Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany St. Peter Lutheran Church St. Matthew 8:23-27 January 29, 2017 “The Captain of the Ship” Iesu Iuva Jesus gets into a boat, and his disciples follow. Then a great storm arises. It must have been a really great storm. At least four of Jesus’ disciples are men who fished […]
Continue reading The Captain of the Ship. Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany 2017. Matthew 8:23-27
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What’s this, I hear, more videos? Well, yeah, they do something that my words about something can’t. And right now, things are moving so fast, I can’t keep up anyway. And that’s a very good thing! 🙂 We talked a bit about Mrs. May’s speech yesterday, here it is. Here’s President Trump at the […]
Continue reading Marching for Life, Trump, and May
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Yesterday, I read some people complaining that Trump hasn’t stopped DACA yet. This is Wednesday, he was inaugurated last Friday, so give me a break. He’s accomplished more in the part of the last week than most presidents do in their first term. Take a deep breath and relax, he’s not going to do everything […]
Continue reading Times and Seasons
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So today is Martin Luther King Day, one of the American holidays that are only for some of us, who get the day off – mostly government types. Well, kind of figures doesn’t it, and yet it doesn’t really bother many of us. In any case, Dr. King had some very important things to teach […]
Continue reading Letter from a Birmingham Jail
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Thanksgiving Day St. Peter Lutheran Church Deuteronomy 8:1-10 (1 Timothy 2:1-4) November 24, 2016 “Thanksgiving for the Lord’s Discipline” Iesu Iuva Setting apart a day to give thanks to God has a long history in America. The Pilgrims didn’t invent it. The French and Spanish explorers are said to have had their own […]
Continue reading Thanksgiving for the Lord’s Discipline. Thanksgiving Day 2016. Deuteronomy 8:1-10
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In Thailand, Phra Dhammachayo, the head of the Wat Dhammakaya Buddhist Temple—Thailand’s largest—could be heard, as of 2016 at least, exhorting non-monk meditators, “Be rich, be rich, be rich!”This pro-wealth message, with its “endorsement of worldly comforts,” has attracted worshippers even as it has “unsettled the government and the Buddhist hierarchy.”Indeed, the top body of Buddhism accused him of heresy—a charge you don’t typically hear in that religion—and stripped him of his religious title. Yet his popularity at Wat Dhammakaya was undiminished. It is no wonder the Temple’s popularity continued to grow, with cash machines placed near a meditation room—the machines’ screens declaring, “Shortcut to making merit.” By giving money, and even credit-card points, to the temple, a Buddhist’s merit can be enhanced. Other things equal, the additional good karma results in a better reincarnation in the next life. The worshippers, or more strictly speaking, meditators, at the temple could presumably be rich in this life and be born into a better life next time around simply by practicing Buddhism.
1. Seth Mydans, “Parsing Buddhism in a Shrine to Abundance,” The New York Times, December 21, 2016.
Continue reading A Pro-Wealth Buddhist Temple in Thailand and Pro-Wealth Christianity: Is Religion Inherently Weak?
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I’m back, but it was a late night and I’ve nothing prepared, so mostly this will be one more of Jessica’s, but not a happy one. It is also a day after our churches celebrate the Slaughter of the Innocents. Some of those churches, it must be said, with their eyes tight closed to what they […]
Continue reading Rachel weeping
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[One more of Jessica’s, because it reflects my beliefs as well, and is an excellent wrap up for the year. It’s been a very strange year, and in truth, I’m glad it’s ending. I should be home fairly late tonight, so with luck, I’ll have a new post for you tomorrow, although I’m not guaranteeing […]
Continue reading New Year thoughts
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[Another one of Jessica’s wonderful posts, this one from last year. Neo] Secular Christmases, like our lives in general, have a great build up to important events, quite often the event itself does not quite live up to it, and then the day after is a bit of a let-down – and that’s where we […]
Continue reading The day after
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[ One of Jessica’s best from 2013] Well, Neo and I are both, in our ways, in the bosom of our families, and we both hope that you are too – but perhaps like us, you are just looking at that Reader in the intervals of good cheer and fellowship. We are all, of course, […]
Continue reading Christmas
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A film need not be explicitly religious to proffer spiritual meaning. In fact, gritty stories that wrestle with thorny problems that people have faced or may face in everyday life can be more gripping even theologically than stories based on religious idealism, such as The Greatest Story Ever Told and The Ten Commandments.
Hidden Figures, for example, “has no obvious religious message. Rather, it is a feel-good drama about unsung black heroines in the NASA space race of the 1960s.”Yet this didn’t stop Fox from hiring Wit PR to market the film to churches. Wit PR invited several “opinion-leader” pastors to watch filming, one cleric remarking, “I came away really interested in using film to explore faith.”The “aspirational story about women who have faith in themselves” could be used as fodder in a sermon on the Christian theological virtues of faith and hope—the key being to keep having faith in spite of insufferable obstacles.
Yet just as secular films such as Hidden Figures need not have an explicit religious leitmotif or thesis in order to be conveyers of deep meaning, so too such meaning in such films need not be evoked in a religious context. That is to say, even secular films can bypass the religious organizations altogether to bring principles with religious import to people directly.
The Matrix, for example, prompted much discussion not only about philosophical solipsism, but also Neo as the One. Although non-Christian Plotinus utilized this term to mean God in the second century, the Christological reference would not be lost on many Christians. In the film, Morpheus is convinced that Neo is the One who would go on to save humanity from the clutches of the machines. Morpheus’s faith, even in spite of the apparent impossibility in Neo’s death, never wavers. Christian viewers would hardly need a sermon to drive the point home. For non-Christians, the critical question of whether the assumption that one person should save humanity isn’t artificial was debated far outside of explicit religious circles.
Film is indeed an incredible medium in being able to render even ubiquitous assumptions transparent and thus able to be critiqued and discussed. That even a secular film can put religious assumptions in a new, and thus transparent, light—whether the implications are critical or affirming for a particular religion or religion itself!—brings cinema into the business of engaging deep meaning. In fact, with such meaning at the subterranean level in a secular film, assumptions can all the more readily come to light. It is a paradox that religious meaning from the pulpit is typically readily apparent and thus the undergirding assumptions are rarely exposed to the open air.
To be sure, assumptional analysis of religious beliefs can be explicit on-screen. In The Da Vinci Code, for example, Robert Langdon and his former colleague debate the theological import of whether Jesus had a child—unknowingly right in front of the last descendant of Jesus Christ. The debate is actually about whether the historical Jesus is the Son of God: the One (not in Plotinus’s sense of the word). Such an on-screen exercise is of great value too—to Christians and even non-Christians. Again, the value lies in rendering religious assumptions transparent so they may be realized and even thought over. Film is indeed a valuable medium in that it can flush out truth (and untruth) hidden in clear view.
Continue reading Secular Films with Religious Meaning: Film as a Potentially Deep Medium
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I wanted to give you something for Christmas Eve as we are thinking about the birth of our Saviour. I found I didn’t have much to say, at least that was new or interesting. Most of what I want to remind you has been said, and better than I can, and on this blog, no […]
Continue reading O Holy Night
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As you read this, I’ll likely be on my way to the airport for my annual trip to the east coast. Yeah, I decided to fly this year rather than spending all that time on the train, while I enjoy it, it begins to pall a bit, so time to do something else. I’ve left […]
Continue reading Going Home
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Advent 4 Midweek (Vespers) St. Peter Lutheran Church Isaiah 11:1-10 December 21, 2016 The Regime of the King of Peace—adapted from Stoeckhardt’s Adventspredigten, “Siebzehnte Predigt” Iesu Iuva Jesus is a King. That is what His name means: “Christ”—anointed one. King. But where is Jesus’ kingdom? Do you know? Even those who […]
Continue reading The Regime of the King of Peace–Advent 4 Midweek Vespers 2016
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I’m going to talk about the upcoming Presidency some this week, and I think Jessica, in this post, speaks to part of the reason Trump won, and I thought it more reasonable to simply repost her article, than to extensively quote from it. We will be looking at some of the reasons but it surely […]
Continue reading Ordinary Joes
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Fourth Sunday in Advent—Rorate Coeli St. Peter Lutheran Church St. John 1:19-28 December 18, 2016 “The Mighty One Comes to You” Iesu Iuva O come, O come, Thou Lord of might, Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height In ancient times didst give the Law In cloud and majesty and awe. God is […]
Continue reading A Mighty One Whom You Do Not Know–Advent 4 2016
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At the Reagan National Defense Forum, former Vice-President Dick Cheney did a panel with CNN’s Barbera Starr. Pretty good stuff from one of the deep thinkers about defense. Here’s the bit we all like: I think he needs to be careful but he’ll learn as he goes along. I think he is putting some brains […]
Continue reading We Don’t Need You Guys Anymore and St Barbera
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I’ve been seeing stuff like this off and on most of the year and I see no reason to believe it isn’t true. After all, America got its big surge of German immigrants when the King of Prussia decided to force a merger of the Lutheran and Reformed churches in Germany. From Gatestone Institute … […]
Continue reading Germans Leaving Germany ‘In Droves’
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Advent is, for Christians, a time of waiting, in some ways, it is like Lent, but not exactly, here we await the birth of the Lord, and by extension, his return in Glory. It is the time of beginning, of promise. My favorite Clerk gave us Sunday, a homily from an anonymous Anglo-Saxon author, in […]
Continue reading The Coming of Christ, the Golden Blossom
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Melanie Phillips wrote in the £ Sunday Times about how the Queen Elizabeth II has to subsume the woman in the duty of the queen. It’s not a new theme for us, we spoke of her mother’s sense of duty owed to people and God in Duty Is the Rent You Pay For Life. It is something […]
Continue reading Queens and Presidents, and Duty
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