Friday, June 30, 2006

Fine Art Friday

Chris Cuthill writes:
I am fond of showing my students Picasso's Guernica, his response to an air raid by the German Luftwaffe on a Basque town in Northern Spain. The painting has become a timely and prophetic vision of the Second World War, and beyond its reflection of the violence imposed on Guernica, represents a loud warning against the monstrosities brought about by man's destructive war machine. The painting is now recognized as an international icon for peace. Because of Picasso, we have a better visual vocabulary for understanding war. As I look at Guernica I see a reflection of the God who suffers, who weeps. I am reminded that our history which includes Guernica, Rwanda, and Auschwitz is shared by a God who is affected by every act of evil. So, despite Picasso's self-declared autonomy from God, his art can reflect the redemptive-creative potential inherent in creatures made in God's image—the images of love, justice, creativity, and suffering. This is the surprise, and it reminds me that God's grace works its way through the cracks in unexpected places.

How to Look at Art

So perhaps this is in response to richard's post. Perhaps not.

Either way, for a while now I have been wanting to post some of my favorite art pieces a la Kristen and Tulip Girl, but today's Comment article on "Looking at Paintings" inspired me to get on with it, if you will.

I encourage you to read the entire article and begin looking at art in a new way. Of course, this topic also might have something to do with the fact that I am currently reading The Story of Painting. For fun. I think this one by Janson & Janson is out of print, but you could always read Sister Wendy's version, I imagine it's similar and probably more entertaining. I found this one at a thrift store for $.30 and it's worth at least $13. It's good stuff-- quite a thorough, yet succint overview.

Below, taken from the aforementioned article, is a helpful guide for looking at any painting, whether postmodern, Pre-Raphaelite, or pop-art.

Questions to Ask a Painting
By Russ Kuykendall

  • What is the subject of the painting?

  • What is the craft that produced the painting? That is, how did the artist get the gold metal she portrays to gleam like metal, or achieve the illusions of perspective? Or, what are the aesthetic relationships of the medium, colour, and brushstrokes?

  • Who painted the painting? What do we know about the painter and his craft that might add to our understanding of the painting?

  • What is the historical context and the worldview of the painter and her painting? What was the historical community to which the painter belonged? The school of painting, the political community, et al.?

  • Does the painting have a narrative? If so, what is it?

  • What does it provoke? What do I like or dislike about the painting? What can I take away from this work?

  • How does this painting stack up—not as a narrative—but as a work of art? What will people a century from now think of the piece as a work of art?

  • © Work Research Foundation 2006


    Sure, this image has been all over the Internet already.

    I don't care -- it's AWESOME.

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    Recent Reading (In Brief)

    Very Good, Jeeves: Wodehouse, as usual, is a treat. Bertie Wooster, as is his custom, lands in the soup on numerous occasions, and Jeeves, as is his custom, comes to the rescue. Hilarity ensues.

    Orthodoxy: How did I live this long without reading Chesterton's account of his spiritual journey? Wonderful book. Chesterton's wit makes the book quite an enjoyable read, albeit a challenging one.

    Life, the Universe and Everything (re-read): Unfortunately, Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Trilogy suffers from diminishing returns as the series progresses. Fortunately, the third installment is still pretty entertaining, although not without a few weak spots. (I think I would have enjoyed it a little more if I had a better understanding of the bewildering game of cricket.) Fun fact: apparently, Adams adapted the book's story from an unused script he wrote for an episode of Dr. Who.

    Living the Cross Centered Life: This is my first reading of anything by C.J. Mahaney, head of Sovereign Grace Ministries, and it was not disappointing. Although short and devotional-esque, the book drives home a crucial (get it?) point about the importance of keeping the Gospel of Christ and Him crucified at the center of our lives.

    As I was reading, I did note an interesting snippet:

    We no longer face condemnation from God when our life on this earth is over. Every believer in Christ can know that the moment we pass from this world and stand before God the righteous Judge, the verdict to be announced in our case will be "not guilty," by reason of the righteousness of Christ.

    With full assurance we can anticipate and even experience that verdict right now. Our lives here and now are transformed as we live today in the joyful light of that day. We can live today free from the fear of wrath on that future date. (author's emphasis)

    Anticipating the future verdict ... where have I heard that before?

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    Speaking of New Websites

    Check out the way-cool, extra-spiffy new website for The Square Peg Alliance.

    Concert Calendar

    For the past two summers, Rockdale Community Church in Conyers, GA, has been hosting free concerts on Friday nights with both local and Nashvillian folk-rock acts. In the past, we've experienced the talents of Andrew Peterson, Eric Peters, Randall Goodgame, Andrew Osenga, and Matthew Perryman Jones. All highly enjoyable, and did I mention FREE?! In the past, I only found out about the shows through the artists' sites or by looking at the calendar once we attended, not realizing there was a website with this most valuable information.

    Here is a complete listing of these free Friday night shows.

    Sadly, we've missed most of June's shows, but here are two upcoming that might be of great interest to our readers:
    July 7th -- Matthew Smith and Indelible Grace
    July 14th -- Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    New Sites, New Tunes

    Sandra McCracken has refurbished her website. Additionally, an August 29th release date has been announced for her new album, Gravity | Love (bumped up from the previous 9/12 date).

    But wait, there's more:

    Mark Williams has also updated his website at some point in the not too distant past (it's about time!). Better still, he apparently is working on a new album "with a planned release in Fall 2006." Woo hoo! That's huuuuuge.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    Birthday "Week" Celebrations

    Whilst attending a concert of the illustrious Derek Webb and Sanrda McCracken on Saturday night, Derek mentioned that Friday, June 16th was Sandra's birthday (she admitted to being 29-- but she always seemed so much older to me. I wonder if she said this because she really is 29 years old or because so many women get "stuck" at 29 and just stay there?). In honor of the occasion, the person hosting the event brought out a plate of candle-adorned doughnuts (with sprinkles!), and Derek took that as an opportunity to remark on how really it should just be a "Birthday Week" anyway.

    My birthday was Sunday, June 18th. (Yes, it was Father's Day as well, but I'd like to think the occasion of my birth anniversary should get a little more reknown on my blog. Besides, Father's Day isn't a real holiday anyway. *wink*) Although technically Sunday is the first day of a new week, the birthday celebrations started a bit earlier, last Tuesday, and extended into this week, so I will nominate this timespan as my birthday week, even though it has been a little bit longer. And as far as I can tell, a grand time was (and wil be) had by all.

    On Tuesday, Chandra and I spent over three hours painting pottery at All Fired Up in Emory Village. I enjoyed the experience itself more than anything. It took me forever to get my plate of "TECH Tower" just right, but it was also nice to relax and spend time being arts and craftsy with a good friend.

    Wednesday, my good friend and former maid-of-honor Jennifer came to spend the night. Not only was she willing to help me clean behind my refridgerator, she also helped me clean the kitchen. God bless her! We also had quite a bit of fun (though sadly, no win) while playing Team Trivia at Diggers with some various and sundry friends that evening.

    Thursday, Jennifer again helped with my productivity factor, as we bagged up over 70 items from my closet (this is just mine, not Gaines'!) and an additional 18 pairs of shoes to take to Goodwill. She was like some fantastic What Not to Wear host, helping me sort out stuff that I just did not need to keep anymore. Of course, we rewarded ourselves with some shopping! I replaced those 18 pairs with just one new pair, which will be great for teaching-- comfy, yet stylish. (Thanks, Mom!) That evening, our small group Bible study had a cake for all the June birthdays (and there were quite a few!) which we all thoroughly enjoyed, including Jennifer. I knew there was something good about having a June birthday.

    On Friday, we loaded everything up and deposited it at Goodwill, which was a present in itself-- our apartment is so much less cluttered now! We couldn't let the opportunity pass us by, so we picked up a few books at Goodwill's 3 for $1 paperback sale -- I got Dawn by Elie Wiesel, The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, a Mary Higgins Clark paperback I hadn't read yet, and Reading Lolita in Tehran (hardback, $1). Then we ate yummy Mexican food and went to a matinee of Cars, which I have now seen twice and would recommend to anyone, young or old. Even if you aren't a racing fan or car fiend (of which I am neither), you will laugh your head off at all the over-the-kids'-heads jokes and celebrity voices. Trust me, it's hilarious. Not quite my favorite Pixar, but it's up there.

    On Saturday, the birthday craziness continued... I spent most of the day at Callenwolde, learning and practicing Plein Air Painting at a one-day workshop. The grounds were beautiful, and mostly deserted, so the 6 of us in the class had the place to ourselves. We picked shady spots and completed two paintings, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It was my first visit, but I have a feeling I'll be returning, even if just to explore the twelve acres surrounding the house.

    Saturday was Chandra's birthday, and she had planned quite the adventurous outing. We didn't make it to Ben and Jerry's for the Vermonster, though I heard the twenty-scoops, four toppings, brownies, bananas, cookies, and fudge were wonderful. Gaines and I did show up for Fuddrucker's, and we enjoyed our ice cream in the form of a cookies and cream milkshake. Then it was on to the Matthew Perryman Jones/Sandra McCracken/Derek Webb concert at Christ Community in Stone Mountain. The concert was great, but I only wish they would have had a little more time to play. I thought both Matthew and Sandra's set too short, and I could've heard a few more songs from Derek.

    Sunday was my actual birthday, of course, and most of the celebrations involved food. After church, twelve folks joined us for a lunch of soup, salad, and breadsticks at Olive Garden (yum) and someone *cough*Gordon*cough* let slip to the staff it was my birthday and they all sang the silly song and put a hairnet on my head. You just wait until your birthday rolls around again...

    After lunch, we retired to the apartment where we watched a couple of episodes of Jeeves and Wooster and basically vegged out for the afternoon. Just what a birthday should be. Then, Gaines treated me to a sunset dinner on the patio of P.F.Chang's, which is one of my favorite restaurants and I hadn't been there in ages. It was a delicious way to end the day.

    In addition to all the actual celebrations, I received some pretty sweet gifts-- including gift cards from Parisians and Target, a new journal, and lots of books. Jennifer got me The Roald Dahl Omnibus and On Paradise Drive by David Brooks, both impulse buys from the Barnes and Noble bargain table. Our philosophy is "The cheaper the books, the more you can buy." Gaines got me the best gifts (of course): a copy of The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor as well as a copy of Paul Simon's now twenty-year-old Graceland album (along with the painting class and the trip to the pottery store). I used to love listening to Graceland in college, but never owned a copy, and when we heard Caedmon's version of "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" a few weeks ago, it had me hankering for more, and he remembered. *smile*

    All in all, it's been one of the best (and longest) birthday weeks I can remember. And now, I'm off to Lake Martin to stay for a few days with my mom at their lake house (though it's really on a golf course). I know I'll enjoy reading, and oil painting, and we plan to do a bit of shopping. One thing I won't have is internet access, so I'll say adieu to blogging until I return on Friday. Have a great week everone! I know I will!

    Urban Village Vanguard

    Another article about the connection between churches and the city worth reading, this one by Gideon Strauss.

    It reminds me of what St. Paul Presbyterian church has done here in Atlanta-- a PCA church plant, they first met for years without a building, and then had the oppotunity to buy "The Abbey," an old, beautiful gothic former church building in the Midtown area that had been used as a restaurant for many years. This year, we attended an Easter Sunrise service there on the first occasion of a St. Paul's worship service in the new building. Now they meet there every week, and plan to use the industrial-sized restaurant equipment for a soup kitchen. They are engaging the city community through their church, with ministries to AIDS patients and the poor. As Strauss writes:
    The primary contribution churches can make to a renewed vision in and for city neighbourhoods is by being themselves. Let the church be the church – and let the reality of church life find expression in the buildings the church inhabits.

    A City Yet to Come

    Thankfully, when I drive to work, I don't have to take the interstate. I take side streets, passing Asian markets and Hispanic squares, across major highways, and past quiet neighborhoods. Almost every day, these lyrics by Sandra McCracken echo through my head:

    Spirit heal our neighborhood
    Until your Kingdom work is done
    Teach us what is just and good
    As we look for the City yet to come.
    I grew up in a small town, and will always love the slow pace and integral community life I found there. As I live longer in a metropolis; however, I've come to feel a stronger calling to my neighbors in the city-- the immigrants, the business folk, the entreprenuers, the students, the artists and the blue-collar workers. I am surrounded every day by people who are seeking something bigger than themselves, and usually in American secular life that means money or power or sex, not the God revealed in Jesus Christ. So many empty cups, waiting to be filled. But how do we engage them, these people whom Christ calls us to love and yet who have such an antithetical worldview?

    At the concert we attended on Saturday night, Sandra sang the song quoted above, speaking of its emergence from their love for the people in their small community in East Nashville. Heaven, she reminded us, is not always described as a wide open plain, but as the Great City.

    And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2
    Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer PCA in New York, has a recent article in Christianity Today titled "A New Kind of Urban Christian," which urges Christians to become involved in the life of the city by proclaiming mercy and justice to our neighbors. It has some good insights for authentic communities and city churches.

    Another article by Keller, along the same lines of Christians and culture in the city, is Post-Everythings, which outlines some guidelines on how to reach the new generation of urbanites.

    If you live in or near a city, or even if you don't, I ask you to read these articles and consider how your community, your church, your family can begin to live missionally among your neighbors. I know the Christianity Today article in particular has given me much to ponder today.

    Oh, Lift up your head,
    For the day is near
    We have no abiding city here.
    --Sandra McCracken

    Monday, June 19, 2006


    Everyone needs to try this.

    It reminds me of a very intricate collection of HTML dandelions.

    HT to Ann at Mason-Dixon Knitting.

    Monday Morning Factoid

    Squirrels don't like being squirted with 409.

    (Maybe next time they'll think twice about plundering my bird feeder.)

    Thursday, June 15, 2006


    News from this morning:
    Bear Caught Near Perimeter Mall

    News from Sunday:
    Bear of a Scare at Gwinnett Mall

    For those unfamiliar with Atlanta geography, these two malls are about 15 miles from each other. Oh, and we live about halfway between the two. We'd better keep an eye on our pic-a-nic baskets.

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    Calling all Teachers

    Listen to this.

    It's a new high-pitched cell phone ring that most adults can't hear, and some teens are using it so they can answer their cell phones in class, according to the NY Times.

    But not in my class! Mwahahahaha! I can hear it just fine. Finally, a good reason to be a young teacher.

    Thanks to Kennan for the hearing test.

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    Seven Things I've Been Enjoying

    These could probably each become a post to themselves, but for now I'll proclaim them in list form. I'm also reviewing digital cameras (any suggestions? I'm thinking Canon, but the Panasonic with Lumix lenses look nice), so one day very soon I hope to make another list complete with photographs.

    1. The Beginning of my Summer Vacation. I'm stil adjusting to the fact that I don't actually have to BE anywhere on the weekdays. I still feel like it's only Spring Break and next Monday I'll wake up to lesson plans and 160 teenagers.

    2. Autumn Wheat Cereal by Kashi. It's healthier than Frosted Shredded Mini-Wheats and actually tastes better, too. I know because I had only enough mini-wheats left for half a bowl one day last week, so I added some Autumn Wheat and the taste difference was striking. I enjoy it with blueberries, peaches, or bananas.

    3. Going on road trips with Gaines. We drove to Tuscaloosa and back last weekend for a rare family reunion on my father's side, and this Sunday we're driving back to Alabama for a yearly family gathering of Gaines' relatives. Being stuck in traffic is so much better when you have someone with which to share the grueling experience.

    4. Fresh Georgia Peaches topped with Edy's Slow-Churned Light Vanilla Ice Cream. 'Nuff said. Blueberries make a decent substitute.

    5. My quadruple pack of new Square Peg Alliance releases. In celebration of completing my first year of teaching, Gaines surprised me last Tuesday with four, count 'em, FOUR new releases from some of my favorite indie artists:
  • Throwing Punches in the Dark by Matthew Perryman Jones

  • Photographs (2006 Remaster) and The Morning by Andrew Osenga

  • Nobody's Got It All Together by Jill Phillips

  • 6. Trying out new recipes. Every Thursday, we have a potluck of sorts before our Bible study, and of late I have been using it as my experimentation time. A few weeks ago, I attempted this Mexican Corn Casserole for the first time (I added chicken cooked with cumin, other spices, and broth), with Sauteed Asparagus on the side. Last week, I adapted a Cheesy Chicken and Artichoke Casserole from this recipe (I can't seem to ever leave anything alone). This week, I made a Corn Souffle for the first time (I don't think I even knew what qualified as a souffle before yesterday) and tried my hand at an easy throw-together Apple Crisp for dessert. The Souffle was adapted from a combination of the Better Homes and Gardens "Cheese Souffle" and the ingredient list of Stouffer's frozen Corn Souffle, while the Apple Crisp was from memory: flour + plain oatmeal + sugar + cinnamon + butter, baked over sliced apples.

    7. Swimming. I suppose three pools in an apartment complex does make it relatively easy to find a quiet swimming spot, but I can't help but wonder why the kids all prefer to stay indoors when they could be enjoying the water? I know I swam almost every day in the summer as a child, and I'm going for at least 2-3 times a week now. I love the sun, the solitude, and the splash of water around me. I think I must be part dolphin.

    St. Anne's Pub

    St. Anne's Pub has a new issue, on the subject of "Controversy," AND a re-vamped website. Check it out!

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Jeeves and Wooster

    We've been enjoying Jeeves and Wooster - The Complete First Season, the television adaptation of the titular P.G. Wodehouse characters. So far as I can tell, the show is quite faithful to Wodehouse's stories (although the episodes often weave together plot elements from multiple stories). The casting is great, although there is a bit of cognitive dissonance in seeing the role of the bumbling-yet-likeable Bertie Wooster played by "House, M.D."

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    The Importance of Liturgy as Borrowed Language

    Building from some quotes from a Garrison Keillor interview, Alastair has some great thoughts on the importance of liturgy in Christian worship. Here's a foretaste:
    The language of worship that is given to us by Scriptures and the Christian tradition informed by the Scriptures is one that is quite unnatural to us. It is God’s purpose that, as we use this language, it will become increasingly natural to us. The words, although they are borrowed, are no longer entirely alien to us, for they have converted us to themselves.

    The entire post is well worth your time.

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    N.T. Wright Pentecost Sermon

    "A Right Judgment in All Things," (June 4, 2006)

    Caedmon's in Atlanta

    Caedmon's Call was here in Atlanta last night, and we had a great time at the show. The last time we saw Caedmon's (about three years ago), Derek had just left the band to go solo, and Andy Osenga was just starting to fill in on guitars and vocals. Let's just say that last night's show was much more enjoyable.

    Overall, the band sounded really great together last night, both instrumentally and with the glorious three-part harmony. Some highlights of the show:

  • The venue, the main sanctuary of The Church of the Apostles, was a pretty cool place to see a concert. (Be sure to check out the "Fact Sheet.") Andy Osenga quipped that the building reminded him of Hogwarts.

  • The AWESOME rendition of Paul Simon's "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" was a high point of the evening.

  • They played several songs from Share the Well, as well as many old favorites.

  • They played only one song from their latest album.

  • Andy played a solo acoustic version of "Early in the Morning," from his new solo album (which is excellent).

  • Ultra-percussion.

  • It is fun to watch Andy rocking out.

  • The onstage banter between Cliff and Andy was pretty comical.

  • Cliff indicated that they would be in Calcutta in the Fall to record for their next album. (Could this mean that, now that they are independent again, they are going to record the album that Essential wouldn't let them make?)

  • All in all, it was a great evening.

    Andy Osenga also had a good time at the show, despite his attempts to sabotage Andrew Peterson's van.

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Caedmon's Call and Essential Records Part Ways

    According to, Caedmon's Call is once again an independent band. Only time will tell how this will impact the band and their music, but it could be a really good thing.

    (Plus, they've already got a few "ins" with ... "The Alliance.")