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Billy Graham and the emergence of Christian media.

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From the start, Billy Graham was a media magnet and he knew how to use the power of media. Even most liberals and progressives (although there were exceptions like William Edelen and the Gaylor family/FFRF) could not shoot down this man who wore his faith on the sleeve and actually respected Graham.

Did you know that without Billy Graham, Christian media as we know it today might not have taken off and flourished? In his time and prime there was a Federal Council of Churches that consisted of mostly mainline churches and basically fought to keep “evangelical voices” off the air on both radio and even TV when it was brand new (follow the attendance and the money). When Graham became president of Northwestern Bible College in 1948, he through the college applied for one of the construction permits that the Federal Communications Commission approved of in the 1940’s. Northwest Bible College got the green light from the FCC and a year later KTIS AM signed on in the Twin Cities. Today Northwestern Media owns 18 radio stations (9 FM, 9 AM) and in honor of what Graham did continues to be the media outreach of what is now called the University of Northwestern. You can read more about Graham and Northwestern Media here.

Soon after Northwestern Media and Graham’s inroads into mainstream media, others quickly followed. Most notably Percy Crawford who began his TV program “Youth on the March” on the fleeting ABC Network who also carried Graham’s “Hour of Decision” on their radio network. In 1958 Crawford started his namesake radio company to buy up radio stations and carry full-time Christian formatted programming. Percy Crawford would pass away in October 1960, but his son Don and later grandson Don Jr. would carry on his legacy to this day. While Moody Bible Institute was in radio since 1925, their respected radio network did not talk off until 1958. The same year that the Crawford Broadcasting Company started.

Another important Christian broadcaster Dick Bott grew up in a Christian home and while no stranger to Christian evangelism choose a different path. After marrying his wife, Bott got involved in her father’s radio station selling ads that would air on the respected station. He would later buy and operate a secular station in Salinas/Monterey, California which Bott would eventually sell off. Bott was compelled to build a radio station on consistent Christian programming but with integrity and accountability. Bott bought a country music station in the Kansas City metropolitan area and quickly changed the format and call letters. The station that was KANS-AM became KCCV 760 AM “Kansas City’s Christian Voice” in 1962. It and its FM simulcast sister with the same call letters are still the flagship stations of the now “Bott Radio Network” which consists of now 118 stations that it owns. In 1966 Warren Bolthouse stated Family Life Broadcasting (aka Family Life Radio or FLR) which today owns 43 stations and is now based on Tucson, Arizona.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s Lester Sumrall made his inroads into Christian media stating with WHME-FM in South Bend, Indiana and later into TV with the acquisition of WHMB-TV in Indianapolis and later the sign on of WHME-TV in South Bend. These three stations laid the groundwork for LeSea Broadcasting. Paul and Jan Crouch started their own TV programming with would become known as the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in 1973. The Bible Broadcasting Network signed on in 1971 with a single station in Norfolk, Virginia growing to 49 full power stations.

An FM rock station in Orange County, California KYMS 106.3 which could not compete with the more powerful rock signals of KMET (now KTWV) and KLOS in the greater Los Angeles area found its niche with the emerging Jesus people in 1975. In addition to Christian teaching and talk programs, KYMS also played the fleeting “Jesus Music” that was popular with that respected audience and while KYMS was not the very first Contemporary Christian Music station (that honor went to a station in Lincoln, Nebraska), it was the first one that was successful. KYMS’s run as a Contemporary Christian station would last for 20 years. WHME-FM would jump on this music and eventually spinning it off on a station of its own in the 1990’s. Northwestern Media’s FM stations and FLR would also adopt a CCM format in due time.

Radio broadcaster Bob Anthony also caught on to this emerging genre and would be one of the founders of Educational Media Foundation which signed on a single FM station in Santa Rosa, California in 1982 playing Contemporary Christian music. Today EMF owns and operates over 245 radio stations with its Christian music services K-Love and Air1. Another radio company devoted to Christian programming also was started up around this time. This for-profit company was founded by Stuart Epperson and Edward G. Atsinger III and they still head up this company we know today as Salem Media Group. In the late 1980’s Bob and Felice Augsburg started up what would become know as WayMedia and it’s Way-Fm brand which originally targeted Christian youth with Christian Music that appealed to that respected audience.

The list is almost endless with so many other Christian broadcasters over the years and many not as big as the ones I listed. For better and for worse the Christian media we take for granted, even in the new media likely would not have happened had it not been for Billy Graham.

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Entertainment and Sports

Interview with Christopher Shaw

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Interview with Christopher Shaw

I was given the opportunity to interview Christopher Shaw. He is the director of the upcoming movie, Church PeopleChurch People is “romantic comedy satire” about a celebrity youth pastor caught up in the marketing machine of his mega church. In the interview, Christopher discusses the redemptive story arc involving what is a sad reality within churches today.

But the journey leading up to this movie was no cakewalk. Christopher’s start came from making Youtube videos. He then built a network of Christian comedians on Facebook, most notably the relationship between he and Thor Ramsay, the writer and star of Church People. They finally began their working relationship at the 168 Film Festival back in 2010. During this festival, they produced the short Skip Listening in a short period of time, the entire process taking no more than 18 days. Skip Listening won accolades at the festival and so the two have continued working together ever since.

As a Director, Christopher appreciates a high quality film. This was his critique of faith based movies, however he emphasized his optimism for how much the category has improved over the years. Passion of the Christ, he says was a breakthrough in closing this disparity. Since then, a number of faith-based films have proven to be remarkable returns on investment. As I pointed out in the interview, Christian comedy, remains rather untapped in its potential, which is a reason I sought to interview someone behind Church People.

Because this interview was for Startup Christ Presents, one of the goals of the interview is to tap their entrepreneurial wisdom. Christopher was not lacking for advice to give. The theme of the advice can be summarized by saying unless God is saying otherwise, start making content. Technology has increased the ease of entrance with film and distribution of content.

These are some of the highlights from the interview. You can watch, or rather listen, on youtube, and if you feel so inclined, subscribe to Christianity Visualized, a new channel I am working on. More to come on that later.

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Conspiracy Theory

No, Symeon Star-Eyes is not the Night King

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No Symeon Star-Eyes is not the Night King

A week ago, HBO dropped the long awaited and highly anticipated Game of Thrones final season trailer. This take may be late take, but oft times, I believe in letting the hot takes simmer down so the voices who aren’t seeking quick views for their lackluster analysis stand out. Now a lot of fan accounts on Youtube have boasted finding all these “easter eggs” in the trailer that just are not there. Particularly a lot of people are being misled by the theory that the legendary Symeon Star-Eyed is the Night King. The theory has the vote of confidence from Cosmo and its readers.

This theory existed on Reddit long before the trailer dropped. It goes so far to suggest that Symeon Star-Eyes was perhaps a Stark, but definitely from the North because the “North would want their own hero amongst the greatest heroes in Westeros history.” There is no evidence to suggest why Brandon the Builder, Breaker, Shipwright, and Burner aren’t sufficient legends. Knighthood is tied to the Seven, so it is unlikely he was from the North… But I need to slow myself down. The Game of Thrones trailer featured a star-eyed Night King reigniting this theory.

image

The seven pointed star is symbolic of the Faith of the Seven, the religion of the Andals, which would make, according to this theory, the Night King an Andal in origin. The belief that the Night King is the Andal Symeon Star-Eyes, a fabled knight from the Age of Heroes, is self defeating. Let’s first address the proposed evidence.

“There was a knight once who couldn’t see,” Bran said stubbornly, as Ser Rodrik went on below. “Old Nan told me about him. He had a long staff with blades at both ends and he could spin it in his hands and chop two men at once.”

“Symeon Star-Eyes,” Luwin said as he marked numbers in a book. “When he lost his eyes, he put star sapphires in the empty sockets, or so the singers claim. Bran, that is only a story, like the tales of Florian the Fool. A fable from the Age of Heroes.”

AGOT Bran VII 

Now, it’s important to note that White Walkers, which are referred to as Others, have not directly appeared in the books. In the lore, the Others are always depicted as having blue eyes, like when the when the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (allegedly) had sex with one.

“A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well. He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will.”

AGOT Bran IV

That man was known as the Night’s King, which is a far more plausible than Symeon Star-Eyes for being the Night King. This of course would only be true if the Night King was not an original amongst the Others. For this is generations after the Others were defeated, hence why there is a Night’s Watch. The idea that the Others have changed leadership is a major supposition not supported by either canon material or even the show who depict neither a queen nor power struggle which would likely still remain if an Other form of Symeon Star-Eyes usurped power to declare himself Night King.

And that is the less obvious reason why this fan theory is the Fake News of Game of Thrones theories. The most pressingly clear reason is that there were no Andals during the Long Night. The Andal Invasion did not occur until well into the Age of Heroes. The argument I’ve seen in response to this pressingly obvious fact is that history in Game of Thrones is unreliable. George RR Martin is intentional about using non-reliable narrators as well as writing a history of Westeros that is entirely contingent upon the interpretation of its multiple writers. Therefore the exact timing of the arrival of the Andals is subject to debate. This is all true. However, there is nothing to suggest that the Andals invaded during the Dawn Age. The Age of Heroes began after peace was made with the Children of the Forrest, as explained in the show in season one.

The First Men, who are the other predominant race in Westeros have the Others embedded in their culture, while the Andals generally believe the Others to be no more real than grumpkins and snarks. By the time the Andals arrived in Westeros, we are well into the Age of Heroes. Let’s go into more detail. When the Andals arrived they carved runes of seven pointed stars and brought their faith with them. Their invasion was repelled by the Stark Kings of Winter. Thus, the North remained primarily First Men and worshiped the old gods. House Stark remembers the Others, hence Winter is Coming. The Arryns of the Vale were established towards the very beginning of this time, for the Vale is the nearest landing spot. House Arryn is one of the oldest and purest of the Andal houses, until the current storyline. The Long Night is not in their culture. Lann the Clever had already taken Casterly Rock and established House Lannister. House Lannister bares a maternal lineage to Lann the Clever, a First Man, and has taken on an Andal line. There are FOUR Lannister POV characters. None of them reference their ancestors fighting Others. As you can see, the Andal houses did not experience the Long Night, meaning they Others invaded long before they arrived. So once again, how can Symeon Star-Eyes be the Night King.

Explanation

There are two reasons why the Night King’s, and by extension all Others’ eyes would be shaped as a seven-pointed star. The first is that a dragon must have three heads and a star must have seven points. This is to say that HBO is blowing smoke up people’s asses. The second is that the Children of the Forrest created an abomination to the old gods, whom they worship along with the First Men. This abomination bore resemblance to the faith of the seven, much like how the god Baal resembles numerous other false gods. As for me, I believe the former because the show-runners are not that intricate.

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Conspiracy Theory

Sci-Fi short film offers terrifying future of authoritarianism after 2nd Amendment repeal

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Sci-Fi short film offers terrifying future of authoritarianism after 2nd Amendment repeal

Warning: Adult language and some adult content.

The folks over at Dust have mastered the art of the short science fiction film. Their take on an authoritarian future is no exception and strikes a little too close to home for conservatives.

Imagine if nanotechnology became so advanced that it could do nearly anything to a person even at the genetic level. New hair color? No problem. Longer life? Done. Special “powers”? Sure.

What if the government could track our incapacitate anyone remotely thanks to this nanotechnology? In the scenario detailed in this short film, the government has decided to repeal the 2nd Amendment since there’s apparently no need for an armed citizenry in such a society.

For the rest, you’ll just have to watch the video. It’s 14 minutes yet terrifying nonetheless.

The combination of advancing technologies and authoritarianism in Washington DC could make for a truly horrifying future if we’re not careful. When they say something is being done to improve the collective, be skeptical.

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