May the Best Story Win

May the Best Story Win


May the Best Story Win

NPR just started what they promise will be a series of stories on “losing faith,” stories about people who were religious believers but no longer believe. The series began with a woman who was a Methodist minister until she “came out” as an atheist at an American Atheists convention. There are so many things to ..

Classic 99 is online and expanding

Classic 99 is online and expanding


Classic 99 is online and expanding

As it happens, when Classic 99 went off the air in July 2010, it never died. Classic99.com continues to live stream its vast catalog of classical and sacred music online, just as it did when it broadcast on the FM dial. Matter of fact, I’m listening to it as I write this post, and I’m even hearing the familiar voices of former KFUO-FM announcers, now volunteers for the Internet station. And The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has announced that the Synod’s Board of Directors voted to provide an additional $193,000 through at least mid-2012 “not only to continue but to improve the way it provides quality classical and sacred music to listeners via the Internet.” And, evidently, both the online station and its listener base are expanding


Macy’s, Handel’s Messiah, and a random act of hyperspace


Macy’s, Handel’s Messiah, and a random act of hyperspace

By now, it has been making the email and Facebook rounds many times over: The Opera Company of Philadelphia hides in the Center City Philadephia Macy’s on Saturday, October 30, and during the height of the busy shopping day breaks into an “impromptu” performance of the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s “Messiah.” It was a “Random Act of Culture,” funded by the Knight Foundation as a campaign to bring “classical artists out of the performance halls, into the streets – and our everyday lives.” The only reason we know about it—and have “seen” it—is because it was posted on YouTube. And in the weeks since it has gone, as they say, viral. Three years ago, I wrote in a more academic venue about the experience of Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular as an experience of cultural “transgression.” It seems that a similar…

Starbucks Coffee and the meaning of ritual

Starbucks Coffee and the meaning of ritual


Starbucks Coffee and the meaning of ritual

I gave up my Starbucks addiction a long time ago. (In a previous life, the Webster/Old Orchard Starbucks was a near-daily stop on my way to work until I realized that it was part of the reason I gained 25 pounds and lost most of the cash in my wallet.) But I couldn’t help seeing Starbucks’ still new ad campaign while I was recently in the airport. “Take Comfort in Rituals.” Does it bring to mind visions of a hot cup of chai?


Dante’s Inferno and the simulacrum of hell


Dante’s Inferno and the simulacrum of hell

I haven’t owned a video gaming system since my parents got my brother and me the original Nintendo. But I’ve seen the commercials for “Dante’s Inferno” a number of times now, and I confess I’m captivated. Not that I intend to buy it. The real Dante’s Inferno is one of the great works of world literature, and still defines much of our visual mythology of hell. (This despite the fact that, for Dante, hell was freezing cold rather than burning hot.)..


Yelp for churches


Yelp for churches

So I just ran across this from another blog : ChurchRater.com . Evidently, founder Jim Henderson decided to start the Web site to rate churches–in the same way that TripAdvisor rates hotels or Yelp rates everything else–to help people find local faith communities. And in case you were wondering, Jim owns a consulting business to help churches “see themselves through the eyes of Outsiders.” Yeah, I’m not surprised either. I’m curious to see how high this gets off the ground. I have found myself using Yelp or AroundMe on my iPhone to check out churches when I’m out of town. The pickings are slim. Perhaps this will fill a void. As to what it says about the commodification of American religion, there’s a long line in that check-out lane

Jesus Rifles

Jesus Rifles


Jesus Rifles

The headline from ABC News is certainly attention grabbing — “No More Jesus Rifles.” Weapons supplied to US forces in the Middle East with “Bible Codes,” which are used in combat against Muslims is being widely condemned, predictably, as evoking the Crusades, inflaming Islamic perceptions of Western religious imperialism, and ignoring the constitutional separation of ..