Monday, February 12, 2007

Chicks Rule!, or Art and Ideology

My wife proved herself a prophetess last night. Despite the prognosticators, she confidently proclaimed that the Dixie Chicks would be winners at the Grammy's--though I don't think she envisioned them winning 5 awards (in every category for which they were nominated).

There is, of course, a sweet irony about this. This trio that won "Best Country Album" has not received an iota of country radio airplay time because they dared to be critical of the unmitigated militarism of the current administration. And these same Chicks that won five Grammy's (!) did not receive a single award at last fall's Country Music Awards.

We have been DCX fans since the beginning and enjoyed seeing their tour's kick-off show in Detroit last summer. (Who launches a country tour in Detroit?!) While I wish they were a tad more elegant about this last night, I'm happy that their work has been vindicated in this way. Don Henley was just downright giddy about the Dixie Chicks last night. (Alot of folks have noted that the Chicks' album, Taking the Long Way, has 70's-ish Eagles-like echoes.) When Don Henley is in your corner, it makes morons like Toby Keith look even smaller.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Edwards and the "T"-word

In rolling out his campaign for nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards sounds like...well, a Democrat! It's quite jarring to hear when one has become used to the basically right- and centrist-B.S. that passes for Democratic rhetoric in the wake of Bill Clinton. But the New York Times reports:
Appearing on “Meet the Press” on NBC on Sunday, Mr. Edwards said he would raise taxes on people making more than $200,000 a year to help pay for the [health care] plan, which he estimated could cost up to $120 billion a year.
That's right, folks: Edwards dropped the "T"-bomb (or is it the "R-T"-bomb): he will campaign for raising taxes. And in particular, he will suggest that it might not be a bad idea to tax the wealthy at a rate a tad higher than the working class. Where'd he come up with this stuff? (Maybe he took a glance at the way the rest of the entire civilized world operates.)

Granted, it's a bit early to know just what Edwards' is about. But I confess to being a bit giddy that somebody would roll out their campaign in this climate and unapologetically talk about raising taxes.

What would American politics look like if the working class were no longer duped by the cloak of social conservatism worn by the bourgeoisie, and actually started to vote in their interests?

[As a teaser for you-know-who-you-are: Given that they're still placing their eggs in the basket of statecraft, I'll be very interested to see whether Jim Wallis & Co. have the courage to get behind Edwards' (fairly) strident anti-poverty, anti-war campaign. Or will the rhetoric of "feasability" and "pragmatism"--and just the sheer glow of celebrity--keep them close to people like Obama and Hilary?]

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunday "Snow Day"

For the first time in my memory, our city is experiencing a "snow day" on a Sunday (yes, my kids think God is playing a cruel joke by dumping a blizzard on the weekend!). All of the local churches, because of what's being hailed by sensationalistic local media as "The Blizzard of '07," are closed this morning and services are cancelled.

But why should a dumping of snow shut down Sunday worship across the city? Because people overwhelmingly drive to church. A Sunday Snow Day is a tangible confirmation of the loss of the parish in the North American church. Sunday is yet another "commuting" day because the automobility of religious communities merely mimicks the automobility of the culture in general--with this exception: if this was a Monday, more folks would have braved the roads for work than for worship.

This is related to the research project ("Subdivided by Faith") that Mark Mulder and I are conducting for the Center for Social Research. In particular, we are investigating how and why evangelicalism (and other Christian traditions, too) so easily gave up on "the parish"--and the impact of that on culture.

The other question to be asked is whether there's any hope for recovering the parish model. Could we imagine a configuration of urban life where a "snow day" just means bundling up for the walk to church?