IVP - Strangely Dim - Rabbit! Archives

April 1, 2011

Friday Rabbits!

Lest you think we here at Strangely Dim take ourselves too seriously, we thought we'd ease your concern on that score and provide you with a lovely weekend project to enjoy. Or--go home early today, pick up the kids or some friends (it's Friday, after all, and raining--well . . . here in Chicagoland, anyway, and it's kind of a holiday) and try out this adorable bunny art project, which you can access by clicking here. The link will take you to a blog by Carla Sonheim, who has helpfully created a tutorial on how to do the project.

(The bunny drawing is from Sonheim's blog; the link was helpfully provided by Sally Craft.)

Posted by Christa Countryman at 1:10 PM | TrackBack (0)

Following the Way of the Rabbit

uvic-rabbit.jpgIt is generally acknowledged that rabbits, being rather good eating, are not terribly good for conversation. They may seem skittish, running from what we think of as rather commonplace sounds (like cars driving past, or gunfire, or dogs running and barking at them), and they eat grass--which, as I am sure you will agree, is not very tasty, and, when chewed, tends to be a bit fibrous. Worse than celery, really.

But as with all good things, the wait is over for those who see rabbits as apt examples of what it truly means to live a fulfilled life--one of Christlike meekness, simplicity, contentment and awareness of the Way. Indeed, it is easier than you may think to walk this path, seeing the Way before you as one that, while not necessarily well-paved, is abundantly filled with the gracious provision of the One who leads us on it.

Ecila Lewoll's book begins with a story that may at first seem familiar to us, as we have all been on a path that has led to confusion and bewilderment, down dark rabbit trails, through knotted woods and deep into the abyss of false wonder. Any rabbit traveling alone through these desolate lands would understandably become fearful, desperate, and flee in the panic of being unprepared to face these trials. But Lewoll shows us the true way of the rabbit, describing the demeanor of one who, rather than being fearful and skittish, is confident in the face of danger and uncertainty, pure of heart in the midst of temptation, and focused on the leading of the Master who leads us through trails that our eyes may not yet be able to see.

Says Lewoll, "Rabbits are commonly seen as fearful, but a healthy sense of self-preservation never really did anyone any harm. And, if you ever really watch a rabbit, you will observe what careful attention they pay to their surroundings, no matter what task is in front of them. Usually, they are harvesting the abundant provision of foliage they encounter daily. But always are their eyes scanning the area for predators who may take advantage of an unsuspecting rabbit. Granted, not all rabbits are as careful as others (a lesson which we would do well to learn), but those who are attentive to the world around them will learn better what it is to be attentive to the One who gave them the ears to hear sounds of danger, and sounds of comfort.  . . . What's truly difficult for many people to comprehend is the unending satisfaction Rabbitkind derives from a mundane diet of fibrous greenery, generally plucked straight from the earth and chewed endlessly until, at last, it is of a consistency worthy of swallowing. It is this contentment that I seek--that my weak rabbit eyes may not be limited to the obvious, but that my perspective may be changed so that I see the grass for what it is--the gracious provision of a wonderful creator who loves me and has set it in great supply over such an expanse of the earth that I shall never be in want. The endless chewing is a tender reminder of the patience we are asked to have in all things, even as we traverse the path ahead of us. What people have previously, and derisively, labeled "rabbit trails" are really the faithful meanderings of creatures who, while seemingly unaware of their ultimate destination, are unfalteringly aware that it exists, and that they will arrive there safely."

On purity, Ecila says, "Of course, the color most associated with purity is white--being white as snow, and so forth. This is difficult with rabbits because they come in such an array of wondrously diverse colors. The rabbit embodiment of cleanliness is clearly an invitation to purify oneself even as we are invited to travel the Way of Truth. As it has been said, "follow the White Rabbit." What this means is that those who choose to follow the Way, who desire to be purified, will take it upon themselves to diligently cleanse every part of their spiritual life--even as a rabbit methodically cleans its fur. Of particular importance is the cleaning of the spiritual ears--as these are the primary way with which we receive and comprehend the direction of the One who takes us safely along trails ahead of us."

Lewoll's controversial and trailblazing new spiritual guide is nicely completed with spiritual exercises that will help us see how following the Way of the Rabbit can be easily incorporated into our daily life. Perfect for Easter, this book carefully debunks notions of rabbits as mere purveyors of seasonally decorated eggs (which, as we are all aware, come from poultry, not rabbits). When you have completed this book, you will come to a new understanding of the Rabbit as a creature of serious devotion to the search for the Truth that comes only in attentiveness to the Way.

Posted by Christa Countryman at 10:50 AM | TrackBack (0)

February 1, 2009

Groundhogs, Cardinals, Steelers, Rabbit

The game that's sweeping the nation came up against stiff competition this week, with our attention diverted from Rabbits toward today's conflict between the Cardinals and the Steelers, and tomorrow's conflict between groundhogs and the weather. Consequently, Dan Webster waited till late morning and still managed to be first to archive his "Rabbit!" at the Rabbit Uber Alles page on Facebook.

Maybe next month will be your month!

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 1:01 PM

January 1, 2009

New Year, New Rabbit

I hope you don't think we forgot that the first of every month is our monthly "Rabbit" challenge. So let me be the first to welcome you to 2009, and let me also be the first to wrest victory from your hands this new year. Rabbit! Rabbit! Happy new year!
Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 7:42 AM | Comments (1) are closed

December 1, 2008

The Rabbit Hopped; The Writer, Flu

It's nearly noon where I live, and I just dragged myself out of bed after an epic night of the flu. To be honest, I had thought it was just bad donuts. Anyway, I'm home sick today, but I couldn't let the first of the month pass without acknowledging our monthly game of "Rabbit," or "Rabbit Rabbit" if you're so inclined. Each month we strive to be the first in our little network to say "Rabbit" on the first of the month, and it appears that this month goes to Andy Crouch, who posted to the "Rabbit Uber Alles" Facebook group at 5:23 a.m. Eastern time, or approximately seven hours before I woke up. Congratulations, Andy! Runner up: Web, with a subtle post to my wall at Facebook.
Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 11:33 AM

November 1, 2008

Forget the Donkeys and Elephants; I Vote for Rabbit!

Today is the first of the month, which means today we once again play our monthly game of Rabbit. And because I'm the only one with remote write access to Strangely Dim, I'm the only one who can create this entry. Hooray for me!

It's not often, actually, that Lisa or I win the Rabbit competition. For the uninitiated, one wins Rabbit by saying, texting, e-mailing or otherwise communicating the word "Rabbit" before anyone else on the first of the month. It's demented and sad, but social.

We also have a Facebook group for this game, of course (Rabbit Uber Alles!), which means we wage our little rabbit battle on multiple fronts. This month avid blogger and longtime friend of Strangely Dim, Rick Stilwell, pulled off a stunning victory from, of all places, the happiest place on earth. Maybe all those giant mice and ducks and nondescript animals walking around the theme park jogged his memory. In any event, congratulations, Rick!

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 7:29 AM

October 2, 2008

Donkeys, Rabbits and Leaps of Faith

Today's entry in the Fortnight of Donkey Tales follows up on our ongoing competition, "Rabbit."

Earlier in our Fortnight of Donkey Tales, Lisa established that, according to the Levitical law, eating donkeys is a no-no. Today we find that eating rabbits is likewise unacceptable.

You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. . . . The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. (Leviticus 11:3, 6)

The donkey, though not explicitly present in Leviticus 11, is implicitly included. Like rabbits, donkeys don't have split hooves, and so observant Jews don't eat them. So be it.

It's interesting to me that Leviticus articulates all kinds of unacceptable foods with only the barest of rationales. Followers of kosher laws are left to wonder what makes an unsplit hoof so unacceptable, or what makes chewing the cud so appealing. Some cite health reasons, while others argue that modern food storage and preparation makes any health concerns obsolete. Some cite utilitarian reasons, such as the relative cost of feeding pigs versus their provision of human food, for example, or the better use of camels as beasts of burden rather than lunch and dinner. But these folks are countered once again by the question of obsolescence: if I don't need a donkey to get me from point A to point B anymore, why can't I just eat it?

The short answer, say observant Jews, is "because the Torah says so. . . . We show our obedience to G-d by following these laws even though we do not know the reason." That argument itself sounds anachronistic; we live in the age of reason and in a world of democracy, in which laws are changed whenever it becomes expedient or presumably profitable to do so. But it's possible that, among its many other cultural benefits, such defiance of convenience or comfort or even "enlightenment" is one of the more important offerings of a religion that is bound by its holy book. We are invited by God into a world made up not of mechanistic rules and cause-effect logic but of faith and trust and dynamic leaps of faith.

Leaps of faith bring to mind snake handling and job quitting and other such blind acts of radical and even absurd behavior in the name of God. But Soren Kierkegaard describes the leap of faith primarily as a check against the hubris of human rationalism. To Abraham--who assumes first that God can't override the conventions of nature regarding childbirth and then that this one child must be protected at all costs from all harm so that he can deliver on God's promise--God says, "Sacrifice your son." And so Abraham must chasten his enlightenment by practicing obedience. Even then he assumes, according to the letter to the Hebrews, "that God could raise the dead"--a logic that God once again defies in favor of relationship, to Abraham's great relief.

The axiom "Laws are meant to be broken" is often a helpful check against the ritualistic assumption that laws are meant to be slavishly followed. But in an age in which people rationalize whatever decisions seem right in their own eyes, such self-serving impulses can be indulged to the point that laws are enacted that are clearly unjust and so clearly in defiance of the will of God. Such an age is divided, by the rules of cold logic, between the eaters and the eaten. God looks down on such an age and tells us instead to trust him, to obey him--to look where he leaps, and to go and do likewise.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 7:11 AM

October 1, 2008


Well, Dave happens to be out of town for a work retreat, which is the only reason I won our Strangely Dim rabbit contest of being the first to post the word on the first of the month. I don't even remember the last time I won. Not that I'm bitter about it. But it feels good to be the winner once again.

Also, on this day of, um, mentioning rabbits (I'm not sure I'd say we celebrate them), I'd like to give a shout-out to South Dakota State University, whose esteemed mascot, I just learned, is, in fact, the jackrabbit (though they apparently like to think of themselves as the killer rabbits). To the jackrabbits, and to all of you, happy October.
Posted by Lisa Rieck at 8:05 AM

September 1, 2008


As is our custom, we celebrate the beginning of each month by racing one another to be the first to say "Rabbit." If you're reading this, you lost. Ha ha.

Congratulations to Dan, who couldn't sleep and so beat everyone to the Rabbit Uber Alles group on Facebook. Better luck next month, everybody!

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 9:09 AM

August 1, 2008

The Dog Days of Summer Feature One Day of Rabbit

As is our custom, we mark the first of every month by shouting "Rabbit!" (or, if you're the author of the critically acclaimed and eagerly anticipated Culture Making, "Rabbit Rabbit!") at the top of our lungs toward any random passerby. As is his custom, friend of Strangely Dim "Web" beat us all to the punch in a communications blitzkrieg: e-mail, text message, Facebook message--curiously enough, no phone call. Better luck next time, everybunny.
Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 9:36 AM | Comments (1) are closed

July 1, 2008

Rabbit Rage

This morning, as is often the case on the first day of a month, I had the double pleasure of saying "Rabbit" to Lisa before she could say it to me, and of actually seeing a rabbit bounding across my driveway before I came to work. That's right, folks: today's the day wherein countless friends of Strangely Dim develop a funky case of rabbit rage.

For the uninitiated, "Rabbit" is a game I learned from my brother and then forced Lisa and my other coworkers to play with me. It's now sweeping the nation, complete with a group on Facebook--"Rabbit Uber Alles"--and late-night phone calls, text messages and e-mails. The first to say "Rabbit" on the first of the month wins, well, nothing actually, except the fleeting satisfaction of a hollow victory.

We've now, however, had to adapt the game thanks to all these eager beavers. From here on out we'll acknowledge two winners: the night owl, who stays up late enough to be closest to midnight with their communique, and the early bird, who achieves mental acuity first in the morning. So now, on to this month's big winners:

The Night Owl: Dan Webster, who also gets props for his multimedia and multiple-persona assault.

The Early Bird: Andy Crouch, who thinks the game's so nice he says it twice.

Better luck next time, losers!

Oh, that didn't come out like I meant it . . .

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:57 AM | Comments (2) are closed

May 1, 2008


Well, it's the first of the month again, which means all over the world people are clamoring to be the first in their networks to say the word rabbit--or, on the East Coast, "rabbit, rabbit." I always get late night/early morning calls and e-mails when the calendar flips, and our Facebook group "Rabbit Uber Alles!" sees its only action for an entire lunar cycle.

Kudos to Dan, who posted first on Facebook. And a group hug for Andy, who only yesterday was psyching himself up for the challenge but today declared publicly that he "totally forgot." There there, Andy, you're good at some things, like culture making, for example.

To all the rest of you, keep trying. If you need a reminder, hop on by my house; I just saw a rabbit nibbling its way through my back yard.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 6:31 AM | Comments (1) are closed

February 1, 2008

Snow Bunnies

Well, it's the first of the month again, which means it's time to play everybody's favorite viral adventure game, "Rabbit"! This month's contest takes place against a backdrop of a freshly fallen, silent shroud of snow--twelve inches in some Chicago neighborhoods. Nevertheless, plenty of people soldiered on and played the game to great effect.

Kudos first to Pete, who left his mark at the Rabbit Uber Alles group on Facebook. Feel free to join us there for all things bunnilicious.

Most creative are the Hsus, who started planning their attack last night by digging all the stuffed rabbits out of their toy chests. Al came in early this morning to the InterVarsity Press offices, as is typical for him, and left rabbits on several desks, proving you don't even have to say it to play it.

And then there's Dan, the overachiever, who attacked on multiple fronts--among them a message on Facebook and an e-mail and (most likely) another e-mail to an address I haven't checked yet and phone calls to my cell and my home phone and my office.

I used to be good at this game, but today I'm afraid that I'm only good at drinking coffee and muttering about the weather. But in any event, congratulations to all the winners.

In other news, happy birthday to friends of Likewise Anthony Smith and Matt Conner. Keep the candles on the cake lit, my friends: it's cold outside.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:32 AM

December 1, 2007

Ode to a Rabbit

Today is the first of the month, which means that once again we're participating in our friendly Rabbit competition. Today also, however, falls within our Fortnight of Odes, so that ups the ante a bit. And to top it off, today is the birthday of Don Everts, author of four-soon-to-be-nine books. So I hope you'll forgive my infelicities as I try to marry these three phenomena together in today's post.

Ode to a Rabbit Named Don Everts

He hops in beauty as the knight
Hops to duty and sits down to write
All the ideas living in his head
This knight writes nightly; he'll sleep when he's dead.

He's heard everything in his short little life--
From "I did . . ." from his students to "I do" from his wife.
His feet may be dirty, but they're covered in luck--
For example, book contracts seem to fall off the truck

Into his laptop, where he mines all his senses
For a way to convey best our cosmic offenses.
And just when you think he's said all that needs saying,
He twitches his nose and continues conveying.

So here's to Don Everts, our favorite bunny;
He's cute, warm and friendly, decidedly funny.
A preacher, a writer, who's highly regarded;
Here's hoping he's still only just getting started.

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Don . . .
Happy birthday to you!

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 6:44 AM | Comments (2) are closed

November 1, 2007

Trick or Treat

How was your halloween? I dressed up as a RABBIT.

Christa and Dan get A's for effort in the ongoing Rabbit contest; they both pounced on me at 12:01 a.m., one by e-mail and the other by Facebook.

As for the rest of you: too bad, so sad. Have a happy November.

Coming soon to Strangely Dim: A Fortnight of Odes!

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:02 AM | Comments (1) are closed

October 1, 2007

You Really Got Me, You Really Got Me

So far I've been scooped on the "Rabbit" trail this October 1 by four or five people. They've all been pretty cocky about it; Lisa's was the smoothest, as she sauntered by me in the hallway muttering "Yeah, rabbit" under her breath, just loud enough for me to hear it but not loud enough to explain my sudden, loud, exasperated groan of defeat. Even she, however, got beat to the punch by Dan, Craver VII and Kara. I can tell it's going to be a rough month.

If you're on Facebook, by any chance, join the group "Rabbit Uber Alles" and you can play along with various friends of Likewise Books.

I'm sure the next post here at Strangely Dim will be full of profundity, but as is our tradition, today it is merely full of fuzzy bunnies. Enjoy!

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 10:20 AM

August 1, 2007

One Less Rabbit

Well, today begins a new month and a new, post-Ann Swindell era at Strangely Dim. Rabbits are supposed to multiply, not subtract, aren't they?

The site feels a little less strange today and yet a little bit dimmer. We'll miss Ann here at Strangely Dim, but we wish her well. Here are the highlights of her all-too-brief tenure as a Likewise blogger:

Academic Polemic
A Walk Down Memory Lane (from the now-fabled Fortnight of Cliches)
A Short Reflection on a Little Cicada
Saying Goodbye

Ann will, of course, keep writing, so keep an eye out for her byline. And if you happen to see her on the first of the month--any month--be sure to tell her "Rabbit" for me.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 7:43 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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