Saturday, October 16, 2010
Back to examining doppleganger villains between publishers here for a bit, we turn our attention the what must be the lamest super-power origin story ever written. We quote Wikipedia on our villain in question:
Roscoe taught himself how to spin around fast enough to deflect bullets and produce other semi-useful effects. The Top soon discovers that the spinning somehow increased his intelligence as well, allowing him to create a variety of trick tops.Wait, let's forget how utterly lame that is as an origin and focus on the wisdom of printing such a story. I can assure you that as a young man, desiring a superpower more than anything in the world, I tried this (not long after I made m first utility belt) and well let's just say the results were spewed all over the backyard.
Fortunately, I never got to the point where I asked anyone to fire a gun at me to see if I could "deflect bullets."
There is a reason The Top remains one of Flash's lesser known rogues, and I think we have stumbled upon it. Setting aside for a moment the whole idea that forcing one's brain at high pressure against the inside of the cranial cavity in your skull by centripetal force will increase intelligence (so does alcohol I hear)- "trick tops"????? And you thought batarangs were a stupid idea.
But there is a reason for us to spend some time with this lamest of lame villains - he does have a Marvel counterpart considerably more interesting - tune in in two weeks for that one. Not to mention he has a DC heroic counterpart that has grown quite interesting over the years. As an artistic element, the whirlwind (there is a bit of foreshadowing there...) looks pretty doggone good in comics. One of the hardest things about doing Flash comic has to be how to artistically convey motion in a perfectly static medium - and not just any motion, hyper motion. In later years they have resorted to lightening around the Scarlet Speedster, but they did not have that in the days when The Top entered the scene and his tornadic appearance aided them in their artistic efforts.
It's funny how things happen in comics.
Friday, October 15, 2010
An Alarming Trend
On Mother’s Day, the sermon most pastors preach is like this:He is not entirely exaggerating here - I heard all about "dead beat dads" on father's day. Much has been written and said about the feminization of the church, much of it over wrought - but this is pretty much an undeniable fact - Mother's day is about saintliness and Father's day is admonition.
“Moms are amazing. They are like human unicorns, special, beautiful, smelling of lavender and night jasmine, deserving of our gratitude and our complete affection and pedicures. Mothers, please stand up so that we can shower you with applause and have the ushers give you roses commemorating this moment when we, the body of Christ, were able to bask in your combined loveliness.”
On Father’s Day however, the sermon most pastors preach is like this:
“Dads, what are you doing? Seriously, get your act together! It’s time to be leaders of your households. It’s time to put away jobs that consume you. It’s time to put down your Blackberrys and serve your family with your heart and your soul. Cowboy up already! Your role is critical to the family and it’s time for you to get motivated and active in your family, your community and your world.”
Some of this is due to the prevalence of divorce today, which when children are involved, tends to create way too much distance between the father and the children. Very few divorces that I know of have resulted in good relationships between fathers and their children. Some of it is custody and some of it is that as the custodial parent, an often bitter mother makes sure the kids are leery of their fathers. That, frankly, is not too saintly in my book. Not to mention the mother usually gets "custody" of the family church, which I think helps explain the preponderance of women in church.
This is of course only part of the reasons behind this trend, but the trend is real and there are two important points to make out of it.
One - there is nothing wrong with admonishment on Mother's or Father's Day, but a little equal time would be in order. Mothers are not by definition saintly and fathers are not by definition jerks, regardless of your own personal experience. In fact, I wonder how much of this trend is born of the fact that men will take the admonition quietly while women would throw a bit of a tantrum and the pastor does not want to deal with it, and what precisely does that fact say about who needs admonishing?
Two - the church has an obligation to build up men to be good fathers. The apparent dichotomy in these sermon approaches will do anything but. Men generally do not desire the kind of sappy do over themselves that women do, so the tone of father's day should be very different than mother's day but it should be equally celebratory. "Atta boy" is a good thing. Encouragement builds up as much sometimes more than admonishment.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Should Religion be Changable?
Henry G. Brinton, a Presbyterian pastor and eloquent commentator of matters of religion and culture, asks in yesterday's USA Today: "Are social media changing religion?" The answer must surely be "Yes, in ways we haven't begun to comprehend." The trickier questions would include: How are social media changing religion? Which of these changes are good such that they should be embraced by the church? Which of these changes are bad such that they should be avoided by the church? Which of these changes are both good and bad, such that the church needs to make a nuanced, carefully-considered, and theologically-informed response.I am pretty unhappy with how that is formulated. Social media indeed is and will change how we do church, but change religion? I don't want to get too deeply semantic here, but somewhere in our vocabulary there has to be room for the solid, unchangeable and transcendent.
God does not change. Our understanding of Him may change, though I think we should be seeking to know Him intimately enough that the changes will grow more and more subtle and less and less important in daily life. And certainly that which attempts to represent Him here on earth should seek to be equally unchangeable, if it is to, in fact, reflect His glory in a significant way. This is something the Roman Catholic Church has absolutely correct.
In our world, "the church" has grown to be so diverse that it is constant change. Just moving among it means experiencing change, without any individual church ever changing. SO, in what do we invest that sense of unchangeableness? I was thinking maybe the term "religion" would be a good one.
But frankly, it is probably the wrong approach altogether to ask how anything will "change" church or religion. It is probably better to ask how some new development will better help us reflect God's glory. Anything else reveals our self-absorption.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
This isn’t about what’s good for the children; it is about being better able to control adults by stripping from them any training in intimacy and interpersonal trust. Don’t let two people get together and separate themselves from the pack, or they might do something subversive, like…think differently.As I read her analysis, my mind flitted to so many churches I have visited and how they are not intimate and how they work to squelch individuality.
This move against “best friends” is ultimately about preventing individuals from nurturing and expanding their individuality. It is about training our future adults to be unable to exist outside of the pack, the collective.
And then a really scary thought entered my mind - no wonder Christians are viewed as "hypocrites" - as one thing on Sunday morning and another the rest of the week. I'm not talking about morality here, that's wrong - I'm just talking about our personality, modes of expression, etc. Church wants us to be nice little cookie cutter people, and those of us that believe we should be in church go along to get along.
And folks, this is where the Roman Catholic Church has it over all of us - God's church is meant to be a cacophony of disparate personalities and expressions. All that stuff about one body, many parts, vine and branches - God is composing something of many voices, not merely a melody.
And it all stems from intimacy, in learning to be intimate with each other we learn to be intimate with God. Churches that are not built to build intimacy miss a vital component of what it means to be God's people.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
In addition to being concerned about the sinful man’s ultimate redemption, the apostle knew that openly sinful behavior without repentance impacts the whole church. Like yeast, sin “spreads through the whole batch of dough” (5:6). Thus, just as the Jews got rid of food with yeast during their celebration of the Passover, so Christians cleanse their fellowship of sin. “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us,” Paul writes. “So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth” (5:7-8).Yet how often, in the name of "grace," do we tolerate unrepentant sin in our midst? Grace is expressed not in how we tolerate sin, but in how we rid ourselves of it.
The “festival” of which Paul speaks is not some special religious ceremony. Rather, he uses this language to depict the Christian life. We live each day in the joyous freedom of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Yet this does not mean we should freely sin.
The context of the passage Mark examines is Paul's command to the Corinthians to ex-communicate a man living in sin with his mother-in-law. Mark says:
Yet, this exclusion was not meant merely to punish the offender, but also to help him turn his life around (5:5).Is not "helping him turn his life around" the very definition of grace? Is it graceful to simply tolerate someone's shortcomings? Of course not! And yet, that seems to be where the world is today love=grace=tolerance. Boy are we confused.
God loves us in spite of our sin, but He loves us enough to want us to be sinless. And, as Mark points out, we must be especially sinless corporately. One bad idea easily turns into another and another until the church is unrecognizable as God's house - it has become rather a monument to a false idea of grace.
So what is the sin in your midst?
Monday, October 11, 2010
You Will Be Assimilated
:The best denominations may be understood simply as networked cooperative relationships for mission. But they are not just networked across geography and methodology. They are also networked across time--and a group working across time and generations can accomplish more than a group working for one season.Uh, no - a denomination seeks to be THE CHURCH, congregations are individual expressions thereof. In choosing to define denomination in this manner, Stetzer identities the key problem in most of Evangelicalism today - it's not about me or you. It's about God and US - and by the way, that implies authority, not "network" - some thing we are really uncomfortable with.
Of course, we tend to want to blame those in authority for the problems becasue they abuse that authority. I know I feel that way as my own church struggles with its authorities wanted to do things like ordain practicing homosexuals. But abuse of authority is no reason not to submit to authority. There are times we must break, obviously I believe so or else I would not be Protestant, but it must be done carefully and it must be done with an eye to someday restoring the true church. "Networking" ain't going to get us there.
Stetzer does; however, hit the real problem squarely on the head:
In truth, the problems that we have cannot be blamed on denominational structures alone, but rather on the fact that all denominations are made up of sinners who are saved by grace.A fact which points out the true and real value of denomination - accountability. In fact, I think that defines the time when separation becomes necessary, when the church fails in that function.
Stetzer has some interesting things to say here and he makes some important points, maybe even practical ones. But we cannot let out practicality override our vision completely. We must hold the ideal while we do the possible. We are one body - at least we should be struggling to be.