Monday, May 30, 2011

Bach's Sacred Artistry

Depending on who you talk to, Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart is the greatest classical composer in history. Unlike the other two, Bach spent a significant amount of his life in obscurity, yet signed every piece "To the glory of God alone!"

In the New Yorker, Alex Ross writes an incisive review of Bach's output, evaluated through the recordings of two contemporary conductors. You don't have to love classical music to understand the imprint Bach put on the world--be they Christian or atheist. Ross puts that into perspective:

More than half of the sacred cantatas were written between 1723 and 1726, when Bach was in the early years of his long, and often unrewarding, appointment as the cantor of the Thomaskirche, in Leipzig. For extended stretches of the liturgical year, he produced one cantata a week, and for the most part he refused to take the easy path of reworking older pieces, whether his own or others’. Instead, in what seems a kind of creative rage, he experimented with every aspect of the cantata form, which traditionally served as a musical meditation on the Scriptural readings of the week. There are intimidating fugal choruses, sublimely extended operatic arias, frenzied instrumental interludes, weird chords galore, episodes of almost irreverent dancing merriment. To hear the entire corpus is to be buffeted by the restless energy of Bach’s imagination.

Bach's a perfect example of what any Christian trying to use their talents in the arts for God's glory should aspire to achieve.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Top 20 Literate US Cities

Amazon released an interesting list of the Top 20 Literate Cities in America.

The Top 5 are University cities, but after that it gets interesting, with major metro areas stealing the spots - though not as major as you might think. It's a fresh way to evaluate our country, that's for sure!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Snapshot of our TImes: Apple Trumps Google

Every year the most valuable brands in the world are re-evaluated and ranked. This year, Apple overtakes Google (no surprise there), but you might be surprised how high IBM still is (does anyone even talk about IBM anymore?).

And why has Coca-Cola dropped so much (it used to be the undisputed No. 1), while McDonald's keeps climbing. It's a great list to mull over because it's about how our world is interacting today.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Burning Churches in Egypt

The New York Review of Books offers a fascinating article on why Muslims are burning Coptic churches in Egypt.

The comments below are equally interesting, with some claiming the article tried too hard to achieve balance in a situation where there is no balance--this is outright persecution.

Monday, May 23, 2011

When the Levee (Doesn't) Break

Have you seen the UK's Daily Mail fantastic pictorial on the people in Mississippi who built their own levees around their houses? Good old American "Can do" if you ask me!

Some of these pix are amazing!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

NBA Final Four Observations

Momo adds his usual great insight into sports, this time it's the NBA Final Four.

Go visit our sister blog if you haven't yet!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jews and Hindus Make More Money

Who's doing well in this so-called economic downturn? The Jews and the Hindus, if you trust the numbers collected by the folks at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Who's faring the worst? The Pentecostals, who else? I just love being put in a box and aggregated. Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses and Baptists are among those with the lowest average income, and Reformed Jews, Conservative Jews and Hindus rank among the highest.

And it all ties strongly to education.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Newspapers Still Exist!

Poynter shares the U.S. newspapers with the highest circulation. Only 2 daily's exceed 1 million subscribers, and only 1 Sunday paper breaks the 1 million mark.

Just because they're down doesn't mean they're out.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Yet Another Response to the Assassination of Osama bin Laden

Whew, I'm glad that's over. That, and sadness. There's also an "I'm glad he's dead" response in there somewhere, but my initial response was a bit more muted than the majority of those celebrating the death of the United States' enemy number one. I was mostly sad for the loss of life.

Please don't misunderstand me, or otherwise judge me as un-American. I grieved and I still grieve for those who died in the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 (except for the nineteen terrorists). My heart is still rent by the trauma of the events of that fateful day that changed everything. And I did crave and I still crave revenge on the perpetrators and proponents of an ideology that teaches hatred. And I believe we're doing good with our continued efforts to thwart global terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, etc.

The photo above is from an excellent distraction from the grisly details of bin Laden's demise, one photojournalist's tour of the very same suburb where the U.S. forces found and dispatched our hated nemesis.

I'm not merely sad because Osama bin Laden didn't have a chance to convert to Christianity before he was assassinated. I'm sad that we killed him. I'm sad that he wasn't brought to trial and found guilty and executed according to our system of jurisprudence. I'm sad that 9/11 changed our view of the rules of warfare. I don't know that I can say I believe it's okay to assassinate your enemy. Go into his house and shoot up the place. Bomb them from unmanned drones in the sky by some guy on the ground with a joystick indiscriminately killing women and children. And yet we had to do something after 9/11. We had to quench our bloodlust, our thirst for revenge. And that makes me sad.

Jesus said, "Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Do good to them that hate you." And Paul also wrote, "it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

Bin Laden Attack Tweeted

Super secret mission to kill the world's most wanted man? Yep, it was Tweeted.

This to me, tells us as much about how the world is being remolded as anything. Turns out the Bin Laden neighbor didn't quite realize what he was tweeting in full, but that hardly matters. The world's best spy networks were unaware of the attack, but Twitter followers were getting regular updates.

What a strange little world we live in now.