September 7, 2012 by Jason Hood
Dear English friends,
I was listening to an old cassette tape of national anthems with my daughter this weekend, and a question popped into my head. Have your people found a substitute for the most ironic national anthem ever? (Let me say up front that I’m an Anglophile and I love E2. But that aside, we’ve got a really awkward situation here with this anthem.) Let’s break it down from a British perspective:
“God” (in whom we hardly believe, and certainly aren’t interested in obeying) save our gracious (in terms of manners, yes, but can a professional celebrity really show grace to anybody?) “queen” (she’s essentially just a fantastically wealthy lady with lots of servants). She can’t be victorious save for the realms of fashion and public opinion. She certainly doesn’t “rule over” anything other than her palaces and country estates…so why exactly are we asking for her to reign a long time? Will Balmoral Castle fall into shadow without her?
Then there’s the second verse:
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks
Clearly there is only one enemy of royal rule in England at the moment: the democratic and parliamentary system of government. So the song becomes a prayer for the destruction of democracy. That’s not offensive to me personally, as I have less love for democracy than most, and virtually no stake in Tory or Labour politics.
May she defend our laws
Well they’re now carrying guns down in that London, not just those less-than-terrifying sticks-and-hats. And the queen is apparently taking up sky-diving. So I guess I can understand this request. But again, her lack of official authority still makes this confusing for me. Is she licensed to carry, let alone kill? I suppose she could be a judge–and I’d trust her more than most American jurors–but I doubt the UK has juries, and if they do I bet she’s exempt.
The fourth round is quite nice. But it never mentions her.
Last but not least, she’s called a “prince” in the fifth verse. Now, I appreciate that English is not a gendered language. Still, that’s quite a leap of the imagination with respect to gender–almost as much a leap as imagining she has any more power than George Clooney or other such celebrity.
But look on the bright side. This revelation means that the Sex Pistols were singing an ironic song ironically, and thus no one needs to be offended at them anymore. They were probably being patriotic. They were certainly being English.4 Comments
August 14, 2012 by Jason Hood
The Bourne Liturgy: A script was just leaked on this one. A highly trained megachurch worship star discovers confession, contemplation, awe.
And if that goes well, we’ll look forward to two more. Here’s the voiceover for the trailer for The Bourne Lent: “In a world . . . where no one fasts . . . one man . . . reaches into the spiritual depths to uncover the meaning . . . ”
Finally, in The Bourne Litany, he can’t remember who he is . . . so he keeps going through a step-by-step recital of his transgressions . . . until he remembers: in Christ, he is a New Creation.
And of course, it turns out that there’s a contemporary parallel to Bourne Liturgy; ancient worship has a Legacy, with Jeremy Renner playing guitar and wearing flannel.1 Comment
February 14, 2012 by Jason Hood
A friend posted this on FB; it juxtaposes Matthew’s previous post rather nicely and reminds me of more serious points for self-reflection.
Just yesterday, trying to understand the rising fascination with Barth, I wondered whether we have a need to believe that a theologian really could be a rock star rather than an awkward servant. It’s not just Barth, of course; some have a “rock star” perception of Calvin, even though his life reveals him to be anything but.
Perhaps we want to believe that it’s possible to be celebrated on the cover of Time or appear on The Daily Show. Or that we’ll be the next great, young, well-known British preacher. (Let the reader understand.)
The reality of course is very different. We bear the scent not of celebrity, but of “the refuse of the world” (1 Cor 4:13). But if our work has any value, we also become the fragrance of life and death and the knowledge of God himself (2 Cor 2:14-17).3 Comments
November 8, 2011 by Jason Hood
I’ve signed up to discuss a part of Matthew Lee Anderson’s book on the body in Christian thought and practice, Earthen Vessels. (You should buy a copy, or have him chat at a church or campus or even with a reading group.) What follows is my internal dialogue (so say some) an external diabolism.
I realize it’s not the normal format. Please, indulge me like Tetzel.
Why bother with the chapter on tattoos? For starters, there are some nice observations and turns of phrase. Tattoos, MLA notes, are a social and not merely personal phenomenon; “The skin stretches beyond its limits into the world around us.” There are many such, but let’s keep it light, shall we?
Why did I volunteer to write about something I can’t even consistently spell, let alone something I don’t have an opinion on? Why couldn’t MLA have asked John MacArthur to blog about this? JMac could have told you clearly what to do—in three points—and spawned a snafu over tattoo taboos.
Why don’t I care about my tattoos?
What has me writing is that my students—whether fundy, liberated, or secularist—do care. Last week I taught through Lev 19 with undergrads in an introductory OT survey course. We had some stimulating discussion on the quest for identity and labels. It was abruptly terminated. (Just picture a fairly immature crowd, and Yvette Nicole Brown with an extra 75 or 100 pounds. Now imagine her saying, “What about a sexy little butterfly tattoo? Would that be a quest for identity?” Now imagine recovering the conversation after that.) But the thoughts on identity-quest registered while it lasted, just as they did in MLA’s tattoo chapter.
So I can get a convo going, but I don’t know what I’m talking about: I’ve had three earrings, but I’ve never been inked. So allow me to draw from the shameful specter of tattoos in my family. Shortly after her 80th birthday, my grandmother got her first tattoos. Okay, so they were just eyebrows. But her pastor, who “graciously” gave her a pass, was still concerned enough to preach on tattoos three weeks later. (Without naming denominations, let’s just say they place tattoos, alcohol, and worship with musical instruments in a catch-all drawer that—in their view—holds anything falling between “demonic” and “dumb” on the moral spectrum.)
I think many of us agree that there’s nothing inherently sinful or wrong with getting a tattoo. We commonly call these “wisdom” issues (as opposed to matters of “law”; that’s a gross simplification that borders on the theological felonious, but let’s roll with it for the moment) and agree not to bug one another about them.
The challenging part is that “wisdom” issues actually require wisdom. We always have to work through interesting and important questions. (How exactly do you spell IXTHYS/ICHTHUS, and will it fit legibly in the fish symbol you’ve selected? Why exactly do you want a sexy little butterfly? What if your fiancée dies and you marry someone else…with a different name? Obviously you are trying very hard when you ink to say something…what is it, and is it worth saying? If later in your life you are less hostile to Darwin, could you modify the tat so that your Jesus fish kisses your Darwin lizard?)
And while we try to answer those questions, we’ll always have conservative and liberal voices pressing us, squeezing out the middle ground that lies between (1) “Do whatever you want” and (2) “The devil wants you to get inked.”
The tricky part lies here: “wisdom” issues involve motivation. (And I can’t fully know my own heart, let alone much about others.) But I’ll hazard this thought: I suspect that one primary reason we tat and pierce, as with so much of what we do with our body, is a matter of staking out identity. (I’m cosigning Matt here.) That might be true even if we are just identifying ourselves as “bored.”
I remember struggling back in the 90s, after my third earring: I wasn’t really the sort of musical rebel who needed three earrings. I didn’t even have black Doc Marten’s. I was no longer depressed enough to wear black all the time. The earrings seemed so…out of place.
Pessimistic non-sequitur: What is the difference between stamping doulos on my bicep to praying on street corners? Neither is wrong per se; I’d give you a ride downtown for both activities. But with the latter, maybe you’re telling the world, “I’m holy!” And with the former, I could be shouting, “I’m not a loser fundy, and by golly, I’m a Jesus-slave!” If so, the line between holy roller and holy rock-and-roller starts is thinning…
Up to this point I’m merely playing on Matt’s points. But I do want to suggest a way to advance the conversation. I have two directions. First, if we tat, we should probably do it with excellence. In fact, I’d love to see Christian tattoo academies. (Not least so that people could learn to do Hebrew and Greek correctly. Very serious question: what’s the ratio between evangelical liberal arts schools and trade schools? What does that say about our view of working with and on our bodies?) Can’t we raise funds to start such joints in, say, Grand Rapids, Colorado Springs, Wheaton, or Branson? Couldn’t Thomas Kinkade, Rev. Finster’s estate, and Mako join forces for the greater good?
Ain’t no tat like a Christian tat, cuz a Chrsitian tat comes in matte. (And complete with “master highlights” for a few hundred bucks more.)
Secondly, and seriously: I’ve never heard anyone apply the NT’s approach to externalities to tats. Granted, I haven’t been listening—again, just not something I care about.
1 Peter 3 and 1 Tim 2 both cite what I call “peacocking” as a particularly dangerous thing for Jesus people. Braids (which were often elaborate, status-symbol endeavors in Gr-Rom culture), gold, pearls, and expensive clothing create problems both for the community of faith (stratifying and segregating) and for the peacocks engaged in such displays.
If tats and piercings are really a subset of the bigger discussion about how we clothe and present ourselves, maybe the concerns we find in places like 1 Pet 3 and 1 Tim 2 need to be part of the conversation. The NT wants us to downplay flash and splash, and does not look kindly on acts of segregation.
That certainly doesn’t mean “NO TATS!” But it does mean THINK (theologically) WHEN YOU INK…
Matt, back to you in the studio for some elaboration on t(h)at…1 Comment
October 21, 2011 by Jason Hood
All institutions of higher learning must be regionally accredited. The body for that accreditation here in the South, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, is notorious for being extra picky. (Some suggest this is due in part to an inferiority complex at being southern.)
Well, we now have proof that the reputation meets reality. During a recent presentation in front of a SACS committee for re-accreditation, an administrator for Victory University had a heart attack.
However, SACS VP Dr. Robin Hoffman administered CPR and (along with others) is credited with saving the administrator’s life. No word on what SACS charged for such services.0 Comments
August 30, 2011 by Jason Hood
It’s an ode in three parts: epistolary, poetry, and a testimonial narrative.
If anyone thinks they’ve got reason to love their PC, well, I had more. I was of the nation of PCs, of the tribe of laptop; as to the web, an Explorer. As to operating systems, of the eighth generation of Windows (Vista, XP, or whatever was after Windows 7).
But I didn’t consider my PC-ness as righteousness, and I became a Mac user, that I may be found with an Apple, not having computer greatness of my own, but having my own macrighteousness. Still, even though I’m a Mac user, I don’t consider myself to have “made it”. I press on, working to reach that for which I purchased a Mac, forgetting my PC ways and striving to reach what lies ahead. (I bought my wife a Macbook.)
Aiming for Apple like William Tell
Went online and found it tax-free for sale
Now I’m ruling the web like Mac-iavelli
I’ve said goodbye to my PC and even my telly.
A testimonial narrative
No, seriously. I’m now so cool that I went outside and fall started. My habits of driving old Grand Marquise (or whatever the plural is of Grand Marquis) and taking very early lunch were once regarded by an unnamed friend as “old man” style. But because I have a Mac, they are now hip as can be. The local dealerships have sold out of Grand Marquis and even other similar cars, like Crown Vics. All the lunch joints are packed at 10:45.
And no one calls me “sir” around town anymore. No, they call me “Dude”. Thank you, Steve Jobs. Thank you for making me cool.3 Comments
August 29, 2011 by Jason Hood
Well, it’s that time of year again: fantasy football time, and all my friends are on my case to join them in the fun. I just don’t have the time; the last thing I need is more time on the computer at home or at work. But I like the idea of fostering a little camaraderie and gamesmanship. So the question is, how can I make a game out of work?
Here’s my first effort: Fantasy Theologian. 10 points for a book. 5 points for a conference. 1 point for an interview or op-ed. 1 point for every 20 blog posts. I drafted N. T. Wright and Tim Keller in the first three rounds.
You select a theologian from each category: NT, OT, Systematics, Pastor-theologian, and (for special teams) Activist Theologian. You don’t have to sit a guy unless he goes on sabbatical (like John Piper) or gets nailed for some heresy (negative points).
Even more fun: Fantasy Televangelist. 10 points per TBN appearance. 5 points per conference tour. 2 points for each continent visited during a season. 1 point per person slain in spirit, faith offering; celebrity guest while on tour (heck yes Carmen counts) and 1 point for every 10 foot lengthenings. Negative points for divorces, congressional investigations, and sex scandals.0 Comments
August 23, 2011 by Jason Hood
…on the side of a pickup truck. We’re really working on the bivocational thing here.2 Comments
July 20, 2011 by Jason Hood
I absolutely adore The Hobbit. It was a childhood favorite of mine. It’s enchanting, quick, and thoughtful, an other-worldly tale spun with real emotions, desires, virtue and sin. It is the Old Testament to Lord of the Rings‘s New Testament: an indispensable precursor that contains much of the latter work in nuce. Next year is The Hobbit 75th anniversary and the launch of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit film. Such a landmark is no eleventy-first (111st) birthday, but it should be celebrated in style.
So in the mirth-ful style of ale-warmed dwarves and well-fed hobbits, I offer my suggestions for the casting for Jackson’s movie, slated for December 2012 release. What follows assumes a generous use of staging and perspective to make large appear small and vice versa (and a generous use of generosity on the part of those involved). I’ve also included a “theological understudy” in case Peter Jackson drops out and Andrew Peterson and Donald Miller team up in his stead.
Bilbo: Justin Timberlake. Derek Webb or SEBTS prof Heath Thomas would be the theological understudies.
Gandalf: Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, or Samuel L. Jackson; they should cage fight to see who gets the role. Rowan Williams would be the theological understudy. (He already spends time keeping people together who don’t necessarily want to be together, discerning runes, and disappearing for meetings when things get interesting.)
Dwarves: They always seem a little old to me, so let’s skew that direction, as well as “deceptively athletic”: Danny de Vito, Jon Kruk, Paul Giamatti, Diego Maradonna, and Gene Hackman. Robin Williams and Rick Warren play Fili and Kili. (Have you ever seen them at the same time and place? Me either). Tom Wright and Marcus Borg are theological understudies, and at lunch one day they wrote a book together entitled, Two Theological Perspectives on Playing a Dwarf.
Trolls: James Gandolfini, Kevin James, and Toby Keith. Theological understudy is anybody who trolls around Christian blogs.
Goblins: Mostly an all-star ensemble of redheads–nothing could be scarier–but shading to strawberry blond and even pure white when completely protected from the Sun for decades: David Caruso, Eric Stoltz, Mark McGwire, Marcia Cross, Brian Scalabrini, Matt Bonner, Carrot Top, Gallagher, Molly Ringwold, Nicole Kidman, Donald Trump (yes, wigs count), Joy Behar, William H. Macy, Jr., and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Jim Gaffigan is the Great Goblin. Theological understudies are R. C. Sproul, Jr and Michael Bird.
Gollum: Kevin Spacey. Theological understudy is Rob Bell 2.0 (bald + glasses that make his eyes look big, esp when showing you a ring with his hands).
Eagles: Chuck Norris, Darlene Zschech, Bono, Chris Tomlin, Tait, Carmen, Lee Greenwood, and John Ashcroft. Eagles are super-spiritual, so no theological understudy is needed.
Beorn: This selection keeps changing. Ole Miss’s ex-mascot “Colonel Reb” was a candidate (because he can change into a Black Bear). Javier Bardem is in contention. Theological understudy is Mark Driscoll.
Elves: We need lots of these. Johnny Depp, Paul Hogan, David Beckham, church planter Jonathan McIntosh, Steven Seagal, Seth Godin, and SAET co-founder Todd Wilson. Bill Hybels is the elf-king; he hosts a summit for all sorts of Middle Earth folks every year. Rob Bell 1.0 (hair edition) and early John Piper are theological understudies.
Men: Mike Piazza, Tom Selleck, Bear Grylls, Kiefer Sutherland. Theological understudies are Kevin Vanhoozer, Peter Leithart, and Doug Wilson. In my mind’s eye, Selleck plays Bard.
Smaug: Jim Carrey. Theological understudy is Chris Tilling (who was self-appointed btw).5 Comments
June 14, 2011 by Jason Hood
We try to stay focused on ecclesial theology around here, but every now and then the franchise you pulled for as a kid wins big. (Mark Aguirre anybody? Roy Tarpley before the cocaine? Rolando? Brad Davis? And we were foreign before foreign was cool: Detlef, Bill Wennington, Uwe Blab.)
Maybe you want to know why, apart from the whole “pride goes before a fall” thing. Here’s a snip from wikipedia:
Don Nelson worked out draft day deals with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns: the Mavericks wanted Nowitzki and Suns reserve point guard Steve Nash; the Bucks desired muscular [this is true, but charitable...the man was huge, an elephant waiting to happen] forward Robert Traylor, who was projected to be drafted before Nowitzki; and the Suns had set their sights on forward Pat Garrity, who was projected as a low first round pick.
In the draft, the Mavericks drafted Traylor with their sixth pick, and the Bucks selected Nowitzki with their ninth and Garrity with their nineteenth pick. The Mavericks then traded Traylor to the Bucks for Nowitzki and Garrity, and they in return traded the latter to Phoenix for Nash.
In retrospect, Don Nelson . . . had an outstanding trade instinct, essentially trading future career underachievers Traylor and Garrity for two future NBA MVPs, Nowitzki and Nash.
This is second only to the famous Herschel Walker trade. And DFW won that one, too.1 Comment