Saturday, April 17, 2010
John Romita Sr.
Mike Deodato Jr.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Why Tradition Matters
I can’t think of a more foolish attitude I harbor at times than when I look back on previous generations and assume they were ignorant, unenlightened, unaware and totally outside of what I’m thinking and experiencing today. I was reminded of something the British writer G.K. Chesterton wrote in his book Orthodoxy (Chapter 4):McCain is dead nuts on that people were not all that different generations, even centuries ago - only technology.“Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.” Chesterton goes on to say: “Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.”And here’s the rub. While it is absolutely true that previous generations did not have the same technologies or understanding of “how things work” in their world, is there such a vast difference between 21st century people and those of previous centuries? Are we so far removed we think we can not possibly learn anything from our fathers, grandfathers and ancestors in the past. I’m particularly struck by this when I consider, as I grow older, how my own parents appear ever increasingly wise. The tradition in Asian culture of revering elders has much to commend it. Today, we regard those older than us as people who, obviously, are not as “in touch” with “reality” as we are. And even more so do we view our ancestors as hopelessly irrelevant.
And one wonders about the wisdom of letting technology supplant tradition. You see tradition is nothing more than a means of preserving information - and as best as I can tell technology is easier, but not necessarily more reliable than tradition as a means of that preservation.
I rarely crack open a paper and binding Bible anymore - I have several electronic ones that are just better - but what happens when the power goes out - and there is even no light to read. I have me memory, aided by music. What happens in a few generations when all memory can conjure up is "Our God is an Awesome God."
Tradition is how Christianity survived 1600 years until the printing press and how it survived from then until now. Somehow I think it will be tradition, not technology that keep it alive in the next millenia.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I love Greek myths. You may remember the story of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, staring at himself and finally dying when he realized that he could not “have” himself. The nymph Echo repeated Narcissus’ words endlessly, until she too was reduced to mere vocality echoing into the woods.I agree with this entirely and his observation that this is pure narcissism is deep wisdom. To it, I want to add one other observation - it is a recipe for permanent immaturity.
The lesson from the myth is that we are supposed to avoid the vanity of too much mirror-gazing. When we become too absorbed with ourselves, or, by extension, people who look like us, we are worthless to the world.
I think about this frequently when I see how easily churches slip into the subtle narcissism of age segmentation:
In other cases, even worship options reflect age segmentation. One service is “traditional,” with softer music and a bit more liturgy. Another is peppier, with a praise team. A third, livelier service meets on Saturday nights, hoping to target young adults. In some cases, the average age of the worshiper varies by more than a decade between the various options. What’s more, this segmentation can be passive: the volume of one service is just as effective in keeping out the “oldsters” from that service (for fear that they will “harsh the worship buzz”) as were the stern-faced deacons in many Southern churches who once kept out the folks of a darker hue of melanin. The Perry Como-esque music of another service likewise keeps out the “rambunctious whipper-snappers” who tend to “disrupt” the quiet of that setting.
In the end, we run the danger of turning church into a narcissistic pool where we see our reflections and miss out on the true object of our worship: God. We allow our group identity to drive our Bible studies and sermons, rather than allowing His Word to speak to us as a faith community.
If we stay segregated in our own age group, we never get to pick up on the wisdom of age. There is much "support" with our peers, but there is much to learn from those that have been down the path before.
In the narcissism of age segmentation we hide from growth - we hide from wisdom. Proverbs opens this way:
Prov 1:1-7:One wonders is the age segementation discussed here is not foolishness?
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding,
To receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity;
To give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion,
A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. [empasis added]
Personal/Administrative Note: As this post automatically appears to day I will be wheeling in to the O.R. at a local hospital to undergo about 6 hours of plastic surgery. Regular readers know I have lost weight measured in the hundreds of pounds over the last few years and that results in "leftovers" that no amount of exercise can fully deal with - hence the surgery.
This blog will be on "auto-pilot" during recovery - all written and scheduled to post. If you want to keep up on the gory details, find me on Facebook. Your prayers are appreciated.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
A Chrstmas Reflection for the Whole Year
After the first temple is built by Solomon and on the day of it’s dedication by him, Solomon declares, ‘Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn’t large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I’ve built.’ (1 Kings 8:27). The absurdity that God could fit into the universe let alone a temple is immediately revealed.I love the switch from beginning to end there, that we move from finding space for Jesus in our lives to putting our lives in His. In the context of Advent, it got me thinking. We keep waiting for God to fix us. But the fact of the matter is , His miracles are down - He HAS incarnated - He WAS crucified - He IS resurrected.
Yet the Advent hope of Christmas is that God has located himself in relationship and proximity to us, such that (John 1:14) ‘The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood’.
If you are anything like me, I find that my life doesn’t fit into my own life, let alone the creator of the universe moving in. Too often He is crowded out and left to fit in when I remember Him, need something from him, am in trouble or worried about others. But most of the time, it seems He is squeezed out of my life and neighbourhood.
So this Advent, I am going to stop waiting for Jesus to fit into my life, and ask and move to fit mine into his. (John 14:23) ‘If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we’ll move right into the neighbourhood!’
As I look at my emotional bandwidth, work commitments, family challenges, insecurities and worries, I see I need that more than ever this Advent.
It is time we stopped waiting for God to act and acted like He already has.
You see, the amazing thing is this - God allows us to stand in the way of His great work. Sadly, we do on a very regular basis, and one of the ways we do that is by expecting miracles instead of acting like they are done. You see, you now have the power to be the person God created you to be - you just have to get out of the way of the transformation he wished to loose in you.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Creative for the Creator
Christian stores have just the Christmas gift for Facebook fans: A "Jesus Christ wants to be your friend" T-shirt that mimics the design of the popular social networking site.I am officially disgusted. We'll leave the illegality aside for the moment and just focus on a single fact - Christians should define culture, not imitate or mock it.
Do you like shirts from teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch? How about a Christian copycat that transforms the chain's name to "Abreadcrumb & Fish," a reference to the biblical story of Jesus miraculously feeding the multitudes with bread and a few fish?
American retailers sell about $4.6 billion worth of Christian products annually, and some are spoofs or spinoffs of commercial logos or brand names. Many such goods are illegal, trademark attorneys say, but companies often don't put up a fight for fear of being labeled anti-faith.
"But...But...But..." - NO! NO Buts, we should be. We worship the most creative entity in existence - the one that created everything. We should be the most creative people because we are supposed to reflect His creative nature. But instead we stoop to stealing creative ideas. Shame -- SHAME!
What has gone wrong in our faith that we have gotten to this point?
For one, the theologians have taken over. Theology is important, vitally important, but so is this other stuff, but theology seems to have pushed it all out of the way. "Christian" movies have to be vetted to make sure they conform with trinitarian thought and a proper understanding of "the gospel." Christian music sounds like it comes from a computer program with a set of 16 words and 15 melodic phrases that are simply mixed and remixed in endless combinations because those words and phrases have been judged theologically acceptable.
What that is really a reflection of is that we have reduced Christianity to a belief system instead of what it truly is - A LIFE CHANGING SPIRITUAL JOURNEY THAT ENCOMPASSES ALL OF OUR BEING! It is supposed to make us better, morally, ethically, emotionally, intellectually and creatively. Instead it seems anymore to turn us into pat-phrase-spitting, dogmatic cultural critics. In stead of being thoughtful we are thoughtless.
Instead of being creative, we are thieves.
Oh Lord Help Us!
Monday, April 12, 2010
Best-selling author Michael Crichton became an outspoken skeptic of man-made global warming before his death in 2008. In this video Crichton uses his background in anthropology to explain why environmentalism is based more on religion than science.(They have the video) What I find increasingly interesting is that it we do seem to be "anthropologically wired" to religion of some sort. Even atheists "believe" in their atheism. It's an old observation, I know, but it is taking an interesting turn int he modern era.
One of the things the Internet has done best is allow people of similar interests, no matter how arcane,to find each other and organize in some sense. It's a big part of "non-belief beliefs" becoming more like religion. It is now much easier for them to organize in a church-like fashion.
Now, from my perspective, that is an argument against "virtual church." The genuine church of Jesus Christ should be demonstrably different than the false churches of this type. Human relationship is the place that that difference can become most apparent, and it is the example set for us by the incarnation.
This fact also raises some interesting questions for online Christians. For one, how do we avoid falling into the "idol-traps?" Secondly, what can we do on-line to effectively battle the tendency?
The answer to the first question is easy - we sink our personal roots deep in the local congregation and make ourselves accountable to our brother and sister Christians.
The answer to the second question is far more problematic. I do not think on0-line alternatives is the answer - that's just repeating the mistake. Rather we need to engage these people where they are, and then we need to pull them from the virtual world into the real one.
Who have you engaged today?