Saturday, December 07, 2013


Comic Art


 So, you're a super secret government agent tasked with dealing with some situation that is simply too dirty to in the Justice League, Teen Titans, or one of the other superhero groups. Let's face it, they just do not do assassination and other such things.

Scratch that - your a comic publisher and you have a number of super-villains that seem to have taken on a life of there own. The fans are no longer content to see them merely as foils for the exploits of our heroes? What do you do?

Wait!, I know, you plant little nanotech bombs in the necks of the baddies, just to make sure they do not get a mind of their own, and then you send them off to do your dirty work. In other words you form the Suicide Squad.

The Suicide Squad did not start life as a team of baddies doing good in a bad way, but it did not take long for them to get there and I must say that the latest incarnation - the so-called "New 52" incarnation is one of the better things DC Comics has done in their otherwise troubled efforts to reboot their entire line.

It is the choice of characters that makes this so fascinating. The "star" is supposed to be a baddie by the name of Deadshot, but coming in a close second and stealing the show in my mind is Harley Quinn. For those out of the know, Harley Quinn is sort of a female "Joker, Jr." Originally the Joker's therapist in Arkham, she came under his spell, and helped him escape. He "rewarded" her by dumping her in the same vat of goo from which he crawled, turning her equally white skinned and just as mad. And yet, unlike the Joker who is evil madness incarnate, actually humanity peaks out from behind Quinn's veil of madness from time-to-time.

In the latest SS books her underlying psychiatrist personality, which let's face it had to be pretty tainted to begin with to help the Joker escape, has re-emerged and they are playing the character as a bit of multiple personality disorder. Not sure I am in favor of that - it's too convenient - I would rather see one person struggle to find sanity than a bifucated character that they can turn on and off as the story needs demand, but that is a lot of work when a character is being handed back and forth not only between writers, but media and fanbases. (The TV fanbase is quite different, and quite a bit younger than the comic base and could not begin to deal with a character this complex.)

Visually, due to her pronounced female form, Quinn is the centerpiece of the SS, no shock there. But what she represents is a real chance to explore the otherwise unfathomable mind of pure evil that is the Joker. Without, I might add, running the risk of messing about too much with on of the iconic characters in all of comicdom. This potential could make the Suicide Squad one of the most interesting books to hit comic shelves in the last several years. I am admittedly behind the time when it comes to the story line, but when I last left it, the series was shifting focus from the squad to the government agent that founded it - Amanda Waller. She too is an interesting character, but give me more Quinn.

Watching Quinn try to reach for sanity in a sea of bad would be a truly fascinating story indeed.

Friday, December 06, 2013


REAL Leadership

Mark Daniels on leadership:
Leaders must use a different compass than the crowds.


Ultimately, every person--including every leader--is accountable to the God revealed to the world in Jesus Christ. Christ is the only true compass. Even with Christ as Lord, no leader will ever come close to batting 1.000 in their decision-making.

And leaders, as servants, must be accountable both to God and to others.

But leaders who play to the crowds, be they their employees, their citizens, or their flock, will never lead people anywhere.
If you "play to the crowds," as Mark puts it, are you not, in fact, following and not leading?

Leadership and marketing are two very different things. Quite typically the best selling product, the so-called "market leader," is not the best product for the job, just the best marketed product.

That needs some thought....


Friday Humor

Thursday, December 05, 2013


Character Matters

Mark Daniels links to a Tony Myles post:
I'm not for sale.

By this I mean I can't soften on what's right in order to get a thumbs up, a perk or a check from someone who would have me give a "thumbs up, a perk or a check" on something wrong - be it themselves or an idea.

Every leader has to face this in a significant way, if not on an ongoing basis.

I'm not necessarily referring to an obvious, under-the-table deal. I'm talking about a grey area where you let your desire to further a dream become a logistical nightmare, or you allow your fear to not rock the boat cause you to water down a confrontation. Far too many good men and women sell their influence and passion to someone who has a big bank roll but a small character... and it's hard to ever overcome it.
What about when it is not one person writing a big check, but pews full of people writing smaller checks that just don't bother if the message is "too harsh," or the demands for personal development are "too hard?"

Most of the people I have met in ministry are well able to withstand the temptation of the big check. It is the frog-in-the-water-coming-to-a-boil thing where they tend to fall on this standard. It's not when they sell themselves whole hog, rather when the sell themselves little piece by little piece that is the problem. "Oh the fingernail on the pinkie of my left hand just is not that important," they reason. The the right hand pinkie nail, and so it goes until eventually it is stuff that does matter.

Cases of "sellout" are rare. Cases of piece out are all too common. Relatedly, it is rarely the case where a decision is made that is just outright "bad." Rather it is a decision that is gray - where we sacrifice here to gain there.

We forget that we have the power of God at our disposal. We do not need to sacrifice anywhere to gain anywhere. God has promised us the best.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013


"I Did It"

John D. Blase wrote last Lenten season:
Lent is often referred to as days of bright sadness. My experience with this season so far is that it is much easier to be sad than bright. We, the people can give the pigs a run for their money in the game of wallowing. Yes, it is a season for mourning, for taking a look at the stains on our fingers, stains that never ever occur in a vacuum. But that is not all, for in those moments lie the seeds of something else if we’re willing to take and plant.

Joan Didion once wrote, “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.” Our ancestors in Genesis accepted responsibility for their lives; they said “I did it.” Lent provides us that same opportunity which, if taken, results in the virtue known as self-respect. Verily, verily I say this is something much different than self-esteem. Self-respect fashions a man or woman as noble. Not proud, but noble.
Not a lack of guilt, but guilt resolved. No escape from our sins, but a working out of our salvation.

I have written many time here that confession is the core of our faith. What Blase makes plain here, I think, is that it is more than the core of our faith, it is the core of our emotional and mental well-being.

Yes, we did do it. Yes, we are guilty. But we have a Savior that loves us anyway. That means we can respect ourselves even in our guilt. That is the source of our nobility.I love the fact that he differentiates nobility and pride. How often we confuse the two.

So which are you, noble or proud?

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


Wrong Dichotomy?

Dan Edelen:
We live in an era where the value of any message is directly related to the success it generates. And the proof of that success is found in the bearer of the message. If the bearer is successful, then the message has validity.

This formula not only drives success but is used to substantiate truth claims.

Why is the American obsession with success so detrimental to evangelism?
Whoa! Back up the truck here. Success is NOT the problem, the problem is how we define success. Edelen sorta gets it right later in the post when he writes:
For us, success by worldly standards matters more.
But then he goes on railing against "success."I really disagree with this presentation - Christians should be the most successful people in the world. Not only that success is in fact an indicator of truth claims. Which means, that if the church is failing - a case that Edelen makes when he opens his post - then it is because they do not have the truth!

Look, from the perspective of the time He was in the tomb, Christ was a dismal failure. But the resurrection is the most astounding success in history! In that Jesus redefined success.

I don't think we want to complain too loudly about being too successful. I think we want to change how we think of success. And until we do so, we have less than the truth. That's the issue.


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, December 02, 2013


Neither Bird Nor Plane

Christian Post reports on a Tyler Jones presentation a a conference:
"Lead Pastor of Vintage Church in Raleigh, N.C., Tyler Jones urged a packed auditorium of church leaders on Tuesday to give up the "Superman complex" and start empowering members of their congregations to fulfill the ministry God has given to them.


Are you belittling or demeaning the ministry of other people?" asked Jones in his presentation. "As leaders we must empower every member of our churches to do the ministry that God has given them."

He explained to the audience that pastors are responsible for setting the environment of the church and when they behave in ways that overlook the power of God in the lives of church members, they are effectively limiting the scope of discipleship.

"You're going to have to be humble men and women as you lead. If you are a teacher it's not your word that persuades people. It's the spirit of God that transforms people," said Jones. "If God can use you to teach, He can use anybody to teach," he added.

He warned that when pastors remove the focus of their ministry from God to their own talents they move into the realm of idolatry which is not God's desire for His church.
Uh, duh?!

But that presentation is still based on the paradigm that the pastor is in charge of the church. It is still based on the paradigm that it is up to the pastor to make room for ministry from others.

Pastors constantly complain about lazy congregations, but how many congregations feel oppressed by pastors. When a church is set up on the consumer model it is pretty hard to move from consumer to clerk, let alone something significant in the organization. Besides, who want to to work the counter?

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