July 29, 2008

Sense of Humor, Anyone?

OK, now people are starting to annoy me. I just got home, and as I was checking my Twitter feeds noticed that Scott Kurtz had somehow annoyed the Christians in his audience. Now, I'm a Southern Baptist minister, mind you, so I'm always itching for a good fight. I fired up Google Reader and checked out Scott's latest PvP comics.

Seriously, now. Is that what we're getting upset about?? I was all set to take offense and unfollow Scott, and that's all I get???

OK, even more seriously -- I'd actually figured it was something more than this, but I wasn't going to unfollow anyone, or stop reading PvP. Folks, if we stop reading or buying or using everything that offends us, our lives are going to be pretty boring and pathetic. Yes, I think that people should at least respect core beliefs. But Scott does have a point when he Tweets, "No Christians would be emailing me about respecting core beliefs today if I was mocking wiccans or athiests [sic]."

Religious liberty is about everyone, kids. Religious tolerance is about everyone. We don't have to agree with them, we don't have to like them, we can be all about trying to show them that they're wrong. But at least in the USA, they can be as wrong as they want to be. I don't have to agree with them, or like them, but you'd better not mess with their right to say what they want. Point is -- we should be emailing him if he offends Wiccans or atheists, if we're going to email him about being offended ourselves.

And if you were offended by those panels, you'd better not read Lark News, or Tom In The Box.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 12:41 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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July 22, 2008

RSS Cruise

I'm revisiting this category since I'm on vacation and don't feel like writing something substantial today. And I'm sorry for ypos that I know will creep in -- the laptop I'm using doesn't have FireFox on itl, and I don't have the cool spellcheck thing here

Christianity Today's music section has a piece about Centricity Records. I love Centricity -- they're one of the few labels out there that were willing to talk to a little podcaster like he was an important part of promoting their artists. They get podcasting like few other labels do. And the music is good.

There aren't many labels right now that get new media, or even electronic marketing and the use of the Internet. They have a MySpace page, they have a website. But beyond that, they're stuck in the old school attitudes toward marketing. They are missing the whole "Web 2.0" boat, and that's a shame.

The Internet is getting back to it's social roots. It's returning to the Usenet days, when community was built around a subject. I'm not sayi8ng anything really new here, but it bears emphasizing -- to make full use of new technology, you've got to be social, you have to have a new media strategy beyond "ignore them, and they'll go away."

Because guess what? They will go away. And you'll lose. Watch what's happening with the music industry right now. They're going nuts trying to figure out how to deal with digital music and portable MP3 players. The radio industry is trying to figure out how to deal with people who want to listen to their own playlists and not the station's playlist. So far, all they've done is stick their fingers in their ears and make "nanananananana" noises, hoping this new technology will go away. They've been doing it since high-speed Internet connections made streaming music (and video) possible. They'll still be doing it when the next big thing comes out. ANd eventually, they'll go out of business.

I'm thankful for labels like Centricity, who actually get it. It means that artists will have options in the future. And it means that the rest of us will, too.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 12:58 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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July 17, 2008

Prayer Request

I'm a bit shocked by this, and I am sorry I haven't mentioned it before now.

Some of you are familiar with Songstress7 from News From The Great Beyond. I've known her almost since I started blogging. She was my biggest cheerleader when I was in the King of the Blogs competition. Heck, she even offered me a place to stay one year when I was debating going to GodBlogCon.

She lost her husband very suddenly, and very unexpectedly, this week. We need to keep praying for her and her family, now and in the weeks and months to come.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 06:40 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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July 03, 2008

Contemporary vs. Traditional: The Worship Wars

I often find myself sitting on the fence during the Worship Wars(tm). I love loud music. I like loud, distorted guitar solos. I like to rock out on occasion -- often enough that I frequently embarrass my daughter (hey, I'm just doing my job, there).

But I also really enjoy the whole "high church" worship experience. If I heard most of the music in my iTunes library done in church, I'd probably feel a bit uncomfortable. I don't find anything wrong with it, it's just not me.

That's why different churches have different worship styles. The differences don't matter enough that we should condemn each other for them, but they ARE different enough that they can interfere with our worship experience. I've always thought that we should let people worship with the music that they are comfortable with -- as long as the teaching in their church is Biblical, there's no problem there.

I read a couple letters recently at the Vintage Faith blog on this topic that were interesting to me:

I am no music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday's new hymn - if you can call it that - sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you insist on exposing us to rubbish like this - in God's house! - don't be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need.
That letter sounds familiar to anyone who is trying to balance contemporary and traditional worship styles. In fact, there are probably a few worship leaders who think they actually GOT that letter not long ago.

That letter was written in '63. 1863. And the name of the hymn that the folks were complaining about is "Just As I Am." The Worship Wars(tm) have been going on a lot longer than we think, and will continue long after we're dead. Our grandchildren will probably complain about the new songs in church -- "Why can't we sing more old classics like 'Lord I Lift Your Name On High'? What's wrong with the good, old-fashioned hymns that our grandparents sang?"

We need to realize what is a personal preference and what isn't, and stop getting so wrapped up in our personal preferences.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 12:48 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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July 01, 2008

RIAA Shows How Inane They Really Are

So the RIAA, in court, really said this. I'm not making it up -- it's too stupid.

Requiring proof of actual transfers would cripple efforts to enforce copyright owners' rights online.

In other words, it's hard for us to prove that the people we're accusing actually DID, in fact, trade songs illegally. So we shouldn't have to prove that they did it.

The sound you just heard was your rights being incinerated, folks. If the judge actually buys this, corporate America won't have to prove anything in court to win a lawsuit against you. In fact, I could sue anybody for anything I want, and just tell the judge that if I had to actually prove the accusations had any basis, I wouldn't be able to go after the people who were doing the stuff I was upset about to begin with. Does that make any sense to anybody?

It shouldn't. But RIAA wants it to. They want a judge to rule favorably on it, so it becomes legal precedent. And then, since anyone with an iPod has pirated music (yes, they actually have said that), they can sue anyone with an iPod. Then they can sue anyone with a computer, since computers are used for music piracy. Can you say "slippery slope," boys and girls?

Every so often I start to think that maybe I'll start listening to commercially available music, stuff on major labels. Then something like this happens, and reminds me that they really don't want someone like me as a customer. So I'll keep listening to and supporting independent and small-label bands, and hope that the folks at RIAA and the major labels destroy themselves quickly rather than slowly.

{EDIT -- wow -- a misplaced /blockquotes tag can really mess things up. My commentary/translation got mixed in with RIAA's statement, and I apologize.}

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 08:21 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Atheists, Semantics, and God

According to a recent Pew Forum survey, 21% of American atheists believe in a god. 6% believe in a personal God, 12% believe in an impersonal force, and 3% aren't sure. 10% of American atheists pray at least once a week. 12% believe in heaven.

Obviously, these statistics are a bit confusing. Atheists are, by definition, people who do not believe that there is evidence of a god, and reject belief in one. From a- "without" + theos "a god." Seems pretty clear to me.

Many of these atheists are a bit less dogmatic than Dawkins and his militant, fundamentalist atheist crew. It seems to me, though, that 21% of Americans who claim to be atheists don't understand the meaning of the word, and are instead agnostic.

Atheism at least implies a rejection of the possibility of the existence of any god whatsoever. The very concept of god becomes a merely human construction, born of a primitive desire to explain the unexplainable in nature. Modern man has no need of such definitions -- we're smarter than that, say the atheists.

But now it seems that 21% of those smart people don't even know the definition of the word atheist.

Now I have no problem with atheists praying; I'd just like to know who they're praying to. I didn't know that the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was growing all that quickly today, and I certainly wasn't aware that it's adherents actively prayed to the FSM.

Lest this post seem to harsh toward these pseudo-atheists, it should be noted that 55% of American agnostics say they believe in a god, with 14% believing in a personal one, 36% in an impersonal one, and 5% not quite sure.

A summary of the report is available here, and there are some other interesting statistics. For example, 14% of people identifying themselves as Jewish do not believe in God. 21% of Evangelicals don't believe in a personal God. 19% of all Protestants surveyed believe God is an impersonal force, like in Star Wars.

The real problem with a survey like this is that you really don't know how the questions were worded, and right now I really don't have time to read the entire 268 page report. If I have a chance this week, I'll take a look at the 18 page summary, and see if it gives any clue about how the questions were framed.

In any case, it looks like we've got some work to do here.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 07:22 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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