Category Archives: Musings

Here’s Not Here… A Walking Dead Review

Yes, yes, I’m a fan of The Walking Dead.  If gore is one of those things you (as a believer) are lead to stay away from, please don’t go out and watch The Walking Dead just because I’ve mentioned it on my blog, and I also know the various arguments presented for Christians not to watch such things in the first place, let’s just skip ahead to the part where I disagree with blanket restrictions on watching TV shows (though I do think there are some movies, books, shows, etc.. that have no redeeming qualities, I don’t think The Walking Dead (TWD) is one of them for me).

So, this is an episode review and it is written solely for one reason… I can find no other reviews close to my thoughts on this episode and I had to ask myself why, and then blog about it.  I think I have the answer… it’s because many out there on the ‘net writing reviews are not Christian, nor do they have a degree in psychology, nor have they taught college philosophy courses, nor studied comparative religions.  In short, I found this particular episode one of the best TWD episodes ever for many and layered reasons and I’m not seeing others “get it” in quite the way I expected.  This review is going to proceed as if you, dear reader, have seen TWD on a fairly regular basis and have seen the latest eppy Here’s Not Here.  So, if you are not a fan you can stop reading without any guilt.

SPOILERS for all past episodes ahead, you’ve been warned.

If you are a watcher, you realize that Glenn’s “death cliffhanger” was the previous episode, and there is a  certain group of fans out there in TWD fandom whose heads were exploding because Glenn was not directly in this episode.  We still don’t know if he is alive or dead, or is now zombieGlenn, and that is apparently an unacceptable situation for many fans to be put in.  There are indeed several reviews praising the episode but hating the timing of it.  Here’s what they are missing: that’s one of the points of this episode.  The powers that be wanted you to go through a car wreck… not for sadistic reasons, but for effect.  They had everyone hurtling 80 miles an hour down the road, only to come to a dead stop with a seemingly out of place episode all about good ol’ crazy Morgan-gone-Zen.

One thing I thought everyone agreed on (Rick spelled it out for the group and the audience blatantly in an episode) is that “The Walking Dead” does not refer to the zombies, but rather to the humans having to live in, and adapt to, this new world.  The humans going through Hell on Earth are indeed the walking dead, and most of the characters we have come to know and love are suffering from PTSD.  The two characters in the latest episode, Morgan and Eastman, are the two characters picked to showcase the roller coaster that all the characters worth anything on TWD are on.  This show was not “just about Morgan” nor was it just about his backstory.  Morgan is the character chosen to carry the psychological and philosophical revelations for the whole audience.  Glenn was in the show.  Rick was in the show. Carol was in the show, etc… etc…  They were all represented, one just has to look for them.

This eppy raised deep philosophical and practical questions that have been around for thousands of years.  Our religions debate them, our fellow humans struggle with them, and to be truly human I hope we’ve all at least pondered them at some point in our lives.  Are you a pacifist?  If yes, are there times when your pacifism is actually morally reprehensible?  If no, when is killing ok?  Is killing animals ok?  How about people?  Only when necessary?  Are you for or against the death penalty? Under what circumstances?  Can humans be forgiven?  Can they be redeemed? Is there such a thing as evil?  What is PTSD?  How is it cured?  Is it possible to be mindful during a zombie attack?  And on and on… how can someone watch such an eppy and not be philosophically geeked out?

Let’s look at the character “Eastman.”  East-man.  He was used to show what the eastern philosophies may look like in this world of TWD.  I’ve seen people mocking the Way of Peace online (the book Eastman leans on for his own philosophy and the book Morgan uses to help return to sanity, and yes, the book is real), in essence arguing that some of the most ancient practices and philosophies “are like so stoopid, no, man, like really reallllly dumb, Carol should just off Morgan, cuz stoopid.”  We’ve ran into humans in the show that have given up their compassion and humanity and we’ve seen how they’ve turned out (Termites anyone?  How ’bout those Wolves?)  Did literally the whole internet miss that Carol was having this very revelation in the previous episode?  How ’bout Glenn’s treatment and forgiveness of the despised Nicholas?  How ’bout Rick’s descent into darkness?

In Eastman and Morgan we have two characters that are not cowards, are not stoopid, are not naive, and yet decide to not kill a fellow human unless absolutely necessary.   We also have these characters showing us a different side of nature (again, a central theme in eastern philosophy); we are used to the beautiful environment of Georgia turning into a enemy at the worst of times, and a forgotten background the rest of the time.  In this eppy we have the environment reintroduced as a thing of beauty and life.  It’s all about balance and this season is centered (pun intended) on that theme.  Eastern philosophy captures that perfectly.  Life/death, black/white, good/evil, male/female, love/hate, active/passive, bravery/cowardice… and that is just scratching the surface.

This episode had it all; the themes of man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. self, and I just happen to think the powers that be did a wonderful job presenting those themes in a way that was trying to force the audience to stop and think, which again is why we were slammed to a stop with Glenn’s cliffy.  This eppy was to help us see that there are other ways of dying, and there are other ways of becoming a walker, rather than just in the literal sense.  The fact that many on the net are howling in anguish and are now spitting on Morgan, but holding Carol up as the perfect human are proving that this was a much-needed episode.  I have no idea how it will all turn out. Perhaps the writers are all nihilists.  Perhaps they are all naturalists/materialists.  Perhaps they will paint a picture of the world I’ll disagree with, but man, Here’s Not Here was surely one of the writing highlights of the show that put forth that humans have a choice to become animals, or to rise above.  As a Christian this episode was everything I had wished for Gabriel’s character, but, I’ll take it in eastern guise if I have to.

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Filed under Humor, Musings, Of Interest, Philosophy, Reviews, Sacred Secular

“It’s time to practice what we big boys call ‘self-control…'”

Self-control.

Where have you gone, self-control?

What has become of you?

Have you left our land never to return, or are you there waiting to be reintroduced by those who should already know you?

Oh, self-control, don’t hide your face anymore…

Ha! Just a little strange poetry humor to get us started… anyone know Silverweed from Watership Down? No?  Moving on… Self-control. No one talks about SELF control any more, or if they do, it is actually seen to be a negative thing, something to make fun of.  However, when we read scripture it become evident that self-control is extremely important and is a valuable thing.  It is my argument that many negative things we are facing in our current culture arises, in part, from a lack of self-control.

Freedom and self-control go hand-in-hand.  Do we see this in scripture?  We sure do!  Please check out an earlier article on mine that goes into the Greek behind “temperance” which is self-control, and that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 9; Temperance

Self-control is also taught in the OT; Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.  If you lack self-control, you lack defenses against the enemy.  Sound like that could be a connection with all the things we see around us right now in our culture? When we have a lack of self-control, we suffer as individuals, but we also hurt others including the whole of the Body of Christ.  When self-control is absent, addiction can move and set up shop in our lives.

We look around and we see the lack of self-control; sex and porn addiction, homosexual acts, fornication, adultery, drug and alcohol addiction, gluttony, addiction to gossip, and on and on.  Not only that, we see a generation of kids who can’t control themselves.  Debts is out of control, and people can’t seem to put their electronics down for more than a minute at a time.  One of the reasons we see this is that it has become a belief that control comes from outside of ourselves.  Drugs are a popular example of this.  I’m all for necessary medications, but there is now this thought that whatever is wrong, legal or illegal drugs can correct.  We also see law, or legality, as an example as well. If it is legal, it must be ok, because if it wasn’t ok, it would be illegal and the government would control us.  Speaking of the government, they are also trying to impose control in other ways.  Kids not eating healthy?  Take away the vending machines at school.  Outlaw big gulps… yeah, that’ll work.

No.  God puts the responsibility squarely on us, and says if we are walking with Him, if we are believers, we will have help from the Holy Spirit.  One of the major things I hope people understand is that it is not weakness to seek help for something we feel is out of our control.  Let’s use the porn epidemic as an example.  Men and women are both affected, sometimes in different ways.  Further, some may think porn “doesn’t hurt anyone” so what is the big deal?  First of all, it is a big deal to God. It hurts the one viewing it.  It changes the neural pathways in the brain in a way that is unhealthy, and causes the individual to react differently when met with a real-life woman (or man) and a real relationship.  It also hurts the ones participating in the pornography itself; it is degrading and debasing for all involved.  It hurts the whole Body of Christ, for when one person is harmed the rest are as well.  It’s like a virus spreading; what we do in “private” is not disconnected from everything else, nor everyone else.  Perfect example of all of this; I’m sure you’ve read or heard of the Josh Duggar scandal.  He never actually internalized self-control, but was instead controlled by thoughts, urges, and hormones; the perfect example of what not to do or how to be.  He learned how to mimic self-control, not how to actually control himself.

We see other examples surrounding us, or even in our own lives.  How we eat, how we spend our money, how we handle anger, where our thoughts go, how we spend our time, our actions, our words… It’s past time we take a look at our selves, and start practicing self-control and teaching our children how to practice it as well, if we haven’t already.  Practicing self-control isn’t locking ourselves away from temptation, but rather learning how to respond correctly to the temptation when it rears its ugly head. Part of this is embracing the freedom God gives us, and learning responsibility within that freedom. God says He always gives us a way out of temptation… it’s time to look for that open door.  If you need help, find help.  This is not a legalistic thing, but rather it is all about health; the individual’s spiritual, physical, and mental health, and having good defenses.  As each individual gains proper healthy defenses, the body of Christ as a whole can flourish.

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Filed under Christianity, Health, Musings, Of Interest, Psychology

Breaking Benjamin is back… and so am I.

I’ve posted several times about Breaking Benjamin, but it has been a while.  They were, and are, a favorite band of mine, though the current members are not the same as when they first arrived on the scene.  They have an all-new lineup except for Ben Burnley of course.  He finally won the court case enabling him to keep the name “Breaking Benjamin” and the rights to the songs.

The new boyz in the band; Jasen Rauch on guitar, and if you recognize the name he was indeed from Red, Keith Wallen also on guitar,  Aaron Bruch on bass, and Shaun Foist on drums.  Some of the guys sing backing vocals, which is unusual as Ben used to sing alone and do all his own backing vocals on albums.

It took me a long while to buy and listen to the album, Dark Before Dawn, I suppose I didn’t want to be disappointed, but also my musical tastes have changed over time, and I was strangely nervous I’d hear them and hate them.  I shouldn’t have worried, their style both remains completely recognizable as Breaking Benjamin, but allows Ben to showcase his journey and his maturing through an unexplained illness that causes him daily suffering.  I like the album a lot, and it is definitely worth the cost of a download.

If you don’t like alternative rock, this isn’t for you and they aren’t a Christian band… though if Ben’s not a believer by this point, I’ll eat my hat.

Here are my earlier articles about BB:

Breaking Benjamin Interview

Jesus; The Lamb and The Lion via Breaking Benjamin

And, yes, I hope this marks my return to blogging.  Honestly there is so much to say about world events, these times we live in, and how biblical wisdom is indeed that answer, that it is sometimes hard to know where to start.

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The Most Controversial Scribbler Post Ever?

I feel old. Is it really so controversial to say;

  1. Jesus is Lord
  2. Allah of Islam is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, nor is Muhammad His prophet, and Muhammad was not a good guy
  3. Self-Control is admirable; keep it in your pants til you’re married (and after you’re married, save it for your spouse)
  4. Marriage was meant to be for life
  5. In a related note; two persons of the same sex can’t be married in the eyes of God, and homosexual acts are sinful, though I support your right to designate your same-sex partner as whatever you want civilly and legally, and I believe gov’t needs to stay out of the marriage business
  6. America is not a horrible country, and in fact was indeed settled and founded by Christians of various backgrounds and beliefs, though we are indeed a secular nation in so much as we don’t think the state has any power over the church
  7. Capitalism is a wonderful thing, greed is not
  8. Hard work is better than laziness
  9. Sin is real… tied in really close with “Hell is real”
  10. I actually do love sinners, including my enemies, and hate sin
  11. Modesty, it’s about self-respect. Guys; I don’t want to see your butt, or your underwear, pull your pants up (of course that starts with wearing pants). Girls; I don’t want to see your butt or your underwear, wear long enough shorts and skirts… AND your cleavage; cover it up.  Is that so hard?
  12. The Holocaust happened… and it’s ok to compare the mass murder of unborn children to the holocaust, even though it is rhetorical, which brings us to:
  13. Abortion is murder
  14. Gluttony, gossip, lying, pride, and coveting are just as bad as any other sin.
  15. Christians are indeed hypocrites, but Christ isn’t, and at our churches we won’t mind one more hypocrite in the pews, c’mon in
  16. Speaking of; we are saved by grace through faith, not of works and that comes from the Bible, which is indeed the word of God…
  17. Drink but don’t get drunk, get mad but don’t sin, and realize your freedom in Christ but also realize your responsibility
  18. I really meant number 11; there’s nothing else you have to do in order to have an eternal relationship with God the Father except to have faith on Jesus the Son; Who He was, what He did, how He died, and that He rose again on the 3rd day…
  19. If you hear of Him and don’t put your faith in Him, see number 5.
  20. God is good

Does that get me to the “most controversial” level yet?  Seriously?  What a strange world we live in now.

 

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Sadness for Hard Hearts

This is a post about many things… it’s about the Israeli/Hamas conflict, it’s about the different ages we have lived in along with the different covenants, and it is about the hearts of Christians.  Admittedly this is about my heart, because I find myself having to write today after a very disturbing happening on a Christian message board.  I worries me for the sake of some professed believers because apparently many people do not acknowledge the depth of their own sinfulness and the role Jesus plays in this age of grace, and it makes me incredibly incredibly sad.

First, let me be clear on a few things; Israel is doing the right thing in battling Hamas.  That is what I believe having looked at the facts of what transpired prior to Israel’s retaliation against Hamas rockets.  Israel has an absolute right to defend herself.  Israel is also right in doing something else that no one is talking about; Israel sends aid and even sets up hospitals in order to help the Palestinian people.  While Hamas tries to bomb and attack the roads and the workers bringing that aid to the civilians.  Hamas does not believe in civilians, Israel does.

There is coming a time when God will refocus everything on Israel because He still has promises to keep to them as a nation.  But right now we are in the Church Age, this is the age of grace.  The Church does not replace Israel, Israel still has a future front in center of God’s attention. In Christ, therefore in the Church, there is neither Jew nor Greek.  We truly live in a special age, an age of mercy and grace.  God speaks to us through His Son, for now there are no kings or prophets or judges leading Israel, there is no temple, hence Israel is not in the same position as it was in the OT with the ability for their leaders to receive orders directly from God.

So here is what has me upset, you can leave a comment if you like to explain why I either should or should not be upset.  The question was posed whether or not, given the capability, Israel should wipe out every Palestinian.  Seriously that was the question.  The argument is that Israel, under the Old Covenant, and in the OT was ordered to do that very thing in different circumstances.  I was saddened by all the responses that agreed that they should indeed wipe them out.  I pointed out that Palestinians are not all members of Hamas, nor do all of them support Hamas.  I also pointed out that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who are Palestinian. None of that mattered.

Hamas needs to be wiped out, just like the Nazi were stopped. Of course they should be.  We all also know that civilian casualties in war are inevitable, and it doesn’t help when Hamas uses human shields… why do they do that?  Because they don’t believe in civilians. Literally, they believe everyone is a combatant.  But here’s the catch; they are wrong.  Perhaps these Christians I was conversing with would like to go kill all the Palestinian infants?  I’m confused, I’m saddened, and it is readily apparent they don’t recognize that we are in the Church age.

This is the age of mercy and grace, and yes, it will come to an end, but right now we are in it.  Jesus did not tell His people to go try to kill all the Romans, and we are the Body of Christ.  We represent Jesus now.  Again, there will be a time when the church is not here, then the game changes, and God resumes His direct interaction with Israel, but that time is not yet.  To see Christians promoting the wiping out of humans on that scale saddens me to the core.  Where is the mercy and grace?  Where is the acknowledgment that we are guilty sinners worthy of death ourselves outside of Christ?  Where is the teaching that we should be trying to reach both Muslims and Jews with the good news of Christ, right up until we are snatched away?  Where is the teaching on the difference between the Old and New Covenants, and why God ordered what He did in the OT? Ugh.

My heart hurts, and I’m so disappointed, and that disappointment is obviously directed at man, not God.  I will continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to support Israel, and thank goodness that Israel herself doesn’t take the view of some very vengeful believers.

To my brothers and sister I say grace and peace be with you through Jesus our Lord.

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All we can do is pray.

Ugh.  Recently this phrase has been everywhere; television, social media, the internet… I have no doubt there are cases of life getting to the point where “all we can do is pray,” but mostly that is poppycock, piffle, and balderdash. It’s also an excuse to be lazy, or offhand.  Don’t get me wrong, brothers and sisters, praying is powerful, praying is called for, and praying should precede other things… but it isn’t the only thing we can do in 99% of the cases.

Let’s take the recent and ongoing Ebola outbreak.  All we can do is pray. No, we can find out about it and become educated on what Ebola is, how it is spread, how to prevent it, what to do if you suspect you’ve been exposed, etc… We can also find out who it is effecting and how to help.  Whether it is Politics, Israel’s battle against the terrorist group Hamas, Economics, World Hunger, The Youth leaving the church, whatever it is we can do more than pray.

If you want this country of ours, the USA, to be different, then pray, but don’t stop there.  Do what you can when you can.  Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, find out who your representatives are, aid the campaigns of people you support, find a need in your local community and fill it, teach a class at your church, fly a flag, you get the picture.  Do we “have” to do these things? No, of course not, but don’t utter that phrase unless it is true… but don’t forget even in those circumstances, there is also singing, and praising, and worshiping.

As an aside, much of what we can “do” revolves around our own homes and our own families.  Educate yourself and your families, get your house in order (literally), see to your own finances, have strong bonds with your families, then learn to look outside of yourselves, outside of your own homes, or towns, or even countries.  Many of my readers have already done all of this, and to you I say; great job! Truly.  Keep it up.  But some of us, me included, need a nudge, a reminder.

God is powerful beyond measure.  He’s in control and history itself bends to His will.  Yes, pray.  Scripture tells us to pray.  But let us also open ourselves up to the nudges of the Holy Spirit and do the works He empowers us to do by grace through faith, that all flows from God.

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Two Left Feet

We are the body of Christ. All of us who faithe on Him, all of us who believe.  We are the body.  My understanding of this is evolving as I study it, it is evolving as I read, and it is evolving as I pray.  One recent thing that has been bouncing around my brain came up again as a result of reading a really good book that I will review soon: Kisses From Katie.  I’m going to say some things in this article that may indicate I didn’t like the book, or the philosophy found it in, but that’s not true.  It is a jumping off point for me because certain themes keep cropping up in the Christian community.

We have amongst us people that are hands, people that are feet, people that are heart, that are ears, that are blood, that are nerve endings, etc… and that’s wonderful! As Paul says, we are all members of the body of Christ and we each have a role to play.  The problem I see in certain aspects of our Christian society is that we have certain members, say feet, demanding that everyone else be feet too.  I’m a foot, why aren’t you a foot? If you were really a part of the body, you’d be a foot.

Wait… what?  That is antithetical to what Paul directly and clearly teaches in scripture.  If I’m a heart and I try to be a  foot; ouch.  If the body of Christ has two metaphorical left feet, there is no dancing.  I must be what I’m called to be, where I’m called to be it.  Not all of us are called to the mission field in China.  Not all of us are called to go wash people’s bodies in Uganda, India, or Southeast Asia.  Not all of us are called to be lawyers.  Not all of us are called to be preachers in the U.S. Not all of us are called to be kindergarten teachers, or economists, or business men.

There are, however, certain things that the body of Christ has in common, certain traits that we are all called to have because we belong to the same body.  The character of the person connects each bit; my hand can’t be moral or immoral, but I can be moral or immoral and can involve my hand and its actions directed by “me.”  This also holds true since we are a part of the body of who? Christ.  Loving, caring, sober-minded, sharing the gospel with all, helping those around us, etc…  So, yes, there are traits in common, but different roles in life, and we need each person fulfilling their God-given role to make this whole thing run smoothly.

I guess my point is that we need to make sure that we are seeking out what God has in mind for us and our role and not to try to conform ourselves to other believers in their personal roles.  If I’m an eye and try to act like mouth, it isn’t going to work out very well for me or the rest of the body.  Instead of concerning ourselves with modeling ourselves after others who we see doing a really good job in their role, we need to be seeking the wisdom of God in finding and fulfilling our role, as well as being open the possibility that even if our favorite role model is a knee, we just might be an elbow. No role is insignificant.

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