Saturday, May 28, 2011


Christina Rossetti
As I neared the end of writing the four-book Mr. Pipes series a few years ago, I decided it was high time I practiced what I was 'preaching' about hymns and hymn writers, and hymn WRITING. Writing that first hymn (The Lord, Great Sovereign, which I had Drew anguish away at writing in the Accidental Voyage), was one of the most challenging things I have ever attempted to write.

Since then I have been developing curriculum for teaching hymn writing to my students and readers--and continuing to write my own hymns. Dr. Paul S. Jones from 10th Presbyterian, Philadelphia, and Ron Bechtel have written several wonderful tunes specifically for a number of my hymn poetry, and several of my students have added some too. is the collection place for those hymns, for the music (audio and sheet music), as well as articles on hymns and worship, pre-release readings from my forthcoming book with Reformation Trust (Ligonier), THE DOXOLOGICAL GENIUS OF ISAAC WATTS, and other hopefully useful resources for pastors and church leaders, musicians and poets. I invite you to peruse the site, become a member by clicking on 'register,' and share it with others who care about worship and singing praises to Christ our King and Redeemer.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

INKBLOTS Men's Writer Group, May 23, 2011

John brought another French wine from Nimes, where his daughter and son-in-law and grandkids live. I shared from my day Saturday at a writing teachers’ seminar for high school English teachers, where I developed (or began developing) a talk on the foundations of good writing, all this when I had had enough hearing about the abysmal failure government funded education is.
Doug M led off with a new chapter from his post-WWII historical fiction. He does cocky Marine like second nature, or maybe it’s first nature. He referred to a Negro, but paused wondering how to write race names—the way we say them now, or the way they referred to races in the context of the story. Thomas learns that his girlfriend, now his wife, has had a son, his son.
We discussed again how sin must be portrayed, so that it disgusts the reader, never allures, titillates. We write to honor Christ, write for an Audience of One. How much time do we spend writing? How to use race names for 1949? O’Conner and Twain had their way of going about it, but though it is accurate to the historical context, I certainly would never use prejudicial language.
John S up. Summarizes his contemporary fiction set in Oregon, police officer finds dead baby in the woods. Meanwhile, his 17-year-old daughter finds out she is pregnant, and under pressure to abort from the boyfriend’s mother. Long Ride Home. Emma walks out of the clinic, reads pamphlet on what abortion is and does while she waited for her boyfriend to pick her up. Good job showing how selfish her boyfriend is, and how little he understands what is going on. Maybe Rich should blow off her fears and poo-poo the honest portrayal of abortion. Description needs to be relevant to the protagonist’s circumstances, Emma here longing for normal life, family, home, like the ones passing by the car as they drove; maybe have her see a husband and wife and kids playing together in their yard with the dog—normal life, why can’t I have this, thinks Emma. Rich is confusing me in this dialogue. Why is he being understanding, when he isn’t that sort of guy? Emma should be suspicious. She should be watching his face, his body language, fearful of losing him, hesitant to tell her real fears of having an abortion, and hesitant to tell him what she thought about the gospel she heard from the counselor. Why is he admitting to being a jerk? But then he reverts to his dad’s view of God and religion. When Emma sees Mt Hood and the irises, beauty all around her. Get more out of this description. Prayer discussion. Rich told the story about praying and rain? Is this best for what you are trying to accomplish? John read this at last meeting that I missed. Doug M felt it was improved, fleshed out as he put it.     
Carl joined us tonight for the first time. He’s working on non-fiction based on discussion with other men. Recent discussion over the precise meaning of words, such as the difference between ‘mentoring’ and ‘discipling.’ Discussed varied fiction and non-fiction for the ‘Blots. Good to have the varied genre.
Next, I read my Dutch friend Kees’s review of a new book on the Dutch Reformation. Not having read the work, nor being able to verify the inaccuracies, it was a pretty critical review. Without knowing the purpose and venue of the book review, it is difficult to fairly critique the review. Kees clearly knows this history in significant detail, and, what is more, cares deeply about getting that history correct. However, I think that if the book was as inaccurate as it appears to be, I would not have written the review; no sense in unnecessarily creating animosity with other writers. A good review, it seems to me, gives enough of the scope of the work to give a good overview, but also includes appropriate specifics that are strengths of the work, and that show the value of buying and reading the book. I would like to have seen some key quotations that represent the author’s style and content. For the most part, it was difficult to detect that Kees’s first language is Dutch, though there were a few places lacking clarity. I would like to read other things Kees has written. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Correction! CHRIST-CENTERED RELATIONSHIPS audio correction

Oops! There was an incorrect link on my recent message at the CHH Conference, CHRIST-CENTERED RELATIONSHIPS audio; This should be the correct one. This was the talk that prompted a number of intense conversations, and some email follow-ups, so I wanted to make sure and get this corrected.

Speaking of Christ-centered relationships, my son pictured at left with Gwenna his new baby daughter.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Covenant HS Art Field Trip, Pacific County Courthouse

Quite a time on the Art field trip! Heaps of rain--the weather that pleased the Lord to give us. But really a great time on the whole. After a bonus visit with judge Michael Sullivan, of the Pacific County Courthouse, who showed us through his courtroom and chambers, we discovered that the CHS bus was hurting, big time. Thanks to the Willapa Bay School District who rented us a bus and driver, we were finally able to get back to Tacoma. Looks like the bus will be down in Southbend for a bit of R&R. 
Devotions our first night in the sanctuary of the United Methodist Church was on defining art and beauty. My text was Psalm 27: and gazing on the beauty of the Lord Jesus and inquiring in his temple to define these challenging things. We looked at attacks on art as an expression of the Imago Dei. Post modernity is determined to make everything a matter of taste so that their "taste" can win the day. But all this gets unmasked when we gaze upon the beauty of Jesus Christ. You can listen here: WHAT IS ART? WHAT IS BEAUTY? Readers of Hold Fast will recognize some of this material from the chapter entitled, The Death of Art. Thursday evening I spoke about an experience of a Mattias Grunewald painting in Colmar, France in 1982. Here's a link to my devotion WHAT ABOUT IMAGES, ICONS, AND ART IN CHURCH? 

The traditional sand sculpture was more of an underwater medium this year, and though we had to halt the thing before we lost anyone to drowning, the creative material was shaping up to be first rate stuff, the faculty and chaperons opting to do the place of deliverance from Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.
In the brief window of sunshine that we did enjoy, students worked on sketches of the Deshutes Falls in Olympia, WA as we paused on our route south to Cannan Beach, Oregon.