Monday, May 22, 2006

Da Vinci Hype

Gary brought it out of me. Didn't really mean to go on this little tirade, but I did. It is copied from the comment section of his blog post, which is an interesting review of the movie. Here are my comments and questions:

Our church, like many others, has been gearing up for the whole Da Vinci event recently. Sermons, guest lecturers, etc., have all come and warned of the herecies and inconsistencies in both the book and the movie.

I remember back when I was in college and the first Gulf War began. I was at Cedarville and there was a learned man who came to speak in one of our daily chapel services to warn us that so many things pointed to the end being near. "Jesus is coming any minute," was his big speach. He scared us all to death, in some ways, making parallels of world events to an interpretation of the last days. At this time too, there were lots of books writen about Iraq as Babylon, all sorts of articles appeared in Christian literature pointing out the parallels.

Then the year 2000. A flip of the calendar, yet somehow we, as the church, needed to be ready for disaster, because that chip with the old date sub routine written in it in the gas meter by our house was gonna explode, even though the date routine was never required of it. More hysteria, more books, more articles, get your canned foods, find shelter, be ready for anything. And a lot of it coming from and for the Christian community.

So now we have Da Vinci, and pardon my cynicism, but where was everybody when Indiana Jones raided the "Lost Ark?" "God-in-a-Box" theology with a great adventure and everything. And the "Last Crusade?" "It's time to ask yourself 'what do you believe?', Dr. Jones..." What? that the holy grail if administered correctly gives healing powers and immortality--but wait, only if you stay behind that line.

What is it that is so new that the Christian community has to study up on because of the release of this book/movie? What skewed biblical principles are being put forth that have not already assulted the Truth of God's word in other writings, books, tv shows and movies for centuries? Why now?

What person, having seen Indiana Jones is going to ask quesitons about God, and eternal life, and the holy grail? What person, after reading or watching Da Vinci is going to start an argument with a known Christian over the elements of the story and their veracity?

Why now is the Christian community suddenly implored to learn how to defend what they believe, when all along, and all around them (us) doctrines of theology and morality have been attacked for years? We are being instructed on how to debunk Da Vinci as though that is the argument to be made. As the fabled story goes (is it true?) bankers learn to identify counterfeit bills not be studying the counterfeits, but by studying the real thing.

So let's ignore the hype and be ready, Da Vinci or not, to be able to defend the reason for the hope found within us.

What do you think?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

He Restores My Soul

Part of Austin's Sunday School assignment is that he memorize several passages of scripture. One of those passages is Psalm 23. He had memorized this before, maybe two years ago, and could recite it fairly well, though it was clear that he had little understanding of it. This time, things are a little different.

Before bedtime we have a little devotional together and I've taken advantage of this time to help him not only relearn these Bible verses, but understand them as well. This time around, instead of memorizing the verses by rote, he can read the passage himself. We are going line by line through the Psalm in a somewhat condensed inductive method, exploring each phrase as he commits it to memory. We encountered the first phrase of the third verse a couple of weeks ago and I've found myself meditating on it over and over ever since.

He restores my soul.

There is a great deal of truth and insight wrapped up in this simple phrase. Here are some thoughts word by word.


This pronoun refers back to vs 1. It references "The LORD," Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, here seen as a gentle Shepherd. I was thinking about how our image of this passage is often mixed with the story Jesus told about the shepherd who went to find the one lost sheep. Knowing that one out of 100 was missing and longing for its safety, he went and searched for it until it was returned delicately to the fold. I am not a scholar enough (at all) to know if this is an unprecedented way to view Yahweh. In the Psalms we see "the LORD" as a rock, a deliverer, light, salvation, owner of the earth, etc. Only in two other Psalms is Jehovah referred to as a "Shepherd" (Ps 28 and 80). Nevertheless, the picture being painted, and the dimension being revealed of the LORD in this Psalm is of One who cares for, guides and protects those who would be led by Him.


There are a great deal of implications emanating from this single word. I think of the following, implicit in this single word: past and future; on-going; teleology; exclusivity of the Spirit; necessity of action; compliance of the recipient.

Some further expansion:

  • Past and Future. The need for restoration is rooted in the past. When man sinned and each of us found ourselves with his nature, the necessity of restoration was (is) required to reestablish fellowship with the Creator. Restoration has a place of resolution seen far into the future (from the human perspective) and in fact will not be totally realized until after death
  • On-going. Not a singular event. Rather, a constant, needful prodding and shaping that took place, is taking place, and will continue to take place
  • Teleological. It is not an arbitrary process. There is a purpose and unique journey and role for each one being restored
  • Exclusivity of the Spirit. Only God can restore. Previous verses speak of the physical needs being met. (Not being in want, green pastures, quiet waters) This restoration of the soul touches a place only the Divine can intersect. Physical contentment mentioned in surrounding verses merely masks the depth of need healed only by the Creator whose image we bear.
  • Necessity of action. This process of restoration is central to fellowship with the LORD, the shepherd, and essential if we are to have hope of eternal fellowship with Him (v 5).
  • Compliance of the recipient. He does not force restoration upon us, he freely gives it, but we must accept it. I have wondered if we are best made aware of our need for restoration once we settle in the green pastures and rest by the quiet waters. Perhaps here in the quiet moments can our need of restoration cut through the din of our assiduous lives.

This continues to be a personal Psalm in which we realize that even though shepherds never attend just one of the sheep, this Shepherd has made himself continuously available to the individual.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness...

Similar observations can be made throughout the remainder of the Psalm.


As mentioned earlier, this is a dimension unique to this Shepherd. Where other shepherds can only meet the needs of the physical, this Shepherd is uniquely qualified to minister directly to the spiritual needs of those He tends.

What nuggets of scripture have impacted you or ministered to you like this has to me?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Escher Re-imagined

I'm sure you have all seen this:

This is M.C. Escher's Waterfall. For the less-informed, if you look closely at this picture, you'll see that the water flow is an impossibility, though on two-dimensional paper, it seems like it ought to work. Notice how even the supporting columns look right at the top, but not at the bottom.

Well, thanks to RocketBoom, I found this clever contest held on The rules are thus:

We've all got to start somewhere, even the art masters. In this contest your task is to depict the masterpieces of the renassiance [sic] masters (or other time periods) as they were drawn when the masters were children. Do not simply edit existing masterpieces - recreate them through a child's eyes (i.e. a 3d cube would be an early MC Escher, or a paint by numbers Mondrian).

The rules of the game are thus: Show the works of the art masters (sculptures, sketches, and paintings are all fine) as though they were created by the masters when they were children (as in the themepost, "Baby Warhol" by meowza). As always, quality is a must. We will remove poor entries no matter how much we like you. You'll have 48 hours for this contest, so make your submission count.

I thought this was clever. What would a child Escher have handed in to his art teacher? And what would his teacher's responses likely be? Here's an idea: