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Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

How Not To Promote “The Ten Commandments”

posted by kris rasmussen

I am sure some ABC exec thought it was a good idea to have Naveen Andrews, one of the stars of ABC’s hit show “Lost,” do the talk-show circuit to promote tonight’s premiere of the ABC miniseries “The Ten Commandments,” in which Andrews plays Menerith, brother to Moses. But Andrews’s comments on “Good Morning America” and “The View” will do little to persuade the religiously inclined to make the story of Moses Must See TV as part of observing this holy week.

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As Andrews chatted it up with Barbara Walters and the rest of the ladies on “The View,” he said that he liked this cinematic version of the biblical story because it portrayed Moses as a “nut job” and as someone who in today’s society would probably be nothing more than “a traffic guard or something.” Later on in the interview, when Star Jones pointed out to Andrews that the Bible refers to God’s law as “The Ten Commandments,” not the “Ten Suggestions,” Andrews simply shrugged and said that “all religious dogma is suspect and should be questioned.”

While Andrews is certainly entitled to his opinions, spiritual skepticism and all, he might want to remember that promoting a project means showing just a little bit of respect for the beliefs of the audience for whom the project is primarily intended.

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A Fish Out of Water

posted by dena ross

Normally, when I go to a rock concert, most of the people in the audience have their hands in the air, making the “sign of the devil” with their pinky and pointer fingers extended, rocking out to the music. They’re not holding their hands out in prayer. Usually when I see women in the audience reach toward the stage, she’s trying to grab the lead singer and rip his clothes off, not reaching toward heaven as a sign of worship. And, most times, when I see people embracing in the audience, it’s because they’re on drugs or leaning on someone because they’re drunk, not because they’re loving on their neighbor as Jesus would want it.

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But last night I saw all that and more, as I had my first experience at a Christian rock concert–Third Day and the David Crowder Band live at the Nokia Theater in Times Square, New York. I knew it would be much different than any show I’d experienced before, but I don’t think I was prepared for exactly how different it would be.

Because New York isn’t exactly known for its Christian rock scene, I expected plenty of empty seats. I was wrong: The place was packed and, unlike the more mainstream shows I’ve been to, people weren’t pushing, shoving, and spilling beer all over the place. People were actually polite. I figured they must all be from rural parts of Jersey or something, and not real New Yorkers; they couldn’t be! (Later in the night, a show of hands proved me wrong—most people seemed to live in the New York City area).

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The David Crowder band, who walked away earlier this month with three Doves at the Gospel Music Awards–including best Rock/Contemporary album for “Collision,” best Rock/ Contemporary Recorded Song for “Here is Our King,” and for their work on the best Special Event Album, “Music Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia”–opened the show. The wild-haired, Jesus-bearded Crowder had a wonderful rapport with the audience and put on a great performance. The crowd, especially the younger people, sang loudly and jumped around like it was a mosh pit at a House of Pain concert—except they all linked arms like old friends and no one seemed to get hurt or stepped on.

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Before launching into his “rock opera,” “You Are My Joy,” Crowder said we were going to “have a little church here in the middle of the Nokia Theater.” Up until that point, the concert didn’t seem so religious–like in many concerts, much of the lyrics were drowned out by overpowering percussion and guitars–but now we were going full throttle into worship.

Right after Crowder’s set, Tai Anderson, bass player for Third Day, came on stage to talk to the crowd about the documentary, “Invisible Children,” which tells the story of children in Uganda who are kidnapped and forced to fight for rebel armies. “Standing up for justice is our role in the body of Christ,” he said, encouraging the audience to get involved with the cause.

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A short while later, Third Day approached the stage to wild applause. Playing a variety of hits, such as “Cry Out to Jesus”–for which they won a Dove award for best Pop Contemporary Song of the Year–“Rock Star,” and oldies like “Consuming Fire,” the audience reveled in the mix of worship, rock, and country. One of the best moments of the night was when Third Day’s lead singer, Mac Powell, invited the David Crowder Band back on stage to sing a cover of Hank Williams Sr.’s, ” I Saw the Light.”

At the end of the night, right before he led the audience in a prayer, Mac Powell, lead singer of the group, made an interesting point when he said, “Down south, being a Christian is a cultural thing. But here in New York City, if you’re a Christian it’s for real; it’s not a cultural thing.” I wasn’t sure if he said that because of the idea that New York City is a cesspool of sin, or because it’s a place where people aren’t very open with their faith. Either way, it made me think.

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Throughout the show, I felt more uplifted than I do that one time a year I go to church. There was a genuine goodness in the air, which showed itself to me in a way that my traditional Catholic church does not. Although I’ve always been a music person and a God and Jesus person, I’ve never been much of a church person. But if I could find a place where I could, as Third Day lead singer Mac Powell says, “live my faith through music,” I think I’d have a better shot of going to church more regularly.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop listening to Metallica.

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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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