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February 2006
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April 2006

No More bad TV

S5_image OK - maybe that's not the best way to put it..BUT, do you DVR or TIVO?  If you don't know what I am talking about, you are MISSING OUT! We have cable up here in the city , but we have a DVR receiver which allows us to record up to 2 channels at the same time.  No longer do we sit in front of the TV at night having to watch commercials.  All we do is record the shows we want to watch every week and we watch them when WE want to watch them.  Believe it or not, we spend so much less time in front of the TV now than ever because we don't want to watch regular TV and have to sit through commercials!  For example, we are HUGE 24 fans, but Sydney is at that age where she is aware  of stuff on TV and we don't want her to watch that, so we just record it and watch it after we put her to bed.  For Sydney, I record the shows on Noggin that I want her to watch.  So no more excuses for bad TV... you are in charge of what you see now more than ever!

God and Film

I have just been introduced recently to a movement called Artisan.  Stuart Haseldine is one of the contributors and wrote an interesting article about the role of film today and its impact on the church.  Here is an excerpt...

"Star Wars creator George Lucas once said that, for better or worse, filmmakers have become the priests of modern society. In my opinion he’s half-right.

Priests used to be the opinion-formers and dream-shapers of world culture, and the modern mass art forms of film and popular music have drained some of their influence by giving us things we’re more interested to watch and listen to; vividly-told big-screen journeys and rousing musical confessionals which express our innermost dreams and desires WITHOUT judgement, and WITHOUT the requirement for us to do anything – to change our lives in any way – in order to achieve personal happiness.

And that’s the difference. That’s why it’s a mistake for Christians to think filmmakers and songwriters have simply replaced priests in order to perform the same basic function. Because if we think that we’ll delude ourselves that things can one day change back. That a revival will come and we’ll all stop going to the movies and listening to music in favour of a mass return to the great Sunday sermon.

That’s never gonna happen, boys and girls. Last century, Western society made a fundamental shift from formal to informal, from authoritarian to anti-authoritarian, from dictatorship to democracy and we’re not going back. Not in this life anyway, because we no longer trust our leaders and those of us who don’t know any better don’t trust God anymore either..."

You can read the entire article at this link.

God and Humor

Check out this article by Terry Mattingly...

Ask most people what God looks like and they'll immediately start thinking about Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel and an old man with a white beard sitting on a cloud.

Eric Metaxas thinks that anyone who truly wants to understand the righteous and jealous God of the Bible should try meditating on a different image. Metaxas is thinking about Motown, rather than Vatican City.

"I admit that the Bible does not specifically mention Aretha Franklin," said Metaxas, a humor writer and speaker best known for his work with the Manhattan-based "Socrates in the City" lecture series. "But when it comes to thinking about God, most people's minds are full of all those familiar images and they just get stuck. … So why not Aretha? She's big, she's bold and you're going to have to listen to what she's saying."

And everybody knows what the Queen of Soul is going to say: "What you want, baby I got it. What you need, do you know I got it? All I'm askin' is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit). … R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me."

Hold on to that image for a minute, because there is a method to his madness and it's at the heart of his quirky book "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (but were afraid to ask)." Metaxas is a friend of mine and the best way I can explain where he's coming from is to say that he's a former editor of The Record at Yale University, America's oldest college humor magazine, and he's written for thinkers as diverse as Chuck Colson of Watergate fame and Bob the Tomato of VeggieTales.

The key is that Metaxas ( thinks humor is serious stuff and that most religious leaders haven't grasped this basic fact about modern life. He is convinced that Americans are not going to listen if theologians and clergy keep offering dense doctrinal arguments when making a case for a traditional faith. Instead of talking about how many angels can dance on a copy of the Summa Theologiae, modern missionaries and apologists need to consider the strategies they would use to talk to Comedy Central fans over a few beers and a bowl of mixed nuts.

Which brings us back to Aretha Franklin.

Many modern seekers, said Metaxas, are curious about God and they wish they could find some answers to their tough spiritual questions. But, at the same time, they have trouble accepting the traditional Christian belief that God is God and that there is only one way to find salvation. These claims sound petty and intolerant.

"Here's a comparison that might make sense," argues Metaxas, in a book chapter entitled "How Can Anyone Take the Bible Seriously?"

"If a guy is married and he tries to persuade his wife that he needs to have a few other women on the side, his wife will likely say, 'Sorry, Romeo, but that's not going to fly. If you want to be married to me, you have to forego those other women. Period.' It's just like that with God. He doesn't force us to pick him, but he does force us to choose between him and the others. We can't have both."

In other words, God demands R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Metaxas has other skewed takes on big issues. He thinks that using sex for self-gratification makes as much sense as using Rembrandt paintings to line birdcages. He's interested in life's big questions, questions like how the universe -- including all those Chevy Camaros in Queens and Staten Island -- exploded out of something smaller than the period at the end of a sentence.

Is this theology? No, it isn't the way that intellectuals talk in cathedral pulpits and faculty clubs, said Metaxas. But it is the way that ordinary people talk on Friday nights while hanging out with their friends.

"At some point Christians are going to have to use humor and parody because that's the language of the culture," he said. "That's what people consider sharp and entertaining and real. … You can keep serving up tea-and-crumpets moralism and logical arguments and it's not going to matter because people aren't going to listen.

"You may as well be speaking Ukrainian. That isn't going to work, unless you happen to be speaking to Ukrainians."

Terry Mattingly ( directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

Brewing Culture

One of my favorite sites right now is Brewing Culture.  I recently met  Erik Lokkesmoe, who is the founder of this organization, at the IAM conference.  Check this out...

"THE DYING ART OF CONVERSATION: Conversation is one of those acts that require subtle forms of social imagination: an ability to listen and interpret and imagine, an attentiveness to someone whose perspective is always essentially different, a responsiveness that both makes oneself known and allows the other to feel known — or else does none of this, but just keeps up appearances. It may be, then, one of the most fundamental political and social acts, indispensable to negotiating allegiances, establishing common ground, clearing tangled paths. Conversation may reflect not just the state of our selves, but the state of society. O.K. But listen to "talk" radio, with its combative recruitment of allies; or "talk" shows in which guests are promoting themselves or their products and hosts are prepared with leading questions; or "talk" news shows in which conversation becomes a form of shouting. Look at our isolating iPods, at text messaging with its prepackaged formulas, or instant messaging with its iconic smiles, so necessary to make sure the telegraphic prose is not misunderstood. Cicero gave advice about conversation (It ought "to be gentle and without a trace of intransigence; it should also be witty"). Montaigne hailed its pleasures ("I find the practice of it the most delightful activity in our lives"). Henry Fielding praised it ("This grand Business of our Lives, the Foundation of every Thing, either useful or pleasant"). Adam Smith prescribed it (calling it one of "the most powerful remedies for restoring the mind to its tranquility"). Society depends on artifice. Conversation is an art.(NY Times)

Launcher: How does the state of our conversation reflect the state of our society, the state of our souls? Attentiveness is physical, as well as mental and emotional. What physical habits can foster conversation? e-mail [email protected] to receive these posts on a weekly basis.

The Power of the Cross

As we enter this season in our faith of looking toward the cross, I have been very challenged by some thoughts from Steve Turner from his book Imagine...a vision for Christians in the arts.

"For the Christian, the cross is the event in which everything finds resolution.  We deal with fears, hunger, wars, injustice, alienation and other problems in the short term with consolation, food diplomacy, campaigns and friendship, but we know that the human condition can only be ultimately healed through the effects of what was achieved on the cross."

"The true 'offense of the cross' is the offense to our pride when we are told that we are sinners in need of salvation and that salvation comes not through our own efforts but through an unattractive looking first -century execution."

"There is often very little content to God.  He could be your God, my God, or anybody's God.  But Jesus brings definition, and the cross brings even more definition.  The Word is one thing.  The Word became flesh is another."


Img_0325 About 6 months ago, Todd and I made an effort to start praying with Sydney before meals and when we put her in bed at night.  We hold her hands and we bow our heads and she would just look at us.  Well, tonight we ate at one of our favorite places, Viand Cafe, and we started to eat and then remembered we hadn't prayed yet.  So we said,"We need to pray..." Sydney put her hands out to hold our hands and said with a smile, "Pray?."  It made me think about the way I react to God when I pray - am I ready to meet Him?  Am I excited to talk to Him?  Truly, children are our greatest teachers.

Origins Church - NYC

Today is an off Sunday for our team (we are meeting every other week right now) so we attended a new church starting up here on the Upper West Side called Origins Church.  The pastor is John Tyson.  What a worship experience! John started out the service speaking and then we ended with worship.  It was the best worship experience I have had visiting another church in NYC to date.  He really challenged the congregation to listen to the culture and hear their stories -  find out what roadblocks are keeping people from the truth of Jesus Christ.  It was a great Sunday!

Free Downloads from IAM

I blogged alot about the IAM conference in February and how AMAZING it can now download free mp3's from the conference especially the talk from Dana Gioia, the NEA chairman, and listen to some of this great material. 

"If a democracy rests on any principle at all, it is the realization that we can create the society we want to live in if people in this single morning and this single room, if they put their minds to it. You have enough energy, and you have enough creativity to change America." 

- Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Keynote speech at International Arts Movement's "Artist as Reconcilers" conference, February 23, 2006, Cooper Union University, New York City.

Sweet tea in NYC

We found the sweet tea in NYC!  Tonight, we had dinner with our team at this place called Brother Jimmy's located on Amersterdam bteween 80th and 81st and had AWESOME sweat tea and barbeque.  It was more like a bar, but the food was outstanding.  So, now us southerners don't have to go without our sweet tea fix!

Movie shoot on our street

From today through Friday of this week, our street has been taken over with semi-trucks and trailers for a movie shoot.  The movie is called Pride and Glory and is about a three-generation family of cops whose moral codes are tested starring Colin Farrell, Edward Norton, Samanta Morton, Jon Voight, Lake Bell, and Noah Emmerich.  We are hoping sometime today or tomorrow to get a sneek peak of shooting.  We are right across from the 79th Street Boat Basin where they are shooting.  You may remember the Boat Basin from "You've Got Mail" when Tom Hanks is working on his boat and the kids get dropped off with him for the day.  As Todd was leaving this morning, he said that he overheard one of the production assistants radio someone "Mr. Norton (Edward) will be here in 20 minutes."  Just a normal day on the Upper West Side! (yeah, right...)