Johnny Cash on Billy Graham: “I have never known a greater man among men”

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Gratitude for Billy Graham

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Bono, Billy and Ruth

In a video tribute to Graham in 2005, Bono said:
“At a time when religion seems so often to get in the way of God’s work
With its shopping mall sales pitch and its bumper sticker reductionism
I give thanks just for the sanity of Billy Graham
For that clear empathetic voice of his
In that southern accent, part poet, part preacher
A singer of the human spirit, I’d say
Ah, yeah I give thanks for Billy Graham.”

“Over the years,” Bono told journalist Cathleen Falsani (Sojourners), “I met some preachers who did connect with me, for sure, and whose words return to me. I remember hearing about this fellow called Billy Graham. Church people would push him on you like your friends at school would push Elvis Presley records. Actually, they looked kind of similar – both stars from the South who spoke with a twang and had giant crowds come to see them.”

He related to her the story of the getting a surprise phone call in 2002 from someone in Dr. Graham’s office saying that he wanted to give the band a blessing.

“I told them, I said, ‘This is a big deal. This is BILLY GRAHAM!’ And they all said, ‘That’s great. But we’re in the middle of a tour.’ So I rented a plane and flew there right away in case he might forget. I was picked up by his son, Franklin, and driven a couple of hours up to their house. I met briefly with himself and his wife, Ruth. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that the blessings of an older man mean a great deal to me. Particularly this man.

“I gave him a book of Seamus Heaney poetry, and I wrote a poem for him in it,” Bono said.

That poem – handwritten on a piece of 8 ½” x 11”  paper in black felt-tip pen – now resides in the Billy Graham Library’s permanent collection.

Transcript of Bono’s poem to the Grahams:

The journey from Father to friend
is all paternal loves end
It was sung in my teenage ears
In the voice of a preacher
loudly soft on my tears
I would never forget this
Melody line
Or its lyric voice that gave my life
A Rhyme
a meaning that wasn’t there before
a child born in dung and straw
wish the Father’s love and desire to explain
how we might get on with each other again…

To the Rev Billy Graham (that preacher)
Ruth and all the Graham family
From Bono (March 11 2002)
With much love and respect

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Nothing but respect. Billy Graham, RIP.

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Contact highs and appreciating other people’s art

Confession: I’ve got a bit of a twin obsession with both Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine). Found this story and photoshoot in W Magazine to be very interesting.

Alix Browne, W Magazine: But last September, when Welch was working on the follow-up to her 2015 album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,and dreaming about the people she’d most love to collaborate with, she reached out to Gerwig. “That songs can be triumphant and exciting but at the same time you just don’t have it figured out, that things can be joyful and you can be strong but there is an underlying sense that all the time you are questioning—I thought Greta would get it.”

The two reunited in New York, over waffles and pierogi at Veselka, a Ukrainian joint in the East Village, and talked about working on a project together. “One of my very favorite parts of making Lady Bird was working with Jon Brion on the music,” Gerwig says. “Getting to be in another person’s world is really exciting. When you love someone else’s art, and it’s not an art you can make, it’s like a contact high being around them. You have superpowers I can’t possibly understand, but I can also love your superpowers.”

Read full article HERE

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Black Panther Breakout Letitia Wright Smashes Disney Princess Expectations

Photo by Nichol Biesek

By Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair

An Africa-set tale, and the first Marvel Studios effort to star anyone but a white man, Black Panther is set to upend expectations as well as box-office records.

The film’s biggest surprise, however, is still lying in wait. In a cast brimming with multiple Oscar winners and nominees, it’s 24-year-old newcomer Letitia Wright as Black Panther’s younger sister, Shuri, who walks away with the show. Shuri is a tech-savvy teenage princess who is Peter Parker, Tony Stark, and Q from Bond all rolled into one. Black Panther producer Nate Moore called T’Challa’s science-minded little sister the “smartest person in the world”—smarter even than Tony Stark and Peter Parker. But for all her exceptional brilliance Shuri, as Wright plays her, is also shockingly normal. As an otherworldly Wakandan war wages around her, Shuri is recognizable as a teasing little sister there to keep her big brother both safe and in check.
As the rare young star whose social-media messages are bursting with praise for a God she credits for her success, Wright says she’s not “going to hide” her religious beliefs from the world. “Everybody has their thing that they’re truthful about. My thing is just a love of God . . . so that’s what I’m going to do.” When asked how she prepares for any given scene, be it comedy or tragedy, Wright simply says, “I pray.”

Wright came to Christianity after attending a London actors’ Bible study with fellow Identity graduate Malachi Kirby (Roots, Black Mirror) at the height of her depression. Her immersion in her newfound religion was so strong that Wright walked away from a role in a Nicole KidmanElle Fanning film, most likely How to Talk to Girls at Parties, in order to focus on her relationship with God. When it came time to tackle her career with newfound commitment in 2015, she ran to it full tilt—and hasn’t stopped since.

To read entire article, click HERE. Hat tip to Leo Partible!

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Movie set at “Black Panther” was “almost like church”

Sope Aluko is the Nigerian-born actor playing the role of ‘Shaman’ in the much-acclaimed “Black Panther” movie. In an interview with Okay Africa, she said the set was “almost like church.”

Okay Africa had asked her was working alongside such heavy hitters like Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, and Forest Whitaker?

Aluko’s response: “It felt very familiar and like home. We had early call times but I didn’t even feel the long set hours because it was such a good time. I didn’t feel like I was amongst stars, everyone was so down to earth and normal. During breaks we shared our testimony of how we got to where did and most of the people were testifying to God’s miracles, it was almost like church.”

Read entire article HERE.

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‘Ash Valentine’s Day’: True Love Dies

Design by Sister Putri Magdalena #MediaNuns

By Tish Harrison Warren

Today, on Valentine’s Day, while the world is bedecked with schmaltzy red and pink hearts, I will stand before kneeling members of my congregation and tell them that they are going to die. This, without a doubt, is among the most punk rock things I have ever done.

For the first time in 45 years, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, a liturgical feast day commemorating not one but two martyrdoms. The holiday—in old English, hāligdæg, or “holy day”—has been scrubbed of its bloody beginnings and now finds its chief significance in market share and revenue generation. (Houston Asset Management tracked 2017’s Valentine sales as just over $18 billion in their yearly “Cost of Loving” index.)

With its declaration of human finitude and mortality, Ash Wednesday is always counter-cultural, but when it falls on the very day that chalky candy hearts proclaim “Be Mine,” “Wink Wink,” and (my favorite) “U R A 10,” the contrast is particularly stark.

Read her Tish Harrison Warren’s entire column HERE.


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An introduction to Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul

By Ann Powers

In 1947, a white Southern musical entrepreneur named Lee Roy Abernathy made a move that shook up churchgoing America – and the sound of popular music. That winter, the Georgia-born pianist and songwriter went into an Atlanta studio with his group the Homeland Harmony Quartet to record his latest composition, “Gospel Boogie.” Abernathy was a musical entrepreneur, selling sheet music for his compositions at fifty cents a pop, and he kept his ears open to the hottest trends among the both the pious and the profane. “Gospel Boogie” is all about the wonder of heaven, as is made clear by its alternate title, “Everybody’s Gonna Have a Wonderful Time Up There.” But it’s full of earthly pleasures: a propulsive piano line evocative of Chicago keyboard masters like Albert Ammons, busy harmonies that anticipate doo wop, and a distinct twang that makes a connection to country barn-burners like the Delmore Brothers’ 1946 stomper “Freight Train Boogie”. From the dreamy falsetto that wafts through the background to the spoken word verses that almost sound like an early version of rap, “Gospel Boogie” is a mind-boggling example of mid-century popular musical elements colliding within one song.

To read her entire article, click HERE.

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Leonardo da Vinci’s high-dollar Christ

Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images

By Steve Beard

The art world is in a high-dollar tizzy after a controversial Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus sold for nearly half a billion dollars. The mid-November auction “saw a tense 20 minute battle between at least six bidders,” reported Newsweek. “Observers in the room whooped, cheered, and applauded when the sale was finally confirmed.” Now registered as the highest priced piece of art in history, the 26-inch high painting portrays Christ in a flowing blue Renaissance-era robe holding a crystal orb in one hand and making the benediction blessing sign with the other.

The painting’s magnetic draw was not surprising. Remarkably, there are less than 20 Leonardo (1452-1519) paintings known to exist – and all others are displayed in museums. He was a trailblazing inventor, mathematician, and artist who is most well-known for his paintings “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.”

The final price tag of $450 million for “Salvator Mundi” – Latin for “Savior of the World” – was jaw dropping, especially considering the opening bid was $75 million. The entire transaction puts this piece of art into a stratosphere without peer. Interestingly, there is a fascinating history that accompanies the artwork, as well as some very big unanswered mysteries.

At different stages over the last 500 years the portrait was owned by King Charles I of England (1600-1649), vanished from public viewing for 150 years before it showed up in 1900, sold for $59 in 1958 (believed to be the work of a Leonardo associate), someone painted over Christ’s face and hair, it was restored and sold for less than $10,000 at a Louisiana estate sale, appraised as a Leonardo original in 2011, sold to a Swiss tycoon for $75 million, and purchased by a Russian oligarch for $127 million. The last owner had it auctioned off at Christie’s. Continue reading

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