Saturday, July 09, 2011


Comic Art



Rarely have I had less of a liking for a more popular villain that I have for for the Spidey arch-nemesis - Venom. So popular he has been blatantly ripped off (see this space in a few weeks), Venom has likely surpassed Doc Ock and Goblin in popularity.

Venom's origin is Todd Macfarlane's success and the rescue of one of the worst turns a comic icon has ever taken. Orginally Venom was nothing more than an effort to update Spidey's costume that proved so unpopular that they turned it into a bad guy in order to get rid of it. Nope, throwing it into the trash was not good enough for this failure of a design, they had to make it a villain. Thus Venom was born.

Macfarlane took the character absolutely over the top and developed a visual style with it that was revolutionary at the time, and stunning. Needless to say, it caught on. And yet, I look at this image at left and its uncanny resemblance to the later Macfarlane creation of "Spawn" that one wonders just where Macfarlane's creativity began and ended.

But that is an aside. Like most really good villains, this one sees some sort of redemption and is currently masquerading as a "good guy" in the post Civil War Marvel universe, but it is too evil to ever get away with that for long. My opinion - the character survives purely on its look, for there is no depth. It has undergone so many incarnations at this point that you need a name-and-number program just to know who you are dealing with.

Popular yes, a good bad guy - not so much.

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Friday, July 08, 2011


Upholding The Ideal

Chaplain Mike @ iMonk:
One of the great contributions he has made to my life has been to help me rethink the pervasive evangelical mantra and concept of “transformation.” It seems like every church and teacher out there today is calling people to come experience services that offer “life-transforming” worship, Bible studies and discipleship programs that will “transform” our Christian lives, new corporate strategies and leadership insights that will “transform” our churches, visionary missional approaches that will “transform” our communities, even our world.

This is a classic case of over-sell. Our unbridled optimism about the potential for dramatic life-change and “impact” (another evangelical mantra) owes more to the myth of progress that we’ve eagerly embraced since the days of the Industrial Revolution than it does to how the Gospel actually works in lives, the church, and the world.
Hmmmm - sort of have a problem with that. The purpose of faith is to remake us. But if you go on to read the extensive quotations Mike relies on, a slightly different picture emerges - what is being argued against is dramatic transformation.

Apparently, I was not the only one to raise this objection as Mike posted the next day in clarification:
First, no one is denying that the Gospel changes lives. “I once was lost, but now am found” holds true as it always has. The Gospel includes the power of God, not only for justification, but also for what Francis Schaeffer called “substantial healing” in this life. I agree, and so does Mark Galli, by the way. The article I quoted speaks clearly about how God graciously allows us glimpses of the inbreaking Kingdom as a foretaste of the new creation in its fullness.
So what they are really talking about is a call to patience and humility, not denying the fact that the Christ and the Holy Spirit truly change us. Fair enough - necessary even.

But still, too many, way too many, use the need or patience as excuse not to strive for the better, not to work on the transformation. As Christian we are called to be both patient and hopeful, resting and striving.

I do not want a transformed but I do want a church seeking transformation. I want a church that has not simply punted to the "not yet" part of "already, not yet." I want a church that each day takes a measure of where it falls short, accepts God's grace, and appropriates that grace to try harder today.

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Friday Humor

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Thursday, July 07, 2011


Being Good

Milt Stanley quotes Jeff Weddle:
We live in an age of irresponsibility.

Students don’t study for their tests and yet demand good grades. Employees play solitaire all day, drink coffee, and steal pens and yet demand more pay. Singers who can’t sing get mad when Simon Cowell tells them they stink.

The whole world is screaming, “Don’t judge me on what I do; judge me on who I think I am.”

What a dumb world, eh? Wonder where they got that philosophy from?

The Church.
He's right you know.

What are we going to do about it?

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Starting With The Bible

iMonk classic:
After a moment, one of the Christians present begins to speak. He speaks longer. His tone is different. He’s quoting verses…and more verses.

There’s a sense of finality and authority to this talk. You can sense a reaction, even before anyone says anything.


Then another Christian speaks. This person validates that the quoted verses are crucial and important for Christians to understand. But this person raises questions. She interacts with the scripture AND with the comments of the other participants. From ideas in the verses- like submission, for instance- she asks the group to explore what submission might mean in a non-abusive context?

The room relaxes a bit. This Christian wasn’t authoritative. She wasn’t ending the discussion. She was continuing it. She was curious. She didn’t have all the answers, but still had questions. She wanted to listen to others; to hear their insights and experiences.
Michael talks about those that stop with scripture and those that start. I'd put it this way - for some scripture is a laboratory manual and for others it is literature. But I want to leave this wonderful intellectual discussion for a moment and concentrate on these two people he described.

The first drew negative response, the second positive. One was attractive, one not so much. Which one do you think was Christ-like.?

of course, the quick answer was the attractive one, but Christ often quoted scripture both authoritatively and in chastisement. And yet he remained attractive.

When it comes to being a good Christian - it is often not about the little things, but the big ones. In this case its not about how we use scripture, but who we are when we use it. Have we allowed the Holy Spirit to transform us sufficiently to be authoritative, even chastising and yet winsome? If not, I would suggest that perhaps we us scripture study as a means of holding the Holy Spirit at bay.

I know I have at times.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011


Dealing With Self

My only concern in sharing this story is that we Christians have our own “Christian industrial complex” that we can find ourselves playing to without realizing it. We have a clear celebrity system which becomes very tempting to try to break into.

Those are temptations we need not fall into, but they are there nonetheless there. When we seek to break into them, the seeds of self-promotion are always present. And I hope I can warn any of you who may be susceptible, away from that.


I figure that I have now been a Christian for 10,000 days or so, so I’ve had at least 10,000 or more lessons in dying to self. Most of them I didn’t pay attention to. Now I do pay attention to those things.

And I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt – self-promotion can not be accommodated in true Christianity. In True Christianity, the self has to disappear, not be promoted.

I know one more thing beyond a shadow of a doubt. Jesus died for people who find it hard to die for Him. He’ll catch you when you are dying. You don’t need that self you were trying to promote, you need His grace – to the degree you can ditch the self, to that degree you’ll get more of Him.
Particularly poignant words from a man that is dying.

The cross was the beginning of our salvation. It is also our example.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, July 04, 2011


Happy Independence Day!

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