Category Archives: TV/Movies

Rohr on silence in a culture of noise

We live in a noisy world.

We surround ourselves with entertainment and news and music and talking and texting and constant accessibility to internet.  We immerse ourselves in the many messages we hear from culture, family, church, school, and work.  We are loud and wordy and flashy and full of so much swirling around that it often feels impossible to shhhhhhh… into a place of quiet, stillness, and rest.

Richard Rohr writes about the place of silence in this excerpt below from his recent article “Finding God in the Depths of Silence” in Sojourners (March 2013):

At the less mature levels, religion is mostly noise, entertainment, and words.  Catholics and Orthodox Christians prefer theater and wordy symbols; Protestants prefer music and endless sermons.

Probably more than ever, because of iPads, cell phones, billboards, TVs, and iPods, we are a toxically overstimulated people.  Only time will tell the deep effects of this on emotional maturity, relationship, communication, conversation, and religion itself.  Silence now seems like a luxury, but it is not so much a luxury as it is a choice and decision at the heart of every spiritual discipline and growth.  Without it, most liturgies, Bible studies, devotions, “holy” practices, sermons, and religious conversations might be good and fine, but they will never be truly great or life-changing — for ourselves or for others. They can only represent the surface; God is always found at the depths, even the depths of our sin and brokenness. And in the depths, it is silent.

Thoughts? Comments? Reactions? Share in the comment box below.

 

Advertisements

The Illusionists

You may have noticed this picture trending on Facebook and Pinterest this week.

screenshot

I ran across it myself, which led me to discovering The Illusionists, a documentary that is currently in post-production and promises to be a balanced and informative look at the commodification of the human body.  That’s right up our alley here at HBTB, so I thought I’d do a little plugging for them.  Check out the video below.

I’m in no way affiliated with The Illusionists, but I’m looking forward to their finished product!  You can also find out more about body image and media literacy on The Illusionists blog.

Saturday Sex-versations

My computer crashed this week, and I lost most of the interesting and well-written articles I had pulled for all you lovely readers this week.  I included below the ones I could recover, but I’m afraid the list is a little short this week.  To compensate, share your favorite conversation-starter article from this past week in the comment boxes and include the link so we can all benefit and stay informed together.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment of current conversations on issues of holistic body theology.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

A blocked quote indicates a highly recommended link.

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) The Fierceness of God In addition to expressing the nature of God’s protection over us, it also sheds light on the imago dei in women. Although men are traditionally construed as the “protectors,” I think we all know how fierce women can get with their children.

2) Are You There, World? It’s Me, Tina. Without Makeup. In a moment of pure insanity I thought, if my beautiful friend Claire can be honest about how many times she has weighed herself, I can be honest about what I look like without makeup.

3) Letter against gay marriage to be read in every Catholic church this Sunday The letter…restates the anti-gay-marriage campaign’s argument that “neither the Church nor the State has the power to change [the] fundamental understanding of marriage itself”.

4) Fit, not skinny I’ve decided to love my body no matter what the scale says.

5) Relationship Myth #2: If I Have to Tell My Partner My Needs… It is from this vulnerable place that we start to form the distorted thought, “If I have to share my needs, it doesn’t count because he/she should know me well enough to just know them.”

6) Rush Limbaugh and three evangelical blind spots Currently, evangelicals tend to force young adults, especially young women, into simplistic sexual categories. They are either “pure” or “impure,” “whole” or “damaged,” “virgins” or “sluts.” There does not seem to exist a vocabulary within evangelicalism with which to talk about men and women who are sexually active, but not promiscuous.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Loose All female sins can be reduced to same one: a refusal to allow men to define and control female sexuality.

2) My Take: New TV series ‘GCB’ portrays Christians as caricatures Still, “GCB” challenges every Christian – including me – to consider our own faith journey and if our talk really matches our walk.

3) What the Hunger Games Taught Me (and the Church Should Have) About Men In our culture, men are given license to satisfy their desires for pleasure by using women, just as women are given license to seek pleasure in pampering themselves. This message carries way beyond Christian teachers—it’s everywhere.

4) Gender Disparity in the Clergy: Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling Let us capitalize on this national moment of frustration and revelation and commit to concrete action in promoting women as religious thought leaders in our faiths, culture and society.

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) Foundations in Community–Part 1 The geese know that their best chance of survival is to travel in flocks, yet value the individual goose enough that they will not simply abandon them in crisis.  We could learn a lot from these geese.

2) Femsculine Christianity As we learn more about God, we can live out a Christianity that is both uncompromisingly feminine and genuinely masculine.

3) Brew Pubs, Putting Down Roots, and What the Incarnation Means for Local Living A local gospel must be important for a God who entered our physical space, Emmanuel, to dwell with us.

4) Does Suburbia Hurt Christianity? Community is spread out. It occurs irregularly at appointed places such as schools, churches and athletic facilities that are miles apart. It offers little in the way of unifying cultural and civic institutions because there is no commitment to a place … because there is no “place.”

5) the underground railroad when we choose the path of leaving systems & structures that continue to keep us in bondage, we choose a lonelier, scarier road.

6) The Torah and Making Sacred Spaces Confronted repeatedly by frailty, isolation, mortality, and error, we find strength and solace in community and the achievement that community makes possible.

7) Down We Go: Practicing Equality Jesus broke down barriers of inequality. Now we need to play our part in it as well. Equality crosses more than just gender.

8) Taking Root: Creating The church recognized that because God’s attribute of creativity is so important and because people are made in His image, it is essential for humans to create. It’s a part of who we are.

9) The Myth of Religious Superiority [Y]et another group thinks Christianity is one way of salvation, a true way, but there are other ways too (pluralism).

10) Women: The Church’s Most Wasted Resource But for many women (particularly wives and mothers), leaving doesn’t mean walking away; more often it means showing up without being present. Women often do this because they want their husbands and children to grow spiritually.

Service: Social Justice Issues & Creation Care

1) What the “After-birth Abortion” and “Personhood” Debates Have in Common “Merely being human,” they claim, “is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”

2) Let’s Retire the Term “Slut” The term hurts women. Men use it to hurt women. Women use it to hurt women. We think it’s time to stop using it.

3) Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh: Let’s Retire the Word “Slut” [M]ost people — women and men — who call women prostitutes, whores, or sluts don’t do so because they think that’s the truth. They do it to defame, demean, and shame. They do it to keep women quiet and to keep women cautious in speaking about their own sexuality….

4) ‘Dawn of a new hope’ for whom? Systemic violence and impunity plague women in Ivory Coast “Women have a lower status than men, even though the constitution recognizes women’s equal rights. Domestic violence is very accepted as a way of educating and controlling women. Sexual violence is then possible because we don’t see women as protected and supported by the general community.”

5) Compassion in the Everyday Do not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, especially those who have the spotlight; reach out to those around you, wherever you are, and you will start to see your impact.

6) The best and worst places to be a woman 1) Best place to be a woman: Iceland

Saturday Sex-versations

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment of current conversations on issues of holistic body theology.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

A blocked quote indicates a highly recommended link.

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) The Story Is Everything How does kingdom of God reshape the story of sex? How does new creation plot sex in its story?

2) Utah House passes bill to allow schools to skip sex ed “In truth, few of us are up to the task of effectively teaching our kids ourselves the things they need to know about sex.”

3) Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here But over the decades, many have discovered from personal experience that the practice [of yoga] can fan the sexual flames. Pelvic regions can feel more sensitive and orgasms more intense.

4) Why (and How) Abortion Should Be Talked about in Church Churches that speak of abortion without acknowledging that many women have experienced it as an injustice, not as a choice, drive women deeper into their pain rather than set them free from the captivity where they are both bound and gagged.

5) How Old Should You Be to Marry? It’s not just about meeting the right person, but it’s also about their personal maturity.

6) Aw, Hey, Fella Aw, hey, fella–/Whatcha gonna do/When a pretty lady’s/Not ashamed of what she’s got?/Better let her know/Just what nasty names you’re thinkin’/‘Cause it’s so much easier/Than changing whatcha think.

7) Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles? The church needs to re-evaluate its relationship with singles, especially in light of the increasing numbers of unmarried adults.

8) Breastfeeding in Church, and Other Petty Crimes Breastfeeding is itself a work of art wrought by the Greatest Artist.

9) Day 13: Seek Intimacy Now Do I find it easier to be loved by God because someone else has said that the body I was created with is beautiful?

10) Birth Control: Burden or Blessing? This decision was meant to be hard—God meant it to be hard. He wants us to contemplate life with the utmost care and caution. He wants us to deeply consider the potential for life that we carry around in our bodies.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Women & Social Media Women are moving from passive purchasers to online authorities and tastemakers.

2) America’s Top Magazines: Still Not Hiring Women Do we really have to educate editors that women can bring new perspectives on major stories, and not just to stories about living as a single woman or going through a divorce?

3) Gender bias in books journalism remains acute, research shows Vida is instead trying to support women writers throughout their careers, and attempting to encourage people to examine their own biases.

4) Dear Oscar: Women Have Stories, Too When girls grow up seeing story after story that tells them they are sex objects, accessories or victims, they will learn that to be a “woman” is to play one of those three roles.

5) O Women, Where Art Thou? Certainly, something like a feminist intersectional analysis is rarely performed in the boardrooms and cafes of the Los Angeles film industry.

6) The Hidden Damage of Eating Disorders This inadequacy is due to the lie that resides beneath our cultural over-emphasis on physical beauty: “The only thing that is truly important or valuable about your identity is your appearance.”

7) People for the Ethical Treatment of Anyone but Women PETA’s use of nudity and sexuality has long been criticized as being exploitative of women, but many feminists say the new campaign crosses a line by trivializing domestic and sexual violence, further injuring an already-fragile demographic.

8) Why Do Only Women Whine? By stating that determined women are “whiners” their opinions instantly lose credibility in a distinctly sexist way.

9) you is smart. you is kind. you is important. the messages passed on to many of us through our families, relationships, and some of our church experiences are more like: “you’re somehow not enough.”

10) Does “The Help” Hurt? It is all too easy to accept caricaturizations of others that affirms our sense of justice while never addressing the inherent assumptions that come from living in a culture that is still largely “white normative”.

11) 3 Lessons Every Writer, Speaker, Blogger, and Musician Can Learn from Led Zeppelin Sometimes staying true to your art grabs the multitudes. But more often it does not. Staying true to yourself and faithful to your calling should always be the goal.

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) This Easter Season, Remember: Church Growth is About More Than ‘The Marrieds’ These latest reports about childbirth and marriage suddenly show us that our typical evangelism efforts in churches are aiming at less than half of our nation’s population.

2) “I’m Dad, the Babysitter,” and Other Cultural Myths Dads are parents, not babysitters.

3) Tell Your Story, Tell It Well The church, if it wishes to speak into the culture around it, must regain its ability to tell testimonies. It must read its history and learn to tell its individual stories, and to tell them well, so that hearers hungry for a roadmap might find it in us.

4) More Than Enchanting: A Q&A with Jo Saxton I hope it changes the minds of women who have given up on God, their call on the church because of how difficult it’s been for them. I hope it changes the minds of those who have felt too inadequate to respond to God’s call.

5) Helen Lee: On Not Playing It Safe I still struggle with moments in which I distrust myself, in which I doubt myself, in which I would rather disappear into the background rather than put myself and my ideas forward into the public arena.

6) Reading the Magnificat During Lent [B]ut our faith is not something that concerns just us. We exist as a body and as members of the body of Christ the disciplines we engage in should always work towards the good of that body.

7) Resisting a Segregated Church Except for church, my life was one of post-Civil Rights integration.

8) Good Girls Never Change the World: Part 2 Esther more closely resembles the monarchs favourite prostitute than she does his married-in-a-church-before-God-and-all-our-friends-in-a-white-dress wife.

Service: Social Justice Issues & Creation Care

1) Earth Care as Lenten Practice If fashioned from the earth, and blessed and called by God, how can we live into an awakened relationship with the earth?

2) Living Abundantly “We understand that we can’t think about food without referring to the narrative of creation and linking it with a deep understanding of how we have been created to be the bearers of the Spirit and part of the community of life on this planet, not its owners,” Claudio said.

3) Because Children Need a Defender For children suffering in silence…justice and healing may seem impossible. But they are not—not when there is a strong defender standing beside them in the fight for justice.

4) Finding a Home for Oklahoma’s Orphans While not everyone is called to foster or adopt, every follower of Christ is called to bring justice to orphans and can do something to change the outcome for these kids.

5) Criminalizing Homelessness? Fallout feared from anti-Occupy bill “It’s criminalizing the right to exist as a human being. It’s outlawing homelessness.”

6) Desmond Tutu: Tackling Child Marriage in India One of the most common features of all these women is that they are educated, but has it reduced their worth? No, their worth has been enhanced.

7) One Small Wardrobe, One Huge Cause “I’m using my body and what I wear to represent these women. I feel like they can’t speak.”

8) Black Evangelicals, White Evangelicals, and Franklin Graham’s Repentence They see those 2,000 scriptures about poverty and injustice. And this new generation of white evangelicals is committed to fight systemic and structural justice because of the Gospel.

9) Feeling a Sacred Trust But the idea that we are separate from our world is a dangerous delusion. Every breath of oxygen we take was first exhaled by a leaf. No animal, even us, can be safer or healthier than its habitat.

10) Altering Clothes, and Lives, with Design “You have these smart students who care about the community, the planet and using recycled materials, and we have these people here in Detroit who really want to work and need money.”

11) Picturing the hands of Christ I touch people on their hands and feet and bodies to be a reminder to them that they are not alone when they are ill or dying, especially when they are dying. It is a holy moment to be with people in death.

12) Our Hands Tell Our Stories We receive the body of Christ in upturned hands every time we kneel at the altar. And as we kneel and wait, our hands, so unique and revealing about our lives, are made equal.

Saturday Sex-versations

As part of the on-going series, the links below will take you to current conversations about sexuality and relationships as well as issues related to the other three categories of holistic body theology: community, cultural discernment, and service.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) In which I am on my soapbox about shame Has shame ever helped a woman? This is just the other side of that same “You’re not enough” coin.

2) The Secret Sexual Revolution If this generation wants to reverse the trend and reduce the number of Christians having premarital sex, the first step is trying to figure out why so few are waiting.

3) Clothing In Church: Why It Matters The way we dress is frequently an external expression of an internal reality, a way for “the body, or even the self, to communicate itself to society,” in the words of theologian Tom Beaudoin.

4) Sex Is A Big Deal And I Wish Someone Had Told Me No one ever talks about the casual dating and casual hook up aftermath. Instead, it is glamorized and a fun, sexy, effective fix-all.

5) Transfiguration and Beauty We offer the Lord these forty days because we believe God loves us. We believe that when we let go of control, we will see more clearly the movement and the beauty of Jesus.

6) The Secret Life of Hasidic Sexuality Actually, the main purpose of sex — as explained by Jewish law — is to create something called devek, best translated as an intense spiritual/emotional cleaving between the couple.

7) Veiled Muslim women and revolutionary modesty Whether we’re wearing hajibs or jeans or baggy t-shirts or mini-skirts, are our clothes making us slaves to patriarchy and consumerism?

8) Resurrection Spirituality And this kind of eschatology leads to body image problems now, not to mention lack of care with creation and lack of concern with any sense of salvation having to do with creation and cosmos and new creation.

9) When Your One Beauty Goes Gray But then there are the days when I find that pesky, out of place gray hair, and I wonder.  Will anyone love me with gray hair?  Will anyone think I’m beautiful if it was gone?

10) Dear Victims of Rape and Sexual Abuse No Shame. No Guilt. No Excuses. No Blame. No Heartache.

11) Phyllis Tickle & Doug Pagitt: Welcome to Ash Wednesday Of all the observances of Christianity, Lent is far and away the most physical, starting not with Ash Wednesday but with Mardi Gras. [The last minute is especially wonderful.]

12) Transgender kids get puberty-blocking drugs, sex-changing hormones; MDs say numbers are rising Switching gender roles…is common in young children. But these kids are different. They feel certain they were born with the wrong bodies.

13) Seven states sue government over contraceptives mandate “This lawsuit is about protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience, our most basic freedoms as Americans.”

14) The Millennial Church: The Future of Christianity (Pt.5) At the heart of the loss of virginity before marriage lies a bigger issue in the eyes of millennials, morality/ethics.

15) ‘Am I Ugly?’ Videos: Young Teens Ask YouTube Users Whether They’re Pretty Or Not But, in a world of carefully curated Facebook profiles that put personal lives (and looks) at center stage…it’s perhaps unsurprising that young people are sharing their body image anxieties in such a forum.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Erasing Women: How Both Sides Contribute to the Media Blackout on Female Pro-Lifers But as all this happens—and it is happening, however slowly—mainstream institutions such as the media, the government, the schools, and the entertainment industry need to recognize that these women exist and have voices worth hearing.

2) The Final Freaking Rose. [H]ave we grown so apathetic to the human condition that we’ve turned Love into a gameshow?

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) there are a lot of ways to pastor [T]he world is crying out for more “pastors”, people who will bravely and freely extend Christ’s love, hope, care, mercy & justice in a broken & hurting world.

2) Mimi Haddad on Gender and Equality in the Church Now, you can hear more from Dr. Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality on gender and equality in the Church.

3) We Need the Full Vocabulary of God To my mind, the church today has impoverished itself by praying with and singing with and thinking with such a small set of the many images for God found in the Bible.

4) And Daniel Kirk Said This Too! How are we to assess these women who, in the narrative world, are outsiders, on the margins?

5) Our Problem is Authoritarianism and Not Legalism Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that a Christian, because of title or position, has moral authority over another Christian.

6) Male and Female God Made (Most Of) Them: Part 2 Christians cared for people no one else cared for.

7) When Church Becomes a Verb Instead of going to church to be fed, to be welcomed, to be loved, why don’t we go to church to feed, to welcome, to love?

8) A Little Grace for Masculine Christianity I am saying [masculine Christianity is] one way—it’s part of the truth, just as God’s more traditionally feminine qualities are part of the truth—and for some people it’s critical.

9) Women of valor at Truett Seminary I can’t help but smile to myself when I think about the fact that over the next ten years, those who think that women should be banned from church leadership will have to contend with the talents and enthusiasm of these women of valor!

10) Evangelical 2.0: The Deception of Mark Driscoll’s Acts 29 Network Acts 29 commits itself to “…get behind the men (emphasis added) who are planting churches by…networking with men in different denominations and networks for the kingdom good of the city.”

11) Women in Ministry Series: All Are Invited to Talk I struggle as a woman in a conservative church. Do I stay and work for change? Or do I escape to enjoy freedom elsewhere?

12) What Diversity Should Look Like [T]he temptation is always to elevate your own experience over someone else’s. Within the Church, this can lead to conflict, division and sorrow. But those differences can also be the glory of God made manifest.

13) Is There a Place for Creative Christians? In community that is caring and healthy, an artist brings not only beauty and inspiration but also powerful observational skills and spiritual awareness.

14) Phyllis Tickle & Doug Paggit: The Physicality of Lent In the third installment of my conversation with Phyllis Tickle about Lent we talk about the physical nature of spirituality.

Service: Social Justice Issues

1) The Santorum Question: Should Theology Affect the Way We Vote? Faith and politics are enmeshed with each other in both vital and destructive ways.

2) Counting the Cost I have learned, however, that when you take these numbers and put them within context and place, these numbers actually tell a story.

3) Justice in Guatemala: Man Convicted for Raping His 15-Year-Old Daughter And the conviction sends a strong message to the entire community that sexual crimes against children will not be tolerated under the law.

4) A Savvy Peacemaker Building Across Missouri’s Race Lines The divide has resulted in tension between the African American community and the predominantly white authorities and social service agencies. Lawson sees his calling as bridging that gap.

5) The Significance of Linsanity Fortunately, the symbolism hasn’t been wasted; rather, it has turned into a fascinating conversation about the need for forgiveness and humility.

6) Role Reversal: The Problem of the Increasing Marginalization of Men And the Khasi men are experiencing the crippling prejudice, discrimination, and oppression that women throughout history have known all too well.

7) Haitian millionaire determined to build back better Now the 45-year-old is using his entrepreneurship to benefit communities uprooted by the devastating 2010 quake.

Saturday Sex-versations

As part of the on-going series, the links below will take you to current conversations about sexuality and relationships as well as issues related to the other three categories of holistic body theology: community, cultural discernment, and service.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment.  (The numbers aren’t rankings. Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) Relate with Helen: Let’s Talk About Sex! ”Can you honestly say that you believe that your gift of sexuality is a good gift from God?”

2) Our Bodies Are What? Our bodies are beautiful.  They’re the image of God despite all their earthly imperfections. We might have defects, but we are still loved and cherished by God.

3) The (real) secret to hot sex  His message is antithetical to the sex advice found everywhere from self-help books to the supermarket checkout line: The secret to a fulfilling sex life is mental, not physical.

4) In New Book ‘Sexual Intelligence’ Sex Therapist Marty Klein Explains the Key to Improving Intimate Relationships and Sexual Satisfaction Dr. Klein reveals that how we think about sex is the primary factor that determines the quality of our sex lives and intimate relationships.

5) Sex in the Body of Christ Christian communities aren’t immune to the sexual revolution.

6) Poll: Americans support contraception coverage, divided over religious exemptions  A majority of Americans — including Catholics — believe that employers should be required to provide employee health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost, according to a new survey.

7) Ten Years of Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage   (Be sure to click through all six graphs.)

8) Jay Bakker on Homosexuality, Religion & Politics   Bakker’s philosophy is that God is loving and all accepting.

9) The Death (and Life) of Marriage in America The full answer for the delay and decline of marriage would touch on birth control technology…, liberal divorce laws…, and even washing/drying machines….

10) The Great Modesty Experiment So, following these rules as carefully as possible, considering my Christian brothers at every turn, I am left with one pair of jeans, and three shirts that fit the modest standards.

11) Surviving church as a single  34. Someone throws the “Paul was never married” card on you. = +2 points

12) Mercy: A Daily Practice of Digging for Truth Seeing God’s love keeps us from being dragged down by hurt and failure, events that are inevitable in our world.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) The Power of Choice in ‘Downton Abbey‘ But my favorite aspect of Downton is its emphasis on humans’ agency and accountability despite social and economic barriers. The characters are never excused for their choices by circumstance, class, gender, time period, or even the unfairness of the rules to which they so tightly cling.

2) Caucasian Christian Radio This preferential music that is called “Christian” is killing the gospel message by being exclusive, ethnocentric, and close-minded.

3) A Little More Ration for Fashion  [W]hat we wear on our bodies can be an obedient and worshipful response to these experiences of space and time and who we encounter in these experiences.

4) Victoria’s Secret Model Quits to Reserve Body ‘for My Husband’ “Thousands of girls that think that being beautiful is an outer issue and really it’s a heart issue.”

5) Can Fidelity Make a Good Movie? [T]he field of movies about marriage is much more diverse than the box-office belies. Viewers just have to be willing to look beyond a film’s self-advertising and see what can be revealed by digging a little deeper.

6) The Cultural IQ of the Church Christian leaders are lagging behind in attaining the cultural intelligence they need in order to navigate through this multi-cultural reality.

Community: Equality Issues (There’s so much happening this week in the wake of John Piper’s remarks that I thought it deserved its own category.)

1) Eight Traits of a Responsible Ministry  Change a word here and there, and what Piper says makes sense to me.

2) God Is Not Ashamed  When I challenged men to respond to John Piper’s claim that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel” with posts that celebrate femininity and affirm women in the Church, I never expected this.

3) Following the Leader Wherever She May Go I am deeply convinced that God calls both women and men into all vocations in the Church, gifting and empowering them to walk with one another in obedience to those callings.

4) In Response to Masculine Christianity: A Letter to My Daughter May you never mistake the pronouns of God with the character of God. May you never be so grateful for being created in the image of God that you seek to return the favor.

5) Is Christianity Supposed to Be Masculine? For Paul it would seem that a predominantly masculine Christianity would betray the logic that Christ is all and in all….[T]he traits that Paul mentions to describe the people of God…aren’t those that Piper mentions for his masculine Christianity.

6) Redemption and Strength in Men and Women I think God gave Christianity a redemptive feel, a feel of reconciliation, a feel of hopeful expectation through his desire to save wayward, broken people like us.

7) God the Father…and Mother? The father image shows us just how intimate God’s relationship with God’s people really is. But does this mean God is exclusively a father, and does not have any mother qualities at all?

8) Why the Church Needs Women [W]omen are living, breathing witnesses to the truth about human nature who in their very bodies direct God’s Church away from idolatry and heresy and toward true Christian faith and practice.

9) Sarcasm Alert: The Kitchen Has a Feminine Feel in the Bible   God wants men to stay out of the kitchen. Women are the unquestioned authorities in the kitchen.

10) In Search of Masculine Christianity The idea of a strong and aggressive (masculine?) Christianity, portrayed in [Studd’s book], had more to do with restraint, with sacrifice, with generosity, not bullying but serving, not hoarding [but] giving, not rampant conference attending but packing our suitcases for Christ’s sake and not coming home again.

11) A Balanced Perspective of Images for Ministry We discover texts that speak of our mutual motherly ministry. In other words, another dimension of ministry compares pastors/teachers to mothers.

12) Femsculine Christianity [Jesus] never said that his way was masculine or feminine. Rather, he persisted in breaking the oppressive barriers that had been set up against women. We must imitate him in this.

13) Digging Deep; Planting Trees And maybe in the planting we’ll end up with a forest so wide and beautiful the ditch will fill with flowers and old logs and we can sit and have conversations, conversations that are life-giving and life-up-lifting.

14) Unladylike If we want to be part of empowering women everywhere, understanding our value–and our equality in the eyes of God–is essential. It’s from this place that we can go on and transform our world.

15) Unladylike: A Review If we accept her tenet that women were made, fully and completely by a loving God, to do His (Her) good work, then the ways we resist come from Him (Her), too.

16) Breaking Through the Glass Sidewalk War zones are certainly not the only places women are bringing unprecedented change to their communities.

17) Don’t Read This Part of the Bible if You’re 30 or a Woman I am a feminist, and the Book of Ezekiel offends me.

Community: Other Issues

1) To Cade and the Eight Percent We wear political correctness as a badge of honor; but the rising statistics of pregnancies terminated after a Downs syndrome diagnosis reveal the hypocrisy of our celebration.

2) The Great Escapism   At first glance, living in local community seems to clash with the lifestyle of a church-hopping, apartment-renting, rootless and restless generation. But the benefits of plugging into local community are many….It’s time to invest where you are—no matter how long you’ll be there.

3) God Is a Verb that Acts Like Jesus The solution to individualism is not smaller churches; the solution to individualism is a decade or more of teaching and embodying the community nature of the Body of Christ….

4) Wherever Two or More Are Gathered…Online And yet, here we are, almost four years of daily interaction later, with a communion of 20 souls around the world.

5) Calling All Callings When we begin to understand this invitation from Jesus to join his mission of restoring all things, our enthusiasm for integrating faith and work will be heightened.

Service: Social Justice Issues

1) Down We Go: Diffusing Power The problem is when our churches, ministries, and communities inadvertently adopt the world’s thirst for power into our culture, our homes and the fabric of our lives.

2) The First Step Is Admitting There Is a Problem …and the evidence in the U. S. and around the world indicates that more and more people are coming to grips with the fact that extreme income inequality is a significant problem and that something has to be done about it.

3) The Church and Extreme Poverty The Church is unrivaled in its capacity. If you want to respond to the massive challenges of global poverty, then the Church is the organization with the legs to get it done.

4) pawn shops, empty refrigerators & the long hill up i am idealistic enough to think that if somehow, some way, every person who lived below the poverty line had brothers & sisters in Christ to journey together with  for the long haul that over the course of time  life could be different.

5) The Best Ways to Fight Poverty–Really  That means that (1) churches should create their own anti-poverty initiatives (like microfinance), and (2) churches should lobby governments to do better.

6) The Washington Projects–Justus–Music Video Premiere  The goal of this video is to give the viewer a visual understanding of what these victims face on a daily basis, and to entice those taken captive by the imagery to become the change they wish to see.

7) Praying for the Johns “If men stopped desiring [to buy sex], then this wouldn’t be a problem,” Hightower says. “Praying for men’s hearts to change is very important.”

Parable and Truth

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the 2007 French film that won numerous awards and was nominated for more including four Oscar nominations, is the true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby.  Bauby suffered a stroke and lived his remaining years “locked in” to a body completely paralyzed except for his left eye.  He uses this eye, through coded blinking, to dictate his memoir of the same name.  I find something extraordinarily beautiful about the way Bauby chooses to express himself poetically despite the tediousness of the task and the utterly humiliating state of being he is reduced to from his former position of influence and affluence.

Watching films like this make me wonder at the amazing imagination we have been given.  Story has often been considered falsehood or at best escapism, yet the tide is shifting as we come to realize the power of imagination for good purpose.  Indeed, our imagination is just one way we are imaging our Creator.  We have an imaginative God who speaks to us in more than just a list of dos and don’ts.  So, too, do we have this ability to share truth through story.

When I was in seminary, my Storytelling professor, Olive Drane, told us a story about the twin boys Truth and Parable.  In the story, Truth has an urgent message to share with his town.  In his haste, Truth runs into the town square stark naked, shouting his news to all who will hear him.  But the townspeople are horrified by Truth’s display, beat him, and send him away.

Discouraged, Truth returns home to his twin brother, Parable, who is well-respected in the town.  Parable cleans his brother’s wounds, gives Truth his own clothes to cover his nakedness, and encourages Truth to try again.  This time, when Truth returns to the town square wearing Parable’s clothes, the townspeople listen to his message and accept him.

But might people miss the truth we want to convey if we cover it with story?  Isn’t it safer to speak the truth plainly and ensure we are heard?

Even artists disagree on the appropriate balance between story and truth.  Poet Emily Dickinson wrote famously, “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.” Yet Southern short story author Flannery O’Connor one wrote in an article that she was determined to write her message “in large print on the wall so that the blind could see it.”  Is it subtlety, then, or shouting that wins the day?  To put it another way, how many layers of Parable’s clothes must Truth wear before the townspeople will accept him?

Perhaps it depends on the message.  Perhaps it depends on the artist.  Perhaps it depends on the audience.

In the film, Bauby shares his life story in painful detail, yet the success of his life lies not in his worldly accomplishments but in his ability to imagine, to feed his soul though he is “locked in.” Rather than dictating a minimalist report of his life, which would have been so much easier, Bauby chooses to make the extra effort to show the truth of his experience and the truth of the person he has come to be–with all his flaws–through story.

Bauby didn’t set out to write a book.  He didn’t grow up taking creative writing classes or attending seminars.  He was a magazine editor, interested in the world of fashion.  But he had something to say, and before he died, he took the time to say it. And the world is better for having heard and learned from his story.

Maybe you think to yourself, I’m not an artist. I don’t have a story to tell. But you’re wrong.  Everyone has a story.  Maybe it’s not a fable like the Princess and the Pea.  Maybe it’s not an award-winning novel like The Old Man and the Sea.  But it’s part of who you are. And the world will be better off having your story, too.

Jesus, who is the Truth, spoke often in parable and usually refused to explain himself even to his disciples. We’ll take a look at why Jesus spoke in parables tomorrow.

4 Easy Steps to Media Literacy

Yesterday, guest blogger Matt Cavanaugh introduced us to the “false reality” of ideal body image often portrayed in the media.  Culture has so much to tell us about who we are, but not all of it is true.  In fact, some of it is actually physically impossible. Consider the unrealistic proportions of the Barbie doll, airbrushed makeup advertisements, and fashion models with eating disorders.

But culture tells us more than what we should look like.  Romantic comedies tell us relationships are all about that first spark of infatuation.  Magazines and entertainment news tell us who matters and how to imitate them. Advertisements tell us how we should look, who we should be with, and what we must purchase in order to have the life we deserve.

Culture tells us who we should emulate, how to interact with others, when to break up with our significant others, what we need to own in order to be important, who it’s okay to hurt in order to get what we want, how many sexual partners we should have and by what age, who’s opinion matters more, where we should buy our clothes and our cars, which zip code we should live in, who our friends should be, and so much more.

And that’s okay.  Sometimes, culture has it right.  But often, culture perpetuates an impossible standard and faulty ideals that are not only unhelpful but also unhealthy, especially in the media.  These standards and ideals create a false reality in which we must accept a false identity in order to survive and thrive.

So what do we do?  How do we pursue healthy, holistic body theology amidst all the false messages from culture and the media?  Here are four easy steps:

1) Know God. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:33).

2) Know yourself.  No matter who we are, what job we have, how much schooling we received, whether we’re married or single, kids or no kids, homeowners or renters–at bottom we are God’s children, covered with the blood of Jesus and clothed with righteousness.  Our identity is in Christ, so to know Christ is to know ourselves.

3) Identify the messages you receive through culture.  Instead of simply accepting everything at face value, ask yourself what this commercial or movie or news program is really trying to tell you about who you are and what you should want or need.  Identifying the message breaks its power over you and enables you to view the message from a safe distance.

4) Ask yourself if the particular message from that commercial agrees with what you already learned in step 1 and step 2.  If the answer is yes, then great! Accept the message.  If the answer is no, then there is no need to pay it any attention.  Simply acknowledge that it is a false message, and do not accept it.  You have already broken its power in step 3, so you are in control.  Choose to ignore the false message and go on with your happy life.

Okay, so maybe these steps aren’t quite that easy.  Knowing God takes a lifetime.  Knowing ourselves takes a lifetime.  How can we ever get to step 3, much less step 4?  Yes, it’s a process, and yes, we will all be imperfect at it.  But the important thing is to have the awareness that there are messages we are receiving through culture and the media and that not all of them are true.  The more we use step 3 and step 4, the more we will realize the need for more of step 1 and step 2.

Let’s have a practice run, shall we?

1) What do I know about God?  God cares about the poor.  God is trustworthy and my provider.  Jesus said it is easier for a camel to fit through a door in the city gate that is only big enough for a person to walk through than for a rich person to fit into the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up all his wealth.

2) What do I know about myself? God cares about me when I am financially unstable.  I can trust God to provide for my needs like the lilies and birds in the field.  I will be happier and more fulfilled by following Jesus’ example of ministering to the poor and oppressed than by acquiring material wealth.

3) I watch The Pursuit of Happyness. One message I identify is that if I work really, really hard and never give up, I will get the job I always dreamed of and live in financial security for the rest of my life.  Or, financial security = happiness. Or, achieving the American Dream will make me happy.

4) I measure step 1 and step 2 against step 3.  The Pursuit of Happyness is a good movie, and I enjoyed watching it.  But I don’t have to accept every message it gives in order to enjoy the movie.  I accept the good that it has to offer, and I leave the rest.  It’s true that working hard and never giving up are valuable character traits. I will accept that message.  It’s not true that financial security will make me happy, so I will not accept that message.

Cultural discernment and media literacy cannot be achieved in one day, or one week, or even one year.  It’s a lifelong process, but as we acquire more knowledge and wisdom from God, we will gradually free ourselves from the lies we have been believing, and as more of God’s truth informs our identity, the more wisdom and discernment we will gain.

Start small: Next time you watch a commercial, ask yourself what message is being presented, and test that message against what you know about who God is and who you are in Christ.  You won’t catch every lie you receive in a day, but maybe you’ll catch that one.

What is Body Theology?

Body theology is traditionally used to refer to body image and sexuality; however, I believe a true body theology is much more holistic, involving not only what we look like (physicality) but who we are as human beings (identity) and what we do with our bodies (community and service).

Holistic body theology is four-fold: sexuality/physicality, cultural discernment/media literacy, community, and service. Topics covered on this blog will stem from one of these categories, always with the underlying principle belief that our bodies were made good and, though corrupted by the fall, have been redeemed through Christ.

Holistic body theology, then, is based on the incarnation of Christ: God took on flesh, not merely the appearance of flesh; God lived and suffered and died—and rose again!—in the actual, fleshly sense. Likewise, we are both corporeal (bodily) and spiritual beings.  My goal is to encourage Christians to realize our true identity in Christ, free ourselves from bondage to the lies that can be perpetuated through culture, and be empowered to enter into the redemption Christ offers both for our bodies and how we use them in the world. I believe that as we grow in knowledge and discernment, we can redeem both the way we see ourselves and the way we interact with culture–and enjoy living in freedom in the space where the sacred and secular blur into messy, surprising beauty.

Come join me on this journey toward healthy, holy living.

Image: farconville / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

%d bloggers like this: