Saturday, August 03, 2002

Great Movie. Signs is a great movie. I was expecting something in the vein of Sixth Sense based on one of the reviews I read and was trying to guess who was dead or something, but it wasn't like that at all. It has it's very scary moments -- done well. Yet at the same time it was sweet. I'll have more later -- with spoilers, so I'll give warnings, but in the meantime, go see it.

Wonderful movie.

More. Here is Doug LeBlanc's review -- read it after seeing the movie.
Baptism. Kevin Holtsberry kindly replies to my inquiry (in his comments) and Mark Byron responds in the Theology Department. I'll post something tomorrow (promises, promises).

Friday, August 02, 2002

PLO. I'm so fed up with the palestinians -- right now I'd like to have them all appear in a H. Bosch painting.

Hall of Fame. George Allen was overlooked for far too long -- the guy was one of the greatest coaches and motivators around. A truly sharp guy. Sometimes people don't get in because they are controversial or rub people the wrong way. I think this was the case with George Allen. In other instances, men who play positions with little recognition don't make it -- put in a list of offensive linemen here. In other cases, a man might attract media attention and make it at the expense of a lesser media-savy, but far superior teammate. That was the case with Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. John Stallworth finally makes it, but should've gone in long before Swann. For that matter, Cliff Branch deserves to get in the Hall long before Swann (but Swanny is in already).

Here are Dr. Z's comments about who should be in and why. One player he mentions in passing, Bob "Boomer" Brown is long overdue. The guy was an awesome blocker who could flatten anyone with his forearm (at the end of his career, he was traded to the Raiders. His first day of practice he lined up in front of the goal post, charged out of his stance and threw his forearm and brought down the goal post). He's not in because of his mouth -- he was very contentious when he played for the Eagles -- and because he was an offensive tackle.

Also, Z notes he is not enthusiastic about Art Monk, which may tick off my Redskins friends -- I'm on the bubble with Monk -- I like the guy. But is he HOF material? Shrug. In any event, I'd place him there before Swann -- but I think anyone would.
It's sold. This was up for auction at e-bay. Unfortunately, it looks like they're all sold out.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Textbook. One of the texts that my daughter and I will be using for 8th grade this year is Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis by William J. Webb. As you can see, it looks at Biblical hermeneutics with a particular emphasis on the sticky questions of applying what the Bible says to slavery, homosexuality and the role of women. For example, if the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, then why doesn't it say the same thing about slavery? Similarly, if we ordain women, why not gay persons? Or on the flip side, if we don't ordain gays, shouldn't we also withhold ordination from women, especially in light of 1 Tim. 2:12a "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. . . " Or aren't we just really reading our own preferences and prejudices into Scripture?

From what I understand, Webb addresses these issues square on. For a review of this book see this essay by Agnieszka Tennant.
According to Jesus, by far the most important thing about praying is to keep at it... Be importunate, Jesus says -- not, one assumes, because you have to beat a path to God's door before he'll open it, but because until you beat the path maybe there's no way of getting to your door.
... Frederick Buechner
Not Me
12.5 %

My weblog owns 12.5 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?
Comments May Be Back. I've been watching Ann Salisbury's comment feature and it seems to be working. So I'm putting my toe back in the water and we'll see how it goes.

update I may have put way too much stray code in here. There are a few comments way down at the bottom of the page, but none up here. I'll figure this out or cut it loose entirely.

More. No luck. Not only am I an idiot, but am incompetent as well. Oh, well, this may give me the incentive to strip things down and redo them completely.
The Next Archbishop of Canterbury. The following are the comments of the pastor of my church, Martyn Minns, on Rowan Williams:
The speculation is over and now we know that Rowan Williams will become the next Archbishop of Canterbury. But who exactly is he?

Rowan currently serves as Archbishop of Wales and is one of the youngest men to be appointed. He has never served in a parish, but has instead followed the academic path of ministry. Rowan grew up in Wales, his father was a mining engineer. He studied at the local grammar school before heading off to Cambridge and then to Oxford University. He distinguished himself as a brilliant theologian, he speaks five languages, and is married with two school age children. He served as Bishop of Monmouth before becoming Archbishop of Wales. But none of this info makes for exciting headlines, and so in recent days Rowan has been peace activist, etc., by the British media I first met Rowan Williams at Lambeth in 1998. He was a strong supporter of our Five Talents Initiative and I was impressed by his passion for a gospel which is truly good news for the poor. He is also helping us in the formation of Five Talents (UK).

Rowan is someone who defies simple labels. He is a faithful Christian. He is an academic, but he is also someone who can connect with folks who are not. He does hold to liberal political views, and yet he is passionately pro life. He has published books and articles that are sometimes obscure and difficult to read, yet he holds firm to the classical creeds of our faith. He is a strong supporter of contemporary evangelism initiatives such as ALPHA. He is a complex man and time will tell as to what shape his ministry will take. At the moment he needs our prayers as his new responsibilities are overwhelming. Please join me in praying that he will be God’s anointed servant to lead our Anglican Communion through the next few years.
Confirming the above, it should be noted that Williams is a member of the English pro-life group Society for the Protection of Unborn Children ("SPUC"). It would be very interesting to see that a nomination that was rammed through because of perceived support for female bishops and gay clergy turned out to be a pro-life trojan horse for Labour.
Buechner. Frederick Buechner is one of those great living writers who has been overlooked by popular culture and far too many critics. I see that he has a new book coming out soon, I would suggest if you haven't read anything by him, you might want to give this a shot. Here's a review. According to the review, he looks at four writers: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mark Twain, G.K. Chesterton, and Shakespeare. Coincidentally, I was reading about Hopkins earlier this week in Peter Sean Bradley's blog.

To give you a little idea of how well respected Buechner is, the rock group Daniel Amos has a CD titled Mr. Buechner's Dream [go here for a compendium of reviews of the CD]. If you are a Christian of the Catholic stripe, let me entice you by noting FB, although a Protestant minister, has written a book drawn solely from a book in the Catholic Bible. If you are a Protestant of the liberal persuasion, you will find Sojourner's as one of his boosters. If you worship on the right side of the aisle, you will be glad to note that he has fans at World magazine.

Here is an interview with Buechner by the Door.

*sigh* I always write these things out, but then forget to hit the publish button (what an idiot). In any event, it gives me a chance to revise and extend my remarks. In particular, see the Bros. Judd Good Books site for reviews of Son of Laughter and The Storm.

See Lauren Winner on Why Evangelicals like FB.

Finally, here's a sample, from from Peculiar Treasures, A Biblical Who's Who by Frederick Buechner

She was always good company-a little heavy with the lipstick maybe, a little less than choosy about men and booze, a little loud, but great at a party and always good for a laugh. Then the prophet Hosea came along wearing a sandwich board that read "The End Is at Hand" on one side and "Watch Out" on the other.

The first time he asked her to marry him, she thought he was kidding. The second time she knew he was serious but thought he was crazy. The third time she said yes. He wasn't exactly a swinger, but he had a kind face, and he was generous, and he wasn't all that crazier than everybody else. Besides, any fool could see he loved her.

Give or take a little, she even loved him back for a while, and they had three children whom Hosea named with queer names like Not-pitied-for-God-will-no-longer-pity-Israel-now-that-it’s-gone-to-the-dogs so that every time the roll was called at school, Hosea would be scoring a prophetic bullseye in absentia. But everybody could see the marriage wasn’t going to last, and it didn’t.

While Hosea was off hitting the sawdust trail, Gomer took to hitting as many night spots as she could squeeze into a night, and any resemblance between her next batch of children and Hosea was purely coincidental. It almost killed him, of course, Every time he raised a hand to her, he burst into tears. Every time she raised one to him, he was the one who ended up apologizing.

He tried locking her out of the house a few times when she wasn't in by five in the morning, but he always opened the door when she finally showed up and helped get her to bed if she couldn't see straight enough to get there herself. Then one day she didn't show up at all.

He swore that this time he was through with her for keeps, but of course he wasn't. When he finally found her, she was lying passed out in a highly specialized establishment located above an adult bookstore, and he had to pay the management plenty to let her out of her contract. She'd lost her front teeth and picked up some scars you had to see to believe, but Hosea had her back again and that seemed to be all that mattered.

He changed his sandwich board to read "God Is Love" on one side and "There's No End to It" on the other, and when he stood on the street corner belting out:

How can I give you up, O Ephraim!
How can I hand you over, O Israel!
For I am God and not man,
The Holy One in your midst.
(Hosea 11:8-9)

Nobody can say how many converts he made, but one thing that's for sure is that, including Gomer's, there was seldom a dry eye in the house.
(Hosea 1-3, 11)
Peculiar Treasures A Biblical Who’s Who
Copyright 1979, Frederick Buechner Harper Collins

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

+Peter responds. In response to my concerns about his joining the dissenting letter from the Evangelicals, as raised by Ben and commented on by others, I received this message from the Right Rev. Peter Moore (we generally just abbrev. the title as "+")
Thanks so much for writing me of your concerns, and not just stewing and thinking that we are as far apart as possible on the Middle East. I
unequivocally affirm the right of Israel to exist with secure borders, and I believe that God has a long-term plan for the Jews that somehow includes the territory of Israel. My other concern, however, is for a just resolution to the crisis, and I think that the only way this can happen is if the Bush administration (which I heartily support) knows that the American evangelical community is not so pro-Israel that we can't see injustice when it happens. I am thinking of the continued settlements of Israelis on the West Bank. This only pours gasoline on the fires of hatred. So, please do not assume that I have suddenly switched to the Palestinian side, and am knocking Israel. I am not. But I do think that some Christians are so pro-Israel as not to see when this secular state acts without regard for its very confused, hate-filled, and oppressed neighbor -- the Palestinian people. Hopefully, one day we will have a secure Israel and a secure Palestine -- with Arafat as history! Let's join in prayer for that goal.
Signs. Part of why I'm looking forward to Signs can be seen in this sentence extracted from David Ansen's review: "Widower Graham Hess (Mel Gibson), an Episcopalian minister who has lost his faith after the agonizing death of his wife, tries to keep his family calm in the face of mighty strange occurrences." I dig movies that intelligently examine faith -- faith in transition -- and I've never seen a Mel Gibson movie that trivialized faith.
Beekner. Reminder to myself to write about this.
Ben Domenech does a valuable service in pointing out this minor article in the Post from last weekend (page B9).

In the orginal article there is a quote from "Gary M. Burge, professor of theology at Wheaton College in Illinois" in which he wants "Bush to know that 'Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, just to take two names, do not represent the evangelical voice of America.'" First of all, that's never been the case -- that those guys represent the Evangelical Voice of America (EVoA -- tm pending, I'm sure). Secondly, it goes back to the odd question of what is an evangelical as well -- Robertson, a Pentecostal broadcaster and Falwell, a Fundamentalist (and I use the historical, not perjorative sense) Baptist minister represent a pretty wide spectrum of theological belief. Third, my recollection is that Robertson has been all over the place on the Middle East (perhaps paying more attention to his ponies), but maybe I'm wrong.

Mark Byron added his thoughts, always trenchant (although far too kind to Big Tony Campolo) and Ben posted some more information, including this quote from the letter:

...We urge you to provide the leadership necessary for peacemaking in the Middle East by vigorously opposing injustice, including the continued unlawful and degrading Israeli settlement movement. The theft of Palestinian land and the destruction of Palestinian homes and fields is surely one of the major causes of the strife that has resulted in terrorism and the loss of so many Israeli and Palestinian lives. The continued Israeli military occupation that daily humiliates ordinary Palestinians is also having disastrous effects on the Israeli soul.

Yeah, right. This reminds me of Jonathan Alter reaction to the hand-wringer after 9-11: "Talk about ironic: the same people always urging us to not blame the victim in rape cases are now saying Uncle Sam wore a short skirt and asked for it." So now Prison Fellowship and the are saying Israel has been asking for it? Not a good sign.

Two of the names on the list were very surprising to me: the Very Right Rev. Peter Moore and David Neff (editor of CT). I sent a note to +Moore -- I'll let you know if I get a response. I've been reading Neff for a number of years now -- he's usually a careful writer -- I can't see him subscribing to the aforementioned passage.

Last, I'll take issue with some of the characterizations made by Bobby Allison-Gallimore who writes:
Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California: Rev. Mouw has an extensive number of works published on the Internet. You can read his writings about subjects as varied as: defending polygamy, why being a proud American is idolatrous, the rights of chickens, and what a Biblical scholar President Clinton is.
Actually, if you read the articles he links to, you will see that Mouw (who I don't believe is ordained -- I think he's just an academic) labels polygamy a sin, but says maybe in America we should allow a religious exception to those who want to practice it. Not an unusual postion -- I've heard it from a number of prominent Christian attorneys. Similarly, he doesn't write that being an proud American is idolatrous. He does state
The kind of patriotism that was being espoused struck me as bordering on idolatry. The worship--or near-worship--of the nation is serious problem from a biblical perspective.
Would any true Christian disagree with that statement? In his brief essay he raises concerns about a patriotism that crosses the line (as Christians, we are sojourners and ambassadors living in a strange land). On the rights of chickens -- it's a passage on recognizing that chickens are the creation of the Lord and treating them accordingly (not as possessors of rights). As for that last one -- Clinton the Bible scholar -- well I'm sure that Mouw didn't intend it this way, but when he wrote "President Clinton . . . quoted Scripture with ease." I thought of Jesus' temptations and how Satan was able to quote Scripture with ease.
Of Course.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Symbolism: More Symbolism Than You Can Shake a Stick At

what movie symbolism are you?

Monday, July 29, 2002

Great Lyrics. Kevin and others have been including some of their favorite lyrics lately. Let me join in -- consider these by Mark Heard (RIP):


Heaven help a timid child in a trendy tide
He really doesn't know
That his heart's being taken for a ride
Doing what the world lays down
As a steadfast rule
And changing when the world says to change
Like a steadfast fool

Heaven heaven help me
I'm one of the dominoes
Chain reaction coming
Blow by blow

Heaven help a heedless man in a time of need
He can't feel the knife In his back
Or see the blood that he bleeds
Walking 'round blind
To the harm that's being done
He thinks it's alright
'Cause it's happening to everyone

Heaven help a seeker of truth
In an age of lies
Gonna make himself believe
That the truth is whatever he buys
Gonna buy what the world says to buy
In a monotone
Gonna cry when the whole world cries
And the truth is known

From Stop the Dominoes
AL West. The last weekend before the August 1 fan walkout, the Angels take over first, by percentage points, after taking two of three from the M's, including a very thrilling 1-0 game (for all you soccer fans) last night. The A's had a big chance against last place Texas to pick up a lot of ground, but drop 2 of 3 as Texas' pitching remains together for 25 of 27 innings (up 2-1 going into the 8th for a sweep last night, the Rangers surrender 3 in the 8th and 8 in the 9th, as Zito wins his 15th).
Bootlegger Ethics, continued. I know I need to bring back the comments -- it should be back this week. In the meantime, I received a note from Matthew Judd (a relative of the Judd Bros.?) in which he notes:
the one thing I add is, if I start collecting multiple shows from a particular band, I tend to buy some/all of their commercially available stuff; especially if I can get them directly from the band.
This is a good point and it doesn't have to necessarily be an intentional committment -- I sort of think it's a side-effect from getting involved in trading. Someone who has 17 versions of Bob Dylan singing Rainy Day Women (as I have, at least), is willing to buy two more versions on Before the Flood and Unplugged (and I don't even like the song). I think this is why the artists tolerate or even encourage the traders (just not the for-profit bootleggers).

This experience is somewhat similar to the experience of movie producers in the early 1980s when the VCR boomed. At first the producers said that people being able to tape shows would cut down on the dollars going the theaters, but it had the reverse effect, because people became enthusiasts.

In any event, I'm still waiting for a contrary opinion, arguing that the trading of bootlegged CDRs of concerts is immoral.
Cover Watch . The two main newsweeklies go for non-news, entertainment covers. On one hand, you have Time featuring the Boss, on the other, Newsweek, featuring the New Spielberg. Initially, I thought, "tough choice."

But on second thought, easy choice, advantage Newsweek, despite the horrible tag it puts on M. Night Shyamalan. Basically, it comes down to a choice between a cover story on a man who was the "new Bob Dylan" 30 years ago versus the man who may be the brightest star on the moviemaking horizon since, yes, Steven Spielberg (but please don't call him the "new Spielberg"). Given this old versus new distinction, I choose to learn about the new.

Now, I'm a huge Springsteen fan and was even pondering going to Tower tonight at midnight to get the new album. I have copies of the original Time and Newsweek dueling cover stories on Springsteen back in 1975. [Here's a link to the 1975 Time story and here's one to the 1975 Newsweek story]. Back in 1975, Springsteen wasn't the new Dylan or even "the future of Rock and Roll." However, he was a future of rock and roll (why weren't there any cover stories on any of the other futures of rock, say the Ramones, for example?). And yes, he still carries great significance and yet another cover story is not unmerited.

In any event, Shyamalan, is as unique as Springsteen and therefore deserves to be treated on his own terms. I believe that he could be as significant to movie making as Springsteen is to rock and roll.