The Archives

Sad Stories Told for Laughs: Jill Phillips

Hello, Jill, and welcome to Sad Stories Told for Laughs. Thanks, I think? As I think you know, the idea here is for you to tell stories of the hardships of being an artists...specifically, hardships involving public embarrassment. I think my first promotional tour (before my Word record release in 1999) was my intro into challenging shows. 1999? So you were 14? That's a hard age for anybody. I was 21, thank you very much. I remember playing at a bookstore of some sort and the young male employee and several older ladies watched me with little interest and crossed arms. He then commented, "Well, she's OK but she's no Jennifer Knapp." Jennifer Knapp? Is she the one who quit playing Christian music and became Daisy Duke instead? 

Free Kindle eBook: Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative

Hey folks, from November 30 through December 2, the Kindle eBook version of my book, Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative, will be available on Amazon for FREE. Grab one for yourself and tell your friends. I'd love to give away a jillion downloads during those three days. If you are a social media user and you want to help by tweeting about this or dropping it in your blog, I'll make it super easy. Here's a tweet you can copy and paste or personalize: (It looks long, but Twitter compresses it to fit.) Need an Advent book? Grab 's Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative eBook for FREE, Nov 30-Dec 2.  Thanks everyone. Merry Christmas. Hope has come. -Russ

Black Friday / Cyber Monday

Update #2: Mugs and aprons have now bee listed. Click here to get them before they're all gone! UPDATE: Sales are in full swing. We've just added a few new items... ---Jennifer Trafton has illustrated 15 coloring pages that go along with the Slugs & Bugs Christmas album. They are available by download on their own, or bundled with the CD. Great for kids and adults alike. Click here. ---Ron Blocks Carter's Creek Christmas. Yep, that's right, a second album from Ron in as many months. This time he's doing Christmas tunes. ---Evie Coates painted four different 11'' x 14'' posters for the Burning Edge of Dawn release and they are now on sale individually or bundled together. ---Mugs! We haven't had a chance to list them yet (they just came in) but we'll have them available by the end of the day. Note: we also received the 2016 Membership Mugs, so you may want to wait until 2016 Memberships go on sale next week. ---Our favorite seamstress has also hand made a selection of Rabbit Room aprons! These were available at Hutchmoot and we'll get the rest of them listed in the store today. We've got a whole mess of stuff going on sale this weekend. If you're itching to start your Christmas shopping once the turkey is digested, check out the list below for a few ideas from the Rabbit Room Store. The following are on sale from the wee hours of Black Friday until midnight on Cyber Monday: BOOKS Warden_small---The paperback edition of The Warden and the Wolf King will ship in early December. Pre-order it this weekend for just $8 and finally complete that matching set you've been after. ---The hardback edition of The Warden and the Wolf King is now sold out and will not be reprinted. But we've got a pile of mildly scratched and lightly dented copies that need good homes. We're selling them off for just $5, and as a bonus, they are all signed! (Note that most merely have damaged dust jackets, but all are 100% readable.) MITH_book_small---The Monster in the Hollows limited edition hardcover. We've only got a few boxes of these left and they are 50% off. This book will probably be worth thousands of dollars one day when you are old and can't remember where you put it.     Pembrick_Scan_small---Pembrick's Creaturepedia. We've only got a few of these left and they are 50% off. This is your last chance to safely navigate the wilds of Aerwiar. To venture forth without the Creaturepedia in hand is the invite destruction.     Everlasting_small---Everlasting Is the Past by Walter Wangerin Jr. If you haven't yet read Rabbit Room Press's latest book, now's the perfect opportunity. Walt's memoir of his pastoral vocation is a must-read. It's 50% off for one weekend only.     Cymbal_Book_small---We're bundling together Ben Shive's Cymbal Crashing Clouds hardcover book and CD (+ download) for just $5. Yes, we've gone mad. Barking.       83eebfe20c056270bfa8ace9600cf66fddf507b0_1024x1024---The Molehill vols. 1 and 2 are just $5 each. That's like only a nickel for each short story, poem, essay, and illustration in there. The moles themselves are threatening to strike over the scandalous pay.     rise-and-fall-of-mount-majestic_zpszyo5h2ij.jpg_original_small---We got a handful of hardcover editions of Jennifer Trafton's The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic left and they are just $5. Bonus: they're all signed. Second bonus: Lickable---this book has been known to cause readers to lick it in giddy delight.     c513a28e6712eecc71498702171bb67dc12f4816_small---The Subjects with Objects hardcover art book will be 50% off, but still 100% awesome, and still 131% baffling, beautiful, odd, profound, poetic, and mysterious.     FiddlersGreen_small---We're bundling together the Fin's Revolution books (The Fiddler's Gun and Fiddler's Green) for just $15 and as a bonus we're throwing in a free paperback copy of The Timely Arrival of Barnabas Bead. If you don't like pirates, don't read these books. But seriously, who doesn't like pirates?   MUSIC BTLOG_CD_cover_d8639822-2ff7-4260-b8f1-6ab350cd86c0_small---Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God 2-CD set is just $8. It seems bad form to say anything funny about this one, so I'll just let you do the math.     7ab5224593af4756df517434_610x610_small---Andrew Peterson's The Burning Edge of Dawn Commentary Edition is 50% off. It's like a bonus feature on the extended edition of The Battle of Five Armies, only you don't have to suffer through a really bad movie to enjoy it.     500x500_small---Andrew Peterson's Clear to Venus CD is on sale for just $5. This album is about space travel. Not really.       Cymbal_CD_small---We're bundling together Ben Shive's Cymbal Crashing Clouds hardcover book and CD (+ download) for just $5. Yes, we've gone mad (again). Barking (again).     Leonard_CD_small-ALL Andrew Osenga CDs will be on sale for just $5. Just to be clear, that's $5 each, not $5 for all of Andy's music. We're aren't quite that mad (yet).     unnamed_2_small---ALL of Josh Garrels CDs are just $5 each. Josh is the special guest at this year's Behold the Lamb show at the Ryman. You're going to need these CDs.   OTHER STUFF Hutchmoot_2015_Poster_small---Get a bundle of all 4 Hutchmoot posters (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) for just $10. Don't worry, we won't ask if you actually came to all four of these Hutchmoots. We just want to make your walls pretty.     c513a28e6712eecc71498702171bb67dc12f4816_small---All Subjects with Objects art prints will be 30% off. Like I said, we're here to make your walls pretty. It's better than wallpaper, guaranteed.     p5582_column_grid_12---And here's our favorite: The Box of Unimaginable Mystery. For just $10 you'll receive a box jam-packed with surprises---it could be music, books, a mug, a piece of art, maybe even a rooster. The only thing that's certain is that it'll be a mystery until you open it. Don't even try to imagine what's inside. You can't.   And the following sales are in effect ONLY on Cyber Monday. download-ALL digital content is 50% off. Yep all of it. If you can download it, it's half price for 24 hours only.       andrew-peterson-rest-easy_small---The Light for the Lost Boy 2-CD Deluxe edition is just $5 (there are only a few of these collector's items left).       Christmas-Music---The Rabbit Room Christmas Bundle (digital only)---5 great albums for just $20 including: Christmas (by Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips), Behold the Lamb of God (by Andrew Peterson), December's Song (by Buddy Greene), Christmas Stories (by Jason Gray), and A Slugs & Bugs Christmas (by Randall Goodgame) Rabbit Room Gift Cards are also available, and who knows, we may just have a few more surprises in store between now and Christmas.

Don’t You Want to Thank Someone? (2012)

Happy Thanksgiving, Rabbit Roomers. I'm writing this from Shiloh, my parents' 150-year-old Florida Cracker house, where we Petersons plan to feast like vikings in celebration of God's goodness. My favorite song on the new record is called "Don't You Want to Thank Someone", as appropriate a Thanksgiving tune as I've ever written, so I thought I'd give away a few downloads. This first is of the acoustic demo (from The Lost Boy Demos, which is only available in the 2 disc deluxe edition). The second is a fairly embarrassing (to me, at least) soundboard bootleg of the song from one of the shows on the fall tour with Ben Shive and CALEB. I hope you like it in spite of my lumpy-throated singing toward the end. That song just got to me every night. Click here to download the zip file. Or you can listen here: Don't You Want to Thank Someone Don't You Want to Thank Someone I'm grateful for so much, but somewhere near the top of that list is YOU. Thanks for supporting me and mine this year. I leave you with a roundup of Thanksgiving-ish thoughts from some of our favorite writers. If you have more, post away. Oh, and for the last few years I've posted a poem called "Thanksgiving: A Confession and a Plea to the Almighty", which I've heard has been read aloud at family gatherings; strange but true. Here's a link to the old post, should you be interested. Now let the authorly wisdom commence.

Thanksgiving and Desire, Ordinary Time and Advent, and C. S. Lewis Week

I have always thought it a happy coincidence that in my country Thanksgiving Day occurs the fourth Thursday in November. That same Thursday happens usually to be the last Thursday in Trinity Season, at the end of what the Church sometimes calls Ordinary Time. That makes it the last Thursday before the season of Advent, the first Sunday of which is the New Year’s Day. As such, the American Thanksgiving Day is an ideal occasion to reflect upon blessings given us in Ordinary Time before proceeding into Advent and the New Year. This summing up of Ordinary Time in Thanksgiving, by another happy coincidence, falls somewhere between November 22 and 29---a week I sometimes call “C. S. Lewis Week.” The earliest day on which Thanksgiving Day may fall is November 22, the anniversary of Lewis’s death; the last day on which Thanksgiving may fall is November 28, the eve Lewis’s birthday. So just as the approach of Thanksgiving Day reminds me that a resetting of the Church calendar is just around the corner, it also reminds me that I may be overdue for some extended meditation on some essay or story by Lewis. I give thanks for Lewis every time I read him, which is often. I give thanks for him because he has taught me much of what I know about how to give thanks, and to Whom I give thanks. Take, for example, this passage from Letters to Malcolm:

Gratitude exclaims, very properly, “How good of God to give me this.” Adoration says, “What must the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!” One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun . . .

Funny Things Are Everywhere: A Thanksgiving Meditation

A week or so ago, Travis Prinzi posted on Facebook a bedtime prayer his young daughter prayed a week or two ago:

God is good, God is great.
Funny things are everywhere.
You need to go to sleep.

There’s a whole worldview in that little prayer.

I am thankful for jokes and funny things. I believe they represent [...]

Thanksgiving: A Confession and a Plea to the Almighty

Happy Thanksgiving, Rabbit Roomers. I posted this poem last year and thought I'd dust it off again this week. Reading it just now for the first time since last November, I can't decide if I like it more or less than I did when I wrote it. I remember that I was thinking of a poem by Berryman that I once heard Garrison Keillor read (I can't remember which), but I gave up on all that by the tenth line and let the thing go wherever it wanted. Whether or not you enjoy the poem, I pray your time with family and/or friends is peaceful and that you remember in all your feasting that it's but a shadow of what is to come.

THANKSGIVING (A CONFESSION AND A PLEA TO THE ALMIGHTY) O God, Magnificent Confounder, Boundless in mercy and power, Be near me in my apathy. Be near me, Savage Dreamer, Bright Igniter of Exploding Suns, But not too near. I’d like to live, By your grace, just long enough To taste another perfect steak. And to see my children marry, And, perhaps, to pen a memoir. Great redeemer of my lechery, Bright Dawn of Blessed Hope, Lay waste to every prideful thing, Each black infraction of your law. O Swirling Storm of Holy Anger, Be patient with me. I’m certain I will make a second gluttonous Trip to the festal spread of food. And I might as well admit, O King Omniscient, I plan to make a third.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Rabbit Room (2014)

I'm writing from a porch swing at Shiloh, watching my brother Pete as he sifts through several boxes of his old keepsakes. Every now and then he calls his wife over to look at some ridiculous or awesome piece of his past. (Ridiculous = his unopened Star Wars action figures; awesome = an original reel of the Return of the Jedi trailer.) The turkey's in the oven, the Macy's Day parade is on, and the sheep are bleating in the pasture behind me. There's some terrible stuff happening in the world right now--and some terrible stuff in your lives, I'm sure--but today is a day to direct our attention instead to all the good and beautiful things that undergird the broken parts, like an underpainting that refuses to be marred even as the artist touches and retouches the imperfections. We wanted to share a few items for your perusal in case you check in before or after your post-feast nap. Here's a brand new live performance of "Don't You Want to Thank Someone," which we recorded at North Wind Manor. It features my pals Nate Dugger on keys, James Gregory on upright bass, and my son Asher on percussion. Here's a short, thoughtful piece by Zach Franzen about instilling a sense of gratitude in our children. This is a Thanksgiving poem I wrote a few years back, which some folks have read aloud at their gatherings. It's weird, but whatever. And if you want something a thousand times more beautiful, here's a benediction by Robert Farrar Capon (which you Hutchmooters will remember Pete reading before the final meal). And finally, we present a fun song from our friends at the Tokens Show (a live radio show in the spirit of A Prairie Home Companion), called "Thank You, Thanksgiving!"

A Blessing from The Supper of the Lamb

Of all the books I've read this year, there's a single standout that has found a comfortable home among all time favorites like Godric, Jayber Crow, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Lord of the Rings. It was written by an Anglican priest named Robert Farrar Capon, it's called The Supper of the Lamb, and it is, of all things, a cookbook---or a "culinary reflection" as the subtitle would have it. Some of you may recall that Evie read a passage from it before Saturday's dinner at Hutchmoot 2012, and one day either Jonathan Rogers or I will give a full account of its greatness. Today is not that day and this is not that post. But I'd consider it unforgivable to let Thanksgiving week and its many feasts go by without a mention here of so fitting a book. If there was ever such a thing as a "Thanksgiving book" then surely this is it. Equal parts cookbook, comedy, theology, liturgy, and poetry, it's a book that somehow encompasses almost every aspect of life, and the life to come, and does it all within the context of food. I'm going to shut up now and quote a piece of it so you can see what I mean (it bears mentioning that this passage follows immediately upon an argument for the joys of belching and a citation to be read over the magnificence of baking soda). Travel safely this week. Give thanks. Enjoy the feast. From Chapter 16 of The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon "For all its greatness (trust me---I am the last man on earth to sell it short), the created order cries out for futher greatness still. The most splendid dinner, the most exquisite food, the most gratifying company, arouse more appetites than they satisfy. They do not slake man's thirst for being; they whet it beyond all bounds. Dogs eat to give their bodies rest; man dines and sets his heart in motion. All tastes fade, of course, but not the taste for greatness they inspire; each love esacpes us, but not the longing it provokes for a better convivium, a higher session. We embrace the world in all its glorious solidity, yet it struggles in our very arms, declares itself a pilgrim world, and, through the lattices and windows of its nature, discloses cities more desirable still. You indict me, no doubt, as an incurable romantic. I plead guilty without contest. I see no other explanation of what we are about. Why do we marry, why take friends and lovers, why give ourselves to music, painting, chemistry, or cooking? Out of simple delight in the resident goodness of creation, of course; but out of more than that, too. Half of earth's gorgeousness lies hidden in the glimpsed city it longs to become. For all its rooted loveliness, the world has no continuing city here; it is an outlandish place, a foreign home, a session in via to a better version of itself---and it is our glory to see it so and thirst until Jerusalem comes home at last. We were given appetittes, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great." And, finally, a benediction from Chapter 15: "I wish you well. May your table be graced with lovely women and good men. May you drink well enough to drown the envy of youth in the satisfactions of maturity. May your men wear their weight with pride, secure in the knowledge that they have at last become considerable. May they rejoice that they will never again be taken for callow, black-haired boys. And your women? Ah! Women are like cheese strudels. When first baked, they are crisp and fresh on the outside, but the filling is unsettled and indigestible; in age, the crust may not be so lovely, but the filling comes at last into its own. May you relish them indeed. May we all sit long enough for reserve to give way to ribaldry and for gallantry to grow upon us. May there be singing at our table before the night is done, and old, broad jokes to fling at the stars and tell them we are men. We are great, my friend; we shall not be saved for trampling that greatness under foot ... Come then; leap upon these mountains, skip upon these hills and heights of earth. The road to Heaven does not run from the world but through it. The longest Session of all is no discontinuation of these sessions here, but a lifting of them all by priestly love. It is a place for men, not ghosts---for the risen gorgeousness of the New Earth and for the glorious earthiness of the True Jerusalem. Eat well then. Between our love and His Priesthoood, He makes all things new. Our Last Home will be home indeed." Amen.

Martin and Marco Part Fourteen: The Curse

Check out part fourteen of Martin and Marco in the Webtoons challenge league! Each viewsharerate, and like is a vote for Martin and Marco to become a featured comic and supports further volumes of the Dragon Lord Saga! 14 Click here to read Martin and Marco in the Challenge League!

2015 Gift Exchange: Names Drawn!

If you signed up for the 2015 Rabbit Room Christmas Exchange, you should have received an email this morning with the name of your recipient. If you didn't receive this email, log in to Elfster and check your account. The site does allow for late sign-ups, so if you still want to join, go ahead and jump in on the fun. We're putting a hard deadline of tomorrow evening on sign-ups, though. Click here to sign up through Elfster or view your match. And don't forget to check out the Rabbit Room's Black Friday deals in your shopping :)

Andy Gullahorn Sneaks Up Behind You with a New Record

Andy Gullahorn's previous life as a spy has enabled him to somehow run an entire Kickstarter campaign without us knowing. Luckily, we uncovered his schemes three days before he could complete his plot. We love surprises, though, so being surprised with a new Gully record is okay with us. Check out the Kickstarter video below and jump on board while you can.

The Harpooner

In his book The Pastor, Eugene Peterson compares the life of a pastor to the role of a harpooner on a nineteenth-century whaling ship. A harpooner was the member of the crew whose task was to throw his harpoon at the whale when the ship was close enough. While the rest of the crew struggled against the wind and waves, trying to get the beast into range, the harpooner waited, conserving his strength for the perfect moment. Peterson quotes Moby Dick in which Melville writes “to insure the greatest efficiency in the dart, the harpooners of this world must start to their feet out of idleness, and not out of toil.” Peterson writes “History is a novel of spiritual conflict. The church is a whaleboat. In such a world, noise is inevitable, and immense energy is expended. But if there is no harpooner in the boat, there will be no proper finish to the chase. Or if the harpooner is exhausted, having abandoned his assignment and become an oarsman, he will not be ready and accurate when it is time to throw his javelin.”

C. S. Lewis Doodle

Animated doodle videos to accompany audio lectures have become increasingly popular in the past few years, so much so that even C.S. Lewis is getting in on the action, posthumously. I discovered this YouTube channel CS Lewis Doodle through my friend Glynn Young's Saturday Good Reads. Check out one of the videos below:

Sad Stories Told for Laughs: Buddy Greene

Buddy Greene has been a working musician for over forty years. Like Flannery O'Connor, he hails from Middle Georgia, but unlike Flannery O'Connor, he has spent most of his adult life in Nashville. He first came here to play in Jerry Reed's band. You remember Jerry Reed, no doubt, from the movie Smokey and the Bandit (he was Snowman). Buddy also toured for many years with the Gaithers. He is probably best known as a harmonica genius, but he is also a great guitar picker and singer and has released a dozen or more solo albums. For my money, however, the most remarkable thing about Buddy Greene is his joy, which is as apparent in every interaction and obvious on stage. I started to describe Buddy's joy as "irrepressible," but in the interview below he speaks very honestly about a time his joy was repressed. Which is to say, he is also an authentic and humble man. Though I don't see or talk to Buddy all that often, I am encouraged and edified every time I do. I want Buddy Greene to be my mentor, but I don't really know how to ask him. Thanks, Buddy, for being on “Sad Stories Told for Laughs.” I’m glad to be here. You’ve been performing for a long time. You’ve told me a couple of crazy stories about your early career—including a time you played in my hometown and were glad to get out of the Duck’s Breath Saloon alive. I trust that you find it easier to maintain your dignity now that you’ve been at it four decades. But from time to time do you still experience those moments of mortification that seem to be just a part of life for younger performers who are still trying to establish their careers? Oh, actually, those moments never stop. They happen so often that I just forget about most of them. But there’s one that I love to recall because it sums up my career. It happened about ten years ago.