Archive for April, 2008

A Graphing Of Tim’s Bloggings

Over the last few months, a strange pattern has developed on the blog of my friend Uncle Tim. It’s sad, really, to see how a once prolific writer has simply disappeared from the blogging world.

Unfortunately, Tim is in denial of all this. He feels that the blogging world has up and left him – that no one out there is writing anymore, when in fact, he’s the one who has forgotten how to turn his computer on. Posts have been pretty minimal from Uncle Tim the last few months, and I miss his gluttonous musings on food and his incessant whining about cats.

I took it upon myself to demonstrate graphically how Tim’s bloggings have changed over time, and the visual impact is startling:

So Tim… if you’re out there, somewhere, reading this… come back.Post about how you’ve been binging on chocolate and beer over the the last two weeks since the Biggest Loser finale aired, and how you’re just not going to be able to control yourself until next season. Post about how you’ve somehow conned society into buying plastic Frisbees from you in order to make a living. Post about how you kidnapped your neighbor kid’s cat last week and taunted it with a pen light until 3:00 in the morning by making it run off the edge of your balcony.

A Concerned Subscriber

azariah southworth comes out

The always punctual cultural trail-mix that is Perez Hilton reported today that “Azariah Southworth, host of the popular Christian youth show The Remix has come out of the closet and announced he is gay.”

First let me say I have never watched the show before, so I know nothing about the program or Azariah. That aside, the show has a significant impact with weekly viewership of 200,000 and a reach of 128 million homes. Here’s what he had to say in a statement to the press:

“This has been a long time coming. I’m in a place where I’m at peace with my faith, friends, family and more importantly myself. I know this will end my career in Christian television, but I must now live my life openly and honestly with everyone… I know I will be cut off from many within the Christian community, and if so, then they didn’t get the point of the life of Christ. I believe by me living my life honestly and authentically now, I am able to be a better person and a better Christian.”

The response on Perez Hilton has been interesting. The comments fall into basically one of three categories:

  1. Overwhelming support and votes of great courage for coming out
  2. Statements that Christians are all homophobic hypocritical bigots
  3. That the photo on the website makes Azariah look like he has a huge head

All of this leaves me really frustrated and quite conflicted. As a Christian I find it incredibly unfortunate that the general perception of Christianity in America is that we are hypocrites and homophobes and unloving of people… basically everything that our faith claims we are not. I hate that Azariah’s initial assumption has to be that he will be cut off from the Christian community. And undoubtedly he will.

I’m not going to disagree with the perception. It’s an unfortunate reality, not unfounded and largely the fault of a segmented and disoriented Christian church.

Christians have a huge problem with hypocrisy. We are viewed as a body of people who teach one thing, yet say and do another. We talk about sin, we condemn sin… and then we go out and do sinful things. Our credibility is minuscule and waning, and it leaves the world at large utterly confusd.

So now what?

There is a profound sense of hate towards Christianity, and it’s evidenced by people who commented on the post at Perez Hilton. People that have been segmented, written off, ostracized, and condemned by the Church and as a result have given up on it. I’m not sure how to respond to this hate. Also I think there are people out there who genuinely want to extend this discussion – about life and faith and belief – who have questions and are seeking answers, but their curiosity is overpowered by the voices of anger that seem to take control on topics like this.

So I’ll end this with a vague and open-ended question, and see where we go from there… What do you think?

the bible: now in color

So what are you looking at?

I will tell you. And once I do, you will be absolutely fascinated by what you see.

What we’ve got above is a graphical representation of the Bible that was constructed by a Lutheran pastor and Chris Harrison, a doctoral student studying Human Computer Interactions. Together they took a list of over 63,000 cross-references in the Bible and displayed them graphically.

Across the bottom of the chart you see a bunch of vertical gray lines – each of these individual lines represents a chapter of the Bible from Genesis 1 on the left to Revelation 22 on the right. Each arc in the graph represents a unique cross reference. For instance, a passage about ‘God’ in Genesis 1:1 is linked with an orange arc to a passage about ‘God’ in Revelation 22:21. Likewise, a passage about a ‘Dove’ in Mark 1:10 is linked with a blue arc to a passage about a ‘Dove’ in John 2:16. The color of the arc is directly dependent on the “distance” of the cross reference, with short references being blue or violet, and longer references being green or orange – this creates the rainbow effect you see.

To truly appreciate this you need to take a look at this high resolution version.

Now What?
The first time I saw this it just really struck me. There’s something incredibly complex, yet strangely simple about this graph.

Look at the symmetry. I think it’s amazing how a document that spans some 2000 years maintains the same ideas and themes throughout. There’s consistency and everything is interrelated.

But also look at how you can pick out sections of the Bible you’re familiar with just by glancing at the graph. I can see three sections pop out based on the groupings of arcs – the Gospels & Letters on the right third of the graph, the History books on the left third, and the wisdom literature throughout the middle.

The books of the Prophets are going to fall slightly right of center – the purple arcs that you see branching off to the right from these books are literally the prophecies about the Messiah being fulfilled in the Gospels.

The letter to the Hebrews is traditionally thought to be written towards a Jewish Christian audience because of it’s strong emphasis on ancient traditions and themes. Now you’ll have to look at the hi-res version for this… notice how slightly in from the far right side of the graph an array of green and yellow arcs drop down, seemingly out of nowhere. This is the author of Hebrews explaining the gospel story in a language a Jew would understand – by referencing the ancient texts and speaking directly to those who believe in the God of Moses, Isaac, and Jacob.

And So…
There you go… I don’t know what you’ll pull from this, but this chart continues to amaze me each time I look at it. At the very least hopefully it will be a greater appreciation for the most influential and powerful text of all time.

My thanks to Jon for first sharing this chart with me a few months back. And if this sort of thing piques your curiosity you need to go check out some of the other visualizations Chris Harrison has posted on his website. Fascinating stuff.

embrace: this new day

I would say save the best until last, but after all, these are some of my favorite albums that I’ve been featuring this week, so it would be unfair to make that distinction.

That said, I’m extremely happy to share with you This New Day by Embrace. Why this album hasn’t been released in the States is beyond me. I was first turned on to Embrace about four years ago with their international debut Out Of Nothing, featuring among other things a co-write with Coldplay front man Chris Martin. The follow-up success of This New Day actually earned the band the honor of performing “World At Your Feet”, England’s Official 2006 World Cup Song. This New Day is everything I love about Brit rock: big, epic, glorious, worthy of a soccer stadium.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the music this week – glad I could share with you some of my favorite artists and albums!

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glen hansard & marketa irglova: the swell season

It’s a sad and rainy day in Nashville, and this is the right music for it.

A couple notes on this album: This is a side project for Glen Hansard who is the lead singer for an Ireland-based band called The Frames. He’s been getting a ton of publicity recently because of his work as lead actor and musician on the independent film Once – a brilliant modern day musical about a chance encounter between a guy and a girl.

Here’s what I need you to do:

  • Listen to Track 3 below, “Falling Slowly”
  • If you like the song, go rent Once and watch it this weekend without exception
  • If you like the movie, come back here and listen to the album The Cost by The Frames

Finally, want to give a quick shout-out to friends who lost their jobs yesterday. I’m sorry… it sucks… I hate it very much, and we all miss you.

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the arcade fire: neon bible

Continuing the series this week of “Five favorite albums that aren’t on Napster, but are available on Imeem”, this is Neon Bible from The Arcade Fire. I’m afraid this is as close to America as we’re going to come this week… and we’ll have to settle with Canadia.

This band is huge, literally. Seven permanent members and an additional six that travel with the band on the road. I came across them on NPT one night performing on Austin City Limits… what an incredible live show. These guys are true musicians, and they know their stuff well. High points of the album… well, of course “Keep The Car Running” and then “No Cars Go”. Basically they need to continue writing songs about cars. Oh, and yes, that’s a real pipe organ on “Intervention”.

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british sea power: do you like rock music?

Epic, sweeping, and decidedly British… what’s not to like about British Sea Power‘s third album Do You Like Rock Music? Welcome to album #2 in my series of “Five favorite albums that aren’t available on Napster, but are available on Imeem”.

Admittedly, critics didn’t care for this album much, comparing their epic attempts to 2001-era U2. In their defense, I really don’t feel that this record feels forced in arena-rock attempts. While U2 has ended up sounding relatively formulaic in recent releases with predictable moments of sonic largeness, Do You Like Rock Music? is seamless and seems to flows naturally. I don’t pick up on any absurd attempts to simulate a yellow-sunglasses encased uber-cartoonish rock star.

Form your own opinion I guess, but if you like this album you definitely need to check our their previous release as well, Open Season, which as luck would have it, is available on Napster.

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