Fierce battles over whether classic hymns or contemporary tunes should be the linchpins of Christian worship may have subsided, but the arena is still messy, according to worship pastor and recording artist Lincoln Brewster. Some Christians are more excited about turning up for a concert than they are about getting to worship on time, he says from experience. Others have placed facilitating genuine God-connections on the back burner for the sake of being "cool."
Brewster, in his 40s, was such a maestro on the guitar as a youth that by the age of 19, he was considering a major recording contract. But he passed on the golden opportunity for what he believed was a more sure-fire deal — serving at his local church. He has since released seven albums in partnership with Integrity Music, and has produced for the label such worship anthems as "Everlasting God" and "God You Reign."
Bayside Church in Granite Bay, California, where Brewster has served as the worship arts pastor for the last 14 years, describes him on its website as "a multi-talented guitarist, singer and songwriter" who "speaks to the hearts of people who are hungry for non-traditional, passionate worship." His accolades surely attest to his skills, but Brewster, a married father, is reluctant to take on the "rock star" title. more >>
Can you imagine a television program airing in America that portrayed Muhammad as a foul-mouthed pothead? Given that earlier this year ABC canceled Alice in Arabia—a show about an Arab-American who goes to live with her grandparents in Saudi Arabia—because CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) complained that the show relied on stereotypes of Muslims, it seems highly unlikely. Yet Black Jesus –the latest reminder that Christianity is the only major religion it is universally permissible to denigrate—began airing August 7 on Adult Swim.
Why did this show make it past the network censors while a similar show about Muhammad never would have? Probably for the same reason P*ss Christ—a 1987 photograph of a crucifix submerged in the "artist's" urine—was exhibited in the Stux Gallery in New York and won an award for visual arts from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. And the same reason Madonna could perform her single Live to Tell wearing a crown of thorns while suspended from a giant cross. In America, mocking Christianity has gone from being considered a sign of poor taste to the mark of artistic courage.
Although Megan Kelly was nearly "crucified" for affirming that Jesus was white, this series takes the issue of Jesus' ethnicity to the point of absurdity. Black Jesus began as a series of shorter skits on YouTube, where its antics fit well with the millions of hours of similarly amateurish material. The show has one joke: a black man in Compton dresses in robes suitable for a middle school play and calls himself Jesus. He's a nice enough guy, but he spends his days drinking forties, smoking joints, and dropping the f-bomb. And if you don't think that's just hilarious, then according to Robert Lloyd of the Chicago Tribune, you are an uptight religious fanatic who needs to relax. Lloyd writes: more >>
A large Catholic pro-life organization is demanding that the PBS cancel its airing of the controversial pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller."
The American Life League released a statement Wednesday calling upon the taxpayer funded PBS to cancel the "After Tiller" showing, scheduled for Labor Day.
Judie Brown, president of American Life League, said in a statement that the documentary "has no business airing on a publicly funded network." more >>
Late last week, on Friday afternoon, while most of us were checking out of work (mentally if not physically) and focusing on the weekend, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release informing of yet another revision to its contraceptive/abortion pill mandate. As it turns out, we didn't miss much.
The HHS was obliged to make changes following the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which struck down the Mandate as it applies to closely held for-profit corporations. Also, the HHS could hardly ignore the string of subsequent court rulings casting doubt on the propriety of an "accommodation" the department set aside for religious non-profits.
Like a number of federal courts figured out, the "accommodation" given to religious non-profits is not very accommodating. The HHS decided they'd make the insurance company, and not the ministry, pay for contraceptive and abortion services, conveniently ignoring the real-world effect of increased premiums that cause employers to cover the additional costs in a back-door way. And, HHS glosses over the actual concern: More than just paying for it, Christian ministries are compelled to be deal-brokers between their own employees and providers of highly objectionable services. But for the employment, their employees do not receive free abortions. more >>
I recently had an exchange with a Duke Divinity School student regarding many of things I've written at the Acton Institute over the past 12 years. The student said this about me:
When it comes to speaking comfort to power and castigating the most vulnerable in our society, there is perhaps no public theological voice more eager than that of Anthony Bradley's. His body of work is a textbook in blaming the victim and reducing problems to pathology.
Not only had the student actually not read most of the things that I have written but the comment exposes something that Jonathan Haidt explains well that I've talked about before: ideological "tribalism." more >>
All schools in Nigeria have been shut down until October as health authorities continue battling the deadliest outbreak of Ebola virus in history.
"All state ministries of education are to immediately organize and ensure that at least two staff in each school, both private and public, are trained by appropriate health workers no later than Sept. 15 on how to handle any suspected case of Ebola," said Education Minister Ibrahim Shekarau.