Friday, May 19, 2006

Pop Culture Roundup

Preface: I spent the first part of this week in St. Louis with some friends and colleagues from Eden Seminary. The seminary has alumni back the first five years after they graduate for Continuing Education Structured Workshop Things, but mostly it's a chance to catch up, swap stories, and drink wine. I consider my time in St. Louis and at Eden pretty formative, and so the things I read, watched, and listened to offer little pensieve moments for me. So without further ado, here is a special St. Louis edition of the Roundup.

Steve Patterson was my professor of New Testament, and his The God of Jesus is still one of the most influential books I've read, particularly for his views on Jesus' purposes for telling parables and Jesus' message of the kingdom of God. The former, he states, are not simple moral lessons but rather stories told to shake one's worldview and be interpreted, re-interpreted, and never fully nailed down. The latter, he suggests, is as much here now as it is not yet. Jesus uses phrases such as 'not far,' 'within you,' and 'among you' to describe what and where God's kingdom is. It is ever moving in and is a kingdom of peace, justice, and love. I've referred to this book in sermons, classes, and conversations. It's one of my favorites.

St. Louis is where I was introduced to Tony Soprano and crew. There were three of us, sometimes four, sometimes five, who rented a DVD at a time, made popcorn, opened a bottle of red, and enjoyed all the corruption, violence, loyalty, and respect that takes place in the world of northern New Jersey. Allegedly. I've managed to work in Soprano references twice in my preaching, and of course it came up a couple times this week. If nothing else, it's a great study in human depravity. There's at least one 'Gospel According To...' type of book on the subject as well.

There are two musical artists local to St. Louis to varying degrees. The first is Robynn Ragland, a singer-songwriter that I mentioned on here a long time ago. She's from St. Louis, but I guess she operates out of Chicago now. Or something. If that's not quite right, I know one faithful reader who will set me straight on that. The other is Dionysia, a Latin-rock-folk-funk act. I can't really describe them much better than that. St. Louis has a decent jamband scene and these guys are doing pretty well for themselves there.

Throughout my time at Eden, I logged a lot of time at 411mania, a pop culture site with reviews, news, and a discussion forum. A great place to waste an hour and suddenly discover you've wasted five.

I'll say more about the alumni event itself in a day or two. I'm kind of on borrowed time right now, so it'll be a little bit.