This was originally one long post (1700 words) designed to summarize interesting events over the last few months, and setting things in motion for the next few. I decided to split it up into 2. Some of it is updates for those that I don’t get to see or talk to much. Some of it is commentary on pop culture.
And, some of it is raw reflection on life in the belly of the beast (this section will be in another post titled “Disillusionment Lane”).
As always, feel free to drop a note and get in touch whichever way you please. Feel free to tell me where you think I’m wrong, where you agree, where you think I’m clueless, or better yet–which bike you’re buying for the beautiful weather ahead of us! If you need help or encouragement in the matter, to quote Leonard Cohen, “I’m your man.”
Let’s get rolling, and go Pats!
Last weekend, I went to see Logan with a few friends from church. The reviews were amazing, but those of you who know me at any length know what I think of Rotten Tomatoes. Either way, Wolverine losing his healing powers, disillusioned with the world, and undergoing an identity crisis? Yes, please. My hopes were high. Too high, in fact. The movie delivers on the action, and maybe over-delivers. But, in letting the viewer inside the mind of Logan, in allowing him feel his pain, they botched it. There wasn’t enough time to sympathize, empathize, get angry, reflect–nothing. We were just treated to another head being chopped off. If that’s the effect the writers were going for, so be it, but it could have been better. Really, should have been better.
Take, for example, The Judge with Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. That movie perfectly illustrated the lingering issues of a broken father-son relationship resurrected after a long absence. You felt as if you were the one arguing with your own parent, or, from the opposite perspective, your own child. You cringed during their fights, and rejoiced in their reconciliation. You were rooting for the both of them. In Logan, however, you didn’t even have time to formulate what kind of ending you wanted. A movie without a telos is, well, just that. Perhaps the most dramatic scene in the whole movie, X’s dream and the appearance of Logan’s younger clone, was just left by the wayside. A scene of that magnitude–and we’re left watching a brawl?
Instead of Logan’s reflection on life, the death of X, his purpose going forward, his crumbling identity–we get carnage. And then some more. What could have been powerful, moving, and meaningful was merely mediocre.
Before I begin ranting, let’s switch gears.
Pastor’s Conference in Washington
I attended a Russian Pastor’s conference in Washington at the end of February. It was celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and its effect on today’s spirituality. Much of it was very edifying, encouraging, educational, helpful, and convicting. The participants were kind, the attendees were gracious, the service of the volunteers was overwhelming, and the atmosphere—extremely pleasant. If you speak Russian, I would highly recommend you attend.
But, during a few talks, I fear there were some historical issues that were glossed over, conflated, and eventually, misapplied. The most significant of which was Augustine’s involvement in the Donatist controversy, his subsequent effect on the development of early medieval Catholicism, and ultimately him being blamed for the horrors of 15th-century Roman Catholicism. All the while not mentioning actual medieval theologians, and better yet, not even mentioning Aquinas. It is simply bad historical theology to trace developments from Augustine to Luther without mentioning Boethius, Anselm, Bernard of Clairvaux, or Aquinas. Really bad, actually.
Moreover, historical figures must be treated through the lens and worldview in which they live. You cannot import your own categories, customs, and developments onto historical figures without committing the worst type of anachronism. Blaming Augustine for transubstantiation is anachronism. Blaming him for the severe misbehavior of Popes in the 14th and 15th centuries is anachronism. Saying that he started Roman Catholicism is–you guessed it–anachronism.
As a result, I fear many people sitting under those talks may now have a skewed understanding and view of Augustine. In the next few weeks, I plan to write on why everyone ought to read Augustine, and especially his Confessions. That way, at the very least, you can hear a positive account of Augustine’s influence, and be encouraged to read possibly the most important treatise in Christian history.
P.S. Two wide topics I know, and I’m sure you can smell the clutch burning. But, I promise, I’ve been double-clutching the whole time.