on love

There is a cryptic line in the film Alexander, where the Persian warrior Pharnakes says to Alexander on his wedding night, “In the ways of my country, those who love too much lose everything. Those who love with irony last.”

I’m not sure why that line has stuck in my head even after so many years – it’s not particularly helpful, and as far as I know it’s mostly a load of orientalist crap; there is no provenance beyond a possible garbling of a sermon by Ali, brother of the Prophet Muhammad.

But by happy coincidence I think this line speaks more truth than it seems to. Continue reading “on love”

on Messiah the son of David

“Later, as Jesus was teaching the people in the Temple, he asked, “Why do the teachers of religious law claim that the Messiah is the son of David? For David himself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ Since David himself called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?” The large crowd listened to him with great delight.

Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.” -Mark 12:35-40, NLT

Why should the Messiah be the Son of David? On the surface of it this seems like a very uniquely Jewish question, more or less unrelatable to many Christians. And in many ways it is a uniquely Jewish yearning, but it does have more to do with us as Christians than might seem. Continue reading “on Messiah the son of David”

on grace

The story of Mephibosheth recently came up in a morning talk. King David was given supernatural grace to love his rival, the speaker pointed out, and this is something we should pray for too.

Now when I heard this I flew into a self-righteous rage (more on this later) over the seemingly man-centric conclusion, because I reckoned there’s a better way to look at it: we are Mephibosheth, standing before the King. By all rights we are dead men, not (it seems to us) by any virtue of what we’ve done, but simply because of who we are, the blood that runs in our veins. But someone before us has earned the King’s favour on or behalf, and because the King honours promises, he not only calls us friend, but brings us into his family, gives us a home, a future, and his own riches (2 Sam 9:6-7). Continue reading “on grace”

wherever you go

Part of growing up is realising that the monsters are not outside – often they’re inside us. It isn’t the world conspiring to do us in, it’s our weaknesses, our desires, our bad choices that find us again and again. The monsters find us always. And how we deal with them shapes who we turn out to be in the end. Continue reading “wherever you go”

on believing in God

Disney’s Aladdin is flawed in a lot of ways – the cheesy story, the sometimes comically inappropriate racism (though to be fair things were a bit different in the 90s) – but in lots of ways it’s a great movie.

One line has always stuck in my head though: when Aladdin (or Prince Ali at this point) invites Princess Jasmine for a magic carpet ride, he asks her “do you trust me?”

That line for me holds a lot of theological water when we think about our faith. At times we’ve made it all a bit hard to understand, or we’ve made ‘believing in God’ a mark of faith without really defining what said belief means. What does believing in God mean? Believing he exists? Believing he wants the best for me? But I think at the heart of that concept and of our faith is that same, simple question.

Do you trust me? Continue reading “on believing in God”

on space jesus

I recently watched Man of Steel, and holy moly what a silly film, but fun. It was basically The Adventures of Space Jesus. The thing is I went into the cinema knowing that it had overt Christian themes, and I was looking out for them. And actually in the end I kind of liked seeing them there. A lot of the Jesus references were a bit ham-fisted, but it was fun, and there are plenty of explosions and fistfights. Plus it’s refreshing to see a big budget Hollywood film play around with Christian imagery and ideas.

Now apparently there are quite a few churches that are not happy at all about the Jesus imagery. Some of them have even labelled the Superman character anti-Christian, because the real Jesus would never fight back against the bad guys, punching and heat-raying them. The most Christ-like figure in the whole film, one critic says, is Kevin Costner’s self-sacrificial character, not Superman. Continue reading “on space jesus”

on what truth is

On the eve of his execution Jesus is questioned by Pilate about his identity (John 18:33-38). Jesus tells Pilate that he is in fact a King, just as Pilate had been trying to get Jesus to admit all along, but adds “the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.”

To which Pilate (you can almost see the sneer on his face) replies “What is truth?”

What is truth? The classicist in me goes first and foremost to the ancient writers: Continue reading “on what truth is”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑