Elsewhere, July 31, 2010

Elsewhere: A collection of interesting links and articles that I’ve come across in the last week or so. For more of the same, follow me on Twitter.

In The Land Of Mao, A Rising Tide Of Christianity (the first in a five-part series):

Official Chinese surveys now show that nearly one in three Chinese describe themselves as religious, an astonishing figure for an officially atheist country, where religion was banned until three decades ago.

The last 30 years of economic reform have seen an explosion of religious belief. China’s government officially recognizes five religions: Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam and Daoism. The biggest boom of all has been in Christianity, which the government has struggled to control.


No one knows exactly how many Christians there are among China’s population of 1.3 billion. There are an estimated 21 million members of the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic movement, but nobody knows how many Protestants worship in unregistered house churches.

Some recent surveys have calculated there could be as many as 100 million Chinese Protestants. That would mean that China has more Christians than Communist Party members, which now number 75 million.

Five Things That Could Topple Facebook’s Empire

How Could God Create Through Evolution?: A Look at Theodicy, Part 1:

“How could a good God create through a process that involves so much pain and death?” For many people, accepting evolution is less a scientific question than a theological one. After all, seeing evolution as God’s method of creation requires affirming that death, pain, and natural disasters are part of God’s creative toolbox instead of a result of the Fall. In this three-part blog series, I will first look at how theologians and scientists have seen the world in contrary ways, and then reflect theologically on how a world created through evolutionary means can be good.

Ostrich is an extension for Safari 5 that adds a full-fledged Twitter client directly inside the browser. I’ve tried it out, and it’s very well-designed, but I’m still torn on whether I want Twitter running inside my browser or not. In any case, it’s pretty darn impressive.

Corporate Punks, and Other Non-Sequiturs:

Thank God for the snot-nosed truth tellers. Somebody needs to do it again, cut through the morass of political speeches and photo ops and lies that pass for Want Ads. Who will be this generation’s Joe Strummer or Johnny Rotten?

PopMatters offers an overview of Christopher Nolan’s career:

With only seven feature length films in his little over a decade old canon, Christopher Nolan stands at the crossroads of artform greatness. Not just being the best of his kind, but as an auteur worthy of names like Kubrick, Mann, Hitchcock, and Lumet. He’s no “next Spielberg” Shyamalan or foot draggingly difficult David O. Russell. Instead, he’s the bellwether for a new kind of filmmaker, one that successfully merges Hollywood classicism with the best of the post-modern revision. Looking at the movies he’s made since emerging in 1996, one can witness the development and growth of an innovative icon, someone schooled in the old ways of working while finding novel means of making his far reaching, philosophical points. With Inception signaling his ascension into undeniable artistic importance, let’s look back over his oeuvre to see just where it all started — and how he earned his new illustrious rank.

Be Fruitful and Multiply?

Observers weigh in on whether Christians have a special responsibility to have children.

This is officially the cutest site on the Intertubes: A mother brings to life her sleeping baby’s daydreams. All of the photos are great, but these two are my favorites (I think).

Syfy has announced Blood and Chrome, a new Battlestar Galactica online series that follows a young William Adama during the Cylon Wars.

Daniel Kasman offers up an interesting criticism of Toy Story 3:

On an object by object, moment by moment level, the film is nearly overwhelmingly dense with such minute material investment, yet as a film, it seems bogged down in replicating and investing in all these real world details to such a degree that imagination, one of the things most easily discoverable in animated works, seems evacuated. You only have to look at the tortilla gag in the movie to see how a touch of the unexpected can produce surprising, strange and surreal results. For me, there were far too few questions thrown at the film world (“what if?”…) the studio has created and far too many assurances (“Yes, that looks just right!”). A beautiful, overworked piece of animated sculpture.

A totally rad photo gallery of bar bands from the 1970s. I bet Star Trooper tore it up back in the day.

Josh Hurst reviews Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs:

If it sounds big, sweeping, sprawling — well, this is Arcade Fire. Of course it is. Still, this is the band’s most ambitious recording yet; on the second song Win Butler sings that he’s “Ready to Start,” and you get the feeling that this is indeed the genesis of a whole new era for the band, one in which even the familiar reveals itself to be far more complex than we previously imagined. Specifically, they’re revisiting the neighborhood they introduced us to on Funeral — only this time, the tunnels that provided escape are a sprawl that cultivates a modern, middle-aged malaise. This isn’t an album about grief and loss, but about something colder, more insidious. It’s about lack of feeling — about the loss of passion, of fervor, of intimacy. It’s about cultural norms that dehumanize us without us knowing. These are broad themes and big ideas, but even when they aren’t subtle, Arcade Fire is always complex.

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