Be in the world but not of it – or set up your own

Christians like quoting the “be in the world not of it” mantra. However, I think that the tendency is to shun “being of the world” (whatever that really means) to such an extent that a parallel world is established that looks disarmingly like the real one but with a glossy Christian smile all over it. Thus we have Christian tv shows, Christian clothing, rapture-ready mugs, Christian clubs, Christian music and so on. And now we have “Christian Idol”. Surely that is an oxymoron? TBN (Christian US Broadcasting Network) will be hosting Christian reality show called “Gifted“.

National auditions for the Gifted talent competition were held over a year long period in churches situated in major markets throughout the United States”.

What will they be performing? Apparently a recording of the finalists singing “Amazing Love (You Are My King)” (must confess I don’t know that one) will get radio airplay. Now I have no issue with people entering talent quests etc (although you would not find me anywhere near such a thing, even if had talent), but something grates for me about Christians competing with each other singing worship songs. It somehow seems to miss the essence of worship to me, a God focused action, not “how good am I”. Join American/Australian/anywhere in the world Idol if you wish to showcase your talent. We don’t need it wrapped up in Christian trimmings.

How will we ever share the story of Jesus with others if we continue to construct and live in a Christian parallel universe?

Memes

I was checking my stats today to discover that I had been tagged.  Twice.  Now I am a bit ignorant of such things and had to look up what a meme is and what I am supposed to do with it.  A meme (according to the trusty wiki) is a unit of cultural information that is “transferable from one mind to another”.  Memes must therefore thrive in a blogging environment.  I have been tagged with the “six weird things about me” meme. So here goes.

1.  As a teenager I loved to sit and read the dictionary.  I took particular delight in finding obscure words, using them in my essay when a simpler word would do, and arguing with my english teacher about the word’s legitimate place in the english language.  I have been known to bring out the dictionary with a triumphant flourish.

2.  I am a Battlestar Galactica addict.  I was listening to a christian DVD today talking about the hebrew word/name adama, and all I could think about was the Galactica’s revered leader.

3.  I am a geek.  I like to play around with my operating system, and have not used Windows as a primary OS (still dual boot of course) for about four years.  My distro of choice?  Kubuntu.

4.  I have been obsessed with the Dune series – I have read every one of them, and even suffered through the movie with a rather weird performance from David Bowie.

5.  I love the dark, walking at night (not much opportunity for that now) and love nothing more to run as hard as I can on a full moon night accross fresh grass or in the sand.

6.  Like Will, I have a photographic memory for some things.  When preparing for an exam I use different colours to highlight headings etc, and in the exam I recall the colours, layout, and lastly the notes in each section.  I also remember phone numbers.  I still remember a friend’s phone number from grade six primary school (and that was a long time ago ;-).

So now I am supposed to tag six people, and can tag back people who tagged me…

Will

Ashish

Bec

Geoff

Hmmm, that is going to have to do as I can’t think of six people just now….

Lest we forget

We have had a German theme to our tv viewing since Christmas. My brother-in-law gave us the documentary “Hitler’s Medics” – a gruelling insight into German science – thorough, dispassionate, and in some cases, utterly horrifying. Some of their research and findings gained from Jewish victims is influential today, and brutally raises questions about the morality of science. Next up was a rewatch of Downfall – the second film ever made by Germans about the war. This was a gritty film of madness, death, murder and suicide, and depicts the last seven days in Hitler’s bunker, from the perspective of his secretary. A very interesting but disturbing film that arouses conflicting emotions towards Hitler, possibly the most reviled figure of the 20th century. Last night we watched Das Boot – (The Boat) – the first German film about the war. It was set in a submarine. Of the 40,000 men in German submarines during the war, 30,000 did not return. The tense, close drama seems typical of films in confined spaces. It was a very different picture to that normally seen of Germans during the war. It told the story of boys barely men and their struggles to survive deep in the ocean as they carried out orders. One image I will not forget is of a ship they had successfully attacked. They rose to the surface to watch it burn, and saw men in flames diving overboard. The now bearded boys were disturbed by the scene, and one glimpes both the humanity and inhumanity of war in their flame-lit faces. This film makes one forget about taking sides in war.

I have always been interested in the Holocaust, even as a young teen. In early secondary school I read every book I could get my hands on, and even attempted to write a short story which no doubt was a poorly combined hotch-potch plot of the books I had read! I guess I have a familial link to the tragedy of Nazi Germany. My Oma and Opa married in Nazi Germany, and were imprisoned because it was a mixed marriage (Opa was Dutch). I don’t know their story but would love to. For some reason the stories of survivors have resonated deeply within me. The most impacting book I have read is “Night” by Elie Wiesel.

Most of the survivors of the Holocaust are now elderly. While I don’t think it is helpful to dwell on the past, remembering it and the capacity of humanity for unspeakable evil is sobering. In a way, it keeps us in our place. The Western world loves to think of itself as beyond atrocity, as more civilized than 2nd and third world countries. But the Holocaust is not that long ago. The ingredients that lay at its roots including prejudice, fear of “other”, desire for conformity and social control are alive and well today. Genocide is not a thing of the past. We in the west watch it on our tvs as we go about our daily lives, perhaps thinking it could never happen amongst us. The Holocaust reminds us that it can, and did. Next Saturday, the 27th of January, is International Holocaust Day.

“…to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all…” – Elie Wiesel

God’s Party

How often in times of worship (the singing variety) have you heard the words “Let’s wait for God’s presence”?  Chances are you have uttered them yourself.  (I am sure I have at least mouthed a variant of this).  Is God not present before we sing?  Does our singing usher Him down from Heaven?  In this image is an implicit sense that we are  separate from God, and our singing is a bridge that makes it possible for God to come across to us.  I am the queen of disclaimers, and have to add one here – I love worship through music and singing, and do (at least some of the time) feel a strong sense of God’s presence within me during times of worship.  But is God more present when we worship?  Maggi Dawn raises this question over at her blog as part of a discussion of the Trinity.  How she resolves this resonates within me.  She speaks of a ‘social Trinity’ – not disimilar to the perspective presented by Baxter Kruger in ‘The Great Dance‘.  Communion, worship, adoration, creativity  is all happening within the Trinity, and we are invited to be a part of it.  God does the inviting, not us!  As Maggi writes,  we do not need to create “a good enough party to wake God up and make him think he might join us”. Rather, we are welcomed in to

“the party where God is, and always was, and always will be, engaged in mutual adoration and praise, and where you can be drawn right into the centre of God until you can hardly spot the join.”

Now that is something I would love to experience.

Apples and goaties

I have been somewhat uninspired of late, and have not posted for a while. For a light start to the year, check out this cartoon: – there is a story behind the drawing…

Emerging Church bloggers

This cartoon made me smile as one does not have to hang around the “emerging church scene” for very long to spot the bitten apple symbols everywhere. The shades in this cartoon are a wee bit Matrix-like, but I have to agree with the goatie – just as Hillsong has its trendsetters, and John Wimber brought the humble tracksuit into the preaching arena, the goatie is the must-have emergent do. As someone who spends more than a little time pondering all things emergent, I feel sympathetic towards the artist of this cartoon as I am goatie-free (thankfully) and plug away on my PC (regrettably, I do suffer mac-envy). :-).