Thursday, January 29, 2004

Goodbye to an "offensive" comic strip?

It was inevitable...a lot of people are letting the Rockford Register Star know that they're not happy with the newspaper dropping Johnny Hart's "B.C." comic strip.

On January 19, the paper announced it would be dropping the strip because it is "offensive, silly and senseless." The paper cited controversial strips that they viewed as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim, and said they were tired of fielding complaints about the strip.

I am not a big comic reader, but I had often been amazed at Johnny Hart's boldness in witnessing through his comic strip. I figured it would only be a matter of time before it prompted an uproar.

Today's Register Star has several letters to the editor, most of them protesting the demise of the strip and pointing out the hypocrisy of continuing to allow comic strips like "Doonesbury" and others that have blatant anti-Christian themes.

If you want to know more about Johnny Hart, check out this article at

What did music sound like in Jesus' day?

Well, in all probability it sounded nothing like music you'll hear in church this Sunday...whether your church favors old hymns, contemporary or Southern gospel.

Now, a Texas-based musical group called SAVAE--San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble--has recorded an album of music they say is authentically like what was sung in Jesus' time.

The group's artistic director, Christopher Moroney, told AP's Religion Roundup that ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible contain musical notations that can now be read. The group sings and chants ancient hymns and Scriptures in the original language, using the kinds of instruments that were available thousands of years ago.

Listening to some samples of this music, I was taken back to my childhood when my parents were missionaries in Beirut, Lebanon. It sounds very much like a mixture of music that is still popular in the Mideast today, and the eerie sounds of a Muslim call to prayer from a minaret.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if SAVAE's rendering of ancient music is pretty authentic. At any rate, it shows me that God's stamp of approval probably isn't on any one particular style of music...and it's pretty presumptuous of us to think we know just exactly what music is pleasing to Him.

I read "The Screwtape Letters" yesterday...

and was once again struck by the wit and wisdom of C. S. Lewis.

Yes, I read the entire's actually a pretty slim volume...and no, I had never read it before. I was home sick from work, fighting this bronchial/sinus/icky thing that has been making me feel rotten for the past few days. And there was nothing to read. So I breached the haven of my daughter's bedroom and found the book, which had been one of her Christmas presents. (She had read a library copy before and loved it.)

In case you're unfamiliar with it, the book is in the form of letters from a mentor demon (Screwtape) to a less experienced one (Wormwood.) Screwtape gives Wormwood advice on how to handle his "patient," the human to whom he has been assigned. His advice on methods to use to keep this man away from "the Enemy"...which is how he refers to not only entertaining in a macabre sort of way, but convicting, as we see how often we as Christians cooperate with the real enemy's agenda.

A couple of things really stood out for me. One is how frustrated and bewildered the demons are by God's love for humans. "He actually likes the little vermin," Screwtape writes disgustedly at one point. That sentiment was repeated often.

Screwtape also talks about the fact that God wants to people the universe with little replicas of Himself...yet in making them more like Him, he also gives them back their own distinctness, making them more themselves than they ever were. "We want cattle who can finally become food," says the demon, "He wants servants who can finally become sons."

Another was (and this is a spoiler if you haven't read it) Screwtape's reaction to the patient's death. While furious that Wormwood has allowed a soul to slip through his clutches, he resignedly describes what the human must have been experiencing when his soul left his body. Screwtape is appalled that this "creature of slime" is now able to stand up and converse with spirit beings whose light the demons are unable to bear.

He also observes that, when meeting these spirit beings, the human instantly feels recognition...not asking "Who are you?" but saying, "So it was you..."

Wonderful book, with a lot of food for thought. Some people criticize Lewis' theology, but when I read one of his books, I'm usually inspired anew by the wonder of being a child of God...and that moves me to love Him more. And that's a good thing.

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