Saturday, January 03, 2015
All-Star Comics #3
comic art comic books comics first appearance of the Justice Society iconic covers
Friday, January 02, 2015
Recently, an image has been circulating as the latest example of a "relevancy fail" by an evangelical group.I am deeply reformed. Images are not my thing, but I am learning to appreciate them more than ever before. Here's what I have learned.
They seem to have mistakenly switched the text up in a flyer that seeks to encourage more prayer by presenting a conversation with Jesus as a series of text messages on an iPhone. Instead of portraying a Christian who gives Jesus' pleading attempts at conversation the cold shoulder, it depicts Jesus as the one who is indifferent to the pleas for intimacy.
It's funny. It's sad. It's not all that surprising. Evangelical churches are notorious for trying to grab people's attention through pop-culture, either through emulation or parody. The results are often groan worthy.
Like many in the Church, I have participated willingly in the baptism of pop-culture for the sake of outreach and evangelism. I have been in bands that made "Christian Rock," I have worn Jesus t-shirts. I even have a couple of the obligatory Hebrew and cross tattoos.
I understand why people do this stuff. They want the message of Jesus to reach people where they are.
The problem is that in the context of American evangelicalism, where religious images are often absent, pop-culture representations of the faith can become the formative symbols and images that a faith community encounters. People begin to actually see Jesus primarily through the lens of materialism and pop-culture, both of which by their very nature are constantly in flux. As a result, evangelical faith becomes faddish, salvation is a style and praise is a phase.
Historical Christian symbols, on the other hand, are primordial and polyvalent: Flesh, blood, light, water, birth, death, eating, drinking, hunger and thirst. These symbols are not seeking to emulate the ephemeral but they encompass our entire existence.
The symbols not only contain a wealth of meaning, they contain us. They dig deep into who we are as people in our deepest depths, in our hopes and fears. They are the building blocks of poetry, romance and drama. They have layers of meaning and depths that require a lifetime to divulge. They captivate rather than entertain. In many places these images have been lost, and I believe they need to be reclaimed.
Being a Christian is on more than an intellectual level. It takes more than words to reach those levels. Images are one way to reach those levels. Liturgy is another. What strikes some as boring repetition is actually a way to move past the words to their meaning on deeper levels. Rote infests our souls in a way that fads never can.
What I am talking about here is more than emotion, although emotion is an element of it, just as intellect is. It's that part of ourselves that is closest to the divine. It is the image of God in us that our sin buries so deeply.
Yes, as with all things art can be perverted and become an idol, but without it, it seem to me all hope of reaching that part of ourselves that is somehow supernatural is lost.
We've tired intellect alone - today it seems we try emotion alone. We need to find God's home in us.
emotion intellect liturgy spirit
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
New Year's Eve With The Superheroes
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014
But despite the associated arrogance, I truly think my generation is on to something in our desire for authenticity.There are several things going on here worthy of comment. It's not wrong to want people to relate to where you are at any moment in your life...BUT!...you also need to understand that from the perspective of my years - some 30 since I finished graduate school, the struggle of undergrad, which seemed enormous at the time, just aren't. The "fake happy" isn't always fake, sometimes it is a reflection of lessons learned in a life much longer than Jordan's and the lesson is that life is what you make of it, that I can chose to be happy in the midst of difficulty. It is an effort and a choice - that's not fake, just effort.
You see, the hardest years of my life came in college. For a while, it seemed like every week brought a new disaster that I had never faced before. As one event piled on top of another, I became a mess. My usual happiness turned to sadness, my usual good decisions turned to bad decisions, and my usual faith turned to nothing but questions.
I desired to be a part of a church that got it.
That got my struggles. My sin. My doubts.
All I wanted when I entered the doors of church was to find people who would bear my burden and remind me of whom God was, because quite frankly, I wasn’t sure anymore. Unfortunately, so many times, it seemed like the God people were pointing to was one that would want nothing to do with me and, if I was being honest, I didn’t know if I wanted anything to do with him.
Either everyone was really happy all the time with no problems, or they were being fake…and I was in no position to play the Fake Game.
And, it is something that I chose to model for the young people around the church. They have to learn it sometime and somehow. That does not mean I should be an insensitive jerk when they express their problems, but it does mean I want them to see there is a better way than to whine and wallow.
When I reads this, what I see is not that I need to be somehow more "sensitive" to Jordan's concerns, but that I need to learn how to break through his innate narcissism. How do I get him to listen to something besides the sound of his own voice? My own experience at that age tells me that we old folks often can't. That somethings just have to be gone through - but with this generation the narcissism is much deeper than it was with mine - I do not know if patience is enough.
Of course, prayer, and then prayer again. I also am increasingly convinced that meeting them on their own narcissistic ground is not always helpful. The "come as you are" he so pangs for is how God takes us, but it is not wear He leaves us and if we focus on that too much, we do not move forward.
I think the magic happens in relationship, not institution. That's what we really need to think about. Relationship.
church relationship youth
Monday, December 29, 2014
The Value of Work, The Need For Service
Ephesians 4:28 prefers "working hard" to "hardly working." This verse says that thieves—and, by implication, all of us—should work hard. You don't see this in our translation, but it is clear in the original language. The NIV says that people "must work, doing something useful with their own hands." The Greek verb translated here as "must work" suggests not just any quality of work, but hard work in particular. If you were to look up this verb, kopiao, in a Greek-English dictionary, you'd find translations such as, "become weary, become tired, exert oneself, work hard, toil, struggle." Paul often uses kopiao in reference to his demanding work as an apostle (see 1 Cor. 15:10; Phil. 2:16). Work, whether labor to earn an income or church planting work or you name it, is often hard. It can be exhausting. It can demand mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical investment and leave us worn out.I love this sentence, "You and I, as human beings, were created to work, to use our full capacities in order to ensure that God's creation functions as it is supposed to, leading to fruitful living for all creatures."That says so much about the nature of our work as well as the fact that we are supposed to work. To ensure the proper functioning of all creation and fruitful living for all creatures is a pretty tall order. It requires a huge diversity of activity. And it points out that each activity, no matter how mundane it may seem is important. We serve God's purposes in ways that are not direct and that we cannot see or imagine.
Our passage doesn't explain why we should work hard. But this imperative grows out of a biblical understanding of work. You and I, as human beings, were created to work, to use our full capacities in order to ensure that God's creation functions as it is supposed to, leading to fruitful living for all creatures. Of course, when sin entered in, work became more difficult and painful. Yet, this does not mean that all hard work is wrong or to be avoided. In fact, some of the most rewarding experiences of life come as we invest our full energies in a worthwhile project.
We think so directly. We think that to change the world we have to produce the change. Not so. We have to be part of the machine that changes the world and we may never understand how our activity leads to that goal. Do you think a gear in a clock knows how its action leads to time keeping? If you have ever worked on a clock then you know you just cannot have the perspective from inside the clock to know all of what is going on. To demand such perspective and understanding is to demand a creator's vantage point - to in some sense put your self in God's place. Isn't that the definition of sin?
Sometimes we just need to click, on click at a time.
humility perspective work