Saturday, January 23, 2010


Comic Art

We interrupt our normally scheduled feature on comic bad guys to bring you a link and some art from a website called The Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center. As I have said, Kirby s the master and there are some amazing resources there, not to mention images, of which we now sample a few.

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Friday, January 22, 2010


As For Me And My House...Uh, NO!

Christian Web Trends wrote a whole series about"usability test" for web sites. Now for web sites this is a good idea, but they opened the post this way:
While businesses can certainly benefit from usability testing, so can churches…
It was only after that ellipsis that they qualified the sentence to be about web sites, so for a fraction of a second I was thinking about a usability test for the church itself, and they were not happy thoughts.

But if you think about it, we do such testing often. It maybe be as sophisticated as the focus groups done by mega-churches and TV ministry or as ad hoc as noticing what preaching topics are well or not-so-well attended. Anyway you cut it, anytime we are looking to "please the pews," we're doing usability testing of some sort.

That scares me. See, I'm stuck with the presumption that we're messed up - that what we want is not necessarily what we need. Of course, I understand that if we do not give people something of what they want, they will never come to get what they need, but I worry we that have lost the line somewhere. I also wonder if what they come for stands in the way of them receiving what they need.

I wonder if instead of attracting people we should not go get them? But that's an awful thought - that would require people that are already there to get up and do something. And that would mean we would have to produce actual results in those people.

What a radical concept - the church changing lives.

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Friday Humor

I don't know, maybe you had to be there, (I was and it was a long time ago) but this was funny then and still is...

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Thursday, January 21, 2010


Go With The Flow

Although a bit more poetic than I am typically attracted to, this post by Graham Buck at CGO is a great one:
I find that my life is a pasticcio of one ‘coincidence’ after another.

What do I mean by this? For some, it seems as if they have everything planned out and have the ability to follow through with those plans. For others, it seems as if they are free-spirits, floating on the wind of what ever may come their way. For me, I so want to be the first, yet experience some strange confluence of the two. For all my best efforts to the contrary I am dragged along, sometimes kicking and screaming, by the inexorable draw of providence. It is a feeling hard to describe, but one that I am sure everyone with eyes to see inherently knows.
Being "an engineering type," I plan everything. Fred Thompson's famous line here was actually written about me:

Yet, when I look back on my life, how few of those plans have been realized - at least the way I planned them. And how much pain I caused myself, by continuing with "the plan" long after God had discarded it. In some ways, I envy Mr. Buck and his more artistic kin and their ability to appear aimless. I cannot possibly live that way, but sometimes it looks so inviting.

But I will settle for simply learning to listen to God. Ofttimes His plans are not revealed beyond tomorrow. I would settle for learning how to place Him in charge instead of me.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010



Bethany Keeley at Think Christian recently wrote on mourning:
Here’s an example: today I was reading Undoing Gender by Judith Butler, considered by many a foundational author for gender theory. She writes this about mourning:
I think instead that one mourns when one accepts the fact that the loss one undergoes will be one that changes you, changes you possibly forever, and that mourning has to do with agreeing to undergo a transformation the full result of which you cannot know in advance.
I was stunned by this line. If we think of mourning in this way, we might call Christianity a lifelong exercise in mourning. In one sense, we are transformed because of a death in the first century. In another sense, we are constantly mourning the loss of a perfect relationship with God that we have never personally experienced. In both cases, our sinfulness and Christ’s death, we are being transformed (as Paul says, by the renewing of your minds) toward the people we will be on the new earth. I think the season of Advent has a mood that fits this characteristic of Christianity.
Breaking that down a little, what she is saying is that Christianity is tranformational; therefore, transformative experiences are of Christ. Further she is acknowledging that even the unfaithful recognize the transformative nature of some things - that those things can be seen through the lens of Paul in the first chapter of Romans:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
That's a great point, but I see something else in Bethany;s observation, even something else from Romans:
Rom 8:28 - And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.
Remember now, her observations are about mourning the loss of another person, an important person, in our lives. What I see is that even in our grief there is cause to celebrate. What I see is that God is making us into the people He intends us to be.

We so often lose sight of the fact that even in our pain there is reason to be thankful and to worship - in our loss there is reason to celebrate.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Honoring Tradition

iMonk recently wrote about change, tradition and honoring the older. His post was reflections while attending a traditional mass at a Catholic Church with his wife. It drew some outstanding comments, one so good that Michael felt he needed to put it at the top of his post:
The wedge contemporary evangelicals are driving between young and old is incredibly short sighted and deadly. Doesn’t the Bible itself say that the older should teach the younger? We’ve turned things around so that anything new (even if unproven) and appealing to the not yet mature, still developing young is trotted out as appropriate worship. More experienced, mature Christians who should be teaching the young about and sharing with them their great Christian heritage are instead asked to “get with it” or “get out.” The evangelical church will die if all it can do is try to keep up with secular culture and make its focus offering whatever the latest fads or glitz it can to “attract” the young as if the church were somehow dependent on a Christian advertising machine rather than God to draw people to Him.
It' not just "contemporary" evangelicals by the way - its many mainlines and others as they adopt the evangelical model since "they are the ones succeeding." My church maintains both a traditional and a contemporary service, but you can feel the church's center of gravity move to the contemporary service almost daily.

I remain a regular part of the traditional service and serve as liturgist at least once a month. One of the things I attempt to do in that position is explain, as briefly as possible, why we do what we do in that service. When I do it,it almost universally gets great response. People come to appreciate things when they come to understand there is a reason behind them.

I wonder what would happen if during the "contemporary" service (which I can still barely distinguish from the Young Life clubs I used to lead that were evangelistic events - NOT WORSHIP!) we introduced small elements of the traditional with an explanation? You know, actually tried to expand people's horizons just a tad.

In the end I could care less whether we sing with a back beat or not, whether a song has a bridge or not, but I care deeply that we call people to more than attendance. Jesus Christ came to change lives, and the church somehow keeps forgetting that.

Dear Lord, save us from ourselves.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, January 18, 2010


Do You Deserve "Promotion"?

Glenn Lucke at CGO asks "What price humility?" He starts by extensively quoting David Brooks on the difference between 1945 and now. Brooks' point is that in 1945 there was no the self-involved narcissism we see today and then Glenn wondered about his blogging in light of that:
A question: who among us doesn't see prominent segments of the Church involved in this? Not rallying the Church to resist self-promotion, but engaging in it, indeed at times leading the self-promotion. Always rationalized..."just trying to reach more people for Jesus."

I confess there's a part of me that wants to press the point. However, what are the implications of the three sentences in the previous paragraph? Does this mean no blogs with a connection to a book, like this one? Or if such a blog like CGO can legitimately exist, does it mean no endorsements for the book, as I have placed on the left sidebar? Do descriptions of Contributors constitute self-promotion?

I leap to David Brooks' point, and find it easy to tar and feather 'the other,' but the mere existence of this blog and its features suggest how accommodated I and we (the Contributors) are to self-promotion. What price humility?
It's an excellent question and one that I think has some very complex answers.

First of all, it is quite possible to promote with humility. We are not our products. Producing a product, like say a book, is exercising God's gift to us, and if we promote the product in that fashion, then humility is the order of the day.

The real question is, what do we sell when we promote? Like all media, promotion affects the messages. Like the movie trailer that has every actual laugh from a comedy in it, promotion, i it enthusiasm to do its job sometimes misleads.

In the church we often promote salvation or self-fulfillment when what we offer is transformation and self-denial (which is fulfilling, but you see where the misleading comes in). These things as promotion lack humility as well for they seek gain for the thing instead of gain for what the thing is intended to do.

The problem is not promotion, I am just not sure we have figured out how to do it properly yet.

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