One Line Review 13: Lions For Lambs

November 20th, 2007

This is an hour and a half long sermon but this reviewer loves good preach.

Your Correspondent, He stands for nothing and so falls for everything

One Line Review 12: Total Recall

November 20th, 2007

This movie explains why Arnie is the Governor of California; years before the USA had to start its War Of Terror, Arnie starred in this prophetic masterpiece about the threat of Martian violence.

Your Correspondent, Wouldn’t be that pushed about a third breast

One Line Review 11: American Gangster

November 20th, 2007

If a film is an hour in, the main characters still haven’t reached their prime and you don’t want it to ever end, then you probably are watching one of those rare things- an Oscar hungry serious drama that deserves Oscars.

Your Correspondent, Loves nothing more than to fight for an idea he knows nothing about

One Line Review 10: Scent Of A Woman

November 20th, 2007

If our generation had not arbitrarily deemed Al Pacino’s ever-present scene-chewing over-dramatic villainy as superior to Robin Williams’ ever-present sentimental maudlin then Scent Of A Woman, especially it’s climactic scene, would be viewed as a blind man’s Dead Poets Society.

Your Correspondent, but he says you are executin’ his soul!

Go Where The Thoughts Are Kindly Furious

November 19th, 2007

Jimlad has joined in on that debate myself, Jayber and QMonkey had about the rationality of faith. I loved it. I hope you do too.

Your Correspondent, Can never get owned cos he belongs to the Master

Belfast Observations

November 19th, 2007

So wife-unit and I had a delightful time in the capital city of the eventually-to-be-formed Republic of Northern Ireland over the weekend. She had a thrilling time jousting with other chin rubbing philosopher types and I trooped around the city wearing my GAA jersey over my Presbyterian robes just to confuse people. Here are some of the things I noticed:

    People drive very fast in first gear in Belfast
    Girls in Belfast must get a tax benefit for skin exposed because they dress like it’s Rio. I never knew girls’ legs went so far up. I had my innocence robbed. When can I get it back?
    An unexpected benefit of all those fearless Christians who don’t like to do any type of fun activity can lead to death, there are a huge number of great coffee shops in Belfast and they stay open late. Common Grounds was an object of envy for me but Bookfinders just stole my cold hard heart and sold it for £1.50.
    I had to check the cash twice when it came out of the ATM because it just actually looks like a child’s idea of money.
    Due to a strange law dating from the reign of Queen Matilda III, every woman in Norn Iron gets a GHD hair straightener when she “comes of age”. It’s the law.
    People in Union Theological College are so nice that you could almost imagine you know, studying there. Then you “catch yourself on” (I learned much of their language) and go fill in the applications for colleges in real cities.
    In over twenty visits, I’ve never been in Belfast without it raining.

Your Correspondent, Whitey’s still on the Moon

Where The Explorer Invites Feedback

November 15th, 2007

I am off on an adventure tomorrow. My to-do list is detailed, with all kinds of minutely prescribed tasks in preparation. Tomorrow, before the sun gets up nevermind you, I’ll be on the road with nothing but a mug of coffee and my wits to keep me safe. And my car. And lots of cash. And a bag of clean clothes. And a laptop. But nothing else. A big box of CDs in the car too.

All this preparation is needed since I am crossing the border into the occupied territories of Norn Iron. The Queen can’t keep me out. Wife-unit is off to some high flying conference where friendless philosophers debate what it would be like to have friends hosted by the so-called Queen’s University of Belfast. I am her driver. It’ll be like that Britney Spears movie, except wife-unit’s Chinese philosopher colleague will probably struggle with the bit where we pole-dance for food money and then celebrate our victory by jumping up and down on beds in our underwear.

I am only interested in one symposioum and that’s about whether you can make friends over the internet. The only reason I am interested is because I am engaged in an ongoing dispute with all the brainiacs in Irish Christianity about the ethics of new technology. I better not share that with the contributors. “Hi. My name is Zoomtard. I am here to marshall ammo for an ongoing petty squabble I am energetically failing to win. Please only talk about things that will help me to score points”.

If any of you readers have good suggestions for how to spend time in Belfast, please do comment and share them with me. I was just planning on prayer-walking around the loyalist Proddie parts, asking the Holy Spirit to make the residents into real humans with souls.

I realise that might seem a bit extreme and a little offensive for people from that part of the world, but I’d like to remind you that you would see things differently if you were, you know, made in God’s image.

Seriously though, there must be something better to do than wander around the Christian bookshops asking them if they have any Deepak Chopra and reading in the Linen Hall library.

Your Correspondent, More intrepid than Dora

While The Coffee Is Brewing

November 14th, 2007

Maybe I should pay heed to Doug Willis’ advice to not hand over my agenda to the quarrelers.

Allegedly, on 2FM’s Gerry Ryan morning radio show recently, an obviously misled woman rang in to complain about the fact that Bibles were secretly being stuffed into the Operation Christmas Child gift boxes. The head of Samartian’s Purse, Niall Barry rang in to correct the error. Short, linguistically localised tracts about the nativity are sometimes distributed alongside but seperate from the boxes but there is no Bible-stuffing going on. Another woman then rang in and got Franklin Graham, founder of Samartian’s Purse and son of the Zoomtard Legend #4 Billy Graham with the old hate-filled man who heads up the so called Westboro “Baptist Church”. This clip of a Louis Theroux documentary shows Fred Phelp’s crew, who have no connection with Samartian’s Purse. This is what Operation Christmas Child is about. The whole point of Operation Christmas Child, especially from the perspective of its Christian founders, is that the gifts are unconditional.

Here are allegedly, the top 87 worst predictions ever made. It doesn’t include my secondary school class naming me the most likely to be an underwear model.

Finally and best of all, the splendorous Malcolm Gladwell is back with a brilliant article about the so-called insight of criminal profiling. Ideal for printing out and reading over a short commute. By the way, anyone remember that awful show “Profiler“, which was like a precursor to the CSI-spermandbloodontelly invasion of the ’00s? No? Didn’t think so.

Your Correspondent, Always a little late with delivering the goods

Last One For A While On “Ladyness”, I Promise

November 13th, 2007

Jesus chose twelve male apostles, not because men are better at getting the message wrong, cutting off ears and trying hard to make themselves important, but because there were twelve tribes of Israel.

Never forget that Jesus was a Jew. He is Messiah. He has come to inaugurate the Kingdom of God and the citizens of that Kingdom are the People of God. To underline it and hammer it home, to emphasise it beyond any doubt so that everyone would know what he was trying to do, he chose twelve patriarchs, symbolically representing the twelve tribes.

If that is what he was trying to do, then he couldn’t have chosen a woman amongst the twelve. It would have lost all the symbolic power.

Women advised Jesus, paid for Jesus, lived with Jesus (so totally scandalous!), learned from Jesus and then proclaimed the resurrected Jesus. Jesus’ interaction goes a way beyond dignifying and saving adulterous women and hanging out with the whores. The fact that there were no female apostles doesn’t in any way indicate that there shouldn’t be female leaders.

Now I’ll leave you with the excellent contribution from the Intern.
Your Correspondent, Possesses billions of potentially dangerous atoms

Girls Should Have The Right To Pray

November 12th, 2007

MeInMySmallCorner gets depressed. LilyTodd just wants to throw it all away. Then she doesn’t. Then Espero gave us men a kick up the bum and some of us are responding. Since I have become a Christian I have met many amazing women. None more so than my wife. I met one girl who came top of her class at the best college on the island. One night I saw her start to cry as an idiot who happened to be a man and who happened to work for a church stamped all over her passions. I sat up late under the stars with another girl, a truly unique person who was so confused by the mixed signals all around her that to this day she hasn’t had the guts to follow through on what she suspects she is meant to do. I became best friends with a yet another girl who could preach like a lightning storm but who kept it to herself because that was her place. Also, she was frightened of lightning.

I’m a man who loves theology, seems pretty stable, washes regularly and doesn’t have any apparent addictions and so all the power and wealth and influence of the churches in Ireland are at my disposal. I thank God that I have some actual titans as mentors. I am grateful that I have all sorts of educational opportunities spread out in front of me. I live in the Cardboard Mansion. But the most gifted young leader I’ve come across on the whole island of Ireland lives down the road from me. On paper, she is not an amazing proposition- she isn’t a doctor or a lawyer or a mountain climber. But I have seen her up close and she has a phenomenal ability to step into a room and put every person at their ease. I have seen her up close and she has a focus on Grace that I aspire to. I have seen her up close and she is the definition of integrity. But she is a she. So she doesn’t even realise it herself. No one would ever dare to tell her and push her and affirm and encourage her. And I still get all the opportunities but if the church had its shit together, they would have found this lady by now and said, “How can we help?!”

The Church has forgotten so much of its mission. All around me people drop off, preferring newspapers in bed to pop songs in church on a Sunday morning and the Church has allowed them to think that was all there was to it. The mission of God is stale. The Gospel is boring. Its messengers are hypocrites or dullards. At least that is the way my peers seem to see it. The Church has replaced the Kingdom with Christendom. Its really hard to even imagine it being any other way.

But here is one place I know it can be another way. The Church began as the movement that broke the chains locking women in their place. It found its momentum in the writings of the Old Testament and in the forming Canon of the New. My wife-unit is genuinely better placed to preach on this, an expert in how the stories always seem to rotate around the action of a woman. But she is busy doing real things so I will have to do it.

Here is my claim: Christians believe that our gifts come from the Spirit. Whoever the Spirit gifts for leadership, is qualified to lead. (Martin Luther: “The person who wishes to preach needs to have a good voice, good eloquence, a good memory and other natural gifts; whoever does not have these should properly keep still and let somebody else speak.”)

One of the passages in the New Testament that people point to and say “Misogyny!” is Ephesians 5. There, Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands. One must remember that submitting means freely giving over authority. The woman chooses to do it. It’s an act of power. The verse about submission is always quoted but it never seems to include the passages that directly follow. Paul turns his attention to the role that men have in the marriage. Husbands are told to love their wives the way Christ loves the church, giving their lives to helping them become who they are called to be. Christ loved the Church by dying for it. Wives are called to freely offer themselves to husbands and husbands are called to freely offer their lives for the wives. The picture in Ephesians 5 is not of patriarchy. It is of a total and complete and covenental giving of yourself to the other. The problem here is not Paul nor the text. It’s patriarchal cultures re-working the Bible in its own image. Ephesians 5 is not anti-woman.

Another passage that gets people aggravated is at the end of a letter Paul writes to the churches of Corinth. He says to them that their women should keep quiet in church. Many contemporary Christians read that and silence all the women. But not three chapters before, Paul gave detailed instructions to how women should go about addressing the congregation when praying and speaking in public worship. Corinth was a strange place and so I usually try to tell people about why in that place and at that time Paul might offer that advice. People then tell me that I am just playing with the text and treating it like a “buffet”. How much more responsible it is to take a reading from the letter that is incoherent and contradictory!?

Confusing Biblical adherence with cultural adherence is a slippery slope. It doesn’t need to stop. You start out reading your culture’s gender war into the text and you can easily end up reading all your other wars into it as well. The text never challenges you. You become the authority over it and not the other way around.

There is no better way for women to overcome the church-bound prejudice against them than to do brilliant, thoughtful, imaginative and obedient exegesis of the Bible. If someone says your fallopian tubes mean you can’t teach the Bible, the appropriate response is just to ignore the stupidity and keep teaching the Bible. Doing it well will just highlight the ludicrous arguments arrayed against you.

Ultimately, in Jesus we see God. And in Jesus we saw a man who was happy to befriend and protect and teach women, especially when it was dangerous. We see a man so comfortable with women that he was happy for them to pay his way. I am a Christian because I believe Jesus was resurrected on the third day, according to the Scriptures. But according to the Scriptures, it is women alone who witnessed the event. When telling the apostles that on this day of all days, God has moved, the Kingdom really has come and Jesus is alive, were those women not teaching and preaching and proclaiming the Gospel?

Your Correspondent, Who knows but that he has come to blogging position for such a time as this