Saturday, July 07, 2012


Comic Art


And in the category of worst villain name-puns, I nominate Bette Noir. For the uninitiated "bête noire" means "An anathema; someone or something which is particularly disliked or avoided; an object of aversion, the bane of one’s existence." Puns like that make Batman's old foe Bane look downright serious.

I am sure by now you have noted, aside from name, Bette Noir's most obvious asset. Too bad they're not real, and when I say "not real," I do not mean implants, I mean Bette Noir is more-or-less a ghost. There is just not much holding this character up. Which is also why she has not been used all that much and the biographical material here linked is so thin. It takes more than puns and assets to make a memorable villain.

There is an Anathema comic on line. Can a character of that name from one of the bigs be far behind? I like the idea frankly, only it should once again be a female - Ann Thema, yeah, that's the ticket!

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Friday, July 06, 2012


Baptism Matters

Thoughtful Christian, Don McKim:
For Calvin, three great “comforts” emerge here.

First in baptism, we are “received into the society of the church.” Baptism is the entrance to the church and sets an ecclesial identity that tells us who we are—always. We are those who have been baptized into Jesus Christ! No deeper or stronger sense of our true self can come to us. We are members of the people of God, the body of Christ, the fellowship of the Spirit. Our bond is with the triune God; and with those with whom we are sisters and brothers in faith through our common baptism.

Second, in baptism, we are “engrafted in Christ.” Being in “union with Christ” is a key term for Calvin (as it was for Paul). It embraces all salvation means. The sacrament of baptism testifies or witnesses to the reality of our union with Christ by faith through which we receive all Christ’s benefits for us. As we receive the blessings of Christ, we experience baptism as “the firmest bond of the union and fellowship which he has deigned to form with us” (Institutes 4.15.6).

Third, in baptism, we are “reckoned among God’s children.” We are the “adopted” children of God, on the basis of our election and salvation by grace in Jesus Christ (Romans 8). As members of God’s covenant community, the church, we are baptized into the community as part of the household of God—including “children” (which we all are!). Baptism witnesses to the strongest, deepest bonds we know in life—our belonging to God, as God’s children, in Jesus Christ. This is the love with which God enfolds us (1 John 5:1) In baptism, the Spirit is “bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16, 17).
Ceremonial, liturgical is not staid and devoid of meaning - save that we fail to teach the deep and abiding meaning.

What came first in the spiral ever downward from high liturgical worship to concerts with a talk? Was it that people failed to respond to the liturgy or was it that we failed to explain to them how important it was?

So now we have to go to pretty serious extents to defend the last two sacraments standing. This stuff matters, and certainly the sacramental matters because Christ commanded us to do it.

I guess the question is really this - how can we expect faith to pull people up out of the muck and mire, if we keep altering to appeal to the lowest common denominator?
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Friday Humor

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Thursday, July 05, 2012


Stop Digging!

No, in this case I am not talking about the first rule of holes. I am talking about a post at MMI on "ruts" churches get into:

There are some great point here that need to be generalized.

I find it amazing that people put up with all the programming that goes on around us. Think about how often we are treated like cattle. Sometimes it is unavoidable - airplanes and buses for example, it is forced on us by physical circumstance. But we all line up obediently at Wal-Mart to by the same generic garbage because it is cheap. Customer service for cable, internet, telephone, etc. - don't even get me started. You need a PhD in queuing and how their system is organized just to get something fixed! And we obediently put up with this noise.

One of the great reflections of God's image in us is our creative individuality. Churches get into ruts because they are following the same strategies as Wal-Mart and AT&T. They presume that people that want the product, or have grown dependent on the product will deal with whatever to get more and to maintain it. So we build programs and expect people to line up in them.

Well, guess again, people don't think they need the church (Of course they do, but this is about what they think) and it is an entirely disposal service, difficult to build dependency. The church should simply defy organization in this fashion.

Let me put this to you differently. As we mature in Christ, we should be discovering our unique individuality. While there may be a fairly worn path in the door, once we are in, a church full of mature Christians will of necessity be chaotic, as each individual chooses their own path.

They won't walk in the ruts. Time for the church to embrace this reality. Come to think of it, maybe I am talking about the first rule of holes.

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Illuminated Hymn

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Independence Day!

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Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Who Are We To Ask, Let Alone Answer?

Justin Taylor asks:
Can Someone Be Saved Who Distorts or Denies the Biblical Doctrine of Justification?
Somewhere a point is missed. Says Taylor:
In some ways Owen’s position is a dangerous one to hold—given the strong connection in Scripture between sound doctrine and assurance
Who judges sound doctrine? God, not man - so who are we to decide what is sound doctrine? My assurance lies not in doctrine but in God. God saves whom God saves, and if we try to figure that out we are putting ourselves in God's place - and THAT is a problem. I don't care if you are Calvinist, Armenian, or Jewish.

I am just Calvinist enough to know that God does not save everyone - His sovereignty is foremost. But I am humble enough to know I will NEVER know. For myself, I presume salvation and do my best to be worthy of it. For others I seeks imply to express the love of Christ.

Anything else lacks humility.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, July 02, 2012


Loyalty Can Be A Problem

Think Christian:
We’re in the businesses of branding. Branding is all about communication and clearly defining what makes a company, product or experience distinct and memorable from others. Companies who strive to serve customers faithfully ask in return for brand loyalty over their competitors. But can that ever cross over into something like brand idolatry?


Social media has revolutionized the idea of brand loyalty, particularly through the use of Facebook. Our lives seem deeply invested in that brand. We’ve known some to take “Facebook Fasts” even. From a strategy perspective, if you’ve developed a brand so compelling that your consumers require intentional self-discipline to take time away from it, you’ve succeeded in a huge way.

Knowing that brands have the ability to become idols begs the question, “Who’s responsible?” Is it our job as individuals to study our own hearts and not idolize the products and services we identify with? Or is it a corporation’s responsibility to make sure that they aren’t promoting their brand to be idolized? How does a company push to provide a healthy amount of value without becoming an idol?

We tend to think that it’s a personal responsibility of individuals to clear their hearts of idols. Or are we just cigarette makers blaming people for smoking too much while trying to get them to buy as many cigarettes as possible?
These are guys in the branding business asking about their own profession. But here is what I wonder - building a church i the day and age, certainly a megachurch, is all about branding. What happens when we, working apparently in God's name, get in the way of God? Does that not sound a lot like the religious authorities of Christ's time?

Our job in the church is not to build loyalty - it is to build disciples. Disciples, by definition will eventually leave - they will feel a call and go. We should not want to hold fast to people - we are helping them mature to the point that they go away.

If you raise you children in such a fashion that they are so loyal to you they never leave the house - Have you succeeded?

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