Friday, February 15, 2008

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm still working my way through Becoming a Pastor, and again, I'm saving it for one of my "essays." Suffice it to say, it's very good.

I watched The Family Stone this week, featuring a very notable cast. Sarah Jessica Parker plays an uppity career woman who joins her boyfriend's family for Christmas, and has a lot of trouble finding acceptance. For the first half of the movie or so, I did feel bad for her. But there comes a point where sympathy for her evaporates and you begin seeing that the family is protective of their own, and for some good reasons. And apparently Diane Keaton contracts herself to have at least one over-the-top melodramatic moment per movie now. There also ends up being a love quadrangle or something, which was annoying after the one brother spends most of the movie sticking up for Parker's character and taking pains to get his family to give her a fair shot. All in all, an interesting exploration of family dynamics and how an outsider may or may not be accepted. But some of the characters and plot "twists" are beyond help.

My favorite song of the moment is OneRepublic's "Apologize." I downloaded the original version without Timbaland saying "hey" through the whole thing (he actually, like, sings or raps or something occasionally, doesn't he?) onto my Chocolate, and I actually like the original uses more strings and electric guitar, and I just think it sounds better. Probably a week later, I picked up the entire album, Dreaming Out Loud. There's definitely a Timbaland influence throughout, but they're also a real band with real instruments in a kind of "Radiohead meets Coldplay" thing. And here's a fun fact: in the liner notes, all five of them thank either God or Jesus. After discovering that, some of their song titles and lyrics made more sense.

I also picked up Over the Rhine's Ohio this week. It was not my first choice (I was looking for Drunkard's Prayer or The Trumpet Child), but I wanted to experience more of their music so I basically settled for this. Having listened to it a few times, I sort of feel bad for saying "settled," but I don't think that I can completely abandon the word. This 2-CD set is still very good, utilizing a variety of musical influences such as folk, gospel, country, and blues. "Suitcase," "Changes Come," and "Bothered" are some of my favorites. It's interesting to read Detweiler's message in the liner notes where he talks about he and Karin both trying to move beyond their church-centered childhoods, yet their music is still "Christ-haunted." That's going in a sermon. I'm still on a quest to find those other albums. Seriously, go to their website and listen to the song "The Trumpet Child" and tell me it doesn't completely wash over you.

Around the web, you wanna know why lots of denominations require things like a seminary education and psychological testing for their pastors? This is why.