October 18, 2007

Posting Away Again in Magaritaville

Various & sundry items of varying interest:

Saw "3:10 to Yuma". Very good flick. "Even bad men love their mommas."

It inspired a parody mock-ups of recent films:
4:25 to Pastaskala
Tom tries to get his fusty aunt on the 4:25 bus to Pastaskala, Ohio in order to keep the family peace.

Across the Universe:
A look at the '70s through the music of the Jim Croce, exploring such things as whether bad, bad, Leroy Brown was as bad as thought.

Why Did He Get Married
Examines the life of the Eddie Murphy character who in Trading Places said after a period of forced continence: "I'm so horny that when the wind blows I get hard."

We Own the Day
Powerful drama decribing the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes! (Doh! I just jinxed them. Pride goeth...)

Uh, ok, back to 3:10 to Yuma (by the way, nice discussion by Matthew Lickona & friend here):


I was initially disappointed by how Ben actually helped Dan get him to the station, because then Dan wasn't doing something really worthy of his son's admiration. It was like cheating. (Call it the equivalent of merely 'declared righteousness' rather than a theosis.) But in retrospect it's more impressive that Dan was able to inspire Ben's good side than it would be for Dan to (in Rambo-like fashion) kill all the bad guys in accomplishing his goal.

Friday Night Lights fans know it is one of the best kept secrets on television. I think one of the more interesting subplots is how the girl from the wrong side of the tracks is slowly being redeemed (with some help from a 'nerd' who is wild over her), while the girl from the right side of the tracks (i.e. coach's daughter) is becoming reprobated despite having a good guy, qb-playing boyfriend. The mystery of human freedom is played out. There is good New Yorker review here.

Turned on the local country radio station and heard another person describe a near-death experience in which he was outside his body and saw light. Reminds me of a paraphrase of Sancta Sanctis's recent line: "Light isn't a cliche for those experiencing near death experiences."

On Cincinnati, known as the "Queen of the West":

And this Song of the Vine,
This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver,
To the Queen of the West,
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.

-- Catawba Wine by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


I think I've drawn more profit from the anecdote about St. Thomas Aquinas in which he, as a child, calmly accepted the moniker the "Dumb Ox" than from my (admittedly very limited) reading of the Summa Theologia. Or at least that was when I felt such a flush of admiration and love for the great theologian.

Back in the mid 19th century it seems people got married in the middle of the week rather than on Friday or Saturday nights. Two of my great-grandfathers were married on a Thursday while another got hitched on a Wednesday.

I was driving through a poor, lower-class neighborhood and saw a not-unfamiliar sight, that of a lady giving "what for" to an older gentleman. Not a happy camper.

This replays itself often when I go to bingo. The smokers outside are usually complaining bitterly (i.e. bitching) about something or someone.

Observing the economically successful you see a completely different model. They are unfailingly positive, almost robotically so. They tend to never have an unkind word for someone (of course, there's a political angle to that too).

You could say the poor have more reason to complain but generally no one whines like famous, rich Hollywood types.

If there is any correlation between attitude and economic performance I'm not sure it carries over in the spiritual world. There are heretics (Joel Osteen) and atheists (a guy at work) who seem quite peaceful and positive. If inside Mother Teresa was experiencing dark night, outside she was certainly displaying love and joy.

Osteen, btw, was profiled on Sixty Minutes last Sunday:
They read more like self-help than religion. In his new book, Osteen lays out seven principles he believes will improve our lives.

"To become a better you, you must be positive towards yourself, develop better relationships, embrace the place where you are. Not one mention of God in that. Not one mention of Jesus Christ in that," Pitts remarks.

"That's just my message. There is scripture in there that backs it all up. But I feel like, Byron, I'm called to help people…how do we walk out the Christian life? How do we live it? And these are principles that can help you. I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, 'Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.' I don’t think that’s my gifting," Osteen says.

Wherever he goes, people tell Osteen that he helps.

"Thank you so much. Thank you so much for what you do," one bookstore customer remarked. "You’ve changed my whole life."

"You are such an inspiration. I watch you every week. You’re a great help," another said.

But many theologians from mainstream churches find Osteen's message misleading and shallow.

"I think it’s a cotton candy gospel," says Rev. Michael Horton, a professor of theology at Westminister Seminary in Escondido, Calif.

"His core message is God is nice, you’re nice, be nice," Horton says, laughing. "It's sort of a, if it were a form of music, I think it would be easy listening. He uses the Bible like a fortune cookie. 'This is what’s gonna happen for you. There’s gonna be a windfall in your life tomorrow.' The Bible's not meant to be read that way."

Reverend Horton believes that Osteen tells only half the story of the Bible, focusing on the good news without talking about sin, suffering and redemption.

And Rev. Horton goes even further. He levels the harshest charge of all, calling the Osteen method of teaching heresy.

"It is certainly heresy, I believe, to say that God is our resource for getting our best life now," Horton says.

"Because?" Pitts asks.

"Well, it makes religion about us instead of about God," Horton explains.

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