Opinions


I believe that this movie has the potential to be the most talked about event in 2008, even eclipsing the political conventions, the Olympics and the Election.   I am equally sure that if it does well in the box office that there will be MUCH negative publicity against it.    At any rate, this is a very thought provoking trailer.  Enjoy

If nothing else I hope that this movie will engage Christians in and with the culture once again.  Forcing us to think! and get off our pat answers and shallow arguments.  This could be a great opportunity to participate in conversations with the culture at large.  It will also be an opportunity to show our ignorance if we are not careful. There is a risk of the anti-intellectuals, who shun academia, science and the institutes of higher learning, to solidify the sterotypical image of the “Christian” as the ignorant, blind faith bumpkins that many in the culture say we are.
At any rate, it is time to get out of the bunkers we call church and engage our culture again, not in some antagonistic conflict, but in truth and love.  It is possible to win the argument and lose the person with whom you are conversing. (I have to give props to my Pastor, Josh, for that line, it was too good not to borrow.)  It is also possible to lose an argument due to lack of preparation and basic knowledge and end up looking like a backwoods banjo picker.

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Reality Television is King since the writer’s strike has deprived us of our fix of sit-coms and drama this season.  All the reality shows; such as: Smarter than a 5th Grader, Deal or No-deal, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and a host of others; have flooded the cable and airwaves in a rush to fill the void.  

As I sat there this week watching the Biggest Loser I began to think about what I was ingesting, no, I don’t mean foodstuffs, but thoughts and ideas.  What are the bait, hook and tackle? 

The Bait:

One only has to look around at the average waistline and you can see how our lives of ease and/or materialism-induced-stress have weighed on us.   Daily you can find articles, self-help programs and a mountain of books trying to get their collective arms around the problem of obesity.  In fact we have spent so much time gathering this information that we have had little time for anything else, especially such trivial things as exercise, play, and the like.  At some point one has to conclude it is time to stop thinking about it and do something about it. (I haven’t reached this radical point, yet.)

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So here is the positive premise, if we see people engaged and succeeding in the attempt it will motivate others to get up off their lazy keesters and do likewise.  So… someone put it on television for the masses to see and hopefully emulate.  This is a good thing. 

The negative premise is that now that it is on television our voyeuristic natures kick in and we watch others play the game instead of engaging in it ourselves.  We’ll just sit here and watch how it’s done.  This is not so good. 

The Hook:

Always hidden in the bait is a hook and this is no different.  The hook is the game, who will go who will stay.  How do they accomplish this?  Ah, here is where psychology sets the hook, “challenges and temptations!”  It would truly be a boring show if all it was, was watching rollie-pollies sweat and work out (no matter how much the trainers rant and rave).   One can stand to watch only so much flabby jiggling and man boobs.  Therefore, there has to be some other angle, the hook is: game-play during temptations and challenges.   

The manipulations, the deceptions, the intrigue; and that’s just the commercials.  Raw human nature is front and center in the reality show.  Wrath, envy, greed, gluttony, sloth, lust, and pride are the stars, with the players as supporting cast.  Being the voyeurs we are, we enjoy watching it in others as they stumble and fall below the yellow line.  (Yes, it is a cynical view but I believe an accurate one.  It’s like NASCAR, the reason a huge percentage watch is to see a wreck.)  In short it’s addictive

The Tackle:

All this leaves us with the final two ingredients, the weigh-in and the elimination room.  Who will be the biggest loser this week?  Which team will have the greatest percentage weight loss?  Who will be exempt, who will go home?  Ooooo, I get tingly just thinking about it.  Here is the payoff for watching the sweating and the puking and the jiggling: someone is going home.  Who will it be?   

In summary I have to say that I find these reality shows entertaining on the surface but since my mind is warped and wired differently I find these same shows somewhat disturbing.  I realize it is a game, but it seems to reinforce the idea of situational ethics.  The, “I am going to do what it takes to make sure I come out the winner,” the Zen of (Donald) Trump if you will.  That may be understood to be the “American Way” but it is far from the Biblical Way.    

These shows are the very antithesis of Biblical Christianity.  They promote greed, the Bible says to give; they bank on covetousness, the Bible condemns it; they manipulate and lie to get to the next level, the Scriptures tell us to sacrifice self and put others ahead of ourselves.   Even the Golden Rule has changed from, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” to “do unto others before they do unto you.”  Each week millions tune in to get their weeks fix of existentialistic materialism and we never see that it is not only our waists that are getting thicker.  Think about it.   

Well, just thought I’d weigh in on the matter.

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The Second ComingThe previous post concerning N. T. Wright’s article got me to thinking about things.  For the past five years or so I have really been trying to come to grips with what the Bible teaches in regards to Eschatology. What is eschatology? Well, it is the branch of Christian theology that deals with the afterlife, the future, the Second Coming of Christ, and what exactly the Bible says about it. I’ll have to confess that I am still trying to decide for the most part. I was raised a Dipensational Premillenialist, but in recent years I have had some misgivings concerning this particular brand of eschatology.
So here’s a painfully simplified rundown of what the big words mean that you will see in our poll when you click the link in the sidebar (or link here):

  1. Dispensational Premillenialism teaches (among other things) that Christ will someday ‘rapture’ all belivers to Heaven while those left behind endure a 7 year period known as the ‘Gread Tribulation”.  After this, Christ will come to the earth to establish a literal, one-thousand year kingdom. After which he will make a final judgment of all humanity.  Dispensationalists really emphasize a difference between the church and and the nation of Israel and how God will deal with each.
  2. Classical Premillenialism teaches that Christ will come to establish a literal, one-thousand year kingdom.  After this he will finally judge all of humanity.  Classical Premillenialists don’t generally hold to the idea of a pre-tribulational rapture, and many of them don’t hold to an actual seven year tribulation in the future.  Classical Premills also don’t really make a great distinction between the Church and Israel (although there are a few exceptions).
  3. Postmillenialism teaches that the ‘millenium’ referred to in the book of Revelation is symbolic for a golden age that will be ushered in by the Church’s faithful ministry and preaching of the Gospel. After this, Christ will come and judge the world.
  4. Amillenialism teaches that the ‘millenium’ spoken of in Revelation symbolic for the church age in which Christ rules with the saints in Heaven. The kingdom of God is present in the church and Christ will come at the end of the church age to judge the world. (i.e. there is no literal Millenial Kingdom)
  5. The Left Behind Novels…well, I won’t even go there.
  6. None of the above: Hmmm. It would be interesting to see what could actually fit in this category.
  7. If you don’t know what this stuff means then talk to your local pastor or local theology professor. Then do some research for yourself, there’s plenty of info on the web and tons of literature on the subject.

I’m really interested in what you guys think, sooooooooo…if you’ll just take a look at our poll

p.s. Due to the fact that WordPress will not allow any really cool java polls in the sidebar, you will have to click on the link to the right under ‘Eschatology Poll’.  This will take you to a really nifty poll where you can vote.

p.p.s. Feel free to comment on your vote and let me know what particular subset of eschatology you adhere to and why

p.p.p.s. I consider a person’s eschatology to be a non-essential in comparison to other teachings of orthodox Christianity.  This does not mean that I don’t believe that it is important, just that I don’t want people slinging terms like ‘heretic’ around just because someone holds a different view than you.  As far as I’m concerned, the only essential tenet of eschatology is that Christ will indeed return someday as he promised.  The details about how that will happen exactly are open for discussion.  Remember the wise words of Augustine (who happened to be Amill):

In essentials unity, in doubtful things liberty, but in all things charity.