Wish you could’ve learned the Bible Muppet Show-style, complete with white-haired hecklers and blue puppets singing bluegrass? Add in a computer-animated flannelgraph and you’ve got What’s in the Bible? Church Edition, a new Sunday school curriculum from VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer. Available digitally or on 4 DVDs, each set includes 4 weeks of chronological Bible stories and sing-along worship songs on videos, media files, teacher training videos, customizable documents full of activities, and access to online resources for teachers, students, and parents (whatsinthebible.com). Once they get over the fact that “Sunday school lady” sounds a lot like Pa Grape, teachers will enjoy seeing fruit.
A movie version of Donald Miller’s bestselling biography Blue Like Jazz is tentatively scheduled for release in fall. Less than a month before production began, co-writers and directors Miller and Steve Taylor declared the film dead after a major investor pulled out. Two weeks later, two Blue Like Jazz fans began a grassroots fundraising campaign, raising $345,992 in 30 days. Donald’s character, played by True Blood’s Marshall Allman, attempts to “escape his Bible Belt upbringing for life in the Pacific Northwest at the most godless campus in America.” Lost’s Tania Raymonde also stars.
One doesn’t expect to find a prayer on a computer game, nor on a list of Grammy nominees, but “Baba Yetu,” a Swahili adaptation of the Lord’s Prayer, appears on both. Soren Johnson, lead developer for Sid Meier’s Civilization IV, asked his old Stanford roommate, classical composer Christopher Tin, to write the game’s theme song in 2005. Nominated for “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists,” the song also appears on Tin’s album Calling All Dawns (also nominated for a Grammy) sung by the Soweto Gospel Choir.
The cultural stigma against obesity may be keeping some people away from church. Baylor University’s Shanna Granstra found obese women were more likely to affiliate with a religious congregation, but less likely than other women to attend services, according to her study presented to the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. On the other hand, researchers from Purdue University, in a study published in a 2006 Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, found “the more women attend religious services, the lower their risk for becoming obese.”