Rock Hall Finally Acknowledges Progressive Rock

Genesis the first progressive band to be nominated since Pink Floyd and Velvet Underground were inducted in 1996

Last year at this time, I bemoaned the fact that here in my town of Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has shown a glaring blind spot. While it has given honors to pioneers like Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis Presley and to pop acts like Billy Joel, The Bee Gees and Madonna, Progressive Rock acts like Rush, Yes, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, The Electric Light Orchestra, Genesis, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer have been shunned. Beyond Pink Floyd and The Velvet Underground, the closest the Hall gets to prog is Queen (who flirted with the genre) and Police drummer Stuart Copeland, who played in Curved Air.

But this year, the Hall may be finally turning the corner. Here is the list of nominees for 2010 induction:

The Chantels
Jimmy Cliff

The Hollies

LL Cool J
Darlene Love
Laura Nyro

Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Stooges
Donna Summer

Genesis is a leading band of the Progressive Rock genre. The classic line-up of Peter Gabriel on vocals, Tony Banks on keyboards, Mike Rutherford on bass, Steve Hackett on guitar, and Phil Collins on drums led the way for all the other acts.

The new issue of "Classic Rock Presents PROG" (available at Borders) lists the "Top 50 Prog Albums of All Time." Six of them were by Genesis.

Here's the top 10:

10. Porcupine Tree: In Absentia
9. Pink Floyd: The Wall
8. Yes: Relayer
7. Genesis: Foxtrot
6. King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King
5. Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here
4. Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
3. Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon
2. Yes: Close to the Edge
1. Genesis: Selling England by the Pound

Ballots will be sent to more than 500 voters, who will select artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the 25th Annual Induction Ceremony on March 15, 2010 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.


Religious Right Admits that Marriage is Hard

Lisa Miller of Newsweek writes this week in her Religion column that “Marriage is Hard—the religious right admits it.”

I am not a big fan of Lisa Miller; I think that Newsweek could do better with their Religion column, and I’d think that John Meacham (Newsweek’s Editor, and as far as I can tell, a Christian) would be more discerning to see that Miller is not as well-versed as she should be about evangelical Christianity.

But this week’s column landed a sharp jab into the gut. A jab that we should take and agree with. She writes,
"The (John) Ensign story continues to reverberate not because of its delicious best-friend's-girl plotline (for who among us is surprised anymore that politicians sleep around?), but because he said he stood for something else. He is a ‘family values’ Republican who voted for the impeachment of Bill Clinton and in 2004 lent his support to a constitutional amendment defining marriage, saying, ‘Marriage is an extremely important institution in this country, and protecting it is, in my mind, worth the extraordinary step of amending our Constitution.’ To which the obvious retort is: but not the ordinary step of protecting your wife and children from public humiliation? Ensign has become the latest example of what so many see as the failure of the right to retain any credibility on the marriage question."

While Barak Obama has what Focus on the Family’s president Jim Daly calls an exemplary family life, there have been some Republican conservatives in the Religious Right that have been exposed for less-than-stellar morals when it comes to their wedding vows.

While we Christians are making a lot of noise to “protect marriage” (especially by way of the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA]), the shenanigans of these elected officials keep us from being taken seriously.

Miller writes,
“When evangelicals are leading the charge in the marriage movement (and now, the anti-gay-marriage movement) arguing that sacred unions between one man and one woman are good for society because they're good for children, one would hope that they'd have worked out the kinks a little better than the rest of us.”

The article talks about how Focus on the Family, Rick Warren, and Gary Chapman are all being honest about how hard it is to keep a marriage healthy. Lisa Miller points to Billy Graham as the example that Christians (especially those in the spotlight) should emulate:
"He gave his ministry colleagues explicit instructions: never leave me alone in a room with a woman who is not my wife."

And so, with the scandals of John Ensign and Mark Sanford and preachers like Ted Haggard, Miller ends her piece with,

"Billy Graham, though politically astute, was rarely self-serving. He knew how to protect his children from his chaotic life—and he did."


Uproar: Obama Tells Muslim Nations that the United States is Not a “Christian Nation”

Obama Says the Same Thing as Washington and Adams, but the Religious Right Do Not Want to Acknowledge It

Many in the politically-motivated evangelical Religious Right have been very upset with Barack Obama’s attempts to build bridges with the Muslim world. Robert Knight’s column at Townhall.com (Obama Nation's Low View of Christianity) is an excellent example. It has been cited by a number of Religious Right websites and blogs. He wrote:
In Cairo, Obama quoted from the Koran, used his middle name of Hussein, and indicated that the United States and Muslim nations have the same commitment to tolerance and freedom. To fathom the absurdity, think about the possibility of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution springing from the pens of Islamic scholars Thomas al-Jefferson and James al-Madison. …

At the Compassion Forum at Messiah College in Pennsylvania on April 13, 2008, he said, “We are not just a Christian nation. We are a Jewish nation; we are a Buddhist nation; we are a Muslim nation; Hindu nation; and we are a nation of atheists and nonbelievers.”

On May 7, Obama declined to hold any White House event to mark the National Day of Prayer, a decision hailed by Barry Lynn’s hard left Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

In his eloquent commencement speech at Notre Dame on May 17, Obama sounded a conciliatory note, lamented, sort of, the abortions that he wants taxpayers to fund, and gave more clues that Christianity will move over and shrink before a universalist moral relativism:

“The size and scope of the challenges before us require that we remake [not “reform” or “restore,” but “remake”] our world to renew its promise; that we align our deepest values and commitments to the demands of a new age.

“Your generation must decide how to save God's creation from a changing climate that threatens to destroy it….. And we must find a way to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity -- diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief.”

If diversity in and of itself is god, where does that leave Jesus Christ – the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, the Alpha and the Omega, the Way, the Truth and the Life, through Whom all things were created?

Well, the Obama Nation might just ask Him to change his name to … Allah.

Robert Knight needs a history lesson.

And Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, and George Marsden are the perfect ones to provide it. Noll, Hatch, and Marsden are by-far the most respected American evangelical historians alive. Their book, The Search for Christian America is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the true history of the founding of the United States. Check out what they say about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and above all, our nation’s early declaration to Muslims as to whether or not we are a “Christian Nation.”

Here then is the "historical error": It is historically inaccurate and anachronistic to confuse, and virtually to equate, the thinking of the Declaration of Independence with a biblical world view, or with Reformation thinking, or with the idea of a Christian nation. In other words it is wrong to call for a return to "Christian America" on two counts: First, for theological reasons--because since the time of Christ there is no such thing as God's chosen nation; second, for historical reasons, as we have seen--because it is historically incorrect to regard the founding of America and the formulation of the founding documents as being Christian in their origins. Yet this error is one of the most powerful ideas of our day; and on this confusion rest many of the calls to make war on secular humanism and to “restore” the Bible as the sole basis for American law and government.

The Declaration of Independence, however, rests on a different view. It is based on an appeal to “self-evident” truths or “laws of nature and nature’s god.” The reference to God is vague and subordinated to natural laws that everyone should know through common sense. The Bible is not mentioned or alluded to. The Constitution of 1787 says even less concerning a deity, let alone Christianity or the Bible. The symbolism of the new government was equally secular. In fact, the United States was the first Western nation to omit explicit Christian symbolism, such as the cross, from its flag and other early national symbols.

Further incidental evidence of the founders’ views is the statement from a treaty with the Islamic nation of Tripoli in 1797. This treaty was negotiated under Washington, ratified by the Senate, and signed by President John Adams. The telling part is a description of religion in America:

“As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Musselmen [i.e., Muslims]…, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

Why does any of this make a difference? Does it really matter if people hold to this mistaken view that America is, or was, or could become a truly Christian nation? Yes, it does matter. It matters because, if we are going to respond effectively to relativistic secularism, then we need to base our response upon reality rather than error. This is not to deny the positive influence that Christianity has indeed had upon the American way of life. Rather, it is to take it all the more seriously so that we may respond to it all the more effectively. (p. 130-131)

So what we have in Obama is a return to the original intent of the founding of the nation. Washington and Adams wanted a nation where religion was free without governmental interference. And they were very explicit with the Muslim world that the peace can flourish because we will not enter any religious war because our nation was not founded "in any sense" on Christianity.

After the miscues of the previous administration, where the rest of the world wondered if America was indeed initiating a "holy war" on Islam, Obama's words are much needed.

And, with the U.S. government out of the way of the Christian message, we Christians can go about the work of reaching out with love to the Muslim world. Instead of supporting implications of a "holy war" on Islam, we Christians should do everything we can to make a clear and distant demarcation between American militarism and Christian grace and mercy. Nothing good comes when Muslims make a correlation between American military might and Christian missionary work.


Christian Ideas that Create a Better World

A great new resource for Christians seeking to transform the culture.

Fermi Project is now Q. They've launched a new website at QIdeas.com, which offers free access to a vast collection of 18-minute talks (from their previous Q gatherings), essays, podcasts and blog articles that will further expose you to important ideas and people advancing the common good in our world.

Q was birthed out of Gabe Lyons’ vision to see Christians, especially leaders, recover a vision for their historic responsibility to renew and restore cultures. Inspired by Chuck Colson’s statement, "Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals," Gabe set out to reintroduce Christians to what had seemed missing in recent decades from an American expression of Christian faithfulness; valuing both personal and cultural renewal, not one over the other. Re-educating Christians to this orthodox and unifying concept has become central to the vision of Q.

In 2007, the first Q gathering was hosted as an annual meeting place for a select group of young, innovative and influential leaders to wrestle with the biggest issues impacting the church. Since then Q, has become a central convening place where innovators, social entrepreneurs, entertainers, artists, church-shapers, futurists, scientists, educators, historians, environmentalists and everyday people doing extraordinary things can come together to learn and collaborate. Staging Q in major U.S. Cities that represent unique cultural contexts has been a priority of the Q experience. These annual gatherings have become a way for leaders to gain exposure to new ideas, cultures and one another. Following our first Q gathering at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Q has been hosted at Gotham Hall in Manhattan, the Paramount Theatre in Austin and in 2010, will take place in Chicago’s Civic Opera House April 28-30.

Prior to launching Q, Gabe served on the team that co-founded Catalyst, the largest gathering of young church leaders in America. After seven years of leading the Catalyst movement, he recognized that there was a deep need within the American church for heightened cultural exposure and understanding, Gospel-centered critical thinking, and active collaboration among church leaders who would chart the future of the church in the West.

To that end, in 2003, Gabe Lyons launched a non-profit organization, Fermi Project, and funded a ground-breaking Barna Research Study that reported the negative perceptions that 16-29 year olds have of Christians and the Church. Inspired by the research, Gabe joined with David Kinnaman and 27 other leading voices throughout the church to collaborate on the best selling book, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity...And Why It Matters. Q’s first book continues to provoke earnest conversation, questions of engagement and renewed action among Christians hungry to alter the negative perceptions and has paved the way for a second book engineered by Q releasing in Fall 2010.

As the interest in the content Q commissions and explores has grown, so has their leadership team’s commitment to ensure it’s accessibility. Now, Qideas.org has been launched to extend their reach to church and cultural leaders throughout the U.S. and around the world. Through scores of commissioned content in the form of talks, interviews and essays, they hope to support the church in its recovery and pioneering of new ways to embody the Gospel in our post-Christian setting.


Do you like salt?

Estimated health-care savings if Americans cut their average daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day, according to a new Rand Health Research study, published in American Journal of Health Promotion, Sept/Oct 2009.

Source: TIME Magazine, Sept 21, 2009