American VI: Ain’t No Grave

February 25, 2010

this is the second albulm from Johnny Cash since his death in 2003. super-producer Rick Rubin has worked with Cash for all six of the American releases. Rubin has produced for LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Audioslave, the Dixie Chicks, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others. Cash’s work with Rubin is classic; he sings his own material and puts his spin on songs from Sheryl Crow, U2, Tom Petty, Neil Diamond, and others. this disc is essential for Johnny Cash fans. his voice sticks with you. the music moves you. the lyrics send a message.


The Wolfman

February 19, 2010

“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.”

“For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:14-20, NRSV)

last Friday, February 12, Universal Pictures realeased The Wolfman starring Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot/The Wolfman, Anthony Hopkins as Sir John Talbot, his father, with Hugo Weaving and Emily Blunt. i loved it. it was a good scare and had some great thrills. the special effects were excellent. i enjoyed the acting, writing, and direction. it’s getting mixed reviews and is thought to be a poor remake/reimagining of the 1941 original, The Wolf Man. the ’41 version is worth watching; it’s a great film as well. however, i did like the 2010 version better, especially the time period within which it was set.

the inner conflict Paul talks about in Romans is brought to life in The Wolfman and other monster movies like it. there are plenty of people, all of us at times, who struggle with inner/personal demons or inner/personal monsters. by day, these people seem like they always do. they’re our neighbors, our friends, our family, our co-workers, etc. by night, or when the moon is full, or any other trigger sets off that inner conflict they become a monster, they become something they don’t want to be; they do things they don’t want to do. they need to be set free; we need to be set free.

luckily we, and anyone who wants it, do not need a silver bullet to be set free from our monsters. we have the love, grace, and mercy found in the salvation made available by the life, ministry, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

A New Kind of Christianity

February 14, 2010

there are no easy answers to the questions of our time. a lot of matters in life and faith are not black and white. sometimes, there is no right; sometimes, there is no wrong.

i just started reading the new book from Brian McLaren –  A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions that are Transforming the Faith. in it, McLaren is exploring some good news and some bad news for Christians and the Christian faith. the bad news: “the Christian faith in all its forms is in trouble.” the good news: “the Christian faith in all its forms is pregnant with new possibilities.”

this is exciting. this is encouraging. this is edifying.

we are living through a tipping point. the Church, in all her outfits, needs a makeover and will never be the same again, for better or worse. we are living during an emergence of something new, something fresh; something is growing.

McLaren asks ten questions throughout the book. these ten questions lead us to a “who/what/where/why/when” of the Church and the Christian faith.

a Church is not a building. a Church is not bricks and mortar, glass and steel, paint and carpet. a Church is a community of believers; a group of people on spiritual journeys. the Church is a living, breathing, growing, maturing organism. the Church is the Body of Christ.

Jesus brought something new to the table when it came to the faith of his day.

Martin Luther brought something new to the table when it came to the faith of his day.

i believe McLaren (along with other folks in this school of thought) is bringing something new to the table when it comes to the faith of our day.

in some small way, i want to pull up a chair and join the conversation.

will you?