Saturday, October 12, 2013


Comic Art


The Villain Made For TV

Obviously comics and television series, usually cartoons, based on them have a lot of cross promotional value and so they shape each other. TV has become the de facto portal into comics and so that influence has been largely running from TV to comics of late. As evidence, I give you the rise of Sportsmaster. Yes, he did appear before the TV shows, but they are what has foist him into the limelight of late. Why? I have no idea. He should be hired muscle at best.

What he is, is action filled. That matters more in the motion filled cartoon series than in the static images of the comics, but even then it is stretching just a bit to have a guy that is just good at sports tackling the Justice League Junior.

They have thrown in a familial connection to some of the youngsters in an effort, I think, to make the character more interesting and to give a story to tell with him in the comics, but this is pure guess work.

I must comment that I hate the fact that in a TV show designed to appeal too young and draw them into comics, we are relying on illegitimate birth as a means to that end. It is a far cry from rescuing orphan which is where Robin originally came from. But I digress.

What do I think of Sportsmaster as a serious villain? (forget fan phenomena.) Oh, I think the closing image just about sums it up.

Friday, October 11, 2013


The Difference Between Evangelical and Fundamental

David Williams writing at BioLogos wrote a piece on C.S. Lewis view of scripture:
Lewis derived his theological understanding of the Bible from his reading of Scripture, his intimate knowledge of the Church Fathers and the Medieval Doctors, and also from his awareness of modern biblical scholarship. While Lewis was regularly critical of Modernist biblical scholarship’s naturalistic dismissal of the miraculous, its pedantry, literary tin-ear, and over-eagerness to conflate Jesus’ story with the stories of pagan mythologies (he had precious little patience for Rudolf Bultmann, for instance ), he was not at all given to the knee-jerk reactionary Fundamentalism which has held so much sway in American Evangelical culture. In fact, Lewis incorporated many of the more well-supported conclusions of modern biblical criticism into his theology of Scripture, not least critical opinions about the historicity of much of the Old Testament. In good Anglican fashion, Lewis creatively drew upon the deep resources of the Church’s grand Tradition in order to think through the contemporary problems posed by modern critical scholarship. Here I wish to focus on three features of Lewis’s theological conception of Scripture—his understanding of the Bible as being incarnational and sacramental in character, and Christotelic in focus—before turning to his theological reading of Genesis 1-3.
I found this fascinating not because it revealed much to me about Lewis, but because it says so much about Evangelicalism. I love that crack about Fundamentalism in the pull quote. Way too many Evangelicals are really Fundamentalists and frankly, I think Lewis defines the divide.

If I had to sum it up in a nutshell I would ask a single question, "Do you think to develop your beliefs or to justify them?" I think we should all ask ourselves this question everyday. Yes, we must tame our intellect to work in concert with the Holy Spirit, not against it, but it is a tool given to us by God. We must learn to use it properly.


Friday Humor

Thursday, October 10, 2013


There is No Identity, Only Christ

Justin Taylor links to a post by Terry Johnson:

 What happens when one or two aspects of our Christian identity get emphasized at the expense of others? What happens when we fail to keep the four central elements (sons, saints, servants, sinners) of our identity in tension with each other? Let’s see. 

Some have made “sons” and “saints” the message of the gospel and have neglected the categories of “servant” and “sinner.” The result has been a strong emphasis on our unchanging security as children of God and our safe status as “holy ones,” righteous in Christ. Many hurting souls have derived great comfort from this constant refrain. Those of “tender conscience,” to use the Puritan term, have found deep consolation in regular reminders of sonship and sainthood.

However, in the absence of an ongoing emphasis on “servant” and “sinner” the result too often has been complacency about duty, service, responsibility, and even about sin. “Don’t should me,” some preachers have been known to say. “There is nothing that I must do that will make God love me more. There is nothing that I have done that will make Him love me less,” these preachers rightly insist. Yet, they continue, “My Father is always pleased with me and never displeased. He sees me ‘in Christ,’ perfect and complete.“ Consequently, don’t tell me what I need to do. I don’t need to do anything – just bask in grace. When I fail, I’m loved and accepted. When I fall, I am safe and secure. The Christian life is not doing but being, being ‘in Christ.’”

I agree with the point almost entirely that Christianity is not wholly a state of being but that it has action associated with it - that is to say behavioral consequences, but I wonder if, in the modern era, discussing "identity" in Christ is the way to discuss this?

The actions involved in being a Christian as selfless acts - when we root our identity in them we are still, sadly, focused on self, and are therefore, to some extent, missing the point.  If we are acting in self-interest, even if the actions are sacrificial, we are somehow not quite getting it.  The key is in the phrase Christ uttered in the garden, "Not my will, but Thine."  It is not a question of Jesus deciding to do something for any selfish reason, there was no self-interest involved.  It is a question of Christ subsuming His will and identity to His father.

I fear that the modern age has so compromised the language that we are losing concepts that are important in the faith.  In order to "be heard" we have to actually compromise.  We must be hyper vigilant in how we make our points.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013


Music To My Ears


It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a superhero flying in a virtual sky! Scientists now find that seeing superpowers in a virtual-reality game may lead people to act more virtuously in real life.  


To see if embodying a helpful role in virtual reality made people more helpful afterward, scientists had 60 volunteers don virtual reality helmets and engage in scenarios where they were either given the power of flight or rode as passengers in a helicopter. They were also assigned one of two tasks — they had to tour a virtual city or help find a missing diabetic child in need of insulin. 

Regardless of which task the volunteers performed, those who were given the power to fly like Superman in virtual reality were more helpful afterward in the real world compared with participants who were passengers in the virtual helicopter. specifically, volunteers who had virtual superpowers moved about three times faster on average than virtual helicopter passengers did to help experimenters pick up spilled pens after their virtual experiences — in fact, the six volunteers who did not help at all had all ridden in the virtual helicopter. [ Hero Helpers: 10 Best Sidekicks in Comic Book History

"The experience of super-flight in and of itself appears to be the salient variable that led people to help outside of virtual reality," said researcher Robin Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Stanford, Calif., and author of "Superhero Origins: What Makes Superheroes Tick and Why We Care" (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013).
 The point, I think is this. Being exposed to stories about people with powers being helpful made people, when they were in a similar situation be helpful. This should tells something about the roles and value of our stories. Fantasy is not a bad thing, it is what we are fantasizing that really matters. Are we imagining good or bad - whatr roles are we seeing people play and in what way.

This should send a message to comic writers everywhere as they attempt to make comics more and more "realistic" which makes the good and evil aspects of it more and more ambiguous. If comics continue down the path they are on, when the nation decides to turn right again (and it will) they will find themselves strapped by the CCA again or worse.

Maybe they ought to look at stuff like this study and decide to use their powers for the good of the nation. Wouldn't that be interesting.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Why Wierd?

Clever Title Here:
As if the whole church thing were not weird enough, we use some really strange language.

I know I'm not an outsider anymore, but there are times when I still feel like one. And one of those times is when we use weird terms to describe things. Not like theological language, which is already bizarre in its way but has its uses just like any other insider language (educators have one, computer people have one, journalism has one, medicine has one, etc). Not even hipster language--like when everything is authentic and intentional and relational and relevant, or whatever. But flat out weird institutional language.

Like when a new pastor is called (not hired), they are installed (they don't just start work until they get properly...well, all the metaphors I can think of sound dirty--ie, what we do with lightbulbs, appliances, software...). When they leave their relationships are dissolved (which I suppose is the slightly softer way of saying "cut off"). And we're now called Teaching Elders, not simply pastors or ministers (though for the record, "minister" was a seriously problematic term when it comes to thinking about the priesthood of all believers anyway).

Cute, but I think missing the point. She goes on to talk particularly about the process of being hired and put into place as the pastor at a church - a process with many steps, each with "odd" sounding names. What she neglects is the importance of each of those steps and the origin of the terms associated with them. This process has developed over the centuries of operation of first the Church of Scotland now the Presbyterian church. Each step has a purpose and a deep meaning. It is true that most people do not know these steps, let alone their significance, anymore - but the that does not mean they are not important, nor that they are "weird."

The steps involved were designed to accomplish several things, but to announce and reinforce the accountability structures within the church and to set aside the pastor as holding both special office and for special purpose. By mocking the steps and the titles what we do is make the special mundane and the sacred profane. We tear down the accountability structures of the church and in so doing let loose all sorts of forces that can be, and often are, destructive.

Let's discuss a single example - pastors are "called" rather than "hired" precisely because what they do is supposed to be more than simply a job. Yes, the position carries with it all the accouterments of a job, but it is something quite different than simply performing duties in exchange for monetary compensation. A pastor should be driven to their work and they should be performing it without regard to compensation. Salary in the church situation is more a thankful recognition of the gifts and effort of the individual than it is compensation. A pastor does what he/she does because they are driven by their abilities, devotion to God, and the Holy Spirit. They follow this "call" to the point that it harms their duty to provide for their family, and so a grateful congregation gifts them in recognition. In a calling, the commitment is to God and the congregation, in a job the commitment is to the compensation. It's as simple as that.

The church is continuing to jettison this significant, if often ignored, distinctions for the sake of being "relevant." I think we ought to educate rather than jettison. The church would be better off for it.


Kity Kartoons

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Monday, October 07, 2013


Will It Really Help?

Jeff Dunn @ iMonk lists some ways to "renew" the Evangelical worship service. Just one of his suggestions:
This takes us to the song service. It is the part evangelicals like to call “worship,” as if we only worship God with music. We have discussed the full-fledged assault contemporary Christian music has made into the song services in great detail often on this site, so I am not going to revisit those refrains. For today, let us remember that the purpose of the worship service is to focus our eyes on Jesus. Any song that does not help the worshipper to do this should not be included in the service. We need to be singing about who Jesus is, not what he means to me.
I agree with this and just about every other suggestion Jeff has for the worship service. But that said, I wonder if it will help matters much? IF Evangelicalism is really to get better it has to move past focus on the worship service. The essential question is this - if the worship service were to change, would it change the people in the pews, or must the people in the pews be changed for the worship service to change?

If you think about it at all, there is no straightforward answer to that question, it's circular in nature. Which tells me that if we change the worship service, but do other things about the church, those changes will be ineffective. At root, the problem with Evangelicalism is not what is done in worship - but the overwhelming focus on worship. (Oh Lordy, I can here the people screaming at me now, "We were created to worship!")

A church is many things - many, many things - it is not simply a provider of Sunday morning worship/entertainment. If the church does not build the infrastructure to be all those things, then it really ought to be the Sunday morning show that attracts the most viewers.

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