Saturday, March 22, 2014
Friday, March 21, 2014
Quality, Not Quantity
For centuries, Christians thought culture would change if we just had a majority of Christians in the culture. That has proven to be a false assumption. Culture is defined by a relatively small number of change agents who operate at the top of cultural spheres or societal mountains. It takes less than 3-5 percent of those operating at the top of a cultural mountain to actually shift the values represented on that mountain.This guy has a heck of a point, but why ignore the single greatest "change agent" of all time? - Christ.
For example, this is exactly what advocates in the gay rights movement has done through the “mountains” of media and arts and entertainment. They have strategically used these avenues to promote their cause and reframe the argument. They are gradually legitimizing their cause through these two cultural mountains through a small percentage of people in society operating at the top of the media and arts and entertainment mountain.
Bottom line is this. Leadership matters. Popularity is not leadership. The church is not making leaders.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
I could never be from Superman's planet, I could never muster all the personal and family resources Batman had, but I could always hope someone would come from far away and give me super powers of my own. Does that sound so unlikely? I don't think so.I read this, and I especially read the preamble that lead up to it and I find a guy who, in light of all the articles that were being written about Supes as Messiah just had to come up with an excuse to talk about his favorite superhero in some sort of Christian context.
One of the big things I like about Green Lantern is his oath and its focus on light - especially the unreserved assurance that no evil can escape that light. It's almost Biblical.
How can a superhero comic book be like the Bible? Well, Superman is often pointed to as a Christ figure, and those comparisons will certainly be revived when Man of Steel opens on Friday. Yet Green Lantern is an equally compelling reflection of Christianity.
Two things are pertinent here. One, everybody knows something about superheros. Everybody has read some superhero comics. Just because your favorite is not the current fad does not mean much. I came into comics as a child through the awful Batman TV show. When I discovered the rest of the world of comics, both the DC and especially the Marvel world, I spent enormous amounts of time deciding who was "best," who was most good, who had the coolest powers, who was most like me, etc. etc. etc.
But a funny thing happens when you read enough comics over enough time. You discover that these characters are not static. Recurring character morph to meet the times or they die. Superheros morph, Jack Ryan has faded into the background. Of necessity, you cannot drive a stake in the ground and draw deep and lasting lessons from comics.
Secondly, these are just stories. Sometimes very good stories, but they are just stories. Every story, whether it be the story of the latest incarnation of The Atom or the story of Hamlet contains within its confines "lessons." Some lessons the author intended and some are imposed on the story by the reader. Comics, due to the rapidity with which they must be produced, tend to be archetypal. That is to say, they tell a story that follows a very set pattern. The authors do not have time to carefully craft a worldview and lessons into the story. Most lessons from comics are imposed by the reader.
So let's just knock off all the moralizing and lesson drawing from the genre, shall we? Just enjoy the stories.
Christianity comic books comics lessons
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Allow me to translate: “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DISCIPLE WITHOUT A NEW PROGRAM?”Oh that "thirdly." That there is a home run. The program is a way of us avoiding the responsibilities of real discipling. Why would that be? Because real discipling requires that we be real disciples. Most of us are not willing to go there just yet.
Brothers and sisters, discipleship is possible without programs....
For a start, programs are necessarily a “one-size-fits-all” proposition....
Secondly, programs can imply that discipleship is a matter of following the correct “process” rather than cultivating the correct character....
Thirdly, we sometimes use programs in the same way a family might use the DVD screens in a Nissan Pathfinder: as surrogate parents.
The biggest problem facing the church today is not a lack of outreach, or a lack of building disciples - it is a lack of BEING disciples. I wonder what would happen if the church quit telling people to reach out and started telling the to grow up? Jesus spent a long time with his disciples before he sent them forth. He himself spent an enormous amount of time in preparation for ministry.
You have to grow up before you can do adult things.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
A Favorte Psalm
The verb translated as “be still” (raphah in Hebrew) is a curious one. Literally, it means “to let something drop, to let go, or to abandon something.” In this verse, God is inviting us to let go of our busyness, to give up our empty striving, to abandon our worries. In place of our flurry of activity, both physical and emotional, we’re to rest in the knowledge that God is God, that he is in control, that he is sovereign over our lives, even as he is Lord of heaven and earth.'Nuff Said!
Monday, March 17, 2014
All these qualities are commendable but ultimately I think we love Atticus Finch because we would want him to be our neighbor. We recognize in him a person who epitomizes Romans 13:10 — “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Atticus Finch loves his neighbors as himself. He is not perfect in the sense of being flawless or without sin. But he is a person of faithful love.It seems like we always aim for the spectacular and the miraculous. We think Christians are not supposed to be ordinary.
I imagine people like Atticus Finch when I want to visualize the goal of spiritual formation.
I don’t think of monks or nuns or others who have devoted themselves to religious vocations. I learn from them, and I respect their work, but this is not the path the vast majority of people are called to take.
Most of us are ordinary folks living in communities of lots of other ordinary folks who are not separated from the world and cloistered in religious orders. It is here — right here — that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. Spiritual formation is mostly about learning to live the new life of love in Christ in ordinary settings as we do our daily work and relate to our neighbors.
And yet, in a world where common courtesy is in short supply - Where the misanthropic is often celebrated - Where the ultimate goal seems to be about self that a good ordinary person may be the biggest most spectacular miracle of them all.
In the end, it is easy to be good for the big splash, to put on goodness for the public. But to be good, day in and day out; that's hard work. So hard, in fact, that it must be a miracle.