Sunday’s Best: The Tricky Ethics of Christmas

Ah, Calvin: he asks such great questions.  And all while barreling down Dismemberment Gorge.  ‘Tis the Season . . .

Calvin's Ethics(image from

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Elseworlds . . . or Else

It’s almost time for the annual “DC on the CW” crossover extravaganza.  This year they are keeping it to three series (The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl), but they are also doing some nice “expansions,” particularly in digging a little deeper into things that are particularly “DC.”  Check out this extended scene that seems to set things up nicely:

It’s always interesting to see the 90s Flash back in the red suit (a suit that holds up surprisingly well, actually).  And then you get Stargirl in that first shot, too.  But then there’s also this “official” trailer for the event that starts Sunday night:

Good seeing Superman, even a “dark” version of the character, around again.

The fun starts Sunday night on the CW.

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Sunday’s Best: Back on the Farm

There were a few good comics in today’s Sunday section.  As is often the case, WuMo renders something very human and contemporary through the framework of something quite different.

Back on the Farm(image from

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The Thread of Imagination

In yesterday’s post I mentioned some words and phrases that I’d been mulling over a little bit but hoped to mull over more this holiday weekend.  I think I’d like to start with the thread of imagination.

World's Last NightSomewhere along the way, from some book I no longer remember, I learned that faith and imagination are intimately tied together.  And that’s not just the “artistic” idea of the imagination.  It’s something like Charles Taylor’s “social imaginary” idea: the way you perceive and sense the world to be, the way you understand it working or not.  As a Christian, my belief in things I cannot see, that have been passed down by those who saw and heard and touched, that have been confirmed in odd but comforting ways in my own experience, requires a constant act of imagination, to believe things are a particular way even when there can be little or no evidence for it in the moment.

The Bible, of course, trains us in seeing the world by faith, gives us the stars and constellations, locations and the map, to serve as the framework for living from this life to the next.  The church is supposed to help hold this vision together for us, to make it visible in ways no other place or people can.  Even still, things like instrumentalization tend to get in the way of some of that vital vision-casting.

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This next week in chapel we’re starting our “Advent” series.  Sure, it’s a week early, but that’s okay (as we end the semester before Advent’s end).  Tonight at dinner I reread C. S. Lewis’s “The World’s Last Night” as a way of getting a layer or two added to my thinking.  I actually think of the essay often, particularly what it says about the role of apocalyptic literature in 1st century Judaism and early Christianity.  The return of Jesus, which is often the focus of the first half of Advent, is a significant Christian belief that should shape our imagination.  It’s also a belief that we don’t quite know what to do with at times, that Lewis correctly notes that we too easily write off as the product of an unnecessarily apocalyptic kind of literature specific to that particular time.  Then Lewis asserts:

our Lord’s production of something like the other apocalyptic documents would not necessarily result from His supposed bondage to the errors of his period, but would be the Divine exploitation of a sound element in contemporary Judaism: nay, the time and place in which it pleased Him to be incarnate would, presumably, have been chosen because, there and then, that element existed, and had, by His eternal providence, been developed for that very purpose.

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I want my mind and heart to be shaped by the stories and words of the Bible, so many of the images that get caught up in John’s Revelation when the Story comes to an end.  And then I want to live out of that imagination, knowing that it is rooted in a True Story deeper than that which is so easily seen.

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Thanksgiving Equivocation

Word-play comics are some of the best, as they often catch us off guard through the wonders of language and meaning.  Consider today’s Frazz by Jef Mallett:

Frazz TravelI’m still trying to figure out how it went from being “walking” to “traveling,” but still . . .

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Travel is the name of the game for me this weekend, too.  For the second time this year, I’m leaving the country.  This time for my favorite inn on the south end of Victoria, British Columbia.  It will be my third time there, my second for Thanksgiving.  My trip to Scotland ended up being all adventure and little-to-no reflection.  This trip should bring some balance to that equation.  The blend of weather, atmosphere, and time of year makes it perfect for some good thinking and writing.  So I’ve got a short stack of books (including a novel started in August) to work through and a list of words to guide my reflection.  The word?

  • simplification
  • instrumentalization
  • imagination
  • institutionalization
  • intimacy
  • constraints
  • meaning(lessness)
  • rest, and
  • the evidence of rest

Some of these, the last two in particular, have been on my mind since visiting Laity Lodge earlier this year.  The question of meaning(lessness) comes from observations made at work this year.  The rest are ideas that bridge work and faith, church and friendship.

I’ve also got a stack of recent online articles to work through (and a short series on Eugene Peterson’s “The Unbusy Pastor” to complete.  After a number of “hit-or-miss” weeks here on the blog, I’d like to get some consistency back.  That “unbusy” piece is a great place to start (again).

(image from

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Sunday’s Best: Gold Star Perspective

Today’s Frazz makes it to the top of the four-color funnies stack on visuals alone.  You don’t see this kind of thing all that often in comics, even Sunday strips.

Gold Star(image from

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Sunday’s Best: Forget It, Charlie Brown

There are a few things about today’s classic Peanuts strip by Charles Schulz that make it stand out on this fine November day.  First is the opening panel: an interesting “from the ground” shot that you don’t see that often in a Peanuts strip.  Usually, if it’s a sky scene, it’s Snoopy in his Sopwith Camel or Woodstock doing loops under his own misguided power.  Second is the next panel, with that nice bit of jet stream clipping the corner.

Forget It, Charlie BrownThen it’s all about the conversation between Chuck and Lucy.  How true is it?  How much does Lucy’s “once you have a patient hooked” matter if there’s a kernel of truth in the earlier parts of the conversation?  We would all like to think that we’re wrong.  And yet there probably is some truth about “taking yourself with you” even if there are other things beyond carriage.  Or we’d like to think that we’re the kind of people a sincere person like Charlie Brown could meet and find something different, something better.  That would be a good thing to aim for, I think.

(image from

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