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If You Still Haven’t Heard Hamilton Yet, We Might Not Be Friends Anymore

Hamilton

I wasn’t going to blog about it, but seeing the White House recently host a live performance by the Hamilton cast, I decided this couldn’t wait any further. But I want to be clear about something from the outset. This is not a post to convince you of how great Hamilton is and why you need to see or hear it.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly want more people to know about it, but if after reading this you decide to listen to the official cast recording, I claim no responsibility for the ensuing addiction that will follow.

On the contrary, this post is simply about what a profound effect Hamilton has had on me, and why. It’s about how Hamilton relates to what’s going on with me in my life (plenty of big changes!) and what’s going in America in general (also, plenty of big changes!). There are lessons to be learned that go way beyond the aesthetic pleasure of enjoying good music and watching a compelling stage performance. Indeed, I suspect that what makes Hamilton resonate so deeply inside me and so many others is its incredible sense of timeliness. It is, to crib a line from the Dark Knight trilogy, not the play that America deserves, but the play America needs, and needs greatly.

But alas, I’m getting ahead of myself.

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Deadpool Isn’t For Kids, Unless They’re Trapped In Adult Bodies

deadpool-ryan-reynolds-wade-wilson

It’s a signpost of any trend’s maturity when it becomes unshackled by the genre conventions that previously came to define it.

Hip-hop has gone through this plenty of times… hip-hop started as party music, created by DJs who played beat breaks over and over and amused the crowd with rhyming chants, then it turned into a rallying cry, an explicitly political form of truth-telling counter-resistance. Then, sometime in the aughts, rappers started becoming introspective, emotional, even vulnerable. Each new trend was received in part because of the contrast to what came prior.

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Sort Out Your Emotions With Nikki Lerner Therapy

nikki lerner TTWNS

With her latest record, recording artist and worship leader Nikki Lerner is aiming to get some things off her chest.

Not in the I’m-angry-and-I-just-need-to-vent sense, but in the these-are-the-things-I-think-about-all-the-time-but-now-I’m-actually-going-to-say-them-out-loud sense … hence the album’s title, The Things We Never Say.

And my sense, after both listening to the record and talking to her directly (FULL DISCLOSURE: she and I have been friends for years through our connection with the Multicultural Worship Leaders Network) is that by being so frank and forthcoming, she wants to give others permission to do the same.

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We Are The Iccsters. Yes, This Is Happening.

iccsters logo three guys pics no words

Today, October 1st, I updated my Facebook status thusly:

Sometime around 1988, an enterprising urban pastor asked his youngest son to put together a rap for an outreach event. He dutifully complied, and although it was kind of awkward and he didn’t have any beats so he had to use his favorite EPMD instrumental, the twelve-year-old rocked his first mic. Mission accomplished.
Twelve years later, that young man was fresh out of college, living back at home again, and that same pastor asked his now aspiring rap artist son to grab a few friends and put together a rap group to perform for a mens’ conference at the church.
He did, and they did. And they kept performing, not a lot, but a few times a year, here and there. Even after they left the church where they started, they kept at it. Through their twenties and well into their thirties, when it felt like, “maybe we’re a little too old for this…?” … they kept at it.
Fifteen years after their first performance, they are finally ready to release an album of their greatest hits. And that album drops on Sunday.
Comment below if you want more details.

 

So these are the basic details:

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GUEST POST!

My good friend Amanda Pifer, who has some experience in and with the Quiverfull / homeschooling movement, decided she had some things to say about the ongoing Josh Duggar fiasco, who was recently back in the news for having been outed in the Ashley Madison leak. She let loose today on Facebook, and her words were so insightful, I asked if I could share them on my blog.
Here they are…

 


 

 

Ok guys, I think we can all agree that Josh Duggar has made some pretty bad choices in his life. No, I am not happy about it, but I am also not even slightly surprised. Bad stuff was (and is) happening, whether everybody on Facebook knew about it or not.

But here’s the thing, I’m quite sure that Josh still has more life challenges that we don’t know about. It’s not as easy as “he’s a pedophile” or “he’s a cheater,” there’s more going on there, whether we can see it or not. I’m also willing to bet all the money I have that he is not the only one of his siblings who are going to have life-shattering problems — whether public or, hopefully, private. There is still more going on than meets the eye.

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Going Rogue Threatens God’s Mission for Justice

mission-impossible-rogue-nation-2015-movie-poster

Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is out in theaters, and it dutifully fills all the boxes in the spy thriller checklist. Lifelike masks? Death-defying stunts? Car chases? Gunplay and physical combat? Glamorous locales? Check, check, checkity-pop-zoom-bam-BOOM.

One thing that stuck with me was the title; an interesting development, because action movie titles are often pretty irrelevant. They’re designed to sound intriguing-and-dangerous-but-vague, and too often come across instead as techno-gibberish. (Does anyone remember what “Ghost Protocol” referred to in the fourth M:I installment? Don’t look it up on Wikipedia, that’s cheating.)

On the contrary, a whole nation going rogue? That’s much easier to understand. The phrase picked up steam in the broader consciousness after Sarah Palin entitled her 2009 political memoir Going Rogue, reclaiming a definition of a rogue not simply as “someone who lacks judgment or principle,” but “someone who deviates from the expected norm of behavior.”

(Say what you want about Sarah Palin, but she’s amazing at deviating from expected norms.)

In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the rogues in question take the form of a nefarious collective of foreign agents called The Syndicate, all united in the pursuit of a terrorist agenda.

So with the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) shut down by Congress, super spy Ethan Hunt (Cruise) must rely on his friends, comic relief Simon Pegg as Benji, the steely-eyed Jeremy Renner as chief analyst Brant, Ving Rhames’ muscly perma-smirk as the homie Luther, and Rebecca Ferguson as mysterious femme fatale Ilsa Faust – all working together to defeat The Syndicate, and to a lesser extent, justify the IMF’s existence.mission impossible cast profiles

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Why I Don’t Perform Comedy As Often

Man Looking at Watch

So for those who don’t know, occasionally I do comedy. And I like it. And people, by and large, enjoy when I do it.

So why don’t I do it more often?

 

I get this question a lot, and in fact, I ask myself this question a lot.

Or at least I used to, when I first started in comedy. Initially, my answer was common to a lot of comics — it’s hard to find the right opportunity to get up. Unless you’re in just the right situation, it can be a chore finding places to perform.

You can go to a bunch of open mics, but open mics aren’t necessarily a great place to be, because they’re full of other comics, most of whom are, to be polite, less than skilled. They range from being doe-eyed neophytes who can’t believe they’re actually doing this!! to angry, bitter, lazy or stoned hacks who think audiences won’t notice if you recycle the same five jokes about drugs, sexuality or religion into endless permutations of dreck. Sitting through that, night after night, week after week, can wear on you.

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A Modest Proposal to Protect the Confederate Flag

modest proposal

To Whom It May Concern,*

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the Confederate flag, a symbol of southern pride and heritage for generations, is under attack.

Because of one isolated incident with a mentally ill young man who just happened to be seen with the flag several days before gunning down nine African-Americans at a random church, suddenly everyone wants to pile on and act like the flag is some sort of magic talisman of hate that can instantly turn our children into racist, homicidal maniacs, rather than the piece of historical lore that it is.

As a result, there is a lot of talk, not only of removing the flag from the South Carolina capitol building, but of banning it altogether.

This, to me, is unacceptable. Rather than seeking to ban the Confederate flag, we need to be doing more to protect it.

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Why #GamesSoWhite Is A Problem (And What You Can Do About It)

witcher 3 geralt

#GamesSoWhite.

If you don’t play video games, this hashtag probably hasn’t crossed your social media feed… or if it has, you may not understand what it means or why it exists. Such is the challenge of any kind of hashtag activism — it’s difficult to have meaningful exchanges when limited to 140 characters or less.

Consequently, there is a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding and misinformation going on with #GamesSoWhite, much like what happened with the incredibly controversial #GamerGate controversy from 2014. Unlike GamerGate, which many video game enthusiasts used as a rallying cry to marshall support toward protecting their turf, #GamesSoWhite has become a target of many of those same gamers, who are doing their best to discredit, disprove or shout down the ideas behind the hashtag.

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Beats and Air and Life

AngryClouds
This is a poem that I wrote during a guided writing exercise led by Seth Haines at this year’s Faith & Culture Writers Conference at Warner Pacific College.
I do not write many poems, but this one came to me as I gazed outside and watched the wind blow.