Monday, July 28, 2003

Top 10 Things of the Summer (So far)

10. Baking bread and getting paid to do it
9. Live: Throwing Copper
8. N.T. Wright: Paul for Everyone
7. Eating fresh lettuce from our garden
6. Making Book Shelves with the Blues and seeing Mr. Jones (Doug and Lucy's dad) dance to Bela Fleck
5. Doug Wilson: A Serrated Edge
4. Getting a puppy (the same day my wife had a dream that we got one)
3. Peter Leithart: Against Christianity
2. Almost being an Uncle
1. Being married for over three years


Sunday, July 20, 2003

Into the Wild

The wife, dog, and myself are headed up to Spirit Lake for day or so for a camp out. I have through Wednesday off. It should be a few relaxing days before it'll be getting busy again. We're planning on seeing Pirates of the Carribean sometime in there. We hear it's a fun flick. A good Lord's Day to you.


Thursday, July 17, 2003

A Porter Tale

My wife is making me blog about our dog. She says I can't go to sleep until I tell a story about him. So here I am with my Corona in hand to do my duty.

So there we are. It's Sunday afternoon. All is pleasant. All is peaceful. All is serene. As we gaze down upon the wide world of Sunday serenity, there's a particularly quiet block of residential homes that occupy the south hill of a smallish town called Potlatch. And along that very block runs a street called Spruce that humbly stretches a short distance a top that southern hill. And if one wanted, one might take a stroll down such a street and pass the goodly neighbors of Goudimel Parish. There's Magnus, Lucy's lion, chewing on the bloody remains of a deer, Mr. Jones is out on his hands and knees talking to his front lawn, trying to convince it to be happy and green, and then there's my house, a small white dwelling built in the 1920s.

So there we are. It's Sunday afternoon. And the Sumpter home is pleasant and peaceful and serene. Then there is a loud bang that echoes through that quiet block of residential homes. What is that loud bang? It is not the sound of the Atwood boys blowing up a small lizard. Nor is it the sound of Nathaniel Rosendahl running his bike into a tree, and no, it is not the sound of Eric Jones drifting asleep and falling off his chair during family reading. No, it is the sound of Porter, our puppy, helping himself to a two layer cake, cooling on the kitchen counter. Sadly, the story doesn't end there. The poor puppy proceeded to pack his little belly with every crump of cake. The little 14lb puppy had a beer-belly to make me jealous. Of course that's not saying much, but believe me, it was big. And my wife says he looked like Templeton from Charlotte's Web. Needless to say, the dog got sick.

The End


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

In which strong objections are made to a certain musical group and other thoughts manage to surface in this small and (for the most part) silent pond

The other morning (ie. night) my soul was torn out and run through a food processor. Actually someone scandalized my ears with a CD entitled "Apologeti-X". There I was: minding my own business, making bread, when what should happen but Christians should go around being stupid, record the idiocy, and make money for it. The CD consisted of Christians "gospel-a-fying" secular artists including but not limited to Queen, Em&m, Monkees, Limp Bizkit, Van Morison, Linkin Park, Three Doors Down, ah-that's all I can bear. I recognized other radio music but I don't know names. I looked up their website and it turns out they think they're pretty darn funny. They describe themselves as "The Christian Weird Al Yankovic". The banner flashes on the screen "Biblical Parodies of Rock Hits". In the Question section of the website, they answer the question "Are Christian Parodies Sacrilegious?" There they meander through some psuedo-quasi-defense of Rock music and then defend their 'apologetic' by appealing to Paul's description of 'becoming all things to all men'. Right. I bet they've even got the same boxers as Fred Durst.

The thing that sickens me is not that I have any intimate attachment for the music they were imitating/making fun of (read: mutilating). Some of it I like, some of it annoys me, some of it's trash. But my stomach sinks and churns for their lust for the shallow glitz of modern pop music, the stupidity of the lyrics ("I gave it up for the crooked" "This is the story of a squirrel"), and most of all how they turn many of the songs into 'how-to-get-jesus' tracts. Their website continues: "The biggest blessing for us is that people come back to us after a concert or listening to one our tapes or CDs and say: "Now, when I hear the original song, I can't help but think of the new Christian words." The lyricist Jackson adds: "We try to incorporate as many Bible verses, facts and verse numbers into our songs as possible. I am absolutely delighted when people come back to me and tell me that our songs are helping them to memorize scripture." These people obviously don't think about what they're saying. They're doing parodies of "Great Hits" by changing the lyrics to Bible stories and 1-2-3-jesus-is-my-boyfriend-drug. Taking all this together, it sure sounds (and looks) like they are parodying themselves and consequently our Faith. If I'm a pagan, I'm thinking 'hey look! stupid Christians making fun of themselves!' Of course none of this is new. I listened to my fair share of 'Christian' music in high school, and I remember the scene.

So as to not end on a sour note, I must at the same time insist that Christian musicians ought to make the best quality music they possibly can within the genre of their talents. The solution to stupid Christian music is not no Christian music, although the comment of one of my Christian co-worker's: 'I'm not allowed to listen to Christian music' seemed rather inviting at the time. The syrupy and shallow, snuggle-with-the-world-fest of most Christian music is obviously not building the deep culture and glorious Kingdom that we pray for. At the same time, an up-tight, high brow disdain of anything that sounds remotely modern and Christian isn't helpful either. One of my friends, Jamie Soles, does a fun (and fine) job of retelling Bible stories for kids set to music. Obviously this shouldn't replace the psalms and hymns of the Church, but until someone does a better version of some of the most gruesome (and humorous) stories in scripture (Siserah, Jezebel, Ahab, Haman) without the usual Kinkadian glow in every thought, Jamie's my man. So my rant here isn't a universal indictment, rather, a stated aversion to a particularly pointy finger that found its way into my eye. And just to make it clear: Apologeti-X is one of the many children and grandchildren of Charles Hodge, RC Sproul, and Francis Shaeffer, to mention just a few of the names on their reading list. So if you see us at a party and anyone asks, they're with me. And that's why I'm writing this.


Thursday, July 10, 2003


One enjoyable part of my summer has been the opportunity to study the book of Galatians with a friend. We decided to read a couple of commentaries alongside the Pauline puzzle: Luther and Wright. As it turns out, N.T. Wright sometimes goes by the name Tom. His contribution in Paul for Everyone has been very helpful. After reading his other more scholarly titles this seems nearly playful. Both of us have noticed that while Luther is often saying true things, he is more often not as careful with the text. Wright seems more honest in some ways, and while I'm not always convinced, he's at least dealing with the words on the page. Luther, I always enjoy reading; he is vigorous and lively page after page. Sometimes, in his excitement, he just seems to forget the passage in front of him.


Friday, July 04, 2003


As it turns out, we got a puppy this week. He's an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix. We did some checking and heard very good things about the 'Aussies' and mixed reports concerning Border Collies. Some folks said they loved the Border Collie, but we read that they can tend to be a bit high strung. Anyhow, this little feller that we got seems to be about as mellow as we could hope for. He occasionally does puppy type things, like chasing ice cubes and spiders and chewing whatever fits in his mouth, but most of the time he sleeps (which is probably also very puppy-like). But he's very people friendly. He follows either one of us around where ever we go, and he has to be put to bed like a baby, otherwise he cries. Some of the motivation behind getting the pup was company for Jenny when I'm at work all night these days. Thus his name, Porter: keeper of the door, good beer, and juicy steak. Anyway, meet Porter, the newest member of our family.