Sunday’s Best: Peppermint Patty’s Question

Today’s classic Peanuts strip is a nice nod to the end of the school year.  Peppermint Patty’s question is a good one.  I wonder if there’s just some non-verbal cue that kicks in, an intuitive thing that’s unfortunate for the student.

Peanuts Patty's QuestionBy the way, the joke in the fifth panel is pretty funny (and wonderfully subtle).

(image from

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Sunday’s Best: What Building Permits

And this is true for more than just IKEA, I think.  Fun WuMo for the day.

WuMo Building(image from

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Sunday’s Best: Gandalf and the Bride

It’s always good to have some Tolkien humor in the funny pages, and WuMo often works best when it is most absurd.  And so today’s WuMo Sunday strip:

WuMo Gandalf WeddingSpeaking of Gandalf the White, I had the chance to finally see the extended edition of The Return of the King in theaters this past week.  The screening was in honor of the movie’s 20th anniversary.  As I understand it, this is the first time the extended edition of ROTK has been seen in theaters.  It’s amazing how well the movie holds up (and how beautifully made the move is).  And it’s amazing how much Jackson and friends were able to effectively put in the movie.  It’s nice when it is difficult to remember what was and wasn’t in the original theatrical release.

(image from

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Sunday’s Best: What’s Up with the Easter Beagle?

I have to admit: the Peanuts gag that I get the least involves Snoopy as “the Easter Beagle.”  Maybe because it presents a “sanitized” version of the character that doesn’t match much with the earlier, wittier  beagle.  So today’s slightly soured take on the character is kind of interesting.

Peanuts Easter Beagle(image from

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Sunday’s Best: Visibility

Getting a quirky comic strip based on the fog is rare, so I’m glad that Jef Mallett made the most of his attempt both visually and verbally.  A good strip for Frazz today.

Frazz Visibility(image from

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Sunday’s Best: Kazam!

Bill Watterson created so many wonderful, beautiful moments and panels in Calvin and Hobbes that either come to mind often or hit again a soft-spot when you see them again.  Today’s classic Calvin and Hobbes takes a simple, childhood-specific gag and turns it melancholy and beautiful.  I’ve always been a fan of this strips final panel.  Wonderfully rendered.

Calvin Kazam(image from

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“Punting Angels”

This recently re-posted classic Calvin and Hobbes strip is just perfectly worded.  The imagery evoked in the third panel is both beyond human comprehension and yet totally, in a way, imaginable.  Horrible theology, brilliant storytelling.

Calvin Punting Angels(image from

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The Ash Wednesday Confrontation

This piece by Richard Beck is the best thing I read today about the observance of Ash Wednesday.  It’s an interesting snapshot of a modern approach to an ancient tradition.

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February Peanuts

I feel like Peanuts was one of the non-adventure strips to really utilize day-to-day storytelling (that’s true, at least for me).  What’s fun is that the characters and their quirks work on the day-to-day level of dramatic build as well as in the one-offs that tie into the strip has a whole.  Here are three from last week that really  stand out.  First, a Charlie Brown freakout:

Peanuts February 1Next, some report card humor that rings true decades later (when grades are less and less a thing in many schools):

Peanuts February 2And then finally, a Lucy and Schroeder piece that captures their dynamic perfectly:

Peanuts February 3(images from

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“A Universe with Stakes” or “The Right Way to Experience the World”

Back in early January, I attempted a short series of reflections on the hot-button of the turn of the year: the Christian faith and a “therapeutic gospel.”  This piece by Brad East of Abilene Christian University was going to be the through line, and it would have run for five or six posts.  I got through two before promising an excursion into the thoughts of Charles Taylor.  I actually wrote that post, but didn’t feel it was ready to post.  And then the rest of January happened . . . and now most of February, too.

I like East’s post because it covers important ground about preaching in a way that sums things up quite nicely.  He provides a framework for thinking about what preaching should be since it out not be therapeutic.  The framework includes things that ought to go without saying as advice because they should always be said.  But life on the ground, preaching or speaking on a regular basis, can lead you to lose sight of such things.  That and a few of repetition or of preaching two sermons in one (one part exegetical, one part invitation that doesn’t really connect with the first sermon).

Perhaps the thing I like most about East’s post was the final point.  After talking about God and salvation and sin and heaven, East asserts that “one test for preaching that seeks to avoid reducing the gospel to therapy is whether it mentions the Devil, demons, and evil spiritual forces.”  Why? Well:

Show me a church that talks about Satan, and I’ll wager it also talks about sin, salvation, heaven, and God. Show me a church that never talks about Satan, and I’ll wager that next Sunday’s sermon won’t mention sin or heaven. Such a church is on its way to disenchantment, secularism, a therapeutic gospel, and functional atheism. The point isn’t that talk of devils is spooky, though it is. It’s that talk of devils presupposes and projects a universe with stakes.

Not much gets said about Satan, it seems.  Perhaps when technical issues or health conditions are bad, but not as part-and-parcel of proclamation.  But it makes sense to include it in the big picture, and as more than just a nod to Lewis’s Screwtape Letters.  East writes:

For ordinary believers, this cashes out in how they understand their daily lives. Are they living in enemy territory? Are they constantly under assault by the Enemy? You don’t have to be charismatic to think or talk like this. But preaching makes evident whether this is the right way to experience the world.

Here’s the fundamental question: Is following Christ like living in wartime or in peacetime? The flavor of a sermon tells you all you need to know. And if, as I began this post, therapeutic preaching finally serves to reassure disenchanted professionals in the upper-middle-class that God affirms them as they are—that a well-adjusted life is attainable, though ennui on the path is to be expected—then we have our answer: there are no demons; there is no war on; we are living in peacetime.

Such a message may be the best possible way to lull believers to sleep. Not literal sleep (a TED Talk can be entertaining), but spiritual sleep. Jesus commands us to be alert, to be watchful, to stay awake as we eagerly await his coming. The command, in short, presumes a wartime mentality. Peacetime is thus a myth, a lie from the Enemy. Each of us forgets this at our own peril, but preachers most of all.

I included two quotes from East as titles for this post.  “A Universe with Stakes” because it is a truth that is easy to forget.  Or we forget that “stakes” in this case applies to a number of aspects of the life of faith.  And then the second title, “The Right Way to Experience the World,” because it opens a door not just to the thoughts of Charles Taylor but also Hartmut Rosa and so many thinkers who write about how we actually interact with and move through the world.  You could even, I suppose, make a link to Lewis’s “Learning in Wartime.”

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I’ve got a few different posts ready for the rest of the week.  I really want to be regular here, but sometimes the best I can do is the Sunday post.  I’ve got some comics and some music lined up.  And hopefully I can get some more reflection and thinking down, too.

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