Yesterday Rick posted a beautiful video that I subsequently commented in part - “There’s plenty of mainstream rock, in particular, that mentions religious themes that probably go right over most listeners head. Including us atheists.”
Few would deny that rock and roller Bruce Springsteen is a national icon. Fans often associate his music with American pastimes, youthful romance — and the rebellious soul. But some scholars are convinced that there’s something deeper to be learned from Springsteen’s four decades of musical success.
Rutgers University recently announced that it will offer a new course exploring the career and theology of The Boss. The seminar, titled “Rock and Roll Theology,” will explore Springsteen’s entire anthology of lyrics from “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” (1973) to his most recent album “Wrecking Ball” (2012).
Rutgers Today, the school’s official news outlet, said the one-credit freshman seminar will be taught by associate professor of Jewish studies and classics, Dr. Azzan Yadin-Israel.
In an interview with Rutgers Today, the professor of theology described the songs and ideas that inspired this unique course. “In some songs, Springsteen engages biblical motifs explicitly, as the titles indicate. For example, ‘Adam Raised a Cain,’ ‘Jesus was an Only Son,’ ‘In the Belly of the Whale’ (referring to Jonah). But concepts with biblical resonance appear throughout his works (the Promised Land, redemption, faith), and it’s just a matter of taking the theological overtones seriously,” Yadin-Israel said.
Nadia Bolz-Weber bounds into the University United Methodist Church sanctuary like a superhero from Planet Alternative Christian. Her 6-foot-1 frame is plastered with tattoos, her arms are sculpted by competitive weightlifting and, to show it all off, this pastor is wearing a tight tank top and jeans.
Looking out at the hundreds of people crowded into the pews to hear her present the gospel of Jesus
Christ, she sees: Dockers and blazers. Sensible shoes. Grandmothers and soccer moms. Nary a facial piercing.
To Bolz-Weber’s bafflement, this is now her congregation: mainstream America.
These are the people who put her memoir near the top of the New York Times bestseller list the week it came out in September. They are the ones who follow her every tweet and Facebook post by the thousands, and who have made the Lutheran minister a budding star for the liberal Christian set.
And who, as Bolz-Weber has described it in her frequently profane dialect, “are [mess]ing up my weird.”
A quick tour through her 44 years doesn’t seem likely to wind up here. It includes teen rebellion against her family’s fundamentalist Christianity, a nose dive into drug and alcohol addiction, a lifestyle of sleeping around and a stint doing stand-up in a grungy Denver comedy club. She is part of society’s outsiders, she writes in her memoir, its “underside dwellers . . . cynics, alcoholics and queers.”
Which is where — strangely enough — the match with her fans makes sense. The type of social liberals who typically fill the pews of mainline churches sometimes feel like outsiders among fellow liberals in their lives if they are truly believing Christians; if they are people who really experience Jesus and his resurrection, even if they can’t explain it scientifically; if they are people who want to hear words from the Apostles in church, not Thich Nhat Hanh or Barack Obama.
In her body and her theology, Bolz-Weber represents a new, muscular form of liberal Christianity, one that merges the passion and life-changing fervor of evangelicalism with the commitment to inclusiveness and social justice of mainline Protestantism. She’s a tatted-up, foul-mouthed champion to people sick of being belittled as not Christian enough for the right or too Jesus-y for the left.
So dear reader, especially you believers, read the whole thing. Fill me in on where she goes astray. Maybe I just missed it.
I'm of the firm belief that truth can take many forms... and as long as truth leads to Truth... who in hell am I to judge.
The Christianity tent is huge. Of course I want all to be Catholic, and maybe in time, those touched by the truth preached by Ms. Bolz-Weber, and there's truth there folks, might lead people home to the Church, where Truth in my view is preached most fully.
Lockheed Martin’s famed Skunk Works has finally unveiled the long-awaited successor to the SR-71 Blackbird. Aviation Week and Space Technology’s Guy Norris pulled the covers off the project that
Lockheed Martin is simply calling the SR-72. The new airplane will be roughly the same size as the record-setting Blackbird, but will be able to fly twice as fast as the jet that still holds the speed records.
The new spy plane will be capable of Mach 6 cruise speeds, making it the first hypersonic aircraft to enter service should it be produced. Only the rocket-powered North American X-15 was able to regularly fly those speeds, and the three examples built were used for research. The SR-71 Blackbird is legendary in aviation circles for its Mach 3 capabilities, and different iterations served as a spy plane for 35 years until its retirement in 1998. It still holds several records, including a flight from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 64 minutes, 20 seconds.
The new SR-72 has long been rumored and debated, and is part of the U.S. Air Force’s plan for hypersonic capabilities that will allow fast reaction for gathering intelligence around the world. A Mach 6 airplane fills the gap between current surveillance aircraft that can loiter for long periods of time, but don’t have the ability to transit to a new area quickly. The SR-72 is also expected to have optional strike capabilities, according to Aviation Week.
The new SR-72 will use a turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) that will employ the turbine engine at lower speeds, and use a scramjet at higher speeds. A scramjet engine is designed to operate at hypersonic velocities by compressing the air through a carefully designed inlet, but needs to be traveling supersonic before it is practical to begin with. So far research projects from NASA, the Air Force and other Pentagon entities have not been able to solve the problem of transitioning from the subsonic flight regime, through hypersonic flight with a single aircraft.
Lockheed Martin told Aviation Week it has found a way to use existing turbine engines, and by lowering the operating speed of the scramjet, make a transition to hypersonic speeds possible.
Has man’s God-given vocation been entirely lost sight of?Look around you. You live in a world that has lost faith. Religion has been replaced by work and achievement. In such a world, men take work
very seriously. They want nothing less than perfection in it. Hence, their goal and their norm of judgment is efficiency. Consequently men are judged not by what they are, but by what they cando. No wonder your economic world wobbles. It has lost its center of gravity.
Your primary vocation, like that of every other human, is to be, not to do. Your life’s aim is holiness, not efficiency. God and godliness, not production, is your goal, for you have an immortal soul; you are not a machine. Every work and every profession, even the highest, is but a means for man to express his inner wholeness and to acquire more holiness; none of them is ever to become any man’s idol or total absorption.
You are now grappling with truths that have been horribly distorted in your day. Twist them back into shape so that you will be able to live twenty-four hours a day as a human, a child of God, and not spend a great part of your life on earth as a robot that keeps going through the motions so that it can make a living, but which is really only waiting for the whistle that will allow it to go out and play.
Realize first that while all men are created equal, all men are not born equal. Far from it! Some are born with silver spoons in their mouths; others with a pick and shovel by their side. In his encyclical on labor, Leo XIII showed that society always was and always will be stratified. God so wills it, as is evident from the fact that “among mankind, differences of the most important kind exist: people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength. Unequal fortune is the result of unequal condition.”
But note well that for attaining their last end, for getting back to God whole and holy, each human has been liberally endowed by His Maker. No man has grounds for complaint. You may not be gifted enough to conquer the world, but you have more than enough to conquer your sinful self — and that is, of course, the only conquest that counts. In eternity, you will not be judged on productivity, but only on Christlikeness. Hence it is essential that you learn how you can grow in Christlikeness while at work, for work you must. It is the God-given law of life.
Work is part of God’s plan for humans. But God is your Father, and God is all-good. Therefore, the work potentials He gave you must be for your happiness.
Work is holy
The second step is easy. If work is God’s will, it must be sanctifying; for, in ultimate analysis, sanctity is only doing the will of God. Therefore, work is a sacred thing; it is a “sacramental” — an outward sign that can give grace. Hence, you can go to work for the same reason you go to church to worship God! Work is a religious thing. It is holy.
That view, of course, is the antithesis of the way many modern men conceive work. They exalt it, but only by a complete reversal of values and truths. The person who helps produce impersonal goods is placed far below the goods he helps to produce and is thus completely dehumanized. Pius XI exposed this situation in his Quadragesimo Anno, saying, “Conditions of social and economic life are such that vast multitudes of men can only with great difficulty pay attention to the one thing necessary; namely, their eternal salvation.” But you can combat those conditions and overcome that very real difficulty. All you need to do is to think with the mind of Christ and will with the will of God; then you will go to work for the same purpose you go to church.
Is that possible? Well, you are what your thoughts are. A man is his mind. What are your thoughts and motives for going to church? The same can be had for going to work, for first it is God’s will. Therefore, you can make it an act of obedience to your Father. Faith, hope, and charity are already exercised in that one act and attitude of mind. Further, since you know it was the first penance laid on a sinner, you can make it reparation for your own sins and the sins of the world. You can make it plead with God for mercy on all who toil and thus fulfill those two commandments of love of God and love of neighbor which Christ said was all that is required of man.
Intriguing... and makes sense in a vacuum. But boy, that's a tough one for me to agree with, particularly right now. And I know of many others in the same boat currently.
It was Christmas Eve night in 1906. The ships at sea for the US Navy and the United Fruit Company received a message in Morse code to expect a special and important transmission. The telegraphers in
their respective ships expected to hear the dits and dashes of Morse coming through.
But instead they heard something that many likely hadn't imagined possible. It was the sound of a human voice. In particular, it was the voice of Reginald Fessenden, the genius behind this first wireless voice transmission who had studied under Thomas Edison, transmitting from Brant Rock, MA, to ships on the North and South Atlantic Ocean.
And what did those people hear from Fessenden, the son of an Anglican minister, on that important night?
Below you’ll find some excerpts from the interview. Mr. Scalfari’s questions and comments are in bold,
followed by the Pope’s responses. My thoughts are interjected after each block quote. However if you were to ask me to sum up the interview with a single quote it would be this — Pope Francis states, “I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”
Maybe the headline should read; Pope Declares Himself Humble
Your Holiness, is there is a single vision of the Good? And who decides what it is?
“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.”
That sounds an awful lot like relativism. But I’m sure something was just lost in translation. You know English isn’t his first language. Or maybe he was just being intentionally vague or something because he was talking with an atheist. Just insert whatever excuse and move on.
Well, “Nunblogger” Sister Anne Flanagan, a Daughter of Saint Paul, saw issues too, and since she reads Italian well, she has become a piecemeal translation that offers clarity:
If “everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them,” is the Pope saying that there is no such thing as objective truth, or objective right or wrong? This is where it is really, really helpful to know Italian: “Ciascuno di noi ha una sua visione del Bene e anche del Male. Noi dobbiamo incitarlo a procedere verso quello che lui pensa sia il Bene” is more literally (and helpfully?) translated as “Each one of us has his/her own vision of the Good or even of Evil. We must encourage him/her to move toward that which he/she sees as the Good.” The Pope is not leveling the difference between truth and untruth, right and wrong: he is saying that we all have a duty to encourage people to pursue the Good, knowing that the true Good will not fail to manifest himself, even if “through a glass darkly.”
I will stop here for a second, because someone has already complained to me that this translation is still not enough — that people need more explicit instruction as to what good and evil, but I disagree, and I think Aquinas would, too. If Francis seems to be trusting the Holy Spirit to lead people Christ-ward once he encourages them to walk toward the good, it is likely because he knows the sacraments — especially baptism — orient us toward being able to find our way (even if we have been detoured) toward the good, and then toward the light of All Goodness. I do understand the concern that people will take this incorrectly, and call evil good or slip into relativism. But again and again we’re seeing a stripping down to fundamentals in what Francis is saying.
She too has more and it's all, as usual, most worthy. Most. Worthy.
So is this (Kat) fight serious?
I doubt it. I've followed them both for a good while and think they're way beyond having a serious falling out but clearly they're disagreeing over this Pope.
I happen to like Katrina Fernandez alot. She is raw, human, and yes, brutally honest and all of that I admire in people, particularly if they can make me laugh. Katrina makes me laugh. Often.
But I also think she's wrong about this Pope. Way wrong.
And I wish she'd give him the benefit of the doubt.
I believe God's working in and through him. I really do. I'm hoping The Crescat will as well.
What if nearly everything you thought you knew about Matthew Shepard’s murder was wrong? What if our most fiercely held convictions about the circumstances of that fatal night of October 6, 1998, have
obscured other, more critical, aspects of the case? How do people sold on one version of history react to being told that facts are slippery — that thinking of Shepard’s murder as a hate crime does not mean it was a hate crime? And how does it color our understanding of such a crime if the perpetrator and victim not only knew each other but also had sex together, bought drugs from one another, and partied together?
None of this is idle speculation; it’s the fruit of years of dogged investigation by journalist Stephen Jimenez, himself gay. In the course of his reporting, Jimenez interviewed over 100 subjects, including friends of Shepard and of his convicted killers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, as well as the killers themselves (though by the book’s end you may have more questions than answers about the extent of Henderson’s complicity). In the process, he amassed enough anecdotal evidence to build a persuasive case that Shepard’s sexuality was, if not incidental, certainly less central than popular consensus has lead us to believe.
Of course, none of what Jimenez discovered changes the fact that Shepard was horribly murdered, but it may change how we interpret his murder. For many of us, the crime was not simply one family’s tragedy — it symbolized our vulnerable, uncertain place in the world. For many heterosexuals it challenged the myth of America as a guarantor of equality and liberty.
All that soul-searching may have felt necessary, especially in light of the legislation the case inspired, but was it helpful in getting at the truth? Or did our need to make a symbol of Shepard blind us to a messy, complex story that is darker and more troubling than the established narrative?
Can I get a show of hands from those of you who think this story will be covered widely by the mainstream media?