I started Christianity for the Rest of Us by Diana Butler Bass. Bass took on a three-year study course to attend mainline churches, speak with their members, and experience their programs. The purpose was to show that mainline churches, in their own skin, are thriving. She cites emphases on spirituality, experiential worship, and progressive theology as some of the marks of these communities. However, her book also features the refrain, "as opposed to those other churches" mixed in, which especially seems to contradict her chapter on diversity in which she celebrates how it is about the absence of "as opposed to those other groups." I think her overall point is that mainliners have been written off for so long as spiritually dead, sleepy, and worshippers of tradition (by some of those "other churches" in particular) that she wants to respond to those claims. In that regard, I've sometimes wondered who exactly this book is for. Is it a pep talk for mainliners? Is it a response to those outside the mainline? Perhaps it is a little of both. Once I'm finished with the book, I might treat it in a full review.
Ghost Hunters this week was a highlight show from their 9-hour live Halloween investigation at the hotel that inspired The Shining. They had wrestler CM Punk along, which was little more than a bit of cross-promotion. They heard a girl's voice (no children checked in at the hotel), found some cold spots, and saw some shadows. There hasn't been another episode, I don't think, where they've heard a voice plainly. Skeptics could chalk that up to all sorts of things, but the possibility that it's something else is so much more interesting.
The other day I popped in an older CD by Plumb, a Christian-but-we-don't-feel-the-need-to-sing-about-Jesus-in-every-song-and-our-musical-abilities-are-way-above-average band that I listened to a lot in college. I think what got me into them was their heavier drums. That, and the lead singer is not unpleasant to the eyes. And yes, Christian music labels pay attention to appearance just as much as their heathen "worldly" counterparts. And it obviously worked in my case, because she's a reason I picked up their CD. How many unattractive "Christian" artists can you name? Time's up. Exactly. Don't judge me.
Around the web, my buddy The Masked Doctoral Student is engaged. And kick yourself if you haven't seen Weird Al's White and Nerdy video yet. And then go watch the Women! Know Your Limits! video over at Bob's blog.