Saturday, December 26, 2009


Comic Art

Big TV professional wrestling is all about "the gimmick." A wrestler defines a persona for him/herself with some sort of identifying characteristic and then milks it, sometimes for decades. Comic books are remarkably similar - once you have a good gimmick, never let go of it. Wolverine as become a comic icon so it is natural that his gimmicks would be replicated again and again. Hence there is a virtual army of Wolverine clones or near clones out there so that he can again and again prove that he is the best at what he does.

Of course, his brother, half-brother, cousin, blood brother, enemy (it all depends on who is writing the story at the time) Sabretooth would be foremost in the Wolverine clone category. But coming a close second would be the subject of today;s entry - Lady Deathstrike.

So popular is this claw-bearing cyborg that Lady Deathstrike earned a place in the X-Men films. Like any popular character, there are so many "versions" of her laying about that one hardly knows how to tell the story of Lady Deathstrike in less than 40,000 words. "Evil Wolverine copycat" is about all one can say with out a name and number program.

Like all great and iconoclastic characters her secret is in her image. Those "claws," so different of Logan's but so reminiscent and her cat-like striking maneuvers will cause a book to leap off the shelves. Oh yeah, and then there is the whole oriental gimmick. Barely mentioned in the Wolverine legend much anymore is his training as ninja and samurai. Some of Lady D's origins include Logan's time in Japan training as a warrior. She needs to kill him becasue he somehow dishonored her clan. In other origins, he stole the secret of adamantium laced bones, and she needs it back. On it goes, What endures is the gimmick similarity and the animosity and especially the images. Claw against claw - that sells comics.

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Friday, December 25, 2009


Illuminated Christmas Scripture

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Christmas Scripture

Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (KJV)

Isa 9:6-7 - For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of {His} government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. (NAS)

And for an added Christmas bonus, please read John Mark Reynolds.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009


Christmas Eve Greetings!

For the fourth year running...
Merry Christmas From A Few Of My Friends

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Why Did Christ Come?

John Stuart opened a post at Presbyterian Bloggers this way:
There’s a controversy brewing over an ad that the World Wild Life Fund had commissioned in Brazil. The ad depicts over one hundred airplanes heading directly to Manhattan with the intention of impacting the skyscrapers. Beside the Panda logo is a line which reads: "The tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11. The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it. Preserve it."

Many people, especially New Yorkers, are outraged about the ad. With the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks just a week away, it is tasteless and insensitive. If the ad company just wanted to shock people, then they’ve obviously succeeded, but if they wanted to get people to support the World Wildlife Fund, they have seriously gone down the wrong path.

What is it with people these days? Do they have no conscience? Is 9/11 so far removed from our hearts and thoughts that we can mock it like this? I remember that apocalyptic day very well and it changed my life forever. I’m certain that those who lived through Pearl Harbor have kept December 7th sacred in their hearts and memories, so why can’t we respect and honor those who innocently died on that tragic day in 2001?
That is incredibly powerful stuff. What struck me most about it was the self-centeredness of it all. Trying to turn the tragedy of 9-11 into a message for a different cause is grossly self-centered. But more, trying to point out that an impersonal, non-animated planet is powerful and deserves respect is self-centered in ways that are most striking.

The message that something is more powerful than us is one that many people are missing, for such is the root of humility. But that is the real problem here - Many people are afraid to personify that power because it would stop us from being the center of everything.

But we can deal with it because Jesus incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection makes that power, that incredible power, something to be embraced, not feared. The power behind it all - the power that truly deserves my complete respect does not demand it - rather He goes through all that for my benefit. How can I respond with less?

Lord Jesus, give me the deep respect for you that can only be expressed in humility.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Too Easily Confused

Milt Stanley links to Biblical Preaching on, "Preachers are Theologians not Therapists":
I found the following quote quite insightful:
The rise of therapeutic concerns within the culture means that many pastors, and many of heir church members, believe that the pastoral calling is best understood as a “helping profession.” As such, the pastor is seen as someone who functions in a therapeutic role in which theology is often seen as more of a problem than a solution.
I have to agree and disagree here. He seems to use "preacher" and "pastor" interchangeably, so I will assume we are in a tradition that combines those offices.

I agree that the role of neither is therapeutic, but the role of pastor is that of a shepherd. Teaching is a component of that role, but not necessarily its defining characteristic.

The thing that concerns me most about the post is that it seems to ignore the fact that many people comes to the truth by many paths. The first comment notes:
Theology is indeed the solution not the problem.
Indeed, theology is NOT the problem, but it may or may not be the solution. People need a lot of things in a lot of situations - not all of them have theological answers. Some just require a touch or a reassurance.

We do, way too often confuse therapy and the pastoral role, but theology is not the substitute. Sometimes apastor had just to refer the person to a good therapist. Ther point is the pastor serves, he does not always preach.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, December 21, 2009


Making Room For The Holy Spirit

Dan Edelen tells a story that sounds all too familiar, then seems to switch gears:
If we’re to make a difference in the education of Christians in America, we have got to start bridging the gap between the word of God and the Spirit of God. Because in truth, the only gap that exists in that gapless relationship occurs because of you and me. We’re the problem. The Spirit and the Scriptures are perfect.
What a marvelous thought! Dan goes on to talk about how the Holy Spirit did not give knowledge to the apostles at Pentecost. Great point, but I get nervous with the example because too many people then develop the same out-of-proportion focus on what The Holy Spirit did give in that instance as the whole knowledge thing in others.

But I do like the fact that he points out we are the problem. And the Holy Spirit is the solution to us. It is the Holy Spirit that remakes us - and when we are remade, we will be able to handle the situation Dan describes, or any other.

I guess it comes down to how we identify the gap Dan decries. Too many think it a gap between the intellectual and the mystical. I disagree, it is a gap between the intellectual and the life-changing. Yes, the mystical may play a role in life-changing, but many lives have changed through other means.

Making room for the Holy Spirit does not mean you become a healer or speak in tongues - at least not always. It sometimes means, simply, that we let what we know seep through into who we are and how we act. It means that the gospel take full bloom in our lives - that we are transformed into His image.

Too often we use our intellect as a shield, not from bad ideas, but to keep good ones compartmentalized and away from actual execution.

Making room for the Holy Spirit means real, deep change in who we are. It's scary, but it is wonderful

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Sunday, December 20, 2009


Christmas Sunday Thoughts

That's right! Christmas may not be until Friday, but today is Christmas Sunday - today we should start celebrating the birth of our Savior. And yet, I am finding Christmas Spirit most hard to come by.

My work has been egregiously busy - no December slow down for me. In fact, it has picked up in December. Largely because government agencies have descended on my clients like flies. Used to be they'd wait until January, but not this year. The United States Senate is in session as I write, on a Sunday - on Christmas Sunday.

Something is wrong.

Is it me? Certainly in part, I could choose to ignore my client's pleas for aid and just celebrate Christmas. I could elect not to read the news, turn the Christmas music up and try and cocoon myself. But Christmas is to be shared.

I look around me and I see traditions jettisoned. In every aspect of life the traditional seems to be disappearing. Christmas has been commercial for more than 100 years now - that's not what I am talking about. It used to be that while Christmas was commercial in the secular world, those of us that loved Jesus still had the opportunity to gather and celebrate and worship. But this year it seems like we are being robbed of those opportunities. The secular world is forcing its way into our sacred spaces, whether they be familial, temporal or physical, and trying to crowd out their sacredness.

I am a firm believer that we have choices about these things and in my house we are doing our best to save the spaces - but again, our desire is to share those spaces. Sadly, they seem to be crowded out of even church. And because I believe we have choices about these things that makes me very sad.

In many ways, I believe the church has aided the secular in its efforts to crowd out the sacred. As we have endeavored to make ourselves "relevant" to this modern age; I think that sometimes all we have really accomplished is to jettison that which matters most.

I have just laid the table for what could be an enormous topic, but I shall limit myself to three thoughts.

The first is the value of the traditional, high church liturgy. The loss of this pre-dates the modernization of worship of the last few decades, it's been slipping in American for a couple of centuries now. Liturgy matters if for no other reason than memorization has a way of wearing one down like water wears a rock. Sameness may be boring, but it works. Constantly seeking the new keeps the old from ever really sinking in.

If one wants to be a good golfer, one must swing a golf club over and over and over again. One takes the same action thousands, even millions, of times until one does it without thought. If one wants to live like a Christian, should we not do the same? The same words of an Assurance of Pardon that were so rote and boring to me as a young man, now burn and sear my soul with a message that I simply could not hear, let alone have a partial understanding of, had they not been branded into my essence by 52 repetitions a year for a decade or so.

Fresh attracts, but it does not build.

Which brings me to my second thought. In our never ending quest for modern relevance we often leave the older in the wake. What kind of witness is that? The older are a repository of wisdom. And yet we set them aside in our never ending quest for relevance. They are the most valuable resource the church has.

Christianity is not new - it is very old. It was not discovered in the 1970's. The more I study the history of the church, the more I learn there are no new struggles. Technology changes, but life does not. Go to Athens Greece and walk through the ancient Agora below the Acropolis or go to Rome and wander through the ancient Forum. Life was so similar to life now. People went to work, they raised children, they purchased food and other goods, they even went to the gym and worked out. They may have done it on foot, and without benefit of phoning ahead for an appointment, but life was so much the same.

But instead of asking those that have gone before how to cope with something they have been through a million times, we figure they are not relevant and we try to reinvent the wheel. If we learned to build on those that have gone before, think of the heights we could reach!

But my final thought is the most troubling. When we seek to make Christianity and its practice "relevant to us in today's age," we are missing the point of Christianity altogether. Becoming a Christian is about making ourselves relevant to Christ, not the other way around.

The church does not change to meet our needs, rather the church is God's tool to change us into His people. And what it means to be God's man or woman has not changed since God created us. The church does not serve people, it serves God.

The value of the traditional is that it calls us to something higher. As we seek to make the church relevant to our lives today what inevitably happens is that we lower the bar for what it means to be a Christian. We bring that to somewhere within our comfort zone rather than allow ourselves to be called out of it.

That's what I miss most of all this Christmas season - I want to be called out of the daily and into the presence of my incarnated Lord, and I want to share that with others that love Him. What I find is all the others running from that presence into the daily and I feel like a salmon swimming upstream.

Am I being a curmudgeon? Probably.

But my experience is as real as that of those that are on a different path. And I know this - I am tired - I need to recharge, a recharge I find in tradition. If I do not get it, I lack the strength to evangelize and I lack the strength to serve those that need it.

God help us all!

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