Saturday, May 27, 2006

X-Men 3 vs. Da Vinci...

One of the benefits of taking this week off has been my opportunity to catch up on some movies that I've wanted to see that I just haven't had time for otherwise. There's nothing like a vacation to justify taking some time out to just sit and watch a movie on TV or head to the local theater. It's so nice.

I've already blogged about my thoughts regarding the Da Vinci Code. Well, yesterday, X-Men 3: The Last Stand, premiered and we were able to make it to a matinee in order to not go bankrupt. While I've read a few negative reviews citing that the film, under director Brett Ratner's control became more special effects than story, I really enjoyed this movie, as well as the series as a whole. It's interesting to me really, that, for my money, a film based upon a comic book series, once viewed as the lowest of the low in terms of "literature", if it would have even been allowed in that genre, asks more compelling questions than Da Vinci. The X-Men deal with the questions of difference and how we address those differences. There are questions of the need for redemptive violence over pacifistic resistance. There are even political questions offered up regarding the use and/or overuse of power within those positions. This film series asks questions which are both timeless and contemporary. That's not to say that Da Vinci doesn't but the questions posed by the "X" series are far more plausible than Dan Brown's imaginative fiction. Plus, they are questions that involve us all. We are all faced with these issues every day and must decide how we will react. And, not that it hurts the films at all, the special effects are really great!

A Remission of Sorts...

A few posts ago I related some of my thoughts regarding my opinions of high school reunions, especially in light of my impending one. While I attempt to utilize this forum as a place to sometimes vent, journal, hopefully offer something compelling, or whatever, in hindsight I did make some statements that could be misconstrued and misunderstood. A dear friend of mine responded and I've taken her thoughts to heart. Let me make a few statements here regarding this.

First, I struggle with my place in life. As much as I attempt to eschew attachments, things, and BS notions of success and happiness, I am still human and struggle with these things. While I love and am proud of my place as a husband and father, I do still struggle with the idea of having not "arrived" yet in the career area of my life. I struggle with the idea of still working a retail postion at the age of 29. I wonder what the rest of my life holds for me as I finish up my degree and so forth. So, some of my frustration with the idea of the reunion comes from not a rejection of the people there, but perhaps from some inner insecurities.

Second, as my friend pointed out, we have all changed drastically since high school. Life has a great tendency to do that. I am certainly not the same person that I was twelve years ago and neither are they. Without a doubt, the power of the cliques and requisite High School USA groups has faded. We have all fallen into the world of approaching thirty, parenthood, and so forth. I do not reject this idea, nor think that I would find myself in a place with nothing in common with these people. There is the very real possibility that some new relationships might be spurred on and old friendships reignited.

In short, I apologize, especially to those who do look forward to such reunion experiences. I will most likely attend my reunion and will have a great time. I do hope to have some things to show for my life career-wise by that time but if not, oh well. Money is money. Things are things. I have the love of a wonderful wife, soon to be two children, and the Creator of the Universe. That's not too bad a resume to bring back home.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Dixie Chick Diatribe...

So, unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple years, or, much like my soon to be four-year-old son, are more of a classic country fan (Johnny Cash, anyone?) and could care less, you're aware of the big splash that Dixie Chicks frontlady, Natalie Maines, made a few years ago when she spoke less than favorably of President Bush. Now, at the time, I was clearly at a different place in life and in my thinking. I sided, at the time mind you, with those who were more of a "What are you thinking?/Move to France if that's how you feel!" standpoint. That being said, here we are, a few years later, a little older and a little wiser.

Now, in hindsight, how do I feel about this statement that was made? I guess that I'd have to say that I defend Mrs. Gaines and her right to make that statement. Was it poor timing and perhaps a little rash? Sure. But who hasn't made such statements. I, I'm sure, offend people all the time, whether by what I write on here or through something I say in passing. It's certainly not intentional and is sometimes emotive and just kind of "shooting from the hip". Natalie could have used better wording and so on. But, the bottom line is this: I think she really does care about our county and the troops abroad. She feels the President has failed us in a few regards and due to some of his actions is not a big fan of his. She is not alone. There are numbers of folks within this country who are not real big fans of the Bush presidency. Can we point it all to one man? No, but he does stand as the figurehead and as such is going to catch the brunt of the jabs.

So, let's lighten up on the Dixie Chicks. We love this country and it's freedoms, so we say, but retaliate so strongly when someone says something we disagree with. Let's defend their right to freedom and choose our battles wisely on both sides. Maybe we should have been more upset over the gleeful disposal of "Earl" in their hit song than in a quip comment regarding our current president?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Da Vinci Thoughts...

So, Erin and I are taking this week off together so that we may have a little breather before little Peyton Brooke shows up here in another month and a half. So, we had a little bit of time on our hands and decided to go see this little film that premiered this past weekend called, The Da Vinci Code. You might have heard of it. Well, I'd read the book some time ago for multiple reasons. One reason was that I try to stay abreast of pop culture and when a book is number one on the bestseller list for as long as it had been, it was probably wise to check it out in order to be able to dialogue about it. Second, I was also aware that the book raised some marked questions regarding Christianity and Christ. I wanted to interact with it so that I could be honest in my discussion rather than one of those people who decry a book without having even turned it's pages.

The book was good. It was a riveting page turner, something of an Indiana Jones-type quest and adventure that kept me up late into the night to see how it ended. The movie was not quite as good but was pretty faithful to the story. The film suffered, at least in my opinion, largely to a stilted performance from Tom Hanks and some rough dialogue. Indiana Jones never had this much "blah blah blah" dialogue. Some may argue that the dialogue and expostion within the film is necessary but it lost my attention.

I disagree with Dan Brown's conclusions and theories. In all honesty, the greater majority of history does too. The Priory of Sion, the "sinister" Opus Dei, and many other concepts held as "fact" within Brown's work have been proven false and wanting. But, perhaps the most critical question to ask, and one asked by theologian and professor, Scot McKnight, as well, is this: Why are people so predisposed to believing the lie over the truth? Why is a conspiracy theory more compelling than the truth of history?

Some may argue that the divine issues surrounding the person of Christ are mere fictions themselves. Others may claim that power structures within the world lend themselves far more to the idea of conspiracy than the so called truth. I wonder if perhaps we who call ourselves Christians and followers of Christ are not more to blame than all of these. Certainly the concept of a resurrected Savior is a fantastical one to believe but I claim it nonetheless. However, perhaps what an unbelieving world finds most difficult to follow is how people who claim the name of Christ, who taught love, peace, and joy, could have so perverted the message as to engage in such atrocities as the Crusades, the Inquisition, and other such wars? Donald Miller in one of his books, I believe it was Searching for God Knows What, tells the story of setting up a confessional booth on the night of a huge party on his college campus with a few other Christians. People began to flock to the booth out of curiousity and were surprised to find that the confessional aspect was that the Christians sat and apologized for the atrocities committed by fellow believers in the name of Christ. We need to be an apologetic people as well as a proactive people.

I will add this, just to get my full two cents worth in. The other issue that lies at the heart of those willing to buy the Da Vinci mystique, which is alluded to at the end of the book and film, is the desire to see man as the ultimate divinity. This runs counter to the teachings of the Scriptures wholeheartedly. We are nothing on our own. It is through the work of Christ and His love within us that we can accomplish anything good. This is not an easy truth nor one that we particularly enjoy but it is true nonetheless. Man left to his own devices finds himself in a jam every time.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Reunion blues...

So just this past week I got a slew of emails piling up in my inbox alluding to the collusion of some of my former high school classmates and their persistence in pursuing a some-year reunion. Somebody already dropped the ball and what would have been our ten-year reunion came and went in 2004. So now here we are and people are talking about it.

I'm truly torn on the whole reunion concept and I'll share two reasons why. The first is quite honest but some might argue, superficial. The simple fact that I share with many people is this: If I was truly friends with those people I went to high school with, then I would have kept in touch with them! As it stands, I do have a few friends from those day of yore that I do keep in touch with. Two of them I'm bound to legally through marriage and a few others I've managed to keep tabs on through the wonder of the Internet. Anyone else, well, I'm just really, and I know this sounds pretty damn arrogant, not worried about. It's not that I think they're bad people. It's that I realize and have come to grips that life does go on and that our lives are sometimes intertwined for a season and then moved along by the hand of God. We're thankful, so thankful, for those seasons but in many cases really don't want or need to revisit them either.

My second reason, and this is a rather honest and painful one, is that I'm not sure I wish to go because of prideful reasons. I've crammed four simple years of college into twelve. I've done all sorts of stuff but, at least in some ways, nothing with much lasting effect. I have no six figure income, luxurious home, or even some fancy pants new car, although my new car is pretty sweet to me! I guess that part of me really doesn't want to see all of these people I grew up with, all of us in our formative states, cliques and all, all of us dreamers, and come with no dream fulfilled. It's not that I've not done anything. I have served as a youth pastor for a time. I have, albeit later and longer than most, finished college (I'm assuming that I am going to pass my final two courses!). I have married a lovely young woman and had the privelege of being a father to a great son and am awaiting the same opportunity with our baby girl. I guess it really is a pride issue. I just want to enter into the area with the air of having accomplished something, of having done something with my life. Some days I just wonder what that is.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Something to Smile About During Playoff Time...

Okay, I'm going to blog something more substantial later on today, at least that's my goal, but I ran across this on Marko's blog earlier and just wanted to share. It is playoff time anyway, and therefore totally appropriate. As Mark said, it'll definately make you smile!

Check it out!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Little Food for Thought...

Just yesterday I started reading this book I'd picked up a few months ago called, Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser. It deals with the whole impact of the fast food industry and it's implications upon our economy, political structures, physical health and well-being, and just about every other angle. Almost borrowing from quantum physics and chaos theory, Eric makes a good point that things are a lot more interrelated than we give them credit for. Anyway, I'm just a bit into the book but thought I'd share a couple quick quotes with you that I liked.

"The impact of McDonald's on the way we live today is hard to overstate. The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross."

"'We have found out...that we cannot trust some people who are noncomformists,' declared Ray Kroc, one of the founders of McDonald's, angered by some of his franchisees. 'We will make conformists out of them in a hurry...The organization cannot trust the individual; the individual must trust the organization'."

Speaking of Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken: "...Sanders described his ups and downs, his decision at the age of seventy-four to be rebaptized and born again, his lifelong struggle to stop cursing. Despite his best efforts and a devout faith in Christ, Harland Sanders admitted that it was still awfully hard "not to call a no-good, lazy, incompetent, dishonest s.o.b. by anything else but his rightful name."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Wrestling with Responsibility...

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately and I've come to grips with the fact that Uncle Ben was right, with great power comes great responsibility. In our world, power is not necessarily the ability to spin webs out of our wrists or to climb walls with our bare hands while wearing a skin-tight lycra suit but is rather, at least in some degree, an understanding or a grasp of knowledge as it comes our way. How can we bear witness to horrors of our world, both domestic and foreign, and not stand up in some way? How can those of us who call ourselves Christian do so even more, especially as we believe that we have in our hands and hearts the very antidote to all that ails this world? How can we see the AIDS crisis raging in Africa and stand idly by? How can we hear of the atrocities being done in Darfur and turn away from our television screens back to our prepackaged meals? We cannot. There is something to an exposure to suffering, to an exposure to truth, to an exposure to life, that almost holds one accountable to act. It's as though we have no choice. Whether it is an idea of deepening our spiritual journey, or of reaching out to help the fringe and marginal, the homeless and the hurting, the prostitute and the pusher, we must feel the compulsion to go. We cannot sit idly by. The only question that remains is, where do we start?