rabbitroom.com for people drawn to these stories. Hutchmoot is that community stepping from online profiles into the real world.
Rabbitroom itself is loosely and appropriately named after the back room in the pub where the Inklings (CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, George Williams and other) met to share stories and life over pub food and drinks. Stories and life are coupled and woven together as are food and drink. One could live for a time without food, on drink alone, but I think there would be a persistent empty feeling. Give me a meaty story to fill my belly.
One last defining point should be set - stories are told in song, book, film, stage, food, and picture. I say this to be clear, this isn't a bunch of book nerds discussing fonts. This is a bunch of story nerds discussing founts (of knowledge and understanding). This is an amazing gather of aspiring singers, writers, artists, etc. and people who just enjoy such things. It is also amazing to me that it isn't a call for people to come soak up the knowledge of these great pillars of story. It is a gathering to eat, talk, and laugh together. There weren't autograph sessions. Nobody snapping cheesy pictures with your arm around so & so. It was an opportunity for the community to be deep for a few days.
So here's Hutchmoot from my point of view.
First back story:
I have been around the RR for quite some time and am sometimes called by my friends "an Andrew Peterson stalker". I prefer to be called a "passionate follower". In '97 I was 21 and went to a Caedmon's Call concert at Grove City College with a cute girl. We went to Pitt but made the trek for a band I had recently discovered and enjoyed. This wasn't just music, this was therapy for me. I was in recovery. I was jaded to most music. I had grown weary from the "Christian" music machine, the flavor of the week band that sounded just like whatever was on the other radio stations. The machine chewed thru me and I was a crumpled heap on the other side. There used to charts that if you like Dog Daze of Summer (I hope that's not a real band) you should try listening to the Christian version - K9 Summer Soul's Dice. I was weary and CC was fresh water of good sounding music not trying to copy (maybe Rich Mullins slightly) and wasn't formula. The opening acts for that concert were Bebo Norman and Andrew Peterson, I was hooked on both of these guys. Where had this music been for the last 7 years? Since then I've followed Andrew's work. AP hasn't cut corners and has consistently delivered stories that hit me; via songs and the books too. The Rabbitroom has pointed to other quality storytellers; musicians, artists and authors. Not everything recommended or discussed has hit me the same way, sometimes I wish I would have bought something else, but there is room for varied tastes. "In my father's house there are many rooms", I prefer the one with ukuleles all over the walls inviting you to strum. Frisbees too. This isn't about following AP, it is about the deeper story. It isn't about just following Lewis, Tolkien and others; it's about being touched by what ultimately touched and inspired them.
I was at the first Hutchmoot. I wrote about it here. It's odd reading that post. So much of that has stuck; and unfortunately so much hasn't. That post reminds me of a CC song (Thankful):
You know I ran across an old box of letters
while packing up some clothes for Goodwill
But you know I had to laugh because the same old struggles
that plagued me then are plaguing me still.
I still view HM-2010 as transformational. My word for the 2011 gathering is transcend. What sticks in the stories that are enjoyed or moving is some element of truth that the story attempts to tell. The truth transcends the story. The power of a story, for a story to stir your gut and/or mind, comes completely by something greater than the story itself. Some are better than others at telling of the greater truth.
"To the Buddhist or the Eastern fatalist existence is a science or a plan, which must end up in a certain way. But to a Christian existence is a story, which may end up in any way. In a thrilling novel (that purely Christian product) the hero is not eaten by cannibals; but it is essential to the existence of the thrill that he might be eaten by cannibals. The hero must (so to speak) be an eatable hero. So Christian morals have always said to the man, no that he would lose his soul, but that he must take care that he didn't. In Christian morals, in short, it is wicked to call a man "damned"; but it is strictly religious and philosophic to call him damnable." -GK Chesterton
This weekend spoke of many different ways that truth in a story is transcendent. It is important to tell our children stories (S.D. Smith and Jennifer Trafton). It is important to remember that fear cripples you from telling stories. Jason Gray's grasp of this just poured out during the concert (No Thief Like Fear and Fear is Easy, Love is Hard). Some stories are best told by film (Thomas McKenzie, Chris Wall). Some just give you a glimpse and let you fill in the details (Justin Gerard picture from his website)
- a break from battle for a pre-ordained tea time (think Sam and Ralph from looney tunes)
- the boy as the ultimate mediator between inherently opposite forces, never to battle again
- somethings are just more compelling than having the battle
- the boy trembling in fear of what will resume after the tea break, or occur after this morning pre-battle ritual
- laying aside flame and shield they decide to discuss their differences
- rider and steed developing the plans before the great battle
(back to HM)
Through all of this story telling, community is where you receive and tell the stories. There is an extra depth when you watch a movie or read a book with a friend. Story in the community is greater than the story of the parts. And paradoxically, the best community is forged by sharing lives and stories rather than trying to form the community first and hoping you'll share lives.
It would be unfair to say a certain year's gathering was better than the other. You bring your life and get things at different times. HM-2010 was like an alarm clock going off. I was awake. In some respects 2011 was the second alarm for the parts of me trying to stay hidden and asleep. In other aspects it was the cup of coffee getting me moving now that I was awake. Not only am I awake, I'm ready - bring on the day. I do know it was great to have someone to share the coffee with. That same cute girl who was with me at the introduction to AP is still here as we hear more stories and soak up more truth through them.