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CULTURE DIGEST: Rebecca St. James pens 'guide to Christian men'; ...

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Women who want to know what men are thinking can look forward to some help from Rebecca St. James. The newly married Grammy Award-winning artist will explore what men have to say about relationships in her upcoming book, "What Is He Thinking?? What Guys Want Us To Know About Dating, Love and Marriage" (FaithWords/Hachette Book Group).

"Drawing on interviews with single men as well as married men, along with her own dating experiences, St. James helps define just what men are looking for and what they wish women knew," according to a press release from St. James's publicist.

What Is He Thinking??, which book publicity calls "the ultimate field guide to Christian men," reveals, among other things, the top 10 turnoffs for guys, do's and don'ts for interacting with guys, and their candid responses to questions on topics such as modesty, beauty and honoring God in relationships.

St. James, who married her husband Jacob Fink, in April, has been a longtime advocate for the True Love Waits abstinence movement, participating in many of its events and encouraging Christians to remain sexually pure until marriage with her single "Wait For Me." Publicity for her new book notes that it continues in that spirit, with abstinence advice from men such as tips for maintaining physical boundaries.

The book, scheduled to release in September, also touches on her previous struggles with singleness and loneliness.

"In the heart of all of us, I believe that there's a longing for adventure," St. James as saying. "It's not just guys that love to live a new story and go on a journey. That's what dating can be, girls ... an exciting adventure. Yes, it is scary at times and tough to navigate -- but it is worth it! And God is shaping us in the process."


'I'LL FLY AWAY' FAMILY EMBROILED IN LAWSUIT -- A lawsuit over song royalties is tearing apart the family of the man who penned the Gospel classic "I'll Fly Away."

According to The Tennessean in Nashville, the now-deceased Albert E. Brumley wrote I'll Fly Away, and one of his sons, Bob Brumley, currently collects the song's royalties. But Bob Brumley's three remaining siblings, along with a fourth sibling's widow and a fifth sibling's children, are suing him in a Nashville federal court for their share of a bounty that, between 2004 and the third quarter of 2009 alone, totaled $1.4 million.

The Tennessean reported that Albert E. Brumley formed Albert E. Brumley & Sons to administer his copyrights, which included I'll Fly Away. More than 30 years after Albert Brumley's death, his son Bob Brumley is the sole owner of the company -- and sole reaper of the financial rewards of his father's legacy.

"We were always kind of wondering what the deal was," Jackson Brumley, one of Bob Brumley's siblings, told The Tennessean. "They never shared any royalties with us. As time went on, we just wondered more about how it was done. I kind of hesitated to do anything because I knew it was going to split the family up."

Jackson Brumley told The Tennessean that he asked his brother about releasing his sole hold on I'll Fly Away and other songs, but Bob Brumley refused. Now the relatives filing the lawsuit are banking on copyright termination rights, in which an artist or his heirs can reclaim the legal rights to the artist's work -- in this case from Bob Brumley's company.


The legal case is expected to answer questions about termination rights, which crop up in other cases involving arguments between writers and publishers, The Tennessean noted.

CHURCHES VIEWED POSITVELY BY PUBLIC, BARNA STUDY SAYS -- Most Americans believe churches play a positive role in communities, and even atheists and agnostics don't view churches harshly.

A Barna Group study released July 13 revealed a generally upbeat attitude among the public regarding how churches influence their areas. The study revealed that 78 percent of Americans believe the presence of a church has a "very" (53 percent) or "somewhat" positive (25 percent) effect on their communities.

"Those with the most favorable views of churches are elders (ages 66-plus), married adults, residents of the South, women, Protestants, churchgoers, African-Americans and political conservatives," the study said.

Among the approximately one-fifth of Americans who disagree, 17 percent profess indifference toward the influence of churches, while one in 20 believe churches play an either very (2 percent) or somewhat (3 percent) negative role in communities, the study revealed. It noted those least likely to view churches positively include Mosaics (ages 18-27), men, never-married adults, atheists and agnostics, the unchurched, political liberals, those living in the West and Northwest, and those not registered to vote.

While atheists and agnostics were the only key demographic group not to hold a mostly positive view of churches, Barna Group President David Kinnaman noted that only 14 percent of them viewed churches negatively.


"Despite the aggressive posture of leading skeptics, most Americans who have no religious affiliation or belief are not overtly hostile to churches," Kinnaman said.

Barna also asked the 1,021 adults surveyed how churches could benefit their communities. The three most common ways respondents said churches could help were by assisting the poor and addressing poverty (29 percent), cultivating biblical values (14 percent) and serving youth, families and the elderly (13 percent). Common ministry activities like teaching the Bible and giving spiritual direction came next (12 percent), followed by assisting those in recovery (10 percent) and addressing workplace, financial and educational issues (7 percent). Very small percentages answered that churches should be inclusive and accepting of everyone (3 percent), while only 1 percent of respondents said churches should contribute to their community by being engaged politically. One-fifth of those asked didn't give a response.

Among Kinnaman's conclusions from the research are that even the unchurched view churches as important to their communities.

"This positive view is partly due to the fact that most unchurched adults are de-churched, or former churchgoers," he said. "So, although they may be wary of personal involvement, they have an understanding of the service and assistance that churches can provide to their communities."

Kinnaman also noted that most Americans don't seem to connect serving the community with telling individuals about Christ.


"Ministry-related goals -- such as teaching the Bible, introducing people to Christ and bringing people to salvation -- are infrequently viewed as a primary way to serve the community," he said. "Even among many churchgoers, contributing positively to the community is perceived to be the result of offering the right mix of public service programs. Yet, this seems to miss an important biblical pattern: you change communities by transforming lives."

John Evans is a writer based in Houston.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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