Spring Break found Joe traveling around Michigan and me taking care of kids and spending some time with my wife, so sadly there’s no CROSS.CULTURE.CRITIC. this week. But we’re planning to be back with a new episode next week, so stay tuned! That said, I had some time off work recently and was able to catch up on a lot of pop culture, so I have some fun, diverse things to recommend for this week’s Five for Friday! Let’s get… Read more

Possibly the most prominent figure of the 1960s Jesus Movement, Larry Norman single-handedly started the Christian rock genre. A provocateur who rubbed shoulders with Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and The Who, he had mainstream success even though his songs were about Jesus, and in concert he seemed more concerned with pricking his audience’s conscience than giving them a rollicking show. Today, it’s almost unheard of for a Christian rock star to be embraced by both the evangelical and “secular” worlds;… Read more

There is nothing more terrifying than walking outside to find your car is gone, and nothing more humbling than learning you’re to blame. That’s what happened to me one spring morning in 2006. I walked out of my apartment and found a pair of black tire marks in place of my car. I called the police, assuming someone had stolen my Saturn during the night. I quickly found out the truth was more embarrassing. At the time, I was trying… Read more

As long as I’ve been part of the church (which is going on 40 years), Christians and pop culture have had an uncomfortable relationship. The church is happy to have movies, music and books that celebrate the faith, but they squirm when art dares to challenge, question or provoke. And what about artists who are blatantly opposed to belief? That’s where Joe and I start talking this week on the latest Cross.Culture.Critic. podcast. Spurred on by a recent conversation he… Read more

This month, my son’s kindergarten class celebrated National Reading Month by inviting “mystery readers” to their classroom. Parents could surprise their children by showing up to read a book to the class. I signed up thinking it would be a fun treat for Mickey, and went in last week to read. I wasn’t prepared for how much it meant to him. When I arrived, he immediately ran up and threw his arms around me. In a picture taken by his… Read more

When I was young, my family used to take yearly trips to an amusement park with my grandparents and cousins. My mom has always been a huge roller coaster fan, and I think it kind of frustrated her to be at the park with her kids and not be able to ride anything (having taken my son to amusement parks, I totally get it ). So, as soon as we hit the requisite height limit, my mom began bribing us… Read more

“Flint Town,” an eight-part documentary series that recently debuted on Netflix, is a show that made my ears perk up as soon as I heard the title. I live in Detroit, only an hour away from Flint, and I’ve been long familiar with that city’s trials. It’s a crime-ridden, poverty-stricken town, whose woes became a national concern when its residents’ water supply was poisoned several years back. Initially, I wasn’t interested in watching “Flint Town.” I worried that the show,… Read more

My spiritual life is often overly intellectual. I’m good with doctrines, creeds and theology, but I struggle with putting flesh on those internal concepts. One habit I’m trying to focus on this year is to find ways to make my faith tangible and look for reminders in my daily routines that life is connected to something greater (for more on this, I highly recommend Tish Harrison Warren’s “Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life”). One area where I’ve… Read more

Singing is synonymous with Sunday morning worship. No matter your denomination, the two constants you’ll find in nearly every worship service are singing and preaching. Churches vary on whether or how often they recite creeds, host Sunday School or observe communion, but these two are integral parts of the worship experience. It’s easy to think that singing is just a warm-up act that plays a less important role in our services and spiritual lives than the sermon. When I was… Read more

In my recent Sacred Cows post on dc Talk, I mentioned the “Jesus Freak” single that came out in August 1995. It was a big deal; it heralded a new sound for the band, one that many people who came of age in ‘90s youth group culture consider a touchpoint of Christian pop culture. I played the heck out of that thing until the full-length album arrived that fall. Those who remember when singles were still released as physical media… Read more

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