Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What if it's "what we're doing right" and not "what we're doing wrong"?

A friend posted a link on Facebook to this article and tagged his children.

The article: 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church

This statement was interesting:
...Each had a story to tell about a “good Christian” child, raised in their home and in our church, who had walked away from the faith during the college years.
In this statement the author equates a college student no longer attending church with walking away from his or her faith. I get it. I'll side step the simplistic measure of a person's faith as a person going to church to get to the more juicy fun.

But this one was the one that really caught my attention:
The daunting statistics about church-going youth keep rolling in. Panic ensues. What are we doing wrong in our churches? In our youth ministries?
But, what if the reason these students are "leaving the church" is not the result of failure, but the result of success? Okay, before I open myself up for too much "what about kid X" or "what about kid Y", I'm not in any way saying every kid that steps out of church during their young adult years does so from a desire on their part to walk closer with their Father.

I'm certain there were parents wringing their hands over their children stepping away from traditional Judaism to follow this new Way that this radical teacher had introduced and which challenged their sound and long-standing system of faith given them by the one true god.

What if the result of some of the teaching in some places is actually helping students discover the relationship for which they were sought out in their growing-up years? And what if the result of firmly grounded students is actually a lifting of the veil which shrouds the vision of so many to see the self-serving monolith that many churches have become. What if the students actually see the disconnect between the stories they read and were taught in their early years and the "practice of their faith" that is before them as adults?

What if the real church is emerging from centuries of stifling tradition and individual kingdom building? What if these students have come face to face with a Way that was obscured centuries ago and are now a part of the next unique and genuine work of Father to redeem His people to himself?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Noah vs. Gladiator

I've been intrigued watching all the uproar from the church community over the new movie Noah and thought I'd share some of my thoughts.

First though, let me point you back to an earlier post about the visible brushstrokes of our Master Artist at work in all things.

And second, let me back up and talk a little about the release of Gladiator, one of my favorite movies, and, it so happens, the same actor playing both leading roles.

When I came home from watching Gladiator, at my earliest convenience I was really curious to look up how much of the story was true to the historical record. A quick search identified there was a Emperor named Marcus Aurelius who died at Vindobonna and was succeeded by his son Commodus.

He did expand the Roman Empire conquering other realms including a final campaign with the Germanic tribes.

There are smatterings of truth related to Commodus' reign including brutal gladiator games, but in reality very little of the historical record held up to making a great movie it seems. In fact Commodus was assassinated, but it was by strangulation in his bath at the hands of a wrestler after an attempt to poison him failed due to his vomiting up the poison.

There is no record of a beloved Spanish general who miraculously survived an assassination attempt by the new emperor and became a gladiator, vindicated the murder of his own family, and defeated the evil emperor in an epic staged gladiatorial display. Rome was not returned to the Senate and the people but was subjected to another emperor -- the first of five very short tenured emperors has been dubbed the Year of the Five Emperors.

Like I said, smatterings. But, the interesting thing about this movie was how the story prompted me to not only dive in and do some research into the storyline and characters, it also planted in me an interest in the Roman historical period which had not existed prior to seeing the movie. In fact, I've since enjoyed watching a number of other similar period TV series and movies which I might have ignored had Gladiator not sparked an interest in the history of that time period.

You see where I'm going with this, don't you?

The writers and directors of Gladiator took a lot of liberties with the historical record of the death of Marcus Aurelius and the reign and demise of his son Commodus to make one of the most epic and compelling movies to date (in my opinion) about the time period.

I'll admit, I was a little disappointed there was not a beloved general from Spain named Maximus Decimus Meridius, but that didn't prevent me from researching the story and learning a lot more about the history around that story and expanding to an interest in all things from that time period.

Where is the record of Noah recorded? We all know it's not in historical books, right? So if a viewer of this new Noah movie is moved to discover how much of the story is based on a written record, they will no doubt pick up a copy of the the Bible and read a very compelling story in its own right. And if the reading of that story prompts interest in the other engaging and rich stories which precede and follow the story of Noah, wouldn't that be a really good thing?

I say let the brilliant story tellers of the big screen make more Noah-like movies... I'd estimate they do less damage to the image of the Creator than the attitudes and behavior of many of those trying to defend the biblical story of Noah.