Testimony

Sister-Ax Evangelizes The Voice: “God Doesn’t Take Anything Away from Us”

To the surprise of so many who watched, last week an Italian nun dominated The Voice of Italy by signing Alicia Keys’ “No One” in English. The absolute highlight of her appearance (which you can see in the video below) is when J-Ax, a heavily tattooed Italian rapper and one of the voice coaches, reacts with pure delight to Sister Cristina, including shedding a few tears of joy. Another highlight is that she says she auditioned for the sake of evangelism—something she claims Pope Francis inspired her to do. We are all ears, Sister! I also love that some of her fellow sisters appeared on the show in support.

Here are some highlights. Make sure you click “CC” on the video to get the English captions.

Question: What brought you here to The Voice?
Sister Cristina: I have a gift and I am giving it to you. Shouldn’t things be this way?

J-Ax: If I had met you during the Mass, when I was a child, now I would be Pope! I would surely have attended all the functions.
Sister Cristina: Well you have met me now.

Question: What does the Vatican say about you auditioning at The Voice?
Sister Cristina: Listen, I don’t really know. I am waiting for Pope Francesco to call me on the phone. He always says we should go out and evangelize telling God doesn’t take anything away from us but will give us more. I am here for this. [The audience erupts in applause, and J-Ax begins to cry.]

P.S. Have you seen this? Aaaauuugghhh!!!!!

Lecturing the Prodigal Son(s) in The NY Times

Lecturing the Prodigal Son(s) in The NY Times

A few thoughts on some recent Internet Prodigal Son banter, from David Zahl and Will McDavid:

As much as I admire The NY Times, it’s not where I go to read about grace. You? And yet, David Brooks was back at it again this week, talking about the parable of the prodigal son(s) and endorsing grace as an essential factor in crafting social policy for those who’ve squandered their inheritance/potential/goodwill. Check it out:

We live in a divided society in which many of us in the middle- and upper-middle classes are like the older brother and many of the people who drop…

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Hopelessly Devoted (to Tony): No Longer an Orphan

Hopelessly Devoted (to Tony): No Longer an Orphan

Recently, while serving in Kampala, Uganda with one of my favorite ministries, Sixty Feet, I was reminded of a story I once heard from my friend, Jim Gash. The story is called Starfish and goes like this:

Once upon a time, there was a man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of…

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In Gratitude of A Love Supreme

In Gratitude of A Love Supreme

I recently read Tim Keller’s book on work, Every Good Endeavor. One of the most important takeaways for me was learning more about John Coltrane, who is the inspiration for Keller’s title. Keller quotes the original liner notes to Coltrane’s most famous album, A Love Supreme, which use the words “every good endeavor.” This week I bought the album, something I should have done a long time ago. Here are those original liner notes, now in a CD booklet. Keller only excerpts the notes, but I feel the whole thing was worth sharing—”a love supreme” turns out to be Coltrane’s…

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Upending the Bird (and Sleepless Newborns)

Upending the Bird (and Sleepless Newborns)

Another humdinger from Ginger M:

On New Year’s Eve night, my husband and I hosted two other couples for dinner. In my husband’s family, it has been a New Year’s Eve tradition for all dinner guests to come with a question to ask to the table, preferably one pertaining to the previous year. “What was your most awkward verbal exchange of the past year?” proved to be quite humorous, but the question that ended our night was “What will you most miss about 2013?”. Two guests remarked, with nervous laughter, that they were going to miss the substances that they were…

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Confessions of a Sad, Tweeting Batman On Word-Porn

Confessions of a Sad, Tweeting Batman On Word-Porn

What happens when you mix equal parts family crisis, a comedic coping mechanism, and an insatiable desire to be an internet star? Well, according to Twitter funnyman Sammy Rhodes, not a recipe for happiness.

Popular comedy Twitter-er Sammy Rhodes is a pastor hailing from the Midwest who nabbed the twitter handle “@prodigalsam” back in 2009. At first, like all Twitter beginners, he began tweeting the standard stuff.  That he’d attended a barbeque and hoped his potato salad turned out OK. Eventually, he upped his Twitter game and joined the gospel–centered tweet crew. You know, pithy statements about grace that make you…

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A Monument to Loss

A Monument to Loss

This insightful and personal reflection on Edvard Munch’s work, as well as the plans for a new museum commemorating it, comes from our friend Daniel A. Siedell.

One of my most cherished memories from last year was a trip to New York City to see Edvard Munch’s The Scream on view at the Museum of Modern Art. The painting had made news in May 2012 because it was purchased by New York collector and businessman Leon Black for $120 million, at the time the most ever paid at auction for a work of art.

But The Scream has been an American pop…

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“Excuse Me, Ma’am, But That’s TMI”: Six Favorite Moments of 2013

“Excuse Me, Ma’am, But That’s TMI”: Six Favorite Moments of 2013

I’m not a cultured enough moviegoer to give you a list of the best films of the year; my only qualification for a “good” movie is if I can watch it in 3-D. I’m nowhere near up to speed on current music to talk about the best artists or albums of 2013. If you want to know the top books of the 12th or 16th century, well then, I’m your girl. The only books I’ve read this year are theological ones, mostly Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther. But books of 2013? I haven’t got a clue. Let’s not even talk…

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Control Is Just an Illusion, But Love Casts Out Fear (in Disney’s Frozen)

Control Is Just an Illusion, But Love Casts Out Fear (in Disney’s Frozen)

This deeply personal, honest, and insightful reflection on Disney’s Frozen – and our love affair with control – comes from our friend Brandi Midkiff.

Lots of people sneer at the Control Freak archetype. I do not understand these people. They seem to think loss of control would be a good time—like a roller coaster, perhaps, which is actually a tightly controlled construct when functioning correctly and not killing people. Also people choose whether or not to get on the thing, thereby exercising control; so this is not the best illustration, though I see it used a lot.

Loss of control is not an…

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Another Week Ends: Francis I and God as Love, Llewyn Davis Is a Failure, More Brene Brown, Questing Against the Wind, the Horror of Breakfast Meetings, Christmas Is Alright, and the Death of the Funeral

Another Week Ends: Francis I and God as Love, Llewyn Davis Is a Failure, More Brene Brown, Questing Against the Wind, the Horror of Breakfast Meetings, Christmas Is Alright, and the Death of the Funeral

1. Reflections on Pope Francis continue, with the increasingly-familiar tension between acclamation for the Pope’s compassionate, grace-focused tone and suspicion, from another camp, concerning his lack of doctrinal rigidity. Enter Rod Dreher, the prolific ex-Catholic writer, who published a while back in Time an essay saying the following:

I fear his merciful words will be received not as love but license. The “spirit of Pope Francis” will replace the “spirit of Vatican II” as the rationalization people will use to ignore the difficult teachings of the faith. If so, this Pope will turn out to be like his predecessor John XXIII: a dear man,…

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The Secret Santa-Sower and the Heroin Addict

The Secret Santa-Sower and the Heroin Addict

I lead a Thursday morning Bible study. Recently, we have been working our way through the parables (often using the backdrop of Robert Capon’s amazing Kingdom, Grace, Judgment), and this morning, it was time for The Parable of the Sower. You can imagine how happy I was when fellow Mbirder, Ethan Magness posted this clip on Facebook last night, understating, “it’s a nice portrait of imputation.”

The Secret Santa is a perfect analogy for the Sower, who scatters seed willy-nilly across all types of ground. As a group this morning, we were struck by just how strange it is that the…

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Known Only To Him – Elvis Presley

This one caught my ear when re-released in the Oxford American Tennessee Music Issue.

Thanksgiving and the Human Family

Thanksgiving and the Human Family

This short Thanksgiving Day devotion comes to us from Paul Walker:

Virginians, being Virginians, like to claim that the first Thanksgiving took place not at Plymouth Rock, but at Berkley Plantation in Virginia in 1619. The ships that arrived from England had a charter that required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a “day of thanksgiving” to God.

“We ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” So, on that first day…

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Telling Truth from the Underside

Telling Truth from the Underside

Despite a few recent Mbird nods, as of three weeks ago I had no idea who Nadia Bolz-Weber was. But she has come up in conversation, in text messages, and in my Facebook feed about a dozen times since then. So I decided to pay attention and buy her new book, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint. Because I’m always on the lookout for how the humorous dimension links up with the theological, I was pleasantly surprised to read that Bolz-Weber is a former comedian with some thoughts on how standup comedy is an attempt at telling the…

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Mike Tyson and His Beloved Trainer

Mike Tyson and His Beloved Trainer

If any professional athlete has the gift of gab, it is Mike Tyson. Words have proven to be profoundly significant in his life, from the infamous interviews about his relationships with the women in his life, to cussing out/threatening opponents in press conferences, to his now rather candid reflections on his crazy life in documentaries and stage shows and now his new autobiography. Grantland‘s Jay Caspian Kang’s recent piece on Tyson’s life and career is an extremely thoughtful observation on the complexities which mark Iron Mike’s life. The article especially sheds light on Tyson’s relationship with his former trainer/guardian, Cus…

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