Saturday, December 12, 2009
To date, this space has been used to discuss bad guys from the traditional publishers - Marvel and DC. Some of the baddies we have discussed are decades old, some dating back to the 1930's. But today I want to devote this space to a relative newcomer as character and title and publisher. The title is Godland, from Image Comics and it has become my new favorite title of all time. Sadly, its run is over, but man what a ride.
This book is enjoyable to just about anyone that likes comics, but I think to really get Godland, you have to have been weened on Lee and Kirby. What this title does is take Kirby in particular as a genre and create a new book within it. But at the same time they make fun of it and the times that gave birth to those old classics. There were times reading these books had me laughing out loud, which is disconcerting to the person in the chair next to you if you are on an airplane, and I was.
One of the funnier characters in the book is the baddie we feature here today - Basil Cronus. He may be the most brilliantly conceived visual representation of a comic character I have ever seen. Come on, that head floating in that soup is just too much for words. How does he keep his eyes looking forward? (There's one of those very funny jokes I was telling you about - made all the funnier when you remember asking similar questions as a kid about Kirby stuff.) The male to feamile body gag you see scattered about you was total hoot!
So why is our intrepid baddie looking that way? Well, in one of the few places where the book does not give us long winded exposition, and make fun of itself for doing so, we're never really told, but we assume it is because he is an intergalactic junkie in search of his next high, and that system enables to to "mainline" his current drug of choice. In my opinion, Cronus is THE joke of the book as he is clearly modeled on the hippie culture of the '60's which Kirby/Lee worked so hard to tap into, but were way too old at the time to do anything to but cornball.
I do love this book and I encourage you to go to your local retailer and buy all the graphic novels now! They sell enough and they might start publishing the title again.
Friday, December 11, 2009
What We Have Wrought
“God can either love me, or send me to hell, but not both”This quote is also the title of the JohnShore.com post. A fascinating quote, one worthy of enormous discussion - a discussion that it saw at both sites. I have a different money quote:
That I made that mistake doesn’t alter the fact that God has chosen to punish me for that mistake by forcing me to spend eternity being physically tortured. And anyone who would choose that for me—who would choose to punish me eternally just for having used the mind and soul he gave me to arrive at a conclusion that displeases him—cannot possible love me. That’s not love. It’s something. It sounds to me like the worst kind of shallow vindictiveness. But it’s certainly not love.I am going to go way out on a limb here. I am not at all sure we can call it love either if God condemns us purely for a wrong conclusion. And yet, that seems to be what so many of us have reduced Christianity to - a conclusion.
We Christians have made this guy's argument for him by reducing faith to a decision, not a life.
When you made your "decision for Christ," - be honest now - was it really just a decision? Well, of course I cannot speak for you, but I can tell you that for me it was far more. It was desire to be a part of the community that was offering me the decision. It was a desire for a life better than the one I had at the time. It was desire to be loved. It was far more than a decision - it was an expression an effort for something more and better.
We come to faith by so many different paths. Many people live Christianity for decades, only to discover towards the end the theological reality that underlies how they live. Some live their lives searching and never find the answers, but their lives reflect; somehow the glory of the search.
How could we call the apostles Christians? They could not possible ascent to the right set of ideas because the ideas were yet to be formulated.
I am with the doubter here. If all Christianity is is a conclusion, we do not worship a just God if he condemns us for reaching a wrong one. In so doing we throw out a huge body of evidence that does not lead to a conclusion, just a transformation.
Don't just think about it - do it.
Friday Humor - On A Stick
with related bonus video:
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Acting In Society
- We must learn from church history.
- We must allow biblical and theological convictions to shape our engagement in social action.
- We must not collapse the already/not-yet tension.
- We must recognize that evangelical engagement with these issues will take different forms within different political, cultural and social contexts.
- We must prioritize proclamation of the gospel without neglecting social action
- We must realize that our actions are not self-interpreting.
- We must recognize the trend towards increasing social action and decreasing evangelism within the church.
- We must think through and articulate the connection between specific social action and the gospel.
- We must not allow people’s physical needs to blind us or them to their even greater spiritual needs.
- We must recognize the challenges that come with working with others of different beliefs.
There are some things to really like about those theses and some things that I really struggle with.
For example, it seems to focus on social actions almost solely as "feeding the poor" and related activity. As I see it, social action is virtually anything we do in society. It strikes me that if we understand social action to be things that are only plainly and directly "Christian" then there is no need for the thesis concerning the already/not-yet. The trick here is not to learn how to be a Christian doing Christian things, but to learn how to be a Christian doing, anything.
Which brings us to the "articulation of the specific connection between the gospel and a social action." Come on, there is so much necessary to the ordering of society that simply has not specific connection to the gospel. Number one, the gospel is such a limited understanding of the totality of Christian experience and number two, even if we take a much broader view of Christianity, there just is no connection with much of the mundane. Oh sure, we may develop some nice little sweet, trite saying like "cleanliness is next to godliness, but housecleaning is, in the end, just housecleaning. I may be sanctified, and my sanctification may bring a certain sanctity to my dusting, but come on, its just dusting.
I also have a real problem with the formulation that places social action and evangelism as somehow mutually exclusive. It's true that social action can be devoid of evangelism, but that is about us, not the social action. We are the evangelists and if we bring an evangelistic attitude to our social action, well then evangelism can and will occur in the midst of social action.
In the end, I think these theses suffer with entirely too limited a vision for what it means to be a Christian. It is not merely a set of ideas to which we subscribe. Being a Christian is a consumptive transformation of our total existence. We MUST grasp this.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
God did not give us a comic book. But precisely because the Bible is so challenging, it's satisfying. God treats us like adults.Don't want to disagree with Ray's point at all, but do want to pick on his metaphor just a bit.
Comic books are not a childish, simple medium, certainly not anymore. Many scholars believe the first novel ever written is in Japanese, The Tale of Genji and it is so thoroughly illustrated as to be essentially, manga, which is the Japanese comic form.
It is true, one cannot communicate as efficiently, or in as great a depth with a comic book as one can with the written word, but it is a valuable and serious medium. It lies between the novel and the movie a a means of telling a story. It can provide far more depth, characterization and treatment of themes than a movie can dream of, but not so much as the novel.
It should be remembered that Shakespeare was the pop culture of the day.
If there is a reason for Christians to dismiss the comic form it is that those which have used it in the name of Christ have been downright awful at it.
There is no substitute for Scripture, but let us not be so fast to dismiss the comic book. Like icons in an illiterate age, it could tell the story to those that will not listen to any other medium.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Empowered by Christ
I confess, today, that it is easier to live by my ideals than it is to follow God on His terms.made me think I was going to read an interesting post on how much of what we call the church, ends up as an idol. And in a way it was, but that is not really how it fleshed out. Consider this from towards the end:
And it requires Jesus... the real One. Not the tame one we box into 90 minutes on an occasional Sunday morning, but the one Who is with you all the time and longs for us to quit putting on the masks we prefer to wear.Idols, in fact the most dangerous idols, are our conceptions of Christ, as opposed to Christ Himself. But the thing that struck me so vividly when I read the I read the list of characteristics that following the true Christ would produce is that that's the problem with idols - they prevent us from enjoying the full glory of God in our lives.
And that's all an idol is, something that prevents God from working fully in our lives. We tend to think of idols as "evil" and they are in a theological sense, but in a reality sense they can be ethically neutral. They may not make us engage in sex-dripping pagan worship rituals. We can have idols and be very "normal," ethical people. They just prevent us from being the glorious creations of God we were intended to be.
What's your idol?
Monday, December 07, 2009
He's Right - It's Not Working
The plain truth is, the more you are accustomed to the full richness of the whole counsel of God on a regular basis, the more drab, uninteresting and downright boring mainline religion will become to you....or any other pre-packaged, spoon-fed "program" for achieving:
- your best life now
- eternal life
- all of the above
- 1 and 4 of the above
- 2 and 4 of the above
- none of the above
Think about that phrase, "...the full richness of the whole counsel of God...," even "all of the above" does not come close to that.
It seems we are always offering only some part of that "whole counsel." People clasp onto that part and hold on for dear life. How many times have I said that only to hear a preacher respond, "Well, I can't preach everything every Sunday." I never said you could. The "whole counsel," in all its richness cannot be preached, it must be lived. And it cannot even be lived by one person, for we are all sinners and we all fall short. Hence the community allows us to see it all, becasue in a healthy community they'll be someone with exhibiting the aspects that we are missing.
And so, our first priority, as a church, is not to bring in, but to become. To become the body of Christ exhibiting that full richness of the whole counsel. Doesn't that change how we do business tremendously?
More, doesn't that change how we live tremendously. As individuals we seek not to achieve but to become someone that exhibits as much of that whole counsel as possible. And then, when we do the business of the church, we worry more about who we are than what we do.
Consider a governing board meeting for just a minute - one where the focus was not on what to do, but on who we are. Instead of asking attendance questions we asked questions about faith and hope. Imagine that board working to exhibit that full richness.
There is a business adage, "You get what you measure." It is fair to say the church in general, mainline or evangelical is measuring the wrong things.