Friday, April 29, 2005

Those sneaky Sciurus carolinensis

For the unenlightened, Gaines has an interesting history with squirrels. When he worked at Georgia Tech, they would often follow him as if he was their leader, though he usually wondered if they were attempting to steal his car keys.

Someone sent this photo to me in a forward (ugh) of the "best photos of 2004," but I thought it very appropriate to post here since Reese's cups are Gaines' favorite candy. Somehow, dear, they KNOW.

The Far Country

Cover art for Andrew Peterson's forthcoming album, The Far Country, to be released later this year.

(And yay for someone else taking the time to capture the image from the designer's website.)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

More on "Worshipping Worship"

Following up on this article I referenced previously, Tim Challies has expressed a sentiment I experience far too often regarding much "worship music" these days: Why do we sing so much about worship and then never get around to actually doing it? Check it out:

"Songs of Procrastination"
Exploding toads?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Pressing Question for Today

At what point does a rock song become a classic rock song?

Monday, April 25, 2005


Imagine my surprise when, upon arriving home this afternoon, I found an unsolicited copy of the April 2005 Trinity Review waiting in our mailbox. I have no idea how we landed ourselves on the Trinity Foundation's mailing list, although the address label has a cryptic note reading "AAPC" off to one side. I can't help but feel like I'm being watched.

(Maybe John Robbins really was at the Pastor's Conference in January!)
Intown Community Church always manages to line up great acts for their Coffeehouse Series. This past Friday, we were treated to a wonderful double-bill: Randall Goodgame and Pierce Pettis.

If you were to search through the archives of this humble weblog, you would find a number of favorable references to Randall Goodgame. Although he writes for Caedmon's Call these days, he is quite the singer/songwriter in his own right. His writing can make you chuckle and can also make you cry, often within the same song. His songs tell stories that honestly portray the struggles and pain of life, but his music always offers hope and redemption. He also has a talent for writing memorable melodies and hooks. All in all, Team Redd highly recommends Randall. Because he did not have the main slot at Friday's show, he did not play a full set. But the songs he did play were fantastic. We look forward to seeing him play a full show sometime soon.

Pierce Pettis is a stud. I'm not sure how else to describe him. Like Randall, Pierce tells stories in song that evoke a range of emotions and reactions. His songs are peppered with attention to detail and clever turns of phrases. His skills on the guitar are amazing. Even if people haven't heard of Pierce Pettis, they have probably heard his music, as he has written or co-written numerous songs recorded by famous artists. His live show defies explanation, though. Not because of the music or performance, mind you. The guy is just, just ... well, "weird" is probably the best way to describe him. His rambling song introductions often meander far from the actual topic, but they are always entertaining. Sometimes the stories are more enjoyable than the actual songs, and that is saying a lot. He is quite a unique individual, but one overbrimming with talent. If you want to listen to some great music, pick up one of his albums. But better yet, try to catch him in concert.

(PS The opening act was a college student from Intown. He played only three songs. He had a very good voice, but his songs were decent yet unremarkable. I guess that's why he was the opening act.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Good post over at about "Worshipping Worship."

I've often had thoughts along similar lines: why do so many popular worship songs talk inordinately about "worship"? Aren't we supposed to sing about God? Then why so much singing about singing about God?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

After I got home from work (and "team-building) yesterday, I absent-mindedly changed into a t-shirt and shorts. A bit later, I noticed the irony: a new pope had just been elected a few hours prior, and I was wearing my old Caedmon's Call "Five Solas" t-shirt. I'm not sure what that says about my subconscious motives.
As a Protestant, I'm not exactly sure how to view the election of Pope Benedict XVI. On the one hand, I reject the papacy's claim to authority over the Church, and I certainly have serious issues with a whole host of Roman Catholic beliefs and practices. But on the other hand, the new pope claims to bear the name of Christ, and we share a common baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. I am caught somewhere between two unacceptable extremes: one being a broad-brushed anathematizing of Roman Catholics and their pontiff, and the other being a fuzzy ecumenicism that glosses over serious theological issues.

I am encouraged by the signs that Benedict XVI will take a strong stand against liberal trends within the Roman Church, as well as against the ever-prevalent plagues of secularism and relativism threatening from outside. However, the election of a new pope serves, as expected, as great fodder for the uber-Reformed, both in blog-land and in real-life. The saddest comments I've seen have expressed a desire to see Benedict take a hard-line stance in enforcing Roman Catholic teachings, which will (some hope) "deepen the divide between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, but that is a move in the right direction." In other words, the "right direction" is perpetual schism among those who claim the name of Christ.

LORD, have mercy on us, and please bless the head of the Roman Church with godly wisdom, so that one day, all of Christ's people may be united under the teachings of Your Word and not divided by the traditions of men.

(PS Daniel Kirk has some good thoughts in the comments on this thread.)

Zoom zoom!

I'm not sure if management thinks morale is low or something, but we've been having a lot of "Team Building" lately. Not that I'm complaining. Overall, it has been fun. Yesterday, two teams in our department had a joint team-building afternoon at Andretti Indoor Karting (which used to have the more interesting name "Andretti Speed Lab"). Basically, it's an old Sam's Club that has been converted into an indoor go-kart track (two, actually), with a Fuddruckers and a wide assortment of video games and other activities (like a rock-climbing wall). After eating some of the Fudd's giant burgers, we raced. It was a lot of fun. The go-karts are souped up to look like mini Formula 1 cars, and they actually have a fair amount of vroom to them. There was a lame oval track, but we opted for the more challenging (and more fun) one:

I'm not entirely sure about how well the team was "built," since the race track brought out the competitive spirit, which several of my co-workers apparently have in abundance. I finished in the middle of the pack with a decent time, though. I was more impressed with myself for not busting, against the barriers or against a fellow driver. (I also discovered that I have an abnormally-sized head, since I had to wear the "Extra Large" racing helmet -- and I had some difficulty with that.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Always and forever

Woo hoo! While driving home last night, Allison called to let me know that we had received a package via DHL. That can only mean one thing, I thought. Yep, our free iPod had arrived. Such a cool device. I've been tinkering around with it, and basking in the possibilities. The only downside is that we'll finally have to upgrade our PC from Windows 98 to XP (a process which I've been delaying for a long time). I know that there are some tricks out there to configure Win 98 for iPod use, but I don't think my computer hacking skills are sweet enough. But, it will totally be worth it to use this magnificently magical machine.

I love technology!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Allison has been largely absent from the blogosphere lately, mainly due to her student teaching, graduate classes and our Apartment Life work. In addition to all that fun, she's also applying for teaching positions for the Fall. As I've mentioned, our church is now partnering with another, larger church in order to reach out to the midtown Atlanta area (in the vicinity of Georgia Tech and Emory, plus a number of rapidly-growing high-rise condo developments). Through this partnership, we've met a lot of neat people, and by Providence, one of them is a middle school principal.

Allison met with this principal last week to tour the school, meet teachers and kids, and talk about any open teaching positions. We'll keep you posted on how that turns out. The funny thing is, in conversation, the principal mentioned that he grew up in Sylacauga, Alabama, the small town where my grandmother currently lives, where my dad and his brother grew up, and where our family lived for several years (my youngest sister Erin was born there). As it turns out, not only did the principal know my Dad, they also got into a huge brawl as kids, before baseball practice one day. What a small world! Neither will admit it, but I get the impression that Dad won. So, if Allison doesn't get the job, I think I might have to send Dad in as some muscle to "take care of things." ;)

(Hey Dad, I know you read this. We saw Mr. Hogan last night at church, and as you requested, I sent your regards. He and his wife Anne both said to tell you hello!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Propriety and false antitheses

I'm often troubled by the pragmatism that plagues American evangelicalism, especially when it comes to worship. I'll spare the usual comments on "worship" music for the time being. But one thing that bothers me is the loss of "holy spaces." That is, I am saddened by the fact that most Christians don't see the need for places or situations that call for a heightened sense of propriety and reverence. And, I understand that this lack often stems from good intentions in applying the truths of Scripture, specifically the blessings we have under the new covenant. Unfortunately, these applications often result in over-compensation.

Jesus' comments to the Samaritan woman in John 4 reveal to us that the new covenant does away with the legally-prescribed centrality of the Jewish Temple. True worshippers, says Jesus, worship God in Spirit and in truth, and their worship is not limited to a single geographic location. (One could argue that an obvious reason for the removal of spatial restrictions is due to the explosive expansion of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.) Unfortunately, I think a misunderstanding of this passage frequently results in a mindset that sees worship as a "purely spiritual" act; that is, the physical surroundings are irrelevant because worship is something that takes place in the "real sanctuary" of our hearts/minds/souls. This mentality, sadly, is rife with Gnosticism.

The false antithesis created is something like this: if the new covenant has abolished all the prescribed ritual and ceremonial rules, then anything goes. The latter statement may be stated in a less direct manner, but the conclusion still remains that almost anything can be permissible as long as it is done in a "spiritual" manner. (The exceptions would be, of course, actions that are clearly forbidden. At least, I hope they would be considered exceptions.) But this false antithesis reveals - yet again - a gnostic impulse that sees the spiritual as completed disconnected from the physical. The fact that our worship is not regulated as meticulously as it was under Torah should not lead us to believe that the circumstances in which we worship are completely irrelevant.

Because our bodies and souls are inseparably linked, it is unwise to think that our physical circumstances do not impact how we worship. If I am extremely hungry or freezing cold, my focus on worshipping God will likely be impaired. Can the Spirit work to overcome this distraction? Absolutely. Of course, the Spirit frequently works through such "non-spiritual" means as my eating breakfast or central heating in the sanctuary! This may seem like a silly example, but often, churches fail to apply similar logic to other areas of worship. Such as, is an extremely high decibel PA system completely irrelevant, or could it actually impact worshippers in a negative way? Is the dress worn by worshippers completely neutral, or could the sense of reverence in worship be somehow influenced by the decision to wear a nice shirt versus a faded T-shirt? Could the architecture of a church building contribute to worship, or does it make absolutely no difference whether we worship in a cathedral or a converted warehouse?

The point in all of this is not to create new rules by which to govern worship. If true worshippers worship God "in Spirit and in truth," then no set of surroundings can hamper the work of the Spirit in enabling Christians to worship. And conversely, no set of surroundings can manufacture genuine worship if the Spirit is not involved. But too often, these facts are used to discard the need for wisdom and discernment in how we worship God. All things may be lawful, but not all of them are beneficial. Because of the weakness of our flesh, Christians should prayerfully consider how circumstances and surroundings can be a help or a hindrance to our worship.

Building the Team

This morning, our division had an office Scavenger Hunt. It was actually kind of fun. You'd be surprised how hard it is to find a typewriter these days. Actually, I was kind of surprised by how many of them we found. But alas, it was not enough to secure the victory.

Maybe next time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Blog Survey

I got this survey from a girl on the derekwebb board who is trying to do a project and needs answers by Friday, April 15h. I sympathized with a fellow English Education major, procrastinator, and webboarder, so I decided to answer her questions. I spent so much time on my answers that I thought I might as well post them. If you would like to answer her survey, please click here. She even has questions for non-bloggers, so no one is left out!

Name: Allison Redd
Original Hometown: Geneva, Alabama.
Hometown Now: Atlanta, Georgia.
Gender: Female
Age: 24
Native Language: English
Occupation: Soon-to-be English Teacher (as of August 2005), currently a wife, graduate student and apartment event planner.
Ethnicity: White
Level of Education: Master of Education, Secondary English

1-Do you blog?

2-What is the name of your blog?
TeamRedd (It is a joint blog with my husband.)

3- How long have you been blogging? Why did you want to start? (What was its appeal?)

We have been blogging a little over one year. I'll have to admit we read a lot of blogs before we started ourselves, so it was almost a "bandwagon" thing. Mostly, though, we started blogging because 1.) It is a way to keep ourselves writing more regularly 2.) It is a way to stay involved in online discussions and link to stuff we like 3.) It is a way to keep up with friends (real and online) and family across the U.S.

4-How often do you update your blog? Are you happy with how often you update it? Why or why not?

Gaines updates it more than me. Probably 3-4 times a week. (Well, if updating just the list of books I am currently reading or have read counts as an update, then I update it every few days.) Lately, I have been posting very rarely, because I am so busy with school and everything. I probably post twice a month now, which is sad. But I do try to read it everyday and sometimes Gaines says stuff I'd want to say. I'm not happy with how often I've been blogging because I have a backlog of saved "drafts" that never get posted, and now I feel too behind to post most of them. I do want to write more and I feel too busy to do so just now. Soon, though, I will be finished with student teaching, so that should help. On our best week, I think one of us posted every day. Maybe. I could be wrong.

5- How would you classify the people who read your blog? Can you categorize them? (In other words, who do you believe is your audience?)

Our audience is mostly a very small number of online friends who are interested in similar things, as well as our family and close friends who like to know what is going on in our lives.

6-Do you know any of the people who read your blog personally (or in ‘real’ life)? Why or why not? If you do know any of them personally, why did you choose to meet him or her?

Yes. We keep up with Gaines' sister through our blog. That, of course, is someone we know well. My mom reads it, too, fairly often I believe.

Well, richard is an online friend who reads our blog because Gaines met him on a roadtrip a few years ago. So we met him in real life before we started our blog. He is one of the people who probably finally got us to start blogging. I don't think we have that many readers...

Oh, we did meet some folks at a theology conference in January who we knew through the blogging world. That was kind of cool, in a very geeky sort of way. I like to put faces and personalities to names.

There's another English teacher here in Atlanta that has a blog. I first heard about her through her blog and I'd like to meet her. Some of my grad school friends are student teachers at the school where she works and say she's a neat person. Also, I had posted a comment on her blog, and one of my "real life" grad school friends who didn't know I had a blog, found my comment on this teacher's blog while searching for lesson plans, and found TeamRedd. It was a funny round-the-world sort of connection.

7-Do you keep any other kinds of “journals” besides your blog? Why or why not?

Yes. I have always kept a journal off-and-on, but currently I am going through the book of Proverbs and journaling daily-ish responses verse by verse. I used to keep a diary of sorts as kid, and for a semester or two in college, and they are extremely amusing to read now. I hope I've matured.

8-If you do keep a “traditional” journal, is there any difference between your online version and the pen and paper version? What kinds of similarities are there? Differences?

Well, some of the differences are obvious. My current paper journal is a "prayer journal" of sorts, more of a study journal. The blog is more of a "these are the thoughts I'd like to share." I am more aware of my audience on the blog. I correct punctuation, spelling etc.; however, my paper journal is more of a "freewrite" where I do not go back and correct my writing.

9-Which do you like better, online journals or traditional journals? Why?

I like both equally, but I think it is easier to keep up with an online journal, because I can access it from anywhere and don't have to carry it around with me. I can update and check it from school or work or the library. It's great for quick thoughts and is definitely more convenient. But it is not private. We're very aware of that and are mindful of keeping some things off the blog.

10-What is your language itself like when you blog? Do you edit for spelling errors, capitalization, or grammar? Why or why not?

I'm a perfectionist when it comes to writing in almost any form, so I will spend an hour on one post making sure it says exactly what I want and that the grammar and mechanics are correct. I'm anal like that about anything that someone else will see. I do the same thing with message board posts and e-mails. Do I really need a reason, though? I'm an English major! And English teacher. It should be expected.

11-Do you think it is important to do this? Why or why not?

To blog? Or to correct the grammar? I'll go with the latter.

Yes. I think correct form, mechanics, etc. is important even in technological communications. Again, the English teacher in me takes hold here. I think real communication can only take place when everyone stays within the bounds of formal English-- it is too difficult to decipher posts or e-mails without capitalization and punctuation and proper spelling. Though I will attempt to read posts and discussions where someone does not do this, sometimes it may be too difficult and I may just give up altogether. Sometimes, I may say something (see a recent thread in the theology board for a good example.) Things like posting big chunks of text online without skipping spaces between paragraphs, or flagrant grammar mistakes in messages and online communications really irk me.

Lately, I've been getting regular e-mails from someone who cannot spell, conjugate verbs, or use punctuation (not spam). It is almost every other word. Reading those correspondences actually upsets me and, to my shame, somewhat lowers that person in my estimation. It's really just funny. And sad. I'm not laughing at the person, really.

Of course, with my high school students my reaction is very different. I am more lenient and understanding. When I work with students, I know them by name, I see them every day and know their struggles and their personalities. I know where they need help, and I can usually figure out what they want to say even when frought with errors.

However, when it comes to adults posting online, I am very picky, because I think you need to know the basics to be able to communicate well. It is very difficult to have a reasonable discussion without these basic standards in place. In addition, I am also a visual person-- I was an art minor in college-- so when things are not visually appealing it hurts my asthetic sensibilities. :)

I hope the above wasn't too harsh... I'm really a nice person! As a teacher, I even think content should be assessed before grammar in compositions. However, I have found the internet to be a very impersonal place. I find that on the internet the only aspect you can judge a person by is their words. Therefore, that one area makes a big impression.

12-What subjects do you write about in your blog? Is there any topic that is off-limits? Why or why not?

I write about almost everything, but as I mentioned above, some personal issues, church issues, etc. are better left untyped. We are a married couple attempting to project the aroma of Christm\, in our home as well as in public, and I think that influence extends to our blog as well. It is a public proclomation of our relationship, and therefore is a representation of Christ and the church. As a result, our blog should not be used as a place to air dirty laundry or as merely a rant page. We try to share our sense of humor, and our shortcomings, but not each other's shortcomings. Mostly I write about books, interesting links, and local goings-on. And how greatly I have been blessed by my husband. :)

13-Is there anything else you think I should know about why blogging is important or about why you blog?

I think blogs are best used when they connect communities of people who have similar interests and/or situations, especially when that community is already connected by a real life circumstance or event. As a future educator, I am also interested in using blogs within my classroom and my school. I am currently creating a class website (for wherever I end up teaching). I think blogging is a great way for educators to learn from each other, for teachers and parents to stay connected to their school and classroom, and for church members and cross-county friends to discuss and talk and connect in ways that are much more efficient and economical--blogging is cheap as free! One of the best ways I have kept in touch with friends who live for long periods of time in other countries is through blogging. I keep in touch with friends who live in Russia, Brazil, the Honduras, and California (to me CA is a whole other country) by reading their weblogs.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Observations from Jury Duty

As Allison mentioned, I had the pleasure of serving on a Dekalb County Jury last week. I won't go into too many details, other than the fact that it was a Superior Court Criminal (Felony) trial, and that we convicted the defendant. If you are really curious, feel free to drop me a line.

Here are a few recommendations, if you ever find yourself in a jury trial:

  • If you are an attorney, it is inadvisable to pepper your remarks (especially your closing statement) with comments like "I know I'm not the best lawyer in the world." Chances are, the jury has already figured that out.
  • If you are an attorney interviewing prospective jurors, don't patronize the naturalized citizen with Iraqi origins by asking him whether he knows the difference between the judicial system under Saddam and "how we do things here in the U.S."
  • When on the witness stand, make it a point to answer only the questions asked by the attorneys. There is no need to add additional comments or statements, especially if you are the defendant.
  • If you are the defendant, and a portion of the incident for which you are being tried has been captured by security video, make it a point to craft your version of the event in such a way that it corresponds - even ever so slightly - with the recorded evidence.
  • If you are a juror, and you REPEATEDLY cannot figure out how to turn off your cell phone, leave it in the jury room.
  • If you are the defendant and your case is going very poorly -- very, very poorly -- it is still not worth it to flee prosecution during the trial. You'll just make things worse.

  • I hope these tips come in handy. Overall, my jury duty experience was pretty positive. I was afraid that the jury room would be full of folks eager to get things over with and get out of there; but, much to my delight, all of my fellow jurors were willing to go through the case step-by-step to make sure the defendant was given a fair hearing.

    Oh, and one of my fellow jurors was the drummer from the Georgia Satellites. Remember them?

    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    civic duties

    As of yesterday, Gaines is juror #4. Needless to say, he won't be on the computer until the evening hours.

    He had already planned to take vacation hours for today and tomorrow, but with jury duty, it looks like we won't be using them for any actual vacation time. Sad.

    At least I can get more things done around the house (yay for spring break). I'd better go sort more laundry!

    Monday, April 04, 2005

    weekend replay

    Allison has Spring Break from student teaching this week, so we celebrated by doing very little of anything this weekend. It was refreshingly relaxing. Here are some highlights:

    - Watched The Manchurian Candidate (i.e., last year's remake, with Denzel and Liev Schreiber). Not exactly a must-see film, but it was a good and captivating thriller.

    - Also watched Ray. Between this film and Collateral, Jamie Foxx has come a long way from In Living Color. He did a great job as Ray Charles, and the film was very good. It was a bit heavy-handed in a few places, but the great soundtrack made up for those parts.

    - Had lunch with the illustrious Trevor Acorn and his lovely wife Antonia, who were returning from a week down in Savannah, GA. We had a blast hanging out with them and got to introduce them to some of Atlanta's best BBQ.

    - Watched parts of the Final Four games on Saturday night. If UNC wins tonight, I will finish 3rd in the office pool. Woo-hoo! Go Tar Heels!

    - Read/watched a good bit on John Paul II's passing. I appreciated the comments by Doug Wilson and Peter Leithart, which were a much more balanced look than others.

    - We had a great testament to Providence on Sunday morning. Our pastor was out of town this Sunday, and I was unable to coordinate with the guest speaker about the music for the service. Additionally, due to a mix-up, we found ourselves without a Sunday School teacher (our pastor has been teaching the class for the last few months). Despite all these disconnects, there was an amazing level of cohesion between our impromptu Sunday School discussion, the worship music and the sermon. And none of it was planned. God is sovereign, indeed.

    Friday, April 01, 2005

    woo hoo!


    We have approved your account and referrals. You may now order your totally FREE iPod."


    Last night and earlier this morning, we had a short break from the torrential thunderstorms that soaked us all day yesterday. The rains have now resumed, with even more severe weather expected throughout the rest of the day. Once they roll through, though, we're supposed to have a cool but sunny weekend. Fittingly, my Launchcast station just played the following song:

    "Jacob's Ladder"
    by Rush

    The clouds prepare for battle
    In the dark and brooding silence
    Bruised and sullen storm clouds
    Have the light of day obscured
    Looming low and ominous
    In twilight premature
    Thunder heads are rumbling
    In a distant overture...

    All at once, the clouds are parted
    Light streams down in bright unbroken beams...

    Follow men's eyes as they look to the skies
    The shifting shafts of shining weave the fabric of their dreams...

    It's good to feel loved

    Yesterday, a couple of the kids at our apartment gave Allison a very cool hand-drawn banner that thanked us for all that we do. For those who might not know, we work with Apartment Life, a neat outreach ministry (despite the cheesy website) that works to develop genuine community within apartment complexes (not always know for being bastions of neighborliness). We've been in our apartment for 2.5 years, and we've been able to make a lot of neat friendships, especially with the children.

    Allison, because she's awesome, does a disproportionate amount of the work, especially with the kids. This fact was reinforced by the fact that the banner read "Thank you Mrs. Alison [sic] and husband."