A Journey Unfolding
Thursday, December 22, 2005

Where the Echoes Stop

by Erwin Raphael McManus -
Cultural Architect and Lead Pastor of Mosaic Church in L.A.


I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Far past where sound has abandoned thought.
Where silence reigns over redundancy.
Where once well said is more than enough.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Where words must be born to be heard.
Where speech is a gift and not a curse.
Where there is more of the unique and less of the mundane.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Where meaning is rescued from noise.
Where conviction replaces thoughtless repetition.
Where what everyone is saying surrenders to what needs to be said.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Where the shouting of the masses falls silent to the whisper of the one…
Where the voice of the majority submits to the voice of reason…
Where "they" do not exist; but "we" do.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Where substance overthrows the superficial…
Where courage conquers compliance and conformity…
Where words do not travel farther than the person who speaks them.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Where I only say what I believe.
Where I only repeat what changes me.
Where empty words finally rest in peace.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.

"Be still and know that I am God..." -Psalm 46:10a


Maria at 10:23 AM
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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

C.S. LEWIS

Enjoy a thoughtful and poignant article from my brilliant mom about:

"HOW THE WRITINGS OF C.S. LEWIS HAVE IMPACTED ME"

In 7th grade, I was called upon to read a historical passage about Babylon and it's cruel dictator, King Nebuchadnezzar. I had never heard the King's name pronounced. To my dismay, I spoke it phonetically: Neh-booch-uh-dah-neez-ar. The unkind roar of my classmates still resonates in my subconscious. I began to recover (psychologically) in 1977 when Luke Skywalker, in his "galaxy far, far away," captured my mind as an agent of change within a spiritual system. By this time, I was a "babe" in Christ, yet still unfamiliar with the restraints Nebuchadnezzar had placed on the Hebrew slaves and their real danger. In spite of my lack of historical data and biblical perspective, via "Star Wars" I was uniquely introduced to the concept of redemption.

A short while later, an exhuberhant babysitter came to my house to attend to my daughter while I did some errands. An engaging young lady, she browsed through my burgeoning library wall as I prepared to leave. Seeing only non-fiction, she asked if I'd ever read "The Chronicles of Narnia."

"No, I have not," I replied. "Never heard of them."

Despite her unbridled enthusiasm and encouragement to read this 7-book series, based on her description, I could find no logical reason why I would ever spend time reading a "fairy tale about Jesus."

Since my embarrassing middle-school encounter, I had determined to stir up my intellectual interests with "meaty" literature. Writings like J.M. Barries "Peter Pan" and Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," were for those who lacked the brains and the guts to read more academic works. Who had time for such indulgences, anyway? Their moral lessons escaped me as most fantasy and fiction writing did at that time. (I guess I never rightly examined my love for movies as a dramatic portrayal of either non-fiction or fiction in visual form.)

Then, I read "Mere Christianity" and was introduced to C.S. Lewis, the academic. Initially, I minimized his friendship with "Hobbit" author, J.R.R. Tolkein, (more fairy tales) although, admittedly, my curiosity was aroused. How I loved the thought of "Jack" (as he was known to family, friends and colleagues), sitting in a pub under the influence of Tolkein's Catholic roots (eventually leading Lewis to Christ). What rich conversations they must have enjoyed.

The "art of the argument" - rationale thinking, exchange of ideas - is lost on most of the "post-modern" American church. We'd rather be directed than think...entertained than reflect... superficial than sanctified. But throughout his life, Lewis exposed us to his questions and his struggles by means of discourse, writings, and lectures. Refreshing. Honest. Authentic. Vulnerable. Courageous. These were all unique concepts to me. I grew up without the influence of true religion under a "my way or the highway" philosophy of governing. Little original thought emerges in such households.

Discovering Lewis' journey from atheist to believer and his emergence as an apologist (I want to be in the room when he and the Apostle Paul are discoursing!), whose teachings were accepted by a wide span of denominations; and learning of his amazing impact as one of the most respected and remarkable Christian thinkers of the 20th (and now the 21st) century captivated both my mind, and my heart. That he was a weaver of amazing Christian allegory was still unknown to me. But, shortly after the urging of my babysitter, when I opened the first book of the Narnia series, I began to experience my childhood - the one I’d missed. I also started to see that questioning the world around me was acceptable - even good.

I did play "hide-and-seek" as a youngster, but never in a stuffy, dank manor outside London. We did have an entry closet, however - permeated by the musky odor of wet winter coats. It had a bay - a hidden, built-in "trunk" filled with an assortment of treasures. The closet was dark and mysterious. A perfect hiding place.

When Lucy - (Lewis' most perceptive, sympathetic, and endearing character) ducked into the wardrobe and the crunch of mothballs under her feet led her into a snow-filled forest, I was hooked! For the first time, I understood the value of fiction and escapism. Peril, betrayal, loyalty, faith, forgiveness, Aslan! The spiritual correlations were irrefutable. Dragons were no longer Alice-in-Wonderlandish. There were no Hobbit-eating trolls, nor wizards and goblins that seemed steeped in foreboding medieval mythology. I found that these characters represented believable correlations to truth. A truth I had sought all my life, and not found - until as a young adult, I met the Giver of all Truth.

Fascinated by the allegories and metaphors, my imagination was set ablaze. Visions exploded and danced in the recesses of my mind. I was lost in Narnia. Disarmed. Mesmerized. Riveted.

C.S. Lewis decoded biblical truth. He took the familiar and turned it upside down, inside out. He made it real, inviting, engaging. In Narnia, I embraced the person of Christ outside a stained-glass encounter and a thee and thou Bible. It was, perhaps, the first unfolding of my ability to grasp God's kindness...love...acceptance...forgiveness.

I am delighted that Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham (executor of the Lewis estate), exercised patience. He waited. Took time to find the right collection of people to make this movie. And the Holy Spirit, in wisdom, released opportunity at a perfect time. To see this work brought to the "big screen" affirms and applauds God’s sovereignty. Narnia follows in the footsteps of Mel Gibson’s amazingly successful "The Passion of the Christ" and will offer a remarkable counter to the problematic "Harry Potter" series embraced by multiple generations including people of faith.

I'm sure the movie will be good. Maybe even fantastic! My heart will thrill to see how God has awakened creativity in others. I'm guessing it will inspire and motivate most everyone who sees it. Will the film satisfy the Christian's need for pure truth and yet make it a "box-office hit" leading to sequels? Will some misunderstand or question "white" magic and get stuck there? No matter. God will unfold truth, and reveal the enemy of our souls through these amazing tales anchored in biblical principles. It's a sure bet that many will get a glimpse of redemption - perhaps for the first time. They will come to know the love of God. And, they will give their hearts away because of C.S. Lewis and this film.

God's will be done: on Earth, as it is in Heaven. May our imaginations be stirred, and may more people like C.S. Lewis occupy until He comes.

Apart from of the movie, the books will always be there. Read them. Read them to yourself. Read them to your children. Read them to your spouse or a friend. You will not be disappointed. Allow for a "baptism" of your imagination. It will surely be more laudable and noble than Hollywood's.


Maria at 9:40 AM
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