This short story provides scathing social commentary on the differences of economic opportunity and income inequality that divide us today (some piggies can afford to go to market and get roast beef; other piggies stay home and have none). The fact that the pig eats roast beef – another farm animal – is a hyperbolic expression of the ruthless lifestyle of the upper class piggy. The brilliant cry of the final piggy (“wee wee wee”) symbolizes the outcry that will undoubtedly spawn a revolution as piggies deny the selfish ‘I’ and embrace the collective ‘we’. The final twist of this finger puppet book is that by allowing the child to use his or her finger to animate the piggy, the child can visualize the metaphorical representation of his or her inner self, and instead of objectifying each piggy as a disparate finger, as in the classic telling, the child can internalize that each piggy is truly the same piggy, as any individual may find himself the “market” piggy or the “home” piggy at different stages of life, and every individual piggy is also part of the same “piggy humanity” that binds us all together. Paragon has molded an instant classic that will undoubtedly be studied for centuries hence.
Why are we always busy and stressed out despite the huge advances of the last century? The authors convincing detail how productivity and technology increases have left us much richer than our grandparents – but instead of living the same and working less, we acquire an abundance of formerly luxurious (or non-existent) goods without leaving any more time to clean our bigger houses or reorganize, repair, and refill all our stuff. I disagreed with many of the minor points and prognoses that betrayed liberal underpinnings, and it’s a little dated when it talks about shopping malls, but overall Affluenza is a compelling argument that the short-term satisfaction of consumption is ultimately unsatisfying, and the only path to true satisfaction is to embrace voluntary simplicity. It’s largely a secular argument, but it greatly overlaps with a Christian ethos of materialism and possessions.
MercyMe’s latest album debuts at #7. They are one of the biggest CCM bands these days, but their previous album’s debut remains their career-best. After several releases with increasing debut sales, this one was quite a bit lower than their last four. Casting Crowns has twice come close to being the first Christian artist to hit #1 on Billboard, and it looked like MercyMe might have a shot with their career trajectory up to this point, but it’s hard to say now. Their selected discography to date, according to Wikipedia:
Almost There – 2001 – N/A (peaked at #37)
Spoken For – 2002 – #41 (28,000)
Undone – 2004 – #12 (55,000)
Coming Up To Breathe – 2006 – #13 (58,000)
All That Is Within Me – 2007 – #15 (84,000)
The Generous Mr. Lovewell – 2010 – #3 (88,000)
The Hurt & The Healer – 2012 – #7 (33,000)
12 Stones released their first album in several years, and so far it is not looking as successful as previous releases. Their selected discography, according to Wikipedia:
12 Stones – 2002 – #147
Potter’s Field – 2004 – #29
Anthem for the Underdog – 2007 – #53 (13,000)
Beneath the Scars – 2012 = #194 (2,500)
Artist: Bloodline Severed
Album: Letters to Decapolis
Label: Red Cord Records
Release Date: 3/13/12
I’m not normally into the more guttural side of metal, but these guys mix the growls with nice melodic lines of clean vocals and guitar solos. Topped with some very worshipful lyrics, this album is a lot more interesting than I first expected.
There weren’t any notable releases this week. Here are selected chart entries:
We’ve got a break from the CCM and gospel dominance this week. Fireflight debuts at #51 with their latest album, their best ever. Here is the female rock band’s chart history:
Unbreakable – 2008 – N/A
For Those Who Wait – 2010 – #96
Now – 2012 – #51
Rapper Flame also debuts at #67. As best I can tell Flame’s albums have been hitting the Christian charts for many years but this is his first to debut in the overall Top 200.
Also, last week I missed the debut from Kutless at #36, their first album inside the top 40 after ten years of work. Kutless’s charting history:
Kutless – 2002
Sea of Faces – 2004 – #97
Strong Tower – 2005 – #87
Hearts of the Innocent – 2006 – #45
To Know That You’re Alive – 2008 – #64
It Is Well – 2009 – #42
Believer – 2012 – #36 (14,000)
Last week Hillsong United popped out another CD. They put out a CD almost every year, and I don’t have time to try to look up sales data on all those albums, but I do at least have Billboard ranking for some of them:
All of the Above – 2007 – #60
[a_CROSS//the_EARTH] :: Tear Down the Walls – 2009 – #21
Aftermath – 2011 – #17
Live In Miami – 2012 – #71
The new album doesn’t seem to have debuted as well as some recent ones from Hillsong United, but a glance at the track listing shows it to be mostly or possibly all old songs, which may be a factor.
We also have a debut from Audrey Assad, whose Heart lands at #86. Her previous album The House You’re Building (2010) reached #154.
The only notable new release this week was by gospel singer Brian Courtney Wilson at #44. I’m not familiar with him, but it looks like this is only his second release and possibly his first to chart. He also has a much larger percentage of his sales coming from Christian outlets than most of the gospel albums I’ve been tracking lately.
Here are the selected Billboard/Soundscan albums:
We have lots of Christmas albums hitting the charts, as expected, but a lot of the previously popular albums that re-charted on Thanksgiving weekend fell off again this week. The only notable new Christian release was by Jesus Culture, Awakening: Live From Chicago, which sold almost 12,000. Here are my selected albums from the Billboard 200:
Christmas albums are taking over the Billboard 200, with at least 6 Christian albums charting this week. I added Susan Boyle’s new album this week because even though I don’t tend to think of her as a Christian artists she seems to be sold in Christian outlets, and while those sales are only 0.7% of her total sales so far, that’s enough for over a thousand missed sales already.