Ash Wednesday Selfies


From Wall Street Journal

CHICAGO— Gaby Driessen stopped by St. Peter’s Church here and a priest put a thick smudge of ash on her forehead—a traditional way Catholics and other Christians physically show their commitment to the faith on Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent.

Then she did what many 24-year-olds would. She took a self-portrait, or selfie, with a friend and they posted it on Instagram.

“My family—we’re all apart. Every year on Ash Wednesday, we send selfies,” she said.

The Ash Wednesday selfie—a modern mixing of Christian piety with social media self-involvement—is becoming a tradition for a growing number of Catholics.

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Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Pastrix, Rod Dreher, Pope Francis, Home Alone, Norman Rockwell in Hawaii, Duct-Tape, C.S. Lewis, and the Rev. Horton Heat

pastrix• Loving the Pastrix by Rod Dreher (American Conservative)

• Like Pope Francis? You’ll love Jesus by Elizabeth Tenety (Washington Post)

• Bless this Macaroni and Cheese: How Home Alone can Teach you to Pray by Laura Turner (RNS)

• Norman Rockwell’s only painting of Hawaii sells for $1.625 million (Honolulu Magazine)

Duct-tape Discipleship by Carolyn Arends (Christianity Today)

• Sexy, scandalous C.S. Lewis and the Incarnation by Jerry Walls (Christian Thought)

• Insisting Jesus Was White Is Bad History and Bad Theology by Jonathan Merritt (The Atlantic)

• The Reverend Horton Heat return to psychobilly (Rolling Stone)

• Scholars explore Christian views on animal rights (NY Times)

• In the land of punk: My story by Bill Sweeney (NY Times)


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C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley, John F. Kennedy, Los Lobos, Roller Derby, Lou Reed, Teo Bishop, Wesleyan Theology, Noah, Todd Christenson, and Dr. Who

LEWIS-articleLarge• Puddleglum and the Savage by Ross Douthat (NY Times)

• The Chronicles of C. S. Lewis Lead to Poets’ Corner (NY Times)

As Los Lobos turns 40, bandmates reflect on a trippy ride: The East. L.A. band brought a new sound to the music scene 40 years ago, a legacy abetted by its members’ enduring artistic drive. (LA Times)

Rolling Thunder: Women’s roller derby is an underground phenomenon (Sports On Earth)

Why C.S. Lewis remains popular: James Houston reflects by Sarah Pulliam Bailey (RNS)

• Lou Reed’s New York Was Hell or Heaven (NY Times)

An Ex-Mouseketeer’s Journey Back to Christianity From Paganism (NY Times)

• How does Wesleyan theology rank with “millenials”? by Donald Haynes (United Methodist Reporter)

Check out the new Noah trailer

How Catholic was John F. Kennedy? (CNN)

Todd Christensen dies at 57; record-setting NFL tight end: With a vocabulary to match his football skills, Todd Christensen helped the Raiders win two Super Bowls. (LA Times)

• Doctor Who: Time travel through faith (BBC)





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Flannery O’Connor, Christian Martyrs, Honesty Makes a Comeback, Sister Antonia Brenner, Christendom, Surfing Madonna, Screwtape Letters

Art by Greg Ruth for Slate

Art by Greg Ruth for Slate

The Prayers of Flannery O’Connor The deeply Catholic writer and the “insidious hands Oh Lord which grope into the darkness of my soul.” (Slate)

The Believer: Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal reviewed by Marilynne Robinson (NY Times)

Inheritance and Invention: Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal (New Yorker)

• God’s Grandeur: The Prayer Journal of Flannery O’Connor (Virginia Quarterly Review)

• A call for a more realistic reporting of Christian martyrs (Religion News Service)

Rabbi returns $98,000 found in desk to original owner

• Antonia Brenner, ‘Prison Angel’ Who Took Inmates Under Her Wing, Is Dead at 86 (LA Times)

Christianity is not going away by Mark Tooley (Washington Post)

Surfing Madonna finds new home on Encinitas Boulevard

The Devil you know: Why readers love the Screwtape Letters (New Yorker)


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Iconic Norman Rockwell paintings to be auctioned

rockwellSomeone is going to get a nice Christmas gift. Sotheby’s will be auctioning off three of Norman Rockwell’s most popular visions of small-town Americana. “Saying Grace,” “The Gossips” and “Walking to Church” all appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

“Of Rockwell’s 322 covers for The Post, the three images were particularly popular. ‘Saying Grace’ — a crowded restaurant with a boy and an old woman bowing their heads in prayer — was considered Rockwell’s masterpiece, topping a readers’ poll in 1955,” reported The New York Times. “’The Gossips’ was a finger-wagging montage of friends, neighbors and even the artist himself. ‘Walking to Church’ was another timeless favorite.”

“Sotheby’s estimates that ‘Saying Grace,’ on the cover of the Nov. 24, 1951, issue, could bring at least $15 million to $20 million,” reported the Times. “The painting hung in Kenneth J. Stuart’s office at The Saturday Evening Post and later in his family’s living room in Wilton, Conn. ‘Walking to Church,’ thought to bring between $3 million to $5 million, was in the bedroom of his wife, Katharine.”

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Robert Randolph and Sacred Steel

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Johnny Was A Punk Rocker: Johnny Ramone, R.I.P.

johnny08The following obituary for Johnny Ramone appeared September 17, 2004, on National Review Online. 

By Steve Beard

Last July, I was shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of sweaty rockers at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip while they were complaining about needing a cigarette. We were all crammed in to see Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent blow the doors off the place. As everyone was grousing about the Los Angeles smoking ban, I could not help but chuckle to myself as I thought that if Johnny Ramone and Kid Rock joined them on stage, we would be at the one and only rock-n-roll Republican jam session.

Of course, everyone knows about all the Democrat rockers. Bruce Springsteen even wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times. How is that for rock-n-roll? All the hipsters have signed up to do fundraising concerts for John Kerry because, uh, well, he is not George W. Bush. It has been speculated that these concerts will raise upwards of $44 million dollars for the Kerry/Edwards campaign — becoming the rather absurd situation of rich musicians raising money for even richer politicians.

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Seamus Heaney, Irish Poet of Soil and Strife, Dies at 74

heaney2• A few snippets from NY Times: “For much of his career, he was under constant pressure to write favorably about the goals of his fellow Catholics, many of whom wanted a Northern Ireland free of British control, and though his work often concerned the violence in Ulster, he saw both sides of the conflict and avoided polemics in support of the Irish Republican Army. He said he was suspicious of extreme positions.”

“The accessibility of his work helped. It had references to Greek and Celtic legend, but was usually clear, often dazzling with images of nature, epiphanies of the soul. He wrote about bogs and rocks and streams and transformed them into the settings for the moral problems in a way that seemed to reach not only agnostic intellectuals, but also believing Catholics.”

” In the 1984 collection, “Station Island,” he wrote: “The main thing is to write for the joy of it. Cultivate a work-lust that imagines its haven like your hands at night, dreaming the sun in the sunspot of a breast. You are fasted now, light-headed, dangerous. Take off from here. And don’t be so earnest.”

Seamus Haney, RIP.

ruthandbonoI learned of Seamus Heaney because of Bono from U2. In one of my fave photos, Bono is shown at right reading the poetry of Seamus Heaney to Ruth Graham Bell (1920-2007) shortly after U2 won a handful of Grammy Awards in February 2002. This photo appeared in Billy Graham’s Decision magazine. The caption read: “After receiving four Grammy awards, Bono, of the legendary rock group U2, visited Ruth Bell Graham. Bono, a professing Christian, read to Mrs. Graham the works of poet laureate Seamus Heaney, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.”

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Billy Corgan on Christian rock

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Duck Dynasty, Lillian Daniel, Vampire Weekend, The Virgin Mary Church, Roller Derby, Surfing Oregon, Breaking Bad, Ken Stabler, Jonny Lang

o-DUCK-DYNASTY-facebookDuck Dynasty: Not 700 Club for Rednecks (RNS)
Jonathan Merritt interviews the Rev. Lillian Daniel, author of “When ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Is Not Enough” (RNS)
Vampire Weekend and the evangelical comedown by Chris Leonard (Patrol)
The Virgin Mary Church, A Coptic Monument to Survival Dating to Fifth Century, Destroyed (Wall Street Journal)
Roller derby evolves into serious sport (Hawaii 24/7)
The gospel according to Breaking Bad by Cathleen Falsani (OC Register)
The frightening – but biblical – moral logic of ‘Breaking Bad’ by David Zahl (Christianity Today)
Why we need Breaking Bad (Christianity Today)
Surfing Oregon’s north coast (Wall Street Journal)
Jonny Lang fans can catch his new video (Guitar World)
A tribute to Ken Stabler, baddest man on the planet by Peter Hartlaub (SF Chronicle)


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