The last time I listened to Nickel Creek was to analyze their adaptation of Robert Burns’ poem, “Sweet Afton,” in my English literature class in college three years ago. Indeed, the waters of Nickel Creek flow gently, a trait reflected in “Sweet Afton” and many other Nickel Creek staples. And that general lack of bite, paired with an almost robotic mastery of each band members’ respective instrument, pushed me away from the band.
So it was strange that, with no expectations and an arbitrarily negative perception of the classic folk band, I really enjoyed seeing Nickel Creek reunite in Washington, D.C. after a six-year hiatus. The show, in sum, was really, really good.
Amanda Gross describes herself as a “weaver of things and people.”
Gross, a fiber artist based in Pittsburgh, Pa., has been weaving things — from quilts to bags to skirts — for years. But, as a “weaver of people,” Gross completed her biggest project yet this fall.
Gross is the head artist behind the Knit the Bridge project, a massive community effort that covered the Andy Warhol Bridge in Pittsburgh with knit and crochet panels. From August to September, Knit the Bridge workers installed 600 handmade blankets across the 1,061-ft. long bridge.
I was born in 1990. That puts me squarely in the middle of what is referred to as the millennial generation.
It also, apparently, makes me a lazy, entitled, narcissist who still lives with my parents.
But that’s beside the point. What’s more important about the date of my birth is that it places me at a distinct and pivotal point in human history: I grew up with the Internet — what they call a “digital native.”
I (vaguely) remember when the Internet got popular; having slow, dial-up that made lots of crazy noises whenever you wanted to use it; talking to other angsty teens on AOL Instant Messenger (“AIM”); downloading music on Napster and Kazaa; and then, slowly but surely, having the Internet became engrained in my everyday life as if it was there the whole time.
But, like the bratty sibling I grew up with (upon reflection, I was equally, if not more, bratty — #humility #perspective), I’ve recognized that I have a love/hate relationship with the Internet. It’s a game-changer for the human experience, so, like that sibling, I think I’ll always love it. But, for every positive, innovative element of the Internet there is an equal and opposite reaction.
There’s a place in the cultural conversation for both friars and fools, for those who discern truth through contemplation and prayer, as well as those who seek to reveal it through satire and silliness. But it’s not every day that both come together for substantive (if not always serious) theological conversation.
Aric Clark, Nick Larson, and Doug Hagler, also known online as Two Friars and a Fool, host such conversations on their blog and podcast about theology and spiritual practice, sexuality, and popular culture. They recently combined forces as well for their first book, Never Pray Again: Lift Your Head, Unfold Your Hands and Get to Work. The intentionally provocative title emphasizes the need for Christians to get outside of our own heads and churches, and about the business of being the hands and feet of Jesus in a world in need.
I chatted with the trio recently about their new project, as well as the “Never Pray Again” coloring book, which they crowd funded through a recently successful Kickstarter campaign.
1. What the Media Can't Grasp About Pope Francis
"… the world is ready to talk about inequality, redistribution, and an "economy of exclusion" for independent reasons, and the pope's words — which are very much in keeping with Catholic tradition — merely resonate because ears are ready to listen."
2. Hack the Church
"I want participatory church … An open source theology.” While our congregations dwindle and church doors shutter, a new group of technology-minded Christians (and just faith-friendly hackers), are breaking open a pathway for the future of the church — one that's inclusive, community-oriented, and innovative.
3. Give Justly
It's your last chance to enter to win a $350 gift card for fair trade products or other prizes via Sojourners' Just Giving Guide! It's as simple as a Facebook like!
4. Young People Want Equality But Struggle to Discuss Bias
"One oft-employed generalization about The Kids These Days is that they've grown up free from the legalized discrimination and racial neuroses of older generations, and they will live in a more multicultural world with less racism. But do we even know if that's true?"
5. Guardian, AP, Others Challenge Lethal Injection Secrecy
The two news organizations and three Missouri newspapers have brought a legal challenge calling on the state to disclose the drugs used in lethal injections. "A Guardian survey has identified at least 13 states that have changed their rules to withhold from the public all information relating to how they get hold of lethal drugs. They include several of the most active death penalty states including Texas, which has executed seven prisoners so far this year, Florida (five), Missouri (four) and Oklahoma (three)."
6 . Are You Reading Enough Academic Women?
"Women read more than men, yet male authors still dominate literary journals." One writer and illustrator hopes to combat that fact social media-style with the Twitter hashtag #ReadWomen2014 and handle @ReadWomen2014.
7. Illuminating Video on Teen's Mental Illness
“Ask anyone that knows me now,” she says in the clip. “I’m the happiest girl because I know I’m getting the right support and help I need.”
8. Student Journalists Exposed Columbia University's Rape Crisis. Then One of Their Own Was Accused.
After uncovering a rape epidemic on campus, a student-run magazine blog wrestles with how to handle that crisis creeping into its own ranks — highlighting an institutional conflict of discretion and justice.
9. Are Millennials Really Leaving the Church? Yes — But Mostly White Millennials
“This is an opportunity for Christians to take a look at what they believe, and to ask, ‘Do we believe the Bible is good news for everyone?’” [Sojourners Emerging Voice Kathy Kang] says. “And if we do believe that, we have to find ways to communicate that good news with everyone.”
10. Humans of New York
"What's your greatest struggle right now?"
"Not being white."