Saturday, March 15, 2014


Comic Art

As If we do not live in a world already a bit confused about good an evil - Marvel comics a few years back had to go am make it utterly wrong with the repetitive "Zombie" series. Now, had we found our intrepid heroes battling the zombie plague, I might find myself vaguely interested, but that's not what we have on our hands here:
Marvel Zombies is a five-issue limited series published from December 2005 to April 2006 by Marvel Comics. The series was written by Robert Kirkman with art by Sean Phillips and covers by Arthur Suydam. It was the first series in the Marvel Zombies series of related stories. The story is set in an alternate universe where the world's superhero population has been infected with a virus which turned them into zombies.
That's right folks - our favorite heroes ARE the zombies. Apparently the heroes battle a corruption from within.:
Within the Marvel Multiverse is an alternate Earth designated Earth 2149, which contains alternate versions of Marvel superheroes. The story begins as a zombie Sentry crash lands before infecting the Avengers. The infection spreads via contact with the blood of the victim, usually through a bite by an infected individual. The zombie super beings largely retain their intellect and personality, although they are consistently driven by the hunger for fresh human flesh.

[...] a still-living Black Panther. The Panther has escaped from the lab of the zombie Giant-Man, who has been keeping him alive as a food source. As a result of several feedings, the Panther is now missing an arm and a foot. As well as the Panther, zombie Wasp got into another argument with her husband when she discovered that Giant-Man was hoarding the Black Panther for food and is decapitated, although her head remains sentient. After observing the Wasp's head begging for flesh, he reasons that the hunger is more psychological than physical.

Meanwhile, the zombies have decided that the flesh of other zombies just isn't satisfying.
So, they are trying to fight the enemy and their own desire for "human flesh." Lovely. IS there nothing left in our world that can be purely good? It's true, even theologically, we are all corrupt, but do we not need imagery and imagination of something pure and clean and good so that we can strive? Do we not need something to aim for? Is it truly fruitful to mire ourselves in our corrupt state - celebrate it even?

Look, I know I am an old fart afloat in a sea of youthful zombie obsessed kids. I know that the zombie-obsession is one of those things that is a passing fancy, and I know that comic book publishers will hop on just about any band-wagon to sell comics (the marriage of two high-profile gay super-heroes will be along any minute now), but are their no limits? Wouldn't it be fun, for example, to see Wolverine, finally, after decades of having to restrain himself, being turned lose on a massive hoard of zombies - slicing and dicing his way to saving the earth. (Speaking of which, why could his healing factor not have handled this little gem?) Would not the carnage of a super-hero v zombie war have been good enough? Must we corrupt the super-heroes in the process? Maybe one or two character can become infected and they have to face the dilemma of dealing with that. I know, nothing original there, but wouldn't the divide amongst the heroes on that conundrum have been enough soul-searching?

I long for pure, untainted goodness.

Friday, March 14, 2014


It Is MORE Than The Internet

Jake Meador at Mere O wonders about the "Evangelical Industrial Complex" and concludes:
But because of the many other factors in play, that good desire gets twisted and they find themselves a member of the complex. In those cases… what do we do? I agree with Matt’s recent call for more pastors to embrace downward mobility, but even when they do that, they end up in the spot light. Francis Chan decided that he needed to get out of the celebrity rockstar role, which just became another reason that people followed him and hung on his every word. So what do we do? It seems like a classic damned if you, damned if you don’t situation.

We can’t change the fact that the internet is the dominant communications medium today. And we can’t immediately change the thin ecclesiology that marks American evangelicalism, though that should definitely be a long-term project. So is the only way to solve the problem for all the rockstars to simply stop publishing books, stop speaking at conferences, put their sermons behind paywalls, refuse every interview request, and start pastoring small congregations of 200 people? Even if they did do that (and I’m not sure it’d be a good idea to do so anyway)… what’s to keep some other group of pastors from simply taking their place? I’d love to hear from readers on this one because I’m clearly long on questions and short on answers.
Look at that laundry list in the final paragraph - publishing, interviews....Jesus did not do any of those things. Even Paul did not write for publication.

He's right, if the current superstars quit, new ones will rise up. The answer lies in having differing values Christianity is about intimacy - with God, and modeling that intimacy with each other. That'll never produce a superstar - except to his/her intimates.

That does not mean the speakers and writers are not doing something good. It's just not the heart of the matter.


Friday Humor

Thursday, March 13, 2014


The Lessons of Woodworking

Nothing worth doing can be done fast. Justin Taylor quotes John Newton on "If God Is Sovereign, Why Is My Sanctification So Slow?" New ton gives a careful examination of the question, but the answer seemed transparent to me.

As I grow in my woodworking hobby, the most notable trend is that everything takes longer. That's right, the better I get, the longer it takes. The better I get, the more care I put into setting up for each cut and the more care I take in making each cut. The truer my cuts, the more flush my joints, the longer they have taken. Perfection - something I have yet to attain, come snot at the end of the power saw blade, but at the tip of the chisel after the power cut, perfecting the edge.

Doing something well takes time. We invent better ways, but are they better? The only way a power tool can make the perfect cut every time is if it is set up to do the same cut, hundreds, even thousands of times, then locked down - hard. But God is not mass producing people - we are each individual creations, unique and well-designed. He has to use the slow and laborious process of the chisel and sandpaper.

For us to lose patience with that measn we want to be mass produced, Wal-Mart sold, Chinese made pieces of disposable stuff. I think we are better than that.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Don't Speak About What You Don't Know About

Dan Delzell @ Christian Post:
It is impossible that Christianity is not God's revelation of truth to man. Simply impossible. The math proves it beyond question. It doesn't take faith to believe that one plus one equals two, and it doesn't take faith to identify the religion which has mathematical certainty in its corner.

I live in Nebraska where I serve as a pastor. Imagine someone covering this entire state in silver dollars 6 feet deep. Then mark one coin and bury it anywhere across the state. Next, blindfold a man and have him choose one coin. The odds that he would choose the marked coin are the same odds of getting 8 prophecies all fulfilled in one man. God gave us about 300 fulfilled prophecies in the Person of Jesus Christ.

There is no way one man could have fulfilled all 8 of these prophecies unless God was making it happen. Who else controls history? Who else could give us such irrefutable proof for Christianity? The odds are one in one hundred quadrillion, or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.

This mathematical proof was calculated by Professor Peter Stoner. He was chairman of the mathematics and astronomy departments at Pasadena City College until 1953. He then went to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, where he served as chairman of the science division.
You know - that does not help Christianity in any way, shape or form. For one thing, statistical probability, even high statistical probability does not constitute "proof." And yet, this piece was entitled "The Mathematical Proof for Christianity Is Irrefutable." Then there is the question of the credibility of the data upon which you base you statistical analysis. All the data used in this analysis is from the Bible. Before one can accept the data, one must accept the Bible as irrefutably true. That ain't flying in this day an age. And then or statistician does ot hail from precisely the most prestigious institutions in the land.

Now why would I, a committed Christian, go to the effort to right that paragraph? Don't I want people to be Christian? Absolutely, but stupid Christians are a part of the the problem - and this kind of "argument" is just flat out stupid.

Not even to mention the fact that I do not think God wants mathematical certainty in faith. You see that puts our faith in our math, not in Christ.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Maybe It Is Not About What You Feel

Relevant Magazine carried a piece by a young person about worship, feelings and thought. She goes some good places:
Of course, even in these reflections, I’m thinking primarily about myself. "I"s and "me"s often come with the territory of over-introspection and cynicism.

But here’s a simple truth that does not allow for much analytical wiggle room: Worship is about God, not me.

C.S. Lewis describes in Surprised by Joy how, even as an atheist, his love for mythology primed him for worship because he felt an urgent adoration for something completely other than himself. Lewis felt he was “sent back to the false gods to acquire some capacity for worship” that would evolve to adoration of God ”being what He necessarily is than for any particular benefit He confers upon us.”
But it ends in a somewhat strange place:
We are readers of texts and hearers of songs, and we are often critics. We have amassed so many experiences and biases that often color the songs we sing. Our Christian responsibility as receivers of the word and the Word is to not resign to a rhetorical wasteland of meaninglessness, however. It is to actively, creatively and faithfully "re-fill" the meanings of words like holiness, love, truth and grace as we sing. And that also means choosing to stop the analytical dissection. Criticism is a God-given ability; but we need to bring it full circle into greater adoration of Him.

One Sunday at church, a song's repeated line was "I surrender all.” It is a difficult but inspiring sentiment—a sentiment that basically makes me want to crawl under the pew for not meaning it every time I sing it.

But in refreshing transparency, the pastor admitted he didn't feel surrendered as he sang; he said he felt like he was singing, "Sorry, God, but I'm only surrendering some." Sure, Christians should surrender all. But honesty is the first step toward cultivating a desire to "surrender all" and internalizing the prescript more fully. And here is the authenticity we so long for.
Why do feelings matter at all? I realize that she is trying to push through what she elsewhere describes as the "me barrier," but why are feeling even part of that barrier? Feelings, paraphrasing C.S. Lewis, are subject to the state of our digestion.

I truly understand the need and the desire for the transcendent experience of God - but transcendence is not about feelings - it means literally that we rise above the self of feelings and thought. It is a process of ignoring these things in order to find the higher things. IN focusing on feeling or thought we stay firmly rooted where we are.

Feelings do not need to be overcome, they need to be ignored.


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, March 10, 2014


Approaching God

Mark Roberts quotes James K.A. Smith:
I understand that evangelicals tend to see ritual as self-management and exertion—as “works.” If that’s all that ritual is, then we should be critical of it. But don’t think of ritual and disciplines as expressions of the self. Think of them as what Craig Dykstra calls “habitations of the Spirit.” Spiritual disciplines aren’t about showing that we’re trying to pursue God. These are gifts that the Spirit inhabits. They are rituals that God invites us into to live into the power of the Spirit. They are the way that you put on Christ.

We evangelicals tend to think of worship as only an expressive activity. Because of that, we’ve lost the downward, God-initiated, formative aspect of worship. Whereas if you recover the sense that God’s initiative is at work, then the rituals and the disciplines are invitations to live into God’s power, not ways for us to spiritually show off.
The Title of the piece? "You Can’t Think Your Way To God"

When I read that quote from Smith, one thing becomes apparent - the approach he decries is about self. The key to genuine Christianity is to make it about God. It's not about what God can do for you. It's not even about what you can do for God. (Not anything, seriously.) It's about us submitting to God. Not in action - not merely taking our marching orders and executing them to the best of our abilities - but true deep and total submission. A total release of self-identity and a waiting for God to assign us an identity.

That truly is beyond thought.

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