Friday, January 07, 2005

Tireblogging. Since tireblogging seems to be all the rage, I should relate my tire story. Last night, I got a call from my wife who hit a pothole and blew out the tire. I grabbed my gloves and drove out to meet her and change the tire. It's a Toyota Sienna, so the spare and tools were difficult to find (it turns out you lift one of the seats and loosen a nut to lower the spare from underneath the van). Plus it was dark and wet. But we took care of things and she took the girls home in my car, while I took her van to the shop for repair. On the way, I realized that I had taken a lot longer than I had planned and there was no way to get Joe to wrestling practice last night, so I told him that we were going to miss it.

"We had wrestling tonight?" he asked.

"Well, yeah, it's Thursday night."

"But it's Epiphany -- they have wrestling on Epiphany?"

Yeah, wrestlers don't seem to take many breaks, do they?

After leaving the van at the shop (which means this isn't really tireblogging), my wife came and picked us up. At home, she and the kids all had the rosca, which our neighbor had dropped off. In our house, we never take down the tree until after El Dia de los Reyes.

I'm hoping the influx of Mexican culture will help to give the Epiphany and the twelve feast days of Christmas greater prominence.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Best Movies - 2004. Realizing I haven't seen all the movies released in 2004 -- indeed, who has?* -- here is my list of favorite movies from the past year:

  1. The Incredibles. I'm almost ashamed to admit that this beat out a fabulous movie which would've been number one in almost any other year, but it is everything a movie should be.
  2. The Passion of the Christ. I know, I know, I'm a heretic to not rank this as number one, but it is so emotionally draining, that it is not a movie I want to see again and again. If this were Oscar voting or something I would rank this as number one, but I've got to give the prime spot here to the Incredibles. However, after these two, there is a steep drop off.
  3. Peter Pan. Okay, this was released in 2003, but at the end of the year and I didn't see it until this year.
  4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Still a big drop off from Peter Pan. I might rank this as higher than Pan, but I've read the book and I know how much better the book was than the movie.
  5. The Notebook. Sweet movie -- James Garner was terrific.
  6. Miracle. Well, really a great story.
  7. Umm... that's it. I did see other movies, Butterfly Effect, Spiderman II, I Robot, Troy, etc. but none of them qualifies, IMHO, for a best of 2004 list.
* Apparently, no one has. Here's an article about a flick that only showed in Grand Rapids, MI last year, despite having heavy-weight actors Joe Mantegna and Anne Archer. The film is called Uncle Nino. The good news is that its being picked up for national distribution.

Oh, and when reading the article overlook the mistake calling Spidy 2, Superman II.

Theodicy - Tsunami Edition. The problem of evil which presents a question so difficult it gets it's own word - theodicy - has come to the fore with the terrible tragedy in the Indian Ocean region. Arts and Letters poses the issue (borrowing from MacLeish): "If God is God, he's not good. If God is good, he's not God. You can't have it both ways, especially not after the Indian Ocean catastrophe." Is this right?

Interestingly, one of the best responses is in a very short essay published in the Journal of Mammon by David B. Hart who observes: "When confronted by the sheer savage immensity of worldly suffering--when we see the entire littoral rim of the Indian Ocean strewn with tens of thousands of corpses, a third of them children's--no Christian is licensed to utter odious banalities about God's inscrutable counsels or blasphemous suggestions that all this mysteriously serves God's good ends."

On the other hand, Jeff Jacoby disagrees, while arguing for God's sovereignty, says we can be angry with Him: "To wrestle with God is not to abandon Him. To protest against the unearned suffering He inflicts or permits is not to reject His message -- quite the opposite."

That little phrase "or permits" is where I think Hart, Jacoby and I agree. And I appreciate Jacoby's message because this is one of many messages of the Scriptures: God is a loving God who does allow his creation to wrestle with Him.

Some of the other essays responding to the Tsunami and the problem of God: Michael Novak, Rowan Williams, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Ron Rosenbaum, Edward Spence, and others. As always, GetReligion has a great summary of the writings on the religion pages (with links).

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, notes, in the opening of his essay: "...but what most painfully reaches our feelings is the individual face of loss and terror." Alex Beam reflects on this issue, as memorably summed up by Josef Stalin: "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." While that may be a reflection of our human limitation on grasping a million tragedies, I believe that the Lord does feel each and every tragedy. And he weeps.

Theodicy on the Web:

I debated putting in a link to Simon Winchester's article on the pagan response, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Gaia" but didn't because my link took me to the archives (and a 50 word abstract). However, I found another link that takes you to the entire article.

In addition, since I started writing this note, GetReligion now has additional entries on the theodicy question.
Welcome to Canada, eh?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Top 10 -- College Football. Without a doubt, it's SoCal -- I went to bed at halftime (like most of the eastern seaboard, I'm sure) with USC ahead 38-10. I see the final score was 55-19. Sorry Auburn, but the Trojans made their case, you're number 2. By bearly beating Va.Tech, you're lucky to be there and not number 3, which I'll give to Utah.

The rest of the top 10, in my opinion, is
4. Oklahoma
5. Iowa
6. Texas
7. Virginia Tech
8. Georgia
9. Louisville
10. Cal.

Here's the AP rankings and here are the ESPN/USAT polls.