Saturday, April 30, 2005
I wonder how they would update the Muppets. I still cringe at aspects of Sesame Street that have changed over the years, especially the kiddy/Casio/Kenny G travesty that has become of the opening song. The song I grew up with, at the least, seems to have teeth in it by comparison. I wonder if it was the PC culture that caused that song to change so much. More likely it was the softer, kinder, gentler approach of a large monolithic purple dinosaur (Barney as political commentary? I could see that.). In any case the Muppets I grew up with and that you grew up with have long been abandoned by us. Like in the Talking Heads song, "This is not my beautiful house / this is not my beautiful wife / these are not my beloved Muppets."
Let the days go by... I eagerly anticipate the Muppets coming back, but with a bit of fearful trepidation, like the last installment of the Star Wars saga.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Say we need a revolution, well... y'know, we all wanna change the world.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Yes, it's early in the post-season for the NBA. And the Sox have like 10% of their season under-way. But, the lights are back in the Chi tonight!
(Mayor Daley rules with an iron fist. I can't say anything more about that. Good night.)
Sunday, April 24, 2005
This last week I saw Stephen Chow's two recent global works and was really, really excited. Giddy, more like it. The last time I felt similarly giddy was the first time I saw a Jackie Chan movie after watching the Eraser or some dumb-but-not-in-an-entertaining-way Schwartzenneger movie. Rumble in the Bronx let me identify with the hero even as I elevated him, much the way I like to be drawn into the heroic epics. (The primal identity-hero for me has always been Luke Skywalker.) And I stinking enjoyed the movie. It was a thrill and I left my worries at home.
Shaolin Soccer is a keeper. It's an interesting piece of comedic action in line with the Hong Kong / Jet Li over-dramatic use of flying men and women doing the impossible as only movies can bring to life. But the film - unlike those of Chow's hero, Bruce Lee - is not about revenge, although that could have been the primary subject matter. Instead, the motivation of the plot is popularizing Shaolin and how the people can fully integrate Shaolin as a part of the every-day, the finishing touch on the mundane to draw it out of its banality.
In Kung Fu Hustle, the heroes are, in reverse, drawn out from Kung Fu and into the mundane, into the ordinary so that there are five masters living in the same slum tenements. Each of the heroes is eventually called out of their self-imposed retirements by nobler causes of self-sacrifice for the good of the people, the down-cast, etc. And yeah, Ebert was pretty darned close by calling it a mix of Quentin Tarantino / Looney Tunes / Jackie Chan / Buster Keaton with a bit of the Matrix thrown in for good measure. Though probably not so BK, Ebert is a big fan of ol' Stone Face so it's probably just an extra plug. Oh yeah, a little classic Hollywood musicals in the first few minutes and maybe too many filmic references to count (at least one being Shaolin and one being Spider-Man, followed by a quote, in English, from the Untouchables - which I never would have guessed had I not read it beforehand).
And good fun.
P.S. The Tarantino reference is quite apt. This last movie is not for the squeamish. It has a lot of cartoony violence in it and a lot of kung fu stylized violence in it, but a lot of the highly stylized style that Q.T. is famous for. Be forewarned.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
"What do you see?"
"I see men that look like trees walking around."
So, Jesus strikes us again and rubs the spit-mud confection under our brows.
Behold, all things are made new.
I get the sense that every time Jesus tells a parable, or uses some object as the focal point of a lesson, or makes a funny one-liner (If someone asks for your robe, offer them your tunic as well... The camel through the eye of a needle.... Get that log out yo' eye...), he is calling us to not just nod our head in agreement on an obscure truth, or to make us complete a sheet of some creedal screed, or to fill-in the missing points of our systematic theology so that we are complete and lacking nothing in our dogmology (Like that word? I wonder if I'm the first to make it up. Ahhh, I doubt it). I get the sense that he tells these tales, these sarcastic asides, these object lessons to cause us to contemplate, to consider, to hear with our ears if we have been granted that God-given ability. He calls into question our most common and common-sense assumptions and backs his own claims and stories on the power of God through his miracles and authority. Miracles that, obviously, no sinner can do but only one sent from God could. Because who had ever heard of a man restoring the sight to the blind? But he does it here, and he does it there. And he does it again and again. Furthermore, I believe that when Jesus told a story he intended, and generally got, his audience to internalize his point(s). It was sugar for his hard, gravelly - but ultimately satisfying - medicine.
This principle is perfectly exemplified in the story of the Good Samaritan. For where the lawyer questioning Jesus was merely looking to justify himself before the masses, before Jesus and before God by asking for the definition of neighbor - certainly, he thought, his neighbor would be Jewish, civil, highly religious, a priest or somebody in the ecclesiology, a good sort from decent stock - Jesu, the Joy of my salvation, had other things in mind. Jesus, as usual, messes with the man's mind, the man's preconceptions, the man's prejudices. But he does it in an underhanded way. He sucks him, and all would-be listeners, into a story, a good story that lasts for thousands of years in the forefront of the populace's pate. Not only is your idea of your neighbor corrupt, your whole notion of love is utterly screwed.
Peace and love.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Does anybody else feel like going to a karaoke bar and doing their best Jagger Swagger?
All together now, bend at your elbows to an approx. 70 degrees. Lay the outside of your palms on your hips. Now have one butt cheek lead the other in a forward motion. Left, right, left, right. Pout! Pout! Beautiful. Repeat!
Pleased to meet you. Hope you guess my name.
A much larger excerpt (most of the rest of this chapter, which is titled after an America-referencing line in a Prez G. W. Bush speech, "The Angel in the Whirlwind") can be viewed through the Books & Culture site - or better yet, pick up a copy of their Jan/Feb issue. A type of introduction of the themes - mostly of democratic dialogue in a time of angry tv polemics - is named after a great and haunting Wilco song. "I'm the Man Who Loves You: On Not Being Finessed by Carnival Barkers or Someone Else’s Talking Points" indicates, in case you haven't figured it out yet, that this man loves subtitles, as well as a good kick in the head.
But to return to Paul's explanation of Jesus' new way of being human [cf. Gal. 3:28], it's easy to forget the social novelty at work in his letter and the quiet revolution that would come of it. Within a few decades of Paul's writing, the Christian communities of Asia Minor were sufficiently widespread to come to the attention of Pliny the Younger, governor of Bythinia. In letters to the Roman emperor, Trajan, Pliny the Younger notes that the sect includes people of every class and observes, after torturing a couple of deaconesses, "I found nothing but a degenerate sort of cult carried to extravagant lengths." He also complains, "They have a passion for liberty that is almost unconquerable, since they are convinced that God alone is their leader and master (N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, p. 350)."
This pagan account of the visible convictions of the early Christians should give us pause as we consider how easily many Americans speak of their faith as a private, personal matter; a relationship somehow contained in the heart; an odd, airy thing called "spirituality." Such a characterization of the movement wouldn't have made much sense to the early church, and Pliny certainly wasn't describing a group of people who simply held an unconventional religious opinion or two. Admittedly, he doesn't find them especially threatening. They aren't about to take up arms against their oppressors, but they are holistically invested in a revolution. They are not apolitical. Their allegiance is to a different polity that is uniquely for all people. In this sense, we might think of them as multipartisan. They are not of this world's way of doing things, but their hope is still scandalously this-worldly. And the passion for a socially disruptive, enduring freedom won't be diminished, divided, or conquered by the prerogatives of any government. When brought before the authorities, they matter-of-factly refuse recognition of all other gods. (pp. 5-6)
Ahh... we all need that every once in a while.
Again, there is a call that the Church must update its traditions (and Traditions) in order to be a meaningful and productive member of the modern / post-modern world. That the whims and winds of the contemporary age (in fact, the spirit of the age) dictate the flow of the Church. I believe, however, that we must apologize for the times when they have, eg., slavery, segregation, Apartheid, Imperialism, genocide, Anti-Semitism, class wars, culture wars, Holy Wars (maybe including this ongoing one?).
I am not Catholic. I have grave misgivings about any human saying that he or she is inerrant on any position, at any given position or place. Or that he is the conduit of the Holy Trinity. Too many popes have aligned and misrepresented their earthly kingdom political powers unilaterally against the will of the Heavenly Kingdom. However, having said that, John Paul and Ratzinger have had the Kingdom of Heaven on their minds and agendas, none more so, I would think, than with their concepts of the Culture of Life. It is this Culture of Life that, in principle and in fact, has stood the high moral and spiritual (for shouldn't those four always be connected at the hip: principle, action, morality and spirituality?) ground for the under-priviledged, for the impoverished, for those with disabilities, for the mentally ill, for the unborn, for the victims of war (those caught in the cross-fires, naturally), for the old, for the prisoners, in short, the widows and orphans of the world.
Furthermore, in Western Europe, the Catholic Church is primarily dead, a haunting skeleton of a large dinosaur that had decided to conduct itself in the tar pit affairs of modernity and relativism. The only hesitation that I would have to add the US to that is the large, and largely conservative, involvement of laity in the American Catholic Church, of which there is considerable good to speak of. But pundits don't know where and when to speak. More importantly, of what to speak. Then again, I'm just a blogger, and one of those frightening Evangelicals to boot.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
In regards to our contemporary satisfaction with how the Gospels and life come together:
On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does anybody have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velevet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
what’s so hard
about writing about fun things
good times had
we would speak
summers sliding around some things
tongues on peach
hunger hidin’ between us thieves
elotes, sno-cones, ice cream
candy bars, video games, Mad magazines
by the week, by the month, buy everything
Monday, April 18, 2005
The First Regular Session of the Fifty-eighth Legislature of the State of Idaho, however, still has something more to say about it, through their Ways and Means Committee as seen in this bill, of which I shall copy a couple selections:
WHEREAS, the friendship between Napoleon and Pedro has furthered multiethnic relationships; and
WHEREAS, Uncle Rico's football skills are a testament to Idaho athletics;
WHEREAS, Kip's relationship with LaFawnduh is a tribute to e-commerce and
Idaho's technology-driven industry; and
WHEREAS, Napoleon's tetherball dexterity emphasizes the importance of
physical education in Idaho public schools; and
WHEREAS, Tina the llama, the chickens with large talons, the 4-H milk
cows, and the Honeymoon Stallion showcase Idaho's animal husbandry; and
WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the
Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent
resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the First Regular Session
of the Fifty-eighth Idaho Legislature, the House of Representatives and the
Senate concurring therein, that we commend Jared and Jerusha Hess and the City
of Preston for showcasing the positive aspects of Idaho's youth, rural culture, education system, athletics, economic prosperity and diversity...
It goes on, of course.
If this is part of a hoax, it's a great one. It looks fairly authentic and extremely tongue-in-cheek, which I enjoy from the mouths of politicians. (ND as subversive politics. Hey, now that's something!)
If we had only the Gospels, we would envision a God who seems confined, all-too-human, and rather weak - after all, Jesus ended up hanging on a cross. The Jews objected so strongly to Jesus because, despite his audacious claims, he did not match their conception of what God is like; they rejected him for not measuring up.... [W]e need that background picture (of the picture of God in thee Old Testament) in order to appreciate how much love the Incarnation expressed - how much God gave up on our behalf.And this, about the permeance of the Old Testament in our lives and thinking and the ways we approach history and justice:
Apart from the Old Testament we will always have an impoverished view of God. God is not a philosophical construct but a Person who acts in history. (pp. 26-27, Chptr 1, "Is the Old Testament Worth the Effort?")
So many of the concepts and words we use daily - new, individual, person, history, freedom, spirit, justice, time, faith , pilgrimage, revolution - derive from the Old Testament that we can hardly imagine the world and our place in it without relying on the Jewish heritage. A comic character in one of Moliere's plays suddenly discovers, "I am speaking prose! I am speaking prose!" Similarly, our roots go so deep in Old Testament thinking that in many ways - human rights, government, the treatment of neighbors, our understanding of God - we are already speaking and thinking "Old Testament." (p. 23, Chptr. 1)
Saturday, April 16, 2005
The one that I do, however, is on my proficient use of the lowercase. It's not a poetic thing at all or whatever; just something I picked up while emailing so much. I try to keep my grammar neat and clean (even though my sentances are much too long and circular), and I know I use too many em-dashes and commas, but I like not having too worry about using the shift key. Oh well, I figure that I tend to turn off pretentious writing (which mine surely is, but really, can I help that?) as well as bad and sloppy writing. So why would I want to visit my own site?
Let me rephrase that: Why would anyone else want to visit my site? (C'mon, I just googled myself. Boy, is my name being used in vain.) So, I'll try to use capitilization again. But I'm not too sure about making good and unpretentious writing... Or un-sloppy.
1) not having friends who are into underground hip-hop
2) not reading the friday section of the sun-times until saturday.
besides, $21?? i don't have enough for his records at the moment. somebody wanna hire a freelance english teacher?
A trigger under my skin
sends shivers suffocating lent
new women kissing men
and time is upon us in sin
I traveled this newfoundland
unraveled packages of gin
got buried deep within
the cold ice and pink skin
Can no longer swallow spit
ice is dry and dense within
i need rescue once again
from the Man of Sorrow, the Risen
Friday, April 15, 2005
Join the resistance!!!! I hear we are going to hit close to $3.00 a gallon by the summer and it might go higher!! Want gasoline prices to come down? We need to take some intelligent united action. (emphasis mine)...
the writer than loses all credibility with this next line..
Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL.
I'm sorry, that's just lazy. super lazy thinking combined with super lazy action. we americans have been enjoying cheap gas (compared to europe and other industrialized nations) and now we are flooded, i mean FLOODED with sport utilities vehicles that are neither very functional nor very sports-man-like. one entire gallon of gas is wasted for every teensie, weensie mile, and in an urban, congested area like the great Chi, that gallon could go out waiting for the next stop sign (OK, not very scientific, but i don't think i'm far off).
somebody tell me the function of these things. the only lives they save are the ones driving them. suv's certainly don't protect whoever gets hit by them.
the killer is that this email was supposedly written by Kerry Lyle, Director, Research Coordinator in the Interventional Cardiology Research Laboratories Division of Cardiovascular Diseases with the University of Alabama @ B'ham.
i retract from my first paragraph. i am morally stimulated, since outrage is an indication of stimulae.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
The majority of the article, which deals with our contemporary attempts at accountability groups (and why, honestly, I never felt comfortable in one), I could easily agree with and testify to. At least as far as male gatherings are concerned. Do others have similar/dissimilar approaches? Do the members of the "fair species" approach the topic on a different level than we men do? If so, how? (I imagine that there is still insecurity and possibly a level of competition, but I imagine also it looks different. On top of that, it's in my imagination.)
Accountability doesn't eliminate sin; Christ does. We forget that we stand righteous because of Jesus' sacrifice. We forget that we have the Holy Spirit in our lives to empower us to live righteously, not accountability partners or groups.
Accountability must be proactive for spiritual growth. Hebrews 10:24-25 should be the key verses regarding accountability. We are encouraged to meet together regularly and encourage, spur, literally aggravate each other into being more loving and doing good things. This proactive approach can push sinful habits out by replacing them with positive action.
Meetings of accountability need to focus on the person and work of Christ. Usually sin becomes the focal point. We become so consumed by the sin we must eliminate that we fail to fix our eyes on God. Any time sin becomes the consuming focal point of a Christian's life, we exchange freedom for bondage. Let's hold each other accountable to live free in the victory that Christ has already secured for us.
now, on the one hand, i appreciate the non-participants solemnity in approaching the Lord's Supper. there is an understanding that we should not eat or drink of the elements with sin in our hearts, or without pondering the sacrifice of Jesus. it has a heaviness associated with it from the moment Jesus instituted the practice.
yet the truth of the matter is, when we say no to the Lord's Supper, when we say no to the spilled blood of the wine (or grape juice in our non-sacramental traditions) or to the broken flesh of the bread, we are saying no to Christ and his sacrifice. neither are we receptive of his grace over our sins. to clarify, i do not believe that partaking of the elements is an instrument of grace, for that is given to us sola fida and solo Cristo, but we represent our stance toward Christ and his redemption of us as individuals within the bodywork of the Church in our stance toward the cup and the bread. which is why i'd have a hard time substituting the bread for, say, twinkies or the wine for red kool-aid (i already have a hard enough time with our - hopefully expired - practice of using those insta-communion traveling packs).
i do not stand in judgement over anyone. i know i need to be more repentant before, during and long after Communion Sundays. but i think something needs to be said within the Body, for we are the Body (practicing Christians, that is), and if a part of the Body is injured, does not the whole Body suffer with it?
and no, i don't think it's the name, catchy and cheeky as it may be. it also didn't open for lookingcloser's blog.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
“Make you do right... love'll make you do wrong...”
Al Green, “Love and Happiness”
… or will it?
“I'm into having sex, I ain't into making love”
50 Cent, “In da Club”
Although unhealthy, 50 was at least honest in regards to most of what we think of as love.
“Somebody’s poisoned the water-hole!”
Woody, Toy Story
Our culture(s) being poisoned, where can we find fresh water? Where can we find a good drink?
“First, however, let me tell you about something else that is better than any of them…”
St. Paul the Apostle, First Letter to the Corinthians
Paul as a hype-man.
“Real love is a ghost / talked about but rarely seen / except on tv screens / where they flash these caricatures / that on the down low / are meant to influence our character… / Yeah, I know what love is / and it just don’t stop / but I can explain it better / when I say what love’s not.”
Mars Ill, “Love’s Not”
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
St. Paul, First Corinthians
I don’t think Love is what we think love is.
“Love your enemies.”
Jesus of Nazareth, as quoted in the Gospel According to Matthew
This is some otherworldly stuff. It’s a freak of nature and, somehow at the same time, it’s how it’s supposed to be.
“Perfect love casts out all fear.”
St. John the Evangelist, First Epistle to the Church
If you don’t have enough love, you’re gonna try to find it or get it somehow, and it may not be healthy, the version (or perversion) of love that you find.
“God is love.”
St. John, First Epistle
‘Nuff said; that’s it.
- Max Frisch
he constructs new meanings
from the top of the rim
and our ball dribbles
grinding elbows grit
and the moon orbits -- from the top of the air
as flies fly the grass, near
clothes baptized in sweat
pure eschatology, acts of apostles
sounds of barbecue
sifting through our nostrils
our shadows, they battle
wrestling within the asphalt
in the evenin’ they stretch
a yard for every given inch
our guests include the
Pistol’s and the Doctor’s legacies
and they laugh and they assume
shameful poses at their histories
One Day We Shall All Be Free
We are slaves to captivity
In all reality we
Bite to bite
See to see
Maybe what could be
Maybe what is
Maybe to dream the dreams
That singers sing
But you live your life, I’ll live mine
In the meantime
We will spy
And despise what we each all have
What we each all ain’t
I intone in monotone
One day we shall all be free
While I’m smoking trees,
Into the darkest parts of me
Slowly I rise and sink back down again
If we can’t go far than there’s nowhere to go, men
Slowly I rise and sink back down again
If we can’t go far than there’s nowhere to go, men
If we can’t go far than there’s nowhere to go, men
I got stacks in my front pocket
But I’m restricted like a straight jacket
Like a fierce dog on a leash,
Like redd fox and gilligan on tv,
I’m sayin’ a lot but as sure as tomorrow I ain’t leavin’
I’m goin’ nowhere,
spittin lies that I
hide behind like
how you doin’
I’m doin’ fine
Why don’t we stop time and rewind
You and me, baby, we
in the place to be
Like wine and cheese
We was born to be
So how’s about a freak
In bondage to bonds men
They’re coming after me
Pickin’ all my locks, and
Like the SWAT on Cops
They’re runnin’ through my doors
no security buys me peace
sleep is a luxury I can’t afford
always on the run,
always runnin’ heat
I’m always in want,
I’m always in need
Like a dog in the summer in heat
Tearing down walls through claws,
through women like Jaws
Through hot nights under the Chi’s skyline
It’s too much more
too big to ignore
I choke on it,
like a dog on its bone
Like a palace that’s no home
Saddam in a spider-hole
And puff daddy with J-Lo
I intone in monotone,
One day we shall all be free
But in corners of my eyes I see
I ain’t smokin’ the trees,
The trees, they’s smoking me