Dear Writers of The Office

Dear Writers of The Office,

First of all, I love The Office.  I do however feel like it is reaching the time when we have to say good bye.  I know that as long as this program lives it will be making NBC and all involved a lot of money.  That fact does not justify leading the show into it’s twilight years and sucking every last bit of life out of it.  I suggest that we make this year the last year of the beloved program.  Let’s begin to set in motion a plan for how The Office should pass into syndication eternity with dignity.

Having said all of that may I propose a tidy little way to wrap things up?  I’m going to do so anyway.  The premise of my suggestion is nothing new, but there are new layers to the whole thing.

First, the whole thing was a dream.  Here’s where things get interesting.  The whole thing is Creed’s Dream.  But not Creed as we know him today.  A younger Creed, played by Ryan (B.J. Novak).  This could be revealed when he wakes up and the person trying to wake him up keeps calling him Creed.  This makes the entire narrative of The Office a kind of warning for Ryan as he may turn into (old) Creed someday.

Second, the person trying to wake him up is James Spader, who is his father in the waking world.  That could explain why he appears so late in the dream.

Third, Ryan (Creed) is waking up on his first day of business school.

Fourth, Ryan’s first business school professor is none other than Michael Scott played by Steve Carrell.

Tight shot on Ryans bewildered face. Then Credits.

You’re welcome NBC.

Tuesday Morning

Getting back from vacation is always a challenge.  Yesterday I had a 6am meeting.  Not something I normally look forward too, but I was meeting with my friend Tom and we were talking about missions, so it was a great meeting.  Then I went to my office and tried to plow through my mounds and mounds of email, and administrivia.  I also met briefly with our lead pastor Don and got caught up and back in sync.  Then more email and administrivia.

I also was able to record a new episode of our podcast (supersecretbase.com) with Jeremy and Mike.  Then went out to dinner with the family and some friends, then went to my parents house and hung out there for a bit.  When we came home we put the kids right to bed.  Kathy watched a little TV, I did a little reading, then we went to bed at 9:30 PM.

9:30 PM is really early for me.  As a result I woke up at 4:45 AM, wide awake.  So I’ve got that going for me.  It’s been a while since I’ve woken up super early without a million things to do.

I recently submitted my first edited draft for my thesis and I am waiting to hear back from my advisor.  I don’t have any more classes to study for, and I just finished a stretch of preaching for Sunday morning.  My work load has lifted significantly for a season and I am enjoying that.  My hope is that I am able to take some time and be more consistent in writing on my blog and for supersecretbase.com.  I’ve also got some other writing ideas that have been percolating in my brain for the past several months and I will begin to work on some of those.  These are personal projects, they may never see the light of day but they will (hopefully) help me to become a better writer.

I don’t know why I wrote this post other than that I simply had to write something on here at the start of this new season.

How is your Tuesday morning going?

Sunday’s Message Had Legos

This past Sunday I had the privilege of speaking at Creekside Church.  We are working through a series called “Can You Trust the Bible.”  On Sunday I talked about how to read the Bible as a narrative.  Too often I think people approach the Bible with the wrong motives or assumptions about the text.  My understanding of how to approach the Bible is that it is the story of God rescuing his people.  As a Christian I understand that Jesus (his sacrificial death on the cross and resurrection) is the ultimate way that God rescues his people.  I’ve been influenced by N.T. Wright and the book The Drama of Scripture.

I encouraged Creekside to read the Bible as a narrative and to understand that we have a part to play because God’s story is not finished.  You can listen to the sermon here or get the video here.

I also used lego images from BrickTestament.com to help illustrate my message.  I have been asked to post my presentation so here that is as well. Narrative of Scripture presentation.

Enjoy.

So Close . . .

I just finished the first draft of my last chapter for my thesis.  This doesn’t mean that I’m finished.  However the marathon of words to pages is almost over.  I will trim, refine, and strengthen my arguements over the next little while.  But knowing that I have x amount of words committed to pages is a satisfying feeling.

So that’s coming along . . .

Freedom of God

“The idealized God is maintained at the expense of his freedom.  The idealized God lacks flexibility; initiative, the capacity to surprise.  The resulting picture of God is a sophisticated idol, but still an idol.” (Judson Mather, “The Comic Art of the Book of Jonah.” Soundings 65, no. 3 [September 1, 1982], 286).

I read this in my research on Jonah and Satire.  The author is essentially arguing that the Author of Jonah is satirizing the idealized God of ancient Israel.  The same God that uses Jonah as a kind of comic foil throughout the text.  But this passage got me thinking about Uber Calvinism.

As I understand it the challenge with theological systems that lean so heavily on pre-destination and the foreknowledge of God is that God can’t really change his mind.  And what Mather is saying is that God changed his mind regarding Nineveh because they repented.  This made Jonah angry, because God didn’t do what Jonah understood God was planning on doing.  (I understand that’s a really bad sentence.  Sorry).  Jonah is frustrated because he knew that God was a God of compassion and that he would relent of destroying Nineveh.  Jonah wanted to follow the formula, and he wanted the result that God had promised, That the city would be overturned.

Now, in the book of Jonah, the City did repent.  Nineveh was not destroyed but could it be argued that their hearts were overturned?  Which is more important, the destruction of a city or the destruction of wickedness and idolatry.

If we try to make God follow our formulas, then we are treating him like an idol.  Idols don’t work and they always disappoint.

I would rather serve a sovereign God who desires repentance rather than destruction, and would much rather dispense Grace than wrath.

It’s not my job to tell God that he has destroy cities or people.  It’s not my job to be angry when what I think is justice on the wicked is not delivered.  My job is to tell the truth about God that he has revealed through the Bible and through the leading of the Holy Spirit, and then let God do the rest.

I want God to be free to forgive, to love, to show mercy and grace.  I know how much grace and mercy I have received from God so for me to not be willing to let God give that to others is selfishness and worse it’s idolatry.

thoughts?

Colbert, Maron, Suffering, Faith, and Comedy.

As I’ve stated before, I’m working on a chapter for my thesis that examines Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report.  I cam across an article from Rolling Stone and Colbert Talked about losing and finding his faith again, and I thought I should share this.  So here:

Did you ever go through a period where you lost your faith?

Yeah. It was a college angst thing. But once I graduated from college, some Gideon literally gave me a box of The New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs on the street in Chicago. I took one and opened it right away to Matthew, Chapter 5, which is the opening of the Sermon on the Mount. That whole chapter is essentially about not worrying. I didn’t read it — it spoke to me, and it was an effortless absorption of the idea. Nothing came to me in a thunderbolt, but I thought to myself, “I’d be dumb not to re-examine this.”

What caused you to go through that dark period?

Well, I had very sad events in my childhood. The death of my father and my brothers was understandably a shattering experience that I hadn’t really dealt with in any way. And there comes a time when you’re psychologically able to do so. I still don’t like talking about it. It still is too fresh.

Do you think experiencing that has helped what you do in any way? Or made it more of a challenge?

Not to get too deep here, but the most valuable thing I can think of is to be grateful for suffering. That is a sublime feeling, and completely inexplicable and illogical, but no one doesn’t suffer. So the degree to which you can be aware of your own humanity is the degree to which you can accept, with open eyes, your suffering. To be grateful for your suffering is to be grateful for your humanity, because what else are you going to do — say, “No, thanks”? It’s there. “Smile and accept,” said Mother Teresa. And she was talking to people who had it rough. That’s not how you make jokes, though.

 

Strauss, Neil. “The Subversive Joy of Stephen Colbert. (Cover story).” Rolling Stone no. 1087 (September 17, 2009): 56-110. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed July 7, 2011).  Digital version had not page numbers.

Colbert is one of the great comedic minds of our time, and he’s also very thoughtful.  His character on The Colbert Report seems very different from the man in this interview, but that’s all part of Colbert’s genius.

His thoughts on suffering I think are very important.  Particularly when we think about the arc of comedy the U-shaped plot line which follows Good Life, Low point in life, Restoration.  That low point in the story is incredibly valuable because it makes the characters more human and more relatable.  Suffering is a part of everyone’s life and it becomes increasingly more important to realize that your suffering doesn’t have to be the end of your story.

"Comedy saved my life."

Yesterday I was listening to the WTF podcast with Marc Maron.  He gave the Keynote speech at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival.  His speech dealt with the low point of his life: divorced, a career that was dying, and thoughts of suicide.  But for him comedy saved his life, and he decided that the his suffering was not the end of his story. He began to take charge of his career, began a podcast where he reached out to other comics and began to process his pain.  Having listened to almost every episode (I know I’m a pastor but Jesus has heard cuss words before so I’m not too worried about it) Marc has come to understand who he is, he has examined spiritual issues, and really become a voice for others who are suffering to know that they are not alone.

I read this last night in the book Subversive Laughter by Ron Jenkins:

“In a world fraught with danger and despair, comedy is a survival tactic, and laughter is an act of faith.” (1)

That laughter is the reminder that this moment of despair is temporary.  This present suffering does not have to be the end of our story.

As a Christian and a Pastor, my purpose is to point people to Jesus.  Jesus suffered, just like we suffered.  And through the mystery of the incarnation.  Jesus, the eternal son of God, because of his suffering understands our suffering.  We don’t have to do life alone.  We don’t have to suffer alone.  We can embrace our suffering, learn from the moment and be transformed.  We truly can live a life of comedy even though we might feel like we are living a tragedy.

Don’t suffer alone.