Saturday, November 23, 2013


Comic Art


Few villains have had the visual impact of Thor's nemesis, "The Destroyer of Worlds." It is a boring character. As Wikipedia describes it:
The Destroyer is an enchanted suit of armor forged by Odin,....

Although the Destroyer can act independently for brief periods,[12] in general the construct is lifeless until animated by the life-force of a sentient living being. When so animated, the Destroyer retains a rudimentary base personality that will eventually subvert the host unless that host is a particularly strong-willed individual, such as Thor or Loki
In other words, the destroyer is not so much a character as a weapon, but look at the images around you - stunning stuff! The kind of stuff that when I would peruse the shelves would make me grab the comic - still does, though the Destroyer rarely appears anymore.

This character is really a testament to Jack Kirby who drew the original. Imagine this story line, again as described by Wikipedia:
Years later the menace from the stars is revealed to be the Celestials, with the Skyfather gods (e.g., Odin; Zeus etc.) having pooled their resources a millennium before to create a weapon to stop the arrival of the so-called Fourth Host of Celestials. At the penultimate moment, Odin enters the Destroyer armor and then absorbs the life essences of all present in Asgard (with the exception of absent Thor), growing to a height of 2,000 feet (610 m). The Destroyer then draws the Odinsword,
I have been unable to find those images, but I remember them vividly - the Destroyer drawing the Odinsword is not something one can readily forget. I have always contended that Kirby's powers were at their peak when he drew Thor and Asgard, and that peak summitted when the powers of Asgard faced off against the Celestials and 2000 foot Destroyer roamed the cosmos.

I should note that the Destroyer is also the perfect creation of the pen-and-ink four color era of comics. Modern renderings with the metal all gleaming and all the shadows and subtlety somehow rob the image of its power. The movie appearance by the Destroyer was disappointing. As on friend said, "All he did was blow up a gas station," which is true enough, but I also had a problem with the appearance - it was to "earthy" somehow - not sufficiently cosmic. Maybe the magic minds that create these things now cold whip up a Thor short in which the Destroyer was featured in all his cosmic glory. I'd pay full price to see that!

Friday, November 22, 2013


You Better Be

Ron Edmundson:
One of the most powerful books I’ve read for pastors lately is the book “Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul” by Lance Witt. I highly recommend it for any leader, but especially for pastors.

In Chapter 38, Witt gives some questions for leaders to self-assess whether we are leading in honesty or leading in fear. It’s a sobering assessment.
Frankly, I am not sure it is that sobering, nor is it really about honesty. Let me lay a few examples on you:
How often have I seen someone about to make a bad decision and said nothing?

How often have I found myself saying things I don’t believe just to be polite (or popular)?
There is a time to confront and a time to let things go. Politeness is its own form of ministry. These things can be as much about sensitivity as they can be about honesty. Only one of the questions strikes me as really about honesty, "How often have I seen something that isn’t right but didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to cause trouble." It is part of being an honest Christian to confront real wrongness. Not organizational wrongness, but moral wrongness.

If we are worried about honesty in these areas, I would be more worried about self-deception. Too often when we face the kinds of situations this deals with, we tend to tell OURSELVES something is "OK" when it is not. It is one thing to save the confrontation for the appropriate time, or to allow someone to act in a fashion that will not do lasting harm but that will teach them about leadership better than words ever could. It is another thing to pretend like what is going on is a the right thing. Too often we convince ourselves it is rather than learn to live with the decision.

How often do we do that with our own sin?

Now there is an honesty problem.


Friday Humor

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Not As Funny As We Think

Todd Rhoades posts a video "proving" that your church's sound engineer is the most valuable employee in the church. The idea, of course, is that they balance the sound to mask the bad performers. We've all been there. Heck think Linda McCartney with Wings. I get the joke, But it did not amuse me.

For one thing, the church is allowed to say, "No thank you" to even enthusiastic volunteers. In point of fact, I think it could be argued that this sort of spotlighted approach to music (as opposed to the relative anonymity of a choir and the hiddenness of the organist, is going to attract people that want the spotlight. Hence there would have to be a LOT of "No thanks yous." In other words, you're kind asking for it.

Secondly, in newer building sound systems are mandatory - the acoustics of the building are such that sound simply does not carry. But I have seen these system crammed into buildings where engineers spent decades figuring out how to make the human voice reach the tiniest corner with perfect clarity. The systems are necessary becasue contemporary music is decidedly asymmetric. That is to say if it is not run through a system and balanced one instrument will sound too loud, and some (say an electric guitar) could not be heard at all. But in those older acoustically balanced buildings the effect of amplification, even for purposes of balance, is tinny and nasty unless extraordinarily expensive systems are installed, which they usually are not.

I wonder if anyone has considered the fact that to design such a, acoustically perfect building is an act of worship? That the use of the engineering and technical skill involved was done specifically to honor the Lord that granted the gift. I wonder if anyone has considered that to the override that whole system with sound pumped through amplifiers and mixing boards is to dump all over that wonderful gift from God? In the rush to worship God in a contemporary fashion, we dump all over the very legitimate worship of decades, sometimes centuries.

I wonder if people think about anything other than what they want?

Not so funny anymore, is it?


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013


What To Do When You Are Single

Marshall Segal @ Desiring God writes another in what seems to be the endless posts aroudn the internet about Christian singleness:
If you’re single, Satan is after you.

Okay, he’s after all of us, but there are some unique dangers in singleness — especially in unwanted singleness. He loves to deceive and discourage single people in the church and derail our devotion and ministry. But God intends to use you, your faith, your time, and your singleness in radical ways right now, as you are.

You might come away from a reading of 1 Corinthians 7 with two categories in mind: those who will live, serve, and die single and those who must marry. Paul sings singleness’s praises, listing the spiritual benefits of being spouse-free. The single life can be (relatively) free from relational anxieties (7:32), worldly distractions (7:33), and wide open for worship, devotion, and ministry (7:35). So, Paul concludes, skip the ceremony, literally, and enjoy “your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Most say, “More power to you, Paul… but I’m getting married.” Maybe temptation overwhelms you, and you need a God-honoring way to satisfy that longing (7:2). Maybe it’s abundantly clear that you need a helper to carry out God’s call on your life (or it’s abundantly clear to others that you do). Maybe you want to have kids and realized that you need help with that. Maybe you just have a deep, undeniable desire for a loving, committed companion. In each case, it is good for you to get married.

While it may seem like two categories at first, we soon discover in application that there are three: the single, the married, and the not-yet married. After all, as any single person knows, a desire for marriage does not a marriage make. My hope in reflecting on Paul’s words is to restore hope and ambition in the hearts of the not-yet married and set them solidly on mission in their singleness.
I am always interested in these posts because I was single for so long and now love my marriage so much. But I find myself growing weary of the entire discussion - not because, "Well, I am married now so my thing is done." To the contrary - because so many of these writing make so much out of so little.

The bottom line is this - if you are single and you want to be married, then get about it. This can be hard work, it may, even probably,mean changing yourself, radically. See, it's not just about how hard it is to meet someone or the fact that at your age all the good ones are taken. There is something about you that helps them keep their distance. I know there was about me.

Part and parcel of that change is to learn to be content with your circumstances. KNOW, I mean really know, that you are where God wants you. He is in control and He will work it all out for you. You need to learn to rest in His arms. Stop worrying about your station in life and start worrying about your Lord and Savior.

All the rest of this stuff just sometimes strikes me as making mountain out of molehills.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


What We Need Versus What We Want

David T. Koyzis @ First Things first quotes George Jonas in the Canadian National Post:
“According to her understanding,” writes Tolstoy, describing Helene, [ed note: a character in War and Peace] “the whole point of any religion was merely to provide recognized forms of propriety as a background for the satisfaction of human desires.” Then Tolstoy continues: “I imagine, (says Helene to her new Jesuit confessor) that having espoused the true faith I cannot be bound by any obligations laid upon me by a false religion.”

Helene would be reassured to know that her heritage lives on. Her standard is held up by men and women who, having acquired the liberty to do as they please, now demand religion to also applaud their moral choices. They want their churches, their priests, even the very Vicar of God, to approve and endorse what they do, or else they threaten him with irrelevance. God Himself becomes irrelevant unless he can be used to rubber stamp human desires—because, as Tolstoy points out, that’s what God is for, at least as far as Helene Bezuhov is concerned. That’s how it was in 1812 and that’s how it is in 2013.
and then comments:
If, on the other hand, genuine religion concerns the little matter of what is true and how we are to live in light of that truth, then whether that truth is relevant to and confirms our desires is beside the point. The martyrs of the church undoubtedly preferred to avoid suffering and keep their lives, but they chose instead to accept their lot for the cause of Christ. Accordingly, we remember and celebrate their lives as signposts pointing to the coming kingdom.
I understand Koyzis jumping from "convenient" religion to martyrdom. After all, the reason we typically reject parts of the faith is because it requires some suffering from us, even if it is just something like being viewed as socially odd. But how incredibly sad is it that we would view something so minor as being socially awkward as suffering on a level comparable to the martyrs of old?

The other thing that is truly sad is that while it is all about truth, people often do not see truth - but what they are truly blind to i this circumstance is simply a better life. Christ should produce in us a demonstrably and visibly better life. And yet, people constantly turn a blind eye to it. In the case of a the War and Peace character she does not see in religion the life, she just sees her marital status. This latter problem is, I think the fault of those of us that do hold to faith. We hold only a half faith where we worry more about making sure people do not get divorced that transforming them into people that don't want to get divorced. we, in fact, treat ourselves this way. we ask God to help us avoid our particular sinful inclination, but how often do we ask him to remove the inclination from us? Rather we hold the inclination close to our hearts for that day we might want to fall off the wagon just a bit.

God does not want to keep us from sinning - He wants to remove our desire to sin. Are we bold enough and faithful enough to claim that?


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, November 18, 2013


Don't Think - Feel

Justin Taylor presented "5 Theses on Anti-Intellectualism: by quoting some big names. Here is a sample of some of the quotes:
“The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”
—Mark Noll

“. . . the Christian Mind has succumbed to the secular drift with a degree of weakness unmatched in Christian History.” —Harry Blamires
So, I agree with Noll entirely, but why does that Blamires quote follow? Are secular drift/weakness and intellectual sloth related? I have no doubt there is a relationship, but I am not sure it is either direct or proportional. Another quote or two:
“. . . Americans are the best entertained and quite likely the least well-informed people in the Western world.”
—Neil Postman
Agree with the sentiment, not sure it is limited to America.
“At root, evangelical anti-intellectualism is both a scandal and a sin. It is a scandal in the sense of being an offense and a stumbling block that needlessly hinders serious people from considering the Christian faith and coming to Christ. It is a sin because it is a refusal, contrary to Jesus’ two great commandments, to love the Lord our God with our minds. Anti-intellectualism is quite simply a sin. Evangelicals must address it as such, beyond all excuses, evasions, or rationalizations of false piety.”
—Os Guinness
I guess if you define "anti-intellectualism" as the rise of feeling being more important than thought, then Guinness has a point. But if you are talking about scholarship then I must disagree. Not everyone is an egghead, nor should they be.

While it is apparent there is an intellectual crisis in Evangelicalism, I think it a failure of leadership as much as the intellect. If people are not interested in the things of the mind, then perhaps it is because we are not making the things of the mind that interesting. If you are a person of intellect - if that is your gift, it comes with a burden. And that is to learn how to communicate what you know and how to build a passion in people for that knowledge.

You must remember that what comes easily for you may be difficult for others and they will not simply pick it up because it is there.

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