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).


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!


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 . . .


What about Gluttony?

16 May

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?

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