House of Cards: Power vs Money

House of Cards is a brilliant TV show, that will not suit everyone’s conscience of taste. It is a new brand of what one write called ‘Washington Noir’ - a shift away from LA or NYC for film noir and a shift away from West Wing idealism for White House drama.

Kevin Spacey plays an Iago-style character throughout the TV show and here is one of his many memorable talk-to-camera speeches:

Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power. In this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mc-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.

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Ways cinemas are like churches

  1. Sitting in auditoriums that used to be full with hardly any people in them.

  2. Branding and public presence that suited a bygone era.

  3. Feel tired and sad.

  4. Too many long and irrelevant ads/announcements.

  5. Poor welcoming experience.

  6. Poor food experience.

  7. Sometimes look to faddish things (3D), to bring revival.

  8. Charge us too much for things as lousy ways of getting income (paying for sermons? paying for popcorn?)

  9. Make you feel they’re just after your money.

  10. Put little thought into how to enhance the experience of being a member of their community/loyalty club.

  11. The ones who are doing it well are adjusting how they use their space in more cultural appropriate ways.

  12. Many have foyers/social spaces tailored to daggy 90’s youth culture.

  13. Seem to have pointless rules.

  14. Don’t have a lot of love put into their venues.

  15. Are best when you go out for food with friends before or after.

  16. Are best when you talk thoughtfully about afterwards.

  17. Could provide more avenues for social interaction and engagement, rather than passive reception.

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The sufficiency of Scipture is not biblicism

A helpful quote from Gerrit Berkouwer:

The confessions do not offer technical ‘repetition from Scripture’ in a literal sense. Rather, they draw lines and show their inner relationships. Many dangers are implied in such lines and combinations, and biblicists of all kinds preferred to limit themselves to what the Westminster Confession calls ‘expressly set down in Scripture,’ avoiding the ‘consequences’. They wished to keep within the sharp limits of that which was regarded as explicit biblical testimony, preferably remaining within its very terminology. In fact, Scripture itself becomes a system of truth with such a biblicism; not a single truth needs to be added. However, the legitimacy of seeking to understand the unity and coherence of the message of salvation should be recognized. This attempt to undersatnd is in contrast to a ‘sacrifice of the intellect’, whereby the ‘object’ - as an irrational, incoherent, and contingent datum - is placed over against a ‘subject’ who must blindly accept this datum without true human affinity and digestion and without the ‘amen’ of faith.

(Holy Scripture, p. 284)

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Emotional ‘sins’ to raise your kids to avoid

I’ve been reflecting a bit on how Nikki and I have been working at training our kids to think… and how to think about how they feel.

There are a few ‘emotional sins’ that seem to be quite toxic, if you don’t learn to avoid them when you grow up. Very hard to retrain yourself in adult life:

  1. Self-pity

  2. Blaming others for how you feel

  3. Refusing to articulate how you feel, expecting others to guess

  4. Passive aggressiveness

  5. Hanging your happiness on a particular ‘fix’

  6. Making others feel bad because you feel bad

  7. Transferring feelings rather than dealing with them: letting sadness or tiredness produce anger or hyperactive silliness

  8. Self-entitlement

  9. Feeling that other people getting good things entitles you to get something good to compensate

  10. Making others responsible for making you feel better

  11. Prayerlessness

  12. Lack of empathy - for both happy things and sad thing

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Be a friend to your pastor

I received a lovely email today from a friend who has been listening to my sermon podcast. He took the time to listen, express appreciation, the personal benefits he received from the sermons and a reflection on his perception of my progress in ministry. It was a refreshing email to receive.

You slog away week by week in preaching preparation and can in low moments wonder what impact it has. And in preaching ministry you are often fielding criticisms from people, or a general lethargy towards listening and learning and engaging. It can be wearing.

So don’t forget to take the time to encourage your pastor from time to time.

In his book Going the Distance, Peter Brain lists a bunch of different kinds of friends a pastor needs: the sponsor, the affirmer, the rebuker, the intercessor, the partner and the pastor. It’s a very helpful section.

About the affirmer he writes:

Some church cultures, and certainly the Australian ethos, downplay encouragement. Somehow we feel it might go to a person’s head, or it might not be giving God the honour, if we give praise or thanks to something done well. Affirmation is totally different to the ‘empty compliments and plaudits that are ceaselessly tossed about in human relationships’. Affirmation is not flattery, ‘it is not given with the motive of obtaining reciprocal favour’.

Affirmation is genuine appreciation, expressed quietly to another person, for what they have done…. Affirmation is that thoughtful word, expressed in person, on the phone, or by letter, that demonstrates how helped you were by your brother or sister.

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An intriguing speculation about Genesis 1 and the trinity

I have enjoyed the mental/theological workout of reading through Colin Gunton’s A Brief Theology of Revelation.

At one point he quotes from Frances Watson’s Text, Church and World: Biblical interpretation in Theological Perspective. Watson observes that there are 3 types of creation in Genesis 1:

  1. By divine speech out of nothing: ‘let there be light’

  2. By divine fashioning out of existing matter: ‘let there be a vault between the waters’

  3. By divinely ordained bringing-forth out of another kind of matter: ‘let the land produce vegetation

And Watson goes on to draw out an incipient trinitarianism in these modes of creation:

This God is first transcendent, but the function of this concept is still to express something of the relationship between creator and creation and not to postulate a deity who is so wholly other as to be incapable of creating. Second, this God is wholly involved in his creative activity and his involvement takes the intimately bodily form of labour; God acts not only through the immaterial medium of speech but also in the corporeal work of making and shaping things with his hands… God is not so wedded to his spirituality as to be incapable of bodily exertion. Third, in the most intimate relation of all, this God indwells her creation, not in the form of a passive, static presence but in an active, dynamic, self-transcending movement towards the emergence and reproduction of life and breath…

(Page 70)

There’s plenty to question and reject in this quote. But some fun insights to ponder, too.

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