Saturday, June 05, 2010


Comic Art

Every self-respecting comic universe needs a bad guy so powerful, amoral and narcissistic that he/she sort of hovers over everything as the ever present force for evil. Someone who is so maniacal and their plots so intricate that when Batman follows the clues trail from a simple mugging it is discovered that the mugging was intended to set into place the final stone in a plot of cosmic significance that will change the very nature of existence and ending in a battle involving every super-hero you have ever heard of and a number you have not.

This week, we look at the DC version of just such a villain - Darkseid (pronounced "darkside" - get it?) There is a Marvel Universe parallel that we will consider next week.

The first thing you must do when considering Darkseid is dispense with the various animated versions of him - they do not do justice to the power or malevolence of which this character is capable. A TV cartoon about a guy this dark would result in kids peeing themselves- not gonna happen. Hannibal Lecter is a reasonable parallel - polite, polished, even with a strange code of honor, but horrifically, horrifically dangerous.

Darkseid, as the scion of the evil world of the New Gods, is the creation of the master Jack Kirby. Kirby never bothered to try and explain this guy's evil - he just was evil embodied. Of course, his odd code of honor has mandated that from time-to-time he do something honorable, but even that is because in some fashion it is a means to his own malevolent ends.

The only problem with a character this dark is that it is easy for him to move into caricature. There is an art to writing Darkseid and the line has been crossed many times, often with unintentionally hilarious results - and sometimes intentionally - but when done well Darkseid is a bad guy's bad guy.

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Friday, June 04, 2010


Related Questions

On the same day, back in February two bloggers whose work I read regularly asked some questions. Rev Bill, quoting another asked:
#1 – Why is the church so content with being normal when God has promised the supernatural?
#2 – Why are some in the church obsessed with obtaining information but have no desire to live out the transformation that Jesus brings?
#3 – Why do some in the church excuse non excellent standards by saying phrases such as, “well, after all…it’s just church?” Our standards of doing things should not be lower than the worlds…they should be higher; after all, what the church does matters!
#4 – Why do we claim to follow a God who changes things…and yet often times we refuse to change things?
#5 – Why do we set our expectations on the lives that Jesus wants us to live so low when Scripture sets them so high?
#6 – Why does the church always try to control people when Jesus died so that we could be unleashed?
#7 – Why is it that so many church leaders would rather lead through imitation (becoming just like someone else) rather than revelation (listening to God and then doing what He says?)
Mark Daniels engaged in a little naval gazing and asked:
* How much do you really believe, Mark?
* How committed are you to living for Christ alone?
* Can others see that, imperfect though you freely confess to being, you believe?
* Are the fruits of connection to Christ visible in your daily life and decisions?
* Are you serving Christ and others as well as speaking of a faith that calls and frees you to do those things?
Coincidence? I think not.

We live in a nation full of Christian believers, a majority in fact. And yet the nation slips ever farther away away from the Christian ideal, and I am not talking about "political" stuff like abortion or gay marriage, I am talking about fornication, shacking up, lying, petty theft, personal stuff - gossip - Lord we have an entire industry built on gossip and we consume it in massive quantities. Stuff that can only change one person at a time.

When two men of God ask essentially the same questions on the same day, I think the Holy Spirit is speaking.

So, are you changing based on your faith? Are you helping one person around you change?

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Friday Humor

Oh, you have got to love the internet. This was a series of "radio plays" from my high school days that mostly served as ads for chickens joints around the nation. In Indianapolis it played during morning drive time and morning talk at school every day was the latest episode.

The sponsor was a chicken joint downtown that did deliveries in a vehicle that looked something like this. I found that car on a used lot about a decade later and came darn close to buying it.

And now for another episode in life of the most fantastic crimefighter the world has ever known...

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Thursday, June 03, 2010


What?! Liturgy Helps?

I love this post from Godspace because it is so - liturgical. Imagine gaining personal closeness to God through a liturgical practice. -- Who Knew?

OK - enough sarcasm. Set me to wondering why people object to liturgy so strenuously. Not the arguments about archaic language, or relevancy - that can all be fixed within a liturgical framework, it does not require discarding liturgy, nor does that explain the stridency with which people object.

Well, I cannot speak for everyone on this, but I can speak for why I, at one point in my life, had a problem with it. I did not like being led. It's as simple as that - it was a control issue. I wanted to think about God when I wanted to think about God and how I wanted to think about God.

Also made me wonder if the real value of liturgical practice in worship is not the contents of the liturgy itself, but the sacrifice involved in the practice.

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Illuminated Hymns

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010



CGO links to a blog post about a church changing from "contemporary" worship back to "traditional.
"Under his leadership one traditional service at Macedonia became three contemporary services. A few hundred members mushroomed into 2,500. I always assumed the contemporary worship at Macedonia was simply an expression of Barr’s theology or perhaps a sign of pragmatic pastoral savvy. But recently, I heard Macedonia was planning to reintroduce traditional worship to the congregation.

I had to find out why.

Much to my surprise, Macedonia’s services became contemporary in the first place partly because Barr couldn’t recruit musicians who read music. He could only hire those who play by ear.
Fascinating, but the two key points really are:
Leaders are catalysts for change. Change is what leaders do. But before we sign off on the next new thing, perhaps Christian leaders might be able to chart a better course if we stopped to consider why we’re headed where we’re going in the first place, and how this change helps us get there.
I find that to be a fascinating view of leadership. Leaders introduce change when change is what is needed to move the organization forward, but sometimes, organizations need return or preservation, not change. I suppose that is a form of change, but somehow the word "change" implies new when what is called for is doing the old better.

A lot of companies make this mistake. Years ago I worked for a company called RCA, formerly Radio Corporation of America. Once the premier maker of consumer electronics in the world. Today, what exists of RCA is a pure brand and there is very little of that. What happened?

Well, Japanese competition moved into the consumer electronics market and they were able to build things like televisions and radios cheaper and better than we were. Obviously a "change" was called for at RCA. So, what did RCA do? They went out and bought greeting card companies, finance companies, Hertz Rent-a-Car, and a few other and sundry organizations, none of which had anything to do with the manufacture, distribution and sales of consumer electronics. While those things healed the balance sheet, for a while, the company now had no idea what it was or where it was going.

Just a year after I left, it was purchased by General Electric, who promptly sold off all the various bits and pieces at a tidy little profit. Then they sold off the electronics manufacturing, what was left of it, to Thomson of France who within a few years closed all the former RCA plants, made product in their plants, slapped an RCA label on them and sold them in the USA.

I wonder what would have happened if rather than buy unrelated companies to heal the balance sheet RCA had reinvested in manufacturing consumer electronics - figured out a way to do what they did better? I wonder if those thousands of people might not still have jobs?

So, when you are changing the church, what are you doing? Healing the balance sheet or....?

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Is This How We Communicate The Gospel?

A while back, my friend Hugh Hewitt discussed how Republicans should be proclaiming their message:
Effective communication requires clarity and repetition, enhanced by brevity, energy and good humor.
That certainly is the prevailing communication model in this sound bite - TV addled age. But is it the best way to communicate the Christian message?

The political example is instructive. Republicans suffer a bit of a "authenticity gap" these days. They have communicated such a simple, brief, sound bite message and they have created an army of people that, when the necessities of reality force them to compromise those sound bite principles, decide they are "phonies."

In doing business this way, the Republicans have gained votes, but they have not gained sophisticated party members - people that understand what it actually means to govern day-to-day and who work hard to do the best possible job of that.

When we reduce the Christian message to such concise sound bites - we get a lot of Amens, but we do not get a lot of people whose lives are genuinely transformed - people who in depth know what it means to be a Christian on a day-to-day basis.

And like the Republicans, they come and they go and many grow disillusioned. We're not in the come-and-go business. We're not even in the numbers business - we're in the lives business.

There may be a place for this type of communication in evangelism, but it must be quickly quickly followed up by the kind of in-depth, heartfelt communication that marks genuine intimacy.

Otherwise, Christs admonitions about those that say "lord, Lord..." may prove their startling reality to us.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, May 31, 2010



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