Sunday, September 24, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

Since the price of going to the movies has reached seven dollars for matinees and ten bucks for the evening shows in my neck of the woods I have cut back going to the theatre. After all, if you have a watchful eye you can now get many DVD's for as low as 5 to 7 bucks, if you wait about six months after their release....but..... Recently, I got the movie bug, broke down, and payed the big bucks to see three films which I would like to highly recommend. Just something magical about sitting in the dark staring at a sixty foot screen that keeps me coming back again and again. The three films are the Illusionist, Little Miss Sunshine, and Jet Li's Fearless. Of the three, I liked Little Miss Sunshine the best. It was absolutely hilarious watching this, bust the gut, roll on the floor, must see, Indie film. The film is kind of a hybrid between the Royal Tenebaums and Sideways but better, imo, because of numerous "out of left field" episodes which keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat once the family heads to California for the big beauty pagent contest. This film came to my attention after reading the reviews on Rottentomatoes. It received a 93 % approval rating on the tomatometer which is almost unheard amongst the critics at Rottentomatoes. Return of the King received 94% by contrast. It's not critical one see this film on the "big screen" but it is a must see film once it is released to DVD.......The Illusionist is a period piece which stars Edward Norton and Sideways Paul Giamatti. One has to suspend ones logical sensibilities to accept the ending but it is entertaining and the performances and production quality are all excellent and I liked the unique peak into the world of magicians.....I went to see the film Fearless yesterday because I am a sucker for the Hidden Dragon, Hero, and House of the Flying Dagger, martial arts films. I must admit, I didn't much care for the first half of the movie where Li is presented as an obnoxious kung fu narcisstic fighter but the second half of the film is excellent. I don't want to give anything away but I will say that the moral and personal transformation underpinnings of this film are admirable and worth the price of admission.....So, I am currently on a hot streak of three for three in the movie department and thus I don't feel quite as bad for laying out the big bucks over the past three weeks....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Riding the Roller Coaster of Life

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It's been a roller coaster week and tonight is the first time I have been home before nine o'clock. I haven't slept well this week due to my schedule which included back to school night on Tuesday. The week of back to school night is always hectic because I have to travel back and forth to school twice that day which includes about 150 miles of driving. I generally don't get back home until after nine o'clock and it generally takes me until midnight to wind down. And, then I am back at it again six hours later....

Wednesday I bought one of those flashdisks and decided to download all my stuff so I could take it back and forth to work....and....while going through all my floppies I found some old yahoo discussion group entries that I had turn, inspired me to go back to the various discussion groups archives and download some of the more memorable entries and discussions. This is going to be a big project but I think it will be worth the effort since it will give me an opportunity to reread some of memorable discussions I have encountered over the years. I also intend to go at a slow pace so it won't be a burden or additional stressor which is something I don't need at this time in my life.....I have decided to start with the old Postmodern Christian Archive discussion group which I found is still listed. The group is no longer active as far as I can tell but this is the first group I joined back in 1999. I have many fond memories of this group and found the discussions incredibly stimulating, in large part, because it was the first time in my adult life I had ventured outside of my conservative Christian sub-culture to "engage" folks who saw the world much differently than what I had grown accustomed to for the past twenty three years. And, at times, the whole experience was surreal and sometimes overwhelming as I tried to keep up pace with a group of folks who were often more educated and informed than I was on numerous subjects. I soaked it all in though and it marked a radical new beginning in terms of what I thought and how processed information. It will also be interesting to go back and reread some of the discussion threads now that I am at a different place in my life.....Well, that's it for now. If I can get motivated I would like to do a series of blog entries on the topic of Jungian archetypes. I have been reading some books on the subject over the past couple of months and find the whole subject fascinating and relevant to my current situation in life. But, we will see. I don't want to start the series if I don't think I can finish it. I have done that too many times before......

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Tribute to My Religious Past

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A critical examination of the past, particularly a hard, honest look, at one’s life, family, and relationships with various institutions can be a mixed bag, especially if one has experienced a significant amount of abuse, neglect, rejection, etc. It’s can be a mixed bag because even in the midst of abuse or mistreatment there are generally examples of love, care, support, or acts of kindness by those who may have been abusive or neglectful. Imo, self awareness of one’s past is potentially a good thing…but…it can also result in temporary or sometimes long term rejection of those individuals or institutions who may have been abusive at times. I have no desire to suggest or judge how people deal with their past but simply to point out that a critical examination of one’s past will generally lead to a growing self awareness that may potentially lead to a significant amount of cognitive dissonance and or rejection of one’s past…

For many people religion and our relationship with a religious community is a very important aspect of our lives and thus effect us on a very deep and profound level…..and….for many, if not the majority, our experiences with our religious community may swing back and forth between the positive and the negative…but…. for some…ones past experiences with the Christian subculture may now, in hindsight, border on the abusive, manipulative, and even cultish…..and thus… may understandably be tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater or chuck religion altogether. I suspect for most of us the experiences with our religious past may not be so extreme so we may just become critical to the point where it either rubs people the wrong way or creates questions of doubts about our standing with God and the Christian community with our fellow brethren.

Over the years I have done my fair share of criticizing this or that regarding my Christian past and, the Christian subculture in general, but today I want to acknowledge and pay tribute to some of the positive contributions of my religious past. I came up with the idea for this tribute while teaching one of my classes earlier this week. While I was teaching I was reminded how my teaching style and the fact that I was a teacher to begin with was predominantly and positively influenced by the Christian subculture.....In an effort to not sound too long winded I'll limit my acknowledgements to the major influences. Here is my Cliff note version the people, communities, and authors who I am forever indebted for positively influencing my life.....

Beulah Nash: For, taking me under her wing when I first became a Christian….and….for her generous hospitality.

The Genesis Bible College Community: For, introducing me to interesting books to read which contributed to my becoming a life long learner and reader...and...for, rescuing me from an extreme Christian legalistic community.

The Charismatic movement: For, modeling that "experience" is an important part of our lives and a legitimate and equal partner with science, reason, and logic....and....I don't need to suppress my feelings. It's o.k., to have feelings, even the dark emotions.

Maranatha music industry, Keith Green, Phil Keaggy, and the Second Chapter of Acts: For, revolutionizing the Christian music subculture and providing millions of young Christians with something relevant to listen to.

Dan Bushy and Glenn Calkins: For, being such great Christian friends. I wish I knew where you guys were today.

Francis Schaeffer:
For, teaching me that "all" of life is spiritual and rescuing me from the world of religious dualism....and....opening a window to the world of art, culture, philosophy, environmental issues, and classical music at a time when I took great pride in being a cultural barbarian.

Franky Schaeffer:
For, risking his career and reputation by engaging the culture, on it's terms, at a time when most evangelicals were steeped in a pietism that made them culturally irrelevant...and...for later following his conscious to become Eastern Orthodox which took alot of guts.

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay:
For, inspiring me to become a teacher and introducing me to the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason who influenced my teaching style and methodology.

Jacques Ellul: For, opening the door to the dialectic method of thinking which helped provide a critical corrective to my black/white, either, or, thinking….and….for stimulating my thinking in regards to the role of technology, pacifism, and neo-orthodoxy.

Vernard Eller and the Christian Anarchist community: For, helping break the bonds of my political and theological leaning ideology.

C.T. McIntire Jr., George Marsden, Herbert Butterfield, and The Christian Institute of Toronto: For, shaping how I understand and critically interpret history.

Calvin College: For, producing professors and writers who stimulated my thinking for almost ten years on the relationship between culture and Christianity…and….teaching me that Christianity could make important positive contributions on such topics as science, pop culture, technology, war, the environment, music, literature, etc.

Barry Lily and Al Wilson: For, accepting me and not judging me during some of the darkest days of my life.

Stanley Grenz and Brian Mclaren: For, helping to affirm that my subconscious postmodern leanings were not simply the imagination of someone who had finally gone over the edge.

Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan: For, helping me understand and accept that one can maintain the “essence” of the Christian faith without agreeing or accepting all of the particulars…and…for modeling a spirit of religious tolerance.

Pomoxian, Faithmaps, and other Christian Postmodern leaning discussion groups: For, providing a safe place to interact with others while continuing learning…and…for, probably helping prevent me from throwing out the baby with the bath water in regards to my faith…..And thanks to all of those people and communities that also made positive contributions but were not mentioned due to limits on time and space.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's finally time to say goodbye to Mr. Sun

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After the longest stretch of hot weather I can remember in recent history apparently the worst of the heat is coming to an end on Friday. Today it was 98 degrees and it is supposed to drop down into the 70's by Friday. I can't remember the last time it was in the seventies. Maybe, sometime in the early part of May last year?....Heck, just last week the lows were in the seventies. It has been in the nineties and hundreds for about 100 days running now....and....I can't begin to tell you how glad I am to see the heat go. The long range forcast predicts that it will be in the eighties, with a few days of seventies, for the next ten days, and I have my fingers crossed that it will not get into the high nineties or hundreds for the rest of the year. Hip, hip hooray......There are alot of reasons I hate the heat. It is physically draining and it is very difficult to sleep when it is eighty or sometimes ninety well into the night. I also hate the heat because I associate it with poor air quality. You should see the skyline around these parts for much of the summer. It's just downright ugly....although....we have spectacular sunsets due to the flaming red sun that is poking it's face through the pollution as it settles down for the night......I also hate the heat because it makes my outdoor activities "almost" unbearable. For the past four weeks I have been hiking and biking in hundred degree temperatures twice a week and the only consulation is weight loss. On a couple of occasions I may have experienced early signs of heat exhaustion......So, hopefully, it's time to say goodbye to summer until next year and welcome the beginning of my three favorite seasons, fall, winter, and spring. I can't bring myself to say that I am sorry to see summer go because you have well passed your welcome in my neck of the bug the folks south of the equator until we meet again, hopefully later rather than sooner......

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Enigma's of Life

Oh.......the enigma's of life. On the psychological front it has been a tough week. Alot of anxiety, stress, and frequent nasty feelings I either can't identify, or perhaps don't want to....but yet.... On the physical front, I feel better than I have in ten years. I feel strong, youthful, and vibrant again, something I never thought I would feel again because I assumed it was all down hill when I reached forty. Physically I feel like I am on top of the world...yet...emotionally I feel needy. It's funny, interesting, and mysterious how life works that way enigma.....and.....It's easy to become narcisstic when the planets don't line up in ones personal life but life is full of reality checks for those who have ears to hear. Rampant poverty around the globe, three families living in the same house across the street, and friends on the edge of a meltdown. These are all daily reminders that life is tough and rough for a significant number of people.....But....each day, generally has it's tender, sweet moments. For me, it occured on the bike trail this morning while zipping downhill at around thirties miles an hour with the cool wind blowing in my face and the soundtrack of The Last Samarai blasting in my eardrum. Life's best gifts are simple and free........Tomorrow is a new day and this week will no doubt present it's fair share of problems and challenges but the potential for the sun to break through and make an appearance is generally ever present.....which.....makes life bearable and worth pursuing for it's own sake.........

Thursday, September 07, 2006

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This has been a long, long, long,.......week.......I haven't been to bed before midnight anytime this week....My potential future living situation seems to fluctuate from day to day.....My mom, who is currently visiting had a mini stroke last night and I had to take her to the hospital.....and it has been hot, hot, hot, all week long which drains my week is potentially looking up......temperatures are supposed to dip into the eighties after 100 plus temperatures for most of last week. My aunt will arrive on Wednesday to take my mom home with her....and....I should have clarity on my living situation by Thursday. Summer, seems such a faint memory at this point.....Later in the month I will taking off for a couple of days to see the fall colors in the High Sierra's. I can't wait.....Am also looking forward to watching a little football now that both college and the pros have kicked into high gear....Go Trojans!......Life can get so hectic and mundane.....I often wish I were living somewhere else and doing something more noble with my time. I often feel like I am just hangin on and am at the mercy of variables I can never seem to control or predict......getting philosophical.....Life has it's seasons.....and...sometimes our time, energy, and activities, are dictated by life's responsibilities. We may yearn and groan for a better, easier, and fullfilling life, but life often does not cooperate with our best laid plans. Some call it fate....some exhort us to take charge of our own life....some roll with the punches....and....some give up and give in to the fate of thd gods.....some are self aware....but....most are swept up and taken out to sea by the circumstances of life. It's tough smelling the roses when to wind is howling day to day.....Tomorrow brings a new opportunities....more responsibilities.....but....always an adventure. The week-end is coming up and I hope to catch up with my sleep, do a little hiking, watch some football and spend some quality time with my two sons, my girlfriend, and my mom. If I sound a bit down, I am. It's been a long week. I may feel and sound down but I am not out and for that I am grateful....