Tag Archives: celebrities

Ron Paul wins Coolest Endorsement List

The award for Coolest Endorsement List, however, goes to Ron Paul, who after Tuesday’s primaries in three states has only 66 delegates and a snowball’s chance in Haiti of becoming the Republican nominee.

Who cares? Paul’s libertarian message has drawn the support of freakin’ Snoop Dogg (second only to Chuck Norris), Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, rapper Prodigy, Michelle Branch, and Kelly Clarkson.

Read all of It’s hip to be square, again — or Republican, again: GOP candidates get surprising endorsements.

Katy Perry doesn’t like Lady Gaga’s ‘blasphemy’

Katy Perry at the Life Ball 2009, Rathaus, Vienna.

Image via Wikipedia

Paste magazine reporting: Katy Perry Slams Lady Gaga.

Perry says, “Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke.”

John Hughes: An appreciation

John Hughes — writer of great 1980s flicks like “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” — has died at age 59.

For those of us who were in high school during the 1980s, films by John Hughes identified us, reflected us, and winked at us.

Hughes knew the tension between the popular, wealthy, suburban high school kids and the lower-middle-class students. Hughes was always funny, but he was also conscious of the real human beings who lived at various places along the socio-economic spectrum.

Think of “Pretty in Pink,” in which the wealthy high school student played by Andrew McCarthy has his eye on a girl from the poorer side of the tracks (played by Molly Ringwald). The growing love between the two is ridiculed by James Spader’s character, who insults his upper-crust buddy (McCarthy’s character) for a love that is stronger than socio-economic standing.

Despite being born in 1950, Hughes had not forgotten how high school students thought and felt. Everyone in the class of 1980-something remembers Ferris Bueller’s wisdom when he was planning to play sick and cut classes for a day, wisdom he addressed directly to the viewing audience: “The key to fooling the parents is the clammy hands.”

Run up the thermometer on the light bulb, then lick the hands. That’s it, kid, you’re too sick for school today.

Here are some of my favorite John Hughes movie moments (comment below and add yours):

From “She’s Having a Baby” —

Kevin Bacon: “…but what is college? It’s like high school with ash trays.”

From “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” —

Scene: Steve Martin and John Candy have to share a hotel room, and bed. They wake up the next morning.

Steve Martin: Where are your hands?

John Candy: Between two pillows.

Steve Martin: Those aren’t pillows!

There are many more to choose from: “Home Alone,” “Uncle Buck,” “Sixteen Candles,” “Vacation,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “Weird Science,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Career Opportunities” (this last being an early Jennifer Connelly film) …

What were your favorites? What are your favorite scenes? Favorite characters?

Calvinism as a galvanizing experience

This new New York Times Magazine article about Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll spurred plenty of thoughts, but there’s one passage I want to consider.

Calvinism is a theology predicated on paradox: God has predestined every human being’s actions, yet we are still to blame for our sins; we are totally depraved, yet held to the impossible standard of divine law…. Driscoll found his way into this tradition largely on his own. He recently earned a master’s degree through an independent-study program he arranged at a seminary in Portland, Ore. Years ago, paperback reprints of old Puritan treatises in the corner of a local bookstore piqued his interest in Reformation theology. He came to admire Martin Luther, the vulgar, beer-swilling theological rebel who sparked the Reformation. “I found him to be something of a mentor,” Driscoll says. “I didn’t have all the baggage he did. But you can see him with a quill in one hand and a drink in the other. He married a brewer and renegade nun. His story is kind of indie rock.”

I think what makes Calvinism so intriguing and compelling is its galvanizing, integrated worldview.

When people are young, their first galvanizing experience tends to be their only galvanizing experience. Let’s say you grow up marginally Christian with small-town values and a few vaguely-defined questions and frustrations about life, parents, church, and your hometown.

You go away to college and you have a galvanizing experience with existentialism (even though that’s a broad movement) through a great professor and/or literature and/or philosophy and/or art. It’s like a thunderclap or a revelation: suddenly existentialism makes sense to you and addresses those vaguely-defined questions and frustrations. It explains things in a way that makes sense to you where you are.

One way or the other, you follow the existentialist thread throughout your college career because it provides an integrated point of view, an organizing principle for all the random data and experience of life. Your decision-making and values, for at least the first few years out of college if not the rest of your life, are influenced directly or indirectly by existentialism (if not by reading Nietzsche, then maybe by watching David O. Russell or David Cronenberg movies).

The refreshing and enlightening experience of such a galvanization is probably fuel enough to keep you going for years — meaning, you’re probably not going to think, “OK, so, I had best be intellectually thorough with this new philosophical orientation; I’ll go back and read Plato, Aristotle, Stoics, Neoplatonists, Confucians and Neo-Confucians, Thomists and Neo-Thomists, Kant, Wittgenstein…” No, you probably won’t be that intellectually thorough. You won’t need to do that much homework, because that galvanizing experience of existentialism was just what you (thought you) needed at that time, and it reoriented your way of thinking and reorganized the world around you, and now you cannot imagine needing anything more.

It’s probably the same with how some people experience Calvin, or Aquinas, or C.S. Lewis, or innumerable others. When something feeds you, you feast on it. Why stop feasting on something that tastes so good and run around to all the other options on the buffet? You’re not trying to fulfill some academic standard of intellectual thoroughness. You’re trying to live a life. Read what feeds.

This, to me, is a fascinating psychological aspect of us as human beings. The actual content of whatever produced the galvanizing experience could include a high degree of truth, or a mix of truth and falsehoods in varying degrees, or no truth at all. But many of us have those moments when a new system or a point of view strikes the hot iron of who we are at a certain moment. The change can be lifelong — and, in the case of Mark Driscoll, influential.

-Colin Foote Burch

Why Trinity Broadcasting Network won’t go away

Mark I. Pinsky, author and religion writer for The Orlando Sentinel, writing in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin:

“Faith and forbearance can sometimes be insurmountable barriers for religion journalists. When it comes to some true believers, I have learned, nothing you write that questions their idols seems to make any difference.

“I have been covering Trinity Broadcasting Network and its flamboyant founders, Paul and Jan Crouch, for nearly two decades. During that time, I have chronicled and investigated the inexorable rise of the world’s largest Christian media empire for newspapers on both coasts, in The Los Angeles Times and The Orlando Sentinel, as well as in chapters in several books.

“My detailed exposés in the Times have included the Crouches’ heavy-handed, corner-cutting, and even cutthroat dealings with fellow Christians, as well as disputes between Trinity and the Federal Communications Commission and evangelical trade groups like the National Religious Broadcasters. In part because of my reporting, Trinity withdrew from the NRB, and was stripped of its Miami television affiliate because of what the FCC charged was misrepresentation of minority ownership.

“I revealed dubious Trinity practices, like ordaining affiliate station managers (often Crouch relatives) in order for them to qualify for parsonage allowance tax breaks. Also, Paul Crouch’s practice of cozying up to third world military dictators like Guatemala’s Efraim Rios Montt, and puppets of the apartheid-era South African government, like General Bantu Holomisa of Transkei, in order to build television stations there.”

Pinsky got an interesting quote from Quentin Schultze, an author and faculty member at Calvin College. “Within conservative media ministries, criticism from outsiders often is seen as a badge of honor that validates a ministry’s righteousness,” Schultze said.

Excellent point, and I think that “criticism from outsiders” is seen as a badge of honor among numerous groups, whether their main thrust be religious, ideological, or political.

But Pinsky has much more to say about TBN and the Crouches than what I’ve shared above.

Read the full text of Pinsky’s outstanding article here.

BustedHalo.com interviews Anne Rice about her Catholic faith; video of interview with Anne Rice

Bill McGarvey of BustedHalo.com conducted this interview with Anne Rice.

See more clips from the interview here.

Considering Tiger Woods’ Buddhism

The Times of London posted an interesting article about Tiger Woods at TimesOnline, which included a good quote about the golfer’s religious life:

Woods does not talk much about the fact that he meditates, something he learnt from Kultida, his mother, who is a Buddhist. “In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life,” he said. “It is all about what you do, and you get out of life what you put into it. So you are going to have to work your butt off in every aspect of your life. That is one of the things that people see in what I do on the course.”

Two things are important to me in this quote. First, it expresses the value of meditation in training one’s mind to focus: “you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life.” Second, it expresses a view of salvation and afterlife: “[to] set up the next life.”

I have to admit on the second part, I like the Reformed Christian idea that says you cannot work hard enough to set up the next life, therefore accept grace through faith!

On the first part, however, I wonder if some people will confuse the views of salvation and the afterlife with the discipline of meditation. Or, if some will dislike Woods’ views of salvation and the afterlife so much, they’ll dismiss the discipline of meditation. That would be a bad idea. Some research suggests that meditation strengthens the brain.

An article in the June 2007 edition of Men’s Journal addressed meditation techniques in which a person would relax and focus on a repeated phrase. “When Harvard researcher Sara Lazar recently compared the brains of American meditators to a control group, she found that parts of the cortex responsible for attention were on average 5 percent thicker,” according to the article.

And that’s just a piece of the research that’s available on things related to the mind, the brain, focus, attention, and mental discipline. (The emerging field of neurofeedback directly relates to some of these issues; in some cases, neurofeedback helps participants create a meditative focus.)

“Parents and teachers tell kids 100 times a day to pay attention, said Philippe R. Goldin, a Stanford University researcher, last year in New York Times article about “mindfulness training” in schools. “But we never teach them how.”

Certainly non-Buddhists will want to proceed with caution, but there is some evidence that certain types of meditation and focused attention will be beneficial in ways that have nothing to do with views of salvation and the afterlife.

Meanwhile, I really like the following segment from this post by Pastor Jimmy Fuller of Harbour Lake Baptist Church in Goose Creek, S.C. (complimenting a Baptist — might be a first for this blog!):

Speaking of golf, I watched Tiger woods lose his first golf tournament of this season last weekend. I must say that I was disappointed that he didn’t win. Though Tiger and I would disagree theologically, he, a Buddhist and I, a Christian, I have to say that I admire many things about him. First of all I salute him on the basis of his character. He is a great role model for kids and adults alike when it comes to character. And his character came from a great relationship with his mother and father as he was growing up, particularly his father Earl Woods. Tiger said about his dad, “My dad has always taught me these words: care and share. That’s why we put on clinics. The only thing I can do is try to give back. … it works, it works.” Someone asked tiger about being a role model and he commented, “I think it’s an honor to be a role model to one person or maybe more than that. If you are given a chance to be a role model, I think you should always take it because you can influence a person’s life in a positive light, and that’s what I want to do. That’s what it’s all about.” And when it comes right down to it, all of us are role models to someone—our children, our family, or friends, our neighbors. We should never treat that as though it were a small matter. We influence them either positively or negatively, but influence them we will. And our influence on others will have a definite impact on the lives of those know and love. Remember, “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)I also admire Tiger for his work ethic. He didn’t get to be the number one ranked golfer in the world by being lazy and irresponsible. He worked at it. He spent (and still spends) long, disciplined hours on the practice range honing the skill and talent that God has given him. And why?—Simply to be the best. Tiger was quoted as saying, “That’s why I’ve busted my butt on the range for hours on end and made changes to get to this point where I’m able to compete at the highest level in major championships. That’s where you want to be.” There is no doubt that Tiger desires to be the best. We too should desire to be the best at what ever we do. It honors God, it honors our family, and it honors us individually. I am teaching my grandchildren to say and believe someone is going to be the best—it may as well be me!

I really liked that last line: “someone is going to be the best — it may as well be me!”

-Colin Foote Burch

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