Tuesday, March 30, 2004

I think this is a wise article from Al Mohler.

WOTD!

resistentialism (ri-zis-TEN-shul-iz-um) noun

The theory that inanimate objects demonstrate hostile behavior against us.


Like when my CD drive randomly decides to open while I'm playing a game on my PC. Or maybe it's not so random after all ...

What English majors do to amuse themselves...

Perhaps my dormant teacherly habits are beginning to emerge. During my lunch break today, I sat outside, red pen in hand, and revised some of my college papers to include in a portfolio for grad school. I felt like I should be assigning grades or something. It was quite fun, even though every page amassed large quantities of scarlet notes and scribbles.

I spent most of my time on one essay in particular, about the film Memento. Reading about Leonard and his "anteriograde amnesia" makes me really want to watch the DVD again. It's been three years! I think this one should be added to our permanent collection...eventually.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

The Final Countdown ...

(Cue 80's cheese rock ... or not)

The Jackets certainly know how induce a state of near-cardiac arrest in their fans. But, despite the tenseness of their tourney games, Tech is going to the Final Four.

Even with Elder out, if Jack can keep doing what he did today, things are looking bright for GT.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

The Weekend of the Yellow Jacket Sports

After our weekly Saturday ritual of eating at Slope's BBQ, we traveled down to Georgia Tech's campus for a beautiful afternoon of baseball. Cumulus clouds streaked across the spring sky like pieces of cotton candy. The temperature was in the 70's, which felt nice in the shade-- perfect baseball-watching weather.

I haven't been to a baseball game in years. It was delightfully refreshing to kick off my shoes, lean back on the benches of Russ Chandler Stadium, and enjoy the crack of the bat, the smell of grilled $5 hotdogs, and the warm sunshine. Tech was up by 6 runs until the top of the eighth and then lost miserably in the last two innings (though they changed pitchers as often as the opposing team changed batters, it seemed.) Even so, it was good game to watch-- Tech had us on the edges of our seats for the last two innings. All in all, it was a superb way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Almost there ...

"Georgia Tech is so good it didn't even need its leading scorer to reach the regional finals of the NCAA tournament."

Friday, March 26, 2004

The other day at work, I found this article about small groups. There is some good stuff there that I wish could be incorporated into our couple's study. We are currently finishing up our study of Luke -- we look at a few chapters every week, and study it on our own to discuss when we come together, which is a good thing. Acts is on the lineup next, which should prove interesting.

Even though there's room for improvement (there is in any group), I really appreciate the opportunity to meet together with other families in our church to discuss Scripture. There are so many things we can learn as we edify and encourage one another through each other's gifts. I pray that I might be patient, humble, and willing to grow and be changed as God leads.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

White on Wright

I'm finishing up my read of What St. Paul Really Said, and some of James White's recent criticisms of the NPP are fresh on my mind.

First, White's failure to differentiate between the "New Perspective-ism" proponents is becoming more of a glaring error as I read, especially with every correction that Wright makes to Sanders' arguments. I had assumed this before, but now I have confirmed that White is simply wrong in trying to lump all of these guys together (although it sure is convenient to create one monolithic position to attack!). As Wright himself has noted, many of the criticisms leveled against him (as part of the "lump o' NPP") don't even apply to anything he's ever taught!

Secondly, in digging deeper into Wright's assessment of "justification" (for Paul), I find one of White's critiques to be very ironic. White, at the conference we attended, slammed the NPP (Wright included) view on justification as being "monochrome." His reason was that it provided no "depth," since it dealt primarily with eschatological vindication and not with anything as "rich" as the imputation of Christ's righteousness. This shallowness, White said, leaves a doctrine of justification that is bland and lacking in substance.

Of course, reading through Wright's teaching on "justification" in WSPRS and elsewhere, -- and seeing how Wright ties in eschatology, union with Christ, the expansion and fulfillment of God's covenant, and the new humanity available to Christians -- I have to ask: "who really has a 'monochrome' view of justification?"

FYI: The March edition of Q & A with N.T. Wright is now up.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Pizza, Pizzza!

Papa John's pizza is awesome. And good to us.

"We love piz-za! Because they're good to us..." (OK, so that's the wrong song, I know, but it's SO catchy...)

Anyway, we'd been trying to set up a deal with a local Papa John's that would benefit our residents. Some of the Atlanta stores have a new program for apartment communities where one night a month is "Pizza Night" when they will offer special deals just for people who live in our complex. I went by about a month ago and left my number with a manager who said I needed to speak with "Allison," another manager for this particular store. I hadn't heard anything from her yet, and planned on visiting them this week to see what was up. Well, last night Gaines and I called to order a pizza, and lo and behold, who should answer the phone but the very Allison with whom I needed to speak. Yay, Providence!

It turns out they throw away a lot of things (imagine that), and she had lost my number. So, she got my contact info again and we set up the program right away. Then we proceeded to order our pizza. She gave us a super deal and even sent me a note with our delivery! How's that for personal service?!

Monday, March 22, 2004

I finished reading Anne of Ingleside on Sunday afternoon. Lucy Maud Montgomery, the creator of the Anne series, was a Presbyterian, and she married a Presbyterian minister, which makes for some great jibes at the Methodists across the way, as well as some satirical portrayals of ministers and churchgoers, Methodist and Presbyterian alike, as well as a few Episcopal and Catholic nods thrown in for good measure. Of course, since I read L.M. Montgomery's stories as a child, I never caught on to the vast majority of theologically significant comments. Of course, there are numerous references to Providence (my first encounter with the word was through her books) and references to Christians as being "the race of Joseph," but I never fully understood what they were referring to until recently. And I've read all her books at least twice, but I haven't read some of these later Anne books since I was about 12. This sixth in the series sets Anne in the village of Glen St. Mary on P.E.I. She is married to Gilbert Blythe (hope that didn't ruin it for anyone who hasn't read the books) and they have a horde of children. Ingleside is the name of their home.

Three thoughts worthy of mention:

1. Old Hymns. In one of the funnier village anecdotes, the women tell a story about a funeral in which the "dearly departed" actually walks in through the front door during the service. It was all a strange mix-up (no one actually ever found out the dead person's identity) and everyone was so overcome with joy at seeing someone they thought was dead, that the organist changes the music to "Sometimes a Light Surprises." Since I had never heard that hymn until I was in college, I never knew it was real. I only picked up on it this time.

2. Children. In this book, Anne has six living little darlings, and the outrageous stories they tell and the zany experiences they have make me believe Lucy Maud must've culled them from her own mischevious kids. They are too funny NOT to be true! In one, her daughter Nan gets into some theologically muddy waters when she makes bargains with God so that he will answer her prayers. Some of her "penances" involve crawling backwards around the barn and walking through a moonlit graveyard at night by herself. She was only 8.

3. Big words. Following off the last point about the things her children get into, there is an incident with one of her sons. Jem, I believe it was, gets into an argument with one of his school chums and attempts a put-down he found in the dictionary. In trying to think of a particularly horrible and high-sounding insult, he comes up with, "You're a transubstantiationalist!"

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Friday, March 19, 2004

It begins ...

We can dream, can't we?

That Just Happened

Vernon, Florida may be one of the most brilliant movies ever. Or at least the most bizarre.

"He said shooting himself would be the last thing he ever did. Which it was."

Fun fact:
"This second effort by Errol Morris, originally titled "Nub City," was about the inhabitants of a small Florida town who lop off their limbs for insurance money ("They literally became a fraction of themselves to become whole financially," Morris commented.) but had to be retooled when his subjects threatened to murder him. Forced to come up with a new concept Morris created "Vernon, Florida" (1981) about the eccentric residents of a Southern swamp town."

(From filmmaker Errol Morris' website)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Attention Jane Austen fans.

I had no idea this society existed until today, much less the bit about the essay contest.

I'm not eligible to enter, since I'm out of college and not in grad school yet, but there's always next year...

If you win first place, you can choose a cash prize of $750 rather than going to the national convention, but I think it would be quite an experience to pal around with all those obsessed--er, enthusiastic-- Austen admirers. I wonder if anyone dresses up as their favorite characters at those things?

Monday, March 15, 2004

I once knew a wacky professor named Roger Casey. My sophomore year in college, he taught an introductory course on "Leadership Studies." Under his tutelage, we met a man who makes African folk art out of scrap metal and displays it in his backyard, learned how the "butterbean lady" in the cafeteria line displays leadership, and attempted to practice Buddhist meditation (the Christians just prayed). He definitely opened our eyes to some new experiences, to say the least.

Well, I was thinking about him this morning since I'm going back to my alma mater on Wednesday for a visit. It's amazing what you can find on Google. Only Dr. Rog would write a commencement speech based on the philosphy of Eminem. It's quite funny!

I can picture him wearing the backwards cap and rapping onstage. He was just that crazy. (Oh, and I imagine his jabs at faculty vehicles stem from his own car snobbery. He drives a Jaguar. At least, he did when I knew him.)

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Eric Peters is way cool. He played a gig here in the ATL area on Friday, and we were fortunate enough to be in attendance. We did have fun finding the venue, the Vertical Grounds coffee house. The directions on the website were mostly good, although it would have been easier if they had mentioned that the coffeehouse was in the Korean Community Presbyterian Church. But, we finally found it. It was a neat setup, and the church is holding these coffeehouses on a monthly basis, having started a few months back. Eric was the first act recruited from outside the church, and they've got some good acts lined up for the future (like Randall Goodgame in May, which will be cool).

Despite a few technical issues, the show was pretty good. Eric was accompanied by Gabe "The Legend" Scott, who has recently been touring with Bebo. Gabe's guitar/dobro/accordian/vocal skills definitely helped flesh out EP's songs. Make no mistake: Eric Peters is a tremendous solo performer. But, his songs definitely lend themselves to "bigger" arrangements to draw out the richness of his music. Eric has just released a new disc, Bookmark, which is more of a stripped-down acoustic "live" album. The disc contains re-worked versions of a few old favorites (including a mellow, cool version of the Ridgley song "Clenched Fist") and a handful of new ones. One of the new ones, "September Sunday," is a fictitious song dealing with his wife's death (which hopefully won't happen anytime soon!). A tad morbid (and he made a point to apologize in advance), but very poignant.

A mighty fine night of music, and to ice the cake, we got a real life exhibition of Mr. Peters dancing kookily. Priceless.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Mail

Guess what came in the mail today?

That's right...Gaines gets to take his new ESV Bible to our couples' study tonight. Just in time for Luke 14-16.

Guess what ELSE came in the mail today?

A jury summons....for yours truly. My first ever.

I knew that watching Runaway Jury twice in two weeks (once at home for fun, and once with our residents as a "Dinner and a Movie" event) would have some ill effect...

And lately I have been hankering to re-read John Grisham novels...was that a sign? ;)

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Saga of ESV #1581343485

On a certain messageboard we frequent, there was a thread about Discerning Reader, an online store that sells quality Chritian literature at discounted prices. They review every book that appears on their website, and refuse to sell anything that does not meet up with their standards, hence the appropriate "discerning" title. Anyway, there was some complaining about the customer service of DR and so the owner himself, Rob Schlapfer, joined the board so he could defend his company. In light of all the crazy discussion, I wanted to share my Discerning Reader experience (But not on that board, because sometimes the attitudes of people who post there really scare me.) I apologize in advance for the length. I'm long-winded, even online.

Last October, I realized Gaines' birthday was approaching and wanted to get him a nice birthday present. (November 5th, just in case anyone wanted to know.) He has been in desperate need of a new Bible, since the battered NIV he uses now is a paperback version from Urbana 1990. Needless to say, it has seen it's share of wear and tear. I also knew he wanted to get an ESV, black-letter edition. So, I started looking around, and DR had the best prices by far. Not being too familiar with the site, I saw on the update page that the Genuine Leather Black Letter Edition ESV Bibles were due "Any Day Now." So, I ordered it around October 5th, thinking that a month should be plenty of time for it to come in. I also asked for it to be gift-wrapped, since I didn't want Gaines finding out what it was in case he opened the DR box by mistake (he had ordered some books around the same time as well.)

Then, about October 17th, I got an update on my order-- it said "Will Ship in 24 hrs." Woo-hoo! That sounded great. However, the Bible never shipped and the update message never changed on the update page for my order. A week later, I e-mailed customer service to see what was up and didn't get a reply. So I e-mailed them again. I got a personal call (someone working in Customer Service was taking that day to call everyone who had questions.) He told me that they had one of the exact Bibles I wanted in stock the week before, but someone had made a mistake. When they took it off the shelf and put it on an intern's desk to be gift-wrapped, it had never gotten done. Instead, someone mistakenly sent it out to someone else, and my order never got filled. At least, that's what I was told.

Gaines' birthday rolls around and still no Bible in sight. Their update page still says "Any day now." So I contacted customer service again. I got a fairly quick reply by e-mail, saying that the customer service person who had contacted me originally must have been confused. They had not had that particular Bible in stock for many months, and numerous other people were waiting on it as well. At this point I was a bit frustrated, but I continued to wait. Surely it would be in by Christmas?

Sometime in late November, I believe, I contacted customer service again. I told them that I did not want it gift-wrapped anymore. Gaines knew he had a Bible on the way, the occasion had passed, and I would rather have used the $5 for shipping so it would get here faster. I ended up talking with someone on the phone who said they would take care of it, but who explained it might still be a while because those Bibles were coming from overseas. Apparently there are a shortage of Bible printers in the U.S. Especially ESV ones.

So we waited some more. Just last month, February, they updated the ESV Bible status. Every other ESV Bible version except the Genuine Leather Black-Letter was in stock. I was growing a bit more impatient, wondering why my particular Bible wasn't in, but continued to wait. The update page didn't change for weeks, but I kept checking it everyday just in case. And we waited some more. (Has anyone seen Guffman yet? Even Godot would do at this point...)

So last week, miracle of miracles, I check the DR update page to notice that the Bibles are "IN STOCK." I've never been so happier to see those two words in my life! Saturday, I e-mailed Denise, the nice new lady working at Discerning Reader. (If you've been following their updates, they've had some problems with some of their workers and had to train new folks. Understandable.)

I work part-time in customer service, and I've even worked a few weeks in a shipping department, so I know how hard it is to get things done, especially if you're the only one there. So in my e-mail, I noted that since it was Saturday, I didn't expect a reply until early this week. I'm sure they get lots of demands for "reply to this ASAP" etc., but I could wait. At least now I knew it was in stock.

Well, last night, we're watching the Simpsons episode where Bart goes to France as an exchance student, and we get a phone call. It was from Denise, in the DR office. It was the nicest customer service call I've ever recieved. She repeatedly apologized for our long wait on the Bible, and thanked me profusely for being so patient (Was I? I sure didn't feel that way.) She said they'd had some bad experiences with some customers (I could imagine), and said that to thank me for being so patient and so graceful, they were going to give us a free book with our order: The Passion of the Christ by John Piper. I asked how long it would take: "A week?" and I heard her turn to someone and say, "Rob, are we going to send this one Priority?" and he answered in the affirmative. So she said it should arrive at our apartment in 2-3 days. Wow.

To sum up, since apparently I can't write anything concisely anymore: Discerning Reader is awesome. Although they may have some staffing trouble and some order mix-ups, in my opinion they are the gracious ones. I know what it is like to be on the end of the phone as someone berates your company and yet you still have to be polite. Denise and Rob (and the rest of the DR staff ) are my new heroes.

My only advice to DR would be: contine to strive for "customer service excellence." It is a phrase often thrown around at my workplace, and it sounds too business-jargony for my taste, but I appreciate the policies that go with it. One in particular is that everyone within the organization is required to respond to all phone calls or e-mails within 24 hours, even if you can't answer the person's question. Sometimes I just have to call back and say, "I'm sorry. I have not been able to find out an answer to your question, but we are working on it and someone will contact you tomorrow." I think that is a good tactic to follow.
Also, keep your customers updated on the status of their orders at least weekly, even if it is just to say, "It is not in yet."

I applaud DR and want to publicly thank them for their gracious and timely response to my latest e-mail. Hopefully, Gaines will have a brand-new Bible by the end of the week, and the Redd household will greatly benefit from the "cutting-edge of Bible versions," as we heard Dr. White describe it a few weeks ago.

We'll, uh, keep you posted. (That takes on a whole new meaning on a blog.)

(An addendum: Sadly, DR no longer offers books from Canon Press, for reasons they have detailed on their website. For a few months now I've wanted to own the complete "Family Series" from Doug and Nancy Wilson, and DR was offering all eight books for only $50. Of course, we can still get them directly from Canon, but it was such a great deal I'm sad I let it pass me by. I'll just have to order something else from DR, like one of the plethora of titles I have on my wish list...)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Man, I love the Chronicles of Narnia. I just finished my re-read of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and it was quite the refreshing change of pace from my "serious" reading. I'm very curious to see how the movie is going to turn out. At first, I was pretty skeptical, and I was sure that they were going to butcher it. And maybe they will. But, from early accounts, at least it sounds like it will be a well-produced butchering.

I'm also plunging into What St. Paul Really Said, thus continuing my journey to the dark side. I've been whetting my appetite for destruction by reading some of Wright's lectures on the New Perspective. His lecture from the Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference is pretty good, bringing together (briefly) many of the different strands of reasoning I've read in other works of his.

This will be a nice diversion from The Passion of the Christ, which - lest there be any doubt - I am now officially tired of discussing.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Today, we had the privilege of going to a shindig in honor of Allison's great-aunt and -uncle's 60th wedding anniversary. It was pretty neat. Aunt "Tweet" and Uncle Bill are really great folks, and it was somewhat inspiring to see multiple generations gathered to celebrate them. I was able to experience a similar event a few years ago for my grandparents' 50th. In both cases, the couple was marked by devotion to their LORD and to their family. As a result of the former, the latter was blessed. This gives me great hope, and a great example to emulate someday down the line.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Sense and Sensibility

So I finished the book on Monday night, and over the past few evenings I've been watching the DVD I got for Christmas. I loved Emma Thompson's adaptation-- the script took so many great lines from Austen-- but the one weird part was watching Alan Rickman play Colonel Brandon. After seeing him as the eerily creepy-yet-possibly-good Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, it was hard not to picture him similarly in Sense and Sensibility. Somehow, it just takes all the romance out of his matchup with Marianne...

Oh, and was it just me, or are all the actors too old to be playing their characters? Wasn't Elinor supposed to be about twenty-five and Colonel Brandon in his mid-thirties? Emma Thompson was 36 and Rickman was almost 50 when they filmed S&S. That's the "magic" of Hollywood for you, I guess. Or perhaps they were trying to make the film comparable with today's aging bachelors and bachelorettes?

Sting 'em!

Oh my goodness ...

Which leads me to ask the question ... "What's the Good Word?"