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There’s Something About December 18

A curious collection of individuals was born on this date. If you’re looking for a slice of American culture, here it is religion, sports, movies. You probably couldn’t get two people much more opposite than Charles Wesley and Ty Cobb. (If you don’t know anything about Ty Cobb, look him up. He was quite the character.)

So here’s the question: Which one has had the biggest impact on our culture? On you?

(From today’s Writer’s Almanac):

–It is the birthday of hymn writer Charles Wesley, (books by this author) born in Epworth, England (1708), who wrote more than 6,000 hymns, including “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and “Rejoice, the Lord is King.” Wesley’s verses make up a sixth of the official hymns of the Methodist Episcopal Church today.

–Baseball legend Ty Cobb was born today Tyrus Raymond Cobb, in Narrows, Georgia (1886). By the time he had retired from baseball, Ty Cobb had set more than 90 records, including highest lifetime batting average (.367), most batting titles (12), and most runs scored (2,245). He also stole 892 bases during his career. It was rumored that Ty Cobb kept his spikes filed to razor-sharp points to cut infielders when he slid into base.

–It is the birthday of filmmaker Steven Spielberg, born in Cincinnati, Ohio (1946). His parents had a difficult marriage, and young Spielberg escaped the house during the day and made amateur movies with his father’s Super-8 camera. He made two films about World War II and a movie about a UFO invasion, starring his sisters as victims. Steven Spielberg became famous with Jaws (1975), which was the very first summer blockbuster, and he topped his success seven years later with E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), about a young boy recovering from the breakup of his parents’ marriage when he befriends an alien left behind by his spaceship. The movie E.T. became the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time.

And one who died on this date:

–It was on this day in 1737 that violin maker Antonio Stradivari died in Cremona, Italy. Most often referred to by his Latin name, Stradivarius, he developed a violin design that has served as a model ever since.

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Labor of Love

This is my favorite song from Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson. I think this YouTube version sounds better than the live show the other songs I’ve posted were from. The song is about Mary giving birth to Jesus — in this video, they set it to the scene from the movie The Nativity Story where Mary gives birth. The actors actually do a pretty good job and while I’m not a fan of people portraying Christ, you just get a couple brief shots of the baby’s face.

That said, I think the song actually works better if you just listen to it and don’t watch anything. Just concentrate on her voice and the words. Maybe it’s just because we’re having a baby soon that’s it’s really striking me, but think about it — Mary actually gave birth to a flesh-and-blood baby that was the Son of God. And it hurt when she did it. She went through the stigma of being unmarried and pregnant. People thought she was crazy. But she did what God asked of her. And He came to earth through her.

Once again, excellent songwriting. Great voice (it’s Jill Phillips this time, not AP). Great song.

Poem

A little culture for you this morning, from today’s Writer’s Almanac:

Poem: “The Tow Truck Driver’s Story” by Elizabeth W. Garber, from The Mayor and Other Stories of Small Town Life © The Illuminated Sea Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission.

The Tow Truck Driver’s Story

You meet all kinds of people in this work.
You have to be polite, twenty-four hours
a day. It was a brutal winter night,
I’d worked since four a.m., finally coming in
to sleep when the phone rang, a guy calling
from up on Appleton ridge, saying
he needs a jump. I asked, “Can’t it wait?
There’s still snow on the roads, the plows aren’t
All through. It’ll take me three hours at least
to get there with the roads like this.” “Ok,”
he said, “I’ll wait.” I went to bed an hour,
before he called, “It’s an emergency.”
The storm had eased as I headed out,
But the wind had been so bad, I had
To stop and climb over the drifts to knock
the snow off signs to see where to go,
a hard dark climb up to Appleton Ridge.
Over three hours to get to a lonely
country farmhouse, light glowing brightly.
Then a man in, I kid you not, a red
Satin smoking jacket comes out and waves.
I think he’s waving to me, and wave back,
But it’s a garage opener and out of the dark
A door rises, lit like a museum,
A car, glittering white and chrome beauty,
It was a 1954 Mercedes.
A Gull-Wing. You ever heard of them?
I think they only made ten of them.
Its doors lift up like a gull in flight.
I bet it was worth a million dollars.
I ask, “Are you going to take that out?”
“Oh, no, we just got back from Jamaica
I want a jump to make sure it’s ok.”
It starts like a dream, purrs dangerously.
“Oh good,” he says and walks away, waving
his arm to close the door, never saying
a word, left me standing there in the snow.

Behold the Lamb of God

The title track from “Behold the Lamb of God” by Andrew Peterson. Simple and moving. Piano and strings. Nice harmonies. Good stuff.

Making Good on a Bet

So I had a bet with Andy Lutz over the UK-IU basketball game last Saturday. The loser had to post a picture from the game that the winner chose. As we know by now, IU clobbered UK. It wasn’t like it was too hard. We’re not playing well at all. Anyway, here’s a photo of Jordon Crawford (IU) getting ready to smoke his older brother Joe Crawford (UK). We better get our game on quick. Sheesh.

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(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Gather ‘Round, Ye Children, Come

The opening song from Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God:”

An Argument for Mashed Potatoes

Here’s how they do Thanksgiving in Georgia:

Jackson County sheriff’s deputies were called to a Nicholson home early Thanksgiving morning after a 43-year-old woman knocked her husband unconscious with a potato during an argument, according to sheriff’s reports.

The woman told deputies that she and her husband started to argue in the kitchen about 1 a.m. Nov. 22. He had used an expletive to describe her, and she threw the potato at him, hitting him in the nose and causing him to pass out, deputies said. The couple told deputies that they been drinking.

She told deputies that she didn’t mean to hit her husband and called police as soon as he fell unconscious. The man, who suffered from a large knot on his nose, told deputies he did not want to press charges. The woman was not arrested and no charges were filed.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 120607

So many places to go with this one. Was the potato just the first thing she grabbed? Was she aiming for his nose?  How big was the knot? How hard does a potato have to hit you before you pass out?

Moral of the story: Don’t call your wife names after you’ve been drinking.

Moral of the story #2: Always clock your potential wife’s fastball before you get married. Yikes.

My Annual Andrew Peterson Christmas Music Post

Gather round, ye children, come
Listen to the old, old story
Of the power of death undone
By an infant born of glory
Son of God, Son of Man

I wrote about this last year, but hey, look, Christmas comes every year! This music doesn’t get old. You need to listen to Andrew Peterson’s album Behold the Lamb of God (scroll down to the album and click on “Open Player.” You’ll get music and lyrics.). It tells the “true tall tale of the coming of Christ.” Begins in the Old Testament and runs through Christ’s birth and beyond. You get the history of the nation of Israel, the story of Passover, the people’s longing for a king, Isaiah’s prophesy about Christ, a geneology, the journey to Bethlehem, Christ’s birth, the shepherd’s amazement, forgiveness of sins. Listened to it driving back from the airport last night and was amazed all over again at the message and the music. It helps to listen to the whole thing at once and get a sense of how the grand theme of the Bible — redemption — runs through it all.

It’s excellent storytelling and it’s good music by musicians who are in it to glorify God. They’re on tour doing the show — they’ll be in Nashville at the Ryman next week.

Below is a clip of  the song “Matthew’s Begats” from the album. Yes, it’s a geneology set to music. It even includes a banjo. Listen carefully to catch everything. I’ll post a few videos of the songs over the next couple weeks. Enjoy.