Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No More Excuses

It is about time that I write an update of my life. Especially since so much has changed. I am now a resident of the city of Edmonton. Frankly, I never expected to find myself here. It is not a city I would choose under typical circumstances.

The reason it's Edmonton and not some other city is simply because the girl I'm engaged to is here. I would have gone back to Winnipeg or headed west to Vancouver. I've an aversion to Alberta in general probably because I see it as one of those "have" provinces and I have that thing where I cheer for the underdog. Big deal, you were successful because you were given everything? Who cares?

This is where I show my hand. The fact is, I was afraid to really put myself on the line and go to a place where I would be gambling. When I was in Winnipeg and casually perform skits and present videos at camps or church when people asked me to, but I never actively pursue it, I would fall back on: "I don't have a safety net if the comedy thing doesn't work out so I have to be responsible and not take a chance." It wouldn't really be my fault if I didn't go anywhere in comedy it would be the situation I was in to blame.

The fact is that I would never go anywhere with an attitude like that. If I said, "Oh, if only I lived in New York, then it would be a different story," then I would be lying. I would most likely find some other reason that I was not trying it.

It really doesn't matter where I wound up, I needed to start putting myself on the line. I needed to get back to a city. It didn't really matter where. Edmonton was as good as any to attempt my run at comedy. I've been here close to a couple of weeks and I'm antsy to get onstage even though I'm not really sure how to do it. Stand up is a harsh thing to get into due to the fact that you can only refine your jokes in front of a crowd. I'm going to have to face failure and often.

Last night, I was at a bar that had a comedy night and I was watching one of the worst crowds talking over the comedians. Some guys just left the stage halfway through there bit. I was talking to one of the comedians afterward and he said that this was actually one of the better nights there.

You may ask, "Why are you even bothering to do this? It sounds terrible." I'll be honest with you. I don't know what else is going to give me drive in terms of something to do. Getting my self esteem kicked on stage nightly in the hopes of becoming a comedian seems better than anything else.

I just got a job at a cell phone store in a mall. As I was filling out the paperwork, I was already wanting to quit. The ideals of a store like that make me cringe. I know that I can do it, but it will be doing the thing that disgusts me the most. I know I can do well at it, but it will eat at me everyday I'm there.

I've had some people tell me that I should pursue ministry in a formal capacity and I wonder about that. I don't know if some of my thoughts on the spiritual journey would really be welcomed. I would have to say things up front with my fingers crossed behind my back. I have many thoughts that are right up the alley that Christians eat up and they are received well, but I know I'm coming at it from a different perspective in mind that many would not agree with and I would hide my thoughts. If I became a pastor in a formal sense, I would be less of a pastor in the true sense.

I am currently able to speak into people's lives that challenge them and give a vital hope that only the gospel of Christ can offer, but it would disappear if I sat behind the desk. I would be in the same predicament as I am now at the cell phone store.

So, if I can't be a pastor, then I should be with the people that I can speak to. I'm doing the cell phone thing until I can get my comedy up on its feet. People don't understand why I want to do comedy. I am simply looking for drive. I want something that is can fuel me and keep me going.

For me, the struggle is not about finding the thing that will give me success and wealth and it's not about finding the thing that I can do well. The struggle has been to find that thing that will give me drive. I'm coming to realize that the thing that will give me drive requires me to do the toughest thing of all and be honest in all senses of the word.

"In these bodies we will live,
In these bodies we will die,
Where you invest your love,
you invest your life
Awake my soul...
Awake my soul...
Awake my soul...
For you were made to meet your maker"
- "Awake My Soul" from the Mumford & Sons album "Sigh No More"

Saturday, June 23, 2012

More Than Happiness

Last week, I wrote a second article on behalf of the Covenant Church and I have not gotten around to posting to this blog, so here it is.

If you asked people, "What does a quality life look like?" a common response would be one full of happiness. It's what inspires people to get as much money as possible to get a comfortable lifestyle. It's what drives others to become a celebrity at all costs. For others it is to pass all their days staring at a screen and yet others to delve into lifestyles that can potentially hurt themselves or others for short term happiness.

Jesus, however, seems to indicate that happiness may not be the secret to a quality life. After all, if you need money or celebrity or video games, then that means the only people that can attain quality life are those who are rich or born in the right part of the world and it often is focused on the happiness of the individual at the cost of the strength of the community.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." According to Jesus, the best life lived is difficult. Why does it have to be this way?

What I believe many people call a quality life is really just medicating yourself from fully living life. A quality life means enjoying the good things in life, but also not shying away from dealing with pain in our lives and not just sedating yourself with temporary happiness. It means looking to our fellow humanity and "be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those that weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people." (Romans 12:16) It means struggling against injustice for people crushed by an unfair world.

It can be very easy to live a life where you medicate yourself from engaging in all of life, but by doing so, I believe you let life pass you by. Following Jesus is by no means easy, but it also means life is fully lived. As Jesus says in John 10:10, "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is give them a rich and satisfying life."

A quality life is not defined by happiness, but rather by how much you live life fully, both the good and the bad, and living life with each other. Don't cling to temporary happiness while the thief robs you of a full life.

"Do you want to hear something sad?
We are but victims of desire
I'm gonna shake this day
I wanna shake this day before I retire"
- "Gonna See My Friend" from the Pearl Jam album "Backspacer"

Friday, June 08, 2012

Heaven Beside You

This is the article that was published in the Nelson Star on June 8th.

If I were to be honest with you, one of the concepts that unnerves me the most is the idea of eternity. In my finite mind, I am unable to conceive an afterlife that I would want to never end. Even if I could do everything I ever wanted to do all day, it would seem to me that eventually I would like to simply stop.

I've never fully comprehended why some people are so desperate to get to heaven because I can't conceive of a heaven that would be eternally satisfying.

You may be wondering how in the world was this guy allowed to write in the faith section. Isn't it foundational to the Christian faith to have confidence in life in the hereafter? I'm not saying that heaven does not exist, but rather that I don't know what it looks like. This is what I do have confidence in: whatever the afterlife is, whether it is a heavenly city with roads paved with gold or it is a simple fading away into nothingness, it will be as it should be.

I point to Matthew 6 where Jesus says, "So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."

Although this passage is speaking about the here and now, I believe it carries into the afterlife. I don't know what the afterlife holds. It might be so great that my mind would be blown away and I will think that I was silly to ever doubt it. However, it will be taken care of and its not my place to be responsible for it and for who is in and who is out.

What I am responsible for is the pool of resources entrusted to me, the sphere of influence I have and the opportunities to bring peace and love that are the hallmarks of the kingdom of heaven.

It is too easy to let this present world burn and dream about the perfection of a future heaven and forget that we can have heaven here and now, bringing it to our fellow humankind. Let God worry about the rest.

What is heaven like? I don't know. However, I do not believe the point of being a Christian is to go to heaven when you die. I think the point is to join God in bringing His kingdom of love, peace, justice and mercy (or in a word, heaven) to a world in desperate need of it.

"Left to right,
Up and down, love
I push up love, love everyday,
Jump in the mud, oh
Get your hands dirty with
Love it on everyday"
- Title track from Dave Matthews Band's album "Everyday"

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rico's Venn Diagram of The Elusive Profitable Audience

If you're wondering what this is all about, it has to do with my friend Rico's video seen here:

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The End of the Story

It is Easter weekend and I figured that it was time for another post about something. We had a Tenebrae service last night, which was quiet and sombre as we reflected on the death of Jesus. The thought that went around in my head last night was the idea of Jesus embodying Israel.

I got this idea from a lecture series that Chris had given me done by N.T. Wright that went through the book of Romans. Wright repeatedly came back to this idea of Jesus being the embodiment of Israel. Israel was seen as from the Jewish perspective of the time to be the saviour of the world and they had failed because of their consistent turning away from God's law and were in exile. Even though they had been returned to their land, they still viewed themselves to be in exile because they were under the control of Rome. They were looking to be reconciled with God through a Messiah and get their political independence back and thus return to their ordained place as the salvation of the world.

The idea that I had never really heard before though was this idea that Jesus came to embody Israel and did what Israel was supposed to do but could not. He fulfilled the law and redeemed Israel and became the salvation of the world according to Christian theology.

The idea of Jesus being the embodiment of a whole society was an intriguing idea to me. Especially last night as I considered the idea of Israel rejecting Jesus and killing Jesus. I'll take a moment to also say, that the Roman Empire is more to blame for the death of Jesus and I am aware that there some of the anti-Jewish sentiment found in the Bible regarding Jesus may have been influenced by later generations when Rome took Christianity up as the religion of the empire. However, the rejection of Jesus by the Jews is still there.

What I find intriguing is this interesting metaphor found in the story. If Jesus embodies the high ideals of the nation of Israel and Israel is at least partly responsible for the death of Jesus, then it is like the nation of Israel being it's own enemy.

In the past, I have had a hard time understanding how does this story about a man dying two thousand years ago makes me free. This law that was put in place long after the creation of humanity needed to be fulfilled and so it was, but I am still guilty under a law that has been fulfilled before I was born and that the act of forgiveness goes forward to events not done yet? How can you forgive something that hasn't happened yet?

If someone came up to me and told me that I'm breaking the laws of hockey when I raise a stick above my shoulders and that I have been penalized and should sit out for two minutes, then I would tell you that the rules of hockey don't apply outside the game of hockey. That's how Old Testament law felt to me. And then to tell me that you would be willing to forgive me and if I just accept the Euro Hockey League as my only source of hockey, then I would wonder how any of that has to do with me. And if I did accept the Euro Hockey League's offer of forgiveness for breaking a law outside of it's time and place and you then ordained me as a full-fledged hockey player. That was a very strange analogy, but strangely, very fitting to my point.

My understanding of the story has changed and it rang true again for me. This story may not have as much to do with the law as it may seem. Yes, for the people of the time, it had everything to do with the law and the forgiveness of transgressions against the law. However, there is a more substantial story going forward. If Jesus embodied the Self of the nation of Israel, then one of Israel's biggest enemies was itself. The Self rejected the heroic version of the Self. The Self was one of the instruments that led to the very death of the Heroic Self because it refused to embrace him and his new law of ridiculous love.

As I have stated briefly before in a post, I do not believe that there is a Satan and even if there is one, he ultimately holds no power because we are the one who make the choices in our life. However, I will say that there is a devil that holds dominion over you. One that will continually lead you to usurp your actions. One that forces you to make decisions that you know your Heroic Self would not. One that makes you foolishly defiant to the face of God and will even kill the Son of God. If you know my writing by now, you know the answer is You. The heart-breaking realization that you are not what you want to be morally or otherwise because it is your Profane Self that holds you prisoner. It is your Profane Self that keeps the record of your sins and transgressions and failings as evidence that you cannot possibly be the Daughter or Son of God.

It is indeed the devil that holds us in hell and we are condemned there forever as long as we reject the story of Christ. We will continue to make our home in the grave and it will be the Christ-like nature that hold you there and it will be the longest Saturday in the grave.

Are you going to let the story end there? Many do. They will not rise above it and let the easy road of the pursuit of comfort to medicate, alleviate and suppress the pain of this mortal life. They may even lead just fine lives, but they may never address the thing that separates them from the Divine.

Or are you going to finish the story and to embrace Jesus as the saviour and redeemer, the embodiment of Israel who broke the hold of the grave and the chains of hell. He who lives evermore at the right hand of God the Father? The death of Jesus was also the death of the old religion of the letter of the law. However, the spirit of Jesus could not be kept down. He rose again to bring the spirit of the law of love.

I really love the beauty of the act of baptism. It admits that we are dead, but that with Christ, we rise back up out of the watery grave and now we carry on the mission of Christ. We go to the ends of the earth and make disciples and healing the sick of the heart and mind, bring the dead back to life and bring the kingdom of God. Our hearts should break for those in chains of the grave or hell. Maybe they're still trapped there because Christ has not freed them yet. So what are you waiting for?

We all realize that we fall short of the perfect ideals of God, but the hope of Christ and the hope of Easter is that we are not forced to stay in exile if we are willing to follow Jesus back to where we belong.

"I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.
I wear the black for those who never read
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.
Well, we're doing mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought to be a man in black."
- The title track from Johnny Cash's album "Man in Black"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Don't Judge a Movie By the Book It Was Based On

I was inspired to write this post with the release of the Hunger Games movie. I could have written this same post at the time of the release of the Lord of the Rings movies or Harry Potter movies (if I cared enough to read the books or watch the movie). I will take this opportunity now as I see many posts on Facebook asking whether the movie is as good as the book. I hope this post will be some way to answer this question going forward.

The first thing you need to recognize is there is a distinct difference between the two mediums and each come with their unique ability to communicate with both advantages and drawbacks. Books have the unique ability to delve into the minds of the characters and the author has the ability to direct your focus to elements in the story and environment. It also has a great ability to be any length and to stretch time. A moment in time can be stretched out to fill pages in a book as a character contemplates and thinks through the thoughts out on the paper or take in details.

A movie on the other hand gives the unique ability to observe the events first hand and experience the story. It's great advantage is that you get to see and hear the story without having to bog down in the details and the pacing and it is contained to a period of two and a half hours and you can get back to real life.

Many people complain that movies don't have everything from the book or are missing important elements from the book. This comes from the differences in the medium and necessarily not the director's ability to create a film or the director's distain for the story. The director and screenwriter have the unenviable task of taking a book and making it watchable.

A book can take as long as it likes to tell it's story, a movie does not. Even if you could make a movie recount all the events in the book in the full detail you wish it would have, it would be unwise to create it so. It would be the most long-winded, unwatchable film possible. For example, could you imagine if they included the forty page "Council of Elrond" to discuss whether or not they should destroy the ring? It would make that 3 hour movie into something worse than going to a real town council meeting. Jackson was wise to boil that scene down and not introduce every single character that Tolkien had the leisure of describing.

Others complained about how the entire chapter of Tom Bombadil was excluded from the movie and no reference even made to the character. People will claim that Tom's scene was a vital look into the philosophy that undergirds the idea of the books. They are right, but that runs against efficiency of storytelling that film requires. I don't know if some Lord of the Rings fans realize the great lengths that Peter Jackson went to be as faithful to the essence of the story that is possible without creating a monstrosity of a movie. In fact, I would say that he borders on going overboard. If the extended editions were released as the movies, there was no way that the people who never knew the beauty of that story would ever want to experience it.

Do I think Tolkien was foolish for including Tom Bombadil? Of course not. It was good to have that because it explored further the ideas of the world and story that helps you as the reader engage with the author's message.

Would have I liked to see Jackson put in that scene? Yes, but I understand why he couldn't.

That's an important thing to remember watching a film adaptation of a book. Are those things that are missing from the film that important? I mean vital to the plot. If it vital to the core plot of the story, then it should be in. If the director changes the core idea of the story, then I would say you would have grounds to complain, but try and understand what the story really about.

Another common complaint is the way things look in the movie compared to what they imagined. It is impossible for us to take a description and arrive at the same image. We are all going to arrive at different pictures and that is not something that you can fault the movie's design team. The key is the essence.

Books and films have to approach stories different because of their nature. Some books should not be films, that is true. And you can have poor film adaptations that are still fantastic movies, which we know. However, we also have to admit that a perfectly pure film adaptation of a book would be a horrible movie. A movie has to fill in blanks that are not present in the story. It has to be efficient. It has to put visuals on passing descriptions. It has to convey the story from the outside not the inside.

Perhaps a better way to look at a film adaptation would be to not expect everything from the book and instead be happy to see things from the book as they come in and appreciate those elements.

If someone were to take my story of the buses crashing into my house that I've told around the campfire many times and were to see actual footage of the event itself as it watched me run around in the chaos of the house shaking and me running around, some would say it was a bad adaptation of my story. That it didn't deal enough time with this moment or that this detail was underplayed and even that the fun essence of the story is not there. And they'd be right in many regards. The story would also be done in 30 seconds instead of the 5 minutes that I take to go into my mind space and my descriptions. Verbal storytelling (whether out loud or on the page) is a much different experience than the visual. And that is okay.

To summarize thus far is that two mediums will have to produce two interpretations and bring two different, yet valid experiences with the story. As individuals, we all have different preferences with experiencing stories and that's why people who love books will never love the movie rendition in the same way.

How should we then look at film adaptations? We need to be able to judge them separately from the books. Aside from the fact that they are two different mediums, you also have two different groups of artists approaching the same idea. The author is never the same person as the screen writer and some times the producers are taking the same core idea and want to communicate something different with it. This is a great and important aspect of remaking a story. By allowing wiggle room in the recreation of a story, it allows new ideas to come through.

An example from music would be Trent Reznor's song, "Hurt" which came from his time dealing with drugs and how it was destroying his relationships and how he disappointed people. When Johnny Cash came along to cover the song, some complained that Cash was ruining the song by putting his interpretation on it and they could not see that Cash vitally understood the song. Cash felt the despair of the song reflected in his reflections of growing older and disappointing people and fading away in a similar manner. Cash brought not necessarily a better version of the song, but rather a new one that helped show how close we all are.

In the same way, when the Watchmen ended, the ending was different and interpreted differently by Zack Snyder and they had to cut out wide swaths of the story in order to keep the movie manageable. Many felt that it was an impossible story to make into a movie and many fans (and the original author himself) thought the movie ruined the original story, but there was indeed the core idea of the story in it that Snyder drew out and knew how to communicate to the audience and also take the truth of the story made for the world of the 1980's and made true again for the 2000's. It was unfaithful to the graphic novels, but true to the heart of the story.

Hunger Games has already been told. Some would point to a retelling of the Lord of the Flies. I point to an American interpretation of Koushun Takami's Battle Royale. Susan Collins has said that she was unaware of Battle Royale and I believe her, but it tells the same story but through the lens of two different cultures that also vitally the same. Takami's story tells the story of a government mandated fight to the death that is randomly enforced once a year on an unsuspecting junior high class somewhere in Japan. They are pitted against each other on a small island and given randomly assigned instruments to kill each with.

As you read Battle, you see this destructive way of life enforced on youth to fight ruthlessly to get to the top and how those unwilling to be brutal are wiped out and the sociopaths and those with no regard for others are rewarded.

Contrasted with Hunger Games where disparity between districts is felt and an unfair distribution of training and wealth is felt in the games themselves and yet the hope of the American Dream that you may rise above your circumstance is touted throughout the land, when the reality is, the privileged will always have an unfair advantage and will continue to declare the system in place to be fair if you just try hard enough.

It's the same story told to different people and that story needs to have the flexibility to be told different. Some people believe in the sanctity of the original and I believe in the sanctity of the story. The truth is that the sanctity of the original may kill creativity. At some point, the artist has to let go of his idea and let the community of people play with it in order to allow the truth of the story to sink in.

We have this misguided philosophy that all ideas should be original and kept perfectly intact. This comes from our views of copyright and intellectual property. My ideas are fully mine and I should reap the full benefits of it and if you dare expand or play with my ideas, you are corrupting them and making them worse. This is isolationist, rigid and ultimately destructive.

Here is the heart of the matter. Ideas and stories do not belong to one person or one corporation. We take the ideas and stories of old and remake them to continue to rediscover the deep truths of humanity. If we do not allow people to interpret stories anew, then we will lose the essence of story. It also means that we shouldn't have made stories for the last thousand years. If people were not allowed to reinterpret stories and reintroduce them to the world, then Lord of the Rings could not be told. Hunger Games could not be told. The Matrix could not be made. Star Wars could not be made. Shakespeare's plays could not be made. Disney's renditions of many fairy tales would be much more horrifying than what we have grown to love.

So can a film adaptation be a terrible movie? Absolutely, but the way to judge a film adaptation cannot be how faithful it is to the book. It has to be judged separately as a film first and foremost.

Watchmen: Fantastic graphic novel, fantastic movie, inaccurate adaptation.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: great comic book, lacklustre movie, inaccurate adaptation.
Forrest Gump: Ridiculous book, fantastic movie, inaccurate adaptation.
Twilight: burn it in a fire, burn it in a fire, I don't care adaptation.

The thing linking all of those and all book to film adaptations (except for that last one which is still not in a fire for some reason) is that they do not perfectly mimic the original because it is impossible. Two different mediums. Two different artist's interpretations. Two different outcomes.

I will say this for the sake of the other side of the argument, that one of the important things for any artist to do is to realize what medium would be best for their idea. On Pete Holmes' "You Made It Weird" podcast talks about knowing the best way to present a joke. Would it better that a joke be a stand-up bit or as a New Yorker cartoon or as a movie or as a comedy skit? Perhaps some ideas should find their right home and be okay there, but just because we like a certain medium doesn't mean an adaptation to a new medium means that we should judge it based on the original medium.

In the end, expect the movie to be different. Perhaps even vastly different. It has to be. Don't judge the movie by the book it was based on.

(An example of an idea that was reinterpreted to fit new contexts and bring out new thoughts in the idea)
"'There must be some way out of here,' said the joker to the thief
'There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth (come and take my herb)
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.
'No reason to get excited,' the thief he kindly spoke.
'There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now the hour is getting late.'"
- "All Along the Watchtower" from the Bob Dylan album "John Wesley Harding"
- "All Along the Watchtower" from the Jimi Hendrix album "Electric Ladyland"
- "All Along the Watchtower" by Bear McCreary from the Battlestar Galactica episode "Crossroads Part 2"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Love Is Not Exciting Unless It Involves John McClane

I have had the same awkward interaction with Chris, the associate pastor here in Nelson, about three times. It starts when he asks me, "Now that you're with this girl who could be the one, aren't you excited?"

As soon as he says it, I immediately shift into awkward mode because I realize that my answer is going to sound terrible. I pause and then say, "...yes?" It is not even a statement. It sounds like a question. The question being, "How do you define 'excited'?"

I feel awkward answering the question, because that is the worst response to that question. It should be a definite "YES!" shouldn't it? Or if you are more reserved, then a solemn, but distinct, "Yes," would suffice. It should not be an uncertain maybe-type answer. And a question mark should not be on the list of punctuation used in the sentence.

I really do believe I love her and I absolutely love spending time with her and I feel connected with her, but I don't know if I have ever been excited about the prospect of her being the one. It troubled me that I was not.

Perhaps, that was one of the reasons I was reluctant to get too close with her in the first place. I wasn't excited. As I reflected on Chris' question, I thought that I needed to figure out why I wasn't.

People who know me, know that I can get very excited for things. The upcoming seasons of Lost or 24. Or the potential of the new Batman movie or for an upcoming show that I'm performing. When I was younger, it would be releases of certain video games or the potential of a game of Gold Rush or Mission:Impossible at camp. Yes, very nerdy things and usually events. I was reflecting on the things that link all of these, it is the element of mystery and uncertainty. I don't know what the show will hold and I love stealth and plot twists and story. I love using my mind to interact and solve the mystery or at least take a guess.

Now, before people get too concerned and call Kyla and tell her that she should not be with a guy who is more excited by TV shows than her (and I do know that her mother reads this), let me explain.

Mystery is what gets me excited. Fast-paced action is exciting. The idea of a future with Kyla does not. I am definitely looking forward to it, but I'm not excited by it. Some of you may say that there is plenty of mystery in a relationship as you discover more about a person. That there is a lifetime's worth of mystery. That there is the mystery of where life will lead you with this other person. Now, all of this is true on a certain level. However, it is not on the level of intrigue and layered unravelling as in the examples I mentioned. The mystery of life is the act of living your life. There may be things you don't understand, but uncovering the mystery of life is what we do on a day to day basis. It is not the kind of mystery that gets the blood going and the imagination into high gear. It is a rather necessary and mundane mystery that you uncover more and more over time through reflection.

The mystery that prompts action in order to avoid disaster, the kind that really excites me, is not present with my relationship with Kyla. In my reflection, I realized that that was a really good thing. I don't want to have some supernatural or super intense mystery with Kyla. As Demetri Martin talked about, there are not really any positive mysteries. It is always, "Who killed the butler?" or "Who stole the jewels?" In the same way, the intense mysteries that have the possibility of being found out in a relationship are almost always negative. When someone is acting mysteriously, it could be that the person could be cheating on you or they are in a lot of trouble.

I suppose that some positive mysteries are usually about surprise parties or special dates or the nature of the marriage proposal, but once again, those are not the deep and layered mysteries that get me excited.

Some may say that I should be excited, but I disagree. What I have found to be the thing I've always desired in a woman and what I have found with Kyla, is a sense of stability and reliability. There is already so much in life that is unknown and uncertain already and in the midst of all that you want to know that the person with you is not hiding from you some intense, layered mystery. Let the world be mysterious, let love be known.

Really, if you can find love from whoever it is in your life, not just a significant other, whether it is from family or good friends then a sting of life's pain and anxiousness of life's mysteries does not bother one as much. It will still be a challenge and may even overtake you, but at least you are not forgotten in the midst of it all. I find that the moments I appreciate most with Kyla is when we are simply together and put the worries and distractions aside for a while and just be. She allows me to relax when normally I would be stressed.

I may not be excited about the future with Kyla, but that is a good thing. Excitement for me involves action and dire consequences and life and death scenarios and complicate mysteries and I don't want a life of that kind of excitement.

However I am definitely in anticipation of what will be. I am expecting to bring along with me, an ally that I can trust. I don't want to be excited by the idea that she may be secretly a government agent or is a werewolf or is waiting for the opportunity to kill me for my life insurance (which she will be severely disappointed if that is what she is thinking) or that what comes with her is some action-packed life as we are on the run from the mob. I don't want her to be the life's mystery itself, I want her to be my Watson as we solve it together.

"As for me, well I'll find someone who's not goin' cheap in the sales,
A nice little housewife who'll give me the steady life and not keep going off the rails,"
- "Say Hello Wave Goodbye" from the David Gray album "White Ladder"

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Someone Else Should Write This Blog, Why Do I Have to Do It?

Am I strange to think that if you want something done, that you should take up the initiative? Maybe, it's because of the nature of many ideas I have that has made me become one that takes initiative. When I get an idea of what to do for one of my 24 days (you read about it here) or if I get the itch to do one of my live shows, then I start planning and working on it and making the appropriate arrangements. If I get an idea for a party or I think I'm due to have one, I put it together. Obviously, there are times when I may have an idea that will not go anywhere because I lack a certain resource (it is a 100% of the time money) but if it requires things that I have such as time and imagination, then I will do them.

Since I have been involved with the work of the church for a long time now, even before my formalized position here at Nelson, I often have conversations about what the church should or should not be doing. I'm not talking about with the pastors, although I obviously have to talk to them about that because that's a part of my job. I am not a pastor and am often viewed as a volunteer or at least distant enough from the decision-making positions in the church that I am seen as one that you can safely talk to about the life of the church without ratting you out. Which is true. I know people often need to vent and sometimes you share opinions about what is happening and I usually operate under the idea that this is in confidence.

Some complaints are more legitimate than others, but one type of complaint I find interesting is the "the church should start some sort of..." and then proceed to speak of some age group that is possibly neglected or some project started. Then the person will proceed to say that the leadership doesn't do enough or has their priorities misplaced or what have you. It is made to seem that the church is holding back whatever the project is.

I often find myself in these situations saying to myself and sometimes even to the person, "What do you expect the church to do? Are you wanting someone from leadership to step forward and start up the thing? What if they can't because they're too busy? Is it because they aren't being reasonable?" The question I'm getting at is, "Why can't you do it?"

It may sound harsh, but it's not supposed to be. Just because you see a spiritual component in the event that you would like to see happen, doesn't mean that the church should automatically be in charge of it, does it?

If I would like to see one of my plays performed, does that mean that the local theatre is obligated to stage it because I go to the theatre all the time? Is the management obligated to go and find a director and actors and stage crew? No. If you say, but the church should be different, because we are a spiritual family, then I would submit that the theatre world is a community with a lot of similarity to the church.

What I am saying is that so often in our lives, both in the church and even in the broader sense of life, we look to see someone else to do something about whatever issue we believe needs to change. That it's the government's responsibility to take care of the poor or that it's the teacher's responsibility to teach my kid or that it's the church board who is responsible for ministering to people or that it's God responsibility to make me be a peaceful, loving, joyful person who forgives.

It's hard because in society, it is easy to see whatever the problem is and it easy to think that it should be someone else's responsibility. After all, isn't this the modern age? Haven't we advanced enough now that all our needs can be met easily and if they're not, then someone above is falling asleep at the wheel.

I wonder if we are getting frustrated with our unrealistic and perhaps inappropriate expectations of whatever organization is above us. Maybe we look at them to solve problems that we're supposed to solve.

It goes back to that idea of instead of thinking that our wellbeing is someone else's responsibility, maybe we should focus on someone else's wellbeing is our responsibility. Maybe instead of that someone filling that need you think needs to be addressed perhaps that can be you. If I think that a choir is something the church needs, then I should call people together and get a choir together. Why does the church need to do that for me if it's something I would like to see? Why do I need the church to appoint someone and to make the announcement and to make the arrangements?

If you're thinking, but I'm too busy to do it, then maybe you could put the idea in someone's ear who is looking and is able to take on the challenge. If you can't, then it's strange to force someone else to make it their priority.

The fact is that not everything we wish that would be done will be done. We, both as individuals and as communities, are not capable of it. I may wish that someone resolve the energy crisis, but it is not that easy. I may want a rocket boots, but no one owes them to me. If I want rocket boots, then I should go to rocket school and learn boot technology.

In the end, we are the ones that have to live our lives. We have responsibilities. We often can't control the big world, but sometimes I think we worry too much about what is outside our control and perhaps we should be concerned with our sphere of influence. What can you do? You can't solve all the world's problems and you can't. Perhaps we shouldn't spread ourselves so thin fighting to get everybody to fight every fight, but instead focus our attention on those matters that we are drawn to the most.

I believe passion comes from God and when used correctly, it can fuel us to do things far, far better than peppering complaints about everything which in effect is doing nothing.

I do not believe that the government owes me anything. They can't give me a fulfilled life. The church owes me nothing. The church can't give me a fulfilled life.

I think the big truth behind Jesus' call to take up our cross and follow him, is that we take responsibility for ourselves and put others' well being ahead of ours and if we are all doing that, then strangely enough, we'll all be taken care of. The thing is, no one wants to pick up a cross, so few do it and the ones that do do it are the ones that die and have no complaints about how someone else failed.

"You say that money isn't everything
But I'd like to see you live without it,
You think you can keep on going living like a king,
Ooh babe, I strongly doubt it,
Very hard to drink
Very hard to drink
You gonna wait too, fat boy,
Fat boy, wait 'til tomorrow
You gonna wait too, fat boy,
Fat boy, wait 'til tomorrow,"
- "Tomorrow" from the Silverchair album "Frogstomp"

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Miracle Worker

One of the hardest elements that I've had to wrestle with in my faith is the nature of miracles. I'm sure that is a common thing, especially in a modern society where miracles in the sense of supernatural acts like those recounted in the Bible are practically unheard of. Even when I am told by people who earnestly tell me they have witnessed some form of a supernatural miracle, I can't help at the back of my mind thinking, "There is more to this story and it can be reasonably explained." The bulk of the people I know who are Bible-believing Christians and I believe are sincere in their faith have not witnessed a miracle.

Now, this could normally be easily overlooked because miracles were just a thing for Jesus' time and thus we can overlook the lack of them now or that they were unique to Jesus and his closest disciples and that was that.

Then you read something like Matthew 17:20 that if you had the faith of a mustard seed, you can tell a mountain to move and it would do it or that in John 14:12 that you could do greater things than Jesus if you believe in Him. You are left with this feeling that some how we're not cutting it. That either you as an individual or that Christians in general do not have enough faith. If fact, you don't even have the amount of a mustard seed, you dirty, lowly worm! Of course, then we have to take comfort that God has grace on us and that we have faith bestowed upon us by God and that ultimately God does everything and really you doing anything is just a waste of time like a little kid who really is getting in the way more than he is actually 'helping'. Even if you believe that we actually need to be active in bringing about ideals of God like justice, love, mercy and forgiveness, it is easily construed as trying to earn your salvation or that it has nothing to do with you at all and you are the lowly worm that God chose to use.

It then brings me to my biggest frustration about supernatural miracles and why I am always on guard against anyone who apparently does miracles. Even the ones done in the name of God. By someone with the ability to do supernatural miracles, it is then seen by some people as that God has given this individual the stamp of approval and that we need to pay attention to this person. Now, it's great if that person is on the up and up. However, I know that there are so many tricks that can be employed by an individual to emulate supernatural events.

Indulge me for a moment (although I am aware you're already indulging by reading my blog and thank you for that) and let me give an example outside of the church. Speaking with the dead is an ability that some claim to have and others whole-heartedly believe that these people can do. However, time and time again, these people are exposed as frauds and use a technique called cold-reading where they gather a crowd together and they ask a bunch of a special kind of vague, probing questions that will hopefully get someone in the audience to actually tip the medium off to what the audience member wants to hear. There are certain topics and ideas that people feel unresolved with the family members that have passed on and mediums can take chances and guess at the topic and then low and behold, it is simply unexplainable that the medium knows such things and they must be able to do it, when in reality, they know how to read people and are adept at drawing out people's willing manipulation. I say willing manipulation because people so deeply want to have that last conversation with that person they miss. (Even now, tears are coming to my eyes that I want to have that last conversation with my dad) That willing manipulation is what allows them to want to validate this as a supernatural ability. It is also what makes this form of trickery one of the most horrid and vile cons that a person can pull on another.

I should point out that these mediums are well-intentioned. They see what they're doing as a service to humanity. They see it as bringing closure to those who need it. In the end, they are short-circuiting the real work of grieving which involves the hard work found inside ourselves.

After learning about the nature of cold-reading, I was once approach by someone a long time ago when I first moved to the city who came up to me with a word from God. He said that the word 'acceptance' came to mind. I thought it was very convenient that that was the word because I was new to the area and had only been there for a couple of months. I responded, I've felt accepted already. The people in the area were good to me and I felt like I fit in. Then he tried to dig in a little deeper. He said he got the sense that this was a fatherly kind of acceptance. I guess it turned out I was mistaken. He wasn't talking about the kind of acceptance of new guy in a new town, but rather the acceptance of a father. Funny, because that is often a topic that many people go to a medium for. Also, many artists (as I was kind of viewed as) have had issues with their fathers. Usually they're distant because they left their families or are workaholics or divorced or dead. Unfortunately, I fit the mould perfectly. I responded with that's nice to hear. I'm not one to bring about conflict with someone I just met or barely know or someone that I'm uncomfortable around. He pushed and we talked about my dad and how he died and how that sucked. The man with the word from God then reasserted his claim of God's fatherly acceptance of me.

I'd like to point out that this guy could use the exact same defences as mediums. He could say that he doesn't quite understand the nature of the message or why it works, he's merely the humble messenger.

He also gets the benefit of having spiritual authority because clearly he brought a message that meant something to me and the only way he could have known that I needed to hear the word "acceptance" is if God gave him the word directly. Then he leaves it for everyone else to fill in the blank that he must be in right standing with God in order for God to speak to him so intimately and thus he has spiritual authority and thus if he says anything, it must be from or at least ordained by God.

I should point that this guy is well-intentioned. He is trying to bring about positive change and encouragement to people, but it's under a very dangerous pretence.

For the sake of the argument, let's pretend that he really did receive this word from God. Then the question becomes why are you highlighting that it came from God aside from any other reason than to give yourself more spiritual authority. He could have easily had the same conversation and encouraged me that I should feel accepted (because who doesn't want to feel accepted?) without the reference to God. He could have had the satisfaction of knowing that God is using him in positive ways and that is obedient to God's call. In fact, I think it would have made him look like someone who actually cared about me. It would look like that he noticed me and wanted me to know that I was noticed and so I would feel appreciated and loved. In other words, accepted. He didn't do that though. He instead established his spiritual authority and made me feel like he was politicking and that he was trying to win me over to see him as such. Ironically, him saying that I was 'accepted' made me feel far more alienated than had he said nothing at all.

Unfortunately, people want to see divine signs from their spiritual leaders. People want to see proof through miraculous healings and speak words from God and see that stamp of God's approval. This then leads people to be willingly manipulated.

So, am I saying that I don't believe in supernatural miracles? No, I am not saying that. I'm saying that they do not matter. Miracles should not be the reason that we believe someone. Even Jesus was rather dismissive of miracles. In Matthew 12:38, teachers of the law asked Jesus to perform a miraculous sign and Jesus responded that "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign".

Every time that Jesus performed a miracle in the Bible, it was always paired with some teaching. When he walked on water, it was to teach the disciples about being faithful in the face of danger. When he fed the five thousand, it was to teach that God can take the little we have and do more than we could possibly imagine with it. The best example comes from the story in Luke 5:17-26 where he says that the paralyzed man was forgiven of his sins before he healed him.

I believe that we are often allow our situations determine our lives and performing miracles doesn't actually impact any significant. Some people use their disadvantages as their crutch and if you took the crutch away, they'd try to find a new crutch. It is vitally more important for a person to not allow themselves be defined by their disadvantages otherwise taking away the disadvantage leaves them the same person. The guy who wishes that his leg wasn't taken away from him because he would have been a big time athlete will only complain that he is too old to be an athlete if you gave him a perfect leg right then. Unless his heart is right. If his heart is in a place where he is not allowing himself to be defined by the limitation of his disability or his identity, then healing would be fantastic for him, but the funny thing is, he wouldn't even need it healed.

Let me clear, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't have compassion on those with disadvantages, we should be helping all people to not be defined by their circumstances. People are defined by how they use what's given to them.

I believe that there is an inherent worth to people because they already have the ability to impact the world. I go back to Bruce Almighty, in the closing scene with God (played by Morgan Freeman) talks about how people are always asking for a miracle, but that just maybe He's already given it to us. God has been faithful to us, but we don't realize that we need to be faithful and we will see miracles that matter the most to God.

You see, although I am distrustful of supernatural miracles, especially in the modern contexts, I absolutely believe in miracles. I believe that many of us see miracles often. I believe I have seen true miracle workers. I have seen mountains move. I have seen greater things done by those who have been faithful to the spirit of Christ than Christ did while He was on earth. Yes, Jesus impacted several lives with his time on earth, but because people were faithful to his call, that impact has been multiplied.

The mightiest miracles are not that food was conjured up or that someone walked on water, but that people have changed their lives. I believe that is the miracle that matters most to God. God along with people faithful to His call are performing miracles everyday by bringing signs that the Kingdom of Heaven is here with acts of love, justice, mercy and forgiveness.

"Baby burst in the world
Never given a chance
Then they ask what went wrong
When you never had it right
Oh, the letters have dropped off
Though they say you got them all
I finally figured out some things you'll never know
Take back your life and let me inside
We'll find the door if you care to anymore"
- "Desperately Wanting" from the Better Than Ezra album "Friction, Baby"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Power of Symbol

When I watched the latest Indiana Jones movie a couple of years ago, I could not put my finger on it, but I know I didn't like it. It just didn't seem like an Indiana Jones movie. I wasn't the only one and people pointed to the scenes like Indy getting in the fridge and surviving the nuclear blast or the part with the monkeys as to why the movie was terrible. Those were distinctly bizarre things that do seem out of sync with the schema of the rest of the series, but the movie as a whole was lacking and I couldn't describe why. It was by no means as bad as the new Star Wars movies, but I definitely felt like they should have just left the legacy of Dr. Jones alone instead of having a complete trilogy plus one out of place one that was lacking.

Normally, I would not have worried about it anymore and just continue on with my life, but I have a friend who continues to insist that both the new Star Wars trilogy and the new Indiana Jones invigorates their respective franchises and are consistent with the established mythos of their series. My rational brain cannot fathom that and I try to simply state that I did not think they were even good movies on their own let alone the fact that they lived up to the status of their predecessors. He will not let it go and cannot fathom how it is possible for someone to hold such an opinion and I end up having to go back and have to present my case on why they are not good because it seems like I am the only one that is willing/stupid enough to engage him in this matter.

My case for why the new Star Wars movies (The Phantom Coherent Plot Line, The Attack of the Worst Romantic Lines Committed to Film and Revenge of the Moment Where Darth Vader Lost His Coolness) is, I feel, pretty solid. I could regale you with why that is, but frankly, I don't want to bore you and I believe that there are better sources to explain why they are not good even good movies (such as Red Letter Media's hour and a half long critique which is simply spectacular and I would watch all of those reviews over watching the actual movies any day). However, my case for why I don't like Indiana Jones was not as evident. It just didn't sit right. I've come to realize that the reasons people frequently point to as evidence that is a bad movie (the aforementioned nuclear fridge and swinging monkeys) are usually symptoms of a greater problem with the film.

However, I couldn't place it. It was indeed another one of the Red Letter Media reviews of the movie that helped me understand why the movie couldn't overcome it's weak points and be another great Indy film.

It was pointed out that the reason we love Indiana Jones is because girls want to be with him and guys want to be him. He is intelligent, witty, smooth with the ladies, adventurous, heroic, tough and principled. We don't watch these movies because we want to see him grow and develop as a character, you watch it because it would be awesome to outthink traps, steal idols, and dodge a rolling boulder. You can see this in other famous movie characters such as James Bond and Batman. These three characters do not usually develop that much over the course of their movies, but rather represent a certain ideal. Bond and Indy are two slightly different takes on the ideal of manliness and Batman is the ideal embodiment of justice. Then each movie tries to explore taking that ideal and testing it against various threats.

That's why the Joker is probably one of the most fascinating villains for Batman. The Joker brings an element of chaos into the picture that is a direct threat to the code of Batman. The Joker doesn't seek wealth or power, but rather unpredictable chaos. The fact that Batman stops him does not mean that the Joker lost, but rather the Joker has already won by forcing Batman to participate in the chaos.

This leads to a concept I've never really considered. These characters are symbols. They are placeholders for the audience. The audience knows what these characters would do in these situations and often judge the movie based on how the symbol is treated by the movie.

When the last two James Bond movies came out, you had some long time fans complain that it wasn't James Bond anymore. This was despite how good Casino Royale actually was. If you had no idea who James Bond was and watched that movie, it did a really good job, I believe. However, the Bond portrayed in the movie was different than some fans' idea of who Bond is and so they wrote it off. They may even admit that it was a good movie, but just a bad Bond movie. If he doesn't order a martini, shaken, not stirred or if he doesn't say, "Bond, James Bond" then it is not a Bond movie. If Q is not played by Desmond Llewelyn, then it's not Q. If there's no gadgets, its not a Bond movie.

However, we can stand that there can be different Bonds because over time, the ideal man that Bond is supposed to represent changes. As you go through the series, the actor playing Bond gets replaced so that the character generally stays in his forties. Despite how good Sean Connery was as Bond, after a while it would seem weird as the symbol of the ideal man as a seventy-year old running around and jumping off things as they blow up.

Batman needs to have money, technology, expert training and a superior intelligence in order to be the perfect tool for justice.

Sadly, it is the same for Indiana Jones. However the problem was not that Indy was now sixty-five, but they changed who Indy was and they changed how an Indy movie works. One might argue that it is good for a series to change with the times to which I say that you should shift gears completely and do a reboot. However, they changed the wrong things.

One of the hallmarks of Indiana Jones was his lack of nationalism. Indy stood by the ideal of preserving history and discovery and would fight clear evils, but he was not a pawn of the military. The new movie showed him as being a pawn by the Americans. It is also arguable that who is good and who is evil is blurry. The Americans are shown as a paranoid superpower with nuclear weapons and the Russians, it could be said, are trying to defend themselves with their own weapon.

Indiana had a violent streak and would often kill in cold blood, but now he is toned down. They added more family friendly elements like those animated (why are they animated?) gophers. Some may argue that those are good changes to the series to which I go back and say again, reboot the series because you are lying when you say it is the same series if you changing the core of the symbol.

In the last Indy film, they tried to have Indy change and develop over the movie and it messed with what is adored about the series because Indy is not a man, Indy is an idea.

Admittedly, another kind of movie has a great appeal and that is the one of the heroic journey. These movies are the ones where the character goes through a change over the course of the story. The character is different at the end than he was at the start. He overcomes trials and experiences victories and becomes his heroic self. These stories find their appeal in the idea that this is the story of every person. We are given the choice in life whether we will sit back and do nothing or venture out and face our fears and shortcomings and try to overcome them. These are the stories of Luke Skywalker from Star Wars, Neo from the Matrix, and Sam from Lord of the Rings. They are like us in that they reluctant to change, but as they journey down the rabbit hole, they overcome adversity and become their heroic selves. It inspires the audience that they too can choose to become the heroic versions of themselves. Luke, Neo and Sam are not ideas, they are us. 

It is like the reverse of Batman, Bond and Indy. We want to be Batman, Bond and Indy who are distinct ideals that we wish we were but who we really are is Luke, Neo and Sam who have to journey to become more themselves.

Perhaps it was the appeal of the idea of having Indy develop and change over the movie that prompted the idea that they should change the tone and feel of the movie to fit it, but in doing so, hurt what made Indy so fun to watch. Indy is not a man, he is an idea.

Despite how much the prospect of having another Indiana Jones was, it was probably best to leave it in the past and simply treasure the symbol. I believe symbols are often far more powerful.

In the Batman Begins film, the idea of a symbol is talked about extensively. By Bruce Wayne fighting not as himself, but rather as a symbol of fear and using tactics that re-inforce that symbol, he becomes much more than one man fighting crime. He becomes an idea that reaches into the consciousness of the citizens. He becomes far more powerful.

The symbol of Indiana inspires us to put on the mantle of Indiana and to become like him. Of course, the symbol only goes so far, because he is fictional and it is something we can't really become.

This brings me to why am I talking about movies with such detail.

As I was thinking about Indiana Jones as a symbol, it brought me to the conundrum that is Jesus Christ. In many regards, Christ is a symbol. He has become the symbol of salvation, redemption, justice, mercy and love. Through his teachings and actions, he has become a symbol that inspires people. The interesting thing is that he calls us to take up his mantle.

Whereas the mantle of Indiana Jones includes wearing the iconic hat, with a bullwhip in hand, shirt open, a leather jacket and an unshaven face, the mantle of Christ includes the characteristics of love, justice and mercy.

However, I have found that we don't take up the mantle. For some, they believe that we, as mere humans, are not able to take on the mantle of Christ nor that we should. The mantle is Christ's alone. For others, they are jaded by those who call themselves disciples of Christ, but do not dare touch the mantle of Christ. In the end, the mantle sits there untouched and the symbol looses it's power.

I think it comes down to us seeing ourselves as Samwise Gamgee who has no obligations to the world nor, seemingly, the power to impact the darkness of the world. The idea of being Christ is far from our reach. We see Christ as this divine Batman. Someone who is grand. Vast. Unattainable. Someone who has already arrived at the pinnacle of love, justice and mercy. Then we look at this symbol and think that we shouldn't bother. Let Jesus be the Christ because I will just fail.

However, you don't want to forget that Samwise chooses to go on the journey and although, yes, he stumbles and sometimes falls, he moves through and at the end of all his trials he has become a force of redemption. He eventually becomes the symbol he thought he never could be.

I find it sad when people, and Christians in particular, pick on themselves and don't see the potential that Christ sees in us. They would rather let Jesus be the Christ because they believe they can't despite it is Jesus himself who leaves his disciples to become disciple-makers.

Perhaps the better example comes from "V for Vendetta". The story takes place in the future where Britain has come under the rule of a harsh theocracy. One vigilante who stands up to the religious establishment and wants to set the people free from their oppression. He fights a seemingly hopeless battle and in the end dies at the hand of those who wish to keep their power. Sound familiar so far? His final sacrifice inspires the common citizenry to take up the iconic mask of the vigilante and stand up in the vigilante's place. One of the last shots is a giant crowd all wearing the mask. They were V.

It's interesting, because you have the symbol of V who represents freedom who is unwavering and idealistic, but the citizens are the ones that go through the change. V did not need to change. It was the citizens he was trying to save and by them changing, they were saved. In the end, they as a people became the symbol of V.

I wonder if that story intended to parallel the Christian story the way it did. Even if it was not intentional, I see the parallel all the same. Jesus died for the sake of ideals he stood by. He was inspiring us to follow him. It is fitting that we participate in the journey of the citizenry and become the symbol of salvation, redemption, justice, mercy and love.

I sometimes honestly wonder if when the New Testament talks about the second coming of Christ where it says that it will happen in within in their present generation as Paul believed it would, that is actually already did happen. What if when we use the term the "body of Christ" to refer to the church that that really is the second coming of Christ. That we really are supposed to bring salvation, redemption, justice, mercy and love to all ends of the earth just like the Christ is supposed to. 

That is the power of symbol.

"So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's land

So make your siren's call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be

And I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again"
- "The Cave" from the Mumford & Sons' album "Sigh No More"