Friday, January 25, 2013

Pop Culture Roundup

This week I finished Rachel Held Evans' new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, in which she explores just what exactly the term "Biblical womanhood really means." She does this by trying to take the Bible's directives for women as literally as possible, even taking certain things a few steps further than they're intended. She camps out in the yard during her period, she "submits" to her husband, she remains completely silent during worship (unless she's prophesying with her head covered, of course), and she attempts to live into the image of womanhood found in Proverbs 31 as much as possible. Along the way she visits an Amish community, regularly corresponds with a Jewish woman in Israel, spends a few days with a Baby Think-It-Over, cooks her way through Martha Stewart's cookbook, and prepares a seder meal, among so much else. As she not only recounts all of these experiences but also delves into a deep treatment of various scripture passages (including profiles of some Biblical women), her basic conclusion is that there's no such thing as "Biblical womanhood;" that some passages such as Proverbs 31 are not meant to be taken literally or as a set of rules, and that many women in the Bible do not hold to the concept either, which is really more of a 1950s housewife model to begin with. Evans' book is a call to treat scripture as living tradition, a humorous take on the "traditional" model of womanhood, a celebration of womanhood past and present in all its diversity.

Some days, I wonder why I've gotten into zombies so much the past few years. I wonder whether it's just the thrill, or maybe there's something redemptive about such a universe or at least the hope of something redemptive, or maybe it's just brainless fun. I'm not sure. I'm halfway through the episodes so far released for the third season of The Walking Dead, and while on the one hand I'm completely engrossed in the story and the world that it presents, it's really an incredibly bleak show. I really can't help but root for these characters, but at the same time I watch knowing that one or more of them may not make it through any given episode. It can be depressing and scary, and I just can't help myself.

I was alerted to this video of a "virtual choir" put together by composer Eric Whitacre, and was so inspired by it that I talked about it in my sermon this past Sunday. He's put together four of these, but I still like this first one the best. It's just amazing to me what technology has made possible, uniting people from all over the world in projects like this:

Albumwatch, Mea Culpa Edition!

This is a version of Albumwatch where I take a second listen to albums that I didn't really like the first time to see if I've changed my mind, and offer up some "mea culpas" for those that struck me in a more positive way the second time around. I think doing one of these maybe mid-year and then at the end of the year is a good way to handle it, so this one will be for as long as I started including this feature up to this point.

No Doubt, Push and Shove - When Coffeewife gets ready for work in the morning, she likes to listen to dance-pop radio on her iPhone. The first time I listened to this album, I called it a weak, lazy electronics-heavy effort that made No Doubt sound like a shell of its former self. Upon listening to it again, I was able to appreciate it as more of the kind of dance-pop that Coffeewife likes. Besides that, I was able to pick up on the ska influences that this group is known for. I still don't think it's their best effort, but could at least appreciate it more.

Zola Jesus, Stridulum - I think that if I was feeling really down, as in wanting to sit in the dark drinking wine by myself, and I needed an appropriate soundtrack for that situation, I would choose this. Being that I heard this again when I was in a more positive state of mind than that, I yet again did not find it to be ideal listening. But I'm saying that there would be an ideal situation for it. So I guess that counts.

The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow - I did enjoy this album a lot more the second time around. I think I was in much more of a reflective mood, and this laid-back, acoustic-driven sound aided it perfectly.

Professor Elemental, Father of Invention - If I wanted to award a top Mea Culpa Of The Week, it would probably go to Professor Elemental. I won't do such an award, I'm just saying that this is probably the one I didn't get into the first time that I feel worst about, since a second listen showed me that he's just as hilarious and brilliant in this effort as with others. Silly me.

Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits - I'm still not big on '80s revival type stuff, but it was much more tolerable the second time around. Plus Coffeewife dancing around goofily to it was fun. I'm glad she doesn't read my blog very often.

Passion Pit, Gossamer - I was pretty lukewarm to this the first time I heard it. I found myself bouncing my foot to it and having a little more fun during a second listen.