Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Just Weighing In

About the Apple - FBI thing.  I admire Apple's stance, generally.  They are right to fight this.  But ultimately I hope they lose.  The difference?   The crime has already been committed, and the phone data is evidence.  It's not a matter of before the fact, maybe something could happen, reasonable cause, etc.  It's happened and only a fool would say the couple was not guilty of it.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

I Can't Believe I am Posting Something About Lady Gaga

But I found this song compelling.

However, I think some research is due on this 20% of women are sexually assaulted in college every year.  I just don't buy it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reflection Continued

"Abraham must learn that the promise does not depend on Isaac, but on God alone." 

That is simple but profound for me.  We confuse the three:  the character of God, the promise, and the benefit of the promise.  "God shows him a better sacrifice [than Isaac], which will take the place of Isaac . . . henceforth he will have his son in quite a new way, through the Mediator and for the Mediator's sake" (p. 99).  But no one else knew this, as Bonhoeffer concludes.

What is the promise of God to us, to me, upheld by the character of God, and what are the outcomes?  Good question.  We assume promises (health and wealth) that are not there, and overlook those that are.  God's presence, eternal life, and movement toward likeness of Christ, and the outcomes are deep personal satisfaction.  We confuse our middle class lifestyle with the promises of God.

I have been teaching about prayer, but I think we should pray as the Bible teaches and for what the Bible teaches.  Beyond that, I don't think we have much freedom. 

Hail Caesar

There are other movies by this name, but this title refers to the most recent Coen brothers' addition to their filmography.  I think the title needs a comma, though, or maybe an exclamation point.  I have a lot of random observations.

First, the title has nothing to do with the movie, except that George Clooney is in a Roman centurion costume the whole time, which does nothing for him.  He looks rather fat and is getting old.  Not a good look for him.

Second, I like old movies, so I got a kick out of the in-jokes and references to Esther Williams, Carol Reid, Gary Cooper, etc. 

Third, I think the film can be taken two ways:  as a satire about communism and supposed communists in Hollywood (they were such dilettantes who really didn't understand or mean it) or a poke at the stupidity of the American people for buying into the "crap" that Hollywood puts out so cynically.  And yet the main character, Mannix, believes in what he is doing and is able to look past the sins of his "clients" to keep creating the dreams.  The replication of scenes with just a tweak of "modern winking" is fun, although a little sad, too.  For example, the sailors singing about missing "the dames" and then dancing is a perfect homage to Gene Kelly (very well staged), but ends up as a recognition of the dancers' unrecognized homosexuality. 

The final scene where Clooney, who is supposed to be the centurion at the cross, gives a speech about who Christ is, and everyone on the set is very moved, and then he forgets his line and curses, is the key scene.  Hollywood creates something that resonates with us, that stirs us, but the reality underneath is nonreality, all pose, all pretend. 

However, I thought the scene where the Catholic priest, Orthodox priest, rabbi, and Protestant minister discuss the script of the Biblical epic to be priceless and not really offensive, though I imagine some would. 

So, this is a Coen brothers' movie, and most people don't go to those unless they are already "into" Coen brothers' movies, and it isn't as good as Oh Brother Where Art Thou because what made that great is the music, and it isn't anywhere near Fargo or No Country for Old Men, but those are hard to watch.  What I do find interesting in both of those two is that the unstoppable male killers are countered, either successfully or unsuccessfully, by a woman.  In NCFOM, although she is killed by the nemesis character, the wife who finally tells the killer off at the end is the voice of reason.   There are of course a lot of other movies they made.  I sort of put them in the Woody Allen category.  You go to the films because of who makes them, not for entertainment per se, and maybe entertainment will result.  In the case of Hail Caesar (add punctuation), entertainment ensued for me but I doubt it would for most.

Those moments of transcendence

Sometimes I think our lives have long stretches of normalcy (I won't say boredom because boredom is a choice) between moments of transcendence.  The key is to have your tuner ready for the transcendence.

One yesterday:  hearing Justice Thomas read Romans 5 at Justice Scalia's funeral.  Those eternal words uttered by that serious, no nonsense voice, took my breath away.

The last two or three minutes of To Kill a Mockingbird.  I post this in honor of Harper Lee.  I wish all of us writers would have her humility about her work.

One not remotely in the same league but rather a revelation to me was driving my new car for the first time yesterday.  It has been a month since my wreck, and my husband found a used Lexus for a reasonable price.  Because I was out of town, I didn't get a chance to drive it--until I got home last night from my trip to central Georgia for a conference.  I had never driven a luxury car before, and I now understood.  It was impossible to feel rushed in that car.  My whole being was reminded that rushing is so pointless, just enjoy the moment.  (I still am nervous about driving after the wreck, and probably will be for a while, but yesterday I just enjoyed.)

The downside of the Lexus is that we are not entirely sure what to do with all the bells and whistles on it yet.  It even has a built in garage door opener.

 On the other end of the spectrum, there are moments of perplexity bordering on despair.  I really thought the people of my husband's home state would have more sense.  Of course, I remind myself that 33% of the vote is hardly a win; in fact, he really has nothing much to brag about, except that none of the others have garnered that much.  I will vote for Kasich when we have our primary.  As for the Dems, I have no idea what is going on with them--either. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Can a Shepherd Be a Menacing Thing?

The article linked below gives a different perspective on the Twenty-Third Psalm.  I was not aware that some "moderns" find the psalm menacing rather than comforting.  Perhaps that is as sign that we are out of sorts in our civilization and "things have fallen apart."


On Seeing the Gutenberg Bible

Last weekend I was in Austin, TX, and I managed (after two tries) to get to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.  I wanted to see the Gutenberg Bible, which I did, but I also got to see a copy of Shakespeare's first folio, so that was neat.

The Gutenberg Bible was completed in 1455 (or so Wikipedia tells me, making it 500 years older than me and now 560 years old) and there are 48 copies around the world.  Like the one in Austin, the copies are carefully preserved and in airtight, climate-controlled cases, of course.

My first reaction was--it's in Latin!  I had always assumed it was in German, which is of course illogical, since it was printed before the Reformation.  It also, like a medieval copy of the Bible, has illumination.  I don't know why I expected something that looked like the Ryrie Study Bible!  And it is of course very large, not exactly portable.

But . . . it is one of the first artifacts we have of the age of printing, which of course changed the history of the world and therefore it represents a huge step in knowledge, education, technology, and culture.  It's quite awe-inspiring to see it.

But . . . The Bible is not supposed to say in a case, glorified.  I won't make comparison to other religions' texts here, but we don't take our Bibles out of closets once a week in a big show; we don't say the original language is the only real Bible; we don't focus on the beautiful lettering.  Christians, real Christians, see the written Word as an integral part of their lives, not an object of veneration we can't touch.  Just as the Human Word (Christ) touched and was touched (more important than we realize), the verbal Word is to be touched and to touch us, massage us, even do "physical therapy" on us (which, believe me, can be very painful in its journey toward healing).

That's why the Bible should be studied first and devotional books, even the best ones, put aside for secondary purposes.  I say this to myself, because I have been reading Bonhoeffer and others instead of the Bible.  While  Bonhoeffer (which I will write on eventually) is profound, his books are not the Eternal World; in some cases in these books the Bible seems to be a rhetorical tool to advance an argument rather than the focus.  If we can turn off the TV, social media, and Internet, we might have time for studying the Bible and reading real classics of the faith.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What's (Not) in Your Wallet

Capital One has done a great job of getting that phrase into our vocabulary, especially through Samuel L. Jackson (who managed not to use a profanity with it) and sweet little Jennifer  Garner, the wronged woman.

I am thinking about it today on Ash Wednesday, which Baptists don't practice but in the last few years I have observed Lent as a period of preparation for Good Friday and Easter (which is "early" this  year).  In the past I have blogged daily but I will not do that this year.  I only want to ask myself and others, what is getting in the way of your focus on the cross, the real gospel?  What is in your "wallet" and what should not be for this season (and probably for others)?

Beginning of Lent: Be Countercultural

Breakpoint reflection on Lent

Observations on a snowy Wednesday

My college is opening on a two-hour delay, so I will take a couple of minutes to reflect . . .

All my life I've been told that people in New England are just plain smarter than the rest of us.  Really?  (You figure this one out.)

At least I agreed with their second choice. I like John Kasich.  A lot.  He may not have the disciplined organization to get this done, though.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

A voice that I hear speaking

The essay linked below resonated with me.  I have puzzled over some of the questions he addresses, specifically how to be fully human and fully God's and the struggle of being real in front of the scoffers.  Worth reading.


Text of my presentation at Southern States Communication Conference on Open Educational Resources

On April 8 I spoke at SSCA on the subject of Open Educational Resources.  Here is the text of my remarks. The University System of Geo...