Archive for May 28, 2010

The Grand Narrative Gets Lost

Lost will undoubtedly go down as one of the best network TV shows ever produced and for good reason. It had all the elements that make for good entertainment; drama, suspense, good characterization, complex and thought provoking plot-lines, and all set in a breathtakingly beautiful location. This show is an instant TV classic.

As much as I have enjoyed becoming a part of this island community, however, I am left with a feeling of incompleteness. And to be completely honest, I would be remiss as a believer in Jesus Christ if I didn’t feel this way. The writers of Lost led us to the trough but were unable to provide us any water and they couldn’t because they didn’t have any to give. The reason for this incompleteness or “lack of water”, if you will, is the writers inability to write according to the grand narrative.

The grand narrative is hard wired into every human being who has ever lived. We are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). God’s law is also written on the hearts of every human (Romans 2:12-15). Because we have sinned against God and have separated ourselves from Him we are not who we are meant to be. We desire more. We desire redemption; a second chance (Rom. 8:22-23). This is the uber-plot or grand narrative of the universe.

If you consider the great fiction classics that have ever made their way to the big screen, they all in some way, shape, or form conform to the grand narrative. In Lord of the Rings, Tolkien (a believer in Christ), demonstrates a clear good, a clear evil, a flawed humanity struggling against evil for redemption. C.S. Lewis (also a strong believer), employs the same imagery in The Chronicles of Narnia. Even the wistful J.K. Rowling, (who professes Christianity) weaves this grand narrative into her Harry Potter novels. These stories connect and draw sympathy because they speak of a great truth that is and that many to their own detriment have suppressed.

Lost had the potential to be great. It will always be respected as a good story and worthy of viewing but it can never be considered great because it fell short of following the grand narrative. I applaud the writers on their arduous work and for coming so close. To not have saving faith in Christ as the source of true redemption, these guys came very close. I just have to be honest in saying that they didn’t quite close the deal. I will always be a lost fan but my admiration will forever bear this caveat. Thanks for a great 6 seasons guys, my Tuesday evenings wont be the same.

HT: Megan Basham

Freedom From And Freedom To

True freedom is not just freedom to do something it can also be freedom from something. We are not truly free if our freedom is based solely on rights with no regards to responsibilities. There are many people who just don’t get that but fortunately for he and his family, Steve Jobs does.

Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple Computers, has recently taken a very controversial stand. He has instituted a policy that prevents pornographic images from being sold through the apple device app store. This means that pornographers cannot create and sell applications through the online store that provides millions of apple device users with their entertainment and productivity programs. Commenting on Jobs decision, Eric Felton of the Wall Street Journal writes,

“Apple impresario Steve Jobs is preparing to overturn one of the most basic assumptions of modern technology–that the computer business is built on pornography.”

Jobs has poised he and his company to demonstrate to the world that the pathway to consumer computing and online success does not have to lead through the pornography studio.

What is Jobs motivation? Has he discovered some business model that promises loads of cash by setting himself at odds with the skin trade? Why is he taking such a principled stand? To answer these questions you don’t have to look any further than an email exchange between Jobs and Ryan Tate, a gossip blogger for the online site Gawker. Tate wrote to Jobs complaining of his decision against pornography in his email he stated,

“If Dylan was 20 today, how would he feel about your company?… Would he think the iPad had the faintest thing to do with ‘revolution?’ Revolutions are about freedom.”

Jobs reply to Tate reveals a counter to Tate’s definition of freedom. Jobs wrote,

Is Apple about freedom? “Yep, …freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’.”

In response to Tate’s assertion that pornography is just fine, Jobs wrote that Tate,

“might care more about porn when you have kids.”

So Jobs tips his hand and in so doing highlights a very important distinction between freedom from and freedom to. Any self-indulgent, libertine can exercise freedom to but it takes character, discipline, and sacrifice to practice freedom from and to provide the benefits of freedom from for others.

I have become a huge apple fan for purely utilitarian and selfish reasons. Jobs stance, however, gives my loyalty to he and his company fresh wind. Mr. Jobs is to be commended for his stance and I hope that families out there in the consumer electronics marketplace will reward his altruism. For now, he has earned it.

HT: Al Mohler

The Search For God And Guinness

Is it possible that beer can be a force for good in this world? I know that there are many teetotalers out there who would respond with a resounding NO!. Before you reach that conclusion, however, I think you should pause to consider a very timely missive by author Stephen Mansfield. He has written a book entitled: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer That Changed the World.

I haven’t read the book yet, but I have added it to my summer reading list. I am intrigued at his premise that a godly man like the senior Mr. Guinness could use a product like beer to spread the influence of the gospel in his native Ireland and abroad. It has all the elements that appeal to me: the gospel, Ireland (I’m Irish by descent), Guinness (was my favorite beer before celiacs disease), and good non-fiction storytelling.

I found the preview video below over at Justin Taylor’s blog. I hope that it will whet your appetite as it did mine. If you are a teetotaler but are big enough to read such a book, I would love to hear your feedback.

Enjoying God (Part Two)

If we are commanded to enjoy God, how exactly is He to be enjoyed? One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to understand God as the source of all good things (James 1:17). Think about something that brings you delight. It could be a spouse, a child, a place, even a certain type of food and then put that thing into context. For example, if I find fillet mignon to be this satisfying then God must be even more satisfying because He created fillet mignon. Then follow that with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for your fillet mignon and a request to Him to help you see Him as infinitely more satisfying. What you are doing is ultimately taking that satisfaction back to the source. Consider Jonathan Edwards view on the matter:

“The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.”

Another way to enjoy God is to rely on Him to be your provider. If you are anxious rely on Him to bring you peace. If you are struggling financially, rely on Him to meet your needs. In depending on Him, we begin to see His far superior ability to provide for us and we get to enjoy the blessing of being thankful. God enjoyed is God glorified.

We might not think of God in terms like delicious, rapturous, savory, enchanting, delectable, alluring, luscious, mesmerizing, enticing, tantalizing, captivating, or enthralling but our spiritual forefathers most certainly did. They unashamedly applied such adjectives to God that we now only apply to food, or to our significant others. How decidedly low we have allowed our enjoyment of God to become. I hope that I can recapture this enjoyment and experience what the scriptures mean when they say:

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalm 116:11