R ACHEL HELD EVANS MILO GREENE THE FUTURE OF AID
YEARS ( 2 0 0 3 - 2 0 1 3 )
THE LONE BELLOW MARK BURNETT & ROMA DOWNEY TAKE ON THE BIBLE
A SPECIAL SECTION WITH
L AUREN WINNER, RICK WARREN, FRANCIS CHAN, JON FOREMAN, SHANE CL AIBORNE, BOB GOFF, BONO, ROB BELL & MORE
AND DONALD MILLER
TALK FAITH, HOLLY WOOD, VEEP & THE EPIC RETURN OF
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THE MAGAZINE ON FAITH, CULTURE AND INTENTIONAL LIVING March/April 2013, Issue 62 Please send all 10-year anniversary gifts to the address below. PUBLISHER & CEO | Cameron Strang > firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor | Tyler Huckabee > email@example.com Content Development Editor | Stephanie Smith > firstname.lastname@example.org Copy and Process Editor | Christianne Squires > email@example.com Contributing Editor | Jesse Carey > firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Jon Acuff, John Brandon, Penny Carothers, Rachel Held Evans, Michael Gungor, Jonathan Merritt, Johnnie Moore, Liz Riggs, David Roark, Kester Smith, Richard Stearns, Laura Studarus, Nicole Unice Senior Account Manager | Jeff Rojas > email@example.com Account Manager | Wayne Thompson > firstname.lastname@example.org Design Director | Chaz Russo > email@example.com Graphic Designer | Mike Forrest > firstname.lastname@example.org Multimedia and Marketing Designer | Evan Travelstead > email@example.com Production and iPad Coordinator | Christina Cooper > firstname.lastname@example.org Producer | Chad Michael Snavely > email@example.com Photographer | Julia Cox > firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Eric Anderson, Jade Ehlers, Daley Hake, Reid Rolls, Andrew Synowiez, Yvonne Taylor, Nathan Troester Web Producer | Lin Jackson > email@example.com Web Production Assistant | Steven Linn > firstname.lastname@example.org Systems Administrator | Josh Strohm > email@example.com Circulation & Fulfillment Director | Stephanie Fry > firstname.lastname@example.org Marketing Manager | Calvin Cearley > email@example.com Partnership & Distribution Coordinator | Frankie Alduino > firstname.lastname@example.org Finance and Operations Director | Maya Strang > email@example.com Project Coordinator | Kristin Crosby > firstname.lastname@example.org Operations Coordinator | Victoria Hill > email@example.com Ad Traffic & Customer Service Coordinator | Sarah Heyl > firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: www.RELEVANTmagazine.com/advertise
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New Book from pAstor JudAh smIth www.JesusIsBook.com Available wherever books and ebooks are sold.
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Five Nationally Known Speakers, One Celebrity Mystery Speaker, Ten Music Artists, Six Comedians, Forty Workshops, Four Disney Parks, One Amazing Experience!
WA LT D I S N E Y W O R L D
SEPTEMBER 3-6, 2013
YO U T H L E A D E R E X P E R I E N C E .CO M
+ TIM ELMORE
SHANE & SHANE
SO MUCH MORE
>> IN THE EASTERN DR CONGO, the cries of war, violence, and broken systems threaten to silence all other voices. Yet, if we listen, we will hear voices of hope from local churches embracing the raped and neglected. We will hear the settling of disputes among neighbors in Village Peace Committees. Peace takes root, and hope is heard again. World Relief is empowering the local church to respond to the cry of her neighbors. To make peace and bring hope. Join this movement of justice today: << LEARN MORE
GIVE ONLINE at www.worldrelief.org/ congo-crisis GIVE $10 NOW text CONGO to 50555
PHOTO CREDIT: MO SaDJaDPOuR/ WORlD RElIEf
FIR S T WORD
THANK YOU FOR A GREAT FIRST DECADE BY C AMERON S TR ANG
was 19 and attending a Christian conference where there were a ton of college students. The energy was exciting; it felt like something new was happening. A spiritual movement was taking shape, but I felt like it had to be more than just a one-off experience. We needed a way to connect with what was happening in our everyday lives. We needed media that could give voice to the unique, new thing God was doing in our generation. At that time, nothing like that existed. That night, in my hotel room, I first wrote down the vision for launching this magazine. I spent the next few years learning everything I could. I became the editor of my college paper. I wrote business plans, interned and asked questions. The original RELEVANT Media Group business plan was actually written for a college class in 1997, including a daily website, print magazine, marketing/design group and book publishing. Originally, the magazine would be called Chronicle. You know, because it’d chronicle what God was doing in our generation. Thankfully, that didn’t stick. A few years later, after more dreaming and planning, the magazine name evolved to That. As in: “I love That magazine.” “What magazine?” “That magazine.” I thought it was hilarious. Plus, it had an Acts 2 angle: “This is That.” Get it? Pure gold. I was an idiot. (And yes, I bet in the recesses of Internet archives you can find remnants of thatonline.com.) Thankfully, it took eight years of
THAT NIGHT, IN MY HOTEL ROOM, I FIRST WROTE DOWN THE VISION FOR LAUNCHING THIS MAGAZINE.
Cameron Strang is the founder and CEO of
RELEVANT. Connect with him on Twitter @CameronStrang or Facebook.com/ CameronStrang.
work and planning before I could finally get the magazine off the ground. In that time, God refined the vision and specifics. Refinement, adaptation, evolution, change, hard work—all are common refrains I’ve learned over the last 10 years. The magazine has changed, as has our generation. At first, the controversy was that we were a Christian magazine challenging our readers to live in the world, yet not of it. We had the audacity to acknowledge God could speak through more than just Christian movies, TV and music. A few years later, our generation woke up to social justice. We thought maybe we should live every day intentionally—and for something bigger than ourselves. So Reject Apathy was born. Somewhere along the way, people started doubting and then grasping onto faith. Our generation left the Church, embraced the Church, redefined the Church. Entire movements came and went. In putting this issue together, it’s been fascinating to see just how much things have changed in culture and the Church since our first issue. On page 72, we look back at the shifts that defined the decade. On page 80, we look ahead at the challenges facing us next. On page 76, we look at the people who have most shaped the Church and our generation in the last 10 years. To make that list, we asked our readers what leaders have most impacted them in the last 10 years. And while each is more than deserving and has made a massive mark on our generation, our team was struck by something: how white and male the list is. My hope is the list we run 10 years from now will look very different—and we’re taking it as a personal challenge to lead this effort. As we celebrate our 10 years in print with this issue, I pulled out that original business plan. Yes, we’re best known for a magazine, but our goal all along has been to create a multi-faceted platform that gives voice to this generation. Today, at RELEVANTmagazine.com we reach as many people in one day as an entire print issue does. Our podcast is streamed several hundred thousand times each week. And subscriptions to our iPad edition now outpace the print magazine. Times are definitely changing, and it’s exciting. As I look forward to the next decade, I’m aware of the challenges facing us, but filled with optimism. Thank you for an amazing, life-changing first decade. I can’t wait to see what’s to come.
@beccaLyoder Reading the new issue of @RELEVANT and quoting the funny parts to my sister. This is a nice way to spend an evening.
This article is so right on the money—so very poignant. It’s something I think every single church leader should read. I especially loved the bit about being stigmatized for expressing feelings. It’s so very important for people to know they can feel before God and before each other.
@ketrose Why have I never listened to the @RELEVANTpodcast before?!?! This stuff is A-MAZ-ING.
[ J A N U A R Y/ F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 ]
— KAYLA CAFFEY / Waialua, HI
Thank you so much for dedicating the time and research to your story about the epidemic of suicide [“Suicidal Tendencies,” Jan/Feb 2013]. Six years ago, my brother Gary made the heartbreaking decision to end his life. He was 29 years old, a father of two small children and a strong believer with a deep faith in God. While ministries like TWLOHA have done an amazing job on a national level of bringing these issues to light, the Church must work at becoming a sanctuary where it’s safe to share these struggles. Please keep bringing these issues and resources into the light. Each time you do, you are honoring those who have died and giving hope to those who are fighting. —JANICE FOSTER / via email
tendencies in this time of my life. Thank you, guys, and keep up the good work—especially on the podcast. —PETER WEIDA / Reading, PA
Propaganda’s album, Excellent, is exactly that [“Introducing Propaganda,” Jan/Feb 2013]. I love Lecrae and what he’s done with Christian hip-hop, but Prop has taken the art side to another level. The boys at Humble Beast are some of the best at what they do. —ANSEL TALBERT / Greensboro, NC
What I don’t understand is how anyone with biblical references (Christians, Jews, cults, etc.) can assign a date to the end of the world [“The End of the World (as They Thought It),” Jan/Feb 2013] if Christ Himself said in no uncertain terms that no one would know the exact time but the Father. If the Messiah doesn’t even know, what chance have we at getting this right? —KEVIN LEGGETT / Midland, TX
I flew from Australia last month to see Five Iron play two shows [“The Revenge of Five Iron Frenzy,” Jan/Feb 2013]. I’m one of those fans who no longer identifies as a Christian, but they are my favorite band, and it’s that honesty that draws me to them. —JOSHUA SCULLY / Wollongong, Australia
This article was really good for me to read [“Suicidal Tendencies,” Jan/Feb 2013]. I plan to share it with friends as a helpful tool in responding to my depression and suicidal
A cross between the Bifrost Arts and Gungor, Page CXVI [“Artists to Watch,” Jan/Feb 2013] has managed to bring old-school worship into the new school without sacrificing the art and sound of hymns in the process. I love it. Keep ’em coming, Page CXVI.
@MeganLovesJesus This suicide article in @RELEVANT is really sad. But encouraging to know there’s organizations that help prevent it. @t yler volkers Fascinating cover article from @RELEVANT about our generation’s hidden epidemic (suicide) and the church’s response. #readit @e_ a _burton One of my favorite bands got a spread in the new edition of @RELEVANT. That’s what’s up. @localnatives
—NATHAN SALLEY / Arvada, CO
[L E T U S H E A R F R O M Y O U : F E E D B A C K@ R E L E VA N T M A G A Z I N E . C O M , F A C E B O O K . C O M / R E L E VA N T O R T W I T T E R . C O M / R E L E VA N T.]
@jonny_ goodchild Hey, @kbtrujillo, thank you for your “What’s Going Right?” piece in the latest @RELEVANT. Encouraging and inspiring. :)
@jasongrant777 Pulled up @RELEVANT magazine on my new iPad mini. Much better experience than on paper. Especially love the graphics and music.
A BIMON T HLY LOOK AT LIFE, FA I T H + CULT UR E
[T HE NUMBER S]
DOES OBAMACARE VIOLATE
110 individuals have leveled lawsuits against the government, saying the health care mandate is against their religion.
hile President Barack Obama’s health care owned arts and crafts retail chain claiming the foundation of mandate survived substantial pushback its business is “strong values, and honoring the Lord in a last year and, ultimately, was upheld by the manner consistent with biblical principals.” Hobby Lobby could face millions of dollars in fines for Supreme Court, one of the many cogs in its outlay continues to stick. That cog—a failing to comply with the mandate, but its founder and requirement that certain “preventive ser- CEO, David Green, hasn’t thrown in the towel because the vices” be covered by group insurance plans—may have stag- fate of contraception coverage is far from certain. Of the 14 cases that have been ruled in the federal courts so far, nine geringly broad implications. To date, some 43 cases have been filed against the govern- have gone the plaintiff ’s way. That means the contraception mandate could be headed back to the high court ment, alleging the Patient Protection and Affordable and, from there, it’s anyone’s guess. Care Act violates religious freedom, with the most THIS IS AN While places of worship and certain relicommon complaint arising from employers with ISSUE OF gious nonprofits aren’t required to implement religious ties who don’t want to have to cover conRELIGIOUS Obamacare—the administration’s attempt to sidetraceptives like the Plan B pill, which they claim has FREEDOM step this very issue—the religious requirement is an abortifacient effect. stringent. So, can the religious beliefs that underAmong the organizations filing complaints are AS IT gird certain organizations and companies accord Wheaton College, Biola University, Tyndale House APPLIES TO Publishers and Notre Dame University, with the GROUPS AND them the same freedoms as an individual? That’s the highest-profile suit filed by Hobby Lobby, a privately BUSINESSES. question at the heart of this debate.
Millions—per day— Hobby Lobby could be fined for failing to follow the law.
110 Number of individuals arguing the HHS mandate violates their religious liberty.
43 Number of cases contesting the HHS mandate in federal court.
9 Number of times the federal courts have ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
[ M I S C ] A man demanding money from a Pizza Hut got more than he asked for when he started crying during the robbery, saying he was
FLAVOR OF THE BIMONTH 10 Things You Should Care About Right Now
SXSW March 8-17, everyone
who’s anyone will set their
sights on Austin, Texas—home of
money for his
the world’s coolest conference.
wife and child. The register clerk gave him a pizza to go ...
Save a Spider Day For 364 days of the year,
you get to squash whatever spiders you find in your home.
But on March 14, spiders get a
24-hour grace period. Seems
‘TWO AND A HALF MEN’ IS STUPID, SAYS ‘TWO AND A HALF MEN’ STAR
lthough Angus T. Jones’ name might lead you to believe he’s a 200-year-old Confederate general in the War of Northern Aggression, he’s actually the titular “half ” of CBS’ Two and a Half Men. The 19-year-old’s career was thrown into jeopardy recently when Forerunner Christian Church posted a video testimonial that found Jones begging viewers to “please stop watching” his show, saying it’s “filling your head with filth.” It’s hard to argue with that assessment, but either Jones’ business sense or his appreciation for that $300,000-plus-per-episode paycheck he garners kicked in, because the young star apologized profusely shortly after the video broke and went viral. Too little too late, maybe, as the show’s other star, Ashton Kutcher, reportedly demanded Jones get the boot and CBS CEO Les Moonves has hinted Jones’ future with the show is up in the air. But Charlie Sheen, the former star of the show, told ABC that his “former nephew” is welcome on his new show, Anger Management, “anytime.”
needed a little more sheen, so they took up
Daylight Saving Time Begins
March 10 is the day you spring
forward—so 9 a.m. is really 10
a.m. No excuses.
means their entire 380-squarefoot bedroom in pennies. It cost about $1,000, nearly 60,000 pennies and a whole lot of hand soap ...
Oz the Great and Powerful
Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz keep us guessing who will end up wicked. Opens March 8. WATCH
IT’S NOT JUST YOUR IMAGINATION: HUMANITY’S GETTING DUMBER Anecdotal evidence that humanity’s mental prowess is on the decline is everywhere—50 Shades of Grey, anyone? Ke$ha?—but now science has confirmed what you long feared in the quiet of your own heart to be true: People really are getting dumber. Researcher Gerald Crabtree has published a paper in Trends in Genetics that makes the case for humanity’s intellectual decline, saying that we, as a species, were at our sharpest when our odds of survival were at their lowest. There was a time when calculated errors throughout 20
the day—like neglecting to find food or shelter—meant certain death. These days, our safety net is much wider, which Crabtree says has made our brains slowly atrophy over time. An average Athenian from 1000 B.C., he says, would be among modern-day America’s most intelligent and emotionally stable citizens. While all of this might sound convincing, we have to wonder if the research is reliable. After all, it was written by someone living in the same generation he critiques for being a bit below the bar, so to speak.
The trailer for Oz the Great and Powerful
PICTURED: AN ITEM OF RAPIDLY DEPRECIATING VALUE.
March Madness Ladies and gentlemen,
start your brackets. The games officially kick off on March 19.
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[ M I S C ] One unsuspecting dad put off his two daughters’ pleas for a puppy by telling them to get a
MAKING SENSE OF THE
ISRAEL/PALESTINE CONFLICT IF
you even casually browse the news, you can’t avoid the conflict between Israel and Palestine. But how many of us know what’s actually going on? We can’t provide all the answers in this brief primer, but here are some basics that can help get you up to speed. (And guess what—we have an in-depth feature coming soon.)
million “likes” on Facebook
FLAVOR OF THE BIMONTH 10 Things You Should Care About Right Now
Lemony Snicket’s The Dark
The cryptic chronicler of
first. Six hours
unfortunate events returns with
later, they’d hit
a book for kids, but you’ll want a
their mark. We
copy too. It releases on April 2.
see marketing careers in their future ...
David Bowie’s The Next Day
His Royal Ziggyness’ first album “Two-Buck
in a decade drops on March 12.
Chuck” is two
1. THE HOLY LAND
The land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, often referred to as the “Holy Land,” is the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity and is also sacred to Muslims. It is alternatively known as the “Land of Israel” and “Palestine.”
bucks no more. Trader Joe’s has raised the price on its popular shiraz wine,
2. ZIONISM AND ISRAEL
from $1.99 to
Zionism is Jewish nationalism—the idea that the Jewish people should have a state of their own. It was born in 19th-century Europe, partly as a response to centuries of Jewish oppression.
3. PALESTINE AND THE PALESTINIANS
Though never an independent country, Palestine is one of the historic names given to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Palestinian nationalism is the movement to create a state in some or all of historic Palestine.
$2.49, causing some shoppers
for “Where Are
Chuck” ... An activist for the
The birth of Israel in 1948, just three years after the horror of the Holocaust, was a great celebration for the Jewish people. But Palestinians call it their “Catastrophe” because 750,000 of their people lost their homes and were not allowed to return.
5. OCCUPATION AND SETTLEMENTS
In a 1967 war, Israel took control of neighboring territories. Israeli military control of these areas is called the “occupation.” “Settlements” are Israeli-Jewish towns and cities built there.
Earth Day On April 22, we all, as
one, unite over a growing sense
that, hey, maybe we should, like,
recycle more or something.
eradicate cats in New Zealand to protect the
Tax Time Last year, you got an extra
couple days to file. Not so this
time. Get ‘em in by April 15.
Citizens are in an uproar, finding the
Hamas is a Palestinian political, religious and social movement much of the world classifies as a terrorist organization. It is responsible for suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israel, which they claim are a response to Israeli blockades, bombings and settlement expansion.
wholly purrposterous ... A tablet device for
7. TWO-STATE SOLUTION
The two-state solution is a proposal to divide the Holy Land into two countries, one Israeli and one Palestinian. Most countries around the world—and the majority of Israelis and Palestinians—support this solution, but increasingly, many question if it is still possible.
babies hits stores later this year—
Easter Sunday Celebrate everything our
faith’s founded upon. But mark
your calendar—it hits early this
makes sense ...
year, on March 31.
[ M I S C ] Vicars in Bristol, England, took to the catwalk recently to model the latest in clergy fashion. Ranging from prayer bead necklackes to Swarovskicystal-lined
Society giving up its love for all things that go bang-bang? Clearly not.
robes, the fashion lines seem bent on making the clergy calling more cool—or at least more accessible to women ...
‘BLACK OPS 2’:
The Most BestSelling Thing Ever
lack Ops 2, the latest in the money-minting Call of Duty video game franchise, made over $500 million in 24 hours, smashing opening day records not just for video games, but for movies too. In comparison, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2—which holds the record for the most lucrative opening day of any movie— brought in just over $92.1 million on its first day, and 2012’s biggest film, The Avengers, made just over $600 million its entire theatrical run. Of course, Black Ops 2 costs about $60, compared to the average movie ticket’s $10, so it’d be premature to claim video games are more popular than movies. But it is a fact that while Hollywood’s overall sales are on the decline, video game profits show no sign of slump at all. So, if you’ve got dreams of becoming a rich and famous actor, you might take it under advisement to become a richer and famous-er video game designer instead.
Chilean prisoners practiced three hours a day for a month in order to stage a prison flash mob for the country’s prison minister. The routine ran a full 20 minutes and was set to Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Yes, indeed ...
‘The Hobbit’ Causes Migraines For all the bold choices surrounding December’s release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (see: its soul-crushing run time, the decision to make it into the first of a trilogy), none was more innovative or daring than the decision to give audiences migraines. That was the end result, anyway, of shooting the film at 48 frames per second—a revolutionary technique that gives the film a visual crispness but also reportedly causes spells of dizziness, nausea and migraines in viewers. Whether or not other filmmakers will chance these unexpected side effects in order to herald the high frame rate as the new standard in filmmaking remains to be seen.
QUICK—SOMEONE TWEET SOMETHING HOLY Did you hear? The pope’s on Twitter. That’s right, the veritable vanguard of God’s holy word writ live has taken to the tweetstream to—well, we’re not sure what he plans to do with it. But he sure caused quite a stir, racking up 600,000 followers on his very first day, all of whom we can only assume waited with bated breath to hear—er, read—what His Holiness would beam across the interwebs, straight into their news streams. 24
“Dear friends,” the pope began his first tweet. “I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.” Blessings from the Pope via Twitter. Guess you can put your plans for a Vatican pilgrimage on hold. After all, who needs the trouble of an onerous cross-the-globe trek when you can get blessed right where you are via tweet? Since that inaugural blessing, Pope Benedict XVI has offered short, humble encouragements to his followers every few days or so. By the way, the Pope’s handle is @pontifex. Just in case you want to, you know, follow along.
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HOW TO GET IN SUMMER SHAPE Warm months are just around the corner, but it’s not too late to get your body ready.
[ M I S C ] A new study reveals that women look their oldest at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays—
ealth and fitness aren’t generally part of RELEVANT’s wheelhouse but, hey, we’re only human. The sudden panic of swimsuit season sets on everyone, and nobody should be left wondering how to kick the body into high gear due to impending high temperatures. To that end, here’s the RELEVANT guide to getting in summer shape.
something to do with lagging energy levels, peaking stress triggers and the events of the weekend finally catching
READ A BOOK. It’s tempting to show up at the gym, pick the first
machine you see and just start poking stuff. For all you know, you could be pushing buttons on a vending machine. Do yourself a favor and read up on effective workout techniques before making an idiot of yourself.
up with them ... Neurologists have declared “dystextia”—a new condition
EAT A LOT. The single biggest
misconception about losing weight is that you can do it by not eating. There are a million reasons to not do this (among them: food is good), but losing weight isn’t about not eating. It’s about eating smart.
identified by garbled texts having nothing to do with driving, distraction or that darn autocorrect—an
HAVE SOME FUN. Look, if running
is your thing, fine. But some of us need a little more spark. Find something you like to do, like swimming, self-defense or rock climbing. Thirty minutes of ultimate Frisbee with friends isn’t P90X, but you’ll have more fun, and it’s sure to do you plenty of good.
increasingly important aid in diagnosing the onset of a stroke. Impaired written speech as a symptomtracker? The times in which we live ...
GO TO SLEEP. You know what Rocky
GADGETS OUTNUMBER PEOPLE IN AMERICA There are now more web-connected devices in the United States than there are actual people—like, a lot more. Research from NPD Group says the U.S. is home to 425 million web-connected devices, while the U.S. Census Bureau reports a population of 315 million. Welcome to the world, robots. Looks like you’ll be handling things from here.
Balboa, Hope Solo and the guys in 300 have in common? They get eight hours of sleep every night. It’s true. (We called and asked.) Not getting enough sleep wreaks havoc on your health, so take a lesson from the pros and get some rest.
A police officer in Rhode Island dances to direct traffic— because we live in a world where fantastical
JUST CHILL OUT. It’s fun to be in
amazing shape (probably), but there’s no substitute for just being cool with your body. Summer’s fun with or without a six pack, so don’t obsess about it. Live a little, and enjoy the summer—no matter what shape your body takes.
commercials (Geico, anyone?) show up in real life. Despite the fun of it, the officer says safety comes first ...
THE RELEVANT GUIDE TO INDIE-FOLK BANDS
The folk revival is starting to get crowded. Here's how to keep things straight. BY LIZ RIGGS
ustin Bieber? Oh, please. Lady Gaga? Move on. These days, music’s surest bets are bands that look like they wandered off the set of Cold Mountain. The guys are decked in long hair, bushy beards and suspenders. The girls have flowers in their hair and, likely as not, no shoes on their feet. Telling which banjostrumming, barn-burning, sepia-toned music act is which is a daunting challenge for even the most seasoned music-lover. But never fear. Just commit this handy guide to memory, and you’ll never get lost.
The Head and the Heart
Kurt Warner’s Precious ‘Moment’
You can’t miss them. There are approximately a million people in the band. They barely have room on stage for all their unwashed, Urban-Outfitters-approved, indieband, male tank tops.
They’re exactly like the Head and the Heart but with less people and more commercials.
Of Monsters and Men
For experts only. These guys are very difficult to tell apart from the Head and the Heart, but they are from an Icelandic city that no one in the Head and the Heart can spell. Also, listen to the lyrics. No other band on this list will sing Howling ghosts they reappear / in mountains that are stacked with fear / but you’re a king, and I’m a lionheart anytime soon.
They have a telltale habit of recording in old barns instead of music studios. (Just kidding. Every band on this list probably does that.)
The Low Anthem
Like the Lumineers, but for naps.
You remember the Shins. They were the only reason you watched Garden State, and you stopped listening to them after Zach Braff stopped blogging about them.
For all the dumb reality TV shows shoveled out in the last decade, it’s refreshing to see a spate of shows—like Biggest Loser and The Voice—that focus more on achievement, talent and hardwon victory. And into that fray comes The Moment, which could
Mumford & Sons
Check the volume. If the song starts off so quiet you can barely hear it and then ends up breaking your speakers, you’re listening to Mumford. Also, one of them’s married to Carey Mulligan. Also, look, if you don’t know Mumford, there’s no way you’re even reading this right now.
have been titled So You Think You Can Have Your Dream Job, and it’s hosted by someone with personal experience in the
The Avett Brothers
To our knowledge, the only indie-folk band to model for the Gap.
Easy. No beards. (As of this writing.)
The Civil Wars
They sound the least like a “war” of any band on this list.
The Lone Bellow
If you think you’re listening to Nickel Creek, then Civil Wars, then Mumford & Sons, you’re actually listening to the Lone Bellow.
angle—Kurt Warner. The NFL’s original Cinderella plucks luckless dreamers from obscurity to give them a shot at their dream. Following a twoweek crash course, they’re given a job interview at the gig of a lifetime—and it’s a shot, Warner tells us, that’s close to his heart. “I was these people,” he says. “Somebody gave me a second chance, and I was able to turn it into an incredible career.”
DISNEY’S BRINGING BACK ‘BOY MEETS WORLD’ They said it couldn’t be done. They said it was too dangerous—too soon to give the next generation so much power. But in these desperate times, Disney knew something epic was needed. The call was made. And it was decreed: Boy Meets World is coming back to television. The new series will follow the adventures of Cory and Topanga (Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel, of course) and their daughter, Riley, justifying the show’s new name, Girl Meets World. That might be a touch on the nose, but when dealing with powers of this magnitude, such caution is probably well advised.
WORLDV IE W
THE PROBLEM WITH CHRISTIAN ART
“CHRISTIAN” CANNOT BE MADE INTO A MARKETING TERM.
BY MICHAEL GUNGOR
hen I was a kid, McDonald’s released a record—a bona fide vinyl record. They had come out with this song that listed out all of the items on their menu. The song was fun and catchy, and I can still sing most of it to this day. Plus, it helped you memorize the McDonald’s menu—you know, just in case that was something high up on your priority list. But as catchy and clever as the song was, it wasn’t necessarily a great piece of art. It didn’t mean much to anyone. Girls didn’t walk down the aisle at their wedding to it. It didn’t garner critical acclaim or win Grammy awards. After all, it was a jingle. How good can a song be if its primary purpose is selling Chicken McNuggets? If art’s primary purpose is to sell something, it moves away from art and becomes primarily a marketing tool. Similarly, if art’s primary purpose is to convince someone of an idea by manipulating his or her emotions, then that art becomes mere propaganda. What if there were a “fast food” section in your record store, where all the music was assumed to have some sort of “fast food” message? That’s ridiculous, of course. But then again, we do this with other things all the time—we create labels and genres where they aren’t really necessary. “Christian” art is one example of this. Sure, “Christian” art might not be totally analogous to “fast food” art, but viewed through the lens above—where art exists to sell something or convince someone of a certain idea—there’s something eerily similar between the two. Whether you’re into creating, innovating, writing or making music
Michael Gungor leads the multipleGrammynominated musical collective Gungor and is author of The Crowd, the Critic and the Muse. He lives in Denver, Colo., with his wife, Lisa, and their daughter, Amèlie.
or visual art, I happen to think this verse holds the key to a healthy view of Christian art: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NIV). If “Christian” is simply another label for how people separate themselves from each other, then the bulk of art created under that label will likely miss its mark. It will hold the potential to degenerate into marginally effective marketing material at best and manipulative propaganda at worst. Yet to Paul, the author of this verse, faith in Christ was not another category to add to a list of pre-existing categories. It was a way of living that transcended even our most basic tribal, political, sexual or religious affiliations and divisions. This kind of life, according to Paul, produces not more divisions and categories but boundless faith, hope and love. So, what does this mean for Christian art? What qualifies as good Christian art, anyway? First of all, the phrase “good Christian art” is redundant. Good Christian art is simply good art—art that explores and expresses our deepest and truest humanity, art that speaks to us, prods us, inspires us. This is not to demean art that is created with deliberate theological themes or purposes. On the contrary, theological reflection is part of what it means to be human. It is a very good and Christian thing to do to use art—through song, writing, painting, dance—as a means of prayer, wrestling and reflection. This sort of spiritual art-making is important. Still, when Christianity becomes a way of embracing life to the fullest—not just a genre on the back shelf—the idea of “Christian art” flings wide the door for creativity. It need not be limited to an audience of huddled Christians afraid of the world and in need of an alternative art of their own. Of course, this idea will be scary to some. There is a lot of bad and destructive art out there, and for a lot of people, the “Christian” label helps them know they can at least push “play” on the car stereo and their kids won’t hear all sorts of perversion and negativity. This is a legitimate concern, accounting in part for the genre labels that help people find art that accomplishes those purposes. But we can’t forget the heart of the matter. “Christian” cannot be made into a marketing term. If you want to glorify God with your work, I don’t recommend trying to be a “Christian artist.” Instead, be a good Christian. And be a good artist.
CHRISTIANS SHOULD GET DIRTY
LIVING OUR FAITH ISN’T SOMETHING DONE FROM AN IVORY TOWER.
BY JOHNNIE MOORE
was just trying to go up an escalator. Somehow, I ended up sandwiched between two groups of protestors. They were waving their signs, beating drums and making a general wreck out of the whole place. In front of me were the anti-capitalists protesting the pharmaceutical companies. Behind me were the sex workers fighting for the legalization of their trade. On both sides, many were infected with HIV or AIDS. I was attending the International AIDS Conference—hardly the place one might expect to find a conservative, evangelical Christian from Liberty University. Caught in this crowded mayhem, it occurred to me that this was exactly the place where Jesus would have chosen to be. He seemed to hang out with a lot of people inflicted with leprosy—and AIDS is the leprosy of our time. It seemed only logical: If Jesus was walking around Planet Earth today, He would be helping lots of sick people—and especially people with AIDS. You see, Jesus wasn’t a clean-cut Savior. He didn’t exactly fit the mold of a high-handed religious leader. He was more of an “in the trenches” type of Savior. He was the God with dirty hands—helping the rest of us out of our own mess. And, craziest of all, He didn’t have to be. He chose to be. As God, Jesus could have assumed any earthly persona He wanted. He could have arrived in a center-city aristocratic family and gathered to Himself a dream team of young, budding scholars.
Johnnie Moore is author of Dirty God: Jesus in the Trenches (Thomas Nelson, 2013) and vice president and campus pastor at Liberty University. He is also on the board of World Help.
Instead, He chose to sleep His first night on earth in a feeding trough. He chose to live in an average Middle Eastern village— Nazareth—with a few hundred people. And He chose a vagabond group of disciples who weren’t exactly those we’d vote “most likely to succeed.” Perhaps He thought humanity would be more likely to follow a God who looked a little more like them. Jesus, by His life example, showed us how to live ours. He gave us a model—and a responsibility—to continue the work He started in healing this broken world. If we’re honest, we haven’t always helped as we should. Just look at the world in its unnecessary distress. We, who have the responsibility of healing this world, have been too preoccupied far too often. It’s time we move into the trenches. Each of us can do a little more to make this world a better place, and we should do it now. We can raise the banner higher for the causes burdening us. We can give a little money to those in need. Better yet, we can ruthlessly war against our selfish sense of entitlement and give more of ourselves in service of others. Having received grace from God, through Jesus, we ought to be the first to give it to the world in a thousand small ways every day. We can give grace by being kind to those who are cruel to us, by anonymously dropping an envelope with cash on the desk of a single mom, by tutoring underprivileged children or by lending our free time to fight injustice. We can sponsor children in Africa or make it a point to do something kind for those we know are having a hard time. On the other hand, we could cover our eyes, close our ears and act like everything is OK. We could be content to be recipients of the kindness of God and deny that same kindness to others. But by withholding this grace from others, we hurt further those who are already hurting. A pastor in Rwanda once told me, “My impression of America is that a very good Christian is a very serious theologian. Here, we have to live our faith, too.” Living our faith isn’t something done from an ivory tower. It requires us to roll up our sleeves and follow Jesus into the trenches. This world is filled with more than 1 billion Christians. It is also filled with a thousand forms of brokenness. If each of us did a little more in a world flooded with pain, healing would soon break its banks.
MUSIC NEWS YOU NEED TO KNOW
THE DROP Millennials Are Now Old Enough to Care About Band Reunions
POP IS GETTING SADDER NOW MORE THAN EVER, EVERYBODY HURTS. NEW RESEARCH PROVES POP MUSIC IS ON THE DOWNTURN, EMOTIONALLY SPEAKING. ell, here’s some glum news. 2012—Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”— Researchers at the University of is about as depressing as pop music can get. Also Toronto have put their genius heads making the cut was fun.’s “We Are Young,” in together and listened to a thousand which a brazen declaration of glorious youth is pop songs recorded between 1965 and 2009 to undercut with uncertainty about who’s going to confirm what each generation of mopey teenagers carry whose passed-out self home when the night’s since the ’60s has known in their fragile little hearts over. And perhaps there’s no better champion of the sad pop song than the eternally loveto be true: Pop music is getting sadder. lorn Taylor Swift, whose list of hottest hits Actually, since 1965, the number of CRY ME A RIVER: (“Love Story,” “Back to December,” “We pop songs written in sad, slow keys has POP’S SADDEST HITS Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”) doubled, so the situation is pretty dire. ”BRICK” reads like a heart-dotted diary of the sadAnd even if the song isn’t explicitly sad, Ben Folds Five dest milkmaid south of the Mason-Dixon. researchers found there to be a sharp rise “BACK TO BLACK” Will the trend continue? Early data in emotionally ambiguous songs, which Amy Winehouse suggests not. Though music may be shiftseems fitting, too—what regular coning to represent each generation’s increassumer of pop music doesn’t have trouble “HEARTLESS” ingly suspect view of the future, reports determining how he or she feels? Kanye West suggest Millennials are the most positive Even a look over 2012’s top pop “I LOVE YOU” generation to come along in a while—and songs confirms the current downward Mary J. Blige its music might come to reflect that. spiral. Billboard’s number one song of
Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t stand your parents’ music? They’d pull out some Styx, Amy Grant or Steely Dan and you’d just roll your eyes, adjust your headphones and turn up Boyz II Men to drown out their singing in the kitchen? Well, odds are the shoe’s on the other foot now. You’re the one who just can’t see what the next generation sees in dubstep and Justin Bieber, and you’re wondering what happened to all the good music. If that’s you, here’s some great news: The music of your childhood—a genre one could now describe as “classic pop”—is getting to the age where its headliners are gearing up for reunions. The news started innocuously enough, with Justin Timberlake releasing his first album in seven years. Of course, he hasn’t really been off the cultural radar since he burst onto it with *NSYNC’s eponymous debut in 1998. But the ’90s comeback kicked into full swing with the rumor that Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williamsand Beyoncé were reuniting as Destiny’s Child for a new album and a new tour. Thus emboldened, other acts from your bygone days began to kick around the idea of getting back together. Fashion-forward duo Kriss Kross has a gig on the books. New Kids on the Block will be touring with Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees. And lest hipsters feel left out, Postal Service is getting together for the first time in 10 years, too. Who’s listening to old-people music now?
ARTIS T S TO WAT CH
[ON ROTATION] REID ROLLS
he word “lush” is tossed around a lot in music write-ups like this and, usually, you feel like it’s being used as nothing more than a lazy synonym for “pretty.” But it’s a marvelous descriptor for the Los Angeles quintet Milo Greene, which layers melody upon lyric upon melody to form a dizzying experience that is thrilling, soothing, unique and—yes—very, very lush. It’s cinematic, too, with the soaring melodies and charging anthems that seem ready-made for an angst-drenched indie flick about lost love and wandering hearts. Even the band’s name is a bit of fiction: Instead of looking like amateurs to venue owners and producers by admitting they didn’t have a band manager, the fivesome made vague references to a completely imaginary manager named Milo Greene. In talking to the band, it seems that such an improvisational attitude has invaded more than how they book gigs. Milo Greene is a true artistic co-op, in which members trade instruments and singing duties as quickly as you change your mind. Graham Fink, who can be called a frontman as easily as the rest of them can, explains: “This band started in a very collective state of mind. We were all lead singers in our old bands. As we got started, we knew to utilize all our voices and all our songwriting and all our performing aspects. We want to be the kind of band that has four potential frontpeople instead of just one. We were trying to be more than just the sum of our parts. It can transform into more of a unique project. “I don’t want to use the word ‘supergroup,’ but,” he says, laughing, “I will.”
Milo Greene Milo Greene
WHY WE LOVE THEM When band members wear a lot of hats, the finished product sounds like a nuanced tapestry of ideas instead of a singular, narrow vision. FOR FANS OF Local Natives, Fleetwood Mac, The Civil Wars ONLINE www.milogreene.com
Frightened Rabbit Pedestrian Verse is the masterpiece this band has always been capable of.
Dawn Richard On Goldenheart, Diddy’s young protégée gives R&B its biggest facelift since Frank Ocean.
[ M I S C ] Self-described bad girl M.I.A. has done an image aboutface in recent days—and the crazy thing is, her label isn’t happy about it. They’ve delayed the release of her
new album, she says, because it’s just too happy. Weird ... It’s strange enough news
that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are having a baby, but now Mama
The North Carolina music scene is one of America’s more exciting ones of late, with the folk revival finding its epicenter in a place it never really left, and Mount Moriah is at the movement’s forefront. Singer-guitarist Heather McEntire reflects on the significance of place in the trio’s work:
Kardashian’s gotten in the mix to solicit bids for pics of that precious baby bump. That’s right— if
I’m trying to understand the religious history of the South and how it shaped our landscape. While I’m a really progressive person, I’m trying to take the postive parts of growing up in the South while still challenging it and confronting those stereotypes. Not in a political way—it comes from a sincere place. You almost have to confront those things around here.
WHY WE LOVE THEM John Darnielle, of the Mountain Goats, describes frontwoman Heather McEntire thusly: “I don’t think you see a stage presence like Heather McEntire more than a few times in your life. She’s unbelievable.” We agree.
MOUNT MORIAH Miracle Temple FOR FANS OF Emmylou Harris, June Carter Cash, Dolly Parton ONLINE www.mountmoriahband.com
any gossip rags want that coveted photo coverage of Baby Kimye, they’re going to have to pay top dollar for it—literally ...
WHY WE LOVE HIM
Here’s some fresh new
With his soulful croon and
tunes hand-picked by
says the song
acoustic pluck, Kiwanuka
the RELEVANT editors.
he wrote and
occupies an enthralling
Usher in spring with a
intersection of Bill Withers
and Bob Dylan.
McCartney, “Cut Me Some
three hours from start to
FOR FANS OF
finish for them
Randy Newman, Otis
Redding, Van Morrison
Can somebody bottle their
LISTEN To our spring Spotify playlist relm.ag/62-spotify
You’ve led Hillsong United for some time, but you recently became co-pastor of Hillsong NYC with Carl Lentz. Where did that idea come from?
We did Bible college together in Sydney about 12 years ago and said, “Look, if we ever do something, would you like to do it together?” At the time, it seemed really unlikely, because he lived in Virginia Beach and I’m in Sydney, and we were both serving in different capacities. It’s just funny how life works itself out. I called him one day and I said, “You know, I really feel like God is calling me to New York. I don’t know why, and I don’t even know if I want to do it, but I’ve got to do it.” He basically said, “Well, if you’re doing it, I’m doing it. Let’s get together.”
COURTESY OF HILLSONG CHURCH
THE LEAD WORSHIPPER OF HILLSONG UNITED AND CO-PASTOR OF HILLSONG NYC KEEPS FOLLOWING THE RHYTHM OF WHERE GOD LEADS.
illsong United is pretty much a cultural icon in the global worship scene. Formed in 1997 as a way to “unite” the youth and young adult ministries of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, the near-annual live albums of original music the band produced quickly “united” global believers, too. Joel Houston has provided leadership for the worship outfit since 2002 and became creative director of Hillsong Church in 2008. Then, in 2010, he and longtime buddy from Bible college, Carl Lentz, embarked on a new adventure: co-pastoring the first Hillsong Church venture in the United States. The newly transplanted Aussie talked with us about Hillsong United’s newest project, Zion, and what it’s like to colead the now-burgeoning Hillsong NYC.
Catch us up on Hillsong United. What’s been the aftermath of Aftermath, so to speak?
Q “THE SONG OF GOD SHOULD ALWAYS ... SPEAK TO OUR CULTURE.”
After Aftermath, it was a huge season for our team. We’d been going at a pretty relentless rate for quite some time, so we decided to take a break. I had issues with my voice on the back of all that touring, and a bunch of the guys all had kids and got married. We were like, “Well, let’s just chill for a bit and kind of do life and church and family.” It was a big question mark of, “What next? Are we going to do another big project?” God started putting it in our hearts that there was more to the story. We got the chance to recalibrate and refocus and rest, and out of that came this project [Zion].
LISTEN To the first single off the Zion album, “Scandal of Grace” relm.ag/ 62-hillsong
Where do you see worship music going on a broader scale?
The funny thing about worship is that, in essence, it never changes—or it shouldn’t. There’s got to be a purity to it that’s just the cry of our heart colliding with the cry of God’s heart. The great choruses stand the test of time because you’re dealing with an eternal truth. There’s this picture of a relay, and our job right now is to carry that as best as we know how, to keep it pure and keep it simple, and to wait on the Spirit to kind of breathe the prophetic through what we do. The world’s always changing, culture is always shifting, so the song of God should always be something that speaks to our culture. It continues to say the same thing that it’s always said, but in a way that makes sense to the culture that we’re in.
SUSTAINABLE CHANGE. SACRIFICIAL LIVING.
GOOGLE AWARDS CHARITY: WATER $5 MILLION TECHNOLOGY GRANT hen charity: water got its start in 2006, that start included six freshwater wells built in Uganda and a handheld GPS device picked up at an electronics store for $100. The staff traveled to Uganda and manually plotted the location of each new well on Google Maps, then linked that map to the charity: water website for all to see. It had to do with transparency—one of the organization’s core values—and the live-mapping approach to reporting has been a mainstay of charity: water’s work ever since. Now they can do an even better job of it, thanks to a new Google grant initiative called the Google Impact Awards that blends philanthropy with innovation. With the $5 million prize it received as part of Google’s
[ W A T E R
Billions of hours per
year spent walking for water in Africa.
initiative, charity: water will install remote sensor technology on 4,000 wells worldwide to provide real-time tracking of not just the location but also the health of each well. With thousands of projects around the globe—most in remote locations— keeping a real-time pulse on the functionality of each planted well is an enormous and, at least until now, impossible feat. With the installation of this new technology, charity: water will be able to track the status of its wells M E T E R ]
Cost of providing
clean water for one person.
Billions lost per year in
Africa due to lack of safe water or sanitation.
at all times. When a well stops working, it’ll be simple to dispatch a local mechanic, repair the problem and get fresh water flowing freely for its community again. “With this grant, we are encouraged to be thorough and upheld to making an impact,” founder Scott Harrison says. “Just knowing the status of projects isn’t good enough. If a breakdown occurs, there needs to be a system in place to ensure that it gets fixed quickly ... This will create new jobs and help support small business entrepreneurs in places where they don’t exist today.” The award will further transparency and accountability in the sector—not to mention sustainability. “We know the data will uncover new challenges,” says Harrison, “but we’re excited and committed to meet them head-on. We’ve used Google’s map technology to innovate over the last six years, and today we’re incredibly excited that ... we can further increase transparency for our donors and deliver water more reliably than ever before to the people who need it most.”
No oNe caN do
caN do somethiNg. Orphan Justice moves readers from talking about global orphan care to actually doing something about it, combining biblical truth with the latest research in this inspiring new book.
Justice will equip you to embrace God’s call to ‘look “Orphan after orphans and widows in their distress’.” —Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family is a venture deep into both the costliness and beauty that “Itcome with every expression of love for orphans.” —Jedd Medefind, President, Christian Alliance for Orphans of us have a desire to help orphans but we don’t know “Many where to start. Orphan Justice gives the vision we need.” —Mac Powell, Third Day
Johnny Carr is national director of Church Partnerships at Bethany Christian Services. He and his wife live with their five children (the three youngest are adopted) in Pennsylvania.
available march 1, 2013 Find out more about orphan Justice and meet Johnny carr at catalyst West in orange county, ca and catalyst in atlanta, ga in 2013. Facebook.com/OrphanJustice
WORLDV IE W
MAKING A DEAL WITH GOD BY RICHARD STEARNS
ast year, I was reminded of the amusing lengths to which college students will go to make a buck. A third-year law student, my daughter, Hannah, hoped to win a little money by appearing on the show Let’s Make a Deal. In order to increase her chances of being chosen as a contestant in the audience, she dressed up as a law book—a torts book, to be precise. She felt a bit foolish, but it worked, and she was chosen to play. In the show, contestants play to win a wide range of prizes, some good and some bad. The host might first offer someone one thousand dollars in cash, no strings attached. The contestant can decide to quit right then and go home one thousand dollars richer. But then the fun begins. The host asks the contestant if she wants to trade what she has already won for the unknown prize that lies behind the curtain. Of course, the mystery prize could be a brand-new Corvette; a two-week, all-expenses-paid vacation to Hawaii; or a jar of dill pickles. It’s the contestant’s choice: trade what she has already won for the promise of something better, or play it safe and keep what’s in her hands. Hannah played well, and she ended up winning a motorbike, a laptop computer and a couple nice backpacks. To her parents’ great relief, she sold the motorbike to get cash to pay her bills. Let’s Make a Deal is a great metaphor for the choices offered us by God. In Mark 10, Jesus makes an offer to a man described as a rich, young ruler. This is my paraphrase of Jesus’ offer to him in Mark 10:21: “Go,
JESUS OFFERS AN INCREDIBLE ADVENTURE TO THOSE WHO “MAKE THE DEAL” WITH HIM.
Richard Stearns is president of World Vision U.S. and author of Unfinished: Believing Is Only the Beginning (Thomas Nelson, 2013). Follow Rich on Twitter @RichStearns.
sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me. I’m offering you the greatest adventure of your life. I am inviting you to partner with Me in My great Kingdom mission. All you have to do is lay down what you’ve already won, and I will replace it with treasures beyond your imagination.” It’s that last sentence that’s the hard part: “Lay down what you’ve already won.” “Can’t I keep it all?” we might ask. But Jesus makes it clear it is an exchange. He asks us to let go of the things we clutch so He can fill our hands with that which is more valuable. In my own life, I had racked up quite a few prizes. I had achieved the CEO position at a prestigious American company, and with it, a big salary, and with that, a dream house. It had taken me 25 years to win financial security, prestige and comfort. I had written my own story, and I liked the way it was turning out. I wanted Jesus to endorse my plan for my life. But Jesus had something greater in mind. First, I had to be willing to let go of the things I had already won. I discovered how very hard it is to trust and let go and how easy it is to cling to a career, a relationship, a lifestyle, a family business or an identity. Yet Jesus tells us that if we are to find our lives, we must first lose our lives. He asks us to lay down our most precious possessions at His feet for Him to use for His own purposes. He asks that the certificate of ownership be signed over to Him. In my case, Jesus asked me to give up that career, sell that dream house and move my family 2,500 miles away to serve as president of World Vision U.S., helping the poorest people on earth in His name. Fifteen years later, I can say it has been both the greatest privilege and adventure of my life. It is frightening now for me to think that, like the rich, young ruler, I almost walked away—for when he heard what it would cost him, “He went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Mark 10:22). Jesus offers an incredible adventure to those who trade their lives and “make the deal” with Him. He may stretch us and take us out of our comfort zones, but unlike the game show, He’ll never trick us into a lesser treasure. What are the most precious things in your life? Whatever they are, there’s an even greater adventure waiting just behind the curtain. Jesus is offering you an amazing deal—one you don’t want to refuse.
T HE NUMBER S
THE FUTURE OF
In a world of increasing human disasters and limited resources to lend relief, is humanitarian aid due for a system overhaul? ono, the U2 frontman who has dedicated his life to humanitarian aid, surprised the world last year when he shared his realization that capitalism is just as integral to justice as charitable giving. His change of heart is, perhaps, emblematic of a broader shift within aid agencies, who are realizing that if they want to stay in the business of compassion, they need to function more like, well, a business. And like any good business, the premium is on measurable results—after all, donors give money with the hope and expectation that their contribution will offer relief to a human crisis, and they want to know their money makes a difference. Yet there are perpetual challenges to efficient aid—chief among them poor coordination of resources, lack of disaster response preparedness and too many cost-raising middlemen. It remains to be seen how the aid sector will adapt to answer the growing call for efficiency. But with self-evaluation reports proliferating, perhaps a deeper knowledge of the problem will push aid organizations into radical reform.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR THE DELIVERY OF HUMANITARIAN AID? AGENCIES RESPOND:
Politicization of aid
Public disillusionment with aid agencies
Squeezed government budgets
NUMBER OF NGOs OFFERING ONGOING HUMANITARIAN AID
NGO funding that comes from private contributions
Cost to link a livestock farmer with a trader for two months of food
Cost to produce the same result through a food-aid program
MOST IMPORTANT OBSTACLE TO ADAPTING, ACCORDING TO AID AGENCIES: 1
35% 20% 16% 1 Alertnet 2012 Report
2 ALNAP.org 2012 Report
Limited resources Lack of long-term planning Institutional inertia 3 Global Humanitarian Assistance 2012 Report
“The international humanitarian aid system delivers value for money” —agree or disagree? 1
Disagree 4 SaveTheChildren.org
BRINGING THE BIBLE TO LIFE MARK BURNETT AND ROMA DOWNEY ON THEIR AMBITIOUS 10-HOUR MINISERIES BY L AUR A STUDARUS
COURTESY OF THE HISTORY CHANNEL
ark Burnett doesn’t mince words. A showbiz fixture responsible for addictive TV like Survivor, The Voice, The Apprentice and Shark Tank, the producer delivers ideas as though quoting taglines—in short, concise bursts. So, when asked if he thinks Jesus is the Son of God, it’s no surprise he is quick to cut right to the heart of the question. “Well, He is, right?” he says, not unkindly. “More than that, He is God. We don’t think— we know.”
from Genesis to Revelation, devoting two hours to each portion. One of the many biblically themed projects projected to air in 2013—“Hollywood tends to move in a pack,” Burnett says wryly. “I’m just glad that we’re leading the way, and we’re first”—The Bible promises to be among the most ambitious and sweeping of the lot.
DOING IT JUSTICE
Recounting the initial inspiration the couple had for the project, Downey says, “We had seen something else—a very negative documentary that somebody had shared with us—that was really taking a point of view that God was bad. ‘What kind of a God would do bad things, or allow bad things to happen?’ It was so upsetting to us that after we looked at it, I said to Mark, ‘Why would anybody want to make something like that? If you’re going to make a Bible project, why wouldn’t you just make the Bible?’ As only Mark can do, he looked at me and said, ‘Maybe that’s what we should do, then!’” Further confirmation came in the form of their three teenagers, who, as Downey recalls, weren’t exactly taken with the production value of The Ten Commandments—a film both she and Burnett enjoyed as kids. “Revisiting it through teenage eyes, we could see that they thought it was dated,” Downey says. “There’s a different expectation now for CGI. We thought we could really bring these stories alive for this new generation. That’s what we’ve done.” To go about it, Burnett and Downey procured just the right team of talent. “We found a fantastic special effects company out of London, The Mill—they won the Oscar for Gladiator,” Downey says. “They created the most beautiful and extraordinary miracles on screen. We have Jesus walking on water. We have Daniel with the lions. We have Moses parting the Red Sea. Moses with the burning bush. We open up with Noah on the raging ocean, with the floods and the drama of the ark on the water. It’s really created a whole new dynamic.”
DOING IT RIGHT
It’s that same forthright spirit that Burnett brings to his newest—and most ambitious—project to date. Alongside wife Roma Downey (who played the angel Monica on the longrunning television show Touched by an Angel), the reality show producer’s first scripted show is a five-part, 10-hour-long miniseries called The Bible. Airing on the History Channel during the month of March, The Bible tackles five sections of Scripture,
While a marriage between Hollywood and religion may throw up a red flag for some, both Downey and Burnett are quick to say their goal wasn’t to take poetic license with the source material. Instead, every attempt at an accurate interpretation was made. “Making The Bible for television obviously brings with it a huge responsibility,” Downey acknowledges. “To that end, we took that responsibility very seriously. We had a team of advisors, scholars, experts and theologians. Each step of the way, we involved them. We sent scripts to them, and we got feedback. We made adjustments ... We moved along very responsibly to make sure that we were accurate to Scripture.” “It’s a fairly simple story,” Burnett interjects. “But it’s the greatest story ever told. All we could do is take it as it is. We believe it; it’s a fact; and we tell it as such.” Still, as Christians are wont to say, the Bible—for all its dramatic events and larger-than-life miracles—is nothing if it doesn’t reflect the person of Jesus and His mission on earth. Downey understands those concerns. “We knew we didn’t want it to be a series of stories, but rather for it to be experienced as one great story,” she says. “From the moment that Adam and Eve bit into the fruit and we fell from grace, we have been looking for a way to get back to God. The episodes are really how humanity is struggling to
get back into grace with God. We keep messing up continually. Finally, God loves us so much that He sends Jesus for us. Ultimately, it’s the story of love and redemption.”
DOING IT AGAINST ALL ODDS
The project had intense clarity of vision, but that doesn’t mean it came off without a hitch. For starters, the crew faced harsh weather conditions throughout production. Filming on location in Morocco, the weather was rarely in their favor—freezing upon their arrival in early 2012 and boiling hot by the time they left that summer. Downey doesn’t consider it spiritual attack, but she does note the constant presence of the local serpent population offered some eerie symbolism. “We had a man on the set who we called the Snake Man,” she says. “He would go behind rocks and wrangle whatever critters were on the particular set. Typically, he would get two or three snakes. That would be a lot on any given day. But as we approached that lonely hillside on that morning that we were filming the crucifixion scene, he told us he had cleared 48 snakes. We couldn’t help but think that there’s something in the symbolism of the serpent in the Bible.” And then there’s the emotional component, as Downey faced the additional task of playing Jesus’ mother, Mary, in the series. As she explains, her experience of the role was colored by her relationship with her own children. “While I’ve loved Mary my whole life [and] I’ve loved Jesus my whole life, I don’t know if I ever really considered the passion of the Lord through the mother’s eyes before, or felt it through a mother’s heart before,” she muses. “As a mother myself, I can only imagine the horror of what that must of felt like—to see her son brutally murdered in that way. It was profoundly humbling for me to step into the role.” Despite its arduous inception, Burnett and Downey agree that the undertaking to bring The Bible to the screen was worth it, calling the project “the most important of [their] career.” “There have been times when Mark and I have felt that we have been brought together for such a time as this,” says Downey. “To make this show together. To bring together our strengths and talents, together with our faith and our love and our experience and our ability to tell stories. To bring this to life on screen. To touch people so that other people may hear the Word of God—not just in this country, but so that it will echo around the world to places that haven’t had an opportunity to feel the light of the Lord.”
LAURA STUDARUS is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is a regular contributor to Under the Radar, Filter, eMusic and RELEVANT. Follow her on Twitter @Laura_Studarus.
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ARE YOU AN
eVANGELICAL? TAKE THIS QUIZ TO GUAGE HOW TECHSAVVY/AWESOME YOUR CHURCH IS! BY JON ACUFF
If I see you using an iPhone during church, I assume you are playing Angry Birds. Or Temple Run. Or Plants vs. Zombies. I’m sorry. That’s just how I was raised. I don’t assume you’re looking up the Greek root word for a particular idea. I don’t assume you’re taking sermon notes. I don’t assume you’re giving directions to your seat to a friend in the lobby. I assume you’re tweeting about how much you love your raw denim jeans and your TOMS and your unnecessary scarf. (That’s when you wear a scarf with a short-sleeved T-shirt.) But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m old-fashioned. Maybe I’m a paper man in a fiber-optic world. Times have changed, and churches have jumped into the world of technology with both feet. If you’re a fan of these modern times, how do you know if a church is tech-savvy enough for you?
Easy. You use this scorecard.
Tech Church Scorecard
Culled from years of research and statistical analysis that would make your teeth hurt if we dared describe it, this scorecard is the most accurate tech-savvy guide any church has ever seen. Use it at your leisure to determine if the church you’re attending possesses the digital acumen your touchscreen heart is looking for. Mark the points that apply to your church, then add up your score and see how it fares!
The bulletin has a URL printed on it. (+1 point)
The bulletin has the pastor’s Twitter handle printed on it.
The church has satellite campuses. (+2 points)
The bulletin has Pinterest listed on it. (+3 points)
The bulletin has Google+ listed on it. (-1 point)
The bulletin lists “http” with every URL. (-2 points)
The bulletin isn’t printed on paper. Instead, ushers hand out iPads for everyone.
The church has hologram campuses in which the pastor appears via an Obi-Wan kind of setup. (+3 points)
The lobby smells like vanilla and sandalwood because they’re experimenting with scent technology as a way to enhance “the experience.” (+3 points)
The church has a website.
The church name includes “.tv” (e.g., GraceCreek.tv).
The church offers free Wi-Fi. (+1 point)
Members of the church know which parts of the sanctuary offer the best Wi-Fi signal.
The church website features a Flash introduction, during which an image of the church steeple spins slowly to the sound of an audio file of “Our God Is an Awesome God.”
A countdown clock lets people know when church is about to start. (+1 point)
You can give your offering via an ATM in the lobby.
(+1 point per laptop)
Instead of an offering basket, they pass an iPad. (+1 point)
You can give your offering via a square debit-card reader attached to the back of each seat in the sanctuary.
Apple laptops are propped open on stage during the worship set. Everything the church prints has a QR code on it. (+1 point)
No one at the church has actually used the QR codes because they don’t know what QR codes are. (-2 points)
Sermon series have their own unique URL.
Individual sermons have their own unique hashtags. (+1 point)
Sermons can be purchased on cassette tape.
Instead of robes, the choir wears tight-fitting gray unitards, like the ones people wear in every movie you’ve ever seen about the future. (+2 points)
The pastor has a blog.
The pastor uses Tumblr instead of a blog.
Ushers have tasers.
The ushers are robots, like the ones Amazon uses to pull books off warehouse shelves at its fulfillment centers.
The pastor encourages you to tweet his sermon while he preaches. (+1 point)
The church shows a live Twitter stream on screen during the sermon. (+5 points)
The church website has been “under construction” for seven years running. (-2 points)
The cork bulletin board in the lobby is updated more often than the website. (-3 points)
The church has its own “green screen” for shooting videos.
Sermon notes are shown via an overhead projector. (-1 point)
The pastor uses a flatscreen TV on a stand to illustrate his points. (+2 points) The church has a full-time tech person on staff. (+3 points)
All the church’s tech needs are handled by the high school son of the church secretary. (-2 points)
Kids are tagged in Sunday school with a bracelet so their parents can pick them up after church. (+1 point) Kids are tagged in Sunday school with an Olive Gardentype pager system. (+2 points)
Kids are tagged in Sunday school with a small GPS receiver placed behind the right ear. (+3 points)
The pastor preaches from an iPad. (+1 point)
The pastor preaches from a pair of Google Glasses. (+2 points)
The church adopted Twitter so early, it didn’t have to add “The” to its Twitter handle (e.g., it’s “@GraceCityChurch” instead of “@TheGraceCityChurch”).
How’d your church do? Which category below does it fit?
0-20 POINTS: STONE AGE
Your pastor still refers to the Internet as the “World Wide Web,” and the elders aren’t convinced the church needs to waste money on this “website trend.” It’s all hymns, all the time, and if you ever use your iPhone at church, people think you must be some sort of astronaut.
21-50 POINTS: DIPPING A DIGITAL TOE
Welcome to 2007. You’re not in the Stone Age, but you’re not splitting the atom, either, with your use of technology. Powerpoint is still a big part of your sermon experience, and your church has “the Twitter,” but they don’t ever really use “the Twitter.” Truth be told, they’re not really sure what “the Twitter” does.
51-75 POINTS: PRE-TRON
Online giving? A Pinterest page? Facebook events? You’re living the dream, my friend—the dream of the future. You’re not stuck in the past. Your church knows that if they want to be in the world but not of it, they need a dedicated graphic designer on staff to keep things modern and awesome. Congrats.
A group of people from the church work hard to be “mayor” of it on Foursquare. (+3 points)
Add up your score!
76+ POINTS: LIFECHURCH.TV LEVEL
You embarrass NASA with the amount of technology you control. You created not just one of the most popular Christian apps but one of the most popular apps of all time. You have plans for the future that make this list look silly. You think Google is out of date. You are so far ahead of the game that you, sir, are LifeChurch.tv, and we love you.
JON ACUFF is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Quitter and Stuff Christians Like. He lives with his family in Nashville, Tenn., and blogs at JonAcuff.com. Find him on Twitter @jonacuff.
CULTURALLY ENGAGED SPIRITUALLY CULTIVATING
Whether God is calling you to go and serve in church ministry, non-profit work, psychological practice, or other vocations in the marketplace cross-culturally, Fuller can be the place to shape and refine you intellectually, spiritually, personally, and missionally. Starting this fall, it’s easier than ever to study at Fuller. Enroll in one of three online degree programs: ■ MA in Intercultural Studies (MAICS)* ■ MA in Theology and Ministry (MATM)* ■ MA in Global Ministry (MAGL) Become part of our richly diverse learning community—committed to Jesus Christ and passionate to serve. Apply today. *Pending ATS accreditation
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THEOLOGY | PSYCHOLOGY | INTERCULTURAL STUDIES
BY TYLER HUCKABEE
Do you remember your first thoughts when doctors told you your wife would never move again?
ach Williams is not an expressive man. In conversation, he speaks in slow, measured tones, wasting no words, pausing for great lengths of time to reflect before answering questions. He has a cowboy air about him, like he just rode into town with a weary heart and eyes that have seen a thing or two. He’s got time to tell a story, but he doesn’t have time for things like feelings. Which is curious, because Zach Williams’ band, the Lone Bellow, is shot through with emotion—more feeling than you knew songs could contain. When Williams and his bandmates (longtime friends Brian Elmquist and Kanene Pipkin) open their mouths, it’s an invitation to witness their rawest nerves. Williams first started writing music in the hospital, after his wife sustained a horsing accident that had doctors convinced she would never move again. You feel every throb of his broken heart in the music, but you also feel his quickening exultation as she miraculously defied the doctors’ prognosis and regained her ability to walk. That’s the scope of feeling that permeates the Lone Bellow’s self-titled debut album. And it’s saying something that, in the midst of an oversaturated folk renaissance, their contribution can still make you sit up and take notice. And people are taking notice. No sooner had the debut dropped than the trio found itself gracing the pages of The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly, playing Conan and getting dubbed NPR’s “Band You Need to Know in 2013”—all before they had their own Wikipedia page. They have that way about them—that quality that makes you wrangle your friends around a laptop to watch any one of their jaw-dropping live performances on YouTube. They’ve been compared to Mumford & Sons, which seems a little easy. There’s something more subtle and nuanced to the Lone Bellow—a delicacy that allows them to nestle in your heart in a way not even Marcus Mumford can. It’s that gentle conviction—that soft surety—that Williams conveys in conversation, whether he’s talking about his music, his hope or his brushes with redemption. Here’s what he had to say to us about it.
There’s this psalm—Psalm 46. It says, “The Lord is our refuge and strength, and a very present help in a time of trouble.” And I remember that just hitting me hard when we found out that she wasn’t going to move again. I definitely went into an emotional survival mode. I had student insurance that took care of the first three hours of our one-month hospital time. We were going bankrupt. It didn’t matter, though, you know? Whatever. She was my best friend. I met her when I was 12. She was the only girl I ever said “I love you” to. It was one of those kind of stories.
You started playing music to cope?
I was really numb. When I finally got to the stage where I realized I was numb, I started journaling, and I would read my journal entries to friends who would come visit me in the waiting room. I would write kind of in rhyme, and they were like, “Man, you should learn how to play the guitar and sing at the same time. These are songs. You should go play the open mics.” So I did. And it was just good for the processing that I needed to go through. It was good to just share things with strangers.
[GET IN THE KNOW]
Here—Have Your Mind Blown The Lone Bellow is new on the scene, sure—which means it won’t take long to get up to speed on their discography. Just get ready to hit “repeat”—again and again. The Lone Bellow 2013
WATCH A collection of stunning live performances.
How have you grown as a songwriter since then?
I don’t think I started actually evolving in the craft of songwriting until I moved to New York. Playing the bars in New York, playing the open mics in the Lower East Side scene— there’s a brutal honesty. You can’t just be like, “Oh, my wife fell off a horse and broke her neck. Listen to this song because I went through a hard time.” If the song is not worth listening to and should just stay in your personal journal, you’re going to know two minutes in.
How do you know when you’ve got a song that’s going to click with audiences?
That’s the mystery of it, right? I really don’t know. It’s like, “Hey, you guys are going to help me curate this. I’m going to be very open and sing you this song that I wrote in my Moleskine in cursive. You guys do what you want with it.” I think that’s the beauty of it. The works that I’m the most proud of, personally, have come from times of either loneliness or intentional loyalty—loyalty either to a stranger in a room or to a fellow musician or a friend that’s reading something that you’re writing down. Just that loyalty of saying, “You have as much ownership to speak into this as I do. Am I being self-indulgent here, or is this actually something worth singing for other people to hear?”
Have you ever written anything you felt was too personal or vulnerable to sing to others?
Absolutely. “Two Sides of Lonely”—that was a very personal story. I went and sang it down at Bar 4, which is the bar across the street from my house. It was full of people, and I felt like it went well. But I was scared. I still am. People are hearing the song more and more, and it’s hard—because there’s one side of it where you want to tell your stories, you want to sing your songs; there’s another side of it where you just want to protect your loved ones. That’s the balance that I’m trying to find. How can I be honest with myself and protect my loved
ones that I write songs about that are real human beings, that have lives and have to hear me sing these songs sometimes?
It’s got to be hard to sing about that in front of thousands, maybe millions of people now.
I cherish the moment in the show when we sing that song, because it ebb and flows from tragedy, hope, betrayal, redemption. I really enjoy singing the song in front of people I don’t know. It’s like one of those disciplines people do to feel alive, like running—to remind yourself that you feel.
You started writing this music to cope with the pain of your wife’s accident. Now, thankfully, she’s on the mend. What’s keeping you writing?
I mean, we’re all—every single one of us—tortured beings. All of us. On any given day, all of us are fighting whatever identities we’ve been wrestling with and whatever reality we’re living in. I have that, as well. But it boils down to the morningto-night mundane life that I’m being inspired by right now. Finding that simple rhythm of being alive. RELEVANT MAGAZINE
TONY HALE AND DONALD MILLER TALK ABOUT FAITH, FAME, POLITICS— AND THE EPICNESS OF BEING BUSTER BLUTH YVONNE TAYLOR
id you know best-selling author Donald Miller is friends with Tony Hale—as in Buster Bluth, Arrested Development Tony Hale? Well, he is. So, we got to thinking: What if Don and Tony sat in a room together—with a tape recorder between them—and had a conversation? They could talk Arrested Development (14 brand-new episodes will appear like magic on Netflix in May), faith (yes, Tony is a believer), staying grounded in Hollywood (turns out, it can be done)—and really, any old thing the two of them, as friends, wanted to chat about. What would it be like to listen in on their conversation? Well, it’d be like this.
I literally woke up on the lawn as the sun was coming up. I was such a huge fan. So when I met you, everything in me was fighting the “Hey, brother” line. Did you get that, and are you still getting it?
DON: I remember the first time I met you. I was such an Arrested Development fan that when season three came out, I threw an overnight slumber party and put a big screen on my front lawn in Portland. I had a red shirt on that had “SLUT” written in black letters across it—it’s a character in the show who wears this absurd outfit. We even tried to find a stand or cart. We served chocolate-covered bananas. I think I had 30 people, and we just had airbeds all over the front lawn, and we just watched season three of Arrested Development all night long.
Is there going to be an Arrested Development movie?
TONY: I do get that a lot. What’s nice about now, when I get recognized for Arrested—I’m such a fan of the show, such a huge fan—and I haven’t really seen the episodes much since they stopped airing. So when people talk about it, I like to talk about it. I just forget stuff, so anytime they bring stuff up, it’s nice to remember, “Oh my gosh, that’s right—I did give massages, or I did make out with Liza Minelli.” It’s a fun kind of remembrance. I hadn’t watched the episodes in a long time, so there’s a lot of bits that I forgot.
That’s what they’ve talked about. They’ve talked about doing the movie after the episodes. That would be great. But you have not shot a movie. At this point, they’ve shot 14 new episodes. And this time around, each episode is based on a character, and then there’s bits of us in each other’s episodes. So it’s kind of this really cool thing that Mitch Hurwitz is doing.
Jason Bateman has kind of gone crazy, Portia [de Rossi] has gone crazy, your career is going crazy—that show really launched a lot of you guys into bigger careers. How in the world did they get so many big stars to come back to do this? I think that’s one of the reasons—I mean, I’m not saying I’m a huge star—but I think that’s one of the reasons [Hurwitz] did it the way he did. It was tough to pull everybody together at once. So, that’s why he did each episode based on one character. It was a little easier to manage that way. That made it possible. So, the time commitment for each actor was less than it was in the original series? Yeah. Jason Bateman probably had the biggest commitment, because he’s going to be in every single episode. So he really set apart a lot of time. And then each of us are just in one. Some of us are in two. I was actually in a movie and had a little hand in writing it, called Blue Like Jazz. Tony, have you seen my movie, Blue Like Jazz? I have not seen your movie, Blue Like Jazz. I regretfully say that, Donald. It’s on my list. Well, I think my mother and my aunt are the only ones who have seen it so far. I’ll send you a case of DVDs—do you mind passing it around on set so everyone can watch it together? Have you seen my 2006 gem, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector?
I’ve actually seen clips of it, and it’s a really great concept. You kind of watch it and you go, “Why wasn’t this done 25 years ago?”
this job into my 40s. I absolutely worship her. I mean, if I could, I would dress and feed her, if she’d let me. I love her that much.
So, by “clips,” do you mean you’ve never seen a full episode? Is that what I’m hearing, Donald?
Oh, did you?
By “clips,” I mean I didn’t even know the show existed. Oh, great. Great. Well, I knew it was coming out, I was excited about it, but I didn’t know episodes had already aired. But here’s the deal. I’ve been living in a van for the past couple months. Have you? Why have you been living in a van?
Tony, you also just released a new series [Veep], in which you play Gary Walsh, who is the bodyman of Vice President Selina Meyer [played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus]. What’s that been like? I love how you say, “You just released,” like I just released an album. You’re so used to saying that, probably. I don’t “release” anything, Donald. What is it in intelligent-speak, then? In intelligent-speak, it’s, “So, you have a new show coming out?” I’m releasing a new album called Veep, where I play bodyman Walsh, and I’ve got about 13 tracks on it ... 58
I did. Oddly enough, I met him standing right outside the Oval Office, at night. It’s a long story. But this guy just runs by me into Dick Cheney’s office—I was getting a little tour from someone in the administration—and I said, “Who’s that guy? What’s he doing?” And you’re absolutely right. These guys, they don’t have girlfriends. They don’t have social lives. Because their constant job is to be ready—to have a comb if the president needs a comb, or some bubblegum or whatever. It’s unbelievable work. So, the concept of your character doing that for 20-whatever years is hilarious. He genuinely has no life. People leave because they don’t have a life, but I’ve been very comfortable for 20 years with the fact that my life is centered around her. That’s my identity.
“I HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME UNDERSTANDING HOW ANYONE IN THIS BUSINESS DOESN’T HAVE A SPIRITUAL CENTER.” That’s a different story. So, let me just ask you this. You play the bodyman for the vice president. What in the world is a bodyman? And did you meet the bodymen for any of the presidents?
No, I have not seen that one. Great. Then we’re even.
I have to confess, I met the bodyman for Bush II.
I did. I met them for one specifically—I can’t say who—but I met them right when we were starting out. Pretty much, he said, your job is, you’re with the president or the vice president 24/7. You carry around this very large bag—whatever they need, you have it. You pretty much don’t have a life. Typically, most bodymen are in their 20s. So then you transfer to my character, Gary—I should have left this job in my 20s, but my identity is so defined by Selina Meyer that the thought of not being her bodyman or not being in her presence is just death to me. So, I have clung onto
Is your character running from something—not facing reality? [Scoffs.] There’s so many issues right there that he’s terrified to touch upon. I mean, the iceberg beneath is ridiculous. So, is that written in the script? When they chose you for the part, did you have to go make up this character? Or do interviews to figure out what his back issues are? Or did they give you an FBI file on this person? No. He’s just a guy who’s been with Selina ever since she was a senator. He’s been with her since his 20s. He’s pretty much just her manservant. She totally emasculates him. And there’s just a lot of comic opportunity there. It’s a lot of fun. Most people probably know you from Arrested Development, in which you play Buster. That is such a strong character that gets into your mind. How great is it to be adding something to the public consciousness of Tony Hale that is not Buster? I mean, I just want to be honest with you—how good does that feel? Buster is the ultimate mama’s boy. That’s a nice way of putting it.
He’s completely emasculated. How did playing a character that is that unlike you affect you, and your marriage, and your life? I don’t know how you turn on Buster and then turn him off and go to a football game or something. How does that work? Well, my wife just has to be comfortable with the fact that she sleeps with Buster Bluth. It’s funny because when I was doing the episodes, you spend your whole day shooting in a very nervous, insecure, emasculated state. As much as I do not consider myself a method actor, where I become the character and forget who I am and then slip out of it, you can’t ignore the fact that when you’re in that character all day long, it’s going to rub off on you when you go home. I remember my wife—I would come home, and I would say something, and she’d be like, “OK, you’re a little hyper-sensitive. Let’s just step back and get grounded. Have some dinner. Let’s bring Tony back, just for tonight.” Well, as long as you don’t call your wife “Mother.” You know what, Donald? I do. And she’s completely comfortable with that. You know what? None of my business. I dress her. I feed her. She’s fine. So, this begs an obvious question. I don’t think of you as an emasculated man in any way— Well, thank you, Donald. But this is a part that you’ve had a couple times, now. What similarities do you share with— With Gary Walsh? Well, let’s see. I do dress and feed my wife every day. So, there’s that similarity. The thing about Gary is that he doesn’t really know a lot about politics. And he doesn’t really care to know a lot about politics, because all he cares about is her. And I can relate to that, because I RELEVANT MAGAZINE
can get so overwhelmed by politics and information and CNN that I just kind of shut down. I actually subscribe to this magazine called The Week, because it kind of gives you the CliffsNotes versions of what’s going on in politics. So, I can relate to his not being really that interested in the political world. He kind of knows what he needs to know, and then he lives his messed-up life. That was a really sad, sad answer. That’s all I play, Donald, is sad characters. When we think about shows about politics, I think people would think of The West Wing. I can’t think of a comedy. Well, here’s the thing about Veep that I love, and this is why I think there’s so much comedy in it. The thing about politics is, it’s kind of like Facebook, where everybody always puts their best foot forward. They always put their best pictures out there, but you really don’t see behind the scenes. What I love about Veep is it shows you behind the scenes. It shows you how completely messed up these people are, how insecure they are, how everybody is freaked out they’re going to be losing their job. Everybody is posturing to get ahead. There are just so many catfights. The thing is, these people carry so much responsibility and have so much pressure that if they don’t fall apart behind the scenes, something is terribly wrong. So this shows them falling apart behind the scenes. I remember the first time I saw government offices at a high level. They were messy. They were cheap. The walls were thin. The buildings were worn down. The furniture was garbage. I really couldn’t believe it. Instead of The West Wing, you guys actually capture the reality. Yeah, that is another thing about Washington. You have these gorgeous buildings—beautiful buildings—and inside, the furniture is crap. It is crap. I promise you, the only beautifully designed room in the White House is the Oval Office. You know, I’ve been in the West Wing, and you’re right. I remember there was this abandoned trailer across the street from my house growing up, and a buddy and I broke into it. I’m going to get into so much trouble for saying this—that is what the West Wing felt like to me. The Oval Office is really beautiful, but I remember thinking [about the rest of the West Wing], “I haven’t seen wood paneling like this since I was in that trailer. And the floor didn’t creak like this since I was in that trailer.” I think people don’t care as long as they can say they work at the White House or the Eisenhower Building or something like that. As long as they can say that, they could care less about the house. 60
To prepare for the part, did you guys get West Wing tours? Yeah, we did. Right before we shot the pilot, they gave us a tour of the West Wing and the Eisenhower Building. We met some really, really fantastic people. Everybody who plays a role in the show, they were able to meet who their character was based on. So it was really fun to ask them questions and hear about their lives. There was one girl—I won’t say who she worked for—she was really sweet,
but she said she worked for this particular senator and she always had her phone on her. Always. She said she sleeps with her phone beside her bed—like, on her pillow—in case the senator were to call. She said, “Every guy I date needs to know that they’re not only dating me, but they’re also dating the senator.” Like, her world is surrounded by her job. It really is just exhausting. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine. Being involved in this show about American politics, has it made you more or less of a cynic about our political system?
Honestly, I don’t know about more or less of a cynic, because I think it’s pretty easy to be a cynic about a lot of things. But I think it’s definitely given me an admiration for people who make the choice to work in that environment because it’s something that I don’t ever want to do. I think I can appreciate what they do. That’s a lot coming at them on a daily basis. That’s a lot of decisions. That’s a lot of meetings. I really do admire somebody who makes the choice to want to do that. Those people who want to make a difference, and truly want to throw their lives into something that’s going to impact society, I have a lot of admiration for that. Could you work for Joe Biden? If he called and he said, “I saw the show. I think you’d be a great bodyman ... ”
business doesn’t have a spiritual center. It’s a very, very challenging career. And there’s also a crapload of rejection. You’re just constantly rejected. I would just be destroyed if I didn’t know that God loves me and I have friends who love me. I would be blown around like a feather in the wind with the rejection everywhere. So, it sounds like you have this faith— A desperate faith?
“YOU’RE ONLY GOING TO FIND TRUE SATISFACTION IF YOU’RE KNOWN IN AN ETERNAL, SPIRITUAL SENSE BY SOMEBODY GREATER THAN YOURSELF.” Here’s the thing. If he saw Veep and, based on Veep, asked me to be the bodyman, that’s not a good vice president. If I got the call, I would say, “Guess who’s not going to vote for you again.”
—that helps you not to go so low. Does it have the other effect, where it helps you not to go so high when you get so big?
This is a huge sort of break for your career—one of many breaks, going all the way back to a Volkswagen commercial, in which you played, like, a Mr. Roboto. How long ago was that?
It does. It absolutely does. That’s a great way of putting it. Because you see things in perspective. Not that it belittles the highs. Here’s the thing I think about the highs: People put a lot of expectation on the highs. People say, “If I were to get this job, if I were to get married, if I were to get the sitcom or whatever.” But a lot of people who have gotten those things have realized that they didn’t satisfy. It can be a terrifying place when you’ve gotten your thing and it didn’t satisfy. I’ve said this before, but if you don’t practice contentment where you’re at, you’re not going to be content when you get what you want. The highs make sense in knowing that, “Yes, I can really enjoy it, but the high isn’t about getting this. This just happens to be. I was given this, and now I can enjoy it.”
That was in ... I did that in 2000. Twelve years ago. I think that was everybody’s favorite commercial that year. But let’s talk about something a little more personal. How do you keep a moral, spiritual center in the line of work that you’re in? I wouldn’t even say it’s by choice. It’s something that I personally have to do. I’m in a career that is so job-to-job. Thankfully, I’m on a job that’s going to last until March, but I have no clue what my next job is, and I’ve been doing that for 18 years. So, to know that God has my back, and to know that there’s more to life than this—I mean, I’ll do the best I can, but I think a lot of the time you’ll hear that you’ve got to be at the right place at the right time. That’s a lot of pressure! How do I know what’s the right place at the right time? I’m going to do my best, but I don’t know! I just have to trust that God has my back. In that chaotic of a career that I’ve chosen, I have to know that God is with me. I have a difficult time understanding how anyone in this
Why do you think people are obsessed with fame? What do
you think that says about us as a culture? I do think that, honestly, it’s grounded in the fact that everybody desperately wants to be known, and they think that fame is kind of the ultimate of being known—“If that many people know me, if that many people know who I am, then it’s going to satisfy that.” The thing is, when you get to that place, you’re only going to find true satisfaction if you’re known in an eternal, spiritual sense by Somebody greater than yourself. I think a lot of people have gotten to that place where they have been known by a lot of people, and it still doesn’t satisfy. Pretty much, this is how to summarize it: If you don’t find something greater than yourself who knows you—knows truly who you are—and you feel known by them, then you’re going to spend the rest of your life trying to be known by a ton of other people. Fame is what people may see as the ultimate. And it’s not. Because even though a lot of people might know your name, it’s never enough. It’s never enough, and you’re desperately trying to stay on top, you’re desperately trying to get a thousand more Twitter followers, you’re desperately trying to get whatever. And granted, we’re all victims to that. It’s really trying to become aware of the fact that I’m already known. I’m already known to the absolute utmost I can be known. I remember reading Steve Martin’s biography, Born Standing Up, which was just an incredible book. I actually cried when I got to the end of it. And he said, “I really believe I’ve found the right amount of fame. Not too much. Not too little. I’m really enjoying where it’s at.” I remember thinking, “I don’t know that he’s found the right amount of fame. I think he changed.” I think something in him changed, and he was finally just satisfied. I would agree with that. I would agree that probably—and I can’t speak for him—but you get to a space where you are known by a lot of people and you realize it doesn’t satisfy, and you also realize, “I’m going to keep trying to get more people to know me, and it’s not going to satisfy.” You get to that place and you have to make an internal choice of, “OK, I’ve got to accept the fact that it’s not going to get any better by a lot more people knowing me, and I’ve got to get grounded and realize that I’m known, whether it’s something greater than myself that knows me”—or whatever you consider being known spiritually—that you have that already. RELEVANT MAGAZINE
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WANT TO BE ANYWHERE BUT HERE BY NICOLE UNICE
starts as the tiniest pull in your heart. You try to ignore it, but the feeling sticks: Something’s not quite right. You find yourself restless. Things you used to enjoy have lost their shine. You spend your lunch break Googling the Peace Corps. And TED talks. And how to become a vegan. The whisper becomes a shout and you enter full-blown panic: I must be made for more than this! Call it spring fever. Call it wanderlust. Or should you call it God? How do you know when that restless feeling stems from a spirit of discontent or adventure? How can you tell if the itch in your heart is a passing phase or a sign from God to get on the move? What do you do when the thought that “there must be more than this” just won’t go away? Jessica and Andrew, newly married, say they struggle with this question. “Should we stay in the 9-to-5 or quit our jobs and travel the world with savings?” they ask. “We’re only young once ... ” Ben, who has been dating his girlfriend for nine months, thinks she could be “the one” but can’t shake the feeling he’s missing out on an adventure elsewhere. Julie, on the other hand, hates her job and is ready to quit. The scenarios may differ, but we all share the same struggle to discern between our heart’s desires and God’s plans. When wanderlust strikes, you need to be able to tell the difference. Here are a few ways to discover what’s really driving your urge to check out and move on.
Rather than over-spiritualizing and agonizing over your options, the answer can be as simple as taking stock of your circumstances. God’s call will rarely stand in stark contrast to common sense. Perhaps you feel called into ministry but are under the strain of school and credit-card debt.
Maybe your job is horrible and grad school sounds appealing, but you don’t have a strong sense of what to study or what you’d do after that. If you have a burning passion to lead a cause in the nonprofit world, blowing $200 on a PlayStation for your parents’ basement (that you live in) probably isn’t the next logical step. The outward factors of your life can serve as telling indicators for what you should do. Taking stock, then, means getting your life in order so you can respond and move toward your dreams. These aren’t glamorous steps, but they are foundational. When we’re faithful in the little things, the big things usually follow.
KNOW YOUR STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES
After taking stock of your external life, turn your attention inward. Too often, our discontent is more about circumstances than character. And there’s never a better time for a moment of self-inventory than when you’re trying to discern God’s will. What are your character deficits? How is your current situation forcing you to deal with them? Do you have room for growth in the areas of living in community, cultivating healthy habits, dealing with bad bosses, developing spiritual disciplines? This is hard work, but it’s work worth doing. I met Ben one summer while leading college ministry. A few years later, he contacted me to “grab coffee,” which is ministry code for “I am freaking out about my life.” Sure enough, over our lattes, Ben filled me in on the enormous pressures he was feeling in his first job in full-time ministry and in his relationship with his girlfriend. “I just can’t shake the feeling that I want to peace out, just leave it all behind,” he told me, musing aloud about giving up both his job and his girlfriend for a missions opportunity. He reasoned that maybe if he left them both behind, he could likewise leave his discontent. And with a noble reason like overseas mission work, what was keeping him? Over the course of our conversation, though, Ben discovered his life had taken on a disconcerting pattern: Every two years, he began to slowly exit out of his relationships. This realization led him to discover his wanderlust wasn’t about his job or his girlfriend. It was about issues embedded deeply in his character: his fear of failing to lead well in ministry and in relationships. Ben had spent a decade of his life avoiding all this by simply moving on every few years.
Here are the questions that helped Ben understand his standard operating procedures: 1. Has dissatisfaction, followed by the solution of quitting, become a pattern in my life? 2. Am I angry or resentful toward someone or something? Am I frustrated about a current reality I wish I could escape? 3. What is going on in my relationships that might be causing me to crave a change? 4. What is my default pattern whenever I’ve made decisions in the past—do I tend to drag my feet or jump ahead? For Ben, discovering his standard operating procedures put his wanderlust in context and became a helpful turning point. He turned down the overseas offer and stuck around. Over the next year, he grew in character and maturity—and proposed to his girlfriend. In this case, following Jesus wasn’t about a missions opportunity in Africa. It was about the hard work of growing right at home. Maybe next time an opportunity to serve overseas comes up, Ben—and his new wife—will be ready for it.
When the grass starts looking greener anywhere but here, it’s time to ask an important question: RELEVANT MAGAZINE
month. Keep your regular routine right where it is, except for one out-of-the-ordinary adventure. Take a class. Host a dinner party. Solve a problem. Sometimes—at least for Jessica and Andrew, and maybe for you, too—our desire to see the world is really a longing for a bigger life here at home. The plus side is that change is more within reach than we think. It might be as easy as volunteering at an after-school program, launching a new personal project or committing to live more simply and give more generously. Changes like this bump us out of the rut of routine and allow us to explore our strengths and passions. They might be just what you need to make you feel at home again—and glad you stayed.
LET OTHERS READ YOUR LIFE
What do you really want? Often what we really want isn’t the new job—it’s purpose. What we really want isn’t just a date—it’s to be known and loved. Wanderlust tends to stir up a cloud of doubt that can make it hard to see the real heart of the matter. So, ask yourself: What do you really desire to see change from this situation to the next? You may find that many of your fantasies of what life could be like with a change are just that—fantasies. And many times, those fantasies put our selfish desires front and center. Perhaps you want to work in ministry, but your ego also wants the affirmation of being a leader. Maybe you want to travel, but you also want to be the one with all the great stories to tell at parties. When your vision positions you at the center, it’s usually not a vision from God. His vision generally doesn’t revolve around getting us to feel important and glorified (see Exhibit A: the entire Bible). But God’s vision does involve us living passionately in our strengths, no matter what that looks like. My friend Julie was working a corporate job and hating every minute of it. When she asked herself the question, “What do I really want?” she realized how much she had always enjoyed babysitting. But because she had just graduated from college, she felt vague pressure—from her parents, from 64
THERE’S NEVER A BETTER TIME FOR A MOMENT OF SELF-INVENTORY THAN WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO DISCERN GOD’S WILL. society, from herself—to prove her worth in the business world. Julie’s vision of caring for kids wasn’t about getting glory but about doing what she loved to do: nurture, use her knack for crafts and expend her energy on something that felt meaningful. So, after sticking out the office job six more months, Julie clocked out and started to work as a full-time nanny—making more money than she did behind the desk. Once Julie shook free from others’ expectations and re-evaluated her motives, she was able to make a change in confidence. It was a change that didn’t make sense to achievement-loving ladder-climbers, but it made perfect sense for her.
MAKE ONE CHANGE
Perhaps you, like newlyweds Jessica and Andrew, have taken stock of your situation and are in a relatively healthy place spiritually, relationally and financially. You’ve evaluated your standard operating patterns and have spent time figuring out what you really want—and yet the wanderlust remains. Before you sell your belongings and leave on a jet plane, start small. Make one change for one
But sometimes wanderlust rides in so strong, it calls for reinforcements. When author Parker Palmer was offered the opportunity to become president of a respected university, he felt divided. So he brought the situation to his friends within the Quaker community, a tradition that encourages discerning with trusted friends when facing a major life decision. As Palmer fielded questions from his friends, he realized his hopes for the position didn’t line up with his strengths or passions—and his initial excitement about the opportunity became clear. “I think I just want the job because I imagine how cool it would be to get my picture in the paper with the word ‘president’ under it,” he admitted to the group. After a few quiet moments, someone asked: “Parker, can you think of an easier way to get your picture in the paper?” Reading our lives, especially when we’re feeling restless, is like standing six inches away from a skyscraper; it is impossible to take in the whole scope from such an angle. Proverbs 24:6 offers different advice: “Victory is won through many advisors.” Wise friends are those who do what we cannot: take 20 steps back from our lives and call out what they see.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
When you explore what’s behind your wanderlust, one of two things will happen. Either you’ll stay put, with renewed perspective on why you are meant to be where you are, or you’ll move, knowing God has prepared you for something new. Whatever the outcome, God’s guidance for your life remains the same. He is never late or forgetful to keep His promises (2 Peter 3:9). He holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), including this season. His purposes for you will never be thwarted (Isaiah 14:24). He will not trick or deceive you (1 Samuel 15:29) but will lead you toward a fuller knowledge of Himself. And He is refining you in the little things to prepare you for something more (Luke 16:10). Whatever the outcome, you can put your doubt and discontent to rest—as you gain confidence in where God has called you to be.
NICOLE UNICE is director of the ministry residency program at Hope Church in Richmond, Va., and author of She’s Got Issues (Tyndale, 2012). The twentysomethings around her call her their life coach. She calls them friends.
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THE METEORIC RISE OF THE AMERICANA TRIO HAS SURPRISED THEM AS MUCH AS ANYONE. BY LIZ RIGGS
Lumineers haven’t been a household name for more than a couple months, but they’re already losing track of which photo shoot is which. As they were coming off a brief Thanksgiving break, posing for just one more batch of pictures, the band’s affable cellist, Neyla Pekarek, says, “We didn’t really know what was happening until we were there. It was like, ‘Oh, this is for the cover of Billboard?’” That’s a notable achievement for any band, but when their manager pulled them aside mid-shoot to inform them they’d be flying to Nashville the next morning to present the Grammy nominations, it all started to seem uncommonly charmed.
“It’s all just kind of a whirlwind,” says Pekarek. “It’s crazy to think that in March , we were playing to empty rooms and working side jobs. And in May we did Conan, July we did Leno—all this late-night stuff. It’s almost hard to take in because it’s happening so rapidly.” Here’s what she’s talking about. The Lumineers (Wesley Schultz on guitar, Jeremiah Fraites on drums and Pekarek on cello) just wrapped an arena tour with the Dave Matthews Band, criss-crossing states in a tour bus with a full crew. They were nominated for two of those Grammys they announced in Nashville, have cropped up in national commercials, landed a coveted gig on Saturday Night Live and watched, aghast, as their single “Ho Hey” went both viral and platinum. It’s no surprise their self-titled debut album that dropped last April has already gone gold. “It’s funny because I keep thinking, ‘Oh, it can’t get any crazier than this,’” Pekarek says. “We were in Europe about three weeks ago, and I thought, ‘This is the craziest it’s gonna get.’ And then last week, we had the Grammy nomination thing happen.” With their folk-Americana-popstomp-clap-“hey!”-snap goodness up for two Grammys and a string of sold-out shows on the tour docket, the Lumineers went from feisty indie nobodies to conquering folk heroes at a galloping pace that doesn’t show any sign of slowing. “I think it was pretty unexpected,” Pekarek says, reflecting on the band’s ascension. “The goal was for us to just kind of make a living as musicians. And I think a lot of the things that have come with it at this level weren’t really in the plan. We were just happy to come home and not work side jobs anymore. We’re all really grateful for what’s happened, but we definitely weren’t expecting it.”
A LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS OF ... CRAIGSLIST?
There have been more than a few unexpected turns in the Lumineers’ history, and nothing less expected than its origins.
The Lumineers’ pioneering members and chief songwriters, Schultz and Fraites, were, like a lot of musicians, trying to pay rent by playing music in New York City. And, again like a lot of musicians, they found the high cost of living made it impossible. Still unsure how or why it happened, they ended up in Denver. “Denver was just a random spot on the map for them,” Pekarek says. “They had some friends living there and just heard it was a lot cheaper to live there. It wasn’t really a destination spot. I don’t think they had any intentions of staying there very long. They just thought they’d hole up and write a bunch of music and then hit the road.” Pekarek, the only group member actually from Denver, was teaching and busing tables when she saw a Craigslist ad for a cello player. She had been a casual cellist throughout her life, playing here and there in college and occasionally pulling in a wedding gig. “I hadn’t really been in a band before or had any thoughts of being in a band,” she says. But she decided to respond. Luckily, Pekarek wasn’t catfished—and you could say it’s one of the more monumental Craigslist responses in recent history.
“BETTER THAN WE HAD PICTURED” SERVES AS A DECENT MICROCOSM OF THE LUMINEERS’ ENTIRE CAREER THUS FAR. Pekarek fit Schultz and Fraites’ bill for a hauntingly voiced cellist to back up their boot-stomping guitar pluck—and something clicked. Maybe it was the affinity all three shared for infectiously sincere melodies with just the right blend of longing and cheer. Maybe it was that bygone-age reverie they conjure once they begin to play. Perhaps it was their shared likeness to folkstar supermodels. Whatever it was, the group had that intangible je ne sais quoi that any band aims for, and they hit the road as a touring group. “The ﬁrst tour we did was about 30 days,” recalls Pekarek. “We were in this really small minivan, which was Jer’s personal vehicle, and it was just packed to the gills with stuff. And we did 30 days—probably 20 shows in those 30 days, just every single night, just anywhere we could play. People’s living rooms or really dirty bars or coffee shops—it didn’t really matter. We just wanted gigs. We got back from that, and we wanted to do it again. I think that was the telling sign.”
LIGHTING UP BARS, LIVING ROOMS, STADIUMS AND IPODS
Wanting to get back into the same van after a month on the road with a couple of scraggly ragamuffins is a sign, yes. But even more telling was the response to the music. The Lumineers’ acoustic-laden songs of love, loss and everything in between turned curious showgoers into lifelong fans. “You could just sort of see it in people—that, ‘Oh my gosh, that person is playing a cello, and that person’s playing an accordion,’” Pekarek says. “All these instruments that you don’t see as much anymore in popular bands. I think it appeals to the same senses of dance music; it makes you want to move. There’s a lot of clapping and stomping and things like that, that gets the audience involved.”
She’s not wrong. The Lumineers may look and sound like they’re from a far-off era of American history, but they owe a debt to Billboard’s Hot 100. Their breakout hit, “Ho Hey,” was one of the anthems—if not the anthem—of 2012, with the vigor of a campfire singalong and lyrics that are just vague enough to be universal. Then there’s “Stubborn Love,” which is as instantly catchy as anything in Bruno Mars’ repertoire, but instead of smoldering, it burns with howls, screams and cascading choruses. The band’s ode to girls with an aversion to smooching in bars, “Classy Girls,” is one of the album’s better songs. It feels a little snarky, vaguely self-aware and yet still catchy enough to work—which is what the Lumineers do best: reel a listener in with an invasive hook about a weighty topic. And then there’s the way some songs come together the same way this last year unfolded for the unsuspecting trio—by surprise and with amazement. “I really like the way ‘Dead Sea’ turned out,” Pekarek says, by way of example. “That was one that was up in the air right before we went into the studio. It was still fairly new, and we had been playing it live for just a few months. We didn’t even know if it would go on the record. “Then one of my friends from college, who played all the bass on the record, came in and did this Motown bass line that we would never have thought of on our own. It gave it this whole new ﬂavor. It was this somber, almost melancholy sound before. Then he added that, and it turned into this funky thing. It turned out a lot better than we had pictured in our heads.” “Better than we had pictured”— it’s a decent microcosm of the Lumineers’ entire career thus far, you might say. And with an album full of different songs that come at the eardrums in unexpected ways, the band is making its mark in a way that says they’re serious and they’re here to play. “Every single song is crafted with a lot of care and concern,” Pekarek says with pride. “There’s RELEVANT MAGAZINE
not anything that’s on there that wasn’t supposed to be. I mean, every tambourine hit was very premeditated. We put a lot of time and work into the record as a whole. A lot of bands have to compromise on their first album because they don’t have the money to call the shots. We were lucky enough to be working with people that let us do what we wanted. And so, it really is our ideal product that came out.”
JUST LIT UP TO BE HERE AT ALL
The album might be their ideal product, and the band members certainly don’t seem to be having a hard time enjoying it, but as with any smash success, it comes with its fair share of detractors. You won’t find many reviews of the album that don’t draw comparisons to U.K. banjo-maestros Mumford & Sons, and not all reviewers are kind in their comparisons. But that’s not slowing the trio a bit. “I think we all make a really big effort to avoid what’s written about us,” Pekarek says, “whether it’s good or bad, you know, and just kind of take it in at the shows, when what we’re doing is effective or not. It’s through interviews and stuff we hear a lot of comparisons and things like that, and that’s 68
“A LOT OF THE THINGS THAT HAVE COME WITH IT AT THIS LEVEL WEREN’T REALLY IN THE PLAN. WE WERE JUST HAPPY TO COME HOME AND NOT WORK SIDE JOBS ANYMORE.” —NEYLA PEKAREK not really good or bad. Being compared to Mumford & Sons or Avett Brothers—those are really great bands to be compared to. [Laughs.] I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing at all.” It’s hard to argue with her, and, in any case, hundreds of thousands of fans can’t all be wrong. Still, the Lumineers now have to grapple with the struggle many artists deal with once they become critically acclaimed, beloved by fans and tossed into the public eye: Will they sell out? And will the indie scene that holds the bulk of the Lumineers’ fan base be upset if their beloved folksters take home a couple Grammys? There’s no telling how fans would respond to such a win, but they might be more inclined to stick around if they heard the band’s perspective on it. “It’s like if someone passes away in a family and they leave a will, and the family starts fighting over these things they never knew they had,” Pekarek says, laughing. “Getting stressed out over this inheritance that they never even counted on. I see it a little bit that way. None of us would be upset at all if we didn’t win [a Grammy].” This sort of graciousness seasons the Lumineers. There’s no sense of entitlement or disillusionment that fast-burning fame can sometimes bring. They seem genuinely enthused and even bewildered by the excitement of the last year. “We all know this business is really ﬁckle, you know, and so we’re just
really grateful to be doing any of the things we’re doing right now,” says Pekarek. “But there is kind of this resurgence of Americana or folk or whatever, and a little bit of it is possibly people are almost shocked when they see someone playing an instrument for real. It’s an age of so much recorded, digital stuff. I think it’s pretty refreshing.” The novelty is sticking, though. The group has plans to travel to Japan, Australia and back to Europe this year and is finding time (surprisingly enough) to write the next album. Pekarek says the group has “a few songs kind of in the works,” which probably means fans won’t have their ears on new Lumineers tracks anytime soon���but they’ll probably have a chance to bump into the group on the road. The Lumineers are living the life that most musicians haven’t even begun to dream of yet. And while the saying goes that “once you’re on top, there’s no place to go but down,” it seems like the Lumineers still have room to climb.
LIZ RIGGS is a freelance writer and English teacher in Nashville, Tenn. Follow her on Twitter at your own risk @riggser.
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A LOOK AT WHERE WE’RE GOING BY DETERMINI NG WHERE WE’ VE BEEN. en years ago, the media world looked a little different than it does today. People actually bought CDs. Cell phones were used for, you know, calling people. And Facebook wasn’t even a glimmer in little Marky Mark’s eye. What we read, how we communicate and the way we create and consume media is a radically different animal now. Back in 2003, you were cutting edge if you used a grunge font and paint splatter. Now, reading our iPad issue involves almost every sense. (Well, not scent or taste. Yet.) We’d like to think that in the past 10 years, we’ve grown up some. And so have you. More likely than not, this past decade has been formative—refining, in ways big and small, the way you see the world, engage culture and experience God. Like media’s changes and challenges, faith is shifting, as well. Some are even pronouncing it dead, noting the muchballyhooed “rise of the nones” and the growing exodus of twenty- and thirtysomethings from the Church. Of course, faith is no more tumultuous now than it ever was. Our approach to it is evolving, and how we practice our faith must keep up with the problems facing our world and our hearts— just like Christians have done for thousands of years.
To that end, in the section you’re about to read, we’re looking over our shoulder and around the curve ahead. We’re exploring what has shaped us in the past decade—the 10 trends and 10 people who have most contributed to who we are today—and looking forward, asking Christian leaders to weigh in on which issues they think will be most crucial for us to address in the next decade. By heeding their vision, we can ensure the next 10 years won’t see the death of faith at all. On the contrary, it might be more alive than ever.
THINGS THAT DEFINED THE LAST DECADE B Y J O N AT H A N ME R R I T T
For many of us, the last 10 years have coincided with our formative years—a time of maturation, when our faith perspective, worldview and convictions became our own. It’s also been a formative decade in the Church. New movements rose and fell. Institutional structures that have existed for centuries lost their shine for an upcoming generation of Christians. We’ve taken old ideas and practices and reinterpreted them. Some we’ve thrown out altogether, creating new trajectories of our own. Here, we present the 10 trends that have shaped us—for better or worse—and been shaped by us in the last decade.
THE RISE OF A POSTDENOMINATIONAL GENERATION A GENERATION AGO, IT MATTERED whether you were Presbyterian or Pentecostal, Lutheran or Baptist. Not so today. In recent years, postmodern Christians began to see the traditional structures of church denominations as limitations. They now consider the differences that once caused schisms to be minor quibbles, viewing denominations as evidence of a fractured faith. According to LifeWay Research, non-denominational churches have increased dramatically since 1972. Unaffiliated congregations are now
the third-largest type of evangelical congregation in America. Perhaps this trend was driven by the budding individualism of the 21st century, in which people shopped for churches like they would a pair of shoes. Or maybe it’s because this generation shies away from institutions as a whole. Then again, the reputation for infighting many denominations carry might be what repels Christians from joining them. Regardless, this generation approaches church the same way it approaches the rest of life—by placing a premium on autonomy and freedom.
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ME-CENTERED CHRISTIANITY GIVES WAY TO MISSIONAL LIVING TEN YEARS AGO, THE WORD “MISSIONAL” was nowhere to be found in the Christian vernacular. Today, it’s the movement that identifies why Christians are less focused on getting people into church and more focused on getting church people into the world to love their neighbors and proclaim the Good News. The suburban megachurch model of the
1990s gave way to an urban church-planting movement. The prosperity gospel, which thrived during the heyday of televangelism, was roundly rejected by Christians who would rather give than receive. This “heavening of earth” is a guiding focus for this generation, propelling a renewed commitment to intentional living.
THE WALL BETWEEN “SACRED” AND “SECULAR” GETS TORN DOWN Christians in the 1970s and ’80s were so turned off by America’s “moral decline,” they created quarantined pockets of Christendom to insulate themselves from the world’s evils. Christian record labels popped up to produce Christian music artists to be broadcast on Christian radio stations. Christian publishing houses worked overtime to fill the shelves of Christian bookstores, and Christian schools and universities proliferated. Whether it was a film or softball league or “Satan’s holiday,” everything had a Christian alternative. By the time the 21st century dawned, with the world growing more connected and pluralistic, self-segregating into Christian cubbies became increasingly impossible. Christians realized listening to secular music wasn’t equal to punching one’s ticket to hell, and neither was having friends who don’t follow Jesus. This shift bled into the workplace, as many recognized being a pastor was as divine a calling as being a businesswoman. The belief that all of life is sacred has penetrated deeply the last 10 years. From here, we can expect fewer bonfires for burning nonChristian paraphernalia and more conversations about living holistically devoted to Jesus.
EVANGELICALS RECLAIM SOCIAL JUSTICE Ever since the phrase “social gospel” was introduced by Walter Rauschenbusch in the early 20th century, “social justice” became a dirty phrase among conservative Christians. Never mind that the Bible speaks of justice and poverty more than 2,000 times—social justice efforts were believed to be a corruption of the Good News and a distraction from the Church’s “true” mission of evangelism. But today, as a Barna study reports, young Christians are more “globally aware and causeoriented” and “sensitive to issues related to justice and poverty” than the generation before them. This rekindling of justice has been led by activists and thought leaders like Shane Claiborne and Jim Wallis, though evangelicals on the left and right have reclaimed justice efforts as an integral part of the Christian calling.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Christians have cared about social justice, but the views of groups who cared were considered more liberal fringe than mainstream. The tables have since turned, with churches and organizations leading hunger relief efforts, clean water projects, the fight against human trafficking and the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Today, those who shrink back from the Christian call to justice are the ones on the fringe.
T H I NG S THAT DE F I NE D THE LAST DE CA DE
THE RISE AND DEMISE OF THE EMERGENT CHURCH
WE’RE MORE PRO-LIFE THAN EVER The last decade has produced a generation of Christians who are statistically more pro-life than their parents. According to a Religion & Ethics Newsweekly poll, 71 percent of older evangelicals believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 74 percent of younger evangelicals believe the same. But rising Christians have broadened the definition of “life” beyond the abortion issue. Their pro-life-ness has led them, for example, to focus on the millions who will die this year from preventable diseases and the thousands of innocents who will perish as a result of unjust wars.
For them, caring about life in a Christian way means protecting it “from the womb to the tomb.” This generation’s holistic embrace of a pro-life ethic illustrates that moving forward doesn’t mean selling off, wholesale, anything that smacks of yesteryear but, rather, attempting to think critically about how to follow Jesus in a new age.
YOUNG CHRISTIANS DON’T HAVE A POLITICAL PARTY During the latter part of the 20th century, many Christians saw partisan politics as a useful tool to further social agendas. But a rising generation recognizes the pitfalls of both major parties and is becoming increasingly independent. For example, a 2001 study of young evangelicals by the Pew Research Center uncovered 55 percent were self-described Republicans. When the study was repeated in 2007, only 40 percent remained in that category. But the leavers didn’t simply convert to the Democratic Party—only 5 percent did. The additional 10 percent now describe themselves as “independents” or “unaffiliated.” The new resistance to categories may have some advantages. As pastor Tim Keller observes, today’s Christians may be “the vanguard of some major new religious, social and political arrangements that could make the older form of culture wars obsolete.” If Keller is right, perhaps American Christianity may find itself on the cusp of a cultural renewal. 74
IN THE LATE 1990S, THE conspicuous absence of young people in American churches became painfully clear. Pastors like Mark Driscoll, Chris Seay and Doug Pagitt asserted that the Church needed to change if it wanted to reach a postmodern generation. These voices were soon joined by Brian McLaren, Rob Bell and Tony Jones, in addition to masses of fresh followers. And so, the emergent church was born, creating a welcome home for young people disillusioned with conventional Christianity. Christianity Today proclaimed “emergent” one of the fastest-growing movements within Christianity, and author Phyllis Tickle predicted this new kind of Christianity would take over the world. But the emergent church’s dominance would not last. Its critique of rigid pietism and narrow theology devolved into a less interesting, rehashed theological liberalism. Driscoll and Seay fled the movement, and those who remained were either marginalized among evangelicals or became a small avant-garde sect of mainline Protestantism. The emergent movement’s rise and fall remains a warning against reform movements that lack a theological center.
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CHRISTIANS GROW COMFORTABLE WITH DOUBT Christians have always struggled to know what to do with doubt, but the rationalism of the 20th century created a special hostility for doubters. Apologetics ruled the day, with Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel and Norm Geisler surveying the “evidence” for faith and attempting to slay skeptics and cynics with the weapon of logical debate. This created a church environment that, according to Barna Research, often condemns those who struggle with significant intellectual doubts about faith. A new stable of voices, from Donald Miller to Lauren Winner, rose in the last decade— voices that openly wrestled with hardcore doubts and even used their struggles as a springboard to authentic faith. Their honesty gave a generation the freedom to ask difficult questions.
A WORSHIP AND PRAYER MOVEMENT SPREADS
A RETURN TO GOSPEL CENTRALITY While young Christians highly value doubt, they also—somewhat paradoxically—have developed something of a “Gospel defensiveness.” Fueled in part by the growing Reformed movement, a fresh vision for understanding, articulating and even “rediscovering” the Gospel has arisen among Christians in the last decade. This generation of believers wants to understand what the Gospel really is and isn’t, which
“gospels” are false and how we misuse the Gospel according to our own purposes. When forecasting the future of American Christianity, Gabe Lyons notes that for a new generation, the Gospel “is the foundational assertion of the Bible—the driving motivation for everything they do.” Not content to section it off to Sunday’s sermon or the mission field, the Gospel informs this generation’s understanding of vocation, the causes they support and even which products they consume.
HYMNBOOKS, ROBED CHOIRS AND PIPE ORGANS FADED throughout the ’90s, but in the last decade they went the way of the buggy whip to make way for a more “seeker-friendly” experience. Streamlined praise choruses emerged in their place to meet a desire for a fuller, more intimate experience with God. Worship artists like Jesus Culture, Hillsong United and Passion led the way into worship that is emotive, expressive and, most of all, a divine encounter. Like worship, prayer became far more than a segment of the Sunday service. Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer (IHOP) and Pete Greig’s 24/7 Prayer emerged on the scene in 1999, quickly sparking an international prayer movement. Young people rallied to
join sessions of unbroken prayer— not just to encounter God but to invoke His transformative work among the nations. This past decade sealed prayer and worship as far more than spiritual disciplines. They became, as IHOP worship leader Misty Edwards sees it, powerful means for paving the way for Christ’s Kingdom to come.
JONATHAN MERRITT (@jonathanmerritt) is author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars. His work appears regularly in outlets such as USA Today, The Atlantic, National Journal and RELEVANT.
PEOPLE WHO CHANGED EVERYTHING BY PENNY CAROTHERS
When we asked our readers who has most impacted their life and faith in the last decade—and from that poll crafted the list you’re about to read—we were surprised by a few things. First, at how white and male the final list is. (Our founder, Cameron Strang, shares some thoughts about that in his First Word.) And second, the extent of each person’s influence. You may not agree with the theology or politics of each person here, but you can’t deny each one has pioneered the Gospel in a significant way in this new millennium. Here are the 10 people who have most changed the game for our readers in the last 10 years.
FRANCIS CHAN He’s been called irresponsible and even “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” for leaving a thriving church in 2010, where he pastored for 16 years. But for Chan, it was a necessary act to keep himself in check at the height of his career. So, in the wake of Crazy Love’s success, with its 2.2 million copies sold, Chan made a few radical decisions: He would give away the profits from his best-seller and move with his family to one of the poorest regions of the world to pursue a life of service outside the glow of his success. After nine months abroad, Chan and his family then settled in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, where the former megachurch pastor is now going small and focusing on a one-on-one discipleship model of ministry. Call it what you will, Chan simply calls it practicing what he preaches. First we admired his words; now we admire his actions.
CRAZY LOVE Chan’s breakout book is a tribute to God’s crazy, relentless love.
MULTIPLY The book that teaches what Chan preaches most: discipleship.
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SHANE CLAIBORNE TWO BOOKS AND MANY YEARS after its 2006 release, The Irresistible Revolution—touted as a handbook for “ordinary radicals” that also gave rise to the spreading movement of New Monasticism—is still the book Shane Claiborne is best known for writing. Today, Claiborne’s dreads are a little longer, but his bandana and simple clothing remain the same— as does his dedication to live simply and serve his inner-city neighbors in Philadelphia through the Simple Way community, which he co-founded in 1998. With titles like Jesus for President to his name, Claiborne is nothing if not a conversationstarter. But his lifestyle example is just as provocative as his words. Through his efforts in peacemaking, racial reconciliation and redistribution of wealth for the poor, Claiborne personifies the outwardly serviceoriented life that many of us aspire to live today.
JON FOREMAN With more than eight full-length albums to its name, a Grammy, numerous Dove awards and regularly sold-out tours, Switchfoot and frontman Jon Foreman (with many projects of his own) is an enduring phenomenon. Throughout Foreman’s long career, he’s dodged marketers’ attempts to pigeonhole the band’s music as Christian or secular—and the surprising result has been success in both realms. What’s more, the mainstream spotlight has not diluted his faith. In fact, Switchfoot’s lyrics (penned mostly by Foreman)
are infused with a depth of soul-searching that reaches beyond the typical worship set. Through a refusal to categorize faith and art, Switchfoot’s success is another indicator of this decade’s breakdown of the barrier between the sacred and the secular.
TIM KELLER HE’S BEEN CALLED THE C.S. LEWIS OF THE 21ST CENTURY— and for good reason. Tim Keller may not be a likely candidate for winning over young New Yorker skeptics to the Gospel, but that’s exactly what he’s doing from his post as founding pastor of Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Somehow, Keller has managed to refresh the Reformed tradition—hearkening back to John Calvin’s theology but tinged with modernist rationalism— in a way that makes postmodern urbanites keep coming back. And it’s not just New York City that’s taken notice—the Gospel Coalition website and conferences, co-founded by Keller and D.A. Carson, serve as a go-to resource for the “young, restless and Reformed.”
THE IRRESISTIBLE REVOLUTION Become part of the ordinary radical movement.
PEOPLE WHO CHANGED EVERYT HING
MICHAEL GUNGOR The new wave of worship that began in the mid- to late-’90s with the likes of David Crowder*Band, Passion and—reaching way back, now—Delirious? gave way to a generation of young people who simply love to praise God’s name. Rolling in on the heels of that first wave came a second one in the last few years, this time fueled by artisans of instrumentation and songwriting, of which Michael Gungor is a leading voice. But this pastor’s kid with a pastor’s heart doesn’t fuel life on music alone. He also founded a church in Denver, Colo., with his wife, Lisa, and recently published The Crowd, the Critic and the Muse—his treatise on the creative life.
LAUREN WINNER HAS NEITHER the goofy comic of Donald Miller nor the irreverence of Anne Lamott, but like the authors with whom her writing is often compared, her prose is insightful, honest and always right on point. In each best-selling book, the Duke professor reclaims previously cliché-laden topics— conversion, sex, doubt—and has developed a new vocabulary for a generation fed up with conventional answers. There’s an elite quality to Winner’s insight, though, that sets her apart. Few of us could muster the intellectual gravitas to manage a chat with her over coffee, but we love to admire her from afar because we Christians—so often the laughingstock of the intellectual community—get to claim Winner as one of our own.
DON MILLER Don Miller has come a long way from driving a beat-up Honda Prelude to and from Reed College, the setting for his New York Times best-selling memoir, Blue Like Jazz. Miller’s off beat narrative broke the mold for spiritual writing. What’s more, it became a manifesto of sorts for a disenchanted generation seeking a relationship with God devoid of the spiritual baggage of their youth. Yet more striking than the impressive number of sales—over 1.5 million since 2002—is the number of people who say, “This book changed my life.” Perhaps more than any other modern read, Blue Like Jazz gave Christians permission to wrestle with the faith they’d been given and, in turn, to reshape it into something authentic, messy and altogether new. Miller put words to a restless doubt he thought was his struggle alone, only to find readers echo those same thoughts in a rallying cry for the rebirth of Christian spirituality. A decade after the book’s release, Miller is just as committed to this rebirth as ever. His recent focus on helping people live better stories through his Storyline conferences, additional books and blog is, in some ways, a preventative measure to the malaise that can swallow those who break from tradition. 78
GIRL MEETS GOD The book that put Winner on the map and made smart memoir cool.
THE BOOK It’s called “nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality.”
THE GLASSES Her faith may have changed, but her signature style stays the same.
COURTESY OF SADDLEBACK CHURCH
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ROB BELL TWENTY YEARS FROM NOW, WE MAY look back from a radically new evangelicalism and see Rob Bell at the center of the shift—or so says renowned religious scholar Reza Aslan. Bell, arguably as much artist as pastor, has taken more ideological risks than any of his contemporaries. From his genre-bending Nooma videos to Velvet Elvis, his daring primer for a new Christian era, Bell has never been afraid to push the envelope on what we know—or think we know—about God. His creative risk-taking climaxed in his departure from Mars Hill Bible Church after a maelstrom of controversy surrounded the release of Love Wins, his book questioning the existence of hell. Now Bell is at work in Southern California on a new medium for his message—television—and we’re all waiting to see what he does next.
RICK WARREN You may known him as the author of The Purpose Driven Life, the international best-seller with over 32 million copies to its name, which, like us, turns 10 this year. But you might not know this Saddleback pastor and his family, not content to rest on his laurels or royalty checks, live on just 10 percent of their income. Warren donates the rest to charity and likewise gives his voice and considerable networking savvy to advocate for global peace and justice. And he’s aiming big, with the goal to tackle what he calls the “five global goliaths” of extreme poverty, disease,
LOVE WINS Bell’s most controversial release poses penetrating questions on the nature and extent of God’s love.
spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership and illiteracy, and he advocates on behalf of these issues at international forums, including the United Nations and the World Economic Forum. Warren represents a new kind of leader we’ve come to expect: someone who speaks truth from the pulpit and gets down in the trenches as well.
HE’S KNOWN THE WORLD OVER AS AN INTREPID rock star, but long before “social justice” was a catchphrase in the Christian community, Bono was breaking ground for what would become a turn-of-the-century renewal in global justice efforts. Whether it’s been a campaign to cancel oppressive debt in developing countries, a sweeping effort to rid Africa of AIDS or the founding of his ONE campaign that calls others to the cause of justice, Bono has championed the heart of God in a world gone wrong. Perhaps in Bono, we see something of ourselves. He, too, felt frustrated to see the Church standing idly by when so many are in need. He, too, chose hope and activism over complacent cynicism. He, too, insisted Christians must respond—and respond well—to the human crises of the world or else become irrelevant. His cause became our own.
CHALLENGES FACING US IN THE NEXT DECADE The future is coming faster than ever, with the tectonic plates of society, church, culture, technology, economy and environment shifting beneath us. If you want to keep up with any of it, and get new footing, you have to be fast. But here’s the thing: the Church often isn’t. It has gained a reputation for reacting, copying and generally riding the second wave of original movements reverberating through culture. It’s time to turn that around. To that end, we asked a number of Christian leaders to futurecast: What do you see coming in the next decade that this generation will have to face head-on? Here are their answers. Will we accept the challenge?
WE’LL NEED TO PROVE THE VALUE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH AS A SOCIAL INSTITUTION When non-Christians aged 16 to 29 years old were asked, “What is your current perception of Christianity?” here’s how they responded:
91 87 % 85 % 78 % 75 % 70 % 70 % %
ANTI-HOMOSEXUAL JUDGMENTAL HYPOCRITICAL OLD-FASHIONED TOO INVOLVED IN POLITICS OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY INSENSITIVE TO OTHERS
—Rick Warren Author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif.
(The Barna Group, 2008)
People often ask, “Since the Church is so large around the world, why doesn’t it have greater impact?” The reason is because so much of the talent, time, energy, resources and money Christians have is being used outside the Church instead of through it. We have outsourced the Great Commission to independent ministries. For 2,000 years, God has used His Church— in localized, visible communities of believers planted around the world—to preach the Gospel, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick and educate the next generation. Here’s what I pray you do: Fall in love with the local church. As Charles Spurgeon said, “The Church is the hope of the world.” I love you, I believe in you, I’m praying for you and I’ll help you any way I can. It’s your future!
In the coming decade, the value of a local congregation will be questioned. To maintain credibility among nonbelievers, churchgoers will have to defend their allegiance to a “religious institution” by pointing to tangible ways in which their congregation is making the community a better place to live. — Hal Donaldson Founder of Christian humanitarian organization Convoy of Hope
Out of all the issues Millennials are going to have to wrestle with over the coming decade—and there are many—perhaps the most overarching, multifaceted and far-reaching of them is the double-barreled question of “What is church? And what is the Church?” Millennials are going to have to rigorously search both themselves and Scripture to discern the relationship between Church and the Kingdom of God in our increasingly
10 YEARS OF RELEVANT
diverse, post-Christendom context. What are the most Christlike means of mission in such a secularizing context? —Phyllis Tickle Founding editor of the Religion Department of Publishers Weekly
WE’LL NEED TO EXPAND OUR CAPACITY TO LOVE AT THE SAME LIGHTNING RATE OF TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES How will we make sure that the technologies we employ to serve people don’t actually prevent us from connecting with and loving real human beings? And as it becomes easier in the coming years to produce impressive [worship] experiences with new technology, how will we help people cultivate their own indigenous, genuine expressions? How will we avoid the temptation to simply draw crowds? While a f loating head on a Jumbotron can instruct us, I think we only grow to maturity when we learn to love at point-blank range, where the messy aspects of relationship can’t be avoided. —John Mark McMillan
Millennials face many challenges when it comes to marriage. They have more financial pressure, more readily available sexual temptations, fewer social inhibitions with infidelity, not to mention overly distracted spouses who are working hard to get ahead or “screening” away their valuable time. At its worst, marriage will become increasingly defined as a means to individual fulfillment, mirroring the spirit of the self-centered age. As Christians, we must recommit ourselves to building othersoriented marriages that seek to serve others better—your spouse, children, church and community. Of course, it will be a struggle, so we’ll need to be people of grace and restoration, too.
Worship leader and recording artist (The Medicine and Economy)
—David Kinnaman President of the Barna Group and author of You Lost Me
WE’LL NEED TO RECLAIM THE BROKEN INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE
OF 18- TO 29-YEAR-OLD AMERICANS BELIEVE MARRIAGE IS BECOMING OBSOLETE
In 1960, 72 percent of American adults were married. In 2011, 51 percent were married. If the trend continues, the number of married adults will become a national minority in the next few years.
What do I most hope and pray Christian Millennials will take to heart and do? I beg you to recover and live the Christian truth of the lifelong marriage covenant. Please reverse the agony and hell in our families by keeping your vows to your spouse and your promises to your children. Tragically, your parents’ generation of evangelicals divorced at the same rate as the rest of society. And their children—indeed the whole society—is paying the price. But with the power of the Holy Spirit and the support of the body of believers, your generation can do better.
WE’LL NEED TO PULL THE PLUG ON CYNICISM The media is always pegging Millennials for perpetually raising one eyebrow. “Cynicism is the hallmark of this generation,” critics say, “and their enthusiasm is not easily earned.” If this is true, what your generation needs is to stop being stingy—and start giving away your love and acceptance for free. Give your love away more extravagantly—more whimsically—in these coming years. Make it look like you’re made of the stuff. Extravagant love isn’t satisfied just dangling its feet over the water in people’s lives; it grabs its knees and does a cannonball. Grab your knees often—do it every day—and dive into people’s lives in creative and winsome ways. If someone’s having a lousy day, send them a pizza. Mail them a dozen baby ducks. Get a bread machine in your office, and just give warm bread to people—and give them real butter, not margarine. In this reverse economy Jesus talks about, somehow the more inefficient we are with our love, the less it’s wasted. There’s something beautifully inefficient about just saying “Hello” and “How can I be helpful?” to people we don’t know. People will know who we are and what we believe by how extravagant we are with our love.
President of Evangelicals
Author of Love Does and founder
for Social Action
of Restore International
(Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends, 2010)
CHALLENGES FACING US IN T HE NEXT DECADE
WE’LL NEED TO PUSH BEYOND CONVENTIONAL CATEGORIES TO ENGAGE THE RISE OF THE “NONES”
OF AMERICAN ADULTS UNDER 30 STATE THEY HAVE NO RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION
RELIGIOUSLY UNAFFILIATED 88 % OFSAYTHETHEY’RE NOT LOOKING FOR A WE’LL NEED TO ANSWER THE GROWING CONCERNS ABOUT IMMIGRATION
OF CHRISTIANS ADMIT THEY DO NOT CONSIDER THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE THROUGH A FAITH PERSPECTIVE (Pew Research, 2010)
Immigrant churches are the fastest-growing segment of evangelical churches in the U.S. (Lausanne World Pulse)
In 2005, the U.S. population was 296 million. The Pew Research Center projects that by 2050, that number will be 438 million— and that fully 82 percent of that growth will be due to immigrants and their descendants. Some of these immigrants may be like the hundreds who attend Willow Creek’s Spanishlanguage church, Casa de Luz: hard-working parents who came to America escaping poverty and seeking a better life for their kids. In desperation, they crossed a border illegally; now they live each day with guilt for breaking the law and fear they’ll be found out and deported. My husband and I believe God has entrusted these families to us and to our ministry, and we have felt compelled—despite criticism—to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. We hope younger evangelicals will look closely at the pain and potential in the immigrant community and pray, “God, what is mine to do?” —Lynne Hybels Co-founder of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago
RELIGION THAT IS RIGHT FOR THEM (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2012)
What does this growing number of those claiming no religious affiliation mean for the future of Christianity? The historic strength of evangelical churches to innovate methods without altering the underlying message will no longer have the same impact. That’s because the cultural shift now underway is not merely about music preferences or the use of video clips in sermons. The problem is deeper, found in the language patterns and theological categories we use to articulate faith. Put simply, evangelicals will increasingly have answers to questions no one is asking. The failure to face this challenge will firmly secure this kind of Christianity in the margins of history and society. To avoid this, we must learn to embrace what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “religionless Christianity.” These people will press beyond the tired religious categories of “liberal” and “conservative.” They will see the life and teachings of Jesus not as religious or even spiritual in nature, but rather as fundamentally human. —Shane Hipps Author of Selling Water by the River and Flickering Pixels
WE’LL NEED TO PIONEER A THIRD WAY FORWARD IN POLITICS I believe one of our greatest challenges will be charting new paths for social engagement without being pushed to political partisan corners.
The greatest commandments—loving God and loving people—have societal implications. Christians are instructed to live by these commandments because they ultimately contribute to human life and societal flourishing. Abortion, health care, poverty, gun violence and more must be addressed because they inevitably impact quality of life. However, these are extremely charged political topics. Many [Christians] are silent on issues we need to speak on because we don’t want to be identified with some of the radicalism demonstrated by some of those groups. Christians must reclaim the conversation and refuse to allow our voices to be minimized and held hostage by political camps. Our challenge will be discovering ways to do so that supersedes the fray of political partisan bickering and uncivil, un-Christian discourse. —Dharius Daniels Founding pastor of Kingdom Church in Ewing, N.J.
WE’LL NEED TO KICK OUT THE CLICHÉ OF THE FALLEN LEADER What I believe is going to be most needed in this country and in the Church over the next 10 years is moral leadership—leadership that is characterized by truthfulness and justice and righteousness, not self-righteousness. We now live in a culture that is characterized by spin. Politicians, pastors and Christian leaders lie, so what else is new? But every time a leader lies, someone pays a steep price for it: A boy is molested in the men’s locker room; an associate pastor is fired instead of promoted to senior pastor as promised; an innocent woman is scapegoated. Unless there is a surge in moral leadership in this country, millions of people are going to pay a heavy price for all the lies now being told. My exhortation to Christian Millennials is to cultivate moral courage. Champion truth. Refuse to be psyched out by the intimidating forces of institutional power, and trust with all your heart in Jesus Christ, who said that the truth will set you free (John 8:32). —Sarah Sumner Former dean of A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary and author of Leadership Above the Line
10 YEARS OF RELEVANT
WE’LL NEED TO REDEFINE CLIMATE CHANGE AS NOT ONLY AN ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE, BUT ALSO A HUMAN ISSUE If nothing is done to prevent the expected rise of 2 degrees Celsius in global average temperatures by 2050:
MILLION PEOPLE WILL BE FORCED TO LEAVE THEIR HOMES DUE TO EXTREME WEATHER DISASTERS
MILLION PEOPLE WILL GO HUNGRY AS AGRICULTURE SUFFERS BILLION PEOPLE WILL SUFFER ACUTE WATER SHORTAGES (Christian Aid)
Our generation is inheriting a climate crisis that is fast becoming one of the gravest threats to justice, peace and human flourishing worldwide. According to the U.S. National Climatic Data Center, not only was last year the hottest year on record in the U.S., but October 2012 also marked the 332nd consecutive month of above-average global temperatures. In other words, no one under 28 has experienced a cooler-than-average month; global warming is all most of us have ever known. We used to be able to ignore the warnings of the scientific community, but now the climate crisis is causing millions to suffer from its intensifying impact—especially those among the poor and vulnerable. Many missions and relief agencies are reporting that climate disruption is increasingly challenging the work of the Church around the world. Our generation has the most to lose here. We should fight the hardest to win. We need to join together in pursuing faithful climate action at every level and without delay. —Ben Lowe Director of young adult ministries for the Evangelical Environmental Network
WE’LL NEED TO INAUGURATE THE “PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT 2.0” We live in a nation where gun violence kills 10,000 people a year, where the death penalty kills dozens a year to try and show that killing is wrong, where military spending is over 20,000 a second, where we have the capacity of 100,000 Hiroshimas in our arsenal. It is time for a movement of Christians to interrupt the patterns of violence with the love we see on the cross. The culture wars of our parents have left us polarized by party platforms and paralyzed between imperfect options. There is no Life Party, but maybe one is emerging. Convinced that every human life is breathed upon by God and stamped with God’s image, we are on the cusp of a new movement of Christians who insist on protecting life in all its dazzling forms. It is a movement we have already begun but one whose work I hope we can finish out. I hope that we can decrease and eliminate abortion, embrace the immigrant and orphans, end the death penalty in the U.S. and see poor people cared for. Some might say we should “be realistic.” We say, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not yet see” (Hebrews 11:1). —Shane Claiborne Author of Irresistible Revolution and founding member of the Simple Way in Philadelphia, Penn.
WAIT—THERE’S MORE. Visit RELEVANTmagazine.com throughout March and April for the “Letters to Our Generation” essay series, featuring these leaders and many others.
Out with the old and in with the you. In altar ego, bestselling author and pastor Craig Groeschel explores how we can sacrifice our worldly self-image and replace it with God’s view of us. Available everywhere books are sold February 26, 2013.
SLANT IS IT POSSIBLE TO READ THE BIBLE WITHOUT A FILTER ? B Y R A C H E L H E L D E VA N S
READING THROUGH A HAZE
AS AS AS AS
it turns out, it’s surprisingly easy to track down a polygamist. When I went in search of a polygamist family to feature in my latest book, I assumed it would be much harder—considering the fact that plural marriage is illegal in all 50 states. Yet I found I was just a few Google searches away from an interview with a real-life pair of sister wives who asked only that I change their names to protect them from prosecution. I found “Eric,” “Lynn” and “Rose” through a website called BiblicalFamilies.org. Run by a group professing to be “Biblefocused, Christ-centered, Spiritfilled Christian believers,” Biblical Families provides support for men and women who practice or are interested in practicing polygamy. The group identifies as Berean in its approach, which means it emphasizes the primacy of Scripture, “taking at face value God’s Word and not depending so much on the traditions, and additions, of man.” This approach, according to the group’s website, “is how [they] came to recognize the biblical soundness of plural marriage.” Upon reading the organization’s mission statement, I smiled at its seeming familiarity. These polygamists employ much the same language we like to use as evangelical Christians—appealing to the primacy of God’s Word, vowing to take the Bible at face value and, of course, using the word “biblical” to back up a particular viewpoint or lifestyle. And yet this group had arrived at a very different conclusion than most
Christians regarding what exactly a “biblical family” looks like. It’s a pattern that repeats itself in a variety of ways within the Christian subculture. During election season, politicians and pundits encourage their followers to vote for “biblical values”—which vary depending on who’s talking. Conservatives often relegate “biblical values” to matters of abortion, gay marriage and tax cuts. Yet to liberals, “biblical values” pertain to issues of poverty, immigration and creation care. You can buy books on “biblical parenting,” “biblical economics,” “biblical psychology,” “biblical manhood,” “biblical womanhood” and even “biblical dating” (despite the fact that in the ancient Near Eastern culture in which the Bible was written, dating didn’t even exist). Each book will present a view of what’s “biblical,” often highlighting supportive texts while ignoring or explaining away those that don’t fit the author’s thesis. How is it that we can refer to the same texts yet come away with such different interpretations of them? Is it possible to apply the teachings of the Bible without some degree of picking and choosing? Does the Bible really offer a single prescription for how to vote, how to date or how to be a woman? These were the questions that inspired me to take on a new project—a year of baking bread, covering my head, growing out my hair and even calling my husband “master”—that came to be known as my Year of Biblical Womanhood.
Frustrated by the mixed messages I’d received throughout the years about what it means to practice “biblical womanhood,” I committed a year of my life to examining (and often practicing) all of the Bible’s teachings about womanhood—no picking and choosing. This included the more commonly cited passages of Scripture: submitting to my husband, attempting the Proverbs 31 life, nurturing that gentle and quiet spirit. It also included the passages Christians tend to skip over: covering my head, growing out my hair, observing the Levitical purity codes, remaining silent in church. I studied all of these passages in their contexts, often to discover they might not mean what I’d always been told they mean. For example, Proverbs 31 is regarded by Hebrew scholars to be a poem that celebrates what a woman has already accomplished, not one that dictates a domestic to-do list likely to intimidate the domestically challenged among us. I learned that nearly all of the Bible’s instructions regarding female modesty have to do with excessive wealth, not sexuality. I learned, too, that marriage and motherhood are far from the only female vocations celebrated by Jesus and the Apostle Paul. The experience was both challenging and rewarding. I celebrated the Jewish holidays, cared for a computerized baby and literally praised my husband at the city gate with a homemade sign. I traveled everywhere from Lancaster, Penn., to Cochabamba, Bolivia, to interview all kinds of interesting people. I spent countless hours in the library dissecting Greek and Hebrew words and scouring commentaries on Esther, Ruth, Deborah, Mary Magdalene, Junia, Priscilla and other women of the Bible. Through it all, the goal was to humorously challenge the idea that the Bible has just one thing to say about how to be a woman of faith or that “biblical womanhood” can be reduced to a list of rules and roles. As expected, when the book released last fall, it started quite the conversation. A lot of people loved it, but some also hated it—passionately. They said I hadn’t practiced “biblical womanhood” properly, that I made a mockery of Scripture, that I should have stuck with the more familiar passages of Scripture instead of venturing into obscure or controversial territory. “Just because something’s in the Bible doesn’t make it biblical,” one reviewer wrote. These critiques stirred up the same questions that led me on this journey in the first place. And in some ways, it seemed I was right back where I started. My Year of Biblical Womanhood— and the controversy that surrounded it—revealed an inescapable fact: Biblical interpretation isn’t as easy as we like to make it out to be. From gender roles to just about any other issue you can think of, committed and good-hearted Christians often disagree on what the Bible means and how it should be applied to our lives. Why? Because the bottom line is that we all bring a set of assumptions and biases to Scripture, and these biases color our perception of what is “biblical.” The reality of our slanted interpretation is also why prescriptive appeals to “biblical manhood,” “biblical womanhood” or “biblical” anything can be so problematic. When we talk about the Bible in this way, we tend to flatten it out—emphasizing RELEVANT MAGAZINE
THESE TENSIONS REMIND US THAT OUR INTERPRETATIONS ARE ONLY AS INERRANT AS WE ARE. some passages while neglecting others and often reading our own cultures and experiences into the text. More often than not, we end up prooftexting—making our argument with select verses that back it up. Yet in doing so, we show our real commitment to what we want the Bible to say rather than what it actually says. So, does this mean understanding God through His Word is an impossible task? Is there nothing left to do but shrug and give up, knowing we’ll never really “get” what the Bible is saying, let alone agree on it? Not at all. The best thing to do with our bias is to acknowledge it head-on—and then proceed with humility as we search for the Bible’s meaning in community.
A CONVERSATION THAT NEVER ENDS
Despite what some people say, the Bible is not a blueprint. It’s not a bullet-point list of rules
that leaves no room for discussion. Instead, the Bible is an ancient collection of poetry, letters, history, laws, prophecies, proverbs and stories assembled over thousands of years and written in languages and cultures far different than our own. It’s just the sort of literature to generate conversation. This is what I love about the Bible. It’s meant to be a conversationstarter, not a conversation-ender. Think about it: If the Bible were a straightforward list of rules upon which we could all agree, there would be no Sunday school, no Bible studies, no seminaries, no 2:30 a.m. dorm room debates about predestination and free will—because there would be nothing to talk about.
The Bible serves as a constant reminder that being a person of faith isn’t about being right; it’s about being in relationship— with God and with other people. We read it not to confirm our opinion as correct but to know God in deeper and fuller ways. And we’re not supposed to engage the Bible all on our own, either. We’re meant to prayerfully engage it alongside our brothers and sisters in the faith. When we remain open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the input of others who have their own experiences and insights, we can understand Scripture far better than we would on our own. Of course, we won’t always agree on how to interpret some of the most complex and confusing passages. But these tensions, in the end, are what keep us humble. They remind us that our interpretations are only as inerrant as we are. We can learn a lot from our Jewish friends in this regard. My friend Ahava, an Orthodox Jew, likes to say that if three Jews are in a room, you can expect to find four opinions. When discussing the Hebrew Scriptures (what we know as the Old Testament), Jews not only tolerate but celebrate a diversity of perspectives. In fact, they are quite comfortable allowing differing interpretations to coexist, as long as the interpretations are sensible and in keeping with the fundamentals of the faith. Rather than fighting to get everyone on the exact same page, they treat differences as learning opportunities to see the biblical text in a new light. Another Jewish friend describes the Torah as a multifaceted diamond. By looking at the biblical text from multiple angles, turning it over in our hands, he says we are able catch new insights as the details sparkle in the light.
Why wouldn’t we listen to our fellow interpreters when they have the ability to offer us new insights we might otherwise not see?
THE BEST BIAS
Yet some principles of interpretation remain unmoving and serve as helpful guides. We must remember to pay attention to the genre of each passage, for example. Are we reading poetry, a letter, a parable? Such things make a difference as we mine the text for meaning. Other questions help us understand the context of each passage: Who was the original audience? What was the original culture like? What instructions or stories come before and after the text in question? What can be learned about the Hebrew or Greek words used in the passage, and where else are those same words used in Scripture? It’s also helpful to get a handle on the historical interpretations of each passage. In other words, how has a particular passage been understood by the Church throughout the years? All these principles help keep us from serious error, but they are also easier to stick with when we’ve purposefully immersed ourselves in a community of readers who can balance our perspective with theirs. Finally, we must look to Jesus Christ, the Word made f lesh, as our example and interpretive guide. When Jesus was asked by an expert in the Scriptures to define the most important element of biblical law, Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). According to Jesus, the purpose of the Bible is to help us love God and our neighbors better. If love is Jesus’ definition of “biblical,” then perhaps it should be ours as well. As the Apostle Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed ... so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We are living biblically, then, when we are loving God and one another well. And as we read Scripture through this lens of love, we can look to Jesus Himself as the best example of what this looks like in everyday life. Philosopher Peter Rollins has said, “In being faithful to the text, we must move away from the naïve attempt to read it from some neutral, heavenly height and we must attempt to read it as one who has been born of God and thus born of
love: for that is the prejudice of God. Here the ideal of Scripture reading as a type of scientific objectivity is replaced by an approach that creatively interprets with love.” As imperfect people, we will always bring our personal bents, presuppositions and prejudices to God’s Word. But perhaps, reigning over them all, we can choose the prejudice of love. We can learn to let our love for God motivate our deeper knowledge of Him through His Word. We can learn to love others more than the satisfaction of proving a point. This doesn’t mean we will always agree or even that we have to pretend our differences don’t matter. I suspect we will continue debating the meaning of “biblical manhood,” “biblical womanhood,” “biblical dating” and “biblical families” for years to come. But when we engage those debates with love, with Jesus as our guide, we honor the Bible for what it is—a beautiful, confounding and diverse holy text that can never quite be contained.
RACHEL HELD EVANS is a best-selling author and blogger who writes at RachelHeldEvans.com. Her most recent book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood (Thomas Nelson, 2012), documents her year of following all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible.
WATCH Ra Ra Riot perform “I Shut Off,” live at the Bowery
MATT POND THE LIVES INSIDE THE LINES IN YOUR HAND (BMG)
RA RA RIOT BE TA LOVE
ATOMS FOR PEACE AMOK (XL RECORDINGS)
> Matt Pond makes his solo debut
> Give Ra Ra Riot credit for courage. Even as the band’s particular brand of acoustic indie-pop surges into the mainstream, this troupe has decided to move on from it. Instead of capitalizing on its newly hip raison d’être, Ra Ra Riot has embraced its robotic side. On Beta Love, the band strips away most of its analog tendencies in favor of quirky synthetic blips and the occasional violin segue. On the title track, a robot falls in love for the first time (“I might be a prototype, but we’re both real inside”); on “Angel, Please,” a line speaks of taking a weight down to hell but making the most of heaven on earth. Vocals meander through the MIDI bass lines and 80s-rock odes like Frank Sinatra’s android. Flock of Seagulls meets early Prince? Yes, and then some.
with material at once poetic (“The pines whisper and pitch, tracing silhouettes,” he sings on the opener) and accessible, with a rollicking bass and heart-pumping melodies. Singing about the mathematical equations of relationships—giving love and expecting none in return, letting go of the ropes one by one, embracing hope, finding conviction— Pond doesn’t steer clear of pain or remorse, instead suggesting a lost love “put a hollow” in him. Ouch.
> The debut from Thom Yorke and a few of his pals is an outstanding electronica mix—or, what a band would be like if everyone was Brian Eno. Yorke is joined by Flea, R.E.M.’s drummer, Radiohead’s producer and multi-instrumentalist Mauro Refosco from Red Hot Chili Peppers to produce an album almost wholly percussive, including what sounds like a guy playing the pipes in your basement (“Ingenue”). On “Default,” a stretching-string sound invades your synapses. Ultimately, it’s a work that sounds like nuclear fission with synths.
SCATTERS the DARKNESS Discerning the Times In times of old, wisdom was granted to a select few who gifted that knowledge to all the rest. This wisdom is still being given, and we in turn gladly receive. Find hope in these resources filled with sage advice and knowledge.
Six-Session Group Study
Operation Screwtape www.operationscrewtape.com
Available wherever books and ebooks are sold. Baker Books blog: relligent.com
Emergence Christianity www.phyllistickle.com
You Lost Me www.youlostmebook.com
Relevant. Intelligent. Engaging.
BROOKE WAGGONER ORIGINATOR (INGROOVES)
KIM WALKER-SMITH STILL BELIEVE (INTEGRITY)
> In listening to Originator, it’s easy
> In a challenging and uplifting
to see why Jack White recruited Brooke Waggoner to join his touring band, as she channels the sort of fiery soul for whom White has always had a weakness. But on Originator, Waggoner layers that fire over much more nuanced arrangements than White’s usual fare. These songs are beauties that pay testament to the subtlety of emotion, and Waggoner’s remarkable voice can communicate small hiccups of doubt or fear with the simplest waver in tone.
worship release intended to make you think beyond the basics, Jesus Culture’s Kim Walker-Smith sings about the cost of discipleship (“Waste It All”) and the real-world benefits of that same life (“Alive,” “Healing Oil”). A spiritual dichotomy plays at the forefront, creating a palpable tension heard in WalkerSmith’s blistering vocal delivery and the chant-like choruses. Erudite and convincing, Walker-Smith offers a fine counterpoint to the fluff usually heard on Christian radio.
TORO Y MOI ANYTHING IN RETURN (CARPARK RECORDS/ PAW TRACKS)
CITIZENS CITIZENS (MARS HILL MUSIC) > Looking for a confidence boost?
> Toro Y Moi, which means “the bull
and me” in Spanish and French, is a pseudonym for Chazwick Bundick, an eclectic chillwave songwriter and producer whose third full release, Anything in Return, is saturated with soft-launch beats and ruminating loops. “So Many Details” and “Touch” are content to live in the fabric of your speakers, releasing a static discharge here and a repeating cymbal tap there. Nothing but Bundick’s voice, an Enya-like aria and some drums hold “Cola” together.
Try modeling your life on these anthems, which challenge you to kneel at the cross and find confidence in Christ’s redemptive work. Zach Bolen, the founding member of this college-age quartet from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, is known for breathing new life into age-old hymns. Musically, there’s an obvious nod to Thrice (thanks to labelmates Modern Post, led by fellow Mars Hill worship pastor Dustin Kensrue) with scratchy vocals, furious drums and boiled-over guitar work.
HOLY MOTORS LEOS CAR A X [PIERRE GRISE PRODUCTIONS, NR]
> It’s no coincidence that Leos Carax titled his ambitious new masterpiece Holy Motors. Alluding to the late French critic André Bazin, who believed cinema has the ability to capture sacred moments that invoke a deep awareness of the divine—what Richard Linklater’s Waking Life calls “holy moments”—this Franco-German fantasy drama concerns itself with such moments. Less linear story than abstract series of scenes and images, Holy Motors follows a man named Oscar (Denis Lavant, in arguably the strongest performance of 2012) as he changes from one character to another—a beggar, a businessman, a beast, an acrobat and an assassin, to name a few—while motoring around town in a limousine. Through the many scenes, Carax exhibits how a movie—through acting, lights, makeup and other techniques—can communicate truth and thus create spiritual transcendence.
SKYFALL SAM MENDES (MGM, PG-13)
FLIGHT ROBERT ZEMECKIS (PARAMOUNT, R)
> Skyfall marks the best James
Bond film in decades. The film looks spectacular—from a silhouetted skyscraper fight to the lush lights of a Macau casino—thanks to Sam Mendes’ collaboration with cinematographer Roger Deakins. But it also moves swiftly, despite its near-two-and-ahalf-hour run time, boasting the kind of stylized chase scenes that make the 007 franchise the industry standard. Daniel Craig makes a resurrecting return as Bond, seeking to bring down Silva, a flamboyant terrorist played masterfully by Javier Bardem.
It’s strange to call Flight “redemptive,” given its bleak storyline: After saving all but four passengers in a miraculous crash landing while under the influence of cocaine and alcohol, a pilot continues his downward spiral of lies and addiction. Starring Denzel Washington as that troubled pilot—in one of his best performances in years—Flight launches as visceral entertainment with a super-intense flying sequence and then dives headfirst into a moving character study. In spite of its tortured protagonist, Flight extends grace.
What you learn in Messiah’s classrooms can help you solve real-world problems the very next week. You discover the responsibility that comes with knowledge, and develop the capacity to make the world better even before
you graduate. Messiah College. See anew.
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SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK DAVID O. RUSSELL (WEINSTEIN COMPANY, R)
LINCOLN STEVEN SPIELBERG (DREAMWORKS, PG-13)
THE LONELIEST PLANET JULIA LOKTEV (FLYING MOON, NR)
> David O. Russell’s films are like a breath of fresh air in a suffocating world of cynicism. In fact, Silver Linings Playbook couldn’t be more counter-cultural in its approach to its subject: mental illness. Through the story of Pat (played convincingly by Bradley Cooper), a bipolar Philadelphian who returns home after spending eight months in a state institution and losing his wife, house and job, the film suggests that healing power comes from something greater than mere medication and therapy.
> Consider Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln
> From its dawdling pacing to its thin
the antithesis of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Whereas Tarantino turns the oppressed into the oppressor in a celebration of vengeance, Spielberg focuses as much on the source of Lincoln’s conviction—a fear of God and respect for the Scriptures— as the man whose conviction led him into a determined battle to pass the 13th Amendment and end slavery once and for all. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Lincoln with restraint and vigor, and Spielberg captures the end of the president’s life with equal poise.
narrative, this poignant drama by Russian-American writer-director Julia Loktev wobbles along while appearing to go nowhere. The central characters, an engaged thirtysomething couple, follow their guide on a trip through the Republic of Georgia, while Loktev takes long shots of the mountainous landscape. Such deliberate storytelling can be challenging, if not monotonous, but the end result proves beyond rewarding. The subtleties resonate, leaving a profound imprint.
THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE KEN BURNS, SARAH BURNS & DAVID MCMAHON (FLORENTINE FILMS, NR) > Centered on the 1989 rape of
Trisha Meili, a 28-year-old New York investment banker known for years simply as the “Central Park Jogger,” and the five boys who were wrongfully convicted of the crime because of their race, filmmaker Ken Burns combines photos, recent interviews with the Central Park Five, excerpts from their confessions and commentary by journalist Jim Dwyer and social psychologist Saul Kassin in this riveting new documentary that explores injustice and inequality.
HELP, THANKS, WOW ANNE L AMOT T [RIVERHEAD]
> Anne Lamott has made a career of getting to the heart of things and so to the heart of the human story. Her winning combination of wit and wisdom has gained her a wide fan base—and though her writing is most often of the “spiritual memoir” variety, her appeal spans from believers to atheists and everyone in between. Lamott’s openness and candor are a breath of fresh air to fellow strugglers still looking to find joy on their journey. In her most recent book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Lamott once again marvels at her successes and admits her defeats while sharing how her prayer life boils down to asking for help, giving thanks for what’s been given and expressing awe at God and His work in the world. Through Lamott’s insights, readers are invited to share in a similar life of dependence on God, gratitude to God and wonder at all God is doing and has done.
UNEXPECTED GIFTS CHRISTOPHER L. HEUERTZ (HOWARD BOOKS)
PURSUING JUSTICE KEN WYTSMA (THOMAS NELSON)
> American Christians don’t like to
> If I want to pursue justice with my
think of themselves as failures, so when Christopher Heuertz says, “The most authentic [communities] are on a continual journey of failing miserably,” it can come off as bad news. But Heuertz’s words are meant as gift to Christians looking for an experience of community that allows for failure, embraces risk and appreciates human weakness as an opportunity for God’s strength to be made perfect. Unexpected Gifts is about a new and ancient way of community, full of both failure and hope.
life, how and where should I start? The command to “do justly” is one no longer relegated to a specialized kind of Christ-following but one evangelicals, mainline Protestants and devoted Catholics alike are rallying behind. Still, many Christians struggle to know how to “do justly” in their day-to-day lives. In Pursuing Justice, Ken Wytsma offers principles and practices to guide readers into pursuing justice more pragmatically and passionately. This is a book about “learning to live and die for bigger things.”
Being a part of this community has been a life-transforming experience. My journey here at Austin Seminary has been one full of support, spiritual growth, and the intentional creation and implementation of God’s beloved community.
"Excellent. Entertains while it also inspires."
—Annanda Barclay, Palm Coast, Florida
Substance. Scripture. Service.
Austin Seminary encourages growth in mind and spirit, toward discernment of God’s leading.
by Paul Cicchini The World's First Christian Mashup Satire
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THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE AYANA MATHIS (KNOPF) > Ayana Mathis’ debut novel is
a poignant portrait of a singular American family, a story told through a series of stories, the stories of Hattie Shepherd and her 12 children. Spanning the length and breadth of the 20th century, it is at once broken and beautiful, humble and holy, rent apart and restored. The tale of Hattie’s 12 tribes is a heartbreaking one and yet a hopeful one. Mathis’ compassion and care for her characters give them a dignity other authors might have missed.
A THOUSAND PARDONS JONATHAN DEE (RANDOM HOUSE)
FLIGHT BEHAVIOR BARBARA KINGSOLVER (HARPERLUXE)
GODS AT WAR KYLE IDLEMAN (ZONDERVAN)
> Jonathan Dee’s novel is a story
> It’s no easy feat to write an “issue”
> Author David Foster Wallace once
of public scandal and personal pride and the ways in which both can undermine and even destroy a person’s best-laid plans. Landing on one side or the other of the breaking point—either headed toward it or recovering from it—each character is faced with the decision to selfimprove or self-destruct, and each finds forgiveness and redemption harder to give and harder to come by than they might have hoped. This story is about the pardon none of us deserve and all of us are hoping for.
novel and manage to keep said issue from clouding the story. In the hands of a lesser author, it might be impossible, but Barbara Kingsolver manages to address the climate crisis in a personal and intimate way. Her characters have life and depth, the dialogue is comfortingly conversational, and Kingsolver sets a scene with word pictures few modern authors can match. Understanding that it’s the little things that make the big things matter, she fleshes out the details with precision and care.
said, “There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” In his most recent work, Kyle Idleman, author of Not a Fan, exposes the idols we worship in modern society and addresses how we might, as Christians, turn from those idols back to God. By asking simple yet insightful questions, Idleman helps readers discern which false gods they have chosen to worship and how to choose, instead, to worship the one true God.
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