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Some Hidden Gems Among the Grammy Glitterati

Marley brothers. Photo by Getty Images.

The brothers Marley (L to R): Damian, Ziggy, Stephen, Kymani and Julian. Photo by Getty Images.

The 2012 Grammy Awards are upon us. With more categories than you could shake a baton at, the very best in music will come together this weekend to recognize and celebrate the achievements of some of the biggest talent of 2011.

While most are focused on the biggest categories — and trying to guess just how many awards Adele will take home with her — there are some real gems tucked away in a number of the less well-known categories.

For instance ... in the "Best Folk Album" category, there’s usually underutilized instruments a-plenty, including an album made entirely on the ukulele from Eddie Vedder (which the Pearl Jam frontman cleverly named Ukulele Songs).

And there’ll be some friendly brotherly competition between Stephen, Ziggy and Damian Marley, with all three sons of the legendary Bob nominated for awards (Stephen and Ziggy competing in the same category of "Best Reggae Album").

Thankful, Indeed

I’ve learned that it’s especially important for those who are always trying to change the world, to remember what they are thankful for in their world as it is!

First I am thankful to God for his or her patience with us. Thankful that despite how much we human beings (perhaps especially we religious believers), so often disappoint, embarrass, and even hurt God with the things we say and do — even in God’s name; that God still continues to love us, forgive us, and call us to act more like God’s children, who should live together like brothers and sisters.

I am thankful to Jesus, who seems to have survived all of us Christians who name his name. Thankful that he is still so popular all over the world, even when Christians are, well, are not so much. But I’m also thankful for when Christians or others actually do the things that Jesus said, love their neighbors and even their enemies, just as he taught us to do, and when we do treat “the least of these” in the same way that we would treat him. I’m always most thankfully surprised by the unexpected and simple acts of love, grace, kindness, welcome, and justice that make people want to believe in and follow Jesus again....

"Courageous": A Sermon Wrapped in a Movie

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This was not so much a movie as a (very long) sermon. In fact, it's a sermon that actually culminates in a sermon, as Kendrick's character spells out what he has learned in a message delivered to his church congregation.

Despite its well-meaning intentions, Courageous fails to say anything new about fatherhood, family, faith or anything else, for that matter. The few funny or moving scenes are surrounded by clunky acting, overly-moralistic dialogue and a plot that is trying to be three movies in one -- and none of them terribly believable.

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