Friday, April 30, 2010

Saturday at Duke // "Sparks of Divinity" World Premiere


Women's Voices Chorus (WVC)
will perform a spring concert titled “Sparks of Divinity” on Saturday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m., in Duke Chapel.

For more information contact (919) 684-3855,, or Tickets available at the door, $15 adults, $5 students. The concert explores themes of light, evening, death, and hope in music from Russia, Hungary, Finland, Canada, and the United States. The concert will include a world premiere of Lana Walter's “Sparks of Divinity” written for Women's Voices Chorus.

“Sparks of Divinity” was commissioned by Susan E. Brown for WVC, in celebration of the life of her mother, Janie Perrin Stevens Brown. Susan Brown, also a singer in WVC, took three years gestating the idea for the composition, but always knew she wanted composer Lana Walter for the job: “I love singing Lana’s work – she has a great sense of quirky rhythm and harmonies.” Before the collaboration was complete, it would turn out that Susan and Lana would share more than a love of choral music, but also the experience of losing a mother to Alzheimer’s disease.

After her mother’s death in 2006, Susan began searching for the right texts to honor Janie, who was born to American missionary parents in China in 1915. A person of deep Christian faith, Janie’s frequent moves exposed her to many different cultures and beliefs over her lifetime. Perhaps this explains why her daughter Mary Ellen described her as “the most nonjudgmental person I have ever known,” able to “see in all persons the spark of divinity, the image of God, and to accept their culture, creed, or human foibles and failings.” Taking her sister’s words as inspiration, Susan wrote a poem entitled “Sparks of Divinity,” and gave it to Lana along with texts from the Books of John and Matthew, and a poem by Mary Frye, “I Am Not Here.”

“The commissioning of new work for women’s voices is one of the bedrock principles of our group, and I’m proud that we’ve been able to meet this mission in these challenging financial times,” said WVC Artistic director Allan Friedman, who is also assistant conductor of Duke Chapel music.

For the rest of the concert, Friedman chose pieces from around the world that were particularly suited to singing at sunset in Duke Chapel, on the themes of light, evening, death, and hope. “Songs of Radiance,” comprising four pieces, are his own composition, commissioned by the NC Music Teachers Association. Deborah Coclanis will accompany on piano.

The Judy Blume of Kiddie Rock // Justin Roberts's Children's Songs Touch Serious Themes

Click Photo for Full Story (and to Hear the Music) // Excerpt Below

“Willy Was a Whale” is the kind of head-bopping, silly-clever song that is a staple of the kiddie rock movement. It comes complete with a hand motion — throw arms up to form a big W with your head — for the tots in the mosh pit up front at concerts, and a little joke — Willy walks “all the way down to Weno, Nevada” — for the parents who buy the tickets. Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players do “Willy” at pretty much every show: it’s their “Born to Run.”

But when you listen to “Willy” on the CD “Yellow Bus” — the second of seven children’s albums recorded by Mr. Roberts — the song that follows it is a bit jarring. “Mama is sad and I know that/she’s taken off her ring,” it begins. The child in the song tries to cheer Mama by offering toys — “I give her my Lego blocks to play/but the blocks won’t fit together today” — and, ultimately, himself: “I give her my heart and I don’t want it back.” It’s pretty much impossible to listen to without crying.

When he wrote “Mama Is Sad,” strumming a guitar outside on a sunny day, “I was laughing because I was like, ‘Nobody writes a kid’s song that’s so sad and depressing,’ ” Mr. Roberts recalled in an interview earlier this month.

“As adults we like to think kids live in this fantasy world of innocents,” he added. “But I watch kids really respond to their environment. The idea that a kid would see their mother or father was sad about something and try to fix it was very real.”


“He gets into the entire spectrum of the kids’ experience — it’s not just everything is awesome, because everything is not awesome all the time” (Bill Childs). The church can learn from Justin's example. Yes, our children need to know that God loves them and wants only good things for them, but we need to be careful not to focus so much on the “awesome” elements of the Christian life that we make sadness and hardship a separate thing entirely. Kids need to know that Jesus wants to be their friend — the kind of friend in whom you can confide and to whom you can cry, not just a friend who’s fun to hang out with on Sunday mornings. -- Sarah

Bill Moyers Archive // Interview: Paul Woodruff on Reverence

Full text/video here // Excerpt below

Three weeks after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a small book appeared that I have now read twice to help me sort out what I think about that massacre and the world that both produced it and has now been shaped by it. This is the book: REVERENCE: RENEWING A FORGOTTEN VIRTUE. Paul Woodruff wrote it. Paul Woodruff teaches the humanities, philosophy at my alma mater, the University of Texas. He's a veteran of Vietnam, the author of four other books, one of America's foremost interpreters of Plato, Thucydides, and other Greek thinkers from the ancient world.

Figuring out what they had to say to our world is Paul Woodruff's passion. Welcome to NOW.


BILL MOYERS: How do you define reverence?

PAUL WOODRUFF: I think reverence is the capacity for awe in the face of the transcendent.

BILL MOYERS: The transcendent being--

PAUL WOODRUFF: It's whatever we human beings did not create: God, justice, the truth...


PAUL WOODRUFF: Nature, beauty.


PAUL WOODRUFF: Death is one of the most awe-inspiring facts of our lives.

PAUL WOODRUFF: And I think complementary to the awe in the transcendent is a felt sense of our own mortality and our own limitations, our own tendency to make mistakes.

BILL MOYERS: How does this create reverence?

PAUL WOODRUFF: Realizing the-- the distance between us and the ideals which we see as transcendent is the essence of reverence. Recognizing that, you know, we are-- we are born to die and between the time we're born and the time we die, we'll-- we'll probably make a number of significant mistakes, and realizing that this is true of other people as well as of ourselves, that we have a common-- a common humanity and are all in the same way vulnerable. It's the virtue in-- actually, in both the Greek and the Chinese system, I think, that protects the people who are most helpless from the people who are most powerful. When a victorious soldier kills a prisoner, that's a failure of reverence. When a ruler refuses to hear a suppliant, that's a failure of reverence.

When you're utterly helpless, if you're an old person in a hospital, if you're a lonely minority teenager stopped on a road late at night by a policeman, you really have nothing between you and-- and a terrible fate but the-- what I would call the reverence of the powerful person in your life at that moment. The best clue to how reverent we are is how we treat the weakest people around us.

BILL MOYERS: Why does reverence do that? Why is it responsible for that kind of humane, civil behavior that-- that prevents a soldier from desecrating the body he has just created?

PAUL WOODRUFF: Well you put it beautifully. Desecrating a body. The-- the dead, of course, are the most helpless people from the Greek point of view and from any point of view. They are-- a dead body is utterly helpless and vulnerable and to desecrate that is-- is to cross-- is to violate the-- the sacred. Part of reverence is recognizing, you know, the lines that divide where we can step and what we can touch and what we can do from what we shouldn't.

BILL MOYERS: You say, simply put, reverence is the virtue that keeps human beings from trying to act like gods.

[Interview continued here...]

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Artists Articulating the Truth of God's Kingdom // The Work of the People

The Work of the People (TWOTP) is a great resource for art connected to worship and missions. The name is derived from the Greek word leitourgia ("liturgy"). TWOTP describes itself as "a community of artists who create visual media for the church to re-orient God's people around Jesus' good news and mission to make all things new." Here's a cool excerpt from their foundation/mission statement:

We as artists are to articulate the implications of God's kingdom being true.

We believe the role of artists as bringing voice to God's unseen kingdom, is a special one. We believe artists are to engage holy imagination in co-creating with Christ a world redeemed by Christ, in articulating God's upside down world of love, of making things right, of restoring all things. We are deeply passionate about this prophetic calling, especially as it pertains to artists who acknowledge God's kingdom.

TWOTP has all kinds of high-quality resources for the artistic incorporation of multimedia into worship, outreach, missions and more. I first came into contact with TWOTP after seeing this video used as a sort of call to worship on the Sunday when the parable of the prodigal son was the lectionary text for the day. The song used is "This Is Love" by The Autumn Film, a group you should definitely check out, and I love how the video combines music and visual art to explore everything from obvious themes of forgiveness to even subtler questions of the gender constructs that get applied to prodigal-ness.
-- Sarah

Resurrecting Civilian Casualties of War // John Jurayj at Walter Maciel Gallery

In his latest show at Walter Maciel Gallery, John Jurayj enacts a resurrection of sorts. His larger-than-life silkscreens of dead bodies from the Lebanese civil war are at once undeniably weighty and ineffably haunting. Executed in gunpowder-tinted ink on slabs of stainless steel, the works lean against the walls like tombstones that have yet to find their graves.

Taken from newspapers and other archival sources, the images depict isolated men, women and children — all civilians — photographed where they fell. Jurayj has turned the bodies upright as if willing them back to life, but they resist, appearing to float inertly in midair. He has also printed them in negative, which gives them an otherworldly glow.

The works are further activated by the viewer's presence — the steel is polished to a mirror finish so you can see your distorted reflection alongside each victim. It’s a discomfiting experience to see yourself so sheepishly alive among ghosts.

The silkscreens are accompanied by a few small sculptures of luggage and a digital video. Cast in a mix of gunpowder and plaster, the luggage provides a mute physicality that the evanescent images cannot. In comparison, the video — images of war "heroes" that slowly dissolve in rays of harsh light — is more expected. It's the only animated thing in the room but somehow feels less vital.

Sharon Mizota


There's definitely something to say here about war, death and the resurrection...but I am most struck by the aspect of this exhibit that allows the viewer to see himself or herself reflected next to each body. I can hear 1 Corinthians 12:26 now: "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it." Silkscreens of dead bodies may be a disturbing, perhaps even offensive, medium of art, but shouldn't our acknowledgment of the shared suffering of humanity be equally discomfiting? -- Sarah

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

@ UNC's School of Journalism through May 17 // "On the Edge": Homeless and Working Among Us

Between strength and instability, between vulnerability and pride are the working poor. One paycheck away from being homeless…again. Everyday they maintain the balancing act of holding a job and simply holding it together. Everyday we see them teaching and caring for our children, working in the stores and restaurants we frequent, and providing vital services to our community; we never know how close to the edge they really are.

Photographer and project creator Susan Sidebottom has captured working families on the uphill climb from homelessness to housing in “On the Edge: Homeless and Working Among Us.” Come to understand their experience through the power of the image.


Click here to learn more about the exhibit or view the full collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Carroll Hall, through May 17, 2010.

The Future Is Now // Introducing Sarah Howell

Good afternoon, everybody! A great big Thank You to everyone who has visited this blog over the past six months. I have had a lot of fun posting on it! Since this is the last of my posts it's only proper that it introduces the fantastic young woman who will not only be the new leader/point-person for the blog but who will also be one half of an exciting tandem of co-leaders (along with Bonnie Scott) next year for New Creation.

So, without further delay, let me introduce the supremely gifted Sarah Howell! To celebrate, I suggest you take some time to check out the beautiful music Sarah makes by either following this link to her own site, or by checking her out on iTunes.

I hope you'll do everything you can to support New Creation and the theological engagements with the arts blossoming at Duke Divinity School, as well as in your community and churches, now and into the future. It's a supremely rich time to be alive - and so onward we go!

Blessings on the journey...

The Varieties of Genius // Malcolm Gladwell on "Late Bloomers"

It is a mistake to associate genius soley with the flawless youth whose profound gifts reveal themselves early-on, writes Malcolm Gladwell in this classic piece from The New Yorker which discusses the dimensions of the varieties of genius.

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

Genius, in the popular conception, is inextricably tied up with precocity—doing something truly creative, we’re inclined to think, requires the freshness and exuberance and energy of youth. Orson Welles made his masterpiece, “Citizen Kane,” at twenty-five. Herman Melville wrote a book a year through his late twenties, culminating, at age thirty-two, with “Moby-Dick.” Mozart wrote his breakthrough Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat-Major at the age of twenty-one. In some creative forms, like lyric poetry, the importance of precocity has hardened into an iron law. How old was T. S. Eliot when he wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (“I grow old . . . I grow old”)? Twenty-three. “Poets peak young,” the creativity researcher James Kaufman maintains. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the author of “Flow,” agrees: “The most creative lyric verse is believed to be that written by the young.” According to the Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, a leading authority on creativity, “Lyric poetry is a domain where talent is discovered early, burns brightly, and then peters out at an early age.”

A few years ago, an economist at the University of Chicago named David Galenson decided to find out whether this assumption about creativity was true. He looked through forty-seven major poetry anthologies published since 1980 and counted the poems that appear most frequently. Some people, of course, would quarrel with the notion that literary merit can be quantified. But Galenson simply wanted to poll a broad cross-section of literary scholars about which poems they felt were the most important in the American canon.

The top eleven are, in order, T. S. Eliot’s “Prufrock,” Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour,” Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” William Carlos Williams’s “Red Wheelbarrow,” Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish,” Ezra Pound’s “The River Merchant’s Wife,” Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro,” Frost’s “Mending Wall,” Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man,” and Williams’s “The Dance.” Those eleven were composed at the ages of twenty-three, forty-one, forty-eight, forty, twenty-nine, thirty, thirty, twenty-eight, thirty-eight, forty-two, and fifty-nine, respectively. There is no evidence, Galenson concluded, for the notion that lyric poetry is a young person’s game. Some poets do their best work at the beginning of their careers. Others do their best work decades later. Forty-two per cent of Frost’s anthologized poems were written after the age of fifty. For Williams, it’s forty-four per cent. For Stevens, it’s forty-nine per cent.

The same was true of film, Galenson points out in his study “Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity.” Yes, there was Orson Welles, peaking as a director at twenty-five. But then there was Alfred Hitchcock, who made “Dial M for Murder,” “Rear Window,” “To Catch a Thief,” “The Trouble with Harry,” “Vertigo,” “North by Northwest,” and “Psycho”—one of the greatest runs by a director in history—between his fifty-fourth and sixty-first birthdays. Mark Twain published “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” at forty-nine. Daniel Defoe wrote “Robinson Crusoe” at fifty-eight.

The examples that Galenson could not get out of his head, however, were Picasso and Cézanne. He was an art lover, and he knew their stories well. Picasso was the incandescent prodigy. His career as a serious artist began with a masterpiece, “Evocation: The Burial of Casagemas,” produced at age twenty. In short order, he painted many of the greatest works of his career—including “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” at the age of twenty-six. Picasso fit our usual ideas about genius perfectly.

Cézanne didn’t.

"The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God"// Rolling Stone's interview with Bono

Among contemporary musicians, perhaps only Bob Dylan has proved the equal of U2 in terms of the amount of discussion provoked regarding the relationship between art and faith in their music and work. Whether from clergy, laity or academics, the last decade in particular saw an out-pouring of titles (eg. One Step Closer, Walk On, Religious Nuts / Political Fanatics, We Get To Carry Each Other, et al.) discussing the intersection of aesthetics and theology in the work and thought of U2, and of their frontman Bono in particular.

But rather than deal in commentaries, per se, it is interesting from time to time to read some "primary texts." And among the very best in this pool is an interview which Jann S. Wenner (founder and chief editor of Rolling Stone magazine) completed in late 2005 with Bono. Epic in length, scope and color, the published interview represents "perhaps 20 percent," says Wenner, of the 10 hours of total interview time. You can read the nearly book-length final published version of the interview in its entirety (or listen to vast segments of the unedited original audio recordings) here.

Among the 9 sections which the interview is divided into, perhaps the 3rd part will be of most significant interest. Titled "A Spiritual Life," an excerpt from this section is found below. It's an interview to keep in mind as U2 returns to the US in little over a month to continue their acclaimed 360 tour, and discussions of the relationship between aesthetics and theology in the band's work continue.

You never saw rock & roll – the so-called devil’s music – as incompatible with religion?
People are always forcing you to make decisions between flesh and spirit. Whereas, I want to dance myself in the direction of God. I go out drinking with God. I am flirtatious in the company of God. I am not a person who has to put God out of his mind to go out on the town. And it's a key point. The divided soul of Marvin Gaye, Elvis - it tore them apart, these conflicts. And they don't tear me apart. I reckon God loves all of me.
The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt. So the blues on one hand – running away; gospel, the Mighty Clouds of Joy – running towards. The blues are like the Psalms of David. Here was this character, living in a cave, whose outbursts were as much criticism as praise. There’s David singing. “Oh, God – where are you when I need you?/You call yourself God?” And you go, this is the blues.

Both deal with the relationship with God. That’s really it. I’ve since realized that anger with God is very valid. We wrote a song about that on the Pop album (1997) – people were confused by it – which was called “Wake Up Dead Man”: “Jesus, help me/I’m alone in this world/And a f***ed-up world it is, too/Tell me, tell me the story/The one about eternity/And the way it’s all gonna be/Wake up, dead man."

Look at the people who have formed my imagination. Bob Dylan. Nineteen seventy-six – he’s going through similar stuff. You buy Patti Smith: “Horses” – “Jesus died for somebody’s sins/But not mine...” And she turns Van Morrison’s “Gloria” into liturgy. She’s wrestling with these demons – Catholicism in her case. Right the way through to “Wave,” where she’s talking to the pope!

Then I can remember John Lennon singing “Oh My Love.” It’s like a little hymn. It’s certainly a prayer of some kind – even if he was an atheist. “Oh, my love/For the first time in my life/My eyes can see/I see the wind/Oh, I see the trees/Everything is clear in our world.” For me it was like he was talking about the veil lifting off, the scales falling from the eyes. Seeing out the window with a new clarity that love brings you. I remember that feeling.

Yoko came up to me when I was in my twenties, and she put her hand on me and she said, “You are John’s son.” What an amazing compliment!

What draws you so deeply to Martin Luther King?
So now- cut to 1980. Irish rock group, who’ve been through the fire of a certain kind of revival, a Christian-type revival, go to America. Turn on the TV the night you arrive, and there’s all these people talking from the Scriptures. But they’re quite obviously raving lunatics.

Suddenly you go, what’s this? And you change the channel. There’s another one. You change the channel, and there’s another secondhand-car salesman. You think, oh, my God. But their words sound so similar... to the words out of our mouths.

So what happens? You learn to shut up. You say, whoa, what’s this going on? You go oddly still and quiet. If you talk like this around here, people will think you’re one of those. And you realize that these are the traders – as in t-r-a-d-e-r-s – in the temple.

Until you get to the black church, and you see that they have similar ideas. But their religion seems to be involved in social justice; the fight for equality. And a Rolling Stone journalist, Jim Henke, who has believed in you more than anyone up to this point, hands you a book called “Let the Trumpet Sound” – which is the biography of Dr. King. And it just changes your life.

Even though I’m a believer, I still find it really hard to be around other believers: They make me nervous, they make me twitch. I sorta watch my back. Except when I’m with the black church. I feel relaxed, feel at home; my kids – I can take them there; there’s singing, there’s music.

Continue Reading

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thursday at Duke // "Futures of the Novel: An Open Roundtable"

An open roundtable on the theme "Futures of the Novel" will occur this Thursday (April 29) at 4pm in room 240 of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute.

Visit the Institute's main page here, or read the excerpted information below to learn more about speakers, specific questions that will be engaged, etc.


Co-sponsored by the International Society for the Study of the Novel and the Franklin Humanities Institute In a roundtable format open to the public, five prominent scholars of the novel will present short position papers on the future of the novel as an object of study. These papers will address the following questions about the status of the novel and novel studies in the contemporary moment: Does the novel have a future in the age of new media, and what would that future be? What role does the study of the novel play in the modern university? What is the novel now? Panelists will read 5-7 minute position papers and then address questions and comments from the audience. A light reception will follow. Speakers: Carlos J. Alonso, Columbia // Jonathan Arac, Pittsburgh // Nancy Armstrong, Duke // Jennifer L. Fleissner, Indiana // Simon Gikandi, Princeton // Moderator: Ian Baucom, Duke // Questions? email

Wednesday at Duke // "Religion and the Humanities: Strategies for Interdisciplinary Engagement"

A joint lecture and discussion on the theme "Religion and the Humanities: Strategies for Interdisciplinary Engagement" will occur this Wednesday (April 28) at 4pm in room 240 of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute.

You can learn more about the event by following this link to the Institute's main page, or by reading the excerpted information below:


Speakers: NATALIE CARNES / Religion BRIAN GOLDSTONE / Cultural Anthropology KAREN GONZALEZ-RICE / Art, Art History & Visual Studies ALEX LONEY / Classical Studies Faculty respondent: PAUL GRIFFITHS / Divinity School This year's DWG is composed of 12 advanced graduate students across the humanities and interpretive social sciences. For more information about the DWG program and application information for the 2010-11 academic year, please visit: Questions? email

Friday, April 23, 2010

125 for the last 25 // SPIN Magazine lists the most influential albums of the past 25 years

To celebrate its 25th anniversary in the music-mag business, SPIN magazine has selected what it proclaims the "125 most influential albums of the last 25 years." You can begin to view the entire list here, or first take a sample taste by reading the five excerpts below.

This buzz band's second album was named after an obscure novel and recorded in a church while high on the fumes of Springsteen. "Neither a timid repeat nor a knee-jerk departure," SPIN wrote in 2007, "the bigger, bolder Neon Bible better captures what Arcade Fire achieve live." The magazine paired The Boss and Arcade Fire's Win Butler together in a dual 2007 interview. "There's a furious aspect to the performance," Springsteen said of the young Canadian band. "That's why people come out -- you're recognizing the realities of people's emotional lives and their difficulties, you're presenting these problems, and you're bringing a survival kit."

In the early '90s, Liz Phair's simultaneously bold and plainspoken songs dug deep in the context of a dude-intensive indie-rock scene. Full of searing and searching lyrics about sadness and sex, her triumphant debut "deconstructed relationships with an insight that didn't seem mortal," said SPIN's Chuck Klosterman. There was a calmness in the chaos, too, as the magazine noted in a live review at the time: "The sublime bile that's made her a goddess in guyville rises only when she finally closes her eyes, forgets about busking for the creepy guys and sensitive poetry chicks at her feet, and bares her fangs in fierce spurts like 'Divorce Song.'

Even millions wouldn't seem to be enough. Public Enemy's second album is one of those big-event records for which the word cataclysm doesn't count as overblown. The group, which SPIN said "hit the stage like an alliance of shock troop and rap group," had already made noise with their 1987 debut. But it was this follow-up, with its incendiary message-minded vocals and insane Bomb Squad production, that made Public Enemy an ensemble that, as SPIN noted in 1989, managed to "change the way hip-hop sounds."

There are certain records that disrupt the space-time continuum of musical history, issuing a pointed warning to anything that follows. Critics were shocked at Thom Yorke and company's ingenuity, as if Radiohead had simply conjured new aural ingredients from thin air. ("Completely the opposite," bassist Colin Greenwood humbly told SPIN in 1998. "To us, it's rooted in obvious things -- what we've listened to, that is.") From "Paranoid Android" to "Karma Police," "Yorke was trying to make each sound like reportage from inside 12 different brains," SPIN wrote in 1998. "Through the speakers of a stereo, OK Computer is 'conceptual,' but in a way that's difficult to quantify; somehow, it manages to sound how the future will feel," Chuck Klosterman said in 2005 of the band's electronically enhanced magnum opus.

In 1991 U2 emerged with the album -- Achtung Baby -- that would re-energize their career and genetically engineer rock music into the hybridized mutant we know today. Initially recorded at Hansa Ton Studios, a former SS ballroom near the reopened Berlin Wall (and later completed back home in Dublin), Achtung was an effort, stoked primarily by Bono and the Edge, to "deconstruct" the band and rewire it with jolts of beat-generated clutter and collage, nicked from industrial music, hip-hop, dance remixes, and the Madchester scene.

That method almost collapsed the band -- bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr., as well as coproducer Daniel Lanois, were left bewildered and cranky. But the frisson found expression in U2's most immediately dynamic music since their 1983 album War, and their most emotionally frank songs to date, capturing that particular early-'90s rub of boundless possibility and worn-down despair... Struggling to simultaneously embrace and blow up the world, U2 were never more inspirational.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Friday in Chapel Hill (6-9pm) // Come out to support L'Arche Uganda!

New Creation is partnering with Everdith Landrau to host a jewelry party showcasing her own exquisite hand-crafted work. The proceeds will go to L'Arche Uganda which is one arm of the larger L'Arche international organization where people with and without developmental disabilities live together. For Duke Divinity students, classes will be over this Friday, so come enjoy some refreshments and support both an organization and a talented young woman that are doing faithful work. Contact Everdith (Evie) to learn more at --

Punk Rockers Staring Into The Flash // "American Idiot" Makes Its Broadway Debut

Charles Isherwood of
The New York Times is among those raving about the shot-in-the-arm given to Broadway by the recent arrival of the angsty musical American Idiot, the theatrical adaptation of punk-rock trio Green Day's blockbuster 2004 album of the same title.

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

Rage and love, those consuming emotions felt with a particularly acute pang in youth, all but burn up the stage in “American Idiot,” the thrillingly raucous and gorgeously wrought Broadway musical adapted from the blockbuster pop-punk album by Green Day.

Pop on Broadway, sure. But punk? Yes, indeed, and served straight up, with each sneering lyric and snarling riff in place. A stately old pile steps from the tourist-clogged Times Square might seem a strange place for the music of Green Day, and for theater this blunt, bold and aggressive in its attitude. Not to mention loud. But from the moment the curtain rises on a panorama of baleful youngsters at the venerable St. James Theater, where the show opened on Tuesday night, it’s clear that these kids are going to make themselves at home, even if it means tearing up the place in the process.

Which they do, figuratively speaking. “American Idiot,” directed by Michael Mayer and performed with galvanizing intensity by a terrific cast, detonates a fierce aesthetic charge in this ho-hum Broadway season. A pulsating portrait of wasted youth that invokes all the standard genre conventions — bring on the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, please! — only to transcend them through the power of its music and the artistry of its execution, the show is as invigorating and ultimately as moving as anything I’ve seen on Broadway this season. Or maybe for a few seasons past.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tonight @ The Carolina // Duke Divinity presents "The Broadway Revue"

Tonight at 7:30 at the Carolina Theater is the annual Duke Divinity School Broadway Revue. The performance consists of songs from a variety of contemporary and classic Broadway shows, and is performed by a cast of Divinity students, faculty, staff and spouses. Also, the winners of the Duke Divinity School 2010 Spring Juried Arts Exhibit The End of Words will be announced. Come by to see some great entertainment and celebrate our artists one more time!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In Fez, June 4-12 // The World Sacred Music Festival

This coming June in Fez/Fes, Morroco will witness the 16th annual World Sacred Music Festival. A dynamic festival that honors all religious traditions and which is renowned the world over, you can learn more about it by following this link. This year's theme is "In Search of the Sacred Other."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Glen Workshop 2010 // Creativity From The Margins: Art As Witness

Journey to Santa Fe this August (1-8) to meet up with other artists committed to a vision of art as a witness that changes the world. Read a synopsis below about The Glen Workshops for 2010, and follow this link to learn even more.

// Synopsis //

Each year at the Glen we choose a theme to give a focus to our conversations over the course of the week. For 2010 our theme is "Creativity at the Margins: Art as Witness."

In the postmodern, pluralistic era in which we live, Christianity no longer holds the privileged position in public discourse and institutions it once possessed. What are the implications of this de-centering for artists of faith? How might working from the cultural margins offer new creative challenges to those whose work embodies a profound engagement with this ancient religious tradition? Should the believing artist “shout” or “whisper” to this culture, speak in the prophetic voice or quietly hint at the presence of grace? As many believers become more ideological and shrill in their response to these cultural changes, what role can art play in bearing witness to faith while speaking honestly about the human condition?

The Arts & Faith Top 100 Films

Earlier this year, the journal Image announced its "Top 100 Arts & Faith Films." View the complete list by following this link.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"I think being a good theologian means being multiply alert..." // Image's exclusive interview with Dr. Jeremy Begbie

From the journal Image, an exclusive on-line interview with Dr. Jeremy Begbie on "the often-uneasy relationship between religion and contemporary art."

Full Interview Here // Excerpt Below

Image: In the current issue of IMAGE you review two books on the visual arts, but you are also known for your deep knowledge of music, both as a performer and as a theorist. How do your interdisciplinary interests affect the way you do theology?

Jeremy Begbie: As long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in finding connections. My father, who was a physiologist, loved to trace the links between his discipline and visual art and poetry. It was always natural for me to look for links between music and the other arts, and, when I came to faith, to search for resonances between music and theology.

By its very nature, theology is concerned with God in relation to every facet of life and experience. I think being a good theologian means being multiply alert—with eyes and ears open in all directions to the multiple ramifications of Christian truth. That’s what I try to show when I teach and write—and I can’t think of wanting to operate in a more closed, categorical way.

Image: Your review touches on the way two thinkers—a secular critic and a Christian critic—deal with the relationship between contemporary art and religion. Is there any hope for developing intellectual common ground between the communities these two writers represent?

Jeremy Begbie: I believe there is, and that’s because I believe in the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit is the go-between, the one who makes all fruitful communication possible.

The danger is in thinking we can find some neutral common ground, some space that is unaffected by our deepest commitments. That is impossible. The Christian enters into honest and respectful conversation with the non-Christian not by suspending commitment, but as someone committed to a particular God, eager to find signs of the activity of this God wherever they may be found, and open to learning more about what this God might be up to in the world. It is this God who will find the common ground for us. For many years I have been engaged in conversations with artists of little or no faith, and often been astonished at the way spiritual matters emerge quite naturally. But I find it fruitless if I pretend to be uncommitted.

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