Barry Carter 02-14-2012

Whitney Houston sings at a 2011 pre-Grammy Awards event. Photo via Getty Images.

Everybody has a favorite Whitney Houston song, a memory that makes them stand still and think about how this soulful pop superstar made them feel when they heard her sing.
Remember the chill when she sang the national anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl, or how "I'm Every Woman" empowered women, providing confidence and inspiration?
But anyone who knew Houston understands that her talent came from one place, the God she served at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. This is where it all started for its daughter, where she was the darling of the choir as a child who left people speechless, belting out gospel songs and hymns.
What she did through song on Sunday mornings, the members of her home church returned the favor on Sunday (Feb. 12) the only way they know how. They prayed.
They prayed for Emily Cissy Houston, Houston's mother, the minister of music for 54 years at the church.

Joshua Witchger 02-13-2012

A loop of 19 television shows referencing one another. Interfaith musical collaboration on the old hymn, "The Lord Will Provide." Flight of the Conchords star Bret McKenzie talks to Terry Gross about his work on The Muppets film. The first look at the new trailer for Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. An amazing trick performed with an excavator, and more!

Christian Piatt 02-13-2012

Before anything else, I have to give serious props to Jennifer Hudson for doing her acapella tribute to Whitney Houston, whose death at age 48 cast a noticeable pall over the otherwise celebratory evening. With a photo of the recently deceased pop legend hanging over her and millions watching, Hudson pushed back her emotions to deliver a rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” that few could pull off in any situation, let alone one with that kind of pressure. She proved herself a true professional and a peer worthy of comparison to other superstar divas like Houston.

Beyond that stand-out moment, the Grammys offered what seemed to be a house divided in the music world, some of which was reassuring, and some of which simply made me feel old and out of touch.

the Web Editors 02-13-2012

Obama Budget: National Debt Will Be $1 Trillion Higher In A Decade Than First Forecast; Why Evangelicals Must Defend Muslims; Obama's Election-Year Budget To Target Rich; GE To Hire 5,000 U.S. Veterans, Investing In Plants; Is Class War Unfolding In GOP Primaries?; It's The Wealth Gap, Stupid; From The Pulpit And In The Pew, The Knicks’ Lin Is A Welcome Inspiration; Ethics Issues Tarnish Congressional Image; Senate GOP Push For Keystone Vote On Highway Measure; Obama Administration Slows Environmental Rules As It Weighs Political Cost.

Whitney Houston performs onstage during the 2011 Pre-Grammy Gala. Photo by Getty

Whitney Houston performs onstage during the 2011 Pre-Grammy Gala. Photo by Getty Images.

The Bible teaches us: “A good name is better than precious ointment and the day of death, than the day of birth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

On this day, as the world morns the unexpected passing of legendary singer Whitney Houston, this wisdom reminds us that when we grieve death, we grieve our own loss.

Ms. Houston has passed from time into eternity, from this veil of tears to a place where there is no more pain and no more tears, where the only relevant judgment is the judgment of God Almighty.

As a girl, Ms. Houston sang in church, and in her last public performance she sang, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me.” In the time and space between, she lived a life of wealth and fame, of joy and pain.

Joshua Witchger 02-10-2012
Fire. Image via Wylio,

Fire. Image via Wylio,

Winter has always been a sweet spot for discovering and sharing music. A little bit mellow, comforting — something you can listen to as a fire crackles or cozy up beside with a mug of hot coffee.

In heeding the groundhog's warning of "six more weeks of winter," here's a short list of independent music to help you make it through the season's chill: Three albums hosted over at Bandcamp that might provide a little warmth on the colder nights.

the Web Editors 02-10-2012

Demonstrations Whisper Of An Arab Spring In Jordan; Perfect Storm Threatens Long-Term Unemployed; Obama: Birth Control Policy Meets Everyone's Needs; Will Inequality Keep Getting Worse?; What Davos, Occupy Have In Common; On Immigration, 'Amnesty' Isn't A Four-Letter Word (OPINION); In Year Of Uprisings, Reporters Brave Crackdowns From Wall St. To Tahrir Square (OPINION).

the Web Editors 02-09-2012

The Goose is on the loose, ya'll.

Today organizers of the 2012 Wild Goose Festival (June 21-24 in Shakori Falls, N.C.) released a groovtastic video (with special guest apperances by Sojo homies Gabriel Salguero, Lynne Hybels, David Wilcox, Father Richard Rohr, Brian McClaren, Phyllis Tickle, Richard Twiss, Jim Wallis and more!) to whet your appetite for four days of music, art, literature and curl-your-toes GRACE.

Watch the Wild Goose video and find out how to get your tickets, etc., inside the blog....

Joshua Witchger 02-09-2012

President Obama helps an eighth-grader shoot a "Marshmallow Air Cannon" at the White House Science Fair. Watch art come to life with a little fire. Banksy art spotted on the streets of New Orleans. Jack White releases first cut from debut solo record. The Moth explores religion in American life. The World's Largest Doge Ball Game. And more!

Joshua Witchger 02-07-2012

Ferris Bueller's Super Bowl ad compared side by side with the movie, North Korea goes polka via Norway with A-Ha's "Take on Me,"Jimmy Kimmel encourages viewers to pull more pranks, timelapse photography from Yosemite National Park, guess who said it: Dwight Schrute or Newt Gingrich? And an in-depth Interview Magazine chat with Grammy nominated Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. See this and more in today's links.

Jack Palmer 02-07-2012
Google's Dickens doodle.

Google's Dickens doodle.

“Come in, and know me better man”
~ Ghost of Christmas Present, A Christmas Carol

As the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens is celebrated around the world today, it seems like a great opportunity to get to know the author a little better.

And where else would a tech-minded person like myself head first? Why the Google Doodle of course!

Joshua Witchger 02-06-2012

Improv Everywhere celebrates its tenth anniversary by remixing and remastering some of its best sketches. The highlights from Puppy Bowl VIII are in (look out for the MVP)! Bon Iver puts on an incredible SNL performance. Bill Maher's "Irritable Bowl Syndrome." Mad Men's promo posters have been tampered with! OK GO's latest music video from the inside of a car. A new look at Downton Abbey and more!

the Web Editors 02-06-2012

Evangelicals' Lock On The GOP Cracks; Syria Crisis: Army Steps Up Homs Shelling; Diamond Jubilee: Queen Celebrating 60-Year Reign; Evangelicals And The US Election: A View From The Outside; The New Christian Abolition Movement; Voters Willing To See US Attack Iran Over Nuclear Weapons; For Some Black Women, Economy And Willingness To Aid Family Strains Finances; John McCain Slams Mitt Romney's 'Self-Deportation,' Advocates 'Humane Approach' To Immigration.

the Web Editors 02-06-2012
Photo via Getty Images.

Photo via Getty Images.

Chevy's Mayan Apocalypse Superbowl ad. Madonna's "Like a Prayer." Romney's elusive religiosity. Eddie Long apologizes to the ADL. Mormonism on our mind. An Illinois priest let go for excessive ad libbing. Bill Maher "unbaptizes" dead people. And more...

Joshua Witchger 02-03-2012

Super Bowl inforgraph, and a collection of notable commercials from years past. Take a look at radio Tanzania, and see a baby with some serious ping pong potential. And finally, take a look at some good music that released this week.

the Web Editors 02-03-2012

Politics And Prayers; Senate Passes Insider-Trading Bill; What Childhood Poverty Means (OPINION); Nation-Building Vs. Al-Qaeda-Crushing In Afghanistan; Should All Americans Have To Earn Their Citizenship?; That Former Slave Who Wrote His Ex-Master Never Went Back To Him; NC's Heath Shuler Won't Seek Re-Election To House; Syria: It’s Not Just About Freedom (OPINION); Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate For Returning Veterans Fell 6 Percentage Points.

John Schmalzbauer 02-03-2012
Missouri State University Sociologist John Schmalzbauer

Missouri State University Sociologist John Schmalzbauer

Every so often, evangelicals get the urge to ex-communicate. Feminists, open theists, and universalists have all drawn the ire of their co-religionists. In the absence of a central religious authority, such efforts are doomed to fail.

According to most scholars, evangelicalism is more of a network than a unified church. Magazines, publishing houses, colleges, and parachurch groups play a bigger role than ecclesial bodies. While condemned from many pulpits, the emerging church continues to publish with Zondervan and Baker. Owned by the same company as Zondervan and Fox News (Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation), HarperOne has provided a home for Rob Bell and his Love Wins.

Though it hasn’t been easy, Bell has remained a part of American evangelicalism.

Fried by their battles with fellow believers, some have decided to ex-communicate themselves. Even then it is hard to cut the tie. As in the case of cultural Catholicism, religious terminology may haunt a post-evangelical’s speech. Commenting on this phenomenon, Tony Jones wonders whether evangelicalism is the “new Jewish" — more cultural than confessional.

Cathleen Falsani 02-02-2012

This week, George Beverly Shea, Gospel Music legend and longtime musical companion of Dr. Billy Graham on his many revival meetings around the world, celebrated his 103rd birthday!

A native of Canada, Shea, who now lives in Montreat, N.C., not far from that whipper-snapper Graham (who turned 93 just recently), is still going strong.

“Karlene and I rejoice in the Lord’s overwhelming grace to give me 103 years of life!” Shea gushed on Monday (his actual birthday) according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's website.

Joshua Witchger 02-02-2012

In anticipation of Sunday's festivities, Jimmy Fallon interviews Bruce Macabee, the puppy who predicted the Patriots to win. L.L. Bean celebrates it's 100th birthday in a fun way, Darren Aronofsky wants Russell Crowe to play his Noah, LeVar Burton gets the @ReadingRainbow twitter handle, Neil Young talks about Steve Jobs' love for vinyl, and an infograph on the social lives of religious Americans, and our favorite scenes from the classic 1993 film, Groundhog Day.

the Web Editors 02-02-2012

Obama: Jesus Would Tax The Rich; Pockets Of Prosperity Across USA Escaped Recession; Obama Won't Touch Climate With A Ten-Foot Pole; U.S. Press Freedom Fell 27 Places Last Year To 47th In The World; Gingrich Slams Romney: The Founding Fathers Believed In Equal Opportunity For The Poor; Why Both Parties Are Flying the Anti-Wall Street Banner; Occupy Your Voice; Can Science End War?; Alabama's Immigration Law To Cost State Millions In Lost Taxes, Study Says.