This week: 13 of your favorite songwriters.

1. First and foremost, Bob Dylan.

2. Bruce Springsteen.

3. U2–yes, all of them.

4. Patty Griffin.

5. I have to say it: Stephen Sondheim.

6. Jeff Tweedy.

7. Sandra McCracken.

8. Derek Webb.

9. John Newton.

10. Charles Wesley, too.

11. Keith and Kristen Getty (responsible for “In Christ Alone” and “The Power of the Cross”)

12. Sufjan Stevens.

13. Bill Mallonee (yay).

the trees: in eden’s gates

 Part 1 of a series for Lent on the biblical trees.


In Eden’s gates there grew two trees put there

By God who made the earth and sky and sea;

The everlasting steadfast deity there blessed

The seeds of His own image there beside.

The man and woman, brought up from the ground,

His children and His servants on the earth;

The tree of knowledge, and the tree of life,

As covenant signs and covenant boundaries served.

“Grow your own fruit, your sons and daughters—seeds!–

And be My glory, be My image true;

Don’t turn aside from my command, because

The day you do so you will die indeed,”

Said God to Eve and Adam on that day.

But Eve, by serpent’s wit and wisdom, took

The fruit of knowledge, beautiful and sweet

(Like she herself would be, she thought, a queen–

No, more, a goddess over all the earth)

And ate it, gave it to her husband then,

He, who was there to guard her from the sin

That he now sinned as well, that he might be

A mighty king and omnipotent lord.


In that one moment, sin and death now reigned.

And now their unclothed state, their innocence,

Now turns to shame and fear—they strip the trees,

The trees put underneath their care and love,

They strip the trees of leafy glory for

To cover now their sin—but now the Lord

Comes full of wrath (and rightly so, you know)

And now pronounces curse and judgment. BUT.

In judgment’s speech He prophesies a seed

To grow and choke the serpent’s weeds, to give

New shelter from the storm of sin and death,

A tree whose roots will dig down deep. For now,

A brief and bloody scene of mercy shows;

To cover now their naked, broken guilt,

He slaughters now a beast and takes its skin

To clothe them—the unrighteous bearing the

Unblemished—and then sends them out to bear

The desert. And the angel plants himself

Outside the garden for to guard the tree

That would have given life, if they had but

Obeyed and chosen that one’s fruit instead.

note to self for later:

The four Aristotelian causes, applied to this shirt I’m wearing:

material cause: What’s it made out of? (Cotton, and whatever it is they print t-shirts with.)

formal cause: What form or function does it take? (A short-sleeved blue t-shirt.)

efficient cause: Who or what produced it? (Some guy in a factory.)

final cause: What is it made for? (Immediately, to advertise for Common Grounds and to keep Waco wacko; ultimately, to cover my top half.)


This week: Your 13 favorite movie endings. There will probably be spoilers, so you’ve been warned.

1. Magnolia (mostly for its “?!?!” factor).

2. Little Women, the 1994 version (“I have nothing but these empty hands…” “Not empty now.” *smooch*)

3. Braveheart (*throws sword*).

4. The post-credits bit of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

5. Gladiator (“Now we are free…”)

6.  The Graduate.

7. Road to Perdition.

8. The Return of the King, from the hobbits coming back to Hobbiton onward. “Well, I’m home.”

9. Moulin Rouge (I don’t know about you, but his scream/wail in the theater just kills me every time).

10. Master and Commander. (“The birds are flightless, you say?” “Yes…” “Well. Then they aren’t going anywhere, are they?”)

11. Fight Club (again, for the ?!!! factor).

12. Lost In Translation.

13. Remember the Titans. (“Hey, hey, hey…goodbye.” Wow.)

one-word song title sestina #2

(I have a playlist in iTunes called “one-word titles”, and one of the things I do with it is hit shuffle, take the first six songs, and write sestinas. Here’s one.)

It’s Tuesday night and I’m fifteen minutes late for rehearsal
Again, same as the last five weeks. Maybe I can be forgiven–
Stuck in the daily pushing of paper and red tape at work,
I left an hour ago, got stuck in traffic–so my bandmates rejoice,
At least, at my being able to make it at all, their desire
To have me with them playing bass trumping something

Like impatience. I’m here; that has to count for something,
Right? Right. We have a gig Saturday, so rehearsal
Feels less like something born of our old youthful desires
(For which we had to be perpetually forgiven
By homework and obligation, in which we didn’t rejoice)
And more like the reality of sweaty, calloused work–

“Ben, I told you once, you’ve really got to work
On keeping the beat–” “You want to know something?
“What?” “I freaking hate this song.” (And inwardly we rejoice
At the tics, the friction, because it leads to the desire
To be better, to love more, and because it’s easily forgiven
By our comrades in war and fiction). We rehearse

Andrew’s new number–“Did you guys go over this last rehearsal
Without me?” “Yeah, we tried to work
On the chorus a little–Ginny comes in on the ‘Forgive
The old and new things’, we decided it needed something
There.” “Oh, and then Eddie holds out that long ‘Desiiiiiiiiire’
In the bridge, right?” “Right, yeah.” “Rejoice,

Brothers, the club in San Diego called–” And rejoice
We do, another justification for all this rehearsal
In Ginny and Eddie’s garage, for the desire
To make some freaking noise, for having to work
Two jobs to support our music habit, the something
Inside us that makes us want to forgive

The whole world for what they couldn’t forgive
Us of, the passion and need to rejoice
In the sheer sound of it, the need to do something
Beautiful in the world–but my mind snaps back to rehearsal,
My fingers thump the bass’s neck, and we get to the work
Of tuning and listening and fulfilling desire…

It’s just rehearsal; it feels like something
More important than work, than even desire–
With each note, I forgive, and then I rejoice.

she is talkin’, but she speaks in code…

(starting music: Buddy and Julie Miller – That’s Just How She Cries)

1. I just finished (literally, about five minutes ago) J.P. Moreland’s Love Your God With All Your Mind, a book on how Christians need to have a well-developed intellectual life (something I have been sorely lacking lately), and it has me thinking: In evangelical circles, generally speaking, there aren’t a lot of women who are intellectually engaged in theology or philosophy or what have you. Granted, there are exceptions to this, and I’m privileged to know some of them, but we tend to leave serious theological study up to the boys. (If you need an example, look at any evangelical book catalog, and look at the titles written by men and those written by women.)

Sisters, we need to be engaged in the serious study of God’s Word and of our culture, both for our own edification and that of others. We may not be called to be pastors or scholars, but since when has that let any lay person off the hook? I am trying to pursue this in my own life; I encourage you to do the same.

2. If anyone busts out the “men are more intellectual, women are more emotional” clause in response to that last point, I WILL PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE.  (Yes, I realize the underlying irony of that last statement. Whatever.)

3. One of the really bad side effects of being a voracious reader: My to-be-read pile has gotten huge. Obscenely so, really. It is threatening to take over my desk–which, granted, isn’t much of a feat since I have a tiny desk, but still. That’s a lot of books. I’ve been slowing down since the beginning of the year, which only means that this pile is going to be staring me in the face longer. Help.

4. Reader survey (and the first of the year, if I have my facts straight):

a) So, I’ve told you what I’m reading–what are you reading?

b) What was the last movie you watched?

c) If you were given $10,000 and were told that you had to do something for someone else with it, what would you do, and for whom?

d) What’s one thing you’d say you’re really good at? (Negative things are not allowed. Seriously, what are you really good at?)

e)  Who has influenced your thinking the most (besides Jesus, okay)?

t13 (going up early to make up for all the late weeks)

this week: one that probably won’t be real popular–13 great YouTube/Google videos. (no, no valentine’s-related stuff. i just don’t feel like it, okay?)

1. This one, you have to watch until the very, very end:

2. Not sure why this is funny–it just is, okay?

3. Why I watch Alton Brown:

4. This is just–yeah. If you can get into contemporary dance, this is worth a watch:

5. Best part? Bono fits right in with the hat:

6. “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard…” I get this stuck in my head frequently, embarrassing as that is.

7. As he describes it, “What happens when I’m alone without my family for any length of time…”

8. There are no words:

9. Raul Esparza + Wicked = LOVE

10. Okay, Rentheads, this is for you:

11. Because I feel like traumatizing you today:

12. And as a major apology for that last one, here is some Sufjan:

13.  To end on a good note, some Sacred Harp singing:

music check

since i haven’t done one of these since freakin’ October…y’all know the drill.

1.  Blenderhead – Monotone (instrumental) (I have no idea why I still have this).

2. Ben Folds Five – Song for the Dumped

3. Jars of Clay – The Edge of Water

4. Dana Fuchs and Martin Luther – Oh! Darling

5.  Jars of Clay – There Is A River

6. Kirk Franklin – I Can

7. Zwan – Jesus, I/Mary Star of the Sea (LOVE this)

8. Derek Webb – Wedding Dress

9. Michael W. Smith – Love Me Good (I know, I know…)

10. Phil Keaggy – Pastorale

11. The Eagles – Desperado

12. Finger Eleven – Panic Attack

13. Newsboys – I Surrender All

14. Derek Webb – Awake My Soul

15. Jim Sturgess – Something

16. Bruce Springsteen – I’ll Work For Your Love

17. Jack Black – Let’s Get It On (…YES)

18.  Chris Rice – I Need a Hero

19. Third Day – Give

20. Steven Delopoulos – 12 West Front Street

a few quick notes on a monday evening

I’ve been reading J.P. Moreland’s Love the Lord With All Your Mind, and the thought occurs to me that, sadly, I let my intellectual life crap out after graduation, which scares me a bit. In college I was surrounded by other geeks (and by people geekier than myself, which is kind of incredible to watch), and so I had the constant exchange of ideas going on–theological, literary, sociological, philosophical, what have you–with my peers. Now that I’m out in the real world and working retail (a field not generally known for its stimulating intellectual life), my thought life’s gone kind of pear-shaped. I’m not studying anything, I’m not writing about what I read, I’m not discussing anything. I need that community, that goading. But what happens once I no longer have access to it?

That all being said, part of me wants someone to make me write a paper or do a project or something with a deadline, just so I can have something to do.

Also, since I know some theological types read this, where are some good biblical study resources I can tap into? All the commentaries in our house got given away, so I’m thinking online or investing in a good copy of something. Also, what’s a good concordance I can use?

That’s it.

Well, maybe not, because Teacher Dave sent me this tonight (and you wonder why I’m not studying anything):

“for whatever you did to the least of these…”

One reason I love my church: We are participating in the Houston AIDS Walk this year, and we have a team and whatnot, and we are raising money to help people who are suffering from HIV and AIDS in our city. Look, people, as much as this is a cause that’s taken up by people whose ideologies I don’t share, the Church needs to take some responsibility for loving people who are basically our modern-day lepers.

Anyway. If you want to participate, go here and sign up (if you wanna join our team, look up “Kaleo Church” and get in). If you want to help support financially, click here.

Thanks. Love.