In case you missed it, NBC is cancelling the West Wing after a seven season run. I recognize that the show sometimes propogates a particular political vision, but it has been one of the smartest and best-written shows on TV. But the network is right in that it has probably run its course. I used to watch it regularly but don’t do so much anymore. I suppose I’m not the only one.
Another excerpt from a paper on beauty and art (or, more specifically, a paper defending the existence of normative standards of beauty):
According to Abraham Kuyper, John Calvin thought highly of art, saying that its goal went beyond the imitation of nature. Art’s purpose lay in “disclosing to man a higher reality than was offered to us by this sinful and corrupted world.” (Kuyper, 153) In other words, art has a transcendent quality that lifts the heart and mind of man above the mundane. When a person reads a wonderful story it evokes within her the sense that there is a greater and higher Story that rises above the everyday world. When a person beholds a beautiful work of art or listens to a mesmerizing piece of music that person is reminded in some way of Ultimate Beauty. Such an understanding brings into sharper focus the Lord’s concern for the physical beauty of the Temple and other aspects of the worship of His people. The artistic beauty helped to call to mind the transcendent beauty of the Lord himself as His people came before Him.
Conversely, the fact that the arts call to mind a greater Beauty also reminds humanity that such beauty has been lost. It is in this final sense that the Christian worldview affords a deep significance to the arts and their pursuit of beauty that rival views do not. Kuyper says, “If you confess that the world once was beautiful, but by the curse has become undone, and by a final catastrophe is to pass to its full state of glory, excelling even the beautiful of paradise, then art has the mystical task of reminding us in its productions of the beautiful that was lost and of anticipating its perfect coming luster.” (Kuyper, 155) Within this conception of the arts, and of beauty, one can see the contours of the broader biblical story and the Christian worldview.
(The citations are from Kuyper’s Stone Lectures, delivered at Princeton in 1898.)
We received a circular in the mail the other day for a local chain of Christian bookstores. Now we all know that most Christian bookstores tend to be lean on substantive books, ironically enough, and full of other stuff ranging from music to trinkets. So I’m going to blog through the circular and just make a few observations and comments (hey I’m bored):
* Clay Aiken, of American Idol fame, is finally showing up in the CCM market. It was destined to happen. His is one of several Christmas CDs in the catalog.
* Wow they sell “Promise Seeds.” These look like candy corns in Christmas colors (red, green, white). But these aren’t mere redecorated candy corns – this is serious Christian candy complete with Bible verses on the wrapper or something. The jumbo bag is only $5.99!
* The Narnia hype-machine is going to be deafening. With the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Disney’s much-anticipated release of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in CS Lewis’ beloved Chronicles of Narnia, is expected to be a pot of gold. The marketing machine is in full gear with several pages of this catalog devoted to various Narnia products. The books themselves, computer games, figurines, books about the books, and decorative pieces are all available so you can immerse yourself in all things Narnia. I’m excited about the movie… but the Christian bookstores are apparently more excited. Now it is certainly worth it to me if the hype machine will actually get people to read more Lewis.
* It appears that if the money keeps rolling in, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins will continue putting out installments of Left Behind until, well, Jesus comes back. Now they’ve got prequels out.
* Looks like Louie Giglio has a book out. That’s good news.
* The copy written to promote one book says, “Firm up your theology in just five minutes a day!” Is that like firming up your abs? Is that possible in five minutes a day? Well, not if you’re reading a book by this particular author…. but that’s another story for another day. In general I suppose five minutes on theology is better than nothing.
* There is something called “Mock croc Bible purse with Matching Wallet” that you can take home for $29.97. I guess its faux crocodile skin with a lovely ichtus snap on it – which of course qualifies it as a Christian purse.
* There is a CD by someone called T-Bone. Apparently the Christian music world is in dire need of another white rapper. Then again, apparently he’s been around a while. Wow. OK out of sheer morbid curiosity I had to look him up. Evidently he is known as the “Lyrical Assassin” – not to be confused with Warren G, the “lyrical gangster” of the 1990’s (who is not a Christian rapper).
Well this has been a long and winding journey through this particular Christian bookstore’s holiday circular. We didn’t even get to discuss Christian jewelry or wristbands. And where were all of the bad T-shirts? Anyway, that’s enough for now. For more, well just go to the store.
According to figures released by the federal government, a record 1.5 million babies were born to unwed mothers in the United States last year. Around 35% of babies born in this country were born to unwed mothers. Contrary to what you might think, only 24% of those mothers were teenagers. The increase in numbers is attributed to women in their late twenties who have babies with their live-in boyfriends and remain unmarried.
What do the figures mean? I tend to not think that they mean fornication is on the rise. I think, rather, that they speak to the devaluation of marriage in our culture. It may be that, in earlier times, a couple that conceived may have opted to get married (out of pressure or whatnot), now they just opt out of marriage. It is viewed as not as big a deal. (If Rachel on Friends can do it why can’t I?) But, hey, at least these women are choosing to actually have their babies, which sure beats the alternative option still available in this country…
What do you think?
NBA commissioner David Stern has instituted a new dress code for players that entails them wearing at least business casual attire before and after games and at other league sponsored events (i.e. press conferences, etc.). Seems that Stern is concerned that the NBA shore up its image, and having players showing up on the bench or press room in super-baggy jeans, oversized T-Shirts, a sideways hat, and 75 pounds of jewelry wasn’t doing the trick.
The policy has become quite controversial among the players. Some have described it as racist, some have said it stifles their culture, some of argued that it is a violation of their rights. Allen Iverson, who probably has more to do with propogating the current image than any other single player, even made the inane suggestion that the new policy sends the wrong message to kids. Because, you know, kids are better served when their heroes dress like thugs than when they dress like professional men. And, following Iverson’s logic, the will get distressed that they can’t afford a nice suit themselves (though it certainly doesn’t distress them that they can’t afford diamond studded necklaces).
I’m considering trying some of these same arguments on my boss. How can I be required to wear a tie or tuck my shirt in? That violates my rights! And what does it say to my son that I can’t wear a hat and have to leave my substantial bling at home when I go to work? Workers of the world should unite against such an obvious imposition of the Man!
In fact, its time for Allen Iverson to grow up and act like a man. Being a man has nothing to do with getting to dress like you want and thumping your chest while you play a game. That may be macho but it isn’t manly. Being a man means acting like an adult and being responsible, maybe realizing the enormity of the gift it is to make zillions of dollars playing a game, and the weight of setting a good example for the thousands of kids who can only dream about such a life.
Now that we have a baby and can’t really get to the movies, there are finally a couple of movies we want to watch! Keri really wants to see Elizabethtown, and I must confess to my own desire to see the latest Cameron Crowe film, filmed throughout Kentucky (including Louisville) and set in the town of that name. I also really want to watch the Wallace and Gromit movie, “Curse of the Were Rabbit.” I don’t think W and G are well known here (it is an animated British series I’ve only seen on video) but I like them a lot.
Actually I had a couple of tickets to a free screening of Elizabethtown through Grace Hill Media, so that I could review it here on my blog. I regularly get these invitations and have only been able to take advantage of one (Cinderella Man). In fact I have another one in my inbox for a movie called “Dreamer.” Grace Hill media is a firm that basically helps studios market films to faith-based audiences – something studios became pretty interested in after the massive revenue generated by Mel Gibson’s Passion last year. Grace Hill had the innovative idea of tapping into the blogosphere by allowing bloggers like me to attend advance screenings of movies with the promise to review them (which I did for Cinderella Man – click on it above to read.) The idea is that such blogs will help generate a buzz (esp among “faith based people”) for films that they believe are of high quality and reflect moral standards and ideals that might resonate with such people.
Now sometimes these things can get a little overboard. When the movie “Constantine” came out I received a copy of a Constantine-inspired Bible study series and related material (I don’t remember the details). I also currently have a “musical Bible study guide” based on Elizabethtown. I suppose that movies can be good starting points for talking about the Gospel when they have spiritual themes or reflect a biblical worldview – a good seeker film study can be a nice evangelistic tool. But I really feel funny about the idea of a musical Bible study (not sure why its musical…) based on a movie like this. Are we basing our approach to Scripture on these movies, reading the Bible through the matrix of popular films? That seems like a pretty dicey proposition and a bad precedent to me. What do you think?
In general, though, I know that the films that Grace Hill markets should, at the very least, be free of the kind of sexual content and crude langage that pervade so many other movies, which is really good to know. And I have no problem with a studio that wants to let people who are concerned with such things know that they might like a particular film. So I’m happy to participate. Besides, let’s be honest, I LOVE getting free passes to write a review – at least in a couple months when Asa is more settled. I sure hope they market the first Narnia movie!
I imagine that I will update this post as I have other thoughts. Not a lot of organization in this one, just random thoughts that strike me as I sit transfixed by CNN (as I have the whole week). The pictures certainly are amazing and appaling all at once. It’s surreal.
* Think about the extent of the damge. When we were in Gulf Shores, AL, five months after Hurricane Ivan, there were still buildings in ruins, roofs out, etc. from there to Pensacola. (See the photo blog for pics – look in archives from January or February). There was a labor shortage. There was so much work left to be done. And Ivan, bad as it was, pales in comparison to the damage wrought by Katrina. They did not have flooding like this. How much longer will it take for New Orleans? I think you can honestly question if New Orleans will ever recover.
* Who built New Orleans below sea level between levees and the like anyway? Why put it there? Again, you really have to wonder about the long term viability of the city.
* Chaos and anarchy apparently reigns in New Orleans – the rule of law has degenerated completely. Reports of armed bands of young men marauding around town, massive looting, rape, murder, all kinds of other horrors trickle in. Doctors trying to evacuate patients from Charity Hospital had to stop because they were shot at. What kind of people do something like that? The depravity of man is on full display.
From the lead paragraph of an AP story: “New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday as corpses lay abandoned in street medians, fights and fires broke out, cops turned in their badges and the governor declared war on looters who have made the city a menacing landscape of disorder and fear.” Authorities are sending in the troops to literally do battle in the streets of New Orleans.
* It is 100 degrees and muggy, no food or water, the stench of human waste is all around, corpses too. Babies and elderly people are dying in the midst of the throng. Desperate tourists wonder if they’ll be killed by locals, disease, or dehydration.
* I understand that the people at FEMA are overwhelmed, given the widespread nature and extent of this disaster. But you do have to wonder if they were underprepared. And why did it take so long for everyone to figure out that it would be necessary to call in the National Guard and the Army?
* Here at Southern Seminary, a collection is underway to be largely devoted to students and staff of New Orleans Baptist Seminary. They are considering holding the fall semester at their Atlanta extension. You have to wonder if they will ever reopen their New Orleans campus. You don’t think of schools like that (or Tulane) immediately, but the campuses, facilities, libraries, etc. are just destroyed.
* The politicization of Katrina is beginning now. For some people, everything in the world must be filtered through the political grid. Liberals will criticize Bush for the poor response, but not the preparedness of the democratic governor or mayor. Conservatives will put too much blind faith in Bush and will refuse to criticize the lackluster response. All while the world wonders what’s up.
* The inefficiency of government to meet the demands of this response ought not be overly surprising. Government is nothing if not inefficient. It takes forever for the government to even build a road. It ought not surprise us that they are not efficient in responding to a catastrophe of this measure.
It is not by chance and happenstance that real relief is being delivered to the region by private groups like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other faith based groups.
* How long until the first lawsuit is filed?
* Race is the elephant in the room. The race card will certainly get played (I’m sure it has been already.) I saw that Jesse Jackson stopped by…
* Starting to think long-term – what are cities like Houston and San Antonio going to do with all the refugees? When will these people be allowed to leave and try to build new life somewhere? I will make many people screaming mad at me for saying this…. and please don’t hear callousness…. but I wonder if many people will leave or if they will expect the government to continue providing for their every need indefinitely? Many of these people have become accustomed to dependence on the government in the form of welfare and whatnot before the hurricane. Will they be motivated to stand up and start over on their own? Surely some will…. but I suspect many won’t.