God in the Machine
Literally "God in the machine", Deus Ex Machina originally referred to Greek plays, where the "gods" would be lowered onto the stage with ropes in order to provide a quick resolution to the story. Today, Deus Ex Machina refers to any improbably and/or overly convenient character or mechanism that comes out of nowhere and saves the character(s).
- Name: Big Dan
"I don't get it, Big Dan..." -George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
I said it over and over.. maybe NOW you'll listen.
What's a mom for...
Oh, THAT media bias
Not Bush, Kerry even. When Republicans do well, it has to be IN SPITE of something, doesn't it. I think the point of the headline is how dumb we civilians are.. imagine it: IN SPITE of Iraq woes, we're still dumb enough to vote for Bush.
Why didn't the headline read Kerry not a good enough candidate to beat Bush in his worst hour in Iraq?
No, there's no liberal bias in the media.
3/4 of 100
Why is this important? Well, it's the number of pounds I've lost since this time last year. Go me.
Fulfilling your recommended daily allowance of Quotation
Monday, June 28, 2004
Take me out to the ball game....
I don't know what it is...
Sunday, June 27, 2004
I'll be the judge of that!
This week's topic was school vouchers. Still dunno until tomorrow what the next debate'll be about.
This Iron Blog thing is catching on!
I don't believe it...
Holy flaming spiders, Batman!
Thursday, June 24, 2004
I found it!
Forget the 900-HOT-BABE...
France: home of the easily startled
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Revisiting gay marriage from a Christian Pastor's perspective
There is a telling scene in the movie "The Mission," wherein Robert DeNiro's character, a priest about to return to his warring ways, asks the Jeremy Irons character for his blessing on the coming violence. Irons chooses, interestingly, to remove himself from the issue. He says something to the effect that "I can neither bless nor curse your choice. If God is on your side, you don't need MY blessing, and if God is against you, my blessing won't help."
This type of moral avoidance applies to Christian pastors (or in my case, Baptist pastors) in this way: (a) there is nothing in my tradition that has blessed gay marriage in the past, (b) there is no clear word from God on the issue, (c) there is no directive in the Bible telling pastors to do this sort of thing, therefore (d) I choose to neither bless nor curse gay marriage.
PLEASE NOTE that this is NOT my opinion, just a re-stating of the arguments I've heard. My own opinion is still up for grabs here, and I raise the topic, in part, to help me clarify my own thoughts. I would appreciate feedback that includes more reasoned thought than the typical "Gays are an abomination" responses.
Oh, THAT liberal bias...
Yes, cover the war. Yes, the American atrocities are newsworthy, but let's try to at least go back to the days newspapers and tv news shows PRETENDED to be objective.
There are plenty of sites that point out the disparity of coverage in this election year. I happened to like THIS one as a fair discussion of the challenges of what information to release.
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Monday, June 21, 2004
Couldn't I just have detention instead?
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Justice FINALLY served!!
Tick tick tick
What's the matter, girlfriend got your tongue?
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Why I should lose Battle Death Penalty
(1) I forgot about halfway through that we were even arguing the death penalty. I launched, for some inexplicable reason, into a defense of non-dairy creamers.
(2) I'm dumb as a bag of hammers.
(3) I'm not remotely cute. I look like my face caught on fire and someone tried to put it out with an ax.
Friday, June 18, 2004
This just in!
Quote of the day
--Michael Jordan on the murderers of his father James
I wasn't able to use this one in the debate, but I'm a fan of the greatest Tarheel, so here it is.
Closing arguments tomorrow!
Then again, it might be that I mistook my Head and Shoulders for the wife's Nair.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
If loving self-cleaning undies is wrong, I don't wanna be right.
News from the war on squirrels.
I could have sworn we were arguing about abortion.
“You got what everyone gets. You got a lifetime.” – Death (in The Sandman by Neil Gaiman)
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Best Media line of the day
Ah, to be drunk and blind again....
Fear and Trembling
That all changes sometime today when my exceedingly talented opponent posts her first rebuttal.
Yes, I think the term "fear and trembling" fits.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
A warm day, a glass of lemonade...
Monday, June 14, 2004
Blast from the Past post...
Whenever someone in my church makes some kind of wacky claim and tries to prove it using Scripture (as Baptists are wont to do), I repeat the same line. By now, the church usually repeats it with me: "Anybody with a handful of Bible knowledge can make it say whatever they want."
Meaning, of course, that if you take verses out of context and out of the spirit of the text, you can find support for virtually any craziness you want to promote.
Welcome to the Internet, home of the suddenly hyper-popular political blogging system. I finally get it.
This very day I have seen "scientific" websites predicting a Kerry win over Bush by 10 points and another that gave Bush a 9 point win. I have seen vitriolic, raging, name-calling hatred on sites from both sides of the political spectrum.
I have even seen thoughtful, caring, reasoned insights on both sides.
THIS is the draw of the Internet. You can pick and choose, like a political buffet. You can jump into the pool, pick out what suits your taste/argument/desire/greed, and leave again.
The true Christian uses the Bible for support AND self-criticism. When the Bible disagrees with my particular selfish view of faith, I hope that I am strong enough to recognize its spirit and change me.
Maybe the true political student on the web visits with an open mind those places that make him/her intentionally uncomfortable. After all, aren't growing pains the only way to really know that we're doing just that: growing?
DEATH in my church!!!
I hope they like sermons about the death penalty in my church, because it looks like that's all I'm gonna have time to research, given the toughness of Rosemary's opening arguements.
My doctor gives me 46 more years, tops...
It's go time!!
Rosemary, the Iron Blogger Republican, will be my opponent. She made short work of the opposition in her last debate, and pulled off what will be remembered as a top ten Iron Blogger moment of all times with her inspired "underpants gnomes" rebuttal.
Typically, the debates are forced to play into the IB's wheelhouse, since their political views are already known. Rose and I are both fairly conservative. I read her site at least twice a day. However, I am anything but on this issue. If she supports the death penalty, we disagree profusely there, if not anywhere else.
I look forward to the challenge. Even if I don't win (who am I kidding? It's in the bag, kids), at least some positive ideas will change brains. Allez debate!
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Closing arguments in; verdict pending...
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Sweet Lord, I think this is actually real
Friday, June 11, 2004
Read your rights...
News boredom sets in at "God in the Machine"
Reagan died, I grieved, I'm moving on. After that, there's.. er, nothing.
The press is trying to manufacture headlines, of course, and convince us each is the most exciting news ever ("McCain might run for VP! Except he already told Hannity he won't!", "Reagan STILL dead! See 24/7 footage of people in a line!"). But mostly, there's nothing to fret about out there.. no real news from Iraq, the election coverage is already worn out and it's only June, nothing blowing up, no celebs caught in acts of naughtiness... just, nothing.
I guess I could turn on 20/20 and see what's likely to kill me today. ("Oxygen could kill you! Tonight on 20/20!" or "Why this simple q-tip could turn your home into a deathtrap! Tonight on 20/20!")
Even sports is slow. I have one word for you: summer baseball. Ouch.
NBA finals? Lakers in the finals? Seen it. Pistons staging an amazing 2-1 upset so far? Nice... um, why can't I name any of them, then?
Hockey. Is the hockey season over yet?
Somebody wake me in November.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Pray the terrorists don't get flying toilet technology
A quick lesson in what you believe.
Anyway, in the project, we told office members to select one of their own for a "target." Then, from the moment they came in that day, folks made "random" observations concerning their health. That is to say, secretary X looks fine, but we all tell her at different times "Are you tired?," "You don't look well," "you should take the rest of the day off; you seem a little sick," etc.
In (you're gonna love this) 100 percent of the 19 office settings we studied, the "victim" reported feeling unwell by day's end.
So, how does that transfer to, say, political or religious beliefs?
Well, Republicans only care about the rich. They kill for oil, at least partly because they love war. Democrats hug trees, hate guns and wish Jesus WOULD come back so they could nail him to the tree again.
With me so far?
Ok, fellow Christians: Jesus is the Son of God. His death and resurrection means you can go to Heaven. Um, HOW?? Even if Jesus was sinless on earth, even if He did rise from the grave, how does that magically mean YOU get to go to Heaven???
The simple truth is that, at the heart of it, under all the doublespeak, we believe things very often because we have heard them very often. Tell a kid growing up in Sunday School that it's true often enough and he confuses repetition with belief.
(NOTE: I believe that the Jesus thing is true, and have my own, personally-earned reasoning)
So tell enough people often enough that the media has a bias, pull a few proof-text quotes from the Times, and voila! A new reality emerges. People react to it as a tangible thing. They write and DON'T write based on this perceived bias, perception equaling reality in the marketplace.
So here's your homework:
-Do you really think anyone on the other side of the political fence "hates America"?
-Do you really think Republicans are just like Nazis?
-Do you really think Clinton lying about an affair with an intern could "erode the morals of America" and "lead us to anarchy"?
-If gays marry, explain again how YOUR life will change.
-A: Jesus died, was resurrected, B: ???, C: You go to Heaven for eternity. Fill in step B with a logical means of connecting A and C.
Now, go sit down for a bit. You look terrible.
Are you sick?
I'm pretty sure this is an obscene headline.. um, I think
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Next on my summer reading list
Well, then, you haven't looked here.
The tooth shall set you free
My dentist said it was infected, but at the time I couldn't afford a root canal (I have one scheduled for July 2), so I've been treating it with copious amounts of Advil. Now my ear hurts and I'm always tired. I expect that's from spreading infection? Anyway, I used a credit card to get the antibiotics, so maybe I'll feel better.
The point? I'm thinking it's no fun for folks who have no job and no insurance in our society. Life is hard enough for them without having to endure daily pain (and there's no pain like tooth pain). Canada has many failings, but they provide some level of care for everyone in their borders. No tooth left behind.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Just how I feel
Me racist long time...
Still, while slurs will never be allowable and should, with all diligence, be pointed out and thrown on front pages, the greater crime here is Parcells' criminal stupidity.
Every year, we have three or four incidents like this (usually gay-bashing), where an athlete in an interview situation says something he comes to regret later.
They KNOW the cameras are on, or the microphones, or the tape players. Didn't the John Rocker nonsense sink in at all? They KNOW the person they're talking to is a reporter. They've seen the repercussions in the lives of others who have said what they meant. Even if you're grand dragon of the KKK, you have to know when to keep your mouth shut, yes? And, to make it worse, Parcells is a coach, hailed by most football fans as a "genius."
Nice work, genius.
Monday, June 07, 2004
Quote of the Day
Sunday, June 06, 2004
The final word on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaspellingerror
They got it right! The first two movies were slavishly devoted to the books, cramming in as much from the text that 3 hours plus would allow. We got to feel, cinematically, the wonder of Harry’s world, of Hogwarts, of magic itself.
At less than 2 and a half hours, the latest offering got it right as well, in a different way. Harry’s fans are growing up as Harry does, and we don’t need word-for-word translations of the books any more. We have felt the wonder, and trying to instill it a third time would be a task.
Instead, we have a movie that is meant to be a movie, not another translation of a book. Potter purists will scream that this or that was left out, but c’mon, we’re making MOVIES here, not reprinting books in picture form. There's not time to put in all the nonsense with the sub-plots (newspaper, Cho Chang, etc), though I would have liked a better feel for Hogsmeade.
The movie moved quickly and at a great pace. While I’d have liked to see a few things from the book that caught my fancy, I didn’t miss them in the action. The movie let Harry be more mature, to feel the 13-year old angst over family (the Dursleys, Hermione and Sirius Black).
The film also played it smart in assuming our knowledge of Hogwarts. It didn’t need to bog us down with the wonder of quidditch, particularly since there’s a quidditch world cup coming in the next one. We didn’t need lots of classroom stuff unless it pushed the plot. We knew the sorting hat ceremony and so the director wisely left it out. Etc. and Etc.
The director of these movies has a HUGE task, one in which you can’t make everyone happy. He knew that virtually 100 percent of the film’s audience would have read the books, ALL the books, beforehand, so he wisely used that knowledge.
Most directors of movies taken from books can assume that a great deal of their audience didn’t read the original book. This is where the Potter movies are different. Even The Lord of the Rings movie was based on books that only a small population knew from memory scene-for-scene. Even if half of us read those books, it was decades ago for most of us.
The Potter movies have to deal with a high-knowledge audience that wants every single line of the books in the films (which would make them 9 hours long each).
Thank God they decided to make a MOVIE.
Reagan bashing and you
You don't have to mourn, admire or otherwise care about Ronald Reagan's passing.
It wouldn't hurt, however, to remember a time when people respected each other, even when they disagreed. There was a time when people mourned the passing of a President of the United States, if only out of respect for the office.
Maybe I'm a 35-year old who sounds like a crotchety old man, but I mourn the passing of great men whether liberal or conservative, whether I agreed with them (or even liked them) or not.
Today's political scene is WAY out of whack when we can't even respect the passing of a President from the other side of the fence.
Quote of the Day
I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.
I swear by the God I hold dear....
This is a time for mourning, regardless of politics.
Friday, June 04, 2004
The subtitle, I presume, is from Paul's classic exhortation in scripture to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." This book certainly treats BtVS with fear and trembling, approaching it for its commentary on life rather than about a young blond valley girl who fights baddies.
Each of the 22 essays are written by either psychology professors or leaders in the field of study, and all are written for post-graduate level work. This book, it quickly becomes clear, is not just attempting to make a buck off the Buffy label, but actually sees the insights loyal and mature viewers saw years ago. It also, for those of us who care, puts names to the ideas we saw in the episodes but didn't know how to articulate.
I was entranced. Having done several years of post-grad work in ministry and pastoral care issues, the psychology aspects fit right in. I don't suggest this as reading for those who just happened to like the show: you should have some interest in how people work.
The chapter topics are heady, to say the least, and include (among others) "Faith and Plato", "BtVS as Feminist Noir", Feminism and the ethics of violence", "Between Heavens and Hells: The Multidimensional Universe in Kant and BtVS", "A Kantian analysis of moral judgement in BtVS" and "Fascism, Christianity and the Eternal Demon."
No light read this. I loved it, and the variety of authors and writing styles, along with the familiar Buffy situations and quotes, made it worth my time.
What am I reading now?
I just started re-reading On Death and Dying, the Kubler-Ross classic and a biography of Winston Churchill.
Harry Potter and the Buyer of Tickets
When did it get to be $7.50 for a ticket to the movies? Yikes. It felt like I was at a gas station or something.
In any case, back later. Chick-Fil-A first, then the movie, which is something like 9 hours long, then home!
Stolen Election 2, the sequel, coming to a country near you
A bigger issue for me is how Bush or Kerry will have to CRUSH in Florida and across the country to gain any credibility. If Gore had won the election, we'd be hearing the same mindless "stealing the election" talk we hear now, only from the other side of the aisle.
If Florida is close, or if the national vote is as close as it looks to be right now, the winner from either side better get used to 4 more years of more M. Moores pointing out how Bush/Kerry "stole" the election.
And to think we have to hear this kind of talk from both sides for the next 7 months.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
The worst joke you ever heard.
The barkeep says, "Would you care for some wine?"
Descartes says, "I think not", and disappears.
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
My thoughts exactly!
Bush is horrible, and Kerry isn't good enough to rate with his own people against a horrible candidate.
Question for the playa lovahs...
I mean, when Reagan and Clinton ran, I remember people being 100 percent on board with their guy. My own politics aside, Republicans were completely behind Reagan. Dems were completely behind Clinton. This election feels luke-warmy to me.
With the exception of the fringe-types, I can't find anyone with a clear head who can't admit there are flaws with Bush. I can't find anyone with a clear head who really thinks Kerry is the ideal guy to be our next President.
Both guys seem like they were the best their party had to offer and take it or leave it.
Show me a rabid Kerry guy!
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Summer Reading Update
I now return you to your regular blogging, already in progress.
Church and State???
What do I mean? Well, I want the state to keep its hands off churches. I don't mind if other people search for God in ways that vary from the way I do. That's fine. Let them sprinkle if they want, wear robes, handle snakes, speak in tongues, whatever it takes. I just don't want the government to tell me where and how I can worship. Great, we're there now.
The flip side of this is that we have somehow gotten the idea that churches shouldn't bring up politics, or otherwise be involved in the political life of the community. THIS I don't agree with. While I rarely preach on devisive issues, there are certain political issues that should require the church to speak up.
Jesus wasn't killed for being in the wrong religion, and neither was St. Paul. They were killed for being politically dangerous, for seeing the evils of the government/empire and pointing them out and calling them to accountability. I have no problem doing this in a church setting when the time arises.
While my sermons are rarely political, I have no problem doing day sessions on topics such as, say, the death penalty or housing or racism in the community or whatever hits the community where our church sits. I think the church should speak for what it sees as truth, while respecting that others might see truth differently. The church should call the authorities to accountability where there is injustice, just as its leader did, even at the cost of his life.
Whenever I bring up a political topic in church, my congregation gets nervous. I wouldn't be surprised, this being a Baptist church, if one day I didn't get voted out for making waves. But that is just exactly my point. The church HAS to make waves when injustice is accepted practice. Who else will do it?
Now, I don't do sermons on issues like abortion or gun control. Both sides make valid arguments and ultimately it comes down to a matter of opinion. I don't want to lose the hearts of those in pews by making them pick sides in a political fight to stay a member. However, some things are no-brainers. Policies of local government that discriminate against the poor, against minorities, that fatten the coffers of an elite group at the expense of the working class, etc. NEED to be called on the carpet. I would say even beyond that that walking as Jesus walked REQUIRES the church to be a force for social justice, especially if it is controversial.
Separation of state and church, yes. On the other side, however, the church, in my mind, should be intimately involved with the government. Yes, the danger is that extremist groups like Pat Robertson's will gain power, but I never really saw them as anything to worry about. Robertson's groupies, ultimately, are a distinct minority, and we still live in a democratic nation. For all the drums we pound warning of the "religious right," the hyper-conservatives are ultimately few. I know, as a moderate/liberal pastor who left the Southern Baptist Church after the hyper-conservatives took over in the late 80s.
(Many on the Left use "religious right" to mean anyone who ever voted in favor of guns, or against abortion, or who serves in the military, or who goes to church anywhere at any time. In this case, maybe the religious right is a majority, but more likely it is a group that doesn't exist used to scare folks into voting with the Left)
That's all I have to say about that.