This week’s installment of Whatcha reading? features the theme of place. Both books are inexorably tied up with the idea of location.

Fiction: Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections. One of the most well-received works of the early 21st century, this work examines the Lambert family (elderly parents Al and Enid, grown children Gary, Chip and Denise) and Enid’s attempt to get the entire family back to the Midwestern city of St. Jude for one last Christmas before Al’s medical condition deteriorates further. Each of the three children has fled St. Jude for various reasons, and no one feels particularly compelled to return unless absolutely necessary. I can see why this book has been so positively reviewed – it’s a heckuva good book.

Nonfiction: Fred Hobson, The Southern Writer in the Postmodern World. These are adaptations of Hobson’s Lamar Memorial Lectures at Mercer University (just down the road in Macon, GA). Hobson takes up the discussion of Southern literature post-Faulkner with analyses of Bobbie Ann Mason, Ernest Gaines, Richard Ford and many others. Among his more interesting conclusions: The most likely heir to the Southern Agrarians – many of whom were not just pro-segregation but avowedly racist – is the African-American author Ernest Gaines. If you’re interested in Southern literature, I highly recommend it.


In an update, I worked up the music I mentioned in the last Tuba-Euphonium Tuesday post, and it went pretty well. Haven’t had much of a chance to pick up the horn since then, though, so we’re kind of back in stasis. (Things are happening right now which I am not at liberty to discuss yet. Good things, to be sure, but I must remain a little cryptic.)

So, for today’s installment I shall throw it open to the peanut gallery: What method books do you recommend for advanced high school/college students?


So the sermon yesterday looked at the story of Abraham and Isaac. Preacherman offered a viewpoint that I found interesting – the big deal about this (and by extension, the Crucifixion) was not that a sacrifice was made, but rather that the perception of the Divine changed via those events. To paraphrase – when God first contacted Abraham, Abraham perceived him as “Elohim,” which was a basic Mesopotamian “sky god” construct. In other words, man defined God. At the moment of Isaac’s near-sacrifice, though, God is then identified – by himself – as “Yahweh” (Jehovah), or “I am that I am.” In other words, God defined Himself.

Roll that around in your brain for a second.

This is how I interpret this: The story of Abraham and Isaac is the first time in theological history that God defines Himself rather than building on human conceptions of what a God should be. What we have here is what writing types would call “plot development.” In order for the events of the next 65 books to take place, the protagonist has to take on a larger role – one beyond the purview of some regional deity. Here, God gets His capitalization. It is a transforming moment.

Now, let us look at the parallel to Abraham and Isaac – the Crucifixion. The traditional view is that Christ was the sacrifice provided to close the story of Abraham and provide the necessary bloodshed. The spilling of Christ’s blood was a violent act, the culmination of several violent acts and sacrifices. Because of this act, we need no longer commit violence for appeasement of an angry God. Let’s go a little further now – neither Isaac nor Christ were going to fight their sacrifice (Isaac because he was unable, Christ because He was unwilling), even though both were innocent. We move away from sacrifice of innocents at this point and into a new age of personal responsibility. In some ways, this actually weakens the power that God assumed in the transformation from Elohim to Yahweh…but that’s a discussion for another time.

I draw two conclusions: (1) Violence is never the answer where issues of soteriology are concerned, and (2) the most amazing thing about the story of Christ is how transforming it is with regard to our relationship with the Divine and those around us. Whether you believe or don’t (and don’t kid yourself, no one who thinks hasn’t had moments of extreme doubt), the idea that we need not sacrifice each other to make a better world is powerful.


She's so cute, and you'll notice the rug really ties the room together.

I do want to apologize; I’m still exhausted from all the traveling.

In the meantime, here’s Julie, our beloved Wiener Dawg. She’s hours and hours of amusement, and just look at that face!


She looks innocent, but she will cut you.

This is Sam.

Sam is a part of the menagerie because the people who lived behind us were evicted. We did not want another mouth to feed, but someone had to make sure this cat got something to eat when the neighbors were kicked out. She’s an outdoor cat for the most part.

She is a very sweet and friendly cat, but she is also a killer. Every day it seems some unfortunate small animal has met Sam’s claws. She leaves the carcasses where we’ll see them, because that’s how we know she loves us. (Either that or she’s telling us, “Stop feeding me and you’re next.”) Rats, field mice, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, small aircraft – Sam has killed them all.