Iron Man - (Fantastic) I think this will go down as one of the all-time classic superhero movies. Well worth seeing and my 11 & 10 year old boys loved it.
WALL-E (Good) There is little question that this was quite a story-telling / cinematic achievement. Nevertheless, my kids were bored. It moved a bit slow and in some ways seemed geared towards adults. I'm a little weary of the hyper-environmentalism messages out there, but no biggie.
Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian (Good) I didn't come into the movie as a CS Lewis wonk or purist. Frankly, I had forgotten the story of the book, so I didn't view it through that lens. The movie worked well as a sequel and my kids and I liked it.
Kung Fu Panda (Good Enough) I like Jack Black so this movie had a leg up to begin with. The story was fun and moved at a pace that keeps you interested. The kids enjoyed it and it met my expectations.
Indiana Jones and the... blah, blah, whatever (Ok, I guess) Let's put it this way - it was cool to take my kids to a new Indy movie. It brought back memories of being their age - excited just to hear the theme music start. The film was pretty disappointing in several respects, but I kind of figured it would be, so...
I am fascinated by organizational design and culture in business, church life, and wherever else I stumble upon it. Watching the way people behave as individuals within their working context is very revealing at many levels - and trying to change organizational behavior is even more interesting. I had to do a fair amount of reading on this during my MBA program so while I am not an expert in this area, I have developed a high appreciation for those who spend their careers trying to make sense of it all...
Yesterday I picked up a book called, "Tribal Leadership," by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright. The paradigm that they are asserting is based on years of research on "twenty-four thousand people in two dozen organization, with members around the world..." What they have discovered is that people operate in tribes of 20-150 people. Each person in the tribe and tribe itself is characterized by the language they use to self-assess as seen in this table:
For whatever it is worth, I think this is truly insightful and brilliant. It totally resonates with my experience. I haven't digested the whole book, but the goal is to chronicle how people move through the stages with tips on how to be an effective tribal leader. I can't wait to dive in deeper.
Think about this for a moment as it applies to church. How rare is it to find a "Stage 5" church? Rare indeed. The church is full of victims, warriors, and pockets of tribal pride. We need more tribal leaders in the church to lead us back to the heavenly experience of "innocent wonderment" where "life is great."
"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:11)
God withheld a benediction over the 2nd day of creation because Heaven and Earth were not meant to be separated forever (Gen 1:6-8). God's plan was always to bring Heaven and Earth together and He planned to do it through the agency of His image bearers (Gen 1:26). The fall of man did not derail this plan, but ushered the Son of God into the world as Jacob's ladder (Gen 28:12, John 1:51) and God's Tabernacle. After Christ's ascension He sent His Spirit to fill His people, the church. As His body, the church is now transforming and reconciling the world by the power of the Gospel. The New Jerusalem is descending and filling the earth with God's glory (Rev 21:1ff). This has been progressively unfolding for about 2000 years now and will continue until the nations are discipled and the Lord returns for His bride.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." (Matt 28:19,20)
Almost every time I have heard The Great Commission uttered, preached, or explained, people seem to understand it as taking the Gospel to every individual person in every country. It is as if they translate it as saying, "Go and evangelize every person everywhere." I have come to believe that it means so much more than that.
Without getting into a lexical debate, check this out for kicks. One Greek lexicon defines the Greek word, "ethnos," (nation) as, "The largest unit into which the people of the world are divided on the basis of their constituting a socio-political community." In the New Testament, "ethnos" is also used to denote "Gentiles" or non-Israelites, but in many texts it also has clear political / nation-state connotations (Mt 24:7, Mt 24:14, Mk 11:17, Jn 18:35, Acts 24:17). I suppose you could argue that the word in the context of Matt 28 could just as easily be rendered, "heathen," or "Gentiles," but I think you would be ignoring the rest of Scripture.
The good news of the Gospel is that God is restoring the whole world, not just individual souls residing in each country on earth. The Gospel extends to every part of life and every system - even political ones. Jesus isn't called the "Lord of lords" and "King of kings" for nothing. God's promise to Abraham wasn't just that he would be the father of the Jews. God's promise was that Abraham would "be a father of many nations." (Gen 17:4-6) In Romans 4:13, Paul interprets this as meaning that Abraham would "be the heir of the world."
It is unsettling for many Evangelicals in America to realize that the United States is not a Christian nation. Our systems may have the residue of "Judeo-Christian" ethics, but our nation itself has not been discipled. Individual souls may have been converted, but our systems are fundamentally secular and separated from the Gospel and the word of God. I don't know what to expect in the case of the United States, but I do believe that in time the church will succeed in discipling all nations. (Acts 3:19-21)
Don't tell me that you "identify" with Jim, Pam, Dwight, Stanley, Ryan, Jan, Toby, Kevin, Angela, or for goodness sake, Creed. The reason we love "The Office" is because we painfully resonate to the inner-turmoil, relational struggles, and outward impetuousness of Michael Scott. I've heard people say, "Oh, Michael Scott is MY BOSS." But let's be honest here, I am Michael Scott and so are you.
The reason Michael Scott works so well as a character is that we have all tasted his relational / vocational failures and his mind's attempt to rationalize them. Dunder Mifflin is not unique to Michael Scott, it is symbolic our unglamorous lives. The need to call a meeting in the conference room for a semi-incoherent and self-aggrandizing rant is not far from our hearts. Completely inappropriate and non-politically correct thoughts are close to the tip our tongues. We cringe and laugh because Michael Scott reveals US. Don't tell me you can't relate to these words from the mouth of Michael Scott:
Guess what, I have flaws. What are they? Oh, I don't know. I sing in the shower. Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering. Occasionally I'll hit somebody with my car. So sue me... No, don't sue me. That is the opposite of the point that I'm trying to make.
Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it's not like a compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.
People are always coming to me. "Michael, I have a secret. Your the only one I trust." No thanks, because keeping a secret can only lead to trouble. Like I was watching Cinemax last weekend. This movie, Portrait of a... Prostitute something. Secrets of a Call... More Secrets of a Call Girl. And the lead character, Shila, is framed for murder. She goes on the run and winds up working at a bordello in Malibu. I don't, I don't want to live like that. I like it here. I don't want to be Shila, I like being Michael Scott.
Before getting deep into this I have to admit that I am generally a macro-optimist. I'm vigorously postmillenial. I'm a free-market capitalist with an MBA. I'm an entrepreneur who keeps trying to find a way... Contrary to Adam Smith's starting point of resource scarcity, my starting point is abundance. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.
But let's face it. Things are kind of ugly out there. Pain has reached my shores in more way than one. Everywhere I turn there is a financial challenge for someone or some institution. It is really something to behold.
Nevertheless, I am still an optimist at heart. Wealth creation is not about what the Fed does or doesn't do for goodness sake. It isn't ultimately about home values or foreclosure rates. Wealth is driven by innovation and the productivity it creates. Innovation will not stop. Who knows what form it will take in the future? A new "green" energy source? A huge biotech break-through? A leap in agricultural methods? New financial instruments that speed the pace of discovery?
The business / inflationary cycle will always be with us, but there is no excuse for long-term gloom and doom. Sure, real estate and other assets will get hammered for awhile. It isn't the end of the world or our economy. Hang in there, everybody.
I have been blogging for about 2 years now. One of the things that I have found most interesting is seeing how people end up at my site through my "stats" page. I am not sure who my #1 referrer is, but I can tell you without a doubt which post gets the most hits through Google searches - it is, "Mommy, Where Do Morals Come From?"
This is going to sound very silly to a lot of you, but think about it. There are people typing profound questions into Google search and reading blogs to get their answer. It is a simultaneously amazing opportunity and frightening proposition. I may begin doing more posts as questions to see if it garners similar results, but I haven't been able to give it much time yet... Isn't that something? (Maybe I should rewrite that post to make it better?!)
Here is a public address my Pastor recently made to the leaders of his city in San Clemente, CA. I thought it was a terrific way to approach a pluralistic audience in a respectful and constructively Christian way. Give it a read.
Ok - there's a good reason for the picture. Hang in there and read on...
Last night I attended a "Freedom Alliance" concert in San Diego hosted by Sean Hannity and Oliver North. There were special appearances by Fred Thompson, Jon Voight, Lee Greenwood, Montgomery-Gentry, and even Michael W. Smith. It was a time filled with parachuting Navy SEALS, George W. Bush / Hillary Clinton impersonators, country music, and local talk-radio personalities. The goal of the concerts is to raise money for the children of soldiers killed in battle - and to date they have given over $1 million in scholarships. Amen to that.
Now on to the picture. When we were walking to our seats we noticed that there were huge silhouetted woman decals decorating the stage. We later learned this was part of the Montgomery-Gentry country music act. Fair enough, but imagine the jarring disconnect of this backdrop while Michael W. Smith sang Gospel music. I'm sorry, but it was too big to miss. Add to that a bunch of ass-kicking "my town" song / talk, and you have yourself one heck of an interesting experience! Go America! (?)
Now here is my quandry. Is this the face of main-stream conservativism in America now? Power, sex, country, and... Jesus? Let me say it again - POWER, SEX, COUNTRY, and JESUS. Just to be clear - I like Sean Hannity and Oliver North for the most part. I understand their deep frustration with the radical liberal agenda that is eroding our freedoms. However, I wonder if these guys realize how a concert like this "presents" to the watching world. Again, they've raised a million dollars for scholarships and I haven't. I get that. I'm just struggling with the ethos of this thing. If this is what conservativism is now, we're in big trouble.
There's a place for fun, power, country, and even sex. I don't think I'm a prude. But as an American citizen who happens to be heavenly citizen I am left a little concerned. What say you, Americans?