Archive for the 'theology' Category


will to live ::. pop culture and faith

film and theology ::. (warning: a king arthur analysis)
there have been several good movies released since the passion that christians ought to go check out. the wife and i saw king arthur last night. now, i’m very into the king arthur legend and the order of knighthood, so much that i will probably fire-brand all our kids as a result. going into this movie i purged all my childhood notions of knights, sorcery and love triangles and put on an analytical hat. the movie attempted be a historical epic about arthur and stayed close to some of the assumptions made about this mysterious king but the truth is no one really knows who he is. there’s just too little information to establish it as fact. the tale here is demystified and placed in its possible historical context close to the fall of the roman empire circa 5th/6th century.

i think there are many things that a uninformed viewer would miss about this film. you may be asking at this point if i liked it. well, honestly, i think it’s braveheart ultra-lite with all the cries for “freedom” but there’s more here than meets the eye here. interestingly, there were some rather strong references to faith and the roman church. arthur himself prays for his men and most often finds himself at odds with the church and his pagan knights throughout the movie.

there is a thread that holds the story together. that is, the strong relationship between arthur and pelagius, the brit monk that was at odds with augustine and teaching declared heresy. in church history, pelagius held different views of man, original sin, and grace all of which are depicted here. what we end up with is a humanistic view of man and of the will that cries, “win your freedom” even if it means laying your life down for an unjust cause.

we do need to observe the felt angst of the world against the roman church in the film and in our world. it is a grievance not because of the Gospel but because of power and greed. all these themes still resonate today and should alert us to wake up. if anything, we ought sense the desperate need to indeed share the Gospel and let our actions declare His glory, that is, testify to the risen Christ, more than ever.

it seems like director, antoine fuqua (tears of the sun), has found a niche for long movies about questionable missions and men of interesting morality. however, king arthur is enjoyable and like tears of the sun, could have been taken much further. someday, we should watch a bunch of these contemporary epic war movies in chronological order — troy, gladiator, king arthur, braveheart, saving private ryan, tears of the sun etc…


humbled ::.

humbled ::. so it’s over and i got rocked. but i’m done. finals are over. a stark realization that came through this experience is how much i still don’t know. i’ve been a xian now for over half my life plus i’m a seminarian which means i cram as much bible into my head as possible and yet when it comes to being examined on what i know, i truly don’t know a whole lot. the bottomline is that i don’t read the bible nearly enough.

.:: we often get to this place where we get stuck in our journey, when it’s really all about learning to love like Jesus. from henri nouwen who writes about the peak of his profession;

{{ everyone was saying i was doing well, but something inside was telling me that my success was putting my own soul in danger. i found myself praying poorly, living somewhat isolated from other people, and very much preoccupied with burning issues. i woke up one day with the realization that i was living in a very dark place. in the midst of this i kept praying, “lord show me where you want me to go and i will follow you, but please be clear and unambiguous about it!” well, God was. in the person of jean vanier, the founder of l’arche communities for mentally handicapped people, God said, “go and live among the poor in spirit, and they will heal you.” so i moved from harvard to l’arche, from the best and the brightest wanting to rule the world, to men and women who had few or no words and were considered at best, marginal to the needs of our society. it was a very hard and painful move. }}

paul miller adds about nouwen, he left a successful and prestigious career for disabled adults. in order to love the disabled, he had to go to where they were. to do that, he had to leave where he was. he humbled himself. he had to go low in order to love. love and humility are inseparable. love isn’t a one shot sortie into someone else’s need. it gets involved, it doesn’t stay clean and separate.

love requires us, as Jesus demonstrated, to go low.
{{ when you’re in the lowest place, people don’t listen to you. they often don’t take time with you, because they don’t think you can give them much. they walk over you. they don’t thank you. in the lowest place you may be used, overlooked or discounted. you feel invisible.
people take the lowest place for two reasons. either others chose it for us or we chose if for ourselves. when others have forced us to take the lower place, we are humiliated:
someone dismisses our feelings, saying, “oh you are just being touchy”
. . someone criticizes us regularly.
. . . someone publicly mocks us.
. . . . we are excluded from a group or a meeting.
but when we choose to take the lower place, we express humility.
we don’t explain ourselves because to do so would hurt someone else.
. we forgive someone rather than making an issue of it.
. . we give to someone in a way that no one will ever know.
humility is a quality of the soul, something we do from inside. humiliation is the situation where we learn humility.

// love on //
. . .

xian marketing ::. great NYT article on the challenge of marketing saved!
– test screening gets alot of mixed reviews. but that’s expected. is the church ready for this?
i say bring it on


antiheroic ../ part two point o/ ass u me ::.

antiheroic ../ part two point o/ ass u me ::.

we assume too much. reading the bible is difficult for many because often we approach the text assuming we know the stories already.

this week i agonized over some rather distressing faults in my life, my husbandry, my leadership…the list can go on. i wondered how, why God would ever use someone like me. i want to stop my fruitless neurotic praying, “oh God, here i am again…forgive me” and pray for more important things.

i was reminded of samson, israel’s ancient judge. almost instantly we remember his great strength and even greater faults. but we find him at the honor roll recorded in hebrews 11 where he is commended…for his faith. we need to think deeper about the significance of that. the truth is, yeah he did do some rather stupid things but there’s something about the man’s faith. his finest moments attest to the glory of God. if we are not so quick to assume easy categorizations of the more ‘frowned down upon’ characters in the bible, we may find that we have much more in common with them than we would like to think.

the story of samson is really the story of israel recapitulated and focused through the life of one man. he was a holy man, a nazirite, set apart at birth, but he wanted to be like other men, just as israel wanted to be like the other nations. we must see in samson not just israel’s story but our own. 1 peter 2:9 beckons us, “but you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” i continue to remain in tearful awe at the grace of God. in hebrews 11:32, gideon, barak, samson, jephtha are named out of the judges. how much of an example of God’s grace that despite obvious failures they were instruments in delivering God’s people. God dealt graciously with people who fell far short of his ideals. in spite of personal failure, they stepped out in faith to do something against those who oppressed God’s people. God chooses to use failed and flawed people to accomplish his purposes. for his glory. there is still hope even after our eyes are gouged out but let us be a people set apart. assume nothing. live the life.


the spiritual in music ::. i just recently watched…

the spiritual in music ::. i just recently watched a re-airing of the 2004 rock and roll hall of fame show on vh1 and was utterly captivated by the imagery and spiritual overtones of bruce springsteen’s induction speech for jackson browne. it has further deepened my respect for the boss. here’s part of the speech, the best part ::.

“The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, they gave us California as paradise and Jackson Browne gave us Paradise Lost. Now I always imagine, what if Brian Wilson, long after he’d taken a bite of that orange the serpent offered to him, what if he married that nice girl in Caroline Know, I always figured that she was pregnant anyway, and what if he moved into the valley and had two sons? One of them would have looked and sounded just like Jackson Browne. Cain, of course, would have been Jackson’s brother in arms, Warren Zevon. We love ya, Warren. But, Jackson to me, Jackson was always the tempered voice of Abel. Toiling in the vineyards, here to bear the earthly burdens, confronting the impossibility of love, here to do his father’s work. Jackson’s work was really California pop gospel. Listen to the chord changes of Rock Me On the Water and Before the Deluge, it’s gospel through and through. Now I always thought that in our fall from Eden, besides the strains of physicality and the bearing of earthly burdens, our real earthly task was that an unbridgeable gap, or a black hole was opened up in our ability to truly love one another. And so our job here on earth, the way we regain our divinity, our sacredness, and our general good-standing is by reconstructing love and creating love out of the broken pieces that we’ve been given. That’s all we have of human promise. That’s the way we prove ourselves in the eyes of God and facilitate our own redemption. Now, to me Jackson Browne’s work was always the sound of that reconstruction. So as he writes in The Pretender: we’ll put our dark glasses on, and we’ll make love until our strength is gone, and when the morning light comes streamin’ in, we’ll get up and do it again. Amen.”

this theme of eden does reoccur in springsteen’s career work. unfortunately his poetic conclusion of our divine reconstruction beautifully describes our human condition without the hope of mankind and the gift of God through Christ. yes, it is forever despairingly striving for that which our hearts so long for, eden.

later in the show, another interesting comment came from prince. ““But a word to the wise to the young artists — without spiritual guidance too much freedom can lead to spiritual decline”” and he ought to know…this sort of depth is missing from many popular artists today, perhaps they will learn and share their wisdom years from now to a whole new generation .::

[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.


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