Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Where everybody majors in being offended

April 19, 2009

We now live in a nation where everybody majors in being offended. Me too, some days. It’s our national character; the Great American Petulant Pout. And it comes because we take our cues from the media of our choice, which focuses on demonizing the other side. I think I’m going to quit paying attention, and I think this may be the most godly stance I can take. Turn if off. Start thinking for yourself.

Andy Whitman

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16 million girls

April 17, 2009

Sixteen million girls are missing in China. And now we know what happened to them: They were aborted because they weren’t boys.

A study published last week in the British Medical Journal, based on a survey of nearly 5 million Chinese children and teenagers, bares the gruesome numbers. Worldwide, the number of boys born per 100 girls ranges from 103 to 107. (The numbers later equalize due to higher male mortality.) Among Chinese children born from 1985 to 1989, the number of boys per 100 girls was 108, close to normal. But among those born from 2000 to 2004, the number rose to 124. The authors conclude that as of 2005, “males under the age of 20 exceeded females by more than 32 million.”

William Saletan

Online overkill – week of March 30

April 4, 2009

Good, bad, annoying or overhyped, these are the items that set my RSS reader on fire this week.

John Calipari. Living in Kentucky, you’d think a different JC had shown up this week to replace the Messiah from two years ago who was tarred, feathered and run out of town by the most obnoxious college basketball fans in America.

Lance Stephenson. Haven’t you heard? He’s born ready. For way too much media hype. This New Republic article cuts through a lot of the crap.

Glenn Beck admits he’s wrong. Whatever. What are Rush and Sean up to these days?

C Me Dance trailer. Boy, does this movie look awesome or what? I stayed away the first five times it popped up in my RSS feed, but I sure am glad I finally took the time to watch it.

Sarah Palin calling for a Senate re-election. As annoying as the liberal hatred of her can be, she deserves it for advocating that a guy she previously said should drop out of the race get a do-over in a race he lost fair and square.  An Economist.com blog appropriately called the move a “new frontier in sore loserdom.”

The hug heard round the world. The first-lady hugged the Queen of England.  Awesome. I hug my wife every day when I get home from work.

Praise Band trailer

April 3, 2009

Wow. This. Is. Amazing.

“Pretty cool. We gotta Matt, we got a Mark, gotta Luke. Now, all we need is a John.”

Hahahahahaha.

(Hat Tip: Patrol)

If Atheists Ruled the World

March 31, 2009

This is a dramatic reading of comments from so-called “online Christian fundamentalist forums” – whatever that means. Whether they are actual comments from non-trolls or not, they sum up pretty well the worst of the worst in online forum commentary.

That said, I’m sure an If Christians Ruled the World version of selectively plucked comments from humanistic atheist forums – whatever that means – would be pretty darn amusing as well.

(Hat Tip: Boing Boing)

Online overkill – week of March 23

March 28, 2009

Good, bad, annoying or shady, these were the items that made frequent appearances in my RSS reader this week.

Obama’s Teleprompter. The right-wing teleprompter meme has been played up so much lately, the electronic note card machine has its own blog. The blog is kind of funny, even if making fun of a president for having prepared remarks seems a bit strange.  If the great communicator Ronald Reagan used a teleprompter, why can’t Obama?

Where The Wild Things Are trailer. Part movie tease. Part Arcade Fire music video. Spike Jonze’s worlds colliding, the video was everywhere this week for good reason.

UConn in hot water. A Yahoo! Sports story Jim Calhoun flippantly dismissed as a blog entry couldn’t have hit at a better time – for maximum exposure’s sake. It’s not something you wouldn’t actually want to read in a RSS feed though – way too long for that.

John 3:16 sign snagged.  The original Bannerman, Rollen Stewart is in jail for doing for holding a maid hostage in a hotel room, but his famed John 3:16 sign antics live on. Not if this security guard has anything to say about it though.

The death of Culture11. Culture11 was a short-lived conservative Web site modeled off of Slate Magazine. It received a thoughtful eulogy in the Washington Monthly recently and sparked some interesting conversation about conservative media in places like Patrol Magazine.

Long live gravity

March 27, 2009


By Matthew Ralph

“Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary
some in the wrong direction
Practice resurrection”

When I heard these familiar lines of poetry recited in the opening moments of a play celebrating the farmer, author, poet and activist Wendell Berry on Thursday, I felt a chill come over me like I have seldom experienced watching a stage production.

Practice resurrection. Two words of the 1973 poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” that, repeated while a hammer dulcimer played softly in the background, nearly moved me to tears as I pondered the deep meaning behind a simple, yet insightful turn of a phrase.

The poetry of Wendell Berry is full of moving moments like that, times where a simple phrase, a humorous anecdote or an observation of the natural world triggers the so-called light bulb of our minds to ever so gracefully turn on.

Wild Blessings, a new play based on Berry’s poetic works, is billed as a celebration of a faithful steward, a friendly neighbor, a loving husband and a kind of modern day prophet claimed by environmentalists, literature enthusiasts, Christians and conservatives alike. But the 75-minute play is as much a celebration of the things Berry has inspired readers for decades to appreciate, enjoy and protect. 

Aided by the lurid sounds of a hammer dulcimer and the striking photographic and video images visible through a large wall resembling a bay window in the middle of the stage and an even larger screen behind it, the play features four actors – an older couple and a younger one – dramatically reading Berry’s words. The actors march in circles, dance, play violin, guitar and percussion and sing. The hammer dulcimer player also sings, but the music mostly provides the soothing backdrop for the words that indirectly weave (using only words from Berry’s pen) a narrative of a slightly mad farmer, out of place in the city who falls in love, returns to the fields, raises a family and fights to hold onto the simple, beautiful things in life like family, friends and God’s creation.

Following along, even for someone familiar with many of his works, was somewhat dizzying at times. Unlike reading the words on a page, the combination of stunning visuals, soothing music and dramatic acting gives little time for you to completely digest. Breaks in the action do occur and the topically connected transitions are generally well played (he titles of poems flash on the screen as the images change), but as the play inches intermission-less toward the finish it does make you wish you could hit pause or maybe rewind on a few of the scenes.

An outline in the playbook might have been helpful as a guide, but in the end Wild Blessings succeeds in maintaining a lot of the subtlety, humor and vivid description that make reading Wendell Berry’s poetry such an enriching and life-giving experience. It doesn’t tell you how to think or lecture about why mountain top removal, conspicuous consumption or infidelity should be avoided. It shows you what you are missing when you trade in natural beauty, elegance and grace for artificial comfort, perceived safety and reckless convenience.

In other words, it shows you what it means to practice resurrection.

Wild Blessings is appearing until April 26 at The Actors Theatre of Louisville as part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Click HERE for more information.

Snatched up!

March 20, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, Cross My Heart, the Christian dance-pop group in the Waiting For Guffman-esque online serial/movie Jesus People.

Nice sermon, here’s a gun

March 17, 2009


Christian author/leadership guru John Maxwell was recently arrested at an airport when security found a handgun in his carry-on bag.

Guess where he says he got the gun?

From someone at a church he spoke at, of course.

In a blog post on his Web site, Maxwell called the odd present a “gift from the heart” but still somehow managed to forget about it when it came time to board a commercial plane in Palm Beach.

You can read the whole “stupid is as stupid does” account from the horse’s mouth HERE.

Online Overkill – week of March 8

March 14, 2009

Good, bad, annoying or indifferent, these are the stories that got the most play or not enough in my blog reader this week.

The coming evangelical collapse. As much as I enjoy Michael Spencer’s Internet Monk blog, I thought he went a little thick with the sensationalism on his evangelical collapse posts back in January. This week, thanks to a condensed essay based on the blog series in the Christian Science Monitor, it was everywhere I looked.

Twitter. I’m with Helen Popkin. Shut up about it already.

Bristol Palin. A story about the Alaskan governor’s daughter and her grandbaby’s daddy splitting was the top news item on the Web site for my local newspaper Thursday morning. And we wonder why newspapers are dying?

Michael Steele. If I were a Republican I’d be furious; If I were a Democrat I’d be thrilled. Since I’m neither, I’m bored with the endless coverage of the foot-in-mouth prone GOP leader.

Cramer vs. Stewart. I have to agree with Megan Garber. Jon Stewart’s battle with cable business news network CNBC shouldn’t be front page news but there’s a reason why everyone’s been talking about it: it’s good craic.

The Netherlands. I realize the World Baseball Classic isn’t as important as the latest scoop on Terrell Owens, Alex Rodriguez or the places Roger Clemens had steroids injected into his rear-end, but The Netherlands beating the mighty Dominican Republic twice should have been beaten to death. Save for some scattered AP headlines, an SI.com column I linked and a post three days after the fact on First Things, it was mostly ignored by many blogs, sports-focused ones included, I read.