Saturday, April 27, 2013


Comic Art


 Comic books are, in many ways, thriving cliches. Everything successful gets copied endlessly and the stories are all the same anyway - bad guy attacks, good guy prevails. But they do it with enormous style and they can be visually incredible. Few things have been more visually striking to my comic viewing eye than the battles between the Flash, in his many incarnations, and the "Reverse Flash" in his likewise numerous incarnations. There have been a lot over the years "reversing" not just the classic Barry Allen Flash, but the Jay Garrick and Waly West Flashes as well. But I want to focus on the visually stunning Professor Zoom and his analogs. This is the visual reverse of the bright red Barry Allen body suit in yellow. When I was a 6th grader perusing the carousels at the local drug store for reading material, covers that featured those two images were absolutely striking. I did not much care if the stories held up, just watching the red and yellow streaks across the pages made it an entertaining and worthwhile experience.
Just check out this image montage to get an idea of how the art has really propelled this character and story forward for decades. And the montage is mostly modern imagery. IN recent years they ave attempted to make the stories involving this character more compelling, and I believe they have succeeded. As cynicism has invaded the young, it seems that simply having a comic book that looks this cool is not enough. While the modern stories really are objectively superior, there is something sad about the lack of wonder and gee-whiz that is missing from the younger generation of comic readers. The old stuff survives and is recirculated endlessly, but in the continuity obsessed comic community, that is more as a "historical record" (there is something ironic in that phrase in this context) than appreciating the stories for what they were - just a chance to look at really cool stuff. Reverse Flash was among the coolest.
And here is a humorous bonus bit:

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Friday, April 26, 2013



Mark Daniels:
But, of course, James is not, in these verses, disputing the power of faith--simple trust--in Christ to save.

He is saying that faith is more than simple intellectual assent to the truths taught in the New Testament, such as that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's law and the Old Testament, that He is the "Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world," and that all who follow Jesus alone have life with God forever (John 3:16-18; John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

True faith, James is pointing out, infects the life of those who believe and, as a result, they live differently.

The thing that always concerns me is what do we have if we have the intellectual assent, but not the changed lives? Can we lay claim to God's salvation if its effects are not evident? Is it not somehow delusional to do so?

And is it not misleading to preach salvation without the results? It's like selling a vacuum cleaner but never showing them how to use it - the house remains dirty and the vacuum cleaner is a really a paper weight

We can argue the theology of salvation by grace all we want - it is a wonderful truth, but it is not the only truth. It is one of many that we must proclaim.

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Friday Humor

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Thursday, April 25, 2013


A Mission That Matters

Mark Roberts:
This means, among other things, that you have been “sent” by God to your workplace. You are there, not only to do your job, but also to represent Jesus Christ. This does not mean that you make a nuisance of yourself by preaching to your colleagues every day. It does mean that you are called to live out your faith in a way that draws people to God. Moreover, in the decisions you make, in the way you treat your colleagues, in the products you produce, and in a thousand other ways, you can live as a missional Christian, reflecting and extending the kingdom of God wherever you are.
Life is a mission, and yet so often we treat it like mission is something that happens in special times and situations. I think we lose sight of the fact that Christianity is meant to change our lives right here, right now. It is not a "special thing for a special times." It is simply the path to being better here and now.

I think we forget that God chooses to make the world better not by making the world better, but by making US better and the world is merely byproduct. It is not so much what we do, but how we do what we do.

That's the mission, not to do soemthing different, but to do what we do better.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013


A Calling To Consider

Think Christian is concerned about a rash of suicide in the military:
What’s more, the therapeutic community, which has been given the responsibility to help, is not the first choice of the men and women with the hidden wounds of war. Recent studies reveal that the clergy or a mature religious person is the first and preferred choice for military personnel looking for assistance. That may come as a surprise, especially in our secular society, but service members learned to trust the chaplain while in the military as a person to go to for confidentiality, for caring, non-judgmental warmth and positive regard as a valued person. Seeing the chaplain also avoids the stigma that is associated with mental-health problems.

The first thing that the Christian community should do is be welcoming to the returning service members who need assistance. Individual congregations might want to study the wounds experienced in these current conflicts. Congregations should educate themselves as helpers, which means knowing what can be done by members in the church and knowing when to find professional help for the people who need it. The church needs to understand how to communicate with these young men and women, who are distrustful of institutions. In helping these young men and women the church members need to stifle opinions on the morality or the immorality of these conflicts. These wounded need love and acceptance, not political conversations on the rightness or wrongness of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A big part of the problem here that the author does not discuss is the politicization of the chaplaincy corps in all branches of the service, and limitations being placed on religious expression since the military is a government institution.

I find myself wondering if now is not the time for a specific military focused parachurch. Imagine a small non-descript building next to military bases foreign and domestic where soldiers can go to get what they are not getting on the bases = that can act as abridge for the soldiers to churches in the area and when the finish their service and go home.

Good or bad idea? What say you?

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Hard To Go Wrong With Chesterton

Church Marketing Sucks draws five lessons on communication from G.K. Chesterton:
  1. Don’t avoid politics.
  2. Embrace controversy.
  3. Stand your ground.
  4. Show a little snark.
  5. Be eccentric.
In a way that sums up current marketing trends. No longer is the idea to sell one to everybody - Now the idea is to develop a core audience, or consumer group, and dip into the same pockets over and over and over again. Somehow, I think that a web site that seems to want to enable the church to use modern communication tools may have forgotten one of the bottom lines of what it means to be the church.
Christ came specifically to break the church out of its core audience (Israel) and spread it to the whole wide world.

Now, that being said, I think it will be a lot of very diverse and very distinctive congregations. Which brings me to the whole "all things to all people" paradigm of Paul. I am not sure, as a megachurch pastor might have you believe, that such is the paradigm for the church local. For Paul, he would travel from locale to local and need to adapt to local custom and ideas. Hence he did have to do that. But local leadership is a different animal that a traveling evangelist.

Sometimes I think we have to know our limitations. Not all of us are called to big ministry - most of us, I would argue, are called to local ministry. Maybe it is time we started to think like it.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, April 22, 2013


What Constitues A Friend?

Over at Christian Web Trends they did a two-parter attempting to argue that online relationships are "genuine." I am not at all sure why this argument continues. Of course, on line is better than a vacuum, and it is a useful tool for maintaining a relationship. It might even add a new category of relationship in the broad spectrum of relationships. But it ain't "friends" unless there is a whole lot more going on that just on line.
I think people want to cling to on line as a "genuine" form of relationship becasue it keep them from have to do the hard work of real relationship

Real relationship is messy, on line is not. Real relationship involves people contacting you when it is inconvenient and dealing with their crap that you do not want to deal with. Online makes such easy to ignore.

See, real relationship shapes us, it teaches us patience and long-suffering. It teaches us about the importance of the other. That's why you have to do it.

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