Monday, October 29, 2007

C&PC Talk Dumb

The latest edition of Christ & Pop-Culture has Rich and I talking about the strereotypical Dumb Guy of 21st Century pop-culture. Characters from television (like Ray Barone, and Jim Belushi) and from film (Will Ferrel and Seth Rogen), and the implications that they have on the men that watch and applaud them. We also list our top five favorite "stupid" movies. Check it out!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Luther, Lenin, and 90 Years of Revolutionary Thought

As October 31st quickly approaches I have one celebration on my mind...oh, make that two. I always forget that Oct. 31st marks the date of a second holiday in our culture. The one some how alway slips my mind. I guess it's easy to forget Halloween when it shares its date with Reformation Day. I know you must feel the same way.

But as the celebration approaches I note that it must be a special celebration this year, for October 31st 2007 will mark the 90th Birthday of Protestant Reformation, the day that marks the beginning, the birth, of the Protestant tradition in Western culture. But not long after we celebrate this occasion there will be another anniversary: The 90th Anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's Communist revolution. Marvin Olasky has written an interesting piece on these two anniversaries and their divergent wolrdviews in the Oct. 27th Issue of World Magazine.

For those of you hoping to learn more about Luther in honor of the upcoming celebration I recommend: Here I stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton; Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought by Stephen J. Nichols; The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen J. Nichols; or October 31st, 1517 Wittenburg, Germany by Jim Elliff.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fallacy # 2: All Art Tells the Truth

This fallacy sound similar to the former but it is really much more subtle. This argument does not equate art with truth, but rather since all art is stating something and speaking to a real audience, then we may assume that there is truth to be heard in each artwork. This theory, however, like the former is a bit naive. It takes only a quick perusal of any artistic form to find error, or at least contradiction between worldviews. Take for example literature.

C.S. Lewis has keenly noted that the "value structure of most literature (and of the other arts) is...'sub-Christian.'" Lewis clarifies by outlining what the value system of European literature looks like: (1) honor; (2) sexual love; (3) material prosperity; (4) Pantheistic contemplation of nature; (5) Sehnsuct [longing] awakened by the past, the remote, or the (imagined) supernatural; (6) liberation of impulses. And it is not European literature alone that bears these hallmarks. Everything from Kate Chopin to Charles Brockden Brown to Henry David Thoreau (not to speak of the more modern authors).

Beyond literature we find divergent worldviews in music, movies, and paintings. John Cage's philosophy behind his composition is particularly dangerous, as is Jackson Pollock's approach to painting. One need only look at what various artistic and imaginative expressions are actually saying to find the fallacious nature of this statement: all art tells the truth.

We must be discerning with our art appreciation. Know that inherent in every piece is a worldview that may or may not fit with the Biblical worldview, it is your job to asses the imaginative, reflect upon it, compare it with Scripture, and decide.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Learning to Trust in New Ways

We received feedback from Mia's MRI already, she does have "Tethered Cord" and we are in the process now of scheduling a surgery date. It is discouraging news that we have recieved, yet, thankfully, the problem is not life-threatening or urgent. Thankfully it is correctable problem and one that was spotted early enough to not have any lasting side effects. That is a testimony to God's grace. And there is much to be made of God's grace in this situation.

We are beginning to see more and more what it means to truly trust God in all things. It is very easy to "talk" about trusting, and I see more clearly how difficult, in our own sinfulness, it is to trust Him in every instance. This is not a desirable situation and yet God is teaching me, already, about trusting Him fully. A bitter-sweet lesson to be sure. It is situations like this that make me want to yell at people who say theology is not important, and them I remember I believe in grace, patience, and forgiveness too.

As Krista and I learn how to put our theology in practice, learn what it means to trust God more fully, and wait for a surgery date we ask your continued prayers for us. Pray that Mia would have no trouble in the surgery, that the problem would be fixed without any complications, that the doctors would be skilled and wise. Pray as well that Krista and I would trust the Lord for her preservation and good health, pray that we would be a testimony to those in the medical field that care for Mia. Pray as well that we would be able to get an early surgery date, which may not happen and could complicate our situation here in moving (though this is a minor issue for us). Thank you everyone, your prayers are much appreciated, and a great encouragement.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thinking at 4 in the Morning

I have just arrived home from work and finished my breakfast. It's early and I am tired, but there is something on my mind, I thought I'd share it. It won't be long before my wife and I are strapping our daughter into her car seat and driving her down to the hospital for an MRI. She is being checked out for a condition known as "Tethered Cord," (a term which means nothing to me), which is where some fibers are connecting the tail-bone to the spinal cord (that means something to me).

As I think about this situation, about the fact that my baby can't eat for four hours prior to the test, the fact that these doctors who don't know my baby will have to sedate her, and the thought of being apart from her through such a traumatic event, I have one pervading thought: I cannot help her!

It's shocking and terrifying to think it, even more so to say it out loud: I cannot help my beautiful, precious, baby girl. I can't make "tethered-cord" go away, I can't make MRI's less involved, I can't keep her safe through sedation. So what is a Father to do in this instance? He must flee to Christ.

I am so dependent upon grace, so needy of God's kind care of my family. I am always dependent upon grace, but it's moments like these where you can't help but feel it. God sometimes brings us to hopelessness to bring us to a place of ultimate hope, however. For what good would I be if I could help my little Mia? What good would I be in this situation if I could change it all? But what a great good is our God who sovereignly controls all things, even the minute details, and ordains an end that glorifies Him and is good for His people.

A few nights ago I prayed that God would give my daughter and especially happy following day. One throughout which she would simply be happy and a joy to her mommy. This prayer God graciously answered and it got me to thinking another thought, but one related to what was said above. I am not sure why God chose to answer that prayer or to answer on this occasion, but perhaps it was His way of telling me that He cares for my family's happiness. He loves us and He too loves His creation Mia. Perhaps in this valley that we may face ahead my wife and I can look out and see the sun shinning, however so dimly, above the hills and say, "We are dependent upon the grace of a Good God, who cares for our family!"

That is my thought at 4:50 a.m. Pray it will be my thought at 3:00 p.m. when I hand my daughter over to some doctors and attempt to trust the Lord with the outcome!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Kingdom, on C&PC

The popular new film "The Kingdom" has sparked a number of conversations and Rich and I join in on the latest episode of Christ and Pop-Culture. But this isn't your average C&PC conversation, listen in as Rich and I express some genuine disagreement with each other...and I get the chance to poke fun at Rich a bit.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Are You on C & PC?

A new episode of Christ & Pop-Culture is up. In this episode we respond to some of our listener's comments. See if you're one of them! If you'd like to be on the next Listener Feedback episode you can leave a comment on our web page, or leave a voice mail (available at the web-page).

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reflecting on the Imaginative: Fallacy # 1

As I draw this series of posts to a conclusion I wanted to take time to speak to the issue of Christian reflection on the imagination. Christians have not always done this well, particularly in the 20th and 21st century Christians have become ignorant of what makes good art, and especially of the imagination. So I have a list of five fallacies which I will briefly detail, so that we may avoid this pitfalls in critiquing and enjoying creativity.

The first fallacy says the following: Art is by its very nature TRUE!

This argument usually stems from those who are trying to defend the arts from its utilitarian critics. Their argument usually states that because art conveys ideas and have an intellectual content to them. The argument attempts to completely wipe out the demand for art to be "useful," for its defenders have stated that all art is useful because it reflects truth.

Leland Ryken warns us here, however, that such a "defense" confuses ideational content with intellectual truth. Ryken writes:

The fact that art has ideational content does not mean that it expresses truth. The ideas in a work of literature or art might be untruthful. In fact, they frequently are. People who make the equation of ideational content with truth have been much too facile and undiscriminating in their claims that hte arts teach truth.

The "TRUTH" about the arts is that their creators possess a variety of conflicting worldviews. One piece of art may state that the world is "meaningless" (such as Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase), while others would seek to convey the grand reality of the Creator God (like Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel painting of the Creation). Obviously both worldviews, and the art that expresses them, cannot be true. One or the other must be wrong. We must be careful not to blindly lump all art together, we must be discerning. When we speak of the imagination and the imaginative we must be sure that some imaginative creations are lies, and, therefore, do not deserve our personal applause.

Love the imagination, but be discerning about the imaginative expressions in our world.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Help for the Weary Reader

The Word of the Lord is the theme of Psalm 1, and the Psalmist has great affection for it. “Blessed is the man” who devotes himself to it day and night. “Blessed,” meaning he is happy. The Lord has given to Him the desires of His heart, which for those in the Word of God turns out to be God Himself. The reading of Scripture fulfills what it promises. The more we read the more we want to know God, the more we read the more we get to know God. That is “blessedness!”

The man who reads God’s Word is not the man who seeks wisdom from the wicked world, nor one who models the evil of others, nor one who sits in judgment on the Word of God. The “blessed” man is one who “delights” in the Word and treasures it. This man “hides” God’s Word in His heart, with the intent that He might not sin against God! The man of the Word is one who hates sinning against God, and though He may still fail to obey, he despises sin, repents of it, and turns again to the Word that God might restore unto Him the Joy of His Salvation. The Word is a delight to the “blessed” man, and, in fact, the man is “delighted” because of that very Word. For in the Word he receives what he most desires: God.

This “blessed man” is compared to a fruitful tree, with leaves that do no wither. It is a man whose spiritual life thrives and blossoms and never fails. The Word of God is like rich soil that we sink our roots into for life; it is like the stream in the analogy that continually supplies sustenance to our branches. We prosper because we obey the Word of God, for it is our delight!

It is amazing how the Word of God works, and yet we hesitate so frequently to pick it up and read it. Why? Do we not grasp these facts of the power and beauty of Scripture? Do we not understand the word of God in Hebrews:

For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the divisions of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and the intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

This is not a word assigned to some abstract notion of divine revelation, or some super-spiritual language, or even some divinely inspired meaning above the capabilities of language to grasp. These words are assigned to the canon of Scripture, the Holy Bible, to its very self. The Bible is the Word of God and through the Holy Spirit it is the means to growing our faith, correcting us, rebuking us, teaching us, and sanctifying us. So why, then, if we do know this, do we still experience a dislike of it?

The short answer is sin; it’s also the obvious one and the easiest one. The other answer is much harder to hear, and more specific. For me, in my own case, it is a simple answer of not loving Jesus enough. O, I am thankful that Jesus first loved me and gave Himself up for me that I might be a son of God. But my heart does not seem to daily long for my savior, my mind does not think on Him hourly, nor does my life reflect a dedication to His Word. Where is my love? On self, on things, on others, etc. John Calvin said that our hearts are idol factories, I know from experience, as I am sure he did, that is more true than I wish to affirm. So what is the solution?

We cannot merely diagnose problems and think that it is sufficient spiritual work. No, there must be a plan for change. The answer is simple, but not simplistic. There is a three-fold cord of spiritual growth that we all need: (1) The Bible; (2) Prayer; (3) Fellowship.

It is not as though I forgot what we are talking about (“Why don’t we read the Bible), but the answer, even in the face of this struggle, is still “read the Bible.” Especially when we don’t feel like it we should read! Read short, read long, read great passages, read small ones, read a book or a chapter, or a verse. Read a Psalm everyday of the week, read through the Gospel of Mark. The point is clear, however it is done, read the Bible. We must force ourselves to be in the Word as much as possible. This is not to suggest that if you don’t read it everyday you are sinning or falling away, rather it is to say we should read it as much as we can. The more we do, the more we will love it, and the more we will learn of God and love Him.

Prayer is crucial for ever Christian life and especially for those struggling to be in the Word. The Bible teaches us that God’s desire for us is our sanctification, our spiritual growth. Therefore call upon Him to aid you in this stubborn lack of desire for His Word. Pray that He would increase your affections for the Word, and open it up to you that you may grow and benefit from it. Pray for help from others to encourage you to be in the Bible regularly.

This brings us to the final element, fellowship. Lone-ranger Christians are not Biblical, nor are they successful. The church was established by Christ for our benefit. We need others to help us and especially when we are facing “spiritual depression.” We need the uplift of Godly brothers and sisters, we need their encouragement and prayers, we need their love and support, and perhaps even their firm loving words of rebuke. Fellowship not only holds us accountable to growth, but the more we talk about God’s Word with others the more we will want to be in it.

So if you are struggling with reading Scripture regularly then pray, surround yourself with Christ-like men or women, and insist upon reading the Bible as much as possible! Pray for it, get help with it, and do it! Trust me friends, we won’t regret it if we do…for the Word of God is a delight and God blesses the man who reads it.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007


For anyone interested I've just posted my review of The Kingdom at Decapolis.Com
Everyone but Rich can go and check it out, also look out for an upcoming episode of Christ & Pop-Culture in which Rich and I will be discussing this film.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pray for Maleigha

Dear friends and family,

Just a quick update on our family. Mia had an ultrasound done last week and the results seem to suggest that she has a condition known as Tethered Cord. This is where some fibers from the spinal cord attach to the tail bone. The condition can be painful for her later on in life if it is not dealt with now. In order to be sure that this is the condition she has, however, an MRI is needed. Please pray for us as we move forward with this process. Pray for Krista and I as we experience these new emotions of concern for our daughter, and pray for Maleigha's health and safety.

Thank you and God bless

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Recommending the Imaginative: Ratatouille

My outline states that I am suppose to be recommending to you Classic English Literature. Seeing as how I have already done that, however, I have chosen to skip that recommendation and move on to the next, which seems perhaps odd in the company of such a well respected element. My next recommendation for growing your imagination is the 2007 Disney/Pixar animated film Ratatouille. This delightful film about a rat with a keen nose for good food romanticizes creativity and inspires its audience.

Remy the rat, and main star of this film, loves to cook and create wonderful recipes. He takes interest in their smells, their colors, their presentation, and especially in their tastes. And, what's more interesting, as we watch Remy in the kitchen, we can't help but feel that food is as wonderful as he claims it is. We see the colors he sees when he bites into a piece of cheese, and we smell the aromas of the kitchen that he smells. This film has a way of not only telling a story, but drawing us into it and inspiring us to be like Remy.

When I left this film I was reminded of the mandate which God has given me to men to rulers over the earth, part of which involves pop-culture, and requires creative expression. I am delighted to recommend Ratatouille to you.

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