Jonas Brothers, Christian brothers

My kids watch a lot of stuff on the Disney Channel, so I’ve been aware of the Jonas Brothers for a while.

Three sweet kids who sing sweet pop songs.

They have apparently became a Pop Culture Phenomenon, and are now making surprise visits to movie theaters where their 3D concert film is showing.

They popped up at the Palisades Center on Saturday, causing young girls to swoon.

They also did a quickie press conference at the Westchester County Airport. And they were close to their hometown of Wyckoff, N.J.

I feel it is my duty to note that the Jonas Brothers are committed evangelical Christians.

Their dad, Kevin, is a former minister who managed Christian music groups (and now manages his sons).

The brothers wear “purity rings” that symbolize their commitment to wait for their wedding nights.

They are not an overt “Christian band,” but their faith is apparently right there. Joe Jonas: “Even songs we write today, if you really listen to the lyrics, it can be about love songs, but it’s also about our relationship with God. It’s simple. We’re Christian guys in a rock ‘n’ roll band.”

A review of their most recent CD by Christian Music Today summed up:

*****

Like most albums, A Little Bit Longer will depend on the listener’s tolerance of teen pop conventions, both musical and lyrical. Don’t go into this album looking for deep Christian truths, because they’re not here. But those who appreciate pop for pop’s sake may be pleasantly surprised—tweens, teens, and even adults. Honor is due to the Jonas Brothers because these guys have come a long way in a short time. But it’s all too clear where they need to grow next. Imagine how much better the Jonas Brothers would be if they applied their fun sound to something more meaningful, and perhaps even spiritual.

*****

Joanne Brokaw, who writes about Christian entertainment, has her doubts about how the Jonas Bros are marketing themselves:

*****

And the last thing I hate is that their heart throb, teen idol status sends mixed messages about their stance on purity. I love that the guys wear purity rings and I believe they believe in what the rings stand for. But when you see them posing seductively on the cover of Rolling Stone (really, who thought that was cute?) and talking about their first kiss in Tiger Beat (or Bop or PopStar or whatever teen magazine you pick up), without an explanation of what purity really means, there’s the danger that what they share with their peers is simply a message that says, “Wear a purity ring but still be consumed with lusting after hot guys.”

*****

Jonas Brothers. Christians. So noted.

His ‘Last Lecture’ still inspires

And Beliefnet’s 2008 Most Inspiring Person of the Year is…Randy Pausch, the professor who delivered his now-famous “Last Lecture” talk on Sept. 18, 2007, after learning that he had terminal pancreatic cancer.

I haven’t read the book version of his talk, although it’s in my house somewhere. Maybe I’ll start it this weekend…

You can watch the lecture from one of several links available here.

Pausch’s own website is still up here. At some point, he wrote this message:

I am flattered and embarassed by all the recent attention to my “Last Lecture.” I am told that, including abridged versions, over six million people have viewed the lecture online. The lecture really was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful. But rest assured; I’m hardly unique. Send your kids to Carnegie Mellon and the other professors here will teach them valuable life lessons long after I’m gone.

The other Beliefnet finalists were Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman, for the way he dealt with the death of a child, and Boy Scouts from Iowa’s Little Sioux Scout Ranch, who came to the rescue of the community after a tornado ripped through their camp site.

Why was Pausch chosen? Beliefnet says:

Pausch was selected because of his huge, far-reaching impact and because even after his death he continues to inspire legions of viewers. Pausch’s lecture, delivered for a small audience at Carnegie Mellon University where he was a professor of computer science, became an internet phenomenon. He reached more people than he ever dreamed of. People uploaded his words of wisdom and inspiring tips for life and forwarded them to friends. By 2008, his inspiration had reached almost 20 million people, His message was simple and powerful: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

‘Yes, we are all Chabadniks today’

I just came across a short but engaging column by Beliefnet’s Michael Kress about what those Chabad Lubavitch folks were doing in Mumbai, anyway. (The AP picture is of a funeral procession today near Tel Aviv.)

Kress explains:

Their mission is to bring Jews to Judaism; that is, to turn unaffiliated and non-Orthodox Jews into Orthodox Jews, or at least introduce to their lives some elements of Orthodox practice.

Most often, however, that mission is lived through keeping small Jewish communities alive and providing for Jews — residents and travelers — in far-flung places around the globe. Thousands of young Jewish families from Chabad spread out throughout the globe, live uncompromisingly traditional lives where there is little or no Jewish community, and provide food, education, sometimes lodging, and other assistance to the Jews around them — and hope to touch some souls in the process.

Kress is not an all-out Chabad fan, especially when it comes to the movement’s “fervent messianism” regarding their late Rebbe.

But he ends his thoughts by stating: “Yes, we are all Chabadniks today.”

You know what he means…

Who inspired in 2008?

Beliefnet.com has come out with its nominees for the “Most Inspiring Person of the Year 2008.”

You can read about them and vote HERE.

It is an interesting and eclectic assortment of folks.

Briefly, the nominees are:

  1. Boy scouts from Iowa and Nebraska who came to the aid of many when a tornado ripped through western Iowa.
  2. Paul Newman, the late actor and philanthropist extraordinaire.
  3. Randy Pausch, the “Last Lecture” professor.
  4. Master Sgt. William “Spanky” Gibson, who returned to battle in Iraq after losing a leg.
  5. Dr. Halima Bashir, who was brutalized for speaking out against the violence in Darfur.
  6. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a doctor who learned from her own stroke.
  7. Christina Applegate, actress and breast cancer survivor now fighting for a cure.
  8. Dara Torres, Olympic swimmer who reached out to a competitor.
  9. Darin Headrick, a school superintendent in Kansas who helped rebuild a school system after a tornado.
  10. Steven Curtis Chapman, Christian singer who showed tremendous courage after the death of his daughter.

You might remember that last year’s honor went to Liviu Librescu (pictured), the Holocaust survivor who died while trying to save others during the Virginia Tech massacre.

Spiritual meaning in ‘High School Musical’ (really)

My kids love the High School Musical movies. I’ve learned to live with them.

High School Musical 3 opens Friday (in theaters this time), which means I’ll learn to live with yet another soundtrack about Disney-style teen angst.

No biggie.

high-school-musical-3-zanessa000×0406x611.jpegBut, boy, it’s never occurred to me that there are religious or spiritual lessons to be learned from these very simple high school stories. I mean, the plots are excuses to get some teen heartthrobs singing and dancing, aren’t they?

I guess not. A fellow named Steven Russo and his 11-year-old daughter, Gabi, have written “Wildcats in the House: Spiritual Stuff You Can Get from High School Musical.”

On Beliefnet, Steven Russo offers 10 biblical lesson you can get from High School Musical.

For instance:

In the song “Start of Something New,” we learn what it takes to be a risk-taker and try different things- faith! Just like the list of people who accomplished some incredible things for God in Hebrews 11, we can also experience God using us if we are willing to step out of our comfort zone.

And:

We live in a sensory-overloaded world. It seems like every direction you turn there’s someone or something begging for your attention. Remember Troy struggling to concentrate on basketball in the tune “Get’cha Head in the Game? Just like Troy, we need to stay focused on what’s really important in the “big game” of life.

One more?

Troy’s in trouble with his team over the upcoming championship game because he’s concentrating more on singing than basketball. Gabriella is getting the same kind of grief from the rest of the scholastic decathlon team over their upcoming competition. The Bible is filled with good advice on relationships that work. One great example is David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18:1-4.

Has anyone written a biblical guide to West Side Story?

Grease?

Rocky Horror?

Is a ‘progressive revival’ underway?

What a difference a few years make.

Four years ago, all we heard about was the evangelical takeover (of the GOP, if not the country). President Bush was remaking the country into some sort of Christianland. Liberals were joking (mostly) about leaving for Canada. Politically correct New Yorkers were mystified, if not afraid.

Today, the president’s approval ratings stink. An evangelical break-up is believed to be underway. A religiously serious (if theologically liberal) mainline Protestant is the Democratic presidential candidate. And Beliefnet has today unveiled a “Progressive Revival” blog.

What’s next?

bobandhhdl.jpgThe new Beliefnet blog features 29 prominent “progressive” religious voices as bloggers. You get Interfaith Alliance guru Welton Gaddy, leading Buddhists Robert Thurman (that’s him with the DL) and Lama Surya Das, peace activist Sister Joan Chittister, progressive evangelical Tony Campolo, fun-to-read academics like Randall Balmer and Susannah Heschel — and many more!

According to Beliefnet:

The Progressive Revival bloggers come from different religious traditions and often differ in perspectives, but all are dedicated to the revival of religious progressivism and its influence in American politics.

Maybe conservatives will start fleeing the country. But for where?

No love for the ‘Love Guru’

Rajan Zed, a prominent Hindu leader from Nevada, is continuing to protest the upcoming Mike Myers comedy, “The Love Guru.”

the-love-guru-mike-myers-jessica-alba-justin-timberlake.jpgZed and others say the film, out June 20, mocks Hindu belief and practice.

Myers plays an American who leaves the country to be taught by “gurus” and returns as a Deepak Chopra/Dr. Phil/flower power-type self-help dude called Guru Pitka who focuses on romantic happiness.

Thus, the love guru.

The movie’s website includes (mostly absurd) yoga poses, “mini-sutras” and sayings like “Go from ‘nowhere’ to ‘now’ ‘here.’ ”

Zed, who offered prayers before the U.S. Senate last year, and the Sanatan Society for Scientific Spirituality have asked Beliefnet to include their point of view alongside Beliefnet’s promotions for the movie. Beliefnet has apparently agreed to do so.

A slogan for the move, by the way, is: “His karma is huge.”