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Archive for May, 2009

What is Past or Present or to Come : a Review of “No Country for Old Men”

Posted by Remy on May 19, 2009

[2007]

The Coen Brothers’ film “No Country for Old Men“, based on the novel of the same title by Cormac McCarthy, is a seamless exercise in the strangulation of hope. Unlike their previous films set in the dark world of murder (Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo) “No Country” has no glimmer of escape, no place of refuge, no chance at mercy, and not only is this place no country for old men, it is no place for anyone at all.

The theme of the movie is the inexorable march of violence, like its fatalistic antagonist, wryly named Anton Chigurh, whose clockwork killing punctuates the movie. In this world, where God is only noted as an absence, people are chewed up and spit out, victim and tormentor alike, with such casual determinism that only horror is at home. No film since “Chinatown” delineates the Christian virtue of Hope from its secular counterpart pessimism so well.

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Posted in Suffering | 2 Comments »

10 Bad Assumptions in Raising Children : Assumption Number 5

Posted by Remy on May 18, 2009

There are several assumptions parents make that are detrimental to their children. As a parent who teaches I am afforded the opportunity to spend time thinking of ways to train children. This is not to say that I’ve figured anything out, I have three rascally boys all under the age of five, so what do I know, right? But because it is my job to train children, both as parent and teacher, I know that good thoughts only follow thoughts and I have thoughts. What follows is a few thoughts that strike me as important, but are also not emphasized enough. These are not meant to detract from any other fine advice, but to compliment it.

 10. Churchtime is Time to Sit Still and Quiet

9. Words are Bad

8. God is Always Watching 

7. Obedience is Most Important

6. Bad Examples are Bad

5. Sex is a Secret

What is the gameplan? How do you plan on explaining the marital act to your children? Yeah, I don’t have one either, but we spend the summer on a farm so we’re hoping to be bailed out by randy animals.

But we need to be more proactive in teaching our children, particularly on a subject as important as sex. In sitting back to wait until the world brings up the subject we are essentially ensuring that it will not be a positive, responsible, well-thought out introduction, but a crass joke from some stranger boy.

Sex is not a secret. To treat it in hushed and embarrassed tones only adds to the confusion and shame. I think we put it off because we don’t want to be embarrassed by a public use of some of the terms involved, which is silly.

The problem with putting off the topic is that it means we put off the morality of sex as well. We wait until the biology is taught and then think to drape our morals over the top. It’s no wonder that teaching sex ed first makes it the primary good and the insistence of purity an unnatural burden.

Rather we should introduce sex within the context of marriage, not school or more likely the impromptu after-school special taught by Joe fifth-grader. If marital sex is the norm, that thing mom and dad do together, it puts it in the world of righteousness, of maturity, and perhaps most importantly, it puts it into the quotidian. Teaching sex in the context of marriage makes it difficult to treat as a biological necessity or a backseat teenager’s secret.

We should be practicing revulsion toward sexual impurity and perversion from an early age, but this requires a careful unfolding of the sexual act to our children. Of course sexual purity isn’t as important as the ABCs or the multiplication tables or learning the books of the Bible, but it’s up there, right?

Posted in Children | Comments Off on 10 Bad Assumptions in Raising Children : Assumption Number 5

The Meaning of “Lord”

Posted by Remy on May 14, 2009

Lord comes from the English “loaf ward”.

Posted in Life | 7 Comments »

God Shuffled His Feet : Crash Test Dummies

Posted by Remy on May 13, 2009

One of my alltime favorite songs, very apocalyptic. I love how the chorus shifts in meaning. At first the shuffling seems to be God’s discomfort at the question. He responds in parable confusing them and then breaking out into dancing. Listen to the song here, lyrics below:

After seven days He was quite tired so God said:
“Let there be a day just for picnics, with wine and bread”
He gathered up some people he had made
Created blankets and laid back in the shade

The people sipped their wine
And what with God there, they asked him questions
Like: do you have to eat Or get your hair cut in heaven?
And if your eye got poked out in this life
Would it be waiting up in heaven with your wife?

God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them;
The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him

So he said:”Once there was a boy who woke up with blue hair
To him it was a joy until he ran out into the warm air
He thought of how his friends would come to see;
And would they laugh, or had he got some strange disease?

God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them;
The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him

The people sat waiting out on their blankets in the garden
But God said nothing so someone asked him: “I beg your pardon:
I’m not quite clear about what you just spoke
Was that a parable, or a very subtle joke?”

God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them;
The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him

Posted in Festival | 1 Comment »

10 Bad Assumptions in Raising Children : Assumption Number 6

Posted by Remy on May 12, 2009

There are several assumptions parents make that are detrimental to their children. As a parent who teaches I am afforded the opportunity to spend time thinking of ways to train children. This is not to say that I’ve figured anything out, I have three rascally boys all under the age of five, so what do I know, right? But because it is my job to train children, both as parent and teacher, I know that good thoughts only follow thoughts and I have thoughts. What follows is a few thoughts that strike me as important, but are also not emphasized enough. These are not meant to detract from any other fine advice, but to compliment it.

 10. Churchtime is Time to Sit Still and Quiet

9. Words are Bad

8. God is Always Watching 

7. Obedience is Most Important

6. Bad Examples are Bad

The Bible is full of bad examples. Even the good examples aren’t always good and what could be worse than a good person when he’s bad? If we truly think that bad examples are bad, then the first book we need to toss is the Bible.

But this is a bad assumption, bad examples are actually good, particularly if we think of them as teaching opportunities. The only time a teaching opportunity is bad is when we are lazy and don’t want to do the work required in training our children.

One of the principle tools of education, both in school and out, is to grapple with the shortcomings within and around us. The benefit of sheltering our children is a temporary tactic. To forever shelter ensures immaturity. It is the duty of the parents to equip their children to engage the world. Sheltering only works if you plan at some point to unshelter them. Understanding this allows us to have a high view of bad examples, for if we were left to ourselves in determining what to teach how much would we leave out? I never would’ve thought to teach my children something had I know come into contact with a bad example. It is difficult to think of a time when Jesus doesn’t use a bad example in His teaching. Sin is not the problem, it is a failure to address sin that is a problem. 

This is one of the reasons why television is such a blessing to parents. What better way to present children with bad examples than in the safety of your own home? I confess that I dispise “Dora the Explora” and prefer my boys to watch other shows, but I am not afraid of Dora, and in some ways I’m glad for the lesson I was able to teach my children from it. The thing I hate about Dora (and most children shows) is the self-congratulations that  are constantly going on. But the first time Archer did the “I did it” dance I was able to remind him that we don’t praise ourselves, we praise others.

Playing soccer in the city league brings you into contact with all sorts of kids and parents that are “bad influences”, but they can only influence a void or a poorly instructed area. As parents we are watchers, we watch what are kids come in contact with and while sometimes that means making sure there is no contact, most of the time it means giving guidance, dismantling bad attitudes and responses, highlighting foolishness. Avoiding bad examples is just ensuring that you don’t need to interact with your children, that you don’t think they need to be challenged. We need to know their frame and this assumes that the frame is changing.

Being blown about by every wind of doctrine is not solved by staying out of the wind.

Posted in Children | 1 Comment »

Are There Those In Christ Who Are Forbidden To Eat?

Posted by Remy on May 11, 2009

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on two separate occasions over I Corinthians 11. There are several misunderstandings, but one is the meaning of  “examine”. Pastor Jeff Meyers has written a superb article answering that question. There are a couple others that I want to draw out, but first a snippet of the passage:

 27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
 30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
 31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
 33Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
 34And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation.

First thing to notice is that there is no category of worthy Christians and unworthy Christians. That is an category invented to accommodate our blueprints. There is no halfway covenant, there is no firstclass Christians, secondclass Christians. The distinction drawn here is between worthy eating and unworthy eating.

Second, the reason for unworthy eating is over a failure to discern the Lord’s body. We don’t have the right to stretch this to other things; differences over doctrinal matters are not in light here. 

Third, the response to the problem is not to abstain from eating. All those in the body are expected to eat. A failure to eat is rebellion. A failure to eat is to avoid lifegiving judgement. Note verse 31 and 32, if we judge ourselves we will not be judged, but when we are judge (by eating unworthily) we are chastened by the Lord (and the chastening of the Lord should not be despised) that we should not be condemned with the world.

If you are in Christ you must eat. If you are in rebellion you must eat. Until someone is removed from the table by excommunication (not the frivolous blanket excommunication that serve only for schism), they must partake of the lifegiving judgement of the Lord. If you are weak you can only become weaker by abstaining. If you struggle with sin there is no other place to gain strength.

Wherefore, my brethren, when you come together, not if you come, but when you come together to eat, receive one another.

Posted in Ecclesia | 82 Comments »

Those Unpredictable Speakers

Posted by Remy on May 10, 2009

Jaiken on the toilet: “A-men, a-men, Ah-a-a-meeeen.”

Posted in Children | 1 Comment »

Pictures of “Passing Away”

Posted by Remy on May 9, 2009

A botanist decides to study a flower and his apprentice follows him out to the field, notebook in hand. They spend weeks studying the bloom and the bloom only. The botanist concludes his study of the flower and begins to pack up. The confused apprentice delays. He says, “Don’t we need to study, say, the rest of the flower?”

“Whatever for?”

“Because that’s a part of the flower.”

“It’s the old flower, the flower has been made new, right here. The bloom is the climax of the flower, in fact, it is the flower. That’s all we need to study.”

“What about the stem, the leaves, the root system, what about the seed it came from and the process it went through to get to the bloom?”

“Bah, that’s the old things. It can’t help us to understand the bloom, look at all those colors, look how much more beautiful the bloom is.” 

 

*   *   *   * 

 

Imagine a husband who anytime his wife began to tell him of her life prior to marriage he cut her off. “That’s all in the past, I don’t need to know that. You’ve been recreated, all things are new, only what happens now is what matters.”

“I had a life before you came along” she responds.

“That life has passed away.”

“But you can’t know who I am unless you understand my history.”

“What really matters is when you and I stood together at the altar and said ‘I do’ anything before that doesn’t matter nearly as much.”

“Certainly that was a big event, changed my life and I admit that you and I have been transformed, but don’t you think there’s value in learning about me before that time?”

“Nah.”

“If you loved me you would want to know everything about me.”

Posted in Newness | 17 Comments »

The Potent Table

Posted by Remy on May 8, 2009

We implicitly believe that our table is more powerful than the Lord’s table.

We might not say that, but when we draw a circle within the body of Christ, marking out exclusive believers who are allowed to eat the Eucharist, yet still allow fellowship to our own tables we in effect are saying, “my table is able to draw us together, to bridge our divisions, when the Lord’s table cannot.”

We know that as a body of believers to disallow fellowship at social gatherings would be to treat them as enemies. We can’t have that. The only way to bring people into the true body, into the hardcore Christians, is to win them with our tables, before bringing them to God’s. God’s table isn’t equipped to win anybody, we have to achieve unity through our tables.

God’s table is the reward for the Worthy Christians.

Posted in Festival | 1 Comment »

On Offense

Posted by Remy on May 8, 2009

Be offended not, that you be not offensive. For by the standard you are offended, you will be offensive: and what you measure inoffensive, that will be measured to you again.

Posted in Holiness | Comments Off on On Offense