I’ve become a loyal viewer of the ABC drama Nashville. The story sort of comes and goes—here it’s a subtly observed relationship drama, there it’s an off-the-rails primetime soap—but it’s perhaps the first TV musical with consistently great music direction, and some of the performers are pretty good, too. So I wait the silly story lines out and keep watching.
Last week’s episode followed young country star Juliette Barnes through the aftermath of her confrontation with a conservative Christian protester.
Last Thursday's David Brooks column is a classic of the genre: moderate in rhetoric, conventionally conservative in substance, a presenting interest in policy behind which lurks a fixation on politics and the grail of bipartisanship.
This week, the Senate very nearly advanced an extension of unemployment benefits, but it couldn't quite get it done. While some congressional Republican favored an extension if it were offset by spending cuts elsewhere, a popular conservative argument holds that people who have longer access to unemployment benefits will take longer to find a job. The well-worn implication: why work for a living when you can get literally hundreds of dollars a month for free?
The Newsroom (Season Two). Dramas get most of the love in this golden age of television, but the comedies deserve notice—and The Newsroom qualifies in that category: it’s a hilarious show trapped inside a lousy drama. Aaron Sorkin’s latest slice of romantic realism in the workplace spent its first season Monday-morning quarterbacking the news media.
While my life and mind have been shaped by both American evangelicalism and political liberalism, I feel little personal connection to either C. S. Lewis or John F. Kennedy. Like a lot of people, I have mixed feelings about both men; perhaps more importantly, I wasn't around yet when they died. In any case, neither anniversary made me catch my breath this week.
Here's what did: Benjamin Britten's 100th birthday.
Now in his seventies, Aaron Neville can still locate the incredibly sweet spot between full voice and falsetto. The R&B legend’s singing remains mellow but quietly forceful—as if he could let loose at any moment but chooses not to.
Malian singer, songwriter, and guitarist Rokia Traoré has long blended West African music with occidental influences. Her fifth album, produced by P. J. Harvey collaborator John Parish, features the strongest rock element yet.
When it comes to weirdly argued crankiness, tsk-tsk-ing about lazy, entitled millennials is a pretty competitive field. But Jennifer Graham's piece last week stands out from the pack:
In colonial times, nine out of 10 people worked on food production, hence John Smith’s famous edict at Jamestown: “He who works not, eats not.” (There was no enabling 99-cent value menu then.) The millennials, alas, are trophy kids, a generation spawned not for their usefulness at harvest but because they look so precious in those matching pajamas from Hanna Andersson.
No need to respond to most of this, because in the millennial retort category—another tough bracket—we already have a winner.
Christopher Michael Jones is pastor of First Baptist Church of Hillside, New Jersey. He’s used the African American Lectionary—which I wrote about for the Century—in worship, though he doesn’t use it every week. Jones has also contributed to the AAL’s resources. I asked him a few questions about his experience.