Monday, September 28, 2009

A House Divided

It is impossible to talk about culture without talking about politics and government, although this is a subject I don't often address in this blog. But last week I heard a comment that pushed me over the edge, and I uncharacteristically vented about it on Facebook with a simple and admittedly unbalanced comment.

79 comments later, it was clear that at the heart of the current debate on healthcare in the US is not healthcare itself, but a fundamental difference in perspective on the role of government. Many non-Americans talk of the Christian population in the US as a monolithic, extreme right-wing movement, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

A recent religious activists survey showed that, while many conservative as well as progressive activists call themselves Christians, they differ greatly on issues such as social responsibility, biblical authority and the role of government. The spokesman for the survey explained this phenomenon with a quote from C.S. Lewis:

'Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity says; we are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party.' (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Many conservative Christians believe that most of our social ills would be taken care of if more people would come to Christ, thereby eliminating the need for expensive government programs. Progressive Christians, on the other hand, point to present realities that they feel cannot be ignored, such as prohibitively expensive insurance policies for middle-class Americans, not to mention the disturbing number of Americans still living below the poverty line.

Please go to the blog to leave your comments, which are welcome.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

'Playing for Change'

When music producer Mark Johnson came across street singer Roger Ridley's soulful voice in Los Angeles a few years ago, he had a brainstorm: record and film Ridley's raw and powerful rendition of an international hit such as "Stand By Me", then add voices and instruments from around the world to the arrangement. 40 people, to be exact -- from nations ranging from Nepal to South Africa, from France to India -- who have still never met each other. The "Stand By Me" video has gone viral on YouTube and is one of ten songs on the collection called Playing for Change, all produced by Johnson with his extremely mobile recording equipment.
Johnson even captured the voice of the late Bob Marley singing "War/No More Trouble" by creating a track in the same key and tempo as Marley's version and overdubbing Marley's vocal onto the track.

Facebook and e-mail readers can click here to see the "Stand By Me" video.