A New Spin On The Rapture

Cue the Larry Norman track!!

Remember the film, The Thief in the Night?  It was released in 1972 and dramatizes a particular reading of the Book of Revelation and rapture "theology." It's seventiestastic! (If you haven't, you can watch the whole thing on YouTube.) Well, HBO is now on the rapture bandwagon. They're producing a series based on Tom Perrotta's 2011 novel, The Leftovers. Here's the first teaser:

Perrota's spin on the rapture doesn't follow the literal, biblical interpretation taken by those like Tim LaHaye and his Left Behind series. Though I haven't read it yet (but am looking forward to), Perrotta seems to be poking fun, at least a bit, at those that take this literally. But, increasingly, I think the literal versus metaphorical debate about Scripture just isn't honest. I recently wrote a blog post on Revelation for work and came across this N.T. Wright quote while preparing:
"Nobody takes all the Bible literally, and nobody takes it all metaphorically, whatever they may say; we are none of us as wooden as our slogans suggest."
All of us do both with Scripture.

In any case, I'm looking forward to reading Perrotta's book and checking out the series. Have you read The Leftovers? What were your thoughts?

Here's HBO's 1st trailer. Eat you're heart out, Kirk Cameron!

Comics, Chickens and more!

So, things have been a little dead here on the blog as of lately. Things have been busy elsewhere. Here's a few other things I've been up to:

6 Ideas for Taking the Church Into the Streets: A round up of experiments we've discovered since the success of Ashes To Go. (Prop's to the great folks from Praxis Communities.)

Easter People episode #14: You will learn more than you wanted to know about chickens.

The Story blog post on the Book of Revelation: Yes, as I tweeted recently, Revelation would be better as a comic book.

That's it for now!

Where is Fred Phelps Now?

This last week Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church–known for its protests and picketing of funerals, public appearances, etc.–died at 84 years of age. Phelps and his church were outspoken critics of homosexuals. They displayed a disdain and hate that was so abhorrent to the public that it likely tipped the debate over same-sex unions in favor of them.

Still, some agree with Phelps' position on gay marriage. But a great majority do not. Does one's firm beliefs allow them to spew hatred? I don't think so.

On the day Phelps passed, actor and LGBT activist George Takei wrote on his Facebook page: "Today, Mr. Phelps may have learned that God, in fact, hates no one. Vicious and hate-filled as he was, may his soul find the kind of peace through death that was so plainly elusive during his life."

Takei's words beg the question, Where is Phelps now? Certainly, some are hoping hell. Others assume that his beliefs will find him in heaven. I have to say that my views on the afterlife have been deeply impacted by C. S. Lewis' novel, The Great Divorce. (If you haven't read it, you should.) As I reflect on Phelps' passing I find myself thinking about Lewis' imagery. I think Phelps is in God's presence. But I also think we spend our lives preparing ourselves for eternity, being in God's presence–in one way or another. And I wonder if this means that for some, being in God's presence is hell.

Gun Violence: What Would Jesus (Have Us) Do?

In Isaiah 2 the prophet describes taking weapons and fashioning them into farming tools–tools that will care for the land and bring food to the people. What an image! It’s redemptive. It’s creative.

It’s redemptive because it repurposes the brutal instrument rather than destroy or demonize it. A cycle is broken, even down to the devices used to perpetrate violence.

Not only is the redemptive potential of these tools found, their creative purpose is as well. Their redemption finds them tilling land, creating food–sustenance to those that use the tools and their families.

It takes a lot of imagination to come up with ways to shape destruction into creation, hate into love, enemies into friends. But this is what we find described in this biblical passage. It’s also what we see Jesus embody, announce and instigate in the Gospels. He loves the hated. He turns death into life. He wins by losing.

He ends up being everything his mother imagined in her prenatal song.

The debate around gun violence lacks imagination. It lacks gospel.

The fact that so many young people are shot and killed across the U.S. terrifies each of us. Yet, most have come to the conclusion that the final decision on how Americans will address gun violence will be resolved by legislation. Our position on this issue will come down to how, and for whom, we vote. Really? That’s it?

It’s not enough.

These guys!