Saturday, October 30, 2010
As a child reading comics some images just burn themselves in your brain. The Silver Age images you see here of Whirlwind are among those for me. One always wonders why the images become so personally iconic - even if Whirlwind's story is a bit lame. (Was he formerly known as the "Human Top" or not? Did "Whirlwind" replace "The Human Top" because of copyright issues with DC's "The Top" in Flash's Rogues Gallery?) In this case I think the reason for the appeal is simple - the costume was doable at home, even is the physique was not - at least not without steroids.
Unlike the very lame "Top" of DC fame, this guy had chops as well - I mean he infiltrated the Avengers for crying out loud! (Of course, he used the Pym's to do it and they always were suckers - I think Hank has shrunk his brain one too many times.)
Deeply geeky comic people, geekier than me, like to do things called "power rankings" - that is a scale of power for various super-powers. This whole spin yourself silly thing slides up and down the scales like nobody's business. Over at DC, "The Top" is barely more powerful than a tame rabbit caught in a trap, but Red Tornado is an elemental of creation. Here at Marvel, Whirlwind can take on the entire Avengers rosters? What gives?
And then, finally, check out the new costume below. Shiny, but boring! And what is with this whole "he's a mutant" thing. Who knew he was a mutie in the good 'ol days? Not me! He was just a baddie in a really cool costume and a fetish for the Wasp. Why's everything have to be so complicated these days?
Friday, October 29, 2010
When you get down to it, all practical wisdom concerns making sense of people and God. In 47 years, what I have come to understand of people is that I don’t understand them at all. And while I can definitely see God moving in certain situations, it’s those situations in which I don’t see Him that I come to realize that my understanding of God could fill a thimble—one made for Barbie.Sounds right to me.
Prov 1:7 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.The deepest wisdom is knowing we do not know, but having FAITH that God does.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Back to the Babel story, the main problem seems to be that the builders were out to make a name for themselves, and Evangelical ministries have a lot in common with them it seems. It is difficult to imagine God frustrating the purposes of his people, but it may very well be that our purposes are not His purposes. I don’t doubt that there is much wisdom in the prophetic voices and the reality of what direction things are heading. I just wish I could be more optimistic about evangelicalism as a whole.Christianity consists of a set of fine balances - obedience and grace - faith and action - reason and revelation. Here we see the balance between near dictatorial authority in the Roman Catholic Church and the free enterprise that is American Evangelicalism.
There is a selfishness involved in a purely competitive system that results in the sort of "make a name for oneself" mentality mentioned. The result, sadly is mush.
Think about branded products, laundry detergent for example. There are real differences in the products, often minor, sometimes - though not typically - inconsequential, but they exist. The array of products has grown so diverse that most people buy out of pure brand loyalty, or they assume they are all the same and buy what's cheapest. Rarely do people take the time to figure out what laundry detergent works best in their situation (water hardness, washer type, average water temp, how the clothes are typically dirtied....)
Now translate that the the church. People either belong out of pure brand loyalty, in which case they will never notice when the church goes bad (think mainstream denominationalism) or they will look for what is "cheapest," that is to say that which demands the least of them.
Christianity demands ALL of us.
Scary thought, huh?
Related Tags: Illuminated Hymn
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Making The Wrong Conclusion
Evangelical churches do a better job than mainline churches in keeping their young people in the faith, probably because they invest more money in youth ministry, says a Duke University professor who studies characteristics of American congregations.OK - I'm calling hogwash here. There is no evidence presented that it is about money, or even that it is about staff - there is just retention data, the rest is speculation.
But as long as we are speculating - let's consider some other factors. It's a story as old as the hills. Youth find church irrelevant, un-hip, dated, not for them, I could go on.
Originally we responded with the parachurch. YFC, Campus Crusade, Young Life all rose to pull youth back into the church. Once churches got a load of the success they were having, they started to adopt similar youth ministry models. Its just that since non-denominational churches had less bureaucratic impediment to making such sweeping changes, they staked the ground out first and better.
But here is the problem. The parachurch never succeeded in the call to church - they only succeeded in the call to parachurch. Churches that have adopted the same youth ministry models have succeeded mostly in having to transform church to look like youth ministry to gain the retention figures.
I have said it many time - what passes for worship these days resembles a Young Life club on amazing levels. It appeals, but it does not mature. Kind of like television that.
I have serious questions about how well we are making disciples, and how much we are simply lowering the bar. We have found a new way to get them to come to the pool, but now its so shallow can we say we have taught them how to swim?
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Evidence Demands A Verdict
"No one really wants to hear what we have to say about the love of Jesus until they’ve seen it in our lives."Those may be some of the truest words I have ever read. NO need to further comment - just contemplate them this day.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Now first of all there is a certain irony in a blog post encouraging people to see movies BEFORE reading a book that is supposed to teach us how to watch those movies.
But that said, Taylor's list is by chapters of the book, which it turns out are by movie genre. Here's some of them:
- “A Time to Laugh: A Theological Approach to Comedy“
- “Exorcising the Psycho: The Invention of Fear for Pleasure“
- “Hollywood Invents Romance: Of All the Gin Joints, in All the Towns, in All the World, She Walks into Mine“
- “Film Noir: The Dark Side, or Solomon Goes to Hollywood“
The more I read about this book, the more the special failing of the church in general and Evangelicalism in particular in this age is driven home to me. We have reduced Christianity to a series of ideas and then we struggle to make them work in the lives we live on a day-to-day basis. We end up analyzing the trivial to see if it is "Christian" or not, which is to say in this age, does it prescribe to the right set of ideas?
Dear friends, Christianity is not a set of ideas - it is a group of people. Different people to be sure, and ideas are part, but only part of what change us, but we are people first. When we limit faith to the ideological we limit the transformation power of Christ's resurrection. We use thought to hold power at distance. We critically think ourselves around the gospel, but we never actually plunge into it.
You see here's the thing. If I allow the Holy Spirit to truly transform me, then I can go a see a movie, any movie, and rely on that same Holy Spirit to inform me as to when it is necessary for me engage and when it is possible for me to simply enjoy.
I think my point is this - if Christianity is all about how to think about things then we must constantly be "on guard" - we can never truly engage with what is around us. But if we have the confidence of being new people then we can engage the culture around us in a way where we might be able to make actual evangelical progress.