What Is A Trichoplax?

A Trichoplax is one of the simplest organisms you can find. It has no discernible organs or structure, and is basically a flat blob of tissue that moves around. Is it alive? I don't know. But I thought I'd ruminate on other conundrums in this space.

I Agree

Revelation Chapters 19-22

I finished my series on the book of Revelation last night, not without some bit of sadness. Certainly I feel the accomplishment of having made it through such a challenging study, but I also feel like my involvement with The House ministry is wrapping up too. In any case, I've enjoyed preparing for these studies and I've learned a TON. I feel like my knowledge of scripture and of God's plan has been profoundly affected by the book of Revelation.

So, what did I talk about? Well, it's the end of the book so John is wrapping up loose strings. We see a progressive defeat of God's enemies (the harlot, the beast, Satan, and finally death), the millennium in the midst of that, and then the New Earth and New Heavens. There is a lot in the text to point out that it's not meant as a verbatim account of what will come, but as a spiritual guide of what to expect. So, for instance, we shouldn't expect New Jerusalem to literally come as a ginormous cube out of the sky, but we should understand it as a symbol of who and what the church is, in shadow now and in fullness then.

Mainly, what I wanted to express was that catching a glimpse of God's plan, of His mercy and His love for us, can create hope in us. I believe that hope can really change the way a person lives. Furthermore, what a person hopes for matters too. As Christians, if we understand that anything this world has to offer us pales in comparison to the promise of God's presence, how can we not live differently in that light? That, I believe, may be the entire point of the book of Revelation. I'm hopeful I got that point across.

Survey my notes here.

Revelation Chapters 14-18

My friend Jason Leonard gave me a break last week and led the discussion on Revelation 14-16 on the topic of judgement, which is so clearly a theme of Revelation. I think our knee-jerk reaction to the judgements described in the Bible is to put ourselves in the place of the people being judged and thinking, how unfair! The reality is that God is fair, and that judgement is delayed as long as possible so that people may come to repentance (see 2 Peter 3:9). The question for us is whether we trust and believe God to be "just and true" as the angels in Revelation put it. You can see Jason's notes here.

This week I jumped back in the fray with a discussion on Babylon in Revelation, from chapters 17 & 18, and a little bit of 19. What it boils down to is that Babylon is the anti-church; it is a culture and a people that are the opposite of what the Church is and will be. This is why God calls His people out of Babylon in Revelation 18:4-5, and why He continues to call us out of it even today. We are called to live in the tension between witness and purity, speaking God's life to a dead world. I ended the talk thinking about Hebrews 11:13-16, thinking about how we are "exiles and strangers" who desire a better world. Really, I don't think we should fear and shun our culture as much as we should desire and live towards a better place, on God has planned for us. I think hope in God's promises will make a much more profound effect on how we live life than shunning our culture will. You can see my notes from this talk here.

The Mist of Despair

Just watched a movie called The Mist last night, and aside from what I've said earlier about how Hollywood characterizes Christians (since there's a crazy Christian in this movie) I have some thoughts about the movie. Be forewarned, that my thoughts mostly concern the ending of the movie so I will be dishing out *spoilers*, though I don't necessarily recommend the movie for viewing.

The premise of the movie is that scientists have opened up a portal to another dimension, unleashing blood-thirsty creatures that hide in a spooky mist on an unwitting town in Maine. The story follows the plight of a group of people holed up in a grocery store as they fight the creatures off, as well as deal with conflicts among themselves (mostly caused by the aforementioned crazy Christian). In the end, the hero and a few others decide to make a break for it and manage to get in a car and drive as far south as they can to try and make it out of the mist. They eventually run out of gas and, surrounded by the sounds of foul beasts in the mist, the contemplate suicide instead of the inevitable fate of being ripped apart, as had been the fate of so many of their friends. The protagonist, equipped with a gun with only four bullets (when there are five people in the car) does the "noble" thing and shoots them all, including his own son. In despair, since he can't end his own life after such a horrific act, he steps outside the vehicle into the mist and dares the creatures to kill him. As he stands, waiting for the creatures to become visible, instead a tank laden with soldiers rumbles through the mist. Astonished, he stands watching as the army rolls by. The movie ends with him, a broken man on his knees as the mist recedes and survivors proceed past him to safety.

What a horrible ending! I could deal with the sight of disgusting monsters attacking people, because that's all make-believe. But the hopelessness that pushed him to such a horrific act was all too real.

I have lately been studying Revelation, and it's clear to me as a Christian that hope in the goodness and justice of our ultimate end is one of the main themes John deals with in that book. Not only that, but hope is described in 1 Corinthians 13 as a pillar of our spiritual walk, along with faith and love. I have to believe, that if the hero of that story had been a solid Christian (not a crazy one), he would have understood that God is good, and held out for deliverance one way or another. Instead, devoid of any thought for the sovereignty of God or His goodness despite the difficult circumstances, he gave into despair and made the worst possible decision. That, unfortunately, is an all too real situation for far too many people.

Shuffle 20

I don't normally respond to chain letters on Facebook, but this one was so amusing to me (considering my arcane tastes in music) I couldn't resist. If you have one of these songs in your playlist, congratulations. Enjoy:

"Once you've been tagged... (1) Turn on your MP3 player/iPod/ITunes. (2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode. (3) Write down the first 20 songs that come up--song title and artist--NO editing/cheating, please. (4) Choose 25 (or so) people to be tagged. It is generally considered to be courteous to tag the person who tagged you. "If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about your musical tastes, or at least a random sampling thereof. Or maybe you tagged me. Or maybe I thought you tagged me a long time ago and I'm just now getting around to responding. "To do this, go to "NOTES" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, enter your 20 Shuffle Songs, Click Preview to tag 20 people then click Publish."
  1. Escena Poeticas I: Eva Y Walter - Enrique Granados
  2. Concerto de Aranjuez: Adagio - Joaquin Rodrigo
  3. 2nd Improvision Op. 47, The Threat - Nikolai Medtner
  4. Medal of Honor: Securing the Codebook - Michael Giacchino
  5. Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52 Andantino con moto, quasi allegretto - Jean Sibelius
  6. Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collection, The Castle - Nobuo Uematsu
  7. Four Lyric Fragments, Op. 23 I. Allegretto commaodamente - Nikolai Medtner
  8. Quartet for piano, violin, viola and cello No. 2 in G minor Op. 45. Mvmnt. 2 - Gabriel Faure
  9. Tomb Raider: Dangerous Foe - Nathan McCree
  10. String Quartet in C Major, K. 465 'Dissonance', Menuetto & Trio - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  11. Prelude in B Major, Op. 16, No. 1 - Alexander Scriabin
  12. Star Wars: Episode III, The Immolation Scene - John Williams
  13. Pride & Prejudice: Dawn - Dario Marianelli
  14. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 16, Andantino, Allegro - Sergei Prokofiev
  15. Sonata No. 6 in D major, Allego Spiritoso - Gioachino Rossini
  16. Excursions, Op. 20: Allegretto - Samuel Barber
  17. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Cirith Ungol - Howard Shore
  18. Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 54, Intermezzo, Andantino Grazioso, Attacca - Robert Schumman
  19. Intermezzo in B-Flat Minor, Op. 114, No. 2: Andante non troppo e con molta espressione - Johannes Brahms
  20. Piano Concerto No. 3, Allegro Ma non Tanto - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Revelation Chapters 12 & 13

Ladies and Gentlemen, more Revelation notes! *The crowd goes nuts* Please, please, contain your excitement.

Okay, seriously. Last night I talked about the vision of the woman with child, the red dragon, and the two beasts. There's lots of historical context that helps make sense of this passage, and is pretty fascinating to boot. What it boils down to is an allegory of the church being protected, an assurance that Satan's time is short, and an expose of the political, economic, and religious forces that Satan has used, and continues to use for his ends. You can find the notes here.

Also, I used a list of verses last night concerning Eternal Life Now. I had some requests for that list, so it is here. I would highly recommend anyone reading to print out that document and prayerfully consider the verses included. You might also consider taping it up somewhere (like your bathroom mirror) and meditating on one of the verses a day. It could change your life.

Revelation Chapters 10 & 11

Last night I went over the central part of Revelation, the parable of the two witnesses. Yes, I said parable. I know that many people understand that passage to be literal, but considering how many elements of the passage are clearly figurative (especially the "mystical city") it is much more illuminating and powerful (and internally consistent) when we understand it as a parable. It is particularly a parable about the church's role as a witness to the people of the world, and of the life of Christ lived out through us which is God's plan for the redemption of the world. Not sure? Check out my notes here and then leave a comment.