Thursday, April 29, 2010

The endless search for Noah's Ark

A group of amateur archaeologists is claiming they have found remnants of Noah's Ark with 99.9% certainty. Read more about it here (Time) and here (skeptical article about the findings).

For decades now there has been a struggle amongst fundamentalist Christians who look for proof of their belief system in the field of archaeology. On the other hand, they are met with scorn by the skeptical, usually anti-religious beliefs of scientists in academia.

In the Time article, one of the reasons for skepticism given is that the findings of Noah's Ark were not given up for scientific evaluation and peer review. No doubt, the religious side would say there is a conspiracy amongst academia to ensure that fundamentalist findings in archaeology not be accepted legitimate.

UPDATE: Here is an interview with an Archaeologist about the subject on Fox News

Monday, April 26, 2010

New John Grisham Book Coming!

For kids. His first.

But it's still a legal thriller.

Penguin has posted the first chapter of Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer on their website for all to read.

The book comes out May 23.

College ain't all it's cracked up to be anymore and other realizations from a confused generation

This week's link focuses on the college graduates' rising realization of the bleak prospects for a solid job in the struggling economy. Essentially it's some survey results from Monster to college graduates. 52% of whom moved back into their parent's house after graduation. 31% of those same graduates planned on staying home for more than a year.

College has traditionally always been a rite of passage to adulthood. A necessary step to get a good, grab a spouse, orchestrate a family, and retire on the golf course. However, with results such as the one recorded in the link, one wonders what purpose college is really displaying other than a source of financial debt (66% of graduates graduate with student loans) and disappointment on both the end of parents and graduates.

Happy Birthday YouTube!

YouTube is 5 years old today. Only 5. I suppose in cyber-years that's about 35, but still . . . isn't it odd that such a ubiquitous web brand is that young? I mean, who in the Western world hasn't visited the site repeatedly.

Anyway, take a look at the very first videos uploaded to the site 5 year ago today.

You've come a long way baby!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Magazine Industry's Best

Want to see what's considered the best in print magazines today?

Check out this article on National Magazine Award winners and see if you agree. There's amazing photography of Somalia, portraits of world leaders, fiction, and articles on topics controversial and otherwise.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Amazing Volcano Pix From Iceland put together an amazing portfolio of pictures you dare not miss!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Coming Out of the Closet in Comics

So you know it is endemic in our society when Archie Comics decides to introduce their first gay character in an upcoming issue. Often companies will do this to catch the eye of the media, who will overhype the importance of this event. (It happened several years back when DC introduced Batwoman as a lesbian.) The circulation of most Archie Comics is painfully low (less than 20,000 copies per issue), so any media is good media.

Still, you can't but feel like something is lost when you read:

In the words of Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, “The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive. Archie’s hometown of Riverdale has always been a safe world for everyone. It just makes sense to have an openly gay character in Archie comic books.”

The answer, besides prayer for revival in our society, is to create better stories with more interesting characters.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coming Out of the Closet in Christianity....

Does the name Jennifer Knapp ring a bell? Well it didn't for me, but apparently she was a big time Christian artist some seven years ago (she has won both grammys and dove awards). She released a hit album then and then went on a hiatus. Seven years later she is back with another album, except it's not Christian anymore. And also she's openly gay...

But she also says she is still Christian.

Read an interview from a Christian website with her about her decision to come out here

The immediate question one wants to know from a Christian homosexual is "but how? Don't you read the scripture?"

Knapp's response: 
"I'm not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn't allow homosexuals within our church. There's a spirit that overrides that for me, and what I've been gravitating to in Christ and why I became a Christian in the first place."

I have much to say, but I will remain silent, but I think the story of Jennifer Knapp is just a beginning to what will become more and more common place in evangelical Christianity (or at least in parts): Homosexuals saying they are Christians too...

How do we deal with it?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hillsong United: A Festival of Worship

It's not quite a concert, certainly not a show and definitely not entertainment. It's more a 2.5 hour festival of worship, w/none of the band members being recognized, but all of the attention focused on Christ.

Meeting them afterwards was fun, as they seemed more abashed than we did. More news and pix soon!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

News for Stupid People

In case you can't see the white-hot Wisconsin meteor in the jet-black sky, we're here to help.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interviewing Eugene Peterson

So, I have a shot at interviewing Eugene Peterson, he of The Message, at Calvin College's Festival of Faith and Writing. The Festival is an amazing time for readers and writers, with many of the biggest names in writing (Yan Martel) making themselves available to interviewers and autographing books for fans.

I've been told Peterson has neither cell phone nor email address, so I'm hoping an early letter to his hotel room will reap strong results.

I'll be recording my progress (or lack therof) over on sister blog, Word Thursday-Sunday. Drop by and see, won't you?

Friday, April 09, 2010

An analogy

Today's link brings us to one of my favorite authors, and if I may say so, one of my original schoolmasters in Christianity.

The Link can be found here...

Essentially the meat of the article is quoting a piece in Mere Christianity that is a response from a man who says he has no need for doctrine/theology because he encounters God alone on his own:

if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

Essentially, we can't get lost in our own experience with God  as the only means to find God's will as it is like going onto a journey without a map. We need to understand doctrine and theology as our guide. On the same side, we cannot confuse theology/doctrine as our only means towards finding God as it's like looking at a map without actually ever going on a journey for ourselves....

I really do wrestle with kind of a dualism in my self of both these. As a kind of Christian existentialist of sorts, I really do kind of romanticize my spiritual walk and have a hard time caring for theology as it can just be monotonous and repetitive to me at times.

On the flip side, in my darkest of days, I can't even come to find myself facing God in my walk, and find myself racing for the books of theologian as my substitute for my own spirituality.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

On Snopes

This evening's link is a NY Times write-up on the Mikkelsons, the founders of the wonderful, fact-finding web sight.

While I have not been to snopes in quite a long time (it can really suck hours away before you realize it), it is the Snopes website that I owe much of my desire for inquiry to. There was a time back in the day when the internet was only good for one thing: E-mail forwards. And there were tons of them...

Some claiming that a child's life will be saved if you forward this e-mail to ten people and another telling you about the latest government conspiracy.

Enter in Snopes which essentially sought to investigate  these vast array of internet rumors and either validate or prove false these said rumors that were spreading like wild fire.

And this is where I think I first learned that not everything heard or read is true.

Favorite quotes from the article: (regarding the naivety of readers to embrace rumors) "it’s people wanting confirmation of their world view."

"When you’re looking at truth versus gossip, truth doesn’t stand a chance." 

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Happy Easter!

May we never forget to celebrate the most important day in history.

"An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it."
-James Albert Michener, novelist (1907-1997)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Art, Film, and a Rant of Frustration.....

Recognize this movie? Nor did I. But yet Ordet was rated the #1 movie on the Top 100 Arts & Faith movie list rated by the Arts & faith community.

The list allows you to click on almost all the movies to read a summary and reason of why the movie was rated as high as it was. The list  " is a list of films characterized both by artistic excellence and a serious wrestling with questions that at root might be called religious or spiritual.."

And just like i had never watched (or heard) of Ordet, I have not viewed that and 93 other movies on the list.

And before I went to call the list a pompous arrogant ordered list of elitism to prove that movies were not a pseudo-art because there were plenty of movies on the list that the entire American population had never heard of, I sat down and thought about the movies I had seen on the list...

And I became even more angry. The movies that I had seen were indeed phenomenal (Magnolia, Apostle, Seventh Seal to name 3) and very thought provoking. As I read descriptions of the films I had not seen, they all seemed like Must-see for those who like to think for more than 3 seconds during a film.

I then was pointed toward this following link by Kent wherein a question & answer about the list was presented. One of the questions asked was where are the Ten Commandments and the Passions of the Christs of film? The Answer is the whole reason I am writing this post:

Sure, you might expect a list of “the Great Movies” chosen by a group of Christians to favor titles popular with religious audiences…like Fireproof, “the Jesus movie,” The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or The Nativity Story.
But it is exactly this tendency that fires up the folks at
Christian media have in recent years tended to celebrated art and entertainment for its “evangelical potential.” In other words, many Christians have become so concerned about the usefulness of art as a tool of ministry and evangelism, they’ve forgotten—or never known in the first place—what art really is, and how it works.
As a result, “Christian art” has become more and more didactic and simplistic. Its messages are easily paraphrased. No wonder the rest of the world dismisses it so easily.
Who can blame them? People turn to art for an imaginative experience, not a lesson or a sales pitch.
It is also worth noting that the conversation about art, especially in America, has narrowed considerably. Most American moviegoers—Christian or otherwise—are familiar only with what is contemporary, commercial, and American. They lack an education in film history, and are largely ignorant of independent and foreign cinema.

The above defense of film as art, and how movies for the masses are too overly simplistic in their struggles is no doubt true. In this world of shorter attention spans and 30 second youtube movies, we long for brevity and imagination at the loss of struggle and soul searching. I myself have been so frustrated by the shallowness and predictability of film that I have maybe watched 4-5 movies in all of 2009 in kind of apathetic turn from a genre of entertainment that I once loved (this list gives me hope).

Allow me to say that this film question and and answer from above opened a window in my soul. I think it is quite possible that the dilemma over over-simplicity in movies that confronts our generation is the same dilemma that is killing me in church. I do not mean to come across angry or bitter at all...but the sermons at our youth services and at our general conferences seem to me to have become more predictable and shallow:

 "God is in control." "The God-ordained trial is here to make you a better person." "Do not fret about the lies of Satan." "Do not sin." "Do not compromise our values." "God loves you."

All good messages. All true. I just wonder at times if preaching is just becoming a stage wherein the best preachers preach these simple messages and manage to get the biggest emotional response.

Maybe I am just being a nag, but a nag I will be then for the next few sentences: Things are becoming overly simple in this world. And because of it, I am becoming awkwardly lonely. I look to books to fill this void of the recognition of "struggle" in our faith, and everyday lives. It's almost like because of this overly-simplified world of "Good vs. Bad, Bad will lose kind of world," I kind of perceive that there is no one then that can relate to the soul and the questions that arise therein.

I think in my reading of Moby Dick last night, Melville said it best, "For what are the comprehensible terrors of man compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of God!" And perhaps I want the world/church to better relate to these terrors within my heart, but maybe...maybe that's point....if the world could facilitate the struggle of ourselves and the complicated world we live in, we would stop looking to God for the answer....