Saturday, January 11, 2014


Comic Art


I usually don't comment in these spaces, but if the above is not one the coolest comic images you have ever seen - it's time for you to stop looking - really.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Because Their Good!

Dean Christopher Dettloff @ Think Christian:
In this milieu, where comics are deeply shrouded in apocalyptic questions that remain infinitely pensive about any kind of answers, Christians have a unique opportunity to begin to re-write apocalypses of their own. I do not mean for a moment to suggest an “us” vs. “them” mentality, but rather a point of dialogue. Comics have a complicated history with religion. While Moore, of Watchmen fame, is decidedly not a follower of Christian tradition, many characters in mainstream comics are explicitly religious. The very first graphic novel was entitled A Contract with God. The trend has not gone away, and it is not likely to. Writers in comics and comic theory are obsessed with dealing with all aspects of life, not just acts of outrageous machismo or whatever events grant the most “POW!” balloons.

Comics also support a highly unique reading audience, generally made up of society’s marginalized, who find solidarity with losers like Peter Parker and hope in figures like Superman. This is an audience that could find quite a bit of help from a Christ who came for precisely such a group. Increasingly, comic fans have been finding resonance with the nihilistic postmodern voices of Moore and others, and rightly so - there is something deeply wrong with the world. Nonetheless, it is time that Christians enter this discussion explicitly, offering a taste of what Christ offers - not only an end to the world that we see, but also the inauguration of a new world, a world where swords are turned into plowshares rather than turned against a new, cosmic enemy.

At this juncture, we stand in a unique place to produce another Dostoevsky, another St. John, another Isaiah in the world of comics. Frankly, with all of the gods, monsters, aliens, explosions and experimentations already going on there, we are probably responding to an invitation long lost in the mail.
Pardon me, but GET OVER IT!

One - I doubt the medium, despite its popularity among the current generation will ever be taken seriously enough to produce another Dostoevsky. There is some very good work going on in comics, but people will never give "picture books" that much credit. Two, "Comics also support a highly unique reading audience, generally made up of society’s marginalized" - not any more. That was true for my generation, but for the current generation they all read comics and have endless debates about which comic is better. True, few "geek out" and have huge collections, etc. But everybody reads them - EVERYBODY.

And now to my third and truly serious point - Christians should be involved so we can rewrite the apocalyptic visions of the comics? That ain't how Dostoevsky did it! Should Christians be doing comics? Oh yeah, Christians should be doing most things in media (porn production, maybe not, but you get the idea.) But trying to do "Christian" media is a mistake, based on eschatology or anything else. They should simply do it will and do it from their hearts as Christians. It is Christians doing comics that would make the somehow "Christian," not explicitly Christian thematic materials. Christians should do comics because they are good.


Friday Humor

Thursday, January 09, 2014



Church Marketing Sucks, writing in response t the Boston Marathon bombing said:
In order to share hope, comfort and peace in the aftermath of a tragedy, your church needs a platform to respond. You need to have a channel ready to go so when some new tragedy strikes (and sadly there’s always a new tragedy) you know where and how to respond. You need to have those systems in place so they’re ready to go.
  • Any Platform Works: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, a blog, email list, etc. Whatever format works for your church and your capabilities.
  • Use It Regularly: It should be something you use on a regular basis to communicate with your church, but you can ramp it up when the need is great.
  • Build Your Audience: It should be part of your standard communication efforts—you don’t want to launch something new with no audience in the middle of a tragedy.
  • Flexibility & Speed Are Key: You want a platform that offers immediate access without help. If graphics are required or you need a developer, that’s too slow. If your pastor can’t write on the fly but has an iPhone, YouTube might be perfect. You might even pair multiple channels, using Twitter for quick updates and pointing people to your website for more details.
The ad-hock email list in your pastor’s Outlook isn’t going to cut it. A private social network where you can only reach your congregation will limit your ability to truly help. Get a real platform where you can actually reach your congregation and beyond.
That just makes my skin crawl. We NEED "a platform" to respond to tragedy? Need?! Tragedy is as old as human history. Somehow churches have responded to them, sometimes quite well, without the Internet, for a couple of millenia. That does not mean that a social media platform is not a useful tool in such a situation, but let's be careful with our rhetoric here.

This strikes me as a classic case of "when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Genuine ministry in such a situation is person to person, relational. A social media platform can be useful in organizing that, BUT IT IS NO SUBSTITUTE. And as regards to the spontaneous growth of one - nonsense. I personally watched one emerge in my church in a matter of hours on Facebook when the SoCal Station Fire tore through the neighborhood. But again, it was an organizational tool, not the ministry proper.

It is this kind of over hype that can land the church in deep trouble. People begin to take it seriously, priorities get skewed, and viola, that which is a tool becomes the point of the exercise.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014


Where We Live

Ed Stetzer recently released some stats on pastors and the environment:
We recently released some new survey results detailing Protestant pastors' views on the environment and recycling. This is the latest data in an ongoing study we started in 2008. Of note is the percentage of Global Warming skeptics has dropped since 2010, but is still higher than in 2008.

These results also show Protestant pastors in the Northeast, older pastors, and pastors self-identifying as Democrats tend to be more environmentally active compared to younger, Republicans, and counterparts in other regions of the country.
OK, this is going to sound harsh, but I really, really do not care what pastors think about Global Warming. Honestly - I have attended seminary, there is nothing in a pastors education that even remotely qualifies them to make a determination. Honest to Pete its like asking a four year old to explain how an internal combustion engine works.

Not to mention the political overlay on this, as Stetzer indicates. There is already enough confusion between political and spiritual issues to add this to the mix.

This is strongly indicative of why I object pretty strenuously to environmental activism in church in any direction. Yes, we are to be good stewards, but what constitutes good stewardship is an incredibly difficult question technically and war-starter politically. I have yet to meet a church that had the structure to even begin to forma coherent policy on the matter. (Although if a church wants to hire an environmental professional for such a purpose, I am available, provided the compensation is commensurate with my current occupation.)

The smart pastor is going to talk about stewardship of creation and then shut up, leaving the pews wondering. Anything else is begging for trouble.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


Friendship, Love and Conditions

They have been talking about "friendship" a lot at First Things. Recently there was a couple of related posts, one by Wesley Hill and one by Ron Belgau, although they are barely related. They seem to take off in different directions rotating around on quotation. Hill discusses "conditions" in friendship and Belgau the question of whether there even is room for friendship inside Christianity. Let's focus on Hill:
Thinking along these lines is, I suspect, the answer to those who are skeptical about the practice of Christian friendship. It is not that Christian friendship is blind to the unique, unrepeatable, supremely valuable identity of each friend. But by loving with a radically committed love that will never give up on the other, even when the other becomes unlovable, Christian friends imitate God who loves not only creatures made in his image but loves fallen creatures and only thereby makes us lovely in the wake of our ruin.
Interesting, but I think it misses the real point mostly because I don;t think "unlovely" is a category. Everyone is lovely, we are all created by God and bear His image - as such we cannot be other than lovely. But we are also fallen and we sin. To me the question is not how to love the unlovely, but how in the context of sin do I be friends and not enable or encourage the sin?

I do not think this is a trivial distinction. If the other makes it a condition of friendship that I "accept" their alcoholism, then the friendship will be limited. I will still love them, and when the sober up you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be there, but I will never, ever drink with them in a bar. Love, by definition, cannot encourage nor endorse destructive behavior, it would be unloving to do so.

This issue is particularly poignant in the case of a friend that has determined they are homosexual. So many I am familiar with a) wear their homosexuality as a badge of some sort demanding "acceptance," and b) declare that if I do not accept their homosexuality I do not love them. Let the record show those are their conditions, not mine. My love for them does not diminish in my insistence that homosexual practice is destructive behavior, they just think it does.

I think often of Christ's confrontation with the Woman at the Well. He boldly proclaimed her immorality to her. She did not run away and declare him evil for doing so. To some level the Holy Spirit had prepared her to hear Christ. The Holy Spirit has not prepared all for such just yet. Some would run away. But there was something about HOW Christ proclaimed this bad news that did not offend this woman. It is that something that we need to develop for ourselves.


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, January 06, 2014


Avoid The Personal

Ron Edmondson lists "10 Dangerous Church Paradigms":
  • This is more my church than yours
  • We’ve never done it that way before
  • The pastor needs to do it
  • That’s for the big churches
  • That’s for the small churches
  • My comfort level for change is ______
  • My people would never support that…
  • I can’t
  • This is the best we can do
  • We have plateaued as a church
There is a paradigm that underlies many of these and others that I think shold be avoided at all cost - I Want....

Too often it is about what we want or desire when the question really is, "What is best for the church?" When we promote, or dismiss and idea for the church,t eh first thing we have to ask ourselves is how much of our promotion or dismissal is based in our personal desires as opposed to an analysis of the church and its needs, in combination with a vision for the church developed out of scripture and traditional teaching.

I have seen way too many church conflicts turn into ruptures because in the end they got personal, because group a wanted x and group b wanted y and it was, simply a test of wills. That is a formula for schism, not resolution.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ said "Not my will but Thine." How often do we seek our own will. We need to follow Christ's example and put our own comfort and desire aside for the sakes of God's will and we must work so hard we sweat blood to determine God's will, not our own.

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