Monday, September 28, 2009

Community and Relative Truth

"In passing, we should note this curious mark of our own age: the only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute." Francis Schaeffer said this more than thirty years ago. It seems that he was on to something.

On a related note, a notable new show just launched called, Community. In popular culture you usually don't hear the term, "moral relativism" discussed in every day conversation. In the pilot of Community, the term was recently used (tada). It is brought up In a comical dialogue between the main character, Jeff, and his old friend, Dr. Ian Duncan (who is now a professor at the community college that Jeff is currently attending). Jeff is trying to get Ian to give him the test answers to all of the tests he will take throughout the semester. Here is the dialogue that transpires...

NOTE: Hulu only keeps TV shows up for a limited time, so this clip will eventually disappear. It's a good discussion tool for the time-being. Below is the dialogue in case the clips are taken down.

Dr. Ian Duncan: Suppose I was to say to you it was possible to get those test answers.
Jeff: I would say, "go for that."
Dr. Ian Duncan: I'm asking you if you know the difference between right and wrong.
Jeff: I discovered at a very early age that if I talk long enough, I could make anything right or wrong. So, either I am God or truth is relative. And in either case, boo yah!
Dr. Ian Duncan: Oh, interesting, it's just the average person has a much harder time saying "boo yah" to moral relativism.

Here is a dialogue that transpires when Ian brings the test answers to Jeff...

Dr. Ian Duncan: Every answer to every test in your curriculum this semester.
Jeff: I knew you could do it buddy. Thank you!
Dr. Ian Duncan: [...] What do I get?
Jeff: The satisfaction of being even.
Dr. Ian Duncan: Even, fairness, right, wrong, there is no God, boo yah, boo yah.
Jeff: What do you want from me?
Dr. Ian Duncan: Your Lexus...
Jeff: My car, for a semester worth of answers?
Dr. Ian Duncan: Will it be just a semester though, Jeff? Won't you be taking the easy way out for the next four years? I want payment in advance...

Axis' questions are... Does this dialogue have any consequences attached to it? Or, is it simply a comical and satirical dialogue on a unrealistic moral dilemma? We'd love to hear your thoughts! Is this dialogue good, bad or indifferent? If you have seen the whole show in context, do you think that the ideas (such as this one) in the show are innocent comedy or can this and other ideas from the show be saturated into the lifestyle of those who watch it? Would the consequences of this philosophy be good, bad or indifferent?


PS - SPOILER ALERT (Don't read below if you don't want to know what happens in the show):

Dr. Duncan ends up not giving Jeff the answers to the test, but instead gives him blank pages. Does this change the dialogue at all?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The All-Singing, All-Dancing Passion of the Christ - Part 5

The gospel is Epic, don't get me wrong. But not epic like Braveheart. Not epic like Cirque de Soleil.

I read an author recently who said that perhaps Christians have confused their beloved Scriptures with their beloved fairy tales. And after having seen that Passion play, I think it is true. We love to see movies and plays incorporate the familiar epic themes of creation, sin, salvation, redemption, and destiny. But we forget that these themes were God's originally, and ours by inheritance (also God's idea). Some of our minor stories -- our best ones, perhaps -- borrow their grand, epic feel from God's great story. Not the other way around. Therefore, we ought to pay closer attention to how these themes have been embraced by culture and how they have been distorted.

Without a doubt, Jesus framed his entire ministry in terms of a grand, sweeping meta-narrative. He was the "son of Man" predicted in the book of Daniel to come trailing on the clouds of Heaven. But Jesus was also born in Bethlehem. He lived, ate, slept, and walked on the same 200 square miles of arid Palestinian dirt his entire life. He died and was buried in that dirt less than four decades later. Jesus was epic, but he was also historic.

Christ never allegorized all of life in the service of pure spiritual truths. He didn't give preference to grand spiritual ideals over the messiness of human existence. He dealt joyfully with the physical needs of people, while he dwelt with them in their neighborhoods. At the same time, he invited them to share in a Kingdom that was not of this world. Jesus was epic, but he was also domestic.

The Gospel does not blast an epic volume of feel-good theme music to drowns out difficult truths about life. Remember Jesus' harsher sayings? Such as to amputate your sinful members, or to "compel" the poor and the marginalized to come into the Kingdom? Look for those in our latest popular epic stories (Slumdog Millionaire?). The Gospel is also certainly not epic in an attitude that champions worldly archetypes: muscle-strapped masculinity and Helen-of-Troy femininity. Jesus was epic, but also surprisingly realistic.

Finally, nothing in the Gospel is epic on a scale that eclipses seemingly ordinary people and seemingly ordinary events. Even the real William Wallace (not the Mel Gibson incarnation) was a minor landowner and a knight. The disciples? They really were royal rejects.

Jesus was epic, but he was also comic.

To be continued...

Click here to read the previous post in this series.

By: Chad

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back At It Again...

Axis is on the road again! And we couldn't be happier!

We have been in New Mexico (shout out to Grace Outreach!!!), Michigan (shout out to FRCS!!!), and Texas (shout out to BACS!!!) in the last three weeks. It has been three amazing weeks with three amazing groups of students.

We launched Axis Round 2 at Franklin Road Christian in Detroit, MI and we are really excited about how God is going to use it. After-all, He is the one that brought it together over the last six months, not us!

The Axis team is arriving in New Orleans, LA as we speak to and hang out with some students at Houma Christian School for their school year kick-off. Pray for us to be following the Lord's will as we speak to them!

We are slated to be in Tucson, AZ, Des Moines, IA and San Antonio, TX still in September. For more on our calendar, visit - The Axis Map.

We will start getting regular blog posts from various team members again soon.

Much love,