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…

The Bible as literature: Bob Dylan and the near-sacrifice of Isaac

The Bible as literature: Bob Dylan and the near-sacrifice of Isaac


The Bible as literature: Bob Dylan and the near-sacrifice of Isaac

Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son” Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on” God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?” God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but The next time you see me comin’ you better run” Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?” God says, “Out on Highway 61” The word of the Lord according to Bob Dylan, in the opening lines from the title track of his landmark album Highway 61 Revisited . It is a sly and menacing retelling of the famous episode of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son Isaac from Genesis 22 . And Dylan sets it along the famous highway of the blues that stretches along the Mississippi River from New Orleans up almost to Canada. It is the highway where legend has it Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to play the…

Looking for a summer read? The American Mind Meets the Mind of Christ

Looking for a summer read? The American Mind Meets the Mind of Christ


Looking for a summer read? The American Mind Meets the Mind of Christ

…is the title of the newest book from the Concordia Seminary Press. The American Mind Meets the Mind of Christ is a collection of essays edited by renowned scholar Robert Kolb . Here’s the synopsis from the back cover: Whether it is an altar to an unknown god or the New Atheists, Christians have always faced the challenge of translating the Gospel message within the surrounding culture. This is no less true for the tangled web that is 21st century America

Earth Day: together with all creatures

Earth Day: together with all creatures


Earth Day: together with all creatures

I blog elsewhere about the adventures (and misadventures) of trying my hand with a small hobby farm. Most of the time, the joys and struggles of that life with some land do not intersect in any obvious way with my life and vocation at the Seminary. (Although there are hopeful signs that my worlds might be ..


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

Mapping Faith’s Legal Limits

Mapping Faith’s Legal Limits


Mapping Faith’s Legal Limits

An Oregon case spotlights the legal conundrum of charting the legal limts of religious faith and practice in America. The facts are as follows:a jury has convicted an Oregon couple of criminally negligent homicide after the death of their 16-year old son. They are members of the Followers of Christ Church, and as such they ..