Our president embodies [America's] uncentered spiritual landscape in three ways. First, like a growing share of Americans (44 percent), President Obama changed his religion as an adult, joining Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in his 20s after a conversion experience brought him out of agnosticism into faith. Second, he was converted by a pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose highly politicized theology was self-consciously at odds with much of historic Christian practice and belief. Finally, since breaking with that pastor, Obama has become a believer without a denomination or a church, which makes him part of one of the country’s fastest-growing religious groups — what the Barna Group calls the “unchurched Christian” bloc, consisting of Americans who accept some tenets of Christian faith without participating in any specific religious community.
Here's an impressive and heartwarming little stunt, pulled off by filmmaker Nirvan Mullick with a big assist from the internets. But the coolest part is the creativity of the nine-year-old whose day Mullick was determined to make.
Like a lot of people, I've been paying less attention this year to the federal budget debates. With a divided government and a presidential election looming, the balance is tilted even more than usual toward budgeting-as-mere-political-posture. Why bother?
The Century's sort-by-lectionary-day tool
exists primarily as a way of organizing past Living by the Word columns
and Blogging toward Sunday posts in a useful way. But we also put other
content there--anything from the magazine or blogs that happens to deal
with a given lection in a way that could plausibly be useful to a
preacher or worship planner.
So, while our lectionary columnists
and bloggers mostly focus on Sundays, the lectionary pages have also
collected a good bit of content related to the additional holy days of
the (weekly) lectionary.
Yesterday was a long day. I'm now working not one but two part-time church-music jobs; I'm with the Lutherans by morning and the Methodists by night. Both congregations observe Palm/Passion Sunday, complete with numerous changes to the order of service, additional musical ensembles to plan and rehearse, etc.
If you want to filter your/your child's movie viewing through some fairly granular rules about sex, nudity and profanity, the Motion Picture Assocation of America's rating system is your friend. If, like me, you have a weak stomach for depictions of violence--glorified or not, realistic or not--you kind of have to do your own research.
So, who's playing politics with reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act? Sen. Schumer and the Democrats, or Sen. Grassley and the Republicans?
probably both. Yes, Democracts would love to bolster the narrative that
Republicans don't care about women, even though Grassley et al. object
to new provisions added to the VAWA, not the existing law. And yes, by
threatening the whole bill based on objections to small parts of it,
some Senate Republicans (not all of them) reveal that while they may in
general favor services for domestic violence victims, it's not exactly a
top priority to them.
Of course both Senators Chuck are playing politics. That's their game, especially in leap years.
Bob Dylan released his first album 50 years ago this week. That
self-titled debut is not the Dylan record anyone listens to most--it
includes only two original tunes--and as Andy Greene details, it was not a smashing success. But it opened the door for Dylan to come back just months later and record The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, which propelled Dylan's staggering career.
As I've said before, the objectivity-fetishizing conventions of straight
news reporting make me crazy. It's not just the odd philosophical
throwback of implying that reporters can somehow avoid writing as
particular people situated in particular contexts. It's also the
convoluted copy, in which even plain facts can't be stated plainly if
they happen to be unpopular.
So I was glad when NPR released its new ethics handbook,
in which among other things the network states that it favors "truth"
over "the appearance of balance" and adds that "if the balance of
evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we
acknowledge it in our reports."
I certainly don't hear from as many PR people as David Roberts does, but
when I do hear from them it tends to annoy me for most of the same
reasons it annoys him: no hyperlinks, buried ledes, missing background
info, generally little evidence that the sender knows what I do or cares
if I consider his or her pitch. I particularly enjoyed item #6 on his
list of tips.
Two similar pieces are getting a lot of play this week: James Whittaker’s blog post about why he left Google and Greg Smith’s op-ed about why he left Goldman Sachs. Both
talk of their high level of company loyalty and enthusiasm in the past.
Both bemoan the changes in their respective corporate cultures that led
them to leave. Neither seems all that hopeful about his company’s
What neither of them does, however, is demonstrate that
the problem is that Google/Goldman Sachs used to care about more than
just making money but doesn’t anymore.
I've heard the Century referred to as moderate, center-left, progressive, left-wing--all from some who meant these labels as compliments and others who very much did not. Here's one I have not heard before: the Century is a conservative magazine.
My wife and I have been joking with our neighbors lately about TV ads that a
Super PAC supporting their cat, Kobie, might run against our cat, Owl.
Now Scott Simon's reporting on an ad someone actually made.
Christopher Shea highlights a new study that analyzes the effect of U.S. grain and soy subsidies on the American diet. The study's abstract leads with its contrarian, we're-taking-on-Michael-Pollan angle:
Many commentators have speculated that agricultural policies have
contributed to increased obesity rates in the United States, yet such
claims are often made without any analysis of the complex links between
real-world farm commodity support programs, prices and consumption of
foods, and caloric intake.