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On Friday’s throughout the summer I’m going to post music videos from the 80’s. I’m open to suggestions so let me know what you’d like to see. If you have a good recommendation, I’ll post it sometime. We begin this week with a live performance of Hungry Eyes by Eric Carmen. I’ll warn you up front: this is absolutely terrifying. Check out the hair and shiny gold jacket. Long live the 80’s! Okay…not really. But have fun watching the video anyway.

 

The season finale of LOST is upon us. Party at my house. Come watch it!

In chapter four, “The Church is Responsible for So Much Injustice,” Keller points out that many who oppose Christianity intellectually do so because of personal disappointments with Christians and churches. These disappointments run deep and undermine the plausibility of Christianity for many. In this chapter Keller specifically deals with the character flaws of Christians, the issue of war and violence, and finally the issue of fanaticism.

Addressing the flawed character of Christians, Keller gives the oft-repeated quote that “The church is a hosptial for sinners, not a museum for saints.” While not excusing the flaws exhibited by Christians (think of the well publicized failings of Christian leaders), he mentions that it’s commonly believed that a person must clean up his or her life in order to have a relationship with God. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that right standing with God is not based on a person’s morality, but on who Christ is and what he’s done. Growth is a process; sometimes believers make mistakes and live inconsistently. Whether we like it or not, the church is filled with morally flawed people.

Keller admits that violence done in the name of Christianity is a fact that cannot be overlooked. There’s nothing to explain away or make excuses for. He rightly shows though that secular communities have been just as guilty of oppression and violence as religious communities. The conclusion to make, therefore, is that there is a violent impulse in the human heart – whether a person is religious or not. The reality of violence in a society “is no necessary refutation of the prevailing beliefs of that society,” but rather an indication of something real and ugly about the human heart.

The issue of fanaticism is one that Keller believes to be the biggest deterrant to Christianity for the average person. By fanatics he is talking about those who loudly express their disapproval of anything that even smells remotely like “immorality.” These fanatics strike outsiders as intolerant and self-righteous. Keller likens fanaticism to moralism. Moralists assume they are right with God because of their right behavior and doctrine. This naturally leads them to feel superior to those who act or believe differently. What’s surprising is that Keller’s critique of fanatics is not that they are too committed, but rather that they are not committed enough. He says, “Belief that you are accepted by God by sheer grace is profoundly humbling. The people who are fanactics, then, are so not because they are too committed to the gospel but because they’re not committed to it enough….What strikes us as over fanactical is actually a failure to be fully committed to Christ and his gospel.” 

Keller concludes the chapter by suggesting that the solution for violence and oppression is not a watered-down Christianity, but a more robust expression of the faith. The Bible itself contains resources for criticizing injustice. The biblical prophets and especially Jesus leveled severe criticisms at religious folk who perpetuated oppression and violence. The Bible accounts for the violent impulse in the human heart, detailing the tendency people have to use religion as a means to gain power over others.  Thus, Keller remarks, “The typical criticisms by secular people about the injustices of the Christian church actually come from Christianity’s own resources for critique itself.” What is needed then is a deeper Chritianity, not a moderated version. When Christians commit injustices in the name of Jesus they are not acting consistently with the central message of Christianity: Jesus himself died as a victim of injustice and yet offered forgiveness to his enemies.

The conversation continues

Good, but not great episode. This was one of those necessary episdoes that was clearly setting the stage for the two hour season finale on May 29th. The characters were all being positioned for what should prove to be a dramatic and entertaining conclusion to season four. At this point, I can’t imagine how the Oceanic 6 are brought together for their exit from the island. As it stands now they are mostly separated from one another which is why it should be fun to see how they are joined together and rescued from the island. My guess is that Lapedius (the pilot) is responsible for getting them off the island via his helicopter. Why are the other survivors left behind? Why are the Oceanic 6 the one’s who get the ticket off the island?

I loved the scene between Jack and Claire’s mother at Christian Shepherd’s funeral (screen cap above). I wasn’t expecting Jack to learn this season that he’s related to Claire. Even when it was clear to me that the woman who approached Jack was Claire’s mother, I didn’t think the connection would be made for Jack right there on the spot. I figured we the viewers would be left agonizing over how close Jack came to finding out. We now know that Jack telling Katie she’s not related to Aaron in a flashforward from a few weeks ago was not simply a creative use of irony, but rather Jack using the fact that he is related to Aaron against Kate. At least we got some resolution.  

Why the lies from the Oceanic 6 about what really happened? I’m not so sure they’re being paid to lie by Oceanic. Yes, Oceanic has paid each of them off for the crash itself, but I’m wondering if the lies have been devised by the “6” themselves. What are they hiding? The island itself, so that no one else will try to find it? Have they been threatened by Ben or Widmore? The freighter’s a goner. I’m sure it will explode in the finale. The question is who, if anyone, will on board when it does? Maybe that’s how Jin dies, if he’s actually dead in the first place. They wouldn’t kill Desmond, would they? One of the featured storyline’s in the finale will obviously be Locke’s attempt to move the island. My guess is the episode will conclude with Locke pulling the feat off. What will this mean? Will it do something to time? Will it have catastrophic results for those still on the island?

Before the season began, the producers promised that the identity of the person in the coffin from last season’s finale would be revealed this season. They’ve made it known that this will happen in the final episode. Who do you think it is?

The conversation continues

Tomorrow evening I’m speaking to a group of students at the University of Delaware on the topic of the resurrection. We’ll be talking about the basis for believing the resurrection and then the implications for living the resurrection. My goal is for this to be more of a conversation than a lecture. I plan to pull some of my thoughts together for a post sometime in the next few days. Let me know if you’re interested in tagging along tomorrow. It starts at 7:30.

The conversation continues

This counts as one of those LOST episodes that we’ll look back on at some point in the future and talk about how crucial it was for shedding light on the mythology underpinning the show. Locke-centric episodes often seem to be this way. Where to begin? There’s so much to talk about. Let’s start from the beginning. How many of you guessed it was Locke’s biological mother we were watching in the opening scene? I had a strong feeling. Did you know that a year ago the same week we watched an episode in which another mother named Emily gave birth prematurely? Do you remember who it was she gave birth to? Yup, Ben Linus. Are we to believe that Ben and Locke are brothers? At the very least, they are presented to us in a parallel fashion. We are clearly supposed to take notice of the similarities. I wonder if Locke was originally the ‘chosen one’ but wasn’t ready as evidenced by his failing the aptitude test given by Richard Alpert (you had to love seeing the ageless wonder again!) Maybe the island, Richard, whomever, moved on and identified Ben as the next savior of the island. Is Locke now coming into his own, displacing Ben as the rightful savior? Or possibly it was always meant to work this way and it’s just now time for Locke to replace Ben. Of course, Ben still might be in charge, working out his plan in a way we can’t see. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. What are your thoughts?

What’s the deal with Richard? I’m convinced he’s a time traveler himself. In a recent interview the producers shared that time travel is defintely part of the series. They also mentioned that Richard will figure more promintenly into the show as it moves forward. Who exactly is this guy? Why does it appear that he doesn’t age? I’m convinced it’s related to the time travel factor. I’m sure the scene where Richard appears to 5 year old Locke to give him the aptitude test has massive implications for the show. What are we to make of Locke’s drawing of what appeared to be the smoke monster? Coincidence, or does the past, present and future all blend together so he’s already been to the island in a sense? I have no idea what I’m talking about. What about the various items Locke had to choose from in the test? A baseball mit, a vial containing sand, a comic book with the question “What was the secret of the mysterious hidden land” on the cover, a knife, a compass, and a book titled The Book of Laws. Look up The Book of Law on Wikipedia when you get a chance. Why was Richard so ticked when Ben chose the knife? 

The appearance of dead Horace was a tad spooky, especially with that bloody nose. Have you noticed that bloody noses are a regular occurence in this show? Horace seemed to be trapped in a time loop, cutting down the same tree over and over again. The island/Jacob spoke to Locke through Horace in his dream. Does the island incorporate dead folks into its consciousness somehow and then manifest itself through these people on occasion? Why is Christian Shepherd representing Jacob these days? And what in the world is Claire doing with Christian in the cabin? Has Claire been dead all along, since the explosion? I’m beginning to think so. Remember after the explosion someone asks her if she’s okay and she assures them that she is fine? Miles then retorts, “Are you sure about that?” Did he know that she was dead since he has the power to see into the spirt world? Speaking of dead people, we finally saw the freighter doctor go overboard after his throat was slit. This is confirmation that the island is ahead of the freighter in time. I loved Keemy’s line after he killed the Doc: “Does that change anything?” He poses the question to the pilot, implying “Is that enough to now compel you to fly the helicopter?” But it’s so ironic because it changed more than he could know (and more than we even know presently I’m sure). The Doc washing up on shore led those on the shore to find out that the freighter wasn’t there to rescue them. So as the crew on the helicopter returns, the folks on the shore will have their guard up. Fortunately, it looks like the pilot has their good in mind evidenced by him throwing the locator down to them.

Michael Abbadon (how creepy is this guy?) shows up again as the nurse who pushes Locke in his wheelchair after a rebab session. Did anyone else think he was going to push Locke down the stairs? Who is Abbadon anyway? What’s his relationship to Widmore, Richard, Ben, etc? His conversation with Locke was very intriguing. Some think Abbadon is a future version of Walt: He calls Locke “Mr. Locke” echoing Walt, and also worked to get Locke “back into the game” much like Walt did when he rescued him from the body pit last season. Finally, what does it mean that Locke was told to move the island? What are the implications? I get the sense that something cataclysmic will happen in the not to distant future. What do you think?

The conversation continues

In chapter three, “Christianity is a Straightjacket,” Keller responds to the objection that Christianity is an enemy of freedom since it’s based on absolutes and fails to recognize that cultures have different perspectives on truth and reality. He argues that truth is unavoidable. We all make truth claims whether we like it or not – whether we realize it or not. We can’t help but to do so since we all hold beliefs and label others as wrong when their beliefs contradict our own. He also points out that every community shares common beliefs that create boundaries and excludes others. The openness of a community should not, therefore, be determined by the fact that a community has their own set of beliefs, but by how those beliefs lead the members of the community to treat people on the outside with love and respect. It follows then that Christians should be criticized when they are condemning and ungracious, but not because they are committed to particular beliefs. We all are.

The most helpful “take-away” in this chapter is that freedom should not be defined only in negative terms, as the absence of restrictions or constraint. In many areas of life, freedom is actually about finding liberating restrictions. He uses the analogy of a fish. A fish is only free when it is limited to water. If the fish is removed from the restriction of water, its freedom is not enhanced but violated. Our concern is not so much on how to avoid all restrictions, but rather on how to find the right one’s that fit with who we are as humans. This applies to the spiritual and moral aspect of life as well. What, then, is the environment that spiritually and morally liberates us when we align our lives with it? Keller insists that this environment is love. He writes, “Love is the most liberating freedom-loss of all.” We are most free in relationships of love, yet the irony is that any healthy love relationship involves the loss of independence as we seek to unselfishly serve the other person. When you are in love with another person you are willing to serve them and do whatever it takes to please them. You want to learn what makes them happy so you can bring them pleasure. Yes, you must sacrifice your own freedom and independence to meet the needs of this person, but you are more than willing to oblige because you are in love. To those around you it might appear as though you are enslaved, but you know deep down inside that you are more free than ever.

Christianity informs us that in entering the world and dying on our behalf, God sacrificed dramatically for us. When we really understand what Jesus has done for us, giving up our freedom will not be seen as overly restrictive or limiting. Rather, we will know it to be the most liberating thing we’ve ever done and continue to do.

The conversation continues…

I’m a little behind this week so LOST Mondays is being posted on Wednesday. What did you think of last week’s episode? It was clearly setting us up for the final three weeks of the season. We now have a pretty good idea of how Claire gets separated from Aaron. Her father, Christian Shepherd (also Jack’s father, don’t forget!), appears to Claire in the middle of the night and lures her into the jungle without Aaron. What’s up with that? If Christian is one with the island and works for the good of the island (whatever that might mean) why would he separate Claire from Aaron? Any thoughts? In the flashforwards Jack is enjoying life with Kate and Aaron until he visits Hurley in the pysc ward. Hurley tells Jack how Charlie visited him and assures Jack that someone will be visiting him as well. Hurley also informs Jack that he’s not supposed to raise Aaron. This admonition brings to mind season one when the psychic advises Claire not to allow her baby (Aaron) to be raised by anyone other than herself.

It seems rather obvious that Christian is the visitor Hurley promised Jack. Is Christian working for the island to influence Jack to return to the island? We also learn why Jack is in such a sad condition in last season’s finale. The conversation with Hurley and subsequent visits from his Dad all get to be a bit much for Jack who starts drinking heavily and popping medication (sometimes simulatenously, which can’t be good!). Is Jack simply having visions of his Dad or is he really appearing? I believe it’s the latter. Since Christian’s appearances play a major role in Jack’s demise and eventually create within him a desire to return to the island, are we to believe this is the island’s way of attracting him back for some unfinished task? Charlie’s appearances affect Hurley similarly. In this season’s premiere Jack visits Hurley after he’s admitted to the psych ward and Hurley insists that they must go back to the island. This is reminiscent of how Jack tries to convince Kate of the same in last season’s final scene. Jack didn’t always feel this way. The island influenced him through his Dad as it did the same with Hurley through Charlie. Will the same happen with Kate? The other members of the Oceanic Six?

Sawyer has become a guaridan for Claire and Aaron. It’s a side of Sawyer we haven’t yet seen. It makes me wonder if a romantic relationship will emerge between Sawyer and Claire at some point. What do you think Kate was doing for Sawyer that had Jack so curious? My guess is that it had something to do with Sawyer’s daughter, Clementine. Remember her? What did you think about Jack’s comment to Kate about how she’s not even related to Aaron. A careful use of irony on the part of the writers, or do you think Jack learns at some point along the way that he and Claire are related? Did you notice that Jack was reading Alice in Wonderland to Aaron in the scene where he puts him to bed? This wasn’t the first time this story is alluded to in a LOST episode. What are the implications? The previews for next week’s (tomorrow’s) episode look amazing. I’m sure we’re in for a wild ride over the next few weeks. Hang on.

The conversation continues

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