Saturday, September 29, 2012
Go ahead, contemplate the character names and look at these images - are you going to pick this mag up off the rack? I didn't - not a single issue. By this point in his career, Ditko's visual palette had become stayed, even trite. His creativity, or lack thereof, speaks for itself. I have never read his bio, don't know what the story was. Do know that given what he did contribute to comics, he deserved a job doing whatever he wanted.
Just know I did not want to read this one.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Truth and Faith
In support I offer you the following from Vishal Mangalwadi (HT: Joe Carter):
In November 2011, I visited two classes at a Christian university in North America. I asked both: “How many of you would still believe Christianity if you found out tomorrow that Christianity was not true. That is: God never became a man; Jesus did not die for our sin; or, that he did not rise from the dead?”He goes on to discuss the necessity of truth for the church - an important point and you very much should read the whole thing, but I want to focus on branding. That is a form of messaging, one much picked up by the church these days.
Twelve hands went up in each class of about 25 and 45 students. These sincere and devout students had grown up in Christian homes, gone to church all their lives and studied in Christian schools. Some had been in that Christian university for three years! They respected their elders who taught them that Christianity was all about faith with little concern for truth.
Christianity lost America because 20th-century evangelicalism branded itself as the party of faith. Secularism (science, university, media) became the party of truth. This is one reason why 70% Christian youth give up meaningful involvement with the church when they grow up.
In the second class, only one in four students perceived Christianity as disconnected with truth. This was because my host professor had taught them to believe because Christianity is true. Some professors and pastors do teach that, yet the “truth-less” brand is common perception because it is reinforced by most pastors, Bible teachers, and some Christian professors.
But if you study branding as a marketing force, which is what it really is, it matters less what you sell and more that you sell the brand. Hence comes merchandizing in the wake of a big movie. You make a Star Wars movie, it's a hit, and you can use the Star Wars logo to sell cereal. What precisely does space opera have to do with cereal?
It is easy for the church to become void of truth when it is busy branding itself. The medium has thus not just changed the message - it has eliminated it.
These things matter.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
This is what a church looked like in 1956:I find this very disingenuous. Technology is a tool - means to an end. The church is eternal, not merely a means to an end, but the representative of the end on this earth.
This is what many churches look like in 2012:
The church is meant not only to advance God's kingdom here, but also to hold, maintain and preserve God's truth. That being true, there are things about the church which should never change.
Consider the difference between the book and the movie. The medium changes the message, it changes the story - it must. When we change the church we risk changing the truth it is meant to maintain and preserve. Does that mean the church should never change? Of course not, but it does mean such change should be achingly slow and with enormous thought, concern, and prayer.
Certainly there is no room in such a process for such trite and flippant argument. There is simply too much at stake.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
There is more to pastoral leadership than a podcast. This is my own reflection on Trevin Wax's thoughtsIf the church is not an institution, but the gathering of Christ followers, then leadership in the church should be more than leading it institutionally - it is a personal exercise.
In recent weeks my pastor has been able to observe a behaviour in my life and offer quite specific correction and instruction, he's been able to deliver me specific and detailed encouragement about my own service of the church, he's preached God's word for me to hear as I've sat with the rest of the church at our church weekend away. He's prayed and prophesied and strengthened our faith.
He has prayed for me, and my family during a difficult week - which I know because he told me. He's probably also prayed for me and not told me about that.
We see less and less of this kind of leadership in churches becasue the less personal, the less we have to change. There is a sense in which the congregation drives the pastor into his office - they don't want the church to get too close to their lives. They do not want the kind of personal instruction Dave is talking about.
But why do leaders stand for that? It is not what you are called to. God will provide.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Losses Turned Into Wins
Jesus was born as an apparently insignificant subject of the Roman Empire. Nobody in imperial authority, least of all Augustus, would have had the slightest interest in or concern about some baby born in Bethlehem. After all, Augustus was not only the most powerful man in the world, but also a son of a god who vanquished even the once great nation of Egypt. Little did Augustus know that the one true God was doing something astounding, as God's own kingdom invaded the Roman Empire through the birth of a baby in Bethlehem.You just never know what God is up to, or how He is going to do it.
If you ever visit the Piazza del Popolo and gaze upon the obelisk that honors the power of Augustus, you'll notice something curious. Reigning on the top of the obelisk is a symbol that once signified the cruel tyranny of Rome. There, on the great stone column that once honored an Egyptian pharaoh and a Roman emperor, is a cross.
Jesus did not come and establish an earthly kingdom. Jesus did not come and establish a media empire. Jesus did not come and win a debate. Jesus occasionally attracted big crowds, but they faded. Even the faithful denied him in the end.
There is something deeper here than God simply repurposing our loses. The cross was one type of "victory" for the Roman empire and another altogether for Christ. In some sense Christ, through His crucifixion, recreated the cross.
It's not about fixing, it is about remaking. We want God to fix our lives; He says "No - you need an entirely different life." Not easy, is it?
Monday, September 24, 2012
This soterian Gospel, in contrast to the “King Jesus” gospel, is good news presented as a personal plan of salvation. It ignores the narrative context of the Gospel, separating it out from the Story told in the Old Testament, and presenting it as a bare theological message about God, sin, Christ, and redemption. One of the consequences of this is that the message usually skips right from Genesis 3 (Fall) to the New Testament (Jesus).Those words moved me deeply.
So, in preparation for Christmas, we will share a few articles on Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). In this song of praise, Mary proclaims the Gospel. As we will see, it is no mere “personal plan of salvation,” no “steps” by which we find peace with God, no “bridge” to reconciliation with God, no set of “laws” or principles by which we must make a decision. Mary’s song proclaims the climactic moment in a Story, the resolution of issues larger than my personal sin, a hope that stretches beyond the bliss of heaven.
You know, in reflection, if you asked me to pin down what the "more" of all this is, I am not sure I could. I think that may be the point. I know I do not want to stop looking.