An Ode to Alice

If, like me, you’re in your 40s, you hung out with the Bradys every day after school — their astroturf backyard, their jejune peccadilloes, and their always-there, always-winsome housekeeper, Alice. Hank Steuver, a fellow GenXer and my favorite pop culture columnist, has penned a wonderful piece that is part tribute to Alice (Ann B. Davis), and part homage to growing up in the 1970s. Here’s a taste:

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Because You’ve Been Asking for a Reality Show Starring Ed Young, Jr.

What do you give the man who has everything? His own reality show!

Forget Duck Dynasty. The Texas Mega-Pastor, Ed Young, Jr., is poised to have his own show. He’s got everything else, so why not? Written by my friend, Christopher Wynn, for FD Lux (part of the Dallas Morning News):

Welcome to the heightened reality that is life with the Youngs. Go ahead and compare them to a Christianized version of a certain other well-funded, camera-friendly family: the Kardashians. It is unavoidable — especially when you learn the Youngs are in talks to star in their own reality show. Last month, an L.A. producer pitched the project to A&E; meetings with other networks are scheduled. “We have not signed anything,” says Ed, stylish in a gray-and-plaid reversible shirt. Ed’s youthful appearance, at 52, aided by his constantly changing hair color and hairstyle, have made him a target for cosmetic-surgery chatter online. (He says he has tried only Botox.)

The Youngs have been approached repeatedly over the years to do a show, and they feel comfortable enough with this producer and the production company to consider it — cautiously. The show’s angle is how the family says it lives out a message of God’s love. (Bonus ratings if there are any train wrecks along the way.) “If we would have some sort of guidance over editing” of the footage, Ed says, sounding both savvy and naive, “I don’t mind showing anybody anything.”

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Satan Is Real, Just Ask Jesse Pinkman

ALERT: Spoilers ahead.

It will take some time for those of us who watched Breaking Bad to absorb the layers of that show, and the near-perfect ending of the series, aired this week. When the show began, Walter White was a high school chemistry teacher, struggling with cancer and mounting bills — and, we soon discovered, a tragic personality flaw that led to him missing out on being a rock star chemist and billionaire. Jesse Pinkman was a ne’er do well dropout druggie with a penchant for nothing in particular, except maybe a quick buck.

When the show ended this week, much had changed. It turned out that Walt was not just a guy who started out a couple degrees off course and got swept into a dark underworld that he couldn’t escape. In a final and belated bit of self-awareness, he tells his former spouse, Skylar, “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was, really … I was alive.” Previously, he’d told himself and anyone who would listen that he was doing it for his family. But he wasn’t.

And, as viewers, we began to see that over time. Walt had several opportunities to extricate himself from the drug trade, and do so cleanly, but every time he chose to stay in. And the longer he stayed in, the more people got sucked into the gravitational black hole that was his life. In the end, dozens of people died because of Walt. Skylar was reduced to a chain-smoking bag of bones. And Jesse…

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Jesus Is the Ultimate Redemptor [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

This week, Lance asked,

Have you posted or tackled much regarding all the parrallels of Jesus, Horus and Dionysus (or others if they exist)? This has come up twice recently for me and is never discussed here in Texas, or in my Pentecostal heritage :-)Questions that Haunt” popped in my head. Not only would I be interested in the historical contexts but I am wondering if there’s anything that also talks about how these gods were worshipped and anything about the followers. I’m always curious to know WHY people believe what they do more than anything else.

In a follow-up comment, he expanded,

Somehow, this question grew into something more for me. I began to wonder, as one has already said, what are the impacts on our belief system, even if there are mythological influences on our Bible? What would that mean to our faith? This has me thinking, what is it that we’re called to “Believe”? Is belief simply determining if we agree there was a Historical Jesus? What did Jesus mean when he said “Believe in Me”? If I ask someone to believe in me, I’m not asking them to make some sort of mental decision to accept the narrative of my life. I’m asking something else entirely, and I wonder if Jesus was asking the same. Someone commented about how the teachings of Jesus have no parallel to any of the other gods. The messages of hope, love, mercy, forgiveness…, all much unlike other ancient (and I assume often barbaric) religions. Is this the problem with unbelief, in that we’ve all been conditioned to believe in the wrong thing? Are we to put our faith in a history lesson or as my nephew would complain, use faith to fill in the historical gaps and contradictions? Or is faith meant to be placed in the message?

The latter seems more appropriate to me. More life giving. More substantive. and has me looking at a number of Scriptures with another perspective in mind.

Thanks, Lance. Here’s my response:

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