Saturday, June 09, 2012


Comic Art


One of the things I have long contended in this space is that it is a moral failing on Batman's part that he has NOT killed the Joker. It is a convenient device for bringing the character back, but it is a moral failing Bats' part. So that raises the question, is their a bad guy so bad that the super heroes killed him? Meet Prometheus. You can see his origin in comic form here. Bats did not kill him, if Bats broke discipline it would fundamentally change the character, but the Batman "analog" (at least when he was thought up originally decades ago) Green Arrow did.

Like all good bad guys, Prometheus has been copied, duplicated, reinvented and reimagined. He even killed one of his own copycats. This guy is bad....

There is one hitch in this get-along. The reason GA did Prometheus in was not because of his general badness, the immense harm he caused society and the greater human community - it was becasue he killed other super heroes.

The fact that GA killed him remains unknown in the super hero community and I think there will eventually be major ramifications, but will they be the right ones? Destroying pure evil is not a problem, defining evil only as harm to ones self and loved ones is. I doubt that comic writers in this age get that, but it would be nice if they did.

That would be a story arc for the ages.

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Friday, June 08, 2012


ALL of Christianity

Ed Stetzer defines "issue Christians":
Yesterday, I had an "encounter" in the line where I shake hands after the Grace Church worship service. A well-dressed man came up to me after church, shook my hand, and immediately started a conversation about prophecy.

I listened initially, but within a couple of minutes he had quoted one passage he feels is related to the founding of Israel in 1948 and another about Israel occupying Jerusalem in 1967. "Why don't churches talk more about prophecy?" he asked.

At that point, I could have redirected our conversation and tried to persuade him that we believe in biblical prophecy and will teach on it another time (both of which are true). Or, since he approvingly referenced both Jack Van Impe and John Hagee, I could have found some ways of positively connecting with each of these men.

In most cases, I've decided that "this is not the church for you" is actually the right response for "issue Christians" who are visiting the church.
He goes on to discuss four reasons why he is OK with helping such people move on and then concludes with this:
In conclusion, we should always provide guidance, but we should not always provide a platform.
That is an important statement at a time when everyone and their uncle wants to work in the church - it goes far deeper than just people with axes to grind.

And how about how much of church is designed specifically to "sow a spotlight" on...3-5 years olds...5-7 years olds....

Church is not, should not be, a spotlight to shine on anyone or anything other than God. It should be remembered that the largest stage presence in church history got whipped and crucified. That's what a church platform gets you.

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Friday Humor

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Thursday, June 07, 2012


The Self-Help Seminar

iMonk once carried on about "Christless preaching." He identified several categories
  • Sermons based entirely on Old Testament stories.
  • Sermons that teach lessons and principles.
  • Sermons dominated by personal narratives.
  • Sermons about moral and cultural problems.
  • Sermons that talk about a vague and undefined “God.”
  • Sermons in which Jesus is a minor character.
He goes on to postulate all sorts of "whys." But this is what nails it:
The most distressing reason for the disappearing Jesus is the pragmatism of the current church growth culture. If the church growth gurus were telling their flocks of ministerial admirers that the way to grow a megachurch was to preach Jesus and to focus sermons on Christ, it would be happening. In large measure, it’s not happening because the church growth experts don’t believe it works. It isn’t seeker sensitive. This is why some preachers are purposely avoiding Jesus, and instead talking about life issues like “success” and parenting. They are hoping to “hook ‘em” with the church program before they “cook ‘em” in the frying pan of commitment to Jesus. This bass ackwards approach is remarkably successful, and it apparently a hard habit to break. Jesus increasingly isn’t showing up except at the Easter and Christmas pageants.
As they say in the sales game, the ol' bait-and-switch. It is indeed a remarkably successful marketing/sales tactic, but it is also irritating. How many retail outlets have angered you when you went in for the advertised special and ended up being told they were out of that, not expecting anymore, but over here was....

There is something inherently dishonest about bait-and-switch - immoral even. So why should the church be doing it? To build numbers and pay for all those salaries, that's why. OR perhaps to support the genuinely interested "customers" from the gawkers. But are there really any gawkers in this situation?

We all have to ask ourselves is that is what we want to be a part of. It's an interesting dilemma.
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Illuminated Scripture

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Tuesday, June 05, 2012


Discerning What Matters

KruseQuotes Harvard Business Review:
Hence, my suggestion is this: If you want to live a meaningfully better life, you're going to have to make the dangerous choice to dissent. A life lived meaningfully isn't denominated by digital friends, designer logos, or wads of paper notes. It's denominated by what you've lived, what it's worth to you, and what that's worth to humanity. That's the heart of eudaimonia, a new economic paradigm based on fulfilling human potential — not creating and marketing useless stuff.


The first challenge is seeing through the empty promise of opulence. But the second, tougher challenge is refuting it. To do that, we're going to have start living heretically. We're going to have not just disbelieve the conventional wisdom — we're going to have to defy it.
OK - This is right about dissent and different values, but oh so wrong about what values to adopt.

First of all, I think it counter productive to discuss this in either or terms. Consider this, "Pursuing the paycheck first and last is a great way to spend your life desperately unfulfilled." I actually find it quite fulfilling to pursue a paycheck, provided I do so in the proper perspective. We're not all, in fact I would bet most of us, as artists, or ministers, or singers or other "fulfilling" occupations. A lot of us are just people that need to support families.

But it is the support, not the acquisition of the support that matters. There is no problem with having - only if having is the goal.

And here is the real bottom line, productivity IS fulfilling, but acquisition is not. Money s a measure of productivity, but it is not the thing itself. We are all productive for many reason and in many ways, and when we know we are productive, we are fulfilled. Problem is, in any cases we do not know when we are.

One other point - productivity adds to the common good. It produces something needed by the common good. Acquisition removes from the common good.

Think about it.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, June 04, 2012


Rejection or Democracy?

Brian McLaren links to the NYTimes on "the lack of Evangelical Reason" and quotes a friend on "social justice":
... evangelicals don't just need to repent for their neglect of the mind, but also their neglect of the heart (silence on a broad range of social justice issues, here and abroad). For example, there hasn't been much of an outcry among mainstream evangelical leaders on income inequality and job loss in the U.S., or when one of our Drone fired hellcat missles happens to kill an innocent child while targeting a terrorist.
Just a few thoughts here.

First, using a discussion on Evangelical intellectualism, or lack thereof, to make a point on social justice is part of the problem with the lack of Evangelical intellectualism. It's a non-sequitor, just an excuse to punch an agenda button instead of honest intellectual engagement with the issue at hand. It is the precise crime the NYTimes is accusing the conservatives of - OOPS!

Second point - "Evangelicalism" has lost its meaning. In the quote McLaren presents the NYTimes moves between "evangelicalism" and "fundamentalism" as if they were indistinguishable, which they most certainly are not. Evangelicalism is a broad spectrum and we have to do better at letting people see the entire breadth.

Finally, Evangelicalism is the most egalitarian of Christian movements. I do not mean that in the sense of gender ordination, or stuff like that. I mean that int eh sense that a) lmost anybody can self identify as an "Evangelical," 2) At this point in time, the term means, if it means anything - the American Church, and 3) There are no gatekeeping institutions in Evangelicalism. This last point means, among other things, that anyone of any education, or lack of education, can hang out a shingle and call themselves a "Pastor" or "Bishop" or whatever the heck else they want to call themselves.

This means a lot of people "speak for Evangelicalism," that do not know their butts from a hole in the ground. It is not hard to find "unreasonable" people to interview in such circumstances.

Evangelicalism has problems to be sure. They just may not be where the NYTimes thinks they are.

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