Saturday, August 23, 2014


Comic Art


Friday, August 22, 2014



Betsy Childs:
I can identify with these PANKs. While I fall well below the income level of the women described in this article, I adore my sister’s children, and I take great delight in giving them gifts. Yet the PANK mentality is dangerous because it mistakenly equates buying things with nurturing.

In a consumerist culture, parents must continuously struggle against the lie that the best parents make sure their children have the best of everything. Good parents know that it is not good for their children to have all that they desire. Good aunts, uncles, and godparents know this too.

To nurture is to encourage growth. Those of us who are childless should be nurturing the children around us by encouraging the growth of their minds, bodies, and most importantly, their souls. We should reinforce godly parenting rather than undermining it. We can introduce them to books that will cultivate their imaginations and form their characters. We can teach them songs (both the silly and the sacred should be included). We can talk to them. We can look them in the eye. We must relate to them as image-bearers of God, not as little mannequins.
Being childless myself, this tugged at my heart, but more, that comment about nurture as promoting groeth in opposition to making sure kind have "the best of everything" is an extraordinary comment on ministry.

Does your ministry nurture or does it entertain? Are you more concerned that those that come to church have what they think they need or that they are called forward to a life of maturity in Christ?

The parenting analogy is a strong one. I can think of so many parents good with little kids, not so kid when they begin to think for themselves. The result is rather than promoting the growth of the child, they treat them in a fashion that encourages them to remain dependent and immature. From that comes the spoiled brat of adulthood.

I think the church has the same problem, how do we move from a culture of raising children to a culture of raising adults? One answer Iwould give is have a church that expects adults.


Friday Humor

Another great sitcom from the past.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


What Place Art?

Greg Forester:
Bill Gates says  art is evil. Terry Teachout says Bill Gates is a barbarian. Jay Greene agrees , and he has the data to prove it.

In support of his view that art is evil, Gates cites the utilitarian philosophy of Peter Singer, who openly favors infanticide. I believe it was Hans Urs von Balthasar who said that those who refuse to give the beautiful independent value alongside the true and the good lose, in the end, not only their capacity to appreciate beauty but even their capacity for truth and goodness.
I agree with Forester, but would say it a bit differently. Trained as a scientist, I had virtually no appreciation for art until I met my lovely wife. Unfortunate, my science training was never able to knock from me the knowledge that there was a supernatural, but it was entirely a mystery.

I have found in art and access to that mysterious realm. I will also say it has come from to important lessons. One, not everything that claims to be art really is. Secondly, the mysterious is very different from the emotional. That is to say, there are many things that are emotionally evocative and it is easy to confuse that with access to the supernatural - but just because some created thing evokes emotion, it does not necessarily give me access to the supernatural.

To art types what I am saying is probably cliche, but to a scientist its a big deal. This should have enormous ramifications to how we do Sunday services. Does it?


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014


"Real" Pastors

Ron Edmondson discuss the "myths" that surround pastors. It's the typical stuff - "Superman" syndrome if you will. It dawns on me as I read this stuff that such expectations have developed because we treat church like a show, and pastors are characters in the show. We have confused ceremony with show business. We have confused leadership and pedagogy.

Some of this, no doubt, comes from a time when the local pastor was the most educated person in town. But we have been beyond that for a couple of centuries now. Yes we learn from pastors, but we are no longer children, we do not sit at their feet at we sat at the feet of our elementary school teachers. Some of it extends form the liturgical role of pastors. Yes, they don robes and preside at the most auspicious of occasions, but if we learn th purpose of the robes and the occasion, we learn that they service in such circumstances - they are not greater they are lesser.

No, we want to be spoon fed our faith like TV spoon feeds us entertainment. And so we put our pastors into boxes that read "Special."

What if we came to church not to be entertained, but as a seeker of actual spiritual growth?

Just askin'.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


The Role of Self

Vincent Bacote:
It is nice to have restaurants cater to my wishes, and consumer-sensitive customer service can be quite virtuous and good for business. But society can tempt us to apply this message too broadly. Our individual needs are not the greatest value of all. Ever since the fall, it has been easy for humans to pursue life construed as one great selfishness project. If we make our needs and wants the most important things of all, we will be less sensitive or even blind to the needs of others. Service would be among our lowest priorities.
Service is our highest calling. But there is a caveat. Too often we do service in a fashion that is self-aggrandizing. Sometimes we do service not for the good of the other, but for our own good.

That's not service. Service is not just filling the needs we think others have, it is listening to them sufficiently to fill their actual needs. Service must be measured. Service cannot be defined by your terms and limitations, it must be defined by the person being served. "I can only give a week," when a month is called for brings to mind Christ's example of thew woman that gave out of her poverty and the rich man that barely gave at all.

In point of fact, if we give, or serve, because we have and the other does not have, we have missed the idea altogether. Service is not simply not selfish, it should be selfless.


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, August 18, 2014


Yeah, But Stratagem Makes A Difference

Douglas Wilson:
There is a way of falling in love with an elegant play, the way the coach drew it out on the whiteboard, with all the x’s and o’s doing just what they need to do in order to enable the coach to draw an arrow toward the end zone. And people who love this also love the walk-throughs in practice. “Look at the elegant way the guard pulls, runs left and takes out the blitzing linebacker. In slow motion.”

The problem is that in a real game, the value of the play when run full tilt in real time looks quite a bit different than it did when we all had the leisure to think things through. It is easier to see the reason for everything during the walk-throughs. The only problem is that it is not the game.

The Prussian general von Moltke once said that “no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” And this is probably why Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

We often talk about the worship wars, but these are just quarrels over strategy between coaches in practice. The real worship war is the war that right worship declares — on the devil and all his works. So we should be supportive of every form of Christian worship that engages the enemy effectively. If it does that, we might want to tinker with it to make it more effective, but we would be doing this with a general disposition of support. If it does not do that, it is worthless — no matter how good it is.
I can't disagree with that, but note that regardless of outcome, "...planning is indispensable.” The exercise is necessary- absolutely totally and completely necessary. The key question in my mind is "Why?"

Well, I think Wilson's last paragraph there tells much of the tale. When we argue we are trying in part to learn how to think and argue about these things. Numbers do not matter , save we are moving those numbers where we want them to go. Attracting numbers is fairly easy - turning those numbers into serious committed disciples is hard.

Early in my university career, I considered teaching as my goal. One of the reasons I did not end up there is that I have been told administrations would have a hard time with me because I "would expect the students to actually master the material."

So when we discuss "worship wars" are we attempting to fill the pews or are we attempting to have the people there master the material? If the latter does not frame the discussion - a re-evaluation is needed.

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