Saturday, October 21, 2017

On a twelfth watching of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

My husband loves this movie.  He has caused me to watch it a great deal.  We even own it.
Some thoughts.   
  • This is a pre-eminently religious movie, or at least a film with religious ideas.    
  • The movie, to me, is about the evolution of our tools.  What Kubrick gets right is that the tools are taking over, and that cutting the cord on the tools does not mean going back to what was before.   

  • Some people who would combine evolution with Christianity seem to have taken the Kubrick approach.  In the film the aliens or gods or whatever gave a push to evolution through an intervention (the monolith).  The primates’ first use of the tool, however, is to destroy, not to build.  They kill to eat, then kill to be dominant. So is this progress?  Well, maybe I’m confusing evolution with progress, which moderns do.  Christians who want to combine evolution with creation seem to be saying the same thing, except that God used evolution and then got really involved to give the beings or species that He wanted to be “mankind” an extra level of consciousness or something.  Hummmm. 
  • Man evolves to a god.  Mormonism, anyone?
  • Is this the beginning of product place ement:  Pan Am, Bell, Hilton, Howard Johnson (Howard Johnson?—hardly a high-class brand today).
  • All that said, it is a brilliant film.  HAL was named one of the worst villains by the American Film Institute; his voice is unbelievably eerie and I sometimes mock it to talk to my husband (as well as mocking the Cheech and Chong record, “Dave’s not here, man.”)  Obviously, you now know my husband’s name.

A Big Name Rapper Makes Statements about "White Evangelicalism"

CT has run a series of articles about the rapper LeCrae’s movement away from “white evangelicalism.”  They have been provocative and a bit uncomfortable. 

Bryan Lorritts, Crawford’s son, I assume, really addressed the elephant in the room on Friday, October 20 by saying that he needs to give up caring whether the white bigwigs of evangelicalism invite him to their conferences or give him a seat at the table.  He said that it needs to be the other way around; minorities have their conferences and invite the whites to the table. (Maybe then they can all stop being separated.) He is pointed, a little sarcastic, but at the same time self-deprecating and right.

I think white evangelical leaders have a basic fear that minority evangelical leaders will infuse more democratic or progressive political ideas into the church or theology, like the South Americans did with liberation theology in the Catholic Church. I may be wrong, but I may be right, to paraphrase the song.  We then become the self-proclaimed guardians of the gospel, forgetting how much our own culture and politics control our view of the gospel and Biblical theology.  We are making an idol of conservative politics, and I’m not sure it’s because of legitimate ideological reasons or because it protects our comfortable lifestyles. 

At its foundation, we are being paternalistic and condescending to the minorities in the church, saying “you don’t really understand what is at stake here, you don’t really know that a different approach that incorporates the minority experience in the U.S. will ruin the gospel and a Biblical world view.”  It is the same thing we saw for years with white missionaries coming in and bossing around the leaders of the church in nations of color.

I express this because I have been guilty of it, that same paternalism and superiority and ethnocentrism. I should add though that the world view that says only whites are guilty of this ethnocentrism and racial superiority is wrong as well.  It is the human condition. The same human tribalism that caused European countries to fight horrendous wars for centuries until, after WWII, they decided they were above all that and superior to the racist U.S. (yeah, right) is the same human tribalism that caused the Japanese to oppress the Chinese in WWII and Hutus to kill Tutsis in Rwanda.  Nobody gets off on this one. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How to Get Through College in Four Years

It is possible to get through college in four years, although the majority of college graduates do not achieve this feat.
1.  Don't change your major, especially not past your sophomore year.  Get advisement or counseling about what you should pursue before taking two years of classes that largely do not count for anything.
2.  Don't drop or fail a class.  One drop or failed class each semester for first two years means a whole other semester, at least, assuming you can get the classes.
3.  See your advisor as much as you can and re-emphasize the idea you want to get through in four years. Make sure there are no surprises.  If your college has Degreeworks or another auditing tool, use it; don't take your advisor's word for it.  They probably have 200-300 clients, and that's a lot to keep track of.
4.  Stay aware of course rotations so that you don't find out the course you need in the senior year only gets taught every other year (this happens A LOT).
5.  Take 15 hours a semester or more. (Do the math.  College degrees are basically 120 hours over 8 semesters--that's 15 per semester.) 
6.  Go to summer school at least once.
7.  Keep in mind that you are going to have to pay for a whole year if you don't do what's listed above.
8.  Remember; college can be fun but realistically that's not the main point.  Only students with rich parents can afford to go to college for fun.  Be prepared to dig in and get it done.  

Monday, October 16, 2017

What I Learned about Empathy Last Night

Last night in the English as Second Language that another teacher and I conduct at church, we had a class of six.  One Chinese young woman who is here because her husband works for an American company with offices here.  One Iranian man who "won the lottery" to get a visas to emigrate to the U.S.  (This is literally true, a fact most people in the U.S. don't know about.  I had heard about it on This American Life, and lo and behold, one of my ESL students is a lottery winner!)  Two Sudanese refugees who have had unspeakable experiences yet come to class with wide smiles.  One Sudanese Momma who keeps them in line and calls them "brother." One young Iraqi woman, whom I find stunningly beautiful, whose husband worked for the U.S. military and accompanied him here. 

My co-teacher brought reading material about the presidential inaugural, and we had a discussion about American government and politics. The article mentioned "Hail to the Chief" so I played it on my phone. Then each of them found their national anthems of their countries on their phones (thanks to YouTube) and we listened. 

The Chinese woman sang to hers.  The Sudanese smiled, with pride. They smile a lot.

Badeia, the young Iraqi woman, the one whose name means beautiful flower, began to cry.

Of course.  Why shouldn't she?  Her family is still there.  She's in this strange country where woman walk around half naked, where there are so many different types of people. where almost everyone is a different religion.  What was she thinking of? Whose faces was she seeing? How many family members were lost to her?  What had happened to her beautiful country of historical, ancient import?

It was a moment I will never forget. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Should we care about the Harvey Weinstein scandal?

My first response to that question is no.  I'm sick of it splattered all over the news and at least NPR doesn't put it at the top of their news.  (I spent 8 hours in the car driving to Macon Thursday and back Friday and that meant listening to a lot of radio). I'm sick of his ugly face and the ugly stories of misused power and money, that he ran off to Europe after being fired and is facing arrests for rape, that Hollywood types knew about it for years and made awkward, unfunny jokes about it, and that these same people are so hypocritical about what they tolerate and don't tolerate based on politics (which almost always in embedded in pro-life and supposed control of women over their bodies).

Not to blame the victims, because some were young and naive and misunderstood the sinful culture, and I have no doubt they are telling the truth, but . . . some of these women should have said "the heck with my making millions on my next movie, I'm speaking out." Some seems to be speaking out now that they are either older, more established, rich,  can't get parts because of fading beauty, or, as in Gwyneth Paltrow's case, have hacked everyone off with her own brand of self-righteousness. There is no self-righteous like wealthy white liberal self-righteousness.  The Pharisees had nothing on these folks.  I also find it hard to feel sorry for a women who makes money posing in the nude or acting in the nude and who says she has been objectified by others.  We have a free society.  These women were not kidnapped at ten and sold into the sex trade.  They chose to go into the industry.  That is no excuse for Weinstein, who is twenty kinds of creepy.

All that said, I don't want to sound like I am                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        blaming the victim, only wondering what took them so long, but I do think a part of us should care about this mess.  For one, we consume these films, and maybe we should recognize the pit from which they come.  Second, this kind of evil exists outside of Hollywood (just less funded and less beautiful) and I'm probably more concerned for the fast food worker trying to help her family stay together who is harassed or mistreated by a boss than a multi-millionaire actress.  Third, perhaps we can be more aware of all abuses of power, even those we feel and see every day. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Observation for the day

Sitting after dinner watching ball game, husband changing channels.  Lands on infomercial. The spokesperson introduces another woman as  a "lifestyle expert."

What is that and how do you get to be one?

Sign me up.


I have a theory that Blazing Saddles is playing on some cable channel somewhere on the planet every minute.

On a twelfth watching of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

My husband loves this movie.   He has caused me to watch it a great deal.   We even own it. Some thoughts.     This...