Wednesday, July 30, 2008
This is an excerpt from a letter of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
Our church, which has been fighting in these years only for its self-preservation, as though that were an end in itself, is incapable of taking the word of reconciliation and redemption to mankind and the world. Our earlier words are therefore bound to lose their force and cease, and our being Christians today will be limited to two things; prayer and righteous action among men. All Christian thinking, speaking, and organizing must be born anew out of this prayer and action. By the time you have grown up, the church’s form will have changed greatly. We are not yet out of the melting-pot, and any attempt to help the church prematurely to a new expansion of its organization will merely delay its conversion and purification. It is not for us to prophesy the day (although the day will come) when men will once more be called so to utter the word of God that the world will be changed and renewed by it. It will be a new language, perhaps quite non-religious, but liberating and redeeming – as was Jesus’ language; it will shock people and yet overcome them by its power; it will be the language of a new righteousness and truth, proclaiming God’s peace with men and the coming of his kingdom. ‘They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it’ (Jer. 33.9). Till then the Christian cause will be a silent and hidden affair, but there will be those who pray and do right and wait for God’s own time. May you be one of them, and may it be said of you one day, ‘The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter till full day’ (Prov. 4.18). (p. 300)
Monday, July 21, 2008
I am one of the few in the America that has not yet seen the Dark Knight, although I hope that will change over the weekend. I have read a few movie reviews, all which say that this movie is incredible. Manahola Dargis of the New York Times wrote a very thought provoking review of the movie. In it she writes, "Apparently, truth, justice and the American way don’t cut it anymore. That may not fully explain why the last Superman took a nose dive (“Superman Returns,” if not for long), but I think it helps get at why, like other recent ambiguous American heroes, both supermen and super-spies, the new Batman soared." In other words, we want our heroes in a "postheroic" culture to have an edge, even to be flawed or have some kind of struggle in some way. We crave authenticity. Perfection is no longer a requirement for our heroes anymore. Instead, we want our heroes to feel the intense struggle of life like we do.
The other day I tuned into a Christian radio station in the Dallas area to listen if they would play my future sister-in-law's band. A promotion for the radio station came on and proclaimed that this particular radio station was "fun and safe for the whole family." Put that together with the success of the Dark Knight and you see a clash of ideas between the Christian Ghetto and the mainstream public. The public craves authenticity in their saviors, where the Christian world boasts of safety and fun. Does anyone else see the problem?
The irony is that Christianity does offer an authentic savior. We have a savior and redeemer who did struggle. We love to worship and ponder Jesus being God, but have to remind ourselves that Jesus was a man. However, if you would sit around the campfire with Jesus' disciples in the early 1st century and say, "Hey did you know that Jesus was a man," they would look at you crazy and say "Duh, of course he's a man." When we actually read the Gospels, especially Mark and Luke, Jesus' humanity begins stand out. The struggle is there as he is tempted to show his power and might to the world. The struggle is there knowing full well that he could militarily raise an army to defeat Rome. The struggle is there when some of the Jews try to crown him king after he miraculously feeds them. Jesus struggled. We don't like to think about that. But it must have been such a temptation to take over the world. The struggle was so intense the night before he died, that Jesus literally sweat drops of blood. Our Savior does know what it means to struggle, and because of his struggle, God gives us life.