Saturday, November 12, 2011
Or are they? We may never know in this case, because it has finally happened. I often consult lists to jog my memory and get ideas for this space. Well, the list I looked at today brought up a name I can't recall. So research I do, and nope, never heard of the guy - The Baffler.
He's a foe for Robin and early in the days of the Boy Wonder going solo, so that should give you a hint. Here's the description I read:
Titus Czonka was a jackhammer operator before he turned to crime. He grew sick of the average joe lifestyle, and wanted to be known and remembered as a super villain. However, Czonka was not very bright, was not even slightly "evil" at heart, and failed at most independent attempts to do...well, just about anything. Never the less he began a life of villainy.No wonder I never heard of the guy - "lame" does not even begin to cover it.
To borrow from the other publisher - 'Nuff Said.
Friday, November 11, 2011
The question was on the tip of my tongue last weekend when Rev. Mark Hanson, the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, spoke at a town hall forum in Moorhead, Minn. But I didn’t ask it. I feared my question wouldn’t be taken seriously. And, looking at the five hundred or so Lutherans gathered, it was probably the right call. I mean, let’s be honest, there’s a certain type of crown that comes out to a standing-room-only event on a Friday night to hear a church bureaucrat speak. Folks had burning questions about church social statements, denominational strategy, and why it took their rural congregations 18 months to find a new pastor. I get that. But, even so, I so wanted to ask the question. Maybe I should have.Why did I think that? Simple - I might have had the same questions when I was younger, but I have learned something with age. Some things are not either/or questions. We can, effectively, be both places at once.
You see, Fargo-Moorhead last weekend hosted two VERY different events. Both synods on the Fargo and Moorhead sides of the Red River hosted their annual assemblies, so Lutheran pastors and lay leaders gathered to worship, conduct business meetings, approve budgets, and learn from speakers and workshops. On Saturday, though, downtown Fargo hosted something rather different than the Lutheran assemblies -- the Downtown Zombie Pub Crawl. (The fourth annual Downtown Zombie Pub Crawl no less!) More than 1,000 people responded “Yes” to the Facebook invitation. They dressed-up like zombie -- lots of blood and guts and scary makeup -- and visited various downtown pubs. I have no way of knowing what percentage of synod assembly participants joined the ranks of the undead, but I have a good guess it was closer to zero than two.
Which leads me to my unasked question. Of course, it’s ridiculous because we can’t know. But, let’s consider it briefly. Ok, so here it goes: where would Jesus have been -- the synod meetings or the Zombie Pub Crawl?
Now, I have my questions about how effective evangelism can be at a pup crawl, but lets assume for the moment that if there were evangelists around, they'd be able to get meaningful commitment from people after drink #2. That being the case, this http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif"dilemma" tells us why we are a church. See there needs to be people doing the governing stuff and there needs to be people doing evangelism and they are not necessarily the same people. Even posing the question indicates that we tend to think everyone should be a Christian "just like me."
I have some sympathy for that thought when it is born of a desire for fellowship - for someone to share our burdens and viewpoint. But more often than not, such thought are born of thinking that we have it all figured out, and they are just...well...wrong. I have to tell you, that later motivation makes it about the least humble question it is possible to ask. Even if you "don't know the answer," becasue asking it to begin with assume we can figure it out to the nth degree. We can't and that is why we are a church.
I am reading a book right now about American involvement in the Middle East since our founding. Did you know the first missionaries to the Middle East went to minister to the Eastern Orthodox?! Yep - that's right - areas is full of people that deny Jesus altogether, so we go after the "different" Jesus types. That's just sad - not to mention full of amazing loads of hubris.
Which brings me to my real question. What can the people at the pub crawl learn for the government types and vice versa?
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Another One Bites The Dust
The primary reason I’m saying farewell to Evangelicalism is that I can’t determine what it stands for anymore. I know what Evangelicalism is clearly against, but what it stands for is mushy. And in those cases where I do know what Evangelicalism is for, I just don’t see Evangelicals doing those things. The walk doesn’t match the talk.He lists a number or reasons why this is the case:
- Perhaps Evangelicals just got smart and realized that it takes more than door-pounding to create converts. Still, I almost never hear Evangelicals talking about evangelism.
- I also don’t understand the Janus-like ability of Evangelicals to love someone on Sunday and turn on them by Friday. Evangelicals talk more about restoration than any group I know, yet I see almost nothing being restored, especially “fallen” Evangelicals.
- I also suspect the hero worship in Evangelicalism is to blame, in part, for that selective memory of friend and foe. Despite Paul’s recommendation not to slavishly announce allegiances, Evangelicals do so with abandon—until the inevitable feet of clay appear on the hero, and then it’s off to Nowheresville, as noted.
While I am not ready to give up entirely on being evangelical, there is a lot to look at here and I think it can be summed up by the observation that Evangelicalism is a mile wide and an inch deep.
Let's face it honestly, we make, or at least used to make converts, but committed Christ followers? Not so much. In the end, Evangelicalism has become the culturally acceptable, at least at the moment, form of religious expression which in American means it does not demand too much of us.
But that is also why I am not ready to leave the fold as it were. If it is indeed the acceptable form, then it is the most ready path to drawing people deeper into Christ.
Interesting situation is it not? Raises one question - where do I get my needs met? Answer: diving deeper into Christ by every means I have at my disposal and finding others. Lonely path, but so was Christ's and the apostle's.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
I Have Decided To Follow Jesus
“We have all kinds of funny ways to measure our relationship with God and have things that we point to as evidence, like the fact that there is a fish on our bumper or people will talk about the fact that their grandparents went to church or that they have four Bibles in their house.”There are a lot of ways to talk about this problem and fan v follower is a good one. Professing Christianity without experiencing the transforming power is how I would tend to put it. It is in many ways the great issue facing the church. We have no problem getting people to say "yes" to Jesus, but getting them to commit to becoming different people, well that's another story altogether.
Idleman, a preacher’s son himself, shared that when he was young he fit the description of a fan. He wore the t-shirt saying “this blood is for you,” and next to a poster of Michael Jordan he had a picture of Jesus. “I wanted to be like Jesus but I wanted to be like Mike,” he said in a video.
While working on a message to preach to 30,000 attendees at Southern Christian Church, he realized the celebrity-driven fan culture is permeating Christianity. But “Jesus doesn’t want fans, he wants completely committed followers.” Since then, what began as a sermon evolved into a movement that got people evaluating their relationship with Jesus.
The reason, I think, is because we have not discovered for ourselves what it really means to become deeply committed to Christ.
So, have you decided to follow Jesus or are you just a fan?
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Some people say that though decent conduct does not mean what pays each particular person at a particular moment, still, it means what pays the human race as a whole; and that consequently there is no mystery about it. Human beings, after all, have some sense; they see that you cannot have real safety or happiness except in a society where every one plays fair, and it is because they see this that they try to behave decently. Now, of course, it is perfectly true that safety and happiness can only come from individuals, classes, and nations being honest and fair and kind to each other. It is one of the most important truths in the world. But as an explanation of why we feel as we do about Right and Wrong it just misses the point If we ask: "Why ought I to be unselfish?" and you reply "Because it is good for society," we may then ask, "Why should I care what's good for society except when it happens to pay me personally?" and then you will have to say, "Because you ought to be unselfish"—which simply brings us back to where we started. You are saying what is true, but you are not getting any further. If a man asked what was the point of playing football, it would not be much good saying "in order to score goals," for trying to score goals is the game itself, not the reason for the game, and you would really only be saying that football was football—which is true, but not worth saying. In the same way, if a man asks what is the point of behaving decently, it is no good replying, "in order to benefit society," for trying to benefit society, in other words being unselfish (for "society" after all only means "other people"), is one of the things decent behaviour consists in; all you are really saying is that decent behaviour is decent behaviour. You would have said just as much if you had stopped at the statement, "Men ought to be unselfish."Do I behave selfishly? Oh often, and in an ugly fashion. Do I want to do so? No! Why? Because I do not want others around me to behave selfishly. Nothing teaches better than a good example. But what is in it for you? Things really do work better when people behave unselfishly. From queuing to get a movie ticket to traffic to shopping. If everyone behaves unselfishly, everyone gets there aster, safer and better. But do I behave selfishly? Oh often, and in an ugly fashion.
Lewis uses this argument as apologia. I see it as motivation. Motivation to try and grow closer to God so I behave less selfishly and motivation to evangelism so that others might behave less selfishly too.
So what do we do to "reach out?" We cater to people's desires. Anyone see a problem here?
Monday, November 07, 2011
It's Better Than That
As in the life of Jesus, Thor must learn what it means to walk in both the world of gods and the world of men. While Jesus most certainly did not solve problems with his fists—or a big honking hammer—Christian belief in the Incarnation suggests we have to pay attention to the ways in which Jesus was fully God—and fully human. It’s a paradox that a fictional character like Thor can help us investigate, and that might prompt further insight for us.PUH-LEEZE!
The long-running X-Men comic and the more recent films, also force us to grapple with one of the biggest spiritual questions: How do we relate to those who are different? How do we tame our own impulses of prejudice and hatred toward those we don’t understand?
Superhero comics have always explored real questions in the guise of brightly-costumed characters, and once again we have the chance to be entertained—and maybe even enlightened—by another year of the superhero.
Number one, to simply enjoy something is a Christian impulse and I really hate that we feel like we have to graft something onto something enjoyable.
Secondly, in recent years comic characters have grown deeper and more textured, but they remains entirely too shallow to draw any serious and mature lessons from. Not to mention the fact that as they have grown more textured they have grown less purely good. Yes, the struggle with important questions, but they are too easily resolved, or often unresolved (The story must continue.) No longer can we consider our heroes exemplars - stand-ins perhaps - but they are too often wrong to be something to aspire towards, powers notwithstanding.
And finally, while I dearly love my comics, they simply cannot compare to the sublime beauty, the overwhelming peace that comes from Christ. A comparison can only serve to cheapen the holy.