Culture

One of Laura Kate's many insertions.

One of Laura Kate’s many insertions.

Take a gander at my seven-year-old granddaughter’s impressive collection of books and you’ll find something very interesting. In volume after volume, page after page, she has drawn a picture of herself.

Ask her why, and she’ll reply, matter-of-factly, “I wanted to draw myself into the story.”

This isn’t just about a second-grader’s imagination. It’s about an entire culture. Laura Kate is just one poster child among millions who have quietly (or not-so-quietly) gone about rewriting the rules for just about everything, from entertainment to technology, to politics and even religion.

I wanted to draw myself into the story. [click to continue…]

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Spring tulip fields in Holland, Netherlands

According to the experts in global culture, setting aside specific countries or tribes, you belong to one of 10 primary social groups: Anglo, Germanic, Latin European, African, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, Confucian, Southeast Asian, Latin American, and Nordic.

One in 10 – that alone makes you pretty statistically insignificant.

Broadly speaking, again setting aside the ever-increasing labels for new “communities” springing up, three genders have been formally recognized at a government level somewhere in the world – male, female, and transgender. Factor that into the previous set of distinctions, and move over – now you’re one in 30. [click to continue…]

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kennedy_funeral_0827

(Sort-of-random thoughts on the anniversary of infamy and conspiracy theories and high-powered cold medicine, which doesn’t really go with the previous two subjects but can sure make you see them in a whole new way…)

So many years gone… I was only five at the time.  Still I remember the solemn funeral, the haunting image of the caisson and that black, riderless horse, and Mrs. Kennedy standing behind the veil.  I don’t remember much else of the time, except for the fact that we had a black-and-white TV with three channels available, and when the president was on TV, we could forget watching Captain Kangaroo or Tom and Jerry because he would be on all three channels at the same time.

Wow… how did I ever survive a childhood without Sesame Street, the Cartoon Network, or Nick Jr.?  The “Disney Channel” of course!  Which came on for an hour every Sunday night at 6:00 on NBC.

Okay, so – in case you missed it – I wanted to let you know that there are people who still believe that no single shooter could have ended the days of Camelot.  [click to continue…]

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Stained Glass JesusWe used to have this set of biblical art prints – four of them – that were gifts from dear friends.  The art was good, but now more than 15 years later we laughed at the fact that the characters – Jesus, Mary, a couple of others – all had “80s hair.”  It was feathered, layered, shoulder length, and looked blow-dried fresh out of a salon.

Jesus seemed to have it all. He was hip, compelling, with a laser gaze right at you and his hand reaching out in such a way that you just couldn’t say no.

Mary was, well, I don’t know how else to say it… she was hot.  In a holy sort of way, of course.  If they had mani-pedis back then, no doubt this version of Mary was just back from one.

I don’t know who the artist was, but I’m sure he or she was probably tired of all those sissy-looking Renaissance-era paintings of Jesus who looked as though He just had his nails done, and wanted something different.  More reflective of the styles and cultures of the artist’s day, by the time we got them, they were very dated.  We wound up hanging them in our laundry room. Not quite sure why. [click to continue…]

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Our Thai friend Gift is back. She visited us for the first time last year and has returned with her sister Goy.  It’s always a delight to spend time with our Thai friends because of their contagious joy, their delight in serving, and in the case of Gift, her husband Dui, and Goy, their deep love for Jesus Christ.

It also always leads to some interesting conversations.  Gift is many things – a deep thinker, a shrewd businesswoman and entrepreneur, a disciple in every sense of the word.  She told me that this time while she was here, every once in a while she wanted some time to ask some questions.

Fine, I said. Feel free to ask anything.

Lo and behold, she nailed me with the first one. She was looking at one of the books I had out – a book on leadership – and she asked, “Why do Americans study and read so much about leadership?”

That sound you didn’t just hear were the crickets chirping in my head.

Somebody just asked the fish to explain water.

“Well,” I said to break the awkwardly long silence and try to get that deer-in-the-headlights look off my face, “that’s the first time anybody has ever asked me that.”

Wow.  That was really helpful. [click to continue…]

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hateCNN had an interesting story yesterday.  The headline: “When Christians Become a Hated Minority.”  Like so many other current cultural debates, it assumes that Christ followers are camped out on one issue.  Maybe that’s because that issue is the one place, seemingly, where the world has managed to join forces with the tide of popular opinion.  Now anybody who speaks out against homosexual behavior or gay marriage is a hate-filled bigot.

The article fairly raises the question of whether Christian-haters are the new bigots.  It points out that many believers avoid saying anything about, well, anything for fear of the backlash.

This raises a painful question for Christians:  Why are we being trampled on?  It sure seems that anywhere you turn anybody and everybody has the right to say whatever they want, do whatever pleases them, and demand to be accepted.  But let somebody mention Jesus or the word “Christian” and the arrows fly from all sides.

Here’s the problem:  We’re asking the wrong people. [click to continue…]

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Picture a couple of goldfish in a cartoon.  Only instead of a fishbowl, they’re holed up in a blender.  One looks to the other and says, “The stress here is killing me!”

We had that cartoon at a place I used to work.

We also had that kind of stress.  We never quite knew when somebody might show up and punch “Puree.”

Morale was hard to come by in that environment because we presented one set of values to the public, but lived by a different set behind the office doors.  Information was available only on a “need to know” basis, and most people, most of the time, didn’t “need to know.”  Accountability ran down a one-way street.  Underlings were accountable for everything, including their email accounts and their bank accounts, while “leaders” answered to no one.

Oh… did I mention that this was a church? [click to continue…]

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