Tag Archives: culture

Christmastide – The Beginning of the Way

winter light

The season of Advent, I believe, is beginning to grow in the popular Christian consciousness in America.  More and more resources are being made available for observing Advent – or at least I’m finding more and more – , and I’ve been seeing a rise in individuals and churches using social media to [sometimes not so] gently remind the cultures around them that it’s not Christmas ’till it’s Christmas.  Whether from a renewed interest in returning to or rediscovering the ancient and venerable rhythms and way of life for scores of Christians before them, or as an intentional act of resistance in the face of obscene consumerism and “seasonal” marketeering, people have been observing Advent, not Christmas, during Advent.  And as you know when you wait for something good, it’s much better than it would have been if you had snatched it before its time came.  And so it is with waiting for Christmas. Continue reading

Undefinable Religianity

Empty Pews A woman named Karen Armstrong was on NPR’s Fresh Air several days ago describing her new book The Case For God. Just going on what I heard from the interview, having not actually read the book, it sounded as though she doesn’t make a case for “God” at all, but for a contemplative and/or ritualistic life that spurs you to love and compassion for mankind. She used the word “religion” a lot. Love and compassion for mankind is one thing –and it’s wonderful–, but she incorrectly equated that with “God,” effectively wrecking the rhetorical structure that allows the word “God” to function. A few days after that I heard Ken Burns on All Things Considered describe how he featured in his new National Parks documentary naturalist John Muir, whose strict Calvinist father beat him as a small child. Carrying the scars of that “oppressive Christianity,” Muir came to explore the American Sierras and was spiritually “liberated,” and he was able to “devise a new faith, based in nature.” Continue reading

What the Helvetica?

art: lauradelean

A while back, I caught a documentary on PBS about the typeface (font) called Helvetica.  My roommate recently rented it, and I got to catch some things I missed the last time I saw it.  You wouldn’t think a documentary about a typeface would be very interesting (and maybe after seeing it for yourself, you still wouldn’t), but I thought it was fascinating.  It focuses on Helvetica, but it’s actually about typography in general and how we as individuals and societies are affected by what we see.  For example, from a designer’s perspective (and apparently from yours and mine, too) the balance of the content of words in an ad and the way those words look makes a world of difference in a consumer’s reaction to the ad.  This is a fundamental principle.  The way Helvetica looks and communicates, and its unprecedented, unmatched presence in ads and on the street over the last 50 years earned it the spotlight in this documentary. Continue reading