The Rhetoric of the Abortion Debate

With the passing of Roe v. Wade’s 41st anniversary, various Christian sites have been offering pieces on abortion—the continuing, incremental struggle to see progress on a state level, the fruits of activism in the trenches, and more. My favorite by far is Owen Strachan’s inspiring, convicting piece on how he personally became an engaged participant in the pro-life battle. There have also been various discussions on rhetoric and strategy. Abby Johnson’s data on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of holding graphic signs outside a clinic is particular interesting.

One article I read recently actually dates back to May of last year. It was featured on the site Christ and Pop Culture, where I contributed a piece of my own some time back. The title was “How I Changed My Mind About Abortion.” While the article made good points about how abortion springs from a broken view of sexuality and harms women instead of freeing them, certain lines and phrases niggled and nagged at me.

On the one hand, the author, Julia Herrington, is refreshingly candid about the balancing act of pro-life feminism. She writes:

Secretly, I’ve always felt that abortion wasn’t ideal and maybe not even right. But it’s complicated to believe that when you’re a feminist, and it’s certainly not something you profess publicly. Who am I to presume to know what is right for another woman? Am I, as a feminist, willing to assert that abortion isn’t right? Would I not be robbing women of authority over their own personhood, something women have fought arduously for, for far too long? A year ago, I would have rather been caught barefoot in the kitchen, in an apron with red lipstick on my mouth, baking for all the boys, a caricature of the “problem without a name” rather than to be found in close proximity to the pro-life camp.

Perhaps, then, we shouldn’t be surprised that when the light bulb finally came on for her while working at a Pregnancy Resource Center, it was still filtered through a feminist lens: “As I considered these issues in the last year, my perspective changed dramatically because I determined that abortion does not actually benefit women.”

What is missing from this picture? Continue reading “The Rhetoric of the Abortion Debate”


The Ventriloquist’s Southern Gospel Trio

Special thanks to Kevin for sending me this footage from the Caribbean Cruise. It features ventriloquist David Pendleton together with Michael Booth, Scott Fowler and Gerald Wolfe. You’ve never seen a southern gospel performance quite like this before!

I think my favorite parts are when Scott Fowler keeps mouthing commonly added words (“I’m in the Lord’s army yes sir“) and Pendleton isn’t keeping up. 😀

Wayne Haun Solo

Folks have been asking for a solo album from Wayne Haun for some time, and last year he quietly put out an album of mostly old “crooner” standards. While I might have been more interested to hear him offer up fresh interpretations of some of his own material, the production quality is still top-notch. This professionally shot live video shows him getting his Sinatra on with a song called “Blue Again.” I think this may be an original song, because I can’t find it anywhere else. It has a great classic sound:

My Top 5 Films of 2013

It’s awards season in Hollywood, that seemingly endless cycle of self-congratulation that mercifully does end with the distribution of little gold men for what is supposedly the best film-making of the year. And it’s my pleasure as a Christian who also loves movies to report that some of the films being recognized this season actually deserve it.

I think I’m going to call 2013 “the year of human exceptionalism” for movie-making. Some of its finest films offered powerful portraits of a single person who must rise above great challenges for freedom, dignity or life itself. It was a throwback to the right kind of humanism. I sometimes think that if our society could back-track even just to the point where man was still seen as uniquely valuable, it would be a vast improvement over the post-modern rot that has set in today. Though I have no hope that a handful of stellar films will do the trick, or even convince their own makers of the deeper truths behind them, I can at least praise good work when I see it.

In this post I will sketch out the premise of each film (spoiler-free!) and try to explain concisely why it deserves a place in my Top 5. Although not all of these movies were nominated for awards, I will also throw in an “Oscar bait” category for those that were, with asterisks for win predictions. Finally, I will clearly indicate any content concerns, as I am not one of “those” Christian movie-watchers who scorn content advisories. While I do believe discerning Christian viewers can take something of value from all of these films, your mileage may vary. Be heartily encouraged to use your own judgement.

But before I jump into the list, I want to pause and say a few words about one film that I agonized and agonized over, even placing number one at one point, before finally choosing to drop it from the top five altogether upon re-watching and reflection. It’s a hot contender for all the major awards, including Best Picture. Yet even though by some measures it may be the best film of 2013, topping secular and Christian film critics’ lists alike, it wasn’t my favorite film.  Continue reading “My Top 5 Films of 2013”

CD Review: Drive, by Doug Anderson


After a Dove award-winning solo debut, plus another table project, EHSS baritone Doug Anderson is back to treat his fans with a collection of all-new songs. The better part of them are contributed by Wayne Haun and/or Joel Lindsey, and predictably these are among the best songs on the album. As per usual, click on to read my thoughts in candid Likes/Dislikes format. Continue reading “CD Review: Drive, by Doug Anderson”

Monday Morning Humor: The Muppets Are Coming!

As some of you might know if you’ve read the blog long enough, I’m a huge fan of the Muppets. To me, it was one of the best TV shows of all time, and you will never convince me otherwise. Happily, the legacy has continued beyond the tragic death of Jim Henson, with a mix of old and new voice actors to bring the Muppets to a new generation. The last reboot film was a major success, and now the gang is back, for an international crime caper of epic proportions. When Kermit is mistaken for his evil doppelganger Constantine, a chaotic comedy of errors ensues. Heading the cast is British comedian Ricky Gervais, plus the usual slew of guest stars including my personal favorite, Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers). The fact that he was going to be in it for maybe three minutes… may or not have been the deciding factor in whether I was seeing the film, but ANYway, moving right along, it looks fantastic.

See also this related spoof on brainless Internet debates, which addresses the question of why the film wasn’t nominated for any awards this year (because the small fact that it isn’t out yet is hardly the sort of thing to stop your average enraged Twitter fan). Sadly it rings all too true:

For more tidbits, see this on-set interview with the cast and crew, in which Kermit shares who’s the biggest diva (take three guesses!) Gervais discloses his secret talent for song-and-dance (“I’m a pretty good singer yeah, I rate myself at singing, and dancing… I’m your dad at a party”), and Miss Piggy fusses about not getting to see Europe because she’s in her dressing room on strike all the time.

Poll: Your Fifth Slot Gaither Vocal Band Pick

GVB 5th Man Collage

After a Christmas lull, Bill Gaither re-generated the buzz surrounding the GVB’s lineup shuffle when he announced the hire of Adam Crabb this past week. But the fifth slot, it seems, is still up in the air, despite early rumors tapping Travis Cottrell as a shoo-in. Adam is flexible enough to sing lead or baritone, and no doubt the fifth man will have a similarly flexible range.

Three interesting possibilities are the aforementioned Cottrell, who’s already done some fill-in dates, Joseph Habedank, and Shane McConnell. All three would bring something different and valuable to the table. I hadn’t really considered Habedank before I noticed some buzz around him. He truly does seem to turn whatever he sings into gold, and I would be very, very interested to hear him put his spin on some GVB classics. There are also the perennial standbys Reggie Smith and Wesley Pritchard, but do they have the “X factor” to graduate from trusty fill-in to established member? And what if Bill has an unknown up his sleeve who will blow us all away?

I thought a small poll would be fun to gauge reader interest in the different options. If you have yet another singer in mind whom I haven’t mentioned, please elaborate in the comments!

As for who I personally would pick, that’s tough to say, but I think I would choose Shane McConnell. He just seems the most “GVB-ish,” for lack of a better word.

CD Review: Surrender, by Adam Crabb

I put off reviewing this one all last year, but it seems to be perfect timing now that Adam has been hired by the GVB. This solo outing shows him exploring similar progressive ground to his brother Jason Crabb—country/pop with a gospel twist. As usual, I’ll present my thoughts in “Likes/Dislikes” format.


* “I’ve Got a Right to Pray” — Adam is at his best when he’s rocking that swampy gospel sound with his signature harmonica work. I also loved the jazz organ’s contribution. But most of all, I just love the message of the song (originally recorded by the Paynes and then the Crabb Family in 1999). It’s a spirited application of the story of Daniel to contemporary stifling of religion in the public square. “I wonder what old Daniel would say if he were alive today?”

*As worship songs go, the title track isn’t too bad. It has a pleasant Matt Redman vibe. I’d like to hear Chris Tomlin sing it.

* “Why I Am Who I Am” — A heart-felt, well-written ballad about setting an example for our children. “They’re why I do what I do, why I am who I am.”

* “Higher Ground” breathes new life into the familiar hymn, with some help from Gene McDonald! You’ve never heard such a rockin’ version of this one.

* “Hey Now” may sound a little too much like Eric Church’s “Homeboy,” but hey, that song was wicked cool so why complain?

* “Sometimes He Whispers” starts off slow but builds to a strong chorus:

Sometimes he’s water to the thirsty

Sometimes he’s fire all-consuming

Sometimes his voice is louder than thunder

Oh, but sometimes, sometimes he whispers


*Inserting “Amazing Grace” into “That Whosoever Was Me.” It’s been done, and done, and done. Everyone stop it!

* “Sometimes God Allows” — A promising lyrical hook is wasted by a dull melody that doesn’t allow any lyrical impact to come through.

* “Jehovah Jireh” — Again, very poor melody. Particularly awkward cadencing on the verses and bridge.

*Kids’ choir kicking off “Hey Now” did not work. At all.

*Several songs that I’m struggling to remember and critique by name because… they just weren’t that memorable.

Final thoughts: While Adam has a good voice, he’s not as powerful a soloist as his brother Jason. The good side of this is that he has the ability to blend better with a group, as Bill Gaither has noticed. However, the best thing about Adam is his open heart for God and for people, and that definitely comes through on this project. Anyone who is already a big fan of the Crabbs or of Jason’s solo work will want to pick it up. However, more casual fans who are more interested in really memorable new songs may prefer to download select tracks on iTunes.