Next to the ice, banging on the glass

Close enough for you?

Adriene and I had a great weekend travelling up to Huntsville to watch some college hockey between University of Alabama-Huntsville and Wayne State and visit web mogul Geof Morris and friends. I got a couple of good shots of the hockey game as we were in a suite right next to the ice. Geof’s got all the inside connections, I tell you.

One day I’ll start writing thought-out essays about life again, I promise.

A cog in the American Judicial system

So, this week I fulfilled my summons to be on the jury in the Cobb County Judicial system. Mostly, it involves sitting around in a room and reading a book. I was almost selected to be on a trial. The defendant decided to plea guilty, but then changed his mind at the last minute and wanted a trial when he found out what the punishment was, so we were summoned and lined up to go in the courtroom. However, the defendant changed his mind again and decided to plea guilty. So, no trial for us. The judge was very eloquent in his explanations to us. “In a company, you expect everything to operate efficently because everyone is going mostly in the same direction. In the court, you can expect everything to be inefficient because two groups are going in opposite directions.” In the end, it wasn’t so bad fulfilling my civic duty (and I made a couple bucks off of it, too.)

The upside of all of the waiting is that I knocked out about half of the Kierkegaard anthology that I bought and I got a good chance to listen to Derek Webb’s Mockingbird with a critical ear. Maybe I’ll have some more “literary” content to add to the site in the future.

The Builder And The Architect

I grew up singing and listening to hymns. My church didn’t have projection screens or rocking bands led by a good-looking 30 year old with an acoustic guitar. All our church had was a piano and hymnbooks. On Sunday nights, the congregation would gather around the piano and members of the church would call our their favorite hymns by number. “504 …. oh, I love that one. 302 really speaks to me right now. Could we do 155?” Sometimes before or after youth group in my middle school and young high school years, I would sneak into the sanctuary with the Rollo girls, Tracy and Jessica. Their parents had nothing to worry about, we were around the piano selecting our own favorite hymns to sing and play. As a result, hymnal music has become deeply ingrained into my past.

It should come as no surprise then, that I was eagerly looking forward to Sandra McCracken’s newest CD, The Builder and The Architect. Hymnal CD’s are starting to become a reactionary fad as a backlash against the glut of praise and worship music, but if any artist should be making a CD of hymns, it’s Sandra. Many of the songs were written many years ago by such names as Isaac Watts, John Kent, and William Gadsby, but have been given a new tune by Sandra. She is such a competent writer that she has even woven some of her own original songs into the traditional hymns and there is no discontinuity to be found.

The strength of the CD is in the musical depth of the songs. Husband Derek Webb contributes vocals, banjo, and guitars and Garrett Buell plays various drum toys. Mark Polack and Aaron Sands play bass and David Henry plays cello and Kenny Meeks adds electric and lap steel guitars. Even the photographer Jordan Brooke Hamlin adds in some accordian. The CD is musically diverse, but the production is kept simple. No fad production styles threaten to date the CD making it as enjoyable to listen to ten years from now as it is today.

All of the music is layered with Sandra’s angelic and fragile vocals. Some of the songs have appeared on other works before, but Sandra’s versions may surpass the orignals. The banjo version of “Thy Mercy My God” and the guest appearance by Buddy Miller on “I Boast No More” top the originals on In The Company of Angels by Caedmon’s Call. On the other hand, I think I like the original version of “Awake My Soul” better as it seems more suited to Derek’s voice. Sandra’s voice is at her delicate best on “In The Secret of His Presence.”

Perhaps the best part of the CD is timing that it arrives for me. The beauty of the songs is that they remind us of the grace of God, the majesty of God, and the assurance that God is in control of His creation. It’s not that I dislike praise and worship music, but sometimes they don’t convey the rich depth of the all-encompassing power of the Lord. During the last couple of tumultuous weeks, it has been comforting to know the kind of God that provides for us.