December exploits …

Not sure why (although holidays and extended daylight may have something to do with it), but December seemed to be a month in which I knocked over a bucket-load of reading, listened to a tonne of music, and enjoyed more flicks than usual. Here’s my exploits:




Brewing: Sumatra Mandaling



November exploits …





September exploits …

Reading: Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K.A. Smith; A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene H. Peterson; Home by Marilynne Robinson; Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self (The Terry Lectures Series) by Marilynne Robinson; On My Country and the World by Mikhail Gorbachev; The Theology of Food: Eating and the Eucharist by Angel F. Mendez Montoya; Theology of the Reformed Confessions by Karl Barth; Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People edited by Dorothy C. Bass; Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church by Mark Driscoll (I confess that some skim reading was required here, but this is proof that I read widely!); The Challenge of Jesus’ Parables edited by Richard N. Longenecker; Counterpoint by R.S. Thomas; The Parables of Grace by Robert Farrar Capon; Between Two Worlds: Understanding And Managing Clergy Stress by Andrew R. Irvine; Theological Controversies in the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales, 1865–1915: The Rise of Liberal Evangelicalism by Peter Barnes.

Listening: Songs of Love & Hate by Leonard Cohen; Beneath Southland Skies by Mike Brosnan; Mass in G Minor by Vaughan Williams; In Buenos Aires Volume 1: 1973 Concert by Bill Evans Trio; Symphonies Nos. 7 ‘Sinfonia Antartica’ & 8 by Vaughan Williams; God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise by Ray Lamontagne & The Pariah Dogs; Trouble and Gossip In The Grain by Ray LaMontagne; August & Everything After, Recovering the Satellites, This Desert Life, Across A Wire: Live In New York City, Films About Ghosts, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall and Hard Candy by Counting Crows; So Much More, Hope for the Hopeless and Brett Dennen by Brett Dennen; Supply And Demand and Last Days At the Lodge by Amos Lee; Stop All The World Now, Sound The Alarm, Australia by Howie Day; You Can Tell Georgia, Take My Blanket and Go, Stompin Grounds, Sessions From Motor Ave., Paris In The Morning, Only Four Seasons, Last Clock On The Wall, Julie Blue, Joe Purdy and Canyon Joe by Joe Purdy.

Watching: U2: Go Home – Live from Slane Castle; Abandoned; Law Abiding Citizen; Salt; Saw VI; Alice in Wonderland; The Matrix; When Did You Last See Your Father?; Pink Floyd: Pulse; Robin Hood; Love Happens.

Brewing: Sumatra Mandaling.

Drinking: Felton Road Pinot Noir Cornish Point 2009; Waipara Hills Pinot Noir 2008.

[Image: Elizabeth Kaeton]

January bests …

From the reading chair: Not Every Spirit: A Dogmatics of Christian Disbelief by Christopher Morse; Secular Christianity and God Who Acts by Robert J. Blaikie; The Calvin Handbook edited by Herman J. Selderhuis; Studies in Theology by James Denney; Institutes of the Christian Religion: 1541 French Edition by John Calvin, edited by Elsie McKee; Markings: Poems and Drawings, and Berlin Diary by Cilla McQueen; Practical Theology: An Introduction by Richard R. Osmer.

Through the iPod: The Astounding Eyes of Rita, Le Pas Du Chat Noir, Astrakan Cafe, ECM Touchstones: Conte de l’Incroyable Amour, Le Voyage de Sahar, Thimar, Barzakh, and Khomsa, all by Anouar Brahem; Available Light by Dave Dobbyn; Arvo Pärt: I am the True Vine by Paul Hillier; Britten Choral Works by Choir of King’s College Cambridge

On the screen: The Wire (Season 1); Mary and Max [2009].

By the bottle: Olssens Nipple Hill Pinot Noir 2008

December bests …

From the reading chair:

Wrestling with God: The Story of My Life by Lloyd Geering; On Human Worth: A Christian Vindication of Equality by Duncan B. Forrester; Transformation of the Self in the Thought of Friedrich Schleiermacher by Jacqueline Mariña (reviewed here); Calvin’s Bible Commentary on the Psalms, Part I by John Calvin; Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch; Home: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson.

Through the iPod:

Sweet Bells by Kate Rusby; Guillaume de Machaut: Motets, Morimur, Motetten and English and Italian Renaissance Madrigals by Hilliard Ensemble, Officium – Jan Gabarek & The Hilliard Ensemble by Cristobal de Morales; Battle Studies by John Mayer; Stay Strong by Blair Douglas.

On the screen:

Allie Eagle and Me; Eagle vs. Shark; Doubt; The Lion King.

By the bottle: Coriole Redstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.

October bests …

Draw the LineFrom the reading chair: Celtic Christianity: Making Myths and Chasing Dreams by Ian Bradley; The Quest For Celtic Christianity by Donald E. Meek; Banner in the West: A Spiritual History of Lewis and Harris by John Macleod; Why Study The Past?: The Quest For The Historical Church by Rowan Williams; Loving God With Our Minds: The Pastor As Theologian edited by Michael Welker and Cynthia A. Jarvis; Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin; Liberating Reformed Theology, Christianity and Democracy: A Theology for a Just World Order and Theology & Ministry in Context & Crisis: A South African Perspective by John W. de Gruchy; Witness to the World: The Christian Mission in Theological Perspective by David J. Bosch; Black and Reformed: Apartheid, Liberation, and the Calvinist Tradition by Allan A. Boesak; Praying with Paul by Thomas A. Smail.

Through the iPod: Kind of Blue (50th Anniversary) by Miles Davis; Looking for Butter Boy by Archie Roach; Daughtry and Leave This Town by Daughtry; Draw the Line by David Gray (this is easily in my top 10 for 2009); X&Y by Coldplay; Christmas In the Heart by Bob Dylan (Judy says that it won’t be being played in ‘our’ house this Christmas, so does anyone want me over for lunch).

By the bottle: Mt Difficulty Long Gully Pinot Noir 2007; Carrick Josephine Riesling 2007.

September bests …

BackspacerFrom the reading chair: Biography as Theology: How Life Stories Can Remake Today’s Theology by James Wm. McClendon; The Concentration Camp and Other Stories by Geoffrey C. Bingham; The End of Suffering: Finding Purpose in Pain by Scott Cairns [reviewed here]; Pastoral Theology in the Classical Tradition by Andrew Purves; Poems for Gardeners edited by Germaine Greer; No Rusty Swords: Letters, Lectures, and Notes from the Collected Works by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Through the iPod: Come Up Full and The Crossing by Meg Hutchinson; Backspacer by Pearl Jam; Beautiful World and The Road Between by Khristian Mizzi; My Holiday by Mindy Smith; Our Bright Future by Tracy Chapman; Death Magnetic by Metallica; Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98 – Carlos Kleiber/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra by Johannes Brahms.

On the screen: Shooting Dogs [2007], reviewed here;  Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf or Death [2009]; Shaun the Sheep: Sheep on the Loose [2009]; Shaun the Sheep: Off the Baa! [2008]; Sometimes in April [2005].

By the bottle: Seppeltsfield Cellar No 9 Muscat Rutherford (tasting notes).

August bests …

Moltmann - A Broad PlaceFrom the reading chair: In the Beauty of the Lilies, by John Updike; A Broad Place, by Jürgen Moltmann; An Educated Clergy: Scottish Theological Education and Training in the Kirk and Secession, 1560-1850, by Jack C. Whytock.

Through the iPod: Jewel, Lullaby; KD Lang, Watershed; jj, jj n° 2; Lucinda Williams, Little Honey and West; Emmylou Harris, All I Intended to Be; John Hiatt, Same Old Man and Slow Turning.

On the screen: Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man [2005]; Disgrace [2008]

In the glass: Two Degrees Pinot Noir 2007.

Frederick Buechner on ‘rather splendid’ symbols

WineI’m still appreciating the offerings from the pen of Frederick Buechner. And I completely dig his take on wine:

‘Unfermented grape juice is a bland and pleasant drink, especially on a warm afternoon mixed half-and-half with ginger ale. It is a ghastly symbol of the life blood of Jesus Christ, especially when served in individual antiseptic, thimble-sized glasses. Wine is booze, which means it is dangerous and drunk-making. It makes the timid brave and the reserved amorous. It loosens the tongue and breaks the ice especially when served in a loving cup. It kills germs. As symbols go, it is a rather splendid one’. – Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking. A Theological ABC (San Francisco: Harper, 1973), 95–6.

These words reminded me of the first time I ever heard Robert Jenson speak. It was at Ormond College in Melbourne about 7–8 years ago. I recall the conviction with which he spoke of the centrality of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Church. I also recall the passion with which he condemned the use of individual shot glasses and highlighted the need for congregations to drink from the one cup, and to fill it with the best wine that we can afford. This conviction finds echo in his Conversations with Poppi about God, where he writes: ‘the wine should be the very best’ and dissolvable bread should be banned. The meal should be appetising, and not like those baptisms ‘when they just dribble a couple of drops on the baby’. – Robert W. Jenson and Solveig Lucia Gold, Conversations with Poppi about God: An Eight-Year-Old and Her Theologian Grandfather Trade Questions (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006), 33, 34. [Reviewed here]

I’m into sharing meals that make ‘the timid brave and the reserved amorous’. I believe that God is as well. Sounds like the kind of meal we ought to be having more often too.

March bests …

'Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu', by Guy Maestri

'Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu', by Guy Maestri

Best books: Geoffrey A. Studdert Kennedy, After War, Is Faith Possible?: The Life and Message of Geoffrey “Woodbine Willie” Studdert Kennedy (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2008). (Reviewed here)

Best music: Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, Gurrumul [2008: This is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time]; U2, No Line on the Horizon [2009]; Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs – Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 [2008]; The Panics, Cruel Guards [2008]; Paul McCartney, Flaming Pie [1997].

Best films: The Reader [2008]

Best drink: 2007 Two Paddocks Pinot Noir

February bests …

Best book: Kim Fabricius, Propositions on Christian Theology: A Pilgrim Walks the Plank (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2008).

Best music: Archie Roach, Charcoal Lane; Morrissey, Years of Refusal [2009].

Best films: Seven Pounds [2008] ♦♦♦; The Wrestler ♦♦♦♦; Frozen River ♦♦♦½.

Best drink: Two Paddocks Pinot Noir (2007).

December bests …

Best books: Giorgio Locatelli, Made in Italy: Food and Stories. New York: Ecco, 2007 (this one is easily among my favourite books of the year); Marcia JoAnn Bunge, ed. The Child in Christian Thought. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001; David H. Jensen, Graced Vulnerability: A Theology of Childhood. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2005; and Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea.

Best music: Malcolm Gordon, One Voice; and U2, The Golden Unplugged Album

Best films: Death Sentence (2007)

Best drink: Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon (2006)

October bests …

Best books: The Rise of Neo-Kantianism: German Academic Philosophy between Idealism and Positivism, by Klaus Christian Köhnke; Theology in a Global Context: The Last Two Hundred Years by Hans Schwarz; and Theoria, by Peter Fuller.

Best music: Sons of Korah, Rain [2008]; Dar Williams, Cry Cry Cry [1998]

Best films: 10 Items or Less [2007]; An American Crime [2008]
Best drink: Heartland Directors’ Cut Shiraz 2006