Showing posts from June, 2018

John's Perspective On Jesus (Part 2)

So I loved 80s hair bands.


I saw so many of them in concert. I wish I had that money now.

I'm well aware that most of them really didn't stand the test of time. I eventually realized most of them were more than a little misogynistic. But now and then I still find myself listening to Tesla. Call it a guilty pleasure.

At the perfect time in their career, Tesla put out an album called Five Man Acoustical Jam, and it was glorious.

The album was a live acoustic set of some of their well known songs and some covers. The album had a big hit with their cover of a song called Signs. Before you click that, the lyrics aren't always PG. Nothing misogynistic, just some adjectives you may not use. You've been warned.

Here are some of the words from the original recording in 1970 by a band called Five Man Electrical Band.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind Do this, don't do that, can't you read the signs
I think of this song …

Friday Film: The Book Of Eli

I'm usually selective about the films I watch. I rarely just watch a movie on a whim. But a while back, that's how I watched The Book Of Eli. On a whim. And it was a great surprise.

This movie has a lot of really good things going for it. There's a killer cast, with Denzel Washington as Eli. The first song in the movie is an old Al Green tune (please don't talk to me about the Bee Gees). And get this, Tom Waits has a cameo! Are you kidding me? What's not to like?

Early in the movie, you realize it's different than a lot of films. Eli prays to God before his meals. He teaches others to pray. Eli likes to quote the Bible (and Johnny Cash). Once, before beating down a gang of bad guys, he quotes from Genesis 3:17-19:

Cursed be the ground for our sake...  Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for us... For out of the ground we were taken, for dust we are and to the dust we shall return.
And then he promptly returns the bad guys to the dust.
Just look at the…

John's Perspective On Jesus (Part 1)

We've looked at three of the four gospels in the New Testament. We explored how each one takes its own unique approach to the Jesus story. Now there is only one. The gospel of John.

John is rather different from the other gospels.

The style is different. The words about Jesus seem to be written in another stratosphere. Almost philosophical at times. It can seem much more abstract in its approach while Matthew, Mark, and Luke seem more tangible. This is clear from the start. Look at the first verse of John in the NIV:

"In the beginning was the word, and the word was God, and the word was with God."
Who's the word? Does this mean the Bible was there at the beginning? With God? How can that be? Let's keep reading. Maybe the second verse will help.
"He was with God in the beginning."
Well that's not helpful at all. That's the same thing he said in the first verse. I guess we should keep reading. Here's verse 3:
"Through him all things were mad…

Luke's Perspective On Jesus (Part 2)

All the gospels have their own unique characteristics and approach, and the gospel of Luke is no different. Luke, like Matthew, includes the story of the birth of Jesus, but his version includes the story of the shepherds (Matthew leaves that out) and doesn't include the story of the Magi (which Matthew included). Luke focuses on Mary in the birth story, while Matthew concentrates a bit more on Joseph. If it weren't for Luke, we wouldn't have the parables of the good Samaritan (Luke 10) or the prodigal son (Luke 15).

But the differences are about so much more than what stories were included or left out. Luke gives emphasis to a couple of things that the other gospels don't. Important things. Things like the Holy Spirit. The title "Holy Spirit" is only used five times in Matthew. Mark is even less interested, with only four mentions. To their credit, Matthew and Mark still talk about the Holy Spirit more than a lot of American churches.

Luke kicks it up a notc…

Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction, and the Book of Ezekiel

Ever watched Pulp Fiction? Me neither.

Yeah that's totally a lie. I've watched it.

This post is not a movie recommendation. If you choose to watch it, please don't blame me.

I digress.

Anyway, there is a scene in Pulp Fiction where Samuel Jackson's character, Jules, is threatening a young man who stole from Samuel Jackson's boss. He asks the young man, "Do you read the Bible, Brett?" and shares a Bible verse he believes "sort of fits the occasion." He identifies it as Ezekiel 25:17. You know what? Tarantino is a master at sharing his vision. Why am I telling you about it? Let's just watch it. I've edited it for content.

 Let me recap. Jules cites Ezekiel 25:17 as follows:

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.  Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and …

Luke's Perspective On Jesus (Part 1)

The Gospel of Luke begins with something the other gospels don't have. A preface. You know what a preface is. It shows up at the beginning of a book and the author uses it to explain why he or she wrote the book. I actually have a book called Famous Prefaces. No joke. A real page turner, as you can imagine.

Here's Luke's preface, found in Luke 1:1-4, taken from the NRSV.

"Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed."

Sheesh. Wordy much, Luke?

Do you remember how Mark began? "The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ the son of God." In Greek that phras…