The biggest 7%-off sale in history: Why are sales tax holidays such a draw?

At 12:01 a.m., Mississippi’s sales tax holiday weekend officially began. It is one of the most restrictive in the country, covering only “Clothing and footwear items, meant to be worn next to the body and cost[ing] less than $100 per item,” according to the Department of Revenue press release. Touted as a back-to-school savings event, it doesn’t cover backpacks or school supplies of any kind. And if your child participates in athletics, sportswear doesn’t count either, despite it’s closeness to the body.

Still, your favorite shopping destination in the Magnolia State will likely be packed this weekend, as families look to save on blue jeans, t-shirts, socks and the like (unless they have a Nike swoosh on them, I suppose).


Continue reading “The biggest 7%-off sale in history: Why are sales tax holidays such a draw?”

Help Fight the Hunger Crisis in the Horn of Africa

Credit NBC Nightly News and Brian Williams. Amidst continued bickering and brinkmanship in Washington over the billions of dollars we frivolously spend each year, the most-watched evening newscast has managed to consistently devote time to the devastating famine in the Horn of Africa. A video archive, along with a list of organizations in need of donations, can be found on the Nightly website.

It’s a terribly human story. Heartbreaking. And it moves people to action. Except it’s summer – people aren’t as attuned to the news of the day, and donations have been slow to roll in.

I chose to give to two organizations. UNICEF is operating feeding centers and drilling wells on the Somali-Kenyan border. The World Food Programme is using aircraft to reach victims of the famine in isolated portions of Somalia, far from the camps set up by most international aid organizations.

This is no attempt to toot my own horn – it is an endorsement of the operations of these two aid organizations. Donate a few dollars to one if you can.

[Clickworthy] Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me

C.S. Lewis had some strange theological ideas. I still read and love his work. George MacDonald was a universalist. His book are still instructive and beautiful. Tolkien had his own theological failings. After watching the fiery debate over the Harry Potter books, I wonder if any novel, Christian or otherwise, could withstand the theological nitpicking that’s been inflicted on Rowling, either in the work itself or the author’s worldview.

Andrew Peterson’s exploration of spirituality – even overt Christianity – and Harry Potter isn’t necessarily a new thing. But his post on The Rabbit Room blog is quite poignant, conversational, and, given the historic weekend Potter’s final chapter is having at the box office, clickworthy.

Peterson makes an argument that has long been made of mainstream literature and film – that parallels to the story of Christ can be made and should be enjoyed by those who hold the beliefs. I’ve seen creative uses of The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, and countless other films in the context of a sermon. I once used the Harry Potter book series in a speaking appearance of my own. Are they intentionally, explicitly “Christian” works? Not at all. But they still reflect the story in which so many place their hope. As Peterson explains:

Let me be clear: Harry Potter is NOT Jesus. This story isn’t inspired, at least not in the sense that Scripture is inspired; but because I believe that all truth is God’s truth […] I have the freedom to rejoice in the Harry Potter story, because even there, Christ is King. Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ. Do we think him so small that he couldn’t invade a series of books about a boy wizard? Do we think him cut off from a story like this, as if he were afraid, or weak, or worried?

I have always held the same impression of music. Songs mean different things to different listeners, approaching the creative work with different experiences and beliefs. Artists will tell you it’s one of their favorite things about making music – that their art can be interpreted so many different ways. There are many songs in my library that I interpret as having spiritual lyrics (as the mocking statement goes, replace “baby” with “Jesus” and you’ve written a Christian song). When I worked in Christian radio, I loved being able to place those songs in the context of a faith-filled playlist. It added (badly needed) variety, and perhaps accentuated the message I perceived.

So, what do you think? Are people of faith misguided when they attempt to draw parallels between their own source of salvation and a movie or book that may, or may have not intended such a meaning? Should the parallels be used to teach others, even if the other portions of the work arguably depart from the message of the faith?

See something in the news that you think is Clickworthy? Email Dylan.

Life at the end of the Trail

To the friends, family, and colleagues who helped make the launch of this website a success, thank you. We had a big first few days, even before the search engines caught on. That being said, I probably shouldn’t have launched the thing right before a weeklong trip to the Pacific Northwest. Apologies for the quiet time. Let me make it up to you with some photos:

Continue reading “Life at the end of the Trail”

[Clickworthy] Is your church too cool?

We have one place for the uncool people—our ministries—and another place for the cool people—our church services. When we actually bump into one another, things can get ‘awkward,’ so we try to avoid it.

Rachel Held Evans explains why she longs for the traditional “uncool” church in a brief feature for Relevant Magazine that hit their website Wednesday. While I certainly think it is possible for a church to market itself and not lose its way, her story shows us how quickly branding and image can supercede the mission.

Read more from Evans on her blog. This clickworthy article was spotted on Jonny Diaz’s Twitter feed. Follow him. He’s entertaining. And his brother is a major league baseball player.

See something in the news that you think is Clickworthy? Email Dylan.

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