SUMMER MOVIE GUIDE | DAVID BAZAN | MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND | K’NAAN
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SPEAKING OF INSPIRATION ... + 8 ARTISTS CHANGING EVERYTHING + AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE’S CRAIG HARTIN
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Journalist and traveler Kelsey Timmerman wanted to ﬁnd out. So he canvassed the globe to put a personal face on the controversial issues of globalization and outsourcing. Whether bowling with workers in Cambodia or riding a roller coaster with workers in Bangladesh, Timmerman bridges the gap between impersonal economic forces and the people most directly aﬀected by them. You’ll never see your wardrobe the same again.
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WANT TO WRITE FOR US? Audra Lynn expresses the joy of Calvary in her second album, entitled, Vow. She declares Christ’s devotion with soulful vocals and expressive music that mixes gospel, folk and rock.
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CONTENTS MISC. 06 FIRST WORD
08 LETTERS 10 SLICES BY DAVID DARK
22 REJECT APATHY On the Frontlines
In the Revolution
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INSERT SOUL HERE Why true faith requires you to ask the tough questions.
26 PULSE Chris Haw
Seth “tower” Hurd
Singer, songwriter, actress ... ukelele player. This girl does it all.
Inspiration abounds for Zooey Deschanel.
Cage the Elephant, Joshua James, Cut Copy
40 DAVID BAZAN He still believes in God, but not the way he used to.
52 CRAIG HARTIN
IN THE BLOOD
The artist behind Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Going inside L.A.’s gang culture with ex-Blood member Shaka.
Pt. 1 of a series
ThE ARTs ThRough ThE EyEs of ThE ARTisTs
Living simply isn’t just something we should do because of the economy.
58 MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND Remixing with lead singer Shara Worden.
64 K’NAAN This CanadianSomali musician is about more than just rhymes.
78 RELEVANT RECOMMENDS Our favorite music and DVDs
SUMMER MOVIE GUIDE The summer blockbuster season is underway. Here’s a guide to the genres and films you need to take a break from your boating and barbecuing and sunbathing to check out.
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ART AND SOUL Designer Mike Cina introduces the artists who inspire him.
ABORTION REDUCTION President Obama has promised to reduce abortions while he’s in office, but is it a real promise or just political posturing? What would it really take to lower abortion rates?
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the great escape > CAMERON STRANG Anyone who followed my Twitter this spring was probably annoyed with me during the NBA playoffs. RELEVANT Podcast listeners know I’m a fairly—OK, very—passionate fan of the Orlando Magic. And this year, they had a thrilling run. You’ll have to excuse my excitement. I’m a longsuffering fan. The franchise has been mired in mediocrity for the last decade. In 2004, after the worst season in team history, the Magic decided to try a new direction by ignoring the analysts and drafting a skinny, outspoken, Christian high school kid named Dwight Howard—who coincidentally appeared on the cover of RELEVANT the same month the Magic drafted him. As he developed, things started slowly turning for the team. Now, five years later, the unheralded Magic are in the league’s elite. You can see why on Twitter, at times, I seemed more like a teenage girl at a Miley Cyrus concert than a dignified magazine publisher. I’m passionate about this team, and have been its entire existence. I won’t bore you with all the ways the Magic has been woven into my life, but here are a few highlights: — On Nov. 4, 1989, I was a 13-year-old at the Magic’s first game (sitting on the last row of the upper bowl, mind you), watching a ragtag group of castoffs narrowly lose to the New Jersey Nets. Two nights later, they beat the Knicks, and the arena erupted like we’d won the championship. We were new to this. — On summer break from college in 1995, I was there for game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, when the guys downed Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers. We celebrated for hours downtown (I ate a hamburger with peanut butter on it), with cars honking, fans flooding the street and bootleggers selling fake championship gear. I know because I bought some. It quickly fell apart. — I met my wife, Maya, at a T.G.I. Friday’s in 2000 because of the Magic. It’s a long story. — I proposed to Maya after we went to a Magic
game in 2001. That, too, is a long story. And not nearly as unromantic as it sounds. Well, maybe it is. — During our first year of marriage, Maya actually danced for the Magic. Being newlyweds with her gone at practices until 10 p.m. most nights was hard, but a sacrifice I was more than willing to make. (Free tickets.) Plus, I got to play on that dunk trampoline the mascot uses. — On the opening day of the 2003 NBA season, I actually posted a brief “Go Magic” blurb on Slices at RELEVANTmagazine.com, which was noticed by Rick DeVos, grandson of the team’s owner. He invited me to hang out in the owner’s seats with him for the home opener the next day. The team subsequently went on a 19-game losing streak, and I haven’t been extended a similar invitation since. — For the last few years, Maya and I have had tickets about 20 feet behind the Magic bench, on the tunnel where they walk into the locker room. This gives me a good opportunity to give the players and coaches my thoughts at halftime and after each game, seeing as they walk under me and the tunnel acts as a funnel for my voice. I figure, deep down, they appreciate the insight. — Naturally, I also verbally “encourage” the guys during games when they aren’t playing to their fullest potential, pointing out areas they can exert a little more focus and effort. I have the noblest of intentions, I promise—I’m merely exhorting them to greatness, even if they aren’t always receptive to my suggestions. — This spring I learned these suggestions are clearly heard on the bench. To my wife’s great embarrassment, during a blow-out win against the Hawks, Dwight Howard had to turn around during a timeout and tell me to calm down. We had gotten up by 40 in the 3rd, and Stan Van Gundy emptied the bench. Instead of the scrubs getting hungry and going for the jugular to win by 50, within a minute the lead was down to 31. I was the only one in the arena that seemed to think this wasn’t ideal. So as I’m “coaching” the scrubs in our otherwise silent arena, Dwight pointed at me, then at the scoreboard and yelled to me to calm down. Then he told me to encourage the scrubs because they don’t get on the court that often. I still don’t know if I agree with his perspective. As you can see, I have a problem. And you can see why my springtime tweets weren’t always wellreceived by non-basketball lovers who follow me. To many, sports is trivial. Caring about
something that doesn’t care back about you makes absolutely no sense to them. But to me, it makes complete sense. Unlike work, marriage and friendships, when it comes to Magic games, I cannot directly affect the outcome in any way. As a fan, I have to let go. And being forced to let go of something while still caring about the outcome is freeing, frustrating, taxing and incredibly satisfying. It’s the opposite of real life, where what we get out is largely dependent on what we put in. Basketball, and spectator sports in general, is a great escape. You’re investing time, emotions and, yeah, money into something bigger than yourself. It’s fun being there at the lowest points (did I mention that 19-game losing streak?) and then seeing your team slowly rebuild, reshape its culture and turn into a winner. In the playoffs, when the Magic started winning games national pundits didn’t think they would, it just so happened to coincide with some incredibly challenging times for me personally. Just as I was coming back from a sabbatical in May, a longtime hero of mine confided to me serious moral failings; a couple close to us is seeing their marriage crumble; there were some health scares in our family. Not a great month. But the Magic were winning. I’m telling you, having invested 20 years of my life passionately following this team, seeing them win lifted my spirits. It was a reminder that life is never as bad or as good as I think it is. God likes speaking to us through unexpected means, and, if we’re listening, He can use anything to encourage us, stretch us and remind us that life is much bigger than our personal little worlds. Maybe that’s why I like watching the Magic. You can never get too down after a loss because there’s always another game, whether it be next week or next year. You can never get too proud after a win, because nothing lasts forever (and, of course, you had nothing to do with it). So, you’re forced to just enjoy the ride. For people like me (I think we’re called Type A), who like to have things planned out and in control, following a team helps put life into perspective. Honestly, it reminds me how small I am, how big the world is, how big God is, and how to grow from both success and failure. It reminds me that life isn’t about being perfect, but trying to become the best version of ourselves. It reminds me about commitment, trust and hard work. But above all, it reminds me to let go and focus on the journey. Or maybe I’m just over-spiritualizing it. Either way ... Go Magic! a
CAMERON STRANG is the founder and editor of RELEVANT. You can connect with him on Twitter (twitter.com/ cameronstrang) or Facebook.
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COMMENTS, CONCERNS, SMART REMARKS > Send your love and hate mail to feedback@RELEVANTmagazine.com. Connect with us on Twitter at Twitter.com/RELEVANTmag.
I have loved Kings of Leon since their first record, but reading about their deep, spiritual family roots, I was blown away. Their lyrics—filled with themes of authenticity, life questions and an attempt to figure out what they are experiencing—seem a bit clearer now knowing they came from a closed, non-traditional church background. —JENNY OWENS/ Salt Lake City, UT I really enjoyed “The Big Three-Oh” [May/June 2009]. I just turned 25, and for some reason it felt like I was turning 50. I think that’s common among people in their mid-twenties, especially with the pressures of marrying young, having kids, the American dream—even the antiAmerican dream seems equally stressful. It was nice reading an article not only reminding me to slow down, but also giving me something to look forward to as I continue to age. —CLIFFORD WINSTON / Lincoln, NE I was a little troubled by one line in the piece on Kings of Leon [“Kings On Fire,” May/June 2009], namely that they haven’t “thrown the baby out with the proverbial bath water.” Is that really the case? Yes, they participate in “charitable causes.” Yes, they “thank God” for their rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Yes, they go to church on Easter, but are those things really the essentials of the Christian faith? Do any of these things indicate union to Christ? The impression I get is that they have swung so far in the opposite direction they’ve essentially walked out on Christ and His church. Isn’t that the very definition of throwing the baby out with the bath water? —MIKE SPIELMAN / Rockford, IL I am a dedicated reader of RELEVANT. The material is always fresh and the content never disappoints. However, I have to say my favorite thing about the most recent issue was the burnt pages effect in the “Kings on Fire” article. You could actually “see” the “page” behind the part that was “burnt off.” How cool is that?! VALERIE WESTERMAN / Sandston, VA
Thank you for “Overtreated” [May/June 2009]. As a practicing psychotherapist I have come across many people with significant pain in their lives. Of course no one wants to feel pain, but we need to understand that pain has a purpose. And God has given us not only the ability to learn from our pain, but to develop meaningful insight from it. Pain can cause us to not only change negative behaviors, but also refocus our lives. While in many cases I fully support, and have seen lifechanging benefits of psychotropic medications, we need to understand the benefits of pain. We also should never forget the human element, which is ultimately derived from Imago Dei. —MICHAEL VESELY / Minneapolis, MN I was prepared to not renew my subscription, though the last two issues have been fantastic. But I still wasn’t sure, and then I read Cameron’s First Word [“The Rest of the Story,” May/June 2009], and I was surprised by his honesty. Thank you for sharing your hurts and praises with your readers. You’ve gotten my renewal! —ROY ONYEBETOR/ Via email
Actually, that wasn’t designed. There was a terrible, terrible fire at our printer. Many lives were lost. We can’t believe you think that’s cool.
We think that’s what Cameron was after all along.
In “Just War” [May/June 2009], I would argue Mr. Heimbach took both Scripture quotes (Luke 14:31 and Luke 22:36) drastically out of context. In the first, Christ was speaking in metaphor and the second has to be understood in context of the entire chapter. While Heimbach may have had a point or two in the article, that he so easily misquoted Scripture to prove his point is worrying at best. —ANDY / Via RELEVANTmagazine.com Forums
The article on Yann Martel [“A Piece of the Pi,” May/June 2009] got me thinking about my own life. So often I try to rationalize God and fit every spiritual thing inside my head. I’m realizing more and more that looking at God through reason is like looking at an elephant with a magnifying glass—you’ll never see the big picture. I think we can all learn from Martel. He set aside the comfort of reason and took small steps of faith— steps that brought him to see a greater truth. —C.J. SMITH / Anchorage, AK
I really loved “The Rise of the Ironic Class” [May/ June 2009]. Leave it to RELEVANT to put my sentiments to ink and give me some good food for thought. —SAMMYSUPAFLY / Via RELEVANTmagazine. com Forums Man, was “The Rise of the Ironic Class” challenging. I’m extremely sarcastic and I love things of the like. And since reading the article, I’ve noticed how much I surround myself with ironic humor (The Colbert Report, The Office, Stuff White People Like, etc.). Not once have I thought that these might be questionable. —ALMOND603 / Via RELEVANTmagazine.com Forums Guilty as charged. I am a (now humbled) member of the rising ironic class. Sarcasm has always been my defense mechanism, entertainment and sometimes even my means of survival. Matthew Paul Turner also hit the nail on the head. I retreat to cynicism when I’m caught off guard, embarrassed or hurt. Now, I think twice about the sting of my own cynicism. Thanks for keeping me accountable! —DORTHY JEAN / Ames, IA Thank you for the sloth article—it blew me away [“A Stealthy Enemy,” May/June 2009]. I have always had the complete opposite look at sloth— as being lazy and unproductive, but never as Jeff Cook’s view of it as “a zeal for what is trivial.” I fill my hours and days with “doing” and never realized that Jesus would be upset with the fact that I’m just filling my life with meaningless motion than no motion at all. —RENEE FELTON/ Kansas City, KS Only halfway through, the May/June issue has been so convicting and encouraging. The article about sloth is just what I need right now. —BRAD ULRICH / Via Twitter Glad you stopped reading halfway through. The rest of the issue was terrible.
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> As you read this, a group of 17 cyclists are most likely in the midst of an ambitious journey. The Ride:Well Bike Tour is a cross-country trek raising money for Blood:Water Mission. The tour started June 11 in Santa Monica and is making its way all the way across the United States to Baltimore, where it’s scheduled to be August 5. Along the way, riders will not only be stopping at churches and community centers to talk about Blood:Water Mission and raise money to build freshwater wells in Africa, they get to see a part of the country most do not. Bestselling author Don Miller is undertaking the trip for the second year, saying last year’s ride surprised him. “I learned a great deal about America in the seven weeks we spent crossing the country,” he blogged. “I learned America is good, not as wealthy as you might think, kindhearted and big-hearted. I learned that small towns are dying and I wondered what we could do to bring them back.” You can check out the riders’ progress at www.ridewelltour.org.
Don Miller and his set of wheels
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A LITTLE BIRDY TOLD ME I’M AWESOME
> ADVENTURES IN CHARITY Wanting to raise money for a good cause and satisfy your need for adventure? Here are some organizations that use uncommon means to raise funds for the common good.
VENTURE EXPEDITONS Venture Expeditions is an organization that connects hardcore cyclists, hikers and runners with needs around the world. Sponsorship helps raise money for practical social justice projects with adventures like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or Pikes Peak.
FLY FOR GOOD Fly for Good is a company that helps you find low-cost travel to areas that need humanitarian aid. Moreover, the profits from their travel site go to benefit humanitarian projects around the globe.
CITY YEAR Living in an urban environment can be an enlightening experience. City Year takes volunteers and immerses them in an inner-city experience, serving the area community through civic engagement. It’s an amazing way to find a mission field right here in the States.
> When his wife unexpectedly went into labor, a British man delivered his baby son after watching some instructional videos on YouTube. You’d think he would have recorded the birth and put it on YouTube for future people in his situation. Come on, man! Pay it forward! ... > Geographers at Kansas State University have mapped the occurrences of the seven deadly sins in the United States using county-bycounty statistical information. We have to assume that buffet-rich states account for 90 percent of the nation’s gluttony ... > As Hollywood mines the ‘80s for ideas, Robert Zemeckis is discussing a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? This is one sequel we wouldn’t mind seeing. Childlike glee, here we come ...
Kayne West: Twitter Hater Not everyone is a fan of Twitter. Kanye West, evidently incensed at people asking to follow him on Twitter, recently posted a blog where he ripped into the site. “WHY WOULD I USE TWITTER???” West said in his all-caps post. “I ONLY BLOG 5 PERCENT OF WHAT I’M UP TO IN THE FIRST PLACE. I’M ACTUALLY SLOW DELIVERING CONTENT BECAUSE I’M TOO BUSY ACTUALLY BUSY BEING CREATIVE MOST OF THE TIME.” Too busy being creative, or furiously ranting. We personally think his Twitter hate is because the 140-character limit doesn’t allow enough room to tell everyone how great he is. (By the way, you can follow us at Twitter.com/RELEVANTmag.)
MERCY SHIPS If you have a seafaring spirit like those great explorers of old, but want to do something more noble than plunder natural resources from people, Mercy Ships gives you the opportunity to sail the world providing medical care to impoverished regions.
Reznor Rages Against the Machine SURFING THE NATIONS Based out of Hawaii, this nonprofit uses surfing and acts of service to spread a message of love and hope to impoverished communities. This is a great way to combine extreme sports and global outreach in countries throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Trent Reznor lashed out at Apple recently for rejecting his Downward Spiral application for the iPhone. The app could be used to stream Nine Inch Nails’ song, “The Downward Spiral,” and Apple rejected it because the song contained profanity. Apple keeps the iPhone apps store pretty PG (they don’t want to open the door to adult applications). For rejecting his app based on profanity, Reznor assailed Apple with profanity that would make a sailor’s ears burst into flame. Reznor called Apple hypocritical, citing that their Mail and Safari programs could be used to access adult material, while the iTunes store contains explicit content.
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COLDPLAGIARISM Coldplay is having some trouble. First, they were accused by guitarist Joe Satriani of ripping off his song “If I Could Fly” with the title track of their album Viva La Vida. Now, Cat Stevens is accusing the band of stealing the melody from his 1973 song, “Foreigner Suite.” They’re not the first band to make a hit by standing on the shoulders of others, though. Here are some other brilliant cases of plagiarism. GEORGE HARRISON Harrison’s best-known solo tune, “My Sweet Lord,” has an eerie resemblance to The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.” Of course, “Hallelujah” is a slightly more meaningful lyric than “Doo-lang, doo-lang, doo-lang.” He was sued for the similarities, though he claimed any resemblance was unconscious. A judge ruled that, unconscious or not, Harrison infringed on the song’s copyright.
> An atheist has won the right to have his baptism records removed from the Church of England, stating that he did not consent to the ceremony. He then secured a “de-baptism” certificate from the National Secular Society. This is ironic, since de-baptism sounds an awful lot like a religious ceremony ... > Rick Rolling has finally paid off for the songwriter behind “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Pete Waterman received a whopping $16 from Google for the viral phenomenon. Needless to say, Waterman was not pleased by this and is claiming it amounts to exploitation. However, $16 sounds like a fair price to us for that song ...
MY PURPOSE IS TO FLOAT
Warren Named One of TIME’s Most Influential TIME Magazine named Rick Warren one of the world’s most influential people. Warren was listed in the “Heroes and Icons” section, amongst such people as Michelle Obama, Tiger Woods and George Clooney. TIME detailed Warren’s often-controversial stances, that seem to take both the right and left off guard, saying: “He has called issues like abortion, stem cell research and euthanasia ‘nonnegotiable,’ while he has pursued his fight against AIDS and poverty. This ideological evanescence ensured that the left would be furious when Barack Obama asked Warren to offer the invocation at his Inauguration—and that the right would be furious when Warren accepted.”
THE STROKES If you’re going to plagiarize, you can’t do much better than to have the blessing of the guy you’re ripping off. The Strokes’ “Last Night” unabashedly stole its main riff from “American Girl” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Not only did The Strokes publicly admit they copied Petty, Petty said it was fine by him. RAY PARKER, JR. Huey Lewis successfully sued Ray Parker, Jr. for stealing the tune in the Ghostbusters theme from his song “I Want a New Drug.” It’s pretty blatant, but we’re always disappointed when the first few bars play and it turns out to be Huey Lewis instead of “Ghostbusters.” NIRVANA The Killing Joke brought a suit against Nirvana in 1993, claiming that “Come As You Are” stole a riff from their song “Eighties.” The suit may have prevailed, but was dropped after Kurt Cobain’s death.
APOLOGETIC ARTIST In a rare occurrence, an artist actually apologized for a work deemed offensive by the public. Michael D’Antuono’s “The Truth” featured President Obama appearing like Christ, with a crown of thorns. D’Antuono said the religious reference was meant metaphorically, and canceled the painting’s unveiling. JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL The state of Florida has approved the production of license plates featuring
Jesus. The plate has drawn criticism from proponents for the separation of church and state, but legislators who backed the move say that those who don’t like it don’t have to buy it. FEELING VIOLATED This year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom added Iraq and Nigeria to the list of countries that violate religious freedoms. Iraq was cited for violence against small and vulnerable religious minorities like Christians.
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Church for this generation.
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Caption goes hjere
MISC. > The inimitable Prince is releasing a coffee table book to go along with his new album. Depending on the version of the book you buy, it can cost up to $2,229. All that, and it doesn’t even double as a coffee table ...
> Apparently, Al Capone was more than just a bloodthirsty gangster. He was also a tremendous songwriter. Capone liked to play banjo and mandola, and composed a song called “Madonna Mia” while he was imprisoned in Alcatraz. As for his singing voice, we can only assume he was a Soprano ... > An Illinois priest went above and beyond in terms of pastoral care. He donated a kidney to a parishioner. Fellow parishioners say that not only is Monsignor Eric Powell a great speaker and kind man, he’s a good organist ...
AMERICA STILL LOVES LUXURY The recession has hit a lot of people very hard, and just about everyone is cutting back. A new study by the Pew Research group shows that common household items people used to consider indispensable no longer seem important. Only 47 percent of those polled think a microwave is a necessity, down from 68 percent in 2006. Air conditioners and dryers are also on the chopping block, down 16 and 17 percent respectively. However, there are a few items that seem to sell no matter what. Highdefinition TVs, designer jeans and iPhones haven’t tapered off in sales. Our designer jeans may be damp, and we may be eating a still-frozen Hungry Man
dinner in a sweltering house, but at least we can watch Two and a Half Men in HD. It’s not only luxury products that are surviving. Those bastions of bargain buying, Wal-Mart and Costco, are faring well, and McDonald’s is doing a pretty swift business. This makes sense—bulk buying is economical, and the only thing cheaper than McDonald’s is the dumpster behind McDonald’s. But why are luxury items doing so well? Evidently, people are spending their disposable income on tangible stuff, while forgoing vacations and fancy dinners. Let’s face it, a trip to Europe only yields memories that last a lifetime. A pair of European jeans yields ... well ... we’re not sure what.
Green Machine Some students at Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College recently managed to build a zero-emission motorcycle that runs on a hydrogen fuel cell. While the bike isn’t going to break any speed records, it’s a step in the right direction toward alternative fuel sources. Here are some other green technologies you may not have known were out there.
P Cell Batteries > The NoPoPo (No Pollution Power) is a self-recharging AA battery that can be brought back to life by adding any one of a variety of liquids, including urine. But, if you’re in a situation where the only liquid you can find is urine, dead batteries are probably the least of your concerns.
Space-Based Solar Energy
The World’s Smallest Fuel Cell
> The problem with solar energy is that clouds block the sun, and the Earth insists on rotating away from it. Now, renewable energy company SolarEn plans to launch a solar array into space and beam the power back to Earth. Sounds science fiction-y.
> Engineers at the University of Illinois created a nine cubic millimeter, fully-functioning hydrogen fuel cell. Why? Presumably because they could. The tiny cell produces 0.7 volts, which may be enough to power your Micro Machine Tesla Roadster.
Michael J. Fox has been very public in his battle with Parkinson’s. While he’s raised controversy with some due to his support for stem cell research, his indomitable spirit has been an inspiration to many people. Fox talked to Beliefnet about how he remains optimistic.
“The first part of the battle was the emotional, spiritual, and to an extent, intellectual. But, having done a lot of that work early on and getting through that battle, it put me in a place where now I just focus on the physical. The physical are daily battles.” “I didn’t get into the ‘Why me?’ I got into the ‘It can’t be.’ I got right into ‘Can somebody just point out the mistake that’s been made here so I can get on with my life?’ A lot of it, for me, was accepting and acknowledging the truth of it.” “Humility is always a good thing. It’s always a good thing to be humbled by circumstances so you can then come from a sincere place to try to deal with them.” “For everything that’s taken away, something of greater value has been given. As big as my problems are, as big as Parkinson’s is, it can’t take up that much space in a world that has so much capacity for good stuff.”
14 / RELEVANT_JULY/AUGUST 09
6/1/09 7:47 PM
Worship Conference October 14â€“16, 2009 Bethany South Campus
Deluge Band Members
Bishop Tudor Bismarck
Wednesday night: Leeland/Larry Stockstill Thursday morning: Conference sessions Thursday night: Deluge Band/Bob Sorge Friday morning: Conference sessions Friday night: Israel Houghton/ Tudor Bismark
Conference cost: $50 per person or three-night concert pass for $25
w w w . b e t h a n y. c o m 11107 Honore Lane â€˘ Baton Rouge, LA 70809
For more info: delugeband.com, email@example.com or call 225.293.2100
6/1/09 6:16:26 PM
Change your world with tech MaxGladwell.com, a site that tracks social media trends, recently published a list of ways ordinary people can use social media sites to change society. As technology continues to allow ordinary people to impact culture, this list shows some interesting ways to make that impact positive. Here are a few of the highlights.
GET GREEN WITH YOUR IPHONE The iTunes app store has a free app called 3rd Whale that locates green products and businesses. The app currently has listings for 30 major North American cities. Not only will 3rd Whale sync with Google Maps to give you directions, you can also write a review of the business and upload it to the app and to Facebook.
MISC. > In a recent survey on prayer, the Pew Research Center found that people are more inclined to pray if they are elderly, poor or female. The survey also found that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the most prayerful group in the United States, followed by Mormons ... > New York’s famed Bronx Zoo is laying off swans, deer, antelope and bats in an effort to fight the shrinking budget. The relocation of animals is in addition to laying off 80 people from the zoo’s staff. The animals are being shipped to other zoos and aquariums throughout the country, but they have to hitchhike their way there with all their belongings in bindle sticks ...
HMM ... NUKES WOULD MAKE GOOD PLANTER BOXES. I LIKE TOMATOES.
NO NUKES IS GOOD NUKES Author Shane Claiborne is the latest in a growing list to lend his support to a new campaign which seeks to eliminate all nuclear weapons. The Two Futures Project, founded by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, is a movement comprised of Christians who support the “multilateral, global, irreversible and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons as a biblically grounded mandate.” It seeks to make complete nuclear disarmament a Christian issue. “We are aware of the glaring contradictions—that the U.S. continues to try to be a credible voice for peace while maintaining the largest weapons arsenal in the world, with a military budget larger than the combined military budgets of the next 30 countries,” Claiborne said. “We are convinced that Dr. King was right when he said, ‘A country that continues to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching a spiritual death.’”
HUGG THE ISSUES Hugg.com, a social-news site focusing on green issues, enables users to vote on the stories they think are most important. The process brings the most popular issues to the forefront, rather than allowing news organizations to decide which stories get attention. Plus, it’s a way to get the latest green news.
VISIT SOCIAL ACTIONS Social Actions is a site that aggregates opportunities to serve and make a difference. It pulls from more than 50 online communities to create a virtual map of the way people are taking action, and gives you an opportunity to take part.
SOUND OFF AT THE WHITE HOUSE 2.0 Whether you’re a fan of the Obama administration or not, head over to the new WhiteHouse.gov to make your voice heard. The site has a virtual town hall where you can submit questions for the president, and vote for the ones he has to answer. If there’s an issue that’s bugging you, this is the place to make your opinion known.
STARS DONATE BOATLOADS They were serious when they said they would never let go. The last living survivor of the Titanic, 97-year-old Millvina Dean, was a mere two months old at the sinking of the great ship. In her later years, desperate to raise money for her nursing home bills, she had to resort to selling her autograph. Titanic stars, to the rescue. Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and director James Cameron
banded together to raise money to provide for Dean’s final years, and paid for her care until her death in May. The charge was led by author Don Mullan, who also said he was targeting Celine Dion for a donation. Dean may have passed away before Dion got onboard (pun intended), but Dion still owes the world something for subjecting us to that terrible song.
16 / RELEVANT_JULY/AUGUST 09
6/4/09 5:35 PM
AU G U S T 5 -7 REGISTER @
USE CODE: ‘RELEVANT’ AND RECIEVE $20 OFF THE NORMAL RATE. WAVE CHURCH VIRGINIA BEACH, VA 757.481.5005
6/4/09 3:52 PM
Creep. He’s a Weirdo. Maybe Radiohead should think about finding a new manager. Evidently, before their Grammy-nominated album In Rainbows, their management team advised them to split up. Radiohead left EMI and spent more than two years working on their album to no avail. After frustration in the studio, their management told them it might be time to call it a day and head their separate ways. Fortunately, Thom Yorke and company didn’t listen. Who in the world was their manager, Yoko Ono?
WHAT ARE YOUR SUMMER VACATION PLANS?
VACATION? I’VE GOT A SUMMER JOB! 30% STAY-CATION. I’M TAKING IN THE SITES OF MY HOMETOWN 17% I’M ON A MISSION (TRIP, THAT IS) 14% I’M HEADED TO A BEACH SOMEPLACE WARM 10% HOPPING THE POND 4% JOIN IN ON THE FUN! GO TO RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM AND VOTE IN OUR WEEKLY POLLS
> Mr. T is none too happy about the big screen remake of The A-Team. He feels that it’s doomed to fall short of the original series. “You can’t duplicate a Rembrandt,” T said. Sounds like a fairly realistic appraisal of The A-Team ...
JUNE 26 - JULY 5
ATTENTION TO IN JULY & AUGUST
Taste of Chicago > A Chicago institution, Taste of Chicago allows you to eat yourself into a coma with some of the best food in the Second City while listening to live performances by bands like Augustana. Brats, pizza and people wearing Da Bears jerseys. It doesn’t get much better.
Independence Day > To quote The Simpsons, celebrate the independence of our nation by blowing up a small piece of it. There are some pretty amazing Independence Day festivities out there, but one of the best is in Boston. There’s the Boston Harborfest, the Boston Chowderfest, the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Boston Pops concert and fireworks display.
Pitchfork Music Festival > Ratchet up your smugness. Pitchfork is becoming one of the premiere indie festivals out there. It’s an amazing place to catch acts that will become household names next year. You can also catch indie icons like Built to Spill, The Flaming Lips and Yo La Tengo.
Hillsong United Anaheim > Hillsong’s Encounter is more than a worship concert. It also features workshops and speakers such as Hillsong pastor Brian Houston. It draws church staff and laypeople alike. Plus, there’s some pretty sweet Aussie accents.
Atlanta Underground Film Festival > The Atlanta Underground Film Festival features just about every genre of film as well as live music and art displays. About 100 films from upand-coming independent filmmakers are screened during the event.
ROAD TRIP! I’M CROSSING STATE BORDERS 25%
> Urban photographer Camilo Jose Vergara has captured and released a collection of artistic depictions of Jesus on the streets of cities and neighborhoods throughout the country. The photos explore Christ’s influence through a photojournalistic approach to see how the people portray Him. Jesus, what an influential character, eh? ...
FIVE THINGS TO PAY
> Their Manager is a
> One of the most respected directors, Brett Ratner, is working on a Milli Vanilli biopic. That’s right. Out of all the historical figures who lived lives of meaning and significance, he chose Milli Vanilli. No word yet on whether the lead actors’ voices will be dubbed ...
JULY 17 - 19
> The head of a Mexican drug cartel told his members to avoid heavy drinking, narcotics use and live a clean family life. Because who would want to buy drugs from a reprobate? ...
AUGUST 21 - 22
I NEVER REALLY LIKED RAINBOWS ANYWAY
> A Minnesota couple is asking for an apology after their home, near Camp Riley, was narrowly missed by an artillery shell. Geez—an apology? It’s just an artillery shell. Get over it! ...
18 / RELEVANT_JULY/AUGUST 09
6/1/09 7:48 PM
the last thing he wants is a sermon that doesn’t connect. how will you reach him with God’s love? In a society that is increasingly skeptical of religion, being able to authentically communicate the gospel is essential. In Fuller’s School of Theology, a renowned faculty can help you better understand your world and prepare you to reach out to it. If you feel called to service for Jesus Christ, we encourage you to consider joining us at Fuller. THEOLOGY PSYCHOLOGY INTERCULTURAL STUDIES Pasadena • Colorado • Southwest Northern California • Texas Northwest • California Coast • Online
5/28/09 10:08:08 AM
I just want to zumba, is that such a crime?
Gymnophobia Saudi Arabia is cracking down on female gyms. Gyms are gender-segregated in Saudi Arabia, and while male gyms are licensed by the government, female gyms are not. This has allowed the government to shut down many of the unlicensed gyms, prompting an outcry from women in the country.“ The idea of female fitness is non-existent within our government,” said Fouziah Alouni, a prominent women’s rights campaigner. “Depriving women of this is yet another way of marginalizing them. Give us a justifiable reason or leave women alone. This is unbearable.” One of the results of the crackdown is a high rate of diabetes and bone frailty among Saudi women.
head over to the drop at RELEVANTmagazine.com for the latest in new music and up-and-coming artists. The Drop offers listeners the chance to stream full albums (for free!) from artists such as Phillip LaRue, The Early Hours and Jeremy Riddle. New albums are continually being added, so you can check out the latest at RELEVANTmagazine.com/thedrop.
The Glorious Unseen
Cries of the Broken EP (BEC Recordings)
David Thomas Owen IV
Solace My King (Esperanza Plantation)
Awaken, North Wind Doubt (independent)
> Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas are reuniting for a sequel to the 1987 film Wall Street. We sincerely hope it’s called Wall Street 2: The Legend of Curly’s Gold. Given the state of the economy, it seems likely that the sequel will find Douglas’ Gordon Gekko destitute and living in a box. [Editor’s note: Some of us feel a better name would be Wall Street 2: Electric Boogaloo] ... > After six years of study and observation, scientists have sequenced the genome of a cow. In other words, they have decoded bovine DNA structure to figure out what makes a cow a cow. Their next project: figuring out what makes a cow delicious ... > Apparently, music piracy has been around for quite a while. An 1897 New York Times article details how sheet music used to be copied and sold illegally. Back then, The Pirate Bay was probably an actual bay filled with pirates ... > Police in south Florida have found an interesting way to curtail street racing. They’re challenging drivers to races at a local track with a $25 prize. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are probably on their way there now ... > A bar in Texas has a pretty unique dance floor. It’s set atop a 20,000-gallon tank ... filled with sharks. Evidently the bar is owned by a James Bond supervillain ...
A relevant.tv viewer top ten 1 Paper Route “Carousel” 2 Mat Kearney “Closer to Love” 3 Death Cab for Cutie “Grapevine Fires” 4 Brooke Waggoner "Heal for the Honey" 5 Andrew Bird “Eugene” 6 Kings of Leon “Use Somebody” 7 Jason Lytle “I Am Lost” 8 Ready Aim Fire “Strong Enough” 9 K’naan “TIA” 10 Flynn Adam “Dishes”
A RECENT RTV spotlight VIDEOS
Andrew Bird “Eugene”
Phillip LaRue “Chasing the Daylight”
Flynn Adam “Dishes”
Ready Aim Fire “Strong Enough”
Brooke Waggoner “Heal for the Honey”
Jason Lytle “I Am Lost”
Catch the best new music every day at our exclusive 24/7 online music video channel, RELEVANT.tv. New videos are added every week, so take that!
20 / RELEVANT_JULY/AUGUST 09
6/1/09 7:49 PM
6/1/09 12:14 PM
ON THE FRONTLINES
GRAVETTE GLOBAL SUPPORT MISSION
MOST PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF THE DANGERS OF MALARIA—enough so to be prepared with plenty doxycycline before embarking on tropical adventures. But few realize that every year malaria causes 1 to 3 million deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of which are children younger than 5 years old. For Travis Gravette, one Christmas spent in Uganda during his senior year of college in 2004 was enough to decide his career path and lead him to start Global Support Mission two years later. In the three years since GSM was founded, Gravette, 26, has divided his time between two homes: Kyenjojo District in western Uganda and downtown Nashville, Tenn., where the offices are located. After spending a month with a grassroots Ugandan community-based organization called Bringing Hope to the Family, led by a woman named Faith, he experienced some of the challenges faced by the local community—even eating the same meals, which sometimes meant only tea and bread. Yet the local community’s efforts struck him the most on that first trip and still inspire GSM. “Seeing what the locals were already doing to change their community inspired me to think, how can we better support them?” Gravette says. GSM answers that question: They support local organizations in East Africa by helping them stabilize and become more self-sufficient through their leadership training and finances for projects, such as digging the
wells that locals will build and maintain. On U.S. soil, people are encouraged to take part through Know.Think.Act., an online community that connects people to the needs of the world. Through it, they creatively raise money, and all of it goes directly to the needs that were chosen, allowing locals to enact the change. But the road hasn’t been an easy one. Gravette’s voice becomes quieter as he recalls the friends he’s lost to HIV/AIDS and malaria. It’s believed that one person dies of malaria every 30 seconds—an astonishing figure considering that the disease is preventable with an insecticide-treated mosquito net. Sadly, only one in 20 Africans own a net. “Our mosquito net initiative is what we’re going to push next,” he says. After returning from a recent trip to Uganda and launching straight into fundraising benefit dinners and talks—while still jetlagged—it’s clear what motivates him. “On this last trip I got to spend some time with John, one of my favorite kids,” he says. “He was one of the first orphans Faith took in. He is now the number-one student in the district and is on his way to becoming a doctor. “Long-term community development that’s going to last has to happen from the inside out. They’re the heroes.” To learn more, visit www.globalsupport.com and www.knowthinkact.com
22 / RELEVANT_JULY/AUGUST 09
6/4/09 3:56 PM
5/28/09 11:09:36 AM
IN THE REVOLUTION
> KATE CREMISINO
THE SUN HANGS LOW IN THE TANZANIAN SKY while lanky children kick soccer balls around the dusty clearing. Their colorful drawings and neatly written letters are scooped up by the Lahash International team who spend the afternoon visiting with the social workers and pastors who care for these vulnerable children. This is just one arm of the Lahash initiative— partnering Westerners with kids from East Africa who do not get picked up by larger sponsorship programs. In September, their partnership and sponsorship coordinator will be relocating from the United States to Tanzania to further the program and work daily with these children. Lahash, a nonprofit, faith-based organization, connects Western resources and volunteers with partners in five African nations. From their offices in Portland, and through donor support, the tight-knit staff advocates for the vulnerable as they address the spiritual, physical, emotional, educational and environmental issues affecting East Africans. A big part of that involves empowering local leaders and organizations to care for their own through tools, training, supplies, encouragement and prayer. Their regular trips throughout the year help Lahash continually assess needs and support the local outreach presence. Since its grassroots start in 2002, Lahash has reached hundreds of families and children in Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. From rebuilding dilapidated schools to visiting the slums of Kibera, Kenya, their impact has been felt. Every few months there is a Lahash team making rounds to the ministries they support. Perhaps most touching is their relationship with Susan Tabia, a Sudanese woman who is no stranger to tragedy. She was orphaned and later became widowed after her first child was born. Now Tabia maintains three orphanages and cares for lepers and widows in the area. For more than a decade, she was traveling 14 hours one way, down dangerous roads on unreliable buses, between Uganda and Sudan to visit the orphanages. In 2002, Lahash met Tabia and immediately partnered with her efforts and have continued to aid her with support for the people under her care. With help from donors, Lahash was recently able to give Tabia a sturdy 4x4 vehicle to better enable her on the long commutes. Founder Dan Holcomb explains the importance of empowerment through the local churches, social workers and volunteers they work with. “I don’t want to be the arrogant Westerners who are dominating and dumping ideas and culture on the people. Instead, I want to follow in the steps of the Messiah’s life. He was a learner first and a servant later in life, and offered everything—to the point of death—to the people He loved. I want this to be our model at Lahash. We want to be brothers and sisters working in global partnership for the Kingdom of God.” a
TRAVEL WITH LAHASH
HOPE IS ALIVE BLOG
> Providing hope through holistic local partnerships, Lahash International works at the grassroots level with nationals. Visit Lahash.net to find out more about Lahash, their on-the-ground partners, sponsorship opportunities and other ways you can get involved.
> Lahash International offers travel opportunities for individuals and groups who volunteer to work under their East African partners in advocacy and care for the vulnerable. Volunteer opportunities exist in all of their partnership countries and include teaching, building projects, sports camps, leadership development, story recording, photography, videography, medical care, art camps and much more.
> Keep up with the latest news about the organization, and read stories and testimonies about what’s happening in all of Lahash’s partner countries. Find links to various partners Lahash works with in East Africa, such as Susan Tabia’s Amazing Grace Orphanage. Also, check out photos from different trips and Lahash projects.
24 / RELEVANT_JULY/AUGUST 09
6/1/09 8:49 PM
THE BEST MENTORING TEERTS YAW-OWT A SI
We need to ďŹ‚ip the concept of leadership training. Todayâ€™s generation is more in touch with culture, technology and social context than ever before. In Reverse Mentoring, Earl Creps unveils a new model for Christian leaders to understand the importance of learning from younger leaders.
Available at your local bookstore
12/2/08 5:32:06 PM
JUST A PHONE? > CHRIS HAW THROUGH THE LUCKY CONFLUENCE OF A FEW FACTORS, I HAVE MANAGED THUS FAR TO RESIST MY DESIRES TO BUY AN IPHONE: B I cannot afford one. Were this to give out, the other respectable supports might give way. I am plainly a technophile. Were I to meditate more, I would probably find my affection for the Apple aesthetic conflicting with my professed love of Jesus and His commands. B I spent a few months reading Grecian and Christian mystics when the iPhone was first released. This resulted in a dramatic though quiet battle in the desiring parts of my soul. B I have spent a few years reading and thinking about the writings of Wendell Berry. B The culture thus far developed around sleek mobile phones and texting has not gained my admiration. B In light of the economic state of the world in the last 400 years, my affection grows almost daily for the economic lifestyle of conservative anabaptists like the Amish and Bruderhof—who, to me, seem to be among the most economically radical and cutting edge within the Church. The Christian reasons to be suspicious of the iPhone (and its contemporary cousins) are greater than simple disdain for the verbal slips of many calling it a “messiah phone” or the seductive commercials telling us that, in this, “everything will change.” While tonguein-cheek idolatry is still idolatry, there are more thoughts to think on this than calling commodity fetishism our new golden calf. The biblical injunctions to stop coveting or Jesus’ sorely neglected views on possessions should normally be enough for we Christians to not buy into the seduction. But we need more than commands—we need ways to view the world, ways to see what is going on in the market, and see what is happening in the
come-on of the advertiser. At least I know I need that—given my persistent attraction to electronic gadgets. Some of the cultural theory that has most challenged my technophilia is in the above point #3: Mr. Wendell Berry. If you have not read his essay “Why I Won’t Buy a Computer,” I suggest you Google it on your computer now (he didn’t post it online, obviously). In this short essay, he tells us that, supporting his refusal, he has “several reasons, and they are good ones.” His most compelling one is that he wishes not to be duped. He wants to remain centered in his soul by asking the following basic questions: what are the problems with the world (or myself) and what are the ways those will be solved. For many, the iPhone easily answers this: the problem with the world is lack of information and entertainment, and the Internet conveniently (and slickly) located in one’s pocket is the sacrament of the eschatological answer. But for Berry, the problems with the world are the following: peace, economic justice, ecological health, political honesty, family and community stability, and good work. He feels that, given a view of, say, the last 60 years, computers, for the most part, have not aided our solving these problems. Berry also writes: “It is not beside the point that most electrical power comes from stripmined coal. The history of the exploitation of the Appalachian coal fields is long, and it is available to readers. I do not see how anyone can read it and plug in any appliance with a clear conscience.” In other words, we purchase (for fairly high prices) the lie that we are happier and more time-available when the background costs are often the Earth and our sanity. And I have not even spoken much yet of what Paul said he was eager to do: remember the poor. Some say, “live simply that others may simply live.” This is more challenging and bothersome to my conscience than I would like to think—especially given the type of economy we live in. This problem would not be properly resolved through the production of a “Red (Product)” iPhone—or like any other globally,
industrially, mass-produced products. To make a product through the lowest cost of global labor and an elaborate system of fossil fuels only makes the charitable giving to Africa ironic, not coherent. I am, however, a product of my culture. I think the iPhone is the coolest gadget since the arrow-shaped rock. So I remain in tension—held back sometimes only by the thin threads of a shallow wallet. To say that I “try” to be less consumptive would be a stretch and potentially an insult to those who actually do try with some hard effort. For some of us Christians who are simply seduced by the iPhone, we might not be able to triumphantly proclaim, “I resist!” Rather, it might involve formation of a support group for those who are addicted to the promise of technology to keep them holding out for as long as they can. One Catholic theologian, Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, recently stated in a lecture that it is not easy to create some clear standard of what luxuries and technological developments are worthy of Christian participation. But she did say that, in the least, the Christian should often be a late or slow adopter. They should not be magnetized by the hype. Many technologies are not created out of a genuine need but a profit motive. These inventions are followed by advertisers telling us what we need—and they just happen to have one on sale! And these technologies often harry us with promises of how they are solutions to our problems. The Christian should be on level mental footing, and see how these promises are often lies. Sometimes—possibly—technology might be value-neutral, but our hearts rarely are. We can do things for the right and wrong reasons. And if we think having an iPhone will make us happier, we should stop to think (and maybe even pray!) more. We might stop to ask with Berry: Am I happy? For my lapses in happiness, do I need more frequent access to music or 2x3 movies? Do I want the “Internet in my pocket”? Am I troubled by my lack of immediate knowledge of world affairs? Am I troubled by my distance from email, and should this distance be closed? Will I be closer to my “friends” if Facebook is in my pocket? What kind of person do I want to become? And, finally, is an iPhone the shape of the distance between the current me and that better me? d
CHRIS HAW is the co-author (with Shane Claiborne) of Jesus for President. Chris is an adjunct professor at Cabrini College and lives with his wife, Cassie, in the Camden Houses, a Christian community in Camden, NJ.
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6/4/09 4:33 PM
6/1/09 12:16 PM
THE HIGH COST
OF FRIENDSHIP > SETH “TOWER” HURD FRIENDS I HADN’T SEEN IN three years shuffled in. Dressed in our finest clothes, we exchanged tight-gripped hugs, and brief how-are-yous. If the environment was only a little different, this could be a college class reunion. If only we were in a banquet hall and not a funeral home. If only Annika wasn’t lying in a silver casket, her husband of 18 months standing beside it. It’s not that this group of people, mostly a combination of church friends, college pals and a few university professors, had never seen death before. It’s just that death is supposed to visit the old, or people with cancer or those who are in car accidents. It’s not supposed to take a newly married 26-year-old, just hours after she’d emailed family and friends to say “Happy Easter,” and laid down in anticipation of the joyful Sunday resurrection, never to wake up again. It wasn’t Annika I was lamenting for; it was the rest of us standing there. A scene kept playing in my head, a college lecture Annika and I had set through. The professor, illustrating how to draw emotion from an audience, summarized the final episode of the TV show M.A.S.H., in which a group of war comrades find a bottle of wine, and pledge that the last person alive will open it in tribute to the collective friendship. The scene was a touching story then, now I realize it’s not just a TV episode but the unavoidable truth that we must all live out. I looked around the room, mapping out the faces of my college friends, realizing that this scene will play out again and again, the group getting smaller each time. And finally, one of us will know the grief of outliving the rest, laying a rose on a gravesite and realizing there is no one left to share in the old memories. Everything in life costs us something—in time, money, energy, love or emotion. Friends, real know-you-down-to-your-soul friends, come at a high cost. They guarantee a lifetime of broken hearts as we say goodbye, farewell and amen, again and again over the course of our lives.
Sadly, more and more people are finding that cost too high. Fifty years ago, the average person had three or more close friends and family members in which to confide. Today, that average has dropped to somewhere between two and one. The world-within-aworld of social networking has its benefits, but it’s also continually drawing us further into an “invent your own fantasy” identity and away from face-to-face relationships. This year, the average American will spend more time with their computer than with their spouse. As a study in the March 2009 International Business News so aptly put it, “Facebook, Twitter users among the loneliest in America.” It’s easy to see why escaping to the social networking world is so inviting. On Facebook, you can hide behind a persona, be any version of yourself you can dream up. Online friends don’t borrow money and not pay it back, gossip or spill Gatorade in your car. They don’t show up at your house after just getting dumped and stay until 2 a.m. when you have to be at work in the morning. Online “friendships” are always efficient. True friendship demands vulnerability. It requires that you rearrange your schedule, and intentionally plan time to spend with other people with no agenda. It demands choice, as sociologists agree that it’s only possible to have eight to 12 “real” friends, and attempting to manage more relationships than that only ends in a series of casual acquaintances. After Annika’s funeral, the old college crew gathered at Denny’s (the location, 24hour service and cheap prices made this a memorable college hangout, even if the food was terrible). The next two hours were Annika’s real funeral, as we celebrated her life loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear. Stories flowed like wine, and there was far more laughter than tears. Trevor stood up and told of his favorite memory of his late wife. She was African-American, and he was white. The two of them were babysitting a pair of Asian girls on a summer day and went out to a local pizza buffet. When a family stared in disbelief at the multicultural troupe, Annika’s
deadpan reply was, “An Oreo will never make a fortune cookie.” What we remembered wasn’t Annika’s Facebook profile or what she Tweeted, but her words, kindness and quirks, the perfect scenes of laughter she created. As we navigate our 20s and 30s, it’s easy to believe we have all the time in the world to connect and create unforgettable moments, as if everything ahead is just like today, only better. But the truth is these days are fading, and your current lifestyle, social circle and experiences are slipping away, even at this moment. This time in your life will be gone soon enough, as you graduate, marry, move, change jobs. The Bible states it simply: “This too shall pass.” As Christians, this should not be a reason to despair, but a call to weigh very carefully what we give our time to each day, an encouragement to love with abandon. Realizing we have a limited number of days calls into question who we spend them with, and what is no longer worthy of our brief and precious time. The party, and that’s exactly what it was, broke up around midnight, my jaw tired from laughing. Despite the mood, the truth remained: Annika was gone, leaving us brokenhearted. Each person in the room had chosen the ache that now dwelled within us, in our decision to invite Annika into our lives, and enter into hers. Friendship is heavy and painful at times, but only for a little while. Before and after the pain, it brings the things that make life worth living—laughter and acceptance and the knowledge that you matter to someone. Isolation hurts, too, but it’s a long, cold and constant pain. It’s very human to try and avoid all pain, but the real question is what kind of pain we will face. We either suffer alone for a lifetime, or choose daily to pay the high cost of friendship. d SETH “TOWER” HURD is a radio DJ in the Midwest. He can be heard on Chicago’s 89.7 Shine.FM and Mid-Michigan’s 101.7 FUSE FM.
28 / RELEVANT_JULY/AUGUST 09
6/1/09 7:05 PM
5/28/09 10:01:09 AM
For Fans of:
Raconteurs, Kings of Leon, Beck
TUTUS, BODY PAINT AND CROWD DIVES are all part of a typical concert for Cage the Elephant. The eclectic shows are fitting for a band whose sweaty rock equally pulls influence from blues, indie rock and Iggy and the Stooges. Not surprisingly, frontman Matt Shultz says he’s always been “kind of a showoff.” “The energy on stage reflects the music,” Shultz says. “Or maybe the music reflects the energy—maybe both and the same. I can’t imagine myself just standing on the stage playing the music we play.” The band members grew up in the deep south of Bowling Green, Ky., a small college town right in the path of the Bible Belt. Without a lot to do, Shultz found ways to entertain himself and started a band. Their self-titled album is a mix of punk funk with a garage, bluesy twist. When it comes to his lyrics, though, Shultz says he’s inspired by none other than Bob Dylan. “I remember when I first heard Bob Dylan, it was a life-changing experience,” Shultz says. “I was totally blown away. How can a man have so much knowledge and insight?” Like Dylan, Shultz has always been a storyteller. He used to put on plays for family gatherings, and would tell exaggerated stories about his uncle hunting elephants in Africa. This knack for story comes through in his songs, each track is heavy with narrative lyrics, like the band’s hit single, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” Shultz says he enjoys the challenge of writing songs that have distinct beginnings and conclusions. The story of this band has no ending in sight, though. They’ve already finished their next album, and will play several festivals this summer, including All Points West and Lollapalooza in August. —LEE ANN MARCEL
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A live event thAtt will help shA sh A pe the future of the spirit empowered mpowered movement Around round the world.
April 8-10, 2010 Tulsa, Oklahoma
To Register for this Event or Obtain Information: www.empowered21.com or 877-HSE(473)-2010. The Commission on Holy Spirit Empowerment in the 21st Century Facilitated by the International Center for Spiritual Renewal in cooperation with Oral Roberts University
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For Fans of:
Joshua Radin, Ray LaMontagne
in the short time he’s been playing music, Joshua James has toured with the likes of John Mayer, David Gray and Ani DiFranco—and he’s seen his debut album, The Sun is Always Brighter, rise to the #1 folk album on iTunes. He might be playing it now, but folk music is a far cry from what James grew up with. “I listened to a lot of The Doors, Led Zeppelin,” he says. “It wasn’t until my early 20s I started getting into folk music, and that’s when I started playing music.” James hopes to create an intimate atmosphere between his music and its listeners. “People can really attach themselves to a song or a piece of art and it becomes something of their own—it becomes their song,” he says. “The hope is to have some sort of connection with people via the songs and thoughts and the record. I think it’s important for me in music to be able to have a connection on a level we don’t have in day-to-day conversation.” James touches on some of life’s biggest questions in his songs. His new album, Build Me This, deals with the struggle of existence, of God and of salvation. “I have this concept in my head of wanting some sort of sign or communication with who or whatever is out there that may or may not exist,” James says. “That’s where the title of the record stemmed from.” James admits he didn’t expect to be a musician. “I always thought I would be a doctor or an architect—I never saw myself as a musician,” he says. “But I think people were made for certain things—consider it a calling or whatever your want—and I hope this is mine.” —elizabeth alexandroff
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For Fans of:
Justice, Shiny Toy Guns, Hot Chip
“A TRANS-GALACTIC VOYAGE with epic synth breakdowns”—that’s how frontman Dan Whitford describes Cut Copy’s sound. But, not really. “Our sound can change mid-song.” Although this Australian trio is often called an ‘80s throwback or nu-wave revival, Whitford says his inspiration comes mostly from pop bands with a timeless sound, such as Daft Punk and Sonic Youth. “Dance music, club music—that’s a large element of what we’re inspired by,” he says. Cut Copy began with Whitford casually mixing tracks in his home. “I had never really played music before, but I bought a keyboard and a sampler and a microphone and started just recording stuff,” he says. Once Tim Hoey and Mitchell Scott joined the band, they synchronized their live performance and made Cut Copy what it is today. The band views their latest release, In Ghost Colours, as a toss-up of emotion, energy and fun. “It’s a very densesounding record and there’s a lot going on,” Whitford says. “A lot of the songs are fairly different from each other.” Whitford recalls how challenging it was to assemble the tracks and maintain a sense of continuity throughout the album. “All those textures and layers are the underlying theme of the record,” he says. “That’s what unifies it.” Despite the musical complexity, Cut Copy aims to make music that people immediately enjoy. “We try to encourage people to dance. That’s a real sign things are working at our show,” Whitford says. He describes live shows as a give and take between the band and the crowd. As a former club and radio DJ, Whitford has confidence in his ability to make people get up and move. “If they’re just standing there awkwardly, it doesn’t quite feel right.” —Curt Devine
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BY david dark
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What turned out to be one of the best exchanges I had in all my years as an English teacher at a Christian school came in a general discussion over my love for the likes of Kafka, Nietzsche and Camus. Every time I expressed unqualified enthusiasm for these thinkers my students deemed “nonbelievers,” the same wall kept coming up. Is it OK to like these people? I insisted it was more than OK. As readers of good books, they were all compelled, I argued, to let the truthful words get through to them, even if particular writers lurked beyond the boundary of what they took to be “Christian” truth. Nevertheless, I kept meeting resistance, so I tried a different tactic. I asked my students to define the word “agnostic.” “Someone who doesn’t want to believe,” one keen student responded. The “doesn’t want to” part really threw me off a bit. “Why the judgement call?” I asked. I wasn’t sure what to say. I told them to try again. “Someone who chooses not to believe,” hazarded another. I was beginning to sense a pattern. I couldn’t call it unexpected. “No, really no,” I said. “And I’m giving you a big hint when I say, ‘No.’” “Someone who doesn’t know!” came a shout of mock enthusiasm. And we were on our way. “That’s right. Agnostics don’t know. They might believe all kinds of things. And it can get to feeling like a crying shame sometimes, this lack of absolute knowledge, but they just don’t know. Not much to be done for it really, this not knowing business. Incidentally, guess who’s agnostic.” “You are,” dared an especially avid, young Presbyterian. “Right you are. And please understand that I believe as much as the next believer. I can hardly even tell you how much I believe and how strongly I believe it. I believe, I believe, I believe [this with an intensification of my already sufficiently Southern accent]. I confess I find it hard to believe a lot of things sometimes. I’m riddled with doubts and uncertainties. But I see your smiling, approving faces, and I believe once more. Now I’m a believer. I believe again, as if for the first time. Belief. It’s what I do. Guess who else I believe to be agnostic.”
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I had to wait this one out and gape at them goofily a little bit. One of them finally chirped in with one eye squinted, “We are?” “Yeah. But I think you think you have to pretend to know in order to not go to hell. And I want to tell you, in Jesus’ name, that this isn’t the case.” I hope it’s clear that I wasn’t invoking the name of Jesus lightly. I meant—and mean—to challenge the version of Christianity that says we’re called, above all, to play it safe, only letting in the thoughts and ideas that fit easily into our supposedly Christian belief grid, as if there are certain confessions of honest confusion or doubt our faith can’t afford. This version of Christianity is the one which insists (or at least strongly implies) that fear is the heart of love, to borrow Ben Gibbard’s phrase. And it is this version I see critiqued most radically in the life and teachings of Jesus. Against the psychic oppression of a Christianity that would keep us dishonest and afraid, I want to announce the good bit of news that the God who exists, the God in Whom I believe, never calls anyone to play-act or pretend or to silence their own concerns about what’s true. I want to chase off the spirits that render us incapable of seeing truthfully for fear that we might let in the wrong information, as if God might be made
While we’re often rewarded in life for playing at absolute confidence, the pretense required and the mind-game involved is corrosive to the possibility of community, friendship and redeeming love. Because playing at certainty is often the unwritten rule of our culture, backing down from it and assuming the mantle of a mere human might be our most radical, poetic-prophetic way of relating. Imagine if we could let the psychic burden of certainty go. We might become capable of questioning ourselves out loud and open-endedly. We might let a little air in. As I see it, the Bible isn’t a catalogue of all the things one has to believe (or pretend to believe) in order to not go to Hell, but is rather a broad, multifaceted collection of people crying out to God—and a collection of close encounters with the God Who is present, somehow, in those very cries. Far from being an anthology of greeting card material, these accounts of joy, anger, lamentation and hope are all bound up, as it were, in the most formidable array of social criticism ever assembled in one volume. And far from being a tradition in which doubts and questions are suppressed in favor of uncritical, blind faith, Christianity is a robust culture in which anything can be asked and everything can be said. The call to worship
of the other calls to worship coming at us through advertisements (billboards, commercial breaks, brand projections), pundits, politicians and (let’s be honest) preachers. We’re called to engage these calls with a lively doubt and redemptive skepticism. Not because nothing’s worth believing, but because critical thinking is required of anyone who means to resist the “INSERT SOUL HERE” that lurks underneath all of these appeals to our lives, these systems of meaning that thrive upon our consent. Being true, in this atmosphere, is a work that is never done. This is where I always urged—and urge— my students to hold off on finding a story, a thinker or a song safe because they think it’s Christian, or unsafe because it’s not. Instead, I believe we should come to such engagements with the question (always open) of whether or not the voice to which we’re paying heed is truthful. And James Douglass’ work, Resistance and Contemplation, is especially helpful here: “Truth is not a slab of concrete to rest my life upon, but a luminous force in which I stand and which I discover is sparked into more dazzling light by the conflict of challenge and response.” To hold true to the truth, amid our doubts, can never exactly be a point of pride, because being true is never a done deal or a mission
I’D LIKE TO ARGUE THAT WE DON’T HAVE FAITH IN GOD AT ALL. WE HAVE FAITH IN OUR OWN FAITH RATHER THAN THE GOD WHO TRANSCENDS IT, FAITH IN A FAITH THAT WILL SOMEHOW SAVE US. angry and insecure by an archaeological dig, a scientific discovery, an ancient manuscript, a Christ-like atheist or a good film about homosexual cowboys. If we think we have faith, because we faithfully protect ourselves from anything that might call it into question— as if God is counting on us to keep ourselves stupid, closed off to the complexity of the world we’re in—I’d like to argue that we don’t have faith in God at all. We have faith in our own faith rather than the God who transcends it, faith in a faith that will somehow save us. Not faith in God, but faith in a false god of our own conceptions, a god too afraid to entertain a question or a doubt. If we think our certainty is what drives success and, in the end, the very faith (so-called) that saves us, our honest confusion will become a source of shame and a sign of weakness. We keep our honest doubts hidden. As I understand it, this is precisely where the biblical witness urges what I’m tempted to call a mandatory agnosticism. This is where we’re summoned to know that we don’t know. This is where we’re called to confession, not selfcongratulation.
is a call to complete candor and radical questioning. Questioning the way things are, the way we are and wondering about the way things ought to be. Most paradoxically, as G.K. Chesterton observed, the New Testament portrays a God who, by being wholly present in the dying cry of Jesus of Nazareth, even doubted and questioned Himself. The summons to sacred questioning—like the call to honesty, like a call to prayer, is a call to be true and to let the chips fall where they may. Like the call to authenticity, it is deeper than the call to sign off on a checklist of particular tenets or beliefs. It is also more difficult. The proper call to worshipfulness is a call to employ (or to allow to be employed) the whole of my imagination and, therefore, the whole of what I’m doing with my life. This call is a summons to mindfulness in all I say and do, a mindfulness that requires an engagement, a questioning of everything, a call to bring my wits to bear on the whole of life without compartmentalization—be it “politics,” “spirituality,” “business” or that especially tricky compartment, “religion.” Such categories play into our unawareness
accomplished. Being true (or trying to be true) is an occasion for keeping a vigil, striving toward vigilance when it comes to our own prone-to-lying tongues, paying heed and paying attention to—it’s out there—the truth. And the Christianly agnostic will not know that they do not have it (or know it) even as they live in the hope and the occasional confidence that the God of truth has them. W.H. Auden puts the matter most modestly: “Christianity is a way, not a state, and a Christian is never something one is, only something one can pray to become.” This might not be as solidly assuring, from an advertising perspective, as claims of absolute confidence and satisfaction guaranteed. But it is probably more biblical, more sobering, and, for my money, more human and more honest. Perhaps this is all we’re called to be.
DAVID DARK is the author of The Sacredness of Questioning Everything. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in religious studies at Vanderbilt University.
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THE THEOLOGICAL W WANDERINGS OF
DAVID BA DA B ZAN ROBERT HAM
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AFTER YEARS OF PLUMBING the depths of the human condition as frontman and songwriter for Pedro the Lion, David Bazan has turned his gaze inward. His new album, Curse Your Branches, is “90 percent autobiographical,” according to the 33-year-old musician, featuring songs that grapple with his faith and theology in general. It’s thought-provoking work packaged in shiny, low-key pop wrappings. Bazan, speaking from his home in Everett, Wash., explains why he chose to explore his personal struggles, and why he has eschewed playing traditional concerts in favor of intimate house shows.
THIS IS YOUR FIRST FULL-LENGTH ALBUM UNDER YOUR OWN NAME. IS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT PEDRO THE LION HAS BEEN RETIRED FOR GOOD? I’m pretty sure, yeah. There have already been (mostly joking) discussions of reunion shows, but when I stopped using the name in 2005, it was my intention that that was that.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PUT PEDRO THE LION ON THE SHELF? One of the reasons was I had some personal work to do. With Pedro the Lion, all of my buddies who I played with ended up getting chewed up and spit out, one by one. It certainly wasn’t my intention, and I didn’t know why that was happening. I had to step away from that and figure out how I was causing it to happen. And having stepped away from a successful band, I had to ask myself, did I like playing music for 40 people at The Local 506 in North Carolina? Did I like what I was doing intrinsically?
ON CURSE YOUR BRANCHES, YOU TACKLE SOME DARK SUBJECT MATTER, BUT YOU MATCH IT UP WITH LIGHTER MUSIC—WAS THAT INTENTIONAL? In a couple of key instances, it was. The song “When We Fell”—I’ve always performed it acoustic and very downtempo. When I put it in the mix of the record, it just kind of sucked the funny out of the room and was a real dead spot. But it’s one of my favorite tunes, and I didn’t want it to draw so much attention to itself immediately. When I did it a different way, it was more nonchalant, a much more complicated expression. In general, I like that way of doing things. A sad lyric and an uptempo tune—there’s something that has always appealed to me about that.
WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE LYRICS FOR THE SONGS ON BRANCHES? It’s maybe 90 percent autobiographical. This record hints at some historical facts in regards to me and my family where there were sort of dramatic moments. These [songs] are really obsessed with theology in the concept of my own history. It’s something that I think about all the time— the finer points of theology and its practical application in Christianity.
HOW DOES THAT TRANSLATE TO SPECIFICS ON THE ALBUM? There are moments where I am challenging the person of God. I suppose I grew up thinking of Him as Jehovah, the biblical God. [The songs] “When We Fell” and “In Stitches” challenge the notion of that person, of the narrative of who Jehovah is, who the one true God is—the characteristics held by the one true God. I perceive that God exists. For whatever reason, that’s a part of my wiring. What I was trying to figure out was Who or What that could be—given the data that is available. This record is an expression of trying to complete that process. When I wrote “When We Fell,” I was saying all those things to God, all of those assumptions about God that make up the narrative. That song is me refuting the idea that God is exactly that. A couple of months later, it dawned on me that I was really speaking to the popular version of what God is—the God of my upbringing and the most popular characterizations of Him. I realized I was literally challenging the person at the center of
that characterization, challenging that characterization. At the end of it all, I still believe, but I don’t believe that particular narrative.
HAS WRITING THESE SONGS HELPED YOU CLARIFY THE THEOLOGICAL ISSUES YOU STRUGGLE WITH? I think maybe a good answer to that would be that those songs are one part of the way I’ve been processing information and thinking about things. It’s been really helpful to me. On the other side of that process, I have a lot more peace about it, even though none of the big questions have been answered for me. I’m a lot more at ease with where I am, and with a lot of things that I do. I’ve run the equations on several of those key issues enough times. I at least know the terrain pretty well and that gives me some comfort. I’m kind of moving ahead being pretty honest with myself or as honest as I can be. And the songs have certainly helped.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO TACKLE MORE PERSONAL SUBJECTS AFTER HAVING WRITTEN MOSTLY FICTIONAL MATERIAL FOR PTL? When I realized I was writing autobiographical songs, I got pretty bummed. I already disliked the “singer/songwriter” category and thinking of myself as part of that. And when I realized every single one of these tunes is obsessed with religious conflict, I shuddered. “You gotta do something different. Go back to the drawing board and push for something else.” I’ve slowly come to terms with the idea that it might sound embarrassing and tedious to most of the population. These are issues that I care about and think about. And if the way that I’m expressing them is true, then I should own it.
FOR THE LAST YEAR OR SO, YOU’VE BEEN PERFORMING AT SMALL HOUSE SHOWS INSTEAD OF CLUBS AND THEATERS. HOW DID THAT ALL COME ABOUT? Last Thanksgiving, Bob, my manager, and I were talking about how we would keep [stuff] together throughout the spring. The record was going to come out in late summer, but the label wanted me to lay low and not tour. I needed to figure out how to bridge the gap between what they wanted and making sure my family was taken care of. In our conversations, Bob and I came to the conclusion that if my work is to play songs, I should be able to go and play songs however I can, whether it’s concerts or house shows. When we said house shows, we both perked up.
HOW DID THE HOUSE SHOWS TURN OUT? Every house and every group of people is pretty different, more so than from club to club. The overall prototype day on that tour, because I was touring alone in a pickup truck with a guitar, I’d get to the show at 7:30 and hang out for a bit and then play songs. There’s no PA or anything. The feeling in the room is really cool and really heavy and people are into it and we converse. It goes like that every day. It’s all the really fun parts of touring with none of the baloney. It’s really exhilarating.
DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON WHERE YOU’D LIKE TO GO FROM HERE? I do, but they’re mostly on a personal level. There’s a way of going about making records that I’m getting better at, but I’d still like the process to be less tortured. Some of that is natural; some of it is my disorganization. I’d like to get a little bit better at managing the process of making a record. There are certain things—certain self-improvement projects—that, if I can accomplish those and keep food on the table, then I’m good. That’s why the house shows were such a revelation. If that’s how I make my living from now on, I’m totally cool with that. I’m happy with the work that I’m doing and the songs and how I’m performing them. Any way that I can do the work I’m really into, and monetize it just enough to pay our mortgage and health insurance and whatnot, then that’s fine.
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YOU KNEW WHEN YOU HEARD her singing in the shower that this was more than a passing fling. It’s been nearly six years now since we first listened to Zooey Deschanel innocently belt out Christmas tunes behind the shower curtain in Elf. And, much like Buddy the Elf, even then we knew we were eavesdropping on something special.
oday, Deschanel is no longer just “that girl who could sing in Elf.” Far from it. She’s become a household name in her own right, having been in more than 30 films over the past decade and co-producing her first album— to much critical acclaim. Named after the male character in J.D. Salinger’s classic novel Franny and Zooey, Deschanel is something of a classic herself. On any given night, you might find her playing piano and singing old standards at low-key shows across Los Angeles, or at home singing around the house with her fiance, Death Cab for Cutie lead singer, Ben Gibbard. “I’d consider myself old-fashioned,” Deschanel says, admitting a deep fondness for “old music, old movies, screwball
comedies and vintage clothes.” She’s even been known to pick up the baritone ukelele every once in a while. “Everything inspires me. Listening to music and watching movies is of paramount importance to making good music and great movies,” she says. “But I think just the stories that people tell—it’s all storytelling. Listening to stories in general reminds you of what makes the world come alive.” This summer, Deschanel is bringing her quirky indie charm to the big screen again as the co-star of the romantic dramedy (500) Days of Summer. Deschanel plays Summer, a young woman who steals the heart of everyone she meets, but especially that of a young greeting-card writer named Tom (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Following the 500
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6/3/09 9:26 AM
days in which Tom goes through a roller coaster of feelings from ecstasy to despair, the film—which was a sensation at the Sundance Film Festival in January—offers plenty of food for thought about the different ways in which boys and girls view relationships. It’s also a film about the distance between expectations and reality—especially when it comes to romance. And, of course, that age-old question of whether or not we have a soul mate—that one person we’re destined to spend our lives with. Mixing laughter, sadness, love and the most exuberantly ridiculous dance scene since Ferris Bueller brought joyful anarchy to the streets of Chicago, (500) Days of Summer is as quirky and inspired as its star. “I don’t think one’s interpretation of the film has anything to do with being male or female,” Deschanel says of the movie. “Everyone’s been in a position where they like somebody more than they’re liked back. I think everyone’s been each character at this point. “It’s a deeply subjective film, and it’s from his point of view,” she continues. “She doesn’t do anything wrong, and I think acts in a really honorable way. She’s clear with him from the beginning. He’s the one who’s taking it farther than he should, given the info she’s given him.” Deschanel says she was drawn to the film’s unconventional structure, in which the narrative hopscotches backwards and forwards in time— from day eight to day 154 to day 11, and so on—to
spotlight the ups and downs of love. Ultimately, the film takes viewers on a memorable ride while offering a potent commentary on the ways that society’s choices of imagery—from movies to greeting cards—sometimes hurt more than help the human heart by distorting the meaning of true love. “Both characters are representative of my generation’s sort of polarization on views of love,” Deschanel says. “I think it’s generally fluid for lots of people, but a lot of people swing the pendulum too far believing romance is something that happens to them or by believing there’s no such thing as romance. “Love isn’t something you fall into—you’re as much a part of it as everyone. Tom’s whole view of love was distorted by a misreading of the film The Graduate for him, and the film’s about his finding out what love really is and misconceptions about love as a kid. Tom’s point of view is sophomoric.” While (500) Days of Summer and 2008’s Yes Man have made Deschanel a more familiar face to many of us, she’s certainly not new to the movie business. The daughter of a cinematographer and an actress, Deschanel was born for Hollywood. Her father, five-time Oscar-nominee Caleb Deschanel, and her mother, actress Mary Jo Deschanel of Twin Peaks fame, encouraged her and her sister Emily (now the star of the hit Fox TV series Bones) to pursue their own careers in film ... just as long as they could drive themselves to the auditions.
So at 16, Zooey drove herself to her first tryout. She landed a few small parts in theater and soon signed on with an agent. Her first big break came a few years later, when she was picked for a guest-starring role on the Kirstie Alley sitcom Veronica’s Closet. Soon after, she scored a role in the film Mumford, where she was directed by Lawrence Kasdan of The Big Chill and Grand Canyon fame amid an extensive ensemble cast that included Alfre Woodard, Martin Short and Ted Danson. From the beginning, Deschanel found the experience of acting amid such well-regarded company inspiring rather than intimidating, even as she had to get used to seeing life on a set in a different way than she was accustomed. “It’s a little bit more familiar to me, but I never paid much attention being on set as a kid,” she says. “We’d go on location a lot, but I wasn’t on sets very much. It was a whole new perspective once I started working myself. It’s totally different from being on a set that is not something you’re working on.” In the 11 years since then, Deschanel’s established an impressive balance between bigstudio and arthouse films. Of course, her true breakthrough came in 2003, when she landed the role of the sweet-yet-slightly-cynical New York shopgirl who helped Will Ferrell adapt to life away from the North Pole in the $178 million-grossing smash Elf. In the same year, she also received a nomination for the prestigious Independent Spirit
*Where Have I Seen That Girl? 
YES MAN ALLISON
Who can forget her crooning from stage about latenight phone calls while dressed as a mermaid with background vocals provided by women in seahorse hats?
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY TRILLIAN
Exploring the galaxies and saving the universe. “We will be restoring normality as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway. Thank you.”
ALL THE REAL GIRLS
She sings in the shower, she curls gift ribbon with expert ease, she ice skates in Central Park. She’s Jovie and she’s the sweetest thing this side of the North Pole.
She’s a good girl in love with a bad boy, who just happens to be her brother’s best friend. And you’ve got the makings of a small town, summer drama right there, folks.
She just wants to listen to that “poetry” of Simon and Garfunkel! What’s so wrong with that? Come on, Mom ... it’s not all about promiscuous sex and drugs.
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Award (considered the indie-film Oscar) for her heartbreaking yet luminous role as a teenage girl dealing with her first true love in All the Real Girls. While Elf won her the attention of the masses, All the Real Girls laid the foundation for her future as an actress. The part earned her strong accolades, including this one from notoriously hard-to-please film-industry trade paper Variety: “Standing out from the rest is Deschanel’s work, which evinces an impressively direct connection to her character’s emotions. The actress does a wonderful job presenting a young woman who is trying, with varying degrees of success, to give voice to all sorts of things she has never felt or expressed before.” It’s a maturity and self-awareness that Deschanel brings not only to her art, but to her life as well. She works hard to keep her life private and out of the tabloids. “I think it’s a matter of taste. I don’t want to be in the tabloids so I don’t do anything to get in them,” she says. “I can’t even remember the last time I drank, but not drinking wasn’t a reaction to being crazy. I don’t really do anything crazy. I don’t think I could handle being one of those people so I don’t invite that kind of attention.” Instead, Deschanel is putting her fame to good use, particularly in helping causes she believes in. She devotes her time to groups that affect people’s lives in profound and longlasting ways. “It’s always difficult to choose because there’s so many worthy organizations. P.S. Arts is one I really love and they’re heavy on arts education, helping kids who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to express themselves artistically,” she explains. “There’s also the Innocence Project that I really like. There are a lot of people convicted of serious crimes that were not guilty and are acquitted on DNA evidence. It helps clear their names and helps set free innocent people.” While her sister Emily is an outspoken vegan, that level of commitment to an animal-free lifestyle hasn’t come as easily to Zooey. “I’ve dabbled in being vegan. I’ve tried to be as much in that direction as possible, not a full vegan, but I believe it is better for the environment,” Deschanel says. “And it’s a great thing to do, but I can’t all the time. I don’t do any dairy or eggs, but sometimes I eat some fish.” So what does a rising star who’s not given to raging parties, drunk driving or flashing paparazzi actually do for fun? She makes music, of course. And she does it well. In 2008, she joined up with M. Ward to create She & Him. Their debut album, Volume One, might have been expected to draw jeers from the critical establishment that has seen fit to give harsh reviews to actors from Lindsay Lohan to Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey, Jr. for their musical endeavors. Instead, Deschanel and Ward drew critical raves. This wasn’t some actress’s vanity project—it was a legitimate record.
Indeed, Deschanel seems to have just been waiting for the chance to send her music out into the world. “I’d written a ton of songs, and they were piling up ‘cause I was writing all the time,” she says. “I met Matt [M.] because he was doing music for a movie I did and he kept saying he wanted to hear my songs. I was nervous because I’m a big fan of his, but he stopped me a couple weeks later and said ‘I love ‘em, let’s make a record.’ It was exciting because he’s great and it ended up being one of the greatest work experiences I’ve had.” Both artists share an affection for timeless music—in fact, upon hearing Volume One, listeners might think the album was created 50 years ago. Ward and Deschanel listened to the same classic radio station growing up in Los Angeles, and that style infuses their infectious ‘60s pop sound. While most of their songs are original, they also covered a few classic favorites, including their haunting version of The Miracles’ “You Really Gotta Hold On Me.” The two have plans to make more music in the future—Ward has said that a volume two is in the demo stages. While her fascination with acting led to attention-getting performances in high school, Deschanel’s music inspired her at an even earlier age. And, at least for now, it’s in music that she’s finding a true creative outlet. “I started taking piano lessons when I was 8, and started playing even before that. Music has been as much a part of my life as acting,” she explains. “In general, it was very genuine and there was a lot of time and energy I put into it before there was ever a possibility of it becoming a record. I enjoy it and it’s sort of who I am, how I express myself. “My goal was not to put out a record just to do it or because somebody said I could sing. My goal was: ‘I have so many songs and this great person wants to work with me, and we’ll see how it shapes up—and if we like it, we’ll put it out.’ I don’t know much about the business of it, I know there’s been a stigma about actors and records. I think it’s important to ignore that and just go with your heart.” 2
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Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in Public Enemies
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BY BRETT MCCRACKEN
WHEN YOU THINK OF SUMMER ENTERTAINMENT, A FEW THINGS COME TO MIND: BEACHES, BASEBALL, BARBECUES, BOATING, AND EVEN A FEW THINGS THAT DON’T START WITH “B” (SWIMMING? UM … SAILING?). BUT THE THING THAT CONSISTENTLY DRAWS THE MOST CROWDS AND BRINGS FAMILY AND FRIENDS TOGETHER FOR SEASONAL, AIR-CONDITIONED EXCITEMENT? MOVIES. EVER SINCE JAWS PACKED OUT THEATERS IN THE SUMMER OF 1975, SUMMERS HAVE BEEN HOLLYWOOD’S TIME TO REALLY BRING THEIR “A” GAME. ACTUALLY, IT’S MORE THEIR “B” GAME. AS IN “BLOCKBUSTER” AND “BIG” AND “BANKABLE.” HMMM. GUESS IT ALL COMES BACK TO “B” WORDS AFTER ALL. SO WHAT FILMS WILL BE WORTH SEEING THIS SUMMER? WHICH ONES WILL PEOPLE REMEMBER THIS TIME NEXT YEAR? HERE’S A PREVIEW OF SOME OF THE GENRES AND FILMS OF SUMMER 2009.
TENTPOLES By now, a lot of the summer’s major tentpole releases (i.e., the ones that are expected to bank at least $300 million in worldwide box office gross and basically fund a studio for the fiscal year) have already released: Star Trek, Angels & Demons, Terminator: Salvation, UP. But there are still some biggies to come. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you’ve been living under a rock.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June 24) Though Michael Bay’s second entry in the Hasbro-toy-turned-movie franchise promises to provide some of the summer’s most eye-popping special effects, the real question is whether or not there will
be a plot to speak of. Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox return, as do Megatron, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and that guy who’s married to Fergie. Rainn Wilson from The Office joins the cast this go-around, hopefully bringing with him some resonant human drama.
Harry Potter and the HalfBlood Prince (July 17) Finally! After a few delays, the sixth book in the Harry Potter series has its big screen adaptation, at long last. Directed again by David Yates, who did the fifth movie (Order of the Phoenix), Harry Potter 6 should be what all Potterphiles hope it will be: suitably dark, whimsical and wizardicious. Fans are keeping their fingers crossed the filmmakers will get the emotional Dumbledore climax right.
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G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra (August 7) Are Hasbro kids’ toys the new comic books? Just weeks after the second Transformers film, the iconic G.I. Joe action figure gets his day in the summer cinema sun. Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) and starring Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Cobra Commander), this could be just the sort of smash-‘em-up summer spectacle we will need come early August. Or, it could be this year’s Hulk.
Lorna’s Silence (July 31) The latest film from acclaimed Belgian filmmakers the Dardenne Brothers (The Son, L’Enfant) will by all appearances be more of the same for them: bleak neorealism mixed with hope and redemption in post-EU Europe. But if that’s the case, no one should complain. The Dardennes are among the most talented European filmmakers today, and their films are consistently brilliant. Whatever Works (June 19) Yuppies love Woody Allen. And the aging New York ironist/nihilist filmmaker has been on a hot streak of late, including recent works Match Point, Cassandra’s Dream and last summer’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Will he continue his streak of good movies with Whatever Works, even sans Scarlett Johansson? The film stars Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David, Patricia Clarkson, Evan Rachel Wood and Ed Begley, Jr., though some early screenings haven’t gone over well.
PRESTIGE DIRECTORS Summer is not “prestige” season in the movie business. Not by any means. That would be October-December. But every summer, there tends to be a handful of new releases from A-list, legendary directors. Most of the time it’s Steven Spielberg, but sometimes there are others. Here are a few to look for this summer, from three of Hollywood’s most respected directors:
Public Enemies (July 1) This John Dillinger historical crime thriller is directed by Michael Mann, who has a knack for capturing the seedy criminal underworld (Heat, Collateral, Miami Vice) with evocative artistic flair. And with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale starring, it’s bound to make a splash at the box office. It’ll be interesting to see how Mann can make his trademark gritty digital cinematography work for a period epic like this.
Taking Woodstock (August 14) Director Ang Lee has a diverse film resume that includes everything from Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility) to gay cowboys (Brokeback Mountain), comic book adaptations (Hulk) to Civil War epics (Ride With the Devil). His new film, starring Emile Hirsch and Paul Dano, takes a look at the behind-the-scenes drama of the famed Woodstock concert in 1969, though critics are already panning it as a disappointment considering the cultural impact of its subject matter.
Inglourious Basterds (August 21) What can we expect from Quentin Tarantino’s new film? Well, violence for one thing— shockingly gratuitous amounts of it. But we can also expect two hours and 40 minutes of Nazis, chapter divisions, pop culture pomo iconography, blood-soaked baseball bats and an impressively unexpected roster of talent: Brad Pitt, B.J. Novak (The Office), Cloris Leachman, Mike Myers and Samuel L. Jackson, to name a few.
ARTSY FLICKS What would a summer movie season be without its share of arthouse gems? If not for the occasional documentary, foreign film or Sundance indie, how would all the Pinot Grigio-drinking yuppies spend their sweaty Saturday nights? Thankfully, this summer has a few promising artsy options in store.
The Answer Man (aka Arlen Faber) (July 24) This Sundance hit stars Jeff Daniels as Arlen Faber, the reclusive author of Me and God, a book that “redefined spirituality for an entire generation.” The first feature film for director John Hindman, The Answer Man also stars Lauren Graham and Kat Dennings, and looks like a heartfelt dramedy in the vein of Wonder Boys.
Cheri (June 26) This new film from director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dirty Pretty Things) tells comedic tales of sex, love and fashion in the fading days of Belle Époque Paris. It’s historical, opulent, dainty and clever, and stars Michelle Pfeiffer in a potential comeback role—as a turn-of-thecentury cougar who preys on the 19-year-old son of a competing cougar (Kathy Bates). Nothing like a highbrow costume drama to counter program against Transformers!
COMEDIES Comedy is gold in Hollywood: it’s usually cheap to make and turns a big profit (if it’s funny, that is). Summer comedies have a good track record in recent years, like last year’s hits Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder. This summer promises to produce its own share of successes, including (perhaps) these three:
Bruno (July 10) The one surefire comedy hit of the summer. Sacha Baron Cohen follows the ridiculously successful Borat with another movie based on a character from Da Ali G Show, this time invading the fashion world. It promises to be crude, envelope pushing and, well, everything that catch-phrase-quoting high school teen boys hope it will be ... but with a few well-placed nuggets of truth as well. Very nice. I like.
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I Love You, Beth Cooper (July 10)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (August 14)
Releasing the same day as Bruno, this high school “nerd tries to get popular girl” film will attempt to wrest the teen girl masses from Bruno’s highly testosterone-driven audience. The Chris Columbushelmed film stars Heroes cheerleader Hayden Panettiere, which is a good thing. Only downside: Michael Cera isn’t the male lead.
Yet another book-to-movie adaptation (from the 2003 novel by Audrey Niffenegger), this film follows a Chicago librarian (Eric Bana) who has a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel when he is stressed. Though he disappears often, and for long periods of time, he tries to build a romantic relationship with an artist (Rachel McAdams). Two good-looking actors, time travel and conflicted love? Sounds like a winner! (Either that or a Kate episode of LOST.)
Funny People (July 31) Funny People is Judd Apatow’s first directorial effort since Knocked Up and features some of his stock actors (Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann) as well as some new faces (Adam Sandler, Eric Bana, Jason Schwartzman). The story concerns a famous comedian with a terminal disease who helps an up-can-comer break into the business. The funny/sad film could very well be a sort of Beaches for men.
CHICK FLICKS Every good summer film season has a nice assortment of tearjerkers or Nicholas Sparks novel adaptations, for the ladies and their boyfriends/ husbands to enjoy after a round of watermelon martinis at The Cheesecake Factory. The tradition of summer chick flicks includes such films as My Best Friend’s Wedding, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Devil Wears Prada and last summer’s Sex and the City. This year has quite a few potential girl’s-night-out entrees lined up.
My Sister’s Keeper (June 26) This adaptation of a Jodi Picoult novel is about a family struggling with a young girl’s fight against a rare form of leukemia. With Abigail “Little Miss Sunshine” Breslin starring and Nick “The Notebook” Cassavetes directing, this one promises to offer a mid-summer boom to the tissue industry.
Julie and Julia (August 7) This is the Meryl Streep-as-Julie Child film we’ve been waiting for! Based on the book by average New Yorker Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams), the film documents Powell’s attempt to cook her way through Child’s classic cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in less than a year, Julie and Julia (directed by Nora Ephron) promises to be one of the summer’s most feel-good films.
The Ugly Truth (July 24) From Robert Luketic, the director of Legally Blonde and Win a Date With Tad Hamilton comes a cheerfully mainstream romantic comedy for those who are sick of Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. This one stars Katherine Heigl as a morning show producer embroiled in a series of outrageous tests by her chauvinistic correspondent (Gerard Butler of 300) to prove his theories on relationships and help her find love. You can guess how it all turns out …
SLEEPERS Every summer tends to have a few “sleeper hits”—films that no one knew about when they came out but many were talking about by summer’s end. Two years ago, that movie was the unassuming Irish gem, Once. In other summers, it was Napoleon Dynamite or Little Miss Sunshine, or late-summer sleepers like The Others. Perhaps the granddaddy of them all was The Sixth Sense, a film no one expected to be anything special but ended up changing movies forever. Will there be a little-film-that-could this summer?
Away We Go (June 5) Director Sam Mendes follows up his bleak tale of marital disintegration (Revolutionary Road) with a more hopeful look at marriage in Away We Go. The film, co-written by Dave Eggers, stars John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as a young married couple expecting their first child and embarking on a road trip to find the perfect place to start their family. Add a requisite indie rock soundtrack and you have the makings of a hipster classic!
Adam (July 29) Another Sundance favorite, Adam is a quirky romantic comedy about a stargazing man with aspergers (Hugh Dancy) who develops a relationship with his upstairs neighbor, Beth (Rose Byrne). For fans of feel-good romantic comedies who would never be caught dead going to see The Ugly Truth, this film looks like it will be for you.
(500) Days of Summer (July 17) This Sundance hit from first-time director Marc Webb could be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine, though it may be too indie for its own good. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, the film touts itself as “not a love story, but a story about love.” Featuring fantasy dance sequences, ‘60s fashion and songs from Temper Trap, Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin, and Belle & Sebastian, (500) Days of Summer is certainly a film that could be the feel-good “story about love” of the season. 2
ONLINE BONUS @ RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM KEEP CHECKING RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER FOR OUR REVIEWS OF MOVIES AS THEY’RE RELEASED.
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WAIT, THE AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE GUY IS A CHRISTIAN? BY CARL KOZLOWSKI
CRAIG HARTIN SPENDS HIS WORKDAYS helping bring a bag of floating fries, a milkshake and a meatball to life so they can save the planet from one danger after another. It may sound like a weird job, and it is, but as the animation director for Aqua Teen Hunger Force and its sister shows Squidbillies, 12 Oz. Mouse and the late great Comedy Central cartoon Freak Show, Hartin’s keeping millions of people entertained late at night amid the Adult Swim program block on the Cartoon Network. Perhaps even more surprising, given the “stoner comedy” rep that Hunger Force proudly carries, Hartin is a devout Christian who knows when to keep an open mind for the show’s bizarre content yet also created a Bible study that’s grown to include a healthy number of his
staff at the Radical Axis animation studios in Atlanta. Mixing his serious spiritual side with his wacky sense of humor is the key to Hartin’s success in both his personal and professional lives. “I’m passionate about three things: God, family and work,” Hartin says. “The first two can’t help but trickle over into work. Being the VP for the company, I set some of the rules for the studio. We have an open policy for talking about religion and politics—if you want a debate, we’ll have a debate. It makes for a fun atmosphere and it feeds a lot of our show ideas.” Hartin has been with Radical Axis since 2001, but launched his TV animation career at the end of 1998, after studying 3D animation at
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zack arias the Art Institute of Atlanta and working on SALSA for Georgia’s public television network. Over the past decade, he went from basic scan-andpaint work to working in cels before finally achieving the full use of his degree with some 3D projects. Hunger Force has been the key to Radical Axis’ impressive growth— at times up to an 85-member staff—yet the wildly irreverent humor of the series and its counterparts, including the new Internet cartoon “A Priest, A Rabbi and a Minister Walk Into a Bar” (yes, you read right), have provided Hartin with plenty of moral dilemmas over the years. While he rarely actually nixes content, he has spoken out often enough about the content and his walk with Christ that his co-workers have seen fit to put a
photo of his face on all the locusts in a swarm that attacks in an episode of Squidbillies, and his likeness has been used to portray a Bible salesman and various other religious fanatics. “In the industry, it’s a hot topic these days to mock and poke fun at religion, so anytime you’re known as a man of faith, it’s gonna come up,” Hartin says. “I’ve pulled my name out of certain shows because of content. I’ll do the show and complete it because it’s my job, but I don’t mind taking my name out if I disagree with it. They’ve seen that several times, and the creators and writers will ask me about it. Anyone who knows me knows that my faith is close to my heart.” Hartin keeps a good-natured sense of humor amid all the ribbing, and notes that Squidbillies—about hillbilly squids living in poverty amid the Appalachian mountains of Georgia—often deals with religious themes. “It has a Jesus character regularly. The family goes to church, but they don’t get it. It’s lighthearted, and it just pokes fun at religion goodnaturedly,” Hartin says. “It always opens great opportunities to share my faith as well, because I can say let’s hear what other people’s thoughts are. That ties in with one of the sermons at my church, where the pastor was talking about people doing things and setting things up to share their faith with people. I remember sitting there thinking somebody should do that, then I realized I am that somebody.” That revelation came to Hartin about four years ago, and he figured that since people were “forced to hear” what he said at work anyway on a creative level, he would start a Bible study. At first, his invitation to staffers drew stares and chuckles, but it has grown into a weekly tradition among several staffers—some of whom started simply out of curiosity about whether Hartin would really go through with it. “Todd Redner, our senior animator, is part of my Bible study, and we have often talked about whether to take a show, based on immoral content, and keep 15 people employed, or turn it down and risk their jobs. It’s a bit tough because there’s definitely an area of trusting that God knows best,” Hartin says. “We’ve turned down a few shows based on content alone that got picked up elsewhere—and that’s not saying that our content is faithbased by any means. We have to decide how far we’re willing to go and when to take a stand.” So where does an animation producer in charge of a hit show draw the line when his show is in a time slot and on a network where almost anything goes? “I think that anything that sort of takes individual religions specifically and makes a mockery of it crosses the line,” Hartin says. “When content gets too graphic, we’ve been asked a few times to work on things that were very sexually driven, religion-based content with anger driving it and said no. But South Park cracks me up, because they take the approach that nothing is sacred. They will take anything and slam it, no matter what it is. But for me they’re not attacking one specific thing but the entire spectrum of content and language.” A devoted family man, Hartin keeps balance in his home life by making sure he’s home within a half-hour after the office shuts down. His goal each night is to have several hours available to play with his young kids, watch a movie with his wife and still find some time to jam on some video games alone late at night. His next goal is to develop some family-friendly content as well, a factor he’s contemplating via talks with new TV network Family Net. But aside from convincing a family station to consider material from his wild creative background, he also points out the dilemma often faced by Christian producers who want to have a good message yet don’t have the resources to entertain people on a competitive level with secular entertainment. “That’s one of the interesting things. I’ve approached them about making a faith-based cartoon, and my immediate concern was, how does my company’s content affect my ability to work with you?” Hartin says. “On the other hand, if your intent is to make a message-based show or movie, obviously the message is first and foremost. But, it’s gotta hit home with people visually, it can’t be poorly produced and put together because people are gonna pick up on that and think that faith material is not done as well. You simply can never compromise on quality.” a
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BY CARL KOZLOWSKI dreams of publishing a memoir of life on the streets, creating hip-hop CDs and designing his own clothing line. Some might scoff at those ambitions as shallow and stereotypical of young people whose lives in the ’hoods of L.A. and other cities expose them to few examples of growing up to be doctors or engineers. But whether displaying his surprisingly striking shirt designs or pouring his soul out while gently reading the opening passage of his eloquently written memoir, Shaka shows he’s a man of surprises who just needs a chance to succeed— and he says there are countless more young African-Americans just like him. For now, he’s blessed with the funds to survive and pursue his interests by also working with his childhood friend, Los Angeles Clippers star Baron Davis, who initiated the funding for Crips and Bloods. “It feels like we’re not even American citizens, we’re just ‘blacks’ to most of America,” he says, while pointing out that the very same white cop who just consulted with him inside the school was now detaining a group of black male students after school for the apparent offense of talking in numbers. “People don’t think of us in the same way, that we have the same rights. Yes, having the police around does make us safer sometimes, but how are you supposed to stay positive when you’re afraid to walk anywhere alone because someone may attack you, yet you get questioned or detained when you walk anywhere with a group? That’s the whole cycle of gangs—you join for safety, to make friends and have some male companionship when most fathers are out of the picture. The officers don’t really know us, they don’t rest their heads in our neighborhoods at night or know what our dreams and concerns and families are like.” The words spill out from Shaka in a torrent, his eyes riveted on his listener, but, as he himself notes, he is just one man attempting to fight an epidemic of violence that has plagued Los Angeles for the past 60 years and seems to grow worse each decade. According to Father Greg Boyle, a Catholic priest who founded Homeboy Industries, a series of businesses that train ex-gang members to develop skills that will pay their bills legitimately, there are more than 86,000 ’bangers in more than 1,100 gangs in L.A. County alone. “We’re the largest gang intervention program in the USA, with members of nearly 600 gangs walking through our doors here,” Boyle, who started his ministry in 1988, says. “We locate jobs for them, and
SHAKA WALKS UP TO THE SECURITY GUARD’S TABLE AT FREMONT HIGH SCHOOL IN SOUTH LOS ANGELES AND SIGNS IN AS A VISITOR. HE THEN FLOWS SMOOTHLY THROUGH THE HALLS OF HIS ALMA MATER AND ENTERS A SMALL ROOM THAT SERVES AS A CAMPUS POLICE CENTER, COMPLETE WITH THREE LAPD OFFICERS—ONE WHITE, ONE LATINO, ONE AFRICAN-AMERICAN—WHO SPEND EACH DAY TRYING TO ENSURE THAT THE SCHOOL’S TINDERBOX MIX OF RACES AND ETHNICITIES DOESN’T ERUPT INTO GANG VIOLENCE. ON THE WALL BEHIND THE LATINO OFFICER is a crisply hung poster of the 1993 cult classic Western, Tombstone, with several rugged actors sporting shotguns and pistols under the tagline “Justice Is Coming.” And with the arrival of Shaka, a tall and trim 29-year-old AfricanAmerican who’s also a reformed member of the Family Swan Bloods, an affiliate group of the notorious Bloods gang, that statement has just been bolstered. He comes in daily to help the cops reach the kids who are seemingly unreachable, and to talk them into one last shot at avoiding the court system and prison by doing the right thing in a world where they’re surrounded by wrong. Shaka is the man’s street name—he prefers not to divulge his legal name, due partly to the street cred he’s established with his adopted moniker, and partly out of concern that harm could come if people know too much about his “real” self. Elaborately decorated Ed Hardy jeans and a navy-blue camouflage-style dress shirt mask an array of tattoos not quite faded into his complexion, the contrast revealing the dual worlds he’s trapped between—his gangbanging past, which earned him three trips to the pen for slinging dope before he went straight five years ago, and his present as a voluntary gang interventionist seeking to atone for his past evils as a violent drug hustler. In his old life, the money flowed fast and easy; in his new one, he is unpaid by the LAPD or the schools, even though they can’t operate nearly as well without the dozens like him throughout Los Angeles County who have seen the light and are trying to light a path for others to follow. With the release of the incisive new documentary Crips and Bloods: Made in America, which recently had a limited theater release and will soon be released on DVD, Shaka has found validation as one of the primary interview subjects in the film, taking pride in showing that there’s a better way to live than thugging, while also inspiring his own
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we have five businesses where enemies work side by side with each other: a bakery, restaurants, a silk-screening plant, maintenance and landscaping. It just sort of evolved over the years, with first a school and then a jobs program, then the bakery, and now we also offer tattoo removal with two machines and 10 rotating doctors.” Boyle started Homeboy while stationed as a pastor at Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights from 1986 to 1992. His parish, one of the poorest in the city, had eight gangs and L.A.’s highest level of gang activity. “You could either keep your head in the sand or do something about it. There were mostly Latinos and only one African-American gang in the area,” Boyle says. “It’s still primarily Latinos that come here, merely because I hand out my card at masses and only Catholics come to the masses.” Boyle recalls that his parishioners were skeptical and unhappy in the beginning of his gang efforts, when ex-members started attending church and receiving other services there. But, he notes: “The gang members were never the problem. They never are. It’s more the people demonizing them from the outside.” Operating on a $3.5 million annual budget, raised not from church funds but from foundations, fundraising and the profits of the Homeboy businesses themselves, Boyle has been able to help thousands of ex-bangers over the years. Far from depending on charity from the diocese, Boyle and his young staffers are proud that parishes are now frequent customers, comprising a large portion of their 1,900-strong customer base. “There’s no defined period of time that folks stay here, but it helps them when they get out of prison or when they immediately decide to redirect their lives,” Boyle says. “I don’t know many people that do all the stuff we do. It’s a rehab center for people who wanna redirect themselves.” Shaka decided to redirect himself while undergoing a harrowing crisis of conscience that nearly drove him mad five years ago. While he grew up in a stable home with both parents in which he said he acted perfect inside the house but “turned into an animal on the streets, changing every day like a chameleon,” Shaka went deep into the dealing lifestyle once he finished high school. “There was so much violence I got caught up in, and it never seemed to go away, whether I was doing it or being around it and seeing it everywhere,” he says. “I finally started going crazy because I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and for like five days I was having my life flash before me without physically being in danger of dying.” He finally emerged from the darkness, due to turning to God and his girlfriend Chrystal, a vibrant presence who has been with Shaka for six years and shares with him two young sons—Jaiden, 4, and Jaison, five months—and a small but well-kept pink stucco house. “Jaiden was a result of that madness, because my girl kept calming me down by telling me she loved me and making love,” he recalls. “We’ve been together a long time. I want to set a good example to younger guys in the neighborhood that you stick with your kids and be there for them. When I came out of that madness, I started going to church, when I’d never been religious before.” As he works tirelessly to quell tensions and set standards for the younger black men coming up through Fremont and other area schools, Shaka has to be fluid in his interactions. As a Latino student sits forlornly in the school police room after being busted for actually rolling marijuana in class, the LAPD officers are threatening the juvenile joint-maker with a trip through the courts, probation and community
service—or, if he’s lucky, settling the incident with just a hefty dose of community service without marks on his criminal record. The student plays nonchalant, but worry is clearly etched in his eyes. Shaka steps in, describing the terms of the deal with a little more slang and the forceful concern of an older brother. “I know what I’d do if I was you,” he says, as the kid looks at him inquisitively. “I’d take the community service, no strings attached.” The kid complies; negotiations have ended, problem solved. Stepping outside afterward, Shaka says he makes that kind of quick impact on youths because they know he’s been down the long road to prison over and over. Before he leaves for the day, the LAPD officers ask him to negotiate a meeting between them and a particularly troubled young man and his mother because the school had just pulled his file for a last-chance expulsion warning. When he sees Michael, the student in jeopardy, smoking with friends outside after school, Shaka pulls Michael out of the pack and warns him how close he has come to expulsion and the courts, saying: “It doesn’t have to be something specific. It’s a ton of little things adding up, and they don’t want you there anymore unless you shape up.” Michael agrees to a meeting with his mom and the officials, and Shaka’s back in his cousin’s car. It’s a stark drive through the neighborhood. He points out a house where a young man on a college basketball scholarship just got shot in the legs nine times by a gang simply for sitting outside in his car. These are the things that never seem to get better. And yet the only way they can get better is if the residents of neighborhoods like this can be treated like everyone else, and be seen as everyday people. Shaka pulls up on another block to introduce the “other hard-working honest people, and the moms that look out for the kids of the neighborhood.” One man is hooking up an elaborate stereo system for a client’s car, two moms come by, surprised and glad to see a white face taking the time to listen and meet folks in the area. “Don’t forget about us” is a refrain that’s heard repeatedly. That unexpected warmth and friendliness flies in the face of the violent and dangerous image South L.A. neighborhoods are often saddled with. Crips and Bloods director Stacy Peralta, who first achieved notoriety as a pro skateboarder and director of the skateboarding documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, says he was shaken by the same positive feelings.“It’s not what I had expected. I never had anybody give me a bad time and always had people being forthright and say thanks for making the film,” Peralta recalls. “Then they’d say, ‘Don’t just disappear, come back to our community, be a part of it.’ They’re hungry for connection, hungry to be a part of the world, because in a sense they’re not.” Even more striking for Peralta was the effect he had on interviewees when he took them from their neighborhoods to a calm studio for in-depth questioning. “People who struck me strongly, I’d bring them to another location where they could really sit down in a secure location and have a long talk without having to look over their shoulder,” Peralta explains. “They commented on being somewhere safe, saying, ‘It’s nice to be somewhere I don’t have to think about something happening or someone giving me a hard time for being in the wrong place.’ “It’s really a tragedy that’s going on in this country and that, in a sense, it’s going on in secret. People always say after seeing the movie, ‘I didn’t know this was still going on’ or ‘that it’s going on so close to us,’ and so it just goes on and on every day.” a
—FATHER GREG BOYLE
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By Ryan Hamm david stith
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My Brightest Diamond has always traveled in musical circles that stretch them, while bringing together numerous creative strains to inform and strengthen their music. On either of their albums, Bring Me the Workhorse and A Thousand Shark’s Teeth, you can hear influences from baroque-pop, opera, electronica, jazz, Tom Waits-esque stomping and growling, and minimalism. My Brightest Diamond is headed by Shara Worden, whose bio is as diverse as her music. Granddaughter of a traveling musical evangelist and daughter of two transient musicians, perhaps it was inevitable that Worden would play music with such a seemingly random pedigree: Worden has a degree in opera, has appeared on a hip-hop album by the Jedi Mind Tricks and first came into national prominence as a member of the Illinoisemakers, Sufjan Stevens’ touring band. People who saw Stevens’ Illinois tour may remember the person at the keyboard whose voice mixed so well with Stevens’, and who would occasionally rip off her own intense solos. So it wasn’t surprising when Worden signed to Stevens’ label, Asthmatic Kitty, to release Bring Me the Workhorse, her debut album as My Brightest Diamond. Well-received by critics and audiences, it also gave her an outlet to showcase her hard-to-label music. “I think my music has roots in soul music, and not so much in rock,” she says. “I think that soul music or even R&B is basically a voice and rhythm. I don’t identify with rock and folk. I’ve come to rock music, but I didn’t grow up with it—I started listening to the Led Zeppelin catalog two years ago. I feel very young in the knowledge of rock.” That might explain why, at any given My Brightest Diamond show, Worden covers everything from Nina Simone to, yes, Led Zeppelin. My Brightest Diamond has built a reputation for ably bringing all of its disparate influences into a coherent sound. And they’ve continued a heavy touring schedule, from headlining tours to supporting slots with The Decemberists. Worden even appears on The Decemberists’ latest album, the loveit-or-hate-it Hazards of Love (that’s her as The Queen). And her second album with My Brightest Diamond, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth, made the band’s genrebending impulses more obvious as the record traipsed from skewed chamber pop to trip-hop and back again. Truly, Worden’s output as My Brightest Diamond and her work on others’ albums or tours have made her difficult to pin down—and she seems to like it that way. “I’m not very concerned with staying anywhere stylistically,” she says. “And I think you have to prepare people for that.” Further complicating the effort to figuring out just what “kind” of music My Brightest Diamond makes are the remix projects. The first of these efforts was Tear It Down, remixes of Workhorse. While an overall solid album and a good showcase of Worden’s voice, the album felt uneven and incoherent. So when it came time to remix Shark’s Teeth, Worden and her label decided to approach things differently—instead of one album, they decided to release four EPs over a longer period of time. “I loved Tear it Down, but it was kind of all over the spectrum since it was more of a compilation,” Worden says. “The idea behind these EPs is to develop an idea over a 20-minute period—to set tone and mood.” Each of the EPs is helmed by a different remixer—Alfred Brown, DM Stith, Son Lux, and Roberto Carlos Lange. The first EP (from Alfred Brown) was released in October; the second, from Son Lux, came out in January. The third EP, helmed by Roberto Carlos Lange, was released in March, and DM Stith’s will be released later this year. “The Shark remixers are all my friends,” Worden says. “I guess I’m a very relational person. DM Stith does all my artwork, and he sings on Thousand Shark’s Teeth. I’ve worked with him really extensively through a lot of different things.” It’s obvious from the get-go that the hopes for more coherent projects has paid off. Since each remixer has been given full conceptual
reign over a complete EP, each of them is able to leave their unique stamp on their mini-album. Of course, tying all of these EPs together is the voice. Worden’s opera-trained voice lends itself remarkably well to remixes—maybe it’s those roots in soul music. For such a powerful instrument, its ability to be transformed and sculpted by other artists is remarkable. It’s strange (though admirable) that even taken out of context, Worden’s vocals hold up as strong, soothing, threatening, powerful or searching—and sometimes all of these at the same time. Her vocals are always the highlight of her own records, and they remain the highlight of the remixes. One of the most unique voices in indie-pop is made even more unique by hearing her in someone else’s context and thoughts. In fact, being pulled out of her own context is one of the things Worden appreciates most about having her music remixed. “When you give your stuff over to someone, it’s a complete surrendering of an outcome. The only control is who you choose,” Worden says. “I enjoy that, because, especially with Shark’s Teeth, I’m engrossed on a microscopic level—so it’s really freeing to let it go and see how other people have treated this material. What did they keep and what did they change, and what might I have changed about how I might have handled something differently? It’s a stimulating process because you’re allowing someone to come into your world and rearrange the furniture and you’re like, ‘Oh, I never would have thought of that.’ A way to grow is to open yourself up to collaboration in a lot of different ways.” Worden says she didn’t have a hard time with other people making such drastic choices about songs she’d created. “I think I would have felt that way if someone would’ve walked in during the recording of Shark’s Teeth, and gone, ‘You should do this or that.’ I would have felt more protective over the initial recording, but once it’s done, you can let go. There’s definitely an interaction with the musicians; if it goes somewhere you didn’t expect it to go, that’s exciting. The remixes are a way of being able to say, ‘What else can be done?’ Letting go is good. And it ties you less to genre.” Worden seems to have been successful in opening her work up to outside collaborators. It’s obvious each of these artists has taken to heart the idea of the remix—to take something already great and to make it their own—and that Worden has given her blessing. “In terms of direct collaboration, there was very little—on Tear It Down I re-sang some things, and I was more involved, but I didn’t do that on these EPs,” Worden says. “Most of my comments were about the ways the songs were mastered. Things are mastered in electronic music with a lot of compression and lot more high-end sound. “The forms in which we listen to music—iPod headphones or in the car—don’t allow for the dynamics that are possible. It’s annoying from a musical standpoint—dynamics are a really important part of expression. I mastered Shark’s Teeth at a 1992 volume level, and it was a real debate. It was like, ‘Wow, it’s not going to be as loud,’ and the impression you get is, ‘Oh, it’s not as good.’ But I was going to have to sacrifice too much to get it up to competitive volume.” Worden also sees a real advantage in the new models of remixing being touted by artists like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails. “Back in the day, I bought all these singles, and there would be different remixes or a b-side included with a remix,” Worden says. “It was an extra fan thing. But now, we’ve gone away from looking at a recording as a final product. Our relationship to the recording has changed, because it’s no longer an object—it’s malleable. We’re no longer quite as attached to recordings as objects. This thing we [as artists] have invested years of our lives in isn’t what we can hold on to anymore. We have to figure out a way to establish a connection with the people who listen to our music and build that relationship. Music is about connection and finding ways to facilitate that is really cool.” a
“Our relationship to the recording has changed, because it’s no longer an object— it’s malleable.”
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Abortion reduction The New discussion in America’s Most Vicious Debate By Jonathan Merritt
If the abortion debate had a tagline, it might go something like this: Dividing America Since 1973. That was the year of Roe v. Wade, a landmark Supreme Court case, which legalized socalled “abortion-on-demand” in the United States. From that decision until today, abortion has been a battleground for those fighting the culture wars. Perhaps no social or political issue produces more anger, more animosity and more anguish. Just utter the word “abortion” in mixed company and see if it doesn’t ignite fiery arguments without warning. Today, about 42 percent of Americans call themselves “pro-choice” and 51 percent call themselves “pro-life.” It is an ideological stalemate. But despite most Americans’ personal passion on the issue, many seem tired of the debate itself. The sound bytes are worn out and the rhetoric is often devoid of basic civility. “I think there is a lot of frustration that we don’t try harder to find common ground on abortion, and I think that there is some common ground even among many irreconcilable differences,” says Ron Sider, pro-life author of The Scandal of Evangelical Politics. “In general, there is a longing for people who listen to others who disagree with them and debate respectfully despite major differences.” Sider
and others like him believe that establishing this common ground will allow for progress while our current abortion laws exist. Surprisingly, there are many commonalities on abortion among Americans. According to a 2009 Gallup poll, even though most Americans soundly reject the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade, a whopping 71 percent of Americans support some form of limits on abortion. And according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 66 percent of Americans support finding “a middle ground on abortion laws.” In other words, despite the polarized extremes that dominate the cable news networks, most Americans are hungry for common ground. Out of this hunger, pro-life Christians and pro-choice political progressives have struck a partnership. Their goal is to reduce the need for and occurrences of abortions in America, and their strategy includes providing additional aid for expectant mothers,
increased access to contraception for low-income women and greater incentives for adoption. The “abortion reduction agenda,” as it’s called, is a new angle on America’s most vicious debate, and one that resonates with individuals on both sides of the issue. “Americans are tired of the rancor and name-calling. It has not only become non-productive, but it has almost become boring,” says Joel Hunter, an abortion reduction proponent and pro-life pastor of the Northland megachurch in suburban Orlando. “People are not weary of the cause, but they are tired of the debate itself. Since overturning Roe v. Wade is not realistic in the foreseeable future, if you’re pro-life, you have to find different ways to combat abortion. I’ve always been a person that thinks that employing many methods toward the same goal is more effective than employing one method. Any progress we can make is still progress.” Indeed, there is progress just in the breadth of support for the reduction agenda. On the one hand, conservatives like Randy Brinson of Redeem the Vote and Richard Mouw of Fuller Theological Seminary support the agenda. On the other hand, progressives like Jim Wallis of Sojourners and Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism support it.
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* define yourself
When pressed, most Americans do not fall simply or cleanly into either the category “pro-life” or “prochoice.” There are many nuances that can only be fleshed out with a broader range of questions. When asked if abortion should be legal under specific circumstances, American opinion varies:
B IF THE MOTHER’S LIFE IS ENDANGERED
B WHEN THE PREGNANCY WAS CAUSED BY RAPE OR INCEST
B WHEN THE WOMAN’S MENTAL HEALTH IS AT RISK
B WHEN THE BABY HAS A FATAL BIRTH DEFECT
B WHEN EVIDENCE THE BABY MAY BE MENTALLY IMPAIRED
B WHEN THE FAMILY CANNOT AFFORD TO RAISE THE CHILD
B IN THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF PREGNANCY
B IN THE SECOND THREE MONTHS OF PREGNANCY
B IN THE LAST THREE MONTHS OF PREGNANCY
Sources: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll (March 2006); Time/CNN Poll (Jan. 2003)
Still, not everyone is equally enthusiastic. Some all-or-nothing advocates from both the right and left have responded with disdain. The founder of the Pro-Life Action League called abortion reduction a “sell out” and Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee called it the “burial ground” for the pro-life movement. Progressive writer Frank Clarkston claimed that the movement is rooted in “anti-abortion tactics” while Sarah Posner wrote in The American Prospect that it’s “incrementalism masquerading as progressivism.” This past March, Christianity Today published an unusually pejorative article, “Reducing Abortion for Real,” that criticized the agenda while barely recognizing that, as a result of abortion reduction policies at the state level, the abortion rate is at the lowest level since 1974. It also criticized a piece of legislation for which abortion reductionists don’t even advocate. In it, Russell Moore, dean
of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, compared abortion reduction partnerships to “civil rights activists joining hands with pro-lynching vigilantes in … early 20th century America to reduce the number of lynchings through better funding of segregated African-American school systems.” Some might claim this is the type of language of which Americans are wearying, but Moore stands by the comparison and the level of rhetoric employed. He says the issue must be polarized in order to achieve progress. He adds that pro-life Christians “are preaching a message of life in a culture that grinds up infants and incinerates them in bags marked ‘medical waste.’ We’re proclaiming that every person is valuable and wanted in a world that buries the powdered bones of fetuses beneath landscapes we’re clearing to build more storage sheds for our excess stuff. If our churches will preach a gospel of life, we will have to show ourselves to be
those who love babies more than money, who love persons more than orgasms.” Abortion reduction proponents take exception with guilt-by-association comparisons as well as the idea that this common ground requires compromise. “A commitment to abortion reduction represents a tactical decision about the best political manifestation for the church’s unapologetic witness regarding the sanctity of all life,” says Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, who works to bring life issues to bear on foreign policy as director of the Two Futures Project. “To get things done in our deeply divided republic, people who disagree have to work together. Unfortunately, some Christians with a vested political interest in wedge issues seem to care more about the volume of their own polemic than they do about saving actual people—and that prevents a lot of the good that brothers and sisters could accomplish if freed from fear of demonization.” “The criticisms of abortion reduction strategies are an extension of the archaic modus operandi of the Christian right,” adds Samuel Rodriguez, an abortion reduction supporter and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “It is a political ideology rather than a religious ethos ideology. The religious right became a de facto extension of the Republican party. As a result, anyone who is moved to work with those outside of that party is seen as acquiescing. I get attacked from the extreme right and they say I am selling out, and yet I am more committed to our values than ever. We can find common ground without compromising any of our core values.” Despite the naysayers, most Americans support an abortion reduction agenda. According to a 2008 poll by Public Religion Research, 83 percent of all voters agreed that “elected leaders on both sides of the abortion debate should work together to find ways to reduce the number of abortions by enacting policies that help prevent unintended pregnancies, expand adoption and increase economic support for women who wish to carry their pregnancies to term.” The poll found similar percentages among “pro-life” voters, white evangelicals and Catholics. “You don’t have just one side talking about it anymore,” Hunter says. “You have reasonable pro-life people and pro-choice people—including those in power—talking about it.” Hunter is a credible voice on what powerful people are talking about. He sits on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. While delivering Notre Dame’s commencement address this year, Obama’s speech seemed to indicate Hunter is right. “Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heartwrenching decision for any woman to make,
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with both moral and spiritual dimensions,” the president said. “So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and
once he makes a promise, he does everything he can to fulfill that promise. And he has made a promise to work toward abortion reduction.” If Obama fulfills this promise, it could revolutionize the conversation. There are
the unborn. Simply saying we’re “pro-life” and voting accordingly is not enough—it’s the easy way out. The hard work is translating belief into action, putting feet to our faith, transcending rhetoric and seeking solutions.
THE HARD WORK IS TRANSLATING BELIEF INTO ACTION, PUTTING FEET TO OUR FAITH, TRANSCENDING RHETORIC AND SEEKING SOLUTIONS. providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term.” Commenting on the president’s position, Joshua Dubois, executive director for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, told me that “President Obama understands that this is a difficult issue with strong perspectives on both sides. However, he believes that even on tough issues there can be areas of common ground.” The president’s opponents, however, don’t buy what Obama and his staff are selling. They claim this is mere lip service from a president who has done nothing but push a pro-choice agenda since he took office in January. Bolstering their skepticism is the president’s staggering record. First, Obama repealed the Mexico City policy, which opened up American funding for international organizations that discuss, advocate and provide abortions. This proved to be the most unpopular decision of Obama’s first 100 days. Next, the president revoked the “provider refusal” rule, which supposedly protected any healthcare professional from being forced to provide services like abortion that violated their consciences. Then, Obama nominated Kathleen Sebelius to serve as head of the Department of Health and Human Services. Sebelius is pro-choice and a Catholic, who has been condemned by her bishop for her positions. Her nomination served to replace Obama’s first nomination of the strongly pro-choice Tom Daschle. Finally, Obama reversed the Bush policy on embryonic stem cell research, which will permit the destruction of untold numbers of embryos in the name of science. This record doesn’t scream “bridge-builder” and leaves many people skeptical about Obama’s sincerity. Yet in the face of all this, Christians can still have hope for and work toward lifeaffirming, abortion reduction policies under this administration. Obama is speaking about this in ways that are unprecedented for a pro-choice president. He has begun to refer to the unborn as “children” rather than “fetuses.” And he has surrounded himself with pro-life advisors. “The bottom line is that there is a lot of pressure inside his administration to get something done on this,” Hunter says. “He has fulfilled to our disappointment some of his campaign promises. But one thing about President Obama is that
powerful implications to abortion reduction. For those who support abortion rights, it gives them a moral umbrella under which to stand. For those of us who are pro-life, it says our position is more than just the sum of our talking points. We must now begin working with people who are on the ground—real people in real communities—to do all we can to protect
Finding common ground while still working to completely abolish abortion is something all pro-lifers should agree on. While our current laws exist, why not work to save lives? As Hunter says, “People who in the past have only been concerned with women’s rights to choose are now willing to talk about reduction. I think that is a Godsend.” 2
* THE AGENDA
> If the president is serious about working on a common ground
abortion agenda, there must be clear markers for success supported by a substantial portion of the population. Here are some policies recommended by the abortion reduction proponents interviewed for this article: + CLEAR, FOCUSED CONSCIENCE CLAUSE
In his speech at Notre Dame, the president said, “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause.” Eighty-seven percent of American adults agree it is important to protect healthcare professionals from having to perform “procedures and practices to which they have moral objections.”
+ INCREASED SUPPORT FOR ADOPTION
We should make adoption as easy and advantageous as possible. This might include expanding the adoption tax credit, increasing grants for adoption agencies and supporting adoption services at group homes for pregnant women.
+ MORE SUPPORT FOR EXPECTANT MOTHERS
We should give a woman every reason to choose life. Since women ages 25 and younger account for about half of all abortions, we should increase support for pregnant mothers who are in school and provide resources to help parents better communicate the dangers of sexual promiscuity with their children. We must also prohibit insurance providers from classifying pregnancy as a pre-existing condition and expand Medicaid coverage of mothers and babies.
+ AVAILABILITY OF CONTRACEPTION FOR LOW-INCOME WOMEN
Low-income women are less likely to purchase contraception and much more likely to have an abortion. While we should be careful not to encourage promiscuity, and we believe that the case for abstinence is compelling, we should also not expect the majority of a non-Christian society to live like Christians. Perhaps most controversial, this is critical to addressing the epidemic among America’s poor.
+ SEXUAL EDUCATION WITH ABSTINENCE EMPHASIS
The president is on record supporting a comprehensive educational approach with an abstinence focus that teaches “the sacredness of sexuality to our children.” This is an ideal way to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
+ INFORMED CONSENT LAW This may be a tough sell for pro-choice groups, but we must remember the mother is not the only one who is affected when a women becomes pregnant. Though we must guard the safety of a mother in the case of incest, bringing parents and fathers into the decision is both commonsensical and right. Not to mention, 88 percent of Americans support it.
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THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD OF
K’NAAN BY ANTHONY BARR-JEFFREY
IN 2005, CANADIAN-SOMALI singer/songwriter Kanaan Warsame—aka K’Naan—released his major label debut, The Dusty Foot Philosopher. He followed in 2007 with the widely regarded Dusty Foot on the Road. Today, K’Naan is enjoying critical acclaim for his latest venture, Troubadour. Notice a theme yet? Translated into English, K’Naan’s name means “traveler,” and he has more than lived up to that in life and sound. He was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, a city appropriately nicknamed “Doomsday,” in a district known as “The Lake of Blood.” Escaping an increasingly unlivable situation, K’Naan’s parents and family were able to catch the last flight out of Somalia before the country broke into civil war in 1991. Following a stay in Harlem, N.Y., where his father drove taxis to make ends meet, K’Naan’s family found a home in the Rexdale section of Toronto, Canada. Interestingly, one of K’Naan’s first big breaks came after he stood before a U.N. council and fearlessly dropped incendiary political rhymes that took the U.N. to task for failed aid to Somalia. What followed was a global tour with world-beat legend Youssou N’Dour and a blossoming career. K’Naan’s musical versatility has helped his career along. His music is a fluid, earthy mix of hip-hop, reggae, pop, rock and insightful lyrics. Troubadour is unique in that K’Naan takes the influences of African icon Fela Kuti, Tupac, Bob Marley and South African reggae dancehall legend Lucky Dube, and shapes them with the help of Canadian production team Track & Field (Nelly Furtado, Stacie Orrico) into something friendly to Western radio. Troubadour maintains an organic flow, even though it’s peppered with a crazy array of cameos, including longtime friend Damian Marley, early ’90s hip-hop rapper Chubb Rock, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett, multi-hyphenate star Mos Def and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. Since that kind of eclecticism is often relegated to the bargain bin, one wonders if K’Naan ever worries about anyone asking him to “pick a sound.” “This is how people came to know me,” he says. “It would be pretty strange if [the music industry] wanted me to be something else. They heard me and they know exactly who I am. “I’ve always let my experiences and who I am be at the forefront of things, and let that guide me. All the mixes and traditions and truths will come out without my employing it to come out. The mix of things in me is so real that it will come out as something different, rather than a fragmentation of influences. If I’m going to be pigeonholed, it will be for not being able to be pigeonholed.” He’s very determined to make music his way. “We all want success, but I’m particular about success in that I only want it if it’s on my terms,” he says. “For instance, when a track like ‘Wavin’ Flag’ gets on U.S. radio and hopefully has some success on radio, it’s not because the song was made for radio,” he says. “That track was made for inspiring people. It just so happens that it will be inspiring people on the radio. That’s how I see my music. It’s never really going to come to satisfy you, you kind of have to come to it.” His genuine attitude shines through in his music—especially on tracks
like “15 Minutes Away,” in which K’naan, a Muslim, apologizes to his grandmother because he “forgets to pray”—but he is grounded in a way that doesn’t sound or feel put on. He avoids the trappings of fame by intentionally putting things in perspective—especially when it comes to the state of his home country. “You have to look at [success] from many angles—the industry, artistically, personally—and the current status of my country,” he says. “In some ways, I have come a long way. It’s amazing that people are connecting to the music and we are breaking through. But in other [ways], we see that not much has changed in Somalia.” The sentiment is made even more sobering in light of the recent violence in Mogadishu and highprofile press given to Somali coastal piracy. Knowing Somalia can seem distant to those who only see it on television, K’Naan contrasts children in the U.S. and those in Somalia: “A kid who becomes a drug dealer [in the U.S.] knows the glory. He may be poor, but he knows the glory of someone who may be getting something out of being drug dealers. He looks up to them and wants to be like them. “The same is true of a young boy who sees pirates of Somalia sailing out in the oceans. However, a lot of these young boys who get thrown into the ocean and become pirates, they are young men who fought in the streets all their lives. These are kids who fought as guns for hire. These are the kids that journalists meet at the airport to be their guardsmen. They are willing to take a bullet just to eat. That kind of survival is one that no one in the world should have to go through.” In addition to being a natural-born activist, traveler, philosopher and artist, K’Naan is also equal parts style maven, comedian and storyteller. Dressed like a walking Benetton ad, K’Naan is irresistible as his fun-loving, high-pitched flow bounces around the art of dating the “pick up” on “Bang Bang.” Equally engaging, K’Naan quietly breaks hearts with the Slumdog Millionaire-like story of “Fatima.” Given his broad palette of lyrics and music, it’s not surprising that he may switch mediums to fully convey his vision. K’Naan says that he “would eventually like to write a book and work on films, but for now the music is the focus.” Right now he is on the road, touring with fellow culture iconoclast Matisyahu, and next he has a stint with hip-hop’s premiere international festival, Rock the Bells. K’Naan admits to feeling a little nervous about Rock the Bells because he believes his music may be more eclectic than most of the artists playing. Yet, he will be one of the only truly international artists on the international tour. With a multicultural viewpoint, K’Naan is able to infuse his music with activism and awareness without it feeling forced, and he’s able to bring that unique worldview to a worldwide audience. But, just as his music doesn’t stay contained to one category, he hopes to share his thoughts with a larger audience than just one genre. “I hope that the music, and my choices on how I reflect myself and my music, have a reach within and outside of hip-hop,” he says. To that end, K’Naan plans on continuing to travel the world—kicking up dust and rhymes along the way.
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PT. 1 OF A SERIES
THE ARTS THROUGH THE EYES OF THE ARTISTS
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MIKE CINA is the co-founder of the design firm YouWorkForThem and currently runs their Minneapolis, Minn., studio. YouWorkForThem clients have included Fox Sports, Coke, Microsoft, MTV, Adobe and Apple. Cina is a well-known leader in his field and continues to advance his own skills as he learns more about design and art—taking new cues from Bauhaus, modernism and Swiss design. Here, Cina identifies eight artists who are inspiring him and pointing the way for the future of design.
“INSPIRATION IS SOMETHING THAT SHOULD HAPPEN EVERY DAY AND CHANGE YOU SLOWLY THROUGH TIME. LIKE CARVING A STATUE OF SORTS.” —MIKE CINA MY CAREER REALLY STARTED in early 1996 with my first website about design. I was one of a dozen graphic designers who had a miniscule website online; there was very little bandwidth to do much of anything. It was an exciting time—it seemed like every month something new was going on with technology. And now, in 2009, it feels that way again. There are so many new technologies popping up right now. It’s hard to explain ... but I’m excited once more. Being the owner of a company that invests so heavily in the visual arts, it’s essential that I follow what’s going on. I feel privileged to be surrounded with such talent and inspiration. With the good, comes the bad, though. These days it seems everyone is or can be a “designer.” Visual noise floods the market. Instead of looking at image blogs, I find myself focusing on quality work that I have to dig deep to find. Work that says something, inspires, informs and educates. Our focus and attention is so important in these days of visual pollution, it’s essential that I spend my valuable time on things that have redeeming quality.
Graphic design is a powerful tool. It changes the way we see things. It changes society. Companies (and people) spend a lot of their time and budgets to make sure their brand is spotless, and they need the help of graphic designers to give them “the face” they want. We are used for both good and bad. It’s important to be aware that design is another tool for communication and influence. Lately, I’ve had an overwhelming excitement about the world of design and art. I don’t know exactly why, but I find myself wanting to read and buy art and design books as of late. I’m reading almost 10 books right now, which is unusual for me. I’m working longer hours and starting to paint again. There are a few artists who are really inspiring me in this season. RELEVANT asked me to put together a list of these artists—to showcase the work they’re doing. My tastes are eclectic, so there’s a lot of variety. I have picked people whom I feel represent what is going on now and what I see for the future. It’s an honor to give more light to these talented artists.
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TRAVIS STEARNS Art, Design and Typography http://iammintcondition.com/ I first saw Travis’ site, I Am Mint Condition, linked up in 2005. His work was rough, but you could tell he had a strong understanding of language and communication, and was also well-versed in literature and creative writing. It was this versatility that spilled out into his work, in the odd imagery that called up moods and feelings. It’s what drew me into his work. He’s grown a lot over the years, and it’s great seeing him do work now that’s not commercial, but is still high quality. You don’t find that very often. I think it’s because he’s interested in other things besides graphic design. He captures what I think the visual arts needs more of: visuals and content that work together to actually speak.
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Modernist Color Workings http://kunstformen.blogspot.com/ Andy’s work pretty much blew up on the design scene this year as soon as he got linked up by the blogs. Everyone seemed to want to know “how he did it,” but really it doesn’t matter. Andy has tapped the souls of Bauhaus color theorists and minimal modern artists of the past. He also can draw pretty dang well on top of it all. It has been great to go to his site and see his new workings. I like how he works in a style, but explores a lot of different approaches. Many people get caught up in being a one trick pony (one thing I am not a fan of and the fastest way to become popular), but he really digs deep and does interesting work, again and again.
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Art, Design and Typography http://www.joshboston.com I have a lot of friends who do great work and inspire me in many ways. I chose Josh Boston for a couple of reasons. He has a great creative mind, and his taste is sharp as a razor. He understands how language and images work together to communicate. I envy his ability to think about things the way he does. Itâ€™s always a pleasure seeing what he does in his personal work and how he incorporates his faith in his art.
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Conceptual and Visual Artist, Jack of All Trades http://www.lab404.com/ Where do I even begin with Curt? He has to be the hardest person to write about. Curt is an author, programmer, artist, philosopher, musician, teacher, designer and so many other things. He’s extremely bright and always has the most interesting and inspiring things to talk about. Curt is extremely passionate about design, the arts and Christ—and he’s prolific on each topic.
Design and Film. Documentary. http://flannel.org/ I found out about Flannel when I saw one of Rob Bell’s videos. The first thing I noticed was the amazing photography, abstract logo and clean use of type. The video used strong metaphors and visual language. You could tell these people knew their stuff. Each year I would see a video or two of theirs and always wonder, who are these people? Finally I looked them up. Their use of imagery and language is very precise and manicured, while remaining somewhat raw in structure. The stories they tell are direct, easy to understand, full of content and creative.
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STUDIO NEWWORK Typography and Design
http://www.newworkmag.com Studio NewWork is a somewhat ubiquitous presence in the world of design. Most of their work is heavily linked to the fashion world in NYC. But they have a love for lo-fi printing output. It’s somewhat poetic to see a beautiful layout printed on disposable output. Keeping with this format, they self-publish a newsprint magazine called NewWork that feeds from their sources of inspiration.
Typography and Clear Communication http://www.flickr.com/photos/secondscout/ In many ways, Matthew’s work is almost an echo of the past, but it’s also very “now.” His typography is simple and to the point. His use of color really is what makes everything come together and pop. The work is extremely simple and may even look too basic for some people, but it’s just the right amount of everything. Matthew could be making a large paycheck working for some large design firm, but he’s being true to his beliefs and doing work for a higher purpose in ministry. You don’t come across people like this too often.
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MAKOTO FUJIMURA Art: artist/cultural catalyst http://www.makotofujimura.com A friend told me about Makoto’s work and his organization, International Arts Movement, in 2008. I really appreciated his use of color and abstract form to convey emotion and feelings. His name kept coming up, and recently I bought his book Refractions and am almost finished with it. What I admire most about Makoto is that he could “just” be an amazing artist, but, he’s also uniting people through International Arts Movement. Being an outsider in any profession can make you feel like you’re alone and on top of that, you have to figure out everything on your own. Being in the arts can be lonely and being someone who follows a religious path can possibly be the most isolated one can get in a profession. Makoto is helping bridge this gap with his writings and organization. This year I also started painting again and his work is very inspiring in form, content, quality and thought.
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DRASTIC TIMES CALL FOR SIMPLE MEASURES BY SHANNON KELLEY your hat on,” she says. “So people are searching for different kinds of answers and maybe turning away from the consumption model of fulfillment.” But opting out of the consumerist, materialistic values system is a tough decision to come to, because it runs counter to American culture. “I think all of us at some level are fighting this beast that’s in our culture that says to buy, spend, bigger, newer, shinier,” Foster says. “Those sorts of values are engrained in us in a big way.” The idea that American culture feeds materialism comes up over and over. And it’s a pretty tough one to argue with, says Ryan Kellermeyer, who recently embarked on a happiness-giving quest he’s calling SimpleSizeMe. “From the first time we turn on Sesame Street, we’re trained to buy. There’s this idea that you’re always on the verge of satisfaction through the purchase of another item or service. You’re just not. Maybe we would rather live in a world where we’re all trained to give happiness.” Kellermeyer eats only what the world’s poor do—a cup of rice a day—and uses the attention this undertaking garners to raise money to feed them. The idea first occurred to him when he saw the movie Super Size Me, but it really took root last summer, when he was forced to reevaluate his relationship with money, after receiving two job offers for more than three times what he was making at his job as a fundraiser for a community center in Philadelphia. “Ultimately, I decided that I feel God has called me to this neighborhood and the work I do here,” he says. “I just needed to figure out a better way to live on the salary I get here.” Helping him along was a shift in perspective that occurred when he stumbled upon a website called globalrichlist.com,
TWENTY YEARS AGO, IF YOU’D HAVE TOLD WANDA URBANSKA, HOST OF PBS’ SIMPLE LIVING WITH WANDA URBANSKA AND WIDELY CONSIDERED ONE OF THE PIONEERS OF THE VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY MOVEMENT, THAT IN 2009, IT WOULDN’T BE TOO FAR OFF THE MARK TO CALL “VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY” TRENDY, SHE’D HAVE LAUGHED. “I HAD THE IDEA FOR WRITING A BOOK on simple living and I went to my literary agent in New York—this was the booming ‘80s, ’88 or ’89—and I remember very clearly one comment someone made: ‘Who in the world would have any interest in reading a book about simple living?’” They told Urbanska if she really wanted to write a book about it, to go ahead and put a proposal together, and, along with her husband Frank Levering, that’s exactly what she did. Viking Penguin commissioned the book, and it became Simple Living: One Couple’s Search for a Better Life, which was published in 1992, and is still in print today. And today, that movement is having a moment, benefiting from a set of circumstances that might be described as a perfect storm. There’s the new president and his resonant message of change; there’s the environment, and our collectively increasing consciousness of how our way of life does it harm; and then, there’s the economy, stupid. The days of easy credit, upgrading, keeping up with the Joneses and conspicuous consumption are over. And like all endings, this one brings with it a great potential for a new beginning—and a new perspective. The idea that the best things in life aren’t things is striking a chord in mainstream America, to the amusement of those who’ve been preaching the value of simplicity for a while. Though the nonprofit Simple Living America, which operates under the tagline, “The satisfaction of enough,” has been around for 13
years, it’s experienced a groundswell of interest recently. And Americans are simplifying in other ways, as well. The Washington Post recently reported Americans are throwing away less stuff than ever—so much so, in fact, that where predictions once said our landfills would be running out of space in 2012, as of today, we’ve gained a year and a half on that estimation. Stuff-swapping portal freecycle.com has seen as many as 70,000 new users a week. The National Gardening Association has found that this year, 43 million U.S. households plan to grow their own fruit and veggies—up a huge 19 percent from 2008; even the first lady is getting in on the action. It’s like we’re being shaken awake from a consumerist daze, and rediscovering the appeal of getting back to basics. Mike Foster founded the Junky Car Club in 2006 when he decided to trade in his beautiful, attention-grabbing, fully loaded, silver Infinity G35 Sports Coupe in favor of a Toyota Camry—and to donate the money he would’ve spent on car payments to causes he cares about—has found the club’s message of simplicity resonating. “We’re making a lot more sense to people,” he says. “It’s a lot easier to talk about the things we’re talking about now than it was when we started.” Urbanska agreed. “I do think mainstream America is waking up and realizing that our culture of convenience, disposability, the easy buck, the fast lifestyle, is maybe not as satisfying, and certainly not something you can really hang
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where people can type in their earnings and see where they rank in terms of global wealth. Well, Kellermeyer’s meager-by-American-standards salary put him in the top 5 percent, wealth-wise, in the world. “If you identify as being among the wealthiest people in the world, that just changes your mentality about the way you see yourself, the way you see your role in the world,” he says. It’s that idea that really called him to action, and keeps him going when he feels like he’s too small to take on world hunger, a problem so huge. “There’s this African proverb that says, ‘If you
think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito,’” he says. “Everybody has the ability to be a mosquito.” The buzz he’s making is getting louder: SimpleSizeMe has 1,900 members on Facebook, and Kellermeyer has raised nearly $6,000 to date. It’s a simple idea—“Hunger sucks. We’re rich. Giving is fun”—yet the lessons are of the bigger variety. “It’s not so much in terms of simplifying, it’s just appreciating what you have, and I’m certainly more aware and more sensitive to my own consumption.” Spending less. Eating less. Driving a seriously
* 10 TIPS TO SIMPLER LIVING Urbanska suggests listing what’s important to you. Spending time with your family? Volunteering? The environment? After identifying your truest priorities, think of ways you can bring how you live into closer alignment with your values.
Make a budget. Get a grip on how much you are really earning—and how much you are really spending. You worked hard to earn that money; are you spending it in ways that fulfill you?
Start small! You’ve likely spent a good chunk of your life acquiring the clutter that surrounds you; don’t expect to purge it all in one fell swoop. Try clearing out a drawer a day.
Take a time inventory. Simple Living America recommends making a list: in one column, put things that are uplifting; in the other, put those that, well, aren’t. Brainstorm ways to move the second column into the proverbial recycling bin.
Get a little less connected. Constantly checking your email and keeping your cell phone on you at all times keeps you in a continual state of alert—code for stressed out. Be inaccessible for a little time each day.
Get out. Take a little time every day—for gardening, a hike, even a simple walk around your neighborhood—to remove yourself from the rat race. It will do wonders for getting you out of the consumerist mentality and in touch with your deeper self. Ease up on the boob tube. Commercials drive consumerism: Have you ever seen an ad that says, “You have enough already”? Didn’t think so.
Change your mindset. If you worry that doing without something will make you feel deprived, notice the feeling of empowerment that comes with deciding to make that change. Apply this idea to little things, then watch as more things seem possible. Shift your assumptions about living frugally. Thinking up ways to get by on less can be fun and creative—and help on the eco front. Apply “reduce, reuse, recycle” to other things: using less shampoo, buying dry goods in bulk, using cloth napkins, etc. Lose the impulse. When you see something you want to buy, stop yourself. Take a day to think about whether you truly need it. If you realize you really do want it, then buying it will be all the sweeter, knowing that it’s a conscious decision.
less cool car. Though scaling back on stuff is an obvious component of a lifestyle of simplicity, followers insist that this movement is not about deprivation and sacrifice—on the contrary. They find they’re happier, more connected. Simple Living America has worked with physicians, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to study the health and societal benefits—of which there are many—of a simpler lifestyle. Actually, there are lots of surprising secondary perks. Longtime environmentalist and author of Divorce Your Car, Katie Alvord, said when she first went car-free, she found herself opting out of social things, because arranging for transportation was just too difficult. “But I found that, even though I was initially thinking I was giving some things up, it turned out that the benefits were much richer, because I slowed down and there were other things I was able to do because I wasn’t running around all the time. “And the things that come into your life to replace the other things are so rich,” she says. “The kinds of things I do with friends like going for hikes and getting together to have long discussions by firelight, that stuff is just so wonderful. I would say the quality of my life has definitely benefited from living in a more simplified manner.” Foster agrees. In fact, the downsizing of his ride has led to downsizing in other areas, as well: Just last summer, Foster, his wife and their two kids relocated from a large suburban home to a condo. These decisions have given them the opportunity to begin teaching their kids about things like materialism, generosity and compassion. “I didn’t realize how much joy and self-satisfaction I would get from being involved at a greater degree in helping others, kids in extreme poverty or teenagers who are on the verge of blowing up their lives, or just helping meet the needs of the world. It’s such a satisfying thing. I’ll be real honest with you: I’d get a lot of satisfaction driving my car, but all the warm fuzzies I used to get from driving my car are replaced to a much greater degree and to a much greater significance in being involved in helping those who are in need.” So, even if hard economic times make simplifying not entirely voluntary, the rewards might turn out to be worth more than anything that’s sacrificed along the way. “The bigger picture is to look at this crisis as an opportunity for reevaluating our lifestyle,” Urbanska says. “I think we need to start building security elsewhere aside from just the accumulation of wealth, and look to things like the fundamentals, like our spirituality, our family, our relationships and community, and all of those things that have been frayed and fraying during the last 20 years. I think this is a wake-up call, and my wish is that people will heed the call, and really start reshuffling the fundamental decks of their lives.” Simple as that. 2
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MUSIC/// BEN HARPER AND RELENTLESS7
AS CITIES BURN HELL OR HIGH WATER (TOOTH & NAIL) > Meaningful and insightful songwriting
PHOENIX WOLFGANG AMADEUS PHOENIX (GLASSNOTE)
is not exactly commonplace in
> The name of the new Phoenix
Christian music. On Hell or High Water,
release—their fourth—is no accident.
Louisiana-based As Cities Burn sing
After three mesmerizing opening tracks
> On White Lies for Dark Times, Ben Harper unleashes the best all-out
about dethroned stardom (on “Petty”),
(“Lisztomania”, “1901” and “Fences”)
classic rock album since his mid-’90s work. With help from guitarist Jason Mozersky, who played a demo tape for Harper while driving him around in a cab in the ‘90s, there’s a newfound grit and charisma. Songs like “Up to You Now” are rollicking and raw, fueled by explosive guitar work and Stevie Wonder-ish psyche-rock accoutrements. “Shimmer and Shine” unhinges like a runaway barge from the very first note: the bass line is on fire, and there’s a raise-the-hair-on-your-arms backing vocal on the chorus. As with every Harper release, he slips in a few acoustic ballads, such as “Skin Thin” and “Faithfully Remain.” “Fly One Time” finds a perfect balance, and it’s the best song here: there’s an urgency to this solemnity and grace, a kind of glorious cacophony. It’s not always clear if Harper is pointing at Jesus or just pointing in His general direction. Still, he questions whether life ends at death, whether our souls float away like a resonating guitar chord or find something on the other side. Maybe Harper would be fine if we floated on his cloud.
keeping “safe between the pews” (on
they uncork a two-part instrumental that
“Lady Blue”) and the prosperity gospel
segues into a legitimate dirge—it’s as well-
(on “Capo”). Musically, it’s a wide
orchestrated as a Mozart composition,
spectrum. Emotive, almost languorous
minus the powdered wigs. At times, the
drums pound against the painstaking
pounding rhythms (see “Countdown”)
melodies—songs can switch between
sound like Arcade Fire with more synth,
Dashboard-like low-fi murmurs and
but most tracks take the Franz Ferdinand
glide effortlessly into a hardcore
route of letting the intersecting guitars
crescendo. “Errand Rum” pummels and
tell the main story. Between stints on
promulgates, “Made Too Pretty” speaks
Saturday Night Live, international tours
softly and lets the strained vocals
and birthing a new record label, the
make their point. It’s a cathartic and
band is ready for their place in the sun.
WHITE LIES FOR DARK TIMES (INTERSCOPE)
unpredictable ride, designed for people who think they’ve heard everything.
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888.777.7729 | www.regent.edu/communication Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees Cinema-Television • Communication Studies • Digital Media •Journalism •Theatre Arts
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Regent University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associates, baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404.679.4500 for questions about the accreditation of Regent University. Regent University admits students without discrimination on the basis of race, color, disability, gender, religion or national or ethnic origin. Regent University is certified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to operate campuses within the Commonwealth of Virginia. COM096388
6/1/09 8:53 PM
THE DRAWING ROOM SELF-TITLED (TOOTH & NAIL)
EVERYDAY SUNDAY BEST NIGHT OF OUR LIVES (INPOP)
SONIC YOUTH THE ETERNAL (MATADOR)
HILLSONG UNITED TEAR DOWN THE WALLS (INTEGRITY)
> “I’m dodging blind, coalescing
> Everyday Sunday deserves a little extra
> If the sky fell tomorrow, Sonic
> Every Hillsong United release has
time” sings Joel Bruyere on the
cred. Best Night of our Lives recaptures
Youth could supply the soundtrack.
power embedded into the music. On
self-titled debut project by The
the spirited alt-rock of their debut. It’s
Equal parts melodic and slightly
Tear Down the Walls, the Australian
Drawing Room, a new acoustic rock
punkish in a fist-raising sense (a la Green
depressing, The Eternal (recorded by
worship band adds some extra synth
act from—where else?—Canada. With
Day or Hawthorne Heights) but never tries
the band’s longtime producer John
(reminiscent of what Hillsong London
shades of Mat Kearney—thankfully
to be more than a fun diversion on your
Agnello) provides no new revelations
did on their last release) but stays true
without the commercial sheen—and
commute to work, with drums intended
or evolutions of their seminal
to their rally cry methodology. The best
a passing resemblance to Plain
for the steering-wheel-tap-along crowd
post-hardcore sound, relying once
song, “Freedom is Here,” starts with a
White Ts, the band marries cryptic,
and easily resolvable melodies. Themes
again on three main ingredients:
piano part inspired by Duran Duran, hits
freeform lyrics with spacious and
about relying on God during tough times
droning guitars with alternative
an emotive chorus (“everything comes
unpredictable songcraft. It’s like an
abound, a ripe sentiment since the band
tunings, spastic and unpredictable
alive in my life as we lift you higher”)
unplugged session from a really
flipped their van and trailer several times
drums, and lyrics they probably
and descends into an instrumental
good hardcore band who forgot how
on a road trip in late March, jettisoning
wrote in the studio or while watching
with a pounding drum part as the
to scream. Bruyere is the bassist
lead singer Trey Pearson and trapping
other bands perform. What shines
church claps along. OK, so there’s no
in Thousand Foot Krutch, so the
the other guys. Whew, everyone’s fine.
through: After 16 albums, Sonic
obvious worship hits and a few repeats
brainy acoustic style of The Drawing
Youth still manage to captivate with
(“Your Name High,” “Desert Song”);
Room is a bit of a “who knew?”
a sparkling intensity. The stand-out:
otherwise, it’s energetic and uplifting.
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6/2/09 1:04 PM
THE FIELD YESTERDAY & TODAY (ANTI)
SILVERSUN PICKUPS SWOON (ANTI)
> Created with a plug-in program called
> Metallica has nothing on Silversun
Jeskola Buzz (jeskola.net), Yesterday
Pickups! They totally rock! Of course, it’s
& Today is the second release from
all anachronistic—indie music has that
> Aaron Weiss is one of the best songwriters around. Yet, one of the
Swedish techno master Axel Willner with
tendency. The band has all the metal of
most interesting elements of the new mewithoutYou is that it never shies away from bold declarations about faith. The opener sets the tone: Weiss is going to actually sing this time instead of speaking the words, the band will throw a few curveballs (including Hebrew chants) and you better pay attention to the lyrics. On “the Fox, the Crow, and the Cookie,” you get the impression that Weiss is reading Dryden while writing songs at McDonald’s: the words are brilliant yet accessible, highly metaphorical and a little crazy. “The Angel of Death came to David’s Room” is the best song Modest Mouse never wrote, with a hysterical line about “can I tell Solomon the things I’ve learned” and sly references to Uriah, Bathsheba, binoculars, extramarital affairs, and—of course—death. Every song has a weird musical element that surprises you (rambling accordion, chirping bells, power chords), but they mostly hinge on some Aesop’s Fable gone wrong. On the faster songs, such as “Bullet to Binary (Pt. 2),” the band becomes slightly unhinged from reality, a premeditated trainwreck that few indie bands can pull off.
help from John Stanier, the drummer
a kid’s pocket knife, like head-banging
in an experimental rock band from New
in a mosh pit at Starbucks wearing
York called Battles. “Everybody’s Got
button-down shirts and air-fiving each
to Learn Sometime” reveals Willner’s
other. The good news: While Swoon
knack for sonic texturing, a shoe-gazing
plays like an inside joke, the melodies
envelope of sonic understatement
(see “The Royal We,” “Panic Switch”)
that wheezes and wanders, emotes
are just as soaring without the jangly,
and unfolds. “Leave It” would work
dream pop style of similar bands. It’s
well for a chase scene in the next
reminiscent of what Mark Kozelek did
Bourne movie, and the title track is
to AC/DC or that one Bonnie “Prince”
relentlessly repetitive—like a Barack
Billy covers release: always referential,
Obama speech you just have to love.
never meant to actually imitate.
IT’S ALL CRAZY! IT’S ALL FALSE! IT’S ALL A DREAM! IT’S ALRIGHT (TOOTH & NAIL)
A MOVEMENT IS BEGINNING …
6/2/09 5:46 PM
WILCO (THE ALBUM) (NONESUCH)
GRIZZLY BEAR VECKATIMEST (WARP RECORDS)
THE DEAD WEATHER HOREHOUND (THIRD MAN)
BLK JKS MYSTERY EP (SECRETLY CANADIAN)
> Jeff Tweedy has become
> Sweeping, orchestral and highly
> Here’s the deal with The Dead
> Don’t miss this South African techno-
parenthetical. The opening song
acoustic, Grizzly Bear beckons you on
Weather: Just about every song
reggae noisefest, four songs that bluster
claims—sarcastically, of course—that
Veckatimest—named after an island
descends into a bludgeoning
with musical invention—something
the band can ease your pain, but
off the Atlantic Coast—without the
musical epiphany that’s not exactly
akin to Vampire Weekend with more
turns blithe and opaque as the
usual sirens: furious percussion on the
anachronistic as much as it seems
instruments and random shouts, with
eclectic lyricist wallows in raw
opener (“Southern Point”), punchy
time-warped from another era. No
lyrics that point fingers and shake hands
sentiments and makes a few (only a
vocals and piano on the first single
surprise: It’s Jack White’s brainchild—
at the same time (“happiness is near,
few!) unpredictable segues. Tweedy
(“Two Weeks,” which sounds like latter
who also plays drums and sings—
and happiness has fear” sings Mpumi
writes about triremes (three-oared
period The Beach Boys if they had a
uncorking this ‘70s-rock mayhem
Mcata on the opener, “Lakeside”). On
boats), Chevy Novas, the “blue
glockenspiel player in the band and
with Alison Mosshart from The Kills
Mystery, the band (pronounced “black
breath of auctioneers” and how, in
listened to more Paul McCartney).
doing her gothic best to stay out of
jacks”) takes the beats of Black Eyed
relationships, a single wing can’t help
Yet, they reveal an even softer side
his way. Blast from the past? More
Peas and feeds them into a meat
you fly. The band, always up to the
on “Fine for Now” and “Cheerleader,”
like outshining the glory days of rock,
grinder, then adds synched-up guitars
challenge, either emotes or stays in
harbingers of an indie-rock confluence
with songs so tasty—think Iggy Pop
Johannesburg-style and crazy, erratic
the background on songs like “You
with bands like The Rural Alberta
fused with Zeppelin—they make you
drums. “Summertime,” shaking with
and I” (a beautiful duet with Feist
Advantage and Blue Roses that
want to wear black leather and shake
dystopia, implodes with a frenetic fright.
that could pass for a countrified
whisper more than they bark.
your fist at no one in particular.
She & Him) and “You Never Know.”
6/2/09 5:46 PM
BOOKS/// DEAD AID DAMBISA MOYO (FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX) > Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa is not another feed-the-hungry infomercial. In fact, it’s the opposite. In her analysis of African economies, Dambisa Moyo shows how financial aid has caused layers of corruption, debt and dependence in many parts of Africa. She notes that many Westerners are inclined to throw money at an issue before thinking through its effects—the book calls for a new way of thinking. After unraveling the myth created by many policymakers and celebrities that Africa simply needs more charity, she poses a series of hopeful alternatives. Trade, capital investment and microfinance are just a few of the possibilities she outlines. With a Ph.D. in economics and the experience of living in Zambia, Moyo speaks with both cultural and academic authority, unpacking the full nature of poverty and its regional impact. She unveils the sobering reality that $1 trillion in financial aid has not helped, but rather hindered African economies and their ability to grow into sustainable markets. Although maybe slightly overstating her case, Moyo does offer fresh insight into the plight of poverty and a vision for developmental change—the kind of change that could help millions.
THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE KEVIN ROOSE (GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING)
COOP MICHAEL PERRY (HARPER)
> While his friends at Brown are preparing
new fatherhood and life on his
for semesters abroad, submersing
Wisconsin farm, Michael Perry
themselves in foreign cultures, sophomore
honestly and humorously recounts
Kevin Roose takes on a cultural immersion
the difficulties and similarities in
of his own. Raised as a Quaker in what he
raising chickens, pigs and children.
calls a “practically religion-free” home,
Perry also looks back to his eccentric
Roose decides to immerse himself in the
childhood, growing up with nearly a
modern Christian culture of America. So he
hundred foster children on his parents’
enrolls at Liberty University: a.k.a. “Bible
dairy farm. More than anything, Coop
Boot Camp.” What follows is an honest,
is a book immersed in a sense and
open and remarkably interesting account
appreciation of place, a countercultural
of his genuine attempts to observe and
idea amidst the daily torrent of
experience Christian culture as Liberty
messages telling us the grass is
provides it. Roose paints a picture of
greener somewhere else. In the end,
Christianity from the outside that’s both
Perry’s struggles only deepen his love
fair and revealing ... and very often funny.
for his wife, his daughters and his land.
> In this collection of stories about
6/4/09 5:57 PM
LUSH LIFE RICHARD PRICE (PICADOUR)
ANGELS AND AGES ADAM GOPNIK (KNOPF) > “Now he belongs to the ages,”
PEDALING REVOLUTION JEFF MAPES (OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY)
WHAT BOTHERS ME MOST ABOUT CHRISTIANITY ED GUNGOR (HOWARD BOOKS)
> The latest novel from Richard Price (who was also a co-writer on HBO’s The Wire) revolves around the murder of
wept Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of
> Too often considered an exclusive
> Why does God hide? Why do science
war as Lincoln lay dead before him.
pleasure of childhood, riding a bike
and faith seem incompatible? Why
Ike Marcus, a bartender and aspiring
Or did he say “angels”? The answer
is actually a political act. Jeff Mapes,
must there be a hell? It’s not easy to
author. The homicide investigation
matters, according to Adam Gopnik,
a senior political reporter for The
admit our own doubts and frustrations
provides a window into the mingling
a staff writer for The New Yorker.
Oregonian, writes that more adults
when it comes to Christianity. After
and sometimes clashing subcultures
Angels and Ages is a parallel look
are turning to cycling for recreation,
all, it’s what we’ve said is true, right?
on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a
at the lives of Lincoln and Charles
commuting, and as a kind of rolling
Admitting any frustrations would
traditionally immigrant and working-class
Darwin (born on the same day in
protest against traffic jams, road rage,
only be a crack in our armor, wouldn’t
neighborhood that has been gentrified
1809) and discusses how these
smog, climate change, volatile gas
it? Not so for Ed Gungor, a pastor
in recent years by waves of affluent,
giants transformed scientific inquiry
prices and the obesity epidemic. As
who admits that some parts of faith
highly educated hipsters. Lush Life
and liberal democracy. Written with
the number of cyclists grows, so does
just don’t sit well with him. Gungor’s
appeared on nearly every list of notable
admiration for both men’s capacity
their clout. Having won a place at the
book is an invitation to join him in
books of 2008. Now in paperback, it’s
to empathetically articulate opposing
table of the “transportation industrial
working through nine of the more
the perfect summer read: part police
viewpoints, Gopnik sometimes misses
complex,” bicyclists are changing
bothersome questions of faith. These
procedural, part social realism—a
the opportunity to do so himself, this
the urban landscape in cities from
are not new questions, but Gungor’s
page-turner with range and depth.
engaging book’s only weakness.
Portland to New York to Louisville. Is
contribution to the discussion is
your city next? That’s up to you.
thoughtful, reasonable and respectful.
6/4/09 5:59 PM
I’ll do whatever it takes to get you clean.
B E NJA M I N B R AT T
INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY
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Published on May 23, 2011
Published on May 23, 2011
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