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The faith and cultural impact of Jon Stewart

Television host Jon Stewart during a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in New York, November 30, 2011 (Credit: AP Photo/Brad Barket)Famed explorer Marco Polo, the one who gave us the timeless pool game, was believed to be one of the first Europeans to reach China. Speculation abounds as to whether he was the first, but there is a common consensus that he was the first to give a detailed account in his book entitled: Book of the Marvels of the World, also known as The Travels of Marco Polo. On his deathbed, he would tell those gathered regarding his travels, "I did not tell half of what I saw." While Polo kept some information to himself because he thought he would never be believed, Polo might not believe the impact his travels had on the world today. Such is the life of a frontiersman.

On Thursday, the part cultural frontiersman, part snarky newsman Jon Stewart will say goodbye to his Daily Show audience after 16 years. Drawing in a new audience to the shrinking nightly news world, Stewart will be missed greatly, even "god" tweeted "Farewell Jon Stewart. Now who will I get my news from?" Delivering the news on the Comedy Central network, the comedian Stewart epitomized Shakespeare's observation that "jesters do oft serve as prophets."

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Did Beijing use a bit of Disney magic in Olympic bid?

Chinese Olympic fans take selfies to celebrate after Beijing was selected to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, July 31, 2015 (Credit: AP Photo/ImagineChina/Bian Qing)Reports have circulated recently that Beijing may have used a bit of Disney magic in its successful bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Their song "The Snow and Ice Dance," one of 10 official songs submitted as part of their bid, is suspiciously similar to the hit song "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen. As long as you don't live in China where YouTube is banned, you're free to listen and decide for yourself (after you finish reading this of course), but it's pretty clear that the songs have a lot in common.
 
As Caijing Online, a prominent Chinese business magazine, found when they took a closer look at the two songs, from the instrumentation and tempo to the prelude chords and eight beat introductions, the similarities are unmistakable. While all of that could theoretically be a coincidence, the odds that the Chinese officials were not trying to profit from the popularity of Disney's hit song seem longer than a city with no snow hosting the Winter Olympics…ok, bad example.

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Key and Peele on the sport of teaching

Key and Peele sketch 'TeachingCenter' (Credit: Comedy Central via Youtube)Key and Peele is a popular sketch comedy show on Comedy Central starring Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. While their language is, at times, of the not-safe-for-work variety, they often have a thought provoking way of addressing important issues with a levity that moves the audience beyond pre-conceived notions in order to get at the heart of the matter. A recent sketch titled "TeachingCenter," a parody of ESPN's SportsCenter, has garnered a good bit of attention and does just that.

The bit begins with a traditional SportsCenter inspired introduction leading into the day's top story. Prized free agent and star English teacher Ruby Ruhf has finally made her decision on where she'll be teaching next year. As the cameras zoom in, she calmly states "I've enjoyed my time in Ohio very much, but I'm pleased to announce that I'm taking my talents back to New York City." She'll be compensated quite well for her efforts with a guaranteed $80 million over 6 years and another $40 million in incentives based on test scores.

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MercyMe's 'Flawless'

MercyMe Flawless Story Behind The Song (Credit: MercyMe via Youtube)MercyMe has been my favorite Christian band for a while now and, short of DC Talk getting back together, that's not likely to change any time soon. The reason is that they masterfully combine enjoyable music with accurate and thought-provoking theology. While Christian music has come a long way since the 90's, that can still be a difficult combination to consistently find.  Their latest song "Flawless" is no different.

That said, I must admit that when I first heard the song, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. While the idea that "the cross has made you flawless" sounds great, I know myself well enough to realize that I am far from flawless despite my salvation in Christ. Moreover, both scripture and experience demonstrate that the same is true for all of us. So what exactly do they mean when they say that we are flawless?

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Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton Split

@mirandalambert Still on cloud 9 from last night! Thanks @blakeshelton for surprising everyone in Dallas! #hubby #home #family #Texasproud (Credit: Miranda Lambert via Instagram)We knew there was something special when they first sang together, performing "You are the reason God made Oklahoma" for a CMT special. Likewise, we knew there was something terribly wrong when they announced on Monday they were separating. Country music stars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton announced their divorce after four years of marriage Monday, confirming long-held suspicions and crushing long-held dreams.

"This is not the future we envisioned," the couple said in a statement to the Associated Press. "It is with heavy hearts that we move forward separately. We are real people, with real lives, with real families, friends and colleagues. Therefore, we kindly ask for privacy and compassion concerning this very personal matter."

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