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February 01, 2008

Christian Music, Digital Downloads, and Piracy

Yes, a music Monday post on a Friday. Sorry, but I just read this, and didn't want to wait until Monday (when I'd probably have forgotten it anyway).

EMI has a plan to make it's CCM catalog available through digital downloads through an almost grass-roots network of Christian radio stations, retailers, faith-based organizations, etc. I wonder if podcasters and bloggers will make the list?

Anyway, I think this is a great idea, though it's come a bit late in the game. It's something that should have been done a long time ago. But that's not really what drew me to the story.

I read the story in the New York Post, thanks to a link on David Bach's blog. The second paragraph caught me:

Sales of Christian and gospel music fell more than 14 percent last year as fans of religious-themed songs proved once again they were just as apt to give in to the temptation of digital piracy as the average listener of materialistic rap or devil-horn-wagging rock.
Notice that the problem is NOT that the major labels aren't selling something people want to buy. It's NOT that people are buying more indie bands, or are taking advantage of streaming audio, or are downloading the free stuff that's available legally online (and yes, there's a LOT of free, legal stuff available, if you look hard enough). It's not any of that -- it's that Christian music fans are pirates, just like their secular counterparts.

Do Christians illegally download music? Yes, unfortunately, we do. And Christians are good at rationalizing it -- "I'm using the songs to witness to my friends," they say. And when you say that, how is anyone going to get mad at you, or threaten to sue you? But do we really do it? I wonder sometimes.

But I think that the industry is still ignoring the real problem -- people aren't buying because the product they're putting out isn't worth buying. Where ten years ago I'd have to buy a whole CD or tape to get the two songs I liked, now I can just buy those two songs. Where I'd have spent $10 on a tape or $15 on a CD, now I only have to spend $2 for those two songs. And where before I'd have to buy whatever was in the store to satisfy my music cravings, now I can go straight to independent bands who are selling their stuff online and buy it straight from them.

I really think one answer is value-added products. If you want people to buy CDs, give them a reason to. I was in a Christian bookstore yesterday, and I saw CDs for $14 that included a DVD with concert footage, music videos, bonus songs, etc. That's adding value. If I saw a band that I follow offering something like that, I'd buy the CD/DVD package, because there's a perceived value in it -- I get a DVD with extra stuff that's not available elsewhere.

But that's only one solution, and the fact remains that music fans want to get their music online. They want to be able to burn a CD or two, they want to be able to play it on their iPods, and they want to do it without a lot of hassle. Once the labels figure that out, they just might start making bigger profits again.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:39 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 03, 2008

WHO Said This???

When I read this one in my RSS reader, I couldn't believe it. "Nicholas Kristof shows evangelicals the love."

"Is there some other guy named Nicholas Kristof?" I wondered. But nope, it was him -- the only individual who has an entire category devoted to him on this blog. Joel Osteen doesn't even have that distinction yet.

So I figured there had to be a catch, and clicked on over. And yes, he does seem to find a bunch of things to praise evangelicals for. Even though I really don't consider Jim Wallis to be an example of a conservative evangelical, it is true that even those of us who were considered religious right just a few years ago are starting to find our voice on topics that have been dominated by liberal secularists. Like Kristof.

When he gets it right, he gets it right. I don't necessarily agree with him on the whole stem cell issue, but I have to say that Kristof seems to be getting religion after all.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 03:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 04, 2008

Sorry ...

Book A Week will be a bit late. I'm hoping to get it done this evening.

The problem? The book is LONG, and I didn't get it finished. I'm within a hundred pages, so it shouldn't be a problem to finish it today. And I have a pretty good idea what the next book is going to be. Both those posts are coming up!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stupidity Online: MySpace and the Atheists

OK, I shouldn't have to say it up front, but I'm not a member of the Atheists and Agnostics group on MySpace. I disagree with them, and they disagree with me, and we just wouldn't work together well on most things. BUT ....

This is stupid. Not only has the group been deleted, MySpace isn't even talking about why! I can understand that the group was hacked, and I can see that MySpace wants to control hacked accounts. But if the people who ran the group, and the members of the group, want the group to be reinstated, it should happen.

There was, apparently, a group of Christians who opposed the site and made MySpace take it down. Dumb move. So when a bunch of atheists and agnostics protest, should all the Christian groups be taken down? It seems there are at least 35,000 atheists and agnostics on MySpace, not an insignificant number. And experience has shown me that they are probably a bit more vocal than the majority of people who claim to be Christians -- but that's another post for another day.

Give the atheists back their group. Let them have as many groups as they want. MySpace isn't the place to start a Crusade, or a jihad, or whatever. The Internet is the ultimate democracy -- everyone gets a voice, no matter what their opinion. When we start silencing people because of their lack of belief, we're a short step away from silencing people because of their beliefs. Let's not do that again.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 05, 2008

Book Review: Infamous Scribblers by Eric Burns

The first thing that struck me in reading this book is how similar the beginnings of American journalism and the beginnings of the blogosphere actually are.

In the beginning, you have Benjamin Harris and his Publick Occurrences both Foreign and Domestic (1690). Four pages long, poor formatting, little space between stories -- no headlines. And the first edition was also the last -- Harris' writing was so inflammatory that the colonial government in Boston shut him down. Harris is the forefather of many bloggers who seek to increase readership (and subscribers) by being as outlandish as possible (coughDrudgecough). Unfortunately, there was no freedom of the press back then.

But if Harris was the Drudge of the early colonial period, then John Campbell and his Boston News Letter was the cat blog. Long lasting just because of it's inoffensiveness, Campbell's effort was also excruciatingly dull, and typically included reports of each shipment that came into Boston Harbor.

Campbell was the exception, however, and Burns shows exactly how this book got it's name. From hyper-patriots like Sam Adams (who made up quite a bit of his 'news' with the goal of simply inflaming the public) to Tories like Jemmy Rivington (who was actually spying for the colonists!), American journalism from the mid 1700s through the Federal era was marked by constant abuse, ad hominem, and fiction masquerading as fact. Journalistic impartiality was a foreign concept to these early newsmen -- much as it is on the blogosphere today.

Burns traces the growth of American journalism from the 17th century to the beginning of the 19th, and of course profiles folks like Sam Adams and Ben Franklin. The value in this book, though, is in Burns' treatment of the lesser-known publishers, folks like Harris, Campbell, and Rivington, but also like John Peter Zenger, who was the first journalist to really fight in court for freedom of the press. Even Thomas Paine, who never published a newspaper himself but provided plenty of material for newspapermen, is profiled because of his influence on the Revolution and the attitudes of the press in his day.

Newspapers were founded to make points, to further agendas, to support causes. Many didn't make much profit, and some lost money. But that wasn't the point for them -- they had opinions and they wanted to be heard. That sentiment is gone from modern newspapers -- journalists are called to be impartial reporters with no agenda when they report the news. They are simple scribes recounting the day's events.

The people who are the real spiritual heirs of the early American newspapermen are bloggers. They, for better or worse, are the folks who get into it because they have something to say -- even if it's just what their cat spat up that afternoon. Bloggers are creating the controversies, and in some cases are making up or twisting the facts as they need to to support their positions.

One fascinating aspect of this book is the conflict between the newspapers and politicians once the Revolution was won. Newspapers hated George Washington. And just as there are conservative and liberal papers and blogs today, there were federalist and anti-federalist papers in early America. These papers often attacked each other, and were unmerciful to the politicos of the day -- something that you don't really learn in American History class today.

Infamous Scribblers is a fascinating work. What makes it even more interesting and valuable is the parallel with today's new media. I enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Book A Week: Week 5

The book this week is Bruce Feiler's Abraham. I have read Walking the Bible and Where God Was Born already and enjoyed them, even if I don't always agree with Feiler's conclusions. I'm looking forward to reading this book (which is actually the second book in the sequence), especially after hearing the interview with Feiler on Speaking of Faith.

And I will have this one done by Sunday. In fact, I'm off tomorrow, so I may have it finished then!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 06, 2008

Trying Something New

I've been trying to get my RSS feed for this blog to post automatically to my Twitter account. Two tools that I've been trying to use are inaccessible right now (figures). But I found something else that I want to try.

I found a tool called Twit This, which gives me a button at the end of each post to allow readers to add it to their Twitter feed. So I'm trying it out on this post, just to see if it's any good.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 07, 2008

An Open Letter to the GOP "Elite"

Dear Ruling Class,

Many of you are wondering what's happened in the primaries. You're wondering why Mitt Romney is gone. I can't give you all the answers, but I can tell you why I didn't support him -- and a lot of it is your fault.

For over 20 years now (ever since the Reagan election, though maybe even before that), the GOP has pandered to evangelical Christians. Every election, you've paraded yourselves in front of us, you've kissed up to our leaders, you've spoken at our functions. And you've gotten our votes, because quite frankly you were the best option. Then, after the election, you forgot about us.

You've been treating the evangelical voter like the ugly rich nerd at school -- you flirt with us, make us think you like us, get us to spend some money on you, help you with your homework -- and then you go to homecoming with the quarterback. And, like that nerd, we've dealt with the situation, because we liked having someone pay attention to us every few years.

This year, we got tired of it. We didn't act like we were expected to. We didn't lick your boots. We didn't blindly support who you told us to. The evangelical block fragmented, but it wasn't because of infighting among evangelicals. It was because many of us stopped caring what you thought of us. You got on your radio shows screaming about how Huckabee and McCain were going to destroy the GOP. And you expected us to care.

Care about what? A political party that uses us, and then tosses us aside after the election? A party that mocks us, that mocks our beliefs, that considers us the easily led backwards morons of the family? As if. Some of us are pretty easily led, and some of us might be morons. But the majority of us are educated people, and we're tired of the way the GOP thinks of us, and treats us.

So we supported one of our own. And we didn't support who you chose for us -- not because he's Mormon, but because he wasn't who we wanted. He hasn't proven himself to us, and we wouldn't back him.

We support Huckabee (those of us who do -- we don't march lockstep, no matter what people may want to think about us) because he's one of us. He's one of the people you like to ignore for a couple years after elections. We figure that if he's in power, we won't be ignored anymore. After years of being an afterthought, we'll actually have someone who will listen to our concerns.

But you can go on your talk shows tomorrow and tell everyone that we've ruined the GOP. And maybe we have. But maybe it needed to be ruined. Maybe it needed a jolt to wake it up. I just hope that this jolt is enough, or in November, we'll get another one.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 08, 2008

Dobson Endorses Huckabee

The only problem I have with Dobson endorsing Mike Huckabee is that he really isn't endorsing him. Dobson is trying to keep his "followers" from heading to McCain faster than you can say "Focus."

A Dobson endorsement back in, say, November may have helped the Huckabee campaign out. Unfortunately, Dobson was too busy trying to prove he wasn't a Mormon-hater, and cozied up to a candidate with shaky (at best) pro-life credentials. Now that Romney is out of the race (and face it, he's out because of the bottom line. Romney's a businessman, and he isn't going to pour money into a losing campaign.), Huckabee is Dobson's only choice -- especially after the things he's said about McCain.

Welcome to the bandwagon, Mr. Dobson. Too bad you're here too late to actually make a difference.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 09, 2008

Baptist Lent

So, Baptists don't really do Lent. But I'm not most Baptists -- I tend to be a "high-church" Baptist, and I do a little something for Lent, Maundy Thursday, Advent -- all those "traditions of men" that my fellow Baptists tend to shun.

This year, I'm doing something different. In the past, I've given up some food item or other, and it's lasted about ten days. Once I was going to give up the Internet, and that lasted ten minutes. And part of the point of the whole thing is to seek spiritual improvement, grow closer to God.

So this year I've been following a Lenten reading list that I found. It's designed to really get you to think about how the early Church lived and believed. While I don't agree with everything at that site in general, I think it's valuable for us to read a bit of the history of Christianity. The reading is broken down into manageable pieces, so each day's reading should only take about fifteen minutes. And much of it is stuff that I've wanted to read anyway.

You can download the whole thing, schedule and readings, from the site in PDF format. It's a big file, but you can just print out the part that you're reading that day, OR you can just read it on your computer. And the PDF isn't date specific, so once you download it you've got it to use every year. So, to coin a phrase, "Tole, lege!"

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I've managed a post every day this week. Yay me!!!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 10, 2008

Book A Week Announcement

OK, this week I was reading Abrahamby Bruce Feiler. I say was because on Thursday, I laid the book down, and now I can't find it. So I re-read a book that I finished not too long ago, and will be posting a link to that review (it's a book I received through Blogcritics, and they get the exclusive on those books). Hopefully I'll find Abraham so I can finish it -- it's a great book, as are Feiler's other books.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:04 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Book Review Link: An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

My review of this book at Blogcritics.

I really do enjoy this series. I got the third book to review, and grabbed the fourth when it was offered. Then I found the first two in the series in a single volume (actually, my wife found them and got them for me last year to read at the beach). The characterization is quite good, even though Maisie Dobbs seems almost to be a walking anachronism because of her progressive attitudes. Winspear does an incredible amount of research on these books; even the attitudes of the people ring absolutely true to life.

If you enjoy mysteries, or if you enjoy novels set in 1930s England, you should look into the Maisie Dobbs series. I got started just out of curiosity, but they are on my "must read" list now.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:10 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

February 11, 2008

My Video Ipod

I managed to fry the 1st generation Nano that my mom got me a couple years ago at Christmas, so I had to get a replacement. Got the new Gen 3 version -- complete with video capability.

Now, I've always mocked the idea of watching video on an iPod. At a time when TVs seem to be getting bigger and bigger, why would I want to watch TV on a 2" screen? But, I figured, now that I can do it, I should see what all the fuss is about.

And now I understand.

I have to note here that when you register a video-capable iPod, iTunes gives you a cartoon short, a TV show, and a music video for free. Unfortunately, I had a really hard time getting my iPod registered -- it finally went through a week ago. I kept getting an "iTunes Store Not Available" message, even though it was (grrr.). In the meantime, I downloaded a few videos from YouTube, thanks to KeepVid, and they were OK to watch, though I think I didn't set the quality high enough. I still watch them every so often, and it's not a big strain on my old eyes to watch them on the small screen. "OK," says I, "But what about a TV show?"

I thought that it would remain an unanswered question, since I wasn't willing to shell out even two bucks on iTunes to download a TV show that I may only watch once. Then they went and offered the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot for free on iTunes. So I downloaded it, and tried it out.

And I liked it. I really liked it. I like the convenience. I like the portability.

Now, I've tried it with other things that didn't work so well. I received a BUNCH of DVDs from A&E to review over at Blogcritics, and converted one over to watch on the iPod. It was decent, but any time any text showed up on the screen, it was impossible for me to read. For most shows, it would be OK, though. I also can't imagine watching a full movie on my iPod -- I'd rather have better sound and a bigger picture when I'm watching a movie.

But on the whole, video on an iPod isn't too bad. My wife laughs at me, reminding me of the "Bah, Humbug" attitude I used to have. And I am not afraid to admit when I'm wrong -- and I was wrong. Video on a 2" screen isn't bad at all.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Book A Week: Week 5

The book this week is going to be Hacking: The Art of Exploitation by Jon Erickson. The book arrived today -- I'd forgotten I'd emailed the PR person to get a review copy. The other book I got today is That Sweet Enemy: Britain and France - A History Of A Love-Hate Relationship, but it's over 700 pages, so I doubt that one's going to be a Book A Week selection.

My review for Hacking is going to be posted at Blogcritics. I didn't really get it through BC, but I've made the contacts at No Starch Press and O'Reilly because of Blogcritics, so I really feel that my reviews of their stuff should go to BC first. I'll post a link here, just as I did with An Incomplete Revenge, and offer a few comments here as well.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 13, 2008

Honesty: The Best Policy

{hat tip to Justin Taylor}

From the Jan. 4 issue of First Things

Luke Timothy Johnson, New Testament professor at Emory University, has openly admitted what few liberal Christian defenders of homosexuality will: "I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us."
emphasis added

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 14, 2008

Prayers Up for Dr. Mohler

Just heard this a few minutes ago (h/t to Bart Barber)

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will require additional surgery after a scheduled colonoscopy on February 11 revealed a tumor in his colon. An initial biopsy indicated that the tumor is pre-cancerous and further tests are to be scheduled, along with surgical options.

Mohler, 48, underwent major abdominal surgery in late December

{edit} Just read the SBTS press release on this, and Dr. Mohler is also withdrawing his name from consideration for SBC President. “I have decided to give my greatest attention right now to addressing this new challenge and to ministering to my wife and children. This is clearly not the right time for me to accept this nomination. I have asked my good friend Robert Jeffress not to proceed with nominating me for president of our Southern Baptist Convention this year."

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 17, 2008

Gosh, Darn -- Charles Barkley Doesn't Like Me.

Sir Charles Barkley has decided to weigh in on religion. Not sure what qualifies him to make this kind of pronouncement, but nobody asked me, and so he did. We're not real Christians, we conservatives, because we judge others. We're too judgmental.

The Reformed Chicks who babble over at Beliefnet made an interesting point. Sir Charles quoted Matthew 7:1-2. He doesn't seem to have read verse 3.

Jesus is trying to give us a warning -- don't judge the motivations of others. Don't you decide why someone is doing what they're doing. And we're all guilty of this, but one of the things that always bothers me when people use this passage against Christians is that the folks doing the quoting are doing some judging, too. By invoking this verse against anyone, you are violating it. That's why we're told to get rid of the log in our own eyes before we go after the speck that's in our brothers' eye.

When I preach and teach against sin, I'm not judging anyone. Judgment will be passed by God, and it will be passed based on what each of us has done with Christ. When I preach against sin, I do it to show God's salvation to everyone. Because until someone realizes that they're lost, they don't know they need a savior. So as Christians we do an extreme disservice to people when we simply let them go along the way they have been, without letting them know of the danger they're putting themselves in. Was Noah being intolerant or judgmental when he told everyone to get into the ark? Was Jesus being judgmental and intolerant when he told the woman caught in adultery "Go, and sin no more"? I'd love to ask Sir Charles those questions, but he probably won't talk to me.

After all, I'm too judgmental.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 03:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 19, 2008

Scapegoats, Video Games, and Cowboys of All Ages

There's always one.

There's always somebody who is ready to take advantage of a tragedy to further his own pet issue. Jack Thompson's pet issue is the evils of video games, and he's off on his hobby horse again.

Do kids play too many video games? Probably. But I know plenty of kids who take time out to skateboard, fish, hunt, occasionally do homework, etc. Normal kid stuff. They play video games, and most of them are better at Halo and Counter Strike than I could ever pretend to be. And they don't kill each other!

When I was 5, I had a pair of six-shooters. Fake pearl handles, fake silver finish, six-shot cap guns. I loved those things. Had the boots and hat. I even had a guitar, so I could play "singing cowboy" when there weren't any rustlers to fight. My sister and I used to lay down in the back of our station wagon on long trips, and "shoot" at the people around us, because they were the bad guys. (Unless they were in a brown car -- then they were on our team.)

When I was 10 or so, I got a BB gun. I was the terror of aluminum cans throughout the neighborhood. My neighbor and I set up a commando training course in our back yards, so we could practice going on "missions." I got pretty good with that rifle.

Even today, when I go to the arcade with my daughter (she loves to win tickets), I play games like Time Traveler -- pull the gun, shoot the bad guys. Those sniper games are pretty fun, too. I'm decent, though not great, at most of them.

I've never shot anyone. I figure the first thing I'd probably shoot if I got hold of a real gun would be my foot. Video games haven't trained me to kill people. Video games won't teach someone how to use an Uzi to hose down their school cafeteria -- they can't. You have to actually practice with those weapons to be able to use them. And that's what people forget.

We spent our youths playing cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, Nazis and Americans, Yanks and Rebels -- whatever. We shot our friends three or four times, ran around, took prisoners, then went inside for a snack just in time to watch some good, old-fashioned violent TV -- like Ultraman.

Whenever I hear someone like Jack Thompson blaming video games for the downfall of our society, I remember the scapegoat of my youth -- Dungeons and Dragons. And I remember what everyone always told me, and how none of it ever sounded like any actual roleplaying session I'd ever been involved with. And sure, there were some kids who went a bit nuts with D&D -- but they were the kids with problems to begin with. There are kids who shouldn't be playing violent video games -- but there are thousands of other kids who have no problem with those games.

The real problem is spiritual. The real problem is that we don't teach respect for life. The real problem is that we don't teach moral responsibility -- because that might offend someone. We're so afraid of offending someone by teaching that some things are wrong that we're killing our society off. We're too worried about finding a scapegoat to blame, something to boycott or ban, to find the root cause of the problem, and offer a solution to that problem.

"The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?"

Over 2,000 years ago, Jeremiah saw the problem. And he saw what this problem would cause:

O Lord, the hope of Israel,
all who forsake you shall be put to shame;
those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth,
for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.

We've forsaken Him, and we are put to shame.

What's our hope?

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved,
for you are my praise.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 21, 2008

Priorities and Worship

One well-known worship group he had spoken with was asking over $35,000. $35,000! To play worship music! I have a family of four, and I don’t make that much money in 2 years, let alone 2 hours of playing music that is supposed to be for God. I could send 467 goats to Kenya for that much. I could provide a month’s food and clothing to 1,000 AIDS-affected orphans in Africa for that much. I could just pay off all credit card debt for 10 families in America, totally changing their lives forever, for that much.

What’s wrong with our priorities when we’ll pay $35,000 to have a worship band come and play music to bring us closer to God, but we won’t give a couple extra bucks to the waitress to show her that God cares about her hard work? Are our priorities so out of whack that we’ll let orphans die, widows waste away, and working class parents work night and day just so we can enjoy a relaxing couple of hours in the presence of God?

I’m less ticked at the bands than I am at ourselves for allowing them to be made into rock stars. I’m sure Chris Tomlin doesn’t want to be your idol. I’m sure Matt Redman doesn’t want your worship. Why are we giving it to them?

From The Blah Blah. Go there and read that one, if you can without feeling completely convicted. Especially if you're in a band.

Why do we idolize people who have talent that 's been given to them by God? Why don't we give the praise to God, from whom the talent comes? If there's anything I really hate about Christian music, that's it. We've got people in music with rock-star attitudes, expecting rock star treatment (not all of them -- I agree with Jake that there are some who are really in it for God). We shell out a bunch of money to listen to their music. And we say they're in it for the ministry.

Yet we condemn pastors who do the same thing. We condemn the "rock star" lifestyles of high profile mega-church preachers -- and rightly so. Why do we expect less of our "worship leaders" than we do of anyone else in a ministry position?

We also make it tough on the ones who are interested in ministry. It's a lot easier to rely on God and consider your vocation a calling if you're not making a six-figure salary each year between performances and CD sales. I'm sure a lot of guys who once wrote penetrating, spiritually focused lyrics are now writing pablum because it sells better. "People have to buy the CD for it to minister to them," they rationalize. And we get music like SCC's "Dancing With Cindarella." A good song, don't get me wrong, it's cut straight from Bob Carlisle's "Butterfly Kisses" cloth, but there's nothing Christian about it. Same with "Rawkfist" from Thousand Foot Krutch, to pick on a genre I like a bit better. People are writing watered-down sentimental lyrics with not spiritual content and we are eating it up. Which means, of course, that they're going to write more of it. And that, in a nutshell, is why the Christian music scene is so .... meh. That's why I listen to more independent music now -- they still write the lyrics that are on their hearts, and not just on their wallets.

We have to either admit that Christian rock is an industry and not a ministry, or get back to the ministry attitude that Jesus music had in the very beginning. But let's stop kidding ourselves -- we can't have it both ways. Seems I remember someone mentioning something about God and mammon before.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2008

Church Super Bowl Parties are GO

The NFL has bowed to the pressure. After a PR nightmare resulting from it's decision to not allow churches to show the Super Bowl on anything larger than 55", the NFL has decided to let churches hold their Super Bowl parties.

The league looked really stupid, I think, when it decided to allow sports bars to show the game on whatever they wanted, but not churches. It showed a lot of people exactly what the NFL valued, and who they wanted for customers.

They didn't think about the fact that many people have church on Sunday evenings. They didn't think about the fact that if churches had their parties, people would be watching who wouldn't otherwise.

Or maybe they did, and this reversal is a bit more pragmatic than people are thinking it was to begin with.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 12:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

28 Years Ago Today

February 22, 1980. A day that will live forever in history, especially for hockey fans.

Do you believe in miracles?

{edit -- it's not Al Michaels, but it's a great commentary. AND it's got every US goal scored in it.}

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2008

Book A Week Announcement

Yes, I'm late with this. And I really don't have a good excuse -- the book was done on time, even!

The announcement is that I have decided to migrate all the Book a Week stuff to my new blog, The Pew Reviews. Yes, I've tried something like this before, and I didn't stick with it. But I think this time it will work, because I've got a master plan. And no, I'm not telling you the master plan yet. If you pay attention to what goes on here and there and on the podcast, you'll figure it out eventually. Although if you read this old post, you might get an idea.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 27, 2008

Podcast Drama: Saving Our Imaginations

(yeah, I know it's not Monday. It FEELS like Monday.)

A little while ago, I Twittered an article about the fall of radio, in which the writer said "Podccasting is the new radio." And I've been reading a lot of stuff about what radio can do to survive, should it survive, etc. So when I got the link to this article, I was REALLY curious.

I love this quote:

Every time we add a dimension to our performances and recordings, we not only add to the creator’s workload, we also — in an important sense — limit the audience’s experience.

THAT is what I like about radio -- I can use my imagination. It is, as they tell me, the "theater of the mind."

It started with books -- then we added the audio for radio, and people no longer had to imagine the voices and sounds. Then we added visuals, so we didn't have to imagine what the scene and characters looked like. It's hard to go backward -- I think that's a big part of why people don't read as much now; they don't have the imagination for it.

So podcast dramas like Pendant Audio, Decoder Ring Theatre, and others, are helping us recover our imagination.

Our imaginations need stretching. So you OWE it to yourself to listen to a podio-drama or two. Decoder Ring updates every other week, so there's a new show due on Saturday. Pendant has a bunch of different shows, so if you subscribe to all of them you should have at least one a week. They do some fan shows (DC superheroes like Batman, Superman, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman), but I really enjoy the original stuff. I just started listening to the Texas Radio Theater, and recommend them as well. Their shows are all original, though some are tributes to old-time radio programs (like Flash Gordon and Sherlock Holmes).

There's plenty out there. Go expand your mind, and use your imagination!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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