October 20, 2017

Saturday Ramblings 9.25.10

Saturday? It’s Saturday already? Didn’t we just have a Saturday last week? Well what are we waiting for? Are you ready to ramble? And have you ever seen a paragraph where every sentence ends in a question mark?

The Apostle Paul preached all night on one occasion, putting Eutychus to sleep. When he woke up, he was three floors below on the ground, and had just been brought back from the dead by Paul. From this we can gather that Paul may not have been the most dynamic of speakers, and did not have the best grasp on how much his audience could handle. Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, put both aspects to the test this week as he preached for 24 hours straight as a way of celebrating the release of his first book. We believe Furtick preached from the first floor of his building.

Pope Benedict XVI concluded his trip to Great Britain with a call to Christians in England to find new ways to proclaim the Gospel. “In the course of my visit, it has become clear to me how deep a thirst there is among the British people for the Good News of Jesus Christ,” said the Pope. Can the same be said of those in the United States?

What would you think of an evangelical church offering its sanctuary to a community of Muslims for their nightly Ramadan prayers? Outrageous? Impossible? Ok, both. But it happened. What would Jesus think of this? Do Muslims qualify as “strangers,” the ones we are told to welcome and love? What might happen if, instead of burning their holy book and calling them “a religion of violence” we were to treat Muslims as Jesus did the Samaritan woman at the well—with respect? What just might happen?

Yes, I am a Sister Joan fan. Most everything she writes either challenges or cheers me. So when she writes that the books of Ruth and Judith are a call for more woman to stand alongside men in the ministry, I am cheered. Especially if it would mean we would have more Sister Joans.

Were you brought up on the teachings of the rapture? Did your pastor spend hours teaching why pre/mid/post-trib was the only way a true Christian could possibly believe? Have you read the entire Left Behind series? I know this is opening a can of  Red Wiggler worms, but (here come the rocks) I no longer believe in the rapture as has been preached for the last nearly two hundred years. Yes, I do believe in the return of Jesus. Just not the “In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned” version. And if you think this may lead to a series of essays here at the iMonastery, you are right. When we get around to it.

If a movie portrays the teachings of Jesus, but it is not produced by a church and it doesn’t star any professing believers, is it still a “Christian movie?” Is there really any such thing as a Christian movie? I have my own answers to these questions (yes, no), but until we have time to have that discussion, this is a movie I want to see.

Ok, so scientists say they can make any kind of animal you can imagine. But will it still taste like chicken?

Happy birthday this week to Mexico; Leon Askin, aka General Burkhalter on Hogan’s Heroes, and a real-life Jewish refuge during WWII; June Foray, the voice of Rocky Squirrel on Bullwinkle; Kerry “on my wayward son” Livgren; Adam “Batman” West; Leonard Cohen; Stephen King; Bill Murray; Faith Hill; Debby Boone; Ray Charles; Bruce Springsteen; Linda McCartney; and Jim Henson.

So what video treat for this week? Oh it was so tempting to use a clip of Ray Charles singing with Kermit the Frog, celebrating two of our birthday boys in one. But I just can’t pass on Leonard Cohen. I highly recommend that you immediately buy either Cohen’s Live In London or Songs From The Road. Actually, treat yourself and buy them both. Not convinced? Watch this performance  by Cohen and then tell me you can live without his music. (No, actually, don’t. It will just ruin my Saturday…)

Comments

  1. “I know this is opening a can of Red Wiggler worms, but (here come the rocks) I no longer believe in the rapture as has been preached for the last nearly two hundred years.”

    In the immortal words of Morpheus: “Welcome to the real world”.

    • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

      I don’t know how many of my fellow “church brats” (to borrow Kaci’s phrase if she pops in here) have had the same experience, but my most vivid memories about growing up with the teachings on the rapture is coming home to an empty house and panicking that my family had been taken up and I missed it.

      That sort of thing is pretty freaky to a kid. When those anxieties remain well into the teenage years (as they did with me and several of my friends) it may signify a problem. I mean, despite having solid assurance of salvation at any other moment, as soon as that rapture-anxiety kicks in, all reason goes out the door and little kid fear of abandonment takes over.

      I’m glad I eventually took the red pill.

      • I know the feeling, Isaac. I was terrified of being “left behind” as a child. My sister and I had a pact to grab the other if one of us started going up (no, I’m not kidding). And the empty house scenario was always a great fear. . .

      • Hahaha! I did that too! I’d be playing by myself when I’d realize that the house had gotten quiet, and I’d start running around frantically looking for other people…usually they had just gone outside. Amillenialism FTW!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The Empty House Panic Attack is one of the most common stories I’ve heard among those from PMD churches. I know I’ve had enough of them during my days immersed in the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay — my last flashback was in 1988, and I still cannot look out a kitchen window at the Southeastern sky.

        My writing partner credits John Nelson Darby, Hal Lindsay, and their resulting “PMDs: Protestants of Mass Destruction” with destroying Protestant Christianity in this country.

        I mean, despite having solid assurance of salvation at any other moment, as soon as that rapture-anxiety kicks in, all reason goes out the door and little kid fear of abandonment takes over.

        Especially if (like me) you’ve always had a phobia of abandonment. Now imagine that anxiety in a mileu where “solid assurance of salvation” is considered a heresy and any sin of any sort (even ones you’re unaware of) can cause you to lose your salvation at any moment (op cit something called The Calvary Road). Take it from me, it gets BAD.

        I would suggest IMonk’s “A Marriage Made in Hell: Christian Pessimism, Radical Islam” as a starting point for the week on the subject.

    • I’ll be looking forward to the essay series because I know nothing about the Rapture. Years back (when I was a teenager) I remember going to the local cinema to see a film which (for whatever reason) I thought was going to be sci-fi, then as I watched I gradually came to the realisation that it was some kind of Christian film but I had no frame of reference for what the heck was going on.

      It wasn’t until much, much later I came across the concept of the Rapture and finally the penny dropped (“Ah! That’s what was going on with the people disappearing and others being left behind and the last-minute repentances!”)

      So I can safely say that mid-20th century Ireland had no notion about this topic 🙂

      • Ironically, the idea of the rapture more or less came from Ireland. John Nelson Darby was a priest in the Church of Ireland, and as his theology of dispensationalism developed he tried to preach it in the British Isles and Europe. It didn’t fly there, so he came to America. Here it was picked up by C.I. Scofield and promoted through his reference bible.

        Maybe it would have been better for us if you guys had listened…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Martha, Ireland and you were much better off having no notion about that topic. Here in the States it has become THE default eschatology for “Born-Again Bible-Believers”. Not just the default, but The Only Eschatology, Direct From God’s Lips, to the point that the word “Eschatology” has come to mean Late Great Planet Earth and Left Behind and that’s IT.

        Again, my writing partner (the burned-out country preacher-man) credits John Nelson Darby and Hal Lindsay with destroying Protestant Christianity in America. And we’re exporting this Left Behind Fever to Europe and the Third World along with the Prosperity Gospel.

    • My friends and I now refer to it as the “Crapture”. Classy, no?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Classy, yes.

        Another term for PMD (Darby & Scofield’s entire system of which Rapture eschatology is a part) is “Protestants of Mass Destruction.” As someone who has experienced the “Christians For Nuclear War” attitude back when the Bible only had 3 1/2 books (Daniel, Revelation, Ezekiel’s “Nuclear War Chapter”, and Late Great Planet Earth), I can attest it is a fitting acronym.

        Internet Monk called the same attitude “Grinning Apocalyptism — cheering as the world slides into the Pit.” In that case, it’s just today’s Nihilism Uber Alles with a Christian coat of paint and lip-smacking glee.

  2. An interesting interview with “Suzanne”:

    BBC Radio 4 FM, June 1998
    Suzanne Verdal McCallister interviewed by Kate Saunders

    http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/verdal.html

    • Thanks for that link, Eric.

      Judy Collins was captivated by Cohen and by that song. Here’s a video of the two of them in 1976. Someone said that Cohen’s voice has improved with age, and I agree. But Judy’s voice in ’76 carried the performance.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGGSo530bdA

      And another of Judy Collins singing Suzanne, fairly recently, solo at a piano in a recording studio. Some age showing, but still very much in control. Watch until the very last frame for her classic Judy smile.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJRg35dTIGE

  3. Cedric Klein says:

    Interesting challenge there about outreach to Muslims…. help them rent a hall or building?- why not? But give them a place to pray to Allah & honor Mohammed inside the sancutary? ehhhhh- no. If we go there, how about offering a local Wiccan circle the sanctuary to keep Samhain? It’s about the same.

    Now I’ll reveal my inconsistency- if a Jewish group needed a place, specifically the sanctuary, I would have much less hesitation. I don’t believe that Jews are worshipping a different god or honoring a false prophet- which is the case I do believe re the Christian faith & Islam or Wicca.

    • I’m leaning Cedric’s way also, but I’d add: look for any way possible to do for the Muslim community physical acts of kindness: food, housing, job placement, etc….but helping them expand their religion ??? ehhh…..not on board with that. Comments back welcome, maybe I’m just 54 and too ‘brittle’.

    • I don’t see the inconsistency, Cedric. I think you are right.

    • How would you feel about Mormons, they’re about as theologically different as Muslims.

      As for Wiccans, I don’t know, many Wiccans revere Jesus, although not in the same way that we do, for me it would depend on the group, and what they wanted to do.

      • A key difference is that while Mormons believe there is only one god for this world, they are not in fact monotheistic. Their god is also not an eternal god, but was once a man who served another god, and who subsequently grew up to become a god himself – the same path those bright young lads in their squeaky-clean shirts and ties knocking on our doors hope to follow themselves.

        So no, Mormonism is an entirely different discussion.

      • Cedric Klein says:

        Individual Mormons may be good devoted Christians with a personal relationship with Jesus, while not realizing the fullness of LDS Theology. But would I let a LDS group use the sanctuary?- No, and heck No! Nor Jehovah’s Witnesses either.

  4. The movie looks interesting. Wondering where I can find it.
    Steven – Long time lurker.

  5. I have Cohen’s Live In London and love it and him. And thanks, EricW, for the link to the interview with Suzanne. That was interesting.

    I checked out the Sister Joan page. I see there are some interviews with her and talks by her on the internet. I will check those out. I think I will end up getting one of her books. Anyone want to recommend a favorite?

    Cedric….how are the Muslins worshiping a different god? I thought they worshipped the God that Moses and Jesus spoke of. No? I read the Koran, but it’s been a while. Of course, I know that they do not accept Jesus as the Son of God. They see him as a prophet and they obviously emphasize Muhammed more. I also know you can’t always read the holy writings of a religion and say, “This is what they believe” because we as Christians do not believe that we should do everything we read in the Old Testament. We don’t stone people, for example. But in terms of their worship of Allah, my understanding is that Muslims believe in one God who is the creator of all that exists and is worthy of our worship. If you mean that they don’t believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that the Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son, then yes, I agree with you. Jews also worship the one God, creator of all, but also don’t believe that Jesus is the Savior and that Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and advocate. I think Jews DO believe in the Holy Spirit in some sense, though, as throughout the Old Testament there are passages referring to the Holy Spirit. This may need a special posting sometime from this blog’s owners, methinks.

    • Methinks you are right, JoanieD…I will bring this up at our next writers’ powwow…

    • Charles Fines says:

      JoanieD, thank you for the sound of reason and the voice of love in Jesus. When I saw the story of this church in Tennessee walking the talk on national news, it gave me a glimmer of hope, a glimmer that was dying out on reading this column until you piped up. Brings to mind what Jesus had to say when the sons of thunder wanted to call down fire on their Samaritan neighbors.

    • Some Christians I respect see Muslims sort of like Cain in the Bible who worshipped God, just like Abel, but in an unacceptable way. I have difficulty with that personally, because I think of Muslims as simply “worshipping” something of their own creation. Just because I make up a story and use names in it from the Bible doesn’t to me mean that I’m somehow directing my thoughts to the one true God. As I said, others I respect see it differently but I think we undermine any concept of God being objectively real when we say that anything anyone can possibly do or say, so long as “god” is mentioned, automatically counts as worshipping the one true God.

    • I have read (and I can’t remember where) that the Allah that Muslims worship is the moon God, not the eternal God who created the universe. Can anyone speak to this?

      • Buford Hollis says:

        You may have seen this in one of Jack Chick’s cartoon pamplets on Islam.

        Needless to say, Muslims do not THINK they are worshipping the moon god, any more than Christians think they are worshipping the storm god. Yet in both cases, God’s history extends back well before monotheism. (“Elohim” is grammatically plural, “Allah” is grammatically feminine.)

    • Interchanging “God” and “Allah” doesn’t bother me nearly as much as Randians like Glenn Beck claiming represent “god” as if their god, who is at war with do-gooders, has anything to do with the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave his life for the weak and sinful.

    • Joanie, I love Sr Joan’s commentary on the Rule of St Benedict. It’s broken up into daily readings so that you read through the rule and her commentary three times during one year. It’s terrific.

      http://www.amazon.com/Rule-Benedict-Insights-Crossroad-Spiritual/dp/0824525035/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1285470989&sr=1-1

      Dana

    • Cedric Klein says:

      It’s a different God by His Nature. I know many neo-Pagans worship one supreme God who matches the same description. I would not give sanctuary place to Nordic Pagans who worship Odin All-Father.

      Judaism is a revised continuation of pre-Jesus Yahwism & so is a kindred faith. Islam is a faith specifically designed to conquer & replace Christianity and… yes, I’ll say it- is an AntiChrist faith.
      Muslims can be our friends. Islam is not our friend.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      JoanieD:

      Here’s the relationship between the three Abrahamic monotheisms, using the imagery of a hit movie and its sequels:

      Judaism was the original.

      Christianity was the expanded sequel.

      Islam was a near-total remake of the original, retconned by a different director.

  6. I found this comment on the movie blog most relevant:

    “In circles in which I sometimes converse, there have been, for as long as I can remember, discussions about Christians in the art, about how to get more films that are faith friendly and about the corrosive moral effects of “Hollywood” or the “Hollywood culture.” Every now and then, though, I’ll run across a song like Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will” (RP: Coincidence? Or IM Conspiracy? You decide!) or a film like The Way, that not only puts “Christian” films to shame but that makes me exasperated at the whole notion of “Christian” as an identity politics genre. If you want more great Christian art, go find great artists and support them in their desire to speak, write, and represent the truth. Hollywood is made up of people–many of whom, it turns out, are more complex, interesting, and thoughtful than we might guess based on nothing more than a quick glimpse of their IMDB filmography.”

    And I would agree that the label Christian as identity politics should be tossed to the side of the road and forgotton. This was one of the unfortunate legacies of Francis Schaeffer who argued that the New York Times list of bestsellers refused to acknowledge Christian publications, even when they outsold their secular counterparts. Of course this was in the day of “The Late Great Planet Earth” which never made the list despite record sales. The trouble with such an argument was that “winning” this little bit of the culture war wasn’t any better since the NYT List published such sterling examples as The Purpose Driven Life and The Prayer of Jabez. Just because it sells, doesn’t mean it’s worth buying and certainly not worth showcasing.

    As for “How to Make a Christian Movie” Andre Wencl does a pretty good satire.
    Part 1: http://www.sbcimpact.net/2010/04/14/how-to-make-a-christian-movie-part-i/
    Part 2: http://www.sbcimpact.net/2010/05/03/how-to-make-a-christian-movie-part-ii/

    Or as C. S. Lewis said, we don’t need more good Christian artists we need more good artists who are Christian.

  7. Jesus pointed out to the Samaritan woman that she was a serial adulteress. So if I point out to a Muslim that his or her religion is violent (which it is), am I being disrespectful? 😉

    • That’s assuming “the Samaritan Woman” was a real character: 🙂

      http://www.askelm.com/people/peo004.htm

      The Samaritans who at first lived primarily in central Palestine (between Judea and Galilee) claimed to be descendants of the Ten Tribes of the Israelites who resided in the country before the Assyrians took them captive in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.E. They later came back to Palestine, according to them, and settled in the area around Samaria and Shechem. The Bible, however, records that they were basically made up of five Babylonian tribes who worshiped five national deities and that they had mixed their pagan idolatrous doctrines with the teachings of the Old Testament (2 Kings 17:24–41)….

      Most of the Jews in the 1st century considered many Samaritans to be lax in their observance of the Mosaic law and consequently they would have little to do with the Samaritans in a religious sense. The Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well said, “The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Indeed, Jesus gave an allegorical interpretation concerning this relationship by involving the life of the Samaritan woman. He said, “You have had five husbands; and he whom you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18). This statement not only described the situation of the woman herself, but any Samaritan interpreting Christ’s statement allegorically would have recognized that the “five husbands” of the woman represented the “five gods” that the Samaritans brought to Samaria from Babylon and that the woman now with no husband meant that the Samaritan worship of God (as far as Jesus was concerned) was without a proper marriage covenant. In other words, the Samaritan people were not in a proper covenant relationship with God as were the Jews. Jesus told the woman “salvation is of the Jews.” In the view of Jesus, Jerusalem was the center of God’s religion and it was not Samaria.

      • Whoa! …eye opener. I had never picked up on the allegorical content in John 4:18. I just love it when this sort of thing happens. However, in the article you reference, I see no claim that the Samaritan woman was anything but real, and take your smiley face to mean you are kidding in that regard.

        So, EricW …do you consider this ASK web site worthy of trust? That whole article is a little unsettling, but has an authentic ring to it. I hate to say it, but I am a bit suspicious of anything from Oregon that claims to be spiritually motivated. :>)

        • Just messin’ with you a bit.

          But it is interesting. GJohn differs from the Synoptics in so many ways that I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more than it appears to be.

          I have no idea if the Website is trustworthy or not, but one can easily verify the facts about Samaria, etc. I’ve heard this idea from other sources, though – i.e., that the woman and her husbands symbolized Samaria.

          Is all of GJohn symbolic? I have no idea. What are the 153 fishes?

          • In my experience I find scripture often exhibits both a literal and an allegorical application. It always delights me. If this is true in the case of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman, her recognition of the spiritual content of his meaning and of Jesus as a prophet becomes more natural.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I always get a kick out of when I’m able to write on two levels like that (which isn’t often). It’s the peak of storytelling, to tell several stories in one, both literal and symbolic, without dissing any of the levels to tell the others.

      • Interesting. Whenever something is controversial, like pointing out to a woman that she is an adulteress, that woman didn’t actually exist. It’s allegorical. Like the time I pointed out that the mute man had a demon, according to the text. Ah, but Jesus didn’t say the man had a demon. The author did. But here Jesus said to a woman that she was an adulteress. Ah, but Jesus didn’t say the woman was an adulteress. 🙂

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          You sound like the trick question I heard on Christian radio long ago: “You come upon a seriously-injured man in danger of death. Are you going to give him first aid/medical treatement to save his body or Witness the Gospel to him to Save His Soul?” (Which a distinct hint-hint-hint what the Proper Christian Choice would be.)

          To which my answer has always been (from the first time I heard it): “Why can’t I do both?”

    • Yes. Yes, you are.
      Jesus was speaking to the woman about her personal sins–she, if you recall, was trying to get him to address the bigger, political questions about whether worshiping in Jerusalem was required, and he came back to her and her life and her situation. He specifically did NOT speak about “her religion”.

      Pointing out to a follower of Islam that members of their religion sometimes do really violent things, is not helpful. It doesn’t speak to them, it doesn’t recognize who they are or what God is trying to do in their lives. Besides, have you READ the Old Testament or the history of Christianity? Talk about pot calling the kettle black…

      • Well, you see, textjunkie, if you listen to EricW, Jesus WAS speaking to her (if she existed at all) about her religion, the five gods she was worshipping. 😉

    • Yes, disrespectful and wrong and enormously counterproductive to evangelism. The vast majority of Muslims live in peace and want peace. It is the extremest elements that glom on to a few choice surahs and live out a twisted concept of their faith. The religion as a whole is no more violent than western culture, or much of Christian history. This kind of approach you are proposing will get you precisely nowhere in building bridges to Muslims or helping them understand the gospel or the message of Jesus. It’s really counterproductive.

    • Buford Hollis says:

      The Golden Rule springs to mind here.

      So, you feel competent to assume the role of Jesus…? Must be great being able to anathematize everybody, secure in the knowledge that your omniscience prevents you from making mistakes. Because otherwise you might have to, you know, listen to what those Muslims have to say about all this.

    • Yes, you are. Jesus didn’t point out the errors of OTHER PEOPLE to the Samaritan Woman. He pointed out HER sin. He didn’t tell her about what other Samaritans did or did not do.

  8. Here is a video link from interfaith events at the Trinity Methodist Church in Gainesville. As you can see this event attracted far more than were planning to burn the Qur’an.
    http://vimeo.com/14968853

  9. I returned from an all night prayer meeting at 6 a.m. this morning uninjured! Happily it was conducted on the ground floor and also by walking through the local town.

    May I suggest that the i-monk community try this? We have a world that is going mad around us, the church – global and local – is under attack and we’re all (OK, at least me) a bunch of repeat offenders with respect to sin of all sorts. So, there’s lots of material to pray for and the HS loves to show up for these types of events.

    I worship at an international church in Geneva, Switzerland with a large African contingent who know how to pray – they have blessed me. When I get back to the US, I am going to find a church with African missionaries – that is, Africans whose mission field is in the US.

    The HS is alive and well at 3 in the morning when we’re not so comfy.

    • Libby, I have participated in a number of 24/7 Prayer events. When we have a concentrated period of 24/7 prayer at our church, the times that are taken the fastest are those in the middle of the night. I have gone to our prayer room at most hours of the day and night, but can honestly say the best times of prayer, the times when I am most sure God is there and walking with me in prayer, are those hours from 11 pm to 5 am. I gladly give up sleep to go and spend those hours talking with our Father. And there is something special about a specific room devoted simply to prayer.

      Pete Grieg is the founder of the modern 24/7 Prayer movement and is to be thanked for what he has done to revitalize prayer across nations and denominations.

      Glad you made it home safely!

      • Fantastic! And if I recall you live somewhere around Cincinnati, which will likely be our next stop on the journey, so I have HOPE in more ways than one! 🙂

        • I was born just north of Cincinnati, and still have a lot of family there, but I now live in Tulsa.

          If you email me, I will recommend a church to you north of Cincinnati that I love…

    • Libby,

      Your description of the current situation is right on.

      This is a great idea.

  10. Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

    So, I followed somewhat closely B16’s visit to Britain. My local Catholic radio station was covering it non-stop and my favorite Anglican websites have been talking about it for most of the year.

    Two things really stood out to me in the visit. First, the positive response to his visit FAR outweighed the negative, despite the bizarre hostility the British media was showing in the months leading to his visit.

    Second, there was a photo in the Times showing Archbishop Rowan Williams (head of the Anglican Communion) greeting and embracing Pope Benedict with them both in full ecclesiastical regalia in which both had genuine joyous looks on their faces that remind me of what I see at family reunions.

    I think in both of these phenomena, I saw that despite the historic animosity toward Catholicism in most of Britain, there was a real hunger for what the Pope was offering. My suspicion is that his analysis was correct. They’re hungry for the Gospel. Deep down they want it in a no-compromise, counter-culture, visible way. I’m told that has become rather rare in Britain where secularism has pretty much taken over and the most visible voices of the Church have a tendency to be a bit wishy washy as a result. I think we’re moving in a similar direction here in the States. I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but I doubt it’s far off.

    What that really has me wondering is if things have to get worse before they can get better? It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Britain in the coming months and years. Will the Church take up the Pope’s challenge to really live the Gospel and feed the hunger? I hope so. ++Rowan is in a tough spot trying to hold things together in the national church. But he’s a brilliant theologian and a man who really loves the Lord. Maybe the Pope’s challenge will give him a kick in the direction of becoming a stronger leader of God’s people.

  11. Denise Spencer says:

    Jeff,

    Welcome to the rapture-less minority. [Dodging rocks with you]

    And thanks so much for the tip on “The Way.” Looks wonderful. I never know any more what movies are coming out; that was always Michael’s job. Definitely a must-see.

  12. I will be very interested on your thoughts re: rapture etc. What IS your view of the Christian ideas regarding the end of the world, once you throw out that 1800s literalist approach?

    • It’s funny that that approach is associated with “literalism” since it’s actually anything but. It has elements of literalism but always inconsistently applied. It’s really nothing more than a viewpoint created outside the Bible and then imposed on the Bible using literal interpretations here and there as needed to support that preconceived idea.

      • Ok, call it an 1800s response to the perceived threat of the Enlightenment, then… Either way, I’ve heard it bashed but not replaced.

        Except perhaps by a writer I read a few years ago that said, “Hopefully, we are still the Early Church…” 😉

      • FollowerOfHim says:

        What? The tens horns of Daniel, when doubled and the number seven is added to them, literally represent the twenty-seven nations of the EU. And the rise of the euro portends the mark of the beast – as does the potential collapse of the euro, which would REALLY set the stage for the Antichrist. The pieces are coming together….

        I won’t try to pin the tail on the Anti-christ, however, except to say that it’s not Saddam Hussein after all.

        Seriously, the term “literalism” in this context applies neither to the text itself nor to the hermeneutic employed, but to the idea that “literal earthly events” are what the prophecies are all about. If it requires some imagination and flights of mathematical fancy, so be it.

        • Good satire there! 🙂

          As to what “literalism” means, I think I would have to disagree. I understand your point about “literal earthly events” being what’s intended as opposed to just generic tales of good triumphing over evil. But the rapture/premil/dispensational approach loudly proclaims as one of its strongest points that it follows a direct literal interpretation of Scripture. My point is that, in Revelation, say, the interpretation of such groups shifts from literal to figurative from one verse to the next without any rhyme or reason and they actually seem oblivious to the fact that they’re actually abandonding a literal interpretation half the time.

          Other viewpoints besides the rapture/premil/dispensational also believe that literal earthly events are in mind, but either don’t have a preconceived interpretation with which to frame certain passages or do in fact interpret passages as figurative descriptions of literal events. Two examples: 1) in I thess 4, non-rapture folks see this as representing a literal resurrection at the second coming of Christ but see nothing to associate this event with a partial second coming 7 years before the “real” one; 2) much of Revelation (and Matthew 24) are seen by preterists as representing real earthly events associated with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD but they see the language used as a figurative description of those real events. In both cases, the differences between viewpoints are a case of hermeneutics not whether real earthly events are involved.

          I’m sure there will be more future essays on the subject.

          • FollowerOfHim says:

            I think your thoughts are far better developed here than are my own. I especially appreciate the two specific examples you provided. Much food for thought. And, indeed, there will be more future essays.

            It’s people like you that make this blog so great.

            Pax,

          • Peace to you as well. I’ve learned a lot listening to people on this blog myself.

  13. Here is a link to an article from the Orlando Sentinel about all the Christian movies being made in Orlando.
    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-movie-story-christian-film-20100827,0,3787368.story

    Not sure if these are mostly church funded. Whether they are labeled Christian films or not I would think there is plenty of room for independent filmmakers with projects dealing with topics such as faith, mercy, community, compassion and redemption.

  14. “Is there really any such thing as a Christian movie?”

    There are a number of movies which contain redemptive themes. I think this points to general revelation, of eternity written on the hearts of man. When it’s Christians turning the sayings of Jesus into self-help platitudes, could a non-believer really do much worse?

    I think of Phil Vischer’s account of Big-Idea going from becoming a Christian Disney to blowing up in his face. I just don’t believe in the idea of a religious media company. It rapidly degenerates from demonstrating God-like creativity and proclaiming the good news to accumulating profits and market share. It creates a beast which must be fed with ones highest ideals – a service to God becoming a man-made god named Molech.

    • Buford Hollis says:

      How about Robert DeNiro’s “The Apostle”?

      Or (reaching back a bit here) “Friendly Persuasion”? (About Quakers during the U.S. Civil War.)

    • I thought Beowulf (2007 CGI/3D) was profoundly Christian in its themes. Not only in the overt part the “Christ religion” played in it, but also in Beowulf’s having to live with the consequences of his sins and choices, a result of his pride.

    • I contend “Ground Hog Day” is a Christian movie if there ever was one. Or at least had the message right. You life will not work until you put the needs of all others ahead of yourself.

  15. Back during the 2003 run-up to yet-another-war, and the 2004 campaigning by evangelicals for yet-another-Christian-four-years-in-the-White-House, I discovered Sister Joan Chittister on Jim Lehrer’s NewsHour. In the absence of any sane evangelical voice during that period (or none that I could find) I resorted to the Roman Catholics in the form of Sister Joan and National Catholic Reporter:
    http://ncronline.org/ There you can find her column “From Where I Stand”.

    I’m sure there was a rational (and Christian) evangelical voice somewhere, but I went to NCRonline because I could find no other place to go.

  16. A quick question for those still reading the comments here- would you consider the Omen films to be Christian? They’re horror films about the anti-Christ, but end (spoilers ahoy!) with his defeat at the end of the third film. His defeat is at the hands of a mortal woman, but after his death, there is a scene with Jesus appearing in the sky and rejoicing that he will come again (something along those lines, it’s been a while). I know the religious element in the Omen films is about as accurate as the scientific element in Armageddon, but I’m wondering where people see (mostly horror) films that use Christian themes but without Christian values really being represented.