Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quick Musings

- Have started a book loaned to me by my mother called "The Shack". To be honest, when I saw that on the back cover the book was endorsed by Wynona Judd and Michael W. Smith, my first inclination was to "forget" it, leaving it on the coffee table where my mother sat it down. It's not that I don't trust my mom, it's just that I get lots of books that people drop off or recommend to me, and most are the schmaltzy kind available at your local Christian bookstore. Spending time with Father Cantalamessa, Lesslie Newbigin, Dallas Willard and other great theologians will ruin your attitude toward the pop Christian-esque crap at the local Parable Christian Bookstore (which actually stocks way more trinkets, wall art, CD's, and the like than it does books). But, Eugene Peterson (of "The Message" fame) called the book the "'Pilgrim's Progress' of the 21st Century", so I gave it a whirl, and I'm glad I did. Can't say I agree with everything the author is doing, but you have to love a book that presents God as a black woman who everyone calls "Papa" (as a means of forcing you to re-think your image of who God is). A very interesting read.

- I also took the time earlier in the week (whilst preparing for an upcoming sermon series we're calling "Jesus At The Movies") to watch "Lord, Save Me From Your Followers", and independent film that's focused on trying to help Evangelical Christians understand how they are perceived among American non-Christians. Further, the hope of the filmmakers is to encourage civil discourse between people who disagree as a means of creating mutual understanding among those firmly entrenched in conservative Christianity, and those who aren't. Featured prominently in the film is Tony Campolo you has been arguing passionately that the hijacking of the Evangelical movement by the Moral Majority and other right-wing political action groups has resulted in evangelicals being out of touch with (and thus, unable to reach) ordinary citizens. Here's a little taste of the good doctor from Eastern University (Philadelphia, PA):

The cost of streaming the movie is $7, but I am considering screening it here at Shawnee later in the summer.

- As a part of putting together this sermon series, I've been watching a lot of movies. Saw two that aren't going to be featured, but I think were both interesting. "There Will Be Blood" reminded me a greatly of John Steinbeck's "East of Eden". As a matter of fact, the main character, Daniel, seems to be cut from the same cloth as "Cathy", the anti-christ character in Steinbeck's book who abandons her two sons to go work in, and eventually run, a brothel. The movie is (of course) not nearly as well written, although Daniel Day Lewis (who won an Oscar for the role) was excellent. Call the picture an story of greed, or an allegory to what oil is doing to the world today (just as the author and director of the film believe it did in the late 19th century upon its discovery), but it was interesting, if a little unsettling.

I also saw the film, "Into the Wild", which was the story of a young college graduate, who either haunted by his parent's rocky marriage or his own mental disease (or maybe a little of both) ends up dropping out of mainstream society to become a "tramp" traveling around the US. The young man ends up going to Alaska in the hopes of finding "truth", much in the tradition of Jack London and Henry David Thoreau, and ends up dying there all alone. I was curious about the Sean Penn produced movie (which was based on a book), so I did a little research, and the funny thing is that while the main character, Chris McCandless has become a cult hero for some folks down on modern society and into the idea of living a simpler life, he's become kind of an anti-hero in the state of Alaska. The rugged individualists who live in rural Alaska can't figure out why a guy who went to live in the wilderness in the Denali National Preserve with only a bag of rice, a gun, some bullets, no survivalist training, and (most importantly) no decent map or compass is being perceived as a hero. They think of McCandless as being less romantic (for turning his back on society) and more stupid (cause if he had had a decent map, he would have realized he could have gotten back to main road, as opposed to starving to death). Can't argue with how beautifully shot the film is though. It was worth the buck at the McD's red box.

- Am in the middle this week of doing three funerals and one wedding. They are inspiring lots of musings, but I've little time to write them down (hopefully next week). I will be giving a preview though of this week's sermon on this little blog in the next couple of days. The sermon will take a look at the future of the church, so I'll want to jot down some thoughts and get some feed back from the few of you still reading my now not-so-regularly-updated-blog. So, stay tuned.

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