Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Shell

Love is what fills
This frame I live in;
Love from the altar to the grave.
When I screw up,
And anger my Love,
I’m sapped, I’m empty, half dead.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Let's Talk about Talking about Sex (Ephesians 5:3-14)

The striking thing about this paragraph in Ephesians is that Paul is focused here on our speech and not merely sex. We tend to make this section about sex, because it has the word sex in it. It has been repeatedly proven that when people see a series or cloud of words in which the word sex occurs, they will remember that word even if they forget all the others.

In pointing the fact out, this is not an attempt to say that sex is not important, or that sexual purity is not a universal standard that God expects from every believer… it is. The Bible makes it repeatedly clear that sex is one of the black and white issues for God. He designed it for the exclusive context of marriage.

However, we often overlook a higher standard that Paul is calling for here. Look at some of the phrases here: “must not be named,” “no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking,” “Let no one deceive you with empty words,” “it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” Paul is warning against the crass attitudes and flippancy with which our culture approaches sex.

Sex is not taboo, or some dark evil thing of which we should be ashamed. It is a normal and wonderful gift that can be discussed openly. But just as we should follow God’s plan for sex in our lives, we should also govern the way we speak of it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bruce Almighty: Surrender and Contentment

Bruce Almighty is a so-so comedy with a perceptive message. It is all about a man who is upset with life and the fact that God is not giving him the things that he wants. God gives Bruce his powers to see if he can do any better. Bruce finally realizes that we cannot hope to run things our way. We are the creatures. God is the creator. When we surrender to His will, we regain our correct position with God. This is only possible due to God’s Grace. Along the way, the film communicates a lot of truth.

Bruce has a girlfriend named Grace. Grace Prays. Prayer is an important symbol in this movie. For most it is a way of expressing displeasure with the way things are and trying to get God to change it. For Grace it shows relationship. Grace’s name is not a coincidence in this movie. Bruce gets to God through Grace.

When Bruce finally surrenders, his prayer is interesting: “You win. I’m done. Please, I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to be God. I want You to decide what’s right for me. I surrender to Your will.” The Bible tells us that all sin is about us not allowing God to be God, but replacing Him with ourselves.

On the other hand, there is some weird Hollywood “new age” nonsense here: God says, “Bruce, you have a divine spark.” From a Biblical, Christian perspective this sounds like God saying He created Bruce in His image, and this somehow implies that Bruce’s sense of humor is from God. Fine. However, this is also a technical term for a lot of cults and New Age sects that teaches that we are all God and He is just the divine spirit etc.

A lot of the prayers that Bruce receives when he is in charge are pathetic: “Lord, feed the hungry and bring peace to all mankind.” This brings out even clearer the movie’s commentary on generic prayer and the way it is simple our self-centeredness manifested.

Sometimes, God asks Bruce questions as if He isn’t omniscient: “You want her back?” God is not ignorant of Bruce’s intentions. In the Bible God will use this technique to help His people realize things. (See the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.)

What is missing is in this story is Jesus. This is not a minor point. Jesus is the one thing that makes God’s grace available to people. Without His sacrifice, God’s forgiveness would diminish the possibility of a just and reasonable world. Our rebellion against God demands a response and God’s forgiveness at a high price is an amazing thing.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The past is a land in fairy tales,
It doesn’t exist any more than Alice’s wonderland.
Its only abode is in the minds of men,
And each man has his own perspective unshared.
It’s no use trying to go back;
Old haunts are now new sights,
Old friends are new strangers.
The only true time is the present,
Yesterday is as untenable as tomorrow.
I do not believe in Yesterday.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What is Theology?

Theology is an expression of the truth. It is not the way a person sees the truth, but strives to express the absolute truth, that which always is. It does not matter whether or not this truth seems relevant to the times or to culture or whatever. It is simply truth.

To achieve this absoluteness, Biblical Theology relies only on the revealed word of God. It does not ultimately answer to traditions of men, to cultural influences, or to philosophies. It does not even rely on small portions of scripture, but instead attempts to collect all that scripture has to say on a given subject and then to communicate that truth in a comprehensive way.

To be sure the truth of theology may be expressed in slightly different ways as different people present it. This is due to the fact that Christian life is different for all people and God relates to individuals on different levels and in different ways. To maintain the absolute nature of truth, however, Theology refrains from giving single perspectives on the truths of Scripture. It instead tries to collect all of these insights to form a more accurate description of the truth. Different people see different sides of the truth. Theology based on scripture tries to give an all encompassing view of it.

Theology is not an end in itself. The truths it reveals from scripture serve as a guideline for how the Christian life should be lived and for how the Church should function. To this end some teachings of Theology are more central or important than others. Some teachings of Theology are more relevant to the Church and Christian life than other teachings.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thoughts on ABC’s Fall Lineup

A couple of shows being debut this fall were introduced to bloggers last week that deserved a mention here where we try to think about pop-culture and art in the context of Biblical truth.

The first of these is coming from some of the people behind the hit series “Lost.” “Once Upon a Time” looks like it will be another interesting look at reality and a larger truth beyond what we normally perceive. Even better, it will tap into types and patterns found in fairy tales to explore these issues.

On an even more personal level, it is exciting because something about the trailer harkens back to a wonderful series during the mid-eighties from Chile entitled “La Invitacion.” In it a group of people were isolated at a resort where mysterious pasts were slowly revealed and all the characters discovered they were all tied together by a terrible crime.

The other one is not quite as exciting. They are intending to reboot the old “Charlie’s Angels” series from the seventies. Now, the old series is a real guilty pleasure for this writer, and not due to the “jiggle TV” trend that it started. For a kid during the eighties who dreamt of becoming a P.I., the old show managed to be truly suspenseful, mysterious and even scary at times. (Just check out the episode “Night of the Strangler,” for example.)

This new series has a notable difference from its predecessor that speaks volumes about today’s culture. The original series featured three girls who were stuck in boring police jobs that were limited due to the fact that they were girls until Charlie gave them the chance to really solve cases and make a difference. In the new series we are treated to three criminals, including a former dirty cop, who are now private investigators. This is a substantial change that really should change the whole tone of the show. It remains to be seen if the writers will use this to comment on issues like redemption and repentance or if it will just be a case of today’s audience rooting more for the flawed anti-hero rather than the good guy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Walk Hard (Ephesians 5:1,2)

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)

Just as Paul is becoming more and more descriptive in the contrast between the new walk of believers and the way they used to live, he stops. Lest he give a new list of rules to abide by—a new law—he goes back to what he teaches everywhere and in all his writings: the new standard for behavior is love.

Every time and everywhere the community of believers has ceased to be the church and become just another religion, it has been as a result of attempting sanctification through prohibition. The “do not’s.” Instead, Paul reminds us that all behavior can be measured by the simple comparison to the example of Christ. Christ showed the unselfish love of God in everything he did and we are to follow that example.

The worst thing about empty, religious churches is that they become so obsessed with sanctification through behavior that they begin to impose (or attempt to) their standards on non-believers. This is a vain effort on two levels: (1) only God can change people; the behavior comes after the change. And (2) people whom God would reach through the witness of believers are instead alienated through unreasonable demands believers impose on them. All the while, such churches are eating each other alive because it is easier to observe and judge others by a legalistic standard than it is to make the effort to rule one’s own conduct in love.

When Paul boils the Christian walk down to “do love” he is not simplifying matters. This is a harder thing to do than simply keep a list of rules. Unfortunately, no one ever said living as God would have us live is an easy thing to do in this reality.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Questions Inspired by the Film Version of the Dawn Treader

Whose idea was it to boil the most important character development moment, and one of the best spiritual pictures in the whole book—the healing of Eustace Scrubb—into a 10 second bit?

Why was it decided that sea serpents were too fantastical to actually exist in Narnia, and instead we needed to reference the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man moment from Ghost Busters?

While we are one the subject of quoting other movie moments, was it necessary to reference Pinocchio by having Eustace repeatedly shout: “I’m a boy!”?

The original story is a travel log where they are out to find the fates of the seven lords, but also to simply explore. Has fantasy come to the point where every story must be a highly focused quest with video-game-like goals?

And whose idea was it to turn this story into Dora the Explorer?

Was it really so terrible for the book to make the black island a short adventure to a place where nightmares come true? Did it really need to become the source of all evil in Narnia?

Who hired the guys who make the rubbish Barbie animation efforts to do the special effects in this film?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

More Doctor Who Season 6 (32) with spoilers

As the first half of this season progresses, the viewer (and Amy) are wondering what that moment on the beach in the first episode is going to mean in the end. One thing that never really crosses our minds is that the Doctor is, in fact, going to die. For one thing it would make no sense for the show to kill off the main character after 32 seasons and there are no plans to end the season any time soon. But, more to the point, we believe that it will not happen.

Doctor Who set out to be an educational show about history and science; it has become a timeless story about deeper philosophical and religious issues at times. The way the Doctor relates to characters and events in the stories is often an exploration of the way God relates to His creation. He faces challenge after challenge, encounters dangers and evil, and never once do we doubt that he will emerge victorious. At the same time, he is not going to simply wave his hand and fix things. He allows characters to make decisions and live with the choices. The bad guys get their just desserts, and the good guys are allowed to play a part and events actually hang on how they act and how well they perform.

An interesting example of this comes at the climax of “The Curse of the Black Spot.” Rory lies moments away from death and the Doctor does nothing to save him. It is all up to Amy. We know that the Doctor and the Tardis have all sorts of means to revive and rescue him. The Doctor is not helpless, but he chooses to do nothing. It is a powerful moment and not a chance moment.

The entirety of Neil Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife” is a deus ex machina. However, it is a good example of the way Doctor Who works in spite of this. We are here for the ideas, the characters and the ride, not for the plausibility of the plot. The Doctor’s explanation of how they can be outside the universe:

Doctor: “Imagine a great big soap bubble with one of those tiny little bubbles on the outside of it.”

Rory: “OK”

Doctor: “Well it’s nothing like that.”

Amy: “Wait so we’re in a tiny little universe stuck to the outside of the real universe.”

Doctor: “Yeah. No! But if it helps, yes.”

Sometimes it pays to go through life on faith. Not understanding every little detail, but trusting someone who does, even if we can’t hope to understand all the explanations we get.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"How to Play Golf" (Ephesians 4:17-32)

This Disney short is one of a famous series of Goofy shorts where the whole cartoon is narrated while Goofy demonstrates how to (or usually how not to) do what is being narrated. The first of these was a short called “Goofy’s Glider.” This series is one of the more entertaining Disney produced, and avoid some of the repetitive or annoying trends of their other star’s shorts.

This particular one is appropriate for the reading of Ephesians in that it demonstrates how to practice a discipline with all the technique and rules that apply. This is what chapter four of Ephesians does for the believer. It takes the theology of the first three chapters and the picture Paul has been using—the walk—and applies it to an everyday walk. This is the discipline of Christianity.

Much like the game of golf depicted here, the Christian walk is not something everyone can do. It requires natural (or in this case supernatural) ability. The believer must rely on God’s assistance to live as God desires. At the same time, even talent requires practice, discipline, and coaching. That is what the walk is about really. Less about perfection, it is all about the attempt and the consistent habit of trying, even when we sometimes fail.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Buffy Rewatch (Season 3b)

This post is inspired by the ongoing Buffy Re-watch being conducted over at Nik at Night. Check them out for a better, more detailed look at each episode every Tuesday.

<--Season 3a  Season 4a-->

With the second half of season three, Buffy continues a run that concludes possibly one of the best seasons in sci-fi television ever. The themes that began the season: relationship, trust, and betrayal, continue and become more important. The character of Faith is a focal point of these themes in the way she relates to Buffy, the rest of the scoobies, and the “big bad” of the season: the Mayor. The Mayor himself is an interesting character to examine the theme of relationships. While he is a man who has spent a century doing terribly evil things for personal gain, he has wisdom about people and interpersonal relationships. His care for the character of Faith, and his advice for Buffy and Angel are important aspects of the season.

The season arc takes on more importance during this second half, but there are a few episodes that more or less stand alone:

12. Helpless

Buffy is unwittingly put to the test by the traditions of the Watcher’s Council. This test strains the relationship between her and Giles, as he is pushed to break the trust they have developed. In the end, relationship wins out over the religion-like institution but Giles loses his position with the council. This will ultimately help Buffy to realize that her mission and calling are more important than authority the council presumes to hold over her. As with most institutions, the council has slowly lost sight of the task they were created to perform in an effort to maintain the traditions they have developed seeking to fulfill that task. The task should always trump the organization.

13. The Zeppo

Television genius is achieved when the creators of Buffy turned the format on its head. Instead of the usual formula where a crisis dominates the story with one or more minor sideline character stories playing along the edges, this episode allows a story involving Xander to dominate whilst one of the biggest crises to face the series (one of only 20 or so end-of-the-world scenarios in 254 episodes) plays in the background.

The difference between this episode and others like it (“Lower Decks” from STNG and the Doctor-lite episodes from Doctor Who) is that this episode still explores a main character. Xander may not have a supernatural contribution to offer, but he is a vital member of the team. Not only is he more compelling than the others in that he is a normal man forced into extraordinary circumstances, he is often the voice of reason and wisdom on the team. Whereas Giles is knowledgeable, Willow is skilled and Buffy is powerful, Xander is always aware of what is important. He is later called the heart of the team, but the way this is expressed throughout the series is that he is the guardian of the friendship that exists between the characters.

In “The Zeppo” he saves the world and no one (other than the viewers) will ever know what he did. The fact that he knows, however, is enough to give him the confidence that he lacked before the episode started. It is a classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” type message… sort of.

16. Doppelgangland

This is a fun episode, where the vampire version of Willow from the parallel universe is pulled into the Buffy-verse. There is a minor amount of character development for Willow, but mostly it is simple entertainment. There is the interesting foreshadowing of sexual orientation, though. Willow is disturbed by everything her evil counterpart does, understandably. The interesting thing is that Willow is just as disturbed by the evil Willow’s homosexuality. The way she reacts leads one to believe that it has never crossed her mind that she might be gay, and we know that she has had a lifelong attraction to men. So, apparently sexual orientation in the Buffy-verse is purely a matter of choice. More on this later.

18. Earshot

When Buffy encounters an alien with telepathic abilities, she gains the ability to read people’s thoughts. This ability gives her new insights into a lot of the people in her life, but also nearly drives her mad when she can’t control it. Less a story, and more of an opportunity to learn things about the characters of the show, the episode does ultimately lead to the thwarting of a mass murder and the killer here ends up being a non-monster. (Albeit a lunch lady.)

20. The Prom

This episode is borderline silly; a classic season one “monster-of-the-week” save for one thing: the graduating school class reveals that they have not been entirely self-absorbed and clueless. They owe their lives to Buffy’s calling and they thank her for all that she has done in the past three years.

14. Bad Girls, 15. Consequences, 17. Enemies, 19. Choices

Throughout the second half of season three, the main storyline is Faith’s fall from grace. She has been a loose cannon since she arrived in town. The fact that she has all the power of a slayer, but no guidance and authority over, her has caused her to develop some bad ethical ideas. She begins to lead Buffy down this same path (after the events of “Helpless”) but Buffy comes to her senses when Faith mistakenly kills a man.

Whereas Buffy realizes she made a mistake, Faith decides to work for the Mayor as she sees his thinking is more in line with her own. Buffy and co. continue to try and redeem Faith until an elaborate sting reveals just how far she has gone towards evil.

The question that keeps coming back during this run is: why did they name this character Faith? It can’t be a coincidence, but the reason escapes me. The character ends this season in a coma, but will return later and undergo one of the most compelling character arcs in the Buffy-verse.

21, 22 Graduation Day

The mayor is one of the best villains in fiction. This is because he is such a paradox. He is an evil man bent on becoming a demon and destroying the town he set up 100 years before specifically for the purpose of supporting the demonic activity on the Hellmouth. Yet he is also a man seemingly stuck in the time of “Leave it to Beaver.” He is not just putting on a front; he really is the sort of person that believes in respect, family values and wholesome living. He is the ultimate example of the fact that outward appearances and behavior are no reflection of true character. Some of the worst people who have ever lived have probably been very legalistically religious.

When he turns, however, one is reminded once again of the similarities of Buffy and the original Doctor Who series. Both are high concept fantasy series that told stories years beyond their technical abilities. At times we are reminded that the art form being expressed here is more storytelling than television. (This is something that audiences are losing the ability to appreciate.) That being said, they really push the boundaries of suspension of disbelief in this case.

Here is a trailer that someone put together for the season. It is pretty well done and hopefully the people who own the material that was used will see it as a good promotion of their story. If not, it will be removed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How To: Walk (Ephesians 4:25-32)

After Paul calls on believers to “walk in a manner worthy of their calling” by working to maintain unity, and by not behaving as they used to before they believed, he goes on to describe ways that the change of walk can be effected.

Do not lie to one another.

When you are angry, do not allow your anger to cause you to do wrong.

Work so that you have things that you can share with the needy.

When you speak, build each other up.

Remember that God is always you, and do not do things that would cause Him grief.

Avoid bitterness, wrath, slander and malice.

This sounds like a list of rules, which is strange coming from Paul. However, we need to remember that Paul never argues against a standard of behavior. He simply reminds us that our lifestyles and efforts do not help us attain anything from God. Once we have a relationship with God, it is only natural that we will desire to live life in a way that pleases Him. Therefore, while we are free from the law and its judgment, we still want to live life like a child of God. We want to walk like the people we have become.

The above list is less a set of rules and more a description of behavior befitting a person who has been changed by the grace of God. It should come “naturally” but it does require an amount of discipline and awareness on our part, considering the environment in which we live.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

1997 in Film

Not a good year for film. Out of the 50 or so films that I have seen from 1997, it was hard to come up with a true top ten. Titanic dominates our memories of 1997 in film, and that pretty much tells you all you need to know.

Top Ten Personal Films of 1997:
1. Contact
2. The Fifth Element
3. L.A. Confidential
4. Austin Powers
5. Men in Black
6. Gattaca
7. Fools Rush In
8. Tomorrow Never Dies
9. Scream 2
10. Breakdown

Bottom or Most Disappointing Films of 1997:
-5. As Good as It Gets
-4. Addicted to Love
-3. The Night Flier
-2. Batman & Robin
-1. Good Will Hunting

Films I Still Have to See:
The Spanish Prisoner

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hollywood Spirituality Fail: Bedazzled (2000)

In 2000’s remake of the 1967 film, Elliot is given a chance to fulfill his dreams in exchange for selling his soul to the devil. In this interpretation, the devil presents itself as a woman. Through the process of having is wishes fulfilled, Elliot learns that he should be content with the life that is given him, and that he can play a part for good by helping other people have a better life. Unfortunately the film decides to present God as an inactive and uninterested creator. He is not even present, aside from one ambiguous character that Elliot meets in jail.

Elliot’s Cellmate has special insight right from the start. We know he is not what he seems. Later it seems he must be and angel. (Or perhaps God?) But right away we begin to realize that this is not a Biblical worldview. Consider some of his statements:

“Our soul belongs to God.” (Biblically, human souls or spirits are dead as a result of sin meaning that they are separated from God and the life He gives; we are slaves to sin and death until we accept salvation from God.)

God is “that universal spirit that animates and binds all things in existence.” (Biblically, God is the triune personal creator of the universe with whom we can have a relationship as a result of Christ’s death on the cross.)

“Open your heart and mind you will get it right in spite of mistakes.” (This is typically, new age, postmodern spirituality. Intentions in spite of results are all that matter. Instead, good intentions are no good when our separation from God is a result of our sin. Every person has personally rejected God as God. No one is good enough to save themselves. Our own efforts are not enough to get us out of the mess we are in.)

“The Devil’s bit is to confuse.” (That is a biblical take; the devil is the author of confusion.)

“Doesn’t matter how far we go, but how we get there that matters.” (In spite of what Hollywood and our culture try to tell us, there are absolute truths. Our desires or intentions do not change these truths. Wanting to walk through solid matter does not enable us to, intending to please God on our terms doesn’t either.)

In addition to these statements, there are other interesting aspects in this story:

The angel/God character cusses and smokes, while the devil always seems nice and somewhat good. (This is an interesting take in the story. Biblically, the devil presents itself as an angel of light. Evil is beautiful. Not all is what it seems. Sometimes coarse characters can be good ones.)

Elliot is saved by an unselfish act. (This does point to a biblical truth, in part. The unselfish act that saves all of humanity was Christ’s death on the cross. He was able to save us as humanity’s representative, but only as God was He able to defeat sin and death.)

The once tempting club where the devil lives is revealed to be a lie. (The devil’s Temptations are lies.)

In this film, supernatural plains are just special effects. The “real” Heaven and Hell are in us. (Biblically, Heaven and Hell are real states where humanity will spend eternity, not just ideas symbolizing good and bad in human nature.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Early Thoughts, Initial Questions

(Towards a Humble, Missional Eschatology, Circa 90s)

Eschatology—if there is meaning in a name—deals with the “last things.” The last things of what? A man’s life, meaning death and decay and things beyond death? Perhaps of history meaning the end of all time if such a thing will occur? If indeed eschatology is the mere study of “last things”, how is it relevant or even reliable? Who is to say what the last things will be like? If God is the One saying, then who is to interpret the revelation “correctly”? How can anyone know for certain, in a reliable way the manner in which the “last things” will transpire? As to relevance, how can the last things matter to today?

It may be that eschatology goes deeper than the “last things.” Theology as a whole deals with issues to grand for finite minds. Issues of God, beginnings, revelation, and atonement are all beyond human faculties. In this sense eschatology is similar to the rest of theology. In another sense, eschatology is the rest of theology. To understand God, one must rely on His special revelation seen in the promises of His word. To believe in atonement one must hope for a future result of salvation. These things both rely on the “last things.”

Ultimately, Christianity is a religion resting on faith, “the assurance of the hoped for, the conviction of that not seen.” This is eschatology. It is the beliefs of Christianity, its hopes for creation expressed in words, in finite pictures. It is the hardest aspect of creation and God to grasp, as there is no evidence available to point to for the proof of truth to go with the words. Without it, however, Christianity would be void and empty, for with no hope for tomorrow, what is the purpose of today?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Prayer and Action

When you pray for something, you need to be prepared for the change. Most people pray for change in one way or another, even if they are praying for things to go back to the way they were, since that assumes that a change reversal is being petitioned which is also change.

The thing that is most likely to be changed when we pray is us. Often that is simply because the answer to our prayers is a call to action. We need to remember when we pray to listen and to respond.

This week we had the interesting experience of answered prayer. The prayer was for a place to live for the next year when we will have to temporarily reside in another country. As time has ticked down and the date to leave gets ever nearer, the city we are being sent to has revealed itself to be a terrible place to find a home for a family of six. So, our prayer this week was, “God, please give us a place by the end of the week.”

The answer was quick. Within 48 hours we had a home, (not our ideal but apparently God’s plan) but it was not handed to us on a platter. I had to drive 14 hours round trip to beat the next interested party by 30 minutes. As we signed the contract and the ink was still wet, another realtor came into the room with a family ready to take the same place.

All along the process there were questions. Why do we have to go in person in this day in age? Why can’t we find a place that matches all of our demands? Why did the internet (or the user) mess up the flight plans forcing a drive? And for every question we had there are several more for the year to come.

Here comes change.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

¿La Verdad o la Perpectiva?

La Verdad from Juan Delcan on Vimeo.

“The truth is that there are as many ‘truths’ as there are individuals in the world.”

This creative animated short promoting a Chilean television station reflects a pervasive flaw in thought. It confuses the idea of perspective with truth. It also makes the false assumption that the many facets of reality allow for limitless, contradictory truths in the world.

Instead, there is a reality that everyone lives in that is bigger than any one perspective can grasp. In fact, it has aspects that are beyond human perception and comprehension. Contrary to the last statement of this video—that truth begins with seeing—much of reality is invisible to human eyes.

To truly grasp much of what really is, we need to accept the testimony of a witness capable of seeing what we cannot. That is much of what faith is all about. Everyone exercises faith in something, even if it is simply something they or someone has managed to imagine. Biblical faith is deciding to believe the word of the One who brought reality into existence. And while faith by definition is believing what cannot be completely proven, the testimony offered in the Bible has been thus far born out.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Change (Ephesians 4:17-24)

After telling believers to walk in a manner worthy of their calling, Paul takes another perspective on the metaphor he is building and tells them to not walk as they formerly did. Even though our actions do not place us in Christ, being in Christ our actions will change. It is as though we are changing out of old, filthy, stinky clothes into a new outfit.

What does the old outfit look like?

Paul uses several words and phrases to describe a mental decline that he calls the “futility of mind.” The mind that has rejected the authority of the Creator has denied reality. They are “darkened in their understanding.” They have “hardened” their hearts against any divine help in seeing reality as it is and are trapped in the “ignorance” of their limited perspective, worsened by the fact that the begin with the assumption that there is no absolute. They are thus “excluded from the life of God.” They cannot allow themselves to see reality because it contradicts their presuppositions. Through repetition and practice, they become “callous” against seeing truth, instead inventing their own versions. What is most tragic, they are eventually “given over” to their lies as God ceases to confront them.

All of this leads to behavior that is harmful and detrimental to people, let alone dishonoring to the Person who has created it all for His glory.

Paul reminds us of this mental process that we all were slaves to at some point, and that we all are surrounded by our whole lives. To survive and function in the culture we find ourselves in, we need to constantly “maintain our outfit.” Keep it clean and repaired through regular doses of—and reflection on—the Truth.

Friday, May 6, 2011

More Top Films: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is less adventure story than it is a cautionary tale. Early on, when Dobbs and Curtin stay in a cheap shelter for the night, they meet the old man, Howard. In a short four minutes, the whole summary of events to come and the downfall of the men is unwittingly prophesied as he shares his experiences and philosophy. “I know what gold does to men’s souls,” he says, and it is not a good thing.

B. Traven, the author of the book on which this movie was based, was an anarchist socialist who hated capitalism, but he also saw the dangerous side of materialism and capitalism. You don’t need to go to his extremes to see the dangerous allure of money and greed, and this story is a perfect study of the downfall that men can experience when they allow mammon to become their god.

This is an appropriate story for our current culture. Think about it. Is there any aspect left of life which does not involve advertizing? Everything in our culture today involves buying and selling. Radio and newspaper content is just filler for the advertizing. Product placement has overtaken movies and television. Our growing secondary lives on the world-wide-web are sponsored and revolve more and more around selling and promoting our brands. Everything we do involves this branding approach. We no longer try to connect to others, we try to create catchy concepts that can be packaged, promoted and sold.

Even in Christian circles, where the Biblical teaching warns against materialism, things have gone wrong. Evangelicals have bought into the gospel of the American Dream where God desires for His people to have all their needs and wishes met and where prosperity is a sign of Hid blessing. Even the people pushing for believers to live on less look to money as the answer. We buy into the idea that the money of the western church could be used to end poverty, starvation and illness, but we forget that money—like gold—is just a concept. It is the people wielding the money that corrupt the system through sin and greed. Even the best intentions can be corrupted when money enters the equation.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Springku 2

pigment explosion
life losing restraint
shameless sexuality

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thoughts on "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon"

The latest season of Doctor Who has begun airing, and as always it is a lot of fun. Moffat is up to his normal scares, and once again we have another new scary monster to join the likes of his weeping angels, clockwork robots, and empty child.

There is also a long list of questions growing in the minds of fans, some that have been around since last season or before: Who exactly is Dr. Song? Who is this child that has Time Lord capabilities? Is Amy pregnant, or not? Is or was Dr. Song pregnant? Who is Jimmy the Fish? How are they going to write themselves out of the Doctor’s death?

The biggest questions surround the Silence. They were teased throughout the year last season, and one must think that they will play into more than just these first two episodes. Otherwise it feels like they haven’t quite matched the hype. Not only that, but as things stand right now, there are huge problems with the story.

At the moment we are being led to believe that these aliens have been in charge of humanity since prehistory times. That would mean—among other things—that they have been in charge of things in every single story in the thirty plus years of Doctor Who that has involved humanity. In light of the storyline last year that showed that time can be rewritten, one has to think that we will see more involving the Silence and that they have not always been in charge. It may tie into the seemingly inevitable death of the Doctor we see in the beginning of the first episode this year.

(In an interesting aside, the Silence seem to function in a way similar to the popular—and erroneous—understanding of how demons and temptation function. In this version of humanity, people are powerless to make decisions. They operate completely under post-hypnotic suggestion. The reason that this is an incorrect understanding of temptation, ala “the Devil made me do it,” is that it removes responsibility from individuals. In reality, temptation is when we are presented with a choice to do something that we shouldn’t. Sin lies in the choice to go ahead and do the thing we know we shouldn’t. What we have in this story—as well as the erroneous worldview it presents—is humanity as guiltless robots.)

The other thing to keep an eye on this year is the relationship and trust between Amy and the Doctor. She has asked him to play along on this adventure, thinking that a future version of the Doctor initiated things. If things turn out badly (and we know that as things stand now, they do) then that trust will be seriously damaged. The whole situation with the four invitations is rather fishy. We haven’t seen the last of that to be sure.

All the heavy thinking and speculation aside, these two episodes had some really creepy sequences, especially the moment below where Amy is in the abandoned orphanage. You need the set up and context of the show to fully appreciate everything that is going on here, but you can see how this episode would send kids to hide behind the sofa where one traditionally should watch all Doctor Who.

Here’s hoping the rest of the season continues at this level!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So, Did You See that OBL Died of a Head Wound and was Dumped in the Sea? [Nudge, Nudge]

(Towards a Humble, Missional Eschatology, part 3)

When most people turn their thoughts to the end times, they only do so in the context of trying to match their present to those events. For most of the people who are really into this sort of thing, this is ironic. The reason for that being that most eschatologically obsessed people fall into the Dispensational camp. What makes this ironic is that Dispensationalists usually believe that all believers will be long gone by the time anything starts to happen, so how can they see signs that someone is the antichrist when those signs won’t be apparent until they are gone?

Of course the danger with Dispensational thinking is that it does not prepare believers for tough times. That is a bad thing if it turns out that the “Tribulation” is really going to be directed at believers. Jesus, in His letter to the churches in Revelation, repeatedly promises rewards to the believers that endure the tough times ahead. The normal function of tribulation in the Bible is testing.

All of this confusion usually arises when people mistakenly equate three different Biblical concepts with each other: tribulation, God’s wrath, and the seventieth week of Daniel. The seventieth week merely means the last seven years of time. God’s wrath is punishment of God poured out against evil at the very end of time, but not generally seen as seven years worth. Tribulation is not God’s wrath, but rather suffering poured out by the antichrist against believers.

The Bible and history repeatedly teach that Christians will face persecution in this world. Instead of teaching never ending speculations on the end times and the reassurance that Christians will be snatched away from persecution, perhaps we ought to prepare new believers for the tough times they will face as a result of their faith.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Reactions to the Reactions on OBL

“I have never felt more patriotic in my life.” –some random woman interviewed overnight.

Nearly ten years ago, after the attacks occurred in New York City and at the Pentagon, crowds were filmed celebrating across Palestine and other parts of the Middle East. Those rejoicing masses did not mean that everyone in the region was happy 3,000+ people had died. It did not mean that all Muslims were happy about that act of war. It may not have even meant that everyone jumping on those streets that day was really thinking about what they were doing. Regardless of that fact, the proud American in me thought at the time that we as a country would behave differently. We would be more mature—more composed.

There is a well documented and observed effect that a mass of people can have over the individuals that are in it—the herd mentality. People can become mesmerized in the moment and do things that they will later not believe, like call for a person on the ledge of a high building to jump. This is all a part of what has always made me avoid the herd in every way I can. I prefer to reason and reflect before I act.

In this instance I am not dancing in the street, waving a flag. It is a good thing that a hateful man who caused the deaths of thousands of people and used religion to motivate hatred across the globe is no longer able to do any of that. However, the fact that the United States government had to kill him to stop him is no cause for celebration. The cycle of violence continues. When just force is used to stop evildoers it should be seen as at best a necessary evil, not something over which to host a party. Certainly not the proudest moment in American history!
NonModernBlog written content is the copyrighted property of Jason Dietz. Header photos and photos in posts where indicated are the copyrighted property of Jason and Cheryl Dietz.
Promotional photos such as screenshots or posters and links to the trailers of reviewed content are the property of the companies that produced the original content and no copyright infringement is intended.
It is believed that the use of a limited number of such material for critical commentary and discussion qualifies as fair use under copyright law.

  © Blogger template Brownium by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP