Posts tagged ‘Theology’

Book Review – The City on the Edge of Forever

City on the Edge of Forever represents outstanding writing and some of the most magnificent art, far exceeding the expectations of a graphic novel.  Originally this was reported to have been heavily edited for the original TV series by Gene Roddenberry.  Now IDW Publishing has taken the original script and reworked it into a graphic novel with an effort to retain the Harlan Ellison’s initial vision.  Illustrator JK Woodward sets the tone perfectly, its warm when it needs to be, and cold and unforgiving at other parts, while representing the characters in lifelike illustrations.  I’m not sure if he didn’t reference select film cells in the process.  In any case it was masterfully done.  And even if you’re not into Star Trek this is still a beautiful masterpiece of art

STK640328

Although I’d have to re-watch the original episode to note the differences, I can pick out a few things that Roddenberry would have wanted to take out or edit for the sake of what was acceptable back then, and for sake of his overall vision of the show (for better or worse… you be the judge).

In this version there seems to be more room for depth of character and interaction between Kirk and Spock.  Its difficult to compare the graphic novel to the TV show because the mediums themselves evoke a different set of emotions.  You can read more into a single frame painted on a piece of paper than can be shown  in a TV scene.  The more closely entertainment mimics real life the less believable it becomes.  Perhaps our brains need to work to bring things to life, and in this working it develops the imagination.  And it seems that our imaginations make a huge difference in perceived depth and emotion of a story.

In this story James Kirk is faced with the dilemma of saving the woman he loves at the expense of the Nazi winning WW2.  If he chooses to save Edith Keeler he would be directly responsible for destroying the world, via the sin of omission.  Should the one die for the sake of the many?  If you could go back to the past and interrupt the natural flow of events to save the one you love, knowing that the future of the world you know would be in jeopardy, millions would die. Or do you sacrifice the one to save the many?  Isn’t that what Spock would one day say in Star Trek 2, the Wrath of Khan?  “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, as he sacrificed himself for his friends and ship.

Its fine and dandy to sacrifice yourself, but how about when you sacrifice someone else?  When you boil it down this question is as old as civilization itself.  Whether it was a ritual sacrifice to appease some god, or sending the men out to war, it was all done with the intent, however misguided, of the overall good of society… that the one would die for the many.

Although I’m somewhat sure this was not Ellison’s intent, he echoes the statement by the high priest of Israel in the New Testament in John 11:50, when he said, Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”

So theres a bit of a Christological element here,reflecting Yahweh allowing the son, Jesus, to die for us (ref. Isaiah Chapter 53).  That a good and holy God would make a sacrifice in himself to make salvation available for all would be the ultimate sacrifice.  Although that was probably not where Ellison wanted to go with this he paints a very good picture for philosophical and theological discussion, that is both relevant and exciting to think about on so many levels.

Diversions?

Whether it’s music, art, movies, books, or whatever, for the Christian these things are never diversionary. We never retreat from the world, we engage and advance.

The Arts speak volumes about our selves as a culture and who we are or who we would like to become (or not become).

We should always seek to find ways to celebrate life and creation, the many facets of who we are and who God is, as well as exploring ideas as to what this life is all about.

Aliens: More Than Human

A mining colony discovers an ancient city on a distant world. The workers soon become enchanted by it and abandon their posts and wander the city, experiencing it’s glory.  As they soon find out… they are not alone. Something has been waiting for their arrival.

And I guess you know how the rest goes….

Dark Horse recently released a new Alien series that is to be called More Than Human, although if you collect the comic it is simply Aliens (1-4).

Some of the themes in the series as a whole include the ideas of human depravity,  impending judgment, mortality, and mystery.

Often times human greed and depravity lead to unleashing the Alien as an instrument of destruction upon humanity

Corporations and governments want the Alien as a weapon to destroy human lives. But it’s not just faceless corporations, for within the story there are treacherous villains often betraying people to their own deaths at the hands of the Alien.

In this story there is an added (and I’m not sure if it was intended or not) theological significance in that while the humans were under the spell of the city an android that was trying to save a little girl saved them.

Sereda had to be More Than Human and not prone the greed and divisiveness of man in order to think clearly to save them.   And to further the Christological significance, Sereda was “killed” and rose from the grave.

Also there is an air of mystery surrounding the city and what causes people to go mad.  And why are the Aliens different there than the other Aliens.   Are they protecting something?  I have a feeling well find out soon enough

I could go on and on about it. But it’s was a great read.   And as I do not normally like horror (ask my wife how I cringe at the sight of it) I’ve always been drawn to Alien movies. I suppose because of their significance and depth of philosophy, theology, and ethics, I love thinking about what it all means.

Spaces of Worship

For the Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephens University. Essentials Red Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

When I think of worship I think of anything but a place.  I think of songs, music, a lifestyle devoted to God, acts of compassion and mercy, but I do not think of a place.  I think of a personal experiential act given to God.  However worship throughout history has been associated with time and space, and with community.  In the Old Testament, worship was associated with the Tabernacle and later on the Temple.  The feasts that the Jews celebrated were very time and community oriented.

As the Early Church evolved they maintained this attitude of time and space, and community.  The celebration of the birth of Christ, the death and resurrection, and later on other events were developed in order to commemorate the life, work and the return of Jesus.    Advent, Holy Week, The Great Triduum, Epiphany, and Pentecost, were some of these that were developed in order to celebrate Jesus within community.

It is this corporate nature of worship and response to the “divine call” that God loves, inhabits, and is enthroned by. This corporate nature lends strength and power to each other and to a lost and dying world.  It is in our love for each other that the Holy Spirit dwells and brings life, destroying darkness.

Our community is relegated to time and space.  Without time and space everything would be random and by accident.  We know that our worship event is at a certain place and a certain time, so we go there and it happens when we are together at the same place at the same time.

However, it is much more than that.  The place of worship in and of itself says nothing.  It is purely a material location, and a person of pure reason and logic would not be affected by any location, type of architecture, decor, etc.

But we are emotional creatures as well.  And emotion is part of our worship.  Our architecture speaks volumes of our philosophy and theology.

For example, to me the great cathedrals and chapels built by the Catholic Church and similar traditions speak of permanence.  They are usually well constructed, built to last a thousand years (if not more).  They take pride in architecture and design, often with some theological concept in mind as they build.  This to me, speaks of the permanence of the Gospel, of Jesus, and the mission of the Church.   The Church is here to stay, “we’ve been here a long time and we aren’t going anywhere soon”.

On the opposite side are the many Church’s of the Evangelical tradition.  Often built out of metal buildings with a brick facade, built fast and cheap when compared to the Catholics buildings.  This, to me, reflects a theology that says we are pilgrims in this world.  We are just passing through, we are here for only a short while, and like grass we are gone tomorrow.  It is one of mortality and temporal existence.

Growing up in a more of an Evangelical tradition I tend to long for the permanence of the great stone churches built by past traditions.  On one hand I live the emphasis on singing and praising together that evangelical, especially the charismatic/pentecostal, traditions have.  On the other hand, I love the other traditions that speak of permanence, as well as thousands of years of history.

Theology with teeth (ICEWS bd 2008)

For the Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephens University. Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

Theology, Worship, and Gender.

This is something that has been stirring in my heart and mind for quite sometime. And while reading NT Wrights chapter on Relationships/Gender, in his book Simply Christian, made me think rethink through some of my ideas on this subject.

Where are the men of God? Has our theology and worship experiences overlooked the men in our culture? I like the fact that there are so many great women of God who pray and study their Bibles, and teach their kids. But it’s sad to see the men take a back seat to them. I dont think its because we live in a feminist society, it’s not that we have elevated women. Has the Church, in an effort to package and sell the Gospel to the masses, neutered both theology and worship?

I’m sure that many of you have had, at one time or another, some sort of experience in the construction field. If not then perhaps you have a family member, or a friend, or even a church member, who is involved in construction. Inevitably the subject of God or Church comes up when you work with people closely for 8 hours, 5 days a week, and usually the response is the same. Something along the lines of, “Yeah, my wife goes to Church…. My kids?… they love it!” Its almost as if they are trying to tell me that they don’t really fit in there. They seem to say that Christianity is for women and children, for people who like to stay clean, and have stopped cursing (or ‘cussing’ as we say here in the South). Sundays, for them is either another work day, or a good day to go hunting and fishing.

The opposite seems to be true in Rock music, especially punk/hardcore, with which I am familiar. I’ve read many articles in MaximumRock’nRoll stating in various ways, by various columnists, their observations that the punk movement is mainly relegated to heterosexual white males. In an interview with Henry Rollins, the singer from Black Flag (one of the pioneer punk/hardcore bands), he states how their shows were dominated by testosterone, and that is was mostly guys, with their shirts off, sweaty, angry, and flexing… and “it was very homo-erotic”, he adds jokingly.

The Bible is full of images of an [at least 2 part male] trinitarian God in his awesome power; holy and righteous, as a warrior (in Isaiah 63) whose robe is so full of the blood of his enemies that it looks like it’s been dipped. The New Testament is not much different; we see in Acts that the Holy Spirit actually killed two people for lying; and in The Revelation, the images of Jesus are nothing short of great and terrible. These concepts of strength, power, and even violence, are mainly a male preoccupation.

However I wholeheartedly agree with Tom Wright’s statements in Simply Christian about gender not being an easy issue in which to define the distinct differences between men and women (other than physically). I’ve certainly known women who watch and enjoy action, sci-fi, and martial arts movies. Sports would seem to be more of a guy’s thing, especially sports like UFC, however I know women who are UFC enthusiast, and one lady in particular that goes to my church is a member of a local jujitsu team. The secretary for my employer is a widow who, while in her late 60’s, goes out of town to her camp almost every weekend, launches her boat and goes fishing in the Sabine River. And conversely, I know hulking guys with menacing facial hair that work at sandwich shops.

I know that many of this has been addressed in books like Wild at Heart, and pastors such as Mark Driscoll. But I would like to dwell and dialogue about these things. Is there a different aspect for men in worship and theology? I know the guys at work would never worship a god that they could beat in an arm-wrestling match, or take in a fight. They would never worship a God that doesn’t take a stand on important issues, never takes a side, and answers every question with more questions, and never draws a line in sand and says, “this far and no more”. When we ignore certain attributes about God are we in fact emasculating him and simultaneously distancing the men in our congregation from both the Christ and the Church.

Sometimes I think we need music that speaks of strength and power in and of itself. I’m not saying you need to turn in your theremin for twin Tesla coils. And you might have to save your Atari Punk Console and Voice of Saturn sequencer for more artistic endeavors. I’m not saying we have to pound on the maleness of God, that would be silly I think. But to present a God who is reigning supreme, one who has defeated every enemy on their own level, all the while blindfolded with both hands tied behind his back. Imagine the God of the universe as a fragile baby in Mary’s hands, being lovingly rocked to sleep.

Perhaps in an effort to reach the masses with the Gospel, making it a commodity and the Church a business, we have somehow taken the rawness of sound out. Digital sound is clean and crisp but you don’t hear the full spectrum of sound. Analog however is loud and has a hiss to it, but it encompasses the whole spectrum of sound. Digital is clean and safe, and for music enthusiast it’s quite boring. Analog is unpredictable yet true to the real deal, and a little bit “gritty”, as my friend Dan Sheed put’s it.