The Haul

I hesitate to say I'm back, because I'm probably not. Most likely, I won't be back blogging regularly until after we're back in Tennessee and somewhat settled. But every year I chronicle what books and movies I acquire over the holidays so I figured now's as good a time as any.



MOVIES

TLOTR: The Return of the King Extended Edition

Napoleon Dynamite

"Futurama" Volume 4

Luther



BOOKS



Non-fiction

The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

For All God's Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church by N.T. Wright

Reading the Bible Wisely by Richard Briggs

Rethinking the Synoptic Problem ed. by David Alan Black and David Beck

The Historical Figure of Jesus by E.P. Sanders

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew: Discourses, Selections by Epictetus

Kerygma and Myth by Rudolf Bultmann

The Gospels and the Jesus of History by Xavier Leon-Dufour

Life and Customs in Jesus' Time by Joseph Gift

Blessed are the Cynical: How Original Sin Can Make America a Better Place by Mark Ellingsen

A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ Second Division, Volume II by Emil Schurer

Faith Beyond Reason: A Kierkegaardian Account by C. Stephen Evans

The Acts of the Apostles: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary by French L. Arrington

The Theology of John Calvin by Karl Barth



Fiction

Wilson by David Mamet

The Nautical Chart by Arturo Perez-Reverte

At Play in the Fields of the Lord by Peter Matthiessen

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon

Summerland by Michael Chabon

Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite

The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle

Very Good, Jeeves! by P.G. Wodehouse



Also, nine volumes in L. Frank Baum's Oz series (after my reading of The Wonderful Wizard... got me hooked).



As usual, I welcome any comments on or criticisms of anything mentioned.

I Bind this Day to Me Forever

MERRY CHRISTMAS!



Today we celebrate not merely "baby Jesus," but the beautiful mystery of the Incarnation.

PHILIPPIANS 2:6-11



[T]hough he was in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.



And being found in human form, he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death -- even death on a cross.



Therefore God also highly exalted him

and gave him the name that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.



(NRSV)


from SAINT PATRICK'S BREASTPLATE

a Celtic hymn attributed to St. Patrick



I bind unto myself today

the virtues of the star-lit heaven,

the glorious sun's life-giving ray,

the whiteness of the moon at even,

the flashing of the lightning free,

the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,

the stable earth, the deep salt sea,

around the old eternal rocks.



I bind this day to me for ever,

by power of faith, Christ's incarnation
;

his baptism in the Jordan river;

his death on Cross for my salvation;

his bursting from the spiced tomb;

his riding up the heavenly way;

his coming at the day of doom;

I bind unto myself today.



I bind unto myself today

the power of God to hold and lead,

his eye to watch, his might to stay,

his ear to hearken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach,

his hand to guide, his shield to ward;

the word of God to give me speech,

his heavenly host to be my guard.

Worthy is the Lamb!

WORTHY IS THE LAMB / HALLELUJAH CHORUS

from Handel's Messiah



Worthy is the Lamb

That was slain

Worthy is the Lamb

That was slain

And hath redeemed us to God

By His blood.

Worthy is the Lamb

To receive power and riches and wisdom and strength

Honor and glory and blessing.

Worthy is the Lamb.



Blessing and honor, glory and power

Be unto Him, be unto Him

Who sitteth upon the throne

And unto the Lamb.

Blessing and honor, glory and power

Be unto Him, be unto Him

Who sitteth upon the throne

And unto the Lamb forever and ever.



Hallelujah, hallelujah.

Hallelu - hallelujah!



Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!



For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth

Hallelujah, hallelujah!



Forever and ever

Hallelujah, hallelujah!



The kingdom has

The kingdom!

The kingdom has begun!

Hallelujah!

Woolly Innocence

THE NATIVITY

by C.S. Lewis



Among the oxen (like an ox I'm slow)

I see glory in the stable grow

Which, with an ox's dullness might at length

Give me an ox's strength.



Among the asses (stubborn I as they)

I see my Savior where I looked for hay;

So may my beastlike folly learn at least

The patience of a beast.



Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)

I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;

Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence

Some woolly innocence!

The Magnificat

LUKE 1:46-55



And Mary said,



"My sould magnifies the Lord

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.



Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.



His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.



He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.



He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever."



(NRSV)

The Dangerous Infant

SALUS MUNDI

by Mary Coleridge



I saw a stable, low and very bare,

A little child in a manger.

The oxen knew him, had Him in their care,

To men He was a stranger.

The safety of the world was lying there,

And the world's danger.

The Shepherd King from Bethlehem

MICAH 5:1-5a



Now you are walled around with a wall; siege is laid against us;

with a rod they strike the ruler of Israel upon the cheek.



But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,

who are of the little clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel,

whose origin is from of old, from ancient of days.




Therefore he shall give them up until the time

when she who is in labor has brought forth;

then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.



And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD,

in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.

And they shall live secure,

for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth;



and he shall be the one of peace.



(NRSV)

Christmas Letter 2004

Here's this year's Wilson Family Christmas Letter and photo, sent out to friends and family earlier this week.







Dear family and friends,



Christmas season has really snuck up on us this year. I don?t know if it was the unseasonably warm autumn or just getting too busy, but the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to have narrowed and sprung up on us all of a sudden. I hope your holidays aren?t as rushed and busy as ours.

We are in our seventh year in beautiful Middle Tennessee. We enjoy having four seasons here, including snow every year, but we sure do enjoy getting down to Texas to be with family and friends every Christmas. If we could move everyone we loved to Tennessee, this place would be perfect!



Becky celebrated her tenth year with LifeWay this year. The things she does every day, week in and week out, never cease to amaze me. In her work there and in her work here at home, she is incredibly dedicated and self-sacrificing. She?s just an incredible woman and a great blessing to a schmuck like me. She also gets more beautiful every day, and I?m as in love with her today as I was the day we wed eight years ago. You know how sometimes with little ones, you get so overwhelmed by how cute they are and by how much you love them, you just want to ?squeeze them to pieces? and say weird things like ?Oh, I could just eat you up!?? Well, that?s how I feel about Becky. She?s a miracle.



But miracles aren?t miracles without slack-jawed yokels to gape at them. That?s where I come in. In addition to being awed by my wife?s wisdom and beauty and unflagging strength, I am still attempting two out of those three every day (I?ve given up on beauty, thank you very much, Mr. Carbohydrates). Yes, I?m still a stay-at-home dad, enjoying the ups and downs of caring for two little girls.



In my spare time (ha!), I still like to pretend I?m a writer. After acquiring a literary agent last year, my pretending seems a bit more legitimate, though. I?ve had a couple of articles see print this year, and I?ve turned in a couple more for next year, but still no luck on the book front. Two publishing companies are still reviewing my first novel, so hope is not dead for it yet. Hope is on the floor, wheezing and coughing. But it?s not dead. Meanwhile, I?m still hard at work on my second book, which keeps getting longer the longer I write. I can?t take too long, though, or I?m afraid my agent will get tired of pretending to represent me. I hope not. I really enjoy writing and saying ?my agent.?



Speaking of my agent, Macy turned three this year, and unlike my agent, she is a brilliant, gorgeous little girl. She just gets smarter and sweeter every day. She?s a little nurturer like her Mama. She loves taking care of her little baby dolls, and she?s always cooking Dada meals in her little kitchen. Macy also enjoys dressing up in her fairy princess costume. She says she wants to be a doctor and a cowgirl when she grows up ? a doctor so she can take care of Gracie, and a cowgirl so she can take care of a cow! Macy is also still madly in love with books. She?s reading fairly well for her age ? mostly names and some three-letter words ? and we?ve started working on phonics a lot. She?s very good at remembering what letters make what sounds, but we?re still working on putting all the sounds together to make words. She?s picking it up quickly, though.



Macy?s also growing in the faith. She makes up her own little praise songs, and we?re constantly ?catching? her praying. The other day Beck asked her who she loved most of all. Macy said, ?Mama, of course you know it?s Dada.? She said ?Grace? and then ?Mama? came next. When asked about Jesus, Macy said ?of course? she loved Jesus ?very much.? Then she turned to Becky and in all seriousness said, ?I hope you love Jesus, too.? Nothing like being witnessed to by your own daughter! (Later I took Becky through the 4 Spiritual Laws just to be sure. ;-)



Grace turned one last July, and she?s currently a seventeen-month-old sparkplug. Macy?s range of emotions includes much capacity for drama and melodrama. Grace knows two moods ? perturbed and full-on, greatest-day-in-the-world, bursting-out joy. That?s why she?s The Happiest Baby in the World?. Like her sister, Grace is very girly ? she loves loving on her baby dolls and playing dress-up. And while Macy is pretty active herself, just as ?busy? as her Mama, Grace takes it up a notch. Grace is a runner, a bounder, a climber, a jumper, a wrestler. She?s just an overflowing fountain of giggles and energy. For some reason I didn?t expect it, but she?s also a little burgeoning bibliophile like her sister. Grace loves books and is already ?reading? them. She won?t go to bed at night without a stack of books in her crib. It?s neat to experience the gradual onset of language all over again, too. Grace?s vocabulary is ever-expanding: she says Mama, Dada, ball, Buh-bob (SpongeBob), shoes, and juice all very well. She?s gotten quite good at saying ?sissy?s juice,? mainly because she always prefers that to her own. Out of her mouth most often, though, is ?fuff-fuff,? which means ?ruff-ruff,? which is her way of saying ?puppy dog.? About the only thing Grace loves as much as books is puppy dogs. This kid has a serious thing for puppy dogs.



I hope you?re having a great Christmas season. You know, it occurred to me the other day that we?re not really just celebrating the birth of baby Jesus. We?re really celebrating the Incarnation. (I know, I know ? I?m a slow learner.) We?re celebrating the beauty and mystery of the God-Man, the Word made flesh, Jesus the Son of God born of a virgin. I?ve been teaching courses on basic theology and Jesus and the Gospels at church the past couple of years, and I enjoy telling my classes that perhaps the only truth more incomprehensible than that God became man in Jesus is that God became man in Jesus to save sinners. It don?t get much more incomprehensible than that!



It?s incomprehensible, but nonetheless necessary. Our debt to God deserves a punishment only man should pay; but our debt to God is so great that only God could pay. How marvelous that in the Incarnation both the ?man should? and the ?God could? meet up and are fulfilled. My hope for you this Christmas is that you will experience that beautiful, paradoxical mystery, if not for the first time, then in a fresh, new way.



Love,



Jared, Becky, Macy and Grace Wilson

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was

pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by

making peace through the blood of the cross. And you who were once estranged

. . . he has now reconciled in his fleshly body . . .

-- Colossians 1:19-22

Best Daddy Blog? Aw, Shucks.

Nope -- still not really back.

I just want to give a heartfelt thanks to TulipGirl for nominating Mysterium Tremendum for Best Daddy Blog in the 2004 Best of Blogs Awards. I have no illusions about my chances against higher profile daddy-centric weblogs, but I really appreciate seeing my name thrown in. What a blessing.

---



I just want to thank the little people who made this nomination possible. In fact, one of those little people has just approached to inform me that something called the Cinderella Wedding Dance is about to begin.



And now I hear the music -- er, rather, the sound of the other little person talking happily on the baby monitor -- playing me off. Gotta run!

Comments Down

Hey, all

I don't know how many folks are still stopping by here right now, but I just discovered today that the comments don't seem to be working. I don't know how long it's been like that, but my apologies to anyone who's tried to comment here and couldn't.



Webmaster extraordinaire Jewel is on the case.

I'll update when comments are working again.



UPDATE:

Comments are functional again. Thanks, Bill!

Beautiful Letdowns

I'm not really back. Still technically on hiatus for another couple weeks. But I couldn't not share these pics.

As usual, we had an "interesting" time trying to take the girls' photograph for our annual Christmas letter. After snapping as many somewhat appropriate candids as possible, we narrowed our choices down to three. The letter goes out this morning, and in another few days, I'll post the text of it here along with the chosen photo. These are the two that didn't make the cut. For "rejects," I still think they're pretty darn cute (except for the massive red eye).