Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Unfettered Hope - Part 2

In the first installment on Unfettered Hope, I looked at the distressing portrait that Marva Dawn paints of our technologically-driven society. Although technological advancements are not inherently bad, the paradigm within which they operate slowly and invisibly suffocates the hopes of those fettered by it. As means and ends become disconnected, our world becomes increasing commodified and stripped of meaning. The only way to identify and combat the covert bondage of this milieu is to re-orient our lives around the focal concerns that give meaning to our lives. For Dawn, only the Christian faith provides hope in the face of despair, by way of the two greatest commands: to love God and to love neighbor.
Christianity's focal concerns enable us continually to extend the sphere of engagement as far as possible, to be constantly learning new ways to love God and the neighbor and unceasingly discovering elements of our lives that are not yet centered in those commitments. Our focal concerns are worthy to control every dimension of life. When our practices are so ordered, we will know the fullness of hope without any fetters.
When addressing these focal concerns, we should maintain a healthy realism. Our faith is not pessimistic, because we know that God will make good on His promises to redeem all things. However, we cannot be simple optimists, either, due to the present reality of suffering in the world. We must view our world realistically and learn to recognize the things that currently fetter us. And we must realize that our churches, even though we have been give cause for true hope, are not immune to these fetterings. Dawn is especially perceptive, both here and in other works, at identifying the many ways in which our churches adopt cultural elements that hinder us from pursuing the twin focal concerns of our faith:

  • Churches lack unified boundaries and values needed to shape our (counter)culture. In attempts to be pluralistic or "relevant," we dilute the uniqueness of the Christian story; ironically, by attempting to accommodate more and more, we end up attracting fewer and fewer.
  • The societal rejection or denigration of authority figures has weakened both the role of mentoring relations in churches and the sense of authority possessed by a community.
  • Society's insistence on individualism leaves us reading our Bibles in singular terms, rather than plural, and looking to our own solo efforts to pursue our focal concerns.
  • The quick-fix mentality has led to a breakdown of disciplines and practices. Churches address issues like declining membership as problems requiring "devices" - like entertaining services or new programs - to solve them, rather than instilling habits and disciplines into members.
  • Sin is increasingly approached as a "device" which yields negative commodities (much like a disease that must be treated), rather than as a choice for which people are responsible. This misunderstanding of sin causes increased difficulty in communicating grace.
  • Worship becomes a means to the end of attracting non-believers or adding new members, rather than an end in itself. The constant desire for excitement leads to worship styles that must perpetuate a state of excitedness in order to keep the worshipper's attention. However, these styles do nothing to help Christians understand God's presence in hard times, struggles and failures. They also do nothing to teach how to love neighbors in instances where exceptional patience, compassion and long-term care are required.
  • Obsession with membership statistics and numbers overshadows depth of discipleship and growth in love.
  • The Christian Meta-narrative

    Despite the problems and distortions existing within churches, the Scriptures offer Christ's people a guiding narrative within which our hopes can be grounded and by which our lives can be oriented. Dawn briefly surveys the Old Testament and establishes the Scriptural pattern of hope and fulfillment. The initial Creation testifies to the harmony and peace for which we long for God to restore. Even in the Fall, we see God's mercy at work, and this fact reinforces our faith that God is the one who enables us to bless others, despite our frequent failures to obey. God's faithfulness to Abraham and His deliverance of Israel from Egypt further display His provision. Our hopes for living out our focal concerns are rooted in the fact that God's commands flow directly out of His grace. If dependence on God bolsters our hopes and ultimately frees us, the history of Israel demonstrates that reliance on self results in bondage. Israel's repeated turnings away from God's commands and towards their own selfish concerns serve only to provoke God's wrath against the nation. The poetic literature frequently laments God's wrath, especially in the knowledge the Israel deserves punishment for her sins. However, a tension between wrath and love is maintained, and God's people still hope for future restoration. The prophets continue this thread by denouncing Israel's failures to obey while simultaneously looking to God to provide mercy and forgiveness.

    The hopeful reliance on God's mercy demonstrated by the Christian story reaches its fullest expression in the New Testament. The birth narratives of Jesus are framed in the pattern of hope and fulfillment. Jesus' kingdom proclamation resounds with the message that God's new aeon is breaking into the present. By grace, we participate in that kingdom and draw our hope from the fact that God is reigning now. Christ's own sufferings, from his early persecution by Herod to his being misunderstood and rejected by His people to His Passion and crucifixion, remind us that the future age has not yet completely broken in, and we are called to share in Christ's sufferings. Thankfully, the Resurrection offers us hope in our tribulations, because Christ has already conquered the powers and principalities. Because of Christ's resurrection, we have assurance of our own deliverance from sin and death. The significance of the Ascension is that Christ presently rules and reigns, and he also intercedes with the Father on our behalf. Because Christ has ascended, we can have confidence in His victory even when the powers seem overwhelming, and we also trust in His mercy when we fall short. The Ascension also made possible the sending of the Spirit, and Pentecost reveals that God has empowered us for our mission in the world. Dawn notes that reliance on the power of the Spirit was obviously essential in light of the social, political and economic oppression faced by the early Christians; today, do we stifle the Spirit because we choose to rely on ourselves instead of God?

    Christians in the affluent West find ourselves in a culture that chokes hope and breeds despair. Our churches have far too often fallen prey to this destructive paradigm. However, as Marva Dawn has sketched out, the Christian story provides a grand framework within which we can re-orient our lives to pursue our dual focal concerns of loving God and loving neighbor. In the final installment of my review, I'll look at Dawn's thoughts on how Christians can live out the language of our faith and tell the Christian story through practices that offer true hope.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    Good news

    According to the Georgia Wildlife Web:
    The American Crow is widely distributed in the United States, being found in most of the continental states all year. It is common throughout Georgia, with the highest breeding populations found in the central and southwestern regions.

    Because the diet of the American Crow includes seeds and other grains, it is sometimes considered a pest species. Some control efforts have involved killing these birds at their fall and winter roosts, which sometimes include thousands of birds at each roost. This species is also hunted within the United States, and is not listed as Threatened or Endangered in any part of its range.
    Some of you out in blog-land may remember last year's epic battle against the moth invaders. Even greater things appear to be on the horizon.

    Monday, March 28, 2005

    Recent recommendations

    Saint Petersburg

    On Friday, we had dinner with one of our deacons and his family. After dinner, our hosts introduced us to a wonderful board game called Saint Petersburg. Team Redd enjoys playing board games from time to time, but those times are few and far between. Our hosts, however, are big fans of games of all types. Saint Petersburg, as the title would indicate, is about building up Czar Peter's city along the River Neva. It's pretty cool, because there are any number of strategies to be employed as the game progresses. Each round has four phases: 1) using your rubles to hire workers, 2) building structures, 3) hiring aristocrats, and 4) an exchange/upgrade phase. The different workers/ structures/ aristocrats generate money and points throughout each round. Gameplay requires finding the balance between hiring workers to generate the rubles needed to get the buildings and aristocrats that generate the big points. Plus, you can go into "debt" by holding onto the workers/buildings/aristocrats you want until you can scrape together the money to purchase them. But of course, if the game ends before you pay them off, you are penalized. Several of our friends at church are really into Settlers of Catan, but I think I enjoyed this one a bit better. Fun was had by all.

    Buddy Miller - Universal United House of Prayer

    I could never be accused of being a fan of country music, despite my Alabama roots. Similarly, one would be hard-pressed to label me a fan of the Contemporary Christian Music industry, although some of my favorite musicians are Christians and write from a distinctively Christian perspective. That being said, Buddy Miller's music could be loosely termed "country" and "Christian," but neither of those accurately capture him. I saw him play at Andrew Peterson's annual Christmas concert last December, and I finally got around to picking up UUHOP. The album is wonderful, a great blending of country, bluegrass and gospel stylings. The songs are heartfelt, spiritual and honest, including songs by Miller (and wife Julie) as well as renditions of songs by Mark Heard and Bob Dylan. I've been listening to it heavily since I bought it. Highly recommended.

    Thursday, March 24, 2005


    I found the following website disclaimer somewhat amusing (emphasis added):
    Fulton County provides the data within these pages for your personal use "as is". The data are not garanteed to be accurate, correct, or complete.
    I guess it delivers as advertised.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Unfettered Hope - Part 1

    In the endorsements for Unfettered Hope: A Call to Faithful Living in an Affluent Society by Marva Dawn, Eugene Peterson remarks that whenever Dawn releases a new book, he reads it. And then he passes it on to his friends. I am developing a similar appreciation for her work. Her writings on worship have been instrumental in re-calibrating my thinking, and her discussions on engaging the culture with the Gospel are always fresh, thought-provoking, convicting and encouraging. Unfettered Hope is no exception. (By the way, I'm not always a big fan of Peterson, but stuff like this has caused his stock to rise significantly in my eyes.)

    The book focuses on the many ways in which modern life binds our hopes and shackles us with despair. Dawn notes that for many throughout the world, this oppression comes overtly, in the forms of war, poverty, famine and disease. Not only do these afflictions end physical life, they also cripple the hopes of their victims. However, Dawn concentrates the bulk of her book on the covert ways in which prosperous cultures, such as the United States, steadily and stealthily bind the hopes and aspirations of their citizens. She highlights how the "technological milieu" that has produced such great wealth has also invisibly acted to reduce everything, from products to relationships to people, into commodities to be bought and sold. This commodification has fractured vital personal and social relationships, resulting in ever-growing individualism, isolation and, ultimately, a sense of meaningless.

    Worst of all, the consumer paradigm has infiltrated the Church, which has the only true antidote to the meaningless and hopelessness suffered by the surrounding world. Dawn argues that the Church must take up the challenge of exposing and disarming the "principalities and powers" of the technological milieu that fetter the hope of individual Christians and churches alike. These actions free us to realign our focal concerns around the greatest commandments --to love God and to love our neighbor. Only then will the Church truly be able to confront the culture's darkness with the light of the Gospel and to bring hope to the surrounding fallen world.

    The Device Paradigm

    In the opening chapters, Dawn sketches the contours of our technology-laden society, in order to expose how they negatively impact its citizens. One useful illustration is the contrast between "things" and "devices" in providing needed commodities (or wanted ones). By example, she considers a home in the northern United States. During the winter months, there is a desperate need for adequate heating amidst the bitter cold. A century ago, this need was met (largely) by a fireplace/hearth. The fireplace is a "thing" -- that is, it provides the necessary commodity (i.e. heat) while existing in a network of relationships. A "thing" cannot be separated from its context, and it provides more than one commodity. Not only does it provide heat for survival, it is also used (directly or indirectly) in other household activities, such as cooking and cleaning. It is not instantaneous; rather, time and effort (chopping wood, building the fire, etc) are required to provide heat. The heat is not ubiquitous, and, in winter months especially, the fireplace becomes a focal point of the home. It also defines and is defined by the rhythm of the household, as families rise each morning to make the fire and extinguish it at night. The operation of the fireplace requires skills that must be learned and honed, such as chopping firewood and fire-starting. Furthermore, the fireplace is enmeshed in a variety of social relationships. Chores involving the fireplace are distributed to different family members, and necessary skills must be passed down from parents to their children. The fireplace is a "thing," because not only is it visible, it is integral to a broad spectrum of relationships and activities within the home. As a "thing," it involves skills which engage the senses at all levels.

    By contrast, in more modern times, the same commodity (heat) is easily provided by a thermostat-controlled furnace/central heating system. This system is a "device" -- it is designed to operate with very little skill on the part of the user and to function invisibly. Although the benefits of centralized heating are evident, there are many drawbacks often left unconsidered. Gone is the need for skill on the part of the operator. The device can be operated with minimal effort and with only a bare understanding of how the system actually works. If the device malfunctions or breaks, the user is usually reliant on those possessing the special skills needed to repair it. Because the device requires little skill to operate, little skill must be passed on to other family members. The device removes a component of the inter-generational transmission of skills that was evident with the fireplace of yesteryear. The device paradigm results in the vanishing of attention to the means and a focus on the ends, the commodities produced.

    Obviously, all analogies break down, but I think Dawn's comparison establishes the point that the modern paradigm is driven by devices that require very little skill to provide a desired commodity. The device (by design) becomes invisible, and very little thought is given to where or how the commodity is produced. Methodology becomes irrelevant as efficiency becomes the paramount concern -- how quickly/cheaply can I get the desired end result?

    Focal Concerns

    However, Dawn does not shun technology or devices in general. Rather, her concern is with the mindset and motivation behind how we wield them. The removal of the relation between means and ends has resulted in a culture that has misplaced its values. By viewing speed and efficiency as having exceedingly great importance, our society perpetuates technological advancement, in part, as a way to "save time." But, Dawn muses, what benefit does this "saved time" actually have? Unfortunately, this saved time rarely translates into contentment, and people turn to accumulating more commodities to fill up the "empty time." Because we are uncomfortable filling this empty time with relationships, contemplation, reflection and other activities involving engagement on a deeper level (because they require too much time!), we turn to diversions and entertainment, which our media-driven culture has convinced us are needs to be met by consumption and consumerism.

    Dawn argues that the technological paradigm will only loosen its fettering grip when we actively seek to expose it for what it is. Because this milieu is all-pervasive, it is often difficult to see through it. However, cracks occasionally appear and reveal the shallowness within. (Reading this, I had a brief flashback to the Matrix series, where the humans are largely unaware of their captivity within the system.) Instead of capitulating to the paradigm, we must identify our core values, our "focal concerns," and re-orient our lives around them. Technological means must be reigned into submission towards the advancement of these concerns, instead of being used thoughtlessly and in tacit endorsement of the pardigm's values. By deliberate use of technology in ways that support these core values, alternatives to the prevailing mindset can be demonstrated and, in conjunction with exposing the cracks in the system, people can be released from the hope-suppressing nature of society.

    So, what are these "focal concerns"? Dawn quickly notes that not all concerns are equally valid or beneficial. She spends the latter half of the book establishing that the two primary focal concerns for the Christian are the two greatest commandments - 1) loving God and 2) loving neighbor. Our life's activities, including our use of technology, should be intentionally oriented around these twin concerns. In the next part, I'll look at Dawn's thoughts on how the Christian story helps form our own lives around these concerns, as well as practices and habits that intentionally reinforce them, over and against the prevailing consumer-driven culture.

    Approval requested

    Okay, so I just requested approval for our free iPod. We have to wait ~5 business days while they make sure all our referrals (and their referrals) are legit. For my referral-peeps -- if you have violated the Terms and Conditions in any way, please let me know ASAP. Because I am coming to get you.

    Just kidding.

    Not really.

    Book Club

    The Thinklings, a group-blog I discovered through the Boars Head Tavern, have started their book club, which will begin with Hoekema's The Bible and the Future. I have a copy and have been meaning to read it for some time, so this looks like a pretty good format within which to participate. The first discussion article , covering chapters 1 and 2, was posted yesterday, and so far, it looks like this should be a profitable study.

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    Evil turtle!!!!


    I just wanted everyone in Blog-ville to know that I (we, actually) had roasted caterpillar as an afternoon snack yesterday. Just thought you should know.

    (Note: We were visiting our neighbor from Zambia at the time. Please don't mistake this for a recurring menu option on our part.)
    Why, oh why, did I forget that today was casual day? At least I wasn't the only one.

    (It is "spring cleaning day" at the office.)

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    So bizarre it has to be true

    Excerpts from on an internet message board, as the conversation tangentially veered towards the dreaded "New Perspective":

    Person 1: Please don't tell me you've been sucked in by that!

    Person 2: To be open and (cautiously) listening to what good brothers in Christ who are also excellent scholars in their own right are saying is not to be "sucked in." There is way too much straw man, emotionalistic rhetoric flying around about Wright and NPP that is clouding the honest debate that is still ongoing.

    Person 1: I don't think there's straw man with Wright ... I was almost sucked in by him until I was saved from that by the Lord. I nearly believed him in his book when he claimed that "no serious scholar believes imputation is about justification" as he claimed (those aren't exact words, but definitely what he meant) in What St. Paul Really Said.

    Person 2: My reading of Wright has convinced me that his position on imputation and justification is [mis]understood by people looking for sound bites from his writing. He neither denies imputed righteousness nor justification by faith, he simply has proposed a reorientation of how those are enacted in the believer. I'm not saying he's correct, but those who are accusing him (and other NPP/Federal Visionists) of heresy are way over the mark.

    Person 1: Excuse me, but I think denying the doctrine of justification would absolutely be believing another gospel. I was saved from that. Perhaps you take personal offense that I would think such a gospel that denies the reformed (Not as opposed to Arminian, but opposed to Roman) doctrine of Justification is distinctive of true Christian faith, and any other is anathema, but I do not apologize for feeling rescued by God from that deadly trap.

    Person 2: As I've already pointed out, everything you say there assumes positions that are simply not true about those you opposed. To say that N. T. Wright denies the doctrine of justification by faith is the height of "straw man." I've read him; I've heard him speak...and you are painting an unjust picture of his teachings.

    Person 1: He denies the reformed understanding of it. As I've said he SPECIFICALLY denies in that book that justification is about how you are saved, but only about who is included in the covenant (which he naturally extends to the Roman church). He SPECIFICALLY denies that justification is about imputation.

    That fundamentally undermines the reformed understanding of justification, and in my opinion, of the doctrine altogether. That's not strawman. have you read that book????

    Person 3: He denies that that is what Paul was talking about. In is paradigm, Paul wasn't talking about how to get saved, but rather who is saved. He argues that Paul was dealing with Jew/Gentile relations with the 'justification by faith alone' language.

    But the concept? No, I don't think He denies that at all. We are saved in Christ, period. He doesn't use the language of imputation because it has been abused, caused some to reify righteousness into something that can be passed around, and because it leads to the conclusion that Jesus was a means to an end, and not the End. What is Christ's is ours because we are in Christ. That is 100% consistent with Wright's teaching, and it is the concept of what you are trying to communicate with the imputation language, without the distortions that have come with it. Whether you agree that we should ditch the imputation language or not is another discussion. But the guts of the doctrine is all there in Wright.

    Person 4: There are many NPP folks who are in attack mode. Wright is not one of them. There is no doubt that there is much to talk about in this whole debate. But Wright is hardly pandering heresy.

    Person 1: I don't know if Wright is pandering heresy or not ... But I know that he's walking a fine line, and denying our confessions by what he's saying. Quite frankly, I don't know exactly what he believes, because he contradicts himself. I've read those quotes that you've put up there, but they are contradicted by his books. That's the problem. He is tricky, and that raises red flags. The NPPers do a lot of that -- finnessing and nuancing words and phrases, so that only the sharpest of theologians can see around what they are doing.

    Person 4: If you get a chance... could you show where he contradicts himself?

    What may seem like a contradiction may not be. You may be missing the forest for the trees. This is a whole different paradigm for how to read Paul. If you don't understand the whole thing ... I think it is easy to read one part of it and miss the actual meaning within the context of the whole paradigm.

    Person 1: Have you read What St. Paul Really Says? That's where he does it. I don't have the book anymore (I threw it away actually), but those two concepts struck me very hard because they were so contrary to what I'd been taught, and for a while i believed his lie, that what I believed no serious scholar still believed.

    And that's when the Lord intervened.


    I think the phrase "The New Paranoia on Paul" might actually be a good one ...

    Mail call!

    Two pieces of fun mail arrived at Team Redd HQ yesterday. One is the spiffy-looking slipcase for the Lord of the Rings trilogy (DVD's not included -- fortunately, they were already on our shelf) pictured above. It's nothing fancy, but it is (as mentioned) spiffy-looking. And free (plus S&H, of course).

    But more importantly, our DVD's from the 2005 Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference arrived. Yahoo! I'm looking forward to these DVD's (and 1 CD, since the very first session, Bishop Wright's opening lecture, was only recorded as audio, much to my dismay), mainly to catch the large volume of information I was unable to digest the first time round. Good times.

    Monday, March 14, 2005


    This weekend can be summarized mainly in terms of a) ACC basketball and b) less-than-healthy food. The connection between the two exists because the former was watched in establishments providing the latter. But, we had a great time hanging out with friends while cheering on the Jackets, from the pummelling of Virginia Tech to the nail-biting upset over UNC to the heartbreaking loss to the Dookies in the ACC Championship. Even though GT lost yesterday, I hope the spirit and determination they displayed over the weekend only continues to intensify as the NCAA tourney commences this week.

    GA Tech, the no. 5 seed in the Albuquerque region, begins the NCAA Tournament by playing George Washington on Friday.

    In other weekend news, we got a nifty birdfeeder for Christmas, and I've enjoyed watching the songbirds congregating on our porch over the last few weeks, as the weather has steadily warmed. This weekend, however, I noticed a couple of larger, uglier birds (of the crow/raven type) hanging out in the area. These unwanted guests have been menacing the smaller birds and claiming the feeder for themselves. I've been trying to figure out a (relatively) non-violent strategy for removing them, and I think I may find my Super Soaker useful in this endeavor. Stay tuned for updates.

    On a much more serious note, the courtroom shooting tragedy cast a shadow over Atlanta this weekend. Chillingly, the courthouse is only a mile from my office, and the site of the suspect's apprehension is only a few miles north of our home. At almost every place we went this weekend, steady news coverage of the shootings and subsequent manhunt played as background noise, and police and State Patrol vehicles were ubiquitous. As the initial shock begins to wear off, it is becoming readily apparent that Fulton County is going to be under enormous scrutiny for both the overall security at the courthouse and their (mis)handling of the search for the fugitive. Unfortunately, it seems (to me, at least) that many of the criticisms are quite valid.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    mini movie reviews

    Due to some cold and rain, we watched several movies over the weekend. As a public service announcement, I will now present my mini-reviews. I wanted to be cool and jump on the haiku bandwagon, but alas, I'm not that clever.

    (Disclaimer: These movie reviews are for entertainment purposes and should not be construed as professional opinion.)

    Scotland, PA: MacBeth, in a 1970's burger joint, with the title character and his wife as overly-ambitious employees? Christopher Walken as Lieutenant MacDuff, investigating the murder-by-french-frying of Mr. Duncan, the restaurant's owner and proprietor? Andy Dick as one of the three witches? This darkly-comic indie film is an interesting take on the Bard, but it was actually pretty clever and entertaining. (Though I don't remember Shakespeare using so many F-bombs.)

    The Ladykillers: Remake of the 1955 film. Eccentric characters and some laughs, but not up to snuff for the Coen Brothers. Apparently Bruce Campbell has a cameo that we missed. Maybe the film would have been better if he had been more prominently featured.

    Luther: It's Braveheart for Lutherans. (Sort of.) Overall, a great film, despite the obligatory "flexibility" with historical accuracy. I was glad they didn't blunt the force of Luther's Christocentric preaching. Well-produced. Good cast, although I didn't think Joseph Fiennes was fiery or burly enough to be Luther. Nevertheless, he gave a good performance.

    Super Size Me: Well-made documentary. I appreciated how the film did more than just point the finger at the fast food industry; rather, there were several appeals to the role of personal responsibility in maintaining one's health. They even showed a guy who has eaten over 19,000 Big Macs in his life (averaging about 2 a day), yet is still slender with a cholesterol of 140. Still, the DVD extra features were enough to make me want to avoid McDonald's fries FOREVER. (Shudder.)

    Friday, March 04, 2005

    I Am The Sword

    Eric Peters has been web-posting some unreleased goodies captured during recording sessions from his Miracle of Forgetting album.

    The latest offering is "I Am the Sword" -- inspired by the American Civil War and possibly one of my favorites. This particular version is pretty good!

    (Dad, you should listen to this. I think you might like it!)
    Hey, we're just ONE COMPLETION away from getting our free iPod. Woo hoo!

    Is it possible that some of you fine folks signed up under us and completed an offer, but perhaps it hasn't yet credited? Please let me know, so I can start directing referrals towards the four wonderful folks who have helped us so far.

    Of course, until I know that someone under our link is merely waiting to have their offer credited, we still need ONE MORE sign-up. We would be most grateful. :)

    Yay For Tax Refunds!

    They almost make me forget about that interest-free loan I gave the government last year.


    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

    "Snow" day

    My wife is a human barometer. She is unusually sensitive to the changes in atmospheric pressure that occur when a front moves in, bringing some form of precipitation. Last night, Allison -- weak, weary and ache-y from a long day at school -- came home and exclaimed, "I think it is going to snow." Now, she's usually pretty accurate about weather changes, but snow? The forecast indicated an extremely low chance of light flurries north of home, but that was it. Nevertheless, she was adamant in her prognosticating.

    So what do I see when I leave for work this morning? A thin layer (less than a quarter inch) of white powder covering the grounds and cars outside our apartment. Not much, but enough to make a couple of snowballs. And, it just started "snowing" again down here at the office. I need to stop doubting Allison's meteorological superpowers.

    (I am well aware that folks living north of Atlanta would laugh at our lame excuse for "snow." Just back off, man! Let us enjoy our novelty. The high will probably be back up to 70 by next week anyway.)