December 22, 2006

an irish merry christmas: #2

So if you saw the below video, you probably saw that I alluded to recordings that were made of all four songs. Well, I got them mixed this afternoon and posted them for your listening merriment! Enjoy!

1. Masters In This Hall
2. Good Christan Men Rejoice
3. Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
4. O Come All Ye Faithful

December 20, 2006

an irish merry christmas

On 12/17/06, we did a set of 4 Irish songs merged with Christmas Tunes at the Clemson Presbyterian Evening Service. The above video (taken by Sarah) is from "O Come All Ye Faithful", though you won't hear the melody since we're in the Irish tune the whole time.

We recorded the music that night, so I hope to be posting the mixes pretty soon for everyone's holiday enjoyment as you're trying to pick out those last minute gifts and prepare for late night Christmas Eve services!

If you're trying to figure out who is in the video, here's the band members from left to right:

Fiddle - Kristin Miesbauer
Penny Whistle, Guitar - David Conley
Bodhran, Percussion, Cello - Robyn Davis
Mandolin, Percussion - Jimmy Agan
Accordion, Guitar - Luke Brodine
Guitar - Chris Topping

November 19, 2006

what a view

Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

I can't take credit for this photo... neither can I take credit for this blog...

p.s. please take a moment to welcome Sarah to the blogosphere by visiting her blog and leaving a comment!

November 05, 2006

sufjan - austin city limits

I apologize that I didn't announce this since I knew about it way ahead of time, but Sufjan Stevens was on Austin City Limits last night, followed by Calexico. It was past my bedtime, so I had to tape it. He did only four songs, mainly because his arrangements are so expansive that there isn't enough time to rush through a 7-song set. I was hoping for "Predatory Wasp" or "The Transfiguration", which were the best at the Atlanta show I went to (see this post).

If you missed it, they posted "Casimir Pulaski Day" on the ACL site here, and then a fairly lengthy interview clip here. I'm sure it'll end up on YouTube at some point, so I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Already hoping that this might be in my stocking this year!

Update: Here's a (shaky) video of the song "Predatory Wasp", which I wish would have been on ACL!

October 20, 2006

will i ever have a study break?

probably not... at least not at my current pace...

I'm trying to champion the art of procrastination.
I'm trying to find a way to put off what should have been done yesterday.
I'm trying to learn how to make more hours in the day.

I had a paper due this Wednesday for Systematic Theology. It is on the Doctrine of God. Light subject, I know. My professor is pretty lenient on turning things in. If I turn it in, I get a grade for it. Plain and simple. So this paper that was due Wednesday, I'm about 5 minutes away from starting it. I should have started it a month ago when I had the assignment, but that would have been too easy. And I would have not gotten other things done that were more important at the time. But now I have to work on a paper that's already past due, while I should be writing my first sermon that I have to give next Thursday, reading my next book for New Testament, memorizing my Greek vocabulary, oh yeah, and start writing my next paper for Systematic on the Doctrine of Humanity.

It's a vicious cycle, but some has to be stupid enough to get themselves into it.

In the mean time, while you're putting off doing something else more important, check out the new Clemson Presbyterian Church website. It went live last week and it has a lot of cool features, like podcasting. I hope I'll have time to put samples up from the new CD we just started selling. It's what I sweat over for the past year, and I think it turned out alright.

must come up for air... must think to breathe... must keep treading water...

October 06, 2006

Donald Miller @ Erskine

Needless to say, I was a bit surprised to see a flier for "Donald Miller, This Thursday at 11 am" when I was on the Erskine campus. First off, why wasn't it posted at the seminary? And second, how on earth did they get him to come?

To the first question, I'd say that the average Erskine Seminarian would have a tough time listening to Don Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz. If your first contact with him was a lecture, you'd probably never want to hear him again if you were above the age of 39. But I think they all should be interested in what he's saying because the upcoming generations are reading his books, or at least they think in a lot of the same ways that he does.

To the second question, he was in Atlanta and someone from the board of trustees was able to get him to come up.

So what did I think? Well, when I first read Blue Like Jazz, I would have lumped him into the emergent church movement. His postmodern/mosaic take on everything would fit quite well with them. His follow up book, Searching for God Knows What, shed a different light on his thinking, specifically that he cares about doctrine. In his lecture, he dissed on every mainstream church movement, including the emerging church, so he finally took that nametag off himself that I had placed squarely on his chest (to the right, not the left, because then you can read the nametag when you're shaking his hand).

He talked about church architecture. He cussed, but at the right times. He told great stories about soap commercials and two-year-old temper tantrums. He understood how to communicate with college students better than the previous two big-time guest speakers I've heard there. More than just making them laugh, he gets how they perceive the world because he isn't as far removed chronologically from their generation as the other speakers, who are at least old enough to be their parents.

I appreciate what Don Miller is saying. He's saying things, mostly close to what I believe, but is saying them in ways that others aren't. He and Derek Webb have a podcast together. It's worth a listen. And his books are worth a read. At least your college friends tend to think so.

No, not that Donald Miller!

October 03, 2006

the sounds of october

I've decided that October is my favorite month, and probably that it has been most of my life. originally it was due to my sweet tooth and getting to dress up as my current favorite movie character (most memorable costumes - Jack Nicholson's Joker from Batman, and Val Kilmer's Mad Martigan from Willow).

nowadays I love October for the music and the feeling of falling leaves. I don't know why I like it. is it the clothing? is it the smells? is it the chai latte? it's probably because of the memories I associate with these things. for me, being a college student is walking across campus with leaves covering the ground. finally seeing your breath in the morning. the golden sunsets. hay rides.

now as a seminary student, I get to relive these aesthetic enjoyments. at least when I'm able to slow down and notice them. I need to make a point of studying out of doors. and wearing corduroy pants and wool sweaters... but then again, I'm in South Carolina and it's still getting into the 80s. so much for wishful thinking. at least November will arrive before I know it!

so what does fall sound like? slowly driving acoustic guitars, mandolin riffs, the occasional plodding drum machine, and a good bit of reverb to blur the edges of any voice

music that may help you take notice of leaves yellowing:
"Please Forgive Me" by David Gray
"Walk on the Ocean" by Toad the Wet Sprocket
"White Daisy Passing" by Rocky Votolato
"Gotta Have You" by The Weepies
Any song by R.E.M. (but if you made me pick one, "You Are Everything"... which is covered beautifully by Redbird... listen here to both here)

side note
I am in the process of producing a video for the admissions office here at Erskine. I'm trying to capture that college student feeling that I alluded to above. so what things make you think of the idealized college student life? post a comment... please! please! please!

September 25, 2006

is style so elemental?

Style is an increment in writing. When we speak of Fitzgerald's style, we don't mean his command of the relative pronoun, we mean the sound his words make on paper. All writers, by the way they use the language, reveal something of their spirits, their habits, their capacities, and their biases. This is inevitable as well as enjoyable. All writing is communication; creative writing is communication through revelation–it is the Self escaping into the open. No writer long remains incognito.
Elements of Style (Illustrated Edition), p. 98

my first test in my Worship & Preaching 1 Course is over The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White. does anyone remember having to read this in High School Composition? with the age of the interweb, I'm sure most of us have thrown out so many of Strunk and White's rules that we deserve failing grades for our writing habits. I have to admit that I split infinitives, place punctuation improperly, and use words like "very," "mostly," and "really" too many times.

but does this mean that I don't have my own sense of style in writing? I believe that things like email and blogging have actually allowed me to develop my own voice out of the shear volume of writing that I have to do. I mean, how do you really show a tone of voice in an email? or express sarcasm?

as I get to the point that I have things to say that are more than mere regurgitation for papers and exams, I feel that the way that I write is just as important in regards to what I write. writing however you feel is no excuse for poor grammar, especially if you want more people than just your friends to read what you write.

having to read this again was a fun yet frightening trip down memory lane. does anyone cringe the way that I still do at the substitution of "their" for "they're" or possibly "there"?

(the above image may seem strange. it is an illustration from the Elements of Style's rule #20. which is better? "He noticed a large stain in the rug that was right in the center" or "He noticed a large stain right in the center of the rug.")

September 22, 2006

one more day

fall gets down to business.

corduroy rubs the right way.

wait for leaves to turn.

September 21, 2006

concert recovery

Originally uploaded by saltnlight333.

winged strummer pauses mid-song.

voices and bells echo to the firmament.

ears wish return. eyes require rest.

September 18, 2006

sufjan (soof-yon) stevens (stee-vens)

it's amazing to find that in an entire year of being mesmerized by someone's music, I have failed to even bring up his name once. so here goes:

sufjan stevens

(check title for pronunciation).

last year about this time, I got his (at the time) most recent album, Come on Feel the Illinoise, and everything changed. perhaps that's why I haven't blogged about it. I haven't really been able to settle my thoughts about this music. many times art is that way. you see or hear something, and you can't describe it because you realize that your own words are inadequate to point at something more profound than you can express.

perhaps I got a little gun-shy once the album started ending up on everyone's "Best of 2005" lists, not wanting to jump on bandwagons.

you're saying to yourself: "why then do you feel the need to write about him now? why has the proverbial cat released your tongue... er, fingers?"

good question.

I am here to say that I am going to see him live this Wednesday in Atlanta at the Fox Theater! hopefully I will be able to post a review of the show. I'll try to expedite the writing of my post so that I am able to remember it clearly. and perhaps my words won't get in the way.

so shocked am I that I haven't mentioned his music yet, I'm going to even post a picture.though this is a rather silly picture.

September 10, 2006

photo update

sorry about not updating this thing for over a month! but this isn't really an update either...

I just posted a bunch of photos from the last month on our flickr page. go to to see more.

there you will find photos from: Kristie Perkins' wedding; our road trip to NY, PA, & DC; our house improvements; and our Nashville trip over Labor Day.

enjoy for now, and I hope to write something of note in the next week.

July 28, 2006

New House! (well, not exactly)

Yesterday afternoon, we signed the papers and we're now homeowners! Best thing is, we don't even have to move! We purchased from our landlord the house we have been renting for the last 11 months. So our address stays the same, as does everything else in the house. This is the first summer since I graduated high school (1997) that I haven't had to move out! We look forward to having you all come over soon to see the house before we start demolishing it... I mean, remodeling it!

July 26, 2006

whose right is it?

a recent thread on a mailing list discussion that I am a part of raised the question of changing the lyrics to songs that have current copyrights (any song that has been published in the last 70 years or so falls in this category). many times, there are songs that are quite useful in worship but have a word or phrase that doesn't agree with that group's theological convictions. the question was posed as to what etiquette and legal obligations were involved in doing this.

I have to admit that I have done this myself in planning worship. there are a few songs that are very popular that have just one line that I cannot comfortably sing in worship (and by very popular, I'm not judging them on their "Top 25 CCLI" ranking; rather by their popularity in the specific community that is using the song, e.g. Sunday morning worship or RUF large group). these lines tend to fall on the Arminian/Calvinist fault line that divides much of the American church today.

this is something that happens quite frequently in hymnals. prolific writers like Charles Wesley don't always write hymns that line up with every theological framework. one such example is from his great hymn "And Can It Be." in verse two, the second line is as follows:
"He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race."
One hymnal alters it this way:
"He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace
Humbled himself (so great his love!),
And bled for all his chosen race.
I have asked a few people that I look up to concerning this subject and I have had a few responses that I tend to gravitate towards. The first is that this is Wesley's poetic way of saying something in simple terms that is rather complex to grasp when you get down to it. The second is that Wesley likely was writing from what he was reading in the Bible, and just because his understanding is not as developed at this point does not mean that it is an unbiblical statement.

jumping back to the issue of changing copyrighted material: the problem is that the original songwriter did not intend their song to have the opposite meaning. it'd be great if we all agreed about many of the basic tennents of the faith, but many times it is impossible to agree on anything, except that Jesus Christ is Lord (which even in some circles is up for grabs).

is it right to do this? if not, then what do we do? do we break the law every Sunday we sing the altered lyric? do we sing the original lyric and trust that God will correct this error in our hearts? do we scrap the song from our songbook? am I too worried that by singing the wrong theology in my worship that my worship will be unpleasing to God?

I think that when I come to worship, I need to repent of my theological thick-headedness. That need goes beyond the songs I sing.

July 15, 2006

happy 400th, ol' remmy!

The Met (Day 4) - 6
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

Rembrandt's 400th birthday would be today, July 15th, were he still kicking around the streets of Leyden. A great deal of the course I took on Christian art dealt with Rembrandt, especially his self-portraits. I can honestly say that I have not seen an artist paint himself with so much... well... honesty.

NPR did a story on this today: here's the page.

July 14, 2006

"Pirates of the Caribbean" | Ask A Ninja

Sarah and I saw "Pirates" last Saturday for my birthday outing. I really enjoyed it! And I enjoyed being a part of history (biggest opening weekend ever, at leats until "Pirates 3" opens). I get the sense that some people liked it, some didn't. What did anyone else think?

For some reason, this Ninja didn't like it, but I don't think Ninjas tend to like anything... except Ninjas. "Pirates of the Caribbean" | Ask A Ninja

July 10, 2006

Tenth of July

Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

"so it's my birthday, and I'll blog if I want to!"

okay, so I'm not usually known for poor pun usage on this blog... gimme a break! it's what first came to mind...

so yes, it's my birthday, good ole #27. I have finally reached that point. which point, is not for certain.

yesterday, I got to blow out my candles with the Conley family (minus Wilson; Lauren in photo), and Michael Parks (minus Amy). we had a great time, and I burned the BBQ chicken. oh, and Sarah was there, of course!

Dave and Michelle were kind enough to give me what I really wanted for my birthday: a piano! what kind of piano, you'll just have to come to Pendleton to find out for yourself.

so here's to another 27 more! except that'll make me 54... whoa, I'm good at math... and rhyming...

Fourth of July

Fourth of July Fling
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

so you're saying, "the 4th was 6 days ago. c'mon Luke, get with the program!" well, here's what I have to say to you. "haha! and again, haha!"

don't miss the look on Sarah's face as she considers the next 1.6 seconds...

June 29, 2006

100 Awesome Music Videos (Pitchfork)

Pitchfork Feature: 100 Awesome Music Videos

Being one who loves both good music and good film, I really love good films of good music (i.e. great music videos). Now, thanks to the inovation of sites like, I can view all of the illegally posted music videos I ever wanted, and then some!

Pitchfork Media has gone through and posted their choices for the top 100 videos, and I must say that many of these are very awesome, most of which I have never ever seen because MTV doesn't show "awesome videos", they show 90210 rip offs and reality dating shows.

Besides all of the obvious genius in videos from the 80s and rap videos from the 90s, here are some of the highlights from Pitchfork (all of which are linked to from their page, so I don't feel the need to link them from here):

Björk: "Triumph of a Heart" - she so crazy, but this one takes the cat, I mean, cake!

Cee-Lo: "Closet Freak" - if you wondered why Gnarls Barkley was so off the wall, now you have the answer

Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew: "Super Bowl Shuffle" - this is rather painful, but so full of fond memories (I used to be into this kind of rap in elementary school, probably because this rap could have been written by a 4th grader)

David Brent: "If You Don't Know Me By Now" - if you're a fan of the BBC version of the Office, you'll love this one

David Hasselhoff: "Hooked on a Feeling" - if you're a German, you'll probably love this one... I can't believe he's doing this with a straight face, but it shouldn't be surprising since he did Baywatch with a straight face... oh, Davey, you should have driven off with Kit and never tried to have a career after that!

The Postal Service: "We Will Become Silhouettes" - indie rocker meets indie film maker... this video is "friggin sweet!"

Pulp: "Bad Cover Version" - this is the first time I ever saw this video... it's genius

Radiohead: "Just" - best video ever by best band ever

Sigur Rós: "Untitled #1" - they have this thing for slow motion kids in their videos, but somehow it fits the music so perfectly

The White Stripes: "My Doorbell" - this song and this video are just so catchy... can a video be catchy? I think so! (and here's that video for your viewing pleasure!)

June 26, 2006

Paste Podcast on 100 greatest living songwriters

Paste Culture Club - Episode 19

holy jeepers, if you didn't take my previous advice about listening to the Paste Culture Club Podcast, then you have to listen to me spout of about how great it is... again!

the most recent Paste Magazine has Bob Dylan on the cover and is their attempt at naming the 100 Best Living Songwriters of All-Time. when it came out, I held off from blogging about it because I realize that ever 100 Best List is pretty subjective and there's no reason to get my panties in a wad about someone else's opinion. the blogosphere (silly name, I didn't come up with it) was all aflutter about who they left out... if you don't believe me, just check this google of 174,000 results (the best part is that a ton of people didn't catch the whole "living songwriters" thing and started complaing about Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon and Johnny Cash and many others being left off)

after listening to the podcast, I have to say the guys (and girls) at Paste have THE "job that I most envy" (I'll have to make a list of these at some point, but then why would you want to read my subjective opinion about jobs I don't have!). on the podcast, they play 3 of the interviews that they used to publish the magazine: Paul McCartney, Peter Buck (R.E.M.), and Andy Partridge (X.T.C.). how freakin' cool is that?!?

well, beyond my vocational covetousness, you should just listen to the podcast because it's good stuff. case closed. you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or you can simply download this episode.

June 22, 2006

pc(usa) general assembly decision

I don't know whether to be sad or furious. the PC(USA) GA has decided that you don't have to operate like a Presbyterian to be in a Presbyterian Denomination. Simply put, they passed a measure that makes each Presbytery autonomous when it comes to ordination procedures. this does solve issues on the surface, but it is only a symptom of the progressive decay of absolute truth of Scripture in this once great (in size) denomination. Not that the PCA has it right and all figured out, but at least we all can agree on certain things, like the Bible tells us who can be an elder.

I found this quote submitted by a minority report supporter rather stimulating:
"Saying that people are 'looking for churches where people are gracious but have clear boundaries,' the Rev. Michael Carey of Central Florida Presbytery said approval of the measure would 'open the floodgates of controversy.'"
PC(USA) - 217th General Assembly (2006) - Controversial 'authoritative interpretation' garners 57% support

June 19, 2006

soundtracks to our lives, v. 1.0

Before I go on any trip, I try to think through the soundtrack for my travels. Typically, I try to capture the mood of the city or region that I'm going to and then find a new release that has caught my fancy. Sometimes this works out, others it isn't so good, and even others there is an organic culmination of people and music that seems to make the music and locale inseprably committed to each other.

One recent example of this was a trip up the Puget Sound that Sarah and I took with Andrew Mathias and Kelley Kirker. I had just purchased the Garden State soundtrack, as had Andrew, and as we drove along Whidbey Island, we got fixated with Frou Frou's "Let Go". We listened to that song over and over, and then a few more times. It has been ingrained in my mind forever that this song is for driving two-lane highways along coastal waterways in the Pacific Northwest, much like its intended use in a film like Garden State (which by the way, is the song that seals the love story between Zach Braff and Natalie Portman).

So what did I listen to when I was in New York? Well, here's what has now been permanently associated with flying into LaGuardia Airport, riding public transportation, and navigating the many city streets and glamorous Manhattan shops:

Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere
I don't typically by hip-hop/rap albums, but this one seemed too good to pass up. Definitely a throw back to Marvin Gaye flavored soul. I read one review that described it as what would have happened if Marvin Gaye had made What's Goin On? with today's modern technology. I couldn't agree more! Actually, I would add that Marvin Gaye would also have had to use today's post-modern approach to production, with crazy shifts between styles and start/stop timing. Standout tracks: "Go-go Gadget Gospel", "Crazy", "Just A Thought", "Transformer" (just can't get that one out of my head!)

If you haven't had a chance to see them on television, don't miss the below video from the MTV Movie Awards!

Josh Ritter, The Animal Years
If you've read Paste Magazine for any period of time, you start to pick out the staff's favorite artists. One of these is clearly Josh Ritter. Even though this is the only CD I have purchased of his, I feel like I know his career track fairly well just from reading about him. This album is all at once raw and elegantly crafted. I think it attests to Ritter's ability as a songwriter more than it does to quality production and stand-out performers. The band knows how to back him up and give just the right canvas for his songs to take flight. There is an intimacy here. The characters that he sings about he has clearly inhabited. Being from Moscow, Idaho (the home of Douglas Wilson and New St. Andrew's College), I wonder what sort of religious climate Ritter grew up with. Nonetheless, the opening track "Girl In The War" is an interesting conversation between the Apostles Peter and Paul, dealing with each of their writing styles. An overall strong album, I have a feeling I will continue to follow Ritter's career. Stand out tracks: "Girl In The War", "Wolves", "Lillian, Egypt", "Thin Blue Flame"

Simon and Garfunkel, "The Only Living Boy In New York"
This is not a CD that I purchased for my NYC trip. Rather, it is one that has shown up on a few of my CDs, most recently the aforementioned Garden State soundtrack. Not to be outdone by Mr. Zach Braff, this has now become a part of my own soundtrack. I think I listened to this 10 times on repeat during my train rides into the city. Beyond the fact these guys are one of the groups that seem to embody New York to me (another being Billy Joel), this song seems to soar above the skyscrappers with its vocal flourishes and organ swells. I loved this song before my trip, but I think that it is now a part of my traveling vocabulary.

So with all of this discussion of music fueling the memories of my life, what songs or albums have become connected with your life? Please post your comments. I plan on making this a fairly regular thread, and I will be encouraged to discuss this more if I see people getting in on the fun with me!

NYC Day 4

The Met (Day 4) - 6
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

Final set of photos from NYC. I'm back in South Carolina now, trying to get rested up for the week ahead. I will likely post my thoughts over time as I will be working on my final project for this course throughout the summer.

June 15, 2006

NYC Day 3

Subway - 2
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

19 more photos (plus 1 that wasn't posted earlier this week). we spent the day in the city, just Brian and I (the other class participant). we did not visit any galleries, rather the World Trade Center Site, the Harbor, and Strands bookstore.


NYC Day 2

The Cloisters - 20
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

19 more photos from Wednesday are now posted. We spent the morning at the Cloisters, a museum of Medieval Art owned by the Met. We then went to Grand Central Station to have lunch at the world famous Oyster Bar. Then we went to see the Frick Collection, which had a few magnificent pieces, but I was not able to take any photos there.

June 14, 2006

NYC Day 1

Trump Tower
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

Day 1 in NYC was quite successful! I don't have enough time to dialog about all of my posted photos, but there are 20 new ones on my flickr page, so check it out!

June 11, 2006

May 31, 2006

after a long hiatus, this blog will hopefully be heating up with the sweaty summer months that lie ahead. I'm already sunburned, so I'll write more when I can stop itching for a moment...

we were at siesta key near sarasota, florida, this weekend with michael and amy parks, our friends from Clemson Pres. we had a great time, even with the crazy drives to and from...

I am deep in the throws of reading for 3 courses. by next Friday, I will have finished 6 books and the better part of a 7th (as of yet, only 2 are completed, and 1 more has to arrive in the mail). I will more likely discuss these books on the Black Eagle Tavern blog, since that's the place for all things seminary. see my post about Rembrandt.

we've been laughing our a#*es off watching Arrested Development on DVD, and The Family Stone was a good view this past weekend. I am still being bowled over by The New World; I am finally returning it to Netflix after having it for nearly 3 weeks!

May 04, 2006

beware, massive update

so I've been out of touch with the real world for a few weeks, that is, if I was in touch with it in the first place... anyways, I have turned in all of my papers and await 3 exams on Monday and Tuesday. after that, I will breathe easy until my summer school classes startup May 19. there's a lot of info below, so I'll stop my yappin and let you get on with it.

black eagle tavern

I have just been invited to be a part of a blog collective, headed up by Justin Weeks, with Nathaniel Thompson, Luke Morton, and John Baek along for the ride. We'll be discussing just about anything. I will still post on Rare Sunshine, but be sure to check there from time to time to see what we're talking about.

Black Eagle Tavern

Farewell fond friend...

Jeep at the beach
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

A few weeks ago, we started on the road to fuel economy by selling our Jeep to Sarah's parents. In return, they sold us a Mazda Protege and 95 Honda Accord, which have been working out quite nicely, but we still miss our first car...

In nearly 3 years of driving, he took us through 20 states and even across the border into Canada. He saw the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, the Redwood Forests and the barren desert, the Cascade, Rocky, and Blue Ridge Mountains as well as the Great Plains. He faithfully transported Sarah to and from work, whether in the urban jungle of Seattle or the backwoods of South Carolina, and managed to take the life of an unsuspecting deer and possibly wounding a crazy dog. Goodbye old friend, we'll miss you dearly...

Until the next time we drive to Columbia and see you in the driveway

Professors taken to task

Professors taken to task
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

Every student's dream is to see their professors humbled and humiliated. This was a great day for us all at Erskine!

Seated from left: George Schwab, Old Testament; Dale Johnson, Reformation History.

On floor from left: Aaron Meadows, incoming Student Body President; Joe Slack, current Student Body Secretary and Graduate Life Chair (which I was elected to be for 06-07)


Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

The signature hole at the Cliffs course at Keowee Vineyards is #17. Where I'm standing is the tee, except when there are boats in the way (according to a posted sign), then you get to tee off over land, which would be better for me to not lose every one of my golf balls... that is, if I even played golf!

And if I had a pontoon boat, I would definitely sit and watch people play golf. That way I could sit there and sip my beer while other people get angry and curse the ground.

people watching

mr. gretzky
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

I get a kick out of watching people getting all aflutter around celebrities.

I like it so much, I thought I'd take a picture of it.

Now, I would probably get this way if were to meet someone like Bono, so I won't be the first to cast a stone... but I will be the first to slap my knee and giggle behind their backs!

April 03, 2006

ah, small-town life

exciting thing that happened in Pendleton today #1:
someone's playing the theme from "Star Wars" on a trumpet on their back porch

New photos!

Sarah with Abigail Agan
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

Put a few recent photos online... this past weekend was the Spring Jubilee in Pendleton. Shown here are Sarah and Abigail (Agan), sharing some wonderful homemade ice cream!

April 01, 2006

April Fool's Post

so I realize that it's about time for at least a quick update on our lives... Sarah is currently taking her Real Estate Licensing Exam, and I am at Panera Bread in Greenville studying for exams that I have next week in Hebrew (translating Jonah 3-4 & 1Samuel 1) and Old Testament (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and the Latter Prophets). I'm also trying to stay on top of the different papers that I have to write before May. Just one more week of classes before Spring Break, and then in a 3 week period I have 5 papers due! 3 of them are fairly short responses to assigned readings, but 2 of them are pretty hearty in length and preparation, so I'm trying to get the shorties out of the way so I can focus on the bigger papers, which are due the last week of class.

next Thursday, we're flying to Kansas City for my sister Kate's wedding. it'll be a very quick visit, but in addition to seeing lots of family, we're gonna see Nick and Jen Johnson (who are moving to KC) and Joel and Karen Koenig (who have been in KC for almost a year).

this afternoon when we return to Pendleton, our little town of 3,000 will be swarmed by over 10,000 people attending the Annual Pendleton Jubilee. we live 1 block from the town square and the main festivities, so we won't have to worry about parking (we hope!). and then tonight we may attend a Bluegrass Fest on the grounds of Tri-County Technical College... but we may stay in because of immanent thunderstorms and the pending loss of sleep due to Daylight Savings tonight. we'll see...

so Happy April Fool's day... can't think of any pranks to play... but for something really funny, if you google my name now, the first entry is to the page that I started, and the link's description says that I'm 102 years old and female... which is news to me...

currently on iPod: using shuffle mode, so this instant, "Louie, Louie"... while in the background is a cacophony of Classical Guitar and Latté Makers...

March 23, 2006

missions conference

today I played music for day 3 of the Erskine Missions Conference. it was a great week of teaching and singing. I have no idea why they asked me, a white American, to do music when we had such great leading from our Korean and Mexican students, but it was a great opportunity for me to meditate on the call to missions, whether at home or abroad.

the songs I did were as follows
  • "take to the world" by aaron tate, sung by derek webb. brilliant lyric: "take the bread on your tongue / and leave a trail of crumbs / to lead the hungry back to the place that you are from". that line didn't really catch me until this week.
  • "share the well" by randall goodgame, sung by caedmon's call. shared the story behind the song concerning the Dalit Freedom Network and the lyric's relation to Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well and sharing with her the "living water"
  • "this road" by jars of clay. great song written as a prayer for the underground church in China. followed it up with the first verse of "for the beauty of the earth"
  • closing song: "great is the Lord" by michael w. smith, followed by first verse of "all creatures of our God and King"

getting to lead music, no matter what setting, really forces me to meditate on the texts that are being sung, and in turn meditate upon the truths of Scripture which they express. it has made me realize that I can't use throw-away lyrics in worship. an ill-spent word can mean the message being lost among the syllables. doing a wider variety of songs is inspiring me to want to write songs again, but seeing the weightiness of writing meaningful lyrics is almost paralyzing when I pick up the pen. I have also been listening to a set of lectures that Kevin Twit just gave at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on the "hymn movement". most fascinating is the 3rd lecture on engaging the emerging church.

Exploring the 'Why' behind the Modern Hymn Movement Part 1 (MP3) -- Lecture Notes (pdf)
Exploring the 'Why' behind the Modern Hymn Movement Part 2 (MP3)
Engaging the Emerging Church with Hymns (MP3) -- Lecture Notes (pdf)

For more lectures, visit Southern's Institute Of Christian Worship lecture page.

March 20, 2006

but I still love technology...

even though it means I got to watch every agonizing minute of the Kansas-Bradley catastrophe on Friday night! I was totally excited about the March Madness On Demand website, since my beloved Jayhawks were being pre-empted by the local favorite UNC-Chapel Hill Tarheels (who also lost painfully this weekend). But no, it was all in vain since they played like they did during our 3-4 start to the season, and Bradley brought their A-game.

Then they brought their A-game against Pittsburgh on Sunday, and defeated my father-in-law's Alma Mater. He and I did have a bet going that the loser of the Pitt-Kansas game would take the other out for lunch in Columbia next weekend, but now all we can do is commiserate together over our hopes being dashed... (thanks KU for being out in the first round 2 years in a row)

so instead, I am treating you all to a look at the Erskine Campus, which is nearly empty this week due to the college's spring break...

I leave you with the words of Kip... "always and forever..."

currently in iTunes: Caedmon's Call "Share the Well" (for Erskine Missions Conference, Thurday)

March 03, 2006

the mcpassion

Maybe I'm behind the times and have just heard about this, but don't miss out on the latest tie-in with the greatest story ever told.

"Prepare for the second helping!"

March 01, 2006

paste magazine podcast

oh my gosh, if you're not listening to the Paste Culture Club podcast, you're missing out! and if you're not already the magazine, you're not allowed to pass go and collect $200!

so last week's podcast is a great starter: interviews with Marty Stuart who rambles about music, tradition, and Johnny Cash, and with Steve Taylor and his latest directorial effort... and then new music from Rocky Votalato...

do yourself a favor and listen to it by going here

February 27, 2006


For the past few days, I've been engrossed in American Evangelicalism in the late-18th and early-19th Centuries while reading Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858. I haven't gotten into "the heart" of the book which challenges our idea today of what a revival looks like compared to that of the partakers of the Great Awakening. So far the author, Iain Murray, has been covering the true essence of revival and what brings it about. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit moving, but what can we do to bring about that movement? Well, some would say promotion and advertising, holding special events, etc. Through testimonies from those living during the Second Great Awakening, Murray concludes this:
Thus what characterizes a revival is not the employment of unusual or special means but rather the extraordinary degree of blessing attending the normal means of grace. There were no unusual evangelistic meetings, no special arrangements, no announcements of pending revivals. Pastors were simply continuing in the services they had conducted for many years when the great change began. That is why so many of them could say, "The first appearance of the work was sudden and unexpected." Their theology taught them that there is no inherenet power in the truth to convert sinners and they rejoiced in the knowledge that the size of the blessing which God is pleased to give through the us of means is entirely in his own hands. (Revival & Revivalism, p. 129)
These "normal means of grace" are faithful, regular preaching of the Word and prayer, which he goes on to expound upon:
As with the truth that is preached, prayer has no inherent power in itself. on the contrary, true prayer is bound up with a persuasion of our inability and our complete dependence on God. Prayer, considered as a human activity, whether offered by few or many, can guarantee no results. But prayer that throws believers in heartfelt need on God, with true concern for the salvation of sinners, will not go unanswered. Prayer of this kind precedes blessing, not because of any necessary cause and effect, but because such prayer secures an acknowledgement of the true Author of the blessing. And where such a spirit of prayer exists it is a sign that god is already intervening to advance his cause. (ibid.)
I must confess that my prayer life is wanting, and this above passage is quite convicting about its power. What keeps me from praying fervently is a lack of confidence that my prayers will do any good or have any results, whether visible or invisible. Not that we should be disappointed when our prayers do not result in revival, but we should pray with the expectation that God is already at work in our hearts and in the hearts of those he is drawing to himself.

February 17, 2006

indelible grace update

school's back in high gear... I'm supposed to be writing a short response paper about the book "Back To Basics" which I just finished reading, but I'm taking a short breather before plunging into the writing assignment. Justin Weeks is set to arive any minute now for a weekend visit from Seattle. And I just got a call from Sarah that she's getting to go on a helicopter ride at her job!

Indelible Grace 4 just came out, and it's another hit, in my mind at least. I'm currently transcribing the new songs to put up on the Hymnbook website. The Indelible Grace website itself just got a revamp, and a new message board. Be sure to check it out... don't know how soon the Hymnbook website will get a revamp and whether or not I'll have a hand in that...

Also, I just started a page. Check it out at and be sure to add me as a friend if you're a member already :)

currently on iTunes: the innocence mission, Christ Is My Hope

February 03, 2006

"where do your loyalties lie?"

So some people here in South Carolina have been asking me if I'll be cheering for the Seattle Seahawks during the Super Bowl this Sunday evening. I'm assuming they ask this because I lived in Seattle for the last few years. I did have to think this through, weighing many factors, and here's the rules I came up to progress towards decision:
  1. I grew up in Kansas City, so ultimately I am a Chiefs fan
  2. Since the Chiefs haven't seen the Super Bowl in my lifetime, I usually pick to cheer for the AFC team since it is the better conference overall, except if it's the Raiders, which is trumped by my longstanding rule "I cheer for whoever is playing against the Raiders" (this also works for the Ravens and the Falcons, but it has not been as longstanding as the Raiders)
  3. But still, I lived in Seattle, which would seem to trump the previous 2 rules. Unfortunately, I never ever watched a Seahawks game while I was in Seattle. I think it was Ed Dunnington who told me "when you move to Seattle, you have to decide to go to church or be an NFL fan." Because of the time change, we don't get out of church until the late games are about to start, so you just lose interest in Sunday afternoon football.
  4. "So what, Seattle has never been to the Super Bowl and Pittsburgh has won it many times before!" Well, not with Jerome Bettis, who is one of the most reliable running backs in the past decade. He needs a ring before he retires.
  5. Face it, Seattle is not a "championship" town... This is not so much my argument but from Sports Illustrated... Read the last page of the current issue for this (I read it today in the doctor's office... couldn't find it online).
  6. And finally, the card that trumps all cards unless rule #1 still holds true: I married a Pittsburgh family! Both of Sarah's parents grew up there, and a lot of family is still there. Also, I've been watching the Steelers for most of the season, so it'll be easier to follow the players.
So, sorry Seattle, no soup for you... I raise my latte to you for making it this far, but you're gonna have to fall...

(fortunately, it was Seattle and not the Carolina Panthers... I'd have to justify a whole lot more to cheer against the local team!)

currently in iTunes: Indelible Grace IV - Beams of Heaven

January 20, 2006

baptism as worship

I'm currently doing research for a paper in my Westminster Standards course on one of the doctrines from the Westminster Confession of Faith. I have chosen to write about Infant Baptism, which has plunged me into reading a great deal about the theology and history of Baptism and the understanding of sacraments. Worship Reformed According to Scripture by Hughes Oliphant Old is one of the better works I have read on the history of the elements of worship, tracing their Biblical roots through the Patriarchs, the Middle Ages, the Reformation, all the way to the 20th Century. At the end of his chapter on Baptism, he has this great summation of the nature of Baptism, which has inspired me to write this post in the first place:
Baptism is the presupposition and basis of all Christian worship. Not only does baptism call us to holiness of life, it consecrates us to the priestly service of prayer and praise (1 Pet. 2:4-10; Rev. 1:5-6). In baptism we are set apart for God's service. At the center of that service is the service of worship. Baptism is a sign at the beginning of the Christian life that to serve God we must turn away from all other forms of service to the gods of this world. It is a sign that to serve God in truth we must be anointed by God's Spirit. It is God's Spirit who fits us and empowers us for his service. True worship is God's work within us, and we serve him best when we give ourselves to him and allow ourselves to become the members of his body. When our hands and our tongues are moved by the Spirit of Christ, we do the work of Christ in this world to the glory of the Father who is in heaven.
Appropriately, this chapter falls at the beginning of this book. Someone could probably write a book unpacking each statement contained in this brief set of lines! I'm reminded of the Westminster Larger Catechism where it talks about "improving our baptism":

Question 167: How is our Baptism to be improved by us?

Answer: The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.

If only I was able to keep these thoughts in the front of mind each day...

Currently on iTunes: The Arcade Fire, Simon and Garfunkel

January 10, 2006

oi, happy new years!

so I've been sitting on my duff for (nearly) the past month, and I haven't gotten on here to post. how selfish of me! and then I saw that there is a link to this blog from another blog that I read, so I realized I didn't want to get left off someone's list who has been so kind to list me... here's that blog by the way... common grounds, which I know folks that contribute to it, but didn't realize they knew me! if any of you are reading this, thanks! I'll try to be more faithful to my linkage :)

Sarah and I had a great Christmas season with our families... and New Year's Eve we partied with ourselves, counting down with post-stroke Dick Clark and the rest of NYC. this is actually my first time to see the ball drop at the actual stroke of midnight. I've either been in Central Time of Pacific Time, so I would still have to wait an hour or three to actually usher in the new year, in a roundabout way, even though I could still usher in the new year from a different time zone, but it's just not the same, if you know what I mean...

enough semantics!

Sarah has started her new position at the Cliffs and is loving it! in February she'll take a course to get her Real Estate License, and her new boss has been teaching her sales techniques. I think she'll be great at it!

this month, I am taking a course on the Westminster Standards on Saturdays. 4 full-day class meetings and I get 3 credits! pretty cool huh? I've already read A Short History of the Westminster Assembly, and I'm currently in the middle of the Westminster Confession itself. by the last class session, I have to finish an 8-10 page research paper on some doctrine of my choosing. I'm considering Infant Baptism, since during last week's lecture, Dr. Ross (my prof.) said that Baptists understand their doctrine of Baptism extremely well, whereas Presbyterians don't. I figure this is a good a time as any to dig into it. I'll hopefully post any findings here.

when I'm not reading, I'm working in the music ministry at Clemson Pres. we recorded the Christmas Services where we had a full choir and orchestra, and I've been mixing and picking which songs will go on the final record. as of this morning, Dave Conley, music pastor, signed off on the final product and we'll begin duplication by tomorrow. I've never done an orchestral/choir album, so I really enjoyed the challenge of making our album sound like other ones from that genre.

'why release a Christmas CD in the middle of January?' you may ask. well, Dave and I think that this is the best way to break-in the fledgling Recording Ministry of Clemson Pres. we have a lot of plans for projects other than music, so we want our first recording release to be one that the whole congregation was involved in creating. our next release is just around the corner, so read on...

the rest of this week I will be working on the Clemson Pres. Praise Band CD (string session on Thursday) and hope to have it ready for sale by early February. also this week I will be putting the finishing touches on a CD for Chris Granberry, missionary on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington state.

on this blog, I'm starting a viewing and listening journal, inspired by Jeff Overstreet at looking closer. thought it would be a good thing to keep track of what I see and hear in the coming year... also, later this week, look for my idea of a "Best of 2005 List"... 'the best of what?' you might ask, but all I'll say is that you'll have to check back and see...

currently on iTunes: NPR's Sunday Puzzle

2006 viewing/listening journal

here's what I've seen/heard so far in 2006 (out of 5 *'s)


Benchwarmers ***


Madea's Family Reunion ***.5
Me and You and Everyone We Know (DVD) ****


Walk the Line (DVD) ****
Batman Begins (DVD) ****.5 – 2nd viewing
Luther (DVD) ***.5 – 2nd viewing
The Constant Gardener (DVD) ****

Caedmon's Call, Share the Well *****


Hoodwinked ****
Junebug (DVD) ****
Cape Fear (VHS) ****
Millions (DVD) ****.5
Raising Arizona (VHS) ****.5
Monk: Season 3 (DVD)
(affected by Winter Olympics!)

Indelible Grace IV: Beams of Heaven *****
Patty Griffin, A Kiss In Time (Live) ****
the innocence mission, Christ Is My Hope *****
Johnny Cash, The Legend of *****
Thelonius Monk, Monk In Paris: Live At The Olympia *****
Iron & Wine/Calexico, In the Reins ****.5
Belle & Sebastian, selected downloads from The Life Pursuit ***
Hem, selected downloads from No Word From Tom ***** ("So. Central Rain" and "Radiation Vibe")
Spoon, selected downloads from Gimme Fiction **.5
The Decemberists, Castaways and Cutouts
Paste Magazine Sampler 20 – Highlights: "Girl In The War" Josh Ritter; "Seventeen Dirty Magazines" Modern Skirts; "Chaos" Mute Math; "You've Been Faithful To Us Clouds" Half-Handed Cloud

January (includes late-December)

King Kong ****
Born Into Brothels (DVD) ***** – 2nd viewing
The Office: Series 2 (DVD) ****
24: Season 1 (DVD) ***.5 (only because it took so dang long to finish!)
Murderball ****
Vertigo//2005. U2 Live from Chicago *** (Elevation DVD is better produced)

Imogen Heap, Speak For Yourself **** (stand-out track "Hide and Seek")
The Decemberists, Picaresque ****
Theolonius Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, Live at Carnegie Hall ***** (a must-listen, if not a must-buy!)
The Arcade Fire, Funeral ****.5 (stand-out track "Wake Up")
Rosie Thomas, If Songs Could Be Held ***.5
Alison Krauss & Union Station, Lonely Runs Both Ways ****