In a statement issued to parents and obtained by HuffPost, the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District cited regulations to defend their decision to ban an adult film star from attending the event.
The following is an excerpt from the Bruce Springsteen cover story in the March 29th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone, on news stands now.
Springsteen arrives at The Daily Show's Manhattan studios on foot one icy day in late January, fresh from Jersey – he fought the wind for the dozen blocks from the Lincoln Tunnel along 11th Avenue, wearing only a thin leather jacket. “There was traffic,” says Springsteen, “so Patti dropped me off.” (“The Freehold is strong in that one,” Stewart says, picturing this journey.) Back from taping that night's Daily Show, Stewart joins Springsteen in his cluttered office – where there’s already a photo of the two men together pinned to the wall – after exchanging his suit and tie for khakis and a long-sleeved T-shirt.
In recent years, Stewart has seen his decades-long Springsteen fandom turn into a friendship. “It’s in no way surreal,” Stewart says with heavy sarcasm. “It’s the most natural thing in the world. It’s very hard to reconcile sitting and fishing in a little pond in New Jersey with a guy you spent many years hitchhiking the I-95 corridor to see in Philadelphia back in the day. The only band I think I’ve seen more than Bruce Springsteen is the Springsteen tribute band Backstreets. I try not to let him know how pathetic I truly am.”
Stewart grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, 30 miles northwest of Springsteen’s Monmouth County hometown. “Every car he sang about you were like, ‘I’ve seen that up on blocks in the backyard right near where I live.’” He saw his first Springsteen show on 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town tour, when he was about 15. “The first time you hear Darkness, you begin to plan how to move out of New Jersey,” says Stewart. (Like Springsteen, Stewart eventually returned, and has a home in the Garden State: “You realize, hey, New Jersey’s all right, actually!”)
On Springsteen’s new album, Wrecking Ball, his characters aren’t looking for escape – they just want a job. With fiercely populist tunes like “Death to My Hometown” and “Jack of All Trades,” Springsteen paints a picture of an America where “the banker man grows fat/Working man grows thin.” Springsteen wanted the new songs to address “what happened to the social fabric of the world that we’re living in.”
"Hope and Dreams" and other songs on the album’s second half seem to move from the personal and political to a sense of the spiritual. Well, on the first half of the record, you’re just pissed off. The first cut, “We Take Care of Our Own,” is where I set out the questions that I’m going to try to answer. The song’s chorus is posed as a challenge and a question. Do we take care of our own? What happened to that social contract? Where did that go over the past 30 years? How has it been eroded so terribly? And how is it that the outrage about that erosion is just beginning to be voiced right now? I’ve written about this stuff for those 30 years, from Darkness on the Edge of Town to The Ghost of Tom Joad through to today. It all came out of the Carter recession of the late Seventies, and when I was writing about that, my brother-in-law lost his construction job and went to work as a janitor in the local high school. It changed his life.
So these are issues and things that occur over and over again in history and land on the backs of the same people. In my music – if it has a purpose beyond dancing and fun and vacuuming your floor to it – I always try to gauge the distance between American reality and the American dream. The mantra that I go into in the last verse of “We Take Care of Our Own” – “Where are the eyes, where are the hearts?” – it’s really: “Where are those things now, what happened to those things over the past 30 years? What happened to the social fabric of the world that we’re living in? What’s the price that people pay for it on a daily basis?” Which is something that I lived with intensely as a child, and is probably the prime motivation for the subjects I’ve written about since I was very, very young.
Someone wrote in The New York Times that “We Take Care of Our Own” was “jingoistic.” Whoever said that, they need a smarter pop writer.
[Laughs] It takes you back to the days of “Born in the U.S.A.,” which was so widely misunderstood. Yeah. I didn’t feel that so much from this particular instance, but you write the best piece of music you can, and you put it out there, and then you see what comes back at you. Lately, it seems as if the polarization of the country has gotten so extreme that people want to force you into being either a phony “patriot” or an “apologist.” Nuanced political dialogue or creative expression seems like it’s been hamstrung by the decay of political speech and it’s infantilized our national discourse. I can’t go for that and I won’t write that way.
To read the rest of this cover story, pick up the March 29th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone, available on stands and in Rolling Stone All Access.
Black Tambourine could cover the phone book and i’d be interested in hearing it, so it’s with great pleasure that I listen to their new EP which is comprised of covers from the catalog of The Ramones. “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” is shifted from a power punk pop jam into a bleary eyed shoegazer and it fits the track nicely. Definitely something you should be listening to on repeat this evening.
“But now is Christ risen from the dead.” 1 Corinthians 15:20
The whole system of Christianity rests upon the fact that “Christ is risen from the dead;” for, “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain: ye are yet in your sins.” The divinity of Christ finds its surest proof in his resurrection, since he was “Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
It would not be unreasonable to doubt his deity if he had not risen. Moreover, Christ’s sovereignty depends upon his resurrection, “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Again, our justification, that choice blessing of the covenant, is linked with Christ’s triumphant victory over death and the grave; for “He was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” Nay, more, our very regeneration is connected with his resurrection, for we are “Begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
And most certainly our ultimate resurrection rests here, for, “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.” If Christ be not risen, then shall we not rise; but if he be risen then they who are asleep in Christ have not perished, but in their flesh shall surely behold their God.
Thus, the silver thread of resurrection runs through all the believer’s blessings, from his regeneration onwards to his eternal glory, and binds them together. How important then will this glorious fact be in his estimation, and how will he rejoice that beyond a doubt it is established, that “now is Christ risen from the dead”!
“The promise is fulfill’d,
Redemption’s work is done,
Justice with mercy’s reconciled,
For God has raised his Son.”
”—Charles Spurgeon, on the resurrection of Christ.
Listening to Xanax: How America learned to stop worrying about worrying and pop its pills instead.
If the nineties were the decade of Prozac, all hollow-eyed and depressed, then this is the era of Xanax, all jumpy and edgy and short of breath. In Prozac Nation, published in 1994, Elizabeth Wurtzel describes a New York that today seems as antique as the one rendered by Edith Wharton. In the book, she evokes a time when twentysomethings lived in Soho lofts, dressed for parties in black chiffon frocks, and ended the night crying on the bathroom floor. Twenty years ago, just before Kurt Cobain blew off his head with a shotgun, it was cool for Kate Moss to haunt the city from the sides of buses with a visage like an empty store and for Wurtzel to confess in print that she entertained fantasies of winding up, like Plath or Sexton, a massive talent who died too soon, “young and sad, a corpse with her head in the oven.”
This is not to say that clinical depression is ever a fashion statement—it’s not. In the nineties, just as now, there were people who were genuinely, medically depressed, who felt hopeless and helpless and welcomed the relief that Prozac can provide. But beyond that, the look and feel of that era, its affect, was lank and dissolute. It makes sense in retrospect that Clerks, that cinematic ode to aimlessness, and Eddie Vedder (in his loser T-shirt) came along as the country started its two-decade climb toward unparalleled prosperity. In 1994, all the fever lines that describe economic vitality—gross domestic product, median household income, the Dow—pointed up. Just as teenage rebellion flourishes in environments of safety and plenty, depression as a cultural pose works only in tandem with a private confidence that the grown-ups in charge are reliably succeeding on everyone’s behalf.
Anxiety can also be a serious medical problem, of course. It sometimes precedes depression and often gets tangled up with it (which is why Prozac-type drugs are prescribed for anxiety too). But anxiety has a second life as a more general mind-set and cultural stance, one defined by an obsession with an uncertain future. Anxious people dwell on potential negative outcomes and assume (irrational and disproportionate) responsibility for fixing the disasters they imagine will occur. “What’s going to happen?” or, more accurately, “What’s going to happen to me?” is anxiety’s quiet whisper, its horror-show crescendo the thing Xanax was designed to suppress. Three and a half years of chronic economic wobbliness, the ever-pinging of the new-e-mail alert, the insistent voices of prophet-pundits who cry that nuclear, environmental, political, or terrorist-generated disaster is certain have together turned a depressed nation into a perennially anxious one. The editors at the New York Times are running a weekly column on anxiety in their opinion section with this inarguable rationale: “We worry.”
Xanax and its siblings—Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, and other members of the family of drugs called benzodiazepines—suppress the output of neurotransmitters that interpret fear. They differ from one another in potency and duration; those that enter your brain most quickly (Valium and Xanax) can make you the most high. But all quell the racing heart, spinning thoughts, prickly scalp, and hyperventilation associated with fear’s neurotic cousin, anxiety, and all do it more or less instantly. Prescriptions for benzodiazepines have risen 17 percent since 2006 to nearly 94 million a year; generic Xanax, called alprazolam, has increased 23 percent over the same period, making it the most prescribed psycho-pharmaceutical drug and the eleventh- most prescribed overall, with 46 million prescriptions written in 2010. In their generic forms, Xanax is prescribed more than the sleeping pill Ambien, more than the antidepressant Zoloft. Only drugs for chronic conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol do better.
“Benzos,” says Stephen Stahl, chairman of the Neuroscience Education Institute in Carlsbad, California, and a psychiatrist who consults to drug companies, “are the greatest things since Post Toasties. They work well. They’re very cheap. Their effectiveness on anxiety is profound.”
Benzos can also be extremely addictive, and their popularity can be gauged by their illegitimate uses as well. According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, rehab visits involving benzodiazepine use tripled between 1998 and 2008. Though benzos have come to signify the frantic overwhelmed-ness of the professional elites (they were discovered in the autopsies of both Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger), SAMHSA says the person likeliest to abuse the drugs is a white man between the ages of 18 and 34 who is addicted to another substance—alcohol, heroin, painkillers—and is unemployed. Last year, a 27-year-old man named Dominick Glowacki demanded that a Westchester CVS hand over all its Xanax while he held up the store with a BB gun. Jeffrey Chartier, the Bronx lawyer who represented Glowacki, says he’s seeing more and more cases of benzo abuse among young men who aren’t working. “Two pills and two beers make them as high as drinking the whole six-pack.”
In these anxious times, Xanax offers a lot. It dissolves your worries, whatever they are, like a special kiss from Mommy. “Often referred to as God’s gift,” reads the fifth definition of Xanax on Urban Dictionary. “You could come home with your house on fire and not even care,” reads another. “You don’t give a fuck about nothing.” So reliably relaxing are the effects of benzodiazepines that SAMHSA’s director of substance-abuse treatment, H. Westley Clark, says they’ve gained a reputation as “alcohol in a pill.” And their consumption can be equally informal. Just as friends pour wine for friends in times of crisis, so too do doctors, moved by the angst of their patients, “have sympathy and prescribe more,” says Clark. There are a lot more benzos circulating these days, and a lot more sharing.
Read the entire piece from the New York Magazine HERE.
Rick Santorum attended a revival-type church service on Sunday night in Louisiana, where the Rev. Dennis Terry, pastor of the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, offered some fire and brimstone in a videotaped sermon that on Monday was going viral because of his fiery comments.
“I don’t care what the liberals say, I don’t care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation,” Mr. Terry said.
“There’s only one God, and his name is Jesus,” he continued. “I’m tired of people telling me that I can’t say those words. I’m tired of people telling us as Christians that we can’t voice our beliefs or we can no longer pray in public. Listen to me. If you don’t love America, if you don’t like the way we do things I have one thing to say — get out!”
Thunderous applause interrupted him before he went on.
“We don’t worship Buddha! I said we don’t worship Buddha, we don’t worship Muhammad, we don’t worship Allah, we worship God, we worship God’s son Jesus Christ.”
He said that the church had to be the conscience of the nation and went on to rail against abortion and homosexuality. His goal, he said, is to “put God back in America,” in homes, schools and “in our state house.”
As the congregation gave Mr. Terry an enthusiastic standing ovation, Mr. Santorum also stood and applauded.
At the end of the service, Mr. Terry held his hand over Mr. Santorum and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and asked God to “have favor” on him, to “watch over him, bless him and keep him safe.”
He added: “For all those men that are running for office tonight, I pray you’ll speak to their hearts.” At this point, Mr. Santorum demonstrably nodded his head in agreement. Mr. Terry also asked, “I pray tonight for our president,” and Mr. Santorum nodded again.
Afterward, Mr. Santorum was pressed in Moline, Ill., on Monday, by reporters from Politico, The Associated Press and other news outlets whether he agreed with the full extent of Mr. Terry’s remarks. Mr. Santorum has spoken many times of his own belief that people of faith are being driven from the public square, but he has not called for those who “don’t love America” to “get out” of the country.
“If the question is, do I agree with his statement that America shouldn’t do that?” Mr. Santorum asked in response to the reporters’ questions. “No, if he was speaking for himself he’s obviously allowed to believe what he wants to believe but, obviously I believe in freedom of religion and all religions are welcome and should be. I think I’ve made that pretty clear throughout my campaign that I believe very much in freedom of religion, and folks should be able to worship whoever they want to worship and bring their thoughts in the public square.”
On Monday the Supreme Court Takes on the Obama Health Care Reform Legislation.
As a cancer survivor who is concerned about health care for all of us, Monday is a big day. On Monday the Supreme Court will take up the question of the constitutionality of the Obama health care reform act. Read about what the law really means for you and me HERE, and read this opinion piece from the New York Times. Stay smart, America.
THE Obama administration has made a curious strategic choice in its defense of the constitutionality of the health care reform act. The central issue before the Supreme Court, which will begin hearing oral arguments on Monday, is whether the act’s requirement that everyone buy health insurance — the so-called individual mandate — exceeds Congress’s constitutional power.
The act’s other provisions regulating health insurance — like the requirement that health insurance companies take all applicants, regardless of pre-existing illnesses, and the prohibition against charging sicker patients higher rates — have not been challenged. And yet the administration is arguing that the individual mandate is not “severable” from these regulations; if the mandate falls, they must as well, and health insurance companies would once again be free to choose whom to cover.
But if the court were to strike down the individual mandate, it should stop there: that would be quite bold enough. The Supreme Court has long affirmed a “presumption in favor of severability,” meaning that when it rules that a statutory provision is unconstitutional, the decision should affect as little of the law as possible. As Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, while speaking for the court in 2010, making more extensive changes would constitute “editorial freedom” that “belongs to the legislature, not the judiciary.”
It is Congress, not the court, that has the constitutional power and responsibility to make difficult legislative policy decisions like these. By arguing against severability, the Obama administration — and the law’s opponents, who are making an even more radical claim — is urging the Supreme Court to abandon its tradition of judicial restraint, to ignore longstanding precedents and to undermine the separation of powers.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the opponents of the law, which they call “Obamacare,” agree with the administration on this crucial point. They have even urged the Supreme Court to strike down the entire statute, including the act’s many provisions that have nothing to do with health insurance coverage, like those relating to doctor training and the regulation of certain drugs. They would like nothing more than for the court to save Congress the trouble of having to muster the votes to try to repeal the law.
To this end, the law’s opponents have advanced several specious arguments. Because the act is so complex, they say, the court does not have the expertise to decide whether only one provision can be excised from it. In addition, because the statute was the product of hard-fought political compromise, every provision was necessary to secure a majority of votes, and the removal of any one would upset the delicate deal that was struck.
But complexity is a key reason for the severability doctrine in the first place: it is Congress that has the expertise and responsibility to decide what should be kept absent the individual mandate. And virtually every statute reflects a bundle of political deals. If either of these arguments is accepted, it would destroy the doctrine of severability entirely.
Both the Obama administration and the law’s opponents have one argument in common. They express concern about what might happen to health insurance markets if the mandate is severed from the statute but the requirements that insurance companies cover sick patients and don’t charge them higher rates remain. If healthy people do not have to buy insurance and insurance companies are forced to cover the sick, they warn, insurance would be far more expensive. No doubt rates would rise as a result. But the size of that increase — whether it would be 10 percent or 20 percent, as some claim — is unknown, and the Supreme Court is in no position to make that judgment on its own.
It’s not clear why the Obama administration has chosen this course. Perhaps it made a strategic choice to raise the stakes of striking down the mandate by asking the court to also invalidate the law’s more popular provisions. Or it may be concerned that, if the mandate alone is struck down, there would not be enough votes in Congress to pass new provisions to compensate the insurance industry for its loss. But as a legal matter, the court should reject the argument.
We believe that imposing the mandate was within Congress’s powers to regulate commerce and that the legislation should be upheld. But if the Supreme Court strikes the mandate down, the rest of the law should stand, and Congress should have to decide what happens next.
Why should an unelected court free the insurance industry from having to do its own political lobbying work in Congress? Why should the court choose whether or not to deny injured and sick Americans health insurance? These crucial decisions must be left to our elected officials, who — unlike the Supreme Court — can then be held accountable for them by the voting public.
Abbe R. Gluck and Michael J. Graetz are professors at Columbia Law School.
Q. I think the Pitino situation is going to get rectified in about a week. Why do you think he is not already in the Hall of Fame?
COACH DONOVAN: I don’t know. I’m not taking anything away from any of the coaches that are out there. But that’s just my opinion.
I don’t think he’s always had great talent. I don’t think he’s always been in, quote, unquote, the best jobs. And I think wherever he’s gone he’s done a remarkable job. So I don’t know what that is. I just feel like he should be, and maybe I’m biased because I’ve played for him and coached with him and I’ve seen what he’s done.
I told him this, and the thing that bothers me as a coach, I was at Kentucky with him for five years. And that program was on probation. And I’m talking about rock bottom, where we couldn’t even go to the NCAA tournament. And I think in a lot of ways because of him being at Louisville there is nobody, in my opinion, that’s done a better eight year coaching job than he did at Kentucky from where it was to what he took it to.
And I think when you look at that, because of the rivalry and him going to the Celtics and then going to Louisville, he could have gone anywhere else and there would be statutes built of him in Lexington, with what he’s done. But because of that rivalry there’s some people that can’t handle it. And I just wish the people back there, the whole state would just embrace him for the job that he’s done at both programs.
Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan shares with the media after the game Saturday night. These are his thoughts on Rick Pitino, UK, UofL and the idea of how the entire Commonwealth should treat Pitino. A lesson, really, on the “Fatal Four.”
“Of all I would wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, preach CHRIST, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme. The world needs still to be told of its Saviour, and of the way to reach him… Man’s fall, his need of a new birth, forgiveness through atonement, and salvation as the result of faith, these are our battle-axe and weapons of war. We have enough to do to learn and teach these great truths, and accursed be that learning which shall divert us from our mission… O that Christ crucified were the universal burden of men of God.”—From Lectures to my Students, advice that I pray all my brothers in ministry will hear with me as we prepare to preach this Sunday. (Charles Spurgeon)
"And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed." Matthew 26:39
There are several instructive features in our Saviour’s prayer in his hour of trial. It was lonely prayer. He withdrew even from his three favoured disciples. Believer, be much in solitary prayer, especially in times of trial. Family prayer, social prayer, prayer in the Church, will not suffice, these are very precious, but the best beaten spice will smoke in your censer in your private devotions, where no ear hears but God’s.
It was humble prayer. Luke says he knelt, but another evangelist says he “fell on his face.” Where, then, must be THY place, thou humble servant of the great Master? What dust and ashes should cover thy head! Humility gives us good foot-hold in prayer. There is no hope of prevalence with God unless we abase ourselves that he may exalt us in due time.
It was filial prayer. “Abba, Father.” You will find it a stronghold in the day of trial to plead your adoption. You have no rights as a subject, you have forfeited them by your treason; but nothing can forfeit a child’s right to a father’s protection. Be not afraid to say, “My Father, hear my cry.”
Observe that it was persevering prayer. He prayed three times. Cease not until you prevail. Be as the importunate widow, whose continual coming earned what her first supplication could not win. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.
Lastly, it was the prayer of resignation. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Yield, and God yields. Let it be as God wills, and God will determine for the best. Be thou content to leave thy prayer in his hands, who knows when to give, and how to give, and what to give, and what to withhold. So pleading, earnestly, importunately, yet with humility and resignation, thou shalt surely prevail.
Saint Patrick--The Missionary, a Friend to Slaves and to Women
The person who was to become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about AD 385. His given name was Maewyn. His father was a wealthy alderman and a Christian. When Patrick was 16 years old, pirates captured him during a raid and sold him as a slave in Ireland. He served as a shepherd of an Irish Chieftain in Ulster. During his captivity, he dedicated himself to religion. After 6 years of slavery he escaped and returned home to Britain. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary, determined to convert Ireland to Christianity. He used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity.
Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. And this fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion of the Irish country to Christianity. He is said to have founded more than 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000 people. He brought clergymen from England and France for his new churches. He succeeded in his mission to Ireland, even though many British clergymen opposed him and the way he organized the churches. Patrick preached in Ireland for the rest of his life.
Here’s what Thomas Cahill said about Patrick in his book “How the Irish Saved Civilization”
At length, he is ordained priest and bishop, virtually the first missionary bishop in history. We understand that Jesus’s apostles preached his Good News—Good Spell or Gospel, to use the Old English term—after the descent of the Spirit at the Feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem and that they intended to preach “to the ends of the earth.” We are a little uncertain as to how far most of them actually got, though we think Peter was nailed upside down to a cross at Rome. Thomas—in legend, at least—got as far as India. But the first Christian missionary for whom we have extensive documentation is Paul, not one of the original apostles, but an apostle, as he puts it, “appointed not by human beings”—that is, appointed by vision. Patrick may be the second such appointment. What is remarkable is not that Patrick should have felt an overwhelming sense of mission but that in the four centuries between Paul and Patrick there are no missionaries.
In truth, even Paul, the great missionary apostle, though he endured all the miseries of classical travel for the sake of the Gospel, never himself ventured beyond the Greco-Roman Ecumene. Thomas, presumed apostle to India, though traveling perhaps beyond the official Ecumene, would have proselytized an ancient civilization with many ties to the Greek world. So Patrick was really a first—the first missionary to barbarians beyond the reach of Roman law. The step he took was in its way as bold as Columbus’s, and a thousand times more humane. He himself was aware of its radical nature. “The Gospel,” he reminded his accusers late in his life, “has been preached to the point beyond which there is no one”—nothing but the ocean. Nor was he blind to his dangers, for even in his last years “every day I am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved—whatever may come my way. But I am not afraid of any of these things, because of the promises of heaven; for I have put myself in the hands of God Almighty.”
His love for his adopted people shines through his writings, and it is not just a generalized “Christian” benevolence, but a love for individuals as they are. He worries constantly for his people, not just for their spiritual but for their physical welfare. The horror of slavery was never lost on him: “But it is the women kept in slavery who suffer the most—and who keep their spirits up despite the menacing and terrorizing they must endure. The Lord gives grace to his many handmaids; and though they are forbidden to do so, they follow him with backbone.” Patrick has become an Irishman, a man who can give far more credibility to a woman’s strength and fortitude than could any classically educated man.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
”—The prayer is given its name because it was believed to protect Saint Patrick from hostile forces and his enemies. In it, the outcast priest who wept for slaves and aided common men in difficulty finds his voice. This is just a portion of the prayer.
Peer Pressure? How About, Like, Fighting to Death?
HERE’S a pop math quiz: “The Hunger Games,” a best-selling novel by Suzanne Collins about children killing children, is recommended for readers 12 and older. The “Hunger Games” movie, which shows kids killing kids, is angling for a PG-13 rating when it hits theaters March 23. To complicate matters, many readers under the age of 12 are dying to see the movie. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lawrence, the film’s star, is 21. She got the book at the behest of her mother, a reader and fan.
So who is the audience for “The Hunger Games”? A tense and gritty critique of media culture with violence as entertainment, it could be a movie squarely aimed at grown-ups. Or a family film that works on different levels for older and younger viewers, the way Pixar releases do. Or it could be the next “Twilight,” another smash young-adult-novel-to-teen-movie adaptation with a similarly vexing (if less prominent) love triangle.
The open question reflects the book’s audience. In recent years a wave of popular young-adult novels has generated a happy convergence of readers who are young, readers who are young adults and readers who are, well, old adults. These best sellers may have caught Hollywood’s attention, and led to major deals. (See the dystopian “Divergent” and “A Fault in Our Stars.”) But that doesn’t make even a blockbuster like “The Hunger Games,” which has sold more than 11 million copies in the United States since it came out in 2008, a sure box office hit.
“There were a lot of ways this could become a movie that didn’t honor what the book was about,” said one of the film’s producers, Nina Jacobson, who described herself as obsessed with the novel, and who optioned “The Hunger Games” immediately after reading it. She made a passionate case to the author, promising to respect the book’s fans without pandering to a teenage audience. But Ms. Jacobson assured Ms. Collins she wouldn’t dilute the story by aging the characters up or by glamorizing its violence. “I loved the book as an adult,” Ms. Jacobson said firmly. “I don’t think it’s a Y.A. novel.”
One possibility might have been to follow the “Harry Potter” model, which succeeded as perhaps the first middle-grade novel to bring in adults to both the reading experience and the movie theater. As Harry and his Hogwarts friends made their way into the upper grades, the stories themselves became darker and more sophisticated — decidedly young adult.
And “The Hunger Games” is very much a young-adult novel. The story takes place in a postapocalyptic version of North America called Panem, where 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen assumes the place of her younger sister in a televised battle to the death known as the Hunger Games. The games are retribution for an earlier rebellion against the Capitol, which starves and represses the 12 remaining districts under its rule. Every year 24 children, a boy and girl from each district, must murder one another until one winner remains, an event relentlessly promoted to the entire nation. The ensuing action is similarly relentless — brutal, bloody and heartbreaking.
Gary Ross, the film’s director, is no stranger to the pressures of major book-to-screen adaptations. He brought both “Seabiscuit,” Laura Hillenbrand’s adult nonfiction book, and “The Tale of Despereaux,” a children’s book by Kate DiCamillo, to film. He also brings rare experience with the book world to Hollywood. As the president of the Los Angeles Public Library in the early 1990s Mr. Ross oversaw a major expansion of its young adult collection. The parent of 16-year-old twins, he is steeped in the genre. And he is an author himself. His first children’s book, what he calls an “epic poem” called “Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind,” will be published in November.
He argues that “The Hunger Games” both embodies and transcends the young-adult genre. “Because teenagers are on the cusp of adulthood, they’re grappling with a lot of issues that in adult books are resolved but teenagers are still beginning to explore,” he said. “It’s that nascent element that makes ‘The Hunger Games’ feel so urgent. It’s innocent and aspirational and engaging.” And, he argued, it is no less so for an adult than for a teenager.
“I was enthralled,” he said. “Not many books on this scope have the kind of intimacy of ‘The Hunger Games.’ It was subtle but urgent, and Katniss Everdeen was complicated.”
Every year, thousands of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and techies migrate to Austin, Tex., for South by Southwest Interactive, a whirlwind week of discussions, panels, parties and breakfast tacos and the latest innovations from the start-up world and tech industry.
The circus kicks off on Friday. The New York Times will be on the ground, playing around with the newest apps and services, ducking in and out of panels (and possibly a Jay-Z concert) and reporting on the scene from our usual headquarters, Bits. I will be posting quick-hit reactions and photos to Twitter and Instagram. We’ll also be directing a sampling of our South By experiences to a new outlet: a New York Times SXSW Tumblr, as well as several Google Plus Hangout sessions that we will record from Austin and post on Bits over the course of the conference.
Follow all the action from the NYT Bits team HERE.
While much of the backlash reported in the American news media this week cited objections raised by development experts in the United States and Europe, several African bloggers and activists have objected to what they see as more fundamental problems. Among them, the possibility that the “Kony 2012″ campaign reinforces the old idea, once used to justify colonial exploitation, that Africans are helpless and need to be saved by Westerners.
Many African critics of the new effort to make Mr. Kony, the brutal leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a household name in the United States — five months after President Obama pleased Human Rights Watch and annoyed Rush Limbaugh by dispatching military advisers to aid in his capture — said it echoed the ideas in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” written in 1899 to urge Americans to embrace their imperial destiny and rule over the “new-caught, sullen peoples,” of the Philippines — even though the typical native was “half-devil and half-child.”
In a critique of the campaign posted on YouTube, Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan blogger, observed that the filmmaker behind the “Kony 2012″ viral video calling for action “plays so much on the idea that this war has been going on because millions of Americans” and other Westerners, “have been ignorant about it.”
Speaking directly to the camera, Ms. Kagumire added:
this is another video where I see an outsider trying to be a hero rescuing African children. We have seen these stories a lot in Ethiopia, celebrities coming in Somalia, you know, it does not end the problem. I think we need to have kind of sound, intelligent campaigns that are geared towards real policy shifts, rather than a very sensationalized story that is out to make one person cry, and at the end of the day, we forget about it.
I think it’s all about trying to make a difference, but how do you tell the story of Africans? It’s much more important what the story is, actually, because if you are showing me as voiceless, as hopeless… you shouldn’t be telling my story if you don’t believe that I also have the power to change what is going on. And this video seems to say that the power lies in America, and it does not lie with my government, it does not lie with local initiatives on the ground, that aspect is lacking. And this is the problem, it is furthering that narrative about Africans: totally unable to help themselves and needing outside help all the time.
Why 'John Carter' Is Loads Of Fun (Think Jason and the Argonauts)
Read the entire piece from Mark Hughes in Forbes HERE.
Let me just start by getting something off my chest, before I explain why you should see John Carter. If anyone feels too jaded to have any fun, or tries too hard to pretend they’re too “cool” to like anything anymore, they should just stop professionally reviewing movies. Why subject yourselves and your readers to the repetitive (and boring) sneering and jeering that dominates your film reviews? Why exert yourselves in this endless display of trying to find something, anything, to complain about as an excuse to ignore quality entertainment, as you rush to best one another in some silly game of “who can out-bash whose reviews?”
It seems you pick these little “negative narratives” in advance, without any regard for accuracy, and you all hop the bandwagon to be sure and parrot that narrative until it sounds like the same review over and over — and, if anyone cares to look closely, the same phrases and words lifted right from one another (like “rooting interest” and “flat/inexpressive”), making me wonder if reviewers are seriously getting paid even if they just read other people’s reviews and do some quick cut-and-pasting instead of watching the film themselves.
Which is all to say, dear readers, you should ignore most of the negative reviews you’ve heard about John Carter. The film merges portions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first John Carter novel A Princess of Mars and a few parts of the follow-up book The Gods of Mars, streamlined into a single narrative and with some updating and alteration in the adapting. It also reflects some of the look and pulpy feel of the 1970′s Marvel comic book series John Carter, Warlord of Mars.
But what it most reminds me of are those great classic matinee adventures like Jason and the Argonauts — big, bright adventures with wild monsters and brave armies, heroes and heroines who run and jump and kiss while we grin like kids at the sheer fun of it all. There was a time when not every movie tried to be some cliched “dark and gritty” version of itself, and when critics and audiences went to movies to laugh and cheer and have grand ol’ fun getting entertained by movies that worked hard to give you your buck’s worth for two hours.
And that’s what John Carter is — an old fashioned matinee adventure. It’s Tarzan and Flash Gordon, it’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Star Wars. It’s a mixture of barbarian-like ancient technology and weird heavy machinery, it’s swords and flying ships, it’s cowboys and space travel.
Without any hesitation, Jesus suddenly speaks to the man with the withered hand. “Stand up!” he says. “Stretch out your hand and come forward.” The man does a double-take. Me? Really? You’re really going to heal me? Jesus heals the man on the spot, thereby sealing his own fate with the Pharisees, who notify the Herodians of Jesus’ indiscretion — the same people who eventually have Jesus arrested and killed.
Listen, now that you have two good hands, what are your plans? Juggling? Piano? What is it you dream about doing, my friend?” In my imagination, they chat about this man’s long-awaited passion pursuits. And possibly the man then turns to Jesus and says, “Well, what are your dreams? I mean, you asked me about mine, and so I guess it’s only right that I ask you about yours.”
And against the backdrop of him resolving a crippling situation to the dismay of a few legalistic leaders, I imagine Jesus articulating his dream with words that are absolutely captivating to me: “You know, I dream that someday, places of worship will be filled with people who lay awake at night concerned about the human beings my Father created. Who care about broken bodies and broken souls and hopeless futures and hell-bound eternities. I dream of the day when people who gather in my name are so filled with the love of the Father that they go out and spread his love and extend healthy hands to withered hands — praying, coaching, and encouraging them to walk in fullness of life. I dream of worship centers filled with radically loving, outwardly focused, Christ-sharing people. That’s what I dream about.” I have to wonder, is this what you dream of too?
”—Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith by Bill Hybels (discussing Jesus healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath from Mark 3).
With 'Mouth To Snout' CPR, 'Mushing Mortician' Saves Iditarod Dog
This story broke Wednesday in the Anchorage Daily News, but it has too much going for it not to pass along.
Monday night while competing in Alaska’s Iditarod dog sled race, Scott Janssen’s 9-year-old husky Marshall collapsed.
"Janssen raced to the dog," the newspaper writes. "Marshall did not appear to be breathing."
"I know what death looks like, and he was gone. Nobody home," Janssen told the Daily News.
And when Janssen says he knows what death looks like, he means it. Janssen is “the mushing mortician.” He runs a funeral home in Anchorage.
But he started mouth-to-snout CPR. And after what may have been five minutes, Marshall “hacked a breath.” Janssen loaded him onto the sled. The 13 other dogs pulled the remaining 32 miles of that leg. Marshall was flown back to Anchorage. And as you can see in this video posted today by SB Nation, he seems to be doing very well.
According to the Iditarod’s website, Janssen is now in 40th place out of 63 mushers. This is his second Iditarod. He was 42nd out of 47 finishers last year, the Daily News writes.
As Janssen says with a laugh in this video posted by the newspaper, folks have said of his lifesaving act that in his profession, “you probably don’t do that very much.”
Why the Student Loan Situation Is Worse Than We Thought
The latest report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows how dire the financial situation has become for college students with outstanding loans.
According to numbers released by the bank this week, 1 in 4 borrowers with outstanding student loans had a past-due balance in the third quarter of 2011. Those figures are higher than most previous estimates because, in its recent calculations, the New York Fed deliberately left out borrowers who are temporarily exempt from making payments, like those still in school or within the usual six-month period after graduation when they’re not required to make payments.
By removing those borrowers from the equation, the percentage of past-due student loan balances sits at 27% of all outstanding student loans. The more conventional metric that includes those students is 14.6%.
That’s not all. The estimated student loan balance in the third quarter last year was $870 billion, which increased 2.1% from the previous quarter and is more than both Americans’ total credit card balance ($693 billion) and auto loan balance ($730 billion). About $580 billion of the total is owed by Americans who are younger than 40. The average balance sits at $23,300.
But maybe the most shocking statistic the New York Fed reported was that almost half of student loan borrowers are either deferring their student loan payments or are in forbearance. Almost 18% of borrowers had the same balance they had in the previous quarter, and 29% saw their overall balance increase thanks to either added student loans or accruing interest on the balance.
As you respond to the trending viral “Kony 2012” phenomena, stay smart and get informed. I’ve watched the video and it is clear the Invisible Children folks are well-intended. To balance the emotional appeal of the Kony 2012 campaign, take a moment to do some research and soul-searching. Here are two articles to look over; many more are on the web. Study, reflect and pray and make up your own mind on what to do. Don’t check your brain and just re-tweet what is happening.
I do not doubt for a second that those involved in KONY 2012 have great intentions, nor do I doubt for a second that Joseph Kony is a very evil man. But despite this, I’m strongly opposed to the KONY 2012 campaign.
KONY 2012 is the product of a group called Invisible Children, a controversial activist group and not-for-profit. They’ve released 11 films, most with an accompanying bracelet colour (KONY 2012 is fittingly red), all of which focus on Joseph Kony. When we buy merch from them, when we link to their video, when we put up posters linking to their website, we support the organization. I don’t think that’s a good thing, and I’mnotalone.
Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 31% went to their charity program (page 6)*. This is far from ideal, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited. But it goes way deeper than that.
Invisible Children (IC) swept the university campuses of America last year. The group wanted to mobilize college students to be aware of what happened in Uganda in recent years, the atrocious acts of Joseph Kony and his rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). I heard about Invisible Children for the first time when I was researching Uganda. I was immediately fascinated by their website. It’s very well done, but I noticed one thing. It lacked real information. If you haven’t seen the film or know nothing about their purpose, let me catch you up to speed with my version. Three clueless college kids head to Sudan with no plans and no idea about what they’re going to find. They’re looking for a “story”. They leave Sudan and make their way into Uganda. They find some bad stuff going on there. So they made a MTV-esque DVD about what was happening there. They wanted to draw attention to what they found.
Invisible Children was founded in 2004, with the film crew filming in Uganda in 2003. Watching Invisible Children is watching old news. Will watching it alert you to what has occurred in Uganda? Yes, but it will not let you know what is happening there today.
Invisible Children is too late. It has taught us that MTV type media can get university students interested in a world crisis, the problem is it took too much time. Night commuting, outlined as one of the major problems in northern Uganda by the film, is practically non-existent now. Why? Peace is coming to the region. According to UN reports, children who still are commuting at night are not doing it because of safety concerns, but because they want to enjoy the amenities that NGO’s are offering in the towns, like Gulu, Kitgum, and Lira. At the peak of the commuting, there were between 30,000 and 40,000 children commuting. Now, estimates are below 10,000.
There have been many inspired to do more than just watch a DVD and sleep downtown for a night. However, that’s where we run into another problem. This summer, IC had a bunch of college students in northern Uganda wasting time and money. There were almost 30 people who were in Uganda this summer connected with IC and even more who were inspired to change the world and fly around it. That also sounds somewhat heart warming. Self centered American kids are flying around the world to change it. The catch is they don’t know what they are doing or where they are going. They are blindly making a problem worse by throwing thousands of dollars at something they don’t understand.
When I traveled into Southern Sudan, you could sense something was different there. There is a greedy spirit there that you can feel. Foreign aid had ruined South Sudan. People do not want to work, they want handouts. An entire generation has been cared for by the UN and other NGO’s. They are fed, clothed, protected, and sent to school without having to do anything. I walked through the market there and saw UNICEF tarps and blankets for sale. I could also buy Samaritan’s Purse shoe-boxes, filled with all sorts of American goodies. I thought back how I thought it was a good idea for me to send a shoebox filled with soap, toothpaste, bouncy balls, and a washcloth to a faraway land. What I realize now is that sending things, whether money, objects, or people to a place that I have no information on is a bad idea.
The problems that Uganda faces today cannot be fixed by hundreds of uneducated Westerners going there to “help”. As you read this article, think about how much you really know about the political situations in Uganda and throughout Africa that contribute to long lasting problems.
THOSE brought up on Beatrix Potter, the author of “Squirrel Nutkin” and other long-loved nursery tales, may flinch; but Andrew Thornton, manager of the Budgens supermarket in the north London suburb of Crouch End, says sales of squirrel meat have soared since he started selling it in 2010.
The bushy-tailed tree-dwellers are just one category in a burgeoning market. Osgrow, a British-based firm, exports bison, crocodile (“ideal for barbecues”) and kudu meat (“juicy and low-fat”) to customers in countries where controls on wild meat are tighter. One such market is Germany, where hygiene laws forbid the eating of “cat and doglike flesh”. The German environment ministry confirms that this includes squirrel; the country’s media mock English rat-eaters. Australia sent quantities of kangaroo meat to Russia until an import ban in 2009, ostensibly on hygiene grounds (it is now being reconsidered).
Importing meat such as grouse can get around America’s fiddly laws on game farming. Zebra and wildebeest are popular too. Squirrel meat, though, is already an established delicacy in Ozark country and Tennessee; eating species farmed for fur (such as beaver) is also allowed.
No legal obstacle exists to eating the king of beasts, but roars of opposition prevented a restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, from selling lion flesh in tacos. The practicalities are daunting, too. Dave Arnold, an American campaigner, recommends braising it at 54° centigrade for fully 24 hours. The muscle content is so tough that the meat bunches up when it hits the pan; “Hold it down,” he advises.
Born Free USA, a lion-loving charity, decries the trade as a “cruel promotional gimmick”. Viva, a British animal-welfare group, believes that the squirrel-eating vogue represents a “wildlife massacre”.
Yet massacres are not always wrong. The “Save Our Squirrels” campaign urges diners to gobble the North American grey squirrel. Introduced into Britain in 1870, it has largely driven out the indigenous red squirrel (such as the fictional Nutkin). This “eat them to beat them” approach already helps keep down the population of lion fish, a rapacious stripy sea-beast which devours protected fish stocks off America’s west coast.
Wild meat is not always tasty. Mr Arnold says black bear is “bloody and a bit metallic”. Nor is it always healthy. Doctors in Kentucky say eating squirrel brains is linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (better known as mad-cow disease). Squirrels are now mainly sold headless. Some think those who eat them need their heads examined, too.
"I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10
Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power? Let affliction come-God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready-God has chosen me.
Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that he has “chosen” me. If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, he makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee. Thou art in poverty; but in that lovely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that he may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee.
Thou canst not see him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of his hands. Dost thou not hear his voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death he says, “Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” Remember that noble speech of Caesar: “Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune.” Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom he has chosen for his own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is his sure word of promise to his chosen ones in the “furnace of affliction.” Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say-
"Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,
I’ll follow where he goes.”