Poetry Friday: For Mother's Day!

I've had Billy Collins on a Poetry Friday before, but this poignantly funny poem is one of my favorites, in honor of Mother's Day. I have a hunch that your mother will appreciate it, too.

The Lanyard 

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

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Tags | Writing

IRON MAN and BILLY GRAHAM

Flashy summer films arrive with Iron Man. The record breaking box office demonstrates how relevant comic book heroes remain. Superhero stories that endure are wrapped up in our ongoing interpersonal struggles. In Spider-Man 3, Peter Parker dealt with his rage. The Hulk is all about managing our anger. The Dark Knight demonstrates how fine a line Bruce Wayne treads between our longing for justice and the blindness of vigilantes. Their divided selves mirror our own struggles.

Since we’re rapping about Billy Graham and vampires over at Purple State of John, I thought I’d add this unexpected link to Robert Downey’s thrilling turn as Iron Man. One of the funkiest takes on the film comes courtesy of Jeremy Hunt from the Billy Graham Organization.
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Tags | Film

BIOLA MEDIA CONFERENCE 2008

Four hundred people filled the backlot at CBS studios to figure out how to navigate the digital age. The Biola Media Conference transformed the Seinfeld’ New York street into a marketplace of ideas. With record stores closing and network TV ratings plummeting, the old media conglomerates are struggling. Yet, on a weekend when Iron Man makes $100 million something is still working. What’s the blueprint for the Internet era?

I hosted the morning session of the Biola Media Conference. Kudos to the crew which transformed Stage 15 at CBS into a makeshift studio.  I interviewed Anita Renfoe, whose rousing MomSense routine sung to the William Tell Overture, received over 8 million views on YouTube. Anita’s unexpected breakthrough proves that funny and timely trumps all. I also chatted onstage with David Kinnaman, author of the groundbreaking study, UnChristian. The Barna Research Group suggests that the politicized faith of the Religious Right has dug a major public relations hole for the entire Christian community. It will take much more than better media to convince the next generation that not all Christians are judgmental, hypocritical, anti-homosexual and too political.

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Tags | Film

April Reviews

Some more reporting from the land of the moving image:

Leatherheads is a colorless comedy (literally—the sepia-toned photography turns 1920s America into a perpetual autumn of burnt leaves, mud, and crabgrass), although not without a few brightspots. Directed by and starring George Clooney, it offers a glimpse of the early tumultuous days of professional football, when the players had to compete with the more popular college market. The film is rudderless and a trifle boring, although a few of the visual gags (a human shape emerging from a slough; a grazing cow taking notice of a scrimmage game) are well executed. With Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce.

My Blueberry Nights is Wong Kar-wai’s first film to use the English language, though it makes rather better use of his favorite language of all—the language of love. Except for the unusually coarse image, the film has a seductive surface—everything seems to be lit by neon lights, traffic lights, candlelight. It’s a film to get lost in. Lawrence Block collaborated on the screenplay, and it resembles a good short story—lightly plotted, but rich in detail. Wong’s game plan is to cast a moody spell based entirely on shared experience. If you’ve ever been kicked in the groin by love, you will empathize with these characters. With Jude Law, Norah Jones, Natalie Portman, Rachelle Weisz, David Strathairn, and, in a particularly arresting cameo, Cat Power.

Tags | Film

MONSTERS!? Cloverfield and Emerging Christians

Having heard my fill of speculation regarding emergent Christians, I finally found an appropriate equivalent.  The panic sweeping the streets in Cloverfield matches the hyperbole abounding on the blogosphere about whatever Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell et. al. MAY espouse. Fear can be fun. Fear can be silly. Fear can also be foolish. Why are we so wound up about a revitalizing movement?   Read more about it at OUT OF UR.

And if that isn't enough, I expanded the metaphor with a second post. How did producer J.J> Abrams create such advance buzz for a reimagination of monster movies?   When have we allowed panic to supercede discernment?   These random musings on faith and culture generated heated remarks.
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Tags | Film

Poetry Friday: Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman is the quintessential American poet. He's most well-known for his book of poetry, Leaves of Grass.

He also was the impetus for the creation of the park in which I run every morning. Thanks, Walt.

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,

God in a Nashville Bar

It’s Sunday night around 10 pm Nashville time. My work and pent up curiosity have brought me to Nashville, Tennessee for the GMA (Gospel Music Association) Conference. What began years ago as a giant celebration of Christians in the music industry has now become a spectacle of all things Christian-Culture. Today alone I’ve witnessed everything from godPods and godtube, to Convert tennis shoes and yes…even Christian water. I’ve heard song after song sung from Christian songwriters: some famous, some not, and some who aren’t but think they are.

In a moment of pure jet-lag induced exhaustion, I turned around from the acoustic showcase I was supposed to attend, out the hotel doors, and began walking into the brisk, southern air toward the neon lights of Music City. Following the cadence of about 20 different drum sets down one block to another, I slipped inside a bar where acoustic instruments were exploding with electric energy. My ears perked to the sound of dueling fiddles clashing against the rhythms of a double bass as the smell of alcohol and smoke filled the room, a room filled with passion and realness…and more cowboy hats than I’m normally used to seeing.
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Tags | Music

The World That Ought to Be

Christy Tennant and Makoto Fujimura continue their conversation about the evolving “third language…” Here, they discuss five specific terms in the third language: rehumanize, creative catalyst, generative creativity, the world that ought to be and mediate.

CT: Let’s talk about the language itself. One of my favorite words in the third language is “rehumanize.” I find it really insightful that the word “dehumanize” is recognized by SpellCheck, but rehumanize is not. When I type “rehumanize” into Dictionary.com, I am told, “No results found for ‘rehumanize.’” So clearly, this concept is not common. How would you define “rehumanize?”

MF: “Re-humanize,” which I took from Jane Eyre, is, to me, rooted in the biblical theology of shalom found in Isaiah 61, which is also what Jesus quoted when began his public ministry. This passage is God’s re-humanizing vision for the world. It’s also in Romans 8. Creation itself is waiting for the re-humanization of humanity. God has frustrated creation so that it won’t be satisfied until humanity has been restored. I love the way Hans Rookmaaker put it – “Christ did not come to make us Christians; He came to make us fully human.”
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Why My Family Switched to Apple: Five Reasons

My family home schools. That means computers are necessary and everyone in the family has their own. I have been running a home network of seven computers for the last five years. It has been a nightmare job.

One day I noticed that my personal Mac was never causing me troubles. It was older and slow, but always doing its job. Once a hard drive crashed, but I had backups (which are easy to do) and after an evening of work was back in business.

Vista (outside of the marvelous media center application) has been horrid. Only an eight year old computer in the network (now too slow for most functions) did not constantly blue screen or cause other problems. XP by the end was marginally better, but looked like a Mac from a decade ago and was horrible at networking.

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Poetry Friday: Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson - many an American schoolchild's first introduction to poetry. She wrote highly accessible, whimsically capitalized, incisive, rhyming poetry during the mid 1800s, even though she lived a mostly secluded life.

This one was part of the New York City MTA's "Poetry in Motion" project. I read it while riding to work one morning and thought how many storytellers - especially Christians - could benefit from its exhortation.

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually

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