Archive | May, 2014

What About the Theology of Movies?

31 May

Any other film buffs on here?

 

Which principles do you use in deciding which movies to watch and which ones to skip?

 

I actually blog with relative frequency about the theology of movies I view.  Especially when they are made from good literature.  

 

I adore movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood, which are usually pretty okay (some film noir may be debatable, but even then, most of the controversial stuff takes place “off stage” like it did in Shakespeare). 

 

Since the Scriptures don’t directly address films, which didn’t exist in the first century . . . where do you go with this?

 

Disclaimer:  I promised my pastor to not go see movies in theaters, as that is his preference for us and it doesn’t hurt me at all to comply with it.  In fact, since people talking during movies gives me the urge to slap someone, I am much better to stay home and watch movies in my own space!!!

 

I have just a couple of principles that I apply to newer movies that I may want to see due to their serious message (ruling out movies that are just wanton displays of sex, drugs, and violence).

 

War movies usually justify realistic violence, in my opinion.  We need to know what war really does to strong young bodies.

 

Sex scenes are not generally my first choice, unless there is some way they further storytelling.  I realize in this, women can be somewhat different from men.  I can handle the visuals of a brief scene, not being as visually oriented as a man would be.  But it can get salacious for a woman, too.  We risk being pulled in emotionally.

 

One example is Band of Brothers, the finest war series in existence, in my humble opinion.  There is much violence there.  Even much profanity.  All of that is realistic.  

 

Where the series has its fifteen weird seconds of lunacy, in my estimation, is at the very beginning of one of the videos where an officer comes to deliver news to a fellow officer and finds him in bed with a local French woman. Stupid scene that has nothing to do with anything.  Fifteen seconds of a topless woman who never shows up again in the film and who has nothing to do with the plot.  If I didn’t know better, I would say that the writers staged that to get an R rating, but they already had one for the violence . . . 

 

Sheesh!  I just caution my Christian brothers to forward past that first minute on that video.  Many, many of them own the series, so I seem to be pretty mainstream in my evaluation of it as a great series.  

 

So what criteria do y’all use for movies? 

 

No One Wants to Be the Weaker Brother . . .

31 May

Written for a theological site to which I contribute:

Last week we had quite a discussion going, amongst several threads, on what it means to be the weaker brother. In defining the weaker brother, we also seemed to define the stronger brother.  We discussed how “offending” the weaker brother went along with the Greek word “skandalon,” which had to do with causing someone to fall into sin. Our modern definition of offending someone by causing him to turn his nose up at you and sniff didn’t seem to make the cut in the Bible.  🙂

 

All that to say, after much thought and reading and checking of my heart, I have come to the belief that deferring to the weaker brother only counts if he never realizes I have done it.  

 

If I blast a trumpet and parade before the weaker brother (and others) the fact that I am deferring to him *because* he is the weaker brother, then (ding, ding, ding) I lose.  Major fail.  

 

So a huge part of deferring to the weaker brother is to refrain from shoving the title of weaker brother down his throat, even if he perceives, by my very deference to him, that he is the stronger brother and I am the weaker one. If he does, that’s God’s business, not mine.  

 

You see, we all, as God’s image bearers, have a dignity that accrues to us as the crown of His creation.  Some of us are more insistent on preserving that dignity than others are, but we all have it.  We all also have a tendency to think that preserving our own dignity sometimes means sacrificing the dignity of others.  We have a hard time thinking of how to make a situation win-win, so we settle for making it win-lose, as long as it is the other guy who loses.  If we can paste a pejorative title on him–and “weaker brother” will do–we have maintained our standing as “king of the universe” and can move happily on.

 

Unfortunately, when we are in the midst of fighting to the death to preserve our own dignity and pasting pejorative titles on others to make sure we keep our reputation intact we may . . . ourselves become the weaker brother.  It is just a thought.  

 

When we can treat every one of God’s image bearers with dignity, regardless of what they do to us or think of us, then and only then may we begin to approach the coveted “stronger brother” zone.  

Hand Grenade Proverbs

31 May

I Am IFBX . . .

31 May

I wrote the following post for a theological forum on which I participate. It is strictly satire.

If you have never been identified with the independent, fundamental Baptists (IFB’s), it will be a moot post for you.

It arose from a discussion in which several people posited that there is no difference whatsoever between IFB’s and their more extremist element (often referred to as IFBX’s).

Again, THIS POST IS STRICTLY SATIRE. Here goes:

Several people have challenged those of us who claim to be IFB by stating that we are “exactly like IFBX’s, only nice.” They also said that even people whom everyone else regards as IFBX will never see that they are, nor admit that about themselves.

So, in the interest of being the first person ever to claim to be IFBX, I am publicly coming out here . . . 😉

I know I am IFBX because . . .

1) Although I prefer high church Anglican hymns from the age of Bach and Handel, preferably with rich obligatos that go up in the rafters, I am okay with submitting to our church music director and singing hymns from the 1920’s.

2) Although I play popular (big band) music in my car (as anyone who has driven with me on visitation can attest), I don’t play things like “What if God Was One of Us?” by Joan Osborne, unless I am sure the friend will understand the intent of the song and not think it is mocking God.

3) Although I use both the KJV and the ESV to study at home, I flip open the KJV on my iPad at church (unless I accidentally go into the wrong app) because it makes sense to me to read along with the pastor with the same words he is using in his Bible reading.

4) Although I am a cinephile (I adore the Golden Age of Hollywood–the 1930’s and 1940’s), I readily agreed with my pastor to not attend movie theaters, because he asked nicely and it doesn’t hurt me to say yes. Also, I hate movie theaters because some cretin is always talking nearby and, with my ADHD, I find myself wasting my time during the movie fantasizing about ripping off his lips!!! 😉 So, maybe for reasons of sanity alone, I stay home and watch Netflix, Amazon Plus, iTunes, and Turner Classic Movies, where no one can talk over the movie!!!

5) Since I only own jeans, sweats, and workout shorts (no nice pantsuits), I never wear pants to church unless we are having a volleyball tournament in the gym or I am decorating the 12-foot Christmas tree.

6) I only dance with my husband in the privacy of our own home. I do karaoke with him elsewhere, on demand. 😉

7) Although I read widely, I counsel mothers to modify the literature curricula of their own individual children (by reading things like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” with them and talking about them). I don’t counsel an uprising against a Christian school to try to get a wider range of works included.

So, it is apparent from all of the above that, indeed, I am IFBX.

Oh, and the most telling thing is the mean spirit in which I push all of this at other people. Shut it, ya cretins, or I will rip ya lips off! Bwahaha!

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Christians Should not be the Morale Suppression Committee! Rejoice!

16 May

Christians Should not be the Morale Suppression Committee! Rejoice!

In this good world God has created, we should be full of giggles and joy . . .

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What about Gluttony?

16 May

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/04/24/but-what-about-gluttony/

I found the post I was looking for last night . . .

Kevin DeYoung does a good job here dealing with comparisons between homosexuality and gluttony as sins. This post leaves out the issue of alcohol consumption, except where it figures into the definition of gluttony.

What I see in this post is that gluttony is more an attitude than a size or a weight on the scale.

If I am preoccupied with food/alcohol 24/7, I may be a glutton, even if I am a size 0.

In that way, I could be a glutton since I track everything that goes into my mouth via my online Weight Watchers tracker, and always will for the rest of my life.

I like to think that taking a small bit of time for that action frees me up to have a lot of time and energy for service to the Lord, but I can see how it could easily get out of balance and be all about my tracker and the food I can or cannot eat. I could easily make having a thin body an idol in my life.

On the other hand, those who have genuine metabolic issues might eat very little and still face a high number on the scale. They might not be preoccupied with food/alcohol at all.

Maybe those are the people for whom the now nearly universal bariatric surgery was designed. Most insurance companies cover it for people who are merely 50 pounds overweight now, it seems. Maybe it is now better to get the surgery while young rather than face the inevitable hip and knee surgeries later on in life, along with all the other health challenges a lifetime of being overweight will bring.

What do you think? With today’s knowledge of weight control and nutrition, and with today’s surgeries to enable people to lose weight when other methods fail, how does the Christian strive to bring his body under subjection, while not getting so preoccupied with having a thin body that he becomes idolatrous?

If we know medically that being overweight is not healthy for us, should we take steps to change that, either via diet and exercise if we can, or via surgery if we can’t lose weight in traditional ways?

Or is the issue not an important one in treating our body as the temple of God and maintaining integrity in our testimony among men?

The Desire to Know and Be Known . . . (not playing hide and seek with fellow Christians)

16 May

Have been pondering this quite a bit lately, especially while resigning from my Community Bible Study group that seems to exist in order to blend our lives together for precisely 1.5 hours every Thursday night.  

 Something about turning 55 has created somewhat of a wild woman in me.  I don’t want to spend (waste) my time playing church anymore with people who are only together because the script says it is time to be together.  If I have to pay $60 a year and go 10 miles every Thursday night to be friends with these folks, I want different friends (in all fairness, I have a handful of them I will continue to see outside of Bible study.  Maybe they are the reason I have spent the last 19 years at this study).  

 With my husband, I have raised a child with autism to age 21.  He is slowly being launched into life.  Hopefully this will work . . .

 I faced breast cancer at age 49 and survived it!  Praise God.  

 Both of the above things have probably been additional factors propelling me toward wanting relationships that are real with other Christians.  I even want transparency.  

 The Bible speaks of knowing even as also we are known.  I realize that that is in the future tense in I Corinthians 13, but the Bible also presents several portraits of the Apostle Paul loving into people’s lives and being loved back.  I don’t think that wanting to know and be known by our brothers and sisters in Christ is a “pie in the sky” concept, even now.  

 And I  am finding myself with less and less tendency to hang out in scenarios that are plastic and full of playacting.  

 Something that was very compelling to me about a pastor friend’s description of his Bible studies in a pub is the authenticity that he said they bring to the relationships the men form there.  

 I thought about those who use Romans 14:22 in a certain way:  

 “Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.”

 Some use this verse to say that it is okay to do what our conscience allows but we must not advertise it to those who would stumble if they knew and did the same thing.  So far, I agree with that.  

 They then go on to live as though they must also keep it secret from those who would judge them for their actions.  

 So we have Baptists who are deacons/church leaders but who think that they had better keep quiet about attending country/Western concerts at the Amphitheater or about going to movies or about having mixed swimming parties or about going to the beach . . .

 See what that does, right there?  It creates a secret life for many, many churchmembers who believe that their pastors or fellow churchmembers would not consider them to be leadership material if they knew how they really live.  

 It also makes it impossible to share our lives with many churchmembers because of secrets being kept.  I can’t feel free to drop by your house if you may have to quick hide your beach stuff from me before you let me in . . . 

 I understand about not causing the weaker brother to stumble but this seems to cross the aisle into hypocrisy and into being totally independent of authentic relationships with each other.  

 What do you all think?

The Weaker Brother, Revisited . . . (I wrote this for a theological forum in which I participate)

16 May

It is not a perfect world (yet, not till Jesus gets here).  

 

Yesterday’s discussion of responsible use of alcohol may have introduced more questions than it answered.  

 

That is okay.  Discussion is good.  Communication is good.  

 

I do understand the point.  Those who are teetotallers are going *beyond* what God’s Word says.  It is okay to do that.  It is not okay to try to change God’s Word to correspond with our position.  

 

He did not spend the entire Old Testament telling people that wine gladdens the heart of man only to make wine consumption a sin in the New Testament (that would be unprecedented). 

 

Those of us who are teetotallers, including my pastor, often reference the bad water in ancient days and the way that a little alcohol mixed with water could have antiseptic qualities to keep people from being poisoned by bacteria in their water.  Good point, but not the reason the Bible gives for drinking wine.  God didn’t say, “Drink wine because in a couple of thousand years bacteria will be discovered in your water and you will be glad you used wine to purify it.”

 

We are not allowed to rewrite Scriptures according to our standards, as though God were less righteous than we are. 

 

On the other hand, I can see the safety of the teetotaller position.  No one has yet explained to me how a Bible study with beer will function when a recovering alcoholic joins it.  Will everyone drink soft drinks in deference to that weaker brother?

 

You see, Dr. James Baker, my pastor, has often said that some of our standards are stricter than they need to be, Biblically, because we understand deferring to the weaker brother.  I know his heart and I respect what he says. We do some things we don’t need to do.  We do them out of love, not fear and not legalism. 

 

One example of going a bit further than necessary, probably, is our dress code for serving on the platform during a service (we would not attempt to tell a visitor or a member out in the congregation how to dress, although Pastor preaches on modesty from time to time). We have to have our shoulders covered on the platform, avoiding dresses with huge gaps under the arms.  I understand that that is an issue of protecting some weaker brothers who find bare shoulders and peek-a-boo underarms to be alluring.  So we watch what we wear on the platform.  Small price to pay for keeping everybody somewhat freer of temptation.

 

This is not deferring to the judgmental brother, this is true deference to the weaker brother.  Abstaining from alcohol may turn out to be one such stand.  I  am okay with that if it is.  I don’t drink anyway and I would not want to be the one drawing a sister into a Bible study where she discovers she can’t control an addiction to alcohol.  

 

And this, my friends, may be a true Paul vs. Barnabas issue.  One where we can honestly respect the stand of someone else while honestly doing something completely different . . .

 

 

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A Pastor Talks about His Same Sex Attraction

12 May

A Pastor Talks about His Same Sex Attraction

This is just an awesome post. We are all human, and we have a magnificent Saviour in Jesus Christ.

Is the Pro-life Position a Moral One? A Biblical One? Or Just Politics . . .

8 May

I am posting a document I wrote for an online forum with which I interact.  I have scrubbed out all names and references to the identities of other people:

Okay, I just lobbed a hand grenade of a topic out there.  And I truly want to hear what you have to say.

We approached this yesterday.  Rather, you did.  As my deacon has said, for every five people participating in a thread on this forum, there are fifty silently reading.  I was silently reading.  

There were several reasons for that.  First among them was that I had just arrived home from our short vacation and had to unpack, wash clothes, and clean the house.  I was using the computer sporadically all day, but had a lot to do.  

Secondly, the minute I read the wording of the post, I knew I was not going to touch it with a ten-foot pole. Sometimes we just have to be wise and realize that we are not meant to comment on every post.

The question was about being a single issue pro-life voter.  Having been age 14 when the Roe v. Wade ruling came down, I was part of that generation who came of age with legalized abortion rocking our world.  Most of you have never known a world without legalized abortion.  

We are different from you that way–our generations often perceive the issue differently because of the periods of history we have occupied.  And it is easy to caricature us, the older folks who tend to see Roe v. Wade as their only issue in any election (I don’t think that is me, but I certainly look at the pro-life record of every politician. It is my default setting).  

Additionally, a comment was made referring to the March for Life as a “wackfest.”  While I understand that that was meant as a poke at the organizers, not the participants, there is a thin line there.  The March for Life tends to be very dominated by women and they tend to be older, from my generation, remembering their dismay the day the Roe v. Wade ruling came down.  

Knowing all of this cultural background and being able to unpack it logically, I chose not to participate in a discussion that could quickly push me to the sidelines and single me out as being “out of the mainstream on this forum.”  

It is not that I mind being different sometimes (even a lot of the time, as my post on my military career probably showed).  It is just that sometimes I don’t volunteer to be the “different one,” the one out of the mainstream.

We all like to feel we belong . . .

Not all questions on this forum are going to make us feel belongingness.  That is life.

Nonetheless, back to my title, what are your perceptions?  

In a country where 75% of New Hampshire has the pro-choice viewpoint, is the pro-life issue settled by a popular vote?  Or is there more to it than that?  

If it is a moral issue, can you trace it back to the Scriptures?  Where?

Ready, set, go . . .

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I Am Everywoman (Walking that Fine Line of Balance . . .)

7 May

I Am Everywoman (Walking that Fine Line of Balance . . .)

I have often said that if I could lose a hundred pounds in one year (2012), then anybody can. I mean that. Anyone willing to adhere to the Weight Watchers system for a year can do what I did. There may be other systems that would produce the same result. I only know about Weight Watchers.

I often present myself as Everywoman. There is a valid reason to do that. I am not movie star beautiful and I am not an heiress and was not a straight A student, although I was pretty close.

On the other hand, there is a lack of balance that can adhere to presenting oneself as Everywoman one too many times.

For example, I went through Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) in Pensacola, Florida in 1981-82. I don’t think that AOCS is for everyone, nor do I think everyone can complete it. There comes a point where I think I am allowed to acknowledge that, God helping me, I accomplished something that few women of my time did. By the way, many men in my day actually enrolled in that program and failed to complete it. It is okay for me to rejoice in something exceptional that happened in my life (it’s called an accomplishment!).

I say that because I have heard women say that they wish they had known me earlier so they could have gone through AOCS with me and completed a naval career. When they make that theoretical statement, I usually think that the life they are living is probably the one God actually wanted them to live. Theirs, not mine.

Theoretical is not actual. I actually went through AOCS and did the following:
1) Completed an approximate 3 mile beach run at 7-8 minute miles while in ranks (many of the men and all of the other women fell out of ranks. Several of them were vomiting from exertion).
2) Was rolled inverted underwater in a simulated helicopter and a simulated airplane while blindfolded. Extricated myself from my seat and seatbelt and found my way to the surface from both.
3) Parasailed behind a truck.
4) Was picked up by a helicopter dropping a line to me out in Pensacola Bay.
5) Drownproofed for half an hour in the base pool after treading water for ten minutes after treading water with my hands held still and out of the water for one minute.
6) Jumped from a high dive and swam the length of an Olympic-sized pool without coming up for breath.
7) Many other rugged requirements of which this is just a sampling.

In addition to the physical requirements, we had a heavy schedule of academics which actually challenged me even more than the physical program did.

Needless to say, graduation day was a day of rejoicing for me.

So, when someone makes a theoretical statement that she wishes she could have done what I did and had my career, I have to bite my tongue to not say that neither of us knows whether she would have graduated from the program . . . Many people did not.

We are all unique. My life has not necessarily been more challenging than someone else’s, even having gone through AOCS. Even with having had breast cancer at age 49. Even with having had a child with autism.

However, I will not negate my challenges and say they were not challenges. I will not say that anyone could handle them. But for the grace of God, even I could not! But His grace was applied to my life in these challenges because He willed them to be part of my life. That does not mean anyone else could have handled them in the same way or as well as I did. I am me. I have lived this life. Anyone comparing herself to me is just being theoretical.

It has become important to me to spell that out because a longtime mentoree who probably has borderline personality disorder seems to have become enraged at me that my life has turned out fairly successfully while hers has shipwrecked. From all I can see in her communication, she seems to wish she had had my life for herself without having had to put into it the effort I have put into my life.

In other words, she wants to have the same things I have worked for, but without the work.

Life doesn’t work that way, folks.

Yes, God has blessed me abundantly. But I have partnered with Him. I didn’t just lie down under an apple tree and wait for Him to drop blessings on my sleeping head.

God is sovereign; man has choice. Those two work together somehow.

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Forgiving the Sins of our Fathers . . .

7 May

Forgiving the Sins of our Fathers . . .

This is why we forgive, according to Jesus.

Do We Really Live?

6 May

God has richly given us all things to enjoy! I cling to that verse. Christians should not go around as killjoys! They just should not!

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