Saturday, October 26, 2013


Comic Art


Honestly - can you call a force of nature villainous?  Destructive yes, but villainous?  That is the first thought that ran through my mind when this site named Galactus the #1 villain of all time and this one the #5.  G-guy was the first of the "cosmic" level guys to show up in Marvels never ending search for more power, but not quite omnipotent.  In his wake has come The Beyonder, The Collector, Infinity, The Living Tribunal, and on and on and on.

These characters represent comic book companies tying themselves in theological knots.  They are more-or-less gods (Odin, Thor et. al. are "puny humans" by comparison.)  But of course, we cannot have the comic books actually making a being God.  When I started reading that would have been blasphemous and these days it would just be silly - there are no gods after all.

But power at this level decides good and evil, it is not judged by it.  Now of course, in the Marvel Universe there is always someone or something out there just a bit more powerful and more than willing to impose "justice" on our actor.

But this raises all sorts of interesting questions.  It implies that justice is in the "eye" of the most powerful.  That leaves little room for concepts like grace, kindness, even love.

This philosophical conundrum is born of the deep Jewishness of many of the early creators and of the simple cultural desire not to offend.  But i they end they have come up with a situation that is truly problematic.  Under this system, at power levels like Galactus, concepts like good-and-evil just disappear.  He is simply a force.  How can he be a villain?

But then, this is probably too much thought for comic books. Or is it?

Friday, October 25, 2013



I have typically enjoyed John Piper because he has written some of the best, most serious books taking the rReformed faith seriously. But the, as he has grown in popularity and now set up the Desiring God ministries, I wonder if all that media space to fill has not resulted in some...less than stellar output. COnsider this example:
We recently sat down with Lecrae to talk about his latest album, Gravity, which just won Best Gospel Album at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. Here he raps the gospel in one minute
Let's take the most important message in the world and trivialize not only by trying to make it short and simple, but by setting it in a derivative music format.

I would venture to say that many of the problems the church faces today stem from the fact that we have attempted to reduce something as big as the good news that Christ came to offer to a sound bite. A message that has inspired some of the greatest art and architecture in human history now inspires bad poetry sometimes set to music stolen from others? That's a problem, that is not "relevance."

God found the gospel so important, and so large that He did not merely declare it - He incarnated to live it. If God did that, who are we to reduce it to a one minute rap?


Friday Humor

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Live By The Sword...

Justin Taylor quotes Marc5Solas on why youth are leaving the church:
Our kids are smart. They picked up on the message we unwittingly taught. If church is simply a place to learn life-application principals to achieve a better life in community . . . you don’t need a crucified Jesus for that. Why would they get up early on a Sunday and watch a cheap knockoff of the entertainment venue they went to the night before? The middle-aged pastor trying desperately to be “relevant” to them would be a comical cliché if the effect weren’t so devastating....

We’ve traded a historic, objective, faithful gospel based on God’s graciousness toward us for a modern, subjective, pragmatic gospel based upon achieving our goal by following life strategies. Rather than being faithful to the foolish simplicity of the gospel of the cross we’ve set our goal on being “successful” in growing crowds with this gospel of glory.
It was the phrase "cheap knockoff" that I found most devastating, and that inspired the title for this post. The fact of the matter is that when the church tires to imitate the world, we are going to lose. We lack the resources to play that game.

But there is something else quite devastating about that old cliche "Live by the sword, die by the sword." If we are, in fact, "dying by the sword," that is to say being a cheap entertainment knockoff, then it implies we are living by that too. Rather than living the enriched, full, and abundant lives that are ours by virtue of God's grace, we are living cheap knockoff lives.

Before we can save the world, we need to make sure we save ourselves. We cannot proclaim that which we have not appropriated.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Single At Church

Jon Acuff, always trying to be funny, well snarky anyway, has come up with a scorecard about being single at church. Some examples:
Married friends try to live vicariously through you, asking questions like, “What did you do this weekend? Road trip? I bet you went on some crazy cool, singles road trip, right?” = +2 points

Someone has quoted the “it’s not good for man to be alone” Bible verse to you. = +2 points.

You didn’t know you were supposed to be unhappy as a single adult until you went to church and found the singles ministry to be akin to a support group. = +3 points
Sarcasm can only carry one so far, so I wonder about the form of this post, but the underlying message is a good one. Singleness is not a curse. God's kingdom is big enough for all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. There is indeed an underlying prejudice against single people in a church, but it is a social thing, not a religious one. It belies a small vision of God and His call on all of us.

Seriously, while I can testify wholeheartedly to the blessings of marriage, I do think it is wrong to say that marriage is what God intends for all, and certainly it is not what he intends for all when they hit 21m graduate college, or whatever marker it is you want to put in the formula. As it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a season for everything, and peoples marriage seasons will vary.

I think mostly I just wish that people could get out of their little worlds enough to understand that God;s world is very big indeed. Your path is not the only path, and you better bet that your path is not God's path. We must always remember that he is as far beyond us as east is from west. In the end it is sinful, that is to say placing ourselves in God's place, when we attempt to shoehorn people into certain specific things that do not have a moral component to them.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The Price of the Spectacular

From the WSJ a while ago:
In an interview with Esquire that is generating a surprising amount of buzz—and not just because she appears on the magazine's cover in her underwear—TV and film star Megan Fox talks about her Pentecostal upbringing and her experience of "getting the Holy Ghost." Ms. Fox's account of speaking in tongues is proving particularly buzz-worthy, prompting comment in Christian media as well as mainstream news outlets in the U.S. and abroad.


Mainline Protestant denominations and traditional Catholicism defined themselves largely through creeds, liturgical orthodoxies and conventions of biblical interpretation—they were, in short, religions more of the head than of the heart. At a time of rapid urbanization and social upheaval, Pentecostalism's promise of supernatural power and healing made it a popular remedy for the forms of soul sickness that afflicted many people in early 20th-century L.A. and beyond, as the new movement spread via missionary networks of established denominations.
There is nothing wrong with coming to terms with our emotions - our heart, but do we really want to make it the driver of our faith and lives? Our pets are emotional. We are supposed to be something different. It is not for nothing that in Romans Paul says the key to transformation is our minds.

As this article rightly points out, it is wrong to become intellectual to the point of lifelessness, but to become emotional to the point that it drives out our intellect is to become animalistic. There may be a certain staid quality to the "creeds, liturgical orthodoxies and conventions of biblical interpretation" of the mainlines and Catholics, but is the alternative really a woman on the cover of Esquire, in her underwear, telling us about the Holy Spirit?

G. Nick Street, author of the WSJ piece concludes:
These broad developments—a yearning for an intensely personal experience of religiosity, disenchantment with established institutions, and a concern for collective ills that those institutions seem unwilling or unable to address—strongly resemble the existential conditions that spawned Pentecostalism in Los Angeles a century ago. They also nurture Pentecostal movements in the developing world today.

Is Megan Fox the herald of America's latest Great Awakening? You'll know it if the hundreds of thousands of followers of her Twitter feed begin to tweet in tongues.
Which actually raises a much deeper question - can a church which follows social trends, in a fallen world, really be the active work of God? Seems to me the purpose of the church is to preserve and lead, not trend and follow.


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, October 21, 2013


Making Authority

Rabbi Josh Yuter in The Jewish Press:
I first heard the term “gadolatry” attributed to the late professor Arthur Hertzberg. A portmanteau of “gadol” and “idolatry,” the word “gadolatry” refers to a perceived phenomenon in Orthodox Judaism where select rabbinic leaders are treated with a degree of deference or reverence, bordering on worshipping the person of the rabbi himself. That Dr. Hertzberg would coin such an inflammatory term is not surprising given his personality, such that reactions offense or outrage are as intentional as they are predictable. However, it has been my experience that those strong passions on either side have turned the reasonable question of the role of the gadol in Judaism into the single greatest impediment to intelligent religious discourse in the Orthodox Jewish community.

While I have no expectations of resolving this divisive issue, I do hope to explicate the rationales implied when one invokes a gadol, and why others may find such an argument unconvincing.

In order to participate in an intelligible or meaningful debate, opposing sides must accept certain mutually agreed upon assumptions or premises relevant to the discussion at hand. This prerequisite can be particularly challenging in religious debates where the logical foundations are not based in empirical fact as much as one’s subjective faith, though such statements of faith are often presented as fact. Thus if only one side assumes an idea as a religious truism, the conversation will quickly deteriorate into personal attacks on the other’s religious integrity.
In non-Yiddish terms, we might call this the "cult of personality." We do not decide what's right or true, but rather who. In doing so we fail to realize that all of us are, at some point fallible. It is also a form of intellectual and spiritual laziness, we do not have to worry about being right, we just outsource it.

I seem to be witnessing this more and more these days. And it is frightening. What was it Paul said?
1 Cor 1:11-16 - For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ." Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one would say you were baptized in my name.
But this is deeper than just division. When we choose who is "best" in this fashion we ignore the fact that Christ came to make us best. We ignore the fact that WE, each of us individual;ly, is calld to be true and right and made blameless by Christ.

I wonder if you are really willing to step up to the plate?

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