I had a very smart man, a rocket scientist in fact (we have a few in Huntsville), tell me recently that America was going to hell in a hand basket. He didn’t say it quite that way because a respectable Christian, Southern gentleman would never drop the “H” bomb in front of the ladies unless he was reading it out of the Bible. But that was the basic gist of it.
He said a lot of things, that we had strayed from the intent of the Founding Fathers to establish a “Christian Nation,” that widespread belief in evolution was the root of much of society’s evil and ills, including increasing teenage suicide rates, and that really things had grown much worse since prayer was banned in public schools.… Read the rest
Some of you may have noticed that I pulled a Jason Bourne and disappeared from the grid for a few days and wondered what happened.
Theories have trended toward the exotic: That I was kidnapped by the Chinese who were concerned about my coverage of the upcoming Olympic summer games in Beijing, or that maybe the sicko serial killer Jigsaw from the Saw series snared me in one of his traps after I spoke so ill of him here and here.
That last one raises an interesting question: If Jigsaw did decide to come after me, what kind of trap would he use?… Read the rest
As long as you notice, and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be the one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.
This is the Roanoke Church of Christ, the congregation where I grew up in the 1960s and 70s. As is our custom, we visited and worshiped there during our recent trip to Virginia.… Read the rest
Certainly, readier access to the Latin Mass would thrill the core of liturgical old-schoolers who have longed for its return. But how many mainstream American Catholics would be interested in attending a Latin Mass? Some of the largest and most passionate Catholic congregations I’ve seen have been in churches whose services have veered far from the pre-council standard and toward something more resembling an evangelical megachurch service: video screens, pop-influenced worship bands, a breezy informality in the pews.
I know a Catholic family who digs a more somber vibe and loads up a 15-passenger Ford Econoline van every Sunday morning at 5 AM to drive an hour to Cullman in search of the closest Latin Mass to Huntsville.
John had always told me, “Mike, when you walk into a room, you’ve got to make them believe that you’re the biggest gunslinger in the bar.”
He was referring to the way that I carried myself as I walked into the exam room. I guess he must have noticed the deer-in-the-headlamps expression on my face and the way that my jaw dragged along the floor as I encountered a dizzying array of eye disorders and diseases in those early days of my residency; nasty, often bloody, blinding stuff that never looked (or acted) quite the same way as the atlases and textbooks said it would.… Read the rest
PowerPoint also conditions worshipers to act and react in visceral ways, so that the character of their bodily actions and emotional responses are at times downright Pavlovian. The screen, not the altar or cross, becomes the all-consuming center of attention, an object of intense fixation which triggers predictable reflexes and behaviors. When PowerPoint malfunctions, for instance, people become nervous and lost; they become conditioned to worry that it will malfunction. They find themselves thinking more about the screen and the technician at the soundboard than about the God whom they’ve come to worship and the larger worshiping body of which they are a part.