Not the church! Jesus lives there!

Sometimes I think we get Jesus all wrong. His first miracle was to keep a party going. He made alcohol out of agua, and didn’t bother to lecture the drunkards. We never know what to do with that miracle. If we were in charge, it would have been the other way around: turning all the wine into water so no one could get smashed.

Jesus hung out with the hookers, the IRS agents, the AIDS victims, the handicapped. When he chose his disciples he didn’t pick Billy Graham, Charles Swindoll, Greg Laurie, Luis Palua, Ron Luce or any of the big names in Christianity. He didn’t pick Pope John. He would have told James Dobson that anyone who does not hate his family cannot be a disciple (Luke 14:26–how does Focus on the Family feel about that verse?). Instead he picked a bunch of regular Joes.

He still would have hung out with the Billy Grahams and the James Dobsons. As much as I like to think of Jesus as joining my side in an us against them war, he didn’t do that. He still ate with the Pharisees like he ate with the tax collectors. Tension hung in the air in both places.

When I applaud Jesus’ anti-materialistic ways, his urging us not to worry about clothes or provision, when I think eating PB&J is more righteous than Subway because I’m saving a buck or two–Jesus is commending the woman for pouring literally thousands of dollars worth of perfume on his head. What’s going on? I thought Jesus was the Savior for the lower class? But that kind of penny pinching and cost cutting is what Judas complained about. Suddenly I’m in the same league as Judas for worrying about how expensive a church roof looks.

Some people think Jesus gets mad about blasphemy, profanity, abortion, adultery. And maybe he does. But when Jesus got really pissed, it was when people misused the church. He saved his harshest words for the Billy Grahams and James Dobsons. He showed compassion to the woman caught with her pants down, but he ripped into the Pharisees who were concerned about power and status. He rebuked the demons and cast them out, but he didn’t go ballistic on them. He certainly didn’t picket anyone, but he did tell his disciples to shake the dust off their feet in any town that refused to listen.

What would Jesus think about something like this? Goofball pictures of an action figure Jesus with tongue in cheek captions. Would he huff and puff and smite somebody? The only time that happened in the New Testament was when a couple didn’t tell the whole truth. They didn’t even outright lie. They gave the church a whole bunch of money, but it wasn’t all their money–so they got zapped. Ouch. Would Jesus bust out a whip and tear down the computer? Or would he chuckle and add a comment of his own?

Sometimes Jesus is more mysterious than we think. ‘What would Jesus do?’ isn’t a question to answer lightly, or quickly.

HTML Good Buddy

Speaking of computer animation, it’s been a while since I’ve gone off about how cool Veggie Tales is. We bought the Jonah movie last week, and we’ve been watching all the fun extras on the DVD. We didn’t get around to watching the actual movie until today (of course we did see it in the theater).

But first the extras. By far, the best part is the commentary with Larry and Mr. Lunt. It’s basically just 83 minutes of banter. It has nothing to do with what’s going on in the movie. It’s awesome. There’s also the usual fun stuff like a tour of the Big Idea headquarters, which actually an old Woolworths in a mall. It also includes a preview for an upcoming Veggie Tales video, to be released this summer: The Ballad of Little Joe, a retelling of the story of Joseph starring Larry as Little Joe with his Amazing Technicolor Leather Vest. Quality.

But back to the movie. I remember the story of Jonah being about how we should obey God or else. Or else we’ll get swallowed by a whale. Not very fun. Of course God is kind, so he’ll give us a second chance and have the whale spit us up. So the lesson was we should obey God, because if we don’t something gross will happen to us, and then we’ll have to obey God anyway.

Which isn’t exactly the story of Jonah. The Veggie Tales flick focuses on mercy and compassion. The last chapter of Jonah, which all my Sunday School teachers skipped, is all about how Jonah is a jerk and didn’t want God to have mercy or compassion on Ninevah. The story’s not about how we should obey God or he’ll make a large fish swallow us. That’s not really God’s thing. It’s about freakin’ forgiveness. It’s about giving people a second chance, even when they don’t deserve it. That’s the God I serve.

Sometimes I feel like we really miss God’s boat. It doesn’t seem like God’s so interested in telling us how much we suck. Sure we do, and God lets us know–but that’s not his cup of tea. He’d like to get over that. He’d rather show us grace and mercy than judgment (which isn’t exactly a perfect picture of Christians). Which is where Jesus comes in. God walks around in our skin doling out grace and mercy–not judgment and condemnation. And what really pissed him off? People who thought they were in God’s boat, but really weren’t. We are so Pharisees, and we don’t even know it.

All that from a kid’s movie. Quality.

See the happiest fish in the world at our famous beerquarium

Last night we went to see the latest computer-animated Pixar creation, Finding Nemo. I love how the folks behind computer-animated movies seem to have nailed the perfect audience equation. They’re effectively movies for children, but the good ones are so much more entertaining. For some reason computer-animated movies seem to be doing this the best. From everything Pixar’s done to Shrek and Veggie Tales’ Jonah, most computer-animated flicks are made for the whole family. That rocks.

Their weren’t even that many kids at the theater last night. The family in front of us had two teenagers. A middle school aged guy was sitting by himself in the front row. Four twenty-something couples walked in the theater immediately after we did. It was great.

The movie was fun, too. It wasn’t as brilliantly original as Monsters Inc. or either of the Toy Story movies, but it had a lot of heart and a lot fun. Since it didn’t have any huge name actors (John Goodman, Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal, Tim Allen, etc.), it felt like more of a small-scale movie, which was kind of nice. It didn’t feel like a movie where the kids would be swimming in merchandise and tie-ins, which is probably the nature of a movie about fish (of course there is plenty of merchandising, but it doesn’t feel as enticing).

Lobster stuffed with tacos

I spread the love today. Donated two cans of food (tomato sauce and vegetable beef soup) for a free Chipotle burrito. I’m never quite sure if these charitable free food events are really charity or a big fat publicity stunt. It seems like just cutting out the middle man and giving free burritos straight to the homeless folks would be more effective. At least it’d be more tasty than Campbell’s vegetable beef soup.

Birds are singing, bees are trying to have sex with them–as is my understanding

Look out, I’m going to start talking about sex. Young children and uptight mothers might want to leave the room now. Is it safe? Boobies! OK, just checking.

I read the following in John Fischer’s new book, Finding God Where You Least Expect Him, and much of this quote is a quote from country/folk singer/songwriter Butch Hancock: “‘We grew up with two main things: God loves you and he’s gonna send you to hell, and sex is bad and dirty and nasty and awful and you should save it for the one you love.’ The humor wouldn’t be there if the sentiment wasn’t widespread. This is the nature of popular evangelical thinking that casts doubt on the entire human experience.”

It made me think about sex and how freakin’ uptight we are about it. A recent Onion article poked fun at this very topic, with terrible–yet hilarious–results. Why is sex such a big deal? Youth groups drill kids about the importance of abstinence, and then we expect them to dive right in on their wedding night. There’s a bit of an odd disconnect there, where suddenly sex is beautiful–just don’t talk about it.

If you’ve ever watched a movie, it’s amazing how sexual imagery is used, and often difficult to discuss. If you’re watching the movie with a group of friends, it’s suddenly an incredible awkward moment.

The Matrix Reloaded included such an awkward sex scene, where Neo and Trinity are gettin’ jiggy with it while a crowd of dirty Zionites bump and grind. It’s a painfully long scene and everyone rips on it, rightfully so, but very few people mention the importance of the Neo and Trinity half of the scene. (Obviously the entire scene is showing the differences between man and machine, what Neo is fighting for. Some would say the drunken orgy of dirty dancing is a joke and not worth fighting for–I would argue that was intentional.)

The importance of the scene comes at the end when Trinity climaxes and her expression is virtually the same as her expression in Neo’s nightmares of her falling to her death. It becomes even more obvious with the “little death” expression describing orgasm (thanks to Andrew O’Hehir of How’s that for a freakout? That’s the gravity of what Neo is dealing with, and that scene nails it so poignantly. But it’s about sex, so let’s not talk about it.

Sex is an amazing thing, and it’s been corrupted by adulterers, pornographers, and rapists. In and of itself it is pure, and we so often forget this, instead condemning ourselves for an erection. I’ve heard others ask this question before, but do you think Jesus ever had an erection? Blasphemer! I’m going to hell, huh? Give me a break, for Jesus to be fully human, he must have had an erection at some point in his hormone-filled teens. That’s humanity folks, enjoy it.

I’m not trying to say adultery or pornography are okay, those things suck. And I’m not saying lust is no big deal. It most definitely is. But it’s a temptation, and it doesn’t mean the whole load is shot.

The Best U2 Ever

Last night I endeavored to do something that’s probably blasphemous in the eyes of many. At least what I came up with might be considered sacrilege. I set out to create a CD of my personal favorite U2 songs. For those of you who know U2, that’s no small feat. Limiting yourself to 74 minutes is pretty tricky. To be honest, I cheated. My wife made a favorites CD, too, so some of my favorites are on her CD, and that saved room on my own CD.

What’s truly difficult about this endeavor, is choosing which version of a particular song you want. I have five different versions of “Bad” alone (the album version, the Wide Awake in America version, the Rattle & Hum DVD version, the Elevation 2001 DVD version, and the Live Aid version). Of course I’m a U2 freak, so I’ve been able to download a number of songs and I figured out how to rip the audio off my DVDs so I could have some quality live versions.

A project like this can tell you a lot about someone. I think mine says that I like slow depressing songs, loud bangy songs, and live versions of the classic anthems. I think Abby’s mix shows her hope in spite of it all.

And whenever you do something like this, there’s going to be the detractors. The pissed off people who are looking for their own favorite songs and are bound to be disappointed. For those wondering what almost made my list, “Discotheque” was the last song cut. I also flirted with “Silver and Gold,” “Hawkmoon 269,” “Gone”, “Until the End of the World,” “Fly,” “Pride,” and “I Will Follow” (live from the Elevation 2001 DVD). I was also briefly tempted by “Lemon” and “Babyface,” because I like to sing along in a bad falsetto. And of course just about anything from All That You Can’t Leave Behind–I love that album, but for the most part I opted for live versions. I also think it’s funny that we have nothing taken straight from Joshua Tree, probably the best U2 album ever. Again, we opted for the live versions.

And with no further babbling, I present the Best U2 Ever:

Best U2 Ever (Kevin)
1) Beautiful Day live (Elevation 2001 DVD)
2) Wake Up Dead Man (Pop)
3) Exit live (Rattle & Hum DVD)
4) Last Night On Earth (Pop)
5) Bad live (Rattle & Hum DVD)
6) Lady with the Spinning Head (Best of 1990-2000 B-Sides)
7) Acrobat (Achtung Baby)
8) Out of Control live (live from New York, Oct. 24, 2001)
9) Please live (History Mix DVD)
10) Sunday Bloody Sunday live (Rattle & Hum DVD)
11) Mofo (Pop)
12) 40 intro/Where the Streets Have No Name (Elevation 2001 DVD)
13) Love is Blindess (Achtung Baby)

Best U2 Ever (Abby)
1) Elevation live (Elevation 2001 DVD)
2) Mysterious Ways (Achtung Baby)
3) MLK (The Unforgettable Fire)
4) The Sweetest Thing (The Best of 1980-1990 B-Sides)
5) Peace on Earth (All That You Can’t Leave Behind)
6) I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For live (Rattle & Hum DVD)
7) Unchained Melody (The Best of 1980-1990 B-Sides)
8) Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of (7)
9) Everlasting Love (The Best of 1980-1990 B-Sides)
10) When the Stars Go Blue featuring Bono (VH1 Presents the Corrs live in Dublin)
11) With or Without You live (Rattle & Hum DVD)
12) One (Achtung Baby)
13) Grace (All That You Can’t Leave Behind)
14) Walk On live (Elevation 2001 DVD)
15) October (October)
16) All I Want Is You (Rattle & Hum)