Screen Darkly is a must read for anyone who loves movies---expect to see it on the Hutchmoot reading list. Jeffrey's blog, Looking Closer (hosted at Patheos.com), is always insightful and the following post is a perfect example of why I enjoy it so much. He was kind enough to allow us to repost it here on the Rabbit Room. Click here to view the original post at Looking Closer.]
This article on “Christian fantasy” by novelist Lars Walker confesses something that may surprise his readers:
I don’t read much fantasy, and I read almost no Christian fantasy. I’ve been burned too many times. You buy a book, hoping to experience over again the joys great fantasy can provide (for me, the Mines of Moria, the Ride of the Rohirrim, and the resurrection of Aslan provided the greatest moments of joy I’ve ever experienced in literature), and what do you get? Wannabees. Wannabee Tolkiens, wannabee Lewises, wannabee (christened) George R. R. Martins.While I might have named different storytelling moments---scenes from Watership Down, The Tale of Despereaux, Winter’s Tale, along with some from The Fellowship of the Ring---I found myself nodding in agreement. But then I came upon this surprising paragraph:
Who’s writing good Christian fantasy today? . . . Walter Wangerin Jr. wrote one of the best fantasies of any kind I’ve ever read, The Book of the Dun Cow, an amazing animal story that I promise will break your heart and put it together again. Stephen Lawhead is an excellent writer who has never (in my opinion) soared to the heights he’s capable of. Jeffrey Overstreet may be the best.Wow. I’m honored and grateful and inspired to get back to work on my new novel. I’m grateful that Walker appreciates these books so much. Walker’s a formidable storyteller himself. His novel Wolf Time is on my nightstand right now. (I tend to read a dozen books at a time, little by little, over many months, and this is the only fantasy novel currently in the mix.) So, to be highlighted by him is a huge encouragement, and it sends me toward a weekend of writing with new enthusiasm and confidence. However---friends, family, and those who have been reading my blog for a while probably know what I’m about to say---for the sake of preventing misunderstanding, I am duty-bound to offer a contrary opinion. I know, it feels kind of self-defeating to disagree when somebody says something complimentary about my work, especially when that somebody is more experienced and more accomplished. But here I go anyway . . . I don’t write “Christian fantasy.” I write fantasy.
You are cordially invited to join the Rabbit Room community as we read So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger. For those who will be attending Hutchmoot in October, this is an opportunity to become more familiar with Enger’s work. If you won’t be making the trip to Nashville, the reading group offers a great way to participate from afar. It’s an invitation to experience truth and beauty not only through story, but also through each other as we read and discuss.
Tradecraft: noun \ˈtrād-ˌkraft\ - skill acquired through experience in a trade; often used to discuss skill in espionage. One long standing hope since the Rabbit Room’s inception was that this online community would become a place where we look over one another’s shoulders at what we’re reading, thinking about, listening to, and learning. In an effort to focus in on learning how to grow in art, life, and faith, I present this new Rabbit Room series: Tradecraft. These posts will look behind the curtain into the mechanics of how things work in the world of thinking, composing, engaging, and creating. I hope the content of this series will reach well beyond the arts themselves and into every facet of life. Today's tradecraft deals with critical thinking---specifically, reasoning and logical fallacies, helpfully and humorously presented by the folks at yourlogicalfallacyis.com. I found them through one of my favorite websites in the world---twentytwowords.com---which linked to a much more interesting high res PDF of the image and content I've included below. The poster says a logical fallacy is:
“a flaw in reasoning. Strong arguments are void of logical fallacies, whilst arguments that are weak tend to use logical fallacies to appear stronger than they are. They're like tricks or illusions of thought, and they're often very sneakily used by politicians, the media, and others to fool people. Don’t be fooled! This poster has been designed to help you identify and call out dodgy logic wherever it may raise its ugly, incoherent head.”If you're anything like me, you'll probably find yourself guilty of more than a few of these. Here they are---24 logical fallacies.