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Our task as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to a world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion…The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even–heaven help us–Biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically-rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way…with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom. I believe if we face the question, “if not now, then when?” if we are grasped by this vision we may also hear the question, “if not us, then who?” And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is?” –N. T. Wright
Hold onto your seats. This is going to be awesome. On the evening of Monday, May 7th, the Rabbit Room will host something of a micro-Hutchmoot. Will there be music? Yes. We’ll have as many of the Square Pegs as we can round up. Will there be food? Yes. Everyone is encouraged to bring an appetizer dish of your favorite sort. Will there be free popcorn and coffee? Of course. Will there be a world-renowned British theologian. Yes, there will be. Is he the author of books like Surprised by Hope and Simply Christian, and will he be addressing the crowd, answering questions, and signing books? Yes, he is, and yes, he will be. Is his name N. T. Wright? Yes indeed.
This is going to be a fun evening, folks. Bishop Wright will read from and discuss his new book, How God Became King, and he’s graciously agreed to answer questions and sign books afterward. And on top of that, you’ll be treated to live music from members of the Square Peg Alliance. If you’d like to join us for this intimate evening, all we’re asking is that you purchase his book from the Rabbit Room store (book still available, event sold out). We’ll be holding the event in the living room at Church of the Redeemer in Nashville so attendance is strictly limited to 50 guests. If you’d like to have your name added to the guest list, click here to buy the book from the store (EVENT SOLD OUT). Your books will be waiting for you at the church when you arrive (or, if you’re local, you can stop by the Rabbit Room office to pick yours up ahead of time). Note that for couples, we’ve provided the option of buying a combination of two different books so that you won’t need to buy two copies of the same title for admission. These seats will not last long. Get your orders in while you can.
This Saturday evening we’re filming a live show with Eric Peters, and you’re all invited. We’ve joined forces with our friends at the Edgehill Cafe in Lenox Village (Nashville) to give the community a unique coffee house and bookstore, and Eric’s show will be the first Rabbit Room Live event to take place there. The music starts at 7pm and Eric will be playing songs off his just released Birds of Relocation. The show is free but we hope everyone will buy a drink to support the cafe or a CD to support Eric. We’ll see you there. Click here for directions and information.
I spent the better part of last year trying to write a poem a day as a writing exercise. When I began, the first thing I told myself was that it was okay to be bad. I knew there would be days when the best I could muster would be tripe unfit even for a Hallmark convention. And I was 100% correct as lines like the following will surely attest:
“Life’s short in the mouth
Of my dinosaur love
But fail early and fail often, I say. Get the dinosaur love out of the way so something better can find its way onto the page. I’m not a great poet, nor will I ever be, but I did manage to wring out about 150 poems last year, and out of those I hope there will be a few gems worth going back to over the years to hone and polish. In early June, though, after writing the first hundred poems, something happened that I didn’t expect.
Thanks to everyone for participating in our Birds of Relocation listening party. For those who missed the event, here’s Eric’s song-by-song commentary and a short preview of each of the tracks. The complete album is now available in the Rabbit Room store.
Track 1: “The Old Year (of Denial)”
This song began the writing process for Birds of Relocation. I wrote it, largely, in retaliation against the year 2009, a psychologically brutal season for me. I see this song as an “I’m staking my claim” pivotal core from which the rest of the album branches. Fear reduces us. To hell with fear; we should refuse to live there any longer, living instead like living souls.
Eric Peters’ Birds of Relocation was released on Tuesday and a brief scan of Twitter and Facebook reveals a snap shot of what people are already saying about it:
“. . . one of the most beautiful records I’ve heard in a long while.” –@Nickliao
“Another amazing album . . .” –@FMcButter
“I’ve been thru the new @ericpetersmusic album 4 times this morning already. Love it!” –@andycheely
“Listened straight through the new @ericpetersmusic record. My soul is soaring.” –@danielchristian
“One of my favorites of all time by anyone.” –@sdsmith_
“We are loving these songs . . .” –@EnCorpsMusic
“. . .this is great music.” –@AndrewPeterson
“It will bless you abundantly!” –@lightenupgear
“All I can say is WOW!” –@Cam__
“@ericpetersmusic’s new album, BiRDS OF RELOCATiON is amazing!” –@bgum728
“. . . just awesome: full of hope, gratitude, and beauty.” Bret Welstead via Facebook
“It’s seriously all kinds of good.” Andrew MacKay via Facebook
“This is a fabulous album.” Rebecca MacKay via Facebook
But if you’re still on the fence, you’ve come to the right place. For the next eleven hours we’re going to premiere Birds of Relocation song by song, one song in its entirety each hour between 9am and 8pm CST. For each song, Eric will give some insight into the writing process, and answer any questions you might have. Enjoy the record, folks. You’re in for a real treat.
Eric Peters’ Birds of Relocation is now available! If you pre-ordered a download, log into your account to download it and start listening.
In Nashville on Friday? Come to Belmont University to be enlightened and amazed. Jonathan Rogers live, one day only. Held in the Massey Business Center, Room 103 @ 10:00am.
Flannery O’Connor and the Terrible Speed of Mercy
Her stories are known for their shocking violence and their seedy, white-trash atmospherics, but Flannery O’Connor led a most devout, well-regulated, and conventional life on a Middle Georgia dairy farm. “Many of my ardent admirers would be roundly shocked and disturbed,” O’Connor wrote, “if they realized that everything I believe is thoroughly moral, thoroughly Catholic, and that it is these beliefs that give my work its chief characteristics.” In his lecture, biographer Jonathan Rogers explores the paradoxes of Flannery O’Connor’s life and work, in which grace comes not like a gentle rain, but like a thunderstorm, destroying even as it illuminates.
Jonathan Rogers lives and teaches in Nashville. Besides four novels, he has also published books on C.S. Lewis and St. Patrick. His biography of Flannery O’Connor—The Terrible Speed of Mercy—will be published in June 2012.
You can hear an early mix of one of the songs here. And when you pre-order Birds of Relocation, you’ll be able to immediately download a track called “Different, Separate Lives.” The rest of the album will be available digitally on March 27th. CDs will ship the first week of May. Find all the details here in the Rabbit Room Store.
I know it’s been a long road for Eric. A year ago I listened to first stirrings of the record as he sat quietly in the next room, writing the new songs, wrestling the lyrics and melodies into their places. Sometimes I’d ask him at the end of the day, “How’s the writing coming?” and he’d shake his head and shrug and wander off in clear defeat. The lines on Eric’s face are a testament to the bitter work of wringing a song into existence. If you ever doubt the hard labor of creation, take a good long look into the eyes of a writer like Eric and judge the weight of the struggle you find there. Eric wears his songs like scars, or bandages, or salves administered in the hope of renewal. He earns them, each and every one.
When I walked into the theater on March 9th, I was a skeptic. I’d seen some really weird looking previews that I filed into the “what the heck was that” drawer and tried to forget about, until a friend pointed me to a few facts that the trailer failed to mention. First, the movie was directed by Oscar-winner Andrew Stanton of Wall-E and Finding Nemo. Second, the script was co-written by Pulitzer Prize and Hugo Award-winner Michael Chabon of The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. Third, the film is an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series which was the direct inspiration for Star Wars, Flash Gordon, Dune, Avatar, and basically every space opera trope of the 20th (and 21st) century.
As weird as it looked, I had to give it a chance.
If you haven’t yet read Matt Conner’s interview with Eric Peters’, you should; it’ll give you a deeper appreciation of how important this recording is to Eric. Eric puts his heart and soul and, more importantly, his pain into his music, and that’s what makes it such a rich experience for the rest of us. For months now, I’ve been lucky enough to hear snippets of Birds of Relocation coming out of Ben Shive’s studio (The Bee Hive) next door, and I can’t wait for the world to hear it. I think it’s Eric’s best work. Read the interview, get the full context of the song you’re about to hear, and then wait anxiously for March 27th when Birds of Relocation takes flight.
Here’s a first listen to one of the tracks. It’s still an early mix, but it’s already fantastic.
“The New Year”
by Eric Peters
from Birds of Relocation.
This is a lecture that Mark Andrews (Pixar’s director of the forthcoming Brave) gave to a group of students at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts). He’s talking chiefly about the art of storyboarding, but I found that most of what he says applies directly to the art of writing as well (or any other artistic medium). The video is in two parts. In the first, he shows his storyboard of his treatment of the Icarus myth. In the second part, he discusses the choices he made and how he went about putting the story together. The quality isn’t the best, but the advice is spot on. Well worth the fifteen minutes if you’re a storyteller.
[I'm reposting this after seeing Studio Tenn's production of The Miracle Worker last week. It's incredible. Go see it.]
“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket. I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”
–From The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
I sat in the theater, huddled around the stage with a hundred strangers, and watched as the narrator sauntered out of the darkness and smirked at us. Those words, the first of his opening soliloquy, made me nod and smile and whisper to myself, “I’m going to enjoy this.”
I’m not sure what it is that keeps me from the theater. Every time I go, I’m glad I did. But it seems I usually hear about productions after they’ve come and gone. There’s no marquee next to the mall to remind me of what I’m missing, and there’s no stage version of a Fandango app to feed me show times and reviews. So, too often, plays by local theater companies slip by under my radar until I hear about them from someone else long after the curtain has fallen.
SOLD OUT! (For the record, it took 7 minutes.)
It’s time, folks. There are now 100 spots open for Hutchmoot 2012. Let the games begin! We’re lining up a great weekend, and we’ll see you on September 23.