Sunday, April 30, 2006

Christians Read Comics Too!

Christians Read Comics Too! is a new blog, started by a friend who has come under some criticism for reading comics. Of course, comic readers expect to come under some criticism. After more than a century of being a part of our daily lives, graphic storytelling is only now beginning to get the respect that other parts of our culture take for granted. This particular reader, however, was faced with a choice. Either stop writing about comics or see the door to his career as a minister close.

It was really no choice at all. His calling came first. Now he is working anonymously to promote a better informed opinion of the medium. As anyone who has read my profile or checked out my links knows, I also write about comics. I haven't been faced with such a choice and don't really expect to be. Still, I can't help but sympathize with him. And I don't just mean as a comics reader. Christians have a tendency to seemingly condemn all popular culture. I say seemingly because we make a lot of exceptions. Christian women read a lot of romance novels. Sure they're sex free, but honestly, how can you be said to feeding spiritual self and not your carnal self when you live on a diet of junk food. I am not even going to started on Contemporary Christian music! (I really could go on and on, but that’s not where I want to go.)

A friend was telling me about a problem that he foresaw with computers. Not wanting anything of the world's influence in his life, he didn't watch TV or go to the movies, but with technologies and media converging the way they are, soon the computer would bring all that into his home anyway. He realized something, though, that rather than get rid of his computer, he needed to foster a greater sense of personal ethics and moral judgment. A need to think critically (in the best sense) about popular culture. Sure, there are a lot of unchristian elements in popular culture. Even anti-Christian. But instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we need to learn to practice greater discernment.

I know, its a slippery slope. First you let one thing slip in and then another and soon you can't tell saint from sinner. But one thing I've learned as a Christian is that those who want to walk the path of the hypocrite will, and they'll do it with great determination. Instead, you have to teach meaningful values to those who honestly want them.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Azusa Street

The month is almost over and I haven't mentioned the Azusa centennial. One hundred years ago in a storefront church on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California, a Pentecostal revival meeting started that reshaped the world.

Pentecostalism had its beginnings six years previous, in Topeka, Kansas, but it wasn't until Azusa that it became a worldwide phenomena. During its three year revival people came in from all walks of life and went out into all the world. Many scholars now believe that there could be as many as 500 million Pentecostals by 2020. Thats quite a heritage for its minister, a black Baptist who had been removed from his previous job for teaching that tongues were evidence of the Holy Ghost.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Attack on Copts

News from Alexandria, Egypt. Men with knives attacked Good Friday worshippers in more than one church. Many were stabbed, one was killed. Reports differ on the number of victims and attackers. The man killed was 67.

Happy Easter

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15: 14-22
I hope you’re having a great Easter weekend and I hope this time is more than just another long weekend. This is when we remember the event that is the center of God’s plan for humanity: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Science as religion

Recently Salon has interviewed a couple of popular science writers, Edward O. Wilson and Daniel Dennett. Both were asked whether science is a religion. Not surprisingly, both said no. Wilson came off as being more sympathetic, even admitting that he has a spiritual belief (which he calls a “provisional deism”). But he denies any kind of religiosity to science:

I don't see it as having the qualities of a religion, in terms of obeisance to a supreme being or of an urge to proselytize.
He obviously hasn’t met Dr. Dennett. Dennett is one of those sceptics who can’t help but take whatever opportunity at hand to take a shot at religion. He certainly does proselytize. In this particular interview it really sounds as though he were being spoon fed talking points, rather than actually being questioned. He claims that “every major problem we have interacts with religion.” The very same claim could be made about science, but he doesn’t go there. He does go on to make an utterly ridiculous claim that religion has been protected from scientific inquiry for too long, that its time to breach the moat that protects it from real, scientific understanding. Where has this man been for the last century?

Like Dennett many seem to confuse faith with hoping, or even wishing. A limited view at best. And sometimes, I suspect, a biased or disingenuous one. By keeping the argument simplistic, you get to keep your responses simplistic as well. But faith is so much more than he is willingly to consider. It isn’t simply wishing something to be so. Our faith incorporates and expresses our beliefs and practices. The word is sometimes used to describe a credo, because, like a credo our faith is what shapes our view of the world and how we act in it. When we step out in faith, we strengthen it because the experience gained from our action encourages our faith. It starts with a realization that there is a God and that we can approach Him. Through prayer and worship, through the study of His Word and fellowship with others that know Him, we gain the knowledge, experience, and spiritual understanding that constitute our faith.

Once you understand that faith encompasses our beliefs, behaviour – our view of the world, it is easy to see how the word can be applied to other views, political as well as materialistic. A communist puts his faith in Marx, a neo-conservative in the Market, and certain dogmatic cynics in Scientism.