CHRISTMAS & Jimmy Stewart’s story behind the most iconic, unscripted scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when George Bailey prays

by Rachel Scott, CNN, 12/19/20.

It’s George Bailey’s crucial moment. Disheveled and desperate, he offers up a Hail-Mary prayer to a God he’s not sure is listening…

Actor Jimmy Stewarts’ emotion is palpable in this scene, one that acclaimed actress Carol Burnett called one of the finest pieces of acting ever on the screen. What may have escaped audiences watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” over 70 years after its making, is that the tears running down Stewart’s face are real, the actor later shared.

Stewart had just returned home from serving as a flight leader in World War II and this 1946 film was his first movie since witnessing the horrors of war. With this postwar mentality, Stewart and director Frank Capra take a film titled “It’s a Wonderful Life” and antithetically crescendo into a failed suicide attempt.

…”It’s a Wonderful Life” addresses real and resonant issues of self-worth and failure. Fresh from the war, Stewart is grappling with these trials himself, as he shapes the deeply relatable character of George Bailey. Without Stewart’s real acquaintance with darkness, the holiday classic’s redefining perspective on life wouldn’t be able to shine so unforgettably bright.

… After serving in the Army Air Corps, Stewart had been absent from Hollywood for five years when he was offered the role in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He was initially hesitant to do the film, according to biographer Robert Matzen, but it was his only offer except for a film featuring his war service.

“‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was a result of Jim’s war experiences because it unlocked this depth of soul in Jimmy … He had to learn to act again and that’s what you’re seeing on screen. It’s like lightning that just got captured in a bottle,” biographer Robert Matzen told CNN.

This is seen in one of the film’s most iconic, unscripted scenes, when George Bailey finds himself at the end of his rope: “I’m not a praying man but if you’re up there and you can hear me, show me the way.”

George Bailey wasn’t scripted to cry, but Jimmy Stewart did.

“As I said those words, I felt the loneliness, the hopelessness of people who had nowhere to turn, and my eyes filled with tears. I broke down sobbing,” Stewart said in an interview in 1987.

Read more at …

HUMOR & Some of the greatest April Fools’ pranks of all time

by Todd Leopold, CNN, 4/1/18.

Pasta grows on trees

On April 1, 1957, the BBC TV show “Panorama” ran a segment about the Swiss spaghetti harvest enjoying a “bumper year” thanks to mild weather and the elimination of the spaghetti weevil. Many credulous Britons were taken in, and why not? The story was on television — then a relatively new invention — and Auntie Beeb would never lie, would it? 
The story was ranked the No. 1 April Fools’ hoax of all time by the Museum of Hoaxeswebsite — a fine source for all things foolish. 

Big Ben goes digital

The Brits are masters of April Fools’ gags, and in 1980, the BBC’s overseas service said the iconic clock tower was getting an update. Thejoke did not go over well, and the BBC apologized. That hasn’t stopped it from popping up again in the digital era, however

The Taco Liberty Bell

On April 1, 1996 a full page ad appeared in six major American newspapers (The Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and USA Today) announcing that the fast food chain Taco Bell had purchased the Liberty Bell. The full text of the ad read:
Taco Bell Buys The Liberty Bell
In an effort to help the national debt, Taco Bell is pleased to announce that we have agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell, one of our country’s most historic treasures. It will now be called the “Taco Liberty Bell” and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing. While some may find this controversial, we hope our move will prompt other corporations to take similar action to do their part to reduce the country’s debt.

In a separate press release, Taco Bell explained that the Liberty Bell would divide its time between Philadelphia and the Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine. It compared the purchase to the adoption of highways by corporations. Taco Bell argued that it was simply “going one step further by purchasing one of the country’s greatest historic treasures.” The company boasted, “Taco Bell’s heritage and imagery have revolved around the symbolism of the bell. Now we’ve got the crown jewel of bells.”


The Sun’s 50p poo piece.
The Sun’s 50p poo piece. Photograph: oanslow1/The Sun

The Sun, meanwhile, claimed there would be a Royal Mint collection of coin designs based on emojis, including a poo emoji 50p, while the Daily Star reckons we’ll now be able to get beer on the NHS. Apparently “Guinness is good for you” after all.


Daily Mail’s April Fool cat flap.
Daily Mail’s April Fool cat flap. Photograph: DAILY MAIL

The Daily Mail had news that Larry the Downing Street cat was getting its own catflap in the famous door to No 10.


Pick of the tech jokes this year is Google Tulip. With an extremely detailed technical spec and glossy promotional video, this development allows you to talk to your tulips, and discover just what it is they are thinking about. Spoiler alert: sunshine, soil and water.


And Cambridgeshire police are introducing the drug sniffer bunny.

Special Constabulary (@CambsCopsSC)

After 6 weeks training meet the forces new drugs sniffer rabbit Benni be sure to say hello if you see us on patrol#SSThomas

April 1, 2019

Read more at …

(Image credit: Ali Kameri / EyeEm / Getty Images) 

Okay, there are going to be people out there who want this to be real. With elaborate dog birthday parties (including requested gifts) already being a thing, there are bound to be disappointed dog event planners who were hoping that Wayfair’s dog wedding registry launch was legit. Dubbed “Groom’d,” the placeholder site suggests that dog couples will love putting together a list of items they want for their new joint lives—including décor—because, of course.


From the press release: “We’re delighted to introduce the next generation wedding registry with a platform created just for dogs looking to take their puppy love to the next level.”


Forget candles—scented wallpaper is the new fragrance trend we wish we could have at home. A “beta tester” used to rub citrus on her walls, but Spoonflower’s Orange Blossom saves her from the “pulpy mess.” We wouldn’t be mad at lining our walls with the Aloe Eucalyptus and Summer Rose scents, either.


Read more at …



SOCIAL MEDIA & Going to church in virtual reality: examples, ideas & cautions

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D.,  I once was skeptical about the depth of community that could be created online. But having taught graduate courses online (as well as onsite) for over 20 years, I’ve come to believe online community can be very personable and deep.

And so, I’ve come to see online churches as another campus or venue through which to spread the Good News. Granted, it still has its weaknesses as does every type of venue, but it also has a potentiality that the strategic leader must not overlook.

7 weaknesses I have identified of online venues include (but also often occur in live venues):

  1. Hubris that comes from being personality-driven
  2. Focus on receiving and not giving
  3. Accountability eclipsed by entertainment
  4. Technology drives expenditures
  5. Disenfranchised continue to be marginalized/ignored
  6. Reconciliation takes more effort
  7. Spiritual transformation is downplayed

Recently I had the opportunity to pull together speakers for the annual conference of the Great Commission Research Network. These were speakers who had experience leading online churches. You can find more information from the conference at these links:

SOCIAL MEDIA & Questions to stimulate discussion on how churches can more effectively utilize social media.

SOCIAL MEDIA & #NathanClark the leader of one of the nation’s first online communities tells the best thing a small church can do to connect & minister online

In addition one of my students from Kingswood University in Canada has started a church with her husband that includes an online service. Find more info about their multiplication strategy here: SOCIAL MEDIA & How a Toronto church plant uses gaming site Twitch to create online bible studies & community

Finally, here is a good video from CNN that gives a introduction to online churches.//

You can also view the CNN video here:

TEMPTATION & Why good people do bad things #JournalOfPersonality&SocialPsychology

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology revealed that people often fall prey to temptation when the temptation starts slowly and they don’t realize at first that they are being tempted. The biblical story of David illustrates this, when ‘a man after God’s own heart’ would not realize that he was giving into small temptations that would eventually lead to big consequences. Read this overview of the research by CNN and cite the original research article to learn more. According to the research, the preventative action is to recognize and reject ‘small’ temptations while remembering how in the past they have personally affected your reputation and well-being.”

Read more at …

CHRISTIANS & 3 Types: Cultural, Congregational & Convictional #EdStetzer

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel; “My friend Ed Stetzer has done a great service to the Body of Christ by pointing out there that there are not just two cultures of Christians (churchgoers & non-churchgoers) but actually three. See this helpful explanation by Ed to CNN. Thank you Ed! (But before this lulls convictional Christians into complacency just remember, despite these insights Pew Research shows that convictional Christians have plateaued and are beginning a decline.)”

Ed Stetzer (CNN), 5/24/15.

It’s helpful to statistically clarify Christianity in the United States into three categories—cultural, congregational, and convictional. The first two categories are nominal Christians—they identify, but do not shape their lives around the Christian faith.

Cultural Christians are the least connected — they call themselves Christian because of heritage or culture. Congregational Christians have some connection to a local church, but rarely attend. On the other hand, convictional Christians call themselves Christians like the other two categories, but they attend church services regularly and order their lives around their faith convictions.

If you read the headlines this week, you’d think the latter category is collapsing. But, that would be a sign of bad math, not an accurate reading of the situation.

About 70-75% of the U.S. population calls itself Christian, but about 25% of the U.S. population practices that faith in a robust manner. This includes, in order of size, evangelicals, Catholics, mainline Protestants, and others….

Today, we are seeing cultural Christians, and even some congregational Christians, now self-identify as religiously “unaffiliated.” Folks who previously marked “Christian” on a religious survey because they weren’t Hindu or Jewish are now choosing “none of the above.”

In other words, nominal Christians (cultural and congregational) are becoming the “nones.” That’s not all that is going on, but the nominals becoming the nones are a big part of it. How do we know? Well, math….

Yet, the kind of Christians going to church has changed, particularly among Protestants. It’s moved from mainline, to evangelical. In 1972, 9% of the American population was regular church-attending mainline Protestant and 8% was evangelical, according to GSS. By 2014, the roles had reversed: church-attending mainline Protestants made up 4% of the population, while evangelicals rose to 13%…

Read more at …

(Thanks to Scot McKnight for the edit.)