Culture

Joshua Witchger 4-09-2012

30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, after Easter take a look at some of the sketchiest bunnies, post-apocalyptic artwork, Alec Baldwin interviews Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon revisits his news anchor position, "Walden Pond" to become a digital reality, robots make furniture, and 36 big names in their humble beginnings...   
 

the Web Editors 4-06-2012

 

“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I'm feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I'm feeling sad, it's my consolation. When I'm feeling happy, it's part of why I feel that way. If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone. "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well."

~ Frederick Buechner

 

 

Joshua Witchger 4-05-2012

Google Street view goes to inside the White House. Painting walls by whipping hair. President Obama gives the Vulcan salute in the Oval Office. Woody Allen's new film. Marshall amplifiers. The Beatles' sons. And a remix of the Pixar film Monsters Inc
 

Cathleen Falsani 4-04-2012
Darren Morfitt as Jesus and Keith Allen as Pontius Pilot. Image via the BBC.

Darren Morfitt as Jesus and Keith Allen as Pontius Pilot in 2006's Manchester Passion. Image via the BBC.

The music of Manchester, England is, for me, the soundtrack of my college years. The Smiths. Joy Division. Oasis. James. The Happy Mondays.

It was the music I danced to in Chicago nightclubs, the songs of seeming disillusionment that I walked around campus listening to (on cassettes and "cassingles" -- remember those?) on my Sony Walkman.

I love that music that put a spring in my step and gave voice to my youthful ennui. But I had never thought of it as particularly spiritual music...that is until earlier this week when my charming British colleague, Jack Palmer, brought to my attention The Manchester Passion, an hourlong 2006 BBC special broadcast of a massive public reinactment of Christ's passion and crucifixion staged in a public square in Manchester set to the music of that enigmatic northern city in England.

The Manchester Passion took the music and lyrics of The Smiths and their Manchunian contemporaries and used them -- brilliantly and powerfully -- to retell in a thoroughly modern milieu the greatest story ever told.

Jack Palmer 4-04-2012
Alain de Botton. Image via www.alaindebotton.com.

Alain de Botton. Image via www.alaindebotton.com.

This is not another book that simply critiques religion. In Religion For Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion, Alain de Botton, a noted author on a wide range of themes – from architecture to the works of Proust – examines those engaging and helpful aspects of religion (particularly focusing on Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism) that might, as he puts it, “fruitfully be applied to the problems of secular society.”

Anyone who might be offended by a work that from the outset (indeed on its very first page) asserts that “of course no religions are true in any God-given sense”, is encouraged to steer clear of this book by the author himself.

It is a book that seems to swing between revulsion of religion and the “religious colonization” that atheists are charged to reverse and a recognition that all is not well in the secular world, and that these ills may be somewhat righted by looking toward religion – let me clarify – toward those aspects of religious traditions that de Botton believes are relevant to the world today: community, kindness, education and art, for example.

The very first subject to be tackled is that of community – something that Sojourners knows a little something about (check out Nicole Higgins’ recent review of Wanderlust for some insights) – and what strikes me as interesting is that de Botton’s hypothesis on the loss of community mirrors a phrase often spoken by Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis:

Did we lose our sense of community when we began to privatize our faith?

Sandi Villarreal 4-03-2012
My family attacking each other with cascarones. Photo by Jesse G. Villarreal

My family attacking each other with cascarones. Photo by Jesse G. Villarreal

Growing up, Easter weekend meant a giant family party at my grandparents’ house complete with a piñata, Easter egg hunt, possibly a mariachi band, and – on at least one occasion – my younger cousins dressing up to perform the Passion play.

But the best part (you know, besides celebrating Jesus resurrecting from the dead, providing salvation for the world)?

Cascarones!

Dick Staub 4-02-2012
Angela Weiss/WireImage

A general view at 'The Hunger Games' opening night midnight showing. Angela Weiss/WireImage

The Hunger Games books are wildly popular - and controversial. The American Library Association ranks it fifth on the list of most banned books for 2010, mostly because of parental complaints that the books are sexually explicit and violent.

Author Suzanne Collins said she conceived of The Hunger Games one night as she flipped television channels from teenagers on a reality TV to teenagers serving in the Iraqi war. She couldn't shake this jarring juxtaposition.

So does the popularity of The Hunger Games offer good news for those of us concerned about American civilization and the younger generation? I say yes, for a few reasons.

Joshua Witchger 4-02-2012

All videos on today's Links of Awesomeness. Watch a legless skateboarder show some incredible tricks at a contest in Tampa. OK Go debuts a new colorful music video, Improv Everywhere shows some impressive video editing, Jimmy Fallon and Charlie Sheen advertise a new cologne, and Admiral Ackbar becomes a singing wall fish. 

Gareth Higgins 4-01-2012

Along with the silent film The Artist, Haywire, and War Horse, the smartest wide-release recent movie is Chronicle, a kinetic fusion of Breakfast Club-style teenage angst with post-9/11 violence-as-a-way-of-life (or at least way-to-be-noticed).

Piano-playing cats or union organizing drives—Google and Facebook don’t care. They just keep a sieve in the flow to collect information that can be sold to advertisers.

Pariah, written and directed by Dee Rees. Focus Features.

Makoto Fujimura 4-01-2012

The painter Makoto Fujimura imagines what God might say to the church about its frequent rejection of the artists.

Julie Polter 4-01-2012

Worship Across the Racial Divide: Religious Music and the Multiracial Congregation, by Gerardo Marti; The Forgotten Bomb; Let It Burn; Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.

Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiment with Truth, by James W. Douglass.

Cathleen Falsani 4-01-2012

The lesson for me, as the parent of a middle school child, was to pay closer attention.

Julie Clawson 4-01-2012

What The Hunger Games and the gospels have in common.

Ed Spivey Jr. 4-01-2012

In fact, my knowledge of Brazil is limited to that tall Jesus statue overlooking a city, and the fact people can be naked on the beaches while speaking Portuguese.

Joshua Witchger 3-30-2012

ART LINKS: statues made from paper money, aging architecture beautified by folded paper, art shots of abandon pianos, and portraits on weathered envelopes. Plus Paul McCartney, bizarre musical instruments, and Downtown Arby's. Click to read today's Links of Awesomeness...

Joshua Witchger 3-30-2012

Last month I had the privilege of interviewing Denison Witmer as he passed through Washington, D.C. in support of his newest album The Ones Who Wait.

This week, Witmer’s manager was kind enough to send us some additional videos from Denison's tour as he returned home to play before friends and family at the World Café in Philadelphia. The audio and video are top notch; and in the spirit of creating a space for truth and beauty, we’re premiering three new videos for you to enjoy.

Duane Shank 3-29-2012
Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written.

Here are my picks in this week’s books of interest.

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