Saturday, September 29, 2007

Recommending the Imaginative: Stan Lee

I can hear the scoff in your throats all the way across the Internet. "Are you kidding me? A comic book writer?" I understand your cynicism, but hear me out. Stan Lee has done something in the creative world that should not go unnoticed. His revolutionary work with Marvel Comics opened up not only a whole new world for comics, but for the development of super heroes in modern pop-culture.

When Lee first began work on comics the market was controlled by the idea that superheroes should be flawless and indestructible. What Stan Lee did wad to re-design the modern superhero as a flawed man struggling not only with everyday problems but also battling internally between the two worlds of superhero and alter-ego. His first character, Spiderman, is the epitome of this new design.

His comics would also include relevant social commentaries and critiques and examine a deeper, more meaningful side to the world of Comic books. These are just some of the facts that no real culturally aware person can overlook.

This may seem like an odd person to include in with the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, after all not only were both amazing literary scholars and authors, but they were both Christians. What should you think of my recommending someone who is not a self-proclaimed believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? How can he help us understand creativity and the imagination better from a Christian perspective?

The fact is that God did not give culture only to Christians, nor did He give wisdom and creativity to Christians (just like He did not give the gifts of science and math and medicine to Christians alone). Certainly worship of God is the ultimate goal of the imagination and creativity and thankfulness to Him is due for it, and no creative work will ultimately be completed until such is done. But Stan Lee has offered to us not only a new form of art and a captivating method of storytelling through images and simple dialogue, but he has offered to us an imaginative re-interpretation of the superhero. In this re-interpretation we see the natural human struggle between our tendency to self-absorption and justice. We see an innovative way to express the pressure and importance of helping others. These are values, of course, which no Christian can ignore, and while we would go further than Lee, we can, nonetheless, thank him for reminding us that heroes can be relatable and "cool."

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 27, 2007

C&PC Gameday!

Christ & Pop-Culture do football! That's what the latest episode of of our podcast is about. Rich and guest host Keith Goad talk sports, scandals, and theology in American Football. Check it out and let us know what your thoughts are.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Black Crowe: Thoughts on 3:10 to Yuma (Part 2)

If Christian Bale's character in 3:10 to Yuma marks a pointedly different type of Western Hero, then Russell Crowe adds to the revolutionary status of this film by his portrayal of the complex villain.

As the movie begins we see a very sensitive, if somewhat dastardly Ben Wade (Crowe). He desires a female companion, for more than just physical pleasure, and he appreciates good cowboys (so he lets Peter Fonda's character live in the opening scene). But it is not long before we see just how evil he is. In the mere setting of a sun Ben Wade changes from nice guy, to sadistic murderer as he stabs a sleeping man to death with nothing but a kitchen fork. He is a dangerous man!

It is this interplay between pure evil and simply sweet guy down on his luck that makes Wade so compelling, and of course Russel Crowe pulls it off with ease. The end of the movie only reinvigorates this mixture and compels us as the viewers to both like Wade and hate him at the same time.

My co-host on Christ & Pop-Culture discussed this recently in a podcast we did, and came to the conclusion that what makes Wade so interesting as a character is the that he reminds us of another deceptive villain: Satan. The Bible teaches us that Satan can clothe himself like an angel of light and he can compel the unwitting person to trust him. We know Eve, even in a perfect state, fell for his ploys. Ben Wade not only disarms men and women, but he disarms us at points. He is a truly deceptive villain. Yet there is something more to this character.

For While Wade does throughout the movie show himself to be a "devil" of a man, there is real growth, development, and change. His character goes through several major turning points in the plot and comes out on the other side quite different than anyone could expect. This is what makes Wade so compelling of a character: the sheer spectrum of change that he goes through. Now there have been plenty of movies with good character dynamism and growth, even many where villains go through these changes, but none that are so seamless, and unexpected as 3:10 to Yuma, for in the end of this film we are still left with some elements of the unexpected, and ultimately with a question: Is Ben Wade a good guy or a bad guy? Few movies have that capacity to bring a character through such change and in the end leave us where we started...a man who is either really good, or has yet once again deceived us all.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

C&PC Updates

The latest podcast for Christ & Pop-Culture is available now. Our topic is again the subject of Heroes, specifically related to the film 3:10 to Yuma. We discussed previously that Christ is the model for all heroes...see how that conversation relates now to Dan Evans, the hero of this film.

Also we are having a special "you tag us we'll tag you" week. If you link to C&PC this week then we will link to you at our site. So be sure and let us know if you are promoting our show on your blog or website.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Preparing for a New Series

As I am wrapping up my series on the imagination I have been planning for my next one. Recently I've been studying some different works on evangelism and thinking through different aspects of evangelism. What makes good evangelism? What should we do when we share the gospel? What should we expect? When should we do it? And Who should evangelize? These are all part of the focus of my next series. I post here a proposed outline for the upcoming study. It has been a fruitful endeavor for me and I hope it will benefit you all who read this blog. Look forward to this series after I finish the current one on The Imagination.


I. Biblical Evangelism
(1) It’s More than Your Testimony
(2) It’s more than Apologetics
(3) Don’t Confuse the Event With the Results
(4) God-Centered vs. Man-Centered, Part 1
(5) God-Centered vs. Man-Centered, Part 2
II. What is Evangelism:
(1) The Essentials
III. Who Should Do Evangelism:
(1) Pastors
(2) Christians
(3) Missionaries
(4) Moms & Dads
(5) Churches
IV. How Do You Do Evangelism?
(1) Methodology Matters
(2) Conversation Evangelism
(3) The Dangers of Forced Evangelism
(4) Church Ministry & Revivals
V. Resources for Helping Our Evangelism:
(1) J.I. Packer
(2) Mark Dever
(3) Two Ways to Live

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why Study Scripture?

If it seems like an odd question for a Christian to ask, apparently not all professing believers are in agreement on the Bible's importance. Increasingly there are more and more "Christians" who want to find a more "relevant" guide and tool for our faith. Perhaps an MTV music vidoe or the latest pop-culture guru would serve the church better as it tries to do evangelism among this post-modern culture. My answer, however, is a firm and resounding NO! The Bible is the Holy Word of God and the following list has been composed as a fresh reminder of "why the word".

1) The Word of God is Divinely Inspired --> Yes it was written by men, but not by merely men. The Word of God is written by men under the influence of the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 3:16 states, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness." The reason that we study the Scriputres and not the latest Bible Knowledge guru is becasue the former is God's official word, the latter, while it can be helpful, is not God's Holy Word.

2) The Word of God is Infallible --> When we speak of God's Word as the Bible we are referring to a book that has authority when it is read and heard. A book that is never wrong, never misspeaks, never issues corrections. The Bible is perfect in every word, or every "jot and tittle" as Jesus put it. We have word that can be trusted and should be obeyed because God spoke it and He, in His omniscience and perfection, never makes mistakes.

3) The Word of God is the Power of Salvation --> Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel because, "It is the power of God for Salvation to everyone who believes." No other book has the ability to bring men and women to the truth of Jesus Christ and salvation. It alone has the power to overturn evil, revive dead hearts, and lead me to the worship of the living God.

The Bible is unique among all books. There is no dublicate, no replacement, and nothing else will do. To those "Christian" Movements out there that believe this word to be outdated and useless for today, or at best only of secondary importance, I urge you to reconsider the power of the Word of God, the Trustworthiness of the Word of God, and the author of the Word of God. The Bible is our only guide in all things for life and faith!

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Recommending the Imaginative: C.S Lewis

Like Tolkien Lewis stands out among those Christians with an imagination. Lewis was a Scholar, a colleague and friend, in fact, of J.R.R. Tolkien (It was through Tolkien that Lewis eventually came to abandon atheism and believe the gospel). What marks C.S. Lewis is his ability to create a world of beauty and tell the gospel story through creative means.

Lewis' Narnia myth isn't as elaborate, detailed, or cohesive as Tolkien's myth, but it is nonetheless and amazing thing to read The Chronicles of Narnia and see the gospel story unfold before your eyes in that imaginative setting. In writing his seven volume fantasy story Lewis created a world that was not just for kids but one that was for adults too. He is known to have said that a good story is one that is not just good for kids, but which adults can enjoy too.

Lewis works bear several interesting marks as a whole:
* The Christian Faith
* An appreciation of Love and/or Friendship
* A vast knowledge of classical literature
* Greek & Roman Mythology
* Fantasy

All these elements together make for a, sadly, markedly different Christian author. When you read Lewis you will not only find yourself captivated by his storytelling, but you will understand, and love the gospel better because of it. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, has one scene with Aslan and the two girls that gives me chills of excitement every time I read it. Use Lewis, friends, to spur on a godly imagination.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

God in the Dock...Almost Literally?

Men throughout all of history have thought themselves big enough to call God to account. If Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon and called it "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," the modern man would have it recast and remade to say "God in the Hands of Angry Sinners."

One particular sinner, I mean Senator, has decided to join the fellowship of judges over God, and he is actually filling a lawsuit against the Almighty. A Nebraska attorney, in an attempt to demonstrate how frivolous lawsuits are becoming, has made God an example. The Lord over Heaven and Earth is responsible for immeasurable pain and suffering, he asserts, and is the cause of every great calamity that comes upon men. He terrorizes men and compels them to fear and irrationality. So, this lawyer, a real atheist, has decided to sue God for all that He is worth.

The interesting thing to watch in this case is going to be the court itself. What will the court do? Will they deem it correct to sue God, or will they decide He does not exist and therefore cannot be sued? Their response will be interesting and telling. But a word to our this attorney: be careful friend.

The Old Testament tells of a man named Job who called God to account and the Almighty came to Him in a whirlwind and humbled the little man. He says, "Dress for action like a man; I will question you and you make it known to me." All of Job 38 is one big rhetorical question that God gives to the man, he asks: Who do you think you are that you can demand answers from me? Did you create the world, and do you keep it? The answer seems to be that we should sit down and shut our mouths! God is not a God to be trifled with. Hebrews tells us it is a "dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." So friend, before you continue with this foolish law suit, I urge you to consider God's response to Job. The only hope you have is the cross of Jesus, where the Son of God bore the wrath that you and I deserve for our rebellion against Him. Believe on Jesus for salvation, and come to terms with who you are before the living God of the Universe.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Getting Better All the Time...I hope!

Christ & Pop-Culture has another new episode up (I was recently told that my co-host and I are podcast bunnies...I think it was a reference to the rate at which we are putting out shows). This time we tackle the Emmys and wrestle with the question: is there good art on television? We also give our top five most anticipated fall shows. You can give us your top five or just send general feedback to us at or leave a comment on the website.

Also let us know what you think about our new shorter show format, the new look and feel of the website, and the increasing accessibility. You can now listen to the show by phone or leave a message on our voice mail. So let us know...are we getting better?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

C&PC: Gaming and the Glory of God

A New Christ & Pop-Culture episode is up. This episode Rich and I discuss Gaming and the Glory of God and asses the evolution of the video game and the Christian response to it.

Also, note that we are changing our format, again, so that we are regularly doing shorter shows (i.e. 20-30 minutes). As one listener has put it, it is the death of "toolongisodes" and the birth or "realisodes." Look for our upcoming episode on 3:10 to Yuma, also.

Labels: ,

Recommending the Imaginative: J.R.R. Tolkien

John Ronald Tolkien was undoubtedly one of the greatest literary geniuses of the 20th Century. His most famous works include The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. These works have forever left their mark on the world of fantasy literature, Christian literature, and English literature (a three-fold impact not often attained by men).

What makes these works so amazing is not only their outstanding stories and characters, which Tolkien, as an Oxford English professor crafted beautifully, but it is their epic stature and mythical legacy. The world of Middle Earth is one of the only 20th Century myths to actually withstand the tests of time. The depths to which the author went in giving us back story, and context. The Philology work in Elvish language that Tolkien demonstrates, and the geographich mapping and descriptions are marks of a myth that is unparalleled in almost all English literature, and at least since its publication.

What makes Tolkien's work so significant for this discussion is that Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, and played a crucial role in the conversion of his colleague C.S. Lewis from Athiesm to Christianity. His journals are full of religious sentiments, and praises to God, and yet for all his religious devotion Tolkien was a man of art as well. The fact that a man can be both an artist, an imaginator (if you will allow), and a man of God should not go unnoticed. His essays on English Literaure, on Poetry, and on Fiction are some of the most amazing pieces that he wrote outside of the context of the Lord of the Rings. So to you, friends, I recommend J.R.R. Tolkien's works.

The Hobbit
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
The Silmarillion
The Father Christmas Letters
Farmer Giles of Ham
The Children of Hurin
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
On Fairy Stories
The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien
Poems and Songs of Middle Earth

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bale Out a Dying Genre: Thoughts on 3:10 to Yuma (Part I)

The Western had its heyday, in the 1950s during the era of “The Duke” himself, John Wayne. But since those days the Western as a popular genre has faded. Every once in a while there’s a new cowboy movie made, they are frequently, however, not very good. So, for example, we all remember the waste that is City Slickers and City Slickers II, and we all remember the nonsense that is Will Smith’s Wild, Wild, West. So needless to say that when I saw that new western was going to be coming out this fall I was hesitant. After all the original 3:10 to Yuma came in the midst of the Western’s pinnacle (1957), how could this new version compete? I am happy to report that I was more than just pleasantly surprised by the 2007 remake.

3:10 to Yuma is not only one of the best Westerns I have ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot), but it may be the best movie of the year (at least to date). Christian Bale’s portrayal of the wounded soldier turned struggling farmer is outstanding, and Russell Crowe’s disturbing and emotionally complex villain is among the best villains in recent film history. Beyond the acting the plot is so well crafted and seamless that the story flows like a cool west wind on rolling countryside. Where the scenes are meant to be intense, they are, and where the dialogue is intended to convey meaningful narration or back story it does. But for me it is more than just the standard cinematic elements that make this film so worth watching.

There are hundreds of movies that are crafted well and possess good acting and storytelling. There are even hundreds of good Westerns, mostly from the old era of the mid 50s. No, it is not these elements that compelled me to see 3:10 to Yuma twice. It is the message of bravery that I finally came to love.

Originally I had a bit of difficulty bringing my own conclusions to 3:10 to Yuma, there was something to the story, particularly the end of the film, that both made me disappointed and intrigued. This fact alone is enough to hail the movie as worth seeing, for few films leave me torn on my opinion of it, and it is no small feat for a film to have a so thoroughly well crafted plot as to render me stunned. But in the end it was the message of bravery that has drawn me into the praise of the movie. Everyone knows about the “brave” action hero who saves the day, and demonstrates fearlessness in the face of insurmountable odds (i.e. John McClane, Aragorn, Jason Bourne, etc.). In 3:10 to Yuma, however, we see more clearly what bravery is. Bravery has more to do with forging ahead in the midst of fear, and even less to do with the results. While action movies repeatedly suggest this they almost always undermine it in the major and final action sequence where the hero fearlessly saves the day. But Dan Evans (Christian Bale), and Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) bring the dynamic nature of bravery to a new level in this film. This is a movie about the every day man’s bravery, something that we can all appreciate and something Christians can particularly appreciate.

God calls men to be brave regardless of the circumstances and regardless of the results. He no where guarantees victory in every day battles, just as the martyrs of the early church or the Chinese Christians suffering in prison today. But God also honors men who in the midst of fear and desperation pray for His strength and persevere to do justice, show mercy, and “save the day” (whatever that looks like in our specific contexts). 3:10 to Yuma is not a Christian film, nor was it meant to convey Christian themes (as best I can tell), but just as God uses non-Christians to teach His people Biblical truths (see the how God uses pagan nations to teach Israel in the Old Testament prophetic books), so God can use films like this one to teach the real truth about bravery. Where 3:10 to Yuma stands apart is in representing true bravery in the midst of the glorified action hero of the modern and even past cinema. The brave man is the man who doesn’t always win, isn’t always self-sufficient, and doesn’t always show fearlessness, but does the right thing anyways.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Recovering the Imaginative: Play

It is not enough to simply be academic in your pursuit for the recovery of imagination, you must do more than read and study on the rise and demise of imagination in American culture. To really see a return to Christian embrace of the imagination Christians need to play more.

What I mean here is to say that Christians need to be creative. If it is true that God is creative, and we are made in His image, then at least we know that we have the God-given capacity to be creative (though I tend to think it is more of a responsibility than a mere possibility). By using the word "play" I know some will accuse me of being trivial and belittling the Christian life. Such is not my intent, but I do believe that Christians should play. I say play because it carries with it both the connotations of creativity and pleasure, something Christians need to do in a world that is surrounded by sin and perversion and needs to see a fresh perspective on what Biblical fun looks like.

By being creative I do not presume to imply that we should all be sculptors and painters, though perhaps you are one, in which case you should use your art for God's glory. But there are myriads of ways for all of us to be creative in what we know how to do. Can you play music, bake, scrapbook, decorate a home, create complex math equations, write, or even play sports. There are ways to play in what you do that express creativity and open up opportunities for the imagination to take root and come out to the surface. Don't just read about Narnia and fall in love with the imaginative scenes described in those works, but then imagine a beautiful desert and begin creating it. Or think of a complex math equation that will be a challenging and extremely fun problem to solve.

Creativity is an expression of our God-given nature and it opens up doors for the imagination to take root as our expressions of creativity expand and become even more elaborate than they first were. So play and recover the imagination for Christians and for the American culture at large.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'M Writing Elswhere Now

I am now writing not only here, at Christ & Culture, but I am pleased to announce that I am now writing for is an online magazine and forum for Christianity and the culture. It was started in 1999 by former Ghoti Hook band member Conrad Tolosa, and has been growing in it's ministry to the Christian youth culture. I love what" is doing in educating its audience on the importance of the local church, theology, and helping them to understand their Bibles and the God of that Bible. And Conrad is able to do that, while at the same time appealing to their interest in alternative music. I am proud to be part of this ministry. Check out

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Christ & Pop-Culture Talk about Heroes

The newest edition of C&PC is up, and our subject is action heroes. What makes a good hero? And what are the problems inherent in the genre. We talk about Jason Bourne as a new kind of Action hero, and give our top five favorite action heroes. Check it out.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Recovering the Imaginative: Preserve Childhood

I write frequently to refute the assumption that children are innocent. Christians know from God's Holy Word that children are born sinners, and rebels against God. There is no such think called "child-like innocence." But, nonetheless, children, like all human beings, are made in the image of God and as such have His imprint stamped upon them. And this is clearly seen in the imagination of a child.

As the imagination has slipped away from culture I believe it is in part due to the rapid acceleration of children into adolescence. Neil Postman has written an entire work detailing "The Disappearance of Childhood." One part of the book speaks about the need for kids to have spontaneous, self-organized and self-controlled games. Postman writes:

There is no more obvious symptom of the merging of children's and adults' values and styles than what is happening with children's games, that is to say, they are disappearing. While I have found not studies that document the decline of unsupervised street games, their absences is noticeable enough and, in any case, can be inferred from the astonishing rise of such institutions as Little League baseball and Pee Wee football...the games of American youth have become increasingly official, mock-professional, and extremely serious...The idea that children's games are not the business of adults has clearly been rejected by Americans, who are insisting that even at age six, children play their games without spontaneity, under careful supervision, and at an intense competitive level.

The point that Postman is making here is that kids should not play this way, they have their own way of playing which is distinctly related to their age and nature as children. In relation to this series on the imagination that I have been doing there is a great parallel. The child-like play which Postman only barely scratches is closely connected to the innate imagination that children have. Children should play spontaneously because it reveals and explores their creativity and their imaginations.

To recover the imagination in our culture we have to allow Children to play, and we, as adults, have to watch them play and learn from them. For many adults, their own imagination is long gone. It has been rubbed out by realism and naturalism, by viewer's choice news, and pop-culture entertainment. To recover it we need to take notes on our kids. Listen to them tell stories, and watch them play. Watch little boys re-enact scenes from The Swiss Family Robinson , and follow little girls into the dinning hall of the Queen of Fairy land, where she sips tea with her teddy bears (the conversations will, I am sure, delight you).

The recovery of imagination is important for our culture. I have argued that it can point us back to the truth in powerful and affecting ways, and it can bring us closer to the divine. But it has been largely lost and one of the ways that we can begin to recover it is through our children. Let your kids be kids, and then you too enter into their world for a fresh view on life, and learn from their imaginations!

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Recovering the Imaginative: Read

If the imagination has been on the decline among Evangelical Christianity, and in our culture at large, how can we help the process of recovery that has been slowly returning? The answer is, I believe, three-fold, and the first step is to read good fiction.

It won't take much convincing for you to agree that good fiction is replete with the imaginative. Scenes, characters, events, and other elements of fiction reveal the glorious world of the imagination before us. Poetry is marked by the comparison of lovers to flowers and sunsets (odd comparisons in reality, but just perfect in the imagination). Stories often end with unrealistic events and adventures, and with good guys saving the day and bad guys dying. Drama compresses great lengths of time. And even realist fiction revels in the moral lesson learned from suffering and tragedy. Great examples of imagination in fiction include: Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (which uses almost every literary convention you could conceive of), C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Homer's Odyssey , John Milton's Paradise Lost, William Shakespeare's A Mid Summer's Night Dream, and Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene.

English Literature, of which I am most familiar with, has a long history of world play. That is there is a legacy of the imagination to be found in English literature, most of which in some form or fashion shaped nearly every writer in the Western world. C.S. Lewis himself was strongly influenced by both Edmund Spenser and Thomas Malroy. Inspiration to be imaginative comes largely from seeing it done well. And reading is particularly helpful in instilling imagination in us because we must picture the scenes in the book ourselves. If the author creates a magical world with his words and describes the scene vividly for us, as most of the authors listed above do, then our imaginations cannot help but take flight and create their words in images. Reading, then, doesn't just demonstrate good imagination and creativity, it invites us into it and we partake and experience that imagination!

So to recover the imaginative, read good fiction!

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 07, 2007

Rock N' Roll Grace

It is arguably the most famous hymn in the Christian tradition and more non-Christians know it than any other: Amazing Grace. The author of this august hymn is John Newton (1725-1807), an 18th century English Puritan. The hymn has been used, however, in various songs throughout history since its publications, for example: The American rock band The Eagles used it as the chorus to "Peaceful Easy Feeling". The most recent use of the song is in a particular track from a Christian alternative band: The Almost.

In their song "Amazing, Because it is" lead singer Aaron Gillespie sings those famous words:

Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound, That Saved a Wretch Like Me.
I Once Was Lost But Now I am Found.
Was Blind, But Now I See.

One can't help but wonder what Newton would think of his words being used in rock music. The period in which the whole collection of The Olney Hymns was written was one of both sobriety and exuberance. Between the Old Dissenting Anglicanism, and the revivalist Wesleyan Methodism there was a mixed bag of spirituality. Newton fit somewhere between the two, and neither he or his hymns were stringent or "charismatic," so to speak. So what does all of that mean for the use of Newton's classic hymn in modern rock?

Well of course I can only speculate what John Newton would think, and most likely he would say something more profound and impressive then I will, but I am inclined to think he would have some mixed feelings. On the one hand he would be pleased to see solid theology being disseminated to the masses, and yet he would probably find it inappropriate to put that theology in music that had roots in entertainment. I would like to think, however, that as culture has evolved and music along with that, that Newton could see that rock n'roll has since become a viable expression of worship. Perhaps, not the best, but nonetheless a viable option, and while neither he nor I would condone it for the corporate worship setting of the local church it can be a great expression of the souls longings, cries, and even direct us godward.

So perhaps Newton wouldn't rock out in the mosh pit, but he might, in his closet, say to this generation of Christian rock, "Rock on brothers, rock on!"

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Christ and Pop-Culture Minisode!

A new C&PC minisode has been posted at the website. If you've given us some feedback on any of our shows you will want to check it out and see if we read yours on the air and comment. And if you haven't given us any feedback then be sure to check out Christ & Pop-Culture and shoot us an e-mail at

Labels: ,

A Zephanian Meditation

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. (Zephaniah 3:14-15)

Sing and rejoice! These are the commands of the text! Exult with all your heart! This is what I am suppose to do, this is the command from God! And why should I do these things? The answer to that is fourfold.

1)“The Lord has taken away the judgments against you…” Lest I forget, God quickly reminds me of His grace and my nature! I am a child of iniquity. Born in sin and corrupt from the very moment of my existence. “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). I am, as Paul says, “by nature a child of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). But I rejoice because, “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5). This is my rejoicing, God’s grace has saved me! I am now, thanks to Christ’s death and His acting as a propitiation for my sins, free from condemnation. NO longer are God’s righteous and just judgments against me! “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

2)“He has cleared away your enemies…” I rejoice in the Lord because He “executes judgment for me” (Micah 7:9). My enemies, the sins of my flesh and the temptations of this world, are cleared way! God sweeps them off the face of the earth, and though they plague me now He has destroyed their power to bind me and one day will destroy them completely! I rejoice because I no longer have to succumb to the temptation and the sins of this world but I am free, in Christ, to choose life and obedience! I am free now not to be satisfied in the lust of the flesh but to be satisfied in Christ! I rejoice in this!

3)“The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst…” This is the greatest truth to rejoice in! The King is in my midst. I am a lowly peasant and once a rebel to the King and yet He is now in my midst! The God spoke, saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). This is no ordinary King, it is, as the text says, the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ! “Risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in [the] gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8). I rejoice because in my midst is my Savior, my King, my Redeemer, my Defender, and my Friend! This I rejoice in! Psalm 16:11, “You have made known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

4) “You shall never again fear evil.” What great news! I am free from fear! Christ is sufficient for me and I do not fear the wrath of God or the wrath of man! For me to “die is gain!” “What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Imagination's Demise: Fundamentalism

There is a current trend in post-evangelical Christianity to blame fundamentalism for everything. This is at least an overstatement, and tends to ignore the many important contributions of our Fundamentalist forebears to the faith. That being said, however, in their rejections of the liberalism of the mainstream American churches the Fundamentalists did indeed go too far in the opposite direction. They not only abandoned the liberal hermeneutic and their social gospel but along with that an almost complete abandonment of the larger culture in which these new philosophies took place (or so they thought). This abandonment included, by in-large, the imagination.

With the rise of modernism the Church found itself in a place they had not been in centuries: outside of the mainstream. Their reaction was to recoil from the world and shelter themselves from its encroaching atheism. Of course this is not true of all evangelicals during the 19th century, but it is true of a large number of Fundamentalists, so much so that the label “Fundamentalist” has come to refer to something quite different then it was originally intended to. With the “invasion” of modern atheism and naturalism on society Christian values were being displaced and, at least, questioned. So, for example, in the 19th century it is estimated that almost 70 percent of Americans thought that the theatre was sinful, because of it was “worldly entertainment.” There was an aversion among Protestants to relaxation, play, idleness, and simple amusements, and along with card playing, horse-racing, dancing, and novel reading, imagination was given over to the world, so to speak.

Their reaction isn’t entirely flawed. For when God was taken out of the picture something needed to be supplemented in the larger culture to fill the hole. Idle pleasure seemed a good fit and American society thrust itself into the entertainment driven culture that we often hear it accused of being today. But the Fundamentalists ended up throwing the baby out with the bath water, and everything good about pop-culture was handed over to the world, not least of all imagination.

The Fundamentalists were pulling from the tradition of their Puritan forebears by upholding a strong work ethic, otherwise known as the Puritan Work Ethic, which honored hard work and shunned frivolity and idleness. They also pulled from the Puritan tradition of associating, wrongly I believe, the moral looseness of their opponents with the entertainment in which they took part.

As pleasures and entertainment itself was winnowed from the Protestant worldview, so imagination was looked down upon as “worldly” too. This was a major loss to Christians, and one that still affects us today (see Donald Williams article in Touchstone Magazine). But thankfully this problem would not go un-noticed.

Labels: ,

Monday, September 03, 2007

Another Funny Pic

Here's another funny pic of punk rock Dave.

Labels: ,

A Poem of Dedication

Lord God, Take my daughter, though it may hurt my heart at first.
But when I see the love of Christ in her come forth with a burst
I know that then my heart will sing with the angels around your throne
And then rejoice to know that you have redeemed her for your own.

And call her out Lord, for your glory and your name,
To go into all the world and tell the lost of your fame.
Send her as your agent to be a means of grace,
To spread a passion for our Savior and to draw men from every earthly race.

Use her Lord, for your sovereign plan
And if she should perish in some foreign land
Comfort us, her parents, with this one glorious thought
We shall meet again when we worship with her, the one whom our salvation bought.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 01, 2007

C & PC on Books

There's a new Christ & Pop-Culture episode up. Rich and I have started a new segment on Highlighting Books on Pop-Culture. This week we look at a book by Richard Leonard, a Jesuit priest who reviews films too. See what we think of Movies that Matter.

Labels: , ,