Today, Part Two of my birthday present has arrived. This is something I’ve been waiting for since, oh, last September. It’s a highly-coveted gift from two very good friends who surprised me completely with it. It is: North! Or Be Eaten.
If, by the way, you wish to purchase it, you may find it here, at the author’s site. Or you may go to your local Christian bookstore and request it there. Try option 2 first, because your local Christian bookstore is probably desperately in need of your business. Try option 1 if you have no local Christian bookstore. If all else fails, well, there’s CBD.
North! is, in case you do not know, Book Two of the Wingfeather Saga (Book One is On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness). These are, well, children’s books—preteens on up. From one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Andrew Peterson, Proprietor of the Rabbit Room—one of my favorite blogs. His site, and his store, are worth checking out.
I first heard of Andrew Peterson after the death of Rich Mullins. Mullins was probably the greatest contemporary Christian songwriter of his decade, and anything I could say about him has already been said over and over again: He wrote beautiful, lyrical songs; his verses were passionate and reasoned; they were grand and intimate at the same time. Mullins was something the world of CCM gets every now and then: A writer who makes his own trail and compels everyone else to follow him. I remember hearing of his death at work, on the local Christian radio station; he died in a car crash about 40 miles from my town.
So when I heard about this guy who was the most original Christian songwriter since Mullins, I had to check him out. I had to dig, too, to hear him. AP has had a few CCM hits, like “Nothing to Say” and “Rise and Shine” and “The Chasing Song,” but most of his music doesn’t get a lot of airplay (I could go off on the Christian radio industry here—K Love, this means you, too—but I won’t—today).
Thankfully, AP has twice played in my area. The last concert was in September ‘08, when his beautiful Resurrection Letters Volume 2 album had just come out. He did the tour “on spec,” with no advance take or guaranteed appearance fees.
That was a special concert for me. It came a few days after one of my daughters had been admitted to a behavioral healthcare institute with clinical depression. I hurt. On the way to the concert, I chatted with the friends who were taking me; I made small talk; and I wondered silently why I was going, and what God was going to do, and whether I could get through the next few weeks, and what my daughter would face.... Anyone who’s been there knows what I thought. I had failed her; she needed help; I couldn’t help her. I couldn’t fix what was wrong. The truth is, I only went to the concert because my wife made me. Wise woman!
It wasn’t the music that made that night good. At least, not the music alone. It was Andrew’s story behind each song on the album. Nothing preachy, nothing heavy; AP’s a pretty low-key person. It was just story after story that reminded me: God is great. God is love. God knows what he’s doing. His hands are gentle even when his voice is thundering. God will keep those I love, because he loves them a thousand times more.
So I’m looking forward to a few days of, well, rather light reading. I’m going to put Adolf Schlatter to the side for a while. I’m heading for adventure with the Igibys and Peet the Sock Man, going north to the Ice Praires just a few steps ahead of the dreaded Fangs of Dang. And if you want to come along, click the link.
(Images of cover of North! Or Be Eaten and of Andrew Peterson are from http://rabbitroom.com)