Thursday, May 24, 2007

Some Good Bros

Well I'm heading out to stay with some good friends in Winnipeg for about a week. Here's a clip of one of them almost breaking his back . . . its awesome. and below is a link to another one's sickest rap skills.




And to watch the smoothest 6 foot 7 inch rapper (and my former v-ball partner "let's go back row!!") click here

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Complex Character or Just Another Straw Man?

In it is an old story that Hollywood has tried to distance itself from the black and white hat characters of the westerns. Characters now are supposed to be more nuanced and complex; neither good nor bad but human. The camera has attempted to penetrate the thin facade of suburbia uncovering such stories as American Beauty. I recently viewed Little Miss Sunshine (just so you know this post is full of "spoilers") and was, through most of the movie, pleased. A little girl in a middle-class home finds out at the last minute that she has a spot in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pagent. The family is complete with recently fired gay suicidal academic uncle, angst-ridden son who reads Nietszche and has taken a vow of silence, a perverted heart-of-gold grandpa, a bring-home-the-bacon mom, and aspiring motivational speaker dad who is trying to cut a book deal on how to be a winner. And that is the plot. Who are the winners and who are the losers. And what better backdrop than there last minute attempt to drive 1000 miles to a beauty pagent. The bulk of the movie is spent on the road where grandpa dies, the son finds out he can't pursue his dream job, the uncle meets his ex-boyfriend who ran off with another scholar, and the dad loses his book deal. All have lost. All are losers.
However, they do manage to make it the pagent in the nick of time. Olive's turn for the talent competition comes up. Olive has been working on her routine with grandpa and no one has seen it. However, after seeing the other contestants dad is feeling like her girl is outmatched and wants to convice her not to go on. Mom stops him and allows Olive to perform.
It turns out that Olives performance is a pre-pubecant strip-tease which is performed to Super Freak. The audience is offended and begins to leave. In act of triumphant solidarity the whole family comes on stage to dance with Olive for the remainder of the song.
It is all fine and good to critique society via "beauty pagent" imagery, however, sex is once again leveraged as the liberator of docile mass culture. In fact I believe sex is a good domain to critique but does an "innocent" six year old strip tease offer a redemptive image for dysfunctional families and lives? As I write this I am beginning to see that perhaps Olive and the rest of the family are significantly "complex". Through Olive's purity she translates grandpa's strip tease into a redemptive act liberating the family for the expectations of the beautiful culture, the winners. While I respect Olive's character I view the old Hollywood character of Sex as suspect. Sexual deviance remains the leading man for cultural change in Hollywood. Much of Hollywood remains convinced that sex is primal and does not reflect on how sex offers imagery for the deeper movements of holiness, the real complex character.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

You Cannot Save the World

I wrote this for my church paper. I do not incline naturally towards environmentalism (which was the theme for that particular paper) so this is my response to that nudge.

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The air I exhale contains almost 100 percent more carbon dioxide than the air I inhale. I cannot avoid my environmental footprint. Even if I were to crawl under a rock and hope that it would all go away I would likely start to hyperventilate increasing my breathing rate thereby producing more carbon dioxide for the atmosphere. This is how I felt about five years ago when my awareness of environmental concerns reached a critical mass and I found myself feeling guilty for breathing. Recently on one of the internet searches gone wrong I across one group’s response to just such a feeling. The Church of Euthanasia stands by one creed, “Thou shalt not procreate.” This group attempts to live out the feeling that our presence on earth is doing more harm than good. And oftentimes it seems hard to argue otherwise.

In Leviticus God offers this warning to the people, “If you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” I can’t help but think that if we want take the environment seriously we will need to move beyond both crushing and guilt inflicting doom-saying as well as na├»ve feel good environmentalism and address the relationship between holiness and the land. In the Garden of Eden holiness represented the right relationships between God, humans and environment. The Tabernacle and the laws of Moses were an attempt to advance against the curse of being outside of Eden. Just ten verses after the one quoted above we find the command in Leviticus to “love your neighbour as yourself” from which Jesus builds his theology. In fact the Tabernacle itself includes significant imagery drawn from the creation account. As Christians we have done a disservice to the Old Testament when pick and choose which laws are still “relevant.” We are coming a long way if we can begin to see that the Old Testament law believed that holiness was a part of everything we do. Like Eden it was concerned with the relationships of God, humans and environment.

Fine, so what does this mean for us? First, we can relate and take heed from the Old Testament in its warning that our actions have consequences. It appears that the land may already be gagging if it is not already starting to blow chunks. Second, we cannot compartmentalize the issue of the environment. Policy and legislation will help only as much as it did for the law did for the Israelites if hearts are not changed. Our relationship to our neighbour will likely reflect our relationship to the environment and vice versa. Finally, the Church of Euthanasia is right (but for all the wrong reasons). If left to ourselves we would likely be as effective at saving our souls as we would saving our environment. The Church of Euthanasia actually almost gets it even more right by its focus on death. In Leviticus it says that after the land vomits the people out and become desolate “then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.” As we are caught up in the mystery of death and resurrection so too is the land. We cannot save the world any more than we can save our souls. However, we are no less called to participate in redeeming the world as we are in redeeming ourselves and our neighbour. The issue of the environment becomes a matter of loving the Lord my God, loving my neighbour as myself and of “dying daily” to myself. And so we may also say that to love God and neighbour the environment becomes a matter of utmost importance.

Perhaps it would be helpful to reflect on how our view of the salvation of the soul affects our view of the salvation of the environment?

The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

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