popular culture

popular culture

By Ken Chitwood July 17, 2014

Is the Slenderman phenomenon symptomatic of secular soul-searching in a culture robbed of religion, or a byproduct of bad religion? Or perhaps, as the author suggests, the Internet creation is one in a long line of legends filling our craving for a life imbued with mystery.

April 05, 2012

Jason Russell of Invisible Children

As a social media nerd and a nonprofit worker with a heart for Africa, the past month has been fascinating. In that time we have witnessed the rise of the “KONY 2012” campaign and the fall of the mastermind behind it, Jason Russell.

On March 5th, an organization named Invisible Children launched an online movement to make Joseph Kony, a Ugandan war criminal and rebel leader known for his use of child soldiers, famous. The goal was to bring so much attention to him that governments would work together to bring about his arrest. Invisible Children produced a sleek thirty-minute video presenting this idea. The video went viral, racking up more than 86 million views.

March 13, 2012

Bagong Pag-asaKids are now able to go to school because of available transportation. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Funds for Little Kids)

On January 20, 2012, I was invited to speak at TEDxMontpellier in southern France. There, I shared my experience in using social media to bring about social change in the Philippines — particularly about my experience in building up the Philippine Funds for Little Kids (or as it is popularly known, the Yellow Boat Project).

It’s been an exciting journey for us over the last 16 months since I first found out about the story of the kids who have to swim just to be able to get to school in the mangrove village of Layag-Layag in Zamboanga City. We gave the first yellow boat last March, and we have since expanded into three communities, namely Layag-Layag, Bgy Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City; Isla Mababoy, Bgy Guinhadap, Monreal, Masbate; and Lakewood, Zamboanga del Sur.

March 09, 2012

IMG_0928Dawn at 1189 Bedford Ave in Brooklyn, New York

My last two years in Brooklyn I felt fortunate to have the view I did. My windows faced east, and, although the blank wall of another building loomed large directly in front, to the right grew a luscious tree and above was an unobstructed view of sky. I often woke at dawn and would stand on the fire escape and soak in the morning, while it still felt clear and clean.

January 25, 2012

Grace Lee Boggs Addresses a Full Hull House CrowdGrace Lee Boggs speaks at Hull-House in Chicago. (photo: David Schalliol)

This past summer, I drove to Chicago with Grace Boggs and Myrtle Thompson of Feedom Freedom Growers for some book-signing events and radio interviews. During the four- to five-hour drive from Detroit, Myrtle and I shared stories about raising our children. Grace didn’t say much.

November 23, 2011

Jenny Ward McDonald at Her Family Headstone

Last fall the idea to visit the family graveyard came to mind for the first time in ages. Día de Los Muertos seemed like the perfect excuse to make the journey. I allowed life and distance to keep me away, however, and I never went.

I am not Latina, but I did develop a strong appreciation for Mexican culture while studying midwifery on the Texas/Mexico border. When I moved home to Georgia, I kept a piece of Mexico in my heart. Since the first idea to celebrate my ancestors Mexican-style entered my mind last year, the urge had only grown stronger. So as November approached this year, I resolved to do it. I invited my two sisters. One said she’d bake a casserole and we planned to picnic at the cemetery. On October 31st, they both cancelled on me. I was determined, however, and went anyway.

October 28, 2011

When we ban Halloween, do we deny our children the opportunity to name and face their fears, a time to face "the dark"? A guest post from Caroline Oakes.

September 23, 2011

Love“Love” by Christopher Brown (Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Wednesday night at 11:08, the state of Georgia executed Troy Davis, a man widely believed to be innocent. A last-minute delay went to the Supreme Court, where a stay of execution was denied.

Meanwhile in Texas, another man was executed. There was no widespread outcry for the life of Lawrence Brewer. His horrific crime was one of which he boasted, one in which there was no doubt of his guilt. He “deserved” to die.

August 14, 2011

Joan Watts' One Series (2008)On a gloriously sunny Memorial Day in 2008, I arrived at the Santa Fe studio of painter Joan Watts. I was there to interview her for a review in a local newspaper. She led me into her impressive studio where her newest paintings, in cool gradations of blue, purple, and gray, lined the warm, white walls. As we talked, a friendship based on our mutual experiences in the studio and on the meditation cushion began.

July 30, 2011

Harry Potter holds Dumbledore's Elder WandStill frame from “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

In addition to providing me with a least a decade’s worth of entertainment, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series has also given me a fresh and hopefully meaningful way to explain my not-always-easy-to explain religion to others. And given that practically half the world has either read or seen the last installment of this epic series, I feel comfortable doing so without fear of spoiling the ending.

But first a little background…

June 08, 2011

"But of course when is politics not a display of the follies of men?" ~Debra Dean Murphy on Abe Lincoln, recent sex scandals, and our loneliness.

April 29, 2011

Prince William Exchange Rings with Kate Middleton with Rowan Williams PresidingArchbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, presides over the wedding ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton as he gives her a ring. (photo: Dominic Lipinsk/Getty Images)

I didn’t get up at 4 a.m. today, but I do hope to catch a good bit of the wedding of William Windsor and Kate Middleton. I doubt I’ll have much trouble finding it replayed (and replayed and replayed) across the spectrum of cable and broadcast networks in the days and weeks to come.

April 07, 2011

As the world shrinks and technology empowers us, Jennifer Cobb says, we must not forget slavery can take many forms, including abdicating our responsibility of tikkun olam. What do you think of her assessment?

March 12, 2011

Sign for the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity

One day last fall, just after 3 a.m, I found myself on a country road in the high Ogden Valley near Huntsville, Utah. It was the first morning of a three-day retreat at the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, a Trappist-Cistercian monastery, and I was walking the half mile from the guest house to the church for Vigils, the first of seven times each day that the monks gather to chant and pray.

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February 12, 2011

Now that Pharaoh has been removed, Rose Aslan writes, the long process of cleaning up corruption and education begins — and, by the signs of it, Egypt's future couldn't look brighter.

December 25, 2010

Christmas Divided
photo: Stuart Pilbrow

It’s become customary this time of year to hear concerns expressed about the loss of Christmas spirit. Sometimes these fears are more about one’s cultural identity — and the sense that one’s group is losing power and influence — than they are about the actual meaning of Christmas. At other times, one hears something that sounds less reactionary and more like a thoughtful: Have our Christmas rituals lost some of their meaning? Have they become old and tired or do they pale in comparison to more novel inventions?

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December 01, 2010

Do Christmas ham and potato latkes go together? Can Santa visit as well as Judah Maccabee?" ˜guest contributor Adena Cohen-Bearak reflects on reconciling Chanukah and Christmas.

November 29, 2010

"Human Tapestry" by Marsha Glaziere

“Human Tapestry” is a three-dimensional painting running on and off the canvas that measures 6 feet high by 16 feet wide by 24 inches deep. The work is visual prospect for international peace and the continuation of life on our shared planet.

Eleven life-sized figures represent various countries and political ideologies. Each is draped in her own flag, her own nationalism, seemingly separate and distinct from that of any other country. While each flag is a symbol of a reciprocal system of language and customs of the people of an individual nation, it also serves to define geographic boundary lines on the earth.

The flag then becomes a symbol of separatism rather than alliance. Instead of recognizing our common human bonds and celebrating our universality, we see ourselves as isolated and often superior to one another.

January 24, 2008

Shiraz Janjua, Associate Producer

I spent many years absorbed in the world of comic books. Then, after a while, I got sick of the futility of the superhero genre, where nothing of significance ever happened to these heroes. We know that Superman is invulnerable, but most other characters have “character shields” too. You know this from Star Trek (which I also can’t stand): Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Ensign Smith descend onto a planet (you know what happens next). Nothing ever happened to Kirk or the others because they’re commercial properties, not dramatic ones. Commercial properties can’t die.