Category: Gospel and Culture

If You Blog Read This

Since I started blogging, I’ve noticed a tendency towards solipcism, both in my own blog and others’. Solipcism is essentially a philosophy of life that is radically centered on Self. A blog promotes everything about you and from you, from your point of view. Therefore, it is dangerous. If you were the most important person in the world, then there would be no danger, but there are many more persons more important than you (or me), Three whose perspective is infinitely more estimable. There are a variety of other dangers, like cyber-ranting your opinons and settling for virtual community, which can threaten genuine relationships, both with the Trinity and others.

So what’s the solution to these dangers? Drop the blog and hang out at coffeeshops with friends? Not exactly. Like every other cultural and technological phenomenon, blogging must be engaged critically and carefully. Setting some personal guidelines isnt a bad idea. I came across these from a random blogger. Whether you adopt them or not, give them some thought and consider making your own.

  • Does this blog honor Jesus Christ as my Savior and King? This is my first test because I am a Christian. I dare not assume the affirmative and go on. In a sense, the other questions are simply an elaboration of this overarching test.
  • Is this a waste of my time? Is this an excellent use of my time, or is it simply my own version of solitaire?
  • Is there any value in the words? Is my blog valuable to myself and others, or is it just twaddle?
  • Am I taking myself too seriously? Am I pridefully exalting myself? Is this an excercise in vanity as I espouse the superior importance of my own inflated opinions?
  • Am I unaccountable? Is anybody going to read this who can really take me to task for my words?
  • Do I have a critical spirit? Is this a forum for complaint and criticism, or is it primarily for edifiation?

The Patriots and the Eucharist

In church this morning we took the Eucharist. As I sat there searching for the “presence” of Christ in a half burnt cracker, I saw the New England Patriots insignia ( Perhaps this Texan has been a New England transplant too long? Although the Pats weren’t my first thought, this observation was followed by the recent and ridiculous media preoccupation with someone’s toast that looked like Michael Jackson. (Even the worldclass BBC carried the article for two days. If you want to bid on the toast, I think it might be for sale on Ebay.)

What should we see when we look at the cracker, at the bread? Prior to observing the NE Patriots symbol, I had been contemplating the past and future implications of the Eucharist, in order to relish its present significance.

When John records Jesus’ words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, it is in the context of complaining. The Jews had been complaining to the Messiah, which was really nothing new. They had complained in the wilderness to YHWH, where they were dissatisfied with their diet (6:41,43; cf. Ex 16:7-8 LXX). It was there God responded with the judgment-provision of manna. Complaining is a form of unbelief. It is wholesale rejection of God’s provision and providence in life, whether pleasant or unpleasant, health or no health, life or death. Similar to the manna, the Eucharist conveys judgment and salvation to its recipients. For those that trust YHWH’s Son it is salvation and for those that reject Him, it is condemnation. When I contemplate the crusty cracker, I see more than the Pats and Michael Jackson, I see judgment and salvation, rejection and acceptance, failure and forgiveness, Jesus and YHWH.

And there’s even more to our toast than Michael and manna. When Paul talks about taking the Lord’s supper, he writes: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Cor 11.26) Interestingly, in addition to the past implications, there are future implications for the Eucharist. We are not only to do it in remembrance of Christ, but also “until He comes.” The Christian life, although rendered possible by the past, isnt meant to be lived there. We don’t just “accept Jesus into our hearts and ask for forgiveness” and that’s it. There is infinitely more to this relationship with the Lord of Life. We are meant to look back to the cross for the foundation for our faith, as well as forward for the future of our faith, namely Jesus. If we want eternity with Him, we must want his return. Some days that is really hard and “far off,” but that’s what things like the Eucharist are for; they are special opportunities and graces to receive more from God in our journey with and toward Jesus. What do you see when you look at the bread, at the cracker? Do you see backwards and forwards, past and future?

Reloading The Matrix: Is Mr. Smith Sovereign?

The remarkable cultural impact of the Matrix trilogy appears to have faded. Apart from the occasional commercial that parodies the technologically innovative fight sequences of the Matrix, the popular hype has settled. However, the sub-popular influence still remains for “real” Matrix fans.

We still find ourselves compelled to occasionally check out the website or throw in Reloaded just to catch one more insight or relish the Burly Brawl once again. I found myself reloading this weekend. Under the guise of ‘checking out my computer speakers’ I loaded Reloaded and watched the first 15 minutes, which contains two pretty impressive fight scenes, a insightful Morpheus monologue and a hoaky flight by Neo, courtesy of CGI. Nevertheless, it was entertaining, engaging and insightful. I found myself observing the periphery rather than the center of the screen, looking for well-placed Wachowski nuances…

Pretty cool. Remember the scene when Smith visits the clandestine meeting of the Zion rebels in the matrix to deliver his earpiece to Neo through the slit in a metal door and then walks off? Well, he pulls up in an Audi with the following license plate: IS 5416 . So, I thought to myself, “What the hec, I’ll check the reference to Isaiah 54.16.” This is what I read: “?Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the coals and brings out a weapon for its work; and I have created the destroyer to ruin.” Pretty savvy huh? The question is, what does it mean?

Of course, there is the obvious connection with “Smith” as the blacksmith of Isaiah. Is this just a superficial connection or is there a deeper theological meaning? Are we meant to perceive that Smith is an instrument of destruction in the hands of a sovereign God? If so, where is God in the trilogy? Neo dies or does he? The Eastern concept of balancing cosmic good and evil figures prominently in Revolutions in which universal harmony between the machine and human worlds is secured through the sacrifice of the One (a supernatural figure from the Hindu Vedas). Is this reference just another part of the Wachowski postmodern pastiche? How does IS 5416 figure into our theodicy, our theology of suffering? Does it offer more or less hope than the solution offered by the Matrix? Thoughts? Click on the comment link below.

Hope Anthology Volume One – John Mark McMillan

I have often found myself hard-pressed to find Christian music that I like (besides worship music). Even with the explosion of the Christian music industry over the past ten years, it appears that, as the explosion has cleared, there has been more rubble than riches. Having said that, it’s been a while since I’ve dilligently searched Christian music.

At I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across a new musician, John Mark McMillan, whose album, Hope Anthology Volume One, can be streamed for free online: McMillan creates a folk-rock kind of sound, his whiny vocals calling to mind a younger Dylan. Occasionally you’ll hear the kind of loops and mixes that David Gray does so well. The short album has a nice blend of songs, ranging from acoustic rythms to folk funk. On the funkish side of things is “Ominous,” a song about the radical impact Christian love can have on society,”like a six rounds in the hands of a killer, I am dangerous in Your arms.” The slow groove “Who Can See” begins, “Make my chest a place where your heart can rest.” Amen. A worshipful plea indeed. The chorus is essentially James 4.8 (cf. Ps 24.4), “Who can see the Lord? One whose hands are clean and whose heart is pure.” McMillan blends the essential soveriegn work of the Spirit in our hearts with the urgent imperative that we responsibly pursue purity of heart and hand…and reminds us of the great benefit of purity- seeing the soveriegn Lord! Hope you enjoy it…and here’s hoping for Volume Two- soon!