Monday, August 11, 2008
In a few hours I am off to Kenya with my wife on holiday. I am leaving my phone, blackberry and computer behind. A Greek New Testament and few Tolstoy short stories have been sneaked into my luggage.
Normal service will be resumed in Sept when I return to electronic connection. Meanwhile I heard Dick Lucas give a terrific sermon in Cambridge a few weeks ago. It is available online - enjoy
While in the USA I found a nice edition of the authorised biography of JRR Tolkien - author of Lord of the Rings. As a friend of CS Lewis and a fellow pipe smoker, one would expect him to be erudite, quiet and retiring.
However the image that emerges of his Oxford student days (at Exeter college) are of a brilliant young man who was a bit lazy, and engaged in behaviour such as helping students hijack a local bus! There is hope for us all - even lazy bad Hobbits!
Friday, August 01, 2008
Last night I went to an IMax cinema to see the new Batman movie. In the intense IMax screen format the skyscrapers were breathtaking - one could not help but lean forward and go 'oooooh' when Batman leapt off a tower. The movie is spectacular in many ways, not only do all the actors turn in high quality performances, but the script is a moody provocative assault on the senses.
In the tradition of great morality plays, The Dark Knight pushes your assumptions about virtue and justice - is the line between good and evil thin, or even there? Are there any rules that can make a man good? Do desperate times justify extreme measures? How do you weigh up alternatives that have bad consequences?
The movie explores Batman's character, not all of it it pretty or admirable. Visual images ram home the message that in many ways he mirrors his enemy, the Joker.
Yet one area struck me in which Batman and the Joker differ - their attitude to power. The Joker appears in the movie as the crazy man who wants nothing, he cannot be bought since he does not care for money. He has no rules and no plans - just the desire to create chaos and prove others' plans are doomed. While he tries to present himself thusly as a man who desires nothing, it is not the case. Augustine would reject the idea that a created being can desire nothing - we cannot be vacuums but must be motivated by something. And so it is with the Joker - his desire for chaos is not, as he claims, a desire for nothing; it is a lust for power. The Joker longs to be the one people fear, depend on, turn to, revile and submit to. His longing to prove others wrong is really a desire to give himself power.
The Batman is different - he is struggling to find ways to hand power to another. He feels the weight of responsibility and wants to step back from the position of power he occupies. In the end that enables him to endure, suffer and ultimately put himself forward as the sacrificial victim.
It is worth reflecting on our attitude to power, in our ministries, families and personal lives. Do we lust for it, cling to it and enjoy it? Or have we begun to submit to the one who knew what leadership really is? So much of what this world thinks is power and leadership is really little more than a sick joke:
Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45