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Why You’ll See Ellen DeGeneres in Heaven

Conservative talk show host Michael Savage calls her, “Ellen DeGenerate.” I call Ellen DeGeneres “heaven-bound.”


When describing the actions of those who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus says,

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.

Simply put, Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who move with compassion. With mercy.

Jesus’ half-brother spoke clearly to what it means to be a “religious” person. James said, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” Seems pretty vague doesn’t it? Perhaps that’s on purpose.

What Churches Can Learn From Lost, Pt. 2

This is a guest post from Dave Sandell. This is the second post in a two-part series. Part one is here.

Creativity & Lost

Last night, Lost began its sixth and final season.  And this morning, thousands of blogs, message boards, newspapers, podcasts, water cooler talks and impromptu lunch breaks are springing up dissecting each second of the premiere.  Millions of people will obsess over every second and every shot.  As I said yesterday, the thought of a community of people responding that way to a sermon or a message from our church is exciting to me.  So, today we continue our look at what churches can learn from Lost‘s creative process.

Lost is a show that thrives on mysteries, mythologies and answers waiting to be discovered.  The creators of Lost seem to have a master plan, and viewers who obsess over every scene are often rewarded.  So, I’m tempted to develop a master plan for our church messages.  I’m tempted to obsess over each little word.

But what’s amazing about Lost is that it’s mostly accidental.  There was no masterplan from the very beginning. Everything that happened, happened organically.

A brief history of the creative process of Lost:


What Churches Can Learn From Lost, Pt. 1

This is a guest post from Dave Sandell. This is the first in a two-part series.

The Audience Experience

Tonight, Lost begins its final season, 18 hours that will consummate a television series that’s changed the way people think about the medium.  For the next two days, I want to look at two things churches can learn from Lost. Tomorrow, as we buzz about the ramifications of whatever we see tonight, we’ll discuss what we can learn from the creative process of the show. Today, I want to think about Lost‘s audience experience, and what it could mean for a church.


LOST, Henri Nouwen and Anchors

From Henri Nouwen’s classic, The Wounded Healer:

A man can keep his sanity and stay alive as long as there is at least one person who is waiting for him. The mind of a man can indeed rule his body even there is little health left. A dying mother can stay alive to see her son before she gives up the struggle, a soldier can prevent his mental and physical disintegration when he knows that his wife and children are waiting for him. But when “nothing and nobody” is waiting, there is no chance to survive in the struggle for life.

On the morning of the “LOST” season premiere, Henri Nouwen brings our attention to the “anchor.” Desmond had Penny as his anchor as he tumbled through space and time. It kept him sane and alive.

I think one of the most important questions we must answer as human beings is, “Who is my anchor?“ (And please, let us answer this question with the assumption that Christ, first and foremost, is our anchor. This is a given. In other words, it’s okay to have a real, flesh-and-blood person as your anchor.)

Anchors keep us sane. And alive. Both are beneficial for the optimal living experience.

What the Tonight Show Tension Means for Churches

I’m on a roll! I’ve been posting a lot on the Tonight Show debacle lately, mostly because of the sociological, generational and cultural dynamics at play. Simply put, it’s fascinating to watch.

What does the Conan v. Leno squabble mean for the future of North American churches? Consider the following:

  • Conan is younger. He represents the new generation–their choices, preferences, ideals and viewing habits. Think of Conan as the associate pastor who’s “in line” for the thrown.
  • Jay is older. He represents the older, established generation–their choices, preferences, ideals and viewing habits. Think of Jay as the senior pastor getting ready to retire.

Think of the NBC executive board as an elders board at a typical evangelical church. They see that the “new guy” isn’t doing as well as they would like, so they plot on how to bring back the old guy in order to “make things like they used to be.”

Mark my words, (more…)

What Pastors Can Learn From Steve Jobs

Most pastors are teachers, but not all teachers are pastors. Most pastors have some sort of regular public speaking routine built-in to there weekly/monthly schedule. As such, we have a lot to learn about human communication.

We have a lot to learn from others who communicate a message effectively and decisively.

One of those people to learn from is Steve Jobs. In fact, someone named Carmine Gallo even wrote a book on the presentation secrets of ol’ Steve. I haven’t read the book, but below is a list of some of the “secrets” unveiled by Gallo in a video at the end of this post.


Jay Leno – “I Don’t Want to See Conan Go”

Here’s betting Jay wishes he wouldn’t have stated the following in 2004. Eerie.

5 Lessons to Learn From the Leno/Conan Controversy

We wrote several months back on the transition of The Tonight Show from Jay Leno to Conan O’Brien. I commented on how gracious Jay was and how excited I was to see Conan host Tonight.

Looks like that excitement was a bit premature.

Chances are you’ve heard about the epic fail NBC has itself wrapped up in. It looks like it’s Jay v. Conan v. NBC and no one is going to come out on top.

As a casual observer, here are some things we can take away from this late night letdown:

5. Stick to the Script!

According to Conan himself, NBC never gave him a chance to “get the wheels moving.” Leno is proud of touting the fact that he entered as host to The Tonight Show as #1 and left as #1. What people don’t realize is that there was 17 years of work and ups-and-downs in between those two periods. Leno wasn’t #1 the whole way.

NBC had a plan devised to let Conan take over since 2004 and they only gave it seven months to develop. That’s a recipe for disaster. From Conan’s official statement: “After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.”

4. A Little Humility Goes a Long Way

People are calling Conan a “class act,” “humble” and characterize him as “taking the high road.” Meanwhile, people are calling Leno “unfunny,” “a corporate shill” and saying “he needs to go.” NBC is getting its lumps as well – one only needs to take a quick peek at the #NBCfail hashtag on Twitter to see what people really think. I don’t think Leno is to blame for this major snafu, but that’s not the perception of the public. And in instances like these, perception is everything.

3. People Will Notice

I think NBC was hoping no one would notice this decision. A kind of, “there’s nothing to see here” attitude has characterized the execs at NBC in all the media appearance I’ve witnessed. Unfortunately for them, people are noticing this. And they aren’t happy. They aren’t happy because people, A.) Don’t like the decision and, B.) Don’t like feeling as if someone is trying to hoodwink them. If you try and make sure no one notices, people will notice.

2. Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say!

In the same vein as #5, let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no! Now you have a major network on the brink of late night disaster because they did not say what they meant or mean what they said. No matter what happens from this point, Conan is gone from NBC. I don’t see any way for him to remain on that network given the way he’s been treated. Not only that, but you have the fates of Jimmy Fallon, Carson Daly and Jay Leno hanging in the balance. (Some say that Leno is getting ready to jump ship as well.)

NBC has tried to weasel around by saying that Conan will still be the host of Tonight, only it will air 30 minutes later. Nevermind the fact that Tonight has held the time slot for the entirety of its 60-year history! Technically he would still be the host of Tonight, but as Conan said in his now infamous statment, “The Tonight Show at [a later time] simply isn’t the Tonight Show.”

1. Never Underestimate the Power of Twitter

#TeamCoco, #TeamConan, #ProCoco, #SaveConan – if you read any of the tweets coming from these hashtags, one thing rings true: Twitter loves Conan! There are petitions being tweeted around, EECB’s (executive email carpet bombs), fan art and more, all for the love of our beloved Conan. It remains to be seen if this social media support will have any effect on the decisions made at 30 Rock (my guess: It won’t). Nevertheless, people are letting their voices be heard via Twitter.

Those are some of the lessons I’m walking away with.

What do you think about the Leno/Conan debacle?

The Self As a Brand

Seth Godin suggests that brands represent an ideal, not necessarily any tangible goods or services provided by the brand:

The great brands of our time are not about what they are. They are about what they represent.

What happens when a brand is a person (i.e. Sarah Palin) and not a thing (i.e. Apple Computers)? Is this a demoting of the person’s humanity? Or is it a brilliant move to realize the truth of all marketing–it all centers around someone? More from Seth:


The Death Rattle of Blockbuster

I remember my first experience renting a video from our local Blockbuster.

The excitement of peddling my bike as fast as I could, hoping that the movie I wanted (Teen Wolf Too) would be on the shelf.
The sense of satisfaction I got by triumphantly returning home and inserting the tape into our family VCR.
Watching Jason Bateman conquer his foes in the boxing ring as a half-boy, half-werewolf teen hero.
It was pure movie bliss.

Today I got this in my inbox:

I thought to myself, “It’s been a good run, Blockbuster. You’ll be bankrupt soon. So long.” It’s almost as if you can hear the BB executives saying, “PLEASE rent from us, please! We have shareholders to please! For crying out loud, just take a movie and give us whatever you feel like on your way out!”

Do you sense the desperation in this email? I can. Turns out I’m not the only one. Business Insider listed Blockbuster as one of the brands that won’t be around at the close of 2010. Sadly, I agree with them.

As the article points out, Blockbuster has lost their chance to be a formidable player in the new era of media distribution. Lack of innovation, old business models and plain being outplayed by the competition (Netflix, Redbox, Hulu, etc.) will make Blockbuster fade into the media peddling background.

This, of course, begs the question, What other brands won’t be around this time next year?

I have my own suspicions, but I’d like to hear what you think.

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