Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Day Break

Once upon a time, ABC had a hit show that proved difficult to schedule. In the spirit of experimentation, the network decided to air six episodes in the Fall, take a break, then run the remaining episodes in February. For the interim months, ABC scheduled a 13-episode crime drama. Unfortunately, the ratings were less than stellar, and ABC yanked the show from the schedule after only a few weeks, despite the fact that all the episodes had already been filmed, and replaced it with reruns of other shows until the aforementioned blockbuster resumed in February.

Of course, I'm talking about Day Break, which was designed to fill the void left by the winter hiatus of Lost. Day Break was heavily promoted in the months preceeding its debut, perhaps to its detriment. The premise is that a police detective keeps waking up each morning to find that he is re-living the same day over and over. Unfortunately, this is the day on which he is framed for murdering a District Attorney and his loved ones are in constant peril from the true killers. Regrettably, the ads for the show made it look like little more than Groundhog Day with guns and car chases. I initially didn't think it would be all that good, but I watched the pilot and was surprised. It's not the best show ever, but it is entertaining, and the unfolding mystery kept me watching. Because the show was planned as a single 13-part run, there was a definite resolution planned for the plotline. So naturally, ABC decided to give it the axe before the numerous unanswered questions could be resolved. Grr!

Thankfully, ABC has decided to release the remaining episodes of Day Break on its website over the next few weeks. So I'll finally get some closure. I think all 13 episodes will eventually be available online, so check it out if you're so inclined.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Baby-Boy Basketball Belly

34 weeks, 5 days

At last week's checkup, all was well.

Now we're just waiting.

And continuing to celebrate with baby showers!

Teaching continues to keep me busy, for now.

Pictures of the amazing amounts of baby stuff one can accumulate in a small apartment are still to come...look for them early next week.

Thanks to all who have (or will soon) generously showered us with gifts!

The Joys of Pimento Cheese

Some things I never knew...

  • some people make it with dill pickles

  • you can't buy it in Boston (or most places north of the Mason-Dixon)

  • it is "famously" served at the Masters each year

  • Blogger's spell check prefers the traditional "pimento," while MS Word spell check accepts either version

  • Pimento cheese sandwiches have been prevalent at church potlucks, parties, and picnics for as long as I can remember. I never knew that some people grow up without this delicacy! Nestled on party trays between tasty chicken salad and yucky ham or egg salad, the delicious yellow-orange cheesy goodness spread on white bread, cut into tiny triangles, sans crust is a taste I have acquired from childhood. A few weeks ago, I had some on whole-wheat sourdough, and that, too, was incredibly delicious. However, I don't think I've had the pleasure of making my own pimento cheese. Perhaps someday soon I will take up this Southern culinary art. I'm still full from dinner, but it is making me hungry just thinking about it! Especially spread on Ritz crackers...

    Saturday, January 20, 2007

    BSC sports in the news

    Last week someone on the BHT (I can't remember who, now) spotted this article in Sports Illustrated about my alma mater. (I meant to post it then, but, of course, I forgot. Mommy brain!) I was proud to see some national positive press about our little school. I knew the board had made the decision to move down from Division I to Division III, but I didn't realize that it would open up more opportunities for althletes who love the game to play college sports-- and help fund more academic scholarships.

    When I was an undergraduate (which was during the transition TO a Division I program), most people at BSC had some kind of great financial aid package, but there always one only one full academic scholarship-- the McWane-- which is highly competitive. I was just glad to get away with full tuition! Hopefully, now the school will be able to offer more full scholarships with the money that they used to offer to Division I players. I'm not sure that's how it works, but it's a nice thought.

    Thursday, January 18, 2007


    Apparently, there is now a "Christian version" of MySpace. If the very thought makes you groan, don't despair. The fine folks from the BHT aren't squandering this opportunity and have started a contest to come up with ideas for "Christian versions" of whatever is currently popular, from television shows to technology.

    The results are pretty funny.

    One of my favorites is;
    "House, M.Div - a brilliant but sarcastic pastor who tells his parishioners what he really thinks. It’s for their own good, of course."

    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Music Review -- Switchfoot, Oh! Gravity.

    I've really enjoyed Switchfoot's last few releases, and Oh! Gravity., their latest, is no exception. This album has its fair share of rock in the vein of their last two, but the band also explores some new sonic territory in places, such as the bluesy-country "Dirty Second Hands" and the rollicking "Amateur Lovers." But not only are Switchfoot quite proficient at tightly-executed pop-rock, they also have a fair amount of lyrical depth. Songwriter Jon Foreman has a pretty keen grasp of the human condition, and Oh! Gravity. employs the recurring theme of dissatisfaction. Throughout the album, Foreman aptly channels a sense of restless discontent, whether with materialism ("American Dream," et al), with relationships ("Amateur Lovers"), or with the repetitiveness of life ("Circles") and its seeming lack of purpose ("Burn Out Bright"). Some reviewers have mentioned that the album actually over-employs this theme, although not heavy-handedly. I think this is a valid criticism, but Foreman mitigates the repetition by finding interesting ways to communicate the message, such as in "Faust, Midas, and Myself" (one of my favorites from the album).

    Of course, the album doesn't just highlight discontent and leave the audience hanging without resolution. Although Switchfoot doesn't get "preachy," they manage to tie their Christian faith back into the issues they raise. As the answer to the disappointments of life, Foreman sings (on "Head Over Heels (In This Life)"):
    In this life, you’re the one place I call home
    In this life, you’re the feeling I belong
    In this life, you’re the flower and the thorn
    You’re everything that’s fair in love and war
    And although it isn't technically part of the album, my copy ends with the bonus track "C'mon, C'mon," which exclaims:
    We will rise with the wings of the dawn
    When everything's new
    Although Oh! Gravity. doesn't overtly point listeners to the ultimate meaning found in Christ, Switchfoot does a great job of raising important questions about life, questioning many of the prevailing notions held by our culture. And they certainly rock whilst doing it.

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007


    Yellow Jackets knock off No. 11 Duke, 74-63

    It doesn't quite ease this pain, but it's a good feeling nonetheless!

    (Contrary to what the article says, we did beat Duke back in 2004, in Durham. Our "ten-season losing streak" was only for games played here in the ATL.)

    Monday, January 08, 2007

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Book Review -- John Calvin: His Life & Influence

    John Calvin: His Life & Influence Robert Reymond's John Calvin: His Life & Influence is a biographical sketch of the renowned Protestant Reformer. The author states from the start that his intention is to dispel the prevailing notion that Calvin was either, at best, a stern and cold doctrinarian, or, at worst, a religious despot. Rather than accepting these caricatures, the serious Christian will find that Calvin's life and works provide a greatly-overlooked source of edification. Reymond's book is intended as a brief survey of Calvin's life and major accomplishments.

    As mentioned, Reymond wrote the book to be a short (~150 pages) introduction, with content adapted from a series of hour-long lectures he delivered to a church audience in 2002. Reymond has also included thorough footnoting, both to cite his sources and also to provide extended quotations and commentary not included in the lectures due to time constraints. Even with the additional material, the book is still a quick read and serves as a good survey of Calvin's life for the uninitiated. Additionally, Reymond helpfully lists numerous biographical sources for further study.

    Each of the book's four chapters corresponds to one of Reymond's original lectures. The first addresses Calvin's early life and impressive schooling, first in preparation for the Roman Catholic priesthood, and later in the field of law. Reymond also discusses the issue of Calvin's conversion to Protestantism, which he believes was a sudden occurrence, and not the gradual development that some biographers suggest. This topic carries over into the second chapter, which begins with the young Reformer fleeing Paris as a result of his Reformation sympathies. Eventually, Calvin severed his Roman Catholic ties and devoted his scholarship to defending the Protestant movement, publishing the first edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536 from the Swiss city of Basel. Reymond demonstrates how Calvin's magnum opus retained its basic shape from the beginning, despite the numerous later expansions and revisions. Reymond concludes this chapter with Calvin's initial call to ministry in Geneva, and his subsequent expulsion two years later. The explanation of the city's political machinery is helpful in understanding Calvin's tenuous relationship with the civil magistrates.

    Chapter three relates Calvin's time in Strasbourg and eventual return to Geneva, having been recalled by the city leaders only two years after his removal. Most of this chapter surveys Calvin's accomplishments during his "second Geneva period": massive religious and civil reform, the limiting of the civil authority over ecclesial matters (particularly regarding church discipline), a French translation of the Scriptures (the "Geneva Bible," which soon led to an English version), rigorous academic training for pastors and missionaries to be dispatched throughout Europe and even into the New World, as well as Calvin's impressive written output, including revisions to the Institutes. Reymond spends several pages discussing Calvin's greatest work, demonstrating how the key distinctives of later Reformed thought were present either directly or "in seminal form."

    The final chapter tackles the most controversial episode in Calvin's life: the execution of Michael Servetus by Genevan authorities (with Calvin's approval). On the whole, Reymond's treatment is good: he expresses disapproval of this act, but clarifies the political and culture context in which it occurred. Although he doesn't excuse Calvin's involvement, he convincingly demonstrates that the execution was not the result of extraordinary malevolence on Calvin's part; rather, Reymond shows that Calvin's attitude was simply in accord with his era's prevailing (although unfortunate) attitudes about the punishment of persistent heretics. (Indeed, prior to his flight to Geneva, Servetus had already been sentenced to death by Roman Catholic authorities, and the majority of Protestant leaders of that day also approved of his execution.)

    Overall, Reymond provides a decent overview, with a few flaws. One of my more serious criticisms is that the book veers into hagiography on occasion. Granted, Reymond's stated intention is to dispel negative caricatures, and he certainly praises Calvin's many laudable achievements in glowing terms. But one is left to wonder how those negative depictions arose in the first place. Reymond does provide, in appendix form, a bibliography of Calvin biographies, including a number of negative assessments; however, based on Reymond's synopses, the "opposing views" appear a bit over-the-top in their treatment (and reviling) of Calvin. It would have been good to see more balanced treatments of Calvin the man. (Granted, the book is meant to be an introduction, not a detailed look.)

    Additionally, Reymond includes several interjections that detract from his overall work, including seemingly-random potshots at N.T. Wright and Norman Shepherd (in a footnote), as well as misplaced swipes at gay marriage and abortion in current society. He also diminishes his treatment of Servetus' death by repeatedly addressing the subject of Protestants martryed by Roman Catholics during the same time period. Reymond is certainly correct that many Calvin-bashers employ a double standard when it comes to religious persecution. However, in this context, these arguments seem like attempts to deflect attention from the transgressions of his subject.

    Despite these criticisms, John Calvin: His Life & Influence is probably a good starting point for anyone interested in a concise look at the great Reformer's life and lasting accomplishments.

    Terror at Snow Village

    Here's a horrific scene we observed over the Christmas holidays:

    That's a bookmobile that has fallen into the clutches of the brass lobster.

    The choristers are making a valiant effort to escape the crab o' doom.

    Oh, the humanity!

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    Like a bowl full of jelly?

    As it should be pretty obvious to most of our readers, I'm expecting, due March 1, 2007. But just in case you have been blissfully unaware of the baby ticker at the bottom of the blog here's some photographic evidence from our Christmas break (With Gaines acting all surreptitious in the background. What could he be doing?! Maybe he'll fill you in on that tomorrow).

    Baby Boy Redd is happily curled up in his warm, cozy living space, occasionally punching Mommy in her bladder or kicking her in the ribs, but otherwise the two are getting along just fine, though it's getting cramped. The doc joked he might be a future linebacker, but I'm hoping for an awesome wide receiver with a record-breaking vertical jump.

    2006 in Review -- Books

    As is my custom, I read a number of books last year (here's the complete list). (As usual, it wasn't as many as I had hoped.) Here are some brief thoughts:


    The only re-reads for this year were fiction, specifically Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker series, which was just as good-yet-uneven as I remembered. 2006 was apparently a banner year for British authors at the Redd household, as I also read several of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves novels, several selections from my Complete Sherlock Holmes anthology, and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (an interesting and enjoyable book written from the perspective of an autistic teenager). I also read C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces for the first time, and absolutely loved it. (Especially after listening to Peter Kreeft's lecture on the novel.) On the non-British front, Allison and I continued reading through the Lemony Snicket series, which has elicited no shortage of laughs. Unfortunately, the year (in fiction-reading, at least) was brought to a somewhat disappointing conclusion by both Eragon and The Catcher in the Rye. There's always next year, I suppose.


    Sticking with the British theme, I read and enjoyed several installments of N.T. Wright's For Everyone series, including the volumes for three of the Gospels (Matthew, I'll see you in the new year). Although Wright has drawn some fire for his work on Paul, even his critics admit that his work on Jesus is phenomenal. His book on Scripture, The Last Word, was pretty good, as well. Another first-time read was G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy, which will probably become a re-read in the near future.

    By far my favorite non-fiction books read in 2006 were The Lord's Service, Jeff Meyer's excellent book on covenant renewal worship, and The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism, which I found very persuasive. Vern Poythress' Symphonic Theology was also helpful, as it encourages the use of multiple theological perspectives to gain a more complete picture on a given subject.

    Inspired by the fine folks at This Classical Life, my goal for 2007 is not only to read more but also to "share more" in the way of writing reviews of the books I read. (Sadly, I began reviews for several of the 2006 titles listed above, but most will probably not escape from "Draft" status.)

    Here's to happy reading!

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    Happy New Year

    A little late in the day, but it's still January 1 for a few more minutes.

    New Year's Day means college bowl games, and overall, it was a pretty good day for us. Georgia Tech played a heck of a game, but ended up losing 35-38 in the Gator Bowl. No loss is ever pleasant, but it's hard to be too disappointed considering that a) our opponent (12th-ranked West Virginia) was a two-touchdown favorite and b) our starting quarterback was benched less than two weeks before the game. Both our key offensive players had career record performances: Calvin Johnson had 186 receiving yards (with multiple fantastic catches), and Tashard Choice had 170 rushing yards. But the most impressive statistics were for sophomore Taylor Bennett: in only his second start as Tech's QB, he passed for 326 yards, completing 19 of 29 attempts, with 1 unfortunately-timed interception. Needless to say, Tech vastly exceeded expectations today, and made WVU work hard for their win. Next season holds a lot of promise for the Jackets, especially if, by some miracle, Calvin decides to return for his senior year!

    Oh yeah, Auburn won, too, which is always good news.

    Books Read in 2006 (Gaines)

  • The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 9)
  • The Ralph Wiggum Book (Simpsons Library of Wisdom)
  • God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
  • A Study in Scarlet
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • The Federal Vision
  • The Sign of Four
  • The Inimitable Jeeves
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  • Mark for Everyone
  • Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians
  • A Hunger For God
  • The Scriptures, the Cross and the Power of God: Reflections for Holy Week
  • Luke for Everyone
  • Very Good, Jeeves!
  • Orthodoxy
  • John for Everyone: Chapters 1-10
  • Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing
  • Life, the Universe and Everything
  • Sphere
  • John for Everyone: Chapters 11-21
  • Right Ho, Jeeves
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism
  • Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
  • Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology
  • The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture
  • The Kite Runner
  • A String of Pearls Unstrung: A Theological Journey into Believers' Baptism
  • The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 11)
  • Mostly Harmless
  • Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
  • The Lord's Service: The Grace of Covenant Renewal Worship
  • Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • Eragon (Inheritance, Book 1)
  • John Calvin: His Life and Influence
  • Books Read in 2006 (Allison)

  • The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 9)

  • Leave it to Psmith

  • Paul for Everyone: Romans (Part I)

  • Four Spirits

  • Night

  • Julius Caesar

  • Paul for Everyone: Romans (Part II)

  • An Old-Fashioned Girl

  • The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 10)

  • The Scriptures, the Cross and the Power of God: Reflections for Holy Week

  • Good Harbor

  • Teacher Man: A Memoir

  • All Quiet on the Western Front

  • Romeo and Juliet

  • Drinking with Calvin and Luther

  • The Story Girl

  • Bobos in Paradise: The New Uppper Class and How They Got There

  • Nighttime is My Time

  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

  • Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

  • Art for God's Sake

  • The Gilded Chamber

  • Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

  • The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy: Or Everything Your Doctor Won't Tell You

  • Pride & Prejudice

  • Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

  • The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 11)

  • The Old Man and the Sea

  • I Am the Cheese

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

  • The Pregnancy Book

  • Praise Her in the Gates: The Calling of Christian Motherhood

  • The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth

  • The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby