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The Barna Group is reporting that relatively few people who read The Da Vinci Code change their minds about their religious beliefs. Rather, people seem to reaffirm their prior opinions.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
The Church Herald of the RCA recently noted a Barna Group conducted survey on certain American religious practices.

(From the Church Herald) UNITED STATES
Survey: More Americans Reading Bible Weekly
A survey shows the percentage of Americans who say they regularly read the Bible continues to increase. The survey, conducted by the Barna Group, found that 47 percent of respondents said they open the Bible on a weekly basis, up from just 31 percent in 1995 and 40 percent six years ago. The survey also polled respondents on six other "religious behaviors" including church attendance and attending small groups like Bible studies. Forty-seven percent said they attend church on a weekly basis, up from 37 percent a decade ago, while 23 percent said they attend small group functions affiliated with church. Twenty-seven percent of those asked said that they volunteer through church, while 24 percent said that they attend Sunday school, up from 17 percent in 1996.
. . .
The Barna report was based on data taken from 1,003 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone in January. The Barna Group is a private, for-profit corporation in Ventura, California, that conducts research on spiritual development. (RNS)

Copyright © 2006 The Church Herald. All rights reserved.
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26/05: Memorial Day

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
The Wizbang site now has a section up for Memorial Day Weekend with links to various sites honoring our heroes. BosqueBoys have this essay, and this movie list.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
In honor of the Memorial Day Weekend, I am once again posting my earlier essay on the funeral of a hometown Marine killed in Iraq.

Written Saturday, Nov. 26

This morning I attended the funeral of a young Marine from Apache, Oklahoma, killed in combat in Iraq. His name was Josh Ware. You may have seen him along with 5 or 6 other marines on the cover of Time magazine during the battle of Fallujah. He was killed by hostile small arms fire last week during operation Steel Curtain. Josh was of Kiowa and Comanche descent, and registered with the Kiowa tribe. He was 20 years old.


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This weekend, remember to honor the brave dead who have given us freedom. Fly your flag. Go to the cemetary. Probably you will not spend the entire weekend outdoors, so rent a movie that reminds us of the cost of freedom.

A Waco Farmer is the real movie guy of this blog, so I invite him to add movies to this post that I have overlooked. Here's my suggested list. (cont.)

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Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Drudge today links to a story from the Washington Times that recounts the recent Senate vote to make English the official language of the US. The headline is "Reid Calls Language Proposal Racist." Where to begin? Dear Senator Reid:

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Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
According to a poll done by the Religion Newswriters Association of its members, the top religion news stories of 2005 were:

1.The death of Pope John Paul II after a long and eventful papacy.
2.Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger elevated to the papacy as Benedict XVI.
3.Terry Schiavo’s death and the controversy surrounding the end of her life.
4.Churches and faith-based groups responding to disasters world-wide such as the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.
5.Debate over homosexuality continues in mainline US denominations.
6.Debate over evolution, especially in Kansas.
7.Court cases involving Ten Commandments, Pledge of Allegiance, abortion, euthanasia.
8.Faith-based groups involved in the debate over Bush’s three Supreme Court nominees.
9.Vatican releases statement on homosexuality; first major statement by Benedict XVI.
10.Billy Graham does final Crusade in New York City.

The events in this list, especially numbers 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, & 10, demonstrate once again a major thesis of the Bosque Boys, namely that America cannot be understood without attempting to understand religion’s (especially Christianity’s) interaction with American politics and culture. (cont. below)

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"People will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn into the driveway, not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. 'Of course we won't mind if you have a look around,' you'll say. 'It's only twenty dollars per person.' They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have, and peace they lack. They'll walk up to the bleachers and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they had dipped themselves in magic waters; the memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers; it has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and raised again. Baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again. Oh, people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.” From FIELD OF DREAMS

Some of my earliest memories from childhood are of lying in my bed early on twilight summer evenings with the windows open, listening to Harry Carey calling Cardinal’s games over my grandfather’s radio in his bedroom fifty yards north of mine. (We both went early to bed, I because my mom believed children needed their sleep, he because he believed a day had been half wasted if the cows had not been milked by daylight. His radio was turned up loud because he was half deaf as an old man.) I’m not sure I really remember the first time I attended a baseball game I was so young. We went to St. Louis and saw the Cardinals; we went to Kansas City and saw the Athletics. In the car, on the tractor, at home, baseball on the radio has been as much a sound of spring and summer and fall for me as spring frogs and cicadas.

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In answer to an Okie Gardener's challenge:

First of all, I must confess that I cannot play an instrument, read music, carry a tune or keep a beat. I have always suspected that my musical ignorance makes me the perfect country music fan, an art form that is much more literary than it is musical. Even though I cannot appreciate “great” music, I have always understood the country sound and appreciated the profundity of the the folk "poetry."

One of my favorite American writers splendidly described country music as “the lonesome, helpless cries from those tired men and rapidly aging women, who had rebelled against their fate to toil rocky hillsides and raise bands of illiterate, naked children. Their song was heard and understood, and hillbilly music moved beyond the hills. The Texas cowboy heard, and instantly knew the plight of the hillbilly was the same as his own, as did the Nebraska farmer and the lonesome Okie picking oranges from California groves belonging to other men. It was the wailing of depression and deprivation, simply expressed melodies of yesterday’s happiness and sorrow, of mothers, fathers and sweethearts lost forever in memories….”

The perfect country song must embody those sentiments.

Runner-Up: I am tempted to give the ultimate honor to Hank Williams and "Your Cheating Heart." This classic is nearly the quintessential song about pain and betrayal, composed and performed by the archetypal country artist in the midst of personal agony and miserably adrift in his celebrity and success. He recorded the track merely weeks before his death by overdose in the back of his Cadillac on the way to a booking in Ohio; he was not yet thirty years old. Your Cheating Heart was a huge posthumous hit for Hank in 1953. Later that year, his widow (his second wife, to whom he had been married for only a few months) married another country singer, Johnny Horton, who would die in a car wreck in 1960.

“When tears come down like falling rain, You'll toss around and call my name…”

But the perfect country and western song, with all due respect to Hank Williams (and Steve Goodman), is ...

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Some years ago William Tenn wrote a science-fiction short story entitled "The Custodian," in which a man, prior to the earth's destruction, gathered only what could fit into a small spaceship from all earth's cultural and artistic treasure. What to choose? Sometimes I have day-dreamed of myself in a similar role. What would I choose to save, what paintings, sculpture, poetry, music, etc. would I choose to represent each area of human artistry?

To represent Rock Music, I would flip a coin to choose between the Rolling Stones Jumpin Jack Flash and (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.

I have a theory as to why the Stones work so well as a Rock Band. They include both of the basic impulses of human beings, indeed, the two basic contradictory impulses of the world: chaos and order, head and heart. Definitions: Dionysian--(from the god Dionysus (Bacchus)) individualistic, exuberance, chaos, heart/emotions, madness; Apollinian (from the god Apollo) beauty, rationality, order.

Mick Jagger is the Dionysian, chaotic, emotional impulse. Think of his singing--he rarely hits a note straight on, his voice slides around the notes, constantly threatening to go into the wrong key. Think of his dancing--chaotic movement. Think of his persona on stage--a good imitation of the god of wine.
Charlie Watts is the Apollinian, orderly, rational impulse. Think of his drumming--simple and spare, exact as a machine. Think of his movements--nothing wasted or excessive. Think of his stage persona--a good imitation of the god of reason.

The genius of the Stones is that these two contradictory impulses both are harnessed, complimenting each other, demonstrating that each needs the other. Without steady Charlie, Mick's singing would devolve from music into pure chaos. Without exuberant Mick, Charlie's rythmn would lack a heart, would degenerate from music into pure formality.

(Challenge to A Waco Farmer--what song would you choose to represent country music and why?)