Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Little Something for All the Theology Nerds

Okay, I'll admit that I laughed. Though, it isn't as funny with repeated listening. Oh well.

John Piper is BAD!

Jeff Meyers on "Worship"

The English word "worship," especially as it is used in modern times, is not a very helpful translation. One of the problems with our word "worship" is that it now refers to all sorts of activities, both physical and mental. In fact, a recent fad is to stress that all of life is "worship." In some sense this is true, but only in a very loose sense. When used in this sense "worship" denotes a mental disposition. But this is not the sense in which this word proskuneo [the Greek word frequently translated as "worship" in the NT] or "bowing down" is ordinarily used in the Scriptures. If you want to say that all of life is "bowing down," that is fine; but this can only be so in a very abstract or metaphorical way. If you are working hard on a painting job, for example, you may, indeed you should mentally gives thanks and praise to God while you do so, but ... you are not bowing down at that time with others who reverence the same God.

(The Lord's Service, p 308)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In Other News ...

Here's a novel way for filmmakers to deal with their critics.

Semi-frequent Sufjan Update

For those who missed Sufjan Stevens' current tour (or those who want to re-live the majesty), will be webcasting his Philadelphia concert on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 8 PM. Here's more info.

For those who are still wondering what the deal is with this Sufjan guy, this might be a good way to check him out. No seriously, check him out.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Georgia Tech cracked the AP Top 25 this week, at a respectable #24. Not bad, but plenty of room for improvement. Let's hope it bolsters the Jackets for Virginia Tech this Saturday, our first away game of the season.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More Sufjan Pics

Okay, I know some of you are probably tired of hearing "Sufjan this" and "Sufjan that." (Bunch of Philistines!) But I wanted to post a link to pictures from the Chapel Hill, NC show last night, shamelessly culled from another fan's website. We weren't actually there, but it looks pretty similar to what we saw the previous night here in Atlanta.

Sufjan Stevens - 2006 Tour - Chapel Hill, NC

Oh, and the Atlanta-Journal Constitution has a review of the Atlanta show.

Friday Football

This time of year, Fridays usually mean looking forward to Georgia Tech football the next day. This Friday, however, is a look back, since we played last night, against the Cavaliers of Virginia. Okay, "played" really means "throttled."

Yellow Jackets Dominate Virginia, 24-7

Granted, Virginia played terribly, especially their offense. But the Jackets looked really good, and not just in contrast to UVA. Calvin Johnson (cue angel chorus) had the best game of his career in total receiving yards, plus he had his career longest touchdown reception. And all this coming off an injury from last weekend's game. Reggie Ball looked great, too, with some much needed consistency and a few beautiful passes. He even ran the ball in for a touchdown. To top it all off, it was a wonderful autumn evening for football.

The Jackets now have nine days to prepare for their first away game of the season, at Virginia Tech.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sufjan Concert, Or, Team Redd Endeavors to Admire Mr. Stevens and His Multi-Instrumented Regiment at Their Atlanta Engagement -- With Great Success!

Last night, Sufjan Stevens rocked Atlanta, Team Redd inclusive. Words cannot do the show justice, but I'll try to give you the flavor of the evening. But, even though we had read about what to expect from this tour, we were thoroughly blown away.

Here's the scoop:

After work, Allison and I took the MARTA (it's smarta!) train downtown to the Fabulous Fox Theatre, one of Atlanta's truly historic landmarks. The Fox is an elegant facility, with a seating capacity of ~4600. I'm not sure if the show sold out, but it had to have been pretty close, as we saw few empty seats. According to the AJC (note: free registration required), the Fox is the largest venue at which Sufjan has ever performed. We met up with my sister and her husband, as well as some other friends, prior to the show. But since Team Redd managed to score SWEET SEATS, we soon parted ways. Said SWEET SEATS were in the orchestra pit, five rows from the front, house left -- a great vantage point from which to see most of the stage. A few of the musicians on the other side of the stage were obscured, as was Sufjan during his few piano songs. But for most of the show, we had a great view of the man from Michigan.

The opening act was My Brightest Diamond, aka Shara Worden, fellow label-mate from Sufjan's Asthmatic Kitty Records. Admittedly, it took me a little while to get into her stuff, especially since the first few songs were very ethereal, with lots of chiming guitar harmonics and falsetto singing. The string players (from Sufjan's ensemble) helped to add some richness to her sound, but I still wasn't sure what to think. Thankfully, her later songs were much more agressive, filled out by drums, bass and electric guitar crunch. She has a great voice for rock/blues singing, and the latter half of her set was pretty good. All in all, not bad for an opener. But we didn't come for the opener ...

After the intermission, Sufjan and company took the stage, and instruments abounded. Sufjan alternated between guitar, banjo and piano throughout the evening. Shara Worden sang background vocals and played electric guitar, as well as a tiny musicbox piano. Sufjan also had a drummer, bass player and another electric guitarist providing the rhythm/rock section. But most impressive by far was the combination of an eight-piece string section (2 cellos, 2 violas and 4 violins) and a three-piece brass section (two trumpets and a trombone). One of the violinists also played guitar (electric and acoustic) on a few songs. Oh, and the entire group was clad in matching uniforms (band outfits?) complete with butterfly wings and Mardi Gras-esque bird masks. Sufjan, however, was adorned in bird wings. Sure, it sounds weird. Okay, it was weird, but he made it work.

Needless to say, this instrumental array provided quite a rich sound, with almost every song receiving a full and glorious treatment. After taking the stage, the musicians played a beautiful instrumental prelude. Throughout the show, images were projected onto a screen behind the band, making for a really cool effect (often incorporating older-looking, home movie footage). The prelude was played over a set of abstract images that gradually went from dark to light, giving a sunrise-like effect. Following this, they played "Sister" (from Seven Swans), and this song set the tone for the evening. Sufjan always makes great use of layered instruments and voices on his albums, to great effect. This often ends up sounding vibrant yet unpolished, like a high school band (in a good way). Last night, though, the instrumental ensemble sounded quite majestic. Instead of being dominated by the rough, overdriven guitar of the album version, "Sister" was lush and orchestral.

Here's the complete set list:

The Lord God Bird
The Transfiguration (partial)
Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head!
Casimir Pulaski Day
John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!
A Good Man is Hard to Find
Majesty Snowbird
Seven Swans
The Transfiguration (complete)

The Dress Looks Nice on You

From what I've read elsewhere, this might have been the best setlist yet on this tour. Although previous nights saw "Night Zombies," a Christmas song and some tunes from The Avalanche, last night had a heavy emphasis on songs from Seven Swans, with 6 of the 12 tracks represented. I don't think I would have changed a thing.

As far as highlights go, the whole evening was consistently amazing. One notable incident occurred three songs in, during "The Transfiguration." About halfway through the song, there was a deafening blast of distorted static that brought everything to a screeching halt. It took several long minutes for the sound guys to find the problem and swap out some cables. Sufjan was visibly shaken, but the crowd was extremely supportive. We were all sad when Sufjan announced that they would move on to the next song, quipping "I believe in divine intervention." Thankfully, they played the song in full at the end of the set, this time without mishap, and it was marvelous.

As I mentioned, the ensemble really brought great depth to Sufjan's songs. The big ending of "Predatory Wasp" ("Oh great sights upon this state, Hallelu- ...") was breathtaking, finishing with a wall of sound that was tense yet beautiful. In contrast, the haunting and minimal instrumentation on "John Wayne Gacy" only accentuated the creepiness of the song, leaving me speechless. Sufjan also played a brand new song, "Majesty Snowbird," which made great use of the entire ensemble, with crunchy electric guitar, thumping bass, replete with string/brass goodness -- "majesty" is definitely an appropriate title! I'm curious as to what stylistic turns Sufjan will take with his next album, and I'm hoping this might be representative.

The video projection behind the band contained some really cool stuff, usually tying into the songs. "Detroit," for example, featured some dated footage of the bustling Motor City. "Jacksonville" included a bunch of home video footage of the Illinoisemakers acting goofy, with a funny section centering around Superman. The videos were used well, never distracting and only enhancing the music.

After a rousing rendition of "Chicago," the band left stage to a thunderous standing ovation. A few minutes later, a tired-looking Sufjan Stevens returned to the piano to deliver a poignant solo performance of "Romulus." A few of the band members then joined him to play a mostly-acoustic version of "The Dress Looks Nice On You." And then it was time to leave.

One funny thing after the show: there were tons of guys outside the theater selling knock-off Sufjan T-shirts. It looks like they pulled the pictures/art straight from the web site. I guess you've truly made it big when you have your own bootleg merchandise.

Needless to say, if you have an opportunity to catch a show on this tour, DO NOT MISS IT!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

This is a cool idea. will e-mail bite-sized chunks (in sequence, of course) of public domain literary works to your inbox on a daily basis. They have some decent stuff, from Austen to Zola. And the small sizes seem pretty suitable for breaktime at work.

(H/T to Travis)

Monday, September 18, 2006

No worries

Not only do I use bagged spinach in my lunches, but it's usually from the company that was the first to issue a recall for all its spinach product last week! Needless to say, I quickly found a new home (aka the dumpster) for that bad boy. Better safe than sorry.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Does God Want You to Be Rich?

This is the question addressed by the cover story of this week's Time magazine. (Note: full text is currently available to subscribers only.)

Ben Witherington, who is quoted in the article, has posted some additional thoughts about the dangers of the uniquely American "prosperity theology." His "TOP TEN REASONS WHY GOD DOESN'T WANT YOU WEALTHY" are well worth reading.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hog's Head Pod Pubcast

Harry Potter fans: Travis Prinzi, proprietor of the excellent Sword of Gryffindor site, has started a podcast - a "Pubcast," no less - to discuss all things Potter. The latest installment begins a comparison between the worlds of Hogwarts and Narnia. You can check it out here, or subscribe through iTunes. It's good stuff (despite the accent).

Alastair on the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Alastair has some great thoughts on Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, particularly on the inadequacy of using this parable as a polemic against simple legalism. He also raises some excellent questions about the bigger picture of the Scriptures:
The problem has to do with the role that we see the narrative to be playing. Is the narrative the important thing, or is the narrative merely designed to illustrate timeless and abstract truths that exists independent of it? Is the Bible concerned with the narrative of God’s salvation and maturation of humanity and the cosmos, or is its chief concern conveying a timeless form of religion and way by which individuals can get saved? Is the story of Israel merely given as a set of examples and a repository of helpful metaphors for some reality outside of it, or is the story of Israel God’s great historical plan of salvation already in action? Do we find ourselves within the story told by Scripture, or is the story of Scripture to be reduced to serving us with nice parallels and illustrations that help us to live our lives, which are quite detached from it?

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What a Guy!

Sure, Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson is an amazing football player (check out his bio). He had two touchdown catches in Saturday's 38-6 beatdown of Samford, and that was just in the first half. (Tech was so far ahead at halftime that the Jackets fielded the second- and third-strings in the second half.)

In addition to all that, he's a pretty cool guy off the field. According to this news release, he spent part of his summer in Bolivia working on a school project to develop improved sanitation technology. He even picked the project in Bolivia instead of an environmental project here in Atlanta, stating his preference to help out those in underdeveloped, impoverished parts of the world.

Here's hoping that he'll have another great season.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Fine Art Friday

Maternity: Madame Renoir and Son, 1916
Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC


I need more 4-day work weeks.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sufjan - Songs for Christmas

On November 21, Sufjan Stevens will release a 5-disc set of Christmas music, which will include remastered versions of three previously-released (i.e. "leaked to the internet") Christmas EP's, as well as two brand-new volumes. It will also contain some cool goodies, like an accompanying songbook and "Extensive liner notes and short stories by Sufjan Stevens!" Read the full release from Asthmatic Kitty Records, and be sure to check out the mp3 of "Sister Winter" (from Volume V).

Monday, September 04, 2006


In all honesty, the news of Steve Irwin's death has me pretty bummed out.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fine Art Friday

In honor of our upcoming long weekend at Lake Martin...
View of Copped Hall in Essex, from across the Lake, 1746
George Lambert (1700-1765)
Tate Britain, London

Yellow Jacket Football Flashback

With a receiver like Calvin Johnson (cue angel chorus), the Jackets can make do with even a moderately-competent QB performance. But just in case Reggie Ball falls apart this weekend against Notre Dame, a history lesson might be in order.

In 1976, Georgia Tech handed Notre Dame a remarkably unusual defeat:
To this day, [Georgia Tech Quarterback Gary] Lanier is remembered as the quarterback who beat the Fighting Irish with a statistical anomaly that went like this: zero passes attempted, zero passes completed, zero yards passing.

As he travels around the country, speaking to alumni groups and raising money for Georgia Tech's athletic scholarships, he always gets the same two questions: "Weren't you the quarterback on the team that beat Notre Dame? Didn't you go a whole game without throwing a pass?"

Yes and yes.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that on Saturday, but honestly, a 'W' is still a 'W.'

On Larks and Mockingbirds

The latest edition of Lark News is up.

Among this month's offerings:
  • Mega-church downsizes, cuts non-essential members
  • To combat 'NFL exodus,' church subsidizes Tivos

    Keeping with the avian theme ... is now live. If you haven't heard, Derek Webb is offering Mockingbird, his latest album, for free download. Check it out. Tell your friends. Start downloading.
  • Oh Yeah!