31.5.13

Song of the Week: "Booty City" by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

We were light on the posts this week, I know. One of our goals isn't to make this blog a high-pressure thing, and it's been a busy week on my end. But it's the weekend now, so shake your ass with Black Joe Lewis andThe Honeybears' performing my daughter's favorite song live in Portland. All will be right in the world. (Or, better yet, go buy it on iTunes.)


Speaking of Surreal Podcast Interviews...

Jordan's post of the Pete Holmes/Rob Bell interview made me feel like this would be equally worth mentioning. If you thought that was weird and interesting, you might want to hear this conversation between MxPx's (they're still around!) Mike Herrera and legendary Seattle DJ Marco Collins.

A Different Memorial Day Observance

Throughout my life, the body of my Memorial Day weekends have consisted of barbecued ribs and chicken, picnic dishes, yard work, and trips to the beach. Memorial Day pleasures were treasures to be hoarded like a camel reserves water. I lived off the three day weekend until a proper vacation could be had in June. 

What Memorial Day was not was a time to remember the fallen veterans who died in service to our country. I don't have reason or excuse other than to admit that my imagination was centered how I would coax my grill into yielding another perfect feast. 

This year I started Memorial Day differently. I joined a Crossfit gym this year and learned that every "box" in the country was doing the same workout to honor Lt. Micheal Murphy, a soldier who died in Afghanistan trying to find a clearing where he could relay his company's position. The workout goes like this: 

30.5.13

Trees Can Save Themselves

Over the past year and a half, I've become quite the conservationalist. By this, I mean that over the past year and a half I refused to mow my back yard.

I would like to say there was a particular reason behind this decision, but there really wasn't. It was just like many other areas of my life, where I took one look at the mess and thought, "Eh, surely somebody else will clean this crap up." But it never happens.

So this past weekend, with a little help from my father and a wise old man named Ryobi, I finally tackled the backyard, and with it, a brand new and incredibly horrifying truth:

Trees are scary as hell.

29.5.13

Let Them Eat Cake

Last week, we mentioned the two Oregon bakers who have refused to bake wedding cakes for gay couples. Well, Willamette Week (Portland's best and funniest alt weekly, which is an undebatable fact), with a bit of consulting from yours truly, wanted to see what cakes the two bakeries would make.
So last week five WW reporters called these two bakeries anonymously to get price quotes for other occasions frowned upon by some Christians. Surprisingly, the people who answered the phone at each bakery were quite willing to provide baked goods for celebrations of divorces, unmarried parents, stem-cell research, non-kosher barbecues and pagan solstice parties.

Kids Aren't Funny

Kids aren’t funny. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. They’re not at all funny. They don’t understand the concept of humour. They don’t understand comedic timing or sarcasm, and they certainly don’t understand their audience. Kids also never stop talking. This makes for some of the worst comedy on the planet.

23.5.13

Song of the Week: "Round Eye Blues" by Marah

Thank you for reading this week. We'll be back next week at some point. Enjoy your weekend, and remember all those who have given their lives, for freedom or otherwise. As a Memorial Day tribute to my fellow servicemen, here's Marah's "Round Eye Blues".

 

The Wes Anderson Bible Is Tremendous

Do yourself a favor and head over to WesAndersonBible.com. Spend some time there. Enjoy yourself. It's a fun little site.

Hollywood's Messiah Complex

This is how to do religious metaphors on film.
I should start with a spoiler warning. If you're not up to date on Star Trek or Game of Thrones, you might want to save this for later. Go ahead, I'll wait.

I went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness and mostly enjoyed it in a mindless, well-executed explosions and imaginative visual style sort of way. There were some clever touches for old school Star Trek fans as well, but one of these set off the inner critic in my head who had been sleeping comfortably until that point. By the time the credits rolled, I wanted to scream, "Enough with the Messiah metaphors already."

Two Different Drives

This past Tuesday, I made a relaxing drive across Pennsylvania. I left the house at 10 AM and wove my way  through the foothills of the Appalachian enjoying Starbucks, Miles Davis, David Crowder's Requiem, The Delta Saints, and a long Onyx Reserve.

I'm married and the father of three, so the time alone was refreshing. My house is a loud place. Everyone in my house plays at least one instrument, so in addition to all the normal household noises--the sibling spats and the how-was-your-day's, La Casa Shallenberger almost always features one rehearsal at any given moment: Vocals, piano, drums, or guitar. Often, rehearsal times overlap. My wife will be memorizing a Muddy Water's riff, while my middle schooler pounds out the theme music to Doctor Who on the piano. When Alex is home, he's usually attempting to recreate a Neil Peart drum solo, oblivious to the dissonance he's addin. Meanwhile, I sit on the couch with my laptop and try to focus on my writing while trying not to notice my anxiety-induced shedding of hair.

So, a seven hour car ride alone is heavenly.

22.5.13

Civil War In Portland Narrowly Averted

Vicious brother-against-brother violence was narrowly deterred here in Portland yesterday as Measure 26-151, which would've turned the city into dystopian police state, failed miserably.

Oh, sorry, I'm mistaken. It was about adding trace amounts of fluoride to Portland's water supply.

If You Listen to One Rob Bell Interview This Week, Make It This One

Seriously, go over and listen to the latest episode of Pete Holmes' "You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes". Rob Bell was the first non-comedian guest in the show's history, and it's just a really wonderful discussion. It turns out Holmes attended Gordon College (and doesn't have a lot of good to say), and wanted to be a youth pastor.

The whole thing is blowing me away. To quote Dan Gibson, "It's so surreal." If you are a fan of comedy and faith, you need to listen.

The Daddaist: Caillou

Oh, Caillou, you bald little freak, where do I begin?

As you can see at right, Caillou is an enthusiastic, Charlie Brown-headed imbecile. He whines constantly. He has a sister named Rosie who also whines constantly. He has parents who are always patient, which makes me wonder how deeply they've repressed emotions regarding their moronic children, and if at night they dream of hurling their hellspawn from a bridge only to wake up every morning and sadly realize it was all in their heads once again.

21.5.13

The Pop Cycle: Ke$ha, Anna Kendrick and Mariah Carey (But Really Miguel)

This week on The Pop Cycle, your weekly assessment of three songs on Top 40 radio: a pop singer second only to Julia Louis-Dreyfus on my "20 Year Old Crushes" list, an actress and her infernal cups, and the classiest lady in pop culture.

Why Reality is Overrated

Some liar with a French poodle he probably stole from a loving family
While reading the introduction to John Steinbeck's excellent travelogue Travels with Charley, I made the startling discovery that he probably made some stuff up. Jay Parini, the author of the introduction, noted some facts didn't match up then shrugged it off by saying "he's a true novelist." Scratching my head, I took to Facebook, noting that had the renowned author been born in another era, he would have become Oprah's worst enemy. (I couldn't find my status for a screen capture and I don't remember exactly what I said, so I'm kind of pulling a Steinbeck on this one. And that is probably the only time I can be accused of "pulling a Steinbeck", unless I someday own a poodle that was raised in France and name it after a relative.)

I spent a good part of my adult life hearing stories of the next literary liar who mislabeled fiction as memoir or journalism. And it seems the years have only broadened our insistence for complete and uncreative honesty. After reading about so called reality television, I can't help but think this has only gotten worse. If we're demanding television tell the truth, something must be off.

There are two important differences between Travels with Charley and the other works I mentioned above: storytelling and truth. Steinbeck was a master storyteller and crafted his tale around a central truth and a keen eye on his surroundings. Even if he took a plane around the country rather than traveling by truck and never talked to a single soul, that doesn't make the dialogue or observations in the book untrue. A skilled author can pull details out of his crack and invent a story; telling one that serves a deeper truth is not so easy. Maybe our worship of details at the expense of truth isn't new, but it's definitely more noticeable now. Here's hoping truth telling catches on. A friend at work who is a car guy asks me what I'm reading in the break room, and I usually lie, "It's a book about a truck." When he saw me reading Travels with Charley, he asked what it was about. "Actually, this one is about a truck." Of course, I was full of it.

20.5.13

My Pet Theory about The Voice

Having watched The Voice avidly since midway through Season 1, I've developed a few theories about the show and how it's progressed. I feel I can speak capably to these wild conjectures of mine for a few reasons: 1) I like music; 2) I like TV; 3) I hate reality TV; and 4) I somehow like this show.

There Are No Words to Describe These Words

I'm always on the lookout for valuable resources for my church. Maybe a small group study that complements an upcoming sermon series or a parenting class I think would connect. I subscribe to email lists to keep me current on new releases. Sometimes I find some gems, but just as often I find myself angry, depressed, or given to fits of laughter. My therapist says that if I stuff my feelings deep enough I'll become a Swedish Baptist. Or Lutheran. In the interest of avoiding a middle-aged conversion,  I thought I would share a press release with you from time to time and supply commentary.

17.5.13

Song of the Week

Have a blessed weekend. And listen to Japandroids's "House That Heaven Built" to have your cheeks blown off.

Please Stop "This."

I think it started a few weeks ago, but now everyone on my Facebook page and everyone I follow on Twitter is saying "This." and then including a link or pointing to a previous comment they agree with. I don't understand anything about this phenomenon. I know coming up with a pithy entry on every link you post isn't easy. Well, I mean, it's easy, but I can see why folks would get tired of so...much...thinking...

But for Pete's sake, come up with something. Just has to be a one-liner. Or a word! Just pick a random word. It doesn't even have to be associated. If you've written a post about gondolas, use the word "nectarine." I don't care. Anything is more clever than "This."

The Idiot Box: The Office Series Finale

The Office series finale took me by surprise last night. Maybe it's because, after over a year of hype, I wasn't sure the show's end would ever come. Maybe it's because all reports indicated Steve Carrell would not be returning. Maybe it's because the show, over its 7th and 8th seasons, was kind of a mess. Maybe it's because I'm always looking for the next thing.

But what a finale it was; in turns deeply moving, hilarious, and near perfectly executed. It deserved every minute of its 51 minute run time. Here are some of my thoughts on the show's last episode. (SPOILER ALERT. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU'VE SEEN THE EPISODE.)

I Don't Want This Stupid Vacuum


I am highly entertained by door-to-door salesmen. I know I shouldn't be, but I am. Maybe I get a kick out of their sales pitches, or maybe I just enjoy being polite. I don't know exactly why it is, but if somebody knocks on my door, I want to talk to them.

Now, the statistics of me actually buying something are significantly lower than me engaging in conversation. I can certainly say "no" to a salesman. I can say it a million times if it has to happen. But I'm just strangely fascinated by them. It's like a kid on a really crappy Christmas morning.

16.5.13

Note To Bakers: Stop Being Awful to People

Just to be clear, this is a cake topper.
No one knows why, but bakers across the western United States are getting pissed. They're pissed at customers and gay people and Gordon Ramsay and Yelp and Reddit. They have toiled ceaselessly, preparing treats to make us smile, but we are frowning, and they have had it up to HERE.

First, Amy Bouzaglo of Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona (because of course it's Scottsdale) stole the season finale of Kitchen Nightmares by making Gordon Ramsay seem more mild-mannered than a Canadian accountant, then proceeded to drape the internet with a fondant crafted from pure refined wrath. I'm not going to explain anymore. Just go here and read everything, then watch the embedded videos. I promise: you will be deeply entertained.

But more to the interests of this blog are the actions taken by Pam Regentin of Fleur Cakes in Hood River, Oregon...

A Brief Guide to Christian Rock Euphemisms

You = Jesus
He, Him = Jesus
"something more" = Jesus
"someone" = Jesus
"so much more" = Jesus
"more" = Jesus
"one" = Jesus
"the one" = Jesus
"the sun" = Jesus

The Best of YouTube: cdza

These people.
The other night I stayed up embarrassingly late watching YouTube videos. I don't normally share this type of information (because it happens far too often than it should), but today I must.

Have you stumbled across cdza yet? Let me introduce you to the best thing on the internet. Cdza is a musical collective that makes weird music video experiments. So far they have 22 videos up on their YouTube channel, and I have watched every one of them.

In addition to being stupidly talented (we're talking Broadway talented, here), the members of cdza are funny. Every video made me chuckle, clap or squeal with delight (I really get into my YouTube viewing, ok?). They're fans of silly outfits, uncomfortably long silences and Jurassic Park. They really really like Jurassic Park.

I was going to share my favourite with you, but I can't pick. They're all so good. Start with Epic Key Changes, then go to City Streets, Famous Musicians, to get an idea of who they are and what they do. Then check out the Ringtone Medley, Pianists in Paris and Aces of Bass to be stunned with musical talent. Then watch History of Wooing Men and History of Wooing Women to feel really awful about current pop music. And check out the whistling guy. And the girl who doesn't sing any lyrics.


15.5.13

Homebrewed Christianity CultureCast: Video Games, Basketball, and Oral Sex


Based on our title, we're trying to appeal to Maxim readers.
Our guest on the Homebrewed Christianity CultureCast this week is Drew Dixon, the editor-in-chief of GameChurch.com. Drew talks to us about video games, and their value within faith and culture.
Later, in the Echo Chamber, we discuss Jason Collins, the first NBA player to come out of the closet. Then we talk about Mark Driscoll, and his latest controversy, which involved talking about how blowjobs are biblical a few years ago. Don't ask me why it matters now. Did he say anything about men performing oral sex on women? He did not. Christian Piatt is annoyed by that, and Amy thinks Mark Driscoll is physically attractive, which was news to us.
We also touch on Bitcoin and some hippy protestors outside Amy’s church office, which this leads me to ask how Amy deals with annoying people being that she's a pastor and all. There are some vague Recommendations, as well, though you’ve probably heard them.
Listen with the player here, or subscribe on iTunes for free HERE.

Game of Fwones: Should I Read the Novels?

Let's say you're loving the third season of Game of Thrones, and you don't know how you're going to go another year plus without all these characters you know and love (assuming they survive the next three episodes). You're considering cracking open the books.

I know how you feel. This was how I felt after Season 1, and I devoured the series (or at least the five books that currently comprise the series) before Season 2 aired the following year.

I've been asked whether the books are worth reading a number of times, and I'm not convinced one way or the other. The best I can do is present a list of pros and cons, and you make the call.

The Daddaist: Busytown Mysteries

Game of Thrones is an hour-long fantasy epic where the main action takes place on two separate continents. Parks & Recreation is a 30 minute sitcom set in a small town in Indiana. (I promise, at some point I will talk about Busytown Mysteries. Bear with me.)

What those two shows do better than any other on television is world build. They start with a base and draw outward. Theoretically, the creator of a fictional world should know every single thing that has ever happened in that world. That minutiae doesn't have to be conveyed (though George R.R. Martin certainly tries), but it's vital to realistic character development.

14.5.13

How to Proselytize Without Even Trying

I am probably as much a fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's The Book of Mormon as a guy can be without seeing the play or buying the album. I enjoy the songs on YouTube, and it's still on my list of shows to go see. I have reason for pause, though, after reading the story of Liza Morong.

Portland Wins AGAIN

Hey, I know that place!
Portland is a great city, and with the weather we've been having, it might feasibly be the best city. But did you know we're also the least Christian city in the United States? It's true, according to this HuffPo article. I'm strangely pleased by this news. BURN ALL THE CROSSES IN CELEBRATION!!!

What I like most of all is they used a photo of Old Laurelhurst Church, which is not really a church anymore, but did, for many years, house Imago Dei Community. Those were the Imago days.

The lady who rented out the building was mean, too. I feel like I can say that now.

The most Christian city was Salt Lake City, which I guess makes the actual most Christian city Birmingham, Alabama. (Just kidding, Mormons! Just joshin' the new guy.)

The Pop Cycle - Emeli Sande, Maroon 5, and Macklemore

I am a bearded, early 30s Portlander who loves listening to pop radio. This column is about the best and the worst of that medium. This column is not ironic. This week, it's Emeli Sande, Maroon 5, an a guy from Seattle. I will try not to hold this against him.

Serious Questions for Female Bodybuilders

The most terrifying way to start off a blog post, ever. I'm so sorry.
Hey ladies. I see you and your big muscles and spray tans. You make me so curious. Mind if I ask you some questions?

13.5.13

Have You Heard About This New Show Called "Arrested Development"?

Here's a trailer for it. Looks good! But who are these people? And why are those cousins living together? I just assumed it was about the early '90s hip hop group, but these people are white!

 

Game of Fwones: The Bear and the Maiden Fair

While I loved the first two seasons of Game of Thrones, I definitely did not consider it The Best Show on Television, an arbitrary award that has, over the last decade, belonged to The Sopranos, Arrested Development, The Wire, and Breaking Bad, respectively. In fact, after last season, GoT would've ranked fourth behind Breaking Bad, Louie, and Mad Men. There were a number of factors behind this, from the fact I already knew the storyline to the way the show has a tendency to wedge nudity and sex in where it's not quite necessary.

Right now, though, Game of Thrones is the best show on television, hands down, and it's all due to a jaw-dropping third season that has surpassed all expectations. (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. I won't be giving away anything from the books, though.)

We Need a Christian Razzies

Oh hey, Pat Robertson is at it again. Something, something gays-are-like-rapists zzzzzzzzz. I’m sorry. It’s just that there’s only so many times you can get outraged over the same words coming out of this man’s mouth. Obviously, all attempts to correct his erroneous, hateful thinking haven’t worked. Nor have they worked for the numerous other Christians like him, who have become known more for the outrage they inspire, than anything else.

That’s why I propose another idea. Let’s stop lecturing, blogging, and angrily tweeting at them.

Let’s nominate them for awards.

10.5.13

Star Wars Kid and Who We Are On the Internet

It's the end of our first week back, and I want to thank everyone for reading The Burnsider's return.

You may have noticed that our tone here is a little more aggressive than the average Christian blog. That's by design. Over the last few years I haven't been blogging, I've been heavily influenced by the writing at Gawker, Deadspin, and The AV Club, my three favorite sites to read. The candor and talent I find on those pages is something I deeply admire, and I find those elements lacking in much of the Christian blogosphere.

Song of the Week

Well, that's one work week down. We've got one more post still to go today, so look for that in an hour. We'll be slowing down the pace a bit next week, but it just feels good to be back. In the meantime, here's some Stevie Winwood.

Brian Regan Ruined My Life

The face of evil
When I was a freshman in college, Brian Regan destroyed my confidence.

I was a bright eyed youngster with great hair who thought the world was entirely open to me. Then, all of that came crashing down thanks to a comedian I had never heard of who was at the top of his game.

Here's a Sister Doing Things Right

No one has been willing to take the remains of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombing suspect. Four cemeteries in three states refused to bury him. Then Martha Mullen, a counselor in Richmond, Virginia, came along.
"Jesus says [to] love our enemies," Mullen, who is a graduate of Ohio's United Theological Seminary, told the Boston Globe today. "So I was sitting in Starbucks and thought, maybe I’m the one person who needs to do something."
 Good on ya, Martha.

Sandwich Time - The Pork Belly Cubano

This is a Pork Belly Cubano from Bunk Sandwiches. It's beautiful, I know. With carmelized pork belly, toothsome ham, yellow mustard and house made pickles, Bunk's cubano is a bit heavy for me, but those first 14 bites are heaven on earth.



About That Social Justice Joke I Made...

Yesterday, in a post about American Giant sweatshirts, I mentioned buying local as my last priority in clothes buying. It matters, I said, but "If I can order a better product from halfway around the world, I'll do it, social justice be damned. (Sorry.)"

HAHAHA!!! Funny joke, right?

Well, I wrote that before I had wrapped my mind around the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. And then last night I read the death toll had reached 1,050. 1,050.

Jenny McCarthy Suffers Blow In Her Battle Against Reason


Last month, researchers at the Center for Disease Control released a study in the Journal of Pediatrics which reached the unsurprising conclusion that exposure to vaccine antibodies does not lead to a higher risk in children developing autism.

"But what about Jenny McCarthy's son!?!" a million middle-class women with bachelors degrees just cried out in unison.*

9.5.13

Justin Bieber Slowed Down Is Actually Pretty Great


Because everyone's mind should be blown at some point during the day, here is a 35-minute long video of Justin Bieber's "U Smile" slowed down 800 times. I know you're already moving on to the next piece of internetry, but strap on some headphones, press play, and go back to work/browsing. I've listened to this all the way through, and I promise you, it is awesome, especially if you're into Sigur Ros or Brian Eno.

If you're still not convinced, read Sean O'Neal's post about the song at The AV Club, and stop being so pig-headed.

Driscoll Being Driscoll

Another week, another case of Mark Driscoll overcompensating.

This week, everyone's favorite Big Grown Up Boy was at Catalyst Dallas.  (Catalyst and Dallas? SWOON.) Apparently Mark said he drives an SUV because he knows "who made the environment and He’s coming back and going to burn it all up.” Then, just for good measure, he made fun of minivans. 

How Religious Is Your State?


USA TODAY released a visual representation of a recent Pew Foundation study. To discover how the fine folk in your home state self-identify religiously and whether your  official state bird accepted Jesus into her heart, just roll your cursor around.

Burnside Endorses: American Giant Hooded Sweatshirt

Damn, it feels good to wear a sweatshirt.
We had this column years ago called Burnside Endorses, and it was basically just a way for me to talk about products I liked without getting paid money. It had stuff like Nerds candy and linen pants and Viso, a Portland-based drink company that got rid of my favorite flavor and now sucks.

It's not a great column idea, but it was a well I could go back to time and time again for "inspiration". And I'm going back to it now.

Last winter, my friend sent me this Slate article titled "This is the Greatest Hoodie Ever Made" and I don't recall exactly, but I'm pretty sure I got a boner.

Muslims: The Boogeymen Man Of Christian Fiction?

I recently taught the Muslim, Christians, and Jesus course with my friend Rachel. One of the many strengths of the class was how it caused me to empathize with how difficult it would be to be Muslim in the West and endure the isolation caused by all of our fear and stereotypes.

8.5.13

As I Lay Dying Lead Singer Arrested in Murder For Hire Plot

Well, this is certainly not good news. ABC News is reporting Tim Lambesis, better known as the lead singer of As I Lay Dying, was arrested in Oceanside, California, for attempting to hire a hitman. The target was Lambesis' estranged ex-wife.

So. Maybe we go back and watch that David Foster Wallace video one more time today.

Stop Everything and Watch This Immediately

With the passing of Dallas Willard, we already mentioned one of Dan Gibson's entries in Besides the Bible today. But then Gawker posted this newly filmed adaptation of This Is Water, a commencement speech David Foster Wallace delivered at Kenyon College in 2005. Among DFW's brilliant body of work, we decided to include in our list of books every Christian should read.

If you absorb only 10 minutes of internet today, make it this video. Or read the book. It's one of the most beautiful examinations of life and inspiring calls to empathy you will ever experience.
 

RIP, Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard, influential author, teacher and thinker, passed away today after a brief fight with cancer, according to Christianity Today

His book, The Divine Conspiracy, was one of the books we included in Besides the Bible, but with my short essay, I was hoping to pay tribute to Willard's insistence on including Christian thought in the academic marketplace and bringing reasoning into Christian circles. If you haven't read his work, you really should. 


Dallas Willard was 77. 


The essay is after the jump.

The Daddaist: Love You Forever

Maybe you want to have kids. Maybe you have kids already. Maybe you know some kids. Chances are, you'll one day cross paths with children's entertainment. Like anything else, there's good and there's bad. For every Where the Wild Things Are, there's Dora the Explorer. I hope to discuss both the good and the bad in this feature. But the bad is a lot more fun, so let's start there.

Love You Forever
Written by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Sheila McGraw

This thing starts out reasonably enough. The cover, which features a boy making a mess, may seem familiar. This is likely because Love You Forever is famous. Here's what Maria Shriver allegedly wrote about the book for O Magazine in 2001:

7.5.13

This Is What Privileged Means

Guys, S'up. If you're like me, you get a little tired of hearing how easy your life is and how privileged you are ad nauseum. Hey, we're scratching and clawing out a living just like anyone else, right?

When I have moments like those, I turn to social media for enlightenment.

The Pop Cycle - Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and the Biebs

A few years ago, I started listening to pop radio in my car. I don't recall what song it was -- possibly Nicki Minaj's "Superbass" -- but I realized I liked what I was hearing. And, in fact, I liked what I was hearing even more than what I heard on alt-rock stations (which, in Phoenix, was a lot of Stone Temple Pilots). 

(I know about NPR, and I listen extensively, but a man can't listen to NPR all the time, particularly when Diane Rehm or Garrison Keillor are on.)

Since then, I have come to enjoy monitoring the pop music landscape. I like judging songs in a vacuum, free of societal constraints that claim a bearded Portlander dad can't appreciate a Taylor Swift tune on occasion. So, this column will talk about pop music. This column is not ironic. This week: Swift, Bieber, and the best song on pop radio.

Here's Something Fun to Talk About...

Why the Etch-a-Sketch?
Oh, hey, remember abortion? I know, I know, it's probably not something you want to talk about. Me neither. But there were two terrific bits of writing this week that tackled a notoriously thorny subject.

First, Rachel Held Evans published a blog post titled Why Progressive Christians Should Care About Abortion. Then, yesterday, The Daily Beast posted "Abortion Rights Community Has Become the NRA of the Left". Both were reactions to the Kermit Gosnell case.

Love Thy Scary Neighbour

A typical depiction of neighbo(u)rs.
The first thing that pops into my head when I hear “love thy neighbour” is that one Veggietales song (you know the one where they wear the pots on their heads?), then quickly followed by, “Oh no. Please don’t make me.”

I want to love my neighbours, I really do. But my neighbours are exceptionally scary.

6.5.13

Bitcoin: Satan’s Currency? Plus Doritos Tacos & the Best Review of a Vegan Strip Club You'll Ever Hear


(NOTE: I've been recording a weekly podcast with writer Christian Piatt and his wife, Reverend Amy Piatt. The podcast is linked to Homebrewed Christianity, a wildly entertaining theology podcast. Our show focuses more on pop culture. I'll be posting links to the weekly podcast here. You can subscribe to Homebrewed Christianity CultureCast on iTunes, Stitcher, and most anywhere else where you can subscribe to podcasts.)
On this week's Homebrewed Christianity CultureCast...
Is Bitcoin the one-world currency mentioned in the Book of Revelation? Are vegan strip clubs as good as advertised? Are Doritos Locos Tacos delicious? Is Amy Piatt having a bad week?

Even the US Army Isn't Into Tanks, But Who Cares?


Years ago, during a drill weekend for the National Guard, myself and some other soldiers were tasked with driving a convoy of Humvees down to the coast. Once we got there, we were to immediately drive back. Since Humvees aren't especially fast, this took a little over four hours. I slept the whole way back. You'd be surprised how easy it is to fall asleep in a Humvee.

The question you may be asking as a taxpayer is, "Why?" Why drive all that way simply to drive back?

The Real Reason We Resurrected the Blog in a Single Image