Saturday, November 13, 2010


Comic Art


Some of the best art work to hit the comics in recent decades was in the recently concluded "Blackest Night" event at DC. So, I give you the Black Lanterns.

'Nuff Said!

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Friday, November 12, 2010


"Centering" The Church

Ben Witherington looks at satellite video churches and church related vagaries of the modern age:
There was always an embodied real live person delivering the message in Paul's day, whether it was Paul or one of his co-workers. This practice provides no precedent for what Pastor Young is doing. Were he to follow the Pauline precedent, he would send a real person to his other umpteen churches to deliver the same message. The second major problem with this model is of course the disconnecting of preaching from pastoral care and getting to know one's people.
Witherington goes on to declare such a congregation "not a part fo the body of Christ." Not sure I would go that far, that is judgment beyond my portfolio - "wrong." "troubled," "misguided" certainly all apply, but I'm not prone to throwing anyone out of the club with out a much bigger reason than this.

But I do love his point about separating preaching from pastoral care. There is something about presence - or incarnation to use a big theological word - that really matters in all of this. If video would really work then God would not need to have bothered with all that incarnation stuff - He could have "mailed it in."

This is little more than entertainment - but then so much of the church is reduced to that these days. Simply asking what music people like instead of what music best expresses the message of the moment means we are considering entertainment above the gospel.

While remote video makes a fine medium for the presentation of ideas, being a Christian is far more than ascension to a set of principles - it is even more than a way of life - it is a consuming fare in which we are remade into new people. It is transformative, or it is less than the totality of Christianity. Transformation is a fleshy thing, not a purely intellectual one. It takes presence.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Friday Humor

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Thursday, November 11, 2010


"Authentic" Liturgy

Esther Meek has a wonderful essay at CGO, "Why I Go To Church":
The sociology or even the teaching of a particular church isn’t always comfortable. The sermon can be dreadful, the people too suburban, too inbred, too full of pat answers. But this is what I can’t get around: Jesus loves the church. He who loves me so extravagantly I may dance into his arms, pig-sty stench and all—he loves the church I feel uncomfortable at, just the same. She is his bride.
She really does an excellent job here, but her approach is very different than mine. From her set-up:
“Nobody is going to church,” my daughter told me recently. She was talking about people her age who had all grown up in intensely doctrined and governed churches and schools. “I ask them—do you pray? Do you have your quiet times? They all say, no.”

It opened my eyes to something I hadn’t realized. Others her age tell me how uncomfortable church feels, how inauthentic, how the pressure for evangelism was no longer to be tolerated, how the exaltation of a single man’s sermon feels like an abuse of power. Friends and involvements outside of church seem more real. The one kind of church experience that seems genuine, it seems, is liturgical.
I read that an immediately this question popped into my head, "In a world where we are all sinners, what makes church 'authentic'?"

I have two brief answers. For one - we do. Church is what we make of it, not what we let others make of it for us. Now that is, pretty bluntly, essentially what Meek is saying. God is there, and He is what makes it authentic, if we do not feel it is authentic, then we are not seeing Him.

But my second brief answer is the one that I think is really important - it's a single word - HUMILITY. Because we are all sinners, and therefore in a sense can never worship completely authentically, it is incumbent upon us to worship is a humility that reflects are inadequacy to be there to begin with.

Prostrating yourself before the throne is not intended to be comfortable. Think about it.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


On Being Human

Mark Roberts on Corinthians:
Some of the Corinthian Christians had been so focused on their own needs and desires that they forgot, not only their sisters and brothers in Christ, but even the Lord. Thus, in chapters 8-10, Paul redirects their focus, calling them to care for the needs of others more than their own desires. And he concludes his conversation by urging them to live for God's glory most of all.
How often that is true - it is something beyond selfish - it's not just that we want God to provide, but we forget there is a someone there providing.

One is selfish, but the beyond that we reduce the other to non-personhood, or in God's case, non-deity.

What fascinates me is that we seem to be building our society and our churches around this form of non-acknowledgment of existence. We want to make mechanical that which is highly personal. One of the problems I have with the mega-church is that it reduces the individual to something less.

But then, it also reduces God to something less - something that demands less of us - or at least we think so because we think we are demanding less of "it."

However, nothing could be further from the truth. "It" has already given more than we even know to demand. "It" has died on our behalf.

How dare we forget.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010



Even when we talk about holism, Westerners think individualistically. When we look at a picture we don’t tend to see the whole picture but rather focus on one object. When we see that object in another context we can still recognize it. Asians on the other hand tend to see the picture as a whole. No one object stands out and if an object is presented in another context they may not be able to recognize it.

I feel that this understanding has huge implications for our faith and understanding of God. We Westerners like to take God out of context. We think that God can be understood outside the cultural context in which God is presented. As a result we get very uncomfortable when people of other cultures start to worship the God revealed in Jesus Christ in very different ways from how we worship this God.

But when we look at God in the context of a culture and see God as integral part of that culture we get a totally different view. God doesn’t get lost, God, the Lord of the Universe infuses the whole picture, the whole culture becomes permeated with God and so what we see as worship changes.
There is danger in that - becoming Christian in view does not mean becoming eastern in thought, and I also am troubled by the idea that "worship" is the complete expression of faith - mostly becasue "worship is not defined in the piece. Too many people define "worship" as what happens on Sunday morning. "Worship" is the totality of our response to Christ which is expressed in many ways and throughout the week.

I do like the main point here; however. We tend to keep God in some sort of perceptual box - He fits in some, but not all contexts, and He remains a distinct object when he is in those contexts. And yet, Christ permeates all things and defines them.

What boxes do you keep Christ in?

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, November 08, 2010


What Is The Church?

Milt Stanley links to Jared Wilson on "Your Church Might Not be a Church If . . .." Some highlights:
You never hear the word "sin" there.

You hear the word "sin," but only briefly or redefined as "mistakes."

Church membership just appears to be a recruiting system for volunteers.
There is a low light:
On patriotic holiday weekends, the message is about how great America is.
And a wonderful conclusion:
If your church meets one or more of these, it might be a spiritual pep rally, a religious performance center, a Christian social club, or something else entirely, but it is probably not, biblically speaking, a gathering of the biblical church.
Wilson has a heck of a point, much of which passes for church these days is anything but throwing in that comment about celebrating our nation seems to be making a political point when he is trying to argue that the church should be apolitical. He is, I believe, guilty of the sin he is trying to argue against. But then I am not sure it is a sin.

The church is not a cheerleader for a nation or a party - but we should pray for the nation, which includes PRAISE for the much this nation has done right. Many, many nations have worked actively to suppress our faith and it is good that we live in a nation that at least governmentally, if not socially, has stayed out of the way of the church.

Wilson does not say what a church should be. It is a gathering of the faithful for worship and the mutual building up of one another. Note what I did not say - mission. The church makes people (the mutual building up of one another) that do mission, and such people may use the church as an instrument in that mission from time-to-time, but the church is not about mission any more than it is about some of the other stuff Wilson derides.

It is also noteworthy that building up one another will involve a lot of things that might seem peripheral. Take sports for example - they build a sense of camaraderie that can be helpful in the pursuit of deeper things, problems arise only if they go no deeper.

Perhaps the biggest problem we have in the church today is trying to draw hard lines when there should be soft ones.

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