Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Carleton Singing Knights

This is terribly cool: a group called the Carleton Singing Knights doing an a cappella version of Sufjan Stevens' "Chicago":

As one commenter on YouTube put it: I want to hug them.

The Knights have some studio recordings (some samples, some full songs) available on their MySpace page, with more info here. I dearly want them to do a studio recording of "Chicago", but in the meantime their cover of "Harder Better Faster" is pretty impressive.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Live and let live, say anti-gay protesters

A BBC article about an anti-gay sex rally in Uganda:
Spokesman Pastor Martin Sempa said that Uganda was under "great external pressure to relax its laws" ahead of November's Commonwealth summit.

In Uganda, homosexuality carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Pastor Sempa told the BBC's Focus on Africa that homosexuals were using the summit to try and "shame, force, coerce, intimidate Uganda into changing our laws".

"We are telling them that Africans find homosexuality reprehensible. Leave us alone."
Well, it certainly is easy enough to see why someone might object to being shamed, forced, coerced, or intimidated into changing their ways. It certainly is easy enough to see why someone might just want to be left alone, to handle their own affairs as they see fit. Shame on Ugandan homosexuals for not understanding this! I suggest they come to their senses, and agree with Pastor Sempa that all should be left alone to live their own lives, and that no one should use shame, force, coercion or intimidation to try to change that.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Jedi Duplantis

I used to be an avid watcher of TBN, but I've become bored with it over time. Sure, pretty much everything on there is outrageous, but it's pretty much always outrageous in pretty much the same way. It gets old.

One notable exception is Jesse Duplantis. Because, besides spouting the anti-Christian theology and ethics which is part and parcel of every TBN broadcast, Jesse Duplantis is also batshit insane.

As I recall, the first Jesse Duplantis sermon I watched involved a commentary on the multiracial character of his congregation. He mentioned that on occasion some of the black members of his church get approached and asked why they go to a church with a white preacher (which is indeed fairly rare). In the mind of Jesse Duplantis, this line of questioning is completely wrong-headed—because he isn't actually white.

That's right. Don't let that there picture fool you. His explanation, as best as I can recall, went like this:

"I ain't white. See, I touch black skin, I turn black. I touch money, I turn green! I ain't white."

On another occasion, he was expounding upon the principle that you can have anything you want if you truly believe that God will give it to you--where "anything you want" means not just salvation (why settle for just salvation?), but also a better job, a new car, or maybe even a private jet. This is a standard idea on TBN, but Jesse had his own special way of explaining it (quoting as best as I can from memory):

"You don't have it? That's cuz you don't believe it. Even Yoda knew that! Remember when Luke's trying to get that ship out of that swamp, and he can't do it? Why not? Yoda says, cuz he don't believe it."

Perhaps not realizing that George Lucas's imagination can't actually function as a rationale for a theological claim, he continued to discourse on the mechanics of the Force in Star Wars for several more minutes. Unfortunately I can't comment much on the rest of what he said, since Dawn and I were too busy laughing at the time. But I did catch the finale of the sermon: Jesse looking straight into the camera and uttering the benediction, "May the Force be with you."

That's entertainment.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Conversation with a man waiting on a stoop for an Asian person to walk by (abridged)

Can I ask you a question? Are you Japanese?

[...] Well... no, not exactly....

Well, you been to Japan?

[...] Yeah.

Well, I wanna ask you, how do they treat foreigners over there?


My daughter just flew over there for a couple of weeks, and....

Oh. Well, to be honest, there's still quite a bit of prejudice against black people....

What? But we're all people of color, right?

Well.... Uh....

What did we ever do to them?

Well, nothing, it's just that there are basically no black people over there, and ignorance can breed prejudice, and...

They know what we been through over here, right?

Uh, well, they have.... Well, basically.... But, look, really your daughter will be fine. She just might run into some stereotypes, that's all.

Shoot, why they gotta be prejudiced? My daughter's not gonna get kidnapped or nothing, is she?

Oh, no, no, nothing like that, it's like the safest place in the world. There's basically no crime there, by our standards. Everyone's really law-abiding, and they're all courteous and everything....

But the English is gonna be a barrier, right? Is she gonna find stuff to eat? Do they have western food?

Oh, yeah, there are plenty of restaurants with western food, and especially if she goes to a big city there'll be plenty of English around, enough for her to get around without too much trouble. It's really easy to get around, and it's a really safe country, so, really, you've got nothing to worry about.

Yeah, OK. It's just she's my only daughter, you know? Hey, thanks for being honest with me.

No problem. Have a good evening.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

News from a Christian perspective

Watchers of TBN get their news updates through Pat Robertson's CBN News, which claims to present the news from a "Christian perspective". How so? Well, there's a bit of a right-wing bias (though I think it actually tends to be less egregious than some of what you see on Fox), and maybe a bit more attention paid to terrorism and the "culture wars" (though not all that much more, since normal news broadcasts like that sort of stuff anyways). Alas, this does not have much to do with Christianity.

And every once in a while there'll be a segment talking about how so-and-so is Christian, or a spiel on what it means to be a Christian. Alas, this does not have much to do with news.

But what would it mean, after all, to present the news from a truly Christian perspective? My first instinct was to think that the very concept was incoherent, but then I reconsidered, and Dawn and I came up with a couple of features that would make for a truly Christian news broadcast: keep the news stories more or less the same, but end every story with a comment about how everyone involved in the story is a sinner, and then a shout out to the guy upstairs.

For example:
Mitt Romney on Sunday called his victory in the Republican Iowa straw poll a "big start" toward winning his party's presidential nomination and said the no-show by his main national rivals only enhanced the win. Romney, of course, is a sinner, as are all his rivals, and everyone who participated in the poll. Praise be to God!
Or, turning our attention to the other nomination race:
With a television crew and photographers in tow, Barack Obama spent Wednesday morning mopping floors, cleaning cobwebs and preparing breakfast for an 86-year-old wheelchair-bound amputee. Such acts of kindness are, of course, entirely insufficient to make Obama worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven, for he is, fundamentally, a sinner. And that wheelchair-bound amputee is, without a doubt, also a sinner. Hallelujah!
And in international news:
Paul Rusesabagina, the man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, says unless the term of the UN tribunal on the genocide is extended it will be a failure. During the 1994 genocide, Rusesabagina sheltered some 1,200 refugees at a hotel in the capital, Kigali, where he was the manager. This act of heroism did not make him any less of a sinner. Also, everyone in the UN is a sinner. Of course the perpetrators of the genocide were all sinners. As for those who died in the genocide, some of them may now be with God, but if so, they get none of the credit, for they lived as sinners, and died as sinners. God is great, and hallowed be his name!
That would be a great news show.