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Halo Church?

Halo Church?

Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

Also, click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

Halo Church?

In my book “The Culturally Savvy Christian” (CSC) I define the CSC as serious about faith, savvy (gets it) about faith and culture and skilled in relating the two.

The Culturally Savvy Church should display the same characteristics-especially when it relates to programs aimed at our youth.

I was reminded of this by a NYT article on the X-Box game Halo III, which oddly enough has become a centerpiece for many church youth ministries.

The article says: “Across the country, hundreds of ministers and pastors desperate to reach young congregants have drawn concern and criticism through their use of an unusual recruiting tool: the immersive and violent video game Halo.

It then points out that the latest iteration of the immensely popular space epic, Halo 3, was released nearly two weeks ago by Microsoft and has already passed ($) 300 million in sales.

The NYT sees something ironic in Halo as an evangelistic tool: “First the percussive sounds of sniper fire and the thrill of the kill. Then the gospel of peace.”

One youth pastor justifies the use of Halo, saying– “Once they come for the games, Gregg Barbour, the youth minister of the church said, they will stay for his Christian message. “We want to make it hard for teenagers to go to hell,” Mr. Barbour wrote in a letter to parents at the church.”

My friend and culture-watcher John Seel is very concerned– The fear of irrelevance is palpable in the evangelical church. In many North American churches the consumer logic reigns — any means is justifiable to reach a target audience as long as it is followed by a simple gospel presentation. To reach an edgy audience, so the argument goes, one must employ edgy means. He goes on to say, Many readers of “The New York Times” will read this article and shake their heads and mutter, “Unbelievable.” I was one. Culture renewal begins in our churches. The problem is not the proverbial “them.” It’s us.

Marty O;Donnell, one of the creators of Halo and himself a Christian agrees– “Dick, I too read the article in the New York Times today and was disappointed and shook my head. Once again (I believe) the modern evangelical church has misinterpreted Christ’s injunction to be ‘fishers of men.’ Having Halo night at the local church building is about the same as having ultimate frizzbee night. I would prefer to see youth pastors and other Christians seeking people out wherever they happen to be rather than trying to get “kids into the building” so they can give them the good news. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well it wasn’t some sort of “bait and switch”. The Church is the body of Christ not a building¢â‚¬¦”

So what do I think?

This story hints at a number of problems we face in today’s church:

1) As a consumeristic church–youth pastors are looking for hooks to keep kids coming–their job depends on generating big numbers at youth activities. This is a false measurement As we all know¢â‚¬¦when Jesus explained the gospel¢â‚¬¦ his crowds grew smaller not bigger.

2) When the gospel is reduced to “avoiding hell” achieved by making a sales pitch after the “main event,” we lose sight that Jesus is the main event and a complete, radical countercultural change is the result. Entertainment is part of our new life, but is not at the center of it.

3) The notion that “cultural relevance” is our primary concern is a mistaken one—Jesus called us to faithfulness not relevance, and though I will build bridges from popular culture to the gospel I will not yield to the temptation to make the culture define what is relevant. The words of Jesus are always relevant, regardless of the cultural trends of the day.

I think Youth pastors face a huge challenge–gamers play Halo because it offers sensatory excitement, a good versus evil storyline and a real sense of connection in community. If we love kids we will serve them in ways that address those needs more deeply than Halo can¢â‚¬¦

If “Halo Churches” are an inadequate response¢â‚¬¦we need alternatives¢â‚¬¦
And they should be generated by Culturally Savvy Christians who are serious about faith, savvy about faith and culture and skilled in relating the two¢â‚¬¦

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2007

    Posted in Staublog in October 12, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Create Culture

    Create Culture

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Also, click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Create Culture

    In an episode of “King of the Hill,” Hank’s son Bobby joins a Christian rock band, his dad weighs in with this critique. “Can’t you see, you’re not making Christianity better, you’re just making rock ¢â‚¬Ëœn’ roll worse?”

    The comment reminds me of Frankie Schaeffer’s scathing critique of evangelicals & art delivered a few years ago in his book descriptively titled, “Addicted to Mediocrity.”

    One could argue that the evangelical entertainment sub-culture has improved since then, but one could not argue that it is qualitatively superior to the art
    produced by the broader culture, and most would agree that it is generally derivative and imitative of American pop culture.

    This is a problem, because for centuries Christians were known for their intellectual, artistic and spiritual contributions to society.

    T.S. Eliot once said, “No culture has appeared or developed except together with a religion: according to the point of view of the observer, the culture will appear to be the product of the religion, or the religion the product of the culture.”

    If we agree that we ought to create the culture not be a creation of it, how can we rekindle a renaissance of Christian contributions to culture?

    1. Aspire to produce artists who are deeply talented & Christian, not Christian artists. C. S. Lewis famously quipped that we don’t need Christian writers, we need great writers who are Christian.

    2. Produce good art, not just religious art. Christian artists are not limited to creating “religious art, our exploration of everyday human occurrences can be gilded by our faith walk.

    3. Strive for the spiritual, intelligent, and inventive. Art flowing from a gifted artist of deep faith should minimally reflect the spiritual, intelligent, creative image of God. Artist Mako Fujimura observes, “I believe that true, Christ-filled expression results in more diversity than what Christ-suppressing expression would allow. The more we center ourselves in Christ, the freer we are to explore new arenas of expression.”

    4. Lead, don’t follow. If today’s art is spiritually, intellectually, and creatively bankrupt, why would we aspire to meet its standard? To lead artistically takes courage and requires contributing to new directions in your artistic medium, to expand the parameters, to innovate in form and style.

    5. Play “real good,” for free, if need be.
    Find the line between responsibility and selling out, and don’t cross it.
    It takes courage to be an artist of integrity in a dumbed-down, superficial, commercially driven pop faith, pop culture age–but we’ve got to do it.

    6. Make art, don’t just appropriate art. In its quest for relevance, Christians often use movie and song clips to build bridges of communication to the broader culture. This is OK, but it is vastly inferior to making brilliant original art.

    7. Demand better art. Too many people who profess to know the living God are lemming-like consumers of the impoverished offerings of today’s bankrupt culture. If we eat a steady diet of drivel, the culture will keep making and serving it and so will the Christian sub-culture.

    Michelangelo, when asked to be critical of the art of his day quipped, “My art is my critique!”

    The best remedy for the spiritually, intellectually and creatively insipid art produced by today’s culture is to produce superior work–

    It’s time to create a richer culture!

    (The art posted today is by artist Mako Fujimura, who is also a Christian and leads the International Arts Movement).

    Two practical suggestions. Register for the International Arts Movement
    conference February 2008 in NYC. Also subscribe to IMAGE Journal

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

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  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2007

    Posted in Staublog in October 9, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Reviews of Dick Staub’s The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    Reviews of Dick Staub’s The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    The Weary Pilgrim
    Dick Staub’s Culturally Savvy Christian is a stunning wake up to the prevailing Christian sub-culture of the North American evangelical church.

    church inverted
    I’ve been thinking very differently. I recently finished, “The Culturally Savvy Christian,” by Dick Staub and felt a sense of responsibility creep into my 23-year-old being. Staub’s book, which was acclaimed by the great Richard Foster, is a treasure for young adults and late teens who are being sent mixed signals about the uber overload of media in our culture and the manner in which Christians are to wade through the jungle.

    Next Wave Ezine-Dustin Bagby
    Dick Staub¢â‚¬¦has a wonderful ability to interpret culture-doesn’t just complain about the lack of substance in pop culture and the church. Nor does he focus on how the church can be relevant to culture and hip by covering all of the popular emo bands songs and building sermon series’ off of the current reality television programs. That is not what being culturally savvy is about. He defines a culturally-savvy Christian as being serious about faith, savvy about culture and skilled at relating the two

    CSC Review: Capital Journal
    Dick Staub calls for Christians once again to become ambassadors for change as they engage modern culture both artistically and intellectually.

    Grand Rapids Press Culturally Savvy Christian Review
    This hard-hitting book encourages Christians to truly enter the culture to live out theology and Jesus, creating a renaissance that brings new art, writing and thinking.

    The Phantom Toll Booth
    “No one has been closer to the past half century of cultural maelstrom.” “There are plenty of examples in “Savvy” of lone voices in the wilderness such as Rich Mullins, CS Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge, and even Nick Park of Wallace and Grommit to inspire those who are ahead of the cultural curve to press on in brewing revolution.”

    TheLmagazine
    “His solution involves creating something that is not often seen in contemporary Christian culture: good art and deep faith.”

    Publishers Weekly
    “Staub’s passion and talent as a writer make this an enjoyable read.”

    Relevant
    “concise, well-researched,” “shines as something more than the sum of marketing muscle.”

    Infuze:
    “Staub’s take on Christians in culture is a standout effort.”

    Aspiring Retail
    “thoughtful, well-written analysis of American popular culture and Christianity. He packs the book with insightful and often striking illustrations from celebrities, academics, Christians, rock songs, classic hymns, books and movies,” “a challenging and hope-filled manifesto,” Highly recommended.”

    Christian Retailing:
    “Award-winning broadcaster, writer and speaker gives his readers something to chew on.”

    Rick Presley:
    “Dick Staub Social commentator par excellence, has taken pen in hand to do what so many of the self-styled Culture Warriors have failed to accomplish. He has set a course that outlines in practical terms an appropriate Christian response to the challenges raised by our surrounding culture. Most content themselves with cursing the darkness while Staub ignites far more than a candle. His book is exactly what it purports to be – a manifesto. It is a call to action and one that has been long overdue. For those of you who are tired of hearing about The End of Christianity As We Know It with no concrete plan for how to remedy the situation, The Culturally Savvy Christian is just the book you have been waiting for.”

    Christianity Today
    The final chapters show the most thought and personality, challenging readers to be discerning about culture while responding to it tactfully and creatively. OK. So let’s be honest. CT gave the book a so-so, lukewarm review. Here is what Bill Hogg said about their review, “Just 2 things..this is a thought provoking read where Staub makes a prophetic call to live a God-bearing God glorifying transformative life.Staub calls us to climb out of the shallows of evangelicalism and go deep in God. His vision is bigger than Briner’s which leads me to the next point did Russ Breimeier Online Managing Editor, Christian Music Today actually read Staub’s book or does the man just not have a clue?”
    Author note. Comments like this have been repeated to me by many others. Book reviews have always had an op-ed, personal opinion quality to them, but I find the CT review odd in its comparison to Bob Briner’s book. Bob was a dear friend, but the focus of “Raoring Lambs” was much narrower than the systemic, big-picture overarching approach I take in The Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Order “The Culturally Savvy Christian” now!

    This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    Posted in Books, Staublog in September 30, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Official Home of Dick Staub’s The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    Official Home of Dick Staub’s The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    Welcome to the official home of “The Culturally Savvy Christian!”

    Dick’s provocative new book is generating a lot of constructive dialogue among thoughtful creatives and has caught the attention of booksellers, with Barnes and Noble, Borders and online retailer Amazon all pre-ordering more copies than expected!

    Check out a description of the book, some amazing endorsements, the latest reviews, read the latest unsolicited comments from CSC readers, see a five-part interview with Dick on You Tube and learn a bit more about author, Dick Staub. If you’d like to book Dick as a speaker for an upcoming event contact CRS Communications. (Act quickly, 2007 is almost full and 2008 is filling up fast!)

    Most importantly order your own copy of “The Culturally Savvy Christian”, read it and then, if you agree with the critics, tell your friends!

    “Staub’s passion and talent as a writer make this an enjoyable read.”

    “Concise, well-researched¢â‚¬¦ shines as something more than the sum of marketing muscle.”

    “Staub’s take on Christians in culture is a standout effort.”

    “Thoughtful, well-written, packed with insightful and often striking illustrations.”

    “A challenging and hope-filled manifesto.”

    “Highly recommended.”

    Order “The Culturally Savvy Christian NOW!”

    ‚© CRS Communications 2007

    Posted in Staublog in September 30, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Lost, Into The Wild & Your Spiritual Journey

    Lost, Into The Wild & Your Spiritual Journey

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Also, click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Lost, Into The Wild & Your Spiritual Journey

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE LOST?

    Go to the dictionary: Having gone astray or missed the way; bewildered as to place, direction; No longer to be found.

    Go to TV Guide: A breakout hit that reworks `Survivor’ into an addictive drama about stranded plane-crash survivors on a Pacific isle. These disparate, resilient souls are bedeviled by flashbacks to their pasts; ever-changing group dynamics; a monstrous predator; island residents known as “The Others;” a 19th century sailing ship called “The Black Rock;” and bunkers belonging to the Dharma Initiative, a group of scientific researchers.

    This show is popular because humans can relate to being lost–
    we’ve all been lost.

    Watching people lost on TV can be entertaining¢â‚¬¦
    But being lost in real life is not so funny¢â‚¬¦
    Especially when it comes to our spiritual Lost-ness
    Which is the theme of Isaiah 53:6.
    We all, like sheep,
    Have gone astray,
    Each of us has turned to his own way.

    In the movie GRAND CANYON: Danny Glover summarized the situation in his message to a young gang leader in the film Grand Canyon.

    Attorney Kevin Kline is on his way home from a Lakers game when he takes a wrong exit gets lost and ends up with car trouble in the wrong part of town. He calls a tow truck, but before it arrives, a gang vehicle moves slowly towards Kline’s car. Just in time, tow-truck driver Danny Glover arrives to intervene. He takes the leader of the gang aside. Here’s what he says to him:

    “Man. the world ain’t supposed to work like this. Maybe you don’t know that, but this ain’t the way it’s supposed to be. I’m supposed to be able to do my job without askin’ you if I can. And that dude is supposed to be able to wait with his car without you rippin’ him off. Everything’s supposed to be different than what is here.”

    EVERYTHING’S SUPPOSED TO BE DIFFERENT THAN WHAT IS HERE.

    Humans have an amazing capacity for denying our lost-ness:

    That’s why CS Lewis said, “No man knows how bad he is until he tries to be good¢â‚¬¦Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is¢â‚¬¦That is why bad people know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means the only complete realist.”

    Because the wages of sin is death–the consequences of our denial are serious–they are a matter of life and death¢â‚¬¦.

    This weekend theatre goers saw Into the Wild, the story of Chris McCandliss, a young man who thought he could survive in the wild¢â‚¬¦alone. Unfortunately he ate some moldy seeds and died alone in the Alaskan wilderness¢â‚¬¦

    There are a lot of people who are dying spiritually but will not give up their stubborn rebellion against God—They will only admit thy are lost when they come to the end of their rope & Brennan Manning had a special prayer for them—

    May all your expectations be frustrated,
    may all your plans be thwarted,
    may all your desires be withered into nothingness,
    that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child
    THEN
    You will sing and dance in the love of God
    who is Father, Son, and Spirit.
    And today on planet Earth,
    may you experience the wonder and beauty
    of yourself as Abba’s child
    and temple of the Holy Spirit
    through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    THE CSC KNOWS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE LOST¢â‚¬¦SPIRITUALLY AND IS READY TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE READY TO BE FOUND.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com


  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2007

    Posted in Staublog in September 26, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Missing Madeleine L’ Engle

    Missing Madeleine L’ Engle

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Also, click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Missing Madeleine L’ Engle

    Madeleine L’ Engle, author of 60+ books, died in New York last week at the age of 88.

    For those of us who care about faith the art, it is impossible to overstate her significance as a fiction writer, but also as an interpreter of faith in the arts.

    Her fame began with “A Wrinkle in Time,” which was both a literary triumph and revealer of a major faultline between Christians for whom thoughtful literature is a lifeline, and those who see it as a threat to faith.

    Douglas Martin of the NYT observed this in his obituary, “The St. James Guide to Children’s Writers called Ms. L’Engle “one of the truly important writers of juvenile fiction in recent decades.” Such accolades did not come from pulling punches. “Wrinkle” has been one of the most banned books in the United States, accused by religious conservatives of offering an inaccurate portrayal of God and nurturing in the young an unholy belief in myth and fantasy.”

    Monica Hesse (WA Post) adds. “A Wrinkle in Time” was not the sort of book you were assigned in school; with its New Testament quotations and witchy supporting characters it was at once too Christian and too blasphemous.”

    Her willingness to write what she saw, say what she thought and do so succinctly, provocatively and imaginatively made her a hero for those for whom faith seemed a set of manacles instead of a source of encouragement and inspiration.

    Fantasy literature is truth applied in an invented world in ways that help us understand truth’s meaning in our world. This realization prompted L’ Engle to describe children’s literature as “literature too difficult for adults to understand.” Laurel Snyder of Salon reports, “L’Engle once said, ‘You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.'” For fantasy to perform this function it needs to have a cohesive underlying basis, a connection to what Lewis and Tolkien referred to as “the one true myth.”

    L’Engle believed this and it was the basis of her critique of Harry Potter. In a 2006 Newsweek piece she said of the one Potter book she read, “It’s a nice story, but there’s nothing underneath it. I don’t want to be bothered with stuff where there’s nothing underneath.”



    For those who need reminders of her thoughtful observations of faith and art, here is a sampler from the classic must-read “Walking On Water” and other sources.

    ¢â‚¬¢ We don’t want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities have been opened to us. We don’t want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination.

    ¢â‚¬¢ To talk about art and about Christianity is for me one and the same thing, and it means attempting to share the meaning of my life¢â‚¬¦It is what makes me respond to the death of an apple tree, the birth of a puppy, northern lights shaking the sky, by writing stories.

    ¢â‚¬¢ We have much to be judged on when he comes, slums and battlefields and insane asylums, but these are the symptoms of our illness and the result of our failures in love. In the evening of life we shall be judged on love, and not one of us is going to come off very well, and were it not for my absolute faith in the loving forgiveness of my Lord I could not call on him to come.

    ¢â‚¬¢ I don’t envy those who have never known any pain, physical or spiritual, because I strongly suspect that only those who have suffered great pain are able to know equally great joy.

    ¢â‚¬¢ “We are all made of stardust.”
    ¢â‚¬¢ The promise has never been safety, or that bad things would not happen if we were good and virtuous. The promise is only that God is in it with us, no matter what it is.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com


  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2007

    Posted in Staublog in September 16, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Music Savior Rick Rubin

    Music Savior Rick Rubin

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Also, click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Music Savior Rick Rubin

    A NYT Magazine story asked this question a week ago:

    Can Rick Rubin Save the music business?

    On the cover a bearded, guru-like man sits wrapped in a white messianic robe¢â‚¬¦

    The article focuses on the rapid decline of sales in the Contemporary Music business–

    It observes that new technologies have affected music distribution and sales and then goes on to say something I’ve been saying–today’s new music isn’t very good. It has been driven by marketing and sales considerations, not by an ear for well-crafted and original music.

    Enter Rick Rubin, a young man whose first consideration is the music.

    He says “the most important thing we have to do is get the art right.”

    He listens for balance the way an artist looks for scale¢â‚¬¦

    He wants to hear a melody, a novel concept in today’s world lacking in musicality.

    He has produced records from all genres and his artists include old timers like Johnny Cash and NEIL DIAMOND¢â‚¬¦to bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith and U2.

    What really caught my eye about Rubin was the theme of “spirituality.”

    His office, we are told, “is lined with floor-to-ceiling books, most of which are of a spiritual nature, whether about Buddhism, the Bible or new age quests for enlightenment. The library and house are filled with religious icons mixed with mementos from the world of pop.”

    In Rubin’s world, we are told, music and spirituality collide.

    Natalie Mains of the Dixie Chicks explains: “that’s why they call him a guru¢â‚¬¦Rick’s spirituality has mostly to do with a sense of self…”

    HMMMM¢â‚¬¦ I say to myself¢â‚¬¦INTERESTING

    Here’s a guy who wants to produce better music¢â‚¬¦

    Believes he is doing it from a spiritual place¢â‚¬¦

    And that spiritual place is¢â‚¬¦the self¢â‚¬¦

    The Apostle John urges followers of Jesus to “not believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to see if they are from God.” (1 John 4:1)



    Rubin’s spiritual world is obviously an eclectic one¢â‚¬¦



    –He has always been interested in magic and has not been unwilling to produce albums exploring the dark side–

    –Yet his first album with Columbia records will be by Paul Potts, an operatic singer whose voice is so beautiful Rubin weeps when he hears it.



    –And when Rubin worked with Johnny Cash, we are told they formed a deep spiritual kinship¢â‚¬¦during the final days of Cash’s life they took communion everyday¢â‚¬¦even though Rubin was born Jewish and considers himself to not have any specific religious orientation.



    So what can we conclude about Rubin’s spirituality?



    As I read about Rubin I thought of the Apostle Paul who visited Athens, saw pagan idols everywhere and concluded there was a genuine spiritual hunger there.

    Rubin, like so many seekers today, reveals our universal spiritual capacity.

    His passion for identifying beauty, craft & authenticity gives evidence of a spiritual nature yearning for art that resonates with the human spirit, yet transcends it.

    He is a creative with a restless Spirit who is seeking the beautiful, but seems not to have discovered the ultimate truth—the living, creator God who is the source of all that is good and beautiful and true.

    His spiritual capacity exceeds his actual experience with God.

    So I resonate with his human spirit and pray for him¢â‚¬¦



    One can only imagine what might happen if a soul with such a God given capacity for the good, the true and the beautiful¢â‚¬¦
knew God personally and deeply, and then connected artists and their art to the giver of every good and perfect gift¢â‚¬¦

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com


  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2007

    Posted in Staublog in September 5, 2007 by | No Comments »

    The Artist as Creator Who Brings Order out of Chaos

    The Artist as Creator Who Brings Order out of Chaos

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Also, click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    The Artist as Creator Who Brings Order out of Chaos.

    Dorothy Sayers said if all we knew about God was Genesis 1:1, all we would know is that God is creative. Since we are created in God’s image, at least one innate quality of humans is our creativity.

    Here is an excerpt from my recent book, The Culturally Savvy Christian.

    The Artist as Creator

    Writers, filmmakers, painters, and songwriters are often conscious of the spiritual nature of their work.

    Novelist John Updike said, “I feel closest to God when writing. You’re singing praises; you’re describing the world as it is.”

    One of only two authors to win two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, James Lee Burke describes the artist as a co-creator with God: “God might choose fools and people who glow with neurosis for his partners in creation, but he doesn’t make mistakes.”

    Mystic Hildegard of Bingen describes art as a human response to the image of God: “And so the Spirit sweeps through the universe with resounding inspiring, and igniting power, evoking the response of renewed vitality until the last day. This is the purpose and action of God, who has no beginning and no end. He created humanity as the wonderful work of his hand, by equipping people with an impulse and inclination to higher things by enabling them to make their own responses. God did this because he loved people. After all, he is Love itself.”

    French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature André Gide is reputed to have said, “Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.”

    The Artist as Orderer of Chaos

    Creative people originate new ways of seeing and hearing, often developing structure where none previously existed.

    “To shoot a film is to organize an entire universe,” said Swedish filmmaker and director Ingmar Bergman.

    Operatic composer Giacomo Puccini said, “Music is noise submitted to order by wisdom.”

    The late playwright Arthur Miller said, “I’m a writer, so I write. That is my job. But it is more than a job. I just have a terrifically pleasant feeling if I create a form that completes itself and you can walk around it. It is a whole object.”

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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    Posted in Staublog in August 24, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Dublin to Normandy: A Few Reflections of a Seafaring Man!

    Dublin to Normandy: A Few Reflections of a Seafaring Man!

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Also, click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Dublin to Normandy: A Few Reflections of a Seafaring Man!

    I just returned Monday from a most amazing adventure on a CS Lewis study trip aboard Sea Cloud II.

    That C.S. Lewis is still in vogue is a minor miracle.

    How is it that a decidedly un-hip Lewis, who dressed sloppily, spent his entire career in the academy and was more comfortable with ancient myths than contemporary literature–how is it that such a man is wielding such influence even today?

    One can point to his prolific work as a gifted writer. One can say he benefited from and contributed to the collaborative inspiration of friends like J.R.R. Tolkien, who he met weekly for years at a pub with a group of literary, thoughtful creatives dubbed “The Inklings.” But the real genius of Lewis in my view, is that he was the prototypical culturally savvy Christian in the classic not contemporary sense. C.S. Lewis was serous about faith, savvy about faith and culture and skilled at relating each to the other.

    Onboard I gave a presentation on C.S. Lewis for the Next Generation, Jerry Root gave four magnificent lectures on adjusting the scoliosis of our souls to reality as it is, and Douglas (with wife Merrie) Gresham, Lewis’ stepson, shared personal reflections about Lewis in the Oxford years AND the upcoming projects bringing Lewis to the big screen. My comments were drawn from my most recent book, The Culturally Savvy Christian,, which itself is indebted to the legacy CS Lewis and dedicated to extending that legacy to the next generation.

    Prior to boarding Sea Cloud II, Kathy and I spent a morning in Dublin wandering the beautiful parks where you can see the sculpture of Oscar Wilde (see above) and then visited the National Gallery of Art where I discovered my new favorite Irish painter, Gerard Dillon whose “Yellow Bungalow” (see below and right) is part of his series exploring “Island People” who are conflicted about their desire to leave for the mainland, while cherishing their island life and roots.

    We toured Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells (see below and left) and worshipped at St, Patrick’s Cathedral. Interestingly, while at the cathedral I was approached by a tourist, an American now teaching in Japan, who reads Staublog and knew I was to be in Dublin that day! Small world.

    In Dublin wit and wisdom is inescapable and I jotted a few quotes down as we wandered the streets:

    “Perhaps my best years are gone, but I would not want them back. Not with the fire I have in me now.”
 Samuel Beckett, Irish writer,

    “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”
 Thomas More, English lawyer and statesman.

    “It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realize our perfection; through Art and through Art only, that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.” Oscar Wilde. Irish writer.

    “One can live for years sometime without living at all, and then all life comes crowding into one single hour.” Oscar Wilde.

    My love for Dublin is so great (Kathy and I first visited 24 years ago when she was expecting our first daughter, Jessica), that had Jessica been a boy, I was lobbying hard for naming our newborn, Dublin, an idea met with derision by most our friends, who I must conclude, are in this matter lacking in imagination.

    Sea Cloud carried us from Dublin, Waterford, Cove, Guernsey and then Normandy, France. Like so many before me, I walked through the acres of white crosses of American soldiers who lost their lives there and was sobered by the frequency of graves inscribed with the words of unidentified men, “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.”

    If you are considering an educational tour on board a ship, let me commend David Spence and First Century Voyages as your first and last stop in your search for the best available options. In addition to the learning experience, the food is superb, the craft exquisite and the conversations with interesting people are like those we’ll enjoy in heaven! There is nothing that keeps your spirits healthy like spending hours with people who share our interest in the spiritual, intellectual and creative legacy of C.S. Lewis. When you contact First Century Voyages, BE SURE TO TELL THEM YOU HEARD ABOUT THEM THROUGH DICK STAUB!

    Our Kindlings Muse shows are locally based in Seattle and offer an experience like the Inklings (TKM @ Hales) and a concentration on Lewis (TKM @ The CS Lewis Centre). They are podcast for the enjoyment of those who can’t attend the live events in Seattle. But what I’d love to see is local gatherings of those who love arts and ideas, who meet for discussions of ideas that matter, and gathering around the writings of CS Lewis would be a great way to start!

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

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    ‚©CRS Communications

    Posted in Staublog in August 15, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Our Circuitous Route

    Our Circuitous Route

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Also, click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    The Right Path As The Circuitous Route

    “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

    God leads me in right paths.

    Is this really true? Do you ever have a difficult time determining the “right path” when facing a decisions? Have there been times when the path that seemed right to you, was blocked and didn’t come to pass? Is this phrase from Psalm 23 a pious platitude or something real that I can rely on?

    In the Judean countryside where David tended his flock, there are no raised paths. The trails are merely tracks; sometimes there are six or eight paths running unevenly along side each other.

    The sheep only find the right path by staying close to a wise shepherd and the shepherd knows that though the shortest distance between two points in geometry is a straight line, sometimes the straight line is not the best path for the sheep.

    Rabbi Harold Kushner tells the Talmudic riddle in which the young student is asked: “is there a short cut to this location?”

    The correct answer is: “There is a shortcut that is long and a long way that is short.”

    This is a reference to Exodus 13:17 which describes why God led the Children of Israel in an indirect route to the Promised Land. (It started as God’s plan and then they added 39+ years through their disobedience.).

    “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

    God, the shepherd, knew what lie ahead and knew the sheep were not ready for it, so they were directed on a circuitous route to their destination.

    Soren Kierkegaard once said, “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

    The implications are profound.

    How many times have you seen a path that seemed right and yet it has not come to pass? How many times have you pleaded with God to help you understand why the route that is most direct and seems to make the most sense, is not the one of God’s choosing?

    A perfect job that eluded you, a broken engagement, a piece of property that was perfect for your family/business/ministry needs; insert your own situation and we could spend a day sharing our life history of paths that closed to us though they seemed ideal at the time.

    And yet, can you not, in looking back, see the wisdom of God’s circuitous path?

    Our only hope when faced with the vague outline of six or eight paths is to stay close to the shepherd.

    God’s ways our higher than our ways, God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and in the words of Andrew Murray, “God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life that is fully yielded to God.”

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

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  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2007

    Posted in Staublog in August 1, 2007 by | No Comments »