Archive for November, 2007

Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars – A Comic Review

Posted on November 29, 2007. Filed under: Reviews |

Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars – A Comic Review

Imagining a Mad, Mad World

It’s great to read well known classic stories.  It’s even better to read reinterpretations of time tested tales.  Hatter M:  The Looking Glass Wars is the comic spinoff of Frank Beddor’s (producer of There’s Something About Mary) trilogy of novels entitled Alyss in Wonderland.  Co-Written with Liz Cavalier and with all of the artwork by Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Singularity 7) sets the story straight about Lewis Carroll’s young Alice and her trials and tribulations.Set in 1859 this comic recounts the history of what we know of as the Mad Hatter. 

His name is Hatter Madigan and he is the personal bodyguard of Alyss Heart, the princess of Wonderland.  He has an enormous problem:  After a coup brought down the reigning queen of Wonderland (Queen Heart, the ruler of a magical world where our fantasy is their reality), Alyss and Hatter jumped into another reality, ours.  In the turbulence of the journey Hatter lost track of his charge and must now make his way through our world and its many dangers to restore his princess to power. 

Hatter is one character who is as tough as nails and is as sharp as tacks.  He is not afraid to enter any situation or confront any amount of enemies in his pursuit of Alyss.  He comes well armed with blades that shoot from his sleeves and one of the coolest weapons I’ve ever seen, his hat.  Working like a boomerang, he throws his topper like a Frisbee and while it spins to its target, it flattens out and becomes a rotating circle of blades.

Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier spin a great yarn of a great fantasy character crashing into our reality.  How they portray the different characters from Carroll’s original deserves to be applauded.  Who would have thought the Cheshire Cat would be great in an assassin’s role?  And the new elements that they’ve added to the story, like vampires who feed on children’s imaginations and a secret society trying to rid the world of said imaginations.

Once again, Ben Templesmith proves to all that he has a real genius for the use of colors.  With each turn of the page, we are presented with an explosion of colors that are rarely seen (or played with).  One page could be nothing but green but the subtle variations and tones help to pull you into the story and make Hatter Madigan’s nightmare world more real (he was able to do the same thing with the color gray in 30 Days of Night).  His characters once again are creepy and have an otherworldly quality about them.  You wouldn’t want to meet one in a back alley somewhere.

All that took to bring this book together required a great amount of imagination.  It’s only fitting to have part of the story be about imagination and the world’s need for it.  We were granted wonderful imaginations when we were young.  Listening to my son talk and watching him play it’s amazing to see how much of our early lives are made up by fantasy.  People tend to lose that imagination as they get older but it is so essential to us as a human being fully alive.  We relate to the stories that we hear of the past through the use of our creative minds. 

If we hear the mystical and the mythical we have to employ that part of our brains that makes the fantastic, believable.  The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Odyssey, the Gospels:  all of these are stories in which the only way that we can relate is to use our imaginations.  In that way these worlds can become real again.  So join with the writers and artist of this great book to celebrate the gift that is my imagination. 

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Do I Disappoint You – By Rufus Wainwright

Posted on November 28, 2007. Filed under: Spiritual Musings, Uncategorized |

I love this video adaptation of a great song.  I could have added this to my Lament blog but I figured it was good enough to be put up by itself.

Here are the lyrics to this song as well:

Do I disappoint you, in just being human?
And not one of the elements, that you can light your cigar on
Why does it always have to be fire?
Why does it always have to be brimstone?
Cool this body down

Do I disappoint you, in just being lonely?
And not one of the elements that you can call your one and only
Why does it always have to be water?
Why does it always have to be holy wine?
Of all mankind

And do I disappoint you?
Do I disappoint you in just being like you?

Tired of being the reason the road has a shoulder
And it could be argued, why they all return to the order
Why does it always have to be chaos?
Why does it always have to be wanderlust?
I’m gonna smash your bloody skull.
‘Cause, baby, no, you can’t see inside
No, baby, no, you can’t see my soul
Do I disappoint you?
Do I disappoint you?

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Growing Through Disillusionment

Posted on November 27, 2007. Filed under: Spiritual Musings |

Growing Through Disillusionment*

The other night a group of us were out together:  Maurice Broaddus, Rich Vincent, Lauren David and myself.   We’d hate to shatter any illusions, but during the course of our discussion we came to the startling  conclusion that we can be asses (except Lauren).  It’s not like any of us set out to be the Dr. House of the theological set, it’s more of a resignation to the facts.  We’re not going out of our way to be an ass, we simply know we can be asses.  And yet the question comes up “do we have any business attempting to model what the church should be about, much less the love of Christ?”

We have a certain idea of what a saint is and are too quick to label people saints without considering what we mean by the term.  After all, even the best of people are but flawed vessels, yet flawed vessels are the only kind of person God works through.  To quote Miroslav Volf, “I am not a Christian because of the church, but because of the gospel. However, it was only through the broken church that I received the gospel. Because of the gospel, I participate in the church.”  Think of some of the greats.  Mother Theresa of Calcutta was known for her temper and how mean she could be.  Francis of Assisi  hated lepers despite talking about how much we should love everyone.  Yet God manages to continue His work through us.

It’s easy to fall into cynicism.  A cynic is a frustrated idealist, with the emptiness they so often experience being a symptom of their inability to let go of their idealism.  Most people are idealists at first but there must come a time in everyone’s lives when your ideals and your dreams must be measured against reality; where “what could be” and “what ought to be” is measured against “what is.”  The false facades begin to crumble and those things which had been so solid and so true are not able to withstand the crush of practicality.  What do we do when this happens?  How do we handle our disappointment with the truth of life itself?  It’s what we do with these questions that end up fundamentally shaping our mature selves.  Do we hide in a corner and deny those things that seem to be crushing defeats?  Do we toss up our hands in frustrated resignation and give up on whatever it is that we’d dreamed of for so long?

Such profound disillusion is often wrestled with the transition from childhood to adulthood (and thus probably a contributing factor to the condition of being a spiritual teenager).  Starting with your parents and moving onto the institutions you want to hold dear (school, the government, etc.), it becomes a struggle to survive nothing, and no one, being as you thought they were.

There is an option that allows for growth and maturity in our lives.  From its very foundation it is frightening and tends to take a lot of work (some of which may call for sacrifices which you’d never imagined).  Fusing your ideals with the reality you have to work with.  Hunting down those parts of your ideals that are able to be sacrificed without losing the whole and learning to integrate new ideas and new thoughts which previously seemed foreign and even counter to what you held so dear.  Sometimes it calls for a delicate shifting of boundaries without sacrificing the core of your beliefs.  Sometimes even the core must be discarded.

It’s not so easy to make the changes in our lives necessary to balance reality with ideals.  It’s an uncertain time fraught with error and simply speaking, those mistakes must be made.  If there is to be any room for growth you need to be unashamed of your own fallibility.  Your mistakes are what mold and shape you if you learn from them.  The lessons rarely come easy and at times can be quite frustrating.

We have faults and we make mistakes, so we’re going to need your grace as we journey together.  We’ve kept in mind the words of a friend of ours:  “Instead of talking about what horrible people we are, why don’t you go out and try to be the people you wish we were? If we do such a horrific job at loving people, why don’t you go show us how it’s done? If we are incapable of meeting hard to like people where they are at, why don’t you go meet them where they are at?”

*A Maurice and Rob tag-team blog effort.  With Lauren as the cheerleader.

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Hitman – A Review

Posted on November 27, 2007. Filed under: Reviews |

  Hitman – A Review

Shooting Blanks

Sometimes when you find a good book, you can actually imagine seeing it as a movie.  You imagine who the lead characters would be, you imagine what the sets would look like, you may even be able to pick a director for the movie.  It’s not all that different for video games.  Hitman from Eidos Interactive was a ground-breaking computer and console video game.  It helped set the stage for all “stealth” titles to follow.  I remember getting it as a Christmas present one year and spending hours and hours of my life trying to master being Agentr 47.

Upon hearing that a movie was coming out based on the video game, I felt quite torn.  I know that the track record for most video game movies has been pretty dismal (ahem…Resident Evil,Doom) and so I didn’t get my hopes too high for Hitman.  Upon hearing that Vin Diesel was the Executive Producer, my excitement grew.  Diesel is a big gaming fanatic and knows the difference between a bad game, a good game and a fantastic game (he even plays Dungeons & Dragons).  I thought that there might be some hope for this movie yet.  But knowing what makes a good game and knowing what makes a good movie are two totally different things.

Hitman is a movie about just that, a hitman.  Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant: Live Free Or Die Hard, Deadwood) was raised and trained by the church and a secret organization (aptly entitled The Organization) since his youth.  An earnest Interpol agent, Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott: Ever After, Desperate Houswives), seeks to hunt down this elusive assassin and end his career.  They play the usual game of cat and mouse as Agent 47 always finds a way to slip away whenever Whittier or another assassin gets too close.  Olga Kurylenko plays Nika Boronina, an unwitting participant in a Russian political conspiracy who tries a little too hard to be Agent 47s love interest.

The storyline, if you can follow it, is your basic “spy/assassin betrayed by their employer” fare.  The Assassin makes a hit on an important political leader.  The people contracting the Assassin send other assassins out to kill him.  The Assassin saves a woman and she helps to change his evil ways as he hunts the bad guys down and kills them.  You already know the story and how it ends.  And more than likely, you’ve seen it done better in other movies.


The first half hour or forty-five minutes have got to be one of the most confusing things I’ve ever seen on celluloid.  You’d skip from one location to the next with no story tying them all together.   I’m still scratching my head over what any of that had to do with the movie.  The action sequences, when they came, were well paced and ten years ago would have been considered inventive.  The “love story” was one of the dullest I’ve ever seen and couldn’t have been less unbelievable.  The random nudity from the leading lady was completely out of place and she actually got more attractive the more clothes she had on. 

One line in the movie did actually did stick out.  In a speech delivered by one of the villains he says, “Should we do what is necessary, what is hard, to save what we love?”  Too often, we think about answering yes before we realize how hard it may be to fight for that which we love.  At times, there are things that we think we love but when times get tough we aren’t willing to go through the difficulty of saving them. 

Thinking about this helps us to realize what is important in our lives, what we’re willing to give up for each thing we hold dear.  When it comes down to crunch time, what things are and are not willing to lose.  Every once in awhile we need to sit and think about how we prioritize things and what is most important to them.  Our families, our faiths, our own well being, what are we willing to do for each one of these things?  Fortunately, we do have real life heroes to look up to.  People who have given up everything for that which they thought was most important:  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pat Tilman, Maximilian Kolbe.  These men and women that have come before us help us to keep in perspective that which is most important in life and what is at times necessary to save what we love.

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Maus – A Comic Review

Posted on November 13, 2007. Filed under: Reviews |

Maus – A Comic Review

Some Wars Never End

There are few comics that I feel are respected enough to bring up in any comics conversation: Watchmen, Sandman, Crisis on Infinite Earths, etc. They’re comics that are great in every respect; you could even call them ground-breaking. Maus is one book that will absolutely be added to that list. When a comic book wins a Pulitzer Prize (1992) you know it’s just simply that good. Written by Art Spiegelman, (In the Shadow of No Towers) Maus is a recounting of Vladek’s (Art’s father) tale of survival in Poland during the Nazi occupation and holocaust.

Vladek begins his tale as a young Jewish man in Czestochowa, Poland. His adulthood begins well enough. He is successful in business and he is starting a new family with young Anja Zylberberg. But, as we all know, the story begins to make a turn for the worse. Poland is invaded by Russia on one side and Germany on the other. The rest is history. We watch as neighbors and friends begin disappearing, then family too. Honest hard working people are forced into a life of black-market dealings and crime just to survive. Friends that had been trusted for years now must be greedy just to live another day.

It’s chilling to watch the transformation from bad to worse. Sometimes we tend to forget that the transition from owning your own business to ending up in Auschwitz fighting for your life did not happen overnight. Spiegelman does a fantastic job of drawing out the time, letting us experience with Vladek each loss as it happens. And with each loss, come new lessons and techniques of survival that Vladek must become adept at so he can make it from one day to the next.

Art Spiegelman’s writing is superb. He masterfully draws you in by laying bare all of his father’s war wounds and laying them bare for us to see how they are continue to make him “limp”. From Vladek’s broken English to his neurotic penny-pinching ways, Art’s father is a character for the ages. Spiegelman also did all of the artwork for Maus. His creativity and imagination are shown in his characterization of the different nationalities and ethnicities involved in the story. All Jews are mice (hence the name of the comic), of course all Germans are cats, Swedes are reindeer, the French are Frogs, etc. The metaphors for each species are so deep you could mine them for days.

As Vladek’s story unfolds, we see the damage that was done in the past creep all the way through to the present. Because of the horrible things that Vladek and Anja both experience during the war, their lives are drastically changed forever. Anja is always living with the pain and the hurt that the destruction of the war has brought to her doorstep. Vladek can’t seem to ever relax as some of the old lessons he picked up during his time in hell continue to spill over into his present life. All of this has an enormous impact on those that love them and have to watch as the pain persists.

The damage that this terrifying atrocity has done shows us that once the damage is done, it just keeps giving. The hurt is transferred down through the generation as the suffering echoes through all time. This is why sin is such a horrible thing. When one man sins against another, it is not just one person they are offending. This transgression ripples through time affecting all in its path unless something is done to rectify it. The horrible things that were done in the concentration and death camps left a gaping wound in the side of humanity (not to mention the tyrannies of other societies and madmen all throughout the ages.) It’s as if Abel’s blood still cries for justice from the ground it was spilled on.

Vladek is our primary source for the damage that sin can do. He gives us a unique perspective in which we can see the transgression in action then see its consequences down through the years. If we examine our own lives and the lives of those around us, we too can see the affect that separate evils have had on all of us and how our existence has changed as we try to cope. When we sin, we are not only sinning against God but our fellow man, our brothers and sisters, our wives and children, our parents. Everybody is touched by our actions. Paying it forward works both ways. We can be thankful for people like Vladek and Anja, people who helped us to wake up from the haze we had found ourselves in as a people. They can help us examine our own lives and see where our own hurts lie and where we have done damage to others. Hopefully we can start to rebuild and repair ourselves and those we are called to love.

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Top 10: The Forty-Niners – A Comic Review

Posted on November 13, 2007. Filed under: Reviews, Uncategorized |

Top 10: The Forty-Niners – A Comic Review

Some Stories Never Change

The Forty-Niners is the beautiful prequel from the Eisner award-winning duo that brought us the original Top 10 series. Genius author Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) and artist Gene Ha (Global Frequency) bring us the story of the early days of Neopolis, a city/ghetto created especially for people with super-abilities and special powers. Animals that can talk, supernatural beings, mega-intellects and superheroes need only apply.

The story opens on August 1st 1949, four short years after the end of World War II. Old battle wounds are still fresh for the combatants of both sides of the lines. The heroes and war criminals are returning home to find that their country has provided an autonomous place for them, out of the public’s eye. On the train ride to the city, we meet a young Steven Traynor, a.k.a. Jetlad, the man who will eventually become the Captain of Precinct Ten. The story follows Jetlad and Leni “Skywitch” Muller, Traynor’s one time enemy now partner, as they join the Neopolis police force in nabbing super-badies.


As the story progresses we are introduced to different characters in the burgeoning police force. Many of the heroes from the future Precinct Ten have equivalent counterparts in the past. For example Robyn Slinger’s father, Sam, commands his own army of tiny toys. Cathy “Peregrine” Colby’s born-again Christian character is much like Joanna “The Maid” Dark’s persona (Joanna Dark is obviously based off of Joan of Arc, even her name is close to Joan D’Arc.) These personalities team up together to fight crimes that ordinary humans would never be able to handle. From vampire sex-for-sale rings to plots of Nazi world domination, these superheroes do their best to forge a new path in a still experimental new society.

Alan Moore’s writing is par for the course with some of his other works. He is creative and imaginative as always but at times he is a little wordy. A word of warning, this is not another Batman: The Killing Joke, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman or Watchmen. As good as this book is, if you expect to walk in and get your socks blown off you may be in for a let down. Moore does create a fantastic and beautiful world with his story-telling abilities but just like with Anthony Hopkins, sometimes the movie is just okay (don’t get me wrong, Alan Moore’s “okays” are still top-notch).

What really helps to set this book apart is Gene Ha’s gorgeous artwork. Some of his panels could be coming right off of a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post magazine cover. The lighting effects and the light shades of browns and tans really do give you the feeling that you are being taken back to another era. Just like with the earlier issues of Top 10 that are set in the future, what is happening in the background is just as much fun and is just as entertaining as what is happening in the fore. At first, I did find it quite overwhelming, but I learned to get over the fact that at times I was spending five minutes looking at one scene. It finally hit me that what I was actually looking at was a mini piece of art.

It really is interesting to take a look at what happened to all of the heroes who fought in World War II as they try to work themselves back into a regular routine again. Sometimes, though, we tend overlook the similarities that we have with our enemies. After a war that brought us the “Rape of Nanking”, Japanese atrocities in Korea, the furnaces of Dachau and Buchenwald and the wholesale slaughter of people who “just weren’t like us”, you’d think that many would want to challenge their own personal bigotries and prejudices.

From the start all the way through to the end of the book, people continue to show an ingrained distrust and hatred for vampires, homosexuals and even robots. There is even a cattle car (reminiscent of the same train cars that brought the Jews to the extermination camps) where the undesirables are stuffed to be brought to Neopolis (poor Casper). Even though every religion has had its problems with ethnic prejudices, the faithful are most often the ones that try to break down the walls of ignorance and distrust that separate us. The message that Jesus teaches is one of inclusion and love regardless of someone’s history or pedigree.

From the Roman Centurion of Matthew 8 to the Syrophoenician woman of Mark 7, Jesus worked outside of his cultural norms to help those who were “not like him”. Jesus’ teaches that God is the God of all. His divine breath lives in every one of us. Those things that make us different are those things that make us unique. Every last one of us is a gift from the hands of God, and we can see through the life story of Jesus, that he too could see that gift. This is something special that has been handed down by the Son of God, the ability to see that which makes us unique but to also see how that uniqueness, if used correctly, can bring us all together.


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I’ve Been Holding Out on you

Posted on November 9, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Here’s the secret I’ve been keeping:

That’s right, Marcia is seven weeks pregnant!  Couldn’t be more excited!


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Generational Curses – 恨

Posted on November 7, 2007. Filed under: Philosophical Crap, Spiritual Musings, Theological Crap |

Generational Curses     

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…” Exodus 20:5

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”  Exodus 34:6,7

“The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” Numbers 14:18

Often times, the topic of generational curses is deemed as confusing.  I’ve heard everything from YHWH just being an angry and unforgiving God to demons attaching themselves to families, tormenting them from generation to generation.  I on the other hand am of a different opinion.  I once again do not claim to be an expert these are just my own personal gleanings.

The best way for me to tell you how generational curses work (in my understanding at least) is to illustrate for you using examples.  But first I’d like to start with a metaphor:  You’re standing next to a pool of calm water.  There is no wind disturbing the surface, no bugs flitting about, nothing tainting the peace of the water, everything is quiet.  You bend down to pick up a small pebble and decide, even though you are enjoying the tranquility of the moment, you’re going to throw it in.  You watch as the pebble pierces the top of the water and disappears from sight.  Even though the stone is gone, its effect still remains.  The ripples created by the stone emanate out from the middle in perfect concentric circles.  The waves bounce back and forth until the entire pool has been disturbed.  Your one action has wreaked havoc on pool’s once serene existence.  It will take time for things to settle again.

I believe generational curses work in much the same way.  Here is my first illustration.  I don’t mean to pick on the British Empire but I think it provides an easy example.  In many places the British had gone in and set up their own rule and put the occupied countries under their thumb for their own personal gain.  They tapped into the local natural resources, cared nothing about old territorial and cultural rivalries and chose to remain oblivious to the delicate balance that had been holding whichever region they were in together.  When they left, the country was often left in shambles, having to fend for itself with a foreign type of rule in which the populace had only a very limited understanding. 

Now, generations later, they are paying for their transgressions.  The scars that were left behind never truly healed and national animosity tends to run long and deep.  The grandparents tell their children about the “evil West”, the parents tell their children about the “evil West” and finally the children come to the understanding that the years of torment that their family had to go through was originally from the hands of another.  And, to make matters worse, the same foreigners are still trying to leach what they can from them now.

The children that are alive today did not have anything to do with what happened one hundred years ago.  Their own participation in whatever is happening now is most often due to complete ignorance over what their own actions are doing to others.  They’re just following the path that was laid out for them from earlier generations.  Yet, those who are currently suffering have not forgotten, and they will make the children of their “oppressors” pay for what their fathers have done.

A second illustration is this:  A child was sexually abused by her father as she was growing up.  Scarred for life, this poor young woman has a skewed sense of sexuality and what it means.  As she gets older, she begins to sleep around (now please understand I’m not saying ALL who go through this end up this way, this is merely an illustration).  She ends up getting pregnant not once, not twice but multiple times with multiple fathers.  As a matter of fact, she is not even sure who the father of some of her children are.  This young lady gives birth to a daughter.  This daughter watches as the days go by and different men come and go.  Some seem to treat her mother very well but they never stick around for very long and the abusive ones only seem to stay forever.  But growing up with it, the daughter has learned that this is normal behavior.

As the daughter gets older she too begins to live a life of promiscuity, finding love in any way she can.  She expects the occasional black eye and bruised ego.   She expects the good men to leave quickly, therefore, to protect herself she makes sure that she’s the first to go.  Two things she didn’t expect were to become pregnant and the other was to catch HIV.  Now the daughter has a little bundle of joy who has already been handed a death sentence because the baby was born HIV positive. 

This is the way I see generational curses happening.  In both illustrations it was one act that started a domino effect all the way down the familial or national lines and in each step down the ladder an innocent party is left with the mess.  Eventually someone has to break that line.  Things need to be set back into order to make things right again.  The warning from God is essentially Him saying, “I’m forgiving, make amends for your wrongs now.  Stop what you are doing and reset the balance NOW.  If you do not, your children are going to pay for it.  Your evil doesn’t just effect you, it effects all of creation.”  Our best bet is to stop the cycle, right was has been wronged, heal and live knowing that our actions send ripple the surface of the waters.


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My Lament

Posted on November 6, 2007. Filed under: Spiritual Musings |

I have some friends who are going through a rough patch right now. They are in a dark place just as I was for these past couple of years. I didn’t take the time to share any of my feelings or my pain with anyone else during that time, but it apparently showed much more than I thought it had. Some people have asked me what it was like for me to go through this Dark Night and I’m more than open about it. Lately (I guess) I was asked to write a Lament. My friend Lauren actually did write one after we had talked one day and I liked it. She has asked me to go ahead and write mine. Please understand that this Lament was my prayer during my dark time. If you’re offended by profanity either get over it real quick or don’t read this. If you get offended at people calling God out, leave, and P.S. don’t read the Psalms.

My Psalm 88

I hate hearing these words myself but they need to be said: God, we need to talk. As a matter of fact, I know in all actuality it’s going to be me doing all the talking because as we know, you don’t talk back (well not to peons like me anyway, right?) I have been miserable for years now and to be honest I know where the blame lies. I know where I am at fault and I’ve done what I needed to do to make amends….but now what?

I’ve kept up with praying, I’ve kept up with devotions, I’ve ministered to those in distress but you count me out. Where’s my help? Where’s your consolation when I need it? And I already know what you and your people will say, “You’re just being selfish, think about others.” Two words, Fuck Them! What about where I’m going? What about my family? You might be forgetting in that omnipotent brain of yours that they are affected by everything that happens to me too. Unless of course you’re just doing this for shits and giggles, then you’re just a capricious god who shouldn’t be looked up to.

I have no idea why I’m going through the shit that I’m going through. What I think is hilarious to hear is people saying, “Just hang in there, God is doing this for a reason.” All I can think of in return is, “I’ll be damned, so God is the one fucking up everything for me…when is he going to give it a rest?”

Do you want me dead? Is that it? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just wanted to let go of the steering wheel and let the car go over a bridge. How glorious is that for you? But in the end, I’d feel like you’d won. “God doesn’t test us with what we can’t handle.” Wanting to kill myself is your idea of a good test huh? In my mind that makes you more of an asshole than a God.

You know, one good day, one bit of good news, one good thing would help brighten up my day. It would make the last 3/3 ½ years seem okay. But not once have I gotten good news, not once has there been a ray of sunshine in my shitty life. If it’s not one thing it’s another. But you know what? It’s like owing $70,000 to some place and being told your now going to owe another 3,000. At this point, who the hell cares right? You sure as hell don’t.

Those little promise books I see about you, they’re so cute because they’re such bullshit. I’ve relied on your promises and time and again you’ve been proving to me that you are not a God who fulfills his promises. You can’t be trusted. If there is a time I believed without wavering it was then, of course, because I had nothing else to do but believe you would help or give wisdom or something. Nothing. Thanks a lot jackass.

You know, I wouldn’t be thinking that you were such a jerk if it weren’t for the fact that EVERY time I pray, something really really bad happens. EVERY TIME! What the hell is up with that? Are you kidding me? I’ve asked my friends to stop praying for me simply so that bad shit will quit happening to me. Are you dyslexic? Maybe you’ve gotten confused on some issues here. I’m not even asking for good stuff, I’m just asking you to stop fucking with me and dicking me around. Come down from here fucking tower and have it out with me. But I know you won’t. You’re the “mysterious” type. If I have to, I will beat down your damn gates. I just want an answer from you. I don’t even want your help anymore, just tell me when it’s going to end, let me know when it will be over and that will relieve so much anxiety.

Thanks I guess for listening to me, and to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit if you’re offended. You should be big enough to handle it. I’m just tired….lonely and tired. Just please stop.

It feels awkward to write that. But at the same time, the feelings of hurt and frustration are still fresh. I’ve come a long way in the short amount of time I’ve had on my road to “recovery” but at the very least, I’ve come out a lot stronger and a lot wiser. I’m much more at peace with myself, my friends, my family and my God. I couldn’t pray that prayer now but I hope I will never have to pray it again.

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Christians and Their Worship

Posted on November 3, 2007. Filed under: Spiritual Musings |

This was a “homework” assignment given to Mark Johnson on Christian Worship.  Mark is a lot smarter and wiser than he gives himself credit for and, therefore, this makes him a humble intellect.  Since Mark doesn’t have a blog of his own, I figured I’d publish it for him (I wouldn’t do it if I thought it was crap.)  Thank you Mark.

“When worshipers, by the power of the Spirit, participate knowingly, actively, and fruitfully in the liturgy, the individual person, the church, and the liturgy are joined together in synergistic ritual…each agent is mutually enriched: personal faith responses are confirmed in substance, upheld in solidarity, deepened in perception and poised for action in the world.” Craig Douglas Erickson PARTICIPATING IN WORSHIP

Although we are more than just sinners, we live in a fallen state because sin separates us from God. However, God continually looks to draw us back into fellowship with Him. From the beginning, the moment sin entered the world, God walked the garden seeking out Adam and Eve. Throughout the Old Testament, we see God continually seeking us out to restore that relationship. This is realized more completely in the New Testament through Jesus Christ who, in life, shows us the very character of God. In the climax, sin crucifies love in the form of a cross, but in the resurrection, sin is conquered and restoration is available.

The purpose of worship is man’s response to what God has done, is doing and will do for us. When we worship corporately, the same intent is there, however, the response is done as a community. The Bible does not have a structure on how a worship service should be done. For that reason, each denomination or church has a different methodology on how a worship service takes place. Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc. all have different forms on how they choose to worship. What’s interesting is that you will find churches from each denomination (and churches with no affiliation with a denomination) using their different methodologies coming into a place of true worship. “True worship” meaning that place where the spirit of man touches the Spirit of God.

Sadly, those same denominations have just as many, if not more, churches that use the same rituals, that are utterly lifeless. To step into a worship service like that is like walking into a cemetery. Songs, words and sermons all fall flat and you find yourself checking your watch continually.

It is not surprising that God is not bound or impressed by methodology. God is seeking the heart of man.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23)

As I mentioned earlier, the Bible does not have a structure on how worship should be performed, however, it does show us many forms that can assist in bringing us into worship.
Song is one such ritual. Forty one of the Psalms call for us to “sing to the Lord.” Not only does song praise Him, it also brings us together as a community. Singing can assist in bringing emotion into the act of worship. Emotion and feeling are necessary to our lives and they are a gift from God. Those who only wish to bring their minds into worship are those you see sitting in the pews with stony, dour looks on their faces. You sometimes wonder if they are even alive.

“But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Hab 2:20)

Another form of worship, that many churches ignore…quite the opposite of singing, is silence. It can, amongst other things, quiet the mind and cause the worshiper to hear that still, small voice.

Obviously, corporate prayer is another way to bring the worshiper into a place where true worship can take place.
Audience participation is also necessary. To hear where God has been active in someone’s life can be a very powerful way for the Body of Christ to see the reality of God. Hearing the joys and concerns of those in the church brings people together as a community and brings man into a deeper sense of love toward one another.

Of course, a sermon from the spiritual leader (pastor, priest, whatever) is also important. A powerful sermon helps guide worship and touches the hearts of the Body. It is the sermon that should go beyond the service and into a person’s daily lives, something that can be carried with them on their spiritual journey.

Also, of course, there is the reading of scripture, usually used as part of the sermon. This is a must.

Another must is Communion. I’m a bit leery of doing it on a weekly (let alone daily) basis, however. I feel Communion should be done about once a month. Communion is a sacrament that should not become a routine.

We are to worship with body and spirit. The Hebrew meaning of the word “worship” is “to prostrate.” The word “bless” means to kneel. Scripture is loaded with physical actions when applied to worship. Scripture calls us to lie prostrate, stand, kneel, lift hands, clap, lift the head, bow the head, dance, etc. (I come from an area where we are generally referred to as the “frozen chosen.” If you see me tapping my feet during worship service, you’ve seen a big deal).

But I digress.

I’ve gone nowhere in explaining how I would actually design a worship service. In the end, I don’t think I can. Forms cannot bring the body into a true sense of worship any more than the lack of forms can. Scripture has shown us various ways in which true worship can be reached; the end result should involve change in the individual. It is not possible for our spirit to be touched by God without the experience changing us in some way. If I were to design a service, I would use the methods I’ve described (just like all churches do), but I doubt I’d use all of them with each service. Maybe I’d start with prayer, then go into song. From there, open up the service to the congregation for testimony or where God has been working in the lives of the people. Then offer up joys and concerns of the congregation. More singing. A sermon. More singing, then close. Communion would be in there at times. Silence, maybe ten minutes worth, would also be thrown in some days. Other days there would just be song with nothing else. Other times maybe just a sermon.

Although, more than likely, I’d find myself out of a job after the first week.

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