Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Power Sabbath

On Sunday, I had the privilege of sharing a message with the congregation of Chestnut Grove. The topic of the message was taking the time to rest and hear from God. Just prior to the season of advent is a wonderful time to contemplate this message as we learn to still ourselves in the presence of God. As mentioned in the bulletin, this message was inspired by an article that I read a year or two ago in a magazine call the Youthworker Journal written by Steve Gerali. If you're interested in reading it, here is a link to the article "Taking A Power Sabbath." Feel free to comment if you'd like.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Golden Compass

By now, many of you have probably heard about, or gotten the e-mail warning about new movie “The Golden Compass.” I first heard of Philip Pulman and his novels earlier this year when I read an article about his atheist beliefs and how he hoped to use his books as a tool to explore the role of religion in our world. There were a few red flags for me in reading the article, but mostly I was intrigued. I think that sometimes as Christians we can learn a lot from atheists if we only allow ourselves to engage with them in dialogue rather than argument. At worst, we are forced to own our beliefs and ideals and at best, we find insight from their search for truth that may sometimes shed light on our own belief system. Anyway, after reading the article, I planned to read these books just to see what they were all about, but they found their way moving further and further down my reading list. Just a few weeks ago, my sixteen-year-old niece pointed out “The Golden Compass” on a shelf in Target. I told her that I’d read something about the author, but by that point, I couldn’t recall what it had been. Then only a few days later, I saw the e-mail, verified by that our faith is under assault. I think the danger is overstated, but the fact is that a number of Christians are uncomfortable about this and will speak out in opposition to the film. My hope would be that people engage the film and books in a reasonable manner that opens dialogue and discussion rather than shutting doors. Too often, I fear that we don’t have enough faith in the power of truth. It all reminds me of a line from a U2 song- “I don’t believe the devil, I don’t believe his book, but the truth is not the same without the lies he made up.” “The Last Temptation of Christ”, “Dogma”, “The DaVinci Code”, all failed to damage the truth, but they revealed much about what the world needs and how it views the church’s ability to deliver. So, for now, I’ll wait and see, and in the meantime, I’ll probably try to get a copy of that book. If you interested in a deeper take on the controversy, is in the midst of a three part series about the film. Here is the first article in the series.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Real Beauty

Many of you may be familiar with the Dove: Real Beauty Campaign. Here is a description from its website:

For too long, beauty has been defined by narrow, stifling stereotypes. Women have told us it's time to change all that. Dove agrees. We believe real beauty comes in many shapes, sizes and ages. That is why Dove is launching the Campaign for Real Beauty.

On Sunday night in our youth gathering we looked at a film produced by this campaign called “Evolution.” After watching the film we looked at scripture relating to how we should be more concerned with the heart and what is on the inside than on outward appearances. The video and scripture led to interesting discussion.

But, I did feel a bit guilty about using this clip after doing some research on the film, company, and campaign. While Dove is making the effort to build self-esteem in women of all ages, another company “Axe” seems to be doing the opposite. A quick look at the back of a bottle of “Axe” body wash, body spray, or deodorant shows just what the “Axe Effect” is- usually a cartoon silhouette of a man either running from a flock of chasing women, or in the middle of two women hanging on him. The print and video ads depicting the “Axe Effect” are much less benign. While Dove is promoting an image of beauty regardless of age and body type, Axe is promoting an image of women as objects for which the use of Axe will make more attainable.

So why would I feel guilty about using the Dove ad? If you look at the back of any Dove or Axe product, you will find the same name- Unilever. This company owns both Dove and Axe. I’m not really sure how corporate America operates, but I do find it troubling that an organization could on the one hand promote such a positive campaign, while on the other, producing ads that directly contradict that campaign. Is it all just a marketing ploy to diversify in advertising to reach target audiences? And if so, should it be praised for the good that it does or criticized for the hypocrisy that it represents?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Generation Gap?

I saw this interesting video the other day. I am only 34 (at least for a few more days) and there are so many aspects of the world of teenagers that I am way out of touch with. On the surface, this video seems to point that out vividly, but after watching a few times, I think it may actually be more of a bridge than a gap. I'm not a child of the technology age, but whoever created this video expresses universal concerns about our need for relevance, authenticity, and community; Values that often seem scarce in all of our worlds- children, teens, and adults. I pray that our faith can reflect all three. Here's the video: