Month: April 2014

An Open Letter to Gerig Hall

Dear Gerig Hall,

This morning, I woke up, glanced bleary-eyed at my alarm—at that particular alarm.

And smiled. (Which, I should add, in case you are one of those ridiculously cheerful morning people, is not normal.)

But let’s go back exactly two years ago. April 29, 2012. College junior Amy (shorter hair, slightly more cocky) is sitting at her computer, writing a blog post for the next day. For background, you should probably read that blog post, because in it, she challenges herself to a social experiment: get to know people in a dorm called Gerig Hall. (That’s you.)

Gerig

This experiment consisted of a year of theological conversations, stargazing, Easter eggs, breakfast at midnight (but basically nothing else from the Taylor Swift song, thank everything that is good and right), worship nights, frozen yogurt, trash chute serenades, and board games that involved killing aliens, bioterrorists, outlaws, zombies, and each other.

By April 29, 2013, I considered the experiment a rousing success. (more…)

Belle Is a Christ Figure: And Other Lessons From Fairy Tales

One of my favorite parts of G.K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy is the fact that this normal, dignified British guy thought we should all view the world through the lens of fairy tales.

Princesses

You know what this picture needs? More sparkly things. (Totally just kidding. I already wrote a post about that.)

One theme of the book is that sometimes talking about the world in terms of magic instead of scientific laws helps us have a more complete and beautiful description of reality, especially spiritual reality.

Don’t buy it? Don’t understand what I’m talking about? Well, you should probably just read the book yourself, since any complex line of thinking is difficult to summarize in one sentence.

Here’s a quote from Orthodoxy that gives a few examples of how fairy tales help us make sense of reality. Since Chesterton was a Christian, he’s specifically describing where fairy tales parallel deep truths of his faith.

There is the lesson of ‘Cinderella,’ which is the same as that of the Magnificat—exaltavit humiles [the humble will be exalted].

Cinderella (more…)

Jesus and Sherlock Holmes: Comparing Two Resurrections

If you haven’t watched the BBC show Sherlock, you might not realize the many connections between Benedict Cumberbatch’s sociopathic British detective and Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Sherlock2

Here are three ways the deaths and resurrections of Sherlock and Jesus are different, and three ways they’re similar, from the episodes “The Reichenbach Fall” and “The Empty Hearse.”

**Warning: many, many spoilers ahead. If you have not watched Sherlock, run away and eat scones or something. While getting caught up on Sherlock.**

Three Ways Sherlock and Jesus Are Different

One: Sherlock played the odds, then made his choice; Jesus just made his choice.

When Mycroft helped Sherlock plan a way to escape death, he determined that there were thirteen possible outcomes that would follow what took place on the roof with Moriarty. In the end, it was “Operation Lazarus” that was needed, and everything was smoothly and efficiently put into place to fake Sherlock’s death.

With Jesus, there weren’t thirteen possible scenarios.

There was only one.

Because believe me, if there had been another way, Jesus was ready to take it. Before his death, he prayed in anguish, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”

It wasn’t possible. There was only one way to end the story so that we lived, and that was if Jesus died.

(more…)

Maundy Thursday: Understanding Judas

Normal people probably write about Jesus around Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. (I’m just guessing here, as I’ve never been normal.)

But every year around this time, I read and write about Judas Iscariot. (Past posts have been Judas as seen by the other disciples and Judas compared to Star Wars Mafia and Narnia.)

Images of Judas also portray him as super suspicious looking. Which I don't get, since the disciples didn't see it coming. If Judas had looked like these guys and Jesus had said, "Someone's going to betray me," I would have immediately looked at him.

Images of Judas portray him as super suspicious looking. Which I don’t get, since the disciples didn’t see his betrayal coming. If Judas had looked like these guys and Jesus had said, “Someone’s going to betray me,” I would have immediately looked at Judas.

Why Judas? I think it’s because there is something in betrayal that tugs at the darkest parts of us. We see it and we recognize it, like a familiar face in a crowd. We don’t want to. But it’s there, inside of us.

And that’s what I’m thinking as I write this. “I can guess why Judas would betray Jesus,” I mutter to myself, staring at the page as I plan my blog post. “What I don’t understand is why he followed him.”

Three years of his life dedicated to learning from the man he would ultimately betray. Three years. What drew him to Jesus in the first place? What reasons bring together the most infamous traitor in history and the incarnation of holiness? Wouldn’t someone whose life was darkness want to get as far away from the light as possible? (more…)

What A White Girl Learned From Joining Gospel Choir

There was a freshman whose RA said, “Hey, you should join gospel choir with me.”

And she said, “Sure, why not?”

So what if she didn’t know what gospel music was? So what if she was so white that she had, at times, gotten sunburn in the car on the way to the beach? So what if she came from a church where if people really felt moved by the Spirit they might…sway a little?

So she joined. And there were songs with soul and rhythm, and saxophone solos that were different every time, and cheering and clapping and all manner of carrying on. They’d lead worship at churches where the greeting time lasted fifteen minutes at least and, afterward, eat fried chicken brought in by enthusiastic members who yelled, “Amen” and “Take your time, preacher” during the sermon.

And the freshman would show up on time to rehearsals where everyone else arrived late, and learn by ear instead of using sheet music, and laugh deep and loud and long at her total inability to clap on the offbeat.

Gospel Choir

Do you see her—the white girl in the back row who could barely step back and forth in time at the first rehearsal? The one who never raised her hands in worship, who was constantly on her guard against being emotionally manipulated by a sermon, who hated the song “Undignified” even as a thirteen-year-old at church camp because the story of King David making a fool of himself in worship didn’t seem right.

Do you see her, learning to dance? (more…)

God Is Dead: Why I’m Roleplaying an Atheist

I came out of the movie God’s Not Dead proclaiming, “That’s it, guys, I’m becoming an atheist.”

God'sNotDead

But let me back up a bit. Context is important.

In my opinion, the best line from God’s Not Dead came when a pastor texted our hero, Josh Wheaton, with the following advice: “Don’t try to be clever. Be content to tell the truth.”

And I cheered inside. Because this, this, my friends, is what the Christian church needs to learn. That’s a solid message. When you’re talking to a non-Christian, don’t try to trap them, don’t use cute religious slogans, don’t attack the worst arguments of the other side. Just listen well, ask good questions, think about why you believe what you do, and be prepared to talk about it.

Don’t try to be clever. That’s where I cheered.

But you know where the rest of the theater cheered? The part of the movie where Josh willfully ignores the pastor’s advice and uses what my dad called a “gotcha” tactic, a rhetorical trick that relied on a personal attack to embarrass the professor in front of his students. (more…)

Avengers Assemble: Bible Style

Last week, I watched The Avengers, prompting, of course, deep movie-analysis questions like, “If Bible characters were cast as Avengers, who would play what part?” (What, this isn’t your go-to question after watching a movie? Strange.)

Avengers2

Here are a few of my conclusions…but I’d love to hear which ones you’d pick.

The Hulk: Samson

Hulk

If you did not automatically assume this one was Samson, you need to re-read your ViolentComicBible (if such a thing does not exist, it should). Samson has some serious anger management issues. He tore a lion apart with his bare hands, let loose 300 flaming foxes in his enemies’ fields, and killed thirty men because he was mad they cheated at his riddle, Bilbo-style. This guy could totally break Harlem.

 

Bruce Banner: Paul

Bruce Banner

This mild-mannered alter ego had to be a separate person because, let’s face it, Samson is not that bright. Nor is he the type to help people. Or think of basically anyone but himself. So Paul it is. Why, you say? The guy was a genius. He was once a Pharisee, and they only accepted the best and the brightest. He also had a dramatic Bruce-Hulk-like shift…and I’m not talking about his conversion. According to the Christians in Corinth, he was wimpy when there in person, and only bold when hiding behind his letters. Also, I’m pretty sure the bright light that blinded him at his conversion was gamma radiation (just kidding).

 

Captain America: Moses

Capt

Who is the single most recognizable hero of his nation? This guy. No, Moses wasn’t frozen and displaced from his era by several decades…but he kind of was. When Moses fled Egypt after killing a guy, he hung out in the desert for about 40 years before all of his enemies died off.  Add to that the fact that he was raised away from his people, and you have to think he felt a bit out-of-place coming back. (Can we picture Moses missing all of the Jewish references his people made on the way to Canaan? “Yeah, there’s a little too much Lot’s wife in the soup, if you know what I mean. Oh, sorry Moses. Like, you know, really salty.”)

 

Black Widow: Abigail

 black widow

Yes, there are several action-hero women in the Bible. Jael was a strong contender for this one. But Abigail won because of her subtle psychological manipulation skills. She had enough guts and diplomacy to talk David out of killing her entire household, getting more lines in one speech than most biblical women combined. And, of course, after her no-good husband Nabal died, she was actually a widow. So that helps too.

 

Thor: Judas Maccabeus

 Thor

Not technically from the traditional canon, but, hey, Thor the superhero didn’t follow the Norse canon of myths and such. So whatever. This guy basically rose up during the time between the New and Old Testament and crushed the evil Seleucid rule, making way for Jewish independence. Also, the name Maccabeus means—wait for it—hammer. (A strong case can also be made for Jacob, because he didn’t get along with his brother and was ridiculously strong.)

 

Maria Hill: Deborah

maria

She’s not the general in her story, but she’s the woman you want on your side when anything is going down. Like Maria, I picture her as the loyal, business-like type who takes everything without flinching and almost never seems to be surprised. Also, she has the comebacks to cut the men in the group down to size.

 

Iron Man: Elijah

iron man

The minute Elijah shows up, he’s like, I just got here, but I am in charge and listen to me make my cool prophet declaration. And then he disappears. And then shows up and lights things on fire and is really sarcastic. And then disappears again. And so on. So, basically, he was the flashy showman of the Old Testament who everyone listened to and who is in charge the second he steps into a scene. Doesn’t play well with others at the beginning, in that he’s basically a solo act until Elisha shows up. No metal suit as far as I’m aware, though.

 

Loki: Nebuchadnezzar

Loki

Funny name, you’re not sure if you like him or not, forces everyone to bow to him in super dramatic ways, wears a silly hat. He also goes bag-of-cats crazy for a while there. It all lines up.

 

Agent Coulson: Obadiah

Coulson

Nope, not the prophet. The other Obadiah, the one who is my favorite sidekick in the Bible. While Elijah’s off being all showy and such, Obadiah is the secret-ops guy who smuggles prophets away in caves and manages to feed them with no one noticing…during a famine.  Which has got to be hard. He has to do the boring, seemingly pointless work for his superiors and rarely gets main billing.  Also, he seems like the slightly-awkward pencil-pushing type, and I bet he’d have vintage Moses trading cards. If that was a thing.

 

Have any other suggestions for Biblical twins for these characters? (50 imaginary bonus points for each one, plus 100 imaginary bonus points if you can come up with someone for Nick Fury or Hawkeye.)