It’s farm bill season again. That’s right: time for our divided government to get together and reauthorize the five-year omnibus bill that affects everyone who grows, sells or eats food—or at least to go through the motions for a while before punting again like last year.
If you haven't read about Ingrid Loyau-Kennett's heroism in London the other day, you should. Immediately after the brutal murder of British miltary drummer Lee Rigby, she hopped off a city bus and talked to the killers while they stood there holding their blood-drenched weapons.
Years ago I was at a friend’s wedding. As the happy couple left the church and we all threw birdseed or blew bubbles or whatever, a family member I didn’t know scolded me for taking a spot with a decent view—apparently I was blocking the videographer’s shot.
I enjoyed Michelle Boorstein's piece of reporting on M. Div. students who aren't headed for parish ministry. She details how some seminarians seek to be ministers of a sort as part of their calling to other vocations; she also touches on the challenges of post-Christendom pastoring and the need for more flexible and affordable paths through seminary.
Somewhere in my queue of non-time-sensitive articles to write—yes, it’s been there a while—is one on the history and practice of making theologically significant changes to traditional American songs. Not just line-level edits like neutering/diversifying gendered language or using “love” in place of “wrath.” I mean re-imagining songs in a thoroughgoing way, while also preserving much of the existing imagery and language patterns. (I posted some time ago about one historical example.)
I write songs and play traditional music, but I haven’t actually tried this approach myself.
I've always been immersed in music, and I never forget a song lyric. So a college friend used to call me "Verse Boy" and would ocassionally challenge me to come up with a hymn or folk song's lesser-known stanzas on command. "National anthem, verse three" he might say, and off I'd go with "And where is that band /Who so vauntingly swore..." (That one's a doozy, by the way. Compared to verse three, verse one might as well be "This Is My Song.")
Many bands have combined minimalist composition with maximalist guitar noise. Yo La Tengo does this best, carrying on without so much as a chord change while guitarist Ira Kaplan screeches and wails away. But the trio also stands out because this is far from its only trick. YLT brings an encyclopedia of influences and a knack for moody, tasteful arranging.
Tim Tebow is an example of how the public face of Christian athletes, like the public face of American Christianity in general, is overwhelmingly white—despite the fact that black Americans are the racial demographic most likely to identify as “very religious.” A recent Barna poll found that Tebow is by far the most well-known Christian professional athlete in the U.S. (with 83% awareness from the public), with retired white quarterback Kurt Warner a distant second at 59%. Robert Grifﬁn III (RGIII), a black quarterback who’s had a far more successful season with the Redskins than Tebow’s had with the Jets, trailed at 34%.
It's a good point, but I don't think it's the whole story.
When I saw the MoJo headline "Why Your Supermarket Only Sells 5 Kinds of Apples," I expected an informative piece about industrial agriculture's disincentive for biodiversity and the various problems this causes. I've read that article before, but for whatever reason I clicked anyway.
On Mermaid Avenue (1998), Billy Bragg and Wilco wrote and recorded music for some of the 3,000 tuneless lyrics Woody Guthrie left behind. The stunning result was so much more than a reverent, Pete-Seeger-and-friends tribute album could ever be: the great Guthrie expanded in our cultural imagination and introduced to a new generation.
I once wrote that the Felice Brothers have one capable lead singer at best: while Ian Felice sings more expressively than his brother James, it’s not a pretty sound. But I was overlooking the Catskills folk-rockers’ third brother, Simone.