Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Baby Got Book

Protestant Icon 2

Here is my second Protestant icon - this one a kind of ascension portrait -"The Apotheosis of John Wesley " from the Methodist collection of the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester. "Blessed in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."

Protestant Icon 1

Orthodox and Catholic Christians have plenty of icons both metaphorical and actual. We Protestants tend to settle on metaphoric icons only. If we were to write icons who might we include? This is "Martin Luther King of Georgia" by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM, ©1984. The text reads "How long shall justice be crucified and truth buried?" Tell me who you think deserves to be an icon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Great Batman Cover Artist Competition

A lot of talented and some not-so-talented artists have taken it upon themselves to draw my Bat-visage. For your chance to win a great prize from the Batcave's comics vault (Action Comics Annual #10 in NM condition see image at the end of this post) have your say on what you think is the best of the following eight covers. I'm not going to just give the prize away however. I will award the prize to the person whose comment shows the most highly refined art appreciation (Ross will love that part) and knowledge of my personal history as the Caped Crusader.

Batman #226 (Nov 1970) by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano

Batman #665 (July 2006) by Andy Kubert

Batman and the Monster Men # 1 (August 2006) by Matt Wagner

Batman #627 (July 2004) by Matt Wagner

Detective Comics #355 (Sept 1966) by Carmine Infantino and Mike Giella

Detective Comics (Oct 1967) by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

Detective Comics #625 (Jan 1991) by Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo

Detective Comics #825 (Jan 2007) by Simone Bianchi

And to motivate you here is the cover of your great prize which I will post to the winner bagged and boarded and postage free- Action Comics Annual #10 (March 2007) a 48 page Giant!featuring a whole bunch of stories about that other guy over in Metropolis - you know the one with the blue suit. The stories are: The Many Deaths of Superman; Who is Clark Kent's Big Brother?; Mystery Under the Blue Sun; The Criminals of Krypton; The Deadliest Forms of Kryptonite; Secrets of the Fortress of Solitude; Superman's Top 10 Most Wanted and the writers and artists include Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Art Adams, Eric Wright, Joe Kubert, Rags Morales, Mark Farmer, Gary Frank, Jonathan Sibel, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, and Tony Daniel. Get commenting folks - this is the big one!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Earn, Save, and Give

The following e-advertisement received from my denominational headquarters is a bit rich (pardon the pun)!

Earn, Save, and Give at WIF! If John Wesley were with us today, we imagine he would be an investor at Wesleyan Investment Foundation. His admonishment to "Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can" is about Serving Higher Interests! When you save with WIF, your money earns up to *6.0% *and helps churches. Request an investment packet today by calling WIF at 317.774.7300 or e-mailing us at info@wifonline.com

Imagine away my freids at WIF. I think I can say with a fair degree of certainty that John Wesley would not invest in the Wesleyan Investment Foundation (WIF) if he were alive today. The idea of investing money at interest was anathema to him. People forget it was the give part of his motto that was its real point. Wesley could have become a wealthy man on the strength of his publishing ventures alone, but he stayed on a very meager income his whole life. Whatever extra he earned he gave to the poor, because he believed it a sin to have any money or goods while others lacked food, clothing and shelter. He never owned a house, but lived in bedsitters attached to chapels in London and Bristol and slept in other people's houses as he travelled. He never accumulated any savings, and when he died he left behind him a saddle and a few books - oh yes, and Methodism. You can read his sermon on The Use of Money here.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you shouldn't invest in WIF. If you're going to invest your money it makes sense to invest it where it might do some good for the church (though I would want first to ensure that WIF is committed only to ethical investments). I'm not speaking here as a moralist or as an ethicist but as an historian. Whatever you or I decide to do with our money it is certain that Wesley would not have invested it in WIF or anywhere else. He had none to invest becasue he felt it was his obligation to give it all away.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Winds of Worship

Hey it's time for the annual Hillsong Conference. In honour of that event I post here one of the magnificant new songs composed by Chris Tilling, a student at Tubingen whose blog Chrisendom is worth checking out for more such spiritual songs. You can go straight to the other songs in the collection here. Thanks to Steve Wright for the heads up on this. Now that he's a pastor he's always looking for more good worship songs.

Hip hip

Hey God,
Hip hip (worship leader)
Hooray (congregation)

Three cheers for God
Three cheers for God

For he’s
a jolly good God indeed
For he’s
a jolly good God indeed
For he’s
a jolly good God indeeeeeeeeed,

Oh yes God really is.

Bridge: Which nobody can deny X2

© Chris Tilling Really Very Holy Ministries (CTRVHM), 2006

Of course if you think this lacks sophistication you could always choose this one instead:

Dance Floor Diva
Unto Thee we declare our High-Calvinist supralapsarianism,
For our anthropopathism is only Moltmannian,
And not an anthropomorphic objectification,
For that would be mere antinomianism,
And not part of our catechism,

I could sing of the Homoousios (not homoiousios) forever
I could sing of the Homoousios (not homoiousios) forever
I could sing of the Homoousios (not homoiousios) forever
I could sing of the Homoousios (not homoiousios) forever X16

Nor do we honour naïve eisegesis, at thine Altar,
Nor a Gnostic hermeneutic that would
deny the Hypostatic union,
And affirm some kind of Sabellian Modalism
We love a critical critical realist epistemological exegesis

Away with Pelagius and in with sola gratia
And sine qua non, the parthenogenesisia
Away with pre-millennial, pre-tribulationism
And anachronistic scholastic individualism
maybe, Lord, in with a redeemed Preterism?

© Chris Tilling Really Very Holy Ministries (CTRVHM), 2006

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ecclesiastical Docetism

I recently heard it reported that a Bible College lecturer had said, "It is more important as a Christian to be a member of a non-Christian organisation than it is to be a member of a church." This has to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard a Bible college lecturer say. Certainly it IS essential to be involved in groups beyond the church. But MORE important than being IN the church? The church is the Bride of Christ, and the Body of Christ. How can people be so theologically cavalier as to suggest that it is an optional extra for Christians to be a part of the church? Being post-church is being post-Christ since the church is his Body. And don't give me any bull about being "in" the church but not "going" to church. The idea that the church can exist out there in in some kind of amorphous way without any concrete, local, and specific gathering around word, sacrament, and order is ridiculously gnostic. Of course, there are always exceptional circumstances that mean that a person may not be able to participate in A church and yet still be part of THE church. That is not my concern here. Rather it is people who cock their noses at EVERY local church and go their own way thinking that they can be disciples of Jesus Christ and in THE church without any concrete lived expression of community with other believers in A church. Some people at the extreme end of the missional church movement have told me that when they sit and talk to me in the uni cafe they are "having church" (read "having fellowship") and that is all the church they need. I categorically reject this idea. The Christian church is an embodied community gathered around word and sacrament with the Risen Christ at its very centre. It has a "thereness" to it - like the Incarnation itself - it can be pointed to so that we can say "there is the church." To borrow Edward Schilleebeckx's words the church is the sacrament of the kingdom. It is human, yes very human, and this is why the ecclesiastical Docetists don't have any time for it. Just like the Christological Docetists who only wanted a divine and not a human Christ and ended up with no Christ at all, so the ecclesiastical Docetists want some kind of ideal church and have let go of the fallen human community of believers only to be left with - what? No church at all.

Christian or Christ follower?

I do declare that the whole "I'm not a Christian; I'm a Christ follower" thing is lame-o. This will pass like so many other fads. We've been called "Christians" since New Testament times so it isn't going to change now. Sure, people have funny ideas about what a "Christian" is, but so what? You don't disown your family name because some members of your family do and say stupid things. It comes across to me as lacking in honest self reflection, not being willing to accept that the sins of the church are our sins - we as the whole Christian community have to live with who we are and what we have done, past, present and future. It's laughable to me that people say they don't want to use the word "Christian" because it might turn people off, when it's likely that saying "I'm a Christ follower" or "I'm a disciple of Jesus" is going to sound a whole lot weirder, like we are members of some kind of new cult or something. I know the motive is right (wanting to make it clear that the word "Christian" does not necessarily mean what you think it does) but a better way to avoid this misunderstanding is simply to live down the opposition, to overcome the objection to being "Christian" by living more like Christ. I wonder too if behind the statement there is sometimes the conceit that we are better Christians than those folks over there who call themselevs "Christian" but aren't really "disciples of Jesus" like we are. We are the "true" Christians and they are only the "nominal" ones. Again, it is better to stand in solidarity with the whole church and bear the shame and ignominy of bad Christian behaviour with grace and repentance than to "thank God that we are not like those sinners" who are supposedly "Christian" in name only.


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