Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Friday, February 22, 2008

As your own poets have said...

In Acts 17, when Paul wants to share Christ with the Athenians, he doesn't begin with Old Testament prophecy or history because that would be like opening a sermon in Nepal with an illustration taken from the Super Bowl. It's a matter of emotional intelligence more than anything else; the simply capacity to get inside the head of the hearer and share truth in a way that they'll be able to receive. We need this when we teach, and we need it when we marry and raise children.
The next time I want to explain to people how embedded demonic evil is in this world, I could talk about Daniel's prayers and the messenger who was delayed in bringing a response because he had to do battle with "Prince of Persia", but that might seem, for some, a little arcane. I could quote from Walter Wink's fine book: "The Powers that Be", but that too is overly theological for most people's liking. So the next time I want to explain the realm of principalities and powers to someone in an educated, movie going culture like Seattle I'll just say: "Watch Michael Clayton."

Finely written and acted, this is a film that reveals how the synergy of individual choices, each made for the purpose of preserving self-interest, conspire to create a monstrous evil that is larger by far than any individual would ever desire. I'm on the edge of my seat as it dawns on me what's going to happen, and then when it actually does I'm nearly sick to my stomach. Not for the faint of heart, the graphic language and sexual references bring a harsh dose of reality to the whole narrative. A little gambling here, a little shading of truth in a lawsuit there, a little learning how to script lies so as to gain a promotion (all for good of course, because perhaps my children need to go to a good college, or I need to fly to New Zealand for vacation and see where Lord of the Rings was filmed) - the convergence of innocuous looking evil germinates into dark destructive forces.

If you're trying to understand principalities and powers, if you're wondering who might win best picture, if you're trying to give flesh to the concept of the phrase "we live in a fallen world", then watch Michael Clayton. As our own poets have said...



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