Sunday, August 26, 2007

Football, You Bet!

I first learned of Jerry Bridges as a young Christian in the late '80s by picking up paperback versions of The Pursuit of Holiness and The Practice of Godliness. My favorite books of his are Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love and Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. The following video for the upcoming Desiring God National Conference seems like a good reminder for a Sunday afternoon as the first regular season NFL games are rapidly approaching.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Distractions - The Main Product of Vanity Fair

The following is a "Don't Waste Your Life" video featuring Randy Alcorn. Randy's topic is distractions, which is appropriate here given distractions are my normal subject matter. This is a good reminder for me (and probably you too) to keep the subjects of this blog in proper "orbit."

If you are not regularly viewing these videos, I would encourage you to subscribe on iTunes, visit the Don't Waste Your Life website, or check them out on You Tube.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Comics, TV Series, and Endings

Growing up I was a comic book geek. Spiderman, X-Men, Justice League, Batman, Superman, Captain America, etc. I wasn't even one of those cool comic book people who looked for independent titles either. Mainstream superhero books all the way. This continued into college and eventually I did get into some First comics like Jon Sable Freelance and American Flagg (there's a great quote about truth from GrimJack that I need to share sometime). I stopped buying comics in part due to the typical college reason for giving something up - beer money was more important.

But another factor was that comics were becoming soap operas. Which is to say there were these long drawn out story lines where nothing happened for a year. One of the appeals of comics had been you could get a story in a couple of issues at most. I picked them up again several years ago spurred by the death of Superman storyline, but the situation had only gotten worse.

These never ending stories, it seems, are an infectious disease. Look at a number of TV series today (case in point: Lost). Good series with great concepts, but in an attempt to hold on to viewers, they drag the plots out and don't resolve anything. On the surface, this may seem good because you keep drawing people back. But I think it backfires, sometimes sooner and sometimes later but it almost always backfires.

I think this is one reason crime dramas like Law and Order and CSI are so popular today. In general, while there are some backstories, the main plot of an episode is resolved that episode. One of the reasons that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold so well is that it was the end of that story. I love short stories because in a single sitting you can get to the ending. Which is not to say that I don't like grand epics, like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, where you can have more characters and plot development. So, Stephen King not withstanding (eventually, if the Lord wills that I should live, I will get around to The Dark Tower), I'm convinced that most people like stories with endings.

The greatest story ever told has one. For some at least it is even a fairy tale ending - they lived happily ever after. If God, who I would argue is the greatest story-teller, has chosen to tell us the ending of the story of the universe in Revelation, then longing to know and arriving at an ending is not a bad thing.

Which is not to say the journey is unimportant. The journey is very significant because in some sense the journey is the story. Endings do not make sense apart from the story. Jesus in Revelation is the Lion and the Lamb. Try to make sense of that ending without Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, the Gospels, etc.

Sometimes with cliffhangers writers are too clever for their own good. Or they allow the people with the money to make too many decisions. Because stories without endings are not stories. God pronounces a blessing on those who read and hear the ending of His story. May that be each of us.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Prosperity Gospel

Or "Cash Cow"?

"I too was hypnotized by those big cow eyes the last time I uttered [uddered?] those three little words 'I deserve better.'"

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Letters in the Dirt

I love Chuck Brodsky's music. This is just one reason why.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Boss and Christianity (Today)

Mark Moring has an article over at the Christianity Today website about Bruce Springsteen (aka "The Boss"). Mark's history with Bruce goes back a little farther than mine. I first heard of Mr. Springsteen while reading a review for a Meat Loaf album in the late 70's. Springsteen had been sidelined for some time after releasing Born to Run due to legal battles. He had just released Darkness on the Edge of Town and the reviewer of the Meat Loaf album said we didn't need Springsteen impersonator's now that the Boss was back.

Shortly thereafter, I heard Born to Run for the first time and I was hooked. The second concert I ever went to was Springsteen on The River tour. The only other artist I ever saw that even came close to matching Springsteen's energy was Garth Brooks. My initial reaction to Nebraska was poor, but I came to love the album. When the Born in the USA tour was rolling into town, the tickets were much harder to get, but I managed. I have continued to be a fan, but the albums following Nebraska have not captivated me like Springsteen's earlier efforts.

I have always attributed this to the fact that Springsteen has been, to me, a very secular writer. Compared to the quasi-spiritual writings of Jackson Browne ("The Fuse" or "Rock Me on the Water" come to mind immediately), Bruce seemed to reject religion outright as in "I'm no hero that's understood. All the redemption I can offer girl is beneath this dirty hood" from "Thunder Road."

I'll have to give a listen to the recent CD's and pray that what Mr. Moring sees is a true awakening in Mr. Springsteen's soul.