Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's Summertime, And The Living Is Easy...

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and as I did last year, I'd like to post a song that makes me think of the sizzling months before us. In '09, I chose The Fresh Prince & DJ Jazzy Jeff classic, "Summertime". This time, I'm picking "Summertime", sung snazzily by American Idol season 3 winner Fantasia. Enjoy!


Music Malaise: Christina's Back & Dirtier Than Ever...



...unfortunately for the pop singer, not enough people care. From The Huffington Post:

"Christina Aguilera has canceled her 20-date summer tour, which was scheduled to begin in July.

Live Nation, the tour's promoter, released the following statement:

"Christina Aguilera's summer tour has been moved to 2011 due to prior commitments that the singer had made to her film, 'Burlesque,' and to the promotion of her new album, 'Bionic.' The singer felt she needed more time to rehearse the show and with less than a month between the album release and tour dates this wasn't possible."

Could poor ticket sales be the real reason?

"Not Myself Tonight," the first single off Christina's new album, charted at a disappointing 23. The video for the song (scroll down to watch) was widely panned and regarded as an oversexed Gaga ripoff.

Christina's new album will be released June 8 but has already been leaked in full. 'Bionic' is her first album since she took time off to have her son, and she has been working on it since 2008.

'Burlesque,' a musical costarring Cher, is due out in November. The singer recently posed nude for German GQ.

Just last week Christina told Popeater she planned to wow her fans on her upcoming tour.

"My plan, as I have done in the past, is not to disappoint and to put on a show that my fans will love," she said. "Fans will have to come see the show to find out what we have in store."


As I should've done with Rhianna's new video, here is a warning. This video is not for children. It actually manages to make X-tina's 2002 "Dirrty" look like it's just a little soiled. And that's a major feat. Of ickiness.






While many people are saying Aguilera ripped GaGa, I don't totally agree. While it does remind me of the "Telephone" singer, it's much more obviously influenced by Madonna. At any rate. it's still below Aguilera's talent level. Back in the late 90's when people were being charmed by Britney's school girl act, I prefered Christina's sky high vocal range and easy soulfulness. Britney had to strip down to her skivies; Christina could've stayed in that bottle and still would've shattered it and her blonde counterparts. I first took note of Christina's pretty voice at 16 when I heard Disney's Mulan soundtrack. She wonderfully sang "Reflection". On her first solo album, she took a standard pop song, "What A Girl Wants", and injected some Mariah Carey-esque talent in.

Although blogger Perez Hilton is writing her off, I'm not writing her off so quickly. When "Dirrty" was first released, it didn't make a huge splash either. Then "Beautiful" came out, and we were reminded why she is a star. She CAN sing. And just like, the fickle world of pop pushed her back on top again. And of course, when she went "Back to Basics" she remained there. My favorite Aguilera song, by the way, is the non-single R&B "Loving Me 4 Me":



If I were her manager, I'd just flush "Not Myself Tonight" down the potty, and move on to where her fans (me included) like her, singing her heart out, like she did on last night's "American Idol", where she put the kiddies to shame:


Two Year Old Smokes Two Packs of Cigarettes A Day

I'm not having such a good morning after watching this disturbing video of a two year old Sumatran boy puffing away at a cigarette for the cameras, while his family sits calmly in the background. My brother Joe showed this sickening video to me... His parents when questioned about the wisdom of giving a toddler cancer sticks responded by he throws temper tantrums when they are taken away and he looks healthy. Dear Lord. Proof that horrible parenting is a global epidemic.





UPDATE: YouTube has removed the baby video. You can go and try to see it (if you actually want to) by clicking on this link.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Minority Report: A Puerto Rican Man Faced Deportation to Mexico & Interracial Marriage in America



From The Root:


"Immigration authorities wanted to send Eduardo Caraballo back where he belongs. Unfortunately, they were completely wrong about his origins and, in fact, violated his rights as a citizen of the United States of America."



Yikes, this is most definitely an Immigration Fail. It's also frightening. Meanwhile, the rates of interracial marriage have continued to rise in the U.S., but at a slower rate. From MSNBC:


"Melting pot or racial divide? The growth of interracial marriages is slowing among U.S.-born Hispanics and Asians. Still, blacks are substantially more likely than before to marry whites.

The number of interracial marriages in the U.S. has risen 20 percent since 2000 to about 4.5 million, according to the latest census figures. While still growing, that number is a marked drop-off from the 65 percent increase between 1990 and 2000.

About 8 percent of U.S. marriages are mixed-race, up from 7 percent in 2000.

The latest trend belies notions of the U.S. as a post-racial, assimilated society. Demographers cite a steady flow of recent immigration that has given Hispanics and Asians more ethnically similar partners to choose from while creating some social distance from whites due to cultural and language differences.

White wariness toward a rapidly growing U.S. minority population also may be contributing to racial divisions, experts said.

"Racial boundaries are not going to disappear anytime soon," said Daniel Lichter, a professor of sociology and public policy at Cornell University. He noted the increase in anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as well as current tensions in Arizona over its new immigration law.

"With a white backlash toward immigrant groups, some immigrants are more likely to turn inward to each other for support," Lichter said.

Broken down by race, about 40 percent of U.S.-born Asians now marry whites — a figure unchanged since 1980. Their likelihood of marrying foreign-born Asians, meanwhile, multiplied 3 times for men and 5 times for women, to roughly 20 percent.

Among U.S.-born Hispanics, marriages with whites increased modestly from roughly 30 percent to 38 percent over the past three decades. But when it came to marriages with foreign-born Hispanics, the share doubled — to 12.5 percent for men, and 17.1 percent for women.

In contrast, blacks are now three times as likely to marry whites than in 1980. About 14.4 percent of black men and 6.5 percent of black women are currently in such mixed marriages, due to higher educational attainment, a more racially integrated military and a rising black middle class that provides more interaction with other races."

In light of that first story, I can see why the number of Latinos marrying outside their group might be dropping. I'm just saying...

Anyway, it would be interesting to know how many Asians marry Latinos, or Latinos marry Blacks, or Blacks marry Asians. The way I see it as the child of mixed ancestry, it's all good. If given enough time, the world will be beige or tan anyway.

Music Malaise: Ri Ri's Revealing "Rock Star"

Um, yeah, I'd definitely say Bondage is not a look I'll ever be into...


Continuing on her theme of violence, darkness and sex, "Little Miss Sunshine" has put out another disturbing video, "Rockstar 101," this time teaming up with guitarist Slash.




Rihanna is pretty much naked, save for some well placed chains. But what is going on with this girl? Why the continual descent into darkness? She acted out her death in multiple ways in "Russian Roulette"; took it to the battlefield, flashing her behind while going "Hard"; and combined dance hall with wild animal imagery to snarl her way through the overtly sexual "Rude Boy".

One of FAR's most dedicated readers, Don, who has his own blog, Minus The Bars, warned me that I'd find "Rockstar 101" cringe-worthy, and he was right. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but one doesn't have to read between the lines to see the Bajan singer is jauntily winding her way down a disturbingly sinister path. I for one will not be following this Siren's call to gloom.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Counting Book Fail



Thanks to Angel for posting this... LOL! Teaching kids that numbers are relative!

Religion Rundown: Week of May 21st


Islam

From MSNBC:

"ISLAMABAD - Pakistan blocked YouTube and many other Internet sites Thursday in a widening crackdown on online content deemed offensive to Islam, reflecting the secular government's sensitivities to an issue that has ignited protests in the Muslim country.

The move came a day after the government obeyed a court order to block Facebook over a page called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" that encourages users to post images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Most Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favorable ones, as blasphemous.

Supporters of an Islamist political party protested against Facebook in at least three cities in small and peaceful rallies. The government, which is unpopular among many Islamists for siding with the United States in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaida, is hoping that the website bans will lessen anger in the days ahead.

"We are ready to die protecting the honor of our beloved Prophet Muhammad," said Aysha Hameed, one of 1,000 female protesters in Multan city.

Some protest blocking Others — mostly members of the more secular, educated elite — accused the government of blocking freedom of expression and hurting small businesses that use Facebook for marketing. Many questioned need for the entire Facebook and YouTube sites to be blocked, instead of individual pages on them.

About 20 million of Pakistan's 180 million people are Internet users and social networking sites are among the most popular, especially among those younger than 25. Pakistan's Internet service providers' association said usage had dropped by about 25 percent since Wednesday.

The offending Facebook page encourages users to post images of the prophet on May 20 to protest threats made by a radical Muslim group against the creators of the American TV series "South Park" for depicting Muhammad in a bear suit during an episode earlier this year.

"Such malicious and insulting attacks hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world and cannot be accepted under the garb of freedom of expression," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said."

To read the rest of the article, click here.


From The UK Telegraph:

The astonishing scene unfolded during a weekend shopping trip after the woman lawyer took offence at the attire of a fellow shopper resulting in argument during which the pair came to blows before being arrested.

It came as racial tensions grow in the country as it prepares to introduce a total ban on burkas and other forms of religious dress which cover the face.

A 26-year-old Muslim convert was walking through the store in Trignac, near Nantes, in the western Loire-Atlantique region, when she overhead the woman lawyer making "snide remarks about her black burka". A police officer close to the case said: "The lawyer said she was not happy seeing a fellow shopper wearing a veil and wanted the ban introduced as soon as possible."

At one point the lawyer, who was out with her daughter, is said to have likened the Muslim woman to Belphegor, a horror demon character well known to French TV viewers. Belphegor is said to haunt the Louvre museum in Paris and frequently covers up his hideous features using a mask.

An argument started before the older woman is said to have ripped the other woman's veil off. As they came to blows, the lawyer's daughter joined in.

"The shop manager and the husband of the Muslim woman moved to break up the fighting," the officer said. All three were arrested and taken to the local gendarmerie for questioning.

A spokesman for Trignac police said that two complaints had been received, with the Muslim woman accusing the lawyer of racial and religious assault. The latter, in turn, had accused her opponent of common assault.

The French parliament has adopted a formal motion declaring burkas and other forms of Islamic dress to be "an affront to the nation's values." Some have accused criminals, from terrorists to shoplifters, of wearing veils to disguise themselves.

A ban, which could be introduced as early as the autumn, would make France the second country after Belgium to outlaw the Islamic veil in public places.

But many have criticised the anti-burka lobby, which includes the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, for stigmatising Muslim housewives.

Many French woman from council estates are forced to wear the veils because of pressure from authoritarian husbands.

The promise of a ban has prompted warnings of racial tensions in a country which is home to some five million Muslims – one of the religion's largest communities in Europe.

Mr Sarkozy's cabinet is to examine a draft bill which will impose one-year prison sentences and fines of up to £14,000 on men who force their wives to wear a burka.

Women themselves will face a smaller fine of just over £100 because they are "often victims with no choice in the matter", says the draft.

The law would create a new offence of "incitement to cover the face for reasons of gender".

And it would state: "No one may wear in public places clothes that are aimed at hiding the face."

____________________________________________________________________


Christianity


From MSNBC:

NEW YORK - The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, said in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that he is "toxic" to the Obama administration and that the president "threw me under the bus."

In his strongest language to date about the administration's 2-year-old rift with the Chicago pastor, Wright told a group raising money for African relief that his pleas to release frozen funds for use in earthquake-ravaged Haiti would likely be ignored.

"No one in the Obama administration will respond to me, listen to me, talk to me or read anything that I write to them. I am 'toxic' in terms of the Obama administration," Wright wrote the president of Africa 6000 International earlier this year.

"I am 'radioactive,' Sir. When Obama threw me under the bus, he threw me under the bus literally!" he wrote. "Any advice that I offer is going to be taken as something to be avoided. Please understand that!"

The White House didn't respond to requests for comment Monday about Wright's remarks. Several phone messages left by the AP for Wright at the Trinity United Church of Christ, where he is listed as a pastor emeritus, were not returned. Wright's spokeswoman, his daughter Jeri Wright, did not immediately comment on the substance of the letter.

Then-Sen. Obama cut ties with Wright when his more incendiary remarks became an Internet sensation in the spring of 2008. At a National Press Club appearance in April 2008, he claimed the U.S. government could plant AIDS in the black community, praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and suggested Obama was putting his pastor at arm's length for political purposes while privately agreeing with him."

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Child Rape Victim Grows Up To Help Catch Her Attacker

I saw Jennifer Schuett's story this morning on "Today" and was so inspired by it. We're the same age, and watching her story nearly brought me to tears. She is a true survivor!




Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Not What Pythogoras Had In Mind...

Wow. You would think at some point, this teacher, maybe while putting together his lesson plan, would have stopped and thought, "Maybe this is not the best idea...". Unfortunately, if that thought crossed his mind, it didn't prevent him from teaching Geometry using President Obama's assassination. From Al.com:

"A Jefferson County teacher picked the wrong example when he used as­sassinating President Bar­ack Obama as a way to teach angles to his geome­try students.


Someone alerted autho­rities and the Corner High School math teacher was questioned by the Secret Service, but was not taken into custody or charged with any crime.



"We did not find a credible threat," said Roy Sex­ton, special agent in charge of Birmingham's Secret Service office. "As far as the Secret Service is concerned, we looked into it, we talked to the gentleman and we have closed our investigation."

Sexton said he generally doesn't discuss threat cases, but confirmed his of­fice investigated the inci­dent. No federal charges followed the probe.



The teacher was appar­ently teaching his geometry students about parallel lines and angles, officials said. He used the example of where to stand and aim if shooting Obama.



"He was talking about angles and said, 'If you're in this building, you would need to take this angle to shoot the president,' " said Joseph Brown, a senior in the geometry class.



Efforts to reach the teacher for comment Mon­day were unsuccessful.

 Superintendent Phil Hammonds said the teacher remains at work, and there are no plans for termination.



"We are going to have a long conversation with him about what's appropriate," Hammonds said. "It was extremely poor judgment on his part, and a poor choice of words."



Caroline Polk, the parent of a ninth-grader at the school, said she doesn't be­lieve the teacher ought to be fired.



"We all make mistakes, and we should be able to learn from our mistakes," she said. "What he said was just wrong and inappropri­ate. Everyone's got their own opinions, but we have to be aware of our sur­roundings. At this point, it just needs to be handled in a way that it won't be re­peated."

Uh, yeah. Okay, Ms. Polk, that's a "fail" to you for dismissing it as someone's opinion and cautioning the teacher to be "aware" of his surroundings. So it would be okay, in say, a Physics class? Maybe they could calculate the speed of the bullet and distance from the target to calculate how long it would take for a would-be assassin to shoot the Prez... *rollseyes*

And they say we New Jerseyans are bad. At least we just stuck to theorems I forgot a few weeks after 10th grade wrapped.

Monday, May 17, 2010

White, Black & In-Between


CNN's Anderson Cooper sat down with a group of school kids to find out their perspectives and perception of color.



While some of the kids definitely have good perspectives on skin color, the first two children's answers broke my heart. Here's to hoping that one day they'll be happy to have brown skin, seeing the beauty in the range of colors.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Religion Rundown: Week of May 14, 2010

Kabbalah

From The New York Post:



____________________________________________________________________




Yoga/ Eastern Religion

From MSNBC:

"Prahlad Jani, an 82-year-old Indian yogi, is making headlines by claims that for the past 70 years he has had nothing -- not one calorie -- to eat and not one drop of liquid to drink. To test his claims, Indian military doctors put him under round-the-clock observation during a two-week hospital stay that ended last week, news reports say. During that time he didn’t ingest any food or water – and remained perfectly healthy, the researchers said.

But that’s simply impossible, said Dr. Michael Van Rooyen an emergency physician at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an associate professor at the medical school, and the director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative – which focuses on aid to displaced populations who lack food and water.

Van Rooyen says that depending on climate conditions like temperature and humidity, a human could survive five or six days without water, maybe a day or two longer in extraordinary circumstances. We can go much longer without food – even up to three months if that person is taking liquids fortified with vitamins and electrolytes.

Bobby Sands, an Irish Republican convicted of firearms possession and imprisoned by the British, died in 1981 on the 66th day of his hunger strike. Gandhi was also known to go long stretches without food, including a 21-day hunger strike in 1932."

To read more, click
here.
____________________________________________________

Christianity

From The Huffington Post:

Sarah Palin joined Fox News's Bill O'Reilly recently to condemn the critics of the National Day of Prayer, saying that the Judeo-Christian belief was the basis for American law and should continue to be used as a guiding force for creating future legislation.

According to Palin, the recent backlash against the National Day of Prayer is proof that some people are trying to enact a "fundamental transformation of America" and to "revisit and rewrite history" in order to shift the Christian nation away from its spiritual roots.

Palins's advice: "Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant -- they're quite clear -- that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the ten commandments.

"What in hell scares people about talking about America's foundation of faith?" Palin continued. "It is that world view that involves some people being afraid of being able to discuss our foundation, being able to discuss God in the public square, that's the only thing I can attribute it to."

To read the whole story, click here.




_____________________________________________________

Islam

From MSNBC:

Dozens of schoolgirls in Afghanistan were admitted to hospital on Tuesday after two suspected poisonous gas attacks on schools, officials said, the latest in a spate of similar incidents.

Thirty schoolgirls in the northern city of Kunduz and six in Kabul were admitted to hospital, health officials and the interior ministry said.

"Others are also coming in. We don't know the exact number of girls affected, it could be many. It's a similar incident to what happened in Kabul and Kunduz last week," said Homayun Khamosh, head of the Kunduz city hospital where girls were admitted.

One of the girls taken ill in Kunduz said she saw a man in black clothes, with his mouth and nose wrapped in a cloth, throw a bottle near the school. The bottle appeared to release a smelly fume, the girl who said her name was Farzana told Reuters.

The attacks are the latest in a string of incidents at girls' schools involving an airborne substance which officials say could be poisonous gas. Blood tests taken from girls affected by previous attacks have not yet yielded any results.

An interior ministry spokesman said he had no information on the Kunduz attack but confirmed that half a dozen schoolgirls and one teacher from a school in Kabul's fourth precinct were taken to a nearby clinic after smelling a gas and falling ill.

"It's not clear what was the cause of the poisoning, whether it's a destructive action or a kind of gas used for something else but we will check whether this is an action of the enemies or food poisoning," Zemarai Bashary said."

To read the whole story, click here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ask Far: Anonymous Questions


I use Formspring (you can go to the bottom of the home page to check it out) as a way for readers to ask me questions anonymously (although you don't have to... you can leave your name if you like). Here are a few I've received recently:

Q: In your opinion, does The Book of James offer any contradictions whatsoever towards all else found in The Holy Bible?

A: No, not at all. I know for many, even Martin Luther who had a big hand in starting the Protestant Reformation, the book of James is problematic. Luther actually wanted the book removed since he felt it pushed works over faith, or would confuse people to believe they could earn their salvation.


Q: Mines is Psalms 41. What is your absolute favorite Psalms?

A: Hands down, without a doubt, Psalms 91.

Q: Have you accepted Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior? by strippers4jesus

A: Yes, I did as a little girl. Um, why are you a "stripper for Jesus"? Jesus wants us to love, serve and obey Him. Eh...where's does stripping fit into the equation? Is it like an X-rated "missionary dating" type thing, but with a pole??? *confused*


Q: Why do you suppose some tweeters have chosen to unfollow your account after receiving your encouraging morning scriptures?

A: Because I don't think everyone views it as "encouraging". Scriptures are foolishness to some people. So as long as I tweet about boredom, music, current events, food, whatever... some are happy. But the BIBLE??? Eww, lol.

In the words of Kanye in Jesus walks: "They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes
But if I talk about God my record won't get played Huh?"

If you want to ask me a question on Formspring, you can click here.

Would You Wear These?


From AOL's StyleList:

Testing the Pantless Trend in New York City


by Lindsey Schickner

"When designers send grand, fashion-forward clothes down the runway, as artful and glorious as they are, there's always the question that lingers in an editor's head: will that work in the real world?...

In the StyleList office, we wondered what would happen if a real woman wore those pretty pantaloons around town. Of course as the fashionable assistant (and youngest member) of the staff, I was nominated to test the trend, much to my own nervousness and personal humiliation. (Let's remember this at review time, lovely bosses!)...

"Obviously this trend only works on the best of bodies and definitely in the 30-and-under category," says stylist Meg Goldman. "Don't even think about it if you are older than that and not toned."


Under 30? Check. Toned? No comment.

But, as get ups go, I was wearing some of the finest threads that the world has to offer. That said, as I walked out of the office in a beautiful Dolce & Gabbana ensemble straight off the Spring 2010 runway, (sheer floral top, $725 and tiny floral pantaloons, $650), my confidence took a dive faster than Michael Phelps at the Olympics....

"What the --- is she wearing?" slapped me back to the reality that I was strutting around in basically no bottoms -- including some co-workers who didn't recognize me! This was a chorus that was echoed regularly by strangers throughout the course of my hour-long experiment, along with cat calls from construction workers and yes, even the Good Humor man."

To read the whole article, click here.

Okay, speaking as an under 30 female with not-so-toned thighs- there is NO WAY I would ever wear those things! Even if I were to hit the elliptical for 3 hours a day and develop thighs that could crack walnuts, NO! "Floral pantaloons" for $650? That's the rent on a studio apartment in my building! And for a piece of fabric so tiny it makes my scarves look like Duggar style skirts??? Just the fact that they are called "pantaloons" should be a clue to 21st century women that this is most definitely a no-go. What's next? Stripped bloomers?

Designers, please take note: just like rocking thongs and low-riders was a style disaster, trying to convince normal women that panties as clothes is high fashion is a colossal fail. Oh where has class gone? Maybe cut to shreds to make those shorts. But I give credit to the writer. You're a far braver girl than I. :-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When I Was Seven, I Wanted To Be A Ballerina


But alas, the elementary set today would rather shake their money makers like some perv's about to pay them. Just the fact that this video's title starts with "Little Girls Going Hard..." is just eww. But the video is even more disturbing. While these little girls are amazingly talented, it's downright frightening (and creepy) to watch 7 year olds drop it low, sway their little behinds and gyrate their non-existent hips in outfits skimpier than Beyonce's. Whose idea was this anyway? And what were their parents thinking?


Father, Forgive Them...



(From Gawker)


...although they know what they are doing. This piece of "art" can be seen at a shopping mall in Beijing. Mickey Mouse as The Christ. Let me guess, since both Disney and Christianity are consumer driven, capitalistic fantasies that are taking over the world, right? *smh*

Losing Our Religion: Generations X & Y At Q


From The Huffington Post:

"American Christianity is beginning to look a whole lot different.

Picture hundreds of jeans-clad 20- and 30-somethings filling the floor of a vintage opera hall in Chicago, armed with laptops, smart phones, and iPads. Picture a stage backed by a large screen, dark but for a large white image in the center -- not a cross, but an upper-case "Q." Picture a guy with the shaggy blond bangs of an indie-rock guitarist taking the stage to launch the proceedings with the matter-of-fact acknowledgment that we have entered a new "post-Christian context." Imagine three days of quick-hit presentations on everything from emotionally intelligent robots to nuclear weapons abolition, from fatherlessness to coffee-growing for the common good -- and nary a word about abortion or "reclaiming America for Christ."

If the arrival of the "post-Christian age" is upsetting to this emerging generation of (mostly) evangelicals, they did an awfully good job of hiding it at the recent "Q" gathering -- the signature annual event for these next-generation Jesus followers. In fact, judging from the spirit and energy reverberating through the hall, I get the sense that they find the whole thing liberating.

"Christians can bemoan the end of Christian America," shrugs Q creator and convener Gabe Lyons, "or we can be optimistic about it. What's good is that it forces us to get back to the basics of serving people and loving our neighbors. Through history, Christianity has affected more people from that position than from a position of dominance."

If this is how it's going to play out, the end of Christian America could turn out to be a profound blessing for American Christianity.

You can learn a lot about something from its name. Besides its edgy graphics and stage design, Q provokes surprise and curiosity with that name -- a name that reveals volumes about these young- and mid-adulthood Christians and where they are coming from in their conceptions of the faith and its place in the culture.

As they keenly sense, a major problem with evangelical Christianity in our time has been its bold assertion that is has an answer -- the answer -- to everything, namely, a particular understanding of the Bible and how it applies to present-day issues. Not that they are any less on fire for Jesus, but these Q-generation Christians are comfortable in complexity and ambiguity. The new guard seems to be pleading with the elders: "It's not that simple!"

Hence, the name "Q" and the ethos it suggests. Think of it an ongoing question-and-answer session--Q & A, but minus the "A."

"Having the quick answer to everything doesn't exhibit the humility that Christ exhibited," Lyons explains. "We don't want to project answers to questions that people aren't even asking."

Clearly, one of those questions-they-aren't-asking (or not asking as much) is how to get to heaven. A major focus of conventional evangelicalism, eternal salvation gets less emphasis from the emerging generation. Addressing the hells on earth is what really interests the activists, church-planters, innovators, and social entrepreneurs who form this loose movement.

Between pauses for praise songs and worship, the Q conference buzzed with new possibilities for meeting human need and alleviating suffering around the planet. Among the projects and causes promoted by speakers in their three-, nine-, and 18-minute time slots: gospel-fueled drives for nuclear disarmament and protection of the environment, a shoe company that gives a free pair to a poor child for each pair sold, a plan to reform American education, and a coffee company that grows its beans in Rwandan fields where former enemies now work together. But don't get the impression that this was a grand exercise in leaning left. One presentation, for example, made the case for delaying sex until marriage.

Fewer than a third of the participants at this year's Q are 40 or older. More than half work in professions -- or "channels," in Q parlance -- other than the church world, including business, arts, media, and education. One table included a brain surgeon from Kansas and the creator of a large organic farm in Idaho dedicated to feeding poor people. Appearing on stage were high-profile figures like CNN reporter Soledad O'Brien, who reflected on her recent experiences covering the disaster in Haiti, and Joshua Dubois, head of President Obama's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

In his new book To Change the World, religion professor James Davison Hunter uses the term "faithful presence" to describe his vision for a new kind of publicly applied Christianity. Hunter, a man in his fifties, is not a part of the Q generation. But he is clearly a sympathizer. He advances a model that that eschews political battles and aggressive promotion of doctrine. Hunter calls on Christians instead to use their lives and institutions as vessels to bring goodness and compassion into their social and professional spheres and the public square.

The 35-year-old Lyons has perhaps an even more compelling way to describe a role for Christians in pluralistic America -- to be a "blessing" to society. A huge and necessary first step, he says, is for evangelicals to break free of the Christian subculture they constructed over the last century and engage with non-evangelicals. "We have a chance now," Lyons says, "to show that following Jesus is not defined by heritage or politics, but by the church serving as countercultural example and as a curious, winsome presence in a broken world."

If anyone understands the attitudes of younger Americans on questions of faith and culture, it's Lyons. A graduate of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Lyons is the co-author, with David Kinnaman, of a highly influential book that used extensive public opinion research to explore and document public perceptions of Christianity. The title of the 2007 volume summed up the findings with a stark phrase: unChristian. Since then, Lyons has been on a mission to help steer Christianity in a direction that makes it more humble, hopeful, and attractive, a vision he describes in his forthcoming book The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America.

The Q cadre has its work cut out. Around the time of their late-April gathering, the news outside was menacing. The storylines about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were changing from "problem" to "disaster." Anger was boiling over the just-passed immigration law in Arizona. A would-be terrorist almost succeeded in wreaking carnage with a Times Square car bomb.

But in their presentations and intermittent table conservations, the young Christian idealists seemed undaunted. They plotted ways to use social media more effectively to collaborate on projects. They made commitments for serious action that they would take over the next year. They saw opportunities to take immediate action -- and did. Such was the case with one foursome who, when asked for a few coins by an African-American homeless man on their way to a nearby sandwich shops, did him one better and invited him to dinner. What followed was 45 minutes of intense listening, prayer, and, at the urging of their homeless guest, a quick burst of gospel-singing on the street corner.

If this is what the end of Christian America looks like, it portends good things for Christianity. Not to mention the rest of that "post-Christian" society sharing space and time with these galvanized young Jesus followers."


Hmmm... okay, so at first reading this story seems hopeful, especially in light of recent news that most young people in this country are Christians in a very "squishy" sense. But this story bothered me. Like this sentence: "Think of it an ongoing question-and-answer session--Q & A, but minus the "A."" So they sit around listening to a bunch of questions, but not bothering to answer them? Or more likely, choosing NOT to answer them. "...one of those questions-they-aren't-asking (or not asking as much) is how to get to heaven. A major focus of conventional evangelicalism, eternal salvation gets less emphasis from the emerging generation." Why are they not asking such a major question, one that is central to the Gospel? Even more troubling is, do these young Christians even know the answer?

Don't get me wrong, I believe in helping others. I love doing it. Last year, I donated for research for MS, Breast Cancer, AIDS, to Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and my husband and I sponsor to kids in Africa. We consider our giving a major part of our faith. But it is NOT our faith.

I read "un-Christian" and enjoyed it. I do feel like Christians have stunk up the reputation of our Lord. Too many of us are self-righteous, hypocritical and self-centered. We have confused political involvement for spreading the Gospel, and in a zeal to change the ever-sinking morals of humanity, have often lost our own morality and hurt humans. BUT- the worse thing to do is wrap ourselves in relativism and lose sight of the Truth. During this life, we'll always have plenty of questions. However, let's never forget that Jesus is the ANSWER.






Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ex-Porn Star: Former Porn Actress Talks About Her Life In The Biz & Coming To Christ




Let me just put this out here now: this video is NOT for children, the squeamish or prudes. Danielle, the former porn star and now born again believer keeps it's 100- so please do not watch if you can't deal.

Now that I've made that disclaimer, I wanted to share this because many people struggle with pornography, and like the topic of sex in general, is often one of those off-limits convos for Christians. We are told don't do it, but very little else. So although it might be an uncomfortable conversation, it's one that needs to be had, and I'm glad Pastor Justin Cox of the Passion for Christ Movement is putting it on the table.


My Life in the Porn Industry from p4cm on Vimeo.

Monday, May 10, 2010

This "Girl" Is Still "Golden": Betty White on SNL

Betty White, alum of such television classics as "Mary Tyler Moore" and "The Golden Girls", did the honor of hosting "Saturday Night Live" this week. Ms. White, at 88 years young, was a hit, bringing in the best ratings the show has pulled in 18 months. Here is her opening monologue:


Lena Horne, Hollywood Icon and Civil Rights Activist, Passes Away at 92


Check out the clip below for her famous rendition of "Stormy Weather".


Friday, May 7, 2010

Religion Rundown: Week of May 7th


Christianity:

From MSNBC:

"Evangelist Franklin Graham prayed on a sidewalk outside the Pentagon Thursday after his invitation to a prayer service inside was withdrawn because of comments that insulted people of other religions.

Graham's invitation to attend an event inside the Defense Department for national prayer day was withdrawn two weeks ago.

But he arrived in the Pentagon parking lot just before 8 a.m. EDT — his party of a half dozen people forming a circle on the sidewalk and praying with heads bowed for about five minutes.

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Nine years ago, Graham called Islam "wicked" and "evil."

He told an impromptu press conference Thursday outside the Pentagon that he prayed for the men and women of the armed forces and that he doesn't feel his statements about other religions have been offensive.

'I am who I am'
In an interview with Newsweek, Graham said he still believed what he had said about Islam, but added: "I don't go out and speak about it."

"I am who I am. I don't believe that you can get to heaven through being a Buddhist or Hindu," Graham was quoted as saying by the magazine. "I think Muhammad only leads to the grave. Now, that's what I believe, and I don't apologize for my faith. And if it's divisive, I'm sorry."

"I think yelling 'Allahu Akbar' as you're flying jet airplanes through buildings and killing 3,000 Americans — that was evil and it was wicked," he added. "And I've not heard one Islamic leader around the world stand up and say that was a terrible thing … If Catholics had flown into these buildings in the name of Catholicism, the pope would have been on TV that night denouncing them, saying this was wrong and what they did was sin."

"It would be nice if we could just all sit around and hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya.' It would be great, but that's not the world we live in," he told Newsweek."

To read the rest of the story, click here.

___________________________________________________________________

From The Huffington Post:


"George Alan Rekers, a prominent anti-gay activist who co-founded the conservative Family Research Council, was caught returning from a 10-day trip to Europe with a male escort he found on Rentboy.com, which is exactly what it sounds like.

[UPDATE: The escort now says Rekers is indeed gay, and that Rekers paid him to perform daily nude body rubs during their European jaunt. "It's a situation where he's going against homosexuality when he is a homosexual," the young man told the New Times, adding that Rekers -- who repeatedly asked for a move he dubbed "The Long Stroke" -- ought to divorce himself from his many anti-gay associations.

Rekers has a new explanation for the trip. "I deliberately spend time with sinners with the loving goal to try to help them," he said in a statement posted on Facebook.

The Miami New Times promises more details and a profile of the escort, whom they codenamed "Lucien" but whose identity has been revealed elsewhere.]

Not to worry, Rekers told the Miami New Times, which broke the story: He claims he learned his 20-year-old companion was a prostitute only midway through their trip, they had no intimate contact, and he hired the young man only because recent surgery means "I can't lift luggage."

This seems highly dubious, not least because the New Times reporters spotted the retired professor pushing his baggage cart through Miami International Airport. It would be extremely difficult to stumble upon the Rentboy.com homepage, which features young well-muscled men rubbing each other's crotches on grainy video loops, and not figure out what the site means by "rent boy.'"

To read the rest of the story, click here.

___________________________________________________________________

Catholicism:


From Catholic News:

The current clergy abuse scandal in Europe has not had the same impact on the U.S. Catholic Church as the 2002 reports of clergy abuse that focused on U.S. priests and bishops, according to a new poll. The New York Times/CBS News poll -- released May 4 -- shows that U.S. Catholics view the current wave of scandals as a "far-off storm" that has had "no effect" on Mass attendance, financial contributions or parish participation. Many of the Catholic respondents in the telephone poll conducted April 30-May 2 said they have seen a change in how the church is handling the abuse crisis.

The poll questioned 1,079 randomly selected adults and included 412 Catholics. According to the poll, only one in 10 Catholics say the current abuse scandal causes them to consider leaving the church, unlike the one in five who, in response to a 2002 Gallup poll, considered leaving the church during the height of abuse allegations in the United States. While the abuse scandals in Europe made headlines worldwide in recent months, Vatican officials and U.S. bishops responded by criticizing the media for unfairly characterizing the church. In the poll, slightly more Catholics agreed that the news media had "blown the issue out of proportion" than those who said the issue had been accurately reported. Most said the news media had been harder on the Catholic Church than on other religions.

____________________________________________________________________


Islam:


From Yahoo:

Belgian authorities are analysing a video containing threats to attack the country and other European states if they enforce a ban on full face veils, government officials said on Thursday.

Belgium's lower house of parliament approved a bill last week that would enforce such a ban but it is unlikely to become law soon because the government has collapsed and parliament is due to be dissolved. France is also considering a ban.

A text written in English on a video posted on the Internet says: "If you ban the burqa, hijab or niqab (veils) ... then you will see (a) very dangerous situation in your countries."

It shows veiled women, some armed with guns, armed men and children carrying weapons and ammunition. They did not identify themselves.

Wearing the burqa, hijab or niqab is every Muslim woman's right and governments will pay for their decision to ban the veil, the text of the video says.

A spokesman for the government's crisis centre, which handles security threats, said it had informed Belgium's anti-terrorism body of the potential threat.

"They are carrying out an analysis and could then decide to take measures," the spokesman said.

France, home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority, is planning to debate a draft law from mid-May and ban all face veils in public within months.

Full face veils are extremely rare in Europe, but the number of women wearing them is rising. No exact figures exist but estimates put the totals at about 2,000 in France and a few hundred in Belgium."

____________________________________________________________________


From The New York Daily News:

A proposal to build a mosque steps from Ground Zero received the support of a downtown committee despite some loved ones of 9/11 victims finding it offensive.

The 13-story mosque and Islamic cultural center was unanimously endorsed by the 12-member Community Board 1's financial district committee.

The $100 million project, called the Cordoba House, is proposed for the old Burlington Coat Factory building at Park Place and Broadway, just two blocks from the World Trade Center site.

"I think it will be a wonderful asset to the community," said committee Chairman Ro Sheffe.

Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf, who helped found the Cordoba Initiative following the 9/11 attacks, said the project is intended to foster better relations between the West and Muslims.

He said the glass-and-steel building would include a 500-seat performing arts venue, a swimming pool and a basketball court. "There's nothing like it," said Rauf, adding that facilities will be open to all New Yorkers.

Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and a member of the Cordoba Initiative's board, said donations are being sought to pay for the construction.

Khan said the project has received little opposition.

"Whatever concerns anybody has, we have to make sure to educate them that we are an asset to the community," Khan said.

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