Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Caution: Revival

This is another e-mail I got that I wanted to retain. It concerns false signs of revival.

Although the biblical hope of corporate revival foresees extraordinary blessings in Christ, there are also serious cautions we must heed, even dangers at certain points. It is best to recognize and clarify them now, to be ready to confront them if and when they surface. Some of the cautions include:

Ignorance: A general misapprehension of how God deals with His people on revival, due to our neglect of biblical and historical study of the topic; or due to our blindness to where and how God is currently granting seasons of renewal and awakening within the church. This could create a temporary climate of confusion, chaos, and division in fostering the message of revival, or during an awakening itself.

Shortsightedness: Limited views of the term revival—such as it being an evangelistic campaign, the restoration of individual backsliders, the refreshing of a local congregation, or a duplication of the outward forms of a previous general awakening. This could lead us to a parochial hope that settles for less than God’s best for our generation.

Fantasies: Expecting God to do more than He actually has promised regarding corporate revival. This might lead us to seek manifestations of revival that have no clear biblical warrant, or to spread reports on revival that exaggerate what really happened. Our hope must be in harmony with what God has said and not our own wishful notions. Similarly, it is unhealthy to expect current out workings of corporate revival to mimic the specific characteristics of some previous revival for another generation. Disappointment is likely.

Superficiality: The temptation to seek revival rather than to seek God; to seek the phenomena rather than to seek His presence. The Scriptures and the Spirit always work together. Sound doctrine will always accompany true revival, helping Christians to engage more fully the manifest presence of Christ as the heart of revival. The revival movement cannot be allowed to become primarily testimonial or story-fed, rather than Bible-fed and God-centered.

Irresponsibility: Seeing revival as a panacea, a magic want encouraging us to excuse ourselves from responsible obedience and follow-through in the day-to-day struggles of the church, whether God grants revival or not. Our seeking revival must be accompanied by daily obedience—whether in love, or worship, or outreach, or ministry to the poor—even as we live in anticipation of more to come. We must do what God has clearly told us to do, even while we pray and prepare for what God has promised He will do.

Negativity: Overlooking all the ways God is blessing now; failing to affirm the positive aspects of current kingdom advances; lacking gratitude to God for how many efforts of the church in our generation have effectively challenged and transformed the culture. Above all, we must avoid the tendency to depreciate current, normal, regular ministries of the Holy Spirit measurable, to some degree, in any believing Christian congregation.

Uniformity: Failure to appreciate the balance between continuity and diversity. The danger of division rests in our attempts to gain uniformity in a season of revival without reckoning with this fact; the outward shape of a reviving work is often based on prior conditions within each community experiencing it. These would include; pre-existing needs, the cultural context, ecclesiastical traditions, the age or temperament of those being revived, their previous spiritual experiences, their collective theological grids, and the extent of their current spiritual malaise. Even though there are common themes in every God-given revival—the centrality of Christ, confession of sin, quickening of the Scriptures, increased love, outreach to the lost—still, diversity of experiences must be expected and not be resisted.

Immaturity: A lack of preparedness for the exuberance, eagerness, excitement, and fresh expectations that normally come in seasons of revival. As was true with the awakening in New Testament Corinth, extraordinary experiences of God’s power and presence run the risk of creating temporary disorder due to immaturity or carnal mismanagement of newly unleashed spiritual gifts. But a far greater danger is that fewer of misplaced enthusiasms will drive people to settle for something worse (in the words of J. I. Packer): “the predictability, unexpecting apathy and tidy inertia of a congregation locked in spiritual deadness.

Elitism: Unconsciously justifying attitudes of arrogance or sectarianism on the part of those claiming to be revived. They perceive themselves to be a select group with special favors from God, spiritually superior to those not experiencing the same phenomena, or emotions, or break-throughs, or reformations. This is another place where consensus and collaboration on revival among Christian leaders before revival comes can pre-empt a deadly trend. Guarding our unity must always walk hand in hand with the reformation of sound doctrine and the revitalization of spiritual life.

Nationalism: Expecting revival to salvage and rescue a whole nation when, in fact, It is a work of God promised exclusively for the people of God. Only secondarily does it impact a surrounding community, and only at times does God-given revival spill over to transform a whole culture or nation (sometimes termed a general awakening). Our motivation must not rise form nationalistic passions, therefore, but from our desire for God to get the greatest glory through His church—even if the nation as a whole rejects this gracious hope and undergoes subsequent divine retributions (as happened with Jerusalem in AD 70 despite a revived church in its midst).

Conflict: Entering into the euphoria and wonders of corporate revival without reckoning with increased levels of warfare with the powers of darkness or with persecution due to the impact of revival on unbelievers. Awakening often brings seasons of conflict and suffering. Out of reformation and revival, the church is drawn more fully into the vortex of Christ’s mission among the nations. By manifesting more of Christ to and through the church, revival arouses the antiforces—both human and spiritual—against Christ’s kingdom. Revival sends the church actively into battlefields and harvest fields as we confront, contest, and displace the works of darkness. Suffering is therefore unavoidable and must be expected.

Conclusion: Are these cautions permanent obstacles to consensus and collaboration? Quite the contrary. Actually, sincere discussion by Christian leaders can significantly foster the common ground that will help prepare us to fully embrace together corporate, biblical revival as God grants it. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Socialism - Redistribution of Wealth - at a glance

I saw this on a website and thought I would repost it here so not to forget it... This is a great summary of the structure and intent of Socialism (i.e. Redistribution of Wealth)

Redistribution of wealth

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign the read “Vote Obama, I need the money.” I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a “Obama 08" tie, again I laughed–just imagine the coincidence.

Suddenly, it hit me. An experiment is in order.

I asked the server, did he really believe that Obama's platform was a good one? Yes, he did.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept.

He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need – the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10, and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn, even though the actual recipient needed the money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application - at least if it is your wealth that is being redistributed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Corporate Buyouts

I do not claim to be a economist. And I certainly do not know everything about government or Capitalism. I just cannot understand how all these corporate buyouts can be productive. In my atrophied mind, it would seem that corporate reliance upon the government will produce the same detrimental effects as domestic government programming. In the same sense that I believe, as a Conservative, that domestic government programming, such as welfare, promotes laziness, a lack of sense of domestic responsibility, and produces a society that is dependent upon government for their domestic commodities, these corporate buyouts will take away what little accountability corporate gurus must practice. As long as corporations can rely on the government to pull them out, they no longer must practice prudence in making corporate decisions. In my opinion, bad management should lead to a closed company. This will allow other, better managed, companies in the same industry to come in and take up the slack and make higher profit, which stimulates the economy and promotes employment.

Think about it on a smaller scale. What if the local McDonald's is having financial difficulty due to bad management. If it is bailed out by the government, or any other entity for that matter, it will still just barely be surviving, with its employees left wondering when their last day will be. But if it allowed to fold, then all the customers will now go to other restaurants, like Hardee's or Wendy's. This will boost their profits, and they will then need to expand their businesses. True, that the employees of McDonald's will lose their jobs. But if other restaurants are diligent in absorbing the business the McDonald's left, then they will have to hire these people.

And of course, there is the seperate issue of them using OUR TAX DOLLARS for this buyout. This infuriates me. Government using our money to help profit-oriented private businesses!? My hard-earned money paying the bloated salaries of the aristocracy or the Bourgeoisie? This is very close to Socialism, and it scares me. Not in the true sense of the word, of course. I am a Christian and I have a profound knowledge of where my future lies. But I still hate to see this society fall over such asinine decisions. Friday, the epitome of Liberal Democracy Nancy Pelosi* gave, not loaned, GAVE the big three automakers 1 trillion dollars. First, Billions to Fannie Mae. Billions to Freddie Mac. Billions to AIG? And now, a cool TRILLION to the big three, no strings attached? Why? If they cannot make it by producing a better product at a competitive price, let them die. Then better managed automakers can come in and claim their customers. That is Capitalism!!!

I cannot articulate this as well as I would like. I only study political science and the economy in a amateurish manner. So I want to post something I think expresses this much better than I ever could. On September 17, 2008, in the first hour of Brian and the Judge, Judge Andrew Napolitano expressed his views, which are virtually identical to my own, very well. I am posting this on this blog entry. It is from their podcast, which may be downloaded at the link above.

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Get Your Own Player!

* - Footnote, this isn't an anti-liberal post. George W. Bush's support of these buyouts is equally appalling. It is amazing that not only have Conservatives failed to oppose this, there hasn't even been a call to debate these measures.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Dark Knight - My Review

Well, after a week of hearing all the hype, I finally took in a matinee and saw The Dark Knight.

Batman fans struggle with Batman movies. Why is it, DC has such a difficult time translating their super heroes onto the big screen? It doesn't make sense. With the X-men, Spider-man, Ironman, and The Incredible Hulk, Marvel has proven they can seamlessly perform the translation. With DC... Not so much.

Anyway, I thought I'd share my likes and dislikes on various elements of the movie. There will be spoilers.

The Plot: Acceptable. Better than acceptable, actually. Anyone who is an avid fan of the comic book knows Batman was only in cahoots with Commissioner Gordon, not the whole entire police force. The police regarded him just as much of a menace as the fiends he tangoed with. The self-sacrificing transition from the hero of Gotham to the vigilante of Gotham was a welcome sight.

The City: I went with a friend to see this movie, who made the interesting observation that Gotham was actually Chicago. Gotham is supposed to be just that... GOTHam. Dark. Most of the buildings should be stonework, and with a general appearance of dilapidation. But this Gotham looked like... well... Chicago. Also, many of the shots were in the daytime,,, atypical of Batman.

The Joker: Everyone's raving about Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker. I must say he did fairly well. He behaved just I imagine the Joker should, and was what I always imagined the Joker being, psychotic. The part I did not like about Ledger's performance... His appearance. Anyone who's read the comic knows the Joker was profoundly vain. The disheveled appearance Ledger provided was not accurate. The Joker was supposed to be clean-cut and very primed.

Commissioner Gordon: Gary Oldman's performance was epic. That is all I can say.

Harvey Dent / Two-Face: Eckhart's performance was leaving something to be desired at the beginning of the movie, but by the time the transition was made into Two-Face, the tone of the character changed so dramatically that I was awestruck. Best of all, he looked like Two-Face.

Batman: Ah, Batman. What can we say? You would think that this franchise handling the current stream of Batman movies would learn from the mistakes of the previous franchise. Why is it they always have to make the asinine progression from a decent outfit to an almost rigidly robotic appearing outfit. I loved the Kevlar appearance from Batman Begins and it was my great hope that the suit would remain untouched. I was disappointed. The "upgrade" brought about the same mechanized appearance the previous franchise was apparently working toward. I hate it!!! The smooth lines from Batman Begins has been replaced by a machine looking batsuit. From Kevlar to a super-soldier.
For comparison, here is the two movies, Batman Begins (left) and The Dark Knight (right), side by side...
I honestly wish someone would explain this need to progress toward a mechanical appearing Batman. They are well on their way to producing the same silly looking black and silver Batman from the previous franchise's Batman and Robin, shiny nipples and all.
Anyway, this seems to be the way it is, for now. I think it is funny how the comic can get away with depicting him in tights all these years, but the movies end up with a mecha-Batman.

And then there's Batman's voice. Just like in Batman Begins, Christian Bale uses a low, growling voice to voice Batman. Now granted, he has to disguise his voice, since the voice of Bruce Wayne is too easily distinguished. But why such a primal voice? In my opinion, the best voice of Batman always will be Kevin Conroy in the animated series (where also the very best Joker will immortally exist as well, in my opinion). He made the distinction in voices without making Batman sound so fake.

The Batmobile: It was the same tank-like vehicle as in Batman Begins, howbeit, it gets banged up pretty bad, from whence emerges the new batcycle, using the tires from the Batmobile. Stupid!

There is one other issue I want to address. There is an political allusion to The Patriot Act, and other highly contested issues occurring in the political realm today. Batman does two things in the movie that the current Bush administration implements that is brought under scrutiny. Firstly, torture. In a scene where Batman is put into a room with an unarmed Joker for the purpose of extracting information, The police attempt to intervene when Batman's rage gets the better of him, but they do not succeed. Also, Batman invades everyone privacy by implementing technology that allows him to spy on every citizen of Gotham via their cell phones, much to the dismay of Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman. Mr. Fox is so put off by this invasion of privacy that he immediately resigns from Wayne's company. Much of what I saw in this echoes the real-world mentality of Judge Andrew Napolitano's book A Nation of Sheep, where Judge Napolitano chides with Americans for standing idly by while the government steals away our civil rights based on the idea of improved security. Whatever your stand on the issues, you cannot escape the allusion in this movie.

So, in the long run, is the movie worth going to see? Yes. It is a great movie. Is it the mega-blockbuster the reviewers say it is, worthy of topping IMDB's best 250 list after only one weekend? Absolutely not!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Going To Bat

We’ve all heard it, “It is time to go to bat.” The metaphor of the statement is clear enough. It means it is time to get off the bench, walk out of the dugout, and step into the batter’s box. It means it is time to take a proactive stance where one has heretofore taken a passive stance. Consider the entire scenario. At that point, the man in the batter’s box is the only threat to the opposing team. Nine players, scattered throughout the field, exist for no other reason than for neutralizing that threat. And whether the batter is destined to score, attain a position of safety, or strike out, when it comes his turn, he must “go to bat.”

Sometimes life seems like this. We train and wait on the bench for our time. We long for the Coach to turn to us and tell us to warm up, that our time at bat draws nigh. Some of us were taken unawares by our initial time at bat, and struck out without a real shot at even tipping the ball. Now, we feel we are better prepared. Life’s decisions have honed our skills, wisdom, and intelligence, to the point where we are convinced that if we ever get the opportunity to step into that box again, we’ll knock the leather clean off that ball.

So we wait. We work dead end jobs, take under-graduate classes, and learn, learn, learn, so that when our time comes, we want to ensure that the ball is sent clear over the fence. Striking out is not a good experience and we desire to avoid it at all costs.

The terrible part of this wait is the Coach, just standing there, leaning on His knee. He never makes eye contact with us, seemingly on purpose. We know the forlorn look on our face might pull His heartstrings and He will give us another chance. But instead He keeps sending the same players to the box, completely bypassing us. You know these players well. They were the ones who didn’t strike out their first time at bat. Most of them were able to get on base, and some were able to hit a homer their first time. They are the Coach’s favorites.

These people, the brass, the salt of the earth, the bourgeoisie, they infuriate us. They behave as if they were not aware of their prestigious position in society. They patronize us with tones of affirmation, like a mentor speaking with his protégé, pretending like we are destined to be their equal, when in reality they know they are closer to nobility than we could ever hope to be. They have security, while the light of our hopes grow dimmer and fainter with every game we have sat through.

And then there are the others… the lucky ones. The ones who, with absolutely no training and no experience, the ones who slept through Spring-training, and showed up late for all the team practices, was fortunate enough with one wild, flailing swing, to make contact with the ball and get on base. These are worse than the brass, for at least the brass have trained and worked hard to earn their prestigious place. The Coach seems to favor these players arbitrarily, as if discipline doesn’t matter. Does the coach not see that their success was due to a spurious effort mixed with crazy good Karma? Once the wild flailing hit was made and they achieved “safety”, believing they have potential, the Coach then allows them to be sent to the good training houses, and assigns them personal trainers. Their fortune is made. Perhaps they were inadequate before, but the next time they step up to bat, it will be with status attained, and it will be with all the proper training. Training that we; of course, are not afforded due to our initial failure. Blessed with good luck that ushers them into prominence; they now bear the same polished repertoire as the brass.

And worst of all, there are those without any real skill or knowledge of the game, but have attained their status through political means. The Coach knew their father, so the son inherits a place of honor on the team, though their strikeouts is perpetually mounting to greater and greater heights. Ask him to name the accomplishments of Canseco, Jeter, Hernandez, or Chipper Jones, and you’ll only get a blank stare. And yet, the Coach keeps sending him to the box, an act defiant of all logic, yet there it is, right before our eyes.

So, you have the ones who have been given the resources to become successful, and have availed themselves of the priviledge. And then you have those who have become successful through a stint of good fortune, without any credentials to account for their accomplishments. And then those who; with talent hardly comparable to ours, are only deemed worthy through political associations.

And there we sit, still on the bench, right next to these guys. In a sense, you’re on the inside, but still on the outside. We can hear them discussing their methods of swinging the bat, how far apart our feet should be, or how far to choke up on the bat. And sometimes we bravely contribute our opinions, though we can be fairly sure we are not taken seriously. We are feigning dignity. Regardless of what we say, it will never be our signatures people will want on their baseballs. It will never be our names listed in the Hall of Fame. Indeed, we cannot see the day when online bidders scramble on E-bay trying to acquire our rookie card.

Oh, to have one more shot. After every game, we implore the Coach for another chance. We tell Him we have been training, the best we know how, with the resources available to us. He answers you only with profound silence and a completely neutral stare.

We often wonder, “If He isn’t going to use me, why does He keep me on the team?” Then there comes the crushing realization, “Perhaps He wants me to quit and walk away on my own, so it won’t be His responsibility. He no longer desires to be encumbered by an impotent player like myself, but is indeed too noble to kick me off the team. Perhaps leaving the team on my accord is the noble thing.”

But we find we cannot. Baseball has become our entire life. It is all we think about. We have studied it intensely, and we are somewhat renowned for our knowledge of the game. Only, we have never actually been permitted to play the game.

Sitting in the dugout, our thoughts are suddenly distracted by a crack of the bat. Another home run; pounded, of course, by one of the mega-stars. The ball flies over the fence. The scoreboard marquee displays a cute little “He Crushed It!!!” cartoon. The player trots around the bases, and with a look of satisfaction, takes a seat in the dugout right beside us…

Right beside us…

Odd, this is something we’ve never noticed. For all their work, and our idleness, we are sitting on the same bench. We’ve never felt the thud of the wooden bat as it collides with the ball, but we still wear the glove. We have no clue what elation it is to sprint down the stretch of baseline between third and home, but we still wear the cleats. We have never seen something we do trigger the stadium fireworks, but we still wear the team logo. We are still on the same team.

So, in the end, what is the difference between them and us? As long as the Coach lets us remain on the team, what is the attribute that distinguishes them, the team's aristocracy, from us, the dregs, the lower class, the proletariat?

The answer, like the metaphor, is simple enough… The applause.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Prince Caspian, My Review

(Warning: Spoilers)

Well, I went to see Prince Caspian (PC) last night. My review is simple, good movie, bad translation. If anyone is only a moderate fan of the Narnia books, this movie will suit them. If anyone is a die-hard Lewisian, like myself, he will walk away with his mind in a funk.

Allow me to get started with my litany of goods and bads.

The Storyline: My primary complaint. Imagine writing PC's storyline on a strip of paper, cutting it into tiny pieces, and then arbitrarily putting it back together, eliminating random parts, and adding random parts that weren't there before. The horn blowing, the conspiracy, the battles, and key characters had different placements and durations in the movie as in the book. In this regard, it was a asinine perversion of the book.

The entire war, which presumably lasted years in the book, went a whole week in the movie. The presence of all the various and sundry inhabitants of Narnia uniting to eliminate Miraz was a patriotic scene. I got a kick out of the automatic firing trebuchets used by Miraz's army. It was like a machine gun trebuchet. I chuckled.

I thought the elimination of the post-resurrection romp from LWW could not be topped. But alas, it was. There was no holiday parade and revelry in the movie. Aslan's return should have been a celebrated event! This is a key part of the book, but it was completely skipped. I cannot understand how Gresham could have allowed this. Caspian's nurse has no part in this movie. No mean boys turned into pigs. No Aslan breaking into a house to heal Caspian's nurse. No Bacchus and his madcap girls. No fat Silenus on his donkey. In essence, Adamson has completely eliminated my favorite part of the book from the movie. Yes, he had the river god, but that was just eye-candy.

Peter: As with LWW, Peter's character was tolerable. Adamson did go out of his way to include character traits that weren't present in the book. Peter and Caspian had a falling out, which was never really justified. It rang of the superiority complex he had in LWW.

Edmund: Very good. Having been a primary recipient of Aslan's grace in the first movie, he was a humble and obedient servant to the best interests of the group. He stuck up for Lucy, which is true to the book, and was depicted valiantly in the movie.

Susan: Ug. What can I say? The book made Susan one who was always wanting to be an adult. The movie does the same. You see her in full tilt warrior mode in this movie, which is very good.

Lucy: Ms. Henley is a great Lucy, but my that girl is growing up. They better snap to it in filming VDT, or they're going to have a Lucy that appears very grown up. Adamson did a good job of making her appear queenly in the movie. In fact, all four took on a noticeable air of nobility shortly after they entered Narnia. I liked that.

Aslan: Bigger. More affectionate (finally, thank you Andrew!). But still, where's the green eyes? Like in LWW, very important segments involving Aslan were sacrificed to brevity. The part where he plays with Trumpkin, is reduced to a roar. Honestly, a roar. I just sat there and shook my head. It was embarrassing.

Trumpkin: Not a jolly old cynic like in the books, but a very low key and industrious dwarf. Though not like the books, I liked this Trumpkin, but still would have preferred the jolly old atheist depicted in the books.

Trufflehunter, Pattertwig, Nickabrick: These are adequate. They suffer from diminished roles, but all in all, they are the same as in the book. Trufflehunter is as true as can be, while Pattertwig is rarely seen, but is reminiscent of that silly squirrel in Over the Hedge. Nickabrick is not nearly as over the top violent, and even appears a true friend and ally during most of the movie. The book draws him as malevolent from the start, while the movie gradually reveals his malevolence.

Reepicheep: Good ole Reep. I had some concerns, but he is as noble a mouse as in the book. Very proper speaking, and absolutely a fearless warrior. Adamson nailed Reep! I wish the scene with the wounded Reep would have depicted him a little more... wounded. The book said it was just a heap of fur. But the movie just appeared to have a war weary mouse on a stretcher.

Caspian: Too old for this movie. Too timid. He was cast for the girls. Normally I hate it when characters change between movies but if Barnes is replaced in VDT, I will not complain.

Trees: Well, the trees were almost too much. In the book, the mere sight of walking trees was enough to scare the Telmarines out of their skins. But these trees were in complete war mode. It was honestly almost too much.

Werewolf and Hag: Very good. I liked, but wish the entire scene had it proper place in the story.

Well, that is it. I may post more in the future, I may not.