THE BIBLE and the Bible

THE BIBLE is a huge hit. The Bible, not so much.

THE BIBLE, of course, is the recently aired mini-series that captured record ratings on cable television’s The History Channel. Produced by reality show guru Mark Burnett and his wife and former angel, Roma Downey, the five episodes that collectively covered the sweep of human history as recorded in the Bible were viewed by 100 million people. That’s astounding.

By comparison, the Bible, known by many as the Holy Bible, is the actual book you have in your home. To be completely accurate, if you’re an American, there’s an 88 percent chance you own at least one Bible. There’s only one problem. If you read it at all, you’re likely reading it just four times a year or less. That’s embarrassing.

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The Golden Age of Reading?

Selling books used to be easy. I did it for more than 20 years as a manager of a successful Christian bookstore chain.  It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time in the not-too-distant past when the bookstore—Christian or secular—was about the only place you could buy a book.

In the secular space, there were chains like Walden Books and B. Dalton Bookseller, a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble. There were also thousands of independent bookstores, including a few that rose to legendary status among serious bibliophiles—such as Powell’s in Portland, Tattered Cover in Denver, Davis-Kidd in Nashville and Oxford’s in Atlanta. In the Christian world, even though the chains were smaller and the independent stores fewer, you could count on almost every community in America having at least one Christian bookstore.

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Star Spangled Divas

Sometimes something happens that is so unspeakably weird, but happens so often, that no matter how weird it might be, it becomes normal.  Like people who wear sunglasses at night.  Or people who go on Jerry Springer.

Or when someone publicly sings the Star Spangled Banner.

It’s quite common now to see divas and boy bands and all matter of wannabes all stylizing their way through our National Anthem.  They scoop for the lows, stretch for the highs, interject a few gospel growls, throw an interminably long descant on “freeeee!,” and then add a few unnecessary tags at the end.  (I keep expecting someone to add “Oh baby!” at some point.)  It probably began simply enough; some celebrity vocalist added a simple flourish to the song, is applauded for it, and since then, scores of singers have been trying to outdo it since.

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My message for Lance Armstrong: It's more about trust than forgiveness

The recent furor over Lance Armstrong's "confession" to Oprah Winfrey has been analyzed every which way. People are wondering if it's appropriate and even necessary to forgive such a public figure. Media guru Phil Cooke offers his perspective on why, for Lance Armstrong anyway, it's not about forgiveness; it's about trust. As a working film producer and media consultant to some of the largest and most effective nonprofit and faith-based organizations in the world, Phil is an expert in how messaging comes across to a discerning and often critical public. 

Phil's most recent book is Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media. This article originally was published on FoxNews.com

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Django: It Is The Narrative

Quentin Tarantino’s (QT) new film, Django, has elicited many responses across the spectrum on race, gender, class, and even God. The film has created a type of blog/ essay sensation and many were talking about it long before it was even released. QT is no rookie to controversy; critics have railed on QT for too much violence, use of the word “nigger,” sexism, and a litany of other issues with his films. Since Reservoir Dogs, QT has become accustomed to controversy around the issues of race, class, and gender. Thus his latest, Django, is no less causing quite the stir—particularly in the cultural/ Black studies academic community.
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Zach Bonner and The Little Red Wagon

In honor of the DVD for "Little Red Wagon" releasing on January 8, ConversantLife is giving away 5 copies of the DVD. The first 5 people to post a comment will get a copy!

Talking with Zach Bonner reminds the cynic in me just how great people really can be.  He’s literally walked across America to raise money and awareness for homeless children, and he’s been up to it for years via a foundation he started called the Little Red Wagon Foundation.  It all started 8 years ago.  “I started back in 2004 with Hurricane Charlie.  That was my first project. It was at that point that I decided that community service really needed to continue to be a part of my life.  It was after that project that I knew I had to keep going.”

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Best Reads of 2012

This was a great year of reading for me! Here is a list, along with a brief description of each, of my favorite books I read in 2012.

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Les Miserables (2012) Review

In honor of Les Miserable hitting the big screen, we thought it would be fun to get a couple of opinions in on the movie.  The first is Colleen Faris, my wife, and longtime musical fan.  The second is from my Mother, Robin Faris who just helped with a high school version of the musical.  Both were enthusiastic about seeing the film from the trailers alone.  But did they like it?  Did Anne Hathaway deliver?  What about Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe?  Read on!

Colleen’s Take:

I first saw Les Miserables in London when I was 22 years old.  I stood in line for 3 hours luckily grabbing the last spare seat in the house, which left me squinting in the rafters trying to follow the pint size actors.  Regardless, I was enamored.  The music was captivating, and even in spite of some difficulty comprehending the whole story, I was in love.  I have now seen Les Miserables multiple times thanks to performers of all skill levels, not to mention that Les Miserables has been previously adapted in a non-musical film version as well.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey review

The first time I experienced Middle Earth was for “The Fellowship of the Ring” when it was released in theaters.  It was a film that immediately won me over.  "The Fellowship of the Ring" has a wonderfully grand scale, populated by fantastic characters and gave attention to the right details.  The whole experience gave a feeling unmatched by nearly all other films I had seen up to that point, and is a reminder of why I love movies.  I became a fan of Peter Jackson in no time, and have since regarded his film trilogy of “The Lord of the Rings” in the highest way possible.

So, it was with great expectation that I went into “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”  “The Hobbit” is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, and it is part 1 of a 3-part trilogy.  The film is about a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, who, as the films title alludes, sets out on an unexpected journey.  The story concerns the Dwarves whose home has been taken over by the powerful dragon Smaug.  Thanks to the Dwarves former king’s lust for gold, Smaug has taken the Dwarves home for himself because as it turns out, dragons happen to love gold.  This leaves the Dwarves homeless and thus the journey to reclaim home begins.

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Of Castles and Unicorns

I recently saw a presentation that reconnected me with a secret world. It wasn’t so much the presentation – which was on England and Scotland – as it was the context and feel. I was reminded of a time past, and it is on this time upon which I’m writing to reflect.

There are a few of us who didn’t just read about Narnia, we were transported there. We remember reading the Lord of the Rings during rainy days; or The Cross and the Switchblade; or This Present Darkness; of Churchill and ten Boom. Our hearts lept and we wondered if we could rise to the challenge of life; of hearing God’s call and chasing it when it was heard. This time is contextualized by a strange type of magic, the kind that is surrounded by danger but is wild, epic and romantic. In that time and space, children and adults alike discussed their journey of faith.

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