Category Archives: Culture

David Wells On Modernization

“I have spoken of the emergence of the global cliché culture as the birthmark of Our Time. Until modernity was ushered into our world, cultures were always local. They were, by definition, sets of meanings and morals, beliefs and habits that arose in specific contexts of history and religion, a people’s social organization and place in the world. Thus we have traditionally spoken of Indian culture as being discernibly different from European culture, or African from Hispanic. But today, modernization is producing comparable ways of thinking, wanting, and being in countries that are very different in terms of their histories, religion, and organization. Today, what is modern can be found, and found in about the same way, in both Tokyo and Canberra, New Delhi and New England, Paris and Cape Town. To stretch this far, to span the globe in this way, modernity must necessarily be culturally thin.” [David Wells, God in the Wasteland (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), p. 9.]

Ralph Winter on Evangelical Worship and Hollywood

Ralph Winter is a Christian producer who is receiving acclaim from Hollywood these days in light of his new movie which is released this week in theatres: THE FANTASTIC FOUR. In this series of interviews at St. Annes’ Pub he discusses the folly of the church to understand Hollywood and the serious implications of evangelical worship. According to Winter, evangelical worship is highly centralized in the content of the message, instead of focusing attention on the structure and style of the service.

A disciple of Robert Webber, Ralph Winter is keenly interested in the liturgical manifestation of the gospel in the structure and style of a service. He explains that evangelical churches are so concerned about getting their messages across through the content that they tend to miss entirely other essential elements of worship.

In a society where the visual components are so much a part of the modern world, we cannot manage to abandon a rich means of gospel revelation. Kim Riddlebarger wrote that the table serves as a symbolic demonstration of the audible gospel content. He argues that the church has substituted beauty for rhetoric. The church in the same way is compelled to proclaim a journey through Scriptures and liturgy giving proper place to both means of grace as opposed to replacing one for the other. When the body of Christ is devoid of artistic pictures of the evangel, then we are hopeless in our pursuit of dominion.

Economic Chaos?

by Dan Denning

Contrary to what you see in the press, though, the average Frenchman or woman is not that different from you, except, perhaps, at the dinner table. The French take their food seriously. A cup of coffee or a three hour dinner is not just about the quality of the food or the wine. Eating is a social experience in France. What’s more, serving food is a serious profession for which men and women go to school in France
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Thumbs Up For “Mystic River”

In my 10 scale “Mystic River” gets an 8 for excellent acting and an intriguing story-line. Sean Penn and Tim Robbins (Gideon) brought an outstanding flavor to a suspenseful murder case. This is the story of three friends who through the murder of one daughter unite in search of truth. But truth has a tasteless end sometimes. This makes my top 50 list for sure.

Does Scripture Permit Us to Drink Alcoholic Beverages?

Kenneth Gentry has played a tremendous role in shaping my thinking on matters of eschatology and ethics. What follows is a summary article based on his book entitled: God Gave Wine, a book thoroughly analyzing the Biblical issues in the drinking question. It defends the practice of moderation in alcohol consumption.This article’s purpose is to review the three major positions on the issue and acquaint the reader with the topic and the debate. As I’ve said before, “you can’t know, unless you understand.” By God’s grace the church will no longer make the same mistakes made by the revivalist in the early part of the 20th century. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.D.
December 8, 2004

Few issues have generated more heated debate among Christians than that of the morality of alcohol consumption. The dispute has generated responses ranging from local educational temperance movements to federal amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Certainly there is evidence of widespread abuse of alcoholic beverages today; this few would deny. Furthermore, the Bible clearly condemns all forms of alcohol abuse, by binding precept and by notorious example. Yet the ethical issue before us is, Does the Bible allow for a righteous consumption of the beverage alcohol? The fundamental question is ethical, not cultural or demographical; it requires an answer from a Biblical, not an emotional, base.

Three Viewpoints
Among evangelicals, the fundamental approaches to alcohol use may be distilled (no pun intended) into three basic viewpoints. (1) The prohibitionist viewpoint universally decries all consumption of the beverage alcohol. Adherents to this position do not find any Scriptural warrant for alcohol consumption, even in Biblical times. (2) The abstentionist perspective discourages alcohol use in our modern context, though acknowledging its use in Biblical days. They point to modern cultural differences as justification for the distinction: widespread alcoholism (a contemporary social problem), higher potency distilled beverages (unknown in Biblical times), and intensified dangers in a technological society (e.g., speeding cars). (3) The moderationist position allows for the righteous consumption of alcoholic beverages. This position, while acknowledging, deploring, and condemning all forms of alcohol abuse and dependency, argues that Scripture allows the partaking of alcoholic beverages in moderation and with circumspection.

The Importance of the Question
Often, non-moderationist argumentation inadvertently and negatively affects certain aspects of the Christian faith. It can undercut the authority of Scripture (in that any universal condemnation of what Scripture allows diminishes the authority of Scripture in Christian thought). It may distort the doctrine of Christ (in that any universal censure of something Jesus did detracts from His holiness). It adversely affects our apologetic (in that any denunciation of that which Scripture allows sets forth an inconsistent Biblical witness).

My approach to the issue before us involves three presuppositions: (1) the Bible is the inerrant Word of God; (2) therefore, the Bible is the determinative and binding standard for all ethical inquiry; and (3) the Bible condemns all forms of alcohol abuse and dependence. The moderationist viewpoint in no way compromises any of these three fundamental commitments. Continue reading Does Scripture Permit Us to Drink Alcoholic Beverages?

What to watch for Christmas? Part 2

Here’s another option for the break; this one you will not regret. In my opinion this is one of the most unpredictable movies I have ever seen (next to Memento of course). You can call it a psychological thriller; call it horror (though it would be considered a mild horror movie); call it a Hitchcock re-make. Whatever it is, this movie will bring your mind and your fear together in one. Starring two of my favorite actors of all time: John Cusack and Ray Liotta. IDENTITY (R) was the most breathtaking thriller I’ve seen in years. However, Identity is much more than a simple thriller; it is intriguing, fascinating, and astoundingly brilliant. Directed by James Mangold, this movie is undoubtedly one of the best movies of 2003.

David Mangold is unmistakably the most eclectic and intelligent director in Hollywood. His brilliance is thorough. There is nothing in this movie I would’ve liked to see different. It is captivating until the end and every character develops enough of his/her personality to give the audience an opportunity for analysis (that is, if you ever care about “character analysis”).

Warning: Since Hollywood is not concerned about pleasing the average household with wholesome Sunday School language (neither do I think it should; leave that up to Disney), there is…let’s see…hmmm… oh yes, strong violence and language.

What to watch for Christmas? Part 1

42m.jpg Ok, granted, these are not what you would call blockbusters or 50 million dollar movies, but believe me these are classics (at least they are to me). In different ways these movies touch on several aspects of human experience such as fear, trust, and hope. Some of these will keep you glued to your screen wondering what’s next, while others may not fit your fancy. Since Christmas break is so short, you wanna make sure you get good movies, right? I mean, you don’t wanna have to get Titanic out of the closet again, do ya? Hence, it is my duty to present you with three great movies I have seen. Let’s start with one today and the others will follow. Why is it my duty? Well, if you’re eclectic as I and wish to expand your movie horizon, then it will be your duty as well to watch them. Well, not really, but you get the point. Ok, so here is the nominee for best movie in 2001…. oh wait, 2001 is past. Oh, did I tell you that these are not new releases? Hold on, please don’t delete this e-mail yet. Give me a chance, come on?
Alrighty then, let’s start with out first winner. Movie #1– Let’s start with a revenge thriller! I know, I know, you’ve seen hundreds of these before. Bad guy kills good girl; good girl’s boyfriend gets mad and then kills bad guy who killed good girlfriend…or something like that. Well, let’s just say this movie plays with your mind a bit. Yep. This movie actually involves your mind. Let’s just say this one is kinda like a revenge thriller that interacts with your intellect. Oh, don’t even try to guess. I did, but it didn’t work. So I had to wait until the end of the movie to know what happened. By the way, make sure you don’t watch this thriller with someone who has seen it before. Let’s just say they have a tendency to ruin your active mind. So, anyway, I am referring to: MEMENTO (R). Oh, don’t worry; I won’t give you any hints about it either. I will wait for you to tell me what you thought about it.
Warning: Since Hollywood is not concerned about pleasing the average household with wholesome Sunday School language (neither do I think it should; leave that up to Disney), there is…let’s see…hmmm… oh yes, violence, language, and some drug content. At least I warned you.

5 minutes after Jeopardy…Ken Jennings finally loses

The rumors were true! After winning over 2.5 million dollars, Ken Jennings finally lost. I don’t remember exactly the question, but the magic answer was H&R Block. With 74 victories, this makes Jennings the greatest winner in the history of televised game shows. As Alex said in the end of the show, ” all good things must come to an end.” Tomorrow morning ABC will air an interview with Jennings on “Good Morning America.”
For those of you interested here is a paragraph from the blog page that leaked the info:

Set your TiVos and VCRs…it looks like Ken Jennings will finally lose on Jeopardy on Tuesday, November 30. His 72nd appearance aired yesterday (he won another $50,000), the 73rd will be today, and his final win will come on Monday. As reported here back in September, Jennings loses his 75th game after winning $2.5 million. No one from the show has confirmed this, so it may be wrong**, but we’ll find out on Tuesday. (If it ends up being wrong, I will commit seppuku by falling on my TiVo remote for my role in misleading everyone.)

** Just to be more specific, I have recently received confirmation from a very reliable source that Ken has indeed lost, but that source didn’t confirm (or deny) the specific timing.”

A Guide to Movie Watching – My Top Five

I will attempt to put together a list of five movies that have made a lasting impression on me. My choice is based on a series of factors. Hopefully, you will consider these as well. 1) Redemptive themes, 2) Symbolizes Courage and Sacrifice, 3) Espouses a Biblical Worldview without having to be explicitly Christian, 4) Speaks of the existential and inner struggles of man, 5) Reveals the despair of mankind without Christ, 6) Illustrates the justice of God, 7) Portrays the Bible as a Book that is more than a Book, 8) Values human life, 9) Philosophically stimulating, and 10) Reveals a Cosmic Battle between good and evil.
With that in mind, here is a list of my top five with no particular order:
1) The Passion ( Historical ) R
2) To End All Wars ( War ) R
3) Amistad ( Slavery during the 1800’s) R
4) Magnolia ( Existential ) R
5) Braveheart (Historical) R