August 31, 2007

An Apology to Future Historians

One of the really fun things I've found in studying history (and yes, there are several) is reading letters. When someone is writing for publication, they are much more polished. There's a sense that 'this is going to last. People are going to read this years from now. I'd better make it a good one.' There's good material in those kinds of writing, to be sure, and you can learn a lot. They are valuable resources, and important to doing history.

But in letters you get much more personal. You meet the writer as they are -- they're not worried about people reading the letter decades from now, they're not thinking about the public record. They're just putting some words on paper for someone they know, giving them advice or telling stories or encouraging them -- whatever the purpose, they're very much in the moment, not concerned about the longevity of the letter. Some of my favorite books are collections of these letters -- these things people never thought would be widely read. I find myself learning a LOT more about the writer, and their time, when I read their letters.

This post at the Thinklings blog got me thinking. Actually, it got me thinking again about something that I've discussed with my wife (the American Revolution scholar). "What are historians going to do with the late 20th-early 21st centuries?"

We don't write letters much any more. (Of course, my wife will tell you that I never write letters BEFORE I got the computer and Internet access, but I digress). We email, and email is a very fragile thing. All I have to do is hit one button, type one command, and it's gone. DELETED, as StrongBad would say. Computer forensics could find some of them, but fifty years from now they'll be gone, unless we save them all. And I don't know many people that keep all their email -- I've even deleted email from my "bottomless account" at Gmail.

Will historians of the future wonder about us? Or will they be so used to electronic communications that they won't think twice about it? Will they be amazed at the amount of paper correspondence that we still do have? Or maybe they'll just spend a lot of time poking through server records, wondering why the ruler of Nigeria spent so much time trying to get people to hide his money.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 08:40 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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August 27, 2007

An Exit Strategy That Just Might Work

The SBC has been calling for people to pull their kids out of public schools for years now -- a call that I haven't been very receptive of, so far, and a call I have yet to answer (my daughter started 1st grade at a public school last week).

One of my problems is that in this area, public schools offer the best educational opportunities around. There are a couple church-run Christian schools, but from what I've heard about them, I'm not impressed. Home schooling is not an option yet -- we're trying to get rid of some of our old debt, so we can't home school right now, though that may be an option in the future. We are working with our daughter at home, which we always have done and will continue to do.

My other problem is more nation-wide. There is a lack of good, high-quality, affordable Christian education in many parts of the country. And I've called on the SBC to work on this problem -- we've got a national infrastructure in place for disaster relief, global missions, etc. We can set up something to help our local associations and state conventions to set up Christian schools throughout their area. These schools should be inexpensive, and academically rigorous. We've got the ability to set up a school "system" similar to the Catholic church's parochial school system. We can make a difference, if we try. We owe it to our kids.

Southeastern Seminary is starting something that I hope spreads throughout the SBC. They've had a masters in education administration for 10 years now, though it's probably one of the least popular programs, I'm sure. The rest of our seminaries need to follow suit, and we need to tell people what we're doing, and why. If we are serious about the need to reform education, then we need to step up to the plate.

Parents should never have to make the choice between a Christian education and a quality academic education.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 12:42 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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August 26, 2007

May 9, 2008 ...

... is a date I am looking forward to. REALLY looking forward to.

Why?

Speed Racer was must-see-TV for me when I was a kid. They tried to revive the series in animation not long ago, but it just didn't work for me -- I've missed the original ever since MTV aired it and then dumped it. Speed, Pops, Mom, Trixie, Spritle, Chim-Chim, Sparky, and (of course) Racer X were a huge part of my childhood. And now it's coming to the big screen.

Speed's brother Rex didn't run away in the movie -- he died (at least according to the synopsis -- I'm still holding out hope for a Racer X/Rex Racer connection). So far, everything else seems very faithful to the original, so I'm optimistic.

It seems like Hollywood is taking '70s and '80s properties and trying to revitalize them, to get the Boomer crowd into theaters. So far, I've not bee impressed with their efforts. They'd better not mess up Speed Racer, too.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 02:21 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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August 20, 2007

Thanks a LOT, NPR

So I'm listening to NPR one day, minding my own business. World Cafe comes on, and they're featuring a band my wife had just heard about (on another NPR show -- we're such yuppies!) -- Los Straitjackets. And so I listened. And now?

I'm hooked.

It's not just the luchador masks (though that IS a cool touch). It's the guitar work, the Dick Dale-style instrumentals. It's the whole 1960s surf-rock vibe, and I can't get enough.

Their latest album is Rock en Espanol, and it's Spanish versions of classic rock tunes. Note I didn't say covers -- if you know Spanish, you'll notice that the lyrics don't always match up perfectly, but the feel is right. They rhythm is right. And the guitar is always right. My favorites on this one have to be "Hey Lupe" ('Hang On, Sloopy'), and "Loco Te Patina El Coco" ('Wild Thing'), but the entire album is outstanding, with vocals provided by Big Sandy (of Fly-Rite Boys fame) since they don't normally do vocals.

I also downloaded "Little Drummer Boy" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" from their Tis the Season album. I love unique takes on Christmas music, and these will both be excellent additions to the playlist this November and December. I especially like the Dick Dale influenced take on "Drummer Boy."

The last album I sampled (at least for now) was Sing Along with Los Straitjackets. I downloaded "California Sun" (vocals by Dave Alvin) and "The End of the World" (vocals by Leigh Nash, formerly of Sixpence None the Richer). "The End of the World" was one of the first country songs I remember, with Skeeter Davis' plaintive vocals. Nash does a good job on this song, and it brings back memories of long car trips listening to the 8-track in the family station wagon.

All of these are available at emusic, so go download them. And if you haven't joined yet, you should -- you get 50 free songs!! And make sure you check out Los Straitjackets -- any band that offers actual vinyl LPs has got to be great!

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 07:36 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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August 15, 2007

Calling Down the Wrath:
Imprecatory Prayer and the Modern Christian

Associated Baptist Press ran a story today about Wiley Drake, former SBC second vice-president (and current candidate for SBC President). Drake is calling for imprecatory prayer, calling down God's wrath on two staffers for Americans United. Americans United has asked the IRS to investigate the tax-exempt status of Drake's church, First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, California, after Drake used church letterhead and a church-sponsored radio program to endorse Mike Huckabee for President.

Of course, the first question most people will ask is "What the heck is imprecatory prayer?" And when they find out, they'll most likely ask "Is that really the Christian thing to do?" So let's look at both those questions, so we can find out whether we should be embarrassed by Drake, or proud of him. more...

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 08:34 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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August 05, 2007

Book Review: Devices of the Soul by Steve Talbott

I mentioned before that I'd read this one, and it's been quite a while since I finished it. But this book gives you a LOT to think about, and a lot to digest -- even after you finish reading it. And it's NOT a walk in the park to read, either. But it's a book with an important message. more...

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 12:01 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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