Charging the Congregation

I sat in the passenger seat of my friends’ car as Indiana beamed under a rare mild July day outside. Cornfields sped by and washed into an impressionist blur. Stephen was driving, and Rachel sat behind me. The Greatest Showman played in the background for the kids.

“When you’re careless with other people, you bring ruin upon yourself,” said an actress.

The adult dialogue up front felt similar. We talked about divorce among our friends. In my short marriage thus far—thirteen years—being close to divorced young people has been not only an emerging theme, but a cup of great frustration. I wrote a song about the relative pain of it years ago; it’s emotionally nauseating merely to hover near the situation. Looking in, I can’t imagine the soul-wounds sustained on the inside of the upheaval. Once you’re so close to a person—intimately, emotionally, dependently—there’s no way to completely extricate that person from your heart. Divorced people know this, and the rest of us can guess. My most pressing complaint during our Indiana drive was different, however, because I remember my cousin’s wedding.

My uncle was officiating, and he took the opportunity to lay out the reason for an old tradition.

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The WordPlayers Present: Jane Eyre

Charlotte Brontë’s masterwork Jane Eyre is something most of us read in grade school. We remember the gilded Victorian prose laid over absolute reams of paper. We remember, perhaps, vaguely liking parts of it—the curious figure flitting about Thornfield Hall, the fire, the mystique of the rolling moors—but having rather a difficult time with the pacing and the oppressive atmosphere. I may have to revisit the novel, though. Firstly, of course, I’m older. Secondly, I spent a delightful afternoon viewing the WordPlayers’ rendition of Paul Gordon’s and John Caird’s musical stage adaptation, playing this coming weekend at the Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville.

The cast gives life to the characters in such a way that I wish they had been there for me in high school Senior English. After leading last year’s Little Women to great effect, Casey Maxwell returns now to play the steadfast, stoic Brontë heroine with evocative depth. Coke Morgan’s Mr. Rochester is the perfect cynic, giving you just enough reason to dislike him even while drawing on your sympathies.

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Album Review: Joy Ike, Bigger Than Your Box

Joy Ike’s new record is going to take you places; your only job is to enjoy the ride. Ike’s fourth full-length studio production, Bigger Than Your Box bears surprise and yearning in its arms. The songs address you by looking you straight in the eye. The experience is like sitting at a welcoming table, talking to that person who both intimidates and encourages you at once. Yes, you listen to the album, but lyrically, spiritually, it feels like the album is listening to you. If you’re ready for it, it’ll flip your world in the best way.

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An Interview with Wild Harbors

Chris and Jenna Badeker are calling it quits. Kind of.

The husband and wife duo have been playing shows as Chris & Jenna for years in addition to other facets of their careers. Jenna has been a leading lady in a venerable big band outfit. It’s hard to tell, but there might be a picture of her meeting a president at a show. Chris maintains an inspired art and design gig. There’s certainly a picture of him with a penguin, which is nearly as cool, depending on how you feel about presidents. The running thread through all of it has been their folk-pop pairing. Now though, Chris and Jenna say Chris & Jenna are done. They’re stepping up their game with a new album under the moniker Wild Harbors, produced by Andrew Osenga.

Now entering the make-or-break week of an exciting Kickstarter campaign, the pair were kind enough to sit down and answer a number of my questions.

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Ash Wednesday News

Again the gunman enters.
Again the children crouch
Under desks with prey’s
Terse stillness.

Once more the chopper angles:
Lines of scurrying hostages
Like pheasant before the hiss
Of prairie fires.

The hack script re-cobbled
Together falls now flat
And horrid against our thirst
For novelty.

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