Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
People make an incorrect assumption in the Evangelical ghetto today, that their subculture is Biblical culture. That is quite often not the case. For example, just because a singer, painter, or novelist is Christian, it does not make their art Biblical or even true. Non-Christian artists are capable of making truthful art. More importantly, there are believing artists, creating good art from a Christian perspective, who are rejected by the sub-culture because they have not chosen the Evangelical ghetto industry to disseminate their work. (U2 and J.K. Rowling are just two examples.)
The danger is that people inside the subculture begin to equate their culture with Biblical truth and fail to recognize any other cultural expression of Christianity. They then begin to do things like enter politics as a block and things get scary.
Christians should be involved in civic responsibility. They should learn about the issues and vote their conscience. They just shouldn’t become cattle and follow the self-designated “Christian” political leadership. How does it stand to reason that just because a candidate belongs to the same denomination as you, they will believe the same things as you when it comes to politics? For that matter, would you want someone who has immersed themselves in the Evangelical sub-culture in charge of the nation and representing it to the world? If someone has a history of swallowing hook-line-and-sinker whatever the cultural leadership preaches as Biblical, instead of actually studying the Bible for truth, how much should his or her judgment be trusted?
It must be remembered that many well-intentioned religious leaders have made some pretty poor judgments when it comes to politics. Some of the leadership of the World Baptist Alliance when it met in Germany in 1934 saw Hitler’s social conservatism (He was anti alcohol, pornography, etc.) and declared him acceptable.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
The whole concept of International Christian Missions used to be a lot different. Back when it was called “Foreign” Missions people lived on compounds maintaining little Americas on foreign soil. Later on, when mentalities began to change and cross-cultural ministry began to be understood, the children were still shipped off to English-speaking boarding schools or if local International education was available, that’s where the kids went. Back then people used to “endure” four long years on the field, and then they were rewarded with a year back “home” in the states.
Nowadays “cross-cultural” is the key in missions. Church Planters are sent into a culture and they immerse themselves in it as best they can. They learn the language well. Their kids attend local, national schools. They visit the states to keep in touch and see family, but they tend to keep the visits short so they can get back “home” on the field, where they can’t imagine leaving their ministry for a whole year at a time.
It looks like all that may soon change for some missionaries, as international law and agreements between various countries is forcing things to be done differently. In many countries, people will only be allowed to stay five years and then they will be forced to leave for a year before being allowed to return and establish residence again.
What is the big deal? Hasn’t the old four-years-on-one-year-off been done before? Won’t it work just fine? Probably. However, the work will suffer the one-year absences of personnel. Families with children will have difficulty keeping kids in national schools when they must repeatedly take them out for a year.
As always, there are probably some silver linings in this change but they are hard to see at the moment.
Friday, February 22, 2008
With it’s intellectual storytelling the viewer is always made to think, that is at least when the cheap production values can be overlooked. This is a problem the show faced over its original run. In spite of its success, it was always hampered by being a publicly funded show.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The psychological concept of Flow is a state of being in which people are able to perform beyond a conscious level. Before you begin to think this is some sort of paranormal concept, consider a few examples.
Athletes constantly speak of trying to “be in the zone.” In this condition they are able to perform activities instinctively, they “react reflexively” more than “act attentively.”
Musicians also experience this when they begin to play without really thinking about the individual notes or chords. In an ensemble (especially in contemporary music or jazz) they speak of being in a “groove” when the whole group achieves this state together.
Video Game programmers speak of designing their games with a state of flow in mind for the player as their goal. People play the games pursuing this level flow, where they begin to fell less like they are playing an electronic device and feel as if they are actually within the environment of the game.
The psychologist who initially described this concept admitted that it was nothing new. Eastern religions have pursued this state for ages: the idea of being “one” with everything etc. However, while the eastern idea of Flow involves emptying the mind to achieve this feeling, the practical examples listed about all involve mental activity. Yes discipline and practice are repeated until the performance is beyond active thought, but emptying the mind is not needed.
Another area where some people achieve Flow is in reading. Some people describe the act of reading fiction as ceasing to be reading. They actually visualize what they are reading to the point that they cease to consciously see worlds and mentally live in the world they are reading about. This is anything but a mindless activity.Where does the state of Flow fit into true spiritual meditation?
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Scholarly Slaughter of Scripture.
This was the birthplace of the Reformation. That is something that is hard to remember when 80% of the population declares themselves to be Atheists and refuse even a cultural tie to Christianity. However, it was here too that attacks began against the Bible that robbed it of a Spiritual Authority and made it nothing more than a (in scholarly understanding, a historically and thematically unreliable)
Political Persecution of the Church.
Then came the Twentieth century with German “Christianity” repeatedly backing misguided or downright evil political forces in the first half of the Century. Communism dominated the second half of the century permitting some degree of “official church” but persecuting and holding down free expressions of Christianity. Atheism was the official sanctioned “religion” and taught to all East Germans during this time. Today, it is by far the dominant view and accepted without argument or question by most.
Resurgence of Pagan Spirituality.
Today many East German Atheists are ironically not Materialists. They accept a spiritual aspect to life. While they have unquestioningly denied the existence of God, they turn to old ways and beliefs that seem to contradict their Atheism. Perhaps they do not really believe the spiritual aspect of these “entertainments” but there seems to be a fascination with Astrology, occultism, alternate medicines, Ufology, and the paranormal among young people in this area.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Ironically, this is another problem faced in Europe. So much so that they have designed walls that are “pee-proof.” If you pee on them, they funnel it right back at you!
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
"This is a story about truth, beauty, freedom: but above all things, this is a story about love." --Christian, writing on his typewriter.
This story has its Orphean elements to be sure, but there is more here than Greek mythology. For starters, Orpheus' love is ultimately selfish, Christian’s and Satine's is not. Satine is changed by love and ultimately is willing to sacrifice herself to save Christian's life. Also Satine dies not due to some fateful wish of the gods, but due to a life in the environment of the Moulin Rouge that ultimately kills her.
The love in Moulin Rouge begins as fleshly love: flashy and enticing, but costly and fake. Then Christian and Satine discover selfish romantic love. This drives them further to a love that lasts, that is unselfish, even sacrificial. But they are both caught by their pasts. Christian fails to see beyond the surface of things and fails to see Satine’s true love for him. Satine in turn is forced by her past sins to reject him in an effort to save him. In the end, however, Love wins when Satine reveals her love for Christian, dooming the Moulin Rouge and endangering herself. When she does finally die, lying on the theater floor, she commissions Christian to "tell their story" prompting the whole telling of the movie. The lesson learned?
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." --Christian, again on the typewriter.
So the themes in Moulin Rouge are sin, sacrifice, regeneration, truth, beauty, goodness, and love. The story, like Orpheus, sets out into Hades to save Love, but unlike in the Greek tragedy, Love wins in the end.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
(In honor of the 50th post here on NonModern, I dedicate today’s blurb to the greatest novel of all time.)
Why should “That Hideous Strength” be considered one the best? Among the several factors against it is the fact that you may have never heard of it at all. While C.S. Lewis is among the most respected and loved authors of the Twentieth Century, “That Hideous Strength” may be among his least known books.
“That Hideous Strength” is the third book in Lewis’ science fiction trilogy, but it is really the odd one out. It takes place entirely on earth instead of on another planet like the other two, and it relegates Ransom (the main character in the other two) to a minor role. In spite of that, or perhaps because of it, it is the most relevant of the three.
Lewis greatness lies in the fact that he is a thinker. He infuses all of his books with observations and serious ideas illustrated in the narrative. His stories still manage to engage at the same time. He has been accused by some of being to directly allegorical, but that is what makes his stories more than just fun escapism.
The science fiction trilogy is no different. He starts out exploring what it means to be creature in “Out of the Silent Planet” and then engages in a great “what if” in relation to Eden and original sin in “Perelandra.” In “That Hideous Strength” he culminates his ideas with an expansion of his commentary on Postmodernism in “The Abolition of Man.” That is not all though, as he gives serious and incredible analysis of marriage, “inner circles,” science as religion, Arthurian legend, and equality in the roles of the sexes.If you haven’t read this book, you need to.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
The Twilight Zone is perhaps the first truly great television show ever made. Through its themes and messages it promises to stand the test of time and is as relevant today as it was when it was made half a century ago.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
It seems that behind every thoughtful atheist (there are plenty who have never really given it much thought) there is someone who is actually anti-religion. That is completely understandable. There is not a religion in the history of the world that has not turned out negative. They are just a series of manipulative, power-creating rules that attempt to force people to follow a few select leaders.
(How can this position be espoused by a self proclaimed Christian? Like many Evangelicals, it is the position of NonModern that the Bible promotes not another Religion created by people, but a relationship with the God of the universe. Too much of Christianity over its 2000 year history has abandoned the Bible’s teaching in favor of just another Religion bent on controlling people.)Atheism, though, is hard to accept from any truly thoughtful person. How can anyone authoritatively suggest that there is no God and even refuse the possibility? The fact is that most Atheists reject Religion, and in the process go to far and toss God out as well. Richard Attenborough says of the various conflicting beliefs around the world: “They can’t all be right.” Therefore, his conclusion is that they are all wrong. That is a bit of a stretch of logic. Just because the Elephant described by the blind men was not a snake, a rope, or a tree did not mean the Elephant itself did not exist.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
The best part of this control tactic is the way it is a win-win situation for the doomsayers. If the Whoever decided to use climate change to control the masses was a genius. In an “enlightened” age that has shut its eyes to the supernatural side of life, they have found a no-risk way to tell people how to live. They took an aspect of the natural world that is in constant change and convinced people that (a) this change spells disaster, and (b) they are causing the change. They have found the perfect recipe for controlling people’s lives.The amazing thing is the brain dead way in which people have bought into the tactic. When it is warmer than usual—it’s because of Global Warming. When there is an unheard of cold snap—it’s because of Global Warming. When there are more hurricanes than usual—and yes, when there are fewer hurricanes than usual—yada-yada-yada.climate starts to cool down, then it was due to their efforts. If people give into their demands and things keep getting warmer, it was simply a case of too little too late.
What no one wants to talk about is the raw data used to back these claims. The benchmark for “normal” surface temperatures is the average between the years 1961 and 1990, just thirty years of data. Going back before that to the 1860s (the mere 100 years for which instrument readings are available) things were usually (but not always) cooler. Since 1990, temps have been higher. However, the world has been cooling ever so slightly since 1998 when the record for the hottest year occurred. (The year of the super-powerful El Niño.) Finally, human carbon emission levels do NOT track with these temperature ups and downs.
The world is warming, but don’t trust anyone that tells you you’re to blame.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
But. Reader, beware! When you stand next the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul and look across the river into Poland and think, “Wow! That is really ugly, but I think I will cross that bridge so I can say I was in Poland,” you need to know that is the beginning of a bad idea. For, when you cross that bridge, you will be informed that you are not a resident of the city and you must cross at the next bridge where the border crossing is located. Since it is a nice day, you might just walk down the river to the right bridge, not knowing that the next bridge is a really long walk away. When you finally get into Poland, you might decide that since you are hungry you will change some money and find a place to eat so you can say you ate in Poland. After walking around Zgorzelec for the better part of an hour, you will realize that there is nothing to eat near the border! But your car (and all the German restaurants) is an hour’s walk into downtown Görlitz! So you change your Polish money back into Euros (except for the coins that can’t be changed so you are stuck with them) and head back famished, tired, and thoughroly unimpressed with Poland, which is probably under normal circumstances not a bad country.
So, if you go to Görlitz and want to experience Poland, drive across the border.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008
The answer, then, is yes. Television has at times produced programming that is at the same time entertaining and thought provoking. It deserves a place in serious cultural conversation and thought.