Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bossa Nova Meets Samba Meets Hip-Hop

If you are able to listen to the sweet samba sounds of Sergio Mendes and sit still, well, I'm just plain sorry for you. Sergio has been spinning out Brazilian grooves for over four decades -- whether with Brazil 66 or at times joined by the likes of Herb Alpert and who became Alpert's wife, Lani Hall.

On his latest album, Encanto, Mendes is again joined by Herb and Lani on one track. The rest of the record is pure Brazilian, recorded in Rio and Salvador de Baia. The sounds are more irresistible than ever, chronicling the amazing musical journey of a man who has become a legend. Skipping some of his mid-career forays into American pop and soul, Encanto reflects some later influences such as a wonderfully African brand of hip-hop, combined with some of the jazz and bossa nova influences that have blended to produce that oh-so Mendes sound.

Looking for timeless? You've got it right here.

Welcome to Water Cooler Wednesday!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Help for Haiti

You would almost think there was a curse on the nation of Haiti. Ravaged by not one, not two, but FOUR storms in the last month, the already destitute country is now struggling to dig out of the latest devastation left by Hurricane Ike. Not that the Texas victims have nothing to deal with -- but there are resources readily available to most Texans that the Haitians could only dream of.

Here is a tangible way you can help: Terry Snow, Director of Youth With a Mission in Haiti, has made an appeal for help in feeding the thousands of newly homeless in the city of St. Marc, Haiti's third largest city. For only $1.50 US, you can provide a hot meal for someone who has no idea where the next meal is coming from. Youth With a Mission has been involved in nation building in Haiti in the most holistic way possible, from opening a fish market in the city to helping with roads, bridges, and feeding programs for well over a decade. Here's what you can do:

Send a quick e-mail to stating the number of meals (@ $1.50) you would like to provide. Then mail your check for that amount IMMEDIATELY to:

YWAM Haiti
PO Box 236
Akron, PA 17501

...and indicate that it is for the meal program in St. Marc.

Thanks for your help.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cultural Intelligence

Having spent 17 years outside my home country, I well remember what it was like when groups from the US would come on short term missions or service projects. I also still wince to this day as I remember that it is actually possible for these teams do more harm than good. That is, if they have not been properly trained and oriented to the host culture which they are supposedly coming to serve.
This is why I'm glad to see the new book by David A. Livermore, Serving With Eyes Wide Open. Written particularly with short-term missions teams in mind, I believe this book would benefit anyone seeking to be of service in a foreign culture -- frankly, it probably would not hurt tourists to read it! Let's face it -- we're all ethnocentric to some extent, which is normal to a degree. But cultural intelligence means identifying our areas of ethnocentricity, learning to appreciate the beauties and strengths of the host culture, and going, above all, as a learner.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

YouTube Guilty Pleasures

The YouTube phenomenon is nothing short of that. Today's Water Cooler Wednesday topic is "favorite YouTube guilty pleasures." This entire blog could of course be filled with nothing but favorite YouTube videos. But do you know the New Zealand duo Flight of the Conchords? No?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Age of Creativity

I last blogged from southern France, where I was speaking at an annual arts camp in a region called the Cévennes. I was struck by the legacy of the persecuted Huguenots as portrayed at the Musée du Désert, hidden away in the rugged hills of the Cévennes. Their oppression lasted over a century, and many of the men were sent away to the French galleys, seldom to return home. Centuries later, the Protestant church is strongest in the south (as well as the Alsace region in northeastern France).

At the arts camp I spoke on the fact that art, as a part of culture, must evolve. I believe that, as God is Creator and continues to create, He created us to evolve. Otherwise, we would still be nomadic hunter/gatherers, oblivious to agriculture, industry and technology. We are wired to move forward. And a faith that withstands the test of time is one that continues to innovate, to explore new ways of expressing the same timeless truths. If the church doesn't wake up to this fact, it will find itself shut off from some of the very people who could help it move forward in its ongoing quest for relevancy.I particularly wish this for the church in France, in many ways known as the cradle of aesthetic appreciation. It's in the church's best interest to embrace and reclaim this love of beauty. We have entered the Age of Creativity -- let's keep creating.