Anne Rice is out, Katy Perry is in. Oh the humanity!

In the middle of all the hype and angst about Anne "Interview With a Vampire" Rice leaving Christianity, a new story has emerged, albeit with a little less fanfare. It seems as though Katy "I Kissed a Girl" Perry has decided to tell the world, "I'm still a Christian." Or at least that part of the world that read her recent interview, "Sex, God and Katy Perry," in Rolling Stone magazine.

Talk about a spiritual cage match made in, er, heaven. Wouldn't you just love to get the 68 year-old Rice--raised Catholic, turned atheist, Catholic again, and now somewhere in between--in a room with 25 year-old Perry--raised Pentecostal by tongue-speaking parents, not rejecting her faith, but not exactly serving as a wholesome role model for all of her music fans? Wonder what these two spiritual titans would say to each other? 

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Create Stuff That Lasts 500 Years

Makoto Fujimura, the world-renowned painter, has often referred to the "500-year question" when it comes to creating art. What he's asking is this: What would it mean if serious artists--painters, writers, sculptors, architects and the like--created stuff with the view in mind that their work could last 500 years? Would it change the way they paint, write, sculpt, and design? 

Before you answer that, think back 500 years from right now, to the year 1510. What kind of stuff was being created around that time (give or take a few years)? I did a brief search, and here's what I came up with:

  • Michaelangelo finished his masterpiece, David (1504)
  • DaVinci completed the Mona Lisa after working on it for four years (1503-1507)
  • Construction of St. Peter's Basillica in Rome began (1506)
  • Michaelangelo finished painting the Sistine Chapel after four years of work (1508-1512)
  • Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany (1517)
  • William Tyndale finished his English New Testament translation (1526)
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The man I met in the attic

My father died when I was four. I grew up never knowing much about him. My mother remarried a wonderful man who adopted me and loved me. I didn't have a burning desire to find out who my birth father was until my wife and I decided to visit Minnesota a few years ago to visit the place of my heritage. Maybe to find Dad.

I'll never forget the experience. Karin and I stayed with my father's older brother, Sam. As you can guess, it didn't take long for Uncle Sam to ask me if I wanted to see photos of Dad, as well as some letters he had written. I quickly agreed.

The three of us climbed up into his attic where all the stuff was stored in an old trunk. My uncle pulled the light on with a string, passing around fading photos, reading letters aloud, and listening to Uncle Sam tell story after story.

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Why Not Go Deep?

I've been thinking about going deep lately. Something clicked in me after meeting with Jim Belcher, former pastor of Redeemer Prebyterian Church in Orange County and the author of Deep Church. Jim is leaving the church he planted almost ten years ago to move his family to England and work on a second book, which will most likely have the word "deep" in it. Jim seems to have hit a nerve with the idea of going deep, whether it's a church or an individual.

We didn't get deep into the subject, mainly because Jim is moving in a few weeks and every minute in his life counts right now, and he couldn't spend any more time with me than it took to consume a $4 Dennys value breakfast. But our conversation was enough to get me thinking:

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To Pray or Not to Pray?

Everybody sure is talking about prayer these days. Between the hoopla over the National Day of Prayer and Franklin Graham's insistence that he be allowed to pray inside the Pentagon, prayer seems to be on everybody's lips, media included. That's a good thing, right? I'm not so sure.

Consider how we got to this interesting place, where the very idea of public praying has become controversial. First, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison last month found the National Day of Prayer, established by Congress 58 years ago and held on the first Thursday of May, to be unconstitutional.

Then, on Aprill 22 the U.S. Army "disinvited" Franklin Graham, who had been scheduled to speak at a Pentagon National Day of Prayer event because his comments about Islam were "inappropriate.'

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Lessons in control and character from Tiger and Phil

You don't have to be a golf fan to appreciate what happened at the Masters on Sunday. You just have to be a fan of the twists and turns of human nature. There in the final round on the storied Augusta National golf course, two titanic golfers were pitted against each other. On one side you had Tiger Woods, the world's number one golfer, working through difficult circumstances created by his own woeful behavior. On the other side you had Phil Michelson, the world's second best golfer, dealing with difficult circumstances outside his control.

Throughout the four-day golf tournament, Tiger thought he was in control, but he wasn’t. He played well for a guy who's been off for four months, but his shots were erratic. And his occasional verbal outbursts belied his stated intentions to be a different kind of golfer. As the afternoon shadows lengthened and he slipped further from contention, Tiger seemed to get smaller and less significant. 

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Can Buddhism Lead to Christ?

Tiger Woods is back, and the world is watching. Some are watching for the golf, others for the story of recovery and redemption in play. Me, I'm watching for the Buddhism.

If you recall, just a couple of months ago Tiger held that rather strange and staged "mea culpa" press conference, the one where he apologized all over the place and then pointed to Buddhism as the rock upon which he was going to stand. Tiger hasn't mentioned Buddhism since, but that doesn't mean he hasn't made good on his intention to return to his religious roots. Come to think of it, was that Tiger's deceased father or was it the spirit of Buddha speaking to Tiger in that kinda creepy but somehow fascinating Nike commercial?

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Holy Shabbat! A Sabbath for the Rest of Us

Leave it to a group of Jewish hipsters to remind us Christians how important it is to observe the Sabbath for what it is: a day set apart for the Lord.

Shabbat--the Hebrew for Sabbath--is big with Jews, some would say the biggest Jewish holiday of them all. For Jews, Shabbat begins on Friday evening at sunset and ends on Saturday night "when three stars are visible in the sky." On Shabbat, Jews "remember that God created the world and then rested from His labors" (Genesis 2:2). Shabbat is considered a festive day to pray, read, eat, drink wine, spend time with family and friends, and basically rest.

But Shabbat is Jewish, right? So what's that to the rest of us? As it turns out, plenty. And it took a bunch of Jewish artists, thought-leaders and tastemakers operating under the banner Reboot to tell us Gentiles what we're missing. In their search for "a modern way to observe a weekly day of rest," the folks at Reboot created the "Sabbath Manifesto" as "a creative project designed to slow down our lives in an increasingly hectic world." 

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Shaun White and the Integrity Test

Shaun White--snowboarder extraordinaire, Olympic gold medalist, global superstar--is as cool and hip as they come. Some would say he's the face of the Winter Games. I would say he's the poster boy for integrity. Here's why.

I have a friend who uses what he calls the "Three-Way Integrity Test" as a way to measure whether or not he is doing something with integrity. When presented with an opportunity or an invitation to join in some kind of activity, he asks himself three questions:

1. Is it legal?

2. Is it fair to all parties involved?

3. Would I be okay if a photo of my activity showed up in the newspaper or on the Internet the next morning?

After winning his gold medal in spectacular fashion in the half-pipe, Shaun White, who is already incredibly rich and famous, appeared at a press conference with Scott Lago, another American snowboarder who took the bronze in the same event. According to Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Plaschke, who was at the press conference, Shaun was asked what he was going to do next, whereupon he turned to Lago and said, "What do you want to do next, man?"

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The iPad and Imagination

Even before Apple pulled back the curtain on its new iPad--the iconoclast himself holding the brand new device and calling it "a truly magical and revolutionary" product--the anticipation for the Apple Tablet was enormous. The publishing world in particular was gaga in the days leading up to the announcement, a lot of industry leaders wondering whether or not the Apple tablet will revolutionize the distribution of newspapers, magazines, and books in the same the iPod transformed the music industry.

Whether the iPad ends up revolutionizing the way we buy and consume digital content of all kinds remains to be seen. But at first blush I do believe Steve Jobs has once again done something extraordinarily well. He hasn't just created a device; he has tapped into our imaginations. By calling the iPad "magical" rather than "useful" or "universal," Jobs has soared above the ordinary by placing this device--and let's face it, the iPad is just a device--into the realm of wonder rather than utility. If Steve Jobs is to be believed, the iPad isn't a device to merely help you do things more efficiently. It is device that will help you dream of doing things better.

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Stan's entire life has been wrapped in content: selling, writing and publishing books and resources that help ordinary people capture a glimpse of extraordinary things.