For better or worse, I’ve been a fan of Stephen King’s work since I was a teenager. I’ve always said there’s more depth in his books than most people give him credit for (as is easily evidenced in stories like Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile), but his books certainly aren’t for everyone.
Last week, CNN published a story called “The Gospel of Stephen King,” which is far from comprehensive, but is interesting nonetheless if you’ve ever wondered about the Christian themes in King’s work. Here’s an excerpt:
Zahl, the Episcopal priest, says so many heroes in King’s books are broken people: physically frail, alcoholic, disabled and lonely. Even the evil people are rendered with compassion.
“King understands grace at a deep level,” says Zahl, author of “Grace in Practice.” “He typically concentrates on the marginalized and the outsiders who ultimately carry the day. God often does his work where people are the most messed up.”
Follow your gifting, hone your skills, and no matter what your gift, pursue it with excellence and integrity. Anyone can be an artisan–even David Rees. This video will give you all the proof you’ll ever need. Watch and be amazed (do not fail to check out the website).
I came across this last week and was immediately sucked in by Sir Ken’s fancy Michael Caine accent and his hilarious sense of humor. He also happens to have some great stuff to say about creativity.
We’re happy to be able to announce that our Friday evening event at Hutchmoot 2012 will be the official release show for Andrew Peterson’s forthcoming album, Light for the Lost Boy (releases August 28th). The concert will be a full band show featuring Andy Gullahorn, Ben Shive, and the guys from Caleb (who you just met yesterday). You are in for one heck of a good show.
If you’ve registered for Hutchmoot, your admission and reserve seating are included in your registration. If you didn’t get into Hutchmoot this year, never fear, this event is open to the public! Tickets are now available in the Rabbit Room store. Get them while they last. We’ll see you in September.
Here’s the first single off of the new record. Enjoy!
by Andrew Peterson
from Light for the Lost Boy
Sometimes when I sit back and look over the records that have been put out by this community, I’m utterly and completely amazed by the talent and craftsmanship I’m surrounded by. In the last couple of months we’ve had incredible works by Eric Peters and Andrew Osenga and just wait until you get to hear The Proprietor’s forthcoming Light for the Lost Boy. But perhaps the album I’m most often in awe of is Ben Shive’s The Cymbal Crashing Clouds. I can think of no reason why this record ought not be numbered among all time favorites in ten years, twenty, and beyond. This song is one of the reasons why.
A Last Time For Everything
by Ben Shive
Song of the Day special: The first twenty people to use the following coupon code get $5.00 off their order of The Cymbal Crashing Clouds. Coupon code: TheLastTime
I want to say thanks to all the folks who came out and helped us welcome Bishop Wright to Nashville. As the Square Pegs sang their songs last night, I couldn’t help but get a little misty-eyed. It was as if each of the songs was an offering, a gift given to a guest in welcome; a gift given to one who’s given to many. I was proud of my friends, proud of my community, proud of my church. And after Bishop Wright gave us his address, I was inspired to awe when he responded to the gifts of the community with songs of his own. He sang three songs: “Friday Morning” by Sydney Carter; a rewrite of the Beatles “Yesterday” titled “Genesis” that he co-wrote with Francis Collins (leader of the Human Genome Project); and a rousing, passionate, show-stopping rendition of Bob Dylan’s “When the Ship Comes In.”
The evening’s joyful exchange of music and humor and knowledge was nothing less, in the end, than the Kingdom come, the Kingdom made plainly visible in the present. It was present in the brother next to me, in the sister laughing across the room, in the theologian imagining the universe into order, in the musician creating aural spaces for the Spirit to move, in the brownies and chips offered on the table, in all of it the the presence of a King and a Kingdom was apparent and palpable. It was a blessing, in the most real and literal sense. I’m grateful to have been a part of it, and I’ll venture to guess that Bishop Wright is grateful for it as well. In fact, he told Thomas on the way back to the hotel that he had had “the most fun in a long time.”
And really, what could be better than that?
My dad gave me the gift of woodcraft when I was a child. I grew up watching him, and later helping him, make furniture in the garage, and a lot of what he made is still in good use. I expect I’ll inherit some of it one day, and it’ll go on being of good use in my own home. The craft he gave me has served me well for my entire life. I built a violin when I was writing The Fiddler’s Gun, and though it’s far from a masterpiece, I’m still proud of it. Every time someone picks it up and plays it, I get a little tear in the corner of my eye. I built two cedar canoes a few years ago and that experience was something very akin to a love affair. It’s hard to spend months caressing the curve of a handmade boat without coming to feel a strange affection for it–an affection that’s doubled when it’s set afloat for the first time. I read a quote once that went something like this: “Happiness is crossing a still water in a vessel of your own making, and landing upon an undiscovered isle.” If you’ve ever built something and seen it put to good use, you’ll understand how true that statement is.
A few days ago, Dave Bruno shared the following short film from the Christianity Today website. It’s about a furniture maker named Harrison Higgins, and I wonder if he might tell us that “Happiness is sitting down in a chair of your own making to eat a well-prepared dinner.” The act of creation, the craftsman says, can be either a sacrament or a sacrilege, depending on how we approach our work. The film is only about 5 minutes long, but it’s something like a love letter to the art of woodcraft–a subject near and dear to me.
Watch it here: Furniture Fit for the Kingdom. And then read this excellent article about it: Artificial Grace: Why the Creation Needs Human Creativity. Special thanks to Dave Bruno for bringing this to our attention on the Facebook Hutchmoot page.
Eric Peters’ Birds of Relocation CDs are now shipping. Head into the store and pick up one of the best records you’ll hear this year. Here’s a brief glimpse of what people are saying about the album. And don’t miss this great interview at The Sound Opinion (Part I here and Part II here).
“Mature but not morose. Fun but hardly frivolous. Honest yet optimistic Self-assured but no where near self-absorbed. Eric’s newest album is a toe-tapping, sometimes tear-jerking, joy to listen to.” –Thomas McKenzie, pastor
“Eric has written a really beautiful collection of songs here. I’m proud of him. I would say that the theme of this record is a movement from darkness to light–which might also be the theme of Eric’s soul at the moment. We tried to capture that in the recordings. There are definitely some dark moments (fittingly so), but the songs always seem to step into the light. Anyway, I think you’re really going to like Birds of Relocation. I do.” –Ben Shive, producer, singer-songwriter
“Eric Peters is a chronicler of his journey; he’s been a faithful steward of the story God is telling through him, and this newest chapter, Birds of Relocation, is Eric’s testimony that along the way there are moments of deep joy and gratitude–they may seem brief, but they’re bright, and they’re worth singing about. The joy I hear on this record heralds a long and welcome peace.” –Andrew Peterson, author, singer-songwriter
“I have been a huge fan of Eric’s music for a long time. The beautifully personal and revealing songs on this new record not only make me love Eric’s art even more, they make me love Eric more. Birds of Relocation is an open window into the heart of a brilliantly broken man.” –Andy Gullahorn, singer-songwriter, producer
“Birds of Relocation is a soul-awakening, triumphant, honest survey of a year of life and loss. Eric’s tell-it-like-it-is voice combined with these aching melodies come together to pronounce both heartache and hope, bringing these two opposite sides of the same coin into view simultaneously. This musical offering is a needed spark of inspiration in a cultural moment heavy with cynicism. These songs speak. They lift. They comfort. Eric skillfully blends melancholy with sunshine. And the end result is magnetic.” –Sandra McCracken, singer-songwriter
“In painting, chiaroscuro is the effect of depth and luminosity created by sharp contrasts between light and shadow. I kept thinking of this word as I listened to Birds of Relocation. I heard a portrait there–a canvas swathed in bleak tones of past troubles, out of which emerges a brilliant face illumined by thankfulness. A searingly honest songwriter, Eric has earned the right to sing of light and hope because he knows how deep the darkness can be.” –Jennifer Trafton, author
“Eric has been writing great songs for a more than a decade, but his newest album, Birds of Relocation, feels like a much-anticipated arrival. It feels like the culmination of a life-long journey through the highs and lows of the human heart. Each time the last notes of the record fade, I feel like I’ve stepped back from a window, having been, for a short time, a voyeur peering into the epic and ultimately victorious struggle of another soul.” –A. S. “Pete” Peterson, author
“I’ve come to expect this sort of thing from Eric Peters–yet another amazing collection of songs, each one it’s own journey. It’s whimsical in ways but in an instant becomes the cry of every man’s heart to be loved with songs like “Soul and Flesh.” I can pretty much bank on the fact that every two years or so another Eric Peters record will wind up among my top choices for the year. But this one might well be his best ever.” –Bebo Norman, singer-songwriter
“Birds of Relocation is an inspiring album for so many reasons. The inspiration that sticks with me between listens is that intangible feeling that comes after listening to a great collection of well-crafted, well-produced songs. Makes me wanna relocate back into my studio and create, think, ponder, and worship the God of ALL creation. The sonic landscape that accompanies Eric’s earnest and honest vocal performance is rich and tasteful. The sounds on this album not only affirm Eric’s creativity, but also Ben Shive’s instinct as a producer.” –David Spencer, producer
“Eric Peters’ music is at the top of what gets played around my house, in my car, and while I’m running. I am a big fan. He writes incredibly honest and poetic lyrics coupled with memorable pop melodies, and I can think of no better combination.” –Jill Phillips, singer-songwriter
“The bright, summery nature of Birds of Relocation gives Eric Peters’ incredible vulnerability a new level upon which to fly. A beautiful, soaring record that deserves to be heard by many.” –Matt Conner, pastor, writer
“This is Eric’s best record, and I’ve been a fan of the earlier records. Birds of Relocation has a brightness to it, not a false naivete, but a fresh-breeze-after-a-storm kind of clarity. He gets bits of truth stuck in my head all day. Can’t ask for more than that.” –Andrew Osenga, singer-songwriter, producer
“Eric Peters doesn’t write songs so much as he opens up a vein and bleeds them. That’s why his songs feel more like a transfusion than anything else. His music is most meaningful, I think, to others who have lost some blood of their own. To them his songs are life-giving and life-saving.
I think we live in a culture that by and large refuses to bleed or otherwise enter into the gift of pain. But the slow death of denial keeps us from finding our hearts and ultimately from truly coming alive. Into this world, then, comes the gift of Eric Peters’ music–a gift that wounds while it heals. Eric’s audience is likely to be that brave but small group of people who aren’t afraid of the sight of blood because they recognize it as the life-giving force that it is.
It falls upon the living to care for the dying. Most of the hymns of our pop culture are broken anthems to self-indulgence and escapism, and they lead to a literal dead end. In a culture that sends Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ to the top of the charts, the humanity of Eric Peters’ ‘Voices’ is especially meaningful.
The more I hear Eric’s music, the more I’m aware of how generous he is, always giving away every bit of hope for the journey as he finds it. When I buy an Eric Peter’s record, I’m not just adding to my music library, I’m participating in his artistry and making space in the world for songs that bleed life, truth, hope, and beauty.” –Jason Gray, singer-songwriter
Birds of Relocation is now available in the Rabbit Room store.
You may have missed our listening party a few weeks ago, but here’s a recap:
Track 1: “The Old Year (of Denial)”
[Note: This has been adapted from the Hutchmoot 2011 session of the same name. Click here for a portion of Travis Prinzi's contribution to that same session.]
What does the shape of a story look like? A lot of people might say it looks like a Bell curve: setup, rising conflict, and resolution. That’s the typical answer, and there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, there’s a lot that’s exactly right about it, and there are a thousand and one books on the subject to prove it. But I don’t think that’s the whole picture. The reason for the question is that we want a way to predict whether a story is going to work. We want a pattern for our creation. We want rules to write by.
So what makes a story work? Every critic’s got a theory, me included—or you wouldn’t be reading this.
As good luck would have it, the English language was blessed with the birth of William Shakespeare some four hundred and forty-eight years ago today (I’ll spare you the math–that’s 1564). I was talking with Jonathan Rogers a while back and we were discussing the wealth of words Shakespeare had invented. I couldn’t recall many examples at the time, but today’s news of the Bard’s birthday sent me looking.
We’re probably all aware that many phrases used in our every day speech are attributed directly to Shakespeare’s plays, but it’s pretty staggering to note just how many of our words appeared in print for the first time in his work. The total is around 1700 by some counts. He certainly didn’t invent all of them, since some were undoubtedly in use on the streets long before being printed in his plays, but one of his many gifts was using words, not only in new and interesting ways, but often in new and interesting forms. If you’re a word geek like me, this kind of stuff is endlessly fascinating. Here’s a tiny sample:
Today’s the day — launch day for a much anticipated (and lonely) astronaut. If you pre-ordered Leonard, the Lonely Astronaut in either CD or digital format, you can now log in to your account and download the album in its entirety. Simply redownload your pre-order purchase to receive the new files. CDs will ship the week of May 7th.
If you ordered the Deluxe Download or the Custom Flash Drive Package, you can also log in to download the record, but check your email throughout the day for instructions on claiming the special features included in your purchase.
If you’ve been on the fence about all this outer space madness, it might move you to know that Andrew Osenga’s Leonard, the Lonely Astronaut is an exclusive Rabbit Room release that will only be available for one week. That’s right, it will only be available until midnight on April 24th. After that cut off date, the album will no longer be available to the public and Andy will go into promotional mode in preparation for the album’s wide release in the fall. So if you’re interested, get it now, or settle in for the long wait.
Enjoy the record, folks. We’ll have a full review in a few days. In the meantime, be sure to leave your own review in the Rabbit Room store. 3 — 2 — 1 — ignition.
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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.