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Thursday, March 29, 2007

woah- check THAT out!


a friend of mine is wrestling with where his eyes go when he's not looking.

pretty common, i mean, the response of another well-meaning individual in the conversation summarized this commonness with:
it is hard to not stare at women when they dress to "be stared at".

part of the trouble, though, is this objectifying presumption, and the buying into it of members of both sexes.

it is important to remember, after all, that the women dressing in the manner of which we speak are also products of a fallen, sexually over-stimulated society... a society that has placed a lot of pressure on them to look and behave a certain way in order to see any of their own hopes or dreams met. provocative dress is a practice that has come with our culture's physical obsession- it is the packaging of a plaything.

i am reminded of a scene from memoirs of a geisha where the little slave-girl/geisha-to-be is instructed on just how much forbidden skin to show while pouring tea. in the pre-war culture of japan portrayed in the film, women- especially these exotic dancing girl fantasy creatures- are very mysterious. wrapped in yards and yards of fabric, their form is obscured completely and the flirtatious display of a bare wrist is incredibly powerful for the simple reason that it is a 'careless, accidental glimpse' of something culturally private and therefore appealing to the voyeur.

alas, our culture seems to have taken demure out of its vocabulary and replaced it with lascivious as an accepted norm for many. this doesn't mean, however, that any woman dressing this way is 'asking for it.' that is the message of the pornographer, inspired by satan himself, to objectify women and enslave us all with another lie about who we are.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

mortimer


You wonder why you have to resort to all sorts of social programs and professional entertainment. You must do this because you have become worldly yourself. You would not have to spend so much time meeting budgets, if you had the power of God in you. Preaching the whole truth would not be a difficult thing if you had any light in you.

You have been warned!

Do not forgive them Lord, for they know what they do!

(from 'open letter to the church' as posted with good intentions on BrotherKen's blog...)

whenever i encounter someone who levels this kind of open sprayfire-criticism at the 'church', my question is most often "have you observed these things in churches that have disappointed you, or are you operating based on third-person stereotypes?" this is a crucial distinction.

see, i used to speak of 'people who (this)' or 'christians who (that)' or, of course, 'churches where (the other thing).'

but i looked around and i realized that all the real 'christian' people i knew were fighting in the same trenches as i, and my heavy handed pronouncements were largely hypothetical. everybody i knew was doing a day-to-day battle with the pain of fallenness and the consequences of the decisions they had made and were continuing to live out against their better judgement (as per romans 7.15) . i observed how people would bring their 'favorite sin' to the cross and then fall later on that week to the same thing because apparently the beast was not quite dead and had crawled back home to roost once again. i wasn't observing hypocrisy; i was observing the battle for real life-change.

it was then that i realized that i wasn't going to reach a heart with Jesus' grace and hope of redemption by telling that heart what it already knew... that its sin was killing it. that approach will probably only reach one type of person- someone in crisis mode at that very moment- and unfortunately, it will alienate everyone else, causing greater distance between all others and the salvation of Almighty God through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ, shed freely for them.

you can't accuse someone into the freedom afforded by God's grace. it just doesn't seem to work that way... not exactly 'good news'. there is a crucial factor that is instrumental in bringing people around to a place where they feel safe enough to actually receive the help that fellowship has to offer. it's love.

if preachers preach without love, they stink out the place and everyone knows it- it doesn't matter how much truth is in the homily. likewise, if those who presume to preach at preachers do so without love, there is probably the danger of the same thing happening. it's resounding gong, clanging cymbal time (1 cor 13.1).

it's not enough to claim that 'iron sharpens iron' (prov 27.17) as a proof text justifying a good verbal spanking. there is, after all, a difference between 'calling a spade a spade' and offering caring insight into the blindspots of a brother (luke 6.41-42) in one's unitive desire for revival and reform...

the difference is probably impact.
***

"cling, clang, rattle bing bang- gonna make my noise all day!"
(munsch, 1971)

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

fog


here comes the famous cinder disclaimer...you know, the one that says this post is not guaranteed to make a stitch of sense, but oh well, the publish button got pushed anyhow...

"even when i despair
and can't see through the fog.
you never leave my side
but hold me strong in Your love."


the words above were fairly simple to write, and probably pretty easy to believe in certain parts of the journey through life. but isn't it always that way? things are so easy to believe and say when things are on the up and up...not always so easy to say or believe when they're not.

but despite the fact that someone might not be able to say those words all the time, does it mean they love Him any less? well, i can only speak for me in saying that love is always there, and i guess maybe the true test of reliance in faith comes in those really low spots.

i guess the thought which has been on my mind is this. there's always that feeling of wanting to be 'real' with each other, because it simply makes living in community easier if there aren't huge walls. i guess right now i'm questioning whether or not being 'real' is always a good thing. whether or not there are times when living behind a 'mask' for a time isn't such a bad choice.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

detraction

“The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them”
~ Steven King

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

abstract expressionism and the "sinner's prayer"



























cinder recently sent me an email which contained a good question that turned into a really pretentious reply about modern art. buried deep in all the drivel, though, are some perspectives that are more theological than aesthetic... and hey, what are blogs if not pretentious from time to time?


she asked:
i know the 'Sinner's Prayer' has come to be the 'recognized' way of coming to know Christ, but is that biblical, in terms of it actually being printed as a blue print? i know there's no blue print for much in this life... but that's okay, 'cause i think that's what builds and stengthens you...brings you to new levels in belief, etc.


but, i guess what i'm asking...is it more beneficial to simply pray for the hearts of the people God brings to mind...pray that they'll be softened and molded into what He wants. (cinder)

funny thing about the sinner's prayer is that we are all sinners... everyday

anyway, to the question about 'whether it is more beneficial to pray for the softening of hearts' i need to come back with more beneficial than what? than praying that someone would pray the 'sinners prayer'?

in my view, definately. i mean, i can think of one guy who serves on our church board who has probably never prayed that one... but we have all known for years that somewhere around 8 or 9 years ago his direction and identity seemed to be more 'in Christ' than not. was there a moment of spiritual crisis or was it a series of spiritual moments all smeared together? was the light that shone into this guy's heart on a toggle or a dimmer? good questions.

barnett newman was an abstract expressionist painter who painted huge colour field paintings that vividly illustrated his philosophy that 'scale equals feeling.' the canadian national gallery bought his painting Voice of Fire circa 1992.

mark rothko was another abstract expressionist painter who worked with huge colour fields and an unmistakable format. the national gallery bought his painting No 16 (oictured above) in 1994.

both purchases were widely controversial for a lot of touque-wearing canadians, but that's not the point i want to make in refering to them in this post. the point is that both painters worked with huge canvases, recognizable geometric shapes and pure colour, but did so in ways that contrast in the way that salvation stories do. newman's stripes ('zips') are sharply defined, hard-edged colour fields that have no transition from one to the next... this colour stops when that colour starts. rothko's format is soft-edged and his application of paint is more subtle. it is difficult to tell where a rothko figure rectangle ends and the ground behind it begins.

i think that salvation stories for some are those road to damascas stories that might be aptly illustrated by a newman painting; for others, the salvation story is a little blurrier with numerous transitions, ushering the person from one phase to the next seamlessly like the promenade that is the musical equivalent of a person walking from one piece to the next in mussorgsky's famous program piece pictures at an exhibition, but going largely and practically undefined.

one thing is true of both, though. God the Holy Spirit is in charge of the movement.
***

the day i finish a painting is the day i'm finished.
(picasso- yeah, i know he wasn't an abstract expressionist, but hey, neither was modest mussorgsky- that doesn't mean that their contributions to our lives are irrelevent here. too many boxes imposed upon freely associative thinking leave us with logical but limited discourse... but postmodernity is probably better explored in a whole nother blog)