Saturday, December 22, 2012


Comic Art

The lengths to which comic creators will go can sometimes be comic. Consider CAPTAIN OMEN. You expect some sort of "bad luck" guy. You know, this guy shows up at the scene at Captain America's shield melts or some such nonsense. Until you realize:
Omen is an anagram of Nemo, to whom I'd have to ASSume he's an homage.
And then you begin to get the origin story (same source):
Captain Omen himself had no physical powers. In fact, he was a withered, hunched old man. However, he had access to a wealth of advanced technology and an army of superhuman warriors (The Infra-Worlders, (see below), and Aquon - whom he apparently genetically engineered). His immense submarine, the Infra-World, spent all of its time at a depth of 5000 fathoms (that's six miles to you and me, kids!), and apparently had means of producing oxygen, gaining new power, etc. (I'm also thinking they ate a lotta fish). The Infra-World, in addition to housing possibly hundreds of people, also had enormous tentacles able to reel in other, normal-sized submarines, or Hulk-sized people. It could utilize tractor beams and probably had other weaponry, as well. Captain Omen equipped the Infra-World with Vista Rooms, which projected holograms of the surface world for the Infra-Worlders. He also had metal gardens, complete with mechanical birds, so they wouldn't feel like they were missing anything.
Now it all makes sense, doesn't it? When you consider the appearance of his creations it all starts to make a certain sense. Somebody (Kirby) probably sketched these things up and needed a story to go with some pretty cool looking stuff. Which brings me to a point, much as I loved last summer's Avengers movie, and believe me I really loved it - something is missing. In some ways, reality just cannot look as cool as comics. A live action movie, even heavy in the CG, will never have the same look as what you see around you here. Even if they came close, there is a magic missing. With the success of the movies, I am very afraid the comics will become slaves to the movies. I hope not - they are an art form unto themselves. DC Comics has seen success with a lot of animation, and that animation does often capture this kind of appearance. Maybe, just maybe....

Friday, December 21, 2012


Church and Spirit

Bobby Jamieson @ 9Marks:
Nineteenth-century Baptist Francis Wayland suggests that there are basically two ways to fill a church (Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches, 43-47). One is to preach in a way that is agreeable and inoffensive to both believers and unbelievers. The other is to preach in a way that highlights the difference between true religion and mere profession, and thus creates a sharp contrast between the church and the world.
The first approach seems reasonable. After all, why would non-Christians come to hear sermons about things they’ve never experienced and can’t understand? Why would non-Christians come to a church that highlights the fact that they are outsiders?
Yet Wayland argues that the price of this approach is far too steep. In order for his preaching to equally please Christians and non-Christians, a minister must “talk of generalities that mean nothing, or the trumpet must give an uncertain sound, so that no one will prepare himself for battle.”

Anticipating the natural objection, Wayland writes, “But it will be said, Are we then to drive away all but the children of God?”

His response compresses volumes of biblical wisdom into a mere five words: “I reply, Is there any Holy Ghost?”
It’s easy to see, for example, how the promise of wealth will draw a crowd and convert them to your team. Same thing for the promise of better relationships, fewer conflicts, lower stress, or a better self-image. It’s easy to see how consummate presentation, engrossing music, and pleading appeals can generate adherents to whatever cause you’re promoting.

But none of these things need the Holy Spirit to make them work. All those strategies and messages can get along just fine without him.
Jamieson then goes on to argue that, "Spirit-dependent ministry is by definition Word-centered and Word-driven ministry." Now, one cannot argue with that on its face, but I know many, and I mean many, ministries that are "Word-driven" to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit. So wrapped up in the intellectual pursuits of the Bible and theology, the real workings and urgings of the Holy Spirit are ignored.

The Holy Spirit works both directly and indirectly. One of the prominent indirect effects is as a leavening agent, causing all aspects of the church to work harmoniously so the loaf rises evenly, if you will. No, Spirit-dependent ministry is definitionally Spirit-dependent. And that means nothing more for the church than listening, just listening. Less ideas and agendas and more concentration on waiting.
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Thursday, December 20, 2012


Church As Economic Engine

Todd Rhoades quotes a news story:
A mid-state mayor has a bold vision: mixing church and state and business. The mayor of Mt. Juliet said he plans to actively recruit a mega-church to their city to attract more Sunday afternoon business.

“What a boom that would be to our retailers- to have 3,000 or more people exiting church at 12 noon and getting lunch at Providence, or shopping at Providence or going to a movie or spending their day in some other form in Mt. Juliet,” said Mayor Ed Hagerty.
I guess it should not be surprising that when a church is built using economic models it would be used as an economic engine. Think about what this says about what the megachurch defines as success.

Is that how God defines success? If this is really how Christ intended His church to be, why did He come at a time when all these tools were not available to Him?

Something is terribly amiss. Terribly. This casts the church in role of amusement park of other entertainment attraction. Church is not an attraction. It is attractive, at least it should be, but it is not an attraction.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012


In Grief, Irony

Chuck Colson just weeks before his death wrote this at the Christian Post:
One answer is the ever-expanding definition of "mental illness." As Angell pointed out, back in 1968, within most Americans' lifetimes, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the so-called "bible of psychiatry," contained 185 diagnoses.

By 1980, it had risen to 265. The 2000 edition reported 365 and the next edition, to be published in 2013, will undoubtedly have more. Among possible new entries is something called "grieving disorder."

When you think about it, the idea of grief as mental illness is absurd. As the British medical journal The Lancet put it, "Grief is not an illness; it is more usefully thought of as part of being human and a normal response to the death of a loved one."

Grief is our response to loss and to reminders of our finitude. We grieve because on this side of eternity nothing good lasts forever.
Publishng being what it is, I read that while everyone knew he was dying. Prophetic? Perhaps, but such was not really Colson's point. Here is is real point:
This is, as Angell tells us, partly driven by our infatuation with pharmaceuticals. A psychiatric label means that there may be a pill that will make it better, and TV ads regularly promote it.

The real problem is that we increasingly see ourselves as biochemical machines with brains instead of souls. What we think and feel is the product of brain chemistry and correcting what ails us is a matter of tinkering with that chemistry.

This worldview has no place for compassion, remembrance, or empathy because, ultimately, it has no room for being human, especially a normal one.
As I talk to friends, and occasionally myself, I am constantly saying that medication masks, but God can heal.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Proper Use

Mark Roberts:
But Jerusalem did not use God's gifts for good, but rather for evil. For example, the Lord says, "You took some of your clothing to make colorful shrines and prostituted yourself in them" (16:16). The Hebrew word translated here as "shrine" is bama, which literally means "high place." In this context, it refers to the "high places" where pagans erected temples to worship their gods. The people of Israel had used the gifts God had given to them in the ways of their pagan neighbors, thus dishonoring God with the very gifts he had given them.
It is my firm conviction that nothing grieves God more than when we do bad things in His name. Scandal within the church, of any sort, does grievous harm the the aims of the church. And so the church often tries to cover it up.

But this only compounds the error. It has been made plain to us that the only way through sin is confession. The church must model it more readily than its adherents.

That we will sin and grieve the Lord is an inevitability. He knows that and we should know that. Hiding such simply denies reality. Christ came that we might have a way to deal with sin, and it begins with confession.

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Monday, December 17, 2012


You Got To Know When To Hold 'Em

A Place for the God Hungry on going to battle in church:
Good leaders pick their battles. Others seem to enjoy picking a fight. Yet, not every hill is worth dying on. You can go to battle over an opinion, a preference, or a concern today, but this may have implications for tomorrow. Be sure the battle is worth it. Far too many battles have been rooted in someone’s pride instead of a worthy cause. Consider whether or not this cause is important to Jesus.
  • Before going to battle for something, make sure the hill is worth it.
  • Remember that good will is not given to a leader in an infinite quantity.
  • Persistence and perseverance are great qualities.
  • Be upfront genuine and avoid manipulation.
This is very good advise - especially that last bit - be genuine and avoid manipulation. Manipulation usually results when people are losing the fight on points. In a church setting, parliamentary trickery is not required if the majority is on board. In a personal setting people resort to all sorts of trickery to get their will when they have lost the debate on the merits. It is a definitive sign of ego when you are not willing to lose.

I think that is the one piece of missing advise here - never go into a fight you are unwilling to lose. Think about this for a minute - fights demand there be a winner and a loser. Sometimes leaving things be may be uncomfortable, but at least no one loses.
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