Thinking Out Loud

February 29, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to Wednesday Link List Leap Day Edition, or as we prefer to call it, WLLLDE.

Here’s my social media observation for the day: Pinterest is to Facebook what Tumblr is to WordPress.  (Five years from now they’ll be quoting that in business textbooks.)

CT Stories

  • There may be some changes afoot at Christianity Today as to who can access articles online, so we’ll do these while we can.  First, in one we missed in January, T. D. Jakes revealed he’s now regarded as heretic by both mainstream Evangelicals and one-ness Pentecostals.
  • A brief rare interview Rob Bell did with CT earlier in the month. Doesn’t let the cat out of the bag as to what he’s currently working on, though. (But if you’re really into Bellmania, flash back to this piece Tony Jones did exactly one year ago, which remains in his all time top five.)
  • “A century ago, a novel called In His Steps convinced generations of Christians that Jesus would, among other things, oppose the sport of prizefighting. That novel became the ninth best-selling book of all time, and the book’s thesis found new life in the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ movement.” So begins a look at the ethics of cage fighting with three viewpoints.
  • “Here’s what you can do in a New York City public school after hours: You may gather people together once a week (or more often). You can start off with praise choruses and Bible reading. Someone can stand up and teach that Jesus is Lord, that he rose from the dead to save us from sin, and that he is coming again. Then you can break bread and pray together.  Here’s what you can’t do in a New York City public school after hours: Hold a ‘religious worship service.'” Another look at the strange situation in NYC.

Les autres links

  • With just weeks to go before release, Donald Miller and Steve Taylor sit down to discuss how Blue Like Jazz, the collection of short stories, ended up as Blue Like Jazz: The Movie, with a more cohesive storyline. 
  • Signs of the Times: There is now actually a blog with the name Church and Synagogue Security News. Tagline: Covering security and safety at places of worship and religious institutions worldwide.
  • Sarah Bolme reviews Peace Child by Don Richardson; an absolute classic missions story that many of you have never heard of. “In the book, there is a quote from a missionary talking to Don before Don embarks on the mission field. This gentleman says, “You must be prepared in the strength of the Lord, to do battle with the prince of darkness, who, having held these hundreds of tribes captive these many thousand years, is not about to give them up without a fight.” Sarah says Christian authors today face similar obstacles.
  • Zac Hicks looks deeply into the sometimes thorny issue of church membership. He offers five compelling arguments for moving from adherent to member. Which type of weekend service attender are you?
  • Who to date.
    Where to go to college.
    Who to marry.
    Where to move.
    What job to take.  — Steven Furtick thinks that knowing God’s will for your life isn’t the main point.
  • Mark Buchanan is blogging sample chapters of his forthcoming book, Your Church is Too Safe. Check out chapter five and chapter thirteen, a most interesting consideration of the types of spirits that showed up when Jesus ministered, some of which show up in our churches today.
  • In other Zondervan book news, one of my favorites from last year is being released in a teen/youth edition; look for the bright red cover for Not a Fan Teen Edition by Kyle Idleman (no link).
  • How do you get KJV-only teens revved up for the next youth conference? How about a Marine Corps themed promo video with the bold proclamation “In 1611 God forged a sword.”  Apparently before 1611 God was a little deficient in terms of a means to save the world.
  • Donation request: Tony Jones (aka Tall Skinny Kiwi) needs about $5,000 US to ship his truck from Turkey to New Zealand, where it will serve as an operations base. Funds are needed rather soon.
  • If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried at least once to learn Biblical Greek. Tyler Blanski thinks the key is learning to love parts of speech that aren’t so important in English.
  • People Department: I always look forward to Brad Lomenick’s monthly Young Influencers List; here’s the one for February.
  • I’m always interested when slightly more insider church references make it into the comics pages.  Wikipedia notes that Pluggers “…runs in 60 newspapers, mostly in the Southern, Mid-West, Plains, and Rocky Mountain states… In the context of this strip, ‘pluggers’ are defined as blue-collar workers who live a typical working-class American lifestyle, accompanied by a mentality characteristic of the veteran and Baby Boomer generations. In the comic, pluggers are portrayed in the form of anthropomorphic animals, most often a plump bear, dog, chicken, or rhinoceros…”

November 24, 2011

Family Circus Models Christian Values

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:40 am

If you don’t have time to read all the daily strips on the comic pages, chances are your eyes will at least catch the distinctive single-panel circle known as The Family Circus.  As is the case with a handful of today’s popular comic strips, the strip frequently reflects themes related to prayer, church life, and religion in general.

Today we’re remembering Family Circus creator Bil Keane, who passed away earlier this month at age 89.

While the church scenes in the comic were that of a generic, American house of worship, Keane was in fact a practicing Roman Catholic.  The blog, Get Religion, which focuses on ‘the story behind the religious stories in the media,’ recently devoted a highly-recommended article to Mr. Keane.

Keane was quoted in The Washington Post

“We are, in the comics, the last frontier of good, wholesome family humor and entertainment,” Keane said. “On radio and television, magazines and the movies, you can’t tell what you’re going to get. When you look at the comic page, you can usually depend on something acceptable by the entire family.”

Get Religion also cites a Keane story from the Catholic News Service

The comic also is known for its occasional religious themes. While the worship depicted in “The Family Circus” is of a generic Christian nature, Keane told St. Anthony Messenger it came from the family’s long connection to the Catholic Church. “I draw out of my lifestyle,” Bil said. “I grew up Catholic, my kids grew up Catholic.”

But the Catholic upbringing Keane had was apparently somewhat informal, as this piece at The Comics Journal notes:

“Laughter was a part of the church services I attended as a child,” said Keane, who believed that Jesus must’ve had a sense of humor: “I like to think of him as a guy who got people to listen to him by leaving them laughing and chuckling with one another.”

At the blog, Rule of Thumb, Sara Foss offers some reflections from when, as a writer for the Birmingham Post-Herald, she did a piece on religion in the comic pages, where she wrote:

“[Peanuts creator Charles] Schulz’s religious references didn’t sit well with all readers.

‘I believe it is inexcusably poor taste, and offensive to many readers both Christian and Jewish, to use texts from and reference to the Bible … especially in a comic strip,” one reader wrote to Schulz in 1969. The letter is included in ‘Peanuts: A Golden Celebration,” a collection of comics by Schulz.

But some people offered praise.

Like Schulz, ‘Family Circus’ creator Bil Keane, 77, said he used to get an occasional complaint about using religion in his strip.

‘Now those same people write to me to say, ‘Thank you for putting spirituality into the comics page,’ he said.

Keane often spins gags out of children saying prayers or the family attending church. In one, young Jeffy prays, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, how did you know my name?’

Keane’s depiction of the family’s grandfather sitting angelically on a cloud in heaven, listening to his grandchildren, is among his most popular images. Readers use the strip to show their own children where people go after they die.

‘To see that in a comic strip, it does more than 10 homilies by a priest,’ said Keane, a Catholic, from his home outside of Phoenix

‘I never set out to be an evangelist,’ he added. “‘All I’m doing is showing the way religion touches a child’s life or family life.'”

A Hollywood gossip blog reported,

On occasion, Mr. Keane quietly introduced religious themes into his cartoon.

One time, Dolly questioned, “Is God white, black, brown, yellow or red?”

Mommy answered, “Yes.”

The Family Circus continues under the direction of Bil’s son Jeff, now 53, who with a recent Sunday panel (see yesterday’s post here) indicates a willingness to continue the faith-oriented themes.


July 24, 2011

The Dinosaur Mystery Finally Explained

Filed under: cartoons — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:51 am

While searching for the first of three cartoon panels below from the Bizarro comic strip drawn by Dan Piraro, I suddenly realized the number of times he’s waded into religious themes and/or the degree to which certain Biblical imagery is part of the broader culture.   Anyway, I felt this is as good an explanation as any for what happened to the dinosaurs:

In the process, I stumbled across this little hiccup that may have befallen Noah during the early stages:

Hopefully God would have been sympathetic, because the creation of the world was no small task…

You can read more at the Bizarro website.

I believe Christians can take it as a compliment when Bible themes make it into the broader cultural media, especially if the writer or artist doesn’t necessarily claim to be a believer.  But some Christ-followers take everything so seriously that they feel that in comic panels like these the Bible is somehow being mocked or ridiculed; or that Biblical imagery belongs to us and cannot be expropriated by them

Do you feel that as a Christian you are easily offended?  I Cor. 13 may have something to say about that. 

April 6, 2011

Wednesday Link List

I want to do something different this week and begin with a link to a page that contains about a dozen other links.  Last week seven influential pastors gathered together to discuss “the elephant in the room” — several of them actually — at the appropriately titled Elephant Room Conference. Trevin Wax does a subject-by-subject set of links to two other bloggers, Canada’s Chris Vacher and Arizona’s Jake Johnson.  It’s not full transcripts, just what you’d expect to post yourself if you were listening with two ears and typing with two fingers (or thumbs).

The Elephant Room subjects and speakers were:

  • Session 1: Preaching to Build the Attendance vs. Preaching to Build the Attendees
    - Matt Chandler & Steven Furtick
  • Session 2: Culture in the Church vs. Church in the Culture
    - Mark Driscoll & Perry Noble
  • Session 3: Compassion Amplifies the Gospel vs. Compassion Distorts the Gospel
    - Greg Laurie & David Platt
  • Session 4: Unity: Can’t We All Get Along? vs. Discernment: My Way or the Highway
    - Steven Furtick & James MacDonald
  • Session 5: Multi-Site: Personality Cult vs. God’s Greater Glory
    - Perry Noble & Matt Chandler
  • Session 6: Money?
    - David Platt & James MacDonald
  • Session 7: Love the Gospel vs. Share the Gospel
    - Greg Laurie & Mark Driscoll

…I know, I know; now you’re curious.  There are a lot of interesting quotations from this one-day conference, which originated at one of the Harvest Bible Chapel locations and was simulcast to 15 U.S. and one Canadian location.  So here again is the magic link.  Also, Zach posted a video clip from the conference yesterday.

And now here’s the rest of this week’s blog connectivity:

  • Yesterday marks one year since the passing of Internet Monk founder Michael Spencer.  His wife Denise shares Michael’s approach to adventure.
  • Tony Campolo suggests to Huffington’s readers that there’s other dynamics at play in the saga that might be called, “The Rise and Fall of the Crystal Cathedral;” dynamics owing to the changing ethnic demographics of Garden Grove, California.
  • Here’s a special link to the first chapter of former Planned Parenthood employee Abby Johnson’s book Unplannedfile opens as .pdf .
  • If your first name is Tim and your second name begins with Ch—, chances are you have a new book about pornography.  First it was Tim Challies, and now Tim Chester.
  • Summer is coming!  If you want to get dirty on the streets of Philadelphia with Shane Claiborne’s Simple Way community, here’s how you connect to attend events.
  • Donald Miller buys a copy of Love Wins online and offers a straight-forward and concise review.
  • For all you worship leaders out there:  Here’s how to tell if you’re a classical music nerd.
  • This one’s from 2007, but our YouTube link this week asks the musical question, “What if Worship was Like an NBA Game?
  • From the blog, Small Steps to Glory, here’s a look at a modern day Goliath (well the height part anyway) which gives some perspective to the “David And” story.
  • At Arthur Sido’s blog this week, I discovered this trailer for an upcoming documentary on the education system, Indoctrination.
  • For all you techies out there, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to broadcast your church services on the internet.
  • 130 Churches in Calgary, Alberta, Canada are coming together to raise $1.5M to reduce the mortgage on a transitional housing facility established in 2009.
  • Proverbs 3 promises us, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid;when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” So then what about those of us who simply don’t get a good night’s sleep.  Ryan rumbles through a topic that I totally identify with.
  • If you find the links I run to religion stories at CNN and USAToday a little too American for you and you’d like to explore stories from the broader world of spiritual interest, here’s the link to the religion page of Reuters News Service.
  • send your own link suggestions by 8:00 PM EST on Monday.
  • Today’s picture:  Songwriter Mandy Thompson cures writer’s block by going analog:

  • I’ve always had a huge interest in the spiritual themes that turn up in the comic pages of the daily newspaper.  Comic writers can say things in ways others cannot.  I’ve used Dennis the Menace — now drawn by Marcus Hamilton — here a few times, with the result that one of the panels now hangs in my office.  Here’s another kids-eye-view of God as only Dennis can see it:

November 2, 2009

Genesis for the Comic Book Crowd

Filed under: books, cartoons — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:57 am

Time Magazine began the week joining other media who have noted the publication of The Book of Genesis by 66-year old American comic book illustrator Robert Crumb aka R. Crumb. In a November 1st online story, the magazine said:

R. Crumb - The Book of GenesisCrumb’s manuscript is — for a man who has said he doesn’t believe Genesis is God’s word — oddly reminiscent of those produced by monks before printing presses: a faithful, verse for verse copy, painstakingly rendered. He hardly needed to change a thing; Genesis offers a smorgasbord of the kind of behavior Crumb is given to portraying: the persistent, colorful, depressing failure of humans to not give in to their baser desires. It’s sufficiently literal that cultural conservatives could hardly be offended, but it has more than enough supernatural events, betrayals and epic storylines to satisfy the comic book reader.

Despite the above, the book is not selling through comic book stores, Crumb’s traditional core market.  That might have to do with the content and the price; the book retails for $24.99 U.S. in hardcover.

The story also links to a review by the more Evangelical Ben Witherington III, who writes at Beliefnet:

…This super-lapsed Catholic has decided to depict scenes from all 50 chapters of Genesis, with the emphasis on verbatim. Those of us who knew a bit about his snarky past were holding our collective breath… The kudos for this book are also coming in from other quarters–Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and chronicler of pop culture thinks Crumb is successfully translating the Bible into a new medium… In the end Crumb after long debating how to depict God (as a bright light???) fell back on the old stand by–God as the old white guy with the long white beard. I wonder what the Mormons would say about this Genesis.,

Contrast this with Crumb’s other works which include the Hot ‘n Heavy collection which introduced readers to a number of characters including the not-so-religious Fritz The Cat.

Don’t look for copies of this at Family Christian Bookstores, though it would be interesting to see if they would order it for a customer.

October 7, 2009

Church Mice

Filed under: cartoons — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:16 pm

Church Mice by Karl Zorowski was, I think, one of the first cartoons we used here at Thinking Out Loud.    Click anywhere on the cartoon if you want to bookmark the site.

church mice

June 20, 2009

Deepest Theology

June 12, 2009

Apologetics in a Box

Filed under: Christian, Faith — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:31 pm

apologeticsSo there I was, a young, zealous Christian guy in my 20s, flying back from two weeks immersion in Christian community in southern California.    He was a French scientist, en route from Los Angeles to Toronto.

I shared a little bit of what had driven me to spend two weeks in Orange County, and then decided to probe him about his faith.   Eventually the conversation rolled around to evolution, which he said he believed in.

So of course, I started to unpack my reasons why evolution can’t possibly be true, and number two on my list was the Law of Entropy, which states that things tend to break down in complexity not increase in complexity. Devolution, not evolution.

That’s when he interrupted me and said there was a flaw in my logic.   I was taking the Second Law of Thermodynamics and applying it to a life science.   “You can’t do that;” he said.

Oh.   How come nobody mentioned this issue before?

I mention this story because I know a young guy who is, figuratively speaking, on his own flight from L.A.    He’s encountering people and ideas online that are, in one sense, like a breath of fresh air, but his box of apologetics is too neat, too ordered, too unchallenged to accommodate these recent objections.

So the atheists, agnostics, and followers of New Thought, while they have not won the war, are certainly winning the battle.

It’s a confusing time.

I’ve decided I can’t win those arguments.   I know people who can hold their own in discussions of science and faith, but I have to content myself that knowing the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ is sufficient.   I can trust that he’s got it all worked out.    What I can do is communicate the reality of the faith I experience.  And once in awhile, I can articulate the way out of an argument trap, simply because I know God’s got it all sorted.

I wonder what might have happened if I’d asked the scientist, “Where do you think ‘love’ came from?”  “What is your view on why we are here?”  “Do you believe that humans are endowed with a soul?”  “What do you think of Jesus?”

Instead, I, an arts major, tried to debate thermodynamics with a French scientist.    It’s laughable, really.

Anyway, pray for my young friend.   I don’t know him well, but I know his family and I know they’re trusting God that the present season of doubt and uncertainty will not last long.

And pray that he encounters someone whose faith is robust enough to withstand the challenges to faith that happen to us all.    Maybe I’m that person.  Maybe you’re that person.

The comic is from Back on Earth, which began online in January, has posted 40 episodes so far, and is, well, certainly one my more interesting online finds!

Related reading:  The Changing Face of Apologetics — An interview with Lee Strobel at Christianity Today Online.

May 3, 2009

Swine Flew

Filed under: Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:59 pm

swine-flew1

Listened today at 4:00 PM to a radio interview on CBC with Dr. Donald Low which sounded a bit of  a more optimistic note on the H1N1 or “Swine” flu.    Hopefully by this time next week, we’ll be a little more relaxed on the forecast for this particular health concern.

This carton by Jeff Larson reminded me of the various “broadsheets,” a kind of “instant tract” that was put out in the ’70s and ’80s by Jews for Jesus.   They would make an immediate connection with something taking place in the world of news, politics, sports or entertainment and publish an 8.5 x 11 sheet — I think they’re called an A4 in the UK — folded in thirds with some kind of scriptural application on the back panel.   Within minutes of getting them back from the printer, JFJ missionaries would be on the streets of New York and other major cities handing them out.

This is similar to the passage in Acts where Paul latches on to the statue he passed on the way into the city which is dedicated “to an unknown God;” and builds his whole sermon around that.   If he were doing standup, he’d start with, “A funny thing happened on the way into town today; I passed a statue that said, ‘To an unknown God.'”    It’s about being current and relating to your audience.

Now it’s time for me to be current:

If you got here from a WordPress or Google tag for “swine flu,” you’re not here by accident.   Events like this in the news can be scary, but they’re just a reminder that this life — and this world, for that matter — is merely temporary.   Instead of panic searching online for the latest updates, why not put your hope and trust in something — some One, actually — more secure;  Jesus Christ.  Then,  the next time someone says “the sky is falling;” you can be assured of where you’re going beyond this life, even if the sky really is falling.

March 28, 2009

Heaven: Who’s In, Who’s Out

Filed under: Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:58 pm

close-to-home-google-heaven1

I’m one of those people who believe that there will be a lot of surprises in “heaven,” when it comes to who gets in and who is left out.   Of course, we each have to live our lives prepared to give our own account, not obsessing about our relatives, neighbors, fellow workers or fellow students; beyond living lives that will attract them to the person of Christ, and sharing a verbal witness with them when asked.

This comic is from Close to Home by John McPherson.

Related post:  The oft repeated “Preaching at Your Own Funeral” blogged this time by Timothy Archer at the blog  The Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts.

Here’s a great quote from D. L. Moody that fits so perfectly that you simply MUST link to this one. (Thanks, Jim Upchurch)

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