God And Country Music: New Avett Brothers Album Means Only Good Things

Yesterday, the Avett Brothers announced a new single and an upcoming album, Magpie and the Dandelions. After only about a year since their last release, The Avett Brothers are cranking out another album and that is good news for fans because, really, a bad Avett Brothers album is still a good album. Their last album The Carpenter was a bad Avett Brothers album compared to 2009’s I And Love And You or 2004’s Mignonette, but it still has some of the most beautiful songs of 2012 on it. Really, it's … [Read more...]

The Last Battle of The Civil Wars

Joy Williams and John Paul White are one of the most surprisingly popular bands of the last few years. Undeniably talented songwriters whose sound has an almost Victorian, nostalgic aesthetic, the Civil Wars’ music is heartbreakingly melancholy and romantic. And that sound won them unexpected popularity, Grammys, and critical acclaim.However sad their music might be, no one expected the full-fledged hiatus and tour cancellation following their success due to “irreconcilable differences." But … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: Traditionalism as a Shadow of Reconciliation

Music journalist Greil Marcus believes that you can understand a culture if you understand its music. And while statistics are about as reliable as Firestone Tires on Ford Explorers, research has shown that 42 percent of the American population listens to country music. This means that out of every ten blokes you’ll meet, at least four of them probably love that high and lonesome sound. So according to Greil Marcus’ school of thought (and mine, and you know, a lot of people), what is being said i … [Read more...]

Mad Men Recap 6.12 & 13: There’s a Good Man in that Homesick Monster

Mad Men Recap 6.12: "You're a Monster"The definitive image book-ending the recent Mad Men episode "The Quality of Mercy" is an overhead shot of Don Draper curled up in the fetal position--first on a children's bed in his apartment, then on the couch in his office. Awaking in bed alone, Megan finds Don curled up in the aforementioned position, and, concerned, orders him to take a "sick" day. Later in the day, then, Don and Megan go to the movies so that Don might escape pesky work calls. The f … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Only Children Are Lonely and Selfish (Just Like the Rest of Us)

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.Some of my best friends are only children. There, I said it. They’re not spoiled or selfish, either. And when they talk about their childhoods, they don’t use words like “lonely.” I think sometimes in the rhetoric about how many children we (or better yet, other people) ought to have, we forget that families are complex. It’s as easy to cultivate cruelty among sibling … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: Man of Steel in Awesome, if not Guiding, Beams of Light

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.In Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, the name "Superman" is only uttered once or twice, and when he wears the caped suit, it's a muted--not blinding bright--red and blue. Some viewers will chalk up the details of Snyder's (and Goyer's and Nolan's) reimagination to another instance of "going gritty"--and I suppose there's something to that, particularly in the film's controversial, climactic scene--but the mixture of grey to … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: What’s In A Name, Mrs. Carter?

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.A few weeks ago, I introduced myself to another mother at my local library’s story hour. We knew each other’s children’s names, but could only refer to each other as “So-and-so’s mom.” It’s not my favorite thing to be called, yet it seems common at these children’s gatherings for adults to be known only by the possessive relational title of X’s mom/dad/grandma/gr … [Read more...]

Mad Men Recap 6.10 & 11: “Be Slick, Be Glib, Be You!” But Don Has Children, Too

Mad Men  Recap 6.10: "Be slick, be glib, be you!"Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Cutler Gleason and Chaough have an identity crisis. "SCDPCGC" is the unofficial seven letter branding, but few people know it, and fewer still get it precisely right. Near the beginning of "A Tale of Two Cities," the partners of the newly merged firm convene for a brief meeting in the boardroom, and Jim Cutler complains that they received mail addressed to Sterling Gleason and Pryce. "From who?" Roger Sterling … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Will Smith And His Family Are Superheroes. What’s Your Family Metaphor?

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.According to a Wired Magazine article that appeared right before the premiere of Will Smith’s new movie After Earth, the Smith family has collectively saved 63,648,098,766 people. The Smiths are a celebrity family in reality and a superhero family in fiction. I don’t doubt that, privately, their family bears other identities as well. The Wired piece got me thinking ab … [Read more...]

Citizenship Confusion: Valedictorian Prays but Should Christians Rejoice?

Each week in Citizenship Confusion, Alan Noble discusses how we confuse our heavenly citizenship with citizenship to the state, culture, and world. When the State announced that it would no longer include prayer during the graduation ceremony at Liberty High School in Pickens County, South Carolina, Roy Costner IV, a valedictorian, took matters into his own hands. The local school district had received complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation about school sponsored prayer in the … [Read more...]