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Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

A Display of Mastery–of Biblical Proportions

posted by doug howe

The Masters golf tournament may not command the television ratings of the Super Bowl and March Madness, but it still qualifies as one of the cultural sports holidays that many Americans gather around and observe religiously. During Sunday’s final round, I saw all nine fruits of the spirit (from Galatians 5:22-23).

Love. Every player who walked up the fairway to the 18th green—including Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabel, America’s Ryder Cup nemesis, received warm and gracious standing ovations regardless of where they stood in the standings. Such unconditional love is not typical in our performance-driven culture.

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Peace. Rocco Mediate, a smiling guy who was within a nose of the lead, hit three (yes three!) balls in the water at the 12th hole and scored a 10 on a par 3. His response was a deep breath, a smile and an on to the next hole—an inner strength that we could all imitate when we face our failures this week. That hole probably cost Rocco about a quarter of a million dollars.

Patience. Anybody that plays golf has it. So do fans who sit for five hours in one spot; at my church, people are ready to go to lunch after an hour.

Kindness. 46-year-old Fred Couples missed several short putts, but was usually greeted by loud ovations at the subsequent holes.

Goodness. Phil Mickelson saved his fellow competitor a penalty stroke by reminding him to replace his mark before putting, after their balls were on the same line. In other sports, most players try to get away with what they can while hoping the ref catches the other guy.

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Faithfulness. Bucking a commercial trend at big events, the network and its advertisers ran only four minutes of commercials per hour.

Gentleness. Golf is a rare sport where no one points a finger in his opponents face or celebrates another’s demise or dances when a competitor fails. Fans work not to be a distraction, and etiquette is held in high esteem.

Self-Control. Tiger Woods—playing while his father lay ill in Southern California—was poised for a comeback win to become the second-greatest Masters champion of all-time, but he missed short shots all day. However, he never lost his composure (okay, maybe one exclamation) and was still around to make a valiant run in the closing holes.

Joy. When the excellent shots occurred—no matter who made them—there was raucous applause that echoed throughout the woods and across the course, much louder than the outpouring of praise at most churches this day.

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Toto, Meet TM. TM, Meet Toto

posted by burb

The Beatles are all now either dead, knighted or Ringo, but the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the group’s onetime spiritual guru and the inventor of Transcendental Meditation, is still making news. The Maharishi’s followers recently broke ground on a $14 million World Peace Capital, a campus of a dozen buildings now rising on 480 acres in extremely rural Smith County, Kansas. Your next question, kids, (after “Who’s The Beatles?”) is “Why Kansas?” Smith County, it turns out, is the geographic center of the United States, the perfect place to anchor a chain of Transcendental Meditation centers spreading across the country’s midsection. To local officials, such reasoning is beside the point. As Smith Center Mayor Randy Archer points out, “With a population of 1,800 and the oldest population in Kansas, we don’t have much going for us.”

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The choice of Kansas does not seem akilter, either, to anyone who has followed the TM movement over the decades. True, TM began as a hot jetsetter spirituality—think Kabbalah, with OM—and some Hollywood types, like director David Lynch, still swear by it. But Maharishi’s chief stateside organization, U.S. Peace Government, has long been based in Iowa, and Americans in the heartland have taken to it as a nondenominational way to find peace, reduce stress—and prevent crime: Last week, a St. Louis, Mo., Judge and TM practitioner ordered a woman convicted of fraud to attend 180 hours of community service and learn TM.

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Emboldened, perhaps, by his recent roll, the Maharishi may be trying to settle an old score with the Fab Four. Last month former, disciple Deepak Chopra floated a story that the band’s break with their guru came not because the Maharishi was hitting on women in their entourage at his Indian ashram, but because the yogi himself objected to said entourage’s intake of pot and LSD at the ashram.

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Phew! ‘Da Vinci Code’ Movie Can Proceed as Planned

posted by

At least one “Da Vinci Code” mystery has been solved… as far as the High Court in London is concerned. According to Reuters, the British court decided that “while Brown may have copied bits of the 1982 book ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail,’ that [it] did not amount to a breach of copyright.”

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, well-known conspiracy theorists and authors of “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” (as the book was titled here in the States), had claimed that Brown stole their idea of a massive church cover-up of the true nature of the bloodline of Christ for his megaselling novel. The suit threatened–or seemed to threaten–to delay the May release of the “Da Vinci Code” movie starring Tom Hanks. It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist, however, to determine that the timing of the lawsuit was just a little too perfect, seeing as how well the trial coincided with the release of Baignent’s new book “The Jesus Papers,” which claims that Christ didn’t die on the cross–not to mention the buzz over the upcoming “Da Vinci Code” movie release.

(Watch Beliefnet’s video interview with Baigent here.)

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Heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Jay and Paul!

posted by doug howe

All of the wires, websites, and blogs that are talking about Paul Newman’s appearance on last night’s “Tonight Show” are missing what I thought was the most powerful part of the evening.

Paul Newman ate dog food, discussed his charitable work around the world, and engaged in the Second Annual Race With Jay in a concocted two-lap go-cart trip around an indoor track in the studio. The Newman stunts and Jay’s suck-up-easy questions were bordering on the kind of semi-pathetic things that other stars need to make an interview interesting while not looking so old. But when the little race started, the real Paul Newman emerged.

There were live cameras at all four turns on the course, which meant eight close-up views of the drivers, the cars and, most importantly, Mr. Newman’s eyes. Yes, those eyes—the window into the soul that used to jump through the screen and speak into our lives and the ones that presently notice injustice around the world and bring new life to the impoverished and under-resourced kids there. He looked 30 years younger during that race: competitive, sharp, focused, and intense. He managed to bring a poise and a pride to the fabricated event the way he brought distinction and even decorum to so many seemly characters through the years. This was the man who made a hustler redeemable, a bandit likeable, a con man credible, a mob family member sympathetic, and an ambulance-chaser correctable.

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One of the true signs of spiritual depth is an honest look from—or into—the eyes of a human being. In the midst of the perception management and brand development that is our media culture, authenticity and candor are qualities that are rarely visible. That’s why I was surprised and inspired during last night’s “Tonight Show,” and remembered to reflect on what my own eyes reveal about the spiritual trajectory of my life, and my impact in the world around me.

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