Thursday, July 29, 2004

Feelin' hot, hot, hot

The chiller for the building is down.

And to think, just yesterday, people were complaining that it was too cold in the office.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

John 3:16

Great thoughts by Mark Horne on John 3:16, especially when coupled with these quotes from B.B. Warfield.

It always makes me sad when Reformed folks sacrifice this passage on the altar of limited atonement (or rather, their particular formulations of it).  The above provide a great corrective to this tendency.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Even More Good Music

I just realized Pierce Pettis is releasing a new album on August 3rd!

It's called Great Big World  and was recorded mostly live in the studio. It should be a treat!

Just one more reason I'm proud of my home state-- Alabama has some talented folk, I tell ya.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

I'm still keeping hope alive that this film might not utterly disappoint me.  Who knows?

Friday, July 23, 2004

Hatian Village in Georgia?

Today, I stumbled across a recent AJC article  (sorry, you have to log in--I included excerpts below) about a  Hatian village in Clayton, Georgia.

Apparently, at a camp run by the General Presbytery of Atlanta, they have set up a Global Village, where groups can pay for a chance to experience life in a Third World country. It's faux-poverty smack in the middle of rich America--  $140,000 houses are being built just across the road from the village-- and participants can hear the sounds of contractors with electric nail guns while they make bricks with their hands . I imagine that's a striking juxtaposition for many.

 Originally organized as a way to train church groups for short term mission trips, the participants eat, sleep, and work in an area that resembles some of the poorest places on earth. Overall, I'm not sure what to think about this concept. It's educational, definitely, and provides a great opportunity for kids (and adults) to see the way the rest of the world lives. It just seems to me that the money be better spent by actually sending it to the people who live in those impoverished places, rather than re-creating their poverty in the middle of suburbanite Georiga and charging people to visit. But that's just me.

What do y'all think?

Here are some excerpts from the AJC article:

Clayton camp's Haitian Village lets visitors experience life at subsistence level

By KevinDuffy. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Published on: 07/18/04

Visitors to the Global Village at the Calvin Center experience what it's like to live without electricity or running water, to sleep in a cramped bunkhouse on a thin mattress under a mosquito net, to make bricks and then use them in the slow process of building a simple dwelling.

A brick house being built at the Haitian village is the size of a closet in most Atlanta homes.
When finished, it will be 8 feet by 8 feet and less than 7 feet tall — its actual size in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a per capita income of about $400, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Whoever chooses to stay in the house will sleep on a straw mat on the scraped earth.

The village's other six buildings — two bunkhouses, a latrine, a shower, a kitchen and the brick-making shelter — are equally humble. The kitchen is simply a brick latticework building with a countertop holding two grates, below which wood and coal are burned. The small shower building is topped by a 55-gallon drum, which has to be replenished every day with hand-carried buckets of water. Users open a faucet to get wet, usually in the evening because the water is heated by the sun.

The first building in the Global Village went up three years ago. The Haitian section is mostly complete. Still to come are Kenyan and Nicaraguan villages, a typical shantytown and a Palestinian house, which is partially built. The bulk of the work will be done by visitors to the village so they can experience what it's like to build your own dwelling.

"This opens their eyes that the majority of the world doesn't live our lifestyle," said Hein Vingerling, [a native of Holland and a former business executive who runs the Global Village]. He frequently visits Haiti on his own and now helps run feeding centers and an orphanage there.
During his trips, Vingerling noticed that travelers working for church missions often clung to their habits, sometimes offending their Haitian hosts. "I've seen people literally freak out from the lack of proper sanitation," Vingerling said. He figured there was a need for a mock Third World to prepare travelers for the real thing.

Several hundred people, primarily from church groups in the Southeast, visit the village each year, paying about $50 per person per night to briefly experience the hardships billions of people deal with every day.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Coming Soon ...

... to a 286 CGA Enabled PC Near You 

Man, this gives me fond memories of all those Sierra games I played back in the day. 

Did I mention these guys are geniuses?  I may have finally found an "in" to meeting them.  Sunday, Sunday ... someday.  Stay tuned.



Does anyone use the term "New PerspectivISM" BESIDES the most shrill of its critics?  Personally, I always thought the term sounded dumb.  Though, I guess labelling always make things easier.
Guitar Face!!
I'm not sure who I'd vote for, especially on an issue of this magnitude.  I foresee many sleepless nights of pondering.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

the greatest of these

This a great and convicting bit of blogging by Rob Schlapfer.
(It also looks like he has removed all the discussion from the recent ruckus with AOMin.  Definitely the best and most mature thing he could have done.)

Update (7/28/04):  Well, after another interchange with Dr. White, it looks like Rob has completely scrapped his blog.  Probably for the better, since the exchanges were starting to get pretty silly.  And to his credit, White has removed relevant posting from his own blog.  I just hate that Rob's post mentioned above is gone.  It was non-specific and very relevant to the current state of Internet theological turf wars.  But again, very classy move on Rob's part.

A Good Year for Music

Albums I can't wait to be released:
Sandra McCracken -- Best Laid Plans -- August 3rd
(Yay! "Age After Age" on a real album, finally. My reward for finishing this semester, I hope!)
Caedmons Call -- Share the Well -- October 12th
(World influences, Randall's songwriting, an endorsement from Derek-- what more could you ask for?)
Andrew Peterson -- Behold the Lamb  -- Sometime in the fall
(Self-penned Christmas musical with a bunch of talented folks adding their voices and instruments. Nuff' said.)
I'm saving my pennies now. :)

Friday, July 16, 2004

Another blog of someone we've met in real life

(I just had to add this when I saw that he has a weblog now).  

Andrew Peterson -- He writes and performs "insert amazingly fabulous complementary fantastically cool adjective here" songs. He lives in Nashville with his wife and adorable kids.  There's a long story about how Team Redd first met on a roadtrip to hear him play.

P.S. His amazing Christmas musical is coming on CD this fall. Buy it.

Blogs of people we've met in real life

(Maybe we should make this a category on the left one day.)
Jen -- Allison's best friend from Birmingham. She is spending six months in Rio as a missionary pharmacist.
Lane -- Husband of Allison's good friend Mary. Both musicians, they live in Nashville but are planning a change in locale very soon-- to California!
Richard -- Fellow message board frequenter who lives with his family in Virginia.  Gaines met him on various concert roadtrips back in the day.
Kelly --  She and her husband are English techers in Honduras.  Allison worked with her at Riverview. 

See what homstarrunner does to me?

The new They Might Be Giants song on is catchy. I've never really listened to them, and it's sad that my first thought upon hearing it was "the harmonies sound like PFR." Anybody rememeber them? Probably not. Well, "Experimental Film" made me wonder what the rest of the new TMBG album is like.

Last night at Bible study, when we mentioned the Homestar video, some friends said they thought They Might Be Giants  had written some kids songs that were kind of frightening.  Upon checking out their homepage, I discovered this site. I'm not sure what to think just yet.  Check out the TMBG coloring book.  It's weirdical, man. And oddly enough, reminds me of a mixture between homestarrunner's children's books and their Sweet Cuppin Cakes cartoons, but much more deranged.

Speaking of, we saw a new building sign in downtown ATL on Tuesday night: "Homestar Mortgage." Gaines almost had a heart attack when he saw it. Add this to the growing list of reasons why we should get a digital camera someday.

Some thoughts on musical style

In light of recent controversy over using updated hymns in worship services, Kevin Twit, of Indelible Grace music fame, speaks out in a recent Modern Reformation article (the link doesn't seem to want to work, so just go to the MR site. It's on the first page, as a web exclusive).
It's a great word for those seeking compromise in the "worship style wars."
Of course, I may just be biased since we sing many IG versions of hymns in our church... they fit well with our available instrumentation. And the older members of our church really seem to like them, too!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Not that anyone cares about the Emmys

But I thought it was cool that "Arrested Development" was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, with actor Jeffrey Tambor, who plays the incarcerated Bluth family patriarch, getting a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor. The show also received 5 others nominations.

I simply cannot wait until this show comes out on DVD.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I swear, I'm really trying to cut back on starting new books while I'm still working through (multiple) others. But, Wright's The Meal Jesus Gave Us was too tempting to resist. In my defense, it clocks in at a mere 82 pages. Plus, Allison read it and said it was really good.

She was right.

I think I've got this straight: "N.T. Wright" publishes scholarly works on various subjects, whereas "Tom Wright" addresses writings to more of a layman audience (i.e., "for everyone"). I think this is great, because the guy is obviously a brilliant thinker and scholar, but he is very capable of communicating on a more general and, more importantly, pastoral level. His book on "the Jesus-meal" (as he refers to it) is no different. It is a great little survey on the origins, meaning and implications of Holy Communion.

Some interesting notes: Wright seems to identify with the Calvinistic view of the Sacrament over those of Rome, Luther or Zwingli. But, instead of viewing the Supper as a matter of the Spirit transporting the believer into Christ's presence to be nourished by Him, Wright views it in terms of "time," where the past (where the climactic work of Christ on the cross occurred), present (where we now sojourn), and future (the final outworking of Christ's work to restore the fallen creation) converge in the meal. The meal provides the believer with a foretaste of the fully-restored creation.

I also found in interesting that he advocates paedocommunion, largely due to the connection to the Passover feast.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I love it when things go better than expected, even in the relatively small stuff. For example: we placed an order with Amazon last Thursday to redeem a gift certificate (woo hoo!). The confirmation screen indicated that it would ship on July 14 and arrive between July 16 and 19.

The box arrived yesterday (the 12th).

Of course, this may cause me to re-adjust my reading priorities. We got Bainton's biography of Martin Luther, Here I Stand, and Tom Wright's The Meal Jesus Gave Us, which Allison is already devouring (yes, that was intentional). We also got Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Doug Wilson, but that is more likely to give Al problems with book-reading prioritization than it will myself.

Tim Gallant's blog has a separate section for "Bookshelf Arrivals." That might not be a bad idea, since we've gotten some pretty cool books lately that might not make their way into their respective reading queues for awhile.

Now repeat the mantra: So many books, so little time.

So Good!!!

Wow. The Brothers Chaps have outdone themselves with this week's update to

It is chock full of Decemberween in July goodies. I'm not too keen on the puppets, but who can argue with a holiday-themed Teen Girl Squad, Strong Bad's children's book or episode of Sweet Cuppin' Cakes?

And if that isn't enough, the Homestar guys' recent collaborations with They Might Be Giants has yielded a music video, just in time for the release of TMBG's new album.

So good!!! There, I've said it again.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Some Apologies and Clarifications

Fantastic comments from John Frame on his previous statements about Norman Shepherd's accusers, as well as a plea for much greater caution in using the label "enemy of the Gospel" against theological opponents.

back in the day

I was sorting through some old CD's this weekend, and I had a delightful trip down memory lane. I had forgotten how good Counting Crows' Recovering the Satellites was, or exactly how much talent was lost when Michael Hedges died.

I also dusted off the EP by Ethan Pierse (aka Tim Pigman). Whatever happened to that cool little guy? I wonder what he's up to these days. Apparently not updating his website.

Not-so-fun fact: Of the four acts from the Awakening Records SF2K tour, only Justin Rosolino is still making music. To my knowledge, the other three are no longer making music in the same capacity: Zoubek & Bryant and Dog Named David have both disbanded (although some individual members have gone on to solo aspirations), and Mr. Pierse/Pigman has vanished. Heck, even Awakening Records has evaporated. Alas, the harsh and unforgiving world of independent acoustic music.

unlikely allies

Apparently, even the Jesus Seminar is trashing the claims of The Da Vinci Code. The article discusses how the "scholars" of the JS, as well as other liberal Christian academics, are joining with conservatives to debunk the book.

From the article:
"Author [and Jesus Seminar Fellow] Robert M. Price, a favorite author in secular humanist circles, said Brown's claim of factual basis 'is part of the fiction.'"

(Courtesy of the BHT)

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Alchemist's Tale

This afternoon, I found an intriguing article by John Granger, author of The Hidden Key to Harry Potter and Finding God in Harry Potter (the latter I haven't gotten to read yet, but would highly recommend just the same). He received top prize for "The Alchemist's Tale" at the Nimbus 2003 symposium on Harry Potter last July.

Basically, the article is a summary of his books' major premise, which supplies an answer to both those who condemn the Harry Potter books as "lowbrow children's fiction" as well as those Christians who decry the series as promoting evil and witchcraft. He contends that J.K. Rowling draws much of her theme and source material from the tradition of Christian literary alchemists (which he explains in this article). I am even more convinced from Granger and others that Rowling is a Christian, writing with medieval themes in mind.

Because of this, I anticipate the sixth book that much more, holding fast to my conjecture that Albus Dumbledore is, or is closely related to, the Half-Blood Prince-- somewhere along the royal line of Godric Griffindor. What did ever happen to Dumbledore's brother, anyway?

Friday, July 09, 2004

New Perspective on Arthur?

As the controversy rages about whether 2nd Temple Jews were actually proto-Pelagians, the new Jerry Bruckheimer King Arthur flick has apparently written the title character as a Pelagian Christian in 5th-6th century Britain. I gleaned this from the review by Focus on the Family.

For what it's worth, I thought this movie looked pretty dumb from the get go. But I thought this little fact was somewhat interesting.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Book Review of What Saint Paul Really Said (Appearing in Reformed Baptist Theological Review Vol. 1, Issue 2)

"N.T. Wright’s book mounts a direct assault against the biblical doctrine of justification."

"Thus, students and theologians of the Reformed tradition must study and answer N.T. Wright because the gospel of grace is at stake."

These two statements form the bookends of the review. And the in-between? Standard color-by-numbers, boilerplate criticisms of the book.


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Puddleglum the compatibilist?

From The Silver Chair:
"I don't know, Scrubb," groaned Puddleglum. "Born to be a misfit, I shouldn't wonder. Fated. Fated to be Pole's death, just as I was fated to eat Talking Stag at Harfang. Not that it isn't my own fault as well, of course."

Lewis' subtle humor always makes me laugh. From the same work, on Centaurs:
"Golly!" said Eustace. "Do they eat a very big breakfast?"

"Why, Son of Adam, don't you understand? A Centaur has a man-stomach and a horse-stomach. And of course both want breakfast. So first of all he has porridge and pavenders and kidneys and bacon and omelette and cold ham and toast and marmalade and coffee and beer. And after that he attends to the horse part of himself by grazing for an hour or so and finishing up with a hot mash, some oats and a bag of sugar. That's why it's such a serious thing to ask a Centaur to stay for the week-end. A very serious thing indeed."

And on Government:
When the police arrived and found no lion, no broken wall and no convicts, and the Head [of the school] behaving like a lunatic, there was an inquiry into the whole thing. And in the inquiry all sorts of things about Experiment House came out, and about ten people got expelled. After that, the Head's friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an Inspector to interfere with other Heads. And when they found she wasn't much good even at that, they got her into Parliament where she lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

weekend update

The holiday weekend went well, and was mostly relaxing (at least for the non-grad student in the Redd household). The weekend was book-ended by viewings of Spiderman 2. Don't be mistaken: we usually don't see movies TWICE in the theater (we don't even see that many movies in the theater these days), but it really was a good film. And both showings were matinees. Did I mention it was good? Okay, enough justification for now.

Speaking of justification (seamless segue, eh?), Alastair at 40 Bicycles has posted Part II and Part III of his series on N.T. Wright. Very good stuff and a great overview of Wright's position on the covenant, righteousness, etc.

I also spent some quality time over the weekend playing at J.K. Rowling's website. Fun times! Who knows how much stuff is hiding, waiting to be found by obsessive Potter fans?

Finally, I must wholeheartedly endorse the annual 4th of July festivities at Centennial Olympic Park. Even though it was jam-packed, we (Allison and myself, along with a decent cohort of folks from church) had a blast. Although we did get to see Don McLean live, the real highlight (of course) was the fireworks show. Very nice. And bright. And loud.

We hold these truths...

When not making desserts for a Pool Party and our church's Patriotic Potluck, I spent my Fourth of July weekend reading slave narratives and stories of Mexican migrant workers (see booklist to the left).

One of the more touching moments from my reading appeared in Fransisco Jiminez's autobiographical collection of short stories called The Circuit. The book ended as the main character, a young illegal immigrant, a migrant worker, finally stays in a school long enough to learn something. His latest assignment-- memorize the Declaration of Independence. Just as class begins and he prepares to recite, La Migra, the immigration officers, arrive to arrest him, along with his older brother. He never gets a chance to speak.

Thankfully, the author continues the story in the sequel, Breaking Through, and we discover that he, his brother, and his mother are able to apply for Visas to re-enter the United States. But for many other Mexican immigrants, the story does not have a happy ending.

That is why I find it quite timely that Razormouth has a new article discussing immigration -- one with which I wholeheartedly agree. Check it out.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

An illustration

I read Rich Lusk's A Response to “The Biblical Plan of Salvation” from the Knox AAPC Colloquium Papers. I found useful the following analogy concerning alternate formulations to Reformed imputational schemes.

Suppose a woman is in deep, deep debt and has no means at her disposal to pay it off. Along comes an ultra wealthy prince charming. Out of grace and love, he decides to marry her. He covers her debt. But then he has a choice to make about how he will care for his bride. After canceling out her debt, will he fill up her account with his money? That is to say, will he transfer or impute his own funds into an account that bears her name? Or will he simply make his own account a joint account so it belongs to both of them?

In the former scenario, there is an imputation, a transfer. In the second scenario, the same final result is attained, but there is no imputation, strictly speaking. Rather, there is a real union, a marriage.

I would suggest the first picture (the imputation picture) is not necessarily wrong, though it could leave adherents exposed to the infamous “legal fiction” charge since the man could transfer money into the woman’s account without ever marrying her or even caring for her. It could become, as Wright has said, “a cold piece of business.”

The second picture (the union with Christ picture) seems more consistent with Paul’s language, and for that matter, with many of Calvin’s statements. It does not necessarily employ the “mechanism” of imputation to accomplish justification, but gets the same result. Just as one can get to four by adding three plus one or two plus two, or just as one can get home by traveling Route A or by Route B, so there may be more than one way to conceive of the doctrine of justification in a manner that preserves its fully gracious and forensic character.

For Calvin, the central motif of Pauline theology is not “imputation,” but union with Christ.

In a somewhat related note, I see that James White was scheduled to talk about N.T. Wright tonight on "The Dividing Line." I'm sad that I missed it, considering White's previous "stellar" work on the subject. I also noticed that the latest issue of The Reformed Baptist Theological Review (Note: they haven't updated the site yet) will feature a book review of Wright's What Saint Paul Really Said written by Tom Hicks, also known as "SBTS" on the Derek Webb Message Board. I hope he's improved his usage of quotes in context over the last few months. We shall see. But that's enough griping for tonight.

How did I miss this?

Why didn't I know Rush had a new album out? I guess that random version of "Summertime Blues" on LAUNCHcast should have been a hint. I'm so out of it.

I'm also sad that Rush is coming to Atlanta on August 1. Normally, that'd be GREAT news, but we'll be in Gulf Shores, AL on that day. :(

File under "random google searches"

My hometown high school is on the map. Well, sort of. The internet map. (I wish it could be on one of those special maps, where you can zoom in on a town and all the little buildings come in to focus. Something like the Maurauder's Map. Do they sell those anywhere? I want one.)

At least the town has some more claims to fame other than just hosting a really big (and really old) oak tree.

The "grammar girl" weighs in...

Warning: Monster Post Ahead (I got a bit carried away).

Mike made this comment on an intriguing blog I stumbled on today (and wondered why I'd never visited it before):

"I feel completely free to modify English grammar as I see fit."

It hit home with me, because lately, I've been reading about almost nothing BUT grammar, and this mirrors much of what I've been learning of the English language. Let me explain.

I imagine (and correct me if I'm wrong) that Mike was saying this tongue-in-cheek, since he teaches Classical languages and probably has a much better understanding of grammar than I ever will; therefore, he has the right to do whatever he wants.

That being said, the conclusions I've drawn lately about grammar usage are not far off from that quote. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not an "anything goes" type of person, nor do I plan on being that type of teacher. The question, as our professor Dr. Fox has been emphasising, is not IF we will teach grammar, but HOW.

The idea that grammar is constantly changing, that language is fluid, is obvious. I have yet to take "History of the English Language," but I imagine I will not learn that our Mother tongue is static. We don't speak King James English, thankfully. Therefore, the rules are constantly being revised to reflect modern usages.

In our "Teaching Writing" course, we've been reading a main text, Teaching Grammar in Context by Connie Weaver, as well as a supplemental professional book from a list of choices the professor provided. I chose Image Grammar by Harry Noden, and was pleased to discover the author makes a connection between that mysterious concept of "good writing" and art.

Basically, instead of teaching only wrote memorization of grammar rules and out-of-context grammar exercises to high schoolers, we should teach grammar through writing. The premise of Image Grammar is that all good writers learn by imitation, by reading what he calls "the Masters." He likens some fundamental grammar concepts to "brush strokes" that he believes all students need to learn before they can master the art of writing. Like painters who line the halls of the Louvre attempting to imitate the frenzied strokes of a Monet or capture the detail found in Mona Lisa's smile, student writers should be studying and analyzing professional writings to discover "how they do it." He, like Connie Weaver, insists that the way students become good writers is first and foremost by reading, and reading constantly. In that way, students absorb many concepts unconsciously.

Weaver noted that her son used absolutes in his writing, but he had never been taught the concept in school and couldn't name it. He had just absorbed it through his reading and consequently they appeared in his writing. I was the same way. Somehow, I had managed to avoid learning what an absolute was until two weeks ago, and then I realized I had been using absolutes in my writing all along without even realizing it. Her point being, students don't always need to know the terms before they learn to use them. Point well taken.

Image Grammar also advocates that students should be taught the conventions of grammar in order to break them. And they should be able to break them effectively. For example, professional writers uses fragments and comma splices judiciously, but we have always been told to avoid them. One list of authors who do this included Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, and E.M. Forster. In my creative writing classes in college, most of those types of rules went out the window. We paid attention to pause and cadence and rhythm, and ignored some of those "fundamentals" that plagued us in high school. However, we first read examples of genre and many samples of published writing before actually sitting down to the task of writing any type of poem or short story of our own.

Yesterday, one group presented Breaking the Rules, a book that advocates the same idea found in Weaver and Noden's text. The authors made the fascinating point that the people who write the grammar handbooks don't even follow their own rules in their other published writings! (And they had plenty of examples.) If the experts don't use it, why do we? I think it would be beneficial to teach our students this concept in high school before they get stuck in writing ruts. (Additionally, I believe after you teach students the 5 paragraph essay, it should be banished. Once they learn it, abandon it! It's too constricting. AP and Honors students don't have to use it, why should everyone else?) The authors make the great point that this method encourages creativity in writing, rather than using the punitive red pen "it's my way or the highway" approach all the time. Admittedly, there are times when breaking the rules is more appropriate than others, but that is why we, as teachers, should discuss these things with our students and show them plenty of examples of how to do it right.

Of course, we still have to teach the basics of grammar. There are punctuation rules to follow, and concentions that are standard. Some things don't change. If I wrote a sentence and ended it with a comma, like this, That would just be wrong. As a future teacher, though, what I've drawn from these readings is that I need to encourage student writing and actually have them WRITE in class in order to practice grammar concepts they learn, instead of sidling off "grammar lessons" to merely copying exercises from a three-hundred page handbook that I have probably never entirely read myself.

I'll spare you, gentle reader, from suffering through any more of my education dronings today. I'm still figuring all this out myself and have yet to come to firm convictions on some kind of happy medium between the behavioral model of teaching and a constructivist model, which is what Weaver advocates. Our professors are only too happy to oblige. They realize we are all going to have our own methods of teaching this stuff.

Of course, I'm curious to read more about the concept of Classical education that is buzzing about everywhere these days. Perhaps one day I will get to read Nancy Wilson's Our Mother Tongue. I've been looking forward to it for a while, but I have yet to order it and know I won't have time to even glance at it anyway, at least not for the next three weeks...and possibly the next year. Oh, the joy of returning to school! Sleep deprivation and cognitive overload, hoorah!