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Jeff Rioux

Conference on Engaging Popular Culture

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I'm excited that the conference continues to evolve. As people hear about it, they call me asking if they can be involved. Here are two new developments:

1. Saturday morning worship led by the ICON Band, a local church's cool, artsy worship band. I had wanted to add a worship element to the conference that would show a great respect for the arts, and finally found the right group to do it. I hope this adds to the conference theme (reconciling the church and the popular arts) by modeling what worship can look like when it takes this reconciliation seriously.

2. The director of our theatre program called me and asked to integrate her mainstage production into the conference, and we have done that. Conference attenders now have the choice to go to the Friday night concert (Sarah Masen, John Francis, and Sam Ashworth and Matt Slocum) or to see Theatre Messiah's production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle.

Registrations are coming in from all over the place. If you are coming, register before the Nov 2 early deadline by going to www.messiah.edu/popular_culture

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Good conference.

I found out about this conference on this forum and would not have heard about it otherwise. Considering how close I live to Messiah I would have been upset if I had missed out on this.

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Good conference.

I found out about this conference on this forum and would not have heard about it otherwise.  Considering how close I live to Messiah I would have been upset if I had missed out on this.

It was a wonderful conference. Thanks to Jeff Rioux and all the Messiah College staff and students who made it possible. I hate logistics, and I can imagine that the logistical nightmares come in terrifying waves when planning something like this. But the conference came off without a hitch, no doubt because of all the hard work that went on behind the scenes. Thanks, folks.

I find that I always emerge from events like these both totally exhausted and totally invigorated; exhausted from trying to survive on four hours of sleep for the entire weekend, invigorated by the exchange of ideas and by the music I hear. The conference at Messiah was no exception. There were many highlights.

Steve Turner, the keynote speaker, author of books on Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye, and Jack Kerouac, and journalist friend to the stars, was a warm and thoughtful man who helped me hear parts of U2

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Did Tweedy do an interview, after all?

If so, I'm interested if he had anything to say about the theme of the conference, or about his own beliefs and perspective.

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Did Tweedy do an interview, after all?

If so, I'm interested if he had anything to say about the theme of the conference, or about his own beliefs and perspective.

No official interview or workshop, but this article covers his reaction to the conference pretty well. Also interesting is the thread on the show at the fan site Via Chicago. I responded to the befuddlement of the "general public" at the Grantham show (and at the Calvin show, two days before) in my latest column for *catapult. It dismays me that people have such ill-conceived notions about Christians, although I am fully aware of why they have acquired them. (See a follow-up article in the Messiah newspaper. Eek. Jeff Rioux, keep doin' what you're doin'!)

On the other hand, I heard rumors from my boss that David Dark got in a good chat with Tweedy, and even gave him a copy of his new book, The Gospel According to America. Wonder if Tweedy might find a more kindred spirit in those pages...

Edited by kebbie

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Did Tweedy do an interview, after all?

If so, I'm interested if he had anything to say about the theme of the conference, or about his own beliefs and perspective.

No official interview or workshop, but this article covers his reaction to the conference pretty well. Also interesting is the thread on the show at the fan site Via Chicago. I responded to the befuddlement of the "general public" at the Grantham show (and at the Calvin show, two days before) in my latest column for *catapult. It dismays me that people have such ill-conceived notions about Christians, although I am fully aware of why they have acquired them. (See a follow-up article in the Messiah newspaper. Eek. Jeff Rioux, keep doin' what you're doin'!)

On the other hand, I heard rumors from my boss that David Dark got in a good chat with Tweedy, and even gave him a copy of his new book, The Gospel According to America. Wonder if Tweedy might find a more kindred spirit in those pages...

That follow-up article is really sad. It makes me wonder how someone could attend such a conference and come away with those views.

I don't think the authors were representative of the attendees as a whole. The Messiah students I met were bright, inquisitive, and sincerely trying to wrestle with the issues. There was a contingent from Calvin at the conference as well. It's great to see Christians of all theological traditions exploring these issues.

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I don't think the authors were representative of the attendees as a whole. 

Oh, I definitely agree, but it still disappointed me that that was the view featured in the paper's opinion section following the conference. It just reminded me that this sort of conversation is still an uphill battle (even here at Calvin). I'm always surprised that people have such reservations about popular culture, because every day I am surrounded by the sort of bright, inquisitive students you mention, Andy!

Alan, no, I wasn't there! I had friends in town that weekend and couldn't make it. But I heard all about it from Ken Heffner (my boss) and the Calvin students who attended.

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In any case, their attitude made me long to go back to school myself, or at least move to a college town.

Hmmm...I'll let it go this time, kebbie. smile.gif MC is only 1.5 hours away, so I'm sure I'll find some excuse to go back.

Indeed, the intellectual environment at Calvin is one of Grand Rapids's redeeming characteristics. It more than makes up for feeling trapped in evangelical subculture. wink.gif

I hope you do get to go back to Messiah again, Alan--it's a great school (and I'm not saying that just because it's my alma-mater-in-law). Also, my husband and I are considering a move to Philly in the near future for his seminary education--so maybe I'll get to meet you then! smile.gif

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Westminster? My church has a lot of connections to WTS.

Nope, although my mother-in-law recently got her counseling degree from Westminster. He's applying at Palmer (formerly Eastern Baptist) and will probably get an additional social work degree through Temple through the dual-degree program.

Sorry for hijacking this thread. I'll shut up now.

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Thanks to kebbie for the nice summary piece. My apologies for not posting last week - I was digging myself out.

On Tweedy: I think kebbie nailed it in her post and in her catapult piece. But I also think at the Messiah show, there was another dynamic going on. I think Tweedy was very interested in what was going on. Two Christian colleges in a week...a discussion with Ken Heffner after the Calvin show...the invitation to do the interview which included a description of the conference...a conversation with David Dark the afternoon before the show. He seemed almost preoccupied with the whole thing, I think, evidenced in his banter on stage, particularly between three songs in a row dealing with Jesus: the new Whistling Jesus song (Jesus as the least of humanity - crack addict and investment banker), Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down, and Theologians.

But the crowd at Messiah, which was mostly off-campus people, seemed impatient. So Tweedy wanted to talk about it, in effect giving us the dialogue we had asked for, but when he asked the crowd if they wanted to talk about religion, they said,

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This sounds like a similar conference that some of you might be interested in:

ETHOS: a Dialogue on Faith and Culture

March 30-31, 2006

Colorado Christian University

ETHOS brings creative Christians together to explore ways of engaging popular culture and the media. We will explore ways in which Christians can become involved, renewing agents in their world. For more information, go to www.ccu.edu/ethos

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