A photographer in Vancouver has presented a thought-provoking take on the role of religion in our current culture. Gods of Suburbia is Dina Goldstein’s “visual analysis of religious faith within the context of the modern forces of technology, science and secularism.” Between Jesus in the Vancouver slums, Satan as a tow truck driver, and Darwin in a casino, no one’s religious notions are exempt from being poked and prodded.

Jesus’ meal with the apostles is reimagined as “Last Supper, East Vancouver.” The table is scattered with beer cans and the apostles are captured as chain-smoking derelicts. Goldstein says,

My reenactment of history’s most famous dinner party is meant to portray the treatment of the most vulnerable by society. I have placed Jesus and his Apostles, a street gang, specifically in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This is Canada’s poorest postal code and a place of chronic drug abuse, alcohol addiction and mental illness. Jesus and the Apostles consume the diet of street people: cheap packaged noodles, cheap beer and canned tuna, while Judas plots his betrayal of Jesus.

Check out the Huffington Post’s video coverage of her shoot:

What thought about who Jesus would hang out with are provoked when you look at these pictures? What do you think about the intersection of other religions and suburbia?

At my desk is a chair I bought several years ago. It has served as a backup until recently, collecting dust in a spare room. That is, until the fake leather of my go-to chair had flaked off to the point of not being able to stand the little black flecks scattered around the room. The backup-now-go-to is decent enough and it gets the job done. But I now remember why it was banished.

When I sit down everything is well and fine, that is, until I stop focusing on what I’m doing and realize things are a bit higher than when I first began my task. The chair needs continual adjustment because it has this bad habit of slowly lowering itself, so much that I don’t even realize it as it’s happening.

And, I’ll tell you, I’ve felt like this chair behaves for more days than I can remember. A slow lowering from the pressure of life, the letdowns, and the questions about the future. I’m glad for the little adjustments which lift me higher, but I keep wondering if the problems are going to ever get fixed. In the chair’s case, there’s only so much I can do before I simply break down and buy a new one. I know that’s not my fate, and I’m holding onto hope that in all these things there’s a better future ahead.

I had a thought yesterday and gives some perspective:

I came across this blog post about Bill Watterson (of Calvin & Hobbes fame) and his advice on creative integrity. He says the following, which I just love:

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.

Don’t give up on your dreams, no matter how many setbacks and discouragements you face. The world needs hopeful visionaries who can see what might be.

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I was just wondering what everyone is reading this summer? I have an unofficial/now official list that I’m working on. And I’m sure a couple of things will be added to it by the end of August. (Sorry for the lack of links–I’m writing this from my phone!)

1. 4/7 of The Chronicles of Narnia series. I’m halfway through Caspian and I can’t believe I’ve never read these before now.

2. The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero. In pursuit of wholeness.

3. The Great Omission. Dallas Willard’s apologetic for discipleship. Sarah and I are reading this together.

4. One The Verge. I’m interested in the apostolic community conversation and this book by Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson looks to expand on things nicely.

5. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s about President Lincoln’s cabinet and the leadership he exerted to bring them together and function well.

6. Homerun by Kevin Meyers and John Maxwell. Our Executive Team is reading through this leadership book about living a life filled with wins.

Well, there’s mine. What’s yours?

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