Category: absolutely gospel | connections

day 5: thankful for the long shots


make that MOST times,

things do not work out how they should.

Does it mean we’ve failed?

Or does the mere act of trying make us a little… interesting? Strong? Heroic?

If there is one thing I want to pass on to my children, along with the greatest commandment, it’s that there is glory in IMG_4626trying. It is that failure is in the eye of the beholder. It is that there is so much richness in shooting for the stars.

I’m thankful for the God-given and also the hard-won courage to chase dreams and to recover after they fall apart.

And I’m thankful for new dreams, too.

More about success and failure here~

The B-I-B-L-E

“Blessed are the Christians who challenge The Bible Series in its Biblical correctness yet be the same ones who sing scripturally incorrect gospel and worship songs.” –Sue Duffield


bible memesWe watched The Bible five Sundays in a row. Our church, like many, made it an event. We had in-home viewing parties, our pastor tied it in with his sermons, and we Facebook’d it like the Oscars or something.

Basically, Christians who also happen to be fans or followers of pop culture get Excited when Christian-based entertainment is offered that is not cheesy, cheap, or that panders. It is rare.

I grew up watching the 1977 miniseries Jesus of Nazareth and the classic Ten Commandments. In my little world, those were the gold standards of Biblical representation on film, and both have stood pretty well against the test of time. Then in 2005, Mel Gibson gave us the phenomenal The Passion of the Christ. That movie was so challenging to watch, so raw and beautiful all at once, but alas, it showed only a portion of Christ’s life and a sliver of the whole Bible. I know I am one of many who wanted more.


The Bible miniseries is extra culturally-relevant because of the explosion of social media that has occurred since those other films were made. And from the night the very first segment aired, the debates began:



  • Why didn’t ‘they’ show Joseph’s coat of many colors, or Elijah and Elisha, or Ruth and Naomi, or _____ (other favorite Bible story)
  • Why are there LIQUOR commercials?! My eyes! My eyes!
  • Why is Jesus so good looking (/smoking hot/etc)? {Really, people? He is the King of Kings…why not?}
  • So and so did not say that at such and such a time. What gives, Touched-By-An-Angel Lady? You are going to mislead millions of people! (I especially enjoy this article… and pose to this author: Any of these ‘kingdom’ issues? Does it really matter if King Saul was peeing or pooping in the cave? REALLY?!)

I think it is safe to say that many, many Christian viewers missed the point.

And that got me thinking: maybe this series wasn’t for us.

I mean, if “we” are such experts on what the absolute correct details of the whole Bible are, and the order of importance of each, we don’t need to see a series.

And if “we” are so sensitive to what we watch that a Jim Beam commercial is going to send us straight off our holy high horses on to a bender, then by all means, we should avert our eyes. {I’m not talking about people who struggle with alcohol here, either… I’m talking about the pious}

I choose, rather, to participate in the dialogue. I don’t know “who” outside my circle was watching The Bible. But I do know that between 11 and 14 million people were watching it for 5 straight weeks. And what did they see?

– God made us
– we are flawed
– God loves us anyway
– God gives us amazing things, like children when we are infertile, strength to slay giants, protection from fires and floods and hungry lions, and second chances. And third chances. And many more chances…
– God came to Earth in the form of a man, His son Jesus.
– Jesus served humbly, loved politically-incorrectly, ministered supernaturally, sacrificed completely, died painfully, resurrected miraculously, and ascended to Heaven after leaving us a Spirit to comfort and empower us.
– The Spirit of God visited the followers of Jesus after His ascension, showed off by causing them to speak in different languages, and gave them power to Do His Work.
– God continued to speak with, inspire, and enable His followers to preach the good news and live in service to Him.

I saw someone today call the last two hours of The Bible a “weak and almost unidentifiable Gospel presentation.” I am not sure what he was watching. In particular, the representation of the “Upper Room Experience” (the different tongues, from Acts 2) was surprisingly 1) not offensive, 2) cooler than even I imagined it, 3) fairly self-explanatory.

In my own opinion, majoring on the minors is the tragic flaw of the mainstream Christian churchgoer. Literally *millions* of people saw The Bible series and heard the gospel. As a result, they might accept it, reject, research it, argue it, love it, balk at it, understand it better, care about it more, debate it, or pass it on. But chances are, they will not forget it…because when God sends out His Word, we are unable to ignore it.

Regardless of what details went askew (and I am willing to bet most of the quibbles are based on denominational theologies, but that’s just a guess, and that’s a whole other post…), 14 million people saw and heard that God created us, Jesus loves us, and that He is the way, not to mention that He calls, equips, heals, and walks with us still today. I’m feeling pretty excited about 14 million people hearing that! That they saw it with modern special effects and attractive actors is a method, not a new gospel.

Today, I visited my favorite entertainment website and saw they had finally paid attention to the series (and will mention here that it was the back page ad of their weekly mag a few weeks ago – prime real estate):

EW on The Bible ratings

Along with this, celebrities Tweeted their congrats to the producers… some of the same celebs who showed very little regard for Mel Gibson’s work in 2005. Columnists from a variety of outlets are reporting on a hunger for ‘religious entertainment’ and a new interest in Bible stories. A game app has been developed, and there are already talks of spin-off that will focus on Jesus. Maybe it will all end up a twisted mess, or maybe, these pieces will continue to break barriers and speak to people who won’t, just won’t, pick up a Bible or go to a Bible study.

Let’s at least agree that turning their eyes toward Jesus is a good thing…

The Bible – the book, not the miniseries, is available to read for free at many places on the internet. Check out YouVersion or Bible Gateway.

Coming Thursday: “The Top 10 Details That May or May Not Have Been Completely, Documentary-Level Accurate But That I Totally Loved About The Bible Miniseries.



February 2012 Absolutely Gospel

Connections: A Quiet Ministry

I read today that Adele will be making her comeback performance at this year’s Grammy Awards after requiring throat surgery last year.

We’ve seen this numerous times in the gospel world, as well. I’m not a singer, but I’m married to one, and I know he always remarks on these occasions how very scary it would be consider a life as a singer with no voice.

I’m a writer, but lately, I find myself without words. Oh, it’s not that I don’t have thoughts racing, questions to pose, or declarations, observations, recitations rolling through my head. It’s just that, well, I’ve been listening more. And I hear God saying:

Just be quiet.

{continue reading here}

in which I become a music reviewer

Just a quick post to link to my articles published at today ~

– the first is my monthy “Connections,” in which I expound upon the pruning artists to to present their life in an art form.

– the second is my first official CD review. I was given the lovely task of listening to Russ Taff’s new Faroe Islands, which I have been listening to non-stop for two days. That should give you a clue how I feel about it, but since it’s my first review, I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Connections: The Art of Imperfection
Russ Taff, Faroe Islands review


One of the first websites I was introduced to in southern gospel was the pioneer online news site, sogospelnews dot com .

As fate would have it, the family behind that website were also some of my first friends in SG, and to this day, have been some of the truest. I cheered loudly last summer when they changed their name to absolutelygospel dot com, and I mourned with them when the family’s matriarch and the driving force behind the site, Susan Unthank, went to her final home this past winter.

When I found myself looking for a place to land in the gospel-facing world of columnists, a natural fit was evident.

I love the mantra of Absolutely Gospel, because it celebrates differing and inclusive aspects of gospel music. I love the different voices that all already represented on the site. And I love the family who continues working behind the scenes to make it happen.

My monthly contribution is inspired by a few thoughts. As most who know me can attest, I am not a hotbed of knowledge about southern gospel history or news – it is the story behind the songs and singers that has always intrigued me, and mostly, the stories few people know about. I also enjoy dishing about the place where Christianity and mainstream culture meet. And finally, as said so succinctly by my friend Sue recently, I am a believer in connections – and we truly connect with people when we are personal and real.

So monthly, I will pick a certain connection or two to share. This month focuses on the relationship of song to listener. I hope you’ll join me in this new writing venture, because no story is truly complete without an audience.

> Press release: Absolutely Gospel Welcomes New Staff Writer Kelly Capriotti Burton

> August 2011 Column: Completing the Songs