The Kiddy Pool: The Politics of Play

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture. Where some folks see a cardboard box for the recycling truck, I see an opportunity. Why would I drop hundreds of dollars on play structures when the boxes from a chair and a lawn mower become tunnels and houses and sailboats with a little imagination? Sure, that philosophy explains why I keep finding kidney beans in the living room (I made bean bags; my daughter made “ … [Read more...]

Citizenship Confusion: WORLD Magazine's Editorial Cartoons

Every Monday in Citizenship Confusion, Alan Noble discusses how we confuse our heavenly citizenship with citizenship to the state, culture, and the world.I recently visited WORLD's Editorial Cartoon page after reading some praise about it and was struck with how similar their cartoons were to those of other publications. They featured caricatures of politicians with grotesque features that dehumanized them and mocked their competence. They reduced complex political issues into absurd and s … [Read more...]

Parents and Their Precious Idols

Picture a gleaming trophy with an athlete poised atop its reflective surface. Except this statue captures a moment of clumsiness instead of prowess; the player awkwardly misses the ball and the text on the trophy reads “GOOD TRY.” Next to the gilded figure stands the headline: “How the Cult of Self-Esteem Is Ruining Our Kids.” That’s how Lori Gottlieb’s article in this month’s The Atlantic caught my attention.Juxtapose that cover with an image still stuck in my mind from Battle Hymn of the Tige … [Read more...]

God's Grace in a Cup of Tea

Economic instability and political bickering in the United States. Corruption and social upheaval in Libya. Continuous conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. Horrific suffering in Somalia. Riots in London. When Harold Camping's May 21, 2011 prediction for the Rapture turned out to be bupkis, he amended the date to October 21, 2011. One glance at recent headlines, and it's tempting to think that Camping might be on to something. But those calamities aren't necessarily judgments from "on high". They're … [Read more...]

Mixed Signals: Mood Readings by Jell-O Pudding

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.You’ve heard of advertising influencing people. But have you heard of people influencing advertising? Check out how that works on this billboard, sponsored by Jell-O Pudding: It’s called the Pudding Face Mood Meter. The smile brightens or dims based on the number of happy or sad emoticons used on Twitter. The more smilies used, the happier the Pudding Face. The more frown … [Read more...]

What Memes Mean: The Boogity-Boogity-Book Of Common Prayer

Each Friday in What Memes Mean, Kirk Bozeman questions the significance, humor, and subtexts of viral videos, memes, and other Internet fads.You've probably seen this one... man is pastor Joe Nelms, and he is evidently no newcomer to NASCAR convocation.  HuffPo collected a few of his prayers here.Briefly setting the weirdness aside, from a wide angle it seems Joe is intentionally trying to pray in a joyful, l … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: It Ain't Easy

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture. My college running coach relayed an anecdote that has stuck with me for years. He described a conversation with an athlete who says “Coach, when does this get easier?” The coach responds “It doesn’t. You just get faster.” That message parallels not just my running life (where, let’s be honest, I’m not actually getting faster anymore) but also my experiences with parent … [Read more...]

Elsewhere: Nascar Prayer Guy, Guilty Pleasures, Jeff Goldblum

Drew God in the basement of the Empire State Building: Andrew Marantz of New York Times Magazine takes an inside look King’s College--a conservative Christian college in the heart of Manhattan.“Minecon” a conference dedicated to Minecraft to be held in Las Vegas.William Thornton says many Christians’ reaction to the “Nascar prayer guy” did not fit his crime.Defending the faith is easier than you might think.Andrew Welch would take the guilt out of some of our guilty pleasures. … [Read more...]

Dealing with the Debt Ceiling Disaster

“The alcoholics in Congress, after much deliberation, have decided to cut one of their nightly 14 beers.”So posted Jeff, a friend of mine, on Facebook after details of a deal to raise the debt limit finally fell into place.  Jeff raises an important question about stewardship: how can we feel good about small improvements made on a runaway train needing massive correction?While Congress and the President sigh in relief after avoiding a self-imposed disaster, we are left confused about how we … [Read more...]

Making Sense of "Culture Making", Part 6: Will there be iPods in Heaven?

The book of Revelation is weird, and I'm pretty sure that anyone who has given the book even a cursory reading will probably agree with me. It's full of outlandish imagery (e.g., locusts with human faces, dragon-riding harlots, oceans of blood, leopards with seven heads) and cosmic conflicts that (literally) shake the foundations of the earth. As a child, I read Revelation with equal parts fascination and dread, especially as I read books and heard preachers that explained how the book's events … [Read more...]