Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What a terrific quote from Bonhoeffer.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Wow. Jonathan Lethem gets the Bigmac of grants. Lethem is one of my favorite novelists. I can't think of anyone else whose imagination as a writer is greater than his.
Oh, and another classic parenting story from Bill Harris.
I'll be away for the weekend, but if you need some entertainment in the meantime, you can check my nephew's brand new blog. Make sure to read his profile.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sorry for no blogging lately. Haven't been especially inspired. For some edifying reading, if that's what you are looking for, go over to the ekklesia project website and read some of their pamphlets. If you become a signatory to their principles, they will send you a copy of each new pamphlet when it is published. Might be interesting to discuss here some of their principles.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A new breed of reality show. Key quote: "Those voted out of the seven-member herd might be eaten."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Interesting news for any of you living (or driving through) New Hampshire. Live free or die!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Out of the "10 funniest religious jokes", this was the only one I really liked:

St Peter decides to take the day off to go fishing, so Jesus offers to keep an eye on the Pearly Gates. He is not sure what to do, so Peter tells him to find out a bit about people as they arrive in Heaven, and this will help him decide if he can let them in.

After a while, Jesus sees a little old man with white hair approaching who looks very, very familiar. He asks the old man to tell him about himself. The old man says, "I had a very sad life. I was a carpenter and had a son who I lost at a relatively young age, and although he was not my natural child, I loved him dearly."

Jesus welled up with emotion. He threw his arms around the old man and cried, "Daddy!"

The old man replied, "Pinocchio?"

Friday, September 09, 2005

A not-quite-so heart warming story.
Last night we finished watching the BBC production called The Barchester Chronicles. It was produced in the early 80's and is based fairly closely on the Trollope's The Warden and Barchester Towers. The acting was just superb throughout. The main part of Dr Harding was played wondefully by Donald Pleasance. Also outstanding was Alan Rickman as Obadiah Slope. Anyone who has seen Keeping Up Appearances would also recognize Clive Swift as Bishop Proudie. One can only surmise that a role like that prepared him well to play Richard Bucket. Very highly recommended and available through Netflix.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I remember having a moment or two just like this guy. He is in the unfortunate situation, though, of trying to express himself to his fellow junkies. You might notice the follow up discussion where they generally seem to miss the point. (Warning: link might contain a bad word or two)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A brief thought occasioned by reflecting on some of Stan Hauerwas' writings on the ethical significance of Jesus life as recorded in the gospels. There seem to be four basic positions held by the Israelites of Jesus day regarding their relationship to the kingdom of God. The first was that of the Sadducees who seemed to feel that the kingdom was not necessarily distinguished from present reality, and thus the best option is to participate as fully as possible in the workings of politics as they are.

The second option was, perhaps, the polar opposite. This is the position of the zealots. The zealots felt that the existing government, both by the Romans and by collaborators, was so unholy that it must be opposed by force. You wouldn't want God to accuse you of standing by idly while the wicked do as they please, would you?

The third option is that of the Essene/Qumran community. They believed like the zealots that the existing powers were evil, but the solution was to remove themselves from that community so as not to be polluted by it.

The fourth option was that of the pharisees. This was somewhat more moderate than the others, to my point of view. Thier position was that God, when He showed up to clean house, would recognize His own folks by their strict observance of the Torah.

All of these opinions I think could be given a pretty good defense based on a few OT proof texts, if you wanted to get defensive about them. But what I want to mention is that a great deal of Jesus teachings and actions could be interpreted as a response to these four positions. He condemns the Sadducees for not believing in resurrection, i.e., for not believing that God is ultimately just and will vindicate those who suffer injustice.

Jesus position on violence is spelled out for the zealots in the Sermon on the Mount. It is not that violence is unjustified, but that God has another way for His true followers to act, namely to suffer at the hands of the wicked without complaint.

Jesus response to the separatists is shown very visibly in how He deals with those who were unclean-- He does not stay away from them, but makes them clean by His presence.

And, more well known I think, Jesus responds to the pharisees both by rejecting observance of some of their practices as well as accusing them of hypocrisy. He tells His followers that their righteousness must be "greater than that of the scibes and pharisees." While God certainly wants His people to be obedient, he does not want this in the way of the pharisees.

Only click here if you are involved in youth ministry. No one else allowed. I mean it. If you start laughing, I'm going to think you clicked on it.
I never thought I would ever feel magnet envy.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Thanks to my fine friend Todd Granger for this link. Now if some ignorant person comes up to you and says "well, what about the crusades?" you can say, "gee, I'm glad you asked." I suppose you'll have to memorize the whole thing for proper effect though.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Thought for the day: John Taylor Gatto is probably our country's most underrated genius. Here's a good essay for those who don't feel like they have time to read Postman's Technopoly.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Man attempts to re-enact the story of the prodigal son, fails to even get started.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

via blogdex, I ran into this pretty touching link. Too bad many of the people who need this info probably can't access it right now.
I have often heard it said that comedy can be a much more honest avenue for exploring serious issues than drama. Just as an aside, one example of this case being made is in Paul Cantor's exploration of the changing face of american thoughts about globalization in his Gilligan Unbound, a book I highly recommend.

Anyhow, what I meant to write about was Nick Hornby. Hornby has developed a reputation, due to the successful screen adaptations of his novels, as a modern comedic writer of a very high caliber. His characterizations of modern urban English life play on banality in a way not entirely dissimilar to Wodehouse in the previous century. His last two novels, though, have moved into some fairly serious realms. In 2001, his novel How to be Good focussed on a character who asked herself whether working in a helping profession was enough to qualify her as a good person. Hornby seems to take seriously the question of how we can find goodness in a time and place which has left the christian religion behind. I hate to put it this way, but I did feel pity for the author as he tried so hard to find a new definition of the good life but seemed to come up empty.

Hornby's newest novel, A Long Way Down seems to have gone a step further. If the quest for the good life is unsuccessful, what remains? The novel begins with four people all finding each other on a rooftop, each seriously contemplating suicide. After some conversation they make a pact with each other to watch out for each other for 6 weeks, to stay alive for at least that long. Each of the characters has very different reasons for wanting to end life, and each comes from a very different perspective. The chapters rotate sequentially through the viewpoints of each of these characters.

I haven't quite finished it yet, so I won't comment too much more tonight. I'll add that it made an interesting contrast to my other reading for the week, Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. Eco's work also deals with the question of meaning and how to go on living, but from a very different perspective. The main character, Yambo, begins the book with a case of amnesia. This is not a total amnesia, but one which blocks out all of his autobiographical memories. He can still remember virtually every book or poem he read or any song he heard.

When Yambo's wife asks him what he wants to do after he leaves the hospital, he realizes that without any sense of where he has been, he has no idea at all where he should go next. The majority of the book which follows has Yambo trying to learn his own history. Who were his past loves? What happened to Italy in his lifetime?

I though the chllenge to understand where we have been to know where we should be going to be a very powerful one, though, with all of Eco's writing, I feel like I probably missed about half of what he included.