Digging in Deeper: 2 Corinthians 7:8-10

“For even if I grieved you with my letter, I don’t regret it. And if I regretted it – since I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a while – I now rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In a world without God, we are haunted by death. Let me be more specific: In a world without Christ, we are haunted by death. In his letter to the Thessalonian believers, the apostle Paul wrote encouraging them to grieve for their lost loved ones who died in Christ like the people of faith they were and not as those who had no hope. There is indeed a difference between the two. And if last year’s hit Disney+ series, Wandavision explored the process of grieving (something I wrote about here), this year’s latest Marvel movie, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, helps to highlight the difference. Absent time to go see it in the theaters, the film final released on Disney+ this week, I have watched it from start to finish, and am at last ready to offer up some thoughts. If you haven’t seen the movie, this review is going to be full of spoilers, so proceed with caution. If you’ve already seen it, here’s what I think.

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Digging in Deeper: Romans 12:19

Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What do you do when you can’t decide between two options? If possible, you choose both. This past week I finished watching a miniseries and finally watched a movie that first came out a couple of months ago. I had always planned to write a review of both once I finished watching them. I hadn’t planned on finishing both in the same week. And yet, as I have gone back and forth on which one to write about first, it became clearer and clearer that they both covered a whole lot of the same theological ground, although from different directions. Trying to treat them separately just didn’t make sense. Today, then, we are going to span two totally different media universes and talk about the recently completed Marvel series, Moon Knight, as well as the fairly recent latest offering from DC Comics, The Batman, and see how two different visions of the world reveal the Gospel is still the greatest vision of reality there is.

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Digging in Deeper: Grab Bag

Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

This past week, we have talked about the value of staying plugged in to Jesus, hypocrisy, contradictions, God’s sometimes painful efforts to help us grow in His image, and the importance of a response of kindness to provocations rather than one that is merely in kind. And as the week has unfolded, each one of those things have made their way into the national news cycle in one way or another. Now, this doesn’t mean anyone in the media was talking about any of the issues through any of these various lenses, but as careful observers of culture through the lens of the Christian worldview, we can see the connections. In light of this, instead of a review of a recent show or film today, I thought we’d do a quick review of some of the news of the week through the lens of what we’ve spent the last week talking about. Here we go.

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Digging in Deeper: Judges 21:25

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What would you do if you had an animal inside waiting to come out? I don’t just mean that you have a bit of a wild streak you let hang out on occasion. I mean you have a literal animal spirit inside of you that can turn you into said animal at will…once you learn how to control it with the help of some friends. And what if this animal happened to be a 10-foot tall, fluffy, red panda? Well, I suppose in that case you would have Pixar make an animated movie telling your story. We are a couple of weeks past the small-screen opening of the latest Disney-Pixar movie, Turning Red, and it has so far managed to generate a whole lot more conversation and criticism than just about any of its predecessors. The reasons for this are many. Some of the criticism hasn’t been particularly thoughtful, but a fair bit of it has made some pretty sound points. Let’s talk this morning about the movie, the good, the bad, and whether it’s worth your time.

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:43-44

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I was a cartoon fanatic when I was a kid. I still love good, animated movies and TV shows. There were a few cartoons growing up, though, that were my all-time favorites. I could (and did) go back and watch episodes and storylines again and again and again. One of these was the original X-Men cartoon series. The Dark Phoenix and Apocalypse storylines in particular I must have watched a dozen times apiece. I have been most excited recently about the news of Disney+ doing a reboot of the series picking up right where the original left off. Another favorite was Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. From the original Batman the Animated Series to the more recent Young Justice, I can’t think of a cartoon universe that has as many different series that all draw on the same characters. While Marvel may be the king of live action, DC owns the animation wars. But the series that is still my favorite of all time was Spider-Man. There’s just something about Spider-Man that makes everyone a fan. As he has been taken from the small screen to the big screen, I’ve been there for all of his adventures. So, when the latest movie came out just before Christmas, my family made our first trip to the movie theater since before Covid started. Let’s talk about why Spider-Man: No Way Home was so good.

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