Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Thoughts on Scott Brown's Victory

OK, obviously, I'm neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet...I didn't think he'd pull it off.

My next thought...Could this guy - Scott Brown - be a presidential candidate? He's good looking, he's intelligent, he has a commanding presence and he's articulate, and now, he's proven he's a winner. If he does well as a senator, could he be a contender in 2012? or maybe (better) 2016? The Republicans need some good looking, articulate, winners. Maybe this is the first one.

Just a thought...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two Quick Notes

Just two quick points:

1) I want to go on record as saying, as much as I hope he wins, I don't think Scott Brown is going to win the people's seat in Mass.

2) In light of the recent tragic events in Haiti, I want everyone to know that I am having serious trouble with my faith. All this evil! All this innocent death! All this suffering! How could it happen? All this presents an insurmountable problem for my faith, the problem of evil. I'm afraid it will never recover. Therefore, I renounce my faith in, and love for, Gaia, MOTHER EARTH! How could she do this to us? What did these people do to deserve such suffering and death? An earthquake is not a man-made catastrophe! It's a Mother Earth made tragedy! She is evil, inflicting death and suffering on so many innocents. It's just too much to bear.

Just sayin'...yunno? (wink)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Movie Reviews!

I've seen several movies in the last week or so, and thought I should share a review with ya'll.



1. Blind Side -
I sympathize with the message of this movie. A wealthy, white, Christian family befriends, takes in, and adopts a very large, uneducated, athletic young black kid from a broken family and a terrible neighborhood, and helps him succeed. Sandra Bullock did well as the mother, though she sure did get a LOT of screen time, with lots of tight clothing and facial close-ups. Her character is clearly the leader of her family, financially, and spiritually. The story is touching, no doubt. From my experience working for the juvenile court in Cincinnati, I know something about certain realities of the black family portrayed in the film. I wasn't totally impressed by the character of the white family, and, if I were Af-Am, I would have been frustrated with the portrayal of black families. Yes, there are problems in the Af-Am community (as in every community), but goodness...the movie seemed to condemn black culture as a whole. And, of course, the white, Christian family came to the rescue. It was a bit much. There were several black families watching the same showing as I did, and they showed no difficulty with it; they cheered, defended the white family when they were accused, etc. (FYI, black folk are far more interactive with movies in theaters than your average white audience - it's a thing to behold. I once saw a Denzel Washington movie in a predominantly black community, and the women were constantly shouting, "Look out, Denzel! He's behind you, honey!" I heard one lady crying when he died. It was awesome!) In any case, I thought they could have done more to minimize the racial element. It was obvious there was a racial angle to the story; there was no need to emphasize it. 3/5 stars



2. Sherlock Holmes -
Good, old-fashioned, fun. I'm a Holmes fan, and though no one will match Jeremy Brett as Holmes, Morton [correction: ROBERT] Downey Jr. did a good job, and Jude Law did well as Dr. Watson. The on-screen chemistry between them was good. I got lost in time and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Plot was good; special effects were good. There are some dark moments, portrayal of pagan/Satanic practices, but - not to give anything away - it's all good in the end. 4/5 stars



3. Star Trek -
I was totally surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. I didn't expect much (maybe that helped), especially since it was a J.J. Abrams movie (I HATE the TV show "Lost"). And, I think it helped that I grew up watching the original "Star Trek" series with Kirk, Spock, Scotty and the gang. In my book, Nimoy and Shatner really are cool. But, the characters really grew on me. Spock, Kirk, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov - it was very well done. And what seemed so much fun was when we would see the origin of various things we older folks know from the original series, e.g., why is Dr. McCoy called "Bones?" When Spock showed up, and said to the young Jim Kirk, "I am, and always shall be, your friend," I got choked up. I feel like I know these guys, like I was with them during all those adventures in the original series. I was surprised at how much the movie affected me emotionally, and how much old-fashioned fun the movie was. 4/5 stars



4. District 9 -
This movie disturbed me. It is a faux documentary, set in the future, when some refugee aliens arrive in earth's atmosphere and end up taking up residence in Johannesburg, South Africa. A young bureaucrat working for the bureau of Alien Affairs is assigned the task of removing the aliens, called "Prawns," from their slum (District 9) to a new location. In the process, he becomes infected with alien DNA, begins to transform into an alien, and begins to see things from a different perspective. I can't quite pinpoint why I was so upset by the move, but something made watching it an unpleasant experience. There's no sex, lots of blood and killing, including dismemberment and eating of humans, and some rough language (rated R). The aliens themselves are somewhat distastful to look at. Parallels with other occasions of human rights abuses are clear. 2/5 stars



5. Avatar 3-D -
An amazing experience! I got a little disoriented near the beginning and had to take a quick walk around the lobby, but I only missed about 5 minutes. Visually stunning, colorful, beautiful - the fantasy world created by this movie is breathtaking in its color, lifeforms and scenery. The story is pretty predictable. Humans are plundering a certain substance on a planet known as Pandora, and the indigenous population becomes hostile, especially when the humans begin destroying locations of cultural/religious significance. Capitalism and military bear the brunt of ideological criticism in this pantheist/ environmentalist/ spiritualist/ pagan propaganda piece. A paraplegic veteran Marine takes part in a new technology that allows humans to animate a genetically created alien body (the "avatar"). His mission is to infiltrate the na'vi community to gain intel. The na'vi are deeply spiritual, deeply connected to their eco-system, and to their ancestors; and they worship a deity named Eywa. It is interesting to me that na'vi is the Hebrew word for "prophet" and the name of Eywa is oddly similar to Yahweh, but that may be coincidental. I felt like I was watching a super-tech fantasy version of "Dances With Wolves." If you are looking for a deep plot, this is not the movie; if you are looking for a feast of the senses and dazzling special effects, this is the movie for you. If you want a movie with a good message, biblically speaking, this is certainly not it. 4/5 stars

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Are You A Misandrist?

Do you like thinking about male/female roles in our society? Are you concerned about the future of the family? Do you like speculating about the future of society in general? If so, you will find this article fascinating. Disclaimer: I only skimmed this article, so I am not endorsing everything he says. I would like to read it more closely, but ... I have Herm final projects to grade!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wow! This Really Is the End

They (Dems) are now openly embracing using public taxpayers' money to bribe other politicians to vote a certain way. The US is now (officially) a corrupt, third world government. How quickly we have fallen. Read it here.

If you have no ethics, you can't be accused of violating your standards!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Some Christian Classics

A former student of mine recently wrote to me, wanting some suggestions for Christian classics she should read. Here's the list I wrote back:

1. J.I. Packer, _Knowing God_. This is a modern classic. Fantastic. It's not just about God; rather, it is about spirituality and Christian living.

2. Brother Lawrence, _Practicing the Presence of God_. This is a devotional classic by a Catholic brother. He writes about how he learned to live in a constant awareness of God's presence.

3. Thomas a Kempis, _The Imitation of Christ_. Another catholic brother; and another devotional classic. Kempis embraces some Catholic theology here and there, but by and large, it is an extended meditation on pursuing Christilikeness in everyday life.

4. C.S. Lewis, _The Screwtape Letters_. I've read this about 4 times; some of these letters have deeply influenced the way I think about all of life. It is humorous, serious, relevant, entertaining, readable. A Christian classic without question.

5. G.K. Chesterton, _Orthodoxy_. This one is a bit more "heady" and intellectual, but also funny and practical at the same time. Not a long book, but one has to read it slowly to appreciate it. It is one of Chesterton's defenses of the Christian faith.

6. John Bunyan, _Pilgrim's Progress_. Perhaps THE Christian classic of all time. I've read this countless times, and it always inspires. Bunyan's allegory of the Christian life: memorable, convicting, comforting, inspiring.

7. Daniel Defoe, _Robinson Crusoe_. You probably know the story, but few have actually read the book. When I did, I was surprised at how many quotations there are from Scripture. Crusoe tries to come to grips with life from a Christian perspective.

8. Hannah Hurnard, _Hind's Feet on High Places_. Another devotional classic. An extended allegory with lots of symbolism; very readable, emotional, inspiring.

9. Wayne Grudem, _Systematic Theology_. Get the unabridged version. It is LONG, but this book is not just another systematic theology. Dr. Grudem was one of my teachers in seminary. This book is a wonderful example of allowing Scripture to be our authority. It is not only educating but very nourishing to the soul. Both my wife and I have read it from cover to cover. Each chapter has memory verses and a hymn on that particular topic. Give yourself a year or so to finish it. I read a few pages every night before bed. My wife read it during morning devotions. Worth every page.

10. F.F. Bruce, _Paul's Letter to the Romans_ (Tyndale New Testament Commentary). This would not make many other people's list of classics; it was the textbook when I had Mr. Bedell for Romans class, and it changed my life. Bruce is a scholar, and writes like one, but his explanation of the gospel as taught by Paul in the book of Romans really did change my life.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Blessing of Solitude

From Justin Taylor's blog, I learned of a series by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church on the issue of solitude and silence before God. I've sampled it enough to recommend the whole series. How we Americans need silence!

Here are the topics and the links:
1. Four Ways to Live your Life
2. Four Ways to Change Your Life
3. Understanding Silence and Solitude
4. Silence and Solitude Stealers
5. Silence and Solitude Journaling Template

I hope you find some time to be silent during this Advent season.

UPDATE: Pope Benedict XVI opens Advent preparation and speaks of the "joy of waiting." Read it here.

Thanks for reading.

7 Stories Barack Obama Does Not Want Told

Here's a story from Politico today. What are the 7 stories Barack Obama does not want told? Here's the summary:
1. He thinks he's playing with Monopoly money.
2. Too much Leonard Nimoy (i.e., he doesn't feel anyone's pain)
3. That's the Chicago way (i.e., his staff is a bunch of Chicago thugs)
4. He's a pushover.
5. He sees America as another pleasant country on the U.N. roll call, somewhere between Albania and Zimbabwe (i.e., he denies American Exceptionalism)
6. President Pelosi (she's the real power in Washington)
7. He's in love with the man in the mirror.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Obama and Diplomatic Weakness

Well, it's been a while since I last posted. So much going on...writing, parenting, grading, teaching. I'll recommend the following article, since it summarizes so well what our president is finding out: the world is not a nice place, and wanting people to like you gets you nowhere in an evil world full of dictators and bullies. Read it here. Here's how the article begins:

When he entered office, US President Barack Obama promised to inject US foreign policy with a new tone of respect and diplomacy. His recent trip to Asia, however, showed that it's not working. A shift to Bush-style bluntness may be coming.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This is just WRONG!

This is truly painful for me to look at.



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Friday, September 4, 2009

Good Column on the Prez


Here's a good summary of BHO's leftist policies. I can think of some more, but this is helpful. Thank you to Larry Elder.
BTW, don't ya' love this picture? {here}

Friday, August 14, 2009

Chrysostom


Just before the beginning of Lent, 387, word reached the city of Antioch of a new tax the emperor was exacting on the empire. The citizens of Antioch began to riot, and in the heat of the moment, toppled two statues of the emperor and his wife. This was considered seditious behavior, punishable by whatever the emperor deemed necessary to maintain order and submission (my, how far we have come, politically, eh?)


The city was in shock as the magnitude of the actions began to sink in. Here's how John Chrysostom, pastor of the oldest church in Antioch, began his morning message:


What shall I say, or what shall I speak of? The present season is one for tears, and not for words; for lamentation, not for discourse; for prayer, not for preaching. Such is the magnitude of the deeds daringly done; so incurable is the wound, so deep the blow, even beyond the power of all treatment, and craving assistance from above.


I also like this line:


The Church is not a theatre, that we should listen for amusement.


That's all for today. I'm only 1/3 of the way through the sermon.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More Johnny Chrysostom


From Homily #1, Concerning the Statues:


Listen to this simile:


Just as in the contests of the outer world, the combatants that are vigorous, and in high condition of body, are not so well discerned, when they are enwrapt all around with the garment soaked in oil; but when casting this aside, they are brought forward unclothed into the arena; then above all they strike the
spectators on every side with astonishment at the proportion of their limbs,
there being no longer anything to conceal them; so also was it with Job. When he
was enveloped in all that wealth, it was not visible to the many, what a man he
was. But when, like the wrestler, that strips off his garment, he threw it
aside, and came naked to the conflicts of piety, thus unclothed, he astonished
all who saw him; so that the very theatre of angels shouted at beholding his
fortitude of soul, and applauded him as he won his crown!


Wow. What an amazing metaphor! To think of Job as a wrestler whose body is revealed as he strips off the outer garment of wealth...how vivid, how memorable.


I just like this quote:


Let us not then call Him to account for what He does; but let us give Him glory in all things. For it is not lightly and to no purpose that He often permits such events [as afflictions in the lives of the righteous].

Eight Reasons for Afflictions in the Lives of the Saints


In his first "Homily on the Statues," John Chrysostom preached on Paul's instruction to Timothy, "Drink a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thy often infirmities." One of the issues he felt necessary to address was this: why would God let Timothy have such "infirmities" at all? So he answers this question with "eight reasons for afflictions."

A historical note: this sermon, preached to the people of Antioch, preceded the catastrophic riots in the city which resulted in the destruction of the statues of the emperor and his wife, which destruction was viewed in that day as tantamount to treason and punishable against the city by summary executions. This sermon was preached in the lull before that storm, in which the fate of the city lay in the hands of the emperor, Theodosius I (the Great). The date was Sunday, 21 of February, A.D. 387.

Here are his "Eight Reasons" why God permits afflictions in the lives of the saints:

1. "...that they may not too easily be exalted into presumption..." i.e., to humble them.

2. "...that others may not have a greater opinion of them than belongs to human nature, and take them to be gods and not men."

3. "...that the power of God may be made manifest..."

4. "...that the endurance of these themselves may become more striking, serving God, as they do, not for a reward; but showing even such right-mindedness as to give proof of their undiminished good will towards Him after so many evils." (Wow.)

5. "...that our minds may be wise concerning the doctrine of a resurrection." His point is that the suffering of the righteous demands that God be just by raising them from the dead and rewarding them.

6. "...that all who fall into adversity may have a sufficient consolation and alleviation, by looking at such persons, and remembering what sufferings have befallen them."

7. "...that when we exhort you to the virtue of such persons...you may not, on account of the surpassing character of their good works, slothfully shrink from such an imitation of them, as deeming them to have been partakers of a different nature."

8. "...that when it is necessary to call any blessed, or the reverse, we may learn whom we ought to account happy, and whom unhappy and wretched." I don't get this one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Great Column!

OK, so Camille Paglia is no conservative (she's a lesbian libertarian, I believe), but, WOW, does she nail it in this column in her analysis of Obama's work on healthcare reform. Her analysis sounds cynical, but with power hungry Nazi liberals and scandalous conservatives abounding everywhere, I can understand. The first two pages of this column are fascinating and I think I agree with just about everything she says. On the last page (page 3) she discusses some weird stuff that just doesn't interest me. But in any case, I recommend her analysis.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Ruse Starts


This is a ruse. With the credibility of the media in such shambles, I suspect they will start picking on BHO for issues like this. Then they can say, "Hey, we've been hard on the President." They did this with Bill Clinton. They have no problem picking at the foibles of liberal and/or progressive politicians. What they will never, NEVER, do is question their policies. They won't even examine their policies, let alone analyze or question them.
For the record, if you watch the video, I think it is clear that our President was not...uh...looking. Let's stop this nonsense and start doing some investigative reporting and analysis of BHO's policies.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Enough Already!


Goodness! Why all this? Do we have to radicalize and politicize EVERYTHING? I've seen and heard enough about Michael Jackson to last me the rest of my life.


And I'm particularly irked by both extreme ends of the spectrum. Some people cannot say his name without saying the word "pedophile" in the same sentence. Now, I'll be the first to say he was weird...VERY weird...but there is no evidence of pedophilia. I've seen the interview of him talking about having the boys in bed with him, and yes, weird, and no, I probably wouldn't let my kids hang out with him at the ranch, but that interview actually made me cry. He talked about the things he did with those kids in very "idealistic" terms. He seemed to be trying to create a storybook childhood for these boys, and he was including himself in this story. It looked to me like he was trying to somehow experience childhood through these boys, as if watching them and being with them during typical childhood activities would somehow help him. He mentioned drinking warm milk and eating cookies. Yeah, that sounds nice, but I had warm milk once...and it was disgusting! Milk (at least cow's milk) was made to be cold...THEN bring out the cookies. In that interview, he looked sad to me, like he was grasping, almost thrashing about trying to find a childhood. It really made me sad. He was a troubled man, and I don't think we should pile on, so to speak. Learn from his mistakes and move on.


But I'm equally irked by those who are trying to make him into some kind of martyr, saint, icon, etc. I feel like this is "African-American hagiography." One guy said he was "the best entertainer ever." Really? REALLY? The best EVER? Hmmm...that sounds a bit over the top. He was a great entertainer, an innovator, he crossed racial lines, he appealed to a worldwide audience...all that I can agree with. But for some reason, people are trying to make him more than he was, and ignore all the weirdness. Jamie Fox was particularly strange: "This man...this BLACK man...he was OURS...and we shared him..." Is this necessary? Is there anyone who doubted that he was black? Is this new information? What is behind such a statement? Doesn't that sound bitter? Maybe even insecure? Why are so many people racializing this thing? I just don't get it.


Here's the final word (IMHO) on the subject: many people think MJ was a very talented singer and entertainer; he was innovative; he broke down walls; he brought people together; he enjoyed worldwide appeal; and he was weird, very weird. He led a troubled life; he was the victim of several kinds of abuse and he had trouble leading a normal life. And now that he is gone, can we let him rest in peace? Let's not racialize him; let's not lionize him; let's learn from him and move on. Can we agree on that?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finally, Someone Says the Obvious!




Here's an excellent column on National Review Online that explains the hatred for Sarah Palin. There is no question that the Left plays by different rules than the Right. If you have moral scruples, how do you fight with someone who has no scruples at all, who will do anything to win?






Here are some interesting comments from a liberal, feminist, Democrat (and dissident lesbian) Camille Paglia. I like this line:



[Palin] also needs a shrewder, cooler take on the mainstream media, with its preening bullies, cackling witches, twisted cynics and pompous windbags.