Archive for October, 2007

Velvet Elvis pgs. 176-177, “Epilogue”

October 23, 2007

Very cool.  The End.

This is the last Velvet Elvis entry.  It’s taken a lot more time than I had originally envisioned.  Like many things that sound like a good idea, when you get up to your neck in it, the novelty sort of wears thin and motivation begins to lag.  I also don’t think this is the best format for this sort of review.  Not very interesting to the casual person who just happens across this blog, that’s for sure. 

Time to get relevant again.

Velvet Elvis pgs. 168-172, “Difficulty, Suffering and Hope” and “She”

October 23, 2007


Velvet Elvis pgs. 165-168, “Serving Others” and “Good News”

October 23, 2007

I love “Serving Others”.  If only more congregations and churches could hear this and live this.  How differently Christ would be viewed today!

And I like how he begins in “Good News” as well.  However, we as the church are faced with the conundrum.  We do have an agenda.  We are commissioned.  Matthew 28 and the Great Commission can’t be ignored.  Can’t be forgotten or set aside.  We love, and we should love everyone.  But we also love knowing that the ultimate form of love is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to pray and love that other person, not that they will simply be blessed in worldly ways through our living out of our Christian faith,  but that the other person would allow the Holy Spirit to work inside of them to bring faith. 

So the question about is it love if there’s an agenda seems to put us in a bad spot.  It assumes that any goal or agenda must be wrong and therefore must eliminate love.  I would disagree.  I disagree because the same savior who said “Love your neighbor as yourself” also said “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  Therefore, these two things can’t be contradictory, no matter how the world might choose to make them so. 

The rest of this section is golden.  Beautiful.  Hope-instilling.

Velvet Elvis pgs. 161-164, “A New Culture”

October 23, 2007

Beautiful.  Amen.

Velvet Elvis pgs. 160-161, “Moving Forward”

October 23, 2007

I agree completely, but I think he takes it too far.  Bell’s insistence on God wanting things to move forward seems like a distinctively modernist, American point of view.  It makes the assumption that if things aren’t evolving and progressing, then they can’t be truly good and perfect, and that’s a big assumption to make.  Is God evolving and progressing?  Is heaven? 

Velvet Elvis pgs. 157-161, “Our Environment”

October 23, 2007

I begin to have some definite issues with Bell’s wording and theology in this section.  And it begins with a single word, on page 158.  It’s in the paragraph continued from page 157, and it’s the word forward

Seems like an innocuous enough word, but it seems to be loaded with baggage that I’m not sure I’d like to pick up and carry along.  Forward connotates that creation is on some sort of continually improving road.  It’s a very modernist concept that is being ported over to creation in general, and which I think is problematic in a variety of ways. 

It leads one to think that things are constantly getting better.  This is true, theologically, only in the sense that each day brings us closer to Christ’s return.  Aside from this decided eschatalogical interpretation, the perpetual improvement idea just doesn’t hold water.  It didn’t hold water in terms of the modernist associations with human nature & mankind, and I don’t think it holds water for creation either.  Creation is broken.  It was broken in Eden with the fall.  A continual improvement model seems to imply that creation is somehow fixing itself.  This certainly isn’t Biblical.  There is, as Bell states, “potential and possibility and promise” in creation, but it’s being frustrated. 

Bell is right.  All Christians should be environmentalists.  Heck, all people should be environmentalists.  None of us can afford to not care about this world. 

I think Bell’s distinctions and definitions of good vs. perfect are probably overstated and not entirely adequate.  Perfect in my mind, does not equal stagnation or imovability or unchangeability.  It just means that whatever movement and change there is continues the perfection, rather than disrupting it.  We don’t have to eliminate Eden as a perfect environment just because it isn’t static.  While the Bible doesn’t refer to Eden as perfect, it does refer to it as good.  If God is going to call something good, then it has to be entirely good, it would seem.  Free from any blemish.  Without sin.  That’s generally how we think of perfection, isn’t it?  God didn’t say “This is all pretty good, but it could be better.”  It simply was good.  And in an environment without anything non-good, is there even a necessity to differentiate good from perfect?  It would seem to me that’s a linguistic distinction post-fall, rather than pre-fall.  But of course, that’s all just as hypothetical as Bell’s argument.  I just tend to think my approach is more Biblical

I really like the way Bonhoeffer presents a possible explanation for Adam & Eve’s choice to eat the forbidden fruit.  The idea that they were really attempting to obey God to the most of their ability seems a lot more reasonable to me than that they were simply stupid or inately evil.  Again, just a hypothesis, but one that makes more sense to me. 

And, upon a third reading, I suppose that Bell’s point about the forwardness of creation could be read within the pre-fall context only.  He might not be purporting that creation still maintains this potential.  But we’ll see

Velvet Elvis, pgs. 156-157

October 17, 2007

I like a lot of Bell’s stuff in these two pages.  While the principle of first mention is not something I’m personally familiar with, or entirely sold on, it does sound way cool, and I’d like to investigate further.

And the gardener/garden parallel is also important.  God is definitely up to something with Jesus, and it goes beyond the individualized salvation that contemporary Christianity has often emphasized.  It has to do with all of creation.  Everything is being reconciled, not just you and I. 

How might the Church’s actions in the world, and how we talk about our faith and the Biblical witness be more compelling and relevant if we dealt with this larger fact, instead of *only* emphasizing the heaven/hell issue?

Halo 3 & Commandment 6

October 15, 2007

So is virtual killing a violation of the Sixth Commandment?  I read an article today about how many churches are using the highly sought after Halo3 release as a means for luring in teens and young men to also hear the Gospel.  Play a few rounds of Halo, take a break and listen to some preaching.  Play a few more rounds of Halo…you get the drift.

The writer of the article clearly seemed to find that there was a disjunct between a faith that proclaims that killing is wrong using a violent video-game as a means of getting people in to hear that killing is wrong (among many other messages).  But is virtual killing the same as ‘real’ killing? 

Of course, the immediate and obvious answer is “No.  Duh!”  Video games are not reality.  They affect how we interact with reality, however, since they condition us.  How we react to things.  What sorts of thoughts and images are our heads filled with?  Does violence in general bother us?  Those sorts of things.  And of course, video games are not the only conditioning we receive in those respects.  Movies, music, television – we’re saturated with conditioning sources.  Video games are just one.

It seems simple to draw a line in the sand and say ‘no violent video games’, just as we *do* draw a line in the sand and say ‘no video games that depict graphic intercourse’.  Nobody balks too much at the latter restriction.  It’s only because video games have a long history of acceptable violence that the former ban causes an outrage.

And the fact that Halo is really, really, really cool.

The problem with drawing an arbitrary line is of course that vices don’t affect everyone the same way.  I might be able to have a drink every night without feeling the need to indulge to drunkenness.  For someone else, there might not be an alternative.  One drink leads to two, leads to four, leads to passing out or driving home drunk.  Some people can’t kiss or hold hands without being ravaged with lustful thoughts.  For others, this is not a problem. 

We can draw our lines in the sand, but the issue is who gets to draw them, and why.  Invariably, people that find themself most prone to a given vice are the ones arguing for the most rigid and tight lines.  Witness the spate of conservative politicians and religious leaders who have railed against homosexuality, only to be caught in compromising homosexual situations themselves.  We all tend to operate with the assumption that what is a danger or temptation for me, must be a danger or tempatation to everyone.  And this just clearly isn’t the case.

Some people can play violent video games without any adverse social effects.  No desire to collect guns or purchase explosives or things like that.  The game remains clearly and only a game.  The line demarking reality from fantasy is clear and strong.  For others, and I think that the younger you are, the more prone you are to this, the line between imagination and reality can blur.  The desire to emulate what you see being played out is stronger.  Doesn’t mean you’re going to start shooting people, but you may develop an interest in weaponry, etc. 

For me, the bigger issue is that these churches are providing access to a game that not all kids can purchase for themselves.  What sort of message is *that* saying?  There are times and places where a judicious exercise of civil disobedience is in order, even necessary.  But this sure doesn’t seem like one of those times or places.