One More Thought on Blue Like Jazz


So, now I’m getting emails from people, asking why I’m so negative toward Blue Like Jazz: The Movie. Let me state unequivocally, I’m not against the movie. I haven’t seen it! (One person has offered to buy me a ticket.)

As background, I’m picky about my movies. While I did recently see Hot Tub Time Machine on Netflix, I tend to only watch movies that have scores above 70 on Rotten Tomatoes. I care what critics think. I don’t care much what the American movie-going public thinks. I will never see the Twilight movies. I will see The Hunger Games.

The critics don’t like BLJ. That means that I probably won’t like it, either. My tastes in movies tends to follow the critics’.

But that’s not what’s bothered me about BLJ. What bugs me is all of the people who suggest that I have an obligation to see the movie because it’s Christian — and not just Christian, but slightly progressive Christian. “We need more movies like BLJ,” shout my friends on Facebook, “So let’s all go see it and keep it afloat!” Some even want me to buy extra tickets, just to increase the film’s revenue.

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This May Become the First Truly Flat Church

An artist's rendering of the proposed Cardboard Cathedral

The Christchurch Cathedral in New Zealand was destroyed by an earthquake. Since it will take years to rebuild, there’s a cardboard cathedral going up first.

Around 40 people gathered at the cleared demolition site on the fringe of the city’s red zone cordon to hear the official announcement of the city’s $5 million temporary cardboard cathedral.

The Anglican Church today revealed plans for the “transitional” cathedral designed by a top Japanese “paper architect”.

While debate rages over the decision by the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch to demolish the crippled city centre landmark, work will start on the temporary A-frame building in nearby Latimer Square next week.

Constructed with cardboard tubes, timber beams, structural steel, and concrete, it is expected to last 20 years and will become the new place of worship for the city’s St John’s parish, whose church, vicarage and hall had to be demolished after the February 22 shake.

via $5m cardboard cathedral for Chch – National – NZ Herald News.

What Crisis in Christianity?!? Andrew Sullivan Reax

The editor of a major newsweekly once told me that if he wanted to double the sales of the magazine for a week, he just had to put Jesus, Mary, or angels on the cover. Newsweek, even after the ousting of its staunchly Episcopalian editor, Jon Meacham, still plays this game more than other newsweeklies. So it was no surprise that the latest acquisition by Newsweek/The Daily Beast, the vaguely Catholic Andrew Sullivan, penned the Holy Week cover story on Jesus and the crisis in Christianity.

According to Sullivan, who often publicly quarrels with his own church, the crisis in Christianity is that the church has become too political, thus corrupting the central message of Jesus. Get Jesus back into your heart, and screw the church. That’s Sully’s thesis.

Many of the bloggers I read disagree. Here’s a round-up of them, including a riposte from Sullivan himself:

Father Robert Barron at RealClearReligion:

The result of this Jeffersonian surgery is Jesus the enlightened sage, the teacher of timeless moral truths concerning love, forgiveness and non-violence. Both Jefferson and Sullivan urge that this Christ, freed from churchly distortions, can still speak in a liberating way to an intelligent and non-superstitious audience.

Diana Butler Bass at HuffPo:

What Sullivan apparently does not know is that some Christians, from pews, pulpits, and classrooms are asking the right questions–and are working toward a spiritually renewed and intellectually credible Christianity. These new questioners make up what I call America’s “exile” faith communities–the creative but often ignored Christians found in liberal mainline churches, emergent evangelical gatherings, and progressive Catholic circles. With growing awareness over the last two decades, they have been engaging this crisis, listening to the grassroots questions of American religious life, and constructing new patterns and practices of faith. For them, the questions are becoming clear–and some answers are emerging.

Paul Pastor at Out of Ur:

There once was a writer named Sullivan
who wanted to give Christ a mulligan,
so he said “people, please—ditch the Church so diseased,
and remember what Jesus taught us again!”

Scott Paeth at Against the Stream:

To be Christian, he seems to be arguing, means to reject the use of power, and he responds to a commentator who notes that we’re always exercising power by saying “well: duh,” and referring back to the fall. But I think this sells the question of power short. Power is not simply the power of coercion, which is how Sullivan wants to use it, and thus not simply a product of the fall, rather, power is constitutive of our very being. To exist is to exercise power, not simply because of the fall, but because that’s what existence means.

In this respect, I think that Sullivan has perhaps drunk a bit too deeply from the works of Reinhold Niebuhr, and not deeply enough from the work of Paul Tillich.

And, at Patrol, all the bases are covered:

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Why We Can Ask Mitt Romney about His Mormonism

Jeff Weiss responds to the criticism he got last week in his proposed questions to Romney:

The reason I felt particularly justified in posing those questions is why the situations of Romney and Obama are not parallel.

For a decade, Romney was a member of the clergy for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was ward bishop and stake president. … As such he was a recognized authority, expected to understand and agree with official church doctrine and to apply it while working with members of his congregations.

I would only ask these kinds of questions to someone for whom religion is a central part of their public persona. Dick Cheney, for instance, is Methodist but never much talked about it. So it isn’t politically relevant. His former boss, however, famously said that Jesus Christ was his favorite political philosopher.

I count it a signal failure of the national media that candidate George W. Bush was not queried sharply and repeatedly to explain how his understanding of the political philosophy of Jesus would inform his governance.

Read on to see why Weiss says that we can also ask Obama about his faith: RealClearReligion – Yes Obama Can! Talk About God.


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