Saturday, February 02, 2013


Comic Art


The comic book world is full of silly super-villains, but it is hard to top the silliness that surrounded Howard the Duck. Howard was extraordinarily "hip." One of the reasons was that at a time when comics were still very stuck in 1950's Americana, Howard managed to work in some pretty cute cultural references. I cannot help but wonder is such was not the case with his arch-nemesis - Dr. Bong. This, of course, is a bell based villain (You know, bells go "bong, bong,...bong" and it has absolutely nothing at all to do with, well.

Don't laugh at me, but back in 1977 when Dr. Bong first made the comic scene, I never made the connection, I was that far removed from the culture. Given the people that liked to read Howard the Duck, you might have thought I'd have figured it out, but not this corn fed church boy.

Howard the Duck was really what happened when the huge underground comics movement (think R Crumb, etc.) went mainstream. Or at least Howard's fans like to tell themselves that to justify dabbling in the mundane world of superhero comics. I have my own theory - the hippies were more mainstream then they wanted to admit and Howard was an excuse to be there....

Anyway, back to Dr. Bong. I do think some of the magic weed may have been involved in making up his origin story:
Lester Verde was an overweight child and the constant victim of bullies. At an early age, he decided to use the power of words to strike out where he couldn't physically. In college, he pursued a journalism degree, leaning toward sensationalistic stories, and he used the power of the written word to falsely accuse his journalism ethics teacher in a drug scandal thereby destroying his marriage and career. During this time, Lester also became enamored by a model for the art classes, Beverly Switzler, although she spurned his advances. Verde sought revenge by writing false stories about Beverly and her current boyfriend. Subsequently, her boyfriend died in a car crash as he raced to see her.

After college, Lester worked as an investigative reporter for various tabloids, but later switched careers to become a rock music critic, and then a musician, all to impress Beverly who had nonetheless forgotten all about him. Then, Verde arranged to "expose" the band he was in with charges of decadence. However, in an elaborate mock fight that grew out of control, Verde's left hand was severed by a prop guillotine. Underneath the prop bells, Verde's sanity snapped, and he decided to become a supervillain.

Verde somehow acquired a superb physique, mastery of sonic and genetic engineering, and an elaborate headquarters and other scientific resources. Verde succeeded in creating vaguely humanoid beings called "Neezers" from genetically-engineered animals.

Calling himself Doctor Bong, Verde captured Beverly and her companion, Howard the Duck.
Based on that story I think that most of us that read comics routinely could have qualified as supervillains. We all were bullied, most of us were smarter than average, and Lord knows spurned by women at every turn. What a long strange trip it's been.
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Friday, February 01, 2013


Pointing at Self

At Christian Post, Paul Tripp tells of his own blindness to self:
1. The reality of spiritual blindness in the life of the pastor. If sin blinds, and it does, then as long as sin remains in the heart of a pastor, there will be pockets of spiritual blindness. And as I have written elsewhere, the scary thing with spiritually blind people is that they're blind to their blindness. This means that the pastor needs "instruments of seeing" in his life as much as the people to whom he ministers (see Heb. 3:12-13).
I think that most people that enter into ministry are blind to self - honestly, and they enter ministry as a means to avoid serious self-examination. Oh sure, they have a pet "weakness" that they confess at appropriate times, but genuine self-examination seems not to be in the cards.

Leadership is an intoxicant, one begins to think oneself worthy of the adulation that comes with the spotlight. But the spotlight is just part f the make-up, hiding the flaws.

Tripp's testimony is about the damage his self-blindness did to his family. How fortunate he is that it did not damage his church. I have seen the institutions that Christian leaders serve fatally damaged becasue of self-blindness. It is usually in the name of grace that I have seen the damage turn from hurtful to fatal becasue no one was willing to confront.

Tripp said:
The next several weeks were extremely painful as I saw that anger everywhere. But I experienced the transformative pain of grace.
Grace is NOT! painless. Maybe it is time to speak up.Technorati Tags:, ,
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Friday Humor

I am certain I have put this up before, but it makes me laugh every time "Doctor, my brain hurts...."

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Thursday, January 31, 2013


Everything Old

It's funny, but everything old can be new again. Desiring God recently took some advice on letter writing from John Newton and pointed it at bloggers. The result was 15 "tips." My favorite? -
Blog humbly and in faith, knowing the Lord will lead you to offer a “word in season” for your readers in their time of need.
That bit of advice would change the blogosphere completely.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Being Hospitable

Living at home in our internet and TV shrouded bubbles, I thought this reflection on the Road to Emmaus story by Chaplain Mike might be worth considering:
We must not think of this story as an encouragement to invite Jesus into our lives and our homes. That would be jumping the gun. If it encourages anything, it recommends kindness to the stranger, the neighbor who comes alongside us on the journey, who converses with us, and who would pass out of our lives if we fail to invite him in. It exemplifies the possibilities of making connections out of casual contacts, of finding friends in folks with whom we may only have fleeting encounters. The author of Hebrews tells us that we may “entertain angels unaware” when we welcome unknown guests and show them hospitality. Luke in fact suggests it might be the risen Lord himself!

The Emmaus disciples would learn soon enough that the stranger was Jesus. That would happen at his initiative, not theirs.

However, by showing kindness to a fellow traveler, perhaps they made a little more room in their hearts for the moment of revelation.

Who have you talked to lately?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013



Jonathon Leeman @ 9Marks:
The question I want to think about can be posed like this: is there something endemic not just to megachurches, but to post-1950s-evangelicalism as a whole that, over time, tends to undermine the very doctrinal convictions which makes us evangelicals? More specifically, does our doctrine of the church inevitably tend in a pragmatic direction, such that we will eventually leave the gospel and other core theological convictions unguarded?
Boy, right on the verge of the most important question facing the church today. The problem is, I am not sure "doctrine" is the thing that has failed us. After all, did Christ spend a lot of time teaching the apostles doctrine? Not that we know of, we seem to see them working that kind of stuff out in Acts. Jesus taught them how to LIVE! - how to be more like Him.

This is more than a semantic distinction. Yes, doctrine guides us on the path to how to live, but it is not the thing.

The pragmatism Leeman is concerned about does invariably compromise a move on how to live because as sinners we do not want to live as we should. Living as Christ is inherently not pragmatic.
Thus we can conclude that holding doctrine is as much of a problem as pragmatism. We need to hold to life.
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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, January 28, 2013


The Most Important Aspect of Leadership

Mark Roberts:
Stories of such self-serving leaders may make news today, but they are not especially new. More than 2,500 years ago, through the prophet Ezekiel, God rebuked the leaders of Israel for caring about themselves rather than the people they led. Using the imagery of shepherding, the Lord accused the "shepherds" of Israel of tending themselves rather than their "flock" (34:2-3). They took advantage of the people in their charge in order to benefit personally. "You don't strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strays, or seek out the lost," God said. Rather, "you use force to rule them with injustice" (34:4). For this reason, the Lord would soon remove the leaders of Israel, rescuing his people from their self-serving corruption.

Ezekiel 34 challenges those of us who have been granted authority or influence to consider our intentions and practices. Are we truly seeking to serve those whom we lead? Or is our leadership really motivated by self-interest? Do we ever choose that which is best for the organization we lead even if it is not the best for us personally? Or are we always secretly calculating what will benefit us the most?
As I read that I wonder if the first sign of self-serving leadership is the use of coercion - or even absent coercion, insistence on having one's way? Think about it for a minute - a leader serves the organization, the organization does not serve the leader.

But I also think there is a more subtle form of self-service in leadership - let's call it the "ego rush." Being in the spotlight, having attention focused on oneself, that can feel very good. It is a form of affirmation - and we all crave affirmation. There is fine line here, one must look comfortable in that spotlight to be effective, but one cannot enjoy it too much - and certainly one cannot demand it.

I think that is something for pewsitters to think about - if you are sitting there thinking, "It would be fun to do that," you might need to think again.
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