Author Archive

Doug Marlette: Prophetic Cartoonist

Doug Marlette: Prophetic Cartoonist

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.”

Doug Marlette: Prophetic Cartoonist

Thoughtful creatives for whom God is of central importance could learn a lesson or two from the late Doug Marlette, cartoonist and social commentator extraordinaire.

Time magazine described him as a anarcho-cartoonist who could “offend–gracefully, brilliantly and effortlessly.” I think of him as a man who could provoke thought instantly and nowhere more then when he lifted the lid on religion.

He took on the Pope.

A proud southerner, he took on Southern Baptists, once commenting of Renaissance Weekend that it was “the annual meeting of the Bill Moyer’s wing of the Southern Baptist Convention.” ) IN this cartoon Jesus is pouring Welch’s grape juice in cups for communion!)

But he also revealed a sweet side as in his tribute to fellow cartoonist Johnny Hart.

I often describe artists as the contemporary prophets because the see the truth and express it without regards to personal consequence. Not everybody in biblical times particularly liked the prophets, but when the books of the Bible were gathered and canonized , prophetic voices made the cut and always will among those who have ears to hear. Look at his Superman cartoon and you’ll see what I mean.

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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    ‚©CRS Communications 2007

    Posted in Staublog in July 19, 2007 by | No Comments »

    The God Who Is Absent In Movies

    The God Who Is Absent In Movies

    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 God Who Is Absent In The Movies, is present in real life

    The thoughtful creative for whom God is of central importance notices God’s absence in the movies and refuses to accept it.

    The 23rd Psalm begins with the familiar phrase¢â‚¬¦

    The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.

    The Lord IS.

    David did not argue for the existence of God. He assumed it and thought people who disbelieved in God were fools! (“The Fool has said in his heart, there is no God.”)

    This is because David’s understanding of God was communal and experiential.

    The word for Lord in Psalm 23 is Yahweh.

    It is the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush.
    Tell the people I AM, WHO I AM.
    TELL THEM, I AM, SENT YOU.

    IAM, or Yahweh, is my shepherd¢â‚¬¦

    The word Yahweh means:

    ¢â‚¬¢ The One Who Is. (“The Lord of the Whole Earth” as differentiated from the proliferation of polytheistic gods created by man.)

    ¢â‚¬¢ The One Who Causes to Be, (“The God of Creation.”)

    ¢â‚¬¢ The One Who Speaks (Ugaritic for “The God of Revelation.”)

    ¢â‚¬¢ The One Who Shows Passionate Love (Arabic)

    1) The knowledge of Yahweh was passed on, in community, from generation to generation.

    After God said IAM¢â‚¬¦he went on to say–tell the people “The Lord, the God of your fathers–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob–has sent me to you.”

    2) It was also expected that humans would encounter Yahweh/God personally in daily life.

    Linguists Friedrich and Kittle say of the name Yahweh—

    “It is as non-intellectual as a name for God can be.”

    Yahweh is the God who is involved in human events and in our personal lives.

    Which brings us to the silence about God in popular culture¢â‚¬¦

    In movie after movie the key characters face some crisis
    And in movie after movie they don’t pray or ask God for help¢â‚¬¦
    They rely on their own understanding¢â‚¬¦
    They turn to their friends
    Or an all-wise and knowing heroic character¢â‚¬¦.

    King David know nothing of facing a crisis alone¢â‚¬¦
    When he faced a crisis he immediately turned to God¢â‚¬¦

    Rabbi Harold Kushner said of the 23rd Psalm—

    “To philosophers and theologians, God may be the First Cause, the Unmoved Mover. But to people like us, what is most important about God is that He is the Presence that makes the world seem less frightening. The primary message of the Twenty-Third Psalm is not that bad things will never happen to us. It is that we will not have to face those bad things alone.”

    For people who love movies and spend a lot of time watching them¢â‚¬¦

    I want to warn you—the theology of most movies is that God is not here¢â‚¬¦

    The belief that God exists but is absent¢â‚¬¦ is called deism, and according to researcher Christian Smith it is what most Christian teenagers believe today.

    David and people of true faith are theists¢â‚¬¦.

    Theists believe God exists.
    Theists believe God has revealed Himself to us.
    Theists believe God is actively involved in human history and in our personal lives.

    Thoughtful creatives for whom God is of central importance notice God’s absence in the movies and refuse to accept it because The God Who Is Absent In Movies, is present in real life

    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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    ‚©CRS Communications 2007

    Posted in Staublog in July 11, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Confessions of a Former Talk Show Host

    Confessions of a Former Talk Show Host

    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.”

    Confessions of a Former Talk Show Host

    I have a confession to make.

    During the 1990’s I did a nationally syndicated talk show.

    3 hours daily, Monday through Friday my yammerings and those of my guests and callers were faithfully recorded onto cassette tapes.

    Last week I decided to sort through the tapes and keep only the ones worth saving.

    And here is my confession–only a small percentage of the shows made the cut.

    Many of the topics that seemed so urgent and pressing are forgotten today.

    The personalities that dominated the landscape—where are they today? Remember Arsenio Hall? Where is he today? I rest my case.

    A lot of the authors were just dead wrong in their predictions of the future¢â‚¬¦I’d tell you which ones, but it would be uncharitable.

    There were a few high points-discussions about ideas that matter with people who had something to say, but in retrospect, illuminating discourse seemed slimly sandwiched between ample servings of trivialities, misguided opinions and earnest discussions of daily, faddish provocations and preoccupations; much ado about nothing.

    Sadly, by comparison to others, my show was generally considered a bright beacon, an oasis of thoughtful talk in a broadcast world of intense heat and little light.

    In baseball the most basic rule is to keep your eye on the ball¢â‚¬¦

    In reading the news, keeping your eye on the ball means separating the important from the faddish and frivolous, and when it comes to religion in the daily news–there’s a lot of sizzle and very little steak.

    Last week on one day I read the following—

    ¢â‚¬¢ A review of a new book titled, “Greetings In Jesus Name” a look at the bogus e-appeals from Africans in need of financial help.

    ¢â‚¬¢ The I Phone was referred to as the “Jesus Phone” in light of the messianic expectations placed on it.

    ¢â‚¬¢ There was a story about a radical Hamas children’s TV show in which Farfour a Muslim Mickey Mouse knock off was murdered by a Jewish fanatic, this an attempt to rally Palestinian youth to take the land back.

    ¢â‚¬¢ Then there was the story of an camp for atheist children called Camp Quest that bills itself as “Beyond Belief,” and is the nation’s first sleep-away summer camp for atheists. Founded in 1996, it has inspired four similar camps across the nation for children whose parents are either opposed or indifferent to religion. Do the math and you realize that after 8 years, and five camps each camp averages 30 kids a summer.

    ¢â‚¬¢ Read the news and you’ll discover that Tom Cruise’s is having problems in Germany where he is being barred from filming the story of Claus von Stauffenberg, the anti-Nazi hero who attempted to blow up Hitler. The problem? Germans love von Staufenberg but can’t stomach the idea of Tom Cruise playing him in the film. The reason? Germans detest scientology and Cruise is it’s biggest celebrity ambassador.

    ¢â‚¬¢ Paris Hilton was on Larry King offering in-depth insights into her horrific 21 day incarceration (Who needs Alexandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn when you’ve got Paris) and the spiritual awakening it stirred.

    ¢â‚¬¢ Then there is the forgettable film “License to Wed” in which Robin Williams (whatever happened to the intelligent “dead poet’s society” Robin Williams?) plays a deranged clergyman with a loony approach to premarital counseling. NYT film critic A.O. Scott said of the film,” I will confess that the only thing that kept me watching “License to Wed” until the end (apart from being paid to do so) was the faith, perhaps misplaced, that I will not see a worse movie this year.”

    So religion in the news on that one day circled around pathetic exploitative e-appeals, a deranged martyred Islamic mouse, a new cell phone, a camp built around the non-existence of the deity, mr. jump-on-oprah’s-couch Tom Cruise and yet another film featuring a crazed clergyman.

    When it comes to religion in the news it is tough to keep your eye on the ball, because some days there is no ball.

    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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    Posted in Staublog in July 4, 2007 by | No Comments »

    2007 Summer Lewis Trip

    2007 Summer Lewis Trip

    Your Invitation on a Trip Of A Lifetime: Lewis. Staub. Gresham, Root. Hooper.

    I’d love it if my readers took one or both of them! For more information get your online brochure & then call the folks at First Century Voyages (919-933-7674) to reserve your place. BE SURE TO TELL THEM YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS TRIP THROUGH DICK STAUB!

    I would love it if you could join me this August on a once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable journey — a C.S. Lewis Study Tour and Cruise aboard the sailing yacht, SEA CLOUD II.

    Our itinerary will begin with an optional pre-cruise visit to Lewis’ birthplace in Belfast.

    Then we’ll head to Dublin where we board the SEA CLOUD II for six nights sailing the Celtic Sea and English Channel. Our ports of call include Waterford and Cork in Ireland, Penzance in Southwest England’s West Country, Guernsey in the Channel Islands, and the World War II beaches of Normandy in France.

    The core itinerary concludes with disembarkation in Portsmouth followed by flights home from London; however, most of our group will continue on for a three-night, post-cruise visit to the historic town of Oxford, where Lewis spent most of his adult life. Included will be a tour of C.S. Lewis’ home, The Kilns.

    Dr. Jerry Root, a Wheaton professor and one of our country’s foremost Lewis scholars, will be hosting talks throughout our cruise, offering insights into the rich and inspiring works of C.S. Lewis. We’ve also arranged for Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham, to take time out of his busy schedule (he’s working on movie #2 of the Narnia Chronicles Prince Caspian) to share with us from his wealth of childhood Lewis memories. Myself and Walter Hooper, Lewis’ companion-secretary and now literary advisor to his estate, will be speaking, too.

    Our means of travel for this voyage is the magnificent sailing yacht, SEA CLOUD II. Built in 2001, this three-masted sister ship to the legendary SEA CLOUD offers 86 privileged guests the romance of a bygone era where elegant tall ships ruled the seas here, crew members still climb the rigging and set sails by hand!

    Couple this with the ship’s five-star restaurant cuisine and hotel accommodations and you’ll agree that there simply is no finer way to cruise in this part of the world.

    David Spence, a trusted friend and owner of First Century Voyages, is handling the details of our trip. He and his officemates did a wonderful job hosting our first adventure on the SEA CLOUD II back in August of 2004.

    This year’s trip is sure to be even better. As I said, there are only spots for 86 guests onboard. So enjoy looking through the online brochure for the a C.S. Lewis Study Tour and Cruise aboard the sailing yacht, SEA CLOUD II. then call the folks at First Century Voyages (919-933-7674) to reserve your accommodations. BE SURE TO TELL THEM YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS TRIP THROUGH DICK STAUB! The sooner you call, the wider the selection of cabins you’ll have to choose from.

    Hope to see you onboard!

    Smooth Sailing,

    Dick Staub

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

    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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  • 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 June 30, 2007 by | No Comments »

    A Daily Reader

    A Daily Reader

    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.”

    A Daily Reader

    I get a surprising number of requests from people asking for suggestions about what they should read to stay culturally savvy as a thoughtful creative.

    So–today I’m sharing my daily reading list as a way for you to think through what you might read each day.(We’ll get to weekly and monthly reading next).

    At first it may seem like a lot. But if you take it in bite size chunks, I think you’ll find:

    ¢â‚¬¢ it doesn’t take that much time;
    ¢â‚¬¢ gets your spirit and mind ready for the day;
    ¢â‚¬¢ the cumulative effect is you’ll be better prepared for daily life.

    I recommend doing your reading first thing in the morning–it is quiet and prepares you for the day¢â‚¬¦

    So here is how my day starts¢â‚¬¦

    1) I start with Bible reading with selections from the Old Testament, New Testament, a chapter from the Psalms and one from The Proverbs everyday. Whether you read through the Bible in a year or three years, this is how every day should start. AND if you read one chapter of Psalms daily you’ll read through the Psalms twice a year (because there are 150 chapters) ¢â‚¬¦and if you read one chapter of Proverbs daily, you’ll read though Proverbs 12 times a year (because there are 31 chapters in Proverbs).

    2) I also use a a daily devotional series every year. This year I’m reading “A Year with CS Lewis,” Daily readings from his classic works (Harper SF).

    3) To keep my education broadened, this year I am also doing a short, daily reading from a new book called “The INTELLECTUAL DEVOTIONAL.” EDITED BY DAVID KIDDER.This is an overview of the important things everybody ought to know about History, Literature, Visual Arts, Science, Music, Philosophy and Religion. Each day’s reading is less than a page and can be read in about five minutes.

    4) I always read through a book of prayers each year and this year it is George MacDonald’s Diary of An Old Soul. With MacDonald you get the benefit of reading a little poetry every day in readings that are a blend of prayer and meditations.

    Before I continue, let me acknowledge that if you’ve had no daily reading plan¢â‚¬¦what I just outlined sounds overwhelming¢â‚¬¦ I myself did not get started with this much reading each day¢â‚¬¦I started with Bible reading and added other elements over time.

    The important thing is to get started. You have the time and ability–but for this to happen you have to make it a priority¢â‚¬¦

    Some people think nothing of going to the gym an hour a day OR of watching three hours of television a day.

    When Jesus said TO LOVE GOD WITH all your spirit and mind, I think he meant it, and a daily reading program is one way to do it—it is like a one-a-day vitamin for your soul, mind and spirit!

    So–now we get to the final elements of your daily reading¢â‚¬¦

    Everyday I skim through At LEAST TWO NEWSPAPERS, a local and national.

    Since I live in Seattle I read the Seattle Times¢â‚¬¦

    I also read the New York Times every day.

    When it comes to newspapers, you should skim through each section of the paper and select a few articles to read. It is really important to read outside your comfort zone, so get into every section of the paper.

    Headlines
    International, National, Regional and Local News
    Sports
    Business
    Science and Technology
    Arts & Entertainment
    Lifestyles. Cooking. The Comics.

    If you can’t take time to read an article –get in the habit of clipping it out, sticking it in a folder and reading it when you get home that night¢â‚¬¦

    So–what I just described is the reading I do every day at the start of the day.

    Why do I think some of you are thinking what King Agrippa said to the Apostle Paul: “You are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you insane!”

    All I can say is in a day of biblical and cultural illiteracy a daily reading program like the one I just outlined can help you overcome illiteracy¢â‚¬¦one day at a time¢â‚¬¦

    (Oh and by the way, I don’t get all my reading done everyday and I don’t beat myself up about it.)

    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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  • 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

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    Posted in Staublog in June 27, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Evan Almighty: God is Cute?

    Evan Almighty: God is Cute?

    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.”

    This weekend Evan Almighty opens in theatres across the country¢â‚¬¦

    Evangelicals were actively recruited for this film, with pastors and youth pastors invited to advance screenings in hopes that they would recommend the film to their flocks¢â‚¬¦

    Given our definition of the culturally savvy Christian (CSC) as serious about faith, savvy about faith and culture and skilled at relating the two, what does the CSC make of “Evan Almighty?”

    First, about the story: “Evan Almighty” is a sequel to Bruce Almighty It. stars Steve Carrel, of “The Office,” “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Little Miss Sunshine” fame.

    In this story, Evan is elected to Congress and moves his family to suburban northern Virginia where his life gets turned upside-down when God (Morgan Freeman) appears and mysteriously commands him to build an ark. But his befuddled family just can’t decide whether Evan is having an extraordinary mid-life crisis or is truly onto something of Biblical proportions.

    According to a TIME Magazine feature (June 25th, 2007) Hollywood is on a comedy roll, saying “funny guys are the new movie studs.” And make no mistake, “Evan Almighty” is a comedy and an uncharacteristically high-budget one at that. As a comedy, “Evan” can’t be expected to deliver a serious point deeply and it doesn’t–it is designed to be humorous entertainment with a nice moral message¢â‚¬¦ It takes people of faith seriously, but does not deal with the deeper elements of the biblical Noah story and even glosses over them.

    For instance, the Bible specifically indicates that God sent the flood as a form of judgment, but in “Evan Almighty”, a kinder, gentler, Morgan Freeman God says the story of Noah is about Gods’ love, not wrath. It is a love story about people believing in each other.

    It is true that the Noah story IS about love, but it is also about God judging people whose thoughts are “evil only continually.”

    The discerning viewer will identify this and other minor theological misstatements and will chalk it up to the Hollywood-ization of a biblical story. They’ll enjoy a few good laughs, use the film to engage in lighthearted conversations with seeking friends and put it all behind them. No harm no foul. I laughed and felt positively uplifted by the film.

    But because the CSC is a person with a deep commitment to faith, they’ll also ask why Hollywood saw this as an ideal film for evangelicals. Yeah it is a clean film–no-sex–violence-profanity or nudity, but how should people serious about faith feel about a light, frothy commercialized retelling of a serious biblical story?

    Even New York Times reporter Sara Ivry recognized this observing, “Evan Almighty” seems an unlikely candidate for marketing . Unlike “The Passion of the Christ,” it is a comedy that portrays God in the flesh (played again by Morgan Freeman, wearing a natty white suit).”

    Hollywood is beginning to realize that people of faith buy movie tickets and since they are in the business of making money, Hollywood is seeking advice and doing research to discover just what movies will work with that audience. What they are finding in today’s Christians is not an appetite for the culturally rich literary and artistic Christian heritage of Bach, Dostoevsky and Rembrandt¢â‚¬¦they’re finding that today’s Christians will generally accept something slightly more robust than Veggie Tales, but way less demanding than “A Man for All Seasons.”

    I’m afraid what we’re learning is that Hollywood has decided that what evangelicals want is simple, light-hearted, inoffensive family-friendly fare. Granted¢â‚¬¦that is better than a lot of what Hollywood produces, but it certainly does not deliver deeper meaning like CS Lewis did in Chronicles of Narnia or JRR Tolkien did in Lord of the RINGS. (How deep can you go with, “You can change the world with one small, act of random kindness at a time,” an acronym for ARK).

    In short they will deliver Hollywood-lite for consumers weaned on Christianity-lite and view it as a win-win. Hollywood makes money, Christians are inoffensively entertained and everybody will say of “Evan Almighty,” “It was cute.”

    That is part of the problem: God and the story of God’s dealings with humans is not just a “cute” story, nor is the overall message of Noah a silly comedic one.

    So the CSC, though knowing full well Hollywood is exploiting them and laughing all the way to the bank, can enjoy the humor, warmth and essential good-heartedness of “Evan Almighty,” will see it as preferable to the gratuitous violence of a typical Quentin Tarantino film, but will also realize that humans made in God’s image can do better and that our entertainment culture will only be richer when it is made by thoughtful creatives for whom God is of central importance.

    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 June 21, 2007 by | No Comments »

    What is a Culturally Savvy Christian?

    What is a Culturally Savvy Christian?

    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.”

    As you know, my new book, the Culturally Savvy Christian has just been released and I’m doing a lot of interviews most recently in The United Methodist Portal

    They began the interview with the most common question I’m asked, namely, “What exactly is a Culturally Savvy Christian (CSC)?

    A lot of people think of it as being really broadly informed in culture. They have this image of the encyclopedic Christian who knows everything about what’s happening in television, movies and books.

    In my view, the first step towards being a CSC has nothing to do with understanding culture¢â‚¬¦it has to do with the centrality of God in your life.

    To be a culturally savvy Christian¢â‚¬¦you have to be a Christian who is SERIOUS about faith.

    And to be serious about faith means that God is central in your life.

    Only people who are serious about faith will see their relationship with culture as something that falls under God’s authority.

    The CSC is also savvy–about both culture and faith.

    To be savvy means “to get it.” It means we are able to make clear judgments about both the culture and faith in which we are living.

    The savvy Christian knows that American popular culture tends towards superficiality, yet is also very influential.

    The savvy Christian will also observe the superficiality of much of today’s Christianity.

    In this confusing world our ability to be discerning requires that we be savvy–having our eyes are wide open about the strengths and weaknesses of today’s culture and faith.

    In addition to being serious about faith, and savvy about faith and culture, the CSC is SKILLED at relating the two.

    THE CSC uses discernment skills to evaluating his o her relationship to culture.

    The CSC will use discovery skills carefully observing faith and culture to understand each.

    THE CSC is a dual listener who is able to listen to both faith and culture and then uses correlative skills to compare & contrast their faith and today’s culture.

    THE CSC is bi-lingual, and like the Apostle Paul at Mars Hill is able to use the art of contemporary culture to build a conversational bridge to faith.

    So what is a CSC?

    A CSC is serious about faith, savvy about faith and culture and skilled in relating the two.

    For centuries Christians were known for their intellectual, artistic and spiritual contributions to society. Bach, Mendelssohn, Dante, Dostoevsky, Newton, Pascal and Rembrandt are but a few who personified the rich tradition of faith, producing the highest and best work, motivated by a desire to glorify God and offered in service of others for the enrichment of our common environment: culture.

    These were culturally savvy Christians–serious about the centrality of faith in their lives, savvy about both faith and culture, and skilled in relating the two. Their calling was to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who came to the world as a loving, transforming presence.

    They transformed culture by fulfilling their roles as creators of culture, communicators in culture, and at times, as countercultural influencers, who operated like aliens in a foreign land.

    It is my prayer that Christians will take our place as leaders in the renaissance of faith and culture that is so needed today.

    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 June 14, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Christopher Hitchens & The Diversionary Atheists

    Christopher Hitchens & The Diversionary Atheists

    The word entertainment has as one of it’s root meanings, “Diversion.”

    Entertainment can turn our attention, or “divert it,” from one issue to another.

    The silliness of most television draws our attention away from the serious problems of the world–like war, child abuse, poverty–and allows us to be relieved of the pain¢â‚¬¦

    It acts like a sedative, dulling us and allowing us to get a good night’s sleep.

    Recently one of life’s most serious issues has been getting diversionary treatment.

    The question of whether or not there is a God has seen a rash of books from authors like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and most recently the ever entertaining Christopher Hitchens.

    Titled, GOD IS NOT GREAT, Hitchen’s book it is flying off the bookshelves almost as fast as the purpose driven life.

    It has been said of Christopher Hitchens that he is “an author with a masterful domination of language and a compelling use of irony, who writes about only one thing: Christopher Hitchens.”

    Nowhere is this more evident than in his book “God Is Not Great.”

    Hitchens, who once described Mother Teresa as “a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud,” argues that religion, is: “violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry.

    Stephen Prothero chair of Boston University’s religion department has carefully assessed Hitchen’s book and concludes, “He says that religion is “man-made” and murderous, originating in fear and sustained by force. Like Richard Dawkins, he denounces the religious education of young people as child abuse. Like Sam Harris, he fires away at the Quran as well as the Bible. And like Daniel Dennett, he views faith as wish-fulfillment.”

    Prothero goes on to say, “Christopher Hitchens is a brilliant man, and there is no living journalist I more enjoy reading. But I have never encountered a book whose author is so fundamentally unacquainted with its subject¢â‚¬¦”God Is Not Great” assumes a childish definition of religion and then criticizes religious people for believing such foolery.”

    Prothero’s most recent book explains why silly diversionary atheists are selling so many books.

    It is titled: “Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn’t.”

    Americans, religious and irreligious alike, are religiously illiterate and are therefore vulnerable to the diversionary atheist’s oversimplifications.

    The same crowd that was drawn to The Da Vinci Code, as if it was a factual exploration of the lineage of Jesus, are finding Hitchens the revealer of new, important truths. Oddly, he reports especially large crowds in the Bible belt.

    In fact Hitchens is simply the most recent in a line of nouveau atheists who are selling a lot of books, while failing to raise serious arguments against God’s existence; they are creating straw men of religion’s abuses throughout history and using them as arguments against God’s existence.

    In a sense Hitchen’s is doing us a favor by revealing the superficiality of American Christianity and the need for a return to deep faith and religious literacy.

    The thoughtful creative for whom God is of central importance sees the diversion and takes it as a reminder of the importance of knowing God and making God known¢â‚¬¦and the CSC also is aware that God has already released an opinion on this diversionary atheistic enterprise through the Psalmist David who said: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

    Posted in Staublog in June 6, 2007 by | No Comments »

    Lindsay Lohan. Truth. Love & Celebrity.

    Lindsay Lohan. Truth. Love & Celebrity.

    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.”

    When it comes to celebrity failings, the thoughtful creative for whom God is of central importance sees the truth and loves.

    Most of us first became acquainted with Lindsay Lohan, when at the age of eleven she made her motion picture debut by playing both twins in Disney’s 1998 remake of The Parent Trap.

    Six years later she starred in “Mean Girls,” and suddenly we were exposed to the struggles in her personal life including her partying and wild nightlife.

    In January 2007 she entered rehab and began wearing a medallion that read– “30 Days” a reference to the number of days of sobriety she achieved in the program.

    In late May her sobriety ended with a wild Memorial Day weekend in which she crashed her car and was busted for DUI and suspicion of cocaine possession.

    Later the same weekend, Lohan, who won’t be of legal drinking age until July, was seen in photos taken just 48 hours after her car crash–

    They show a seemingly wasted Lohan passed out in the passenger seat of a car driven by friend and deejay to the stars Samantha Ronson.

    One shocking photo shows Lohan outside the car and on her knees, vomiting while two unidentified men watch her from the sidewalk.

    Another shot shows an inch-long cut on the back of her left hand.

    In the photos her “30 Days” medallion dangles from the rear-view mirror.

    As witnesses to the deterioration of a celebrity who once charmed us with her sweetness as a child star–how should we respond?

    Moralizing editorials will remind us that Lindsay Lohan joins the ranks of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton as young women whose partying ways signal an emptiness and meaningless in celebrity¢â‚¬¦

    Pascal said there is in each human a God-shaped vacuum and each of these celebrities serve as poignant examples of what happens when humans try to fill that God space with something other than God.

    BUT the thoughtful creative for whom God is of central importance resists exploiting celebrity foibles.

    We know that each of us is guilty of displacing God with our own idols.

    We know that even those who seek the spiritual are vulnerable to the wooing of the dark side.

    Most importantly, we know that no matter how tarnished it may be–God’s image is imprinted on each human being¢â‚¬¦.

    God created Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

    God loves them no more or less than us.

    We see that some combination of their lineage, fame, ambition or talent have catapulted them into the limelight and exposed them to temptations and seductions that have been unable to resist.

    Like each of us their way back to God is not through their merit, status or special gifts¢â‚¬¦

    Their way back to God is through the path of confession, repentance and the restoration of God to the central place in their life.

    Then whatever work they do can be done for God’s glory and they will realize as we have, that celebrity does not make what they do of less or more importance than anyone else.

    As CS Lewis said, “The work of a Beethoven and the work of the charwoman become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly “as to the Lord.”

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

    On the Necessity of Music

    On the Necessity of Music

    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.”

    We need music. At first the idea sounds ridiculous. We may need food, water, shelter, maybe even TiVo, but do humans really need music?

    Even the musician Rich Mullins questioned this idea and once said, “The thing that’s cool about music is how unnecessary it is. Of all things, music is the most frivolous and the most useless. You can’t eat it, you can’t drive it, you can’t live in it and you can’t wear it,” but then he added. “But your life wouldn’t be worth much without it.”

    And there’s the rub!

    Musicians need to make music because it is the gift God has given them.

    In the earliest pages of the Bible, right there in Genesis, only three professions are mentioned. Jabal worked with the animals on the farm, Tubal-cain made all kinds of bronze and iron tools, and right there in the big three, JUBAL played the lyre and the harp.

    If you think musicians have a tough time today, with parents asking why they don’t get a real job, imagine poor JUBAL in the earliest days of human civilization, making music while the existence of the human race was at stake. But he had to do it, because God made him for the express purpose of making music.

    That is why biographer James Bryan Smith said, “Rich Mullins was not encumbered by the need to succeed; he was captive to the need to create.”

    It appears that humans actually need music as much as musicians need to make it!

    King Saul suffered from depression and when he was feeling down, lacking modern pharmaceuticals as he was, he called on young David, a shepherd, to come and play the harp. It helped him.

    Music actually has a physical effect on humans, not just psychological, as Mark Oppenlander, my friend and colleague at Seattle Pacific University reminded me. This is because music (in the form of sound waves) is physical. Studies have shown that plants, animals and humans all respond in unique ways to different forms of music and that those reactions in some cases occur at a cellular level.

    Music soothes and comforts. It touches the depths of our beings. It can make us feel. It can improve our learning. According to modern research, when a baby listens to Mozart in the womb, patterns of learning are developed.

    It turns out being gifted does not mean one necessarily possess grace, maturity or personal character.

    Speaking of Mozart, from birth he possessed an innate, exceptional natural capacity for creativity and originality. His immaturity combined with his talent was maddening to musicians like Antonio Salieri. As Mozart’s music became more popular over the decades, Salieri’s music was largely forgotten, a reality the sometimes insensitive Mozart did not always handle with compassion. That is why churches need to select worship leaders based on spiritual maturity, not just talent.

    Rich Mullins understood that his gift and the onstage role it afforded him, required a deeper spiritual walk.

    After years of writing music for other artist’s, his decision to perform his own music was not driven by a quest for fame, but by a desire to use his music to serve. A letter to his recording label survives him. In it Rich said this, “I want to be involved as much as possible in church work. I want to work in settings that are specifically designed to challenge people, to encourage people to seek their life in Christ. I would like not only to sing but to teach¢â‚¬¦to “hang out” with people, to be accessible, to model faith them, to be with people, not as a performer, but as a practitioner of the faith.”

    So we see that TO be a musician is no higher or lower calling than any other. Again Rich Mullins. “You don’t write because the world needs your music; you write because you need to make order, to organize things. If you’re a musician, you express that very human, very common need by making music. If you’re a baker, you do it by making bread. It’s all the same goodness, it just expresses itself in different areas.”

    And so we see–the thoughtful creative musician for whom God is of central importance needs to make music and the rest of us need the music they make!

    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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  • 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 May 23, 2007 by | No Comments »