Let me not waste my time or yours–Do not watch this movie! This movie was a complete waste. The movie is a period piece about Marie Antoinette, played by Kirsten Dunst of Spiderman fame. It is long, boring and goes no where. This movie should never have been made and probably would not have been made except that it was written and directed by Sofia Copala, the daughter of legendary director Francis Ford Copala. It tries to be interesting by mixing it up with a modern pop sound track, much in the same way as Knight’s Tale (a good movie, worth watching). However, Knight’s Tale had a lot more going for it, namely a story, and a lot of fun sword fighting, jousting, and off beat comedy. Marie Antoinette had none of this. It had a lot of fancy French sets and period costumes and that’s about it. In the end all I could look forward to was the main characters getting their heads cut off and guess what? It ended before that. What? After all that I don’t even get the satisfaction of watching these actors and actresses pay for their crimes against cinema.
February 23, 2007
First of all let me say up front, I watched this movie on a plane. For that reason alone, I cannot unconditionally recommend this film. I’m sure that much of the sexual content was trimmed out. Anyhow, what a terrific film in its edited for air travel format. The Dearted tells the story of a mobster who goes undercover in the police department and a police detective who goes undercover in the mob. It is very edge of your seat as these guys go deeper and deeper into their respective organizations and as each gets closer and closer to getting made. It featured a very talented line up, all who performed fabulously: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, and Jack Nicholson. Fantastic film making. Fantastic acting. Riveting story. This is what all movies should aim for. Highly recommended in its made for air travel format.
It seems that many times the scripture “Do not judge and you will not be judged,” (Luke 6:37) has come up in my reading and listening recently. Each time I hear or read it, I increasingly get the idea that we Christians should not judge others. Strange, huh? I mean, Jesus said “Don’t judge others.” Maybe we shouldn’t judge others. Hmm. I have been getting increasingly puzzled how often my fellow Christians have this habit of reading the Bible and then explaining how what it plainly says is not what it really means and that what it really means is the exact opposite of what it plainly says. For example, “Do not judge” means “by all means, we must judge others.” “Do not judge” means we must “exercise righteous judgement.” I’m sorry, but I don’t get this. I think that to a non-Christian righteous judgement probably feels a lot like plain old judgement. And judgement, righteous or otherwise, does little to attract them to the beautiful and amazing love of God expressed in the person and work of Jesus. We’re really getting this thing wrong. Greg Boyd writes in Myth of a Christian Nation, “Ask any random sampling of pagans in America what first comes to mind when you say the words evangelical or born again Christian, and chances are close to zero that anything like ‘outrageous, sacrificial love’ will be the first thing out of their mouths.” We all have a good idea what would top that list and that should trouble us all. We’re getting this wrong. Jesus said that they will know we are Christians by our love. Unfortunately, what we are getting known for is our hypocrisy and judgmentalism. We need to be know for our love. We need to be more like Jesus. A good place to start would be to give up judging others altogether. Personally, a total moratorium on judging others, righteous or otherwise, is in effect in my life as I seek to love and serve Jesus.
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. 207pp. Hardcover.
I haven’t even finished reading this book and yet “Wow!” This is one of the heaviest hitting most compelling books I’ve read in a long time. It is the most important book written of late. This book should be read by every mature American Christian. However, it will probably not be and Greg will be anathematized as most dissenters from the status quo are. As the title suggests, Greg attacks the myth of America as a Christian nation head on. He treats the topic comprehensively and passionately. However, it should not be inferred that this is merely a persuasive work. Greg does get emotional at times, but his arguments are solid, substantial, and difficult to refute. His fundamental goal with this book isn’t so much to tear down or criticize America or American Christians, but to exalt Jesus and promote His genuine and beautiful heavenly kingdom. To accomplish this Greg must show that America cannot be considered a Christian nation now or ever in its history. Greg’s essential premise is that since Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, neither America or any other nation can be considered a Christian nation–by definition. However, honorable, noble, and just a nation may be, it will always fall short of Jesus’ vision for the kingdom and can never substitute for it. Jesus had the opportunity to establish an earthly kingdom and rejected that course for the establishment of a beautiful spiritual kingdom. Greg argues that the notion of “taking back America for God” is fundamentally flawed because America cannot be considered to have ever been acting purely Christ-like in its history. America has had a bloody history punctuated by frequent wars. No matter how just these wars may have been, Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies, not kill them. Don’t misunderstand, Greg is not suggesting that America does not have the right to exercise military force in the protection or promotion of its national interests. He does not suggest that a nation subscribe to an isolationist or completely non-military policy. Governments have the “power of the sword” and the responsibilities that go along with it. He is just saying that the power of the sword is fundamentally not like Christ, so when any nation goes to war in the name of Christ this is false, tarnishes the name of Christ, and does substantial harm to the promotion of the Gospel. America’s history of oppression, exploitation, and outright slaughter of Native Americans; slavery, rape, and murder of Africans; and discrimination against other non-whites from colonial times to the present further illustrate that American cannot be considered to adequately represent Christ. Greg gets most emotional as he argues that this earthly vision of America as a Christian nation obfuscates the Gospel of the Kingdom and hinders its advance both in the US and abroad. Two centuries of violence and oppression in the name of American Christianity have hardened untold millions of hearts against the beautiful and attractive Gospel of the Kingdom.
This book helps Christians like myself who are having increasing difficulty defending America’s unchristian history and present unjust and violent foreign policies. It puts solid arguments behind what has been an otherwise uneasiness with the notion of America as Christian nation. It also helps us to maintain a proper focus as American Christians. We should be focusing our efforts on loving and serving people rather than political activism. We should be focused on getting more Americans to be fully Christian rather than trying to get America as a whole to be more Christian. The former transforms individual lives; the latter does not transform lives, and may actually make individuals more resistant to the Gospel. The former will transform the nation as individuals behave more Christ-like and consequently transforms the climate of the nation. The blessings of God have remained on America, not because America is a Christian nation, but simply because there are Christians in America.
More to come when I actually finish the book.
February 21, 2007
This is what a blog is for, right? I mean, this is my forum for anything I feel like getting off my chest. This may not seem very important in the grand scheme of things. Like, does this topic really merit being my second post? But really it’s my first post, because, ya know, that first actual post is just a sort of “Howdy, here’s my blog!” But, in any case as it turns out this is my post. Now all that said, this post, by my estimation, probably ranks among the most important 1% of blog posts ever. That is essentially because 99% of all blog entries on the entire World Wide Web go something like “Sorry, I haven’t posted in a while. I didn’t do anything today, and now I’m going to bed.” Anyhow, as far as Homestar Runner is concerned… my position is… well, I’m not a fan. That may come as a surprise to many of you, because Homestar Runner is HUGE among the technology set and being a systems administrator I stand to lose a lot of face among my contemporaries, but here we are, I’m going on record. Let me say moreover, that if I were a fan, I would not freely admit that, because whereas among geeks, Homestar Runner is a rallying point, among the rest of the world affiliation with Homestar Runner would subject me to a host of “profiling” efforts. People would assume that I was socially deficient, that perhaps I still lived at my parents’ house, that I shunned the light of the sun… I certainly would not have a book bag with the image of Strong Bad emblazoned on it. But, I suppose this is an easy gift idea… See, I am currently doing what I fear would be done to me. I am sitting at a regional educational technology conference and enjoying the free and ubiquitous Wi-Fi, multi-tasking, blogging AND listening… really. A co-presenter is giving off all the vibes… interprets “business casual” as “wear a velour blazer, shirt, and tie all purchased at a thrift store… and don’t really go together… with low-top Converse All-Stars,” uses Mac and Keynote… etc. Don’t get me wrong. I love Chuck Taylor All-Stars. I use a Mac (I’m not irrational on this issue; I’m non-partisan; more to come on this I’m sure). I favor Keynote. Anyhow, I don’t want to be labeled and categorized. Do you see what I’m talking about? I am an individual, can’t I be free to like Chuck Taylors and simultaneously not be socially impaired? Can’t I be a good systems administrator and not “get” Homestar Runner? So, there you have it. Just gotta be me.
But that’s not really an adequate response, is it? I mean, it sounds like I just do want all the baggage that comes with being a Homestar Runner fan. No, I’m not that superficial. So, for anyone who really wants my personal review of Homestar Runner, here it is in brief. Homestar Runner is fresh, unique, and quirky. But ultimately, it is not a laugh riot. It is kinda subtly amusing, but I prefer my humor more potent. Homestar Runner gives you the same kinda feeling you got watching Napoleon Dynamite or Nacho Libre. It was kinda funny, but I didn’t laugh out loud. I guess I prefer more amusement for my comedy watching investment… of time, that is.
Ok, so I got WordPress running on my site. The five-minute install really did only take five minutes. So, I can officially be considered a blogger, because as you can now see, I am blogging. Now, I can complement my new Phanfare photo gallery with a bunch of yammering about my family and travels and what ever should come to mind. What ever should come to mind would include matters historical, literal, food, drink, and cheese (which is a kind of food)… matters technological, educational, political, and spiritual. There are several stories that many, many people have been wearing me out with their demands that I publish in some kind of written form. By many, many people I mean two or three or the voices in my head. And by hounding me, I mean someone mentioned something that made me think of something else, that I thought might make a legendary blog entry. So if you are patient, I will undoubtedly include the long awaited first person accounts of how a rodent stowed away in our car on a trip down the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Also I will include my highly symbolic and yet to be interpreted “Waiting for Godot” and “Der General” dreams. Also I will describe how I was able to smuggle a Swiss Army knife onto an international flight. All this will come… later.