Faithorama Archives

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Matrix Revolutions

6 November, 2003 2:08 PM

I completely forgot that today (or was it yesterday) was the release of Matrix Revolutions. The only thing that reminded me was that when I took a look at my blog stats this morning 10 of the last 20 referrals from search engines contained the word 'Matrix' in them. This afternoon it was 14 out of the last 20.

That in itself is not that interesting - but what got me thinking is the other words that were part of those referrals.

The most common search phrase that referred people to my blog was 'Matrix Revolutions Explained' - the second highest was 'Matrix Revolutions Philosophy' - the third was 'Matrix Revolutions Christian' and the fourth was 'Matrix Revolutions Religion'. A variation of other similar ones were there also.

Obviously my referrals are like this because of the content of this post about the different interpretations of the movie - but I'm still amazed how this series of films has obviously made people think about deeper aspects of life and faith.

On a related note the BBC slams the film. They write:

'The third and final part of the Matrix trilogy concludes in a blaze of obfuscatory special effects, leaving the audience dazed and dulled.

No-one really expects sequels to be better than the original, but Matrix Revolutions is a crushing disappointment in almost every way.'

Life Transformation Groups - LTGs

3 November, 2003 2:10 PM

Has anyone had any experience of Life Transformation Groups? I've seen a lot of churches using them lately and wonder what people think about them? Its something that some of us have been talking about but none of us have been a part of before. Your thoughts would be greatly valued.

If you've no idea what I'm talking about here is how Jacob's Well describes LTGs.

Fear of the Stranger

29 October, 2003 10:10 PM

'Christian communities fear difference sufficiently that they usually spend a considerable amount of time tending the margins or boundaries of their communities, not in order to connect with those outside but, rather, to protect themselves from strangers.

Sometimes discussions of church membership are more concerned with who is in or out than about how to be an open and welcoming community. This fear of difference is reinforced by a dualistic view of church and world that assigns good spiritual aspects to the church and evil material aspects to the surrounding world The result of this dualistic way of thinking is that Christian communities can excuse their refusal to move out to the margins as a calling to practice piety.'

- Letty Russell in 'Church in the Round'

Hospitality

27 October, 2003 1:14 PM

When did Hospitality become an Industry rather then just a normal and expected part of life and faith?

Psalm 121

25 October, 2003 2:15 PM

Have found myself drawn to this Psalm the past few days.

I look up to the mountains;
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from GOD,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

He won't let you stumble,
your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel's
Guardian will never doze or sleep.

GOD's your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you--
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.

GOD guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.

How Inclusive?

21 October, 2003 10:13 AM

Leighton asks 'Should a church�accept everyone�regardless of their commitment to Jesus Christ?' I left my comments there.

Where Would Jesus Go? - Revisited

17 October, 2003 1:49 PM

Michelle (I'm trying to get her to start a blog - it'd be great) has been dropping by my blog for a little while now and last night left a great comment on an old post (Where Would Jesus Go? - which at the time created a bit of debate). I thought it was a pity to leave a good comment like this lurking in the archives where no one will stumble on it. This is what she wrote:

Just gotta throw this into the mix, even though it's an "old" discussion. Here in Cape Town, South Africa, there's a church for prositutes - begun simply because there are those trapped in a lifestyle they can't see out of, but feel they need a place to meet God and that they'd be shunned if they turned up on an ordinary church doorstep. Pretty spot-on re the last one I suspect. Anyway, this church is providing a place for the street ladies to meet God and out of that has come some life-changing stuff.

Yes, we DO need to get out into the world to be able to see and change it. We need to be able to relate to how people "out there" perceive things in order to minister in a relevant way to them. There are many folk who simply won't come to us.

I don't feel we should hate the sinner. God requires us to love each other as Christians, to show His unconditional love. I believe that a conviction of "sin" in one's life comes into focus the closer you get to God - pretty soon you'll know you can't keep it up and still be completely God's.

And yes, if Jesus were here today we'd find him hanging out at the places folk need him most. Whether it's the member keeping up apperances in the back pew at church or the drunk passed out in the alley outside the bar. See this article on Next-Wave for inspiration!

Thanks Michelle.

US Faith Poll

17 October, 2003 11:08 AM

'Fully 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God, 85 percent in heaven and 82 percent in miracles, according to the latest FOX News poll. Though belief in God has remained at about the same level, belief in the devil has increased slightly over the last few years � from 63 percent in 1997 to 71 percent today.'

Other observations from the study include:

- Women were more likely to believe in the supernatural than men.
- Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they believe in the God, heaven, hell and the devil.
- Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they believe in reincarnation, astrology, ghosts and UFOs.
- Young people are much more likely than older Americans to believe in both hell and the devil.

Potluck Worship

15 October, 2003 9:24 AM

"The origins of the word liturgy can be traced back to a combination of the ancient Greek leiter or work and laos or people and meant "something performed for the benefit of the city." Early church leaders used it to refer to "something performed by the people for the benefit of others." ...This notion, when applied to the work of worship, was new to me. I had rather naively viewed worship as something like a meal in a restaurant. If the worship leaders, who might be compared to the chef, host, hostess, and servers, did their work well, we "feasted." If their effort was more routine, we might be filled and satisfied. If their work was sloppy or inattentive, we might leave hungry or frustrated.

On that Sunday morning at East Harlem Parish, with a ministry that crossed the borders of race, class, and culture, I had a different experience. Worship was more like a church potluck supper. Everyone contributed; everyone participated; everyone benefited."

From Charles Foster's Embracing Diversity: Leadership in multicultural congregations. (p100)

What Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Can Teach the Church

8 October, 2003 7:53 PM

group05.jpgOk...this post could be the end of what is left of my rep... give me a chance ok?

The last couple of Monday nights I've found myself home and in front of the TV. For some reason I've been watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy which is in its first season here in Australia. For those who haven't watched its basically about five gay guys (the fab 5) who spend a day giving a straight guy (with no 'style') a make over. They usually give his apartment a renovation, update his wardrobe, give him a hair cut, teach him to cook a dish and help him with some social or relational skill.

I've heard a lot of people here complaining about the show on talk back radio. Some are Christians ringing up to share their moral views, others are average Joe conservative Aussies who don't want their kids to see it and others just think its dumb.

I don't think its the most amazing show on TV at the moment - I find the stars of the show mildly amusing - I'm a bit over all the sexual innuendo already (I can't imagine how they will keep finding suggestive gay jokes for a whole season) - it is all a bit superficial at times - but I will admit I've learnt one or two things about what's lacking in my wardrobe!

But the thing that caught my attention the most was a statement made in the first week by one of the stars. To paraphrase him he said:

'We just want to help this guy reach his potential.... to be the man he has the potential to be.'

It strikes me that although he went about it very differently, Jesus actually spoke of something very similar when he said 'I've come that they may have life'. (Jn 10:10) As I look at his ministry this is what he did - he drew people into life itself. Sometimes he does it in a very quick yet tangible way as he touches someone who has been lame for life and other times he lives with them for years, challenging attitudes, teaching and encouraging them to grow.

Jesus was on about helping people to reach their potential. His make over was generally a lot more comprehensive than the fab 5, but he was in the life giving business and as his Body so should we be.

Sheep without Shepherds or Shepherds without Sheep?

7 October, 2003 9:49 AM

Joe asks the question over at Ooze blog.

Confession

6 October, 2003 10:36 AM

The Washington Post has an interesting article on the changing nature of the sacrament of Confession in the Catholic Church. Here are some excerpts:

'Gone are the days when it was customary for Catholics to confess frequently, even if they had no serious sin to declare. Gone, too, is the sense among Catholics that they cannot take communion at Mass unless they have recently been to confession.

There are many reasons for the decline in confession-going. Many Catholics find the ritual too formulaic or say they are too busy. But the major reason, experts say, is a changed sense of what constitutes a sin....

At the same time, some priests and scholars say they have seen a modest revival of interest in confession, especially among young people whose spiritual searches are drawing them back to the traditional religious practices that their baby-boomer parents left behind....

Some Protestant scholars have observed renewed interest in the practice of confession in their denominations as well.'

Running the Race

6 October, 2003 12:13 AM

Imagine running for 24,800 miles over 7 years in nothing more than a handmade sandals and robe! Why? Surely there must be a sponsorship with Nike involved, maybe a movie deal or some sort of big financial incentive?!

Not so for Genshin Fujinam, a 44 year old Buddhist monk from Japan who has just completed his 7 year ancient path to enlightenment which not only includes thousands of miles walking and running, but also an incredible amount of prayer, meditation and fasting along the way.

Did I mention that any monk who starts such a journey but fails to complete it, must die by his own hands by hanging or disemboweling himself?

Suddenly getting up in the morning for a 15 minute quiet time doesn't seem to onerous!

Read more of this amazing feat here, here and here.

Papacy Musings

5 October, 2003 10:44 PM

Robert is watching the situation with the ailing health of the Pope and asks the question who is next in line? It will be an interesting process to watch - the implications will be significant.

The Ruthless Church

30 September, 2003 11:56 PM

Steve who is currently in London has written this challenging reflection which echoes around in my head tonight - mainly because it reminds me of numerous similar conversations I've had with young people the last couple of years.

PS: sorry about the title of this post - I couldn't resist.

What a Pearler

30 September, 2003 9:49 AM

'The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who is looking for fine pearls, and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has , and buys that pearl.' Matthew 13:45-46.

What passionate imagery of the Kingdom of God.

I was once given this little parable to speak on. I was preparing to present a challenge to 'give up all' for the 'pearl of Jesus' when a soft voice whispered in my inner ear.

'You're the pearl Darren.'

There began another journey of discovery, healing and freedom.

Church Leavers

29 September, 2003 12:54 PM

Just founds some amazing stats from a study on people leaving the church.

��They were not leaving 'mainline' churches in decline. They were leaving growing evangelical, pentecostal, and charismatic churches.

��They were not leaving during 'adolescence'. They were leaving as adults, predominantly between thirty and forty-five years of age.

��They were not leaving after being involved for a short time. They were leaving after an average of 15.8 years of involvement.

� They were not leaving from the fringe, but from the very core. 94% were church leaders. P18 40% in full-time Christian study or work or both.

There is heaps more here. Insightful stuff.

Jesus - Strikes a Pose

28 September, 2003 2:16 PM

This morning I went shopping - summer is coming (I HOPE) and I'm one or two T-Shirts short. So I decided to walk down Brunswick St and into the city. (a good half hour walk). I've talked about Brunswick St before here - its heaven - great cafes, bars, organic food shops, internet cafes and fashion shops. Its got a real alternative edgy vibe.

As I often do I decided to treat my walk as a bit of a prayer exercise and ask myself the question - 'Where is Jesus in Brunswick St?. Another way of asking it is to ask 'Where are God's fingerprints?' (this is part of an exercise from Ignition)

Today I saw Jesus in all the usual places on Brunswick St - in the community, the eating, the celebration of yesterdays football final, in the community care centers, in the park etc. But today I also saw him in a new place....the fashion!

Jesus featured prominently and explicitly on five T-shirts and one sweatshirt that I saw today. And I'm not talking about T-shirts I saw in Christian bookshops or from Christian fashion labels - I'm talking T-shirts in edgy alternative fashion shops and on street-wear labels!

In some the message seemed a little sarcastic - those I saw included:

'JE$U$ $AVE$!' another simple said 'Jesus loves me' and a third said 'Jesus is my homeboy'.

The others had pictures of him.

I also saw a huge sign of Jesus which said 'Jesus was a Refugee' which was in the window of a multi cultural center. It was a larger version of a postcard that has been very popular on the streets that is campaigning for rights for refugees.

Lastly I saw Jesus in some street art in the city. It was a chalk artist in one of the Malls. The rest of his work wasn't religious at all so I'm not sure he was a Christian.

I'm not sure what my point is - or even if there is one - except to say that Jesus seems to be featuring a fair bit in pop culture in Melbourne at present - interesting.

Fundamentalism

12 September, 2003 5:45 AM

"The regressive appeal of the religious fundamentalisms has to be taken seriously at this time. After 11 September 2001, and the collapsing of the World Trade Center in New York, all of us should be concerned about the rising tide of fundamentalism, especially within the three monotheisms: Islam, Judaism and Christianity. In the contemporary world, where so much is open and uncertain, where traditions have been shaken or overturned, where we stand almost naked before the spirit, there is a strong counter-revolutionary force: a desire for absolute certainty, religious security, and nostalgic traditionalism. Fundamentalisms offer us a parodic version of our need to turn back to the past, only here the turn back is a full blown regression, a deliberate and systematic retreat from the demands and revolutions of the modern period. This is not going back in order to move forward, but going back to escape the tensions and complexities of a different present.

Fundamentalism also supplies a distorted version of the past: its past is largely invented, a projection of regressive social values and anti-modern perspectives into an imagine former era."

David Tacey - The Spiritual Revolution: The emergence of contemporary spirituality

Street Evangelism Madrid Style

6 September, 2003 10:16 PM

Spent the morning wandering the streets of Madrid today before we head off to London tomorrow. While I waited to meet up with V (shopping :-) I witnessed three groups of people doing street evangelism in 5 minutes. I�m always somewhat drawn to people doing it to see their approach....I�m not sure why, I personally struggle with the �cold call� approach and would rather build relationships with people in the places I naturally live and relate in.... however I still am interested in others approaches.

The first couple I watched were walking down the street chanting while holding signs. Their signs and chanting were in Spanish so I didn�t get the full gist of it but I did recognise the words �SIN� and �JESUS� on the sign.

The second group was similar. As they walked one held a sign (again with the word �SIN� clearly visable while the other played a harmonica (mouth organ) through a megaphone.

The third group (6 people) had signs hung around their neck each with a different part of John 3:16 on them. They were attempting (unsuccessfully) to get those passing by to arrange them in the correct order. It reminded me of a memory verse game we used to play in Sunday School as children.

I am not in a position to judge these different approaches, partly because my Spanish doesn�t go past saying �hello�and �thankyou�and partly because I only saw 30 seconds of each group, however I wonder what the result of their time is and what other approaches people take around the world?

here are some of my photos from our visit to the Museo Nacional Del Prado here in Madrid.

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