MTV’s 2016 VMAs: Nothing to See Here

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The Monday morning after MTV’s Video Music Awards has often been a cultural watercooler moment in a culture that has fewer and fewer of those moments these days. Whether it’s Miley twerking on Robin Thicke (2013), Madonna and Britney kissing (2003) or Madonna’s risqué performance of “Like a Virgin” at the very first VMAs back […]

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When Celebs Seize the Bully Pulpit

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How do you respond when a celebrity accepting an award uses that opportunity to preach a mini-sermon? I don’t know about you, but I immediately reach for the remote so I can mute the TV. I’m exposed to enough marketing elsewhere in my life—like, well, everywhere—that I generally don’t respond very patiently to famous people […]

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Mark Burnett and Roma Downey Talk Faith, Film and Ben-Hur

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The story of Judah Ben-Hur has been one of the culture’s most popular, most powerful stories for more than a century now, and Jesus has always been at the center of it. Earlier this summer, I wrote a blog about the 1880 book Ben-Hur: The Tale of the Christ, discussing the faith journey of author […]

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They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our … What?

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I was reading a Los Angeles Times interview with comedian Amy Schumer. She talked about a Twitter to-do from some weeks back, when fellow comedian Leslie Jones—one of the stars of the new Ghostbusters movie—was temporarily pushed off the service after being inundated with hateful, often racist tweets. “It was just so much hate at […]

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The Idol Boogie of Tussauds

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Sometimes I think that we Americans have the impression that our fascination with celebrities is a relatively new thing. Some youngsters out there may believe that Kim Kardashian herself invented the concept of seeing celebrities as simultaneously human and botoxed demigod. But, nope, the fact is we humans have been idol-prone for a very, very […]

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When Bono Met Eugene

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Rock stars and theologians generally inhabit separate spheres of influence. But every now and then, their orbits intersect in unexpected ways. Such is the case with Bono, frontman for U2, and Eugene Peterson, the pastor and theologian who wrote The Message paraphrase. Bono has long been a fan of Peterson’s work translating Scripture not only […]

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Just Movies? Not According to the Oscars, They’re Not.

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About midway through Sunday’s Oscar telecast on ABC, host Chris Rock brought out his daughters’ Girl Scout troop and had them sell cookies to Hollywood’s A-listers. “Leo, you made $30 million—come on!” Rock hollered in the direction of Leonardo DiCaprio. By the time he tallied the troop’s earnings for the evening—somewhere north of $65,000—I was […]

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Beyoncé Sparks Unlikely Red Lobster Stampede

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How much real-world influence does a popular entertainer really exercise? Normally, that’s an incredibly tricky question to try to answer. Why? Because there are just so many variables in play that it makes proving air-tight causal links between pop culture and real-world behavior virtually impossible. Besides that, artists and entertainment creators often try to downplay […]

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