Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Day that the Dream of Human Progress Died

Some points to ponder.
The Victorian era was the time of great advance. Continual industrial revolution. Civilisation. As the 20th Century began, mankind was full of hope. The bold notion grew that the Human Spirit would itself evolve and leave behind its savage impulses.
Then, one fateful day a war began so terrible that it was called the Great War, and touted as the war to end all wars. Europe, so long seen as the seedbed of democracy and civilization descended into barbarity.
You can read the rest here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Problem with Christian Films

There are a lot of provocative thoughts to consider here. This article is, perhaps, one of the best discussion on the intersection of theology and the arts that I've seen in a while.

This past year has been the year of the Christian film. We have seen an explosion of Christian-themed and Christian-produced films, each seemingly more financially successful than the last. In the words of Scott Mendelson, box office analyst for Forbes.com, “I think we can safely say that 2014 is the year that Christian-themed religious pictures officially outnumbered comic book superhero films. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it definitely is a thing.”
And so it seems as good a time as any to evaluate: in their current state, is this flood of Christian films a good trend?
My answer is simple: no. I know it can seem petty to pick on Christian films, but they have become a noteworthy representation of Christianity. Every conversation I have with a non-Christian requires dealing with their perceptions of me as a Christian, which more often than not means dealing with the Republican Party, televangelists, and Christian media. The issue of representation aside, the problems in Christian films must be addressed, because they are not just issues of technique or stylistic preferences. They are issues of integrity.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Praying for Your Enemies

A timely post from Joe Carter:

In our day, we have watered down the term “enemy” so much that this command has lost much of its shock value. Today, “enemy” is used primarily in reference to people who are rude to us or treat us unkindly. We even use the portmanteau “frenemy” to refer to an associate pretending to be a friend or someone who really is a friend but also a rival.
But in Jesus day, the Jews in Israel had real enemies. For the entirety of their existence as a people they had been fending off enemies — from their slavery in Egypt to the state of occupation by their latest enemy, the Roman Empire. Telling them to love and pray for enemies was akin to telling the Christians in Iraq to love and pray for ISIS.
You can read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams and 3 Links on Depression

I was in 3rd grade when Disney's Aladdin hit the theaters. I still remember the outside of the strip-mall. I was amazed at Robin Williams's ability to do so many different voices, and, later in grade school quickly followed his talent on Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin and the King of Thieves. In junior high, we were asked to write a small biography in computer class, and I chose Robin Williams. I remember reading intensively, trying to get hints about how he learned how to do so many voices. In college and afterwards, I enjoyed seeing his acting and impression talent well-utilized on Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society.

But, also as I got older, I got to learn about and appreciate other talented actors and impressionists. And I was a bit saddened to see clips of Williams's raunchy humor and seeming uncontrollability in interviews, etc. (though the latter is sometimes a price of artistic genius). Thus, Robin Williams's artistic influence faded somewhat, but I'll always remember him as the genie who originally showed me the fun of "doing voices." (Voice impersonation has had a surprisingly moderate and positive input in my employment history, as a telemarketer, radio show host, coffeeshop expeditor, and now a drama producer in a church).

Two days ago, Robin Williams committed suicide. He was 63. While some are mourning and grieving, others are processing his death theologically and socio-politically. Like the school shooting of Newtown and the suicide of Pastor Rick Warren's son, this event tragically brings our attention to the broad and complex issue of mental health, and how we can better it for ourselves and others.

I may not agree with the following bloggers on all theological points, but I think there are some good takeaways here. (Warning: some PG-13 language present). Ann Lamott encourages those struggling to avoid the proverbial abyss to find community and help. Brandan Robertson tells Christians not to assume a prosperity gospel of health/satisfaction and to find God's presence in our fallen world. Kevin DeYoung notes that the most intelligent, gifted and capable Christian can suffer from depression and quotes experienced wisdom from Ashbel Green.    

Monday, August 11, 2014

Relief for the Afflicted in Iraq

The news and reports coming from Iraq are alarming. Some of the scenarios of ruthless persecution that myself, a Christian in the States, only would imagine or read about in history books, have become a frightening reality for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq.

We should be in prayer.

And there's an additional way you can help. A floor-mate of mine from college works for Partners International and has been passing around a link to a webpage of theirs where you can donate to relief efforts to the fleeing refugees of this crisis.

Please visit the webpage here and prayerfully consider helping.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Update on the Crisis in Iraq

This is the Arabic letter "N," meaning "Nazarene" or 
"Christian." You might have seen it on social media. 
It was painted by IS supporters to mark homes for attack,
but it's since been adopted by Christians around the 
world to show support.
It's been arguable that Gaza has been more talked about than what's happening in Iraq, but now the crisis for Christians in Iraq has reached the Huffington Post.

Lebanon-based Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younnan, who heads the Syrian Catholic Church, called the crisis “religious cleansing” in an interview. “I want to tell American Christians to stand up, wake up and no longer be a silent majority. American-elected representatives need to stand up for their principles on which the U.S. has been founded: the defense of religious freedom … and respect for human rights.”

You can read the rest here.