Saturday, January 12, 2013


Comic Art

 Ariel Olivetti
 Brandon Peterson
 Ed McGuinness
 Leonel Castellani
Jack Kirby
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Friday, January 11, 2013


Our Own Worst Enemies

Out of Ur links to a video. In it, the church lead "promotes" an upcoming baptismal service, complete with circling shark in the background. Said Url Scaramanga:
Most ministers are not as anti-humor as John Piper, but there is a line and Ed Young is about 300 yards over it.
Humor is not the problem - respect is. Somethings simply must be taken seriously. When we laugh at something, it means we are vary familiar with it. Respect means that we cannot become too familiar with some things. God is one of those things.

The sacraments are places where we touch just a little bit of God. OK, some would argue they are merely symbolic, but our symbols are important. They should be places where we open ourselves to God's touch becasue we set them aside as such. Humor os a way of making sure we "understand" they are "just" symbols. Which means we are never open to God's touch.

That's a problem
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Friday Humor

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Thursday, January 10, 2013


The Technology "Connection"

Courtesy Ed Stetzer, we turn to an article from Tampa Bay Online about social media and church:
These days, the founder and lead pastor of the nondenominational Relevant Church in Ybor City is never without his trio of high-tech toys: a Mac laptop, an iPad and an iPhone. He is accustomed to the constant chirping of incoming tweets and text alerts. If any one of his virtual connections were to shut down, "I'd be totally lost," he says. "I'm too dependent now to be able to function without it."

More church leaders are starting to think like Wirth. And not just for their personal lives. Technology is becoming an important — even necessary — tool to attract and keep members, to evangelize to outsiders and to spread a Christian viewpoint locally and globally.
Interesting that - I have talked before about the need for relationships and how on line is no replacement, I want to focus instead on one key word in that quote "non-denominational."

The piece chronicles the use of social media by any number of independent, entrepreneurial pastors that are trying to start or maintain a church. I can see the necessity of social media in such a circumstance, but I also see problems. Independent churches tend to be personality driven to begin with, and social media can, I think, only make that worse. Some might argue that such is not bad, after all, Christ was a personality. Fair enough, but we are not Christ.

The church institutionalized in order to compensate for the fact that we are not Christ - the institutions serve, if done properly, to check our tendency for sin. Of course, being composed on sinners, institutions are most capable of sin, but absent institutions, what is the check?

Does social media check this problem? I think not, relationship light is hardly a check on bad behavior. Is there a role for social media in the church? Absolutely, but it is adjunct, not replacement - it is helpful, but not necessary.
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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013


When Grace Seems Hard To Find

Given that my mother currently suffers advanced dementia, I found this post from Douglas Groothius very moving. I shall defy convention and reprint it whole, I trust he will forgive me:
In literature, we find several styles of narrative. Consider the thick, psychologically complex story-telling of Dostoevsky on the one hand; on the other, think of Hemingway's sparse, thin, and muted accounts of people and events.

Many those now stricken with debilitating chronic illness once had robust and Dostoevskiannarratives: their minds were active, their memories deep, their affections complex and well-suited to the varied circumstance of life under the sun. They were quite fully alive: complex, but robust and fascinating.

Then, it struck: one of the sickeningly many chronic illnesses. You supply the one that has most wounded you the most. The narrative now alters, even dramatically; it thins out; loses weight and depth: the sentences are shorter, as are the paragraphs; the page count diminishes. One is shunted into a kind of Hemingway world. Much is lost. (I am not pitting writer against writer, but simply using their respective styles to illustrate a point.)

As a soul's narrative moves from thick to thin, part of the person is lost--or strangely changed. The body refuses to perform the acts of the old story line. The mind slows and cannot summon its former memories, cannot accomplish skills so easily done yesterday. Survival becomes more important than adventure. One tries to endure, not prevail.
Those who witness this painful peeling away, this cruel diminution of faculties must learn to read a new story--not forgetting the old, thicker life, but not expecting it to return either. The wounded person, made in God's image (come what may), is still there, there, there. But the newer chapters of the life story seem to be composed by someone not a little different than the one who composed the earlier ones. The stylistic shift is jarring, wearing, and lamentable.

Yet, "love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13). We must love the person who is there, no matter how withered, wilted, or wronged by this groaning world of woe, still awaiting its final redemption.
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Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Good Point, But REALLY Face It

Christian Post:
An Ohio pastor involved in spreading awareness about child abuse in the U.S. said that the church should be "fearful of our own depravity."

Don Solin, youth pastor for the Next Generation ministry at Fairhaven Church in Dayton, told The Christian Post after a conference call on Tuesday that part of Christianity's response to the problem of child abuse needs to be pastors and clergy recognizing their own potential for depravity.

"All of us who do ministry ought to be fearful of our own depravity," said Solin, who felt that church leaders often run the risk of "[looking] down at other people that are struggling with sin."


Solin focused on what the church should do to combat child abuse, emphasizing the need to help parents to communicate with their family, as well as being good role models.
"I hope [churches] become honest and say this is a problem, and we can do something about it. Not just say, here's a band aid and somebody else can fix this. I mean, I hope the church says, 'hey we can do something about this,'" said Solin to CP.

"The reality is that the church has to stand out. The church, the universal church, followers of Christ together has to stand out…It also must speak honestly about it and not skirt it. Not pretend it's not there, but really speak and do something honestly about it."
All this talk of honesty and our own depravity and no one says the place to really start. If, in fact, the church "has to stand out," and be "fearful of our own depravity," then perhaps this conference should begin by addressing child abuse within the church! Rarely a week goes by that we are not treated to a story of a pastor somewhere abusing, typically sexually, children in their church. And for all the stories we hear, how many are there that we do not hear? Before we can even begin to "help parents to communicate with their family," we have got to begin by purging the demon from the ranks of church leadership.
Yeah, I know, most churches get rid of offenders, but they do so on the down low, "for the sake of maintaining the image of the church."

I think the image of the church would be greatly improved if ti would more publicly expunge the evil that dwells within.
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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, January 07, 2013


The Need and Place for Sacrament

Chaplain Mike looks ta a piece by Peter Leithart:
Why does Peter Leithart assert that the Eucharist is so important, so central, so significant for Christians and our relationship with our culture?

First of all, Leithart says it is essential for the church to keep Jesus central and that it is the Table that enables us to do so.

One might respond that a strong emphasis on Scripture enables Christians to do that. This is the standard evangelical position. However, the evidence is rife that the “Bible-believing” approach can and does easily degenerate into “biblicist” readings that make any number of emphases prominent, leaving Christ on the periphery.


Second, Leithart notes that our inability to share the Table with each other is one of the main hindrances to our witness before the world.“Do we expect to evangelize the world when we cannot even eat together?” he asks. The one practice that is designed to bring the family together has long been a source of discord.


Third, there are political consequences to our eucharistic neglect. When evangelical churches fail to maintain a rich heritage of ritual and symbolism, their members are tempted to gravitate toward other symbols for meaning. Peter Leithart notes how many Christians will take fierce stands for the sanctity of the flag but recognize little sanctity in God’s own “holy things for [his] holy people.”
Interestingly, I think there is an irony missed here. I agree that when we do not have symbols we will gravitate to others, and politics seems to be where the modern evangelical goes. But, because most evangelical congregations are independent and fiercely competitive, the inability to sup together (number 2) is why Evangelicals remain so politically ineffective. In a democratic state such as ours it takes unity in numbers to prevail politically.

It has been argued that in our more literate world we have less need of the artistic and symbolic. But I would argue that just as the Bible can get in the way of Christ, so our intellects can get in the way of the Holy Spirit. We need ritual to pull us out of ourselves. We need to engage with our spirits and not just our minds.
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