Here are my picks for the best female and male American Idol performances
Friday, February 29, 2008
Here are my picks for the best female and male American Idol performances
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
"In a variety of voices, this group of friends is attempting to sing a song a together."--Tony Jones on The Emerging Church.
Here is a more indepth article by Scot McKnight, a professor of religious studies at North Park Theological Seminary, that dismantles some of the prevailing stereotypes levied against Emergents and examines five streams within emerging faith: prophetic, postmodern, praxis-oriented (how faith is lived out), post-evangelical, and political.
Any thoughts? Emergent folks, do you feel this is an accurate summary of The Emerging Church? Traditional folks, does this give you a better understanding of what the Emerging Church is?
"Jesus told the truth, Jesus showed the way. There's one more thing I'd like to say. They nailed him to the cross, they laid him in the ground, but they shoulda known you can't keep a good man down. I feel good every day, I don't wanna lose it. All I wanna know is why should the devil have all the good music? I've been filled, I feel okay, Jesus is the rock and he rolled my blues away."--Larry Norman.
Art is more engaging than propaganda.--Larry Norman
Larry Norman, known as "The Father of Christian Rock," passed away on Sunday at age 60. He was the original christian rocker who set out to abandon image, so I must pay omage to this unique figure in my faith ancestry.
With songs like Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music? (a playful, old-school, fifities' sounding rock song), Larry Norman challenged the prevailing notion that "christian music" couldn't have a beat or edgy, current lyrics. My personal favorite tunes from him are: "The Outlaw," "Reader's Digest," "Righteous Rocker," "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus?" and I Wish We'd All Been Ready. His lyrics were candid, raw, purposely composed in "the language of the people," and would surely be banned in today's world of CCM. He openly sang about drag queens, drugs, alcohol, sex, contracting 'gonorrhea on valentines day', and people 'looking for the perfect lay' (Now I'd love to hear that on Christian radio).
Listening to Larry Norman's music in 2008 may sound outdated and corny now, but his lyrics still pack a punch. At the time, in the late sixties and early seventies, his style was revolutionary in christian circles. He was beloved by the young hippies involved in the Jesus Movement and loathed by "traditional" church folks, who deemed hymns as the only appropriate and valid type of worship music. He paved the way for diverse musical art forms to emerge from the christian community: rock, rap, r&b, pop, punk, ska, alternative, and even contemporary. That is, before commercialism and IMAGE pigeon-holed the mainstream christian music industry. This reality drove Larry Norman into mainstream self-banishment for many years. He once said:
I feel that Christian music is now a subculture directed towards the Christians. It's not really being exposed to non-Christians and it's not really created for non-Christians, so non-Christians almost never hear any of this music.
Larry Norman didn't really have a "singer's voice," but his message to the world and influence over methods of "christian" art is something that should be remembered and learned from. He often said he was only visiting this planet. Now, he's finally gone home. Rest In Peace Larry!This video is a comical parable from the creative mind of Larry Norman called "The Tune."
Friday, February 22, 2008
I have been sick the last week and curled up on my couch for the most part. It's also been a trying time for my family back in New Jersey, to put it mildly. Living so far away has left me feeling a bit helpless. As a result, blogging hasn't exactly been a top priority. So, until I bounce back (which should be soon), I thought I'd bite off the talent of my fellow bloggers. :)
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Ahhh....The competition part of American Idol has finally begun! So every week, I am going to post the best performances from one guy and one girl.
This week, the best male performance goes to Michael Johns!
I actually hate this next song and it's not the best overall performance from this girl, Carly Smithson, throughout the entire show, but I really like her and think she's going to do amazing things with her voice....
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Reality TV has earned a reputation for being the lowest form of television entertainment. It has become a goldmine of cheaply-produced programming that rakes in billions, heavily relying on exploiting everyday people (or washed-up celebrities) by setting up outrageous destined-to-fail dating shows, humiliating competition-driven shows (i.e. eating cow testicles for 50 grand) where participants are encouraged to sell each other out, cut each other down, and be as ruthless as possible. But every now and then, a show or a moment on a show can capture something real. A moment that teaches you something about people as well as yourself.
VH1 teamed up with Dr. Drew Pinskey, a renowned drug counselor, to create Celebrity Rehab, a reality show documenting the raw process a group of celebrities go through when they enter an alcohol and drug rehab. The show attempts to de-glamorize the allure of drugs by revealing where drug addiction leads, the unbelievable pain an addict must go through to get sober, and the deeper issues they must face to maintain sobriety.
Here are just a few of the back stories from some of the cast...
Kudos to VH1 for taking on a show that reveals the truth about drug use: the dire consequences and the long, long road to recovery.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report, is an outrageous satirically-sharp late-night comedian. He coined the term "truthiness," which is perfect when discussing the kind of truth that's involved in politics. Most people think he's actually parodying Bill O'Reilly, it's very funny indeed.
The other night, he sat down with Phillip Zimbardo, author of The Lucifer Effect, who has an "alternate" take on how things went down between God and Lucifer. Colbert schools Zimbardo with a theology similar to that of many in the Christian church. However, just when you want to applaud Colbert for doing so, he promptly finishes with an ironic expletive, which I totally confess to cracking up over. Most cussing doesn't really offend me (there are a select few words that make me wince), but for my friends with "virgin ears," I wanted to give you fair warning. The video bleeps it out. Inappropriate or not, it still made me laugh. :)
I always find "theological" discussions in unexpected forums, especially on national television and on a "secular" comedy show, to be of interest. It's a unique window into the perceptions of outsiders (really, just the kind of people most church folks never take the time to know in real life or listen to their perspectives). Plus, Colbert counters this guy pretty well. So, I thought I'd share....
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Plus, my middle-eastern man, Sayid, is back in full force! (My, how I have missed you!) And I have a soft spot in my heart for the ever-so complicated Saywer.
I've been tagged by Terry. The premise of this tag is to reach for the book closest to you, flip to page 123, find the 5th sentence and post that sentence and the 3 following it. Kinda fun!
Monday, February 11, 2008
"Lord, lord, lord. Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer." ~Douglas Adams
I am not a morning person. I hate mornings. I wish the world would function at night. I told my good friend Maura that I would get up early today (8-ish) and spend the day with her until she had to go pick up her kids at school. Maura knows when we make morning plans, she will most likely have to call me a hundred times to make sure I'm up. Otherwise, she'll show up at my house and I'll be snoring away in my pajamas. Anyway, I wanted to make sure I woke up when she called, so I put the phone right next to me when I went to bed the night before. However, I woke up in the middle of the night to reach for some water and knocked my phone behind the bed. I was way too tired, too comfortable, and too lazy to get out of bed, get on my hands and knees and grope for my phone in the dark. I knew I would not hear the phone ringing or my alarm on my phone come morning. So, I said a quick, "Oh God, just please wake me before Maura comes over."
"Amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us. "--Maurice Maeterlinck
Saturday, February 9, 2008
God has set the type of marriage everywhere throughout the creation. Every creature seeks its perfection in another. The very heavens and earth picture it to us. -- Martin Luther
Created To Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl is a book about how women can make their marriages heavenly. She and her husband, Michael Pearl, put together a variety of writings on marriage, family, gender roles, and children training (I am least familiar with their advice on childrearing, because I am childless and don't read much on that subject). While I have found that the Pearls have some helpful and insightful things to say, I part ways with them on a number of issues and foundational beliefs (i.e. some of the way they interpret scripture). I would never discredit their ministry on a whole and I respect them as fellow christians who mean well and do a lot of good.
So, I'm not bashing here, I just wanted to make that clear before Deann pulls out her nine and busts a cap into my brain... hehe!
Anyhow, Created To Be His Help Meet is a beloved book among many wonderful women in my church. I love and respect these women and their devotion to their husbands, children, and God. And because I value their perspective, I am curious about what they think of this blog. It's put together by a married couple, much more conservative than I, who share a lot of common ground with the Pearls, and do not personally attack them or berate them. They do, however, question some of their teachings, examine some of the claims put forth in Debi Pearl's book and the scriptures used to support those claims.
Here is a summary of the points this particular site examines as it appears in the blog's introduction. Ladies, if you so wish, pick the ones that most interest you and share your thoughts. Others, who have constructive input, may also weigh in. I want to be fair to the Pearls. I would like to hear from people who agree with them and people who do not. I want to know if the people who admire them and are better acquainted with their teachings find these criticisms to be fair, a cause for concern, or invalid and the reasons why. But let's keep it nice! :)
Point 1: CTBHHM takes away the very heart of a woman’s identity as a child of God, created in His image, by Him and for Him. It takes a wife’s God given role – being a help meet to her husband – and asserts that for every woman, being a help meet (as defined by Debi Pearl) encompasses her sole purpose for existing and her only true identity. It goes so far as to state that Eve was created in the image of Adam rather than in the image of God.
Point 2: It presents a woman’s husband as a mediator, a kind of high priest, between herself and God.
Point 3: It consistently asserts that a woman/wife bears responsibility for a man’s/ husband’s sins, going so far as to say a husband’s complete sanctification and deliverance from temptation is provided to him through his wife and her actions. It seems to teach that women are deceived by Satan but men are not, and that men’s primary weakness is their desire for (or to please) women. Therefore, women cause men to sin (or not) by their actions and submission.
Point 4: Its use of Scripture often seems wrong or out-of-context—so often that we frequently feel as though the author is stretching to find scriptural support for her own pre-determined conclusions. We feel it is more appropriate to first study the scripture and let it guide the conclusions.
Point 5: It discourages women from spending time in prayer, Scripture study, or meditation on Scripture, hinting that a woman’s spiritual connection to God is primarily determined and built through her actions towards her husband. It asserts that that there is no woman in Scripture who is commended for doing “spiritual” things (i.e. praying, reading Scripture, etc.)
Point 6: The book itself is full of inconsistencies and can be very confusing.
Point 7: CTBHHM advice to women involved in an abusive situation (it advocates enduring in silence for the glory of God) is not only Scripturally suspect, but is also potentially lethal. The book also suggests that when a woman is abused by her husband, it is usually her fault.
Point 8: The writing often lacks grace and compassion towards those struggling, calling women names that should never be used to describe human beings made in God’s image.
On Illegal Immigration
Illegal immigration is the hot-button topic among conservatives (and the most potent reason for their opposition to McCain). Ironically, Reagan not only supported a pathway for illegal aliens to earn citizenship, but signed "amnesty" into law in 1986. Does this quote sound like something current conservatives would jive with?
“We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans.”--Ronald Reagan, upon signing the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
Friday, February 8, 2008
"Facts are stubborn things,"--Ronald Reagan
I am about to defend John McCain. Yes, me, the "liberal," who will not even give my vote to McCain (for a number of reasons), is about to defend him and "dethrone" the Republican Messiah, Ronald Reagan. The far-right is throwing such a temper tantrum over the prospect of John McCain becoming the republican presidential nominee that they have resorted to shock antics (big surprise), slander (bigger surprise), and rewriting history.
I take no issue with people who honestly disagree with John McCain's politics. I disagree with many of John McCain's politics myself (probably for different reasons than my more conservative friends). Conservatives who disagree with McCain should ABSOLUTELY voice their opposition, but it should be done in a civil, logical, and HONEST fashion . Alas, this is a foreign concept for the far-right pundits (ann coulter, rush limbaugh, laura ingram, sean hannity, michelle malkin, etc.) that have made it their mission to discredit everything about Senator McCain anyway they can.
From claiming McCain is masquerading as a republican but is really more liberal than Hillary Clinton (they dropped the dreaded 'L-bomb' on Senator McCain), to belittling his 'honor' as a WILLING prisoner of war, to claiming Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave at the thought of McCain becoming the new face of republicanism, wild claims have erupted from the furthest far-right corners of the republican party.
Just to quickly clear up the "Hillary and McCain are the same" complaint: the American Conservative Union gives John McCain a lifetime grade of 83 percent on conservatism (Since 2005 he's rated with an 80). By contrast, Hillary Clinton scores 9 percent on conservatism. So yes, he is a moderate. He is willing to work with people on the other side of the political isle (which is necessary to actually get things done. Part of the reason America can't seem to get anything done is because our political parties are SO polarized). Conservatives are completely entitled to disagree with McCain, but to claim that McCain is Hillary Clinton's political twin is just factually FALSE.
While personal attacks and slander are usually what drives me insane, it's the rewriting-of-history offense this time that is making my blood boil. For all you political junkies out there, I'm sure you've noticed how most of the republican candidates have been worshipping at the altar of "Ronald Reagan Republicanism." In every debate, they ooow and aahh, while reminiscing over his legacy and pledge to revive Ronald Reagan's brand of conservatism. They are one step away from sporting a "What Would Reagan Do?" bracelet. That EXACT question has been posed several times during these debates. (gag)
In light of Ronald Reagan lifted up as the beacon of "true conservatism," the claims that John McCain just doesn't measure up become all the more bizarre. Ronald Reagan's legacy has become so legendary among conservatives, that it has now crossed over into the realm of myth. The memory of Ronald Reagan has become a puppet for far-right pundits to dangle beside their pet agendas, to justify them as marks of "true conservatism." Ronald Reagan's name gets tossed around constantly to advocate stances on massive deportation of illegal aliens, lowering taxes, massively minimizing the federal government, eliminating 'entitlement' programs, illegalizing abortion (that one, I support), and to denounce a "cut-and-run" (another loaded term) response to war.
But a quick and honest study of Ronald Reagan's legacy will reveal that John McCain is more in line with Reagan's politics than the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the world.
(The following is not meant to denigrate Ronald Reagan, but to show the hypocrisy employed by conservative bullies and to show that a person can hold a variety of positions and still remain a conservative.) Here are some facts about Ronald Reagan that are conveniently forgotten in conservative circles that I will elaborate on in a follow-up post tomorrow.
He supported "amnesty" for illegal aliens.
He raised taxes numerous times.
He pulled a "cut-and-run" from Beirut in 1983.
He signed legislation in 1967 (BEFORE ROE V.WADE) that made abortion LEGAL in California.
Supported a bi-partisan effort to fund Social Security (another entitlement program) to save it from bankruptcy in 1983
The size of Federal Government EXPANDED during his administration.
He appointed Sandra Day O'Connor to the supreme court, who made no commitment to overturn roe v. wade and who supported the Equal Rights Amendment (legislation conservatives and EVANGELICALS loathed).
More to come....
Thursday, February 7, 2008
So, he might be going into my top five. (Friends fans, you know what that means, wink).
Monday, February 4, 2008
It's no secret that I find Ann Coulter's political views and public demeanor to be an inflammatory polarizing force, as well as an utter embarrassment to all fair minded people (dems and repubs alike). She shamelessly demonizes democrats and gives the good-hearted, reasonable republicans a bad name by pretending to speak for all them. But I have to concede this...she's freaking unpredicatable. I did not see this one coming...
You know you can't go any further down the right wing, when even John McCain is too "liberal" to get your vote. I respect John McCain and share some commonground with him, but the precise reasons I most likely will not be voting for him are for some of his more "conservative" stances, not because he's too liberal! (I hate to have to brand some of these issues as liberal/conservative because many of the issues trandscend partisanship and find support/opposition on both sides, but when it comes to talking about Ann Coulter, she doesn't leave much room for any other labels, eh?)
Saturday, February 2, 2008
"Faith in Christ has not given me all the answers, it's given me a whole new set of questions"--Bono
"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2 is possibly my favorite song of all time. I came across this video of U2 teaming up with The Harlem Gospel choir to transform this rock song into a gospel song. I love gospel choirs: put that together with my favorite band and you've got musical GOLD! :) Just another moment when a U2 concert feels more like a worship service.
The background and rehearsal.
The final product.