Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

They Love Us in Allentown!

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Idol Chatter and its editor are profiled in the Allentown, Pa., Morning Call newspaper by Jessica Berthold, who writes a column called “Bloggernaut.”

Holding back tears, Idol Chatter would like to thank Jessica, the Morning Call, all our readers, our families, our ancestors, the Academy, all our fellow, oh-so-worthy nominees (oops, wrong speech), and, of course, the intelligent designer (for designing such a good-looking newspaper page for the article).

Seriously, though, we really appreciate the attention! You can read the piece here.

The Times Goes Indigo

posted by burb

The New York Times has a few stalwart religion writers, like Laurie Goodstein, whose work saves the editors’ decided parochialism when it comes to religion. (See “Rites,” an oddly inanimate photo series of Jewish, pagan, and other supposedly arcane ceremonies that seems to have been discontinued.) But only John Leland—not a religion reporter at all, but the Times’ appointed chronicler of hipness (and a former colleague of mine at Newsweek)–seems to take true delight in America’s spiritual grab-bag. His pieces on alternative churches and Christian rock a few years back communicated those worlds without condescending–even if, thanks to that same Timesean callowness about faith matters, the articles ran some years after those phenomena arose. Yesterday Leland tackled the parapsychological notion of Indigo children—again, a little late, but with his accustomed real curiosity and gentleness.

Steven Colbert: Funny by “Design”

posted by kris rasmussen

I have been a fan of comedian and satirist Steven Colbert since he began doing segments on “The Daily Show” such as “The Week in God.” No religion or religious figure was above Colbert’s barbs. That certainly hasn’t changed since he started his own show, “The Colbert Report.” I have been waiting for the chance to blog about him here and last night’s episode finally gave me a perfect opportunity. Colbert interviewed Kenneth Miller, a professor at Brown University, to discuss, as only Colbert can, the issue of evolution vs. intelligent design. Miller’s first argument for believing in evolution–Darwinism? Big Bang theory? Nope. Flu shots. According to Miller, “Anyone who had a flu shot this year should sign a statement saying they believe in evolution.” Why? Because, Miller argues, the flu virus changes or evolves creating new strains every year (thus a need for a new shot every year ), so therefore it is safe to assume humans have evolved or changed from apes to who we are now.

While this argument was just one of several intentionally ( I think!) ridiculous arguments, it was interesting to me that both Colbert and Miller identified themselves as Catholics, and in Miller’s case, he vehemently proclaims that being a Catholic does not get in the way of believing in evolution. In fact, Miller states that he actually believes in a bigger God than those of us who believe in intelligent design, and he actually writes about this very topics on his very interesting website. At any rate, I wish all pop-culture-war debates were as funny, lively, and entertaining as this one. But for the record, Mr. Miller, I have had a flu shot, and I am still not signing any paper, okay?

Rites of Passage: Brutal… or Just Shorter?

posted by doug howe

Saturday night at 9, the National Geographic Channel’s “Taboo” series presents a look at “Rites of Passage” from around the world. Tune in, TiVo it, or have someone record it. Here’s why:

This show visits different cultures from around the world—and one in America—showing footage of life transitions marked by more than just a Hallmark card. In the American Midwest, an Apache tribe maintains a grueling four-day ordeal to usher young girls into womanhood. In South Africa, boys become men by going through the traditional Xhosa initiation process which begins with a brutal circumcision.

If your kids watch, it may give a new perspective on teen challenges such as “mowing the lawn,” “cleaning up your room,” “keeping the family car clean and fueled after you use it,” and, oh yes, the big one: “Do you homework and study well for tests.” Not so bad after all, huh?

And the brave watcher might stop and question whether these painful taboos are actually less painful—in the long run—than the long-term consequences of America’s extended adolescence, with adults “working out their issues” well into adulthood. As author and family expert Dr. Chapman Clark has said: Today’s adults want to look like kids, crank their high school “hits,” and passionately cheer on the team. Today’s adolescents see these adults aspiring to live like teenagers, and subsequently they see no reason to make the difficult journey to adulthood.

“In contemporary society, graduate school is often a place to ‘find oneself,’” Clark says “Numerous studies attempt to understand the historically unheard of phenomenon of 30-somethings who have Ph.D.s living at home or waiting tables who have yet to ‘discover’ what they want to do.”

If you watch, fight the temptation to just observe it like an animal kingdom show–as in “watch as Fred puts his hand in the mouth of the alligator.” We need a good discussion about how to help our kids make a clearer transition into adulthood, taking personal responsibility for everything they do. And maybe it’s time some of us did the same.

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