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Adoption is hard. It shouldn’t be.

When I was just a little guy, there would often be an additional child hanging around our home. We weren’t a wealthy family by financial measures, but that didn’t stop my parents from fostering children in need of a home, often for indeterminate periods of time. You could say the “pro-life” thing for my family wasn’t just a political position, but a belief in action.

These little ones might stay with our family for a few weeks, others stayed for many months. Babies, teenagers, teen mothers, etc. To this day, when my mother decorates the house for Christmas, visitors find photos of babies in ceramic ornaments on our Christmas Tree. I’m not sure of the exact number, but I feel like at least five or six of these ornaments show up every year. These ornaments are somewhat sacred in our home. “Oh, who’s that? That is one of our sweet foster children from years ago.”

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A True Detective recap, or why the internet nearly ruined this show

I am a fan of the programming on HBO.

It probably started by watching Sex and The City with girls in college (a terrible choice on multiple levels) and then moved onto Entourage (arguably a terrible choice) which is still a very guilty pleasure of mine. I love Band of Brothers, The Pacific, John Adams, and many more of the mini-series made possible by HBO. Factor in shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, The Newsroom, Real Sports, Boardwalk Empire, Treme, even Real Time with Bill Maher, and you’ve got some of the best story-telling available on one channel.

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Society has to be better than the individual…

“Society has to be better than the individual…”

This quote comes courtesy of the film Ides of March, a political drama released in 2011 starring George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Evan Rachel Wood. The story follows a campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for President in a non-descript election year. As a true political nerd, I really enjoyed it.

This quote has lingered in my memory since I first saw the film. Every now and then, I bring it up when discussing national issues where one individuals actions would make us worse as a society. In particular, one story I read late this past week reminded me of this quote and its meaning for me and my personally held values.

Story: A young man in Cleveland, OH on trial for the murder of three high school students in February of 2012 was awaiting sentencing for his actions. Sadly, this is not a new story. But we can talk about youth, gun violence, and specifically school shootings another time… What made this particular story so chilling is a shirt the murderer wore, and the statement he made directly to the families of those he killed. While I won’t repeat it here, you can find it in the link above. Suffice to say it’s vulgar and heartbreaking at the same time.

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From the Oscars to the Nashville Film Festival – why Popularity is not synonymous with “Best”

Of the nine films nominated for “Best Picture” at the 2013 Academy Awards, not one finished in the Top Ten for Domestic Box Office gross. The first Oscar-nominated film to appear among the top domestic grossing films released in 2012 is “Lincoln”, with $180M, in 13th place.* Only two other films, “Django Unchained” and “Les Miserables” appear in the top twenty domestic highest-grossing films released in 2012.

When we consider total gross (including International Box Office receipts) and rank the films, only one film released in 2012, “Life of Pi”, ends up in the top 100 grossing films and is currently ranked behind films such as Mama Mia, Fast Five, all three Transformers films, and all four Twilight films.

This article from Freakonomics (though not written by Dubner or Levitt) suggests that box office receipts identify the best film based solely on gross revenue. Therefore, whichever film was most popular is best under this assumption.

This is not the way the Academy Awards are awarded. However, when it comes to the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press votes for the winners. It is much more of a popularity contest, evidenced most recently by the nominations of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie for “The Tourist.” This film was nominated at the Globes for Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Picture, yet earned no Academy Award nominations in any category.

So, if the top twelve highest domestic grossing films released in 2012 weren’t recognized by the Oscars as the best films, what does that say?

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An open letter to FHU President Dr. Joe Wiley

Dr. Wiley,

As an alumnus of Freed-Hardeman University (B.B.A., May 05′), I am writing you today to express my concern over a recent decision made by the university supposedly in the interest of protecting the hearts and minds of students at FHU.

Freed-Hardeman University educates young adults in a system where faith plays a significant role in the day-to-day curriculum. The goals of FHU are made clear on the History and Mission portion of the website where we read that,

“Freed-Hardeman University will be the preferred academic community for students who seek to grow in faith, knowledge, and service in a changing world.”

A lofty goal, no doubt, considering the competition. I want FHU to be the best academic of the Christian universities in the nation. This is a mission I want to support, mainly because I hold a degree from FHU. Yet I cannot begin to understand why FHU continues to make this such a difficult thing to do.

Earlier this week, a mother connected to FHU announced via blog post that university Cheerleaders would be wearing pants next year. This appears to be a decision that originated with you, Dr. Wiley. That may not be the case, but as the public face of the university you need to respond.

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How can we love Nashville?

In my last post about Nashville, I lamented the designation of our capital city as “Nowville.”

The NashvilleNext project is moving forward, and if you care about Nashville you should make an effort to be part of the process for determining the direction our city will take over the next twenty-five years.

Although twenty-five years might seem like a long time from now, it will be here before we know it. I’d like to see Nashville (and the State of Tennessee) prepared to handle the numerous challenges of a thriving metro area. Issues like how we handle traffic, how we improve education, how we reduce crime, how we manage immigration, how we inspire more/better jobs, how we continue to responsibly grow our economy, how we encourage smart community development, and much more must be addressed.

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What’s next for Nashville?

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What really is Next for Nashville? Well, I’ll tell you.

Nashville has been making “headlines” around the country over the past 18-to-24 months. Our fair southern city has quite suddenly become a town where people supposedly want to be. Who knew?

That’s not really true. Nashville is a city where people have desperately wanted to be for years and years. However, our bustling mini-metropolis has been gaining attention for reasons other than country music, and this is apparently cause for national news in the eyes of The New York Times, Forbes Magazine, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, and the unparalleled Charleston City Paper. Thank goodness we’re being offered nicknames like “Nowville” (courtesy of GQ), or being referred to as America’s “It” city (less than sincere thanks to the NYT).

I don’t speak for every Nashville resident, nor for my generation, nor for transplants to Nashville, or any other group. But I can’t help feeling like Nashville has been a pretty great place to live for a long, long time.

Not that we don’t have a lot of work to do. In fact, if we’re really honest with ourselves – Nashville needs to grow up in a few ways.

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