Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Old is New Again

So I am taking a little break from the C.S. Lewis commentary this week and instead would like to discuss a phenomena that I have noticed within our "young adult" generation.  A few weeks ago I was reading a blog that was commenting on the "new" Robocop and Total Recall movies that will come out sometime in the next year.  Yes you read that right, Robocop and Total Recall are getting a remakes.  As a child of the 80s and 90s I don't really remember either movie being particularly good, though graphically for their time entertaining.  The joke within the blog about these new movies went something like this, "what do you expect, a whole new movie to be made?"  The point being, this generation of film makers would rather remake an old classic than create something completely new and imaginative.

The joke of the blog article points out in print something I have also noticed.  Whatever you want to call it, re-make, a re-load, a recycled concept, a re-imagined idea, or "a classic as you have never seen it before" are all ways of describing this concept of taking an old product and trying to drag it into the 21st century.  There have been all sorts of ways this has been done in film particularly.

Fairly Recent Film Remakes: Tron, Robocop, Total Recall, 3:10 to Yuma, Around the World in 80 Days, Clash of the Titans, Fame, Footloose, Godzilla, Incredible Hulk (remade mere months after the first one), Italian Job, Miracle on 34th St., Stat Trek, Oceans 11-13, and the list could go on and on.  This brief survey does not even begin to scratch the surface of those things that simply coming out in newer HD or 3D versions like every Disney classic being released from a film vault somewhere for a limited time or the Star Wars Saga that never seems to end.

This current generation remakes or covers: songs, movies, tv shows, throw back sports uniforms, classic looks in design and fashion, and even TV chefs make meals the way Grandma used to.  In my religious field I have noticed a dramatic increase in young adults desire for the "Classic" tradition within Christian faith.  They are seeking more and more classic forms of worship, silence, pilgrimage, and a sense of community that seems to have been lost in our highly individualistic American Culture.  Yet somehow we are maintaining a sense of new.

I doubt my observation is unique. I am even sure others have written about it, though I am not aware of any news articles or blogs on the topic.  But in fairness I have not looked very hard.  My observation is two fold.  First, this generation craves some sense of tradition and some way to tie ourselves back to something deeper than the present.  We live in such a forward moving culture we fail at times to look back.  It took thousands and thousands of years to go from animal power to the car and less than 100 years to go from the car to the moon.  It took us thousands upon thousands of years to get to a billion people in global population and only a couple hundred to get to our current 7billion.  This generation with its instant everything is looking for a way to attach itself to something permanent.  This is not uncommon in humanity we have statues, buildings, writings, artifacts and of all kinds of people trying to "live forever" through tale and song.  But instead of creating yet one more new structure, this generation seems to be trying to identify itself with a past that seemed more stable or at least has a history older than the iPod.

My second observation is that this is not a bad thing.  The generations ahead of us tried to sever themselves from former generations.  They didn't want to be identified with former things.  They wanted new thoughts, new structures, discover new places, and go where no one has gone before (do you like that a second Star Trek reference, my Dad would be so proud).  This generation I think seeks to live more peacefully with one another. To find ways to share better the resources we have.  They modify and improve old ideas and should a new thing come out of it great but if not that is cool too.  They seek to find a way to live more contented lives with less stuff and a better sense of community.  They crave something deeper than the latest thing that will clearly be gone tomorrow.

This is just a personal observation and a broad generalization.  There are still the thinkers who wish to create something completely new. There are still those artists who desire to make something like none have experienced before.  And there are still those out there who are finding new places to explore.  But I also think that a large portion of this generation simply is content with what they now have, will massage old ideas, and hope to find deeper meaning in old traditions.  Not your grandparents, "America was better in the 1950s" old traditions, but ancient traditions that those in the 50s rejected.  This is especially true in the church with the movement in many young adult communities that are more willing to practice traditions, prayers, worship patterns, and community living as seen in places like the desert Fathers, middle ages monks, and old spiritual disciplines.

What do you think?  Is this generation simply a set of copy cats, or is there something more to it?  Do we seek depth or are we too lazy to come up with something new?  Comments welcome.

 New Pastor's Ethic Code fails to mention reason we need one.

If you are a woman, a person on a faith journey, an edgy sarcastic yet loving person, or just like reading about someone commenting on how they balance faith and motherhood check out Zeteo.  Shameless plug.

Facebook changed your email last weekend.  You should probably know what it is.

Some new editing symbols you might want to be aware of.  Well I thought some of them were funny.

Warning: watching soccer may kill you!  Also a warning to those who watch college football I think.

A good book review from Rachel Held Evans.

Stupid Church Tricks: Suing for a bad review

More information on the Missional Church from the Verge Network.  Mike Beens take on the 5 essential elements.

Not everyone in your church is tech savvy.  How do you keep them engaged and caring about your church without saying, "Go to our website."

Because it is so true. Thanks again Scott McKnight

Because it is a good website for all the check out http://www.patheos.com/

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

There are no Thin Places

Mere Christianity
I have just completed my second CS Lewis book of the summer, "Mere Christianity"  Millions of followers of Christ have read this classic.  In fact if you have only read one CS Lewis book, this was probably the one you read in high school or college.  Mere Christianity is a compilation of a series of radio broadcasts given between 1942 and 1944 in England.  They were given in three separate series and then later compiled into the single volume book we now have.

Just as Lewis hoped, the book serves as a great introduction to some of Christianities most broad and agreed upon beliefs.  By broad and agreed upon I mean that the basic concepts and beliefs herein are the most universal of beliefs about God, Jesus, forgiveness of sin, resurrection, trinity, and a handful of other things.  If you had to hand the entire Christian community a standard by which to go by something like the Apostles Creed or Nicene Creed would be appropriate to say, "Yeah, we believe that."  This book is similar in purpose and content.  Lewis does a fair job of admitting his own Anglican biases and claims repeatedly that some topics could be delved into deeper but he is just a "simple layman" and he chooses to leave the deeper theological debates to "priests and bishops."

However, most would agree that Lewis is far from the average layman.  His use of great images and detailed examples are timeless.  My personal favorite image the use of a map.  When he is defending the importance of why all members of the church must go deeper into theological matters and not just settle for the "plain practical religion."  "A map of the ocean" he says "is only a simple sheet of paper but it is based on hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic.  In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only while yours would be single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. If you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary." Thus the purpose of theology.  It serves as a map of faith.  This is a great image.

In the end Mere Christianity is just that, a simple guide for early believers and "non-believers" to learn about the Christian faith.  For that purpose it is a great read.  If you desire deeper, more detailed maps, another book might better serve your needs.

Sorry I have failed to post any quality links on my most recent few posts.  Below are some great things you should definitively check out this week.
O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Young Adults:

Virtually Dependent: An interesting view of how young adults and college students are digitally co-dependent upon their parents.

I found a new website/blog called The Everyday Minimalist.  It tracks a young woman who is seeking to live with fewer material goods while living life more abundantly.  That sounds familiar...  It has some interesting travel tips, fun ways to conserve energy, and most importantly how to live with less stuff and be debt free.  Check it out.

Ever wish your "posse" could have gone with you to college?  Here is a cool program that promotes just that.

Missional Church:

10 Questions to Ask if You're Wondering, "Am I Missional?"  Trevin Wax at the The Gospel Coalition asks ten questions based on Jason Dukes book Live Sent: You are a Letter to help determine of you're living missionally.

How to have a more missional youth group by Adam McLane

Reminding ourselves WHO we serve rather than WHAT we might be serving

There are no Thin Places:  a great video that really points out the flaw of failing to engage in the neighborhood you live in.

Thin Places - Chapter 2: Submerging from The House Studio on Vimeo.

Here is an awesome video that shares some of the basic understandings of salvation from a protestant and an orthodox view.

Ministry Ideas:

BIG ministry impact through small numbers:  Jesus spent most of his ministry effort on a small number of people who in turn changed the world.  Are you investing in the lives of at least a few people or are you trying to save the world on your own?

Other things that the web has to offer:

Looking for a great way to communicate the Scriptures to the world?  Rembrandt was a Dutch artist who lived during the 17th Century.  He was very observant of the world around him and these observations are noted in the detail and subtleties of his masterful works of art.  Especially his Religious Art.

Don't just be thankful for what God has done, be thankful for who God is.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Common Good

I am continuing the process of reading through the C.S. Lewis "Signature Series" I completed "Screwtape Letters" last week and must say it was a fun way to discuss some of the things we all struggle with as a church and as individual Christians. For those who don't know the book follow's a one sided conversation between a demon named Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape's letters are two fold in purpose, first he is some sort of official employee of hell whose job is to supervise young demons in their efforts to tempt humans into lives of sin and eventually overcome the Enemy (God). Secondly, he seeks to give good family advice on how to be a good demon and how to get the most out of a life spent in hell. Each chapter is a seperate letter written on a variety of topics. Of course they are all absolutely backward of how we are supposed to live and interact with our Christian faith, but that is point. A sort of tongue in cheek way of reminding us how we are to conduct ourselves. Some of my favorite letters were ones written in order to guide young Wormwood on subtle temptation or allowing good things to come between his patient (an unnamed male human) and his new Christian faith. Things like allowing patriotism and fighting for the common good are all acceptable to Screwtape so long as they become the thing that drives humans into thinking that is the ultimate goal of life and not relationship with God. Or how a demon need not tempt one to a life of total debauchery when simple misdirection will do. One of my very favorite ideas was at just how fascinated with the "ordinary" or "common" we as humans are. When we desire so very much to seek the will of God but somehow get caught up in the ordinariness of a day instead. I have heard rumors of a film version of the letters and there is a play already. I would encourage those who choose to read it and interact with the text and reflect on personal struggles we all share in common. For we are a people who seek the common good of people. We all have some sort of sense of right and wrong (an issue Lewis takes up greater detail in the beginning of "Mere Christianity" and "The Abolition of Man"). But when our social justice is blinded to grace or when 'getting people saved' is blinded to oppressive poverty, according to Screwtape, hell rejoices because we have an incomplete notion of our faith and God. For we need justice and salvation and worship and tradition and prayer and freedom and liturgy and and and. We are never fully formed. We should however not allow the small distractions of life or the greatest most noble of ideas stand in the way of allowing God to work in and through us. We must constantly be on the look out for what mission God is already on in the world and join him in it. For we are not the authors of salvation, we are the the characters in God's grand narrative. next post...Mere Christianity.