At Hutchmoot 2012, one of the most memorable parts of the weekend was Stephen Trafton’s one-man performance of Encountering Philippians (yep, that’s Jennifer Trafton’s Broadway-veteran brother). His Living Letters series is a project that Stephen has developed over the last few years that’s designed to bring Scripture to life in a way that audiences almost certainly haven’t experienced before. It’s a dramatic performance, a piece of genuine theatre, and it casts you, yes you, in the role of a first-century Christian hearing for the first time a letter that Paul has addressed directly to your local church family. Stephen sets the scene, introduces the characters, and delivers Paul’s letter in one seamless performance.
Speaking personally, it’s a powerful experience. When Stephen first told me about the show, I admit I was skeptical. I thought it sounded a little Sunday-schoolish. But boy was I wrong. Hearing and seeing Paul’s letter delivered (in a way very like it might have been to the first-century Philippians) moved me in the best ways; it shifted my perspective on the text enough to let me see in it new colors, new angles, new life. I think it’s kind of like poetry—it’s one thing on the page, read silently in your head, but often quite another when it’s made vocal and visual, enacted bodily. It makes for great theater, as well as great Bible-study.
Since that memorable performance at Hutchmoot, Stephen has performed Encountering Philippians for thousands of people all over the country, and now he’s developed a new show centered on another of Paul’s letters. On Monday night, August 4th, at the Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, you’re invited to join us for his performance of Encountering Colossians.
The show will run about an hour and I’m pretty sure Stephen will hang around afterward to talk with folks and answer questions. Hope to see a lot of you there. There’s no admission fee, but we will take up a love offering for Stephen after the show. Spread the word. Bring a friend or a fellow Rabbit. It’s going to be a fun night.
When: August 4th @ 7pm
Where: Church of the Redeemer, 920 Caldwell Lane, Nashville 37204
Admission is free
Last year, Chris Slaten (Son of Laughter) delivered a roundhouse kick to my brain with his EP The Mantis and the Moon, and I’m pretty sure his performance at Hutchmoot brought a full Van Damme down on quite a few other brains as well. Since then he’s been all over the country playing house shows and raising money to record his first full-length record (for which he’s already written all the songs).
Part of our vision for North Wind Manor is that it be a unique house-show venue, and we’ve asked Son of Laughter to be our inaugural guinea pig. With that in mind, we’ve been working hard to get the house and grounds in order. Rooms to paint, weeds to pull, air conditioning to install, flowers to plant, screen doors to fix—the list is enough to make me tired just thinking about it. But we’re looking forward to having a big group of all of you out next Friday night to put the place through its paces.
Tickets are just $5 (free to Rabbit Room members) and we’re limiting the show to 40 people. We also ask that you bring a snack or side dish to share. We’ll provide the drinks. The event begins at 7:30pm and you’re welcome to stick around and enjoy fellowship with friends after the show. We will also be taking donations for Chris, which will go toward funding his new record.
We think you’re in for a real treat. Here’s what another house show host had to say:
“Chris Slaten’s songs . . . reminded us of longings and hurts and loves we had not known how to voice . . . He provided for us a space and a common language in which to reveal our lives to one another.” —Dr. Tim Basselin, Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Worship – Dallas Theological Seminary
And here’s a taste of Son of Laughter’s particular genius in the form of a song from the current EP, The Mantis and the Moon. It’s called “The Fiddler” and . . . well . . . just listen.
Click here for tickets. We’ll see you at the door.
[Note: If you aren't able to make the show at the North Wind, Chris has another show the following night at the Riverside Assembly Hall, also in Nashville. Click here for more information on that show.]
It took us a little longer than expected to get the new mugs sent out to all of our members, but they are finally in the mail. Here’s a look at the new design and color (the brown actually has a bit of a purple fleck in it which is hard to capture on camera). These are available exclusively through Rabbit Room membership (which you can find out about here).
First things first: Happy birthday to my wife! She’s an amazing thinker and writer, a beautiful woman, and a wonderful person to share life with. Yes, I know that sentence ended in a preposition, but “with which to share life” is just too cumbersome—she’s also a great editor. Happy birthday, babe. I’ll buy you some baby chickens later today.
Now, on to business…
All pre-orders for The Warden and the Wolf King have shipped and should be showing up in your mailboxes any time now. We’ve got a huge load of orders that have come in since the unofficial release on Tuesday and we’re working to get all caught up on those by the end of the day today. So hold tight, readers, we’re working as fast as we can.
We haven’t had a recap in a couple of weeks so I’m going to cover a lot in this post. The biggest news is that the Rabbit Room has moved its physical location. We were sad to leave Baja Burrito (our former neighbor) behind, but we’re super excited that the office is now located at our new property, which we’ve named North Wind Manor (I’m sure any George MacDonald fan can illuminate the etymology of that name for you). We’ve got a lot of hopes and dreams for this old place and it won’t be long until we’ll be inviting you out for our first Rabbit Room event in the new place. More on that in the next week. Andrew wrote a post about how we ended up here and you can read that for more details.
Rebecca Reynolds wrote a fantastic piece called “Providence” in which she digs into her childhood memories to recall her grandparents. Rebecca’s writing is always a joy to read and this essay is an exceptional example. She’s got a great eye for telling detail. Read the post here.
Melanie Penn released a new album a couple of weeks ago and if you’ve heard it, you’re probably in love with it. Melanie stopped by the Rabbit Room with a post about one of her favorite songs from the record. The song is called “Before a Fall” and you can listen to it by clicking the play button below. Pick up the record in the Rabbit Room store.
If you’re heading to the movies, Thomas McKenzie has a couple of recommendations. Click here to check out his One Minute Reviews of The Edge of Tomorrow and X-men: Days of Future Past. Hint: they are both pretty darn great, and it’s hard to go wrong with Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, and Emily Blount.
In a post called “A Difficult Generosity,” Sarah Clarkson ruminates on the the nature of art and creativity and the way in which we approach our gifts. Good reading. Excerpt: “. . . the artists and storytellers and makers of song offer the inner vision they have known as a sign of hope to the hungering world. They invite us into the sacred, inmost rooms of their minds and let us stand at the windows of their own imaginations where we glimpse, ah, wonders we might never have dreamed alone.”
Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible is out the gate and currently taking the world by storm, and now the Slugs & Bugs: The Videos Vol. 1 DVD is joining it. The DVD features a whopping 17 animated videos of Slugs & Bugs songs like “Tractor Tractor,” “Bears,” “Mexican Rhapsody,” and “Who’s Got the Ball,” from the entire Slugs & Bugs library and is available now in the Rabbit Room store.
Last week, Andrew, John & Janna Barber, Matt Conner, Arthur Alligood, Andy & Alison Osenga, myself, and about 2500 of our Nashville neighbors got to see Toad the Wet Sprocket and the Counting Crows at the Ryman Auditorium. The show was one of my person bucket-list items and the bands did not disappoint. Toad has been a huge influence on Andrew and his music and he tells us why in his post “Toad the Wet Sprocket: An Appreciation”—which Toad retweeted a couple of times, sending it spiraling across the entire internet. Awesome.
Anyone who’s worked as a substitute teacher should have an almost unlimited number of stories to tell. Barbara Lane is no exception, but she’s got more than just a story, she’s got a great essay on the power and importance of stories and words themselves. It’s called “Every Life’s Telling” and here’s an excerpt: “To articulate and share our own stories, to encourage and receive the stories of others—this is vital to our sense of self, of community, and of belonging. Simply and emphatically put: Your story matters.”
The Warden and the Wolf King doesn’t go into wide release until July 22nd, but we’ve decided to make it available now in the Rabbit Room store. Maps, Creaturepedias, and other goodies from the Kickstarter campaign will be available soon. “Prepare to have your heart stirred by Peterson’s bittersweet and sweeping finish to the Wingfeather Saga.” -N. D. Wilson
And finally, Lanier Ivester has poked her head up once again and delivered another piece of stunning poetry called “Sonnet II.” Isn’t she awesome? Yes, yes she is. Just wait until you read the ghost story she’s writing for this year’s issue of The Molehill.
Well, we’ve got a couple of hundred more orders to pack and ship (and I’ve got to get to the doctor for a steroid shot to save me from poison ivy), so have a great weekend. We’ll see you on Monday.
[If this post is rife with typos, I apologize, but I'm about to be late for my doctor's appointment!]
To date, we’ve shipped out 1496 boxes of Wingfeather books to Kickstarter backers. We’re all a little tired and stiff (including Mike, our local postman), but we’ve still got 713 to go before we’re done. If you didn’t back the project on Kickstarter, you may be pleased to know that The Warden and the Wolf King is now available for pre-order in the Rabbit Room store. We’ll start shipping pre-orders on June 24th, so you’ll have it a month before it’s available anywhere else. Once we finish up with Kickstarter rewards, we also expect to have a few spare maps, Creaturepedias, Monster in the Hollows hardbacks, and signed/numbered art prints, which we’ll make available once we have a solid inventory of what’s left. Here’s what’s going on elsewhere in the Rabbit Room:
David Bruno looked in the rearview and discovered he was the target of the maniacal road rage festering in the car behind him. What he did to incur the wrath aimed his way is still a “Mystery Unsolved”—but we suspect it was either Barbara Lane or Rebecca Reynolds.
Melanie Penn’s Wake Up Love is still one of our favorites. Her second album “Hope Tonight” was released this Tuesday—and there was much rejoicing. Ben Shive once again produces, and once again outdoes himself. The record is beautiful, unique, and perfect for the great weather we’ve been having. Here’s the title track. Check out the rest in the store.
Sam Smith’s kids have been in Jennifer Trafton’s online writing class for the past six weeks and have loved the experience. (Full disclosure: Jennifer is my wife.) On Wednesday, Sam took the time to discuss some of his observations of the class, and he commends it highly (he was neither paid nor asked for said commendation). Enrollment for Jennifer’s fall classes will open sometime in the next couple of months.
Warden and the Wolf King illustrator Joe Sutphin has launched a contest called “Create Your Own Cloven.” Don’t know what a “cloven” is? Better grab the first book of the Wingfeather Saga and catch up. Contestants are invited to illustrate their own creations and submit them via Instagram. Three winners will receive a copy of The Warden and the Wolf King signed by Andrew, and doodled in (and signed) by Joe. And take heart, judging will not be based only on skill alone. Both kids and adults are welcome to enter. The deadline for entries is June 20th. Have fun!
Speaking of online writing classes, Jonathan Rogers will be hosting his own creative writing class this summer based on last years Hutchmoot session, “Writing Close to the Earth.” I expect Jonathan will pop up next week with some more information about the course.
There’s still time to grab a ticket for Blackbird Theater’s new original play based on John Updike’s novel, Roger’s Version. Don’t miss this great chance for a challenging and thought-provoking evening at the theater. Admission is free to Rabbit Room members, and, by this special invitation only, is just $5 for non-members. This special price is only for the private performance on May 29th. We’ll see you there.
If you recall the epic awesomeness of the Light for the Lost Boy tour, you’ll remember that half of that awesomeness was thanks to the band Caleb, who backed Andrew for the tour. The band has changed its name to Colony House and is just about ready to spring their new album on the world. They just released a video what I assume is the first single. Beware, you’ll have a hard time getting this one out of your head once you’ve heard it. Here’s the video.
As of yesterday, there’s a new Tolkien book in the world. Tolkien was one of the 20th century’s most knowledgable scholars on the Old English epic Beowulf, and Tolkien’s own translation of the tale is finally available in print. The book contains Toller’s (prose) translation of the poem along with commentary and a couple of other previously unpublished works, “Sellic Spell” and “The Lay of Beowulf.” The book is a beautiful hardback and is now available in the Rabbit Room store.
And finally, here’s Thomas with his review of the new Spiderman movie.
In the past few years we’ve developed a great relationship with Nashville’s Blackbird Theater. They first invited the Rabbit Room audience to their production of G. K. Chesterton’s Magic, then Greg Greene and Wes Driver (the creative team behind Blackbird) led a theater session at Hutchmoot, and following that they’ve invited us to other productions like Amadeus, Red, Oleanna, and Man and Superman—all plays that reckon with powerful ideas and perspectives on art, faith, ethics, and philosophy.
This year, John Updike’s estate gave Wes permission to develop one of his favorite Updike novels, Roger’s Version, for the stage. That’s a great opportunity for Wes, and I’m super excited that Blackbird has invited the Rabbit Room audience into their theater once again.
The show officially opens on May 30th, but you (yes you, Dear Reader) are invited to a special invitation-only performance on Thursday, May 29th. Better yet, the show is free to Rabbit Room members (click here if you’re not yet a member), and only $5 to non-members. The only caveat is to be aware that it’s a show intended for adults; it contains some strong language and adult situations (no nudity)—solidly PG-13.
If you’re like me, you may not know much about John Updike or his novel, but I sat down with Greg and Wes a couple of weeks ago to talk about the production and it sounds like it’s right up my alley. Below is Wes’s director’s statement about the play, which will give you a good look at the ideas and themes he’s tackling. As I’ve come to expect from Blackbird’s productions, the show should provoke thought, ask big questions, and leave me pondering the performance long after the lights have dimmed.
We’ll be there, and I hope you will be too. Click here for tickets (no need to buy a ticket if you’re a Rabbit Room member—your name will be on the guest list.)
“There are plenty of stories that entertain you. Fewer that genuinely move you. And then there are those very rare ones that, for some reason or other, cut you to the core—or seemingly raid your psyche—expressing your most deeply felt passions and perspectives. The characters are so vivid, you feel like you know them. Intimately. Because, truth be told, they seem to be reflections and extensions of yourself. That’s what Roger’s Version is to me.
Roger’s Version is one of John Updike’s lesser known novels, though no less acclaimed. Renowned more in religious circles than literary, it’s a fierce battle between beliefs, a theological bloodbath. And when I first read it—more than ten years ago now—I wanted to put the thing on stage. Updike’s works are not known for making easy transitions to other media, but so much of this book already played like great drama: the frank unflinching dialogue, the fiery ideological conflicts. To me, it cried out to be staged, to be incarnated. What a privilege that the Updike estate has let me do just that.
It’s an idea-rich, character-driven drama, where Christian history meets modern technology. Where science and religion butt heads and bare teeth—in such surprising ways, too: science is represented by a zealous believer; religion, by a less-than-pious divinity professor. A complex, intellectually demanding look at religious conviction, explored through the lives of damaged, desperate people. Simply put, it’s about faith and infidelity—and, despite conflicts (of beliefs and in our social affairs), that common quest for truth and meaning.” —Wes Driver, Director, Blackbird Theater
Yesterday, I saw someone on Facebook mention that they’d sent the final draft of their manuscript off to the publisher after having rewritten and revised it so much that they had come to hate it and could stand to look at it no longer.
I know that feeling.
When I sit down to write, one of two things happens. The first possibility is that I have a great idea, know exactly what I want to write and how I want to write it, and I bang it out in a whirl of clacking laptop keys. When I’m finished I triumphantly hammer down the save button and go away feeling satisfied with myself.
The second possibility is that I sit and stare at the screen for a while, eventually writing an awful sentence, then deleting it, then writing another but maybe deleting only half of it because the first part wasn’t quite as bad as the last, then staring at and loathing even that until I delete and rewrite it twelve more times. This continues for an hour or two until I’ve got a few hundred words cobbled together that I can no longer stand to look at. I close the laptop and walk away feeling a little sick and a lot like a complete hack.
To be fair, there’s a third possibility—a hybrid of the other two. I’ll have a great idea, and I’ll know exactly what I want to do with it, but when I sit down to write, nothing comes together.
The interesting thing, though, is what happens the next day.
First things first, I just got an email confirming that The Warden and the Wolf King has been shipped from the printer. That means that Monday afternoon we’ll be unloading thousands of books in the rain—which is bound to be just as fun as it sounds! Pembrick’s Creaturepedia is scheduled to ship either this afternoon or first thing on Monday morning. That means that if all goes as planned, we’ll begin shipping Kickstarter rewards next week! I can’t wait for you guys to see (and read) these books. Now, on to the weekly review . . .
Monday morning, Chris Yokel gave us a post that explores some of the themes at work in the Lego movie, like teamwork and creativity. Here’s an excerpt from “The Power of a Building Block”:
“We need the boring stability of the everyday, the organized structure of the plan. We need the wild, think-outside-the-box creativity of the charismatic individual. These things are not opposed to each other, but are designed to work in harmony The structure provides context for the artist, and the artist provides fresh meaning and perspective for the structure.” Read the post here.
Tuesday saw the long-awaited release of Jeremy Casella’s new album, Death in Reverse. The record was inspired by N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope, and if that’s not enough to recommend it, the track below should do the trick nicely. The album is available in the Rabbit Room store.
“Letter to an Old Friend”
by Jeremy Casella
from Death in Reverse
Matt Conner was supposed to be working this week, but instead he was sitting in a coffee shop eavesdropping on strangers. The result is a post called “Coffee Shop Symphony” and, thankfully, it’s not as creepy as it sounds. In fact, it’s kind of beautiful. Read the post here, and be careful what you say if you’re sitting beside Matt at Starbucks.
And finally, in my ongoing mission to write a short story each month this year, I submit to you the latest of my Tales from an Unremembered Country. This one’s called “The Oracle of Philadelphia,” and it takes place mostly in the Arctic. There’s even a frozen shark, a whale, and a hypothermic polar bear. No lie. Read more about it here, and pick it up in the Rabbit Room store (PDF and ePub) or on your Kindle (or Kindle app) via Amazon—it should also be available in the iBookstore any time now. Oh, and you can click here to read a preview. Enjoy!
You may recall that I’m on a mission to write a short story each month this year. I started in February, and that story was released in March—The Timely Arrival of Barnabas Bead is available here. I know, I know, I’m already running behind, but the next one is finally ready to go. It was written in March and April and not a sentence of it came easy. Like squeezing blood from a stone, I tell you, but such is the work of writing.
This one’s called The Oracle of Philadelphia, and it revolves around an expedition into the Arctic Sea. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been fascinated with polar exploration. Annie Dillard’s “Expedition to the Pole” is one of my favorite essays of all time (it’s found in her book Teaching a Stone to Talk). Josh Ritter’s song “Another New World” has some of the most magical lyrics in this or any world, and, like a moth to a flame, I’m drawn to any book or documentary about the Shackleton expedition. Heck, I’ll even thrown in John Carpenter’s The Thing as a reference (that movie scared me to death when I was a kid). So consider this my humble entry into the hoary canon of polar literature. Hope you enjoy it, and I assure you, it’s much lighter fare than any of the aforementioned works.
Special thanks to Daniel Sorensen for providing an illustration for this month’s story. Check out his website. He’s a talented guy.
(Note: the observant reader may spot direct ties between this story and Fiddler’s Green.)
Big news! Not five minutes ago I confirmed our featured speaker for Hutchmoot 2014! We’ll make an official announcement soon, but I have no doubt that you guys are going to love her. Let the rampant speculation begin.
We also received a bunch of boxes this week filled with giant, full-color maps of Aerwiar. So for those keeping track, here’s what we’ve got so far: Monster in the Hollows hardback—check; Giant maps—check. Still to come: Pembrick’s Creaturepedia—delayed at the printer, expect them to ship next week; The Warden and the Wolf King hardback—delayed at the printer, expected to ship May 15th.
We’re really disappointed about the delays, but they are beyond our control. Unfortunately, this sets the Kickstarter shipments back a couple weeks. Don’t worry, though, we’ll start shipping you the books just as soon as we have them in hand.
Here’s what else is going on in the Rabbit Room this week.
Sitting down to create something out of nothing can be one of the most intimidating things in the world. Anyone who’s ever gone to the creative well and then gone back for more has experienced the fear that when they get there, it might just be empty. Andrew Peterson knows exactly what that fear is like. Time has given him some perspective, though, and he shares some of what he’s learned in a post called “Process: Starting from Scratch.”
If you’ve looked at many of Jamin Still’s paintings, one thing you’re sure to notice is that they tend to hint at larger stories lurking just beyond the frame. This week, Jamin explains why that is by taking a close look at one of his works and walking us through its development. Check out “Ellen and the Peacock, or ‘What If?'” for details.
In her essay “The Present Eternity,” Jen Rose reminds herself, and the rest of us, of the importance of the present moment, and how neglecting it can have eternal consequences. C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape shows up in a supporting role: “The humans live in time, but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”
And finally, 2014 Rabbit Room Memberships are now available. Membership is primarily a way to support the Rabbit Room and all the books, music, and events we create, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with some rewards. This year’s membership benefits include exclusive mugs, access to the 2013 Hutchmoot audio archive (nearly 18 hours of audio), store discounts, a free Molehill, and more. Thanks for your support. We love what we do and couldn’t do it without you.
People often ask how they can best support the Rabbit Room, the work we do, the content we create, and the people involved. The first and best answer is to support the authors and musicians we feature and the books we publish. By purchasing those works through the Rabbit Room store, you can be sure that the artist is receiving the lion’s share of the profit, and the rest helps offset the operating expense of the Rabbit Room itself.
Many people, however, have asked how they can contribute in a larger way, and that brings me to Rabbit Room membership.
I’m expecting a truck to pull up any minute and start unloading hardback editions of The Monster in the Hollows for Kickstarter backers. Maps and The Warden and the Wolf King should be here early next week and Pembrick’s Creaturepedia shortly thereafter. I’m not sure where we’re going to put all these books, but we’ll figure something out. Let me see if I can get this Friday recap done before the truck gets here.
Going back to Good Friday, I reposted one of my favorite passages from The Supper of the Lamb. If you haven’t read the book, then you must. My wife likes to say that if G. K. Chesterton and N. T. Wright got together to write a cookbook, this would be the result. And reading it during Holy Week is a traditional worth keeping . . . this passage especially.
Then on Saturday, Jen Rose and Chris Yokel showed up with some Lenten poetry. Chris wrote a trio of poems fittingly called a “Lenten Triology,” and Jen’s, “How it All Ends,” specifically commemorates Holy Saturday. Let the poets know what you think.
On Monday morning, David Bruno decided to put together the two most disparate subjects he could think of. The resulting post puts Wendell Berry and space travel together for the first time and asks you for your opinion. Check out “Garden Tomatoes and Rocket Ships” and join the discussion.
Andy Osenga’s life is changing in a big way. He’s turning in his guitar for a desk—okay, that’s just me being dramatic, but it’s also partly true. He broke the news this week in a piece called “New Beginning.” I know Andy’s really excited about this new direction in his career, and I can’t wait to see where it takes him. Read the full post for the scoop.
Matt Conner checked in with the Monday Music Update (he was late, and it almost became the Tuesday Music Update, which isn’t nearly as alliterative). Read the post for news about Don and Lori Chaffer (Waterdeep), Randall Goodgame (Slugs & Bugs), Andy Osenga (Stage-It show), Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive (covering Rich Mullins), and Chris Slaten (Son of Laughter).
On Wednesday, Barbara Lane delivered a post of, in this editor’s biased opinion, impeccable literary taste and insight. The piece,“Ink Between the Lines,” takes a look at one very real way that Barbara has turned pain into beauty in her life (and in her arm). Luci Shaw and Fin Button make welcome cameo appearances.
I think I heard a truck full of books pulling up outside, so I’ll leave you with a couple of songs that Ben Shive wrote and recorded for his church during Holy Week. Enjoy.
by Ben Shive
“Into Your Hands”
by Ben Shive
[This Good Friday, I commend to you the following excerpt from Chapter 4 of Robert Farrar Capon's most outstanding The Supper of the Lamb.]
In the Law of the Lord,
Leviticus, the eighth chapter, the fourteenth verse: Aaron
and his sons laying hands upon the bullock’s head, blood
poured at the bottom of the altar to make reconciliation;
the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys and their
fat—all burnt by fire for a sweet savor.
wave breast, heave shoulder, rams of consecration, the
pomegranate and the golden bell, sounding upon the
hem of the robe round about; priest and temple, death
and holocaust, always and everywhere.
It is tempting
simply to write it off as barbarism, nonsense, superstition;
to fault it and forget it;
But the fact of blood still stands,
reproving materialist and spiritualist at once; gainsaying
worlds too small and heavens too thin.
This superadded killing,
this sacrifice, these deaths which work no earthly inter-
change, this rich, imprudent waste
The City’s undiminishable size:
Man wills to make of earth,
not one Jerusalem but two; this sacramental blood de-
clares the double mind by which he wills to lift both
lion and lamb beyond the killing to exchanges unaccount-
able and vast.
Man’s priestliness therefore
bespeaks his refusal of despair; proclaims acceptance of
a world which, by its murderous hand, subscribes the
insupportable dilemma of its being—the war of lion and
lamb having no other likely outcome here than two im-
a pride of victors feeding on the slain; but leaving the
lion as he was before, trapped in ancient reciprocities by
which at last all power falls to crows;
And the other,
a hymn to despair no victim will accept; it is not enough,
in this paroxysm of martyrdoms, to stand upon the ship-
wrecks of the slain and praise the weak for weakness; the
lamb’s will, too, was life; he died refusing death.
Not written off, but recognized,
a sign in blood of the vaster end of blood; a redness
turning all things white; an impossibility prefiguring the
last exchange of all.
The old order, of course,
unchanged; the deaths of bulls and goats achieving
nothing; Aaron still ineffectual; creation still bloody;
But haunted now by bells within the veil
where Aaron walks in shadows sprinkling
blood and bids a new Jerusalem descend.
Endless smoke now rising
Lion become priest
And lamb victim
The world awaits
The unimaginable union
By which the Lion lifts Himself Lamb slain
And, Priest and Victim,
As I sit here and wait for a truckload of Thomas McKenzie’s book, The Anglican Way, to be delivered, let me recap the week.
On Monday, Heidi Johnston delivered a post called “The Pursuit of Community,” and it hit close to home for a lot of people, me included.
“Community is part of who we are. In its purest form it is a beautiful reflection of the intimate relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in whose image we are made. We have good reason to hope and long for it. The problem is that the practice of community can be a lot less romantic than the theory. The perfect ideal sits in tension with the fact of our brokenness so that life in relationship rarely works out the way we have pictured it.” Read the entire post here.
A couple of years ago at Hutchmoot, we asked for essay submissions. We got a lot of great entries, but Alyssa Ramsey’s stole the show. This week she’s here as a guest contributor with a beautiful post called “Tremble – A Lenten Reflection.” Take a few minutes this Good Friday and check it out.
I saw Noah on opening weekend and really enjoyed it, but I decided to put off a discussion of the film until the ugly firestorm of controversy died down. This week I posted my thoughts about the movie, and some good discussion has followed. I’d love to hear others’ thoughts as well. It’s definitely a thought-provoking film—and that’s a good thing. I’ll also commend to you this short video that was brought to my attention by Aaron Alford; I think it hits the nail on the head.
Yesterday, illustrator Joe Sutphin checked in with a behind-the-scenes look at his work on The Warden and the Wolf King. In the post (“How Andrew and I Introduced Each Other to a Boy Named Janner” —2014 recipient of the Longest Post Title Award), Joe discusses the approach he took to developing the appearance of one of the book’s main characters, Janner Igiby.
The Warden and the Wolf King is being printed as we speak, and it, along with all the other Kickstarter rewards, will be delivered to us here in Nashville in the next week or so. We hope to start shipping them out to all of you before the end of the month! We’ll soon be sending out a Kickstarter survey to collect shipping addresses.
This isn’t a movie review, I’ll leave that to Thomas, but I do want to talk about my impressions of the film and hopefully start some (civil) discussion. It’s undoubtedly a film that challenges expectations and a lot of the comments and reactions I’ve seen online tell me that there are some who aren’t sure what to do with those challenges. If you ask me what I do when a movie like Noah unsettles me, here’s my answer: think about it (calmly and rationally), and then talk about it (calmly and rationally).
To begin with, let me tell you I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The script has a few clunky spots and some things work better than others, but overall it’s fascinating and packed with good performances, rich visual storytelling, and complex human characters behaving in often surprising yet understandable ways. Yes, the Nephilim are giant stone “ents.” No, that doesn’t bother me—in fact it really excites me. Yes, the story goes some strange places that aren’t factual. No, that doesn’t bother me either, especially considering that the story remains biblically accurate in its essentials. The film certainly embellishes the tale in imaginative ways, but I consider that a good thing, especially because in doing so it raises some thought-provoking questions. In fact, as I sit here and ponder it, I can think of almost no other “biblical” film that has been this interesting, this thoughtful, or this artful (though that’s more a critique of “biblical” films than it is a praise of Noah).
In order to have a meaningful discussion, I’m going to assume you’ve seen the movie. If you haven’t, or if you’re on the fence, it’s definitely a movie to see in the theater (don’t wait for the DVD). I’ll also say that you should leave young kids at home; this isn’t your Sunday School Noah’s Ark story.
If you don’t want to know the details, now’s your chance to stop reading. As River Song would say: Spoilers!