“24” is just a TV show, right?

Apparently not. In addition to the Newsweek article, we also have Laura Ingraham, a very popular conservative talk show host, who comes to this brilliant conclusion on Bill O’reilly’s show on the Fox News channel:

“The average American out there loves the show 24. OK? They love Jack Bauer. They love 24. In my mind that’s close to a national referendum that it’s OK to use tough tactics against high-level Al Qaeda operatives as we’re going to get.”

So to recap: America loves Jack Bauer + Jack Bauer tortures people = America Loves Torture! Maybe my cynicism is warranted after all. Unreal.

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I’ve been tagged: The Perfect Song

Marko has tagged me to come up with a list of perfect songs for five specific genres. Here are the rules as Marko has laid out:

1. scan through your itunes or cd library. refamiliarize yourself with the nooks and crannies of your musical options.

2. identify five categories — genres, if you will — of music. these should be as obscure and finely-articulated as you’d like. feel free to use modifiers liberally.

3. nominate — select, really — a “perfect song” for each category. include a link for each song to something (the amazon page for the CD, or the artist’s website, or whatever). you may find it easier, as i did, to find “perfect songs”, and craft categories or genres around them.

4. ideally, some of the songs will be nominally obscure, or, at least, not completely mainstream and overplayed. no need to tell us all about songs we all know!

My list is a little different in that I’ve attached a specific action or state of mind to my genres. Hopefully this is ok with Marko. Here is my list:

1. The perfect song to listen to while imagining you can fly: “There Goes the Fear” by The Doves from the album The Last Broadcast

2. The perfect song to listen to while you are realizing that your life is full of apathy and that you were meant for more: “Aperture” by Gustavo Santaolalla from the Motor Cycle Diaries Soundtrack

3. The perfect song to listen to while lying in bed with your significant other, on top of the covers with your clothes on: “At My Most Beautiful” by R.E.M. from the album Up.

4. The perfect song to listen to while you are driving through the neighborhood where you grew up: “Skull” by Sebadoah from the album Bakesale.

5. The perfect song to listen to while playing your stereo (or headphones) at a deafening volume: “Growing Up” by Peter Gabriel from his album Up. There is no better sounding song in my iTunes library. Amazing.

So I guess I have to tag others? I think that’s how this works. If so, let’s hear from John Chandler and Tim Samoff.

The X,Y,Zs-Mars Hill Bible Gets Busy

I just finished listening to the February 17th episode of the Mars Hill Bible Church podcast (Grand Rapids, MI). It was less of a teaching than it was the unveiling of the future of it’s congregation. Rob Bell, Denise Van Eck, and Don Golden all contributed to casting a vision for how their community will reach out to the world around them, both locally and globally. Don Golden asked this question: “When we no longer serve the poor, are we still a Church?”. It’s a profound question and it’s led Mars Hill to action. One mission they have set out for themselves is to make sure that all children of Grand Rapids will have both food and shelter. They have also committed to provide enough metal sheeting for 4,000 homes in Burundi, an area in west Africa that they have partnered with in order to elevate the living conditions there. They are also leading their community to learn about Micro-Finance and will be contributing to that global effort in order to give those who are the poorest of the poor the opportunity help themselves.

Even though I am not a part of their community in west Michigan, I was very exciting to hear how the leadership of Mars Hill is directing it’s community to really change the world around them for the better. I highly recommend you check out the podcast and learn more about what they’re doing.

There is clearly a new sort of conversation happening among post-evangelical Christians about how to proceed with the concept of practicing their faith in a community. It seems that there is an awful lot of sorting out that has and continues to take place. While talking about what’s next is important, it’s nice to see that one of the most influential churches in this conversation is starting to put form to their ideas. In the roughly 7 year history of Mars Hill, it’s wrestled with new ways to think about and practice Christianity and it’s had a massive impact on many people who are thirsty for a new vision for what it means to be a follower of Jesus in a post-modern, post-evangelical culture. Up till now, Mars Hill has been like a mysterious new species of some kind of exotic animal that those of us from afar have followed from safe distance. Now it’s come a bit closer………and it’s showing its teeth!

I thank God for communities like Mars Hill that inspire me and, more importantly, lure me away from my apathy and into the Kingdom of God.

Religious Right Can’t Find Their Man.

Check out this very interesting NYT article that peers into a secretive meeting that the Religious Right held in order to complain about how they can’t find a decent conservative christian candidate for 08 presidential race. You would think that Senator Brownback would be their man, but apparently they don’t think he can raise enough money to win. It’s a sad realization of how the louder voices in Christianity believe that changing the world for the better means that they have to meet at a Four Seasons Resort and scheme their way into political power.

Is “24” Shaping U.S. Foreign Policy?

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My first inclination when discussing Fox’s hit show “24” is to say that it’s a terrible show. That may put me at odds with the vast majority of American’s who love to watch the most unrealistic, least intelligent show on all of television, but that’s ok. The problem here is is that I still watch the show. Actually, I sort of half-watch it while surfing the web or playing with the puppy. One reason I watch is because I think my wife might have a secret crush on Jack Bauer and so I get through it in order to be a good husband. Second, I think the real reason I need to watch the show is because I’m addicted to the irritation it gives me. It’s hard to explain. It’s not that it’s SO bad that it’s good. It’s worse than that. But for some reason, I am still compelled to watch it. My suspicion is that the majority of the “24” audience actually believe that it is a show rooted in reality and that it should somehow help us shape the ways we think of our foreign policy and treatment of our enemies. While I watch the show, I can see clearly why the majority of people in this country aren’t outraged at the Bush Administration’s use of torture and their consistent oversimplification of the evil that’s somehow only found in our enemies and not in ourselves. As far as they know from watching the show, torture is perfectly acceptable and it works every time and most everyone of Middle Eastern descent should be suspect to, at the very least, a watchful eye…..if they are lucky.

I stumbled upon this story at the Carpetbagger Report that documents how this show is being used by several different voices on the right to hopefully influence public opinion and foreign policy. My suspicion might be a bit cynical, but this story seems to partly confirm my concern.

Does anyone else here think that “24” is bad for America? If you don’t, I’ll tie you down to a chair and shoot you in the leg and THEN we’ll see what you think! 🙂

A Failure of Biblical Literalism

Exodus 1: 15-20

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.

Revelation 21:6-8

6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

I was reading Exodus the other day and was struck by the account of the Hebrew midwives and their interaction with the Pharaoh. He gives them instructions, they disobey his instructions, he asks them why they’ve disobeyed, and they lie to him in order to avoid a punishment. Yes, they were doing a noble thing by subverting the Pharaoh’s instructions to kill all male newborns, but they also lied to the Pharaoh. What’s fascinating is God’s reaction to the midwives. He was pleased by the conduct of the midwives and rewarded them despite their dishonesty.

Then we fast-forward to Revelation and we read about the fate of “liars” and other evil doers. Their punishment for their failure to be honest will be their placement in the “fiery lake”.

So if I am supposed to read these scriptures literally, then what are we to believe in regards to the fate of both Shiphrah and Puah?