Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Thoughts on the tsunami

I must confess that my initial sadness about the tsunami devastation in the Pacific has been largely replaced with frustration about a number of things. Things like religious opportunists using tragedy as a vehicle for their callous pronouncements of God's judgement or their doomsday-anticipating calls for "wretched urgency." Or pietistic appeals to prayer that neglect to provide any sort of physical relief to those who are suffering. Or quibbling over "how much grief can honestly be shown" to those half a world away. I'm also frustrated by the fact that U.S. media seems to give celebrities affected by the tsunami an amount of coverage comparable to that given to the 100,000+ nameless (at least from the U.S. perspective) dead. Or that the reactions to foreign criticisms of U.S. aid (regardless of whether those criticisms are valid) have often been vengeful statements of "well, how would they like it if we stopped giving altogether!" or "how dare they complain -- don't they know we saved their tails in [insert name of war]!!" The list could go on.

But, following confession, the next step is repentance. So instead of being frustrated, I'm trying to put those energies to better use. I know many out in blogdom have already contributed to any one of the numerous worthwhile charities that are providing disaster relief. But if you haven't, may I commend the following organizations? Each is making efforts to display Christ's love by providing relief to those suffering from the tsunami.
And that's just for starters. So please consider helping out in some way.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Christmas Day has come and gone, and thankfully, I've been able to minimize use of the internet over the long holiday weekend. Which is good, because it means more time was spent with family. Unfortunately for the home reader, though, it means that many blogworthy items were never recorded for posterity. I hope you'll understand.

One cool thing I noticed on Christmas Eve was that little Methodist churches are great for dusting off under-used verses of old hymns. For example, the following verse of "O Come All Ye Faithful" doesn't even appear in the hymnal at our church (maybe it sounds too creed-like?), but it appears in all its glory in the UMC hymnal.
True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;
Very cool. Three cheers for solid yet under-appreciated verses!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Recommended listening

FYI: Starting today, Regent Radio is airing N.T. Wright's 4-part series of messages on "Jesus and the Victory of God." Do check it out. Very excellent stuff on Jesus' ministry and His announcement of the kingdom, among other related topics.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Feliz Navidad

There is a Venezuelan family in our apartment complex that we've known almost since the very first day we became a CARES Team. The daughter is fluent in both Spanish and English, and has become a sort of unoffical translator for the office staff, as well as the rest of the apartment community. She and her mother attended my very first English class two years ago, and they've shown up to almost every event we've sponsored since then. We've gotten to know them fairly well, and see them often. The daughter was in Kids' Club up until this year, and even comes some Fridays to help out now that she is in middle school. However, the family has had their share of ups and downs: the youngest child was severely burned about a year ago, but thankfully has since recovered. Recently, they had to downsize to a smaller apartment after some financial difficulty. Just this weekend, their apartment was broken into and they had to move-- the second time they've switched apartments in the past few months.

Around Thanksgiving, the new general manager of our complex, along with the business manager, approached me about helping out this particular family for Christmas. I was surprised and excited that they had initiated the idea.

When I went to ask the family if we could give them presents for Christmas, the mother almost started crying-- and so did I. She said, "El SeƱor le bendice," and I answered in whatever broken Spanish I could muster. It didn't matter, though, because there was an understanding that day that removed all language barriers.

The staff has been raising money over the past month, and today I got to go shopping for the father, mother, 12 year old daughter, and 2 year old son. I have never had so much fun in Target in all my life! Mothers who were frantically shopping for last minute gifts paused to offer me advice. The girl at the cash register couldn't find a price on one particular toy and rang it up as $.99! And Kroger added an extra $20 bucks to the gift card we bought them. I cannot wait to deliver the presents!

The phrase "incarnational ministry" is thrown around so often these days-- but it is the only way I know to describe what we do with Apartment Life. It is sharing in both sorrow and joy-- crying with someone who has lost a loved one, giving a child a consoling hug after a bad day at school, praying with a mother whose lost her job the same week her son was arrested, and rejoicing with gladness at the goodness of God when he provides for those in need.

This is how Christ is made known among the nations-- one family at a time.

more on "Justification"

This post by Peter Leithart is very interesting. The way in which the Reformers used and understood the term "justify" is at odds with the Patristic usage. Yet, as Leithart notes, "the idea seems to be that the Reformers find the patristic usage acceptable, based on the analogy of faith and the overall sense of Scripture. In short, they do not dispute about words, but about the substance of the doctrine of justification."
The Homestar Runner Wiki

(Thanks to my friend Carter, who pointed me towards this goldmine of obsessive fandom.)
Tech ends the football season on a high note.

(If only our offense could have played this well during the rest of the season!)

Friday, December 17, 2004

Speaking of Narnia

I've decided that reading the Chronicles of Narnia in chronological order (i.e., starting with The Magician's Nephew) is simply not acceptable. I have always preferred the original publication order (i.e., starting with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and have always read them this way. (I am aware that Lewis himself made the chronological recommendation, albeit in the later years of his life. Yet, he had apparently planned a significant revision to the books which he died before completing.) As for me and my house, we shall always read them in the correct order, even though publishers have uniformly settled on the new-fangled version.

(Plus, the cover art from some of the newer versions is just downright scary!)
As expected, the Return of the King: Extended Edition is pretty sweet. We watched disc 1 last night. The extended and deleted scenes were great and really helped to add continuity and depth, although at least one moment seemed just a wee bit extreme (two words: skull avalanche!). It also has some easter egg goodness, and it even came with a $5/$10 rebate coupon (depending on the version).

I'm glad Peter Jackson has chosen to make these Extended Editions so cool. The whole trilogy had so much potential to go awry, but the films are great. (Tolkien purists may, of course, disagree.)

I can only hope that the planned Narnia film(s) fare as well.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Public Service

Yesterday, the tollbooth lady hassled me over the validity of my damaged dollar bill, which lacked a decent-sized chunk from one of the corners. (Admittedly, the once-small chunk had grown as a result of my unsuccessful attempt to convince a vending machine to accept it.) I managed to persuade her that it was legal, so I think I'm good. (If the Feds show up at my door, I'll know why.)

In the interest of the public good, I will now cite relevant information from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing:
What is mutilated currency?

Currency notes which are:

NOT CLEARLY more than one-half of the original note and/or,
in such condition that the value is questionable and special examination is required to determine its value.


Any badly soiled, dirty, defaced, disintegrated, limp, torn, worn, out currency note that is CLEARLY MORE than one-half of the original note, and does not require special examination to determine its value. These notes should be exchanged through your local bank and processed by the Federal Reserve Bank.

"Mutilated currency" must be processed through the Treasury Department to determine its value, etc. But currency damaged through normal wear and tear retains its full value. So the next time you get hassled at the toll plaza, don't worry. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Christmas Time is here ...

For the last five Christmases, Allison and I have had the privilege of hitting the road to see Andrew Peterson's Christmas show. For all but the first year, Andrew has put on a special concert in Nashville with an amazing lineup of special guests. (Past performances have included Alison Krauss and guitarist Ron Block of Union Station fame, Fernando Ortega and Silers Bald.) This year, Andrew's show was at the historic Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ole Opry. Over the years, that performance hall has seen far more than its fair share of phenomenal musicians come through its venerated doors. The location was quite appropriate for the display of talent that Andrew P. assembled for Sunday night.

As with past Nashville shows, the night began with an "In the Round" portion, with Andrew introducing each artist (usually humorously), who then played one or two songs. (The first few acts only got to play one song each. I'm not sure if that was intentional, or due to time constraints.) Here is a brief synopsis:

  • Andrew began the evening by playing "Let There Be Light," which was very appropriate, considering the location, with its references to Chet Atkins and Bill Monroe. Even more appropriate is the theme of the artist, made in the image of His maker, using his gift to sub-create.

  • Jonathan and Amanda Noel, veterans of previous tours with Andrew, performed a song based on the Magnificat.

  • Derek Webb, whom Andrew introduced as a "little man" (apparently after promising not to call him a little man), played "I Want a Broken Heart" from his new (excellent) album.

  • Derek remained standing to sing with wife Sandra McCracken on a gorgeous rendition of her "Age After Age." The song itself is fantastic, but Derek's BGV's push it over the top.

  • Randall Goodgame and wife Amy performed "I Did Not Catch Her Name," which previously appeared on ("a band you may have heard of") Caedmon's Call's Share the Well. It was quite a treat hearing it sung by its writer. The song also appears on Randall's new disc War and Peace, which is phenomenal. Buy yours today.

  • Andrew Osenga was introduced as the newest addition to "a band you may have heard of" -- after Derek "got fired." Andy O. played "High School Band." I must mention that Mr. Osenga has got some serious vocal power.

  • Jill Phillips and husband Andy Gullahorn (there sure were a lot of Andy's that night) performed a new one entitled "Nobody's Got It All Together." Andrew P. also made a crack about Jill not using her husband's last name, remembering halfway through that the Gullahorn family was in attendance.

  • Andy Gullahorn played "Holy Flakes," a whimsical number about an enterprising grocery store manager who markets a cereal "endorsed" by John Paul II himself. Gullahorn's immense guitar skill is matched only by his wonderful songwriting talent and his ability to deliver humor in an extremely deadpan manner.

  • Phil Madeira, accomplished and legendary studio musician, played a song about his guardian angel -- the ghost of Johnny Cash. He also performed a bittersweet yet hopeful song about his first Christmas without his wife.

  • Buddy Miller, who played back-up during Phil's songs, played a couple of tunes in place of wife Julie, who was scheduled to appear but was prevented by illness. In honor of his wife, he played two of her songs, the second of which ("All My Tears") was written as a response to the death of the great Mark Heard. I was unfamiliar with the Millers' work, but I was thoroughly floored by Buddy's passion, in both singing and guitar playing.

  • Pierce Pettis, who is absolutely one of my favorite songwriters, played a couple of songs in between his humorous mutterings and ramblings. ("I'm glad to see that you're happy to be here tonight. I'm here to put an end to that.") He expressed his weariness with most contemporary celebrations of the Christmas season, wondering why anyone would want to record yet another Christmas album ("Present company excluded.") He also noted the many extrabiblical ways in which Christmas is celebrated ("manger displays featuring Frosty adoring the Christ-child") and the state of most Christmas music these days ("stuff like ... Madonna and Ice T singing 'Little Drummer Boy'"). More seriously, he lamented the loss of Advent as a season of anticipation. He played the somber yet hopeful "If It Wasn't For the Night," which he co-wrote with David Wilcox (who I hope will end up on the roster for next year!). He also performed "Miriam," about the Hebrew mother of Jesus, as contrasted with the Westernized version appearing in popular tradition.

  • Phil Keaggy. I'm not sure what to say about this amazing little guy. He's definitely one of the world's best guitarists. He's also really impressive live, since he lays down looping tracks on his guitar to create a one-man band. I've seen many other artists do the same kind of thing, but Keaggy does it best. From our seats, we were amused to see several of the other artists peering from backstage to witness the fretwork pyrotechnics.

After a brief intermission, Andrew and friends returned to perform Behold the Lamb of God, Andrew's Christmas album, in its entirety. If you do not have this album, I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you aren't familiar with Andrew's music, I will forgive your ignorance this once and humbly request that you give him a try. During the intermission, reflecting on how awesome the Round was, I actually wondered how much I was going to enjoy the Christmas performance. As many times as I've heard it and seen it live, I was actually afraid that it might be a bit of a let down this time. What was I thinking? It truly was amazing, and Andy pulled out all the stops this year. The sheer talent in the backing band is more than enough to inspire awe:
  • Phil M. on accordian and lap steel
  • Phil K. on lead electric guitar
  • A string quartet (led by Marcus Myers, of Silers Bald fame)
  • Garrett Buell, of "a band you may have heard of," on drums
  • Andrew O. on guitars and one of the most enormous pedal/effects boards I've ever seen
  • Kyle Reeder on banjo and mandolin
  • Steve Hindalong, producer and former member of The Choir, on percussion
  • The incomparable Ben Shive on piano, organ, and dulcimer
  • and the legendary Gabe Scott on guitars and dulcimer
And of course, the actual vocalists were great, with Andy trading out lead vocal duties with Randall, Derek, Jill and Pierce. And BGV's galore. As Andy noted, even if he hadn't been there, the remaining ensemble could have put on a remarkable show. I remember five years ago, when I heard that Andy was trying to finish up this crazy/cool idea of doing a Christmas show with all original material, telling the story of Christ, beginning in the Old Testament and culminating in His birth. It has been quite a privilege to see it unfold over these years, and I can only hope that these Nashville shows continue to be an annual Christmas tradition.

Friday, December 10, 2004

pretty niiiiice

Randall Goodgame's website has received a facelift, to coincide with the release of his new album War and Peace. I cannot wait to get my hands on this one. Also, the website promises to have some great things in store:
I'll be updating the site every week for the next year with new pictures, journals, free live show downloads, studio recordings that didn't make the record, and other fun stuff like that. Or let's say this...if Strongbad has answered an email that week (, I'll be comitted to putting something new up on the site - I'm planning on bringing my camera out on the road and taking pictures of the crowd, so be sure to comb your hair:)
What a commitment! Be sure to check it out (no seriously, check it out!) often. And buy that album.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

"Excuse me, where would I get a book?"

We all know it, but it is still sad to see in print.

Kids just don't know how to find trusted sources, to do library research. I remember a debate we had with our high school teachers on whether or not we could use online magazine articles as references. These days, I've heard kids are attempting to use blogs as reliable sources!

Although the article lists a myriad of college professors as "experts" (including a few from GT), I also noticed they quoted Dr. Rog, my old Leadership Studies prof at BSC, who is now Dean of Students at Rollins:

"It's a paradox to some that so many young Americans can be so accepting of online information whose origin is unclear.

Skepticism ... is part of their lives, yet they tend to believe things fairly readily because it appears on the Internet," said Roger Casey, who studies youths and pop culture at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

School's out for Christmas!

Today I finished my second semester of graduate school: 2 education courses, an 18th Cent. Brit Lit course (woo-hoo! Jane Austen for course credit!), a course on Special Ed for all Teachers, and a 6-week middle school practicum.

Phew! I'm glad that's over.

I get a whole month off before I start the spring semester: a 15-week high school practicum and 2 classes -- IT and a Psych course.

Now I get on to more urgent tasks, like: cleaning and organizing the apartment before our guests come next week, writing Christmas cards, a long-overdue dentist appointment, planning our apartment complex's Holiday Open House and soliciting vendors for prizes for said event, reading all those books I've been looking at longingly all semester, baking holiday goodies, and of course, blogging. I have a couple of posts saved up...

A Vote for Zoe is a Vote for...Dog!

Make Gaines' sisters' pup Small Dog of the Week!

Turn that lead into a landslide here. Zoe the Dog. Isn't she adorable?

(I know, I know, it stinks 'cause to vote you have to sign up to an e-mail list.) Well, just use your g-mail account like I did. Then, you can cancel the newsletter. If that doesn't get the e-mails out of your box, it won't matter, b/c you have so much stinkin' storage!

(Gaines' edit: Maybe this picture will help convince you to do the right thing.)

Dude, where's my grant money?

A linguist from the University of Pittsburgh has published a scholarly paper deconstructing and deciphering the word "dude," contending it is much more than a catchall for lazy, inarticulate surfers, skaters, slackers and teenagers.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

mischief management

Once again, I am faced with the task of finding the best way to "deal with" the Watchtower publications that occasionally end up in the office break room.

Choices, choices.

Update (12/8/04) -- Well, it looks like someone beat me to the punch on this one, between the time I got here this morning (when the offending material was still on the break room table) and 9 am (when I observed said material in the trash can). In addition to figuring out who left the materials, I now am curious who in the office would be annoyed enough to chunk them. (I have a feeling the suspect pool for the latter is much, much greater.)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

"At least there's basketball season"

The above phrase is often muttered by disenchanted GA Tech fans after a less-than-satisfying football season. This year, however, there is quite a ring of truth to it. As is evidenced by Tech's 87-49 clobbering of UGA. This win is pretty sweet, in light of the heartbreaking football loss to the Dawgs last weekend, as well as the overtime b-ball loss against them last season. We've definitely got a good chance of repeating our NCAA tourney fortunes this year. Hopefully, with one more win than last year.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

In Against Christianity, Peter Leithart (borrowing argumentation from Philip Rieff) describes how, historically, cultures have had a sociological "priesthood" that marks out and maintains the boundaries of which behaviors are permitted and which are prohibited. This role was fulfilled by the actual priesthood of the Christian Church for centuries, but they have gradually surrendered their authority. In contemporary post-Christian society, no priestly class has arisen to maintain these barriers; rather, an "anti-culture" has developed in which the lack of a social priesthood is celebrated, replaced by a non-moral world where all virtues derive from within the individual.

Unfortunately, as Leithart laments, not only has the Church lost its position as a priesthood for the surrounding culture, but she has also failed to maintain a priesthood within her own society, preferring to adopt the prevailing "anti-culture." He writes:
Where are the priests? Who is manning the boundaries?

And the answer is that this dimension of pastoral ministry has all but evaporated. Pastors see themselves as proponents of Christianity, teaching "religious" things or assisting people on their personal spiritual journeys. Pastors have lost any sense that they are overseers of a new city and that they therefore have responsibilities for governance.

In part, this is an effect of the degeneration of the notion of pastoral vocation. If the tension between duty and desire has lost its existential edge in the twenty-first century, it is not because desire has become more vigorous. Instead, the tension has eased because duty has been collapsed into desire. Since Hume, moderns have been forbidden to derive an "ought" from an "is," but it has become second nature to derive an "ought" from a "feels." The consequences lie strewn on the surface of today's social landscape, too obvious to require enumeration.
Historically, a pastoral candidate's desires often had little to do with the Church's call to serve in pastoral office. Far from seeking out positions of leadership, the greatest of the church fathers resisted with all their strength. Augustine had to be dragged into the cathedral for his ordination to the bishopric of Hippo. When he was a deacon, John Chrystostom made a pact with a friend that they would enter the priesthood together, but when the friend went forward John was nowhere to be found. Martin of Tours was carried from his cell and conducted to his ordination under guard. Gregory the Great, so we are told by his earliest biographer, fled from Rome to hide in the woods when rumors began to circulate that he was being considered for bishop. A humble anchorite saw in a vision where Gregory was hiding, and the Romans trooped out to bring him back for ordination. Calvin was persuaded to remain in Geneva only because Farel's warnings made leaving even more terrifying then staying. So common was such resistance to ordination that as late as the nineteenth century the patriarchs-elect of Alexandria were led to their ordination wearing shackles.

In the modern church, calling has been reduced to little more than a strong desire to hold a position of ecclesiastical leadership. The terror of responsibility for the Church described by many of the leading pastoral writers of earlier centuries is seldom expressed during ordination exams. Candidates with even slight reservations about entering the ministry are treated with more than a little suspicion.

This dramatic shift in the Church's understanding of calling is part and parcel of what David F. Wells has identified as the professionalization of the clergy, the reduction of ministry to technical and managerial competence. Pastoral ministry, Wells charges, has been detached from its theological moorings, and has become another career option for the upwardly mobile "helping professional." One might well recoil from a duty imposed by divine vocation; but one aggressively markets oneself for a career. It is no accident that so many pastors disdain the clerical collar, which is, after all, the collar of the slave.

The Church will find herself in a healthier, if more intense and serious, condition when pastoral candidates begin again to appear for their ordination exams wearing chains.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Happy Birthday, Erin!

In honor of my youngest sister-in-law's tremendous artistic talent, I give her the gift of decorating her own cake!

Enjoy! We hope you've had (and are having) a very awesome birthday!

World on Fire

I think this video idea is extremely cool.

It would be nice if Christian artists could think in this direction, especially those CCM record companies who make all those videos that no one sees. I mean, really, who watches them? (Where do they even broadcast them?)

Notice the scripture verse on the house of the single mother in Ghana:
Psalm 118:5-12

Notice the lyrics as well:
Hearts break hearts mend love still hurts
Visions clash planes crash still theres talk of
saving souls still colds closing in on us

"Let's just put sentences into their heads. That's the gospel." What about mercy, justice? Feeding widows and orphans? If the world is picking up on this incongruity between what the church says and what it does, why can't we?

I think, if the world's on fire, then Christ quenched the blaze on the cross, and we, the church, are called to help put out the last of the flames...
Apparently Launchcast has added some new artists and albums to their repertoire over the last week or so. Over the past couple of days, I've really enjoyed listening to Counting Crows, Burlap to Cashmere, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Guns N'Roses and David Wilcox's Big Horizon.

Apparently, I'm well on my way to having a "Fanatic" rating level.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Methodist jury convicts lesbian minister

Good job, United Methodist Church (in which I was baptized and raised). Of course, the problem of lesbian pastors would be a non-issue if you stopped ordaining women.

how appropriate

During my daily commutes this week, I've been listening to a series of N.T. Wright lectures on "Creation and New Creation in the New Testament." (Courtesy of Regent Radio.) They are quite good, as expected. Perhaps these lectures have raised my awareness, but I've been more prone to notice the fixation on "heaven as our home" within pop Christian-speak. Departed saints are "going home." This world is "not my home." Christ will one day come "to take me home." And so on. And of course, the New Testament does employ the language of "home" to describe being with the Lord after death, ("we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.") especially in contrast to the current fallen state of creation. But as usually employed by Evangelicals, the language of "home" becomes a spiritual reality that is completely divorced from our current existence. "Going home" acts as code for the total escape from the corrupt, evil world. This misused language (and the attitude the fuels it) sadly neglects God's promise to redeem the creation completely from sin's corruption. Our ultimate "home" is the new heaven and new earth, which (in some translations) Peter refers to as "the home of righteousness." Although altered and redeemed, the new heaven and earth are not a complete discontinuity from the original creation.

As it so happens, the following entry at Societas Christiana addresses a similar concern. As Tim Enloe notes, much current Evangelical thought on both the current creation and the afterlife echoes a dualism more at home within paganism than within the pages of Scripture.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Lessons learned

When sending a document to another department for review and comment, never forget to keep a backup copy for yourself.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

As one who frequents various electronic message boards and forums, I really appreciated these Top Ten suggestions for "more digestible" theological discussion on the internet.

Although in no particular order, number 1 seems to be the most important to remember:
1. The characters appearing on your screen were at some point generated by human fingers that were fearfully and wonderfully made by a marvelously working God who has made us in His image. Treating another human being in a contemptible way is an offense against God the Maker.
Thanks to Jason for posting these excellent (and quite convicting) points.

Monday, November 29, 2004

It's not a myth -- I've seen it!

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are quickly back in the swing of work and school. Rather than write out a complete blog on our holiday travels, I think I'll shamelessly substitute my sister's account, which covers many of the same highlights. Our events weren't exactly the same as hers, since (for some reason) we weren't invited to dinner with Mike's family. But that's okay. We did get to experience the dog mayhem, the tasty foods, and the samurai sword. We also watched Spiderman with my Grandmother and her brother on Thursday night. That was fun.

One noteworthy point at which our holiday travels diverged from Amy's was Thanksgiving dinner with Allison's extended family at her aunt's new house in Montgomery. Sure, I could talk about the cute children or the pony rides (!). But I'd rather talk about ...

The turducken.

Allison's aunt had a turducken for Thanksgiving dinner! Just a few short years ago, I was convinced that those things were a hoax of some kind. But now I know better. Much better. It was so awesome, stuffed with all kinds of breading, crawfish and cajun spices. I cannot sing its praises more highly. Unfortunately, there were no leftovers to be taken. But, there's always Christmas ...

(Amy, that's two consecutive plugs for your blog! I promise not to make this a recurring theme. Maybe.)

Thursday, November 25, 2004

How to Kill a Mockingbird

This animated short defies any attempt at explanation. Just watch it. (It's got pirates AND ninjas, if that helps entice you.) Note, it may take a minute to load, as it is of a decent length. But worth every minute invested.

Special thanks to sister Amy for the heads-up on this one. I'm now being assaulted by Zoe, the Redd family dog, who insists that I throw stuffed animals to her. So I'll be off. Happy Thanksgiving, and all that good stuff(ing).

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Thanksgiving Wheels

And they were all in one...Civic?

Team Redd now has a new family car! I just drove home a green 2001 Honda Civic. Thank you State Farm insurance...and to the awesome guy who went to all the auto auctions and finally found this one for us. Woo-hoo! (It actually looks just like this other used Civic ...but, thankfully, was a lot cheaper!)

Today was also my last day of student-teaching until January, so I have double reasons to celebrate. Actually, I found out about the car while at school, so I celebrated with my students! They got home-baked cookies-- I got a car AND the cookies. (I think I got the better deal.)

In the spirit of the holiday: I'm thankful that because of that crazy wreck, we now have a car that has half the miles and is five years newer than the car we had before! I'm also thankful that I was forced learn to depend on everyone around me to get wherever I needed to be. I certainly got to spend lots of quality time with friends from my grad school cohort, and relived the summer days of riding with my dear husband to work. And...I'm thankful that I now have the time and the means of transportation to go to Curves again. After this week's celebrations, I'll need the regular workouts even more!
I really enjoyed this interview with Andrew Peterson, about art, the music industry, his new album, the lasting impact of Rich Mullins, and of course, cheese.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Too much of a good thing?

Thanksgiving began early this year. On Friday, we had our company Thanksgiving lunch/teambuilding day. I don't know how well the team was built, but the lunch was pretty great. It was mostly potluck, and I apparently work with a number of folks who have been blessed with above-average culinary skills. Most importantly, one of my co-workers (in addition to having played football for both Tech and the 49ers) has a catering business on the side, and he brought the turkey and dressing, including a mouth-watering Cajun dressing.

But that's not all. We also had our Apartment Life pre-Thanksgiving Potluck on Saturday night, and several of our neighbors brought some yummy dishes. (These helped to soothe the pain of the Tech game that afternoon, as did Auburn's Iron Bowl victory.)

So, I have just a few days to recover before the Thanksgiving (proper) onslaught. Because we are fortunate enough to live fairly close to several sets of relatives, we are going to hit three Thanksgiving meals in two days. I'm already planning the massive exercise initiative that must commence next week, lest I need to shop for larger clothes.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Lewis, against Docetism

"You are silly, Bree," said Aravis.

"By the Lion's Mane, Tarkheena, I'm nothing of the sort," said Bree indignantly. "I have a proper respect for myself and for my fellow horses, that's all."

"Bree," said Aravis, who was not very interested in the cut of his tail, "I've been wanting to ask you something for a long time. Why do you keep swearing By the Lion and By the Lion's Mane? I thought you hated lions."

"So I do," answered Bree. "But when I speak of the Lion of course I mean Aslan, the great deliverer of Narnia who drove away the Witch and the Winter. All Narnians swear by Him."

"But is he a lion?"

"No, no, of course not," said Bree in a rather shocked voice.

"All the stories about him in Tashbaan say he is," replied Aravis. "And if he isn't a lion why do you call him a lion?"

"Well, you'd hardly understand that at your age, " said Bree. "And I was only a little foal when I left so I don't fully understand it myself."


"No doubt, " continued Bree, "when they speak of him as a Lion they only mean he's as strong as a lion or (to our enemies, of course) as fierce as a lion. Or something of that kind. Even a little girl like you, Aravis, must see that it would be quite absurd to suppose he was a real lion. Indeed it would be disrespectful. If he was a lion he'd have to be a Beast just like the rest of us. Why!" (and here Bree began to laugh) "If he was a lion he'd have four paws, and a tail, and Whiskers! ... Aie, ooh, hoo-hoo! Help!"

For just as he said the word Whiskers one of Aslan's had actually tickled his ear.


"Now Bree," he said, "you poor, proud, frightened horse, draw near. Nearer still, my son. Do not dare not to dare. Touch me. Smell me. Here are my paws, here is my tail, these are my whiskers. I am a true Beast."

"Aslan," said Bree in a shaken voice. "I'm afraid I must be rather a fool."

"Happy the Horse who knows that while he is still young."

The Horse and His Boy

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Yesterday, my co-worker took his cat to the emergency room, as the feline had consumed an unknown quantity of thread. Today, the vets operated and removed over four yards of thread from the cat's intestines.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


I went to the dentist today, though fortunately only for a routine cleaning. As I was waiting in the chair, I found myself flustered by my inability to read my dentist's framed diploma, which was written completely in Latin. Apparently, all those years of high school Latin have atrophied ...

(Thankfully, I have retained fluency in that other classic language, Pig Latin.)
TREAT - Someone left a big jack-o-lantern cookie jar on the bookcase we use for office communal food (doughnuts, cookies, etc).

TRICK - It's empty.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

infernal affairs

This post by richard reminded me that I wanted to post some thoughts on Derek Webb's new album, I See Things Upside Down. Actually, it would be repeating a lot of his post, so just read that. I just hope people give the album a chance, since it is so different from his previous work. It is very good stuff.

I'm not sure what the BEST track on the album is, but my current favorite is "Ballad in Plain Red." (Maybe it's because I really liked The Screwtape Letters?)

i'm robbin' peter, i'm paying paul
i'm changing my name back to saul
i got to them and you know i'll get to you
i'm turning shepherds into sheep
and leaders into celebrities
it's holy sabotage, just look around you

'cause everything's for sale in the 21st century
and the check is in the mail from the 21st century

don't want the song, i want a jingle
i love you Lord but don't hear a single
and the truth is nearly impossible to rhyme
but i know the songs with all the hooks
and i know some lines that will sell some books
so grab 'em fast, i'm running out of time
just keep selling truth in candy bars
on billboards and backs of cars
truth without context, my favorite of all my crimes

'cause everything's for sale in the 21st century
and the check is in the mail from the 21st century

what works versus what's right
what's the difference tonight?

take out the sign, forget the meal
we've got a gym and a ferris wheel
i swear it's just like the country club down the block
'cause you can make your life look good
you can do what Jesus would
but you'd be surprised what you can do with a hard heart

'cause everything's for sale in the 21st century
and the check is in the mail from the 21st century

i think you've got trouble in the 21st century
so welcome to the struggle. it's the 21st century
i never thought i'd make it to the 21st century
Lord, i love the 21st century

i write these words from the grave
'cause it's the only place that I'm safe
and only the dead are permitted to speak the truth.

(True to DW form, all the lyrics are in lowercase. EXCEPT -- and I never noticed this before -- he capitalizes "Lord," "Jesus," and other names for the divine. You learn something new everyday.)
While I've been off in student-teacher never-never land (which is what middle school feels like sometimes-- the place where people never grow up), we've been practicing a reading approach called "think alouds." Tonight, I happened upon this most excellent and humorous example, though I don't think my students would get the joke. If only some other people would...

Monday, November 15, 2004

Okay, so it's not at all unusual for me to sing endless praises of the fine folks at

Regardless, the latest Strong Bad e-mail is a stroke of genius.

Sadly, I don't follow college football too closely these days. My current interests are limited mainly to Georgia Tech (of whom I am a proud alumnus) and Auburn (of whom I am a fan via heredity) -- and of course, their respective in-state rivals (Georgia and Alabama).

This weekend, Tech trounced U. Conn 30-10, LSU beat 'Bama 26-10, and Auburn crushed the Dawgs 24-6.

So, at least for me, it was a great sports weekend.

(In other sports news, the Atlanta Falcons won yesterday, but it appears that no one cares.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


This week, we will be singing "The Church's One Foundation" during our Sunday corporate worship. The lyrics I know (which are, to the best of my knowledge, the original ones) state the first verse as:
The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.
However, upon consulting The Baptist Hymnal, I noticed this alternate wording:
She is His new creation
By Spirit and the Word
Very interesting. I'm curious to see how this variant text came into existence, though I have a hunch that it stems from a certain view of the sacraments.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Being sick stinks. Especially when you aren't sick enough to stay home from work.

Last night, as I was near-comatose on the sofa, I saw that the WB was playing the second half of The Fellowship of the Rings. (They played the first half on Sunday night.) So naturally, I watched most of it. The sad part is, the DVD sits languishing on our bookshelf. I have the exact same problem with the Star Wars trilogy. The tapes (and now DVDs) are right there on the shelf, waiting in vain to be played. Yet, as soon as they appear on broadcast TV, I can't turn away.

Am I the only one with this problem?

Monday, November 08, 2004

By the way, for those interested (who haven't already seen it), Doug Wilson has posted his opening salvo in his debate with James White on the question "Are Roman Catholics Members of the New Covenant?"

I think it is a very good outline of Wilson's position, and especially of how Rome fits into his view of the "objectivity of the covenant." I am very interested to hear/read the rest of the debate.
Once again, the business and busy-ness of Team Redd has prevented any sort of frequent blogging. Here's a brief glimpse:

* I attended my first Catholic funeral, for Allison's grandmother. I was deeply impressed and encouraged by the hope of resurrection that permeated the service. The liturgy did not contemplate the fact that Mrs. Lee is in some ethereal better place; it turned our hope and faith to the Scriptural proclamation that those baptized into Christ will ultimately be resurrected as He was.

* We stayed with my family the night before the funeral. We discovered that no alarm clock can substitute for Zoe, the new family dog, who enjoys licking faces and chewing on ears (even at 5 AM).

* Tech played an uneven game on Saturday, but ended up beating NC State 24-14.

* Allison continues to prove her graduate student mettle with one outstanding grade after another. She's also getting to flex her creativity, as evidenced by the spoooooky (well, not really) witch hat and dry ice used in her group presentation on Macbeth. (I also get to embarrass her by bragging about her grades.)

* My parents got me a copy of the Star Wars boxed set for my birthday. Allison got me the first season of Arrested Development, which finally started its second season on Sunday.

* Although we missed the Tim LaHaye prophecy conference, we got to attend something just as funny. Actually, much funnier. The Reduced Shakespeare Company rolled through Madison, GA, and we were present to see their performance of "All the Great Books (Abridged)." It was my third time seeing RSC (Allison's fourth), and our second time seeing "All the Great Books." These guys are brilliant and hilarious. For those unfamiliar with the RSC, their deal is that they compress all the works of Shakespeare, Western Lit, etc into a zany two-hour romp. The three-man cast rotates over time, but this weekend, we were fortunate enough to see a performance starring both the script-writers. The show appeals to an interesting demographic, because it really helps to have familiarity with the works they cover, because there are a ton of subtle references. But one also has to be well-versed in pop culture to get many of the other references. For example, a rollicking survey of War and Peace discusses Napoleon's defeat while Abba's "Waterloo" is briefly played over the PA. And who can forget the synopsis of Little Women, as detailed on white board by the P.E. Coach (a la half-time locker room strategizing). The cast are also good at improvising, as they were humorously sidetracked by some tangents from the audience, especially concerning the Election Day fallout. (Although, I am intrigued yet somewhat frightened to know what their survey of the Bible is like ...)

* And our search for a replacement Allison-mobile continues.

Perhaps this week will be more blog-friendly.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Okay, so it was pretty cool to see the Red Sox come back against the Yanks and then go on to sweep the World Series. But I'm already sick of the media sloganeering that has ensued. Example: I lost count of how many times I heard the phrase "reverse the curse" during the Florida-Georgia game on Saturday. What the heck? What "curse"? Florida has dominated the last 14 years, but Georgia still leads the overall series. Not only is it a recycled catch-phrase, it doesn't even apply! Yet, as soon as Georgia (sad to say) won on Saturday, sportscasters were shoving microphones into the players' faces and asking them what it felt like to have "the curse reversed." To their credit, most of the UGA players had a vacant, bewildered expression in response to that particular non sequitur.*

* Of course, a vacant, bewildered expression is what I generally expect from athletes at the University [sic] of Georgia.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I don't know what it is, but ...

... every time I read James White's blog, part of me (and it might be the petty, vindictive part) wants to spend large amounts of money over at Discerning Reader.

(Of course, I don't have large amounts of money, so it's not really a concern.)

Monday, October 25, 2004

For the concerned ...

The good news: the City has completed their sewer replacement project down the street from my office. The road is re-paved, although traffic is restricted to allow access only to those who use the swimming pool parking lot.

The bad news: the City has begun sewer work directly in front of the office. Hooray for heavy machinery. As a co-worker stated, "Today sounds like a good day to work from home." If only ...

On "lung-ripping"

Andrew Sandlin laments the death of rational political discourse, which has been supplanted by ever-intensifying seek-and-destroy tactics:

Amid this lung-ripping escapade, the language of warfare has replaced the language of debate. We cannot merely have opponents these days; we must treat them as enemies. Reasoned, passionate debate is a thing of the past. It is not sufficient to win arguments; we must assassinate characters. We must do more than defeat; we must also destroy.

But, the real tragedy is the spread of this "total war" mentality into our churches. There is little room for vigorous yet charitable discussion of important issues. Increasing numbers seem content to wage war against theological "enemies," rather than develop thoughtful critique. Says Sandlin, "these sorts of people will never reclaim culture. They must, like Israel of old, die in the cultural wildness, so a newer, more charitable generation can supplant them."

Friday, October 22, 2004

Well, it looks like we're going to get a new car. Wish it had been under different circumstances, though.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

MMM BOP, er ....HUH?

This will be a very interesting lineup. Check the tour dates section, starting on Nov. 5.

Rory's Reading List

So, on tonight's Gilmore Girls episode, Rory's grandfather asks her what good books she's been reading lately. You know what she answered?

P.G. Wodehouse

Man, I need to get me some of that. I keep hearing it's good stuff. Of course, someone could always buy it for me...Christmas is only 9 and 1/2 weeks away, after all. *grin*

Really though, does anyone have any suggestions for a good first introduction? What are some of your favorites? The DeKalb Library has tons of titles.

Crash Into Me

(I know, I know, I've been too busy to blog lately. Actually, I've made up lots of posts in my head, but I haven't really found time to type them out. I probably don't have time to write this one, but it just seems like a must-blog topic. Also, you'll find out the reason Gaines got to leave work early on Monday.)

So yesterday afternoon, as I was driving to Georgia State for classes, minding my own business, cruising down Courtland Street through a green light--- just as I was belting out the line "En El Senor es siempre bueno"-- I experienced a loud CLUNK, airbag explosions, and a sudden infusion of acrid smoke. Some idiot had tried to make a right turn directly into my Honda! The nerve!

The good news is, I'm okay. There were no injuries, except for a few minor bruises and some soreness on my part (which is to be expected from the bursting air bag). Needless to say, I didn't make it to class last night. My wonderful husband brought me home to get some rest and relax. (And eventually, finish some homework...)

I'm not sure how to describe the accident since I can't draw you a picture of the crazy downtown street where it happened, but I'll do my best. I had just exited off of Interstate I-75/85 onto Courtland Street. Where the exit lanes (there are two) merge onto Courtland, the powers that be have placed some of those white traffic pilings all the way to the intersection to keep people from merging into the other two lanes. And for good reason, too, as I found out yesterday afternoon.

I was in the left exit lane and heading through the intersection with a green light, and the other guy was in the lane to my left, on the other side of the pilings. (This is the middle two lanes of a one-way street, btw.) The guy apparently didn't see me and attempted to go around the pilings and turn right onto Baker-- another one way street (downtown Atlanta is full of 'em all going crazy which ways). I guess he thought he was clear to turn, but he thought WRONG. I'm pretty sure it's illegal to turn right at that intersection if you are anywhere other than the far right lane, but hey, maybe that's just me. Silly road rules.

Anyway, the impact was enough to set off the air bags, destroy my bumper and left front headlight, and shatter my windshield. I'm just thankful I had sense enough to get out of the car quickly. That air bag smoke is putrid. I think that was my only moment of panic. Since I've never experienced the whole "air bag exploding in my face with lots of talcum powder smoke" bit before, there was a split second when I thought my car was on fire and that I couldn't get out because of trouble with the seat belt. I jumped out as soon as I could free myself from the safety restraint. Also, some nice guy in a car behind me called 911 and offered to be a witness if needed. Yay, Providence.

All parties were very polite. We swapped info and assessed the damage, and in the process gathered a few security officers from the hotels on either side of the street. According to the security officers, it is a popular spot for accidents. Apparently, lots of stupid drivers attempt a right turn in the middle of the intersection (I felt foot-in-mouth disease coming on tonight when one of my classmates said she'd done the very thing many times before! eek!).

All's well that ends well, I suppose. I had yesterday evening to catch up on some homework and get some much-needed rest. (The first week student-teaching in a local middle school has been killer. I'm quite drained. I'll update more information on, later. Maybe this week. It's a lot of ground to cover.) Anyways, I just hope we get our car fixed SOON. I spent what felt like most of today on the phone or stationed at the fax machine trying to work out all the details to get my car out of the tow yard, to the collision place, and authorized to be fixed-- and that better be worth something! I was missing valuable lessons on transitive and intransitive verbs! (Seriously!) At least the other guy's insurance is paying for the repairs, thank goodness. And we're getting a rental car this week. Yay! God is good all the time. (Say it with me: "All the time, God is good!") What good little youth group alumni you are!

how bizarre

Today has been a strange and disorienting day. When I left work yesterday, the building was afflicted by sweltering heat, due to the (oft)malfunctioning HVAC system. When I showed up today, clad in my usual dress shirt and tie, I was bewildered to see all my co-workers in casual dress. Apparently, management had dispatched a notice at the end of the day allowing everyone to dress down until the AC was restored. (I left early yesterday and, hence, did not see the e-mail.) Ironically, the AC is back with a vengeance today, and it is actually COLD. Fortunately, I'm wearing long sleeves.

But that's not all. Thunderstorms have been rolling through all day, with heavy rainfall in tow. Part of the parking lot is at a low elevation, so we've got a small lake filling up. Unfortunately, several folks have not learned their lesson about parking down there. So, we've enjoyed the guilty pleasure of watching these motorists try to wade through the waters* and rescue their vehicles.

And, if that's not enough, a small airplane crashed less than a mile from the office.

What's next?

* It's bad enough that these people had to wade through a foot or so of water to get into their cars. But even worse, this is right near the sewer construction project. So, guess where some of that water is coming from? Or maybe you shouldn't.

UPDATE: The building just sent out an e-mail advising folks to start evacuating the parking lot due to the rising waters. Most of my team members had the sense to park on higher ground, but we are watching the situation very carefully. Also, the consensus (from those with much more construction and site planning experience than I) is that the city's sewer project blocked the drainage that prevents the lot from turning into a pond. Oops!

Monday, October 18, 2004

I rarely agree with Slate, but they've got this one pegged: these things really are a grievous offense.

weekend update

Tech's victory over Duke this weekend was good because (other than the obvious fact that it was a win) 1)it was homecoming and 2) we actually lost to them last year. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it to the game, but we did have a good time at a "Fun Day" for all of the area Apartment Life teams. And, in an appropriate twist of providence, I won a Tech ballcap in a raffle. Woohoo!

I also finished my re-read of James White's The Forgotten Trinity, which has proven quite useful in preparing for Sunday School lessons on the Trinity and the Incarnation. Ironically, I'm using this book alongside a good deal of N.T. Wright (on issues of Christology and Messiah-ship) in my preparations. Go figure.

Oh, and this morning the City has begun re-laying asphalt over the giant sinkhole/sewer repair project across the street. Of course, it looks like they just paved over one of the storm drains. Uh oh.

Friday, October 15, 2004

By the way, I finished the Wright article on Galatians that I started earlier this week. Very good read. I'm still digesting it. One of the big criticisms lodged against Wright's view of "gospel" is that it inadequately accounts for Paul's usage of "another gospel" in Galatians (typically understood to denote the denial of justification by faith alone). Wright explains how the term fits into his overall scheme, and so far, it seems quite tenable.
Listening to the radio during yesterday's evening commute, I posed (to myself) a very important question:

Which is the best Van Halen song to drive to, "Panama" or "Unchained"? I think it's the latter, but I'm not sold yet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

By the way, "Renewing Your Mind" is focusing on Predestination for a couple of weeks. I used to listen to the show regularly during my lunch break. But, I'm working out of a client's office now, and I don't get that chance very often. Fortunately, the website archives previous broadcasts. I always enjoy R.C. Sproul, and this seems like it will be a good series. The first one (Monday's) set the groundwork and established the tone quite well. I especially liked his plea for discernment in approaching the subject of predestination. But, I especially liked a comment he made about dealing with difficult questions of theology. He recounted a time when he was the guest on a radio show, and a caller asked him a very deep question. Due to time constraints, he couldn't give a full answer. So, R.C. actually opted out of answering. He explained that, for a question of deep theological significance, he would rather give no answer at all than give an incomplete answer that was inadequate or incoherent. Very wise, and definitely worth taking to heart.

Two for Tuesday

Yesterday was a great day for music at the Redd house. Not only did our copy of Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God arrive, but we also picked up the new Caedmon's Call album Share the Well.

Simply put, Share the Well is a great album. It must be confessed that we've been burned by the last few Caedmon's offerings. But, after talking with Randall Goodgame this spring, we have been eagerly awaiting the album. It did not disappoint. Musically, it is a marked departure from the indie days of Caedmon's, but, thankfully, it is also a great change from the pop sound they were beginning to adopt. The influence of the various ethnic musical traditions is well used. Lyrically, it is very good, thanks to some stellar writing from Randy G., Andy Osenga, et al. The message of the whole album is pretty powerful and is a much-needed reminder to American Christians about the global church. I look forward to repeat listenings.

As for Andy P's Christmas album: what more can be said, really? I've been able to see his Christmas show each of the last four years, so none of the songs were new to me. Yet, they are still just as powerful. Partly, this is due to the great production of the album. But mainly, it is due to the great storytelling by Mr. Peterson. Words fail to describe what he has accomplished with this project. It should be listened to repeatedly and shared with others. It's that good.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The N.T. Wright Page has uploaded a new article on "Gospel and Theology in Galatians." I haven't yet finished it, but so far, it is a pretty good read. Wright begins by examining the contexts behind "gospel" in its 1st century, and he explores how Paul ties together Jewish and pagan notions of the term. As he reminds us, church tradition has shaped our interpretation of "gospel" terminology and often blinds us to the complexities of the actual language. But, quoting C.S. Lewis, he cautions: "we turn to the helps only when the hard passages are manifestly hard. But there are treacherous passages which will not send us to the notes. They look easy and aren’t."

Such is the case, Wright argues, with many New Testament uses of "gospel."

Monday, October 11, 2004

Where have all the bloggers gone ...

Some of you might be thinking, "Gaines and Allison haven't been blogging much lately. Their lives must be pretty boring." But, you'd be wrong. It's actually the opposite. So much has been going on, it has been hard to find time for updates. If we had been blogging more frequently, we probably would have written about:

- Our super-fun Fall Festival at our apartment, featuring games, arts, crafts and lots of grilled items donated by Lonestar Steakhouse;
- The VP debate (if only Cheney could pinch-hit for W at the other debates!);
- Our visit to Alabama to see Allison's sick grandma (your prayers would be appreciated);
- My sister's crazy new dog;
- The second Presidential debate (More repetition! Less substance! It's the American Way!)
- Georgia Tech's victory over #23 Maryland;
- Nickel Creek in concert (they rocked!);
- Anxiously watching the mailbox for Andrew Peterson's new cd;
- Allison's first day of student teaching (which is today);
- Learning that the sewer construction project across the street from my office hit a natural gas line (but it is -- supposedly -- not serious);

and much, much more. Maybe one day.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Andrew Peterson is my friend ...

It may (should?) come as no surprise, but Allison and I think that Andrew Peterson is fantastic, both as a musician and a cool guy. In years past, it would not have been unusual to find us at AP concerts throughout the Southeast, and then driving through the night to get back home in time for school or work the next day. Unfortunately, we rarely undertake those infamous concert roadtrips these days, which is a sign that we're either (a) more responsible or (2) much busier than we once were. But on occasion, we hit the road in search of adventure.

Friday night, we drove up to New City Cafe in Knoxville, TN, to see Andy in concert. We really dig what New City does. They are located in the middle of "The Old City," which is an historic district filled with all kinds of restaurants, nightclubs, boutiques, etc. New City's goal is to provide an outlet for quality Christian art and education within that setting. Andy always puts on a great show, and this time was no exception. As usual, pianoman Ben Shive provided musical backup and comic relief (and a decent Han Solo imitation at one point). Additionally, Andy Gullahorn (husband of Jill Phillips) played guitar and sang with them. Andy G. has a penchant for writing humorously offbeat songs. Friday, he showcased one about America's favorite hairstyle ("Business in the Front, Party in the Back"), as well as a delightful ditty about an enterprising grocery store owner who brilliantly marketed a Pope-endorsed breakfast cereal ("Holy Flakes"). Be sure to check out his website, since it showcases his dry and offbeat sense of humor.

As I said, it was a great concert, and Andy (P., that is - it's getting hard to keep track of all these Andy's!) recorded it for possible use as a live album. I love Andy's music because he is a terrific storyteller. He has a knack for writing songs about specific people and circumstances, all the while making sure the themes are universally recognizable and applicable. He didn't play many new songs, but somehow - as always - he managed to thoroughly enchant and entertain the audience, even though we have heard those same songs innumerable times in the past. I've figured out that this occurs because the songs are merely an extension of the man, who is a very real and down-to-earth guy. Plus, he's pretty funny. Definitely worth the drive home in the wee hours of the morning.

Of course, it's Tuesday night and I'm just now writing about the show from Friday. That should indicate how busy things have been around these parts! But, I hope to have time to share more anecdotes soon, such as the never-ending saga of the sewer work across from my office. I'm sure everyone is turning blue with excitement.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

If only this was legal is the U.S. I would gladly chip in to buy some for my local movie theater.

And you thought they only rotted your brain...

Who knew that all those hours I spent playing The Legend of Zelda were actually beneficial?

Last night, after reading the above article in our Language and Literacy class, our professor led us in a lively discussion comparing and contrasting video games and schools. It was one of the best group discussions we've had this semester. If only all my Wednesday night classes could be that interesting!

Though I'm not completely sold on the author's stance (he certainly evaded the whole "violence" issue, didn't he?), I think he makes some great points about encouraging interactive learning, where information is given "when you need it," in context, as opposed to dumping large amounts of useless facts on students without any narrative framework. One of the keys to the value of games seems to be the inclusion stories that are "bottom up" -- especially in the RPG's -- where, in a sense, the player is creating the story as they go. He also made good point about how video games challenge "the outer edge of players' growing competency," unlike many of America's schools (public or private).

I think our education system could also learn from the competitive gaming market: if a school isn't engaging kids, stretching their minds, encouraging creativity and independent thinking, then it shouldn't be allowed to operate. Privatize the schools and see what happens. (But that, of course, is another topic for another day.)

The best part of the whole evening was that the teacher gave us only one homework assignment: play a video game!

Imagine! Some people actually complained! I guess that's what one should expect, though, in a class composed mostly of girls. As for me, I definitely don't think I'll have to worry about procrastinating on this assignment! In fact, I should get started on that now...

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Andrew Peterson's website has received a facelift. Be sure to check it out. And while you are there, be sure to pre-order his fantastic Christmas musical, Behold the Lamb of God. It will not disappoint, I guarantee. And, while you're there, you might as well get your tickets to Andy's Christmas show on December 12 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nash-vegas. Trust me, it will be worth the drive, flight or camel ride.

Monday, September 27, 2004


My friend Tim has a knack for buying DVD's that I didn't even know existed. Example: Prior to two weeks ago, I didn't even remember that there was a short-lived (9 episodes total), live action version of "The Tick." I loved the cartoon version, and I think I vaguely remember hearing about the live action incarnation back when it came out (in 2001). But, to say it wasn't exactly a ratings success would be an understatement. Anyway, the entire series has been released on DVD, and I had the chance to watch a couple of episodes over the weekend.

Overall, it was kind of entertaining. The casting is decent. Patrick Warburton (Puddy, from Seinfeld) plays the big blue guy, and he's a pretty good match for the part. Granted, he should be a lot bigger, but the Tick's insanely idiotic dialogue flows fairly naturally from Warburton's mouth. Arthur, the timid accountant/moth/sidekick, is also well-cast. I'm not too keen on the new characters, Captain Liberty and Batmanuel, who are actually variations on the cartoon's characters (American Maid and Die Fledermaus). But, perhaps they will grow on me. They'd better hurry up, though, since they've only got 7 episodes left. The show also managed to maintain some of the bizarre humor I liked from the cartoon. Example: in the pilot, a group of neo-Commies unleash a vintage 1979 Soviet robotic assassin ("The Red Scare"), who is still programmed to kill President Carter.

Of course, the live action show relies on a fair share of innuendos and semi-objectionable material to get laughs -- which is to be expected, since it was on Fox. I never read the comic, but I hear that the live-action show was closer to it than the animated series was. Nevertheless, I thought the cartoon was a whole lot funnier than the live-action version, and a whole lot cleaner. But, I'm still planning to watch the remainder of the series.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

He'll be back

Not to make light of calamity, but this thing is like the Terminator ...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Front, back, step, step, out, in, turn!

Our feet are sore, but the sacrifice was totally worth a fantastic night "dancing under the stars"! (That sounds like a sappy prom theme...)

Under a beautiful sky that showed no traces of Ivan the Terrible, we grooved to a Latin beat, led by one very talented instructor named Jackie-- a fellow resident in our apartment complex. She taught us to salsa and merengue in a little paved area beside the main pool. Thankfully, no one fell in!

The "Latin Dance Night" was one of the most enjoyable events we've hosted in recent memory, and I had a blast planning it. We hung colored Halloween and Christmas lights on the railings, ate taquitos and mini-quesadillas, put chips around the rim of a sombrero, and used our large Coleman lantern when it got too dark to see the food. (That lantern has come in mighty handy this week! Thanks to those who gave it to us for a wedding gift. Sadly, we haven't actually used it to go camping yet...) But I digress.

At least thirty people showed up, including some of Jackie's friends who feigned ignorance to make us novices feel better about stumbling over our own two feet. Everyone learned fairly quickly, though, and we all had such a great time that we're already planning another one for a Saturday night in November. (Indoors, of course.) I can't wait. Until then, I know we need LOTS of practice. Hence the title-- her instructions are still rattling around in my brain. Must hit the beat...

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Ontological Proof of Ninjas

When we talk about the ninja, we are talking about the sweetest being ever -- that is, we are talking about the being than which nothing sweeter can be conceived. So, when we conceive of the ninja in our mind, we conceive of the being than which nothing sweeter can be conceived. But consider this: Is it sweeter to exist only in the mind or to exist both in the mind and in reality -- outside the mind? Certainly, it is much sweeter to exist also in reality -- flipping out and wailing on guitars is much sweeter when someone is actually doing it. So when we conceive of the sweetest being ever, we are conceiving of the being that exists both in the mind and in reality. Since the ninja is that being than which nothing sweeter can be conceived and that being exists in the mind and in reality, the ninja exists in reality. Thus the ninja exists.

(Shamelessly stolen from Real Ultimate Power: The Official Ninja Book)

very rare

This is one of the few times where I'm actually glad to be at work. Once again, power is out all over metro Atlanta, but not at the office. We lost power at home yesterday morning, but it was restored by lunchtime. But, as Ivan rolled through in the late afternoon, we lost power again, and it remains out. There were a few flickers of hope -- and light -- at about 9 o'clock last night, but they were short lived. On the other hand, it was kind of cool to sit around listening to the wind and watching the storm. I'm sure my opinion would be different if we lived farther south. Fortunately, we've heard from most of our relatives living down near the FL panhandle, and they seem to be alright. Allison's parents got a lot of rain down in Geneva, AL, but it doesn't look like the rivers are going to overflow their banks.

I did get a fair amount of reading done by candle/electric lantern light. I hope to post some nuggets of wisdom soon.

Update: As of 1:15 PM, our power is back on. Woot! I just hope all the traffic lights are back up on my homeward route. Apparently, no one in this town understands what you're supposed to do when the lights are out.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

O, to have a tongue that brings healing...

I was looking through some old issues of Credenda/Agenda tonight and found this wise instruction by Nancy Wilson. I need to be reminded of the power of my words daily, both as a blessing and a curse.

A second area of carelessness is the tongue. Careless women do not take heed to what they share, what they repeat, what they criticize. Scripture is as clear on the subject of the tongue as it is on modesty. It is no mystery what the Bible requires. Gossip, slander, complaining, nagging, anger, lying are all out. Period.

Careless women talk too much on the phone, or share too much on email. They don't speak the truth; they fudge a little here, a little there. They speak to and about their husbands inappropriately. They talk when they should be keeping quiet. A careful woman does not share things about family, husband, parents, or children that should be kept confidential. She does not openly criticize or disrespect her husband or parents. A careful woman exercises caution in what she says. The tongue is a dangerous instrument for destruction or a powerful tool for good. Wise women use their tongues cautiously. They weigh their words before they utter them.

Obviously, to be careful women we need much grace: grace for forgiveness, grace to keep His commands. We must take heed to our ways. We must give thought to our ways. We must pay attention to our behavior. Are we careless in our dress? If so, it's time to purge the wardrobe of revealing clothing. Are we careless with our tongues? Then it is time to repent. God expects us to be earnestly seeking to please Him, by the grace He gives us.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The plot thickens

I'm sure some of you enquiring minds have been anxiously waiting to hear what happened to that proto-sinkhole I mentioned a little while back. Within the last hour, no less than eleven large vehicles (city utility trucks, I think) have arrived on the street across from my office building. Additionally, they have blocked off the road in the impacted area. Yay for my tax dollars at work. However, there are still a few issues at hand. Such as,

1. Is it really such a good idea to roll multiple large vehicles directly over already softened ground?
2. How am I going to get my car out of the parking lot, since the entrance is within the roadblocked portion of road?
3. How much work do they hope to get finished before the remnant of Ivan comes blasting through on Thursday/Friday?

Stay tuned, true believers.

Updated: Just got an e-mail about the "Street clousure." The City plans to "clouse" the street for a week for emergency repairs. So, the question is, how long will it really take? And, how long would it have taken if they had come to fix it 4 weeks ago (when it was first reported)?

And there was much rejoicing!

Skimming over the latest Arch Music Group Newsletter with information about Ginny Owen's new tour with Randall Goodgame opening, I noticed this juicy tidbit:

"Goodgame is slated to launch his next independent project, War and Peace, releasing this Oct."

Yay! Finally! And I noticed there are two Georgia dates on the tour, though I don't think we'll be able to make either one. Still, the prospect of a new album by one of the best songwriters in the business (who just happens to be a friend and fellow BSC alumni) just made my day and I wanted to share my exuberance.

With all this great music coming out in the next few months...I may just need to start babysitting or something to get some extra cash.

Monday, September 13, 2004

And the laughter goes on...

So, last night I finally got a chance to read Right Behind. Wow.

Nathan Wilson's hilarious asides about the "laws" of writing bad Christian fiction almost had me in tears. If you ever want to appropriately mock evangelicalism, take a line from the upturned table series. It's gotten me thinking about much of the silliness that takes place in our churches and in the public sphere and how to best satirize it...

When Gaines was re-reading these last week, he mentioned the zaniness to some church friends and they borrowed this along with Supergeddon. They have yet to return the latter, so I have to wait a few days before I can read the sequel, but man, I know it'll be worth the suspense! It was a delightful break from reading educational theory textbooks and a marked contrast to the 18th century novels I'm immersed in for a seminar class.

Thank goodness for counterculturally subversive reading material!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Praxis II

So, for the past few weeks, I've been slowly losing sleep and geting stressed over taking two Praxis II Subject tests this morning-- English Language, Literature, and Composition: Content Knowledge and English Language, Literature, and Composition: Essays-- all in order to become a certified English teacher in Georgia.

Well, after all my nightmares and days of preparation and last minute cramming (which even though it shouldn't have helped, in fact, it did!), I didn't think the tests were that bad. I never want to take them again, though! As an added bonus, Holden Caufield popped up in a question on each test, which was quite timely considering I began re-reading Catcher in the Rye last week.

I'm so relieved it's over. And I had some great conversations with my MARTA-riding friend on the way back this afternoon. Now it's time to enjoy good company and good food while watching GT vs. Clemson. Yay! What a great Saturday today has been!

Friday, September 10, 2004

New look for the N.T. Wright Page.

(Note: Same great content.)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

choices, choices

We received our latest reward certificate from our Amazon Visa yesterday, and now comes the agonizing task of redeeming it. Well, the actual act of redeeming it is pretty easy. The hard part is culling two very extensive wishlists down to 2 or 3 choices.

My WOTD for today was "bricolage," which may be a sign that I should get Leithart's Against Christianity. I haven't yet been able to locate either my Urim or Thummim to validate this, though. Allison seems to be leaning towards a Nancy Wilson book. Perhaps we should just see if Canon Press has a credit card reward program?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

MARTA messages

Riding the train back from class this evening, I looked out the window and noticed two different vandals had shared their "barbaric yawps" on public property. They were humorous enough I thought I'd post them.

This cryptic scrawl was written in Sharpie on a billboard in one of the stations along my route:
Leviticus 11:7, 11:8
No poison pig (swine)!
Beware heart disease, liver disease,
cancer and STROKE!

I found this second message highly ironic.
It was written large spraypainted letters on the side of an apartment building's brick wall:



Rolling into this weekend, we were concerned about the impact that Frances would have on Allison's parents, who live in Geneva, Alabama, just north of the Florida panhandle. Although not directly in the storm path, this area was a prime candidate for heavy rains and flooding. As Monday came, they were concerned about us, since the changing storm path promised to leave them wet but not flooded, whereas Georgia appeared to be in for some severe weather.

The rain started sometime in the wee hours of the morning and hasn't really stopped. The intensity has decreased temporarily, but the forecast shows heavier bands of storms moving through later today. As of 8 AM, some 250,000+ people in the metro Atlanta area are without power (including our neighborhood). Good times. But, despite the nasty weather and power outages, we are counting our blessings, having seen images of the carnage wrought by both Frances, and Charley before her.

On a positive note, we got to see Tech beat up on Samford on Saturday, and from some GREAT SEATS (thanks to some insider connections). The Jackets were looking good, but we really need to iron some stuff out before facing Clemson (pronounced "Climp-sun") this weekend.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Guilty pleasures

I probably shouldn't enjoy so much, but this list of rules is pretty dang funny.
Tim Gallant's thoughts on how to "Make the Most of Worship."

Many are simple and familiar, but well worth the reminder. And this is just the first installment!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Marva Dawn relates an anecdote about playing her recorder in a worship service. Afterwards, a parishioner approached and flatly confronted her:

"I didn't like that song."

"So," Dawn replied. "We weren't worshipping yooooouuuu."

Dawn's lecture "Worship, Money and War" is pretty insightful and challenging, weaving together commonalities in the worship wars, the Western quest for "security," and the ethical implications of the war in Iraq. I've enjoyed her books, so hearing her speak is a treat. Regent Radio is playing her lecture series "Cyberspace Stress, Sabbath and Serenity" this week, and I am looking forward to it. I hope to hear more convicting gems, such as

"How many of the worship problems in churches are because I don't love my neighbor enough to sing songs that I don't like for their benefit?"

Gather them two by two

Remember, that would-be sinkhole? Well, there has been pretty steady (and heavy, at times) rain falling all day. Water is now gushing up from a few access plates/manholes and the intersection is pretty well flooded. I may need a canoe to get to my car.

As it turns out, a guy in the office reported the pre-sinkhole to the city's "Pothole Posse" (yes, that's the real name) over 2 weeks ago. There was zero response. Now they have a great big problem on their hands.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It appears that a sinkhole is forming across the street from my office. And a water main may be busted, since there is a lot of water coming up from the street.

Curiously, one of the depressed (elevation-wise, not emotion-wise) areas is right where that dead pigeon was this morning. Coincidence?
On the way to the office this morning, I had to step around a deceased pigeon, sprawled across the sidewalk. Eww!!

While checking my e-mail first thing this morning, I absent-mindedly took a sip from my large mug (which I use for water). Unfortunately, it was only after drinking that I remembered that I hadn't refilled it this morning. Ugh!!

Let's hope the rest of the day is not as gross.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Making the Grade

"School days, school days, dear old golden rule days."

I've always thought that song was a bit weird-- when has the education of young minds (in the past century, at least) EVER been about "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" ? High school, in my experience, was always a one-upmanship of getting the best grades for yourself, achieving the highest awards, regardless of how many others you trample in your path to greatness. Parents pushing kids to study more, study harder-- or, on the opposite spectrum, kids who didn't care, doing as little as they can to get by, not caring whether that hinders or helps their fellow classmates.

The world of academia seems to be the same way. Cutthroat. Successful publications. Talks. Presentations. C.V.'s and all that jazz. Of course, with my introduction to graduate school over the summer and now in the fall, I think sometimes, students DO put others first in their studies-- bonding with fellow classmates seems to counteract the individualistic success-only trend.

Take for instance, my cohort of 27 students in the TEEMS program. We were yoked together over the summer under tremendous truckloads of reading material, projects, papers, deadlines, silly Powerpoint Presentations, and a tormentuous TA. Now, in our second semester and looking ahead to student teaching in October, we've become a fairly unified group -- we offer textbooks to each other at better-than-bookstore deals, take trains together, carpool, share study tips and study sessions, and provide for those missing from class before they even ask. Admittedly, we are looking out for our own grades and making sure we get our work done first, but it seems much more of a communal society than regular graduate programs where students are only concerned about impressing each other with their wealth of knowledge, writing the most intellectually surprising theses, or pandering to professors. I think this is because we all want to be teachers first, not academics. In our own way, we're preparing to respect our students by respecting each other, just as we prepare to teach students by giving mock lessons to each other in class.

Maybe my introspection comes from re-reading Robinson Crusoe for my 18th Century Fiction class. He does quite a bit of philosophizing in between journal entries and I'm afraid it's rubbing off on me.

Or, perhaps this bit of educational reminiscing comes from our professor's request that we bring a high school yearbook to class on Wednesday. That's a scary thought. I was a complete [pick a Screech-like adjective-- nerd, geek, dweeb, etc.] in high school. Do I really want that fact to be known through photographic evidence? I suppose it's all part of being in a community-- trusting each other with pieces of our past. And since we have quite a few older graduate students, I'm sure we'll get to see some interesting hairstyles, at least. That should prove amusing!

Friday, August 27, 2004

We saw an ad on TV for the upcoming release of The Passion of the Christ, and apparently, the DVD "can be yours forever." Which raises the important theological question:

Will DVD players in the new creation be that back compatible?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I need to find a new instrument

This is pretty crazy.

I do have a charango at home, but maybe it's time to find something more obscure to pave my way to virtuoso-dom.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Calvin, on the use of God's good gifts

Let this be our principle, that we err not in the use of the gifts of Providence when we refer them to the end for which their author made and destined them, since he created them for our good, and not for our destruction. No man will keep the true path better than he who shall have this end carefully in view. Now then, if we consider for what end he created food, we shall find that he consulted not only for our necessity, but also for our enjoyment and delight. Thus, in clothing, the end was, in addition to necessity, comeliness and honour; and in herbs, fruits, and trees, besides their various uses, gracefulness of appearance and sweetness of smell. Were it not so, the Prophet would not enumerate among the mercies of God “wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine,” (Ps. 104:15). The Scriptures would not everywhere mention, in commendation of his benignity, that he had given such things to men. The natural qualities of things themselves demonstrate to what end, and how far, they may be lawfully enjoyed. Has the Lord adorned flowers with all the beauty which spontaneously presents itself to the eye, and the sweet odour which delights the sense of smell, and shall it be unlawful for us to enjoy that beauty and this odour? What? Has he not so distinguished colours as to make some more agreeable than others? Has he not given qualities to gold and silver, ivory and marble, thereby rendering them precious above other metals or stones? In short, has he not given many things a value without having any necessary use?
(Institutes III.x.2)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The wheels on the train go round and round...

Trains have wheels, right?

Anyway, I rode MARTA for the first time today, the second day of my second semester back in school. You'd think after living in Atlanta for two years now that I would've had the opportunity ride public transportation before, but the closest I've gotten until today was picking someone up at the local station.

Though our church is downtown, it's easier to drive when Gaines has to bring his guitar and other stuff. Besides, there's no traffic on Sundays. Also, since Gaines works in downtown Atlanta now, this summer when I first started taking graduate classes at GSU, we just carpooled. It was nice, since his workplace wasn't far from campus.

This semester, though, all of my classes are in the evening-- since I'll start student teaching in October. It works out great for me, because a girl in my cohort lives nearby and we can ride the train together on Tuesday and Wednesdays. (It's nice to have someone to talk to on the ride down. Among other various and sundry topics, today we had a fun conversation about Baptists and legalism--she's Catholic and went to Mercer for undergrad.)

Anyway, on to MARTA. I think, in some cases, it IS "smarta." For one thing, it saves on parking, and it's also a lot faster during rush hour. Second, it's just as safe, or even moreso, especially since I'm not travelling alone. Third-- I was surprised at the relative cleanliness and ease of use. It wasn't hard to get around, signs were clearly marked, and it was much better kept than the underground in New York or even D.C. (I won't compare it to European Metros I've used, they're just so much older...) But perhaps this is due to the fact that no one uses it?

While waiting in line to get tokens yesterday, I asked another student why it doesn't go all over the city, like in other large urban areas I've been to. Thankfully, there are stations where we live, but for anyone on the west side of town up I-75-- zilch. He described the situation as an endless deteriorating cycle: Lack of funding. People complain that no one uses it, so funding goes down. Since funding goes down, less people use it. And more people complain... you get the idea.

I'll admit it wasn't crowded when I rode it today. I've also heard horror stories about the crazies on MARTA and the unexpected breakdowns. Thankfully, my ride was smooth and uneventful and panhandlers were avoided.

So, I just have to say I'm looking forward to my evenings on the train. I'm still driving down for my classes one day a week, though, just because my last class on Monday doesn't end until 9:45 and there's no way I'm riding MARTA by myself that late at night. Maybe next semester I can move up to MARTA full-time.

Thanks to Trevor for linking to this guy's blog. I kind of like this new-urbanism idea-- it's interesting to read a discussion about areas I've become so familiar with... It also has great pictures of Atlantic Station, which is being built practically in our church's backyard (West Merritts is located in Home Park, right near Georgia Tech). The influx of even more residents into Midtown should be an interesting opportunity for our little light-bearing congregation.