Saturday, October 27, 2012


Comic Art


So, I am preparing to do a "So Bad, They're Good" on the villain group "Chess Set." I do my usual search for art work and information and look what shows up:

See more here

See more here

That's geeky, even by my standards!

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Friday, October 26, 2012


I Hate This Stuff

Christia Post:
The parents of a 7-year-old boy with Down's syndrome say their son has been discriminated against by the Roman Catholic Church after he was denied taking his first Holy Communion and confirmation.

Clare and Darren Ellarby, of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, U.K., have been left outraged after learning that their son Denum was denied because St. Mary's Catholic Church suggested the boy has "limited concentration," according to BBC news.


The Leeds Diocese Vicar General, Michael McQuinn, denied the boy has been banned and suggested that Denum simply does not understand the church's faith and is welcome to take part in his first communion when he does.

Is our participation in the Body of Christ defined by OUR understanding? I am not sure even the most blatant of Armenians would really contend that when it is put that baldly.

But I do not want to turn this into into a theology debate - there are a couple of other things more worthy of note. For one this represents a very limited view of what it means to be a part of the church - it is more than merely conceding to a set of ideas and principles. The Catholic Church with its high view of sacrament should understand that better than most.

But more, isn't the judgement of who is and who is not in the church really up to God? Therefore if it is important to the boy and his family, does not grace demand the boy's inclusion? God can sort the rest of it out later. Now I also know that Catholics take statement like that much more seriously than we Protestants do, but regardless our faith is ultimately in God, not ourselves.

Things like Down Syndrome are undoubtedly resultant from our sin. Are we really willing to let those so inflicted suffer for our sin?
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Friday Entertainment

Leo Kottke!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012


Care For Leadership

Todd Rhoades:
Let’s think about this for a minute. We can have the coolest church building in three counties, can have all the coolest graphics, websites, audio-visual toys, and all that… but if we are not investing in our people, we might as well flush that money down the toilet.

Excuse the phrase, but church is a people business. If we are not investing in leaders, making sure that they are well trained, well supported, and well cared for, there is no way that they will be able to care well for the people whom they serve.
Business people build programs and systems - Christians build people. I don't think it can get any simpler than that. Christianity is not the church building business. Church building is by-product and tool.

When one build a gold mine the purpose is to get the gold, it is not just to have a mine, cool though they are.
It is; however, important to remember that is is not just about building "leaders." Yes the church needs to do that, but many the mature disciple will find something else to do besides lead in church. If we ficus only on building leaders, we are still missing the point. Christ did not come to change the church, he came to change the world - that means we HAVE to fan out.
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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Suffering and Me

Mark Roberts:
When our lives are coming apart, when we’re enduring suffering, we cry out, “Why is God doing this to me? Why is God punishing me?”

If we look to Scripture, Lamentations offers one answer. There are times when God does cause his people grief because of their wrong acts. As Hebrews affirms, God disciplines us so we can become more like him (Heb. 12:7-11). So, it’s possible that our suffering is the Lord’s way of helping us to grow in holiness.

But the Bible also reveals that sometimes our suffering is not a result of our sin. Consider the example of Job. He suffered greatly, losing his substantial wealth and his family. His friends urged him to admit that it was divine punishment because of his sin, but Job resisted, insisting that he had not deserved his sorrow. In the end, the Lord rebuked Job’s friends, revealing that they had not spoken rightly about God when they said he had been punishing Job (Job 42:7-8). (In fact, it was Satan who had caused Job’s suffering; see Job 1.)

Truly, suffering in general is a result of the brokenness of the world, that which finds its root cause in human sin (see Genesis 3). But this does not mean that every instance of personal suffering is a direct consequence of one’s own sin. Often, our pain comes from the mere fact that we live in a world that is not what God had intended.

Of late it has occurred to me that the very question, "Why me?" is sinful of itself. It makes "me" far more important than I really am. There is a hubris involved in asking "Why Me?" that is really unbecoming of the Christian.

God is at work in the world. That work in centered on mankind - not me, though I can only benefit from the result. Our job is to find our place in that work - not make the work revolve around us.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Good Point, To A Point

Paula Huston:
And that's what good food, not to mention all the other pleasures of life, can do to us: distract us from the big picture.


As I think about my own relationship to food, I can trace its evolution from unthinking overindulgence, which was strongly rooted in the legacy of family anxiety I inherited, to a slow dawning of the light: I did not want to remain dependent on sugar, fat, salt to make me feel safe, calm, happy. I could see what that dependence had done to beloved members of my family: they had put themselves in precarious health, cut productive years from their lives, and ensured that they would become increasingly enslaved to pharmaceuticals.

I thought about St. Paul's beautiful image of our bodies as "temples of the Holy Spirit." How did overindulgence in unhealthy foods fit into that picture? And so I began seeking a way to become virtuous in the area of eating.
Her good point is that too much focus on food is a form of idolatry, just as any pleasure is. Dependence on "sugar, fat, and salt" is an expression of that idolatry. So we are good to that point.

But this also can turn very bad. "Sugar, fat, and salt" are not of themselves unvirtuousness or sinful - they are just food. We are the problem - not the food. You see to make those morally neutral things bad is to grant them more power than they really have - it is a form of "reverse idolatry."

Sometimes when we develop "spiritual disciplines" we do so to avoid the genuine change the Holy Spirit seeks to work in our lives. By focusing on what we eat instead of who we are when we eat - we avoid the central issue.

Christ did not die and resurrect to save the world from Cheetos - he did so to save us from our sinful selves.
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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, October 22, 2012


SIn and Personal Problems

Think Christian
A pediatric hospital in my home state of Georgia has been running an advertising campaign about childhood obesity which has ignited some controversy.

This NPR story summarizes both arguments: the ad producers point out that Georgia has the second-highest rate of childhood obesity and argue that the harsh tone is necessary for parents who are in denial about their kids' weight and its potential health effects. Others believe the tone of the ads might hurt kids who are already stigmatized for their weight. I’ve written before about what I make of the health-communication research about scare tactics in these types of ads. This controversy raises that and other issues, many of which are important for Christians.

Of course Christians should be concerned about what experts have called a health crisis. When Paul wrote, “Don’t you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?” he wasn’t addressing obesity, but it seems to apply. We should care for our bodies because they are given to us by God. We should be concerned with helping others to stay healthy as well.

We must also be careful, though, to not make people who are already alienated by society feel worse. We should also avoid emphasizing thinness as the only sign of healthfulness, which can encourage eating disorders and exercise disorders or just too much focus on our own and others' appearance. TC contributor Caryn Rivadeniera wrote about that very issue last year at Hermeneutics. We need to be careful to balance helping people feel they can take control of their weight by changing their habits and not making people feel ashamed about their bodies. I worry these Georgia ads lean too hard on making kids and parents feel ashamed.

Additionally, when a problem like childhood obesity grows at the rate it has in contemporary America, it's necessary to think about whether our societal sins contribute more than individual choices. It's unlikely that so many people have just gotten lazier or more indulgent; at least some of the problem is likely a result of culture or environment.

Given my history with obesity, it should be unsurprising that I have something to say here. Those latter two paragraphs contain some important points, but even they reveal a weakness in how Christians approach things. We struggle somehow to make what is important to us "a spiritual thing" because we want God to influence all that we do. But that often results in over-think.

Serious obesity is a result of food being TOO important. When we spiritualize it,we give it greater importance, not lesser - That's compounding an already huge problem. It was when I made my weight a "merely physical" thing that I could start to get it under control. Weight is an emotional/spiritual thing only if we make it such - i the end it is just physics and chemistry - fuel in, energy out.

Which takes me back to this woman's point about shame. Most people are upset about someone else's weight becasue a) they are concerned about the individual's health, or b) the others weight is an inconvenience (Airplane example). Some might argue that a) is a "Christian" motivation and b) is selfish. I would contend both are selfish - in both directions. A person can choose to be as healthy or unhealthy as they wish, at least if we believe in free will. If I choose ill-health that causes pain to my loved one who do not want to be without me - I am selfish. However, when I am told I have weight problem, or other formulations of same - those who love me are pressing on me their fear of emotional loss. They are not just concerned about me, they are concerned about their potential loss. They are selfish.

The airplane example should be self-explanitory - I am selfish for demanding more seat than you and you are selfish for being less than kind about it (and trust people almost universally are.)

So what we see here is that the problem is not really the obesity - it is the selfishness. Now that is a spiritual issue!
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