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1) Hey, Grinches, check this out: “Advent Conspiracy is an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by worshipping Jesus through compassion, not consumption.” You can join this movement as an individual or as a congregation. Wouldn’t that be somethin’?

2) Current consumption: new Sara Groves. It’s not the immediate soul flood the last one was for me, but, dang, she’s good. I’ll try to write more about her some time. I tried once before. I have difficulty committing.

3) When our major grocery store chains had an extended strike a few years ago, a lot of people discovered Trader Joe’s and similar options for shopping, and many never came back. Two thoughts today about the WGA strike: on one hand, the numbers of people who might go online for entertainment could support the writers’ claim to more residual pay. On the other hand, what if people get in the habit of consuming more material not dependent on WGA talent?

4) On the third hand, we know a woman whose husband works “in the industry” who gave me a closer picture of the effect this will have. Her husband is neither a studio exec nor a writer, but they will lose their income and family insurance in a matter of days or weeks. Even if you don’t like TV, this is why it matters. And even if you don’t like TV, once reality television takes over everything, and our cities are burning and society crumbles, then we’ll really be sorry. Or maybe we’ll finally be real Christians.

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Of course, from the perspective of many (and maybe Time), Mother Theresa’s “crisis of faith” puts into great question the legitimacy of her confession of belief. It doesn’t seem to be knocking her out of the running for canonization (at least as far as I know), and that is due to her participation in a tradition full of the desperate prayers of lonely saints, that has deeply internalized the cry of Christ from the cross.

What strikes me about this story is how I am so comfortable with my own dark night of the will, of the body; times when I am confident of God’s presence, but immobile in acting on God’s behalf. Few but the prophets are willing to say that such a state might indicate a crisis of faith.

(I guess I could have just tacked the previous post onto the end of this one – there is something to this like dance music for people who don’t intend to dance.)

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If you haven’t seen it, Larry Flynt’s eulogy of Falwell is one of the most interesting I’ve read. I’m also kind of digging Hermits Rock, whoever those guys are.

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Falwell has passed within a few weeks of Webber, both at 73. Both people whose incipient faith was nurtured by “fundamentalist” communities, both of whom I believe loved the church, as they understood it. But, wow, what a difference in the legacies they leave. I wish the media would take an interest in the one who loved the church wide and deep, across borders, behind marquees, beyond cultural conventions.

So, I’ve been thinking about Jesus and the fiery sons of thunder, the folks who weren’t against him, and the millstone-wearing Pharisees. I’ve been thinking about how the media has no sense of the shades of Christianity (as much as there’s sense to it), of how churches across the street from each other that consider themselves different religions both get labeled “fundamentalist” or “evangelical,” and about how Pandora thinks a good Sara Groves station oughta include a lot of Amy Grant. (There’s no genre called “great songs,” just like there’s no denomination called “the ones who love” – or maybe there is, but it’s probably capitalized and includes a specific direct object.) Despite growing up on the rather conservative end of American Christianity, Falwell had about as much impact on my faith as Shirley Maclaine. But dang if he didn’t massively shape the way people view me, what they expect of my politics, how much they think I care about theirs. (more…)

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I am pleased that headlines are making note of the Catholic Church’s gentle dismissal of the concept of limbo. Although, according to some theorists, this really puts the writers of Lost in a bind.

But losing limbo doesn’t rule out the possibility of intercommunication with the bizarro world, as it appears a cooperative venture between Bono, Disney’s Broadway gem Julie Taymor, and Spider-Man may soon be providing new fodder for conspiracists and end-time predictors.

One of the interesting emphases of the statements in the story about limbo is looking to the way Jesus loved children. Score one for “the word of God should be interpreted by the Word of God.”

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Kurt Vonnegut has passed. I started reading him as the subject of my 11th grade English thesis, and I liked him even more than Douglas Adams. I ended up keeping on liking him. He sort of laughed, not at our pain, but because we could have so much possibility, and be so unnecessarily, particularly cruel. I found that quite clarifying. So, here’s a set of quotes I insincerely gathered from the internets:

“People don’t come to church for preachments, of course, but to daydream about God.”

“Human beings will be happier — not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie — but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again.”

“The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal.” – “Harrison Bergeron”
(more…)

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Keith Richards: “I snorted my father”

Insane Clowns prosper even as album sales wane

and the top viewed story of the day:

Couple fights to name baby ‘Metallica’

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