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March books

Taking Charge of Your Fertility: 10th Anniversary Edition by Toni Weschler
This was excellent and informative, just as everyone said it would be. A must-have desk reference for every woman, whether or not you are (or want to be) charting.

The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier
At work we've been thinking through strategy and marketing and how they play together, so Matt recommended this book. I found it to be very accessible to non-marketing-types and really a fascinating read. A lot of it is logical and just plain common sense, but you would be surprised how little common sense is used in the workplace. Ha! Anyway, definitely a must-read for anyone who has any dealings with any type of marketing (or anyone who just wants to know how branding works).

The Prestige by Christopher Priest
I'm actually not quite finished with this (should complete it today), but so far it is very interesting and very different than the movie. I find the quality of the writing to be beneath the quality of the film-making, but it holds one's interest. A good option for "fluff" reading.

theology in music theory

(Disclaimer: This is the first in what may be a long series of musings on the subject of music, worship, and theology. Feel free to skip if you aren't interested.)

The below is an abstract from one of the best articles on this subject. Ken Stephenson addresses the need for distinctly Christian musical scholarship in the Winter 2006 Christian Scholar's Review:

"The topic of music theory suffers an absence in the renaissance of Christian scholarship of the last few decades. Mark Noll has nothing to say about music theory in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind; neither does George Marsden in either The Soul of the American University or The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, and neither does J. P. Moreland in Love Your God with All Your Mind. A perusal of the contents of the present journal over the last few years uncovers articles on anthropology, biology, cultural criticism, ecology, economics, education, film criticism, geography, history, journalism, literature, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, sociology, and theology, but no articles on music theory. (The one article on music, 'John Calvin's Theology of Liturgical Song' by Jeffrey T. VanderWilt, concentrates on the texts of the Psalms.)

"Not that either this journal or the mentioned authors are in any way at fault; two basic facts explain the oversight. First, even the music theorist must acknowledge the obscurity of the field as a whole in present-day academia. While most readers could no doubt lend a somewhat informed voice to a discussion on the topic of special creation vs. "blind-watchmaker" evolution or the status of truth as either absolute or relative, and while the names Aristotle and Kant, Newton and Einstein, Dewey and Piaget, Gibbon and Toynbee, Derrida and Foucault, and Lewis, Plantinga, Noll, Marsden, and Moreland are familiar to this readership, the ideas and even the names of the greatest music theorists of history--for instance, Guido of Arezzo, Gioseffo Zarlino, Jean Rameau, Heinrich Schenker, and Allen Forte--are less known, much less the nature of the debate between Christian and secular music theory. And here we reach the second explanatory fact. Readers do not know of any debate between Christian and secular music theory because no debate exists, and no debate exists because virtually no Christian music theory is being done today."

It is my belief that because virtually no Christian scholarship is being done in the field of music, there is likewise a stunted, limited understanding of how music relates to worship. Many are ready and eager to evaluate music based on the quality of the lyrics, but what about the music itself? And what about all the music that is not song? We have no idea how to evaluate the music itself, because no one has shown us how. Thus, we continue to employ theologically shallow (or even erroneous) music in our churches, without having the least idea of what it is that we are hearing.

Clearly, something needs to be done.


catching up

- Kansas City was a blast. We did not get to the art museum, but no matter. We saw Murray Perahia and he blew our minds. I sent an extremely long email to Hannah about the concert, but I will spare you the music-geekiness. Suffice it to say that I have never before been so inspired as a musician as I was that night.

- No, I haven't heard anything from the grad schools yet. Applications in and auditions complete for UT and Belmont University (in Nashville). I've nothing left to do but to wait.

- I am so excited that Spring is here! I've been cleaning and redecorating my house, and that makes me a happy camper. Now I am ready for some visitors. Who wants to be my house guest?

- Tonight is very important, because tonight is the LOST episode where we finally find out how John Locke became paralyzed. I think he's the one who is going to get killed off this year. Given his erratic behavior of late and that the writers are apparently wrapping up his back-story tonight, he seems a good choice for elimination. Besides, I think they've been far too insistent about Charlie's impending doom for it to actually be him. Thoughts?

- I have had "Lullaby" by The Dixie Chicks stuck in my head all morning. It could be worse.

february book

I realized I hadn't posted this yet.

A Widow for One Year by John Irving
Yep, another Irving! This one was not quite as good as Owen Meany (but really, how could he be expected to top that masterpiece?), but it was still excellent. It is a novel about a dysfunctional family of writers: one an author of creepy children's books, one an author of second-rate crime fiction, and one a truly great novelist. (Yes, writing about writers has been done countless times before this-- but it's never been done quite like this.) We get to follow the central character (though all of Irving's characters are so fully fleshed-out that it is difficult to claim just one character as central) through nearly forty years of her life, which is portrayed with depth and irony, beginning and ending on the same note. I love that kind of symmetry. It makes for a very satisfying read.

I haven't decided yet what I'll read for this month. Maybe The Prestige.


lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

I always thought it was meaningless faux Latin. But lo! I was wrong.

From lipsum.com:

"Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of 'de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum' (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, 'Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..', comes from a line in section 1.10.32."

So what does it mean? Apparently the common version of "lorem ipsum" has become somewhat jumbled over the years, but the original text from which it comes was translated into English in 1914 by H. Rackham:

"Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?"

Interesting, no?


Jan. 19th, 2007

All across campus, ice is falling off the trees in sparkling showers.

I hope none falls on my head.

a tiny bit more on the car

We got it back from the mechanic today, and so far it runs beautifully. I am thankful every time I hear it start. The final cost to repair was a lot less than we were expecting, too, so we are grateful. Very very grateful.

See? I knew God would take care of us. :)

update on the car

Yesterday afternoon we contacted the mechanic for an update, and he said that (wonder of wonders) he was able to get my car running, and that he even took it out for a drive and it seemed to be running well. You can imagine our surprise. The mechanic said he thought something had caused the pistons to seize, and after he put the, quote, magical mystery cleaning fluid, end quote, in it, it worked fine. He's going to try running the engine again this morning just to be sure that the problem is truly eradicated.

So this is great news, and yet more proof that God does work miracles, even on insignificant objects such as my car. We are not completely out of the woods, though, because we need to find out why the pistons would "seize," and the fix for that is likely expensive. There are a few other little things that need to be done, too, like replacing the brake pads. But the good news is it looks like we're not going to have to get a new engine. Yay!!

All this drama has made us realize that now is the time to sell the car, so once we get it back from the mechanic in decent running condition, we'll start advertising. And then we'll have to buy a new car, which I must admit is rather exciting.

So. Anyone want a 1994 Nissan Sentra with engine issues? Even if it doesn't run for you, it'll look cute sitting in your driveway. Just give me a call and we'll work a deal.

prayer request

So we just found out that my car, which has not started in two weeks and has been in the shop for the past two days, probably needs a new engine. This comes at a particularly bad time, as we've had a lot of (necessary) expenses recently, and the funds they are running low. I know that God is taking care of us, and that will we not become poor and destitute, but right now it's hard to know what to do. We were planning to sell this car and get a newer, more reliable vehicle, but selling a car with no functioning engine? Not going to bring us the couple grand we need.

Your prayers are appreciated.

December book

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
This is a fantastic book and I can't believe I waited so long to buy it and read it. It was recommended to me by two sources who claimed it one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. Right on! The scope of the novel is breathtaking, with a wealth of characters that rival those in any Dickens novel. I loved the humor (it is tremendously funny-- I found myself laughing aloud and rereading sections to Matt because they were just too good), I loved Irving's use of symbolism (M. Night, you only wish you could weave a complicated tale so flawlessly), and I am going to stop describing it now so that you are compelled to go read it yourself. This was definitely my best read of 2006.