What I read…

Growing up I didn’t know fantasy existed–ok I knew, but not as a “genre” I just knew I liked that magic stuff….

One of the things I used to do was “read out” a book. That is reading a book so often that I had it practically memorized, and I was beyond reading it anymore–it was in my head forever.

The books that I read out and therefore molded me were…

Wrinkle in Time Quintent by Madeline L’Engle

Narnia series (read in the original publishing order Lewis was wrong to reorder)

Wizard of Oz (the 1st 7 I didn’t own the others)

The Hobbit

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Anne of Green Gables

Note how none of these were singular instead of the Hobbit….amazing how these books will forever be in my head….

“The berries. I realize the answer to who I am lies in that handful of poisonous fruit. IF I held them out to save Peeta because I knew I would be shunned if I came back without him, then I am despicable. If I held them out because I loved him, I am still self-centered, although forgivable. But if I held them out to defy the Capitol. I am someone of worth. The trouble is, I don’t know exactly waht was going on inside me at that moment. Could it be the people in the districts are right? That it was an act of rebellion, even if it was an unconcscious one? Because, deep down, I must know it isn’t enough to keep myself, or my family, or my friends alive by running away.” Catching Fire 118

…interesting how Katniss yearns for something she doesn’t even understand.I think this is part of the human condition–what are we yearning for and we need it…

I’m not crazy…

Ok, I guess that is debatable…I mean who else thinks that establishing a church through Sci Fi/Fantasy is their calling?

But often I think that this is the message I want to get out…I’m Christian, not Crazy.

Just because I believe in God

Just because I try (and fail and then try again) to put God’s love and hospitality into practice does not make me an extremist, bigot, loony or uneducated person. In fact it doesn’t make me liberal/conservative, rich/poor, smart/dumb, etc. That’s the point. ImageChristianity is supposed to be noncontextual (for an ironic moment watch a pastor talk about how bigotry succeeds at being ultimately noncontexual as well http://gawker.com/5953357/missouri-pastors-fiery-speech-against-equal-rights-for-homosexuals-has-stunning-twist-ending)

Christianity should be without context. And when I say I’m Christian, I would love for that to mean that I think outside the box, not that I am stereotypical (cause I’m not)

When I say I’m Christian, that means that the most important thing to me is God’s graciousness, and when I look at the world, it is hard for me to think that we were a random happenstance of nature. And the fact that I was created and I, in turn, try to create things, is an important part to figuring out my life…

It does not mean I’m going to push my beliefs on you, that I hate everyone else out there or I’m going to be judgmental–it simply means that to me, God enriches my life….

That is all….

Re-reading Harry Potter

 

In Chapter 24 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Harry makes his cataclysmic decision to go after the horcruxes, he begins to sound like Dumbledore.

 

He speaks simply, directly and with authority

 

He thanks people, retains information, and still acts in empathy and sympathy with Griphook and Ollivander.

 

 

He becomes quite …dare I say… pastoral in his demeanor….

Interesting….

 

 

 

 

 

Voldemort “The old argum…

Voldemort “The old argument’ he said softly. ‘But nothing I have seen in the world has supported your famous prononuncements that love is more powerful than my kind of magic, Dumbledore.’ ‘Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places,’ suggested Dumbledor.” Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince (British ed.) 415

Voldemort, looking for love in all the wrong places 🙂

Were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing, you ask who that may be, Christ Jesus it is him. The Lord of hosts his name, from age to age the same, and he must win the battle. And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us. We shall not fear for God has willed for his truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness Grim, we tremble not at him. His rage we can endure–we know his doom is sure. One little word will fell him. “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”

Hunger Games

Sometimes I feel like we can really relate to Hunger Games. Luckily things aren’t quite as bad as during the depression, but for me student debt is a real and heavy weigh in on my life as I tot up the bills and work towards providing for my family.

My friend Charlie says student debt is palpable (we graduated the same year) you can see it weighing people down when they enter a room.

So, here we are, hunger games–who are we sending out as our sacrifice? Who are we going to watch struggle for entertainment. You know what happens in hunger games, everyone is hungry for something. Even the rich city people are always eating, eating, eating (then they throw up to eat more). Why? Because they feel empty inside.

Jesus addresses emptiness, not by telling people to deal, not by pointing out people’s faults, and certainly not by giving them false platitudes.

Jesus sits with people, Jesus meets people, gets to know them, and (always) calls people by name. Maybe that’s what everyone is hungering for–even those of us who hear their name called out by crowds, those who are followed by the paparazzi and have their lives on public display (Duchess of Cambridge anyone) really just want someone to REALLY know them, to REALLY be present with them and to REALLY call them by name.

If the Hunger Games are about the games we end up playing because we are feeling emotionally, physically and spiritually hungry (um…like we do in politics maybe), then Jesus is not about Games. Jesus is about reality, Jesus is about being the real you, Jesus is about the truth of the world, and the Real-ity of Re(a)l-ationships! And if we are asking who is going to be the sacrifice, the answer was, is and will be Jesus Christ, and we don’t need “God in the white house” Imageto know that (did anyone else see that meme?). Because God is bigger than the white house, God is bigger than America and God is bigger than a world economic downturn. If you think we have control over where God is, frankly that is are humanity showing (oops)

If you don’t believe that, then there is no point in preaching the gospel in third world countries, because they are in no way on equal footing to our problems.
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Say it with me, Jesus is about Love and graciousness (not being judgmental, putting our morals on others or creating the world for Christ). God is HERE, love is HERE, let’s act like it. And please let’s think before we say something about how “other people were raised” or what “real morals” are–God loved, talked to and did not make anyone feel bad about their mistakes, he forgave and gave them a chance to change. If Almighty God can do that, then we should at least try to do the same–ImageRemember, no one convinced anyone of anything by yelling insults to them over the internet. People have been changed through true acts of lovingkindness (or hesed as its called in the Old Testament).

Beauty and the Beast

I may or may not own a billion different versions of Beauty and the Beast. (Plus some figures, snowglobes and plastic McDonald’s toys)

Why? Because its my favorite fairy tale. Why? Because its the first/best fairytale and it is so TOTALLY theological!!!! (did I put too many exclamation points there?)Image

Things to know about Beauty and the Beast which I have disseminated from years of study (no seriously I have been convertly studying fairy tales for 8 years. First as an “English” major at Oberlin, then as a theological student at Princeton)

1. It is the FIRST fairy tale we know of

2. It evolved from what is the last myth we know of: Cupid and Psyche (in “The Golden Ass”) written a couple of hundred of years after myths were in styleImage

3. Before Christianity, the “happily ever after concept” did not seem to exist in stories….In fact the theological differences between Cupid & Psyche and Beauty and the Beast are amazing but I will write my thesis on all that later (hopefully). Today we’ll stick to B&B

Next thoughts

If you haven’t read Beauty and the Beast, I invite you to do so on literally the best Fairy Tale Resource today (I mean literally, I’ve done the research) at Sur La Lune http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/beautybeast/index.html

1. The prince/beast is a fallen man somehow either through his own or his parents brokenness. Usually his outer ugliness mirrors his inner ugliness (The Fall from Grace Anyone)

2. His Salvation/Transformation into his former/real/best self is through Love

3. Beauty Loves Beast even in his ugliness

4. Beast regains his life/and is transformed through the pure love of Beauty

(PS how cool is it that the Christ figure is a girl in this one)

1. Humanity falls and is ugly

2. Humanity’s hope lies in God’s grace through God’s Love

3. God loves us, period.

4. We are born again/from above and transformed

And we all will live happily ever after!

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.–1 Col 19-20

All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.–Ps. 86:9

(PS concerns and questions about the every knee shall bow language will be addressed in another post, so don’t worry)

Now that I’ve blown your mind (or at least reminded you to hear “Be Our Guest” again) I invite you to read any/all of the following, and if you know another Beauty and the Beast that you like let me know in case I haven’t read it.

(This may, perhaps, possibly in the Disney version make Gaston into the devil…hehehehehehehe)

Good Versions of Beauty and the Beast

1st John 4:7-18 (I’ve copied it below)

C.S. Lewis Voyage of the Dawn Treader Eustace’s Story

Beauty by Robin McKinley & Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley (yes she wrote 2 good ones)

Beast by Donna Jo Napoli

Cupid and Psyche in the Golden Ass (Hi, Chloe! I love you!)

La Belle et La Bete directed by Cocteau (black and white one of the 1st films, look at the effects, I mean this was before computers)

Beauty and the Beast the 80s TV show

10th Kingdom (in a lighter vein)

Donkeyskin/Tattercoat/Alleirauh are very similar (though different)

Deerskin by Robin McKinley (I know, but I couldn’t help myself)

Fables Comic Series (note: main characters)

and of course the Disney movie/play

1st John 4:7-18; Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Home

For those of you who don’t know me, I am very obsessed with Beauty and the Beast (Post about the Amazing Theology of Beauty and the Beast here)

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Beauty and the Beast on Broadway (yes the Disney one) has a great song about home. Point and Case the title is Is this Home?

Synposis: Belle is weird, she reads books to get away, she is captured by a Beast, she still isn’t satisfied.

One of the major themes in Beauty and the Beast is the idea of Home/belonging. In the end, I think that is what everyone wants…to belong.

Belonging is home. What if instead of getting people to “join” churches, we made churches places where they feel like they belong.

How do we make church=home?

Vampires, Harry Potter and the Wonderfulness of Fantasy!!

Someday, when I am rich and famous

Or when my children are grown

Or when I plain old have the time, I’m going to write a great thesis about the evolution of Fantasy from mythology to Fairy Tale to Fantasy to Modern Day. (for a little on this read my post about Beauty and the Beast)

And when I do I will write many many important and amazing things about life.
But if you love fantasy, and are curious about Church, can I just say that nothing corresponds in describing the human condition (in my opinion) and the importance and significance of hope in the Bible …nothing except the fantasy

Nowhere else does good battle evil, amazing things happen, people live in completely different conditions with different abilities, and yet they still are stuck with struggling with the human condition. Those things that make life essential!

My professor Kenda Dean says that being a teenager is the human condition (the highs, the lose, the hopes, the inherent brokenness of it all) on crack; and that’s why she likes it.

Maybe that’s why most teens read fantasy, and many adults “outgrow” it.

While I have your attention two brief points about Fantasy that I hope to explore via ministry (with all ages, not just children or teens) at some point.

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1. What is with Vampires today?

There seems to be a fascination with

a. Everlasting Love

b. Living Forever

c. Drinking the Essence of a Living being to do so….

Any thoughts about Religion and this fascination??Image

2. Harry Potter: Because it is awesome

At one point Harry Potter discusses that the right way to pursue eternal life is through Hallows, Not Horcruxes….

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Ponder that

What are the Hallowed things (Hallow means Holy by-the-bye)

What are the Crutches, the Horrible Crucibles in your life. How do they seem like they provide eternal life, but they are not….

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Ponder these, get back to me, and then tell me that this generation of Fantasy readers isn’t ripe for the Gospel!!!

PS recently there was a great post about telling the Gospel in 7 words or less in Christian Century

www.christiancentury.org/search/apachesolr_search/seven%20words and for a good blog read http://theblueroomblog.org/2012/08/30/the-gospel-in-seven-words/I

I’ve decided mine would be

Trying to be as gracious as God

or Hallows, not Horcruxes….Just saying 😉

Peace All!

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