Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: truth

Comic Review: Wonder Woman Vols 1 & 2

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies collects Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1, Wonder Woman #1, #3, #5, #7, #9, and #11. Written by Greg Rucka with art by Liam Sharp.

Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Year One collects Wonder Woman #2, #4, #6, #8, #10, #12, and #14. Written by Greg Rucka with art by Nicola Scott.

What follows may contain spoilers.

First Thoughts

Let me start by saying I no longer read individual comic book editions. I wait for them to come out in graphic novel form. If time permits, I will sit in the book store and read an edition. Otherwise, I’m grateful for digital review copies.

When I first started reading The Lies, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What am I missing?” Nevertheless, I prevailed, despite the feeling that the Rebirth story was not complete.

Then, I picked up Year One, and I began to see what I was missing. As the comics were released, the odd numbered issues were the present day (The Lies) while the even numbered issues were recalling the past (Year One).

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The Ten: Be Truthful

“Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16, Common English Bible)

tablets_9750cIn an episode titled “Greater Good,” from the first season of the drama-comedy Boston Legal, Alan Shore (James Spader) and Denny Crane (William Shatner) represent a large, drug company in a civil suit. The two lawyers disagree on a key ethical issue surrounding the lies about a clinical trial for a new drug.

The doctor who participated in the clinical trial is conflicted. Shore wants her to be truthful about the potential harm the new drug may have caused its patients. Crane, on the other hand, wants her to be quiet about it. Shore reminds the doctor that when she testifies in court, she will be under oath. Mr. Shore’s intention, of course, is to persuade the doctor to speak truth.

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Big Eyes (2014)

© 2014 The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

© 2014 The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

Margaret Keane, the painter famously known for the big, oversized doe-like eyes of her subjects, is the subject of the new film, Big Eyes. Tim Burton, a Keane collector, directs Amy Adams as Margaret Keane, with the script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewksi (who collaborated with Burton on Ed Wood) tells this real-life story of truth buried under years of lies and deception.

After relocating to San Francisco, Margaret attempts to make a living as an artist. But, in the 1950’s San Francisco, she finds that it is difficult for a divorced, single-mother like herself to get a job, much less make it as an artist. Then, in a moment of serendipity, she meets Walter Keane as portrayed by Christoph Waltz.

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Scandal 3.5: More Cattle, Less Bull


The client-of-the-week in this episode is the Democratic congresswoman Josephine Marcus, played by the always brilliant Lisa Kudrow. Last week, we saw her as the President’s biggest critic who got a huge boost in the polls after Mellie was caught on tape saying not-so-great things about the Congresswoman under her breath. Now, she is running for president.

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Follow That Star

Follow That Star - Wise MenMatthew’s Gospel rounds out the birth narrative of Jesus with the visit of the magi (Matthew 2:1-12). The magi, most often depicted and sung about as the Three Wise Men, travel from afar following the brilliant star in the sky. These studiers of stars knew there was something special about the star and what – or who – it pointed to.

We think of them as three Wise Men, because of the three gifts they bring. These gifts tell us a little bit about who Jesus is. Gold for a King, frankincense for a Priest, and myrrh used for preparing a body for burial. Gold because Jesus is King. Frankincense because Jesus is the High Priest. But myrrh? Imagine the look on Mary and Joseph’s faces when these travelers from the east laid out myrrh. A symbol of death. Jesus will die, so that we may live.

As far as the 12 verses in Matthew tell us, we do not know how much the magi knew about Jesus. Was it faith or was it curiosity that started them on this journey? Many a preacher, theologian, and blogger has told us that the magi had great faith to trek across the desert in search of the King. But I would like to think that some curiosity was involved too.

Curiosity includes being an explorer, an investigator, and a willingness to learn. Curiosity begins with questions. What if . . . .The more we invest in our faith, the more questions we will have. The more we will wonder about Truth.

These are not questions that should be set aside on the shelf as we continue to have faith in the mystery. It’s okay to be curious about the mystery. It’s okay to explore faith. It’s okay to investigate faith. It’s super okay to be willing to learn more.

Remember the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat?” The statement implies that if we are too curious we will die. I remember as a kid watching our cat Midnight on summer days explore parts of the yard and the woods. Cats are naturally curious. But curiosity did not kill Midnight. She exceeded her nine lives and lived a good, healthy life.

We can too. We can have a healthy faith life while having some curiosity. But there are those in the church who will caution us that if we get too curious we will die. Why? Maybe out of fear that our explorations will reveal the ugly truths. Maybe they are concerned that we will explore ourselves out of the church. And these are valid and wonderful concerns.

Christian Piatt notes that for some “it feels rootless.” It is just too radical to go outside the lines. But some of the greatest radicals have changed the face of Christianity. St. Francis of Assisi. Catherine of Sienna. Martin Luther. John Wesley. Mother Teresa.

They were curious about faith and did so without being uprooted.

We preach and teach to follow Jesus. But do we have enough curiosity to follow that Light? Do we always welcome the questions? Do our churches, small groups, or youth groups, create spaces to be curious?

Scandal 1.1: Sweet Baby

28398“We are gladiators in suits.”

And the first ever episode of ABC’s Scandal begins.

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her gladiators are in the business of fixing other people’s lives. Politicians, American heroes, public figures, and even the President of the United States. This first episode delivers a sweet talking, fast paced story that continues on to the current season.

In this episode, there are two main parts. The first is the typical client-of-the-episode storyline. It involves a decorated war hero, Sully, whose fiancé has been found dead. The gladiators are charged with proving that Sully did not do it. Sully tells Olivia more than once, “I did not kill her.” Olivia, despite the questioning of her gladiators, believes him.

Meanwhile, the second part begins to unfold. This storyline involves Amanda Tanner, a White House aid, who claims that she had sex with the President (Tony Goldwyn). White House Chief of Staff, Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) seeks Olivia out to help take care of it. At first Olivia says no, she doesn’t work for the President anymore. It takes some convincing, but Olivia finally agrees and “takes care of it.”

This Amanda Tanner storyline is the backbone of the first season. Olivia looks the President in the eyes and asks him if he had sex with Amanda. He says he has not and Olivia believes him. “I trust my gut,” she says. And as the gladiators know, Olivia’s gut is usually right on. But, Olivia’s gut is called into question with Amanda tries to kill herself. When Olivia comes to Amanda’s hospital room, Amanda tells her that the President would come to her and call her “Sweet Baby.”

At the sound of the nickname, Olivia knows that she has been lied to. The truth that she thought was being told, was in fact a lie. Olivia’s emotional attachment to the President clouded her judgement.

St. Augustine confronts the Roman patriotism in The City of God. Augustine saw the goals of Rome as post-fall goals such as worldly glory, pleasure, and power. Augustine draws on the idea that Christians are citizens of two cities. The City of Man (Rome) and the City of God. As such, Christians are on a journey representing the City of God while living in the City of Man.

In the midst of this huge discussion, Augustine divides the human race into two catergories; “one consists of those who live according to human standards and the other of those who live according to God” (emphasis added). Augustine will include ponderings on lies and truths:

When, therefore, man lives according to himself, – that is, according to man, not according to God, – assuredly he lives according to a lie; not that man himself is a lie, for God is his author and creator; who is certainly not the author and creator of a lie, but because man was made upright, that he might not live according to himself, but according to Him that made him, – in other words, that he might do His will and not his own; and not to live as he was made to live, that is a lie.

Olivia encounters two sets of lies in this episode. One, the President, a man she loved (or loves?) and trusted deeply lied to her about having an affair with another woman. The second was Sully lying to himself about who he really is. “Who you are,” Olivia tells him, “shouldn’t be a secret.”

Both the President and Sully were living according to human standards, living for the City of Man. Augustine, in not subtle ways, says that when humanity lives for itself, humanity is not of God but of sin.  Humanity is seeking blessings from the City of Man instead of accepting blessings from the City of God. Lies are sin, Augustine argues. “The source of man’s happiness,” he writes, “lies only in God, whom he abandons when he sins.”

The lies in this episode represent humanity living according to human standards. The lies are cover-ups, preventing them and others from seeing the truth. Olivia’s gifts of truth-knowing were comprised because of her own desires to trust the man she loved so deeply. Olivia and her gladiators will continue to encounter more challenges between the City of Man and the City of God as truths and lies are revealed.

© 2018 Jason C. Stanley

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