Chris Pratt on faith with the Associated Press

AP: At recent awards show appearances, you went out on stage and talked publicly about your faith. Is it an especially important time to do that?

Pratt: I don’t know that I am so much more motivated by where the world is or if it’s just what I’m feeling called to do right now. I think it’s a combination of both things. … That kind of a message, it might not be for everybody. But there is a group of people for whom that message is designed. And nothing fills my soul more than to think that maybe some kid watching that would say, ‘Hey, I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve been thinking about praying. Let me try that out.’ That’s like the only way I feel like I can repay what has essentially been a giant gift in my life.

AP: Does it feel like a risk sometimes in Hollywood?

Pratt: No, not at all. … I think that there’s this narrative that exists out there that Hollywood is anti-Christian or anti-religious, but it’s just not the case. They are kind of not anti-anything. They are kind of pro whatever is authentic to you. And I like that. Because it’s authentic for me to be pro-Christian, pro-Jesus. That’s my thing. I like it. And I’ve never had anyone try to shame me, to my face. Maybe they go say it behind my back. But if that’s the case, go ahead. You can say whatever you want about me – to my face or behind my back. I’m not going to change.

To read entire interview, click HERE.

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Lauren Daigle wants to break down walls to Christian music

Lauren Daigle’s new album debuted at Number Three on the charts, ahead of major rappers and pop stars.
Photo: Jeremy Cowart

Lauren Daigle’s album, “Look Up Child,” debuted this month at No. 3 on Billboard’s all-genre album chart and had the best first week sales of any Christian album in nearly nine years, according to Billboard. Daigle, who is performing at this year’s Dove Awards on Oct. 16 and is nominated for an American Music Award, talked with The Associated Press about why she likes Chance the Rapper and breaking down the walls to Christian music. ***

AP: You have a song called “Losing My Religion,” tell me about the meaning of that song.

Daigle: I had realized there are so many moments where I let that expectation dictate my ability to perform, my perfectionism. And as much as we want to create a white picket fence, it’s not real. It’s a facade. And I think the sooner we realize that people can be messy and people are fragile, the more we actually start to see through the eyes of God, or the God that I know. We experience kindness for humanity. We experience joy for humanity. And we run toward them instead of building all these barriers. And so that’s what “Losing My Religion” is. It’s taking down all the boxes, taking down all the fences, and it’s living as pure and as whole as possible.

***

AP: Do you want to change people’s understanding of what Christian music can be?

Daigle: Chance the Rapper got to do stuff with all these gospel artists. So profound. I love that, right? And that was something I wanted to bring in as well. Like elements where people who weren’t necessarily church people, or Christians, or whatever the title is, who don’t really dive into that kind of music can hear something and it be compelling enough and it be strong enough to where they are drawn in and feel welcomed and invited.

Read entire story HERE

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The Unlikely Endurance of Christian Rock

Larry Norman, the founder of Christian rock, never entirely endorsed the genre. Illustration by Bráulio Amado; photograph by Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

By Kelefa Sanneh

The New Yorker

In 1957, less than a year after the end of the Montgomery bus boycott, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., took a part-time job as an advice columnist. His employer was Ebony, and his ambit was broad: race relations, marital problems, professional concerns. In the April, 1958, issue, King was asked to address one of the most polarizing issues of the day: rock music. His correspondent was a churchgoing seventeen-year-old with a musical split personality. “I play gospel music and I play rock ’n’ roll,” the letter read. Its author wanted to know whether this habit was objectionable.

King’s advice was characteristically firm. Rock and gospel were “totally incompatible,” he explained: “The profound sacred and spiritual meaning of the great music of the church must never be mixed with the transitory quality of rock and roll music.” And he made it clear which he preferred. “The former serves to lift men’s souls to higher levels of reality, and therefore to God,” he wrote. “The latter so often plunges men’s minds into degrading and immoral depths.”

Randall J. Stephens, a religious historian, views the relationship between Christianity and rock and roll as a decades-long argument over American culture, sacred and profane. In “The Devil’s Music,” released last March, Stephens reconsiders the judgments of King and other Christian leaders who viewed rock and roll with alarm. He points out that many pioneering rockers, from Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Jerry Lee Lewis, came out of the Pentecostal Church; for some preachers, he argues, rock and roll was worrisome precisely because its frenetic performances evoked the excesses of Pentecostal worship. In a sermon given in 1957, King, a Baptist, urged his fellow-preachers to move beyond unseemly displays: “We can’t spend all of our time trying to learn how to whoop and holler,” he said. Stephens wants us to think of rock and Christianity not as enemies but as siblings engaged in a family dispute.

Rock’s reputation quickly improved: less than a decade later, King’s protégé Andrew Young declared that rock and roll had done “more for integration than the church.” And by the end of the sixties a small but growing number of believers were helping to invent a style that King might have viewed as a contradiction in terms: Christian rock, which became a recognizable genre and, in the decades that followed, a thriving industry.

Read rest of essay HERE

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Celebrating Aretha Franklin

“In Aretha,” the Rev. Dr. William Barber said at her funeral, “the holiness of the sacred and the secular came together, in a way that could be only ordered by the Lord. Some say that even as the world spins, there is a certain tune to the world’s orbit. Aretha tapped into that tune, and taught us its rhythm.”

Celebrities honored Aretha Franklin, the legendary singer, at her “homegoing” in Detroit. Those who attended the funeral were greeted by a line-up of more than 130 pink Cadillacs on the road leading to Greater Grace Temple, a nod of respect to the singer who had deep affection for pink Cadillacs: “We goin’ ridin’ on the freeway of love in my pink Cadillac,” she sang in her 1985 single “Freeway of Love.”

The Cadillac idea was arranged by Crisette Ellis, wife of the Greater Grace Temple pastor. “My husband said, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could have a sea of pink Cadillacs parked on Seven Mile Road to greet Ms. Aretha Franklin as she arrives?’” Ellis told NPR.

The service of honor went on for several hours between tributes and songs.

“The greatest gift that has been given in life itself is love. We can talk about all the things that are wrong, and there are many, but the only thing that can deliver us is love,” said Stevie Wonder at the conclusion. “We need to make love great again. Because black lives do matter. Because all lives do matter. And if we love God then we know, truly, it is our love that will make all things matter when we make love great again.”

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Happy Birthday Queen Lili’uokalani

Queen Lili’uokalani

Happy Birthday to Queen Liliʻuokalani, the first queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii and its last sovereign monarch (1838-1917). She ruled from January 29, 1891, until the overthrow of her rightful rule in January 17, 1893, by unscrupulous sugar barons. While Queen Lili’uokalani had her own armed soldiers, she chose a peaceful resolution in hopes that the situation would be resolved without violence. “I have pursued the path of peace and diplomatic discussion, and not that of internal strife,” she wrote in Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen.

She appealed to the U.S. government about the toppling of her reign and found a sympathetic ear with President Grover Cleveland. Though he lobbied for her rightful return to power, annexation of Hawaii was enacted in 1898 by the U.S. Senate and Queen Lili’uokalani was placed under house arrest while non-Hawaiians ruled the islands. (Some of this story can be read HERE.) It is a painful story to read if you believe in self-rule, liberty, and justice (highly recommended is Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure by Julia Flynn Siler). Continue reading

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Senator John McCain RIP

MORRY GASH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The casket of Senator John McCain lies in state in the US Capitol Rotunda.

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McCain: “We never hide from history. We make history.”

FILE PHOTO: John McCain speaks at a 2008 campaign rally in Defiance, Ohio. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

What follows is he final statement from Sen. John McCain, read Monday by Rick Davis, his former presidential campaign manager, at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona:

“My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,

“Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

“I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s. Continue reading

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RIP John McCain, war hero, patriot, independent thinker

Associated Press

“‘The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it,’ spoke my hero, Robert Jordan, in [Ernest Hemingway’s] ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls.‘ And I do, too. I hate to leave it. But I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace. I’ve lived very well and I’ve been deprived of all comforts. I’ve been as lonely as a person can be and I‘ve enjoyed the company of heroes. I’ve suffered the deepest despair and experienced the highest exultation. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times….

“What an ingrate I would be to curse the fate that concludes the blessed life I’ve led. I prefer to give thanks for those blessings, and my love to the people who blessed me with theirs. The bell tolls for me. I knew it would. So I tried, as best I could, to stay a ‘part of the main.’ I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don’t, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued service is the hope of the world. And I wish all of you great adventures, good company, and lives as lucky as mine.”

—John McCain, from “The Restless Wave” 

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Stray Cats rock through reunion shows

Reunited Stray Cats performed at Pacific Amphitheatre in Costra Mesa for the first time in a decade on Thursday, Aug. 16. (Photo by Suzie Kaplan)

Orange County Register: It has been 10 years since the Stray Cats rocked the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, however Thursday night it felt like the trio hadn’t skipped a beat.

Fans were ready to jump, jive and wail along with Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom, who just recently reunited to play three stops in 2018 including the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend back in April, the Naperville Ribfest in Illinois in July and added two nights at Pacific Amphitheatre.

The audience members in Costa Mesa made it clear that they wanted the Stray Cats. Numerous guests turned out in their rockabilly garb, sporting cuffed jeans, flat caps, rolled up T-shirt sleeves, slicked back or pompadour hairstyles, dresses straight out of the ’50s or wearing other vintage Stray Cats-branded swag.

To read entire article, click HERE

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Stray Cats strut their stuff at reunion show

Credit: John Gilholley

OC Weekly: “The Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa was crowded with rockabillies, rockafillys, chilli-billies, psychobillies and whatever other sub-group you can slap that suffix on….the venue’s amphitheater was filled with folks who lived through the first wave of rockabilly, the second wave of rockabilly, the third wave–what wave are we on now? I’ve lost count.

“That’s right–Setzer, Phantom and Rocker, the holy trinity of the rockabilly revival of the 1980s, the union that launched a zillion pompadours and single-handedly raised stock in Gretsch guitars and Lucky Strike cigarettes in the day, re-re-reunited this year.

“So while it may have been a surprise to some when the Stray Cats announced via social media this spring they were reuniting after a 10 year hiatus, it wasn’t much of a surprise that they chose to reunite in just two places: Las Vegas (at Ingram’s Viva Las Vegas this April) and Costa Mesa. Not New York or UK where they have early roots, not the obvious choice of LA, not Japan (they’re big in Japan, you know). Good old Orange County, California. In 2008, the Stray Cats said “goodbye” on the same Pacific Amphitheater stage during their farewell tour.

“And so for two nights only, Thursday and Friday, the Stray Cats came to Costa Mesa to “rock this town” and that they did. They did not “rip this place apart” as their signature song goes–(they’re no longer the same twenty something punk kids that wrote that neo-swing anthem in the 1980s, and besides the Pac Amp has a strict 10 p.m. sound curfew).

“But they did deliver a rock steady beat of the hits that made rockabilly radio friendly along with tributes to the artists of the 1950s who inspired them. The band walked out to the sounds of Eddie Cochran (a permanent resident of Orange County) playing his hit “C’mon Everybody”. The trio greeted the crowd and then kicked off the set with a vivacious performance of “Runaway Boys”.

“I guess we shouldn’t have waited so long, huh?” Setzer asked the crowd at the end of the set. As the Stray Cats enter what will be 40 years of rocking and rolling towns across the world (they formed in 1979), 2018 was as good a time as any to reunite. Though there are no future dates currently lined up, we’re stoked the Stray Cats chose our backyard to host to the welcome home party.

Read Taylor Hamby’s full article HERE

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