Thursday, July 31, 2008
I get to not work at all next week. We leave tomorrow for Jo's parents' house in VA. Its not really a vacation per se, but it is a break from the routine. Viva la Vida!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
In the first book, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, we find Jesus and his family in Egypt and follow them as they leave Egypt to return to Nazareth. Rice imagines how the events of Jesus' late childhood and early adolescence might have unfolded. The second book, which I just finished yesterday, is called Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. It picks up way after the first on left off. It skips to the adulthood of the the carpenter Jesus of Nazareth and the story goes on from there. It takes us from the days just before Jesus started his public ministry up to the beginning of his ministry.
The thing I love about these books is the way Rice portrays the humanity of Jesus. These are fictional accounts based on her research and study, but are also products of her imagination. So they and may not be accurate at all, and that's okay because they're works of fiction. But what she's doing is helping us imagine what Jesus' life on earth might have been like while he was working, laughing, dancing, crying, hungry, thirsty, etc. She does a good job of portraying the tension of his human and divine aspects without taking anything away from either either of these aspects of his being. So here are two more books to put on your summer reading list.
And finally just for good measure here is an absolutely hysterical Snickers ad featuring Mr. T. Apparently, its been banned:
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The crappy performance came from the act that opened for them. When I found out that this band was opening for Coldplay , I found their myspace page and listened to them. I knew that I didn't like their music when I heard it there, but I had no clue how bad they would be live. They were entertaning, but not in a good way. Jo and I alternated between sheer disbelief/ wishing we had earplugs and fits of hysterical laughter at how bad they were. It wouldn't be too harsh for me to say that they sucked. They sucked really really badly. And I mean sucked with a capital 'S'. No, make that sucked with multiple letters and all capitals and lots of exclamation points like this: SUUUCCKKKEDD!!!!! The group is called Santogold. If you ever hear of them playing somewhere, run in the other direction, run like your life depends on it. Unless you want a good laugh.
Anyways, Jo blogged in detail about our concert going experience, so go here to see what all she wrote. In short, it was awesome.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The priest in Chocolat is a great example. He is a bumbling young guy who doesn't seem to know what he is doing. Plus he is controlled by someone else. He doesn't seem to add any real value to the community except just be a placeholder for the office of priest and guide the congregation through rituals.
This caricaturization is not unique to Chocolat. Usually, any Christian portrayed on film or on TV is one of several extremes - they're either an over the top holy roller, an idiot, or a hypocrite - or possibly all three. Roman Catholic Christians seem to get the most frequent and worst portrayals. They are widely used to represent Christians and the Christian faith, partly stemming from the externals of Roman Catholicism - the robes worn by priest, the blacks suits and white collars, the habits of monks and nuns - you immediately identify them as a Roman Catholics. These visuals translate well into a medium which uses images to tell the story.
On one hand it bothers me that Christians are portrayed so stereotypically, but on the other hand, I realize that this kind of caricaturization happens across the board in movies. Characters are stereotyped and have qualities which lead to them being not a representation of real people, but to being caricatures of certain types of people. Muslims are terrorists, or at the very least untrustworthy. French people are arrogant and rude. Americans all carry guns and are violent. Etc, etc. Its easier to stereotype than to try to portray people in real ways.
In life this is true too. Its just much easier to say, 'all of group X is like this or that'. It takes more work to meet people in whatever group X is and befriend them. And how many times do we have our dearly held stereotypes broken down once we interact with someone from group X? I'd say almost always.
Recently I was reading some really interesting things in a book I have to read for VLI. This book is really good. Some of the books I read for VLI are as dry as crusty old bread or saltine crackers. They are the kind of books that insomniacs need to get into as they immediately induce sleep. But Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark Noll is not like that at all.
It deals with Christian history, but instead of it just being a straightforward history book, Noll picks out some of the most important events in Christian history, tells about the actual event, then shows its effects on Christianity as a whole (for better or worse). This book (and the class its a part of) is really teaching me a lot by revealing the history of our faith and showing how things got to be the way they are today.
The other day I was reading a really great passage on the theology of the sacraments as developed by the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. The sacraments are things like Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. The RCC's belief is that "saving grace comes through to people through the sacraments in a social setting... Receiving God's grace depended upon actually receiving the vehicle of that grace [the sacraments], and not so much how one felt about that transaction." Noll sums this theology of the sacraments by saying, "salvation was communicated through and by the sacraments."
I can kind of understand the Roman Catholic Church a little bit better now by knowing more about church history. Hooray for VLI!!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I met a guy like this back in January, a Mexican guy who spoke with a think accent and called himself Steve. He had this beautiful big yellow dog with him, a Lab I think. I had to drop something off somewhere on my way home from work one night and saw this guy sitting with a dog in the shadows. I was afraid to go talk with him, but did it anyway even though it was a little scary. It turns out though that he was the nicest guy you could ever meet and his dog was the sweetest dog ever (once she realized that I was going to try to harass her master). He was sitting in the shadows waiting for it to get a bit darker so no one would give him a hard time. Then when it was good and dark, he was going to walk across the street to 7-11 to guy some Raman noodles which he and his dog would eat for supper. He actually didn't want anything at all from me, although I did give him some money. He told me a lot about his life story, how he got to the US, how he still has a family back in Mexico, and that he was walking south on his way to Virginia or North Carolina, somewhere where the weather was warmer and the people were kinder.
Anyways, I don't know how I should feel about people who choose this lifestyle. But no matter how I feel, these photos are amazing.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Each book is divided into three stories. The stories are set in a universe filled with magicians, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings. There are basically two kinds of beings - magical and non-magical. Within the realm of the magical beings, there are two sides - the Light and the Dark. These sides have made an uneasy pact to not obliterate each other, but to keep the Balance. Enter the two Watches: Night Watch and Day Watch which 'watch' each other, or keep each other from upsetting the Balance.
These books are definite page turners, the kind of books that I am compelled to read it - they call out to me, 'read me, you know you want to...' They are so amazingly good and are three of the best books of any genre that I've ever read. So put these on your summer reading list if you're into fantasy & sci-fi.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
"I have children in school, and I am intrigued by the faith parents now invest--the craze began about 1990--in psychologists who diagnose their children as suffering from a defect known as attention deficit disorder, or ADD. Of course, I have no way of knowing whether this "disorder" is an actual, physical, neurological condition or not, but neither does anybody else in this early stage of neuroscience. The symptoms of this supposed malady are always the same. The child, or, rather, the boy--forty-nine out of fifty cases are boys--fidgets around in school, slides off his chair, doesn't pay attention, distracts his classmates during class, and performs poorly. In an earlier era he would have been pressured to pay attention, work harder, show some self-discipline. To parents caught up in the new intellectual climate of the 1990s, that approach seems cruel, because my little boy's problem is... he's wired wrong! The poor little tyke --the fix has been in since birth! Invariably the parents complain, "All he wants to do is sit in front of the television set and watch cartoons and play Sega Genesis." For how long? "How long? For hours at a time." Hours at a time; as even any young neuroscientist will tell you, that boy may have a problem, but it is not an attention deficit.
Nevertheless, all across
Monday, July 14, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Anyways, the Good News is big. I mean really big. When I say big I mean it in the sense of it being great. And by great I mean it in the way Webster (the dictionary, not the TV character played by Emmanuel Lewis) defines it: remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness
The Good News is way bigger than the whole, 'ask Jesus into your heart thing.' Jesus didn't ask people to ask Him into their hearts; He told them to follow Him. Its way bigger than the way we express it in American culture; ours is an American gospel. Its way bigger than any ministry, local church, or even mega church. Its bigger than any group of people, country, and bigger and greater than the world.
Here's how big/ great it is:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."" Revelation 21:1-5
The Good News is big. Its great. Its cosmic. And I treat it so lightly.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
But it leads me to one of my pet peeves about movies - books that are made into movies. As a general rule, the book is better than the movie. Even with some of the better adaptations (like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter) I always love books better than the movies that are made from them. Don't get me wrong because I love the HP and LOTR movies, but in general, I don't like the whole turning-books-into-movies thing. I've never seen a film adaptation film of a John Grisham book that was as awesome as the book. The movies weren't terrible, its just that John Grisham is such a brilliant author and its hard to translate that brilliance to the screen. Seriously, The Firm is one of my favorite all time books, but I could not sit through more than half an hour of it because it paled in comparison to the book. And there are some movies I refuse to watch because the books are so amazing and to watch the movie would spoil the book. Interview with a Vampire is one example. For me to not watch that is saying a lot, because I love vampire movies. And even though Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, films made from his books and stories generally don't compare to how good the books are.
This leads me to even another movie pet peeve: Sequels. I hate them. I'm not talking about Star Wars, LOTR, or Harry Potter, because they are serials. Each was intended at their conception to be a series (thus the term serial). But what I hate are those terrible Hollywood part 2's and 3's and 10's that never live up to the original movie's glory. And since many of the movies being made into sequels aren't that great to begin with, that just means that the sequel is going to be painful. So in general, sequels are never a good idea.
Here are a few categories of sequels that I thought of:
Horror/ Thriller movie sequels: Jaws, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Saw, etc.
Comedy sequels: Weekend at Bernie's 2, Nutty Professor 2, Big Mama's House 2, Police Academy: Infinity
Action movie sequels: Speed 2, The Transporter 2. This category also includes the sub-category of The desperate aging Hollywood star sequels: Live Free or Die Harder-er with Bruce Willis, or Sylvester Stallone in Rocky/ Rambo 19: Cold Cocked
My last movie pet peeve deals with the worst kinds of movies made - movie adaptations of old TV shows. Seriously, the Brady Bunch movie (and don't forget the Very Brady Sequel)? The Brady Bunch was never that good anyway. And The Dukes of Hazard movie? Yawn... Although, I'd personally love for somebody to make a movie out of The A-Team. That's one that I would see.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
"Warner Sallman (1892 - 1968) was a Christian painter from Chicago. He worked as a freelance illustrator. His portrait of Christ, The Head of Christ, of which more than 500 million copies have been sold, is better known than he is, however the New York Times in 1994 called him the "best-known artist of the century". He also created commercial advertising images." (read the rest here).There are lots of other visual representations of Jesus, some of which are really awesome, and some of which are really cheesy. In the category of 'awesome', a guy named Matt Stone has a whole host of paintings of Jesus and other Christian themes on his blog. They are paintings from many different cultures around the world. Its so neat to see how the rest of the world envisions Jesus.To the right is one really cool one of the baby Jesus and Mary his mother (try to guess what country its from).
There are other things out there however that I just think are cheesy like the paintings at www.art4god.com. The art itself is good, but come on, Jesus as a boxer? Jesus as a greaser? You be the judge.
And lastly (in my opinion), the most ridiculous and cheesiest of all Jesus art is a line of statuettes called Jesus is my Coach. You can get all the regular sports like basketball, football, and baseball, but you can also get Jesus the Martial Art Instructor, Jesus the Ski Instructor and even Jesus the Ballet Instructor. If you haven't seen these yet, you've got to click through and check them out.