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Apparently, with just 1 million “points” you can get into heaven! At least if you attend The Church of St. John the Evangelist in Ontario, Canada, that is. St. John’s and radio station CHEZ 106 (106.1 FM) have teamed up to sponsor a contest where congregants and radio listeners are offered “absolution of past sins” by God and a ticket into heaven. They’re enticing people with catchy advertising: “Lived the ‘Classic Rock’ lifestyle in the past? Coveted your neigbour’s wife? Lied to your boss? Feel like you’re being dragged down by your past indulgences?”

Are you interested yet? Check this out, from the press release, for full details:

St. John’s Anglican Church, 154 Somerset West in Ottawa, and Classic Rock CHEZ 106 are proud to announce an exciting new contest which allows Ottawa residents the opportunity to win something that no amount of money can buy!

Starting Monday, August 14th 2006 @ 5am, CHEZ 106 (106.1 FM) will offer members of its online VIP club the opportunity to exchange “Platinum Points” for absolution from their past sins.

“Living the Classic Rock lifestyle, we’ve all done things we’re not proud of,” says CHEZ 106 Program Director & Afternoon DJ Jeff Brown. “And as part of our new VIP Club, we want to offer listeners the chance at things they normally can’t gain access. What’s more exclusive than a free ticket into Heaven?”

“Heaven is not a pie in the sky when you die,” says Garth Bulmer, priest at the church. “It’s about unloading the crap which drags you down and picking up a new life. It’s just a click away.”

Listeners are encouraged to participate in this “Points” program through station contesting, events, or while the station is on location in the Ottawa Community. Normally, listeners can exchange these points for concert tickets, cds / dvds, books, station merchandise, or other prizes periodically made available to them through our website at www.chez106.com.

The contest, which runs until September 30th, 2006, offers no refunds and is not guaranteed.

I suppose this is one way to modernize what was a rather popular medieval means of getting into heaven!

I promised myself: No more Mel Gibson blog pieces. But I can’t resist sharing this thought, one insightful point in a long article full of insightful points, by Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman:

WAS IT MEL’S RAGE, OR HIS BETTER ANGELS, THAT DROVE HIM TO MAKE THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST? Both, and that’s why it’s a true Passion play. The simple explanation for why Gibson crafted his version of the Gospels is that he’s a self-confessed sinner, and therefore an ideal candidate to tell the primal story of Christian redemption. I believe that, yet what makes Gibson a singular poster child for the temptations (and ravages) of sin is that when you consider what a widely worshipped Hollywood star he is, a man who can do pretty much anything he wants, he is by now so obviously ruled by his addictions that it’s no great leap to say that they’re filling a hole in his spirit.

Gleiberman also says that despite Mel’s faults and bigotry, he’s eager to see “Apocalypto” anyway. I couldn’t agree more. Read the whole article here.

Simply put, Will Ferrell is a funny man. And “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” is just what we need right now, among all of the extremely-not-funny things going on in the world.

A lot of us like to consider ourselves film connoisseurs, choosy and particular about what we spend our time and money watching. “Talladega Nights” doesn’t appeal to the picky film fan in any of us–and that’s where the beauty lies. Like “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Talladega Nights” finds Ferrell poking fun at the white American male, and it’s something we can all get a kick out of. Getting through the product placement in the movie is a little tough, but you couldn’t have a movie based around NASCAR racing without it. The laugh aspects of the film are black and white–you find yourself either laughing out loud or shaking your head and asking the person next to you, “What?!” For example, Ricky Bobby says grace to “Baby Jesus,” instead of “the grownup Jesus, with a beard.” It’s funny–the first time around–but the jokes grows a little stale after a few minutes. This seems to be the case several times throughout the film.

The movie is an obvious poke at the stereotype of the white Southern man–the NASCAR-loving, trophy-wife toting, American flag-waving hick. Being from the South and knowing people who have been to the Talladega Superspeedway, I wondered, as I watched the movie, if racing fans would be offended by this portrayal, especially by the characters consistently making fun of Jesus. As someone who is super-sensitive to stereotypes of my heritage, I didn’t find myself offended at all by the actors’ accents or lifestyles. This is part of Ferrell’s genius–you find yourself enjoying his characters because he looks as if he’s having such a good time. But then again, I’m not a white male from the Deep South who loves to drive.

The film is probably the most quotable of the summer, if you can remember anything. It’s packed with so many short, sharp lines–and stepping out of the theater, you try to remember one, verbatim, but they all get mixed together. I don’t know if “Talladega Nights” is the best Will Ferrell movie yet. I saw it twice, and naturally it wasn’t as funny the second time around, but “Talladega Nights” is still the funniest movie I’ve seen in quite a while–not smart, indie comedy, just simple, ridiculous, laugh-out-loud fun. If laughter really is good for the soul, then I think it’s safe to say Ricky Bobby is, too.

James C. Hunter’s book “The Servant,” is hardly something new in the business-leadership genre: its theme, that execs should be not taskmasters but facilitators of their employees’ growth as human beings, was first struck by Robert Greenleaf in his 1977 book “Servant Leadership.” Hunter’s small innovation—putting his wisdom in the mouth of a Wall St.-wise Benedictine monk—capitalized on a late ’90s trend of Jesus-based business books. The barely 200-page volume never got out of the quadruple digits on Amazon in the United States.

Imagine Hunter’s surprise when he got a call from Brazil recently informing him that “The Servant” had climbed to #1 on bestseller lists in Brazil. As this Washington Post story about Hunter points out, Brazilians are especially attuned to the role-reversal inherent in the servant leadership concept. The country’s book market is also apparently experiencing its own spiritual moment: #2 on Brazil’s list is another American book, “The Greatest Psychologist Who Ever Lived: Jesus and the Wisdom of the Soul,” by Mark W. Baker.