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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

American Jesus--er, Idol (Revisited)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

So last night Carly got the boot from American Idol. I was indignant and appalled for about two seconds, because the night before, whilst she was wailing her way through Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar," I said to Meredith, "She's not scoring herself any points with middle America with this."

Indeed, though there were at least two performers who's performances were notably inferior to hers, Carly inexplicably ended up in the bottom two, and then even more inexplicably was sent packing. The judges stammered out half-explanations about "pockets of voters" for different contestants, but I think it's obvious what killed Carly: she messed with Jesus.

Seriously, during a season in which as woeful a performer as Christy Lee Cook can extend her stay on the show three full weeks by bleating out "God Bless The U.S.A.," is it really smart to stomp around the stage and demand, "Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, who are you, what have you sacrificed?" In a season which boasts as its most memorable performance to date a rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" that completely omitted the hostile-to-religion first verse, is a controversial shot to the heart of Christian doctrine the best choice? Clearly not.

Here's when I knew Carly was done for: when Seacrest reviewed her previous night's performance, saying, "Last night you sang 'Superstar.'" Jesus Christ got entirely dropped from the song title. Dollars to doughnuts that wasn't Seacrest's call.

This show is a fascinating peek into the soul of the American soul. With 30 million-plus votes received every week, American Idol has won the participation of more of the American citizenry than most political elections and more than all the country's churches, taken together. And last night the message was clear: you can forget the words and start over, and you can butcher a classic while baldly admitting your ignorance of it; but don't you ever, ever, mess with Jesus.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:16 AM | link | 7 comments |

Assistant or Associate

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I got my personalized business cards from The Church today. My title is listed as "Assistant Pastor."

Ummm, that's not right. My title is "Associate Pastor."

I don't mean to be picky about it, but there's a big difference. Consider (from Wiktionary):

associate (plural associates)

  1. A person united with another or others in an act, enterprise, or business; a partner or colleague.
  2. A companion; a comrade.
assistant (plural assistants)
  1. A person who assists or helps someone else.
The move from "associate" to "assistant" is a move away from partnership and companionship and a move towards paid help.

I felt bad and apologized when I showed the Office Manager the error. But not that bad, and not for very long.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:28 AM | link | 4 comments |

"Wow. That's a Lot of Water"

Monday, April 21, 2008

So one week after a moving service of installation I had my first baptism at The Church. My very gracious colleague invited her new associate to do the baptism early in the week, and he jumped at the chance.

It was not my first baptism, but it was my first adult baptism (insert grimace here).

The baptized, a 17 year old high school senior, wore a white tuxedo. I told him beforehand, "I hope you're ready for that tux to get wet." He smiled and said he was. But he had no idea what was coming. Surely, he could not have been prepared for the tsunami that came tumbling out of my cupped hands and onto his stiffly-gelled hair, down onto his shoulders, dripping onto the kneeler, and splatting onto the wooden chancel floor.

The congregation heard, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

I heard, from inside my spinning head, "Wow. That's a lot of water. Probably too much."

I will always defend the liberal use of water in baptism, especially the baptism of an adult. But I'm afraid I went a bit overboard there. Given the choice between too much and too little, though, I'll take that miscalculation every time.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 3:39 PM | link | 2 comments |


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I was installed as the Associate Pastor on Sunday. It was a full-on Sunday morning worship service, worship for the fourth Sunday in Easter. The paraments were white, but the stoles were red, red for installation.

Brian explained installation to the kids, using his laptop and my hammer. Brian preached the word, self-consciously avoiding a "near miss." Chad charged me: "You are not the Messiah." Teddy prayed. The Moderator and the Executive of the presbytery asked me the constitutional questions.

We sang. We all sang.

Too many thanks are required to address in one space, and the thanks called for are too weighty to be placed on a blog. So I'll simply say how full of gratitude my heart is for friends and for faith, for I have come to experience the extent to which those two things depend on each other. Amen.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:02 AM | link | 0 comments |

American Jesus--er, Idol

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I don't have a TV. But I watch American Idol online, the day after. I haven't watched last night's "Idol Gives Back" extravaganza, but I've come across the online buzz surrounding the song that closed the show, a contemporary Christian tune called, "Shout to the Lord."

It's only the most assertive step in what is becoming an American Idol Jesus march. Over the last several weeks, contestants (especially David Archuleta) have increasingly chosen songs with overt references to God, from "Smoky Mountain Memories" to "God Bless the USA." It's a trend both Meredith and I have noted with some discomfort.

The producers of Idol and the executives at Fox have certainly figured out that there is a heap of ratings dollars to be made off of the religious sensibilities of God-fearing Idol worshipers. Maybe next week they'll start and end the show with prayer.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 12:35 PM | link | 7 comments |

Like A Knife to the Heart

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

So the church youth group leaves tonight for a week-long mission trip to Belize. As part of their experience there, our young people will stay a night with a local village family. It is recommended that the youth bring with them a small gift for that family.

Yesterday a parent called to ask if a swiss army-type knife would be an appropriate gift. I told her that it didn't strike me as inappropriate, but that two of the adult leaders had been to Belize before and would be better able to speak to it. "If you don't hear from me," I told the conscientious parent, "assume it's okay."

So I promptly emailed our two adult leaders with Belizian experience with the query, and here, in full, is the response of one of them:
A knife as a gift from a lover means that the love will soon end.
A knife placed under the bed during childbirth will ease the pain of labor.
If a friend gives you a knife, you should give him a coin, or your friendship will soon be broken.
It will cause a quarrel if knives are crossed at the table.
It is bad luck to close a pocket knife unless you were the one who opened it.
Knife falls, gentleman calls;
Fork falls, lady calls;
Spoon falls, baby calls.

Talk about your cross-cultural mission theology!

I don't think I'll be sharing this with that parent.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:41 AM | link | 4 comments |