Archive for December, 2012

One of the chief interests of this blog, should it ever get off the ground, will be to encourage crunchy young Calvinists to aspire to Chestertonian turns of phrase. Few crunchy old(er) Calvinists do this better than Douglas Wilson. And his short, pithy book Wordsmithy is a primer for those who would wed the world-shaking gospel with the well-turned phrase.


So, first off, you need to go read Wordsmithy. Go ahead, do it. Borrow it if you can’t afford it. You can get it from Canon Press or Amazon.

Have you read it yet? Good. But you probably noticed something pesky: Doug drops recommended readings not just at the end of each chapter, but at the end of each point. That’s a lot of recommended reading.

I started looking up these books to see which ones I really wanted to read. And then I thought, I bet other folks will be doing this, too… I should make it easier. Two hours later, and here we are.

All of the links below go to Amazon. Don’t forget that you can get any of the Canon Press books (and a few of the others) straight from But if you buy through the links below, (even if you go get batteries or something), I get a very small kickback from Amazon Associates. I say that for full disclosure, but also as an appeal: this helps me get books. As a full-time husband/dad/teacher who’s a part-time seminary student, I need all the help I can get. So, thanks!

An Outline of Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life with Recommended Reading

Chapter 1: A Veritable Russian Doll of Writing Tips

Know something about the world, and by this I mean the world outside of books. This might require joining the Marines, or working on an oil rig, or as a hashslinger at a truck stop in Kentucky. Know what things smell like out there.

Angels in the Architecture – Douglas Wilson and Douglas Jones

1. Real life duties should be preferred over real life tourism.

God at Work – Gene Veith

2. Authenticity in writing will only arise from authenticity in living.

Bobos In Paradise – David Brooks

The Authenticity Hoax – Andrew Potter

The Conquest of Cool – Thomas Frank

Stuff White People Like – Christian Lander

3. Always remember that your writing will have a message.

That Hideous Strength – CS Lewis

The Abolition of Man – CS Lewis

All Art Is Propaganda – George Orwell

Politics of Guilt and Pity – Rousas Rushdoony

4. Use your conversations to hone your writing voice, and not the other way around.

History in English Words – Owen Barfield

5. When you are out and about, you are watching the gaudy show called life and are trying to learn from it.

Tremendous Trifles – GK Chesterton

The Christian Imagination – Thomas Peters

The Substance of Style – Virginia Postrel

6. Live an actual life out there, a full life, the kind that will generate a surplus of stories.

Our Culture, What’s Left of It – Theodore Dalrymple

Life at the Bottom – Theodore Dalrymple

7. Enjoy yourself.

Orthodoxy – GK Chesterton

Chapter 2: Read Until Your Brain Creaks

Read. Read constantly. Read the kind of stuff you wish you could write. Read until your brain creaks. Tolkien said that his ideas sprang up from the leaf mold of his mind. These are the trees where the leaves come from.

Loving the Little Years – Rachel Jankovic

England Swings – Rebekah Merkle (forthcoming)

The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

Planet Narnia – Michael Ward

Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl – ND Wilson

1. The first thing is that writers should be voracious readers.

An Experiment in Criticism – CS Lewis

2. Read widely.

The Everlasting Man – GK Chesterton

Surprised by Joy – CS Lewis

Newspaper Days – HL Mencken

Leave It to Psmith – PG Wodehouse

3. Read like a reader and not like someone cramming for a test.

The Culture We Deserve – Jacques Barzun

Poetic Knowledge – James Taylor

The Paideia of God – Douglas Wilson

4. Read like a lover of books and not like someone who wants to be seen as knowledgeable, or well-read, or scholarly.

The Screwtape Letters – CS Lewis

Mind of the Maker – Dorothy Sayers

5. Pace yourself in your reading

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard

6. As a general pattern, read quality literature, and go “slumming” occasionally to remind yourself what quality is and why quality matters.

Pen of Iron – Robert Alter

The Western Canon – Harold Bloom

7. Read widely enough that you are not provincial, but not so widely that you become some sort of deracinated cosmopolitan.

The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

Chapter 3: Word Fussers and Who-whomers

Read mechanical helps. By this I mean dictionaries, etymological histories, books of anecdotes, dictionaries of foreign phrases, books of quotations, books on how to write dialog, and so on. The plot will usually fail to grip, so just read a page a day. If you think it makes you out to be too much of a word-dork, then don’t tell anybody about it.

The Art of War for Writers – James Scott Bell

The Art of Fiction – John Gardner

Save The Cat! – Blake Snyder

1. Read boring books on writing mechanics.

Plot & Structure – James Bell

The Elements of Style – Strunk and White

Clear and Simple as the Truth – Thomas and Turner

Thinking Like Your Editor – Rabiner and Fortunato

Our Mother Tongue – Nancy Wilson

2. Collect and read dictionaries.

Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang – Jonathon Green

Words – Paul Dickson

Forgotten English – Jeffrey Kacirk

Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary – Mrs. Byrne

3. Read books of complaint about the decline of our language by the word fussers and who-whomers, and read the hilarious refutations of those word fussers by word libertines.

American Tongue and Cheek – Jim Quinn

Paradigms Lost – John Simon

Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss

4. Read etymological histories, histories of idioms and phrases, and dictionaries of word roots.

Dictionary of Word Origins – John Ayton

A History of the English Language – NF Blake

Word Origins and Their Romantic Stories – Wilfred Funk

The Origins of English Words – Joseph Shipley

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology – TF Hoad

The American Language – HL Mencken

5. Read books and manuals that help you gain mastery of your word processing program, whatever that is.

The PC is Not a Typewriter – Robin Williams

6. Read books of quotations and anecdotes.

Baseball’s Greatest Quotations – Paul Dickson

2,500 Anecdotes for All Occasions – Edmund Fuller

Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations – Ned Sherrin

Churchill By Himself – Richard Landworth

The Little Brown Book of Anecdotes – Clifton Fadiman

7. Read wordcraft books.

Dare to Be a Great Writer – Leonard Bishop

The Seven Basic Plots – Christopher Booker

My Life as Author and Editor – HL Mencken

Spunk & Bite – Arthur Plotnik

Chapter 4: Born for the Clerihew

Stretch before your routines. If you want to write short stories, try to write Italian sonnets. If you want to write a novel, write a few essays. If you want to write opinion pieces for the Washington Post, then limber up with haiku.

The Seven Laws of Teaching – John Milton Gregory

1. This helps to keep the content vibrant.

Poets’ Handbook – Clement Wood

The Book of Forms – Lewis Turco

2. If you are in a position to do so, which usually means that you are young enough, make sure to get a thorough and broad liberal arts education.

The Case for Classical Christian Education – Douglas Wilson

3. You may discover that your wordsmithing gift was centered in the wrong spot.

The First Clerihews – E Clerihew Bentley

4. Trying your hand at different forms helps to fend off flattery.

The Poet’s Handbook – Judson Jerome

5. The gift of language is one of the most versatile tools imaginable.

The Complete Annotated Gilbert & Sullivan

Selected Poetry of Ogden Nash

6. Allusion is lovely, and experience with other forms brings the ability to use that device persuasively.

The Code of the Woosters – PG Wodehouse

7. I have long said that good teaching consists of loving the subject you are teaching in the presence of students whom you also love.

A Preface to Paradise Lost – CS Lewis

Chapter 5: The Memoirs of Old Walnut Heart

Be at peace with being lousy for a while. Chesterton once said that anything worth doing was worth doing badly. He was right. Only an insufferable egoist expects to be brilliant first time out.

I See Satan Fall Like Lightning – Rene Girard

1. Concert pianists can do what they do because they practiced scales for years.

The Message in the Bottle – Walker Percy

2. If a striking expression hits you, don’t hold back because you are writing an email to your sister.

Money, Greed, and God – Jay Richards

The Good of Affluence – John Schneider

3. Make sure you don’t have a faulty and deterministic view of talent.

Freedom of the Will – Jonathan Edwards

The Genius in All of Us – David Shenk

4. If you are good with practice runs, if you are okay with not being as good as you are going to be, if you see the need for playing in the minors, then it should follow that you are emotionally prepared for negative feedback.

I Only Say This Because I Love You – Deborah Tannen
5. Speaking of criticism, your enemies will sometimes be more accurate, more perceptive, and more to the point than your mom.

The Girard Reader – Rene Girard

6. Openness to criticism is not the same thing as that faux-humility that prepares to inflict itself on everybody with absolutely no reason to do so.

Rescuing Ambition – Dave Harvey

7. Remember that relative competence cannot be universal, and that this applies to your critics, reviewers, editors, and publishing houses as much as to you.

Agents, Editors, and You – Michelle Howry

The Black Swan – Nassim Taleb

Chapter 6: Ancient Roman Toddlers

Learn other languages, preferably languages that are upstream from ours. This would include Greek, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon. The brain is not a shoebox that “gets full,” but is rather a muscle that expands its capacity with increased use. The more you know the more you can know. The more you can do with words, the more you can do. As it turns out.

Archaic Words and the Authorized Version – Laurence Vance

1. God approves of translation, and by this I am referring to the process of translation.

Latin for People – Paul Humez

2. Learning languages is a very good way to learn your language, even if you don’t go on to speak fluently whatever language it was you thought you were learning.

Latin for All Occasions – Henry Beard

Amo, Amas, Amat and More – Eugene Ehrlich

Les Bons Mots – Eugene Ehrlich

Veni, Vidi, Vici – Eugene Ehrlich

The Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases – Jennifer Speake

3. Learning different languages helps a writer get a firm grasp of grammar in the abstract.

The Paideia of God – Douglas Wilson

4. At the same time, be judicious and thoughtful in what you transfer from one language to another.

The Idea of Decline in Western History – Arthur Herman

Heaven Misplaced – Douglas Wilson

5. All this is being recommended as an aid to English.

Who Killed Homer? – Hanson and Heath

6. One key to good writing is to have a wide-ranging vocabulary.

Lingua Latina – Hans Orberg

7. This certainly involves extra work, but it doesn’t take up extra room.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue – John McWhorter

Chapter 7: Uncommon Commonplaces

Keep a commonplace book. Write down any notable phrases that occur to you, or that you have come across. If it is one that you have found in another writer, and it is striking, then quote it, as the fellow said, or modify it to make it yours. If Chandler said that a guy had a cleft chin you could hide a marble in, that should come in useful sometime. If Wodehouse said somebody had an accent you could turn handsprings on, then he might have been talking about Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. Tinker with stuff. Get your fingerprints on it.

The Clicking of Cuthbert – PG Wodehouse

1. The writer’s life is a scavenger’s life.

Carry On, Jeeves – PG Wodehouse

2. It is dishonest to take the wit and wisdom of others and represent it as your own.

Right Ho, Jeeves – PG Wodehouse

3. These concerns have led to the saying that if you steal from one person, it’s plagiarism, but if you steal from many, it’s research.

Lord Emsworth and Others – PG Wodehouse

4. Having a commonplace book does not mean that you will use everything in your commonplace book.

Galahad at Blandings – PG Wodehouse

5. Don’t be afraid to learn from your own typos.

Uncle Dynamite – PG Wodehouse

6. Don’t shy away from a striking phrase, even if it has been promoted into a cliché.

Blandings Castle – PG Wodehouse

7. When you collect phrases, points, metaphors, and what-not in this way, you are, as Cicero used to put it, loaded for bear.

Uncle Fred In The Springtime – PG Wodehouse


David Mullen (singer)


David Mullen (born 1964) is a former University of Florida football player, turned Pop Music / CCM singer. Later he became well known as a songwriter, music producer, and film score composer. He released his first album in 1989, and won the GMA Dove Award for New Artist of the Year in 1990. He later married fellow Christian singer Nicole C. Mullen, then recorded his last album in 1994. Since then, he has written and produced recordings for several other Christian artists, most notably his wife.

David Mullen in 2011 @Studio300

David & Nicole shared the 1998 Dove Award for Song of the Year (along with Michael Ochs) for writing the song “On My Knees” for Jaci Velasquez; Nicole later included the song on her own album. He wrote songs to Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie and made the music for Chris Olsen’s Threads: A Pond Full of Pigs. Most recently Mullen has been restoring an old recording studio in the historic district of Franklin, TN (300 Franklin) that he purchased with CCM veteran Toby McKeehan (Toby Mac, DC Talk).


Per Allmusic [1]:

Grammy Award Nominee • Best Pop Gospel Album – 1991, Faded Blues • Best Song Written for a Motion Picture or for Television- 2000, Larry-Boy: The Soundtrack

9-Time Dove Award Winner • Best New Artist – 1990 • Best Rock Album – 1992, Faded Blues • Children’s Music Album of the Year- 1995, Yo Kidz! 2: The Armor of God • GMA Song of the Year- 1997 “On My Knees” • Children’s Music Album of the Year- 1999, Veggie Tunes 2 • Children’s Music Album of the Year- 2000, Larry-Boy: The Soundtrack • Song of the Year (Producer)- 2001, “Redeemer”; Nicole C. Mullen; Seat of the Pants Music • Children’s Music Album of the Year- 2003, Jonah, A Veggie Tales Movie Original Soundtrack • Urban Album of the Year (Producer)- 2005, Everyday People – Nicole C. Mullen • Best Instrumental Soundtrack of the year (Producer/Writer)- 2007 End of the Spear Motion Picture Soundtrack – Various Artists

Number One Singles • “Miracles”- Nicole C. Mullen, Following His Hand: A 10-year Journey, 2003 • “Show Me”- Nicole C. Mullen, Following His Hand: A 10-year Journey, 2003 • ”Come Unto Me”- Nicole C. Mullen, Talk About It, 2001 (GOLD) • ”Call On Jesus”- Nicole C. Mullen, Talk About It, 2001 (GOLD) • ”Redeemer”- Nicole C. Mullen, Nicole C. Mullen, 2001 (GOLD) • ”Larry-Boy Theme Song”- Veggie Tales, Larry-Boy: The Soundtrack, 2000 (PLATINUM) • “Shaken”- Rachael Lampa, Live For You, 2000 • ”De Creer En Ti”- Jaci Velasquez, Llegar A Ti, 1999 (GOLD) • “Hands Tied”- Becca Jackson. It’ll Sneak Up On You, 1997 • ”Tuesday’s Child”- Steven Curtis Chapman, Tuesday’s Child: The Best of Steven Curtis Chapman, 1996 (GOLD) • ”Through All The Years” – My Utmost For His Highest: The Covenant, 1996 (PLATINUM) • “We Can Make A Difference”- Jaci Velasquez, Heavenly Place, 1996 • ”On My Knees”- Jaci Velasquez, Heavenly Place, 1996 (PLATINUM) • “Take Me Back”- Anointed, Under The Influence, 1996 • “It’s A Matter of Love”- Anointed, The Call, 1995 • ”Meant For This Moment”- Carman & Helen Baylor, Yo Kidz! 2: The Armor of God, 1994 (GOLD) • ”Somewhere Within The Heart”- Carman & Cindy Morgan, Yo Kidz!, 1994 (GOLD) • “Hero”- David Mullen, David Mullen, 1994 • “The Blood”- David Mullen, Revival, 1990 • “Live So God Can Use You”- David Mullen, Revival, 1990 • “Somebody Say Amen”- David Mullen, Revival, 1990 • “Heavens To Betsy”- David Mullen, Revival, 1990 • “Sho Love You” – David Mullen, Revival, 1990 “Revival” – David Mullen, Revival, 1990

RIAA Awards • 18 Gold or Platinum Awards • Jaci Valasquez A Heavenly Place • LarryBoy the Soundtrack • WOW the 90’s Thirty Greatest Hits • I’ll Lead You Home Michael W Smith • WOW 2007 • Nicole C Mullen • Talk About It- Nicole C Mullen • Change Your World Michael W. Smith • LarryBoy and the Fib From Outerspace • WOW 1996 • WOW 1997 • WOW 1998 • WOW 1999 • WOW 2000 • WOW 2001 • WOW 2002 • WOW 2005 • Songs For Life

More recently: “Happy” – Ayiesha Woods, Introducing Ayiesha Woods, 2007 – Peaks at #2 “with a bullet” on R&R, (CHR National Airplay Charts) and #2 at A/C. “A Dream to Believe In” Nicole C Mullen, 2008 produced and/or wrote the singles. “Redemption” Hetti-More recently: “Happy” – Ayiesha Woods, Introducing Ayiesha Woods, 2007 – Peaks at #2 “with a bullet” on R&R, (CHR National Airplay Charts) and #2 at A/C. “A Dream to Believe In” Nicole C Mullen, 2008 produced and/or wrote the singles. “Redemption” Hetti-Marie (Revolve Tour Worship Leader), 2008-2010, Produced and wrote all singles “Jordan Miller” Jordan Miller, 2009 Produced and wrote record (Revolve Tour Worship Leader),

2008-2010, Produced and wrote “A Dream to Believe In” Nicole C Mullen. “Redemption” Hetti-Marie (Revolve Tour Worship Leader), 2008-2010, Produced and wrote all singles “Jordan Miller” Jordan Miller, 2009 Produced and wrote record

Latest news: Produced 2 songs for latest Tri-ni-tee 5:7 album, which is #1 on Billboards Christian Music Chart, and #19 on the Billboard Hot 100. Also Mullen has a TV show in development with All Pro Dad, the fatherhood initiative foundes by Coach Tony Dungy.:7 album, which is #1 on Billboards Christian Music Chart, and #19 on the Billboard Hot 100. Mullen also was in the studio with his wife Nicole C Mullen and fellow producer Ed Cash to executive produce her 1st offering for Maranatha “Captivated”. Additionally, he has a TV shows & films in development with Revolution Pictures. In February and April of 2012, Mullen was nominated for a Grammy and a Dove Award for the production of Trin-i-tee 5:7’s latest record,“Angel & Channele” In 2012 Mullen became the music supervisor for the American Policy Roundtable‘s Live radio series The Public Square Special…beginning with Christmas in America. These retrospective musical and literary reviews are reminiscent of Prairie Home Companion, and air quarterly. Additionally, Mullen has gone into pre-production for several TV shows including: All Pro Dad, The Horse Whisperer, and an unnamed cooking show…said to be based around Loveless Cafe in Nashville, TN.


  1. ^ Trott, Jon (1989). “Reviews / Revival“. Cornerstone 18 (91): 30. ISSN 0275-2743.
  2. ^ Canfield, Dave (1991). “Reviews / Faded Blues“. Cornerstone 20 (95): 29. ISSN 0275-2743.
  • Powell, Mark Allan (2002). “David Mullen”. Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music (First printing ed.). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. pp. 613. ISBN 1-56563-679-1.


by Tony Reinke

For seven years I’ve had the honor of tracking non-fiction books released by Christian publishers, and in that span of time I would say 2012 was the most fruitful year of them all. Recently I gathered up my favorite titles of the year — everything from theological works and commentaries to marriage and children’s books — and chose what I think were the 12 most important books published in 2012. The task was incredibly difficult this year, but eventually I settled on the following.

1. Steve DeWitt, Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything (Credo). Pastor Steve DeWitt saw a need for a book on beauty, decided to research and write the book, and then floated it to eight Christian publishers. He was rejected eight times. A book on beauty for Christians is not a book anyone will buy, he was told. We can be glad a little publisher named Credo House caught the vision for the book. Page-by-page this book opens eyes to God-centered beauty. This is not merely a book about aesthetic appreciation. The true brilliance of this book is that it first looks at the beauty of Christ and the beauty of God’s holiness, then shows how it is through divine beauty and through Trinitarian beauty that all lesser created beauties of the world are illuminated. Of all the books released in 2012, this is in my opinion the most remarkable, and perhaps the most needed, and for those reasons it is my choice for the book of the year. On Authors on the Line episode 11 (tonight) we will talk more about beauty with DeWitt. And if you’d like a sample of the book, I pulled my 30 favorite quotes from it and posted them here.

2. Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity (IVP Academic). This was not the only book on the Trinity published in 2012, but it was by far the most delightful and soul-nourishing. Reading this is truly a rush for your head and your heart, with orthodoxy and doxology colliding page after page. Reeves writes, “Neither a problem nor a technicality, the triune being of God is the vital oxygen of Christian life and joy.” And later he writes, “In the triune God is the love behind all love, the life behind all life, the music behind all music, the beauty behind all beauty and the joy behind all joy. In other words, in the triune God is a God we can heartily enjoy — and enjoy in and through his creation.” Along with Eyes Wide Open, this is one of my favorite books of the year. It is a beautiful book and we posted two excerpts on the blog (here and here). Reeves also appeared on the Authors on the Line podcast to talk about it (episode 2).

3. Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (Crossway). This is a painful, slicing, surgical kind of book, the kind of book that divides intentions and thoughts in the heart of anyone whose life is dedicated to ministry. It is a surgical book, and Paul Tripp is a skillful surgeon, a self-disclosing brother, and a wise hope-giving counselor. If you are a pastor, lay elder, ministry leader, or Christian writer — if you are involved in ministry in any way — this is essential reading. It is a masterpiece, if such a thing can be said of such a painful and exposing book. Of all the books published in 2012, this is essential reading for pastors. And if your pastor has not read it (it’s worth asking), this will make a possibly life-changing, maybe even life-saving, gift for him this Christmas. Not to end on a trivial note, but from an aesthetic perspective — board design, dust jacket, art, page layout, fonts, paper, overall feel, size, and weight — this is the sharpest book I saw all year.

4. Albert Mohler, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters (Bethany House). Mohler set out to write a book to influence all types of leaders, not just pastors. And he succeeded. This book is for any Christian who has been positioned in a place where leadership decisions are required — from CEOs, to managers, to pastors, and to husbands. In this book, all Christian leaders will find direction and encouragement for their calling. This is the best book on leadership of 2012, and perhaps my favorite book by Mohler to date. He appeared on the Authors on the Line podcast to talk about it (episode 5).

5. Kyle Strobel, Jonathan Edwards’s Theology: A Reinterpretation (T&T Clark). Scholars can spend their lives studying the writings of Jonathan Edwards, and many do. It seems Edwards’s scholarship develops along three lines or stages. Stage one is the gathering and making all of Edwards’s works accessible and available, work that is largely done thanks to the folks at Yale University. Stage two is getting arms around the many different branches of Edwards’s thought, and that is being done in books by authors like McClymond and McDermott. And finally, stage three considers whether Edwards’s theology can be held together by a certain center. This work is being done now, and most notably in 2012 by a young scholar named Kyle Strobel. In this book he argues that the Beatific Vision is at the center of Edwards’s thought. The Father dwells on, and delights in, the beauty of the Son, and this then shapes everything else for Edwards. “In short, I propose that Edwards’s trinitarian theology forms the overall contours of redemption by focusing on the redemption of persons by God’s self-revelation of his inner life. God’s glory, as the reality of his own beatific-delight, is the grounding of creation, redemption and consummation, determining the kind of redemption that must take place. Ultimately, God redeems by revealing his beatific-glory in Christ, through the regenerating activity of the Spirit, so that the elect experience God’s own personal delight and thereby truly know God” (19–20). At $80 this book will be outside the scope of affordability for many readers, but no worries. Strobel has a more popular-level (affordable-level) work coming out next summer that echoes these same conclusions, Formed for the Glory of God (IVP, 2013). He appeared on the very first episode of Authors on the Line.

6. Constantine Campbell, Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study (Zondervan). I did not expect to see in my lifetime an exhaustive study of every mention of union with Christ in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Such a job would require an intensive amount of research, clear categorical distinctions, and unimaginable organizational creativity. But in 2012 Constantine Campbell pulled it off. At 480 pages, the book is surprisingly concise for all the ground it covers. The book is also encyclopedic, and is certain to become the standard work on understanding the various ways Paul engages the theme of union with Christ as a web to connect his entire theology. A really incredible feat, this book does require familiarity with Greek, although no Greek is needed to enjoy our Authors on the Line discussion (episode 7).

7. Joel Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Reformation Heritage). This year we saw more public criticism directed at the Puritans than any year I can recall. And yet the Puritans emerged from the dust to continue serving as spiritual lights for the modern church. As a follow-up to Beeke’s Meet the Puritans (2007), which was a series of biographical sketches, A Puritan Theology is historical theology at its finest, systematizing the Puritan’s theology (and modern Puritan scholarship) in a way to make them even more accessible to pastors and lay readers in the church. This large project was developed along themes of systematic theology, but with a heavy emphasis on piety and application. If it was important to the theology and spiritual life of ye olde Puritans, you will likely find it somewhere in this 1,060-page tome.

8. Ray Ortlund, Proverbs: Wisdom that Works (Crossway). Look up proverbialist in a dictionary and you are sure to find a mug shot of Ray Ortlund. And while some will think the choice of best commentary of the year should have gone to thick books like those from Schnabel (Acts) or Pao (Colossians) or Block (Deuteronomy), I chose Ortlund. Through his proverbial writing style he models to modern readers an interpretation of the ancient book of Proverbs through a Christ-centered lens. His commentary is loaded with relevant points like this: “Twitter and blogs and emails would be cleared of much conflict if we humbled our opinions before Christ. What are we here for, really? What does God want to be stirred up in our hearts? He says, stir one another up to love and good deeds.” This 224-page commentary is a gem from 2012. Ortlund brilliantly models for the modern Christian how to interpret and pastorally apply the book of Proverbs in light of Christ’s finished work. It’s one of those rare commentaries best read cover to cover.

9. Sally Lloyd-Jones, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing (Zonderkidz). This is the devotional follow-up to the 2007 release The Jesus Storybook Bible, and is every bit its equal in quality of storytelling and visual illustrations. And it may actually be superior in content. In a devotional style, we see again Lloyd-Jones’s excellence in how she skillfully translates complex and abstract theological categories (like glory) through story to young children. But what I have noticed in reading this to my two youngest children (7 and 5) is how incredibly easy it is to finish the story and be led right into a conversation with them about God. There are some really priceless stories in this new book, including one titled “Dance!” that explains to children God’s inter-Trinitarian delight (19), and one called “Glorify!” to essentially introduce Christian Hedonism in 135 words (52). This is another masterpiece from Sally Lloyd-Jones for parents who want to provoke Godward thoughts in the minds and hearts of their children and families.

10. Jared Wilson, Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus (Crossway). Few young authors can drive the gospel into the modern life like Jared Wilson, and in 2012 he released what I think is his best book yet — Gospel Deeps. The title is taken from the writings of Puritan Thomas Goodwin (+10 points). This book, like its author, is endlessly tweetable: “If holiness makes you a sourpuss, you’re doing it wrong.” “If Christ is true, then boredom is a sin.” “We are saved from God to God by God through God for God. The godhead works in concert so that salvation will engulf you in God.” Any church with one of those removable letter signs will find all sorts of inspiration from this book. This is a serious book about the depths of grace in Christ, and it’s an edifying and enjoyable book on the rich delight of the gospel. Slowly reading through it two times are sweet memories I take from 2012.

11. Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst: Abundance Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood (Canon). If you liked Rachel’s first book you will like this follow-up, and in my opinion you may even like it more. In this second book, I think she does an even better job centering motherhood on the perfect work of Christ. It was one of my favorite reads of the year, if such a pronouncement can by made by a guy about a book by a woman for women. The book will be released from Amazon in late January 2013. Until then it can be ordered and shipped from the publisher, Canon Press.

12. Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Crossway). This book navigates two erroneous views of sanctification, namely sanctification by over-introspection and sanctification by self-forgetfulness, while managing to be a firm and gentle corrective to a third popular error, sanctification by mere justification-recall/refresh. In avoiding these errors, DeYoung is able to firmly set the pursuit of holiness within the framework of gospel hope and (something that I think is particularly needed today) within the context of our living and vital union with Christ. Although the book has gotten quite a lot of press this year, it remains one of the brilliant books of 2012 and is very much worth reading if you haven’t gotten around to it yet. It’s worth noting the book is a finalist for the CBA book design of the year award.

by Bill Traughber


As a researcher and writer of Nashville sports history for several years, I have been satisfied in making discoveries and bringing to date the sporting events and athlete’s accomplishments that have been lost in time. Of my research, I have included dozens of stories about the history of Vanderbilt athletics.

Vanderbilt has been the primary university in Nashville since 1873, and its contribution to Nashville sports is prominent. In my research to locate some Vanderbilt spring sports stories, I turned my attention to track. I made a discovery that was previously unknown to me.

I learned that the headmaster of my high school, Brentwood Academy, was a prominent member of Vanderbilt’s track team in the 1950’s. He was not only a captain as a senior, but at one time held the Vanderbilt school record for the 100-yard dash.

So, I am going to take privilege of the fact that I am a researcher and writer of Vanderbilt sports history to tell you about, and brag on, my former high school headmaster.

Bill BrownBill Brown is the oldest of six boys and graduated from Nashville’s Montgomery Bell Academy. All of his younger brothers would later attend Franklin’s Battle Ground Academy.

“We lived in East Nashville when I was a kid,” Brown said from his Brentwood home. “We didn’t have TV then, but I was listening to the radio and MBA was playing Isaac Litton for the City Championship. It was 20-19 and MBA won.

“I was zoned for East High School, so I asked my mother if she’d let me go to MBA. We went over there to talk, but we didn’t have the money. The tuition was $400.00 and they said we’d let you come for $200.00 if you’ll wash dishes. There were a few others like me, and we worked our way through.”

Brown loved and participated in sports. He played offensive end on the football team and was a member of the baseball team. MBA did not have a track program, as track was not at that time an official high school team sport. It wasn’t until he was on the Vanderbilt campus that Brown gained attention as a runner.

Brown’s family lived near downtown Nashville on Meridan Street. The ambitious youth was not old enough to drive, so he would leave early in the morning to ride the city bus. His morning commute would take him downtown for a bus transfer to the West Minister Presbyterian Church. Brown walked the rest of the way to the MBA campus.

“I had never played organized football until I got there,” said Brown. “And in my sophomore year, I started in the Clinic Bowl — the first one they ever had. We played East High School and got beat, which is the school I would have attended.

“I wanted to be a running back at MBA, but I was an end. The last year at MBA, I was injured and helped coached the eighth grade team. The only year that I had success was my sophomore year. I could run as fast as anybody on the team. I knew that much, but I didn’t know how to run until they started coaching me at Vanderbilt.”

Brown graduated from MBA in 1953 and entered Vanderbilt University. Track was never on his mind since he wasn’t familiar with the sport. Brown did make an attempt to make the Commodore baseball team, but was cut.

Brown wanted to continue his participation in sports when his first experience with track came in the fraternity track meets. Vanderbilt head track coach, Ernest H. “Herc” Alley, was always scouring the Vanderbilt campus for hidden talent to aid his team. Alley noticed the lightening fast Brown at one of those fraternity events. That’s how Brown became a member of the Vanderbilt track team.

“Track back then was so informal, but the coach was in a suit and tie,” said Brown. “Sports back then was for the fun of sports. I ran because I loved to run. We didn’t get anything for it. There were no scholarships, money or anything. We just went out there because we loved to do it. I didn’t know if I was any good or not, until I ran in a race where I saw that I could beat people.

“All the SEC teams had a track team, but LSU, Florida and I believe Auburn had scholarships. We did not run against them in dual meets. They were too far away to travel. I think Herc Alley picked out the teams that didn’t have scholarships. We’d run against Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and UT.”

Bill BrownWithout scholarships for Alley to offer the outstanding athletes, he turned his attention to the one’s already in school. The Vanderbilt football team offered the bulk of the track team members. Track was a spring sport, and the football players were required to participate in spring football practice. Then the players would walk over and join the track team.

Brown was asked about the Vanderbilt football players that joined him on the university track team.

“There were football scholarship guys like Charlie Horton,” Brown said. “Nearly all the running backs ran track in the spring. They were fast. They didn’t have to run, they just ran because they wanted to. We ran on a cinder track with big old leather shoes and long spikes. It was a different time.

“Buddy Stack, who was a punt return specialist, was real fast. We fought it out all the time. Jim Butler was a great running back at Vanderbilt — big and fast. Horton was a real good running back. Vanderbilt football wasn’t great in those times and a guy named George Deiderich, who was a guard on the football team, had a lot of speed.”

Brown’s events were the 100-yard dash, 220-yard dash, 440-yard relay and the mile relay. He ran for Vanderbilt in three springs competed against Tennessee’s Johnny Majors. Majors was the future Vols head football coach and 1956 Heisman Trophy runner-up to Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung. Brown also ran against LSU’s Billy Cannon at the year-end SEC Championships. Cannon would later be awarded the 1959 Heisman Trophy.

On March 30, 1957, Brown entered the Vanderbilt track record book when he became the 100-yard dash champion with a time of 9.75 seconds.

“I enjoyed it, but I knew it was hand timed,” Brown said about the record sprint. “Coach Alley was awfully generous with me. I was fast for that league, and the people we ran against. It was special. It was in the newspapers and we kind of joked about it. We got into the next week and just moved on.

“I was announced as being one of the ranked guys in the SEC, but I really wasn’t all that good. As it turned out by the end of the season there were several other guys running 9.4’s and 9.5’s coming from all those scholarship schools. I wasn’t that competitive SEC runner. Back then for Vanderbilt and Nashville I was fast. I knew 9.75 was pretty fast. It was 100 yards. That would be a 10.7 in 100 meters.

“Track was just coming on the scene. In high schools it was just starting at that time. Tommy Owen from MBA, Vic Varallo and Jim Webb were the three coaches that formed the NIL (Nashville Interscholastic League) Track Program. And it happened while I was at Vanderbilt. Nashville didn’t know much about track back then.”

Brown’s record was bested a few years later. Brown was a co-captain in his senior year in 1958. While running for the Commodores the track team lost only one dual meet, which was against Kentucky. The defeat to the Wildcats ended a string of 24 consecutive dual meet victories extending back to 1953.

Alley had been the Vanderbilt track coach since 1949, and led several of his team members to individual SEC championships. From 1949 to 1963 Alley recorded a remarkable mark of 61-14 in dual competitions. This included a 40-11 record against scholarship offering opponents. Alley, who coached Vanderbilt for 22 years, never captured the conference title and the men’s track program was eliminated in 1973.

“I think it was Herc Alley’s ability to get the scholarship athletes that were in the school out for track like football and basketball,” Brown said. “It was much different back then. The school was much smaller and everybody knew everybody. The fraternity life was much bigger.

“We didn’t have great facilities at Vanderbilt. Our track was actually in Vanderbilt Stadium around Dudley Field. It was right against the wall and you went behind the North end zone on the 220. You disappeared for a while then came out. It was kind of funny. We would train during spring practice while the football team practiced on the field.”

After graduating from Vanderbilt in 1958, Brown served a required six months in the Marine Corps at Parris Island, S.C. and Camp Lejune, N.C. Brown played football for the Marines and said he learned discipline during his military experience.

After his discharge in the spring of 1959, Brown married Beth Barnes of Waycross, Ga., whom he met at Vanderbilt. Brown took his first teaching and coaching job at a junior high school in Savannah, Ga.

A year later Brown was the football backfield coach and assistant track coach at Darlington School, located in Rome, Ga. Darlington was a non-military preparatory school. Brown later became the head track coach and also coached an AAU swimming team at Darlington.

Brown became the head football coach at BGA in 1962. While also coaching the track team, he left the Franklin, Tenn. school in 1966 to become the headmaster at the Oak Hill School and First Presbyterian School in Nashville.

The Oak Hill School consisted of grades 1-6 and as headmaster Brown increased the years to include a ninth grade. In 1969, Brown was instrumental in the founding of Brentwood Academy. The school’s doors opened for the first time in the fall of 1970.

Brown not only served as BA’s headmaster, but also was the man behind building the girl’s infant athletic program into prominence. He would coach the girl’s varsity basketball, tennis and track teams for a number of years.

Brown retired from Brentwood Academy in 2000 after 30 years of unselfish service, devotion and leadership. He has two sons and a daughter that all graduated from BA. Brown has several grandchildren that keep him busy.

“My dream was to have a high school that fit the vision that I felt like schools should be,” Brown said about the humble beginnings of BA. “It was a little different from MBA. I wanted more of a school that emphasized the total person — the whole person. And that’s how we came to the spiritual body in mind and spirit.

“That was the general flow of the things I was seeking. I was also looking for a school that would appreciate the “C” student who usually worked harder in life and sometimes ended up better in life than the “A” guy did.”


Discussing a Difficult Topic: Death.