The Young Victoria, a chronicle of Queen Victoria’s early days on the English throne, avoids all the historical-epic pitfalls. It’s a trim, robust film whose period-piece trappings—sumptuous production and costume design—never threaten to overwhelm the human interaction or muddy the dramatic arc.
Hardly a day passes without someone declaring the death of the book. Recently Lisa Miller of Newsweek viewed an electronic edition of the Bible that was replete with linked maps, a commentary and dictionary, and 700 paintings depicting biblical scenes. Astonished, she sputtered, “This is the beginning of the end of the Word.”Theologically, the future of the Word as the Bible remains assured. That is because the God met in Israel and Jesus Christ acts in history, and the church (as well as the synagogue) can give no remotely adequate account of its faith and practice without resort to the memory of a story that's been preserved via the spoken and written word.
Having lived in the town of Jonathan Edwards and his grandfather Solomon Stoddard for some 20 years, I’ve come to feel a kinship to the 17th- and 18th-century Puritan divines—as if they were relatives who somehow got left off my family tree.
Sat by the river for a long time making sure it was still working. There’s a pile of finches in the currants stuffing themselves silly. This one finch slurped so many berries he could hardly get aloft. He sort of lurched off the branch and lumbered into the holy air. It seemed like the other finches were razzing him but maybe not. He fell toward the river like a huge currant covered with feathers. You have to grin at the greedy green thrilled persistence of it all, You know what I mean? Because there are finches in the bushes, Exactly so. What could ever be a more eloquent prayer than that?
Thousand Foot Krutch shows admirable ambition on Welcome to the Masquerade, deftly juggling metal, pop, rap and post-grunge. The trio mostly succeeds in making it all appealing, and the album’s sound is ultimately more inventive than derivative—this is not just another mainstream-aping Christian rock band.
Here’s your Ash Wednesday story. A mother carries her tiny daughter With her as she gets ashed and the Girl, curious and wriggly, squirms Into the path of the priest’s thumb Just as the finger is about to arrive On the mother’s forehead, and the Ashes go right in the kid’s left eye. She starts to cry, and there’s a split Second as the priest and the mother Gawk, and then they both burst out Laughing. The kid is too little to be Offended, and the line moves along, But this stays with me; not the ashy Eye as much as the instant when all Could have been pain and awkward But instead it led to mutual giggling. We are born of dust and star-scatter And unto this we shall return, this is The Law, but meantime, by God, we Can laugh our asses off. What a gift, You know? Let us snicker while we Can, brothers and sisters. Let us use That which makes dark things quail.
Between 1990 and 2010, Iowa lost over 500 churches. The numbers reflect migration from rural to urban areas and the fewer number of people who identify with a faith community. The decline in churches is having a direct effect on the social fabric of the state. According to research at Iowa State University, nine out of ten rural people said they rely less on their neighbors than they once did. Surviving churches have gone back to older patterns to find leadership, engaging itinerant pastors or lay leaders. Some are surviving through cooperation with other denominations or with ethnic Christian groups (Pacific Standard, January 20).