In Which We Feel Less Confused

Friend Remy offers here an explanation of an e.e cummings Christmas poem. Not sure what I think of it critically, but his exposition did succeed in mitigating my annoyance at being presented with a sudoku puzzle in the shape of a poem (hopefully Remy won’t read this).

In any event, read Remy’s article.

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In Which We Give You Things to Read

1. The Pig by Joshua Gibbs is a great little story (“little” meaning extremely small, not patronizably cute).

2. Reading the Bible and Understanding Art is a great (again, little) lecture given by the wonderful Calvin Seerveld which you should read.

3. Purity or Paternity? was a weird thought I had a while ago, that I’m thinking of resurrecting a kicking around the playground for a bit. If you find it annoying, you may have the first kick.

In Which We’ve been Reading, Mostly

As Led Zeppelin so aptly put it, “It’s been a long time.” We’ve been basking in the glory of not having a schedule and so forth.

1. We got our annual ACCS conference on 2 weeks ago. Plenty of good stuff was flung about, and we were edified like nobody’s business. Particularly by Doug Jones, about whose talks we will have more to say at a later date. While at said conference, we used up a chunk of our book allowance on the following:

Small is Still Beautiful, by Joseph Pearce (link on the sidebar).

The Violent Bear it Away, by Flannery O’Connor.

What to Listen for in Music, by Aaron Copeland.

Art for God’s Sake, by Philip Graham Ryken (son of Leland Ryken).

2. We also finished a number of books this past week. Here’s the 12 peso version of our thoughts:

Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby. Fun, light reading, though not as good as High Fidelity. As with How to be Good, Hornby is very strong in his characterizations and incidental commentary about the human condition. However, when it comes time to conclude the book, to comment on the transcendant, Hornby isn’t sure what to do. in How to be Good, he tried to pull off a lame conclusion that didn’t stick (much like Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Ray). In Long Way Down, Hornby wisely walked away without any commentary at the end. It makes for a weak ending, but it’s better for a song to fade out on a repeating chorus than to suddenly end with whoopee-cushion noise.

My Antonia by Willa Cather. Great writing and characterization, though her understanding of men is imperfect, and one is occasionally pulled out of the story by her oddly feminine descriptions of male thoughts. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable, if a little maudlin at times, story of the American midwest in the early part of the 20th century. Not the great American novel, but one could spend a few summer hours less productively.

Tristessa by Jack Kerouac. Mercifully short. Kerouac is pretensious and tedious, with a few momments of glorious luminosity. A gifted writer with little discipline.

Art for God’s Sake by Philip Graham Ryken. Not as good as I had thought it would be, having a piece by Mokato Fujimura on the cover. Should have listened to LaVar Burton. Not a terrible book, but very simplistic and a little too reliant on Beauty theology for my taste. As a scholarly book, this is weak. However, Mr. Ryken is a pastor first, which makes me suspect that the goal of this book was to speak to the average Christian in the congregation who doesn’t think that art is a legitimate profession, and that we as Christians don’t really need to waste our time understanding art. For that person, this is a fine start. For me; well, it has a beautiful cover.

3. Further, we are beginning some books, most notably Ulysses by James Joyce. We are simultaneously reading Homer’s Odyssey in the hopes of having a clue about what is going on.

4. We have no idea why we are using the first person plural to refer to ourselves. But it’s not going to stop.

5. Here are some music updates, for those who care.

The Smashing Pumpkins come out with a new album on the 10th of July. The singles and the buzz sound promising. As do the set lists from their recent shows. Start looking for tickets now. The best band of the 90’s is back.

Silverchair has a new record out called Young Modern, and it is worth a listen. It is produced by Nick Launay, mixed by David Bottril (I Mother Earth, Muse, Tool) and the orchestral arrangements are written by Van Dyke Parks (The Beach Boys, U2) who also did the arrangements on Silverchair’s 2002 magnum opus Diorama (if you don’t own that record, you are a philistine). Though frontman Daniel Johns still has some work to do as a lyricist, his song-writing keeps getting better and better. Young Modern is expansive, experimental pop-rock at its best. You can listen to the record here.

Post Stardom Depression is a band from Seattle that has been giving our buddy Casey’s band The Magic Mirrors a helping hand. If you are into straightforward hard rock ala Alice in Chains, check them out.

6. Doug Jones is our hero, and he recently preached a semi-controversial sermon at Christ Church in Moscow, ID. Extremely important for Christians who want to understand modern America and especially the so-called “war on terror” from a Biblical perspective. Click on the Christ Church link, go to “sermons/lectures”, then 6/17/2007 “Whose Freedom are You?”. It is worth the time it takes to listen.

7. We catalogued our books. Nearing a thousand. We’ll be buying a storage unit soon. “Gurulib.com” is a great service. And Free.

In Which Chinese Children Manufacture Doctors (and other Links)

1. McSweeney’s! If for some reason you aren’t hip to this groove, you should become so.
They do lists as well as fiction. Here are a few of my favorites:
a) What I Think the Illegible Gang Graffiti That Was Spray-Painted Onto My Apartment Building Actually Says
b) Clint Eastwood Film or Gay Porn?
c) Other Names Sting Could Go by, as Suggested by My Thesaurus

2. John Barach praises Chocolat, proving once again that my wife knows better than I.

3. This is Margaret Sanger, evil and scary as Hell.

4. I understand the appeal of rolling back the prices for cheap tupperware, but Wal-Mart Doctors? All kinds of not good.

5. Reading Dr. Peter Leithart’s A Great Mystery with the wife, which is a collection of wedding homilies. Brilliant as always, Leithart’s book is made doubly fun for us since we had the privilege of being present at most of these weddings. Though about marriage particularly, it is very devotional as well. Pick it up.

In Which Links are Shared

While procrastinating, I enjoyed these sites most:

1. Buddha invented a new fiction genre and we dig it.

2. Relief Journal is a new fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction journal for Christians who hate CBD and still secretly shop at Hot Topic stores. We are awaiting our copy of the first issue. Review forthcoming.

3. This is funny. The Comic for 4/14.

4. Check out Makoto Fujimura’s latest post. Made me want to go to a baseball game. And I hate baseball.

5. Though I’m also not Martin Luther’s biggest fan, this was interesting.

6. And while I’m on Dr. Leithart’s site, you should really read this.