I don't want to sound defeatist. I just sometimes despair when I look around and find such a dearth of nuance and moderation—even, lamentably, in a rally purportedly all about moderation. Instead of rallying for more productive bipartisan dialogue, the rally-goers today seemed more interested in having a condescending laugh at the expense of "the unthinking masses" who apparently can do nothing other than believe everything they see on TV.
I don't mean to say soccer isn't a good sport or that Americans shouldn't pay attention to it. I personally don't find it all that exciting, and clearly most other Americans agree with me. But the rest of the world finds it VERY exciting, and I'm happy for them. America doesn't have to win at everything.
But skewed visions of the past notwithstanding, I think it's good and right to lament the endings of things. The dissolution of the Big 12 was inevitable. All things fall apart sooner or later. I guess it just caught many of us by surprise that—in the span of a week—it all unraveled so quickly and unexpectedly. But so it goes in life. Impermanence is a constant.
As Lost prepares to close the book on it's rather short, "of-the-moment" 6-season run, I think one way we can make sense of its huge international success is by thinking of how it truly did reflect this moment in history--particularly in terms of global responsibility and digital-fueled collectivism. There are of course a gazillion other ways of interpreting Lost, but what follows is my humble attempt to put forth my final theory of the show: not so much a theory about what Lost's monsters and mythologies mean but rather what the show itself means as a show, for us.
I recently read this article in Salon about the strange recessionary phenomenon of hipsters who are on food stamps and eating well, never missing a beat with their Whole Foods-quality standards of foodie existence. They're young, they're broke, and they pay for organic salmon with government subsidies.
On Saturday, Wheaton College—my alma mater and a sort of flagship of Christian higher education—announced that it had selected its eighth president, Philip Ryken, to replace retiring president Duane Litfin beginning July 1. Dr. Ryken is son of Wheaton professor Leland Ryken, and has been senior pastor at the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia since 2000. He’s a name I was familiar with and yet hadn’t thought about as a potential Wheaton president. But it totally makes sense. I’m extremely pleased with this choice.
The Super Bowl just happened. This is really the only time of the year when we all collectively talk, however briefly, about commercials. So let’s get to that task. Here are my quick thoughts after watching the game and all of its advertising extravagance.
One of the most devastating and tragic earthquakes of my lifetime hit the already downtrodden nation of Haiti on Tuesday. It hurts my heart to think about the horror of such a calamity, which destroyed the capital city and killed tens of thousands of people.But in the wake of this tragedy of unimaginable scope, everyone seems to be talking about something else… Pat Robertson.
I began this millennium ten years ago today, in St. Louis, on a youth group trip to some Y2K extravaganza inside the stadium where the Rams play. In the middle of Third Day’s set (Third Day!), some friends and I ran outside so we could see the fireworks and Y2K blackouts over the St. Louis skyline at midnight. I think we got in trouble for leaving, but we didn’t care. If the world was going to end that night, we were going to witness it first hand.
I’m pretty sure that Kanye West and Joe Wilson have nothing in common. Kanye is a swaggerific hip-hop fashionista who wears Alexander McQueen suits and Yohji Yamamoto gloves, and whose vanity is only eclipsed by his ego. Joe Wilson is an extremely white, Southern Republican congressman who has never heard a Wu-Tang Clan song and who once voted against the removal of the confederate flag at South Carolina’s capital. But West and Wilson do have one thing in common: Both men are tactless, disrespectful opportunists.
On Tuesday, President Obama—following the precedent of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—delivered a “Back to School” speech to American students, beamed live via the Internet and C-SPAN into thousands of classrooms across the country.
I attended an Episcopal church one summer a few years ago. I’m not Episcopalian, but I enjoyed the church and the experience. I loved the liturgy and tradition of it—the sense of being part of an ancient, worldwide, structured body of believers. I loved the use of organ and the singing of 500 year-old hymns. I loved the creeds.
In what will no doubt be weeks of upcoming news coverage, tributes, memorials and TV specials chronicling the life and death of Michael Jackson, the point will likely be made that Michael Jackson died the same day as Farrah Fawcett and just two days after Ed McMahon. “We can’t forget Farrah and Ed,” people will say. But invariably, the immense, wall-to-wall coverage of Jackson will overshadow the other two, and history will forget that these three important twentieth century icons died in the same city in the same few days in June.
In my book I’m trying to locate “hip” in the context of metaphysics. How does the idea of being fashionable, cool, etc. correspond to our existence? We talk about it as a cultural construct all the time—and certainly this is important—but is it more elemental than that? Is the ephemeral in fashion and “cool” paralleled or derived from the ephemeral in our own very existence? In other words: is it a coincidence that 1) we all desire “cool,” 2) “cool” is necessarily an ever-changing, constantly cannibalizing phenomenon, and 3) we are all aware of death and the urgency of living?
When asked by another interviewer how he thought Prejean should have responded, Hilton said, “A very simple way she could have answered it is, 'as a future Miss USA it is my job not to be a politician, but to be someone who represents and inspires the women and the troops, and I think it's great that the states get to decide for themselves.' Something like that… she would not have had to insert her own personal politics into it." But wait, wasn’t Hilton inserting his own “personal politics” into it—forcibly putting Miss California into a situation that pretty much demanded a political response?
Susan Boyle. Oh, Susan BOYLE. By now the whole world has seen her oft-twittered, ravenously circulated rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent. If not, well, Google it.
To the surprise of many, Time magazine recently listed “The New Calvinism” as the third most important idea changing the world “right now.” What?? 500 years after the birth of John Calvin, is his theological namesake really enjoying resurgence in 2009?
T.S. Eliot once said “April is the cruelest month.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that March is one of the best months there is. We have Spring Break vacations, St. Patrick’s Day, and, most importantly, the NCAA Basketball Tournament. For college basketball fans, March is one big, energy-filled party. It’s madness. And hopefully this year it’ll be Jayhawk madness. (Again.)
Sex scandals and evangelicalism go together like Christian Bale and rage. And it’s all very unfortunate. From Jim Bakker to Paul Crouch to Ted Haggard, we Christians are all too familiar with our leaders being caught in sex, scandal, and hypocrisy. Mostly we just like to forget that these things happen, hiding them or writing them out of the history books to whatever extent we can.
It seems to me that if Mark Driscoll and preachers like him want to talk about sex so frankly and frequently in their churches, they must at least be willing to talk as enthusiastically about the merits of single, celibate life for the Christian, or at least about how it can feasibly be done. But that may be asking too much of them.