Social Connects

 

Aug
23
2013

Guns Don't Stop Killers, People Stop Killers: Love, Shared Stories, and the Power of the Holy Spirit

Depending on your access to social media, you may not have heard about this story, or you may think you're hearing about it everywhere. Either way, this story is not getting enough attention, and it probably won't. I'm convinced human beings want Good News, but we've been conditioned by our world to settle for and wallow in Bad News. This is the condition that helps media outlets determine what stories will get ratings, which in turn feeds the culture to which the media is trying to cater. What we end up with is a vicious cycle perpetuating a culture of death. We're entertained, fixated, horrified, and mesmerized by violence!

After the Sandy Hook school shooting, NRA President Wayne LaPierre famously said,

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun."

http://youtu.be/aASfk-ii0BM

This logic seems sound to millions of U.S. Americans who have been conditioned by our culture of violence and death. Then along comes a story like Antoinette Tuff's, and the presumption that only greater violence can prevent violence is utterly shattered. Tuff's story beautifully illustrates at least three things:

  1. The power of faith to produce love for the 'other';
  2. The power of shared stories;
  3. The power of the Holy Spirit.

Combined, these powers overcome the powers of mental illness, violence, hatred, and death. Take note people—is what Christian discipleship looks like in real life!

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Aug
12
2013

Jesus, Zombies, and Love: A Theological Reflection on Warm Bodies (Part 3)

***SPOILERS***

This is part 3 of a three-part theological reflection on Warm Bodies. In part 1, I explored what Christian theology and the movie have to say about being "fully alive." In part 2, I discussed what the movie and Christian theology have to say about being "fully human." In this post, I'll comment on what both Christian theology and Warm Bodies have to say about relating to the "other."

Zombie movies rarely challenge us to think about how we treat those who are different from us. Instead, there is never a question of who are the "good guys" and who are the undead "bad guys." The bad guys look hideous. The bad guys attack without provocation. The bad guys are mindless killing machines. At least, that's how they're typically portrayed. But not in Warm Bodies!

Instead of painting all zombies with one brush, Warm Bodies introduces a progression in the zombification process. Zombies deteriorate into a less and less human state until there is no humanity left. The other zombies call these completely zombified zombies "Boneys" because they have torn off their own flesh and only their blackened skeleton remains. When the main zombie character "R" introduces them, he says, "[The boneys] eat anything with a heart beat. I mean, so will I, but at least I'm conflicted about it." The implication is that the final state of zombification entails the complete loss of empathy, feeling, humanity.

So, if zombies can progressively become more zombie-like, can they become less zombie-like too? That is the question this new information raises. And if the characteristic feature of complete zombification is being utterly devoid of feeling, what then would be the characteristic feature of a zombie who is becoming more human?

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Aug
10
2013

Jesus, Zombies, and Love: A Theological Reflection on Warm Bodies (Part 2)

***Spoilers***

If you're just tuning in, this is part 2 of a few theological reflections on Warm Bodies, a zombie romance movie. In part 1, I explored how Warm Bodies illustrates what Christian theology has to say about what it means to be fully alive. In part 3, I'll discuss how Warm Bodies helps us think about how Jesus-disciples are called to relate with the 'other.' But in this post, part 2, I'll be commenting on what Warm Bodies exposes about what it means to be fully human:

What Does it Mean to be Fully Human?

In Warm Bodies, something is awakened in the zombie main character ("R") when he encounters the non-zombie main character: "Julie" (And before you ask: Yes, these two names are designed to cause viewers to recall Romeo and Juliet). Rather than attack her without thinking and devour her brains, he is struck by her and desires to know her. So he rescues her from the other zombies who would surely kill her and brings her home to his airplane apartment where he can keep her safe. She is naturally confused, terrified, and distrustful of this zombie who is treating her very un-zombie-like. She's been taught that zombies are nothing but "corpses"—unfeeling, unthinking, non-human. But every time R saves her life, provides her with food, plays music for her, she can't help but begin to rethink what she's been taught. Several times, directly after R has done something selfless for her, she asks, "What are you?" (not "Who are you?"). She's asking, "Are you actually human?"

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Aug
09
2013

Jesus, Zombies, and Love: A Theological Reflection on Warm Bodies (Part 1)

***SPOILERS***

Warm Bodies is an exploration of what it means to be fully human and fully alive. Zombies are a perennial favorite for talking about these subjects. Are the "undead" alive? Are they "human"? But zombie movies are also a way of talking about the "other" and how we are to relate with them. I found Warm Bodies particular good in both of these areas, while also being light-hearted (even funny at times) and not overly cheesy on the romance.

Looking at Warm Bodies theologically, these questions and considerations take on a different hue. What do zombies have to do with Jesus? What does it means to be "fully alive" from a theological point of view? What does it mean to be "fully human"? And how are Jesus-disciples called to relate with the 'other'?

Zombies and Jesus?

Jesus and zombies are actually old friends. The first appearance of "Zombie Jesus" in popular culture is attributed to an episode of Matt Groening's cartoon Futurama back in 1999, but the meme has progressively gained popularity in the years since—particular when Easter time comes around. While some find this meme offensive, even an "attack on Christianity," I don't think we should. I think the comparison can offer the Church an opportunity and common ground to make some important and hopefully helpful reflections.

For example, I found many of the themes captured in Warm Bodies to be very compelling illustrations of Christian theology. For the sake of brevity, I'll constrain my thoughts to just three: What Christian theology has to say about life and death (Part 1); What Christian theology has to say about being human (Part 2); and What Christian theology has to say about relating to the 'other' (Part 3).

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Jul
30
2013

The "Real" Jesus: Why Reza Aslan is Right! (…and Wrong)—Jesus, the Reign of God, and Objectivity

For those who are not familiar with Dr. Reza Aslan (like his Fox News interviewer, apparently), he is a religion scholar 1 who has published several books on terrorism, Islam, and radical Islamic fundamentalism.2 I became familiar with Aslan when he appeared twice on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, once in 2009 to promote his book How to Win a Cosmic War and again in 2010 to promote a different book: Beyond Fundamentalism. Both books deal with religion, globalization, and terrorism.3

Recently, Aslan has returned to The Daily Show, this time to promote his new book on Jesus, but not Christianity.4 At the start of the interview, John Oliver (the interviewer) says:

"Let's be clear, this book is about Jesus the man, not so much Jesus the Christ."

To which Aslan responds, nodding his head in the affirmative:

"It's about the historical Jesus, not the Christ of faith."

The tricky thing about evaluating Aslan's take on Jesus is that so much of what he says is exactly correct. But in the fine details, Aslan makes many critical errors that are both historical and theological. In this post, I'd like to give Aslan credit for what he gets correct, while also pointing out the mistakes he makes and offering a possible reason why he's made them.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Jul
26
2013

Mere Discipleship and Dialogue: The Priestly Calling to the Ministry of Reconciliation

Years ago now, I read Mere Discipleship by Lee Camp with a small group I started made up mostly of seminary students called "Tanks to Tractors", but I never did review the book here on Theological Graffiti. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in what it means to be a disciple (i.e. follower, student, imitator) of Jesus. Camp is an excellent writer, he draws from many important sources, and the second edition of the book includes a study guide for groups.

The first members of New City Covenant Church's "launch team" will be reading and dialoguing around the subjects in the book for the remainder of the summer as well as putting what we're learning into practice by serving our neighbors in the South End/Lower Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. (If you live in the Boston metro area and are interested in joining us, you can find out more at the church's website.) So my wife suggested it might be appropriate for me to write not only about the book here, but also about the approach we're taking to learning from this book and one another. That is why in this post I'll be describing both: Two of the key theological concepts from the first chapter of the book—"Social Location" and the "Constantinian Shift"—as well as the Dialogue model of engagement we'll be practicing. In the weeks to come, I hope to provide a post like this one (minus the part about dialogue) to describe more of the concepts and arguments Camp covers in the book.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Jul
02
2013

The Big Story of the Bible: Theologians Could Learn a Thing or Two from This Children's Bible

This is not a review, though one is likely to come later. Instead, I only wish to offer a few priliminary observations about this Bible for children, the Jesus Storybook Bible, that I just began reading to my own children at bedtimes. 

From my preliminary observations, I am overjoyed by the quality of this children's Bible and excited to experience it with my children. In fact, I think this Bible will not only benefit children, but also adults. This book even has a thing or two to teach theologians!

1. Brown People!

The illustrations in this Bible are beautiful! I love the whimsical, yet deliberate style. But most of all I love the deliberate choice of the author and illustrator to make the main characters brown-skinned. In stark contrast to "The Bible" miniseries which aired on the History Channel, the Jesus Storybook Bible does not depict people of ancient Hebrew decent as European/white. Instead, the award-winning illustrator, Jago, was sure to give the biblical characters a darker, more historically accurate, complextion than many (if not most) Western children's Bibles. Nowhere is this more important than in the ethnicity of Jesus Himself. For far too long, children in the West have been deceived by depictions of Jesus as white.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Jun
26
2013

The Reality of Revelation (Whether We Like it or Not)

This photo was floating around the interwebs before Joel Watts snatched it up and Brian LePort shared it. It's a play on a familiar slogan from our Fundamentalist friends. In this version, it's been updated to reflect reality.

In case you have trouble reading the parts that are wrinkled, here it is typed out. (And I've added a suggestion Brian made in a Facebook comment):

God said it.

(It was filtered through finite human authors who recorded their inspired thoughts by means of the language, symbols, and customs of their day.)

I interpreted it.

(As best as I could in light of all the filters imposed by my upbrining and culture, which I try to control for but you can never do a perfect job.)

That doesn't exactly settle it.

(But it does give me enough of a platform to base my values and decisions on.)

 

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Jun
21
2013

Blockbuster End Times Myths: A Few Ways Popular Culture and Popular Theology Both Misinterpret Scripture

Hollywood isn't to blame for getting the Christian view of the end times wrong—Christians are to blame. Christians have failed time and time again to preach a consistent, unified, and biblically faithful message, and Hollywood is simply going by what we have presented them.

Instead of preaching of God's desire to restore God's good creation and bring perfect shalom to the whole world—which is what the Bible actually teaches—U.S. American Christians have presented a portrayal of a god who wishes only to destroy the world and all God's enemies while spiriting away all the "born-again" believers to safety in some other-worldly place. Do not be deceived, that is a gnostic "gospel". It is dualism and escapism and it is what the world thinks Christians believe.

This summer, at least two hollywood comedies will be based on this depiction of Christian eschatology, and they will perpetuate gross distortions of the Bible and of orthodox Christian theology.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Jun
16
2013

In Heaven with Our Father

A Day with Dad

On Memorial Day, it was beautiful in Boston. The air temperature hovered around 70 degrees and there was a light, cool breeze. Just like we had planned, my oldest son, Tyson, and I spent the day together—just the two of us. We don't get to do that often enough, and he craves alone time with his dad. I don't get to spend one-on-one time with him as much as I'd like to, so I was particularly excited about our time together too. So we decided to head downtown. I had a feeling we could find some mischief to get into down there. We started out just meandered around the Common. He was hungry so I bought him a hotdog from a food cart. He almost immediately proceeded to drop it on the pavement, so I bought him another one.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Welcome to TheologicalGraffiti.com

T. C. and Tyson Moore

Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, urban minister, sometimes designer, writer, preacher, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

Shalom,
T. C.

Books I'm Currently Reading:

Facebook Page

Follow This Blog

 
 

Member: MennoNerds

Browncoats Biblioblog Network

We Aim to Misbehave!

 

TC on Instagram

Recommended Books