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Saturday, January 24, 2004

Lacking "The Passion": the crisis of Christian cinematography

Aint It Cool News posted a review of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" this morning. This one is written by Douglas Tennapel, the writer/artist who among other things has Earthworm Jim notched on his belt. It's quite a good read: he goes into a lot of spoiler-ish details about the film so be warned, but it was necessary because he describes how both he and his wife were overwhelmed with horror at many of the scenes.

But there's something that Tennapel says in his review that I couldn't resist not thinking about in this space. He writes that "This is a movie that secular Hollywood could not make, but it’s also a movie that the Christian community could not make either." As a believer in Christ and a fan of great filmmaking, let me say that Tennapel nails it (no pun intended) with that observation.

Someone said a few years ago that the problem isn't that there's enough Christian films, "there aren't enough Christian filmmakers." So-called "Christian movies" have largely been a product of the professional evangelical community, with the intent of being a witnessing tool... and THEY HAVEN'T WORKED!! I know of no one who's been genuinely moved by any of the schlock that's come out in the past several years. "The Omega Code" looked to have bucked the trend. Some friends and I saw that in the theater and felt like we'd been force-fed dogfood. And then the people who make them complain that their films don't get a big enough audience, so they resort to "sympathy campaigns" to drum up interest from fellow Christians to come out and show that their films actually have legs at the box office: I've seen it happen at least 3 or 4 times in the past few years. And you know why they fail? Because from inception they're intended to persuade others to a particular mindset. Leni Reifenstahl did a much better job with propoganda films than what the recent crap has been.

So now comes "The Passion of the Christ" and the reason that it's going to succeed - both as art and at the box office - is that Gibson is NOT pursuing an agenda. He's not letting his film be "mission driven". He's made a very personal movie that reflects who Christ is to him, not what Christ is to a collective. The Christ in this movie - without actually having seen it yet - is the Christ that each of us can seek and find on our own... and NOT the impersonal totem of power that some Christians love to lord over others. That kind of Christ, the sort that appeals to the corporate masses, is totally and utterly meaningless, and people are growing sick of it. They thirst for something different, something genuine and real. This isn't a neat and tidy way to power and glory that Gibson is presenting: it comes with pain and sacrifice, and most of our Christian brethren have forgotten about that.

It's true: secular Hollywood would have never considered making this film. But many Christian filmmakers wouldn't have had the guts to look into their own hearts to try making it either.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

$tate of the Union: Christmas in January

Most people don't stop to think about the real meaning of words or phrases, and that's a real shame. Take "State of the Union", f'rinstance...

For 112 years the State of the Union speech was not televised, or broadcast over radio, or even delivered live by the President of the United States at all. It was merely delivered in printed form to both houses of Congress and then sent to newspapers and magazines throughout the country, a practice started by Thomas Jefferson. It wasn't until Woodrow Wilson that, as George Washington did, the President again appeared before a joint session of Congress. The State of the Union address as we know it isn't even officially legislated: Article II Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution only requires that the President give Congress information about the state of the union "from time to time", as he (or she) deems is necessary. That could mean one time a year, or several times. A president could conceivably go a year or two without delivering a statement on the state of the union, if times were boring enough.

When Article II was originally drafted, America was indeed a union of individual states, united under common ideals in a shared sense of identity and destiny. That said states were united wasn't taken to mean that the federal government was intended as the be-all/end-all of American identity, however: government at the federal level was a product of consent by the individual states, after already being given such consent by the citizens of the United States. After it was understood from whom this form of government derived, the responsibility was given to the President to summarise, as best he understood it, what the condition and sense of the Union was. Hence, the "state of the union" literally was just that: the state of how the union itself was faring.

The State of the Union speech that I listened to last night was the furthest thing from the original intent that it could have possibly been. Forget "union of states", that's a concept largely in name only today. And it would be too easy to say that President Bush has completely forgotten that America is defined by the character of her people and not the strength of her government... except that darn nearly every other president for the past 70 years has believed the same thing, so why should this one be any different?

I started calling the State of the Union address "Christmas in January" some years ago during Clinton's maladministration, and Uncle George promised everyone an even bigger bag of goodies than his predecessor. Where in the world do we begin: more money to public schools (including the "No Child Left Behind" boondoggle that my wife, the public schoolteacher, laughs at) when the money is being wasted like never before, doubling the budget for National Endowment for Democracy whatever the heck that is, a new program called "Jobs for the 21st Century", propping up Social Security instead of privatizing it (or better yet scrapping the damned thing), socialized medicine and centralizing medical records via computer... sheesh, just put Hillary up there and get it over with already.

At one point Bush praised the traditional institutions of family and religions institutions. Not three minutes later, he began proposing funding federal programs to promote sexual abstinence. Ummmm, sexual abstinence until marriage is a noble and honorable thing. I like to believe that it's a realistic goal for every young person. Holding off until after you meet that one special person at the altar doesn't just build a family, it builds personal character. Sexual abstinence does not now, or ever has, needed a government program to work. Let families and churches handle that, Mr. President, not a federal agency. The pros not only enjoy a bigger success rate than the government, but letting them handle this also has added benefit of zero cost to the taxpayer.

Speaking of religious institutions, Bush proposed legislating protections for them. The last time a government tried "protecting" a faith, Christianity was very nearly destroyed Christianity in Europe. Our churches haven't needed government's "help" before, and they shouldn't desire it now.

After proposing spending TWENTY THREE MILLION to stop drug abuse, Bush called on pro sports owners and players to curb steroid abuse. Using anabolic steroids to enhance physical performance is far less a problem now than it was 20 years ago: did President Reagan ever mention it during any of his State of the Union addresses?

I didn't actually watch the SOTU address: while our tv set was tuned to the local Fox station, my back was to the set. Instead I listened to it, letting me block out the visuals and focus on the actual message (while doing a running commentary about it with a friend via AOL Instant Messenger). Our shared conclusion: this year's speech was bereft of any substance or principle. Bush chose to focus his message, as his immediate predecessor did, on what big government is doing now and what it will be doing tomorrow on today's dime.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Nice guys finish first

The Carolina Panthers are going to the Super Bowl! They went to Philadelphia and beat the Eagles on their home turf. So to all those Philly fans who were doing mean stuff like swearing at and spitting on little kids whose only crime was wearing a Panthers sweater, all I gotta say is this: "nyah-nyah nyah nyah nyahhhhh!!!" :-)

"How I Celebrated Robert E. Lee and Edgar Allan Poe's Birthday"

Yesterday was the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. As it happens, January 19th is also the birthday of Robert E. Lee and Edgar Allan Poe. It was also the birthday of a really good friend of mine who hit 96 years young this week. I'm pretty sure "Doc" celebrated his birthday with an ample supply of well-wishers. As a history buff I posted a birthday tribute to Lee on Liberty Post, and no doubt his admirers did as God lead them yesterday to toast the beloved general in their own way. And speaking of toasts, the "Poe Toaster" was right on schedule in Baltimore, leaving behind a half-bottle of French cognac and three roses on the grave of the author in what has become a time-honored ritual of mystery.

My wife and I spent yesterday at the theater, watching "The Return Of The King" again. The streets were more congested than usual given that all the students had the day-off. A lot more shopping and spending happened yesterday than usually does on a Monday. And quite a number of times yesterday I remarked to Lisa that this was a day wholely and utterly lacking enough redeeming value to call it a national holiday.

I've thought for years that the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was a cruel joke on the American people in general, and our kindred of African ancestry in particular. For one thing, I can't trust the motives of those who pushed for this holiday. They're the Jesse Jackson crowd: the kind of people who want prominence and glory for themselves without actually working for it. Under the guise of honoring Dr. King, their own self-interests poison whatever actions they take in his name. King has become an idol to them, or worse a talisman: a name to invoke to achieve power and greatness in this world.

Which isn't what King wanted at all, which ties in to the other reason I've never liked the notion of making his birthday a national holiday. King would have been horrified at the cult that's grown around him, if he were alive today. There's no doubt in my mind that he would have disavowed what's been done in his name, and would have readily repudiated Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and every other two-bit huckster that's stepped over his own brothers to elevate himself. Yes, I'm aware of all the allegations about King. I know that many of his staff were blatantly socialist or outright communist. As for the man himself, I've never considered him anything less than sincere and humble, and that's how he wanted to be remembered in posterity.

I believe that, in time, the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday will cease being an observed holiday on its own, and will merely be combined with a single observance for King, Washington and Lincoln, Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and maybe even Edgar Allan Poe for good measure. The people who rode on King's coattails are finally going away, either perforce of nature or by their own admissions and repentance of folly. As it stands now the holiday has no meaning, and people realize this. It's ceased serving its purpose because those who demanded it are becoming an ignored lot. Which I'll let King himself comment on in closing this blog posting...

"Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality."

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Wars Without End...

Big buzz making the rounds on a lot of websites this morning are the substantiated rumors that George Lucas might yet make a Star Wars sequel trilogy - episodes 7, 8 and 9 - after wrapping up Episode 3. TheForce.net was first to break the story about Peter Mayhew being contractually obligated to reprise his Chewbacca character in future sequels (this comes in addition to his appearance in Episode 3). Then comes word from Ain't It Cool News about a couple of companies getting licenses on the Star Wars franchise getting re-upped for quite some time after Episode 3's bow next year. This goes hand in hand with a number of other things that have percolated to the surface during the past year or so, about how a sequel trilogy might yet appear.

My thoughts? George Lucas has spent most of his professional life on this saga. I can't help but think that the reason he's stuck with it this long hasn't been for the money, but just to give the fans a sense of completion. This coming at considerable expense to his own personal aspirations. After Episode 3 (officially - for now anyway - the final Star Wars movie) Lucas has stated he wants to go for smaller projects, films that he can experiment with for his own sake, for his own happiness. He's owed that, definitely. Is he tired of making Star Wars? Well, who wouldn't be? The only constants in life are change, and learning new things from those changes. Whether he wanted it or not George Lucas has been chained in place - excepting a few years' respite in between - to one era of his career for three decades now. After Episode 3, he'll be free to fly as far and high as he wants. And yet, at the same time there's been plenty of evidence that Lucas has some ideas for episodes 7-9 (when asked years ago why he never gave Luke a girlfriend, Lucas replied "wait until the final trilogy") and wants the story to continue, in some fashion.

I don't see why there couldn't be a final Star Wars trilogy, with Lucas acting as writer or co-writer, and executive producer. That would dramatically free up his hands to do whatever directing he wanted. There's already plenty of directors chomping at the bit to direct a Star Wars movie... Steven Spielberg, for one. Lucas handed that hat over to other directors on The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, so there's precedent already. That is, if Lucas wanted a sequel trilogy greenlighted to begin with.

If not, I'll watch Episode 3 next year, and thank God for a great way to have spent the first 30 years of my life. But if it happens... well, I suppose childhood will potentially get pushed into my early fifties. But while we're waiting for that to happen (or not), check out this other great saga from the Seventies... coming soon to a theater near you!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

That's a lot of shoes and rice (THIS is "conservative spending"?!)

Today's New York Times is reporting that President Bush wants to spent $1.5 BILLION in an election-year plot to promote marriage. The official announcement could come as early as next week, when Bush is scheduled to give his State of the Union address.

Whenever Bill Clinton gave a State of the Union speech, it was like watching one man pushing Christmas in January: everyone got a present from the sack... courtesy of the American taxpayer. And conservative politicians and pundits cried out "when does it end? How long before we rein in this kind of wasteful government spending?"

Apparently, it won't happen on this administration's watch.

Marriage doesn't need a government program to work. In fact, the farther away that government stays away from a husband and wife, the better. No amount of money, not even $1.5 billion, can legislate commitment between a man and woman. That comes from things that are beyond fiscal value... such as strong families and faith communities.

Maybe it's just bad timing, because the last thing I want to do with this blog is turn it into an ongoing "anti-Bush" tirade. But the man has made so many ridiculous policy decisions that fly in the face of conservative values in the last week alone that they deserve chronicling. Ultimately it will be you and me, and our children, that will be expected to cough up the dough for these hairbrained schemes that are intended to re-elect the incumbment...

...so, is there a real conservative in the house?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Belated Happy Birthday to the greatest work of English literature...

No, not "The Lord Of The Rings"!

A friend shot this news to me, and I thought it was worth mentioning in this spot...

Yesterday, January 12, was the 400th anniversary of King James I of England commissioning at his court at Hampton a translation of the Bible into the common vulgar. Some of the most renowned Christian scholars and learned men at the time convened, and began poring over centuries of manuscripts and research. Seven years later, in 1611, their task was finally complete.

There is no question that the King James Bible has been the most influential work of English literature in recorded history. Even today, though some of its words and terminology have switched meanings and even become obsolete, it remains - and will ever remain - both a literary masterpiece and a comforting presence to millions of people worldwide.

(Now, I wonder if there's any truth to that old rumor that William Shakespeare "hacked" into the KJV and left a hidden love poem in the book of Psalms...)

Monday, January 12, 2004

Can't vote for Bush... or Hot-Headed Howard either

I've heard that nine Democrat candidates are running for President this year. If you asked me to name who was on that slate I could only rattle off two names immediately: John Edwards and Howard Dean. And Edwards only gets that luxury 'cuz our family lives in the state that he's supposed to be representing in the United States Senate. But even before his election in 1998 it was very obvious here in North Carolina that Edwards only intended to use his Senate seat as a stepping-stone toward higher aspirations. I wish I could report that North Carolina has an adequate voice in the Senate as we did during the Jesse Helms heyday, but as our other senator is Liddy Dole... well, that's a blog post for another day...

My conscience won't let me vote for George W. Bush for President this year. For enough reasons that have made me consider and reconsider my political beliefs and more during these past three years. I've had to fight past experiences I've had with some very mean-spirited and downright nasty Bush supporters, to look past them and strive to see the man himself, who cannot possibly answer for the actions and motives of his "faithful". To do otherwise would be akin to judging Jesus on the basis of, say, the plundering of Christians by fellow Christians in the Fourth Crusade.

It's been an enlightening thing, to become educated in discerning past the aura that others project around the person, and pierce them to see that person for who they really are. So in choosing not to support George W. Bush, and to go so far as to state openly that he has not been suitable as the ideal president, I am compelled to examine my own motives, lest I should see him as I subjectively desire him to be, whether conscious or sublime. In that regard, I pray that the following discernment is that of the spirit, and not from the flesh.

George W. Bush has propelled government spending and its size to a proportion that, in some ways, makes the dreams of Bill Clinton pale in comparison. Either one of the PATRIOT Act or his proposal last week to grant amnesty to millions of illegal residents would scream out a violation of basic conservative principles. But he's gone further: signing McCain-Feingold (AKA campaign finance reform) into law, approving the fiscal black hole that was Ted Kennedy's education bill, the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, sending billions of our dollars into Iraq when that country will be well-enough on its own to rebuild with little outside assistance... and not a single veto of which he can boast. It's almost like watching a re-run of Bill Clinton: and did that guy ever have a spending bill cross his desk that he didn't like? And I've had a lot of problems with our military actions in Iraq: our armed forces are intended to defend this nation, not to attack where there is dubious or no evidence that we have been or are about to be attacked. 9-11 wasn't the result of another country conspiring against us: it happened because a group of petty thugs didn't like America, and unfortunately had enough access through wide-open borders to train here, then attack here. Since then our armed forces have become spread too far, too thin, and our borders have been thrown open wider than ever. This is how you weaken your own country, not strengthen it.

On Bush's watch, America's seemingly inevitable slide toward blatant socialism has not been stemmed, but rather quickened. It is for this reason, above all others, that I cannot cast a vote for Bush this coming November with an untroubled heart. For it is apparent to me that the man does not trust the American people, instead trusting in the collective might of government. I cannot trust a man who cannot trust the people.

But neither can I trust any of the Democrat candidates, whether I know enough about them or not. In fact, I trust them even less than I can Bush. None of them has presented any rationale for running for president more conspicuous than a glaring and despicable hatred and utter loathing for George W. Bush. I admit to not having watched any of the Democrat presidential debates, but having read enough stories and transcripts of what's happened in them, have come to the conclusion that the Democrats have nothing substantial enough to offer that could raise these events above the level of a "Hate Bush-Fest".

As Christians, we are instructed to "love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34). Furthering the point that we are to love all, even our enemies, the Bible is rife with warnings against unreasoned hatred: as the Psalmist sang, "Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye." The Bible teaches us that at times it is justifiable, even demanded, that we become angry... but anger coupled to hatred is a dangerous thing in the eyes of God. And those who hate without cause at all do so at their peril.

A case in point, though he should be thankful that the ramifications are apparently temporal this time, is Howard Dean. The former governor of Vermont is considered the frontrunner among the Democrats. He can certainly boast having the biggest warchest and the greatest level of organization among the nine. That hasn't elevated him above the fray in terms of character, as yesterday's fiasco in Oelwein, Iowa proved. During the Q&A following Dean's stump speech, a voter told Dean that he and the other Democrats should tone down their anti-Bush rhetoric, that Dean was "tearing down your neighbor."

Howard Dean went full-tilt whacko, first telling Dale Ungerer that "George Bush is not my neighbor." When Ungerer stood from his chair, Dean shounted "You sit down. You had your say. Now I'm going to have my say." Ungerer politely returned to his seat, leaving a seething Dean to rant "George Bush has done more to harm this county right here... It's not the time to put up any of this 'love thy neighbor' stuff ... I love my neighbor, but I'll tell you I want THAT neighbor back in Crawford, Texas where he belongs."

If voting for Bush will go against most of what my training, my studies as a historian and my experiences in the real world have taught me, then voting for any one of his Democrat rivals would go against what I have learned as both a citizen of America, and as a disciple of Christ. And apart from someone with the convictions of Ron Paul, or Alan Keyes, or Tom Tancredo entering the picture as an extra-party candidate soon, it's very difficult altogether to find anyone worth voting for in ten months' time.

Snowbound simple pleasures: Pac-Man, Panthers, and LEGO

This past Friday (January 9) saw the first real snow of the season (well, 2nd if you count the one the week before Christmas, but that technically wasn't winter yet) so rather than risk the icy streets, Lisa and I chose to stay inside the apartment. She finally beat Super Mario Bros. 3 for Gameboy Advance (played via the Gamecube Player) then headed into Pac-Man World 2. Definitely ain't your father's Pac-Man... I mean, what the heck is Packy doing jumping over buzzsaws anyway?

While she did that, I contentedly lay in the floor not far away, just as I did as a wee-lad, and put together most of the rest of the Star Wars LEGO sets that I got for Christmas. Yeah yeah, going to be 30 years old in two and a half months and still playing with LEGOs... but it just ain't Christmas for me without getting something either Star Wars or LEGO so since LEGO got the license in '99 a lotta fans have been living in the best of both worlds. This year's haul included the new version of the X-Wing (much improved over the '99 original), two of the new wave minis (Imperial Shuttle and Star Destroyer) and Episode II's Republic Gunship, which was the biggest set I've put together to date. That'll be dwarfed come next snowday (which looks like might come later this week) with the last LEGO set remaining, something from the dear wife: the AT-AT Walker, weighing in at a honking 1064 pieces! Lisa's promised to help... but not too much...

Big story of the weekend was the Carolina Panthers, who almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory over St. Louis. It was a fourth-quarter fiasco that allowed the Rams to rally and make a field goal at the 2-second mark to send the game into overtime. Then it was The Game That Could Not End(tm), with endless repossessions and near-hits that almost saw either team scoring. In the first seconds of double-overtime, Panthers quarterback Jake Dehomme telegraphed to wide receiver Steve Smith who tore through the Rams' defense for 69 yards to plunk down a 29-23 win that'll see the Panthers play the Eagles next week in Philadelphia.

Let's see... carnivorous cats versus plump birds. Yeah, go Panthers!!

More later.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

"Illegal" means "not legal", George...

Among the characteristics of a strong nation are a strong sense of identity. And one of the things that has made America great is that her people's identity has long been established in a unique heritage that was defined by, for the most part, a tremendous foundation of principles.

But dilute that identity, define it down in such a way as anyone can readily assume the identity of "American", and the foundation begins to wither away. We no longer begin to hold to our own, to those ideals that set America apart from all other nations in history. We are become just like them, and we can see it even in our own lifetime.

It rarely comes in so bold a stroke, but today President Bush announced a sweeping overhaul of current immigration policy. If enacted as Bush desires, millions of illegal aliens in the United States would have a free and clear way to both live and work in this country, without becoming legal residents.

The inevitable result of this is going to be a severe drain on our social services infrastructure, which is buckling beneath its own weight as it is from people taking without giving anything back in return. It's only going to get worse if millions of illegals, courtesy of George W. Bush, get an open invitation to draw disability benefits, Social Security and the like without actually being part of the system.

There shouldn't be a problem with someone wanting to legally come into the United States with the intent of pursuing, and eventually receiving, full citizenship here. Naturalized citizens are among the most hard-working and responsible citizens that America has among her. I believe that those of us who were born here take this country for granted far more often than not to really understand how blessed we are to live here, and also how tremendous a stewardship God has given us in safeguarding this country and her liberties. Naturalized citizens weren't born here: they had to earn the right to be citizens, and that process granted them not only the legal status of citizen, but a solid understanding of what it means to be not just an American, but a people who are as free as they wish to develop the potential that God gave them.

Legal citizens, whether naturalized already or not, pursue that dream to be independent. Illegal residents only serve to suck away on the depleted cow that is the United States government. And George W. Bush isn't doing any citizen - whether natural-born or naturalized - any favors in giving illegals another teat.

Monday, January 05, 2004

An observation...

Every single character on DragonBall Z looks like they're
  • (a) having a bad hair day
  • (b) severely constipated
  • (c) both

Saturday, January 03, 2004

He's probably gonna spend all his time reading muscle car magazines while listening to Skynard...

Kyle Williams is now a high-school dropout. Fifteen years ago this would have been an abject tragedy worthy of an after-school special. Today it's a cause for celebration! Punch here and read about young master Kyle's experiment with the public skrewl system... after being a successful product of homeschooling.

"Blab It, Grab It" elections: Pat Robertson resurrects divine right of kings

Back in the good ol' days, false prophets were stoned to death and left to rot on a dunghill. But as with all things, times change. From this story published yesterday:
Pat Robertson: God told him it's Bush in a 'blowout'
Associated Press Writer

January 2 2004

NORFOLK, Va. -- Pat Robertson said Friday that God told him President Bush will be re-elected in a landslide.

"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk," the religious broadcaster said on his "700 Club" program on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded.

"I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way," Robertson said.

"The Lord has just blessed him," Robertson said of Bush. "I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and comes out of it. It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him."

Maybe we should just forego the democratically-elected republic altogether, and wait for a white puff of smoke to appear over 1600 Pennsylvania from now on.

But then again, this is Pat Robertson we're dealing with here. The same guy who claimed that God told him to run for and win the presidential election in 1988. Who four years later said that George Bush Sr. would handily win re-election over Bill Clinton. A few years later in 1998 Robertson said that a hurricane would devastate Orlando Florida because of the shenanigans at Di$neyworld (the first hurricane of the season did strike... but it made landfall at Virginia Beach, headquarters of Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network). More recently Robertson asked his viewers to join him in prayer that Hurricane Isabel would spare their location. Instead it made landfall in North Carolina and went straight through Virginia Beach. And now, Pat Robertson is telling us that God told him that George W. Bush would win re-election this coming November.

I'm not gonna write about who stands the better shot of coming out on top this year, except to say that 10 months is an eternity in politics and anything can happen to tilt the cart. That said, whether he's right or not about the outcome of the election, I have many serious problems with what Pat Robertson stands for and is saying here.

If Robertson believes that it's God's will that George W. Bush be re-elected, then he must also be prepared to accept that it was God's will also that William Jefferson Clinton was elected - twice - into the White House. Nothing happens outside the will of God and to state otherwise would logically imply that some things are beyond His dominion, then more likely than not in man's realm of control.

Taking the implication further, it becomes that man can wield control over his situation, his world, even his God, merely by asserting authority over it. God becomes not a sovereign, but a servant and a slave. To some people, Christ is turned from the Way, the Truth and the Light into a mere talisman of power to be wielded in this passing world.

Pat Robertson is among the more prominent of the "prosperity gospel" movement, or what some people call "Name It, Claim It" theology. A close friend of mine has a better term: "Blab It, Grab It!" In a nutshell, prosperity gospel teaches that God has given the world, and everything in it, to those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That all a believer has to do is call upon the name of the Lord and whatever he or she claims power or ownership of, is given unto them.

We aren't promised material comforts in this world. In fact, Jesus told us to expect afflictions and persecutions, seemingly without end. That's the price we pay for following Him. We shouldn't even want to live a good life as defined by this world's standards... this world is DYING, for crying out loud! As believers in Christ, it shouldn't be just our calling, but our heartfelt desire to DIE a little each day ourselves, so that in surrendering to Him, He might be given the increase and live moreso through us. It's not in this world and its mere things that we find our life, but in Christ and Him alone.

That's not what Pat Robertson, and many like him, preach at all. What they're teaching can't even be called sincere Christianity. In many ways, it could only be described as a form of Gnosticism, with its obsession of things powerful and materialistic.

I do believe that God's hand is upon this nation... but it's also been upon all nations from the beginning of time. And God did something very unique with America that had never happened before anytime before in recorded history: he gave responsibility of a great nation not to a king or a minority of the powerful, but to the people... all the people. If George W. Bush is re-elected, it won't be because God has blessed him anymore than another candidate at all. It will be because the American people chose him, if they so wish it, but the freedom to do so comes from and is under the ultimate sovereignty of God. But what Robertson believes, apparently, is that we are creatures without free will, mere pawns on the chessboard of this earth. As if the Creator of the entire universe hasn't better things to do than parlay one political party against another on one tiny ball of dirt in the cosmos.

Hey Pat, we aren't here to win elections. We're here to build up the Kingdom of God. And He doesn't care what political party you're a member of.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Here we go, fast and furious...

I made an attempt to start a blog in March of last year. And it woulda been a fun thing to have done last year, had real-life situations not taken precedence. In a nutshell, 2003 was one major fiasco after another. But God brought us through, none the worse for wear and maybe a little more wiser for all of it. 2004 is starting out with things looking far more on the upside for my lovely lil' spousal overunit and myself.

Anyhoo, my name is Christopher Knight and this is my blog. I'm 29 years old, presently living in north-central North Carolina with my bride of a little more than a year, Lisa. At the moment I do payroll and computer work for a retailer here in town, although that will soon be changing as I've begun " taking some things on faith" as it were, and trying to step out into the larger world a bit more boldly than life allowed for this past year. So maybe it's a good thing that I'm starting this blog now: 2003 was a lot of rotten things all come together. Perhaps I tried taking control of things more on my own. In 2004, I'm going to give it all over to God, and let Him make of it as He will. I've no doubt that if I can do that, that this is going to be a great new year.

So this blog will (hopefully) chronicle that in a timely fashion, along with other things. It'll also be a sounding board for some of my musings. Politically I could be considered a strong conservative, although I detest what the Republican party is fast becoming and loathe what the Democrat one long ago became. I'm a huge fan of Star Wars and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien (and may write at length on Return Of The King after seeing it for the third time hopefully this weekend), enjoy a number of computer games both online and off, and generally will try anything for fun so long as it's not immoral, illegal or causing cancer.

More later. Gotta get ready for a new day :-)