Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Law & Order in the Journey

posted by doug howe

Whether its prime time or not, weekday or weekend, holidays, sweeps period, or any other time of the year, it doesn’t take long to see that cop shows and court shows are very popular these days. “CSI,” “Cold Case,” “Law & Order,” “In Justice,” even “Boston Legal” are examples of shows that offer the “payoff” in which the bad guy is caught, convicted, sentenced, disgraced or killed.


Charles Colson has reflected on this fact and said yesterday on his radio show that there may be a spiritual reason for it. “I’m convinced that the popularity of cop shows reflects our God-given desire for justice and moral clarity,” Colson said. “Our love of these dramas—and before them, Westerns—reflect our acute awareness of the difference between good and evil, guilt and innocence.”

It’s an interesting perspective, because, when you get down to it, how many people really long for more stabbings, killings, rapes, blood, gore, or violence of any kind in their day? Why endure it by choice? What is it that drives us to these shows?


“Police dramas presuppose a moral universe,” Colson says. “In fact, moral absolutes are essential to police dramas. Take them away, and the story falls apart. Why? Because if there is no such thing as real evil, there’s no such thing as a guilty party.”

Whatever your favorite is, the questions of morality and the nature of right and wrong—and the issue of who decides—cannot be separated from the authentic spiritual journey, if the journey is to have any relevance outside of our own feelings and moods. The search for inner help and spiritual strength must bring a sort of spiritual “law and order” to be ultimately fulfilling.


Bracelet: Conviction or Convenience

posted by doug howe

Ellen Leventry’s blog entry regarding Sasha Cohen’s Kabbalah bracelet was an interesting piece that brings up an interesting issue that should be seriously debated—or at least reflected on—in our culture: the difference between religion, spirituality, superstition, karma, luck, faith, and hope. I was particularly struck by Sasha Cohen’s comment on her wrist-piece, “I’m not deeply into Kabbalah.”

When she puts a Kabbalah bracelet on her wrist before she skates, what is really going on there? Is it a sign of faithfulness towards a God, hoping for blessing in return? Is it an act of superstition, hoping not to jinx herself? Is it a bet, sort of like, “Hey, just in case there’s a chance it could help, I’ll do it”? Is it considered a risk-free investment, along the lines of, “Hey, doesn’t cost me anything to wear it, and if helps, well, that’s all the more wonderful”? Is it a fearful act of not wanting to forego anything that may bring success? Is it a combination of all of the above?


NFL Players gather each week after the game, take a knee at midfield, and pray. A growing percentage of the league’s players will point to the heavens, take a knee, or cross themselves after a touchdown. Many players come to team chapel meetings before games. Does this mean they’re spiritual? Or does it mean they’re willing to work all of the angles, just in case?

These questions are relevant because, as spiritual seekers, we should ask these questions of “role models”–and then, more importantly, ask them of ourselves. Do I really have a faith system that believes that a bracelet will improve my score? Am I convinced that dropping to one knee on TV will get me God’s blessings? Or am I simply acting out of purity and faith, whether it gets me results or not?


As it turns out, Sasha Cohen fell twice yesterday and didn’t win the gold medal, even though she was wearing her bracelet. Does that mean it “didn’t work”? Or, given the fact that she fell twice and still won a silver medal, does it mean that she was rewarded for her “faith”?

Answering questions like these are important as we each consider our own spiritually driven actions, which we hope are more than acts of blind faith. And, at that point, if we’re truly willing to look within, then we find ourselves living out the true privilege of spiritual seeking. Short of that, we might as well admit that we’re going with the flow, going with the tide, going with the current, more out of convenience than conviction.


Kabbalists on Ice

posted by ellen leventry

That red string around U.S. figure skater Sasha Cohen’s left wrist wasn’t part of her colorful costume–it was a Kabbalah bracelet. Ubiquitous among celebrities, including Madonna, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and even Paris Hilton, the trendy talisman of Jewish mystical tradition has made its way to center ice.

Cohen, who skated her way to first place after the women’s short program last night, was introduced to the bracelet–thought to ward off evil and negative thoughts–by ice skating teammate Johnny Weir.


”I’m not deeply into Kabbalah,” Cohen said on when asked if she was wearing a Kabbalah bracelet at Nationals, “but I appreciate the principles of it…. I had a Kabbalah string before this one and it fell off–which is good luck. Johnny Weir tied that one on me the year before.” Another teammate, U.S. men’s figure skater Evan Lysacek, tied on this most recent bracelet.

While Cohen may not be a devotee of Kabbalah, the flamboyant Weir is. “A friend introduced me to Kabbalah actually before Esther (Madonna) started doing it,” Weir told Salon. “For a while I was getting a big head about how good I was becoming and what was going on with me, and it just sort of helped me stay centered and that sort of thing.”


Weir says he wears a Kabbalah star charm on his necklace, as well as the red string that “kind of saves you from other people dissing you.”

Unfortunately for the three-time national champion, his bracelet may need to work harder, since many in sports media have been savaging him for his comments blaming his poor performance and fifth-place finish on missing the bus and bad auras. Cohen’s bracelet, for the moment, can rest easy, as her graceful short program impressed the judges and is keeping the press more than pleasant.


Will “House” Ever Find Hope ?

posted by kris rasmussen

He may be a rude, bitter man who likes to pretend he is God, but I am still crazy about Gregory House. Fox’s critically acclaimed series “House”–which centers around a brilliant infectious disease specialist who solves life-or-death medical mysteries–features one of the most emotionally complicated yet morally ambiguous characters ever written for television. Sure, House (played to perfection by Golden Globe winner Hugh Laurie) wants us all to believe he cares more about solving a medical puzzle than cozying up to his patients, and, yes, he has a little pill-popping problem, but last night’s episode confirms what “House” fans knew all along–his snarky behavior is all a mask to hide his struggle with his own personal demons, as he searches for some kind of hope to make his life worth living.


Fresh off of the ending of an affair with his ex-wife Stacy, House begins to notice increasing amounts of pain shooting through his leg, which was premanently damaged in an accident years ago. Though he does not want his co-workers to know about his worsening medical condition, he does confide in two people–his only friend, Dr. Wilson, and his boss, Dr. Cuddy. Wilson suggests that maybe the nerves in his leg are trying to regenerate and heal, giving House a sense of false hope. But when the pain becomes too great for the doctor, he goes to Cuddy and insists she give him morphine, because the Vicodin pills he takes constantly don’t help him anymore.

The morphine shot works–or so House thinks–because suddenly his leg feels better. It is then that Cuddy reveals that she, too, gave House a false sense of hope. The morphine was actually a placebo, indicating that the pain is in House’s heart and head, but not in his leg. The final scene reveals House’s vulnerability in a way we the viewers have never seen before. Face-to-face with his past failures and disappointments, all of which are deeper than the scars on his crippled leg, which he now realizes won’t ever heal, House sits alone in his home staring at a bottle of pills with a look of utter despair. In a moment of defeat, he opens the bottle and pops some pills, once more hoping to deaden the pain inside.

Could this mean that House has finally hit rock bottom emotionally and spiritually? I sure hope so. It will not only make for good TV drama, but it could be a soul-searching reminder to us all that we cannot wrestle our inner demons alone and expect to win; we need the help of a higher power.

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