Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Great Divorce, Communion, Brave

I have now completed my third C.S. Lewis book this summer.  The Great Divorce is another great fictional work that Lewis uses to work out allegorically some theological issues about heaven, hell, salvation, Christ's redeeming process, and our personal freedom. "If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell."    Earlier this year a book was released on the Great Divorce, by Dr. David Clark titled C.S. Lewis Goes to Heaven: A Reader's Guide to The Great Divorce.  He recently did an interview regarding the content of the book and I will simply allow his comments to stir your appetite for this short little work.  I recommend both the Great Divorce and Clark's book.

My favorite video this week:
What do you think?  Is this what the faith community is too be about?  Would you attend this church?

Many people believe we have achieved a period in church history called Post-Christendom.  In other words we are beyond a period when Christianity is the primary shaper of culture.  Take what you will from Kurt Willems comments regarding Chris Tomlins song, but his comments on what is Post-Christiandom are dead on.   I am personally grateful we are moving away from Christendom toward post-Christendom, the church is always most effective, natural, and its members at their spiritual best when we are not at the top of anything.
 ...here are some of the major transitions that take place culturally as post-Christendom takes root:
From the center to the margins: In Christendom, the Christian story and the churches were central, but in post-Christendom these are marginal.
From the majority to the minority: In Christendom, Christians comprised the (often overwhelming) majority, but in post-Christendom we are a minority.
From settlers to sojourners: In Christendom, Christians felt at home in a culture shaped by their story, but in post-Christendom we are aliens, exiles and pilgrims in a culture where we no longer feel at home.
From privilege to plurality: In Christendom, Christians enjoyed many privileges, but in post-Christendom we are one community among many in a plural society.
From control to witness: In Christendom, churches could exert control over society, but in post-Christendom we exercise influence only through witnessing to our story and its implications.
From maintenance to mission: In Christendom, the emphasis was on maintaining a supposedly Christian status quo, but in post-Christendom it is on mission within a contested environment.
From institution to movement: In Christendom, churches operated mainly in institutional mode, but in post-Christendom it must become again a Christian movement
Young Families:
I took my daughter to watch Disney's Brave last week.  A sort of daughter-dad-day out.  I had a great time with her. There were a few things about this film that were great and one major thing that bothered me and I am pleased to see that Rachel Held Evans agrees with me...wink and a nod, she has no idea who I am but her comments are good.

Things She [and I] liked:
1. A strong female lead...with no Prince Charming! I never thought I’d see the day.  In a sense, Merida is the antithesis to the typical Disney princess in that her story is about personal transformation and maturity, not about being beautiful or finding love.  This strikes me as an important and refreshing message to send to girls, who are bombarded with stories and images that reinforce the notion that a woman’s identity is defined by her appearance and her ability to snag a man.  Best of all, the writers resisted the temptation to turn Merida into a flat, kick-ass-and-take-names heroine who doesn’t need anything or anyone.  Merida  isn’t a helpless princess in need of rescue, nor is she a wholly “independent woman,” with no need for the support of her community. In fact, Merida’s transformation occurs when she realizes her dependency upon her family (mostly her mother), and the value of her community.  I was thrilled to see this realistic and affirming depiction of true strength.
2. A strong female lead...who isn’t always right. Too often, fairy tales about rebellious sons and daughters conclude with parental figures shaking their heads with the realization that their children were right all along. Not so with this story. Merida makes mistakes and learns from them. Both she and her family navigate compromises.  And in the end, Merida embraces both her inner voice and her obligation to take responsibility as a leader in her community.  Parents, I am sure, will find this refreshing.

3. A complex mother/daughter dynamic.  Here again, Brave acts as a sort of anti-typical-Disney-movie in that we have a female character with an actual mother! (Mothers are totally absent from the stories of Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, and Pocahontas, and famously evil in the stories of Snow White and Cinderella.) In Queen Elinor we find a sympathetic, admirable, and flawed character whose love for her daughter is unyielding, though the two often fail to communicate. The sweetest parts of the movie occur in scenes between these two characters where they begin to understand one another better. Brave is a fantastic mother-daughter movie, and I was thrilled to see lots of little girls holding their mothers’ hands on the way out. 
The biggest thing she [and I] didn't like:
1. Weak men. My biggest concern about the movie is that, while its female characters are strong and complex, the men are largely portrayed as helpless oafs, breaking out into silly fights at every opportunity and generally complicating matters with their stupidity.  While fairy tales need silly characters to keep us laughing, it might have been nice to see a bit more leadership and wherewithal from King Fergus. When things get out of hand, it is always his wife, Queen Elinor, who takes control. It would have been better to see them function more as a team.  I fear this plays into the common misconception that for women to be strong, men must be weak.  (Expect complementarian reviews around this theme within days.)

Young Adults:
I really like music.  I have about 22Gigs worth of it in my itunes.  I know many people who have much more than that.  But are we becoming bit like digital hoarders?  Do we really listen to all those songs?  Do we really need every one of them?  See what the Everyday Minimalist thinks.

When prayer requests are shared in your church, small group, or with friends how often are the sick mentioned?  I bet pretty often.  I have seen many church bulletins that list the prayer needs of its members and I would guess 80% of the names listed are because of some illness.  Why do we pray for the sick?  Is it important? Does it really change anything? See this bloggers opinion.

Let's face it, church is an experience of all the senses.  So why do we focus on only a few senses.  Walt Disney was an innovator in creating the "experience" in his parks.  Here are some thoughts on what we can learn from Walt in how we approach church.

Are denominations passe? I don't know what the future holds but I know things are going to be different in the next few years.  Here is one bloggers thoughts.

Aging Biblically:

What do you think about this video on aging?  Good, bad, rude, accurate?


  1. Some great posts Greg! I find the post by Kurt Williems a bit of a struggle. I get tired of hear futurists paint evangelicals with a wide brush. There is no 'one' view or perspective it is 'many' and varied. The Chris Tomlin song doesnt increase or decrease our view of God, there is much more blame to share than one song or even a genre of music. Instead of taking pot shots at some fairly insignificant factors Willems should focus on more of his list of the process of moving. We have not arrived in a post-christian world, in fact within some cultures in the west it has barely begun. Great discussion and much to think about, my concern is how quickly the 'radical' gets institutionalized. Thanks for the post!

    1. Thanks for the comment. I completely agree that the post-Christendom link does have flaws. His use of the "Our God is Greater" song seemed like an unnecessary spring board for his comments, thus the comment "take what you will...". I actually like that song very much. As you note, his list of the movement from a Christendom to a post christendom was the main point for the link. I would also agree with your observation about broad generalizations, there is very little room for that type of thing in good conversation. Thanks for the encouragement and great observations.