June 2008


Some suppositions concerning honoring Christ with our work. (Based on the prevailing sentiments of our Christian sub(par) culture).

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1) Oh man, oh man oh man. This is incredibly exciting. Marilynne Robinson has taken a cue from Wendel Berry and is releasing a novel set in the same locale as and featuring some of the characters in Gilead. Thanks to Jeffrey Overstreet for breaking the news.

2) In other Marilynne Robinson news, Andrew Peterson has posted an interview with her…okay, he didn’t conduct it. It’s from NPR. But still. Check it out. (This DOES raise the question of when one of the rabbit room gang is going to conduct an interview with a famous writer. I vote John Grisham. [that was a joke, kids].)

3) Speaking of Andrew Peterson and interviewing famous writers, have you heard my interview with Mr. Peterson over at the Hill?

4) In other news from the Hill, I posted my review of Jon Foreman’s latest. I’ve received a bit of criticism for an innocent rhetorical question. Jump in and let’s hear your opinion

1) My latest review is up at the Hill. This time I critique Jon Foreman’s amazing Spring/Summer double EP.

2) Chris Case posted this disturbing swindle over at Reformergent. Pop-dispensationalism at its worst.

3) Long ago, David Kern posted this video at Beside the Queue. It is very moving and has caused me to consider how I might do something to help relieve poverty in the name of Christ. I will keep you posted as a vision for a unique ministry model unfolds. I am excited about the ideas a few friends and I have been batting around.

4) There are a lot of new things on the iblogo. Check out the links above. “A Conversation with t clair” gives you an idea of where I am coming from. The bio gives you a less philosophical look at who I am and what I am up to. Recomended Reading is just that…and I just realized it is misspelled. Gotta fix that. =)

5) Keep checking back to iblogo dei, or better yet, subscribe via RSS. I have begun a series I call Why Church Sucks: Confessions, Complaints and Conclusions From an Upstart. I have outlined the entire series and will be posting entries in the coming months. This is a sort of extemporaneous manifesto for me.

6) I hope I don’t seem arrogant for all this bio, conversation, manifesto business. I am really just thinking through much of what I believe, and this is a great outlet for that. Also, I think it’s always good to know where a writer is coming from. And finally, if my own experiences can be used for God’s kingdom, I am stoked. I hope you keep visiting.

I’ve said numerous times that my experience in ministry at First Pres has changed my old “paradigms of ministry”. For instance, for most of my life I have thought of salvation as a thunderbolt, ask-Jesus-into-your-heart moment. Whereas God has certainly worked that way with many people (as he did in my life), I have found that the teenagers I work with rarely have an experience that dramatic. They begin by exploring the periphery of our community, and simultaneously its message (i.e. the gospel). Slowly they are absorbed and the community grows, sucking in other curious on-lookers and slowly transforming their lives by the gospel.

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MacArthur describes a dispensationalism I may be able to stomachmaybe.

1) I have added two pages to the blog. Above you will see links to “A Conversation with t clair”, which is essentially a revised “about me” page. Next to that you will find a Reccomended Reading link. The list there is brief so far, but I will be adding to it continually.

2) I get to see this guy on July 3rd in Birmingham. Huzzah!

3) Chris Case pointed this out over at reformergent. For only forty dollars a year, you can email your loved ones when the rapture comes! It’s hard for me to believe this is anything but a money-making scheme. Sometimes I wonder if people have more faith in their theology than they do in God.

4) If you didn’t see it already, check out Colin’s review or the new Indiana Jones film over at the Hill. It sums up my thoughts precisely. It reminded me of a few years back when I was given a rare interview with Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. As I recall, the interview didn’t end well. I think I offended EIII. Following is the interview in its entirety, as it originally appeared in my column “Miracle Valley” for Dubque Iowa’s River Stages magazine. Cheers.

t clair interviews the movies
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Journalists everywhere have been seeking interviews with legendary film maker George Lucas since he first announced his vision to expand the Star Wars universe almost a decade ago.  Now that most of America has seen the final installment of the new prequel trilogy, many have wondered what the opinion of the film itself is.  I had the opportunity to sit down with Episode III and discuss just that.

I met up with the film while he was on a much needed rest from publicity spots across the country.  I had sensed some animosity from him since my 1999 interview with his brother The Phantom Menace, which I began with the question: So, why do you suck so bad?  But it seemed all had been forgiven when he opened up his posh Los Angeles home to me.

I waited in a spacious living room decorated with family memorabilia.  Episode III came down stairs dressed casually in faded blue jeans and an I <3 New York t-shirt.  He smiled at me like we were old friends, and then said he only had a minute, so I got the interview underway quickly.

T: I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t think you’d agree to an interview…
EIII: Don’t worry.  I’m over the whole Phantom Menace thing.  We’re brothers, but we’re not especially close.
T: Yeah.  I sensed some distance between you guys when I first saw you on May 19.
EIII: Yeah, well, you know, we still love each other, and we still talk and all, but it’s just that we’re doing different things with our lives now.  I mean, I’ve still got tons of merchandising ahead of me and I don’t think anyone’s bought a Jar-Jar shirt in four years! (laughs)
T: What is Phantom doing right now?
EIII: Well, he wants to move on, but George (Lucas) is trying to get him to collaborate on another project.  I think it’s a THX sequel.
T: Phantom isn’t interested?
EIII: Well, it’s not that we don’t love George.  I mean, we all do, even New Hope.  It’s just that we’re all kind of frustrated with him right now.  Empire, Hope, and Jedi all kind of feel left out.  Y’know, it’s the typical child in later life scenario.  It kind of alienates the other kids.
T: Do you ever talk to the original trilogy?
EIII: Oh sure.  We’re all real close.  They don’t really resent us, perse, they’re mainly just frustrated with George.  He hasn’t been doing too well since Indiana Jones.
T: I think we’ve all sensed that.  I wanted to talk a little about your overall feel.  You’re personality is a little darker than your siblings.
EIII: Yeah.  A lot of folks say I’m most like Empire.  I think that’s true for the most part.  I definitely have that darker side, no pun intended! (laughs)  But I’ve always felt closer to Return of the Jedi.  We’re different in many ways, but we’re both model train enthusiasts, and it’s always brought us together.
T: What do you think of yourself overall?  How do you fit in with your siblings?
EIII: Well, there’s definitely some places where we don’t all connect, plot wise I mean.  But that’s bound to happen when you’re all made by one man with a huge, evolving vision.  I definitely represent a more thought out, elaborate variation on my sibling’s mythology.  As a stand alone film, I think I work.
T: But not as a part of the whole story?
EIII: …uh…well…no.
T: How do you respond to rumors that you and Katie Holmes are involved?
EIII: Tom (Cruise) and I are good friends and I would never do anything to lose that friendship.  He’s always had a good relationship with films in my genre.  He was great in Minority Report.  Katie and I are also just friends…
T: What about the shots The Enquirer ran of you and Katie frolicking on the beach?
EIII: We just happened to be on vacation at the time and met up for smoothies on the board walk…
T: They showed you making out with her on a beach towel…
EIII:  Uhhhh…I fell on her.
T:  (silent)
EIII: …and gave her mouth to mouth…
T: (silent)
EIII:  Why?  Did she say something?
T: Let’s just move on.
EIII: (nervous laugh)
T:  Many fans of the original Star Wars have complained that your CG was over
the top and overtly unreal.  Would you like to respond to that?
EIII:  Are you trying to say my effects aren’t real?!
T: Er, I ummm,  I’m just saying…
EIII:  To think of all I’ve done for the fans…
T: Do you really think those things look real?
EIII: You don’t think they look real?  What are you saying, that I’m some kind of
cinematic bimbo?
T: Well, I mean…  I could spot your CGI from a mile away.  Those can’t be real..
EIII: So what if they aren’t!  I paid good money for these and they make me feel good about myself!
T: If that’s what it takes for you to feel good about yourself…
EIII: WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?
T: Good films don’t need fancy schmancy effects to feel good about them selves.  It has to do with powerful scripts, plot development, characterization and good directing.  Admit it!  You’re Lucas’ mid-life crisis!
EIII: GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!
T: Lucas should have just bought a motorcycle and taken Viagra instead of polluting an already filthily uncreative film scene with Industrial Lights and Magic superfluous garbage.

Unfortunately, the rest of the interview is unfit for general consumption.  The writer respectfully requests of the reader that no portion of this article be reprinted due to a pending lawsuit from Episode III and his team of lawyers.   Send all condolences to miraclevalley@gmail.com.

ha. well, that was embarassing. Although I will admit that it was kind of funny. right? Right?

And now, vatch me as I make the divinity of Christ...disappear!“Time is not a field to be measured in rods, nor a sea, to be measured in miles; it is a heart beat. How long did this betrothal last? Days? Months? Years? Jolly and compassionate, the son of Mary went from village to village with the good word on his lips, from village to village, mountain to mountain, or by rowboat from one shore of the lake to the other, dressed in white like a bridegroom. And the Earth was his betrothed. As soon as he lifted his foot, the ground he had trodden filled with flowers. When he looked at the trees, they blossomed. The moment he set his foot in a fishing boat, a favorable wind puffed out the sail. The people listened to him, and the clay within them turned to wings. The entire time this betrothal lasted, if you lifted a stone you found God underneath, if you knocked at a door, God came out to open it for you, if you looked into the eye of your friend or your enemy, you saw God sitting in the pupil and smiling at you.”

–Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ

~~~~~

…and yet from this same pen comes the blasphemy and heresy that our incarnated God was weighed down by his body–that his salvation lay only in the destruction of this flesh (a literal misinterpretation of Paul’s beloved analogy). Within the rapturous breast of Kazantzakis lay an antinomian heart, beating a lullaby that lulled him to his eternal sleep in the lake of fire. Sin–how horrible! And yet, surely our Lord had succombed! He participated in every aspect of our humanity, yes? Blasphemy! Heresy!

And yet in Nikos I see a man in love with Christ–a Christ distorted by his Nietzcsheism and Communism. This is a composite Christ–Lenin and Nietzsche Superman are reflected in a crooked mirror! The Lord of Glory, the Lord of history!, has become the bastard child of base philosophy!

Yet the yearning of Kazantzakis cannot be missed! Lord, may I yearn for you the way this misguided man did! Yet may you always anchor me in the truth of your Word.

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