I am the oldest of five children. It goes without saying that I watch a lot of kids’ movies.
The setting: we had run out of movies with which to entertain the children. The only thing new was the rental DVD of Monsters University, and the kids had just watched it last night. Ever the resourceful woman, my mom decided that while she made lunch, the children’s time would be passed by watching the same movie again…but with commentary. That makes it a whole new movie, right?!
Well, not quite, but the kids bought it long enough for mom to make lunch. Continue reading →
I love the show sci-fi show Firefly. I got into it just this past year, after the hype had died down along with any hope that the show or its spaceship would ever return to the air.
I love the show’s main protagonist, Mal Reynolds. Mal is essentially a cowboy in space (it was a weird show). Mal has an understated, uncomplicated way of life which is a breath of fresh air in a genre usually characterized by either brain-cracking philosophy or brain-numbing special effects.
Does this look like a man who wants to ruminate? Continue reading →
When I see strip clubs, I think of math.
Bear with me. Once upon a time, there was this mathematician named Enrico Fermi. And he was was really good at estimates. He could estimate things with astonishing accuracy. He once estimated the number of piano tuners in New York City, based on his own estimates of how many pianos were in NYC, how many would get tuned, and how many tuners would be needed to service those pianos regularly.
Now, near my hometown, there is a highway surrounded by no fewer than three different, (ahem), gentleman’s establishments. The only one I can remember the name of is called Babylon, which I was tempted to call Babylon 5 before remembering that that’s the name of a sci-fi show from the 90s.
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Is there merit in saying this? That we get too caught up in our feelings, especially regarding worship. Whether our worship is for God matters a good deal. But whether or worship comes from a feeling of God’s righteousness and goodness, that’s irrelevant. To paraphrase Eugene Peterson, our feelings come as a result of true worship to God, not the other way around. We get so tied in knots trying to summon some kind of emotional response before we praise God. Continue reading →
Tonight I went and saw some old Hebrew scrolls with friends. I expected to see, you know, a couple of old scrolls here and there, in a very informal kind of presentation. Instead what I saw was at least 16 unique scrolls, going as far back in their origin as the 1400s (or as recent as 2008). As it turns out, this collection was (truly) the only one of its kind, fulfilling in its entirety all of what we would call the Old Testament in kosher scrolls. Very hard to find. The Vatican claims to have several of such collections, but last I checked, the Vatican doesn’t have the most open-door policy toward college students. Or anyone, ever.
I saw a scroll of Esther, with the names of Haman’s sons enlarged so as to remind the reader that messing with God’s people is a serious offense.
I saw a Torah scroll from a Hebrew kindergarten, stabbed through five times by Nazi bayonets, rescued from the Nazis and hidden by a Jewish grandmother until such a time as it was safe to possess the word of God.
I saw a THIRTY-FIVE POUND TORAH SCROLL, made of unbroken deer skin. Continue reading →
This is a poem, the bulk of which I wrote my junior year of high school.
Resting cranium on locker,
I recalled there playing soccer
With my friends at gym, and noting their obsession with the crude,
Looking in myself to find that something similar there stewed,
Finding darkness deep, more dismal than the dusk had e’er been hued
There a wrecking ball ensued.
I’d glimpsed in me, raging ocean
Thrashing with a violent motion
To ensure my soul’s erosion in its own depravity,
And to kill in me the notion that a speck of hope could be
Ever fished from such a swirling, whirling maelstrom of a sea.
It was hellfire; it was me. Continue reading →
JOHN THE BAPTIST’S JAIL CELL NIGHT
JOHN, a bearded and wild-haired man in his early 30s, is resting his head on his knees when he hears a knock at the door.
HEROD opens the door, rather sheepishly.
Hey, Herod. What’s up?
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I found a tick on my neck a while ago. It was the strangest thing. I looked in the mirror and noticed it there and eloquently proclaimed.
“Aw, what the heck?!”
Now, you have to know something about me. I can’t stay calm with a tick in me. Nothing anyone does or says can distract me from the fact that there is an insect, a living creature, with its head in my flesh, sucking my blood. I’m a really big baby about it, especially when my mom’s around. But now, there was no mom. There was only me and the tick.
I ran to the nurse’s office. It was locked. A sign on the door gave the number for a doctor’s office, for urgent care.
Where does a tick fall in the sliding scale of emergencies? I didn’t have a brain hemorrhage or anything, but there was certainly blood on my brain. All I could think about was that living tick, with its jaws under my skin, letting my blood flow into its mouth, its mandibles clenching and unclenching. (Ticks have mandibles. I looked it up.) Continue reading →
Something I learned today:
I’m in college now, and I’m being introduced to new ideas. One of them is the idea of conversation vs. talking.
You see, we had to read the first chapter of some book by a guy named Zeldin. He seems like a well-learned man who has clearly studied the act of conversation throughout the ages. He talks about the different ways that people have conversed throughout history. In one instance, it is mentioned how the scientific movement brought a desire among people for clarity and truthfulness in conversation above all else, rejecting rhetoric and hype for “plain talk”.
“Speaking and writing clearly, without frills, forced people to develop a more scientific attitude, to abandon magic and superstition. And also people began to criticize rhetoric as anti-democratic: snobbish, deliberately obscure, repressive of real feelings. They equated it with the cult of the genteel, the desire to be superior. Plain talk triumphed in the United States in the nineteenth century, forcing the pretentious to stop tyrannizing others with the etiquette or affectation. But plain talk sometimes degenerated into a rejection of standards and an admiration for the speech of the uneducated. It became even more obscure than rhetoric (“obscure” here means “not expressing meaning clearly or plainly. I thought that particular definition and usage was kind of obscure). In the same way, scientific clarity was carried so far that it became jargon, comprehensible only to the initiated.” Continue reading →
“Dad, why does America worship youth?”
This I asked my Dad in the parking lot of a doctor’s office, right before we had to get out of the car and go in for an appointment.
I had wondered this for a while because I’ve been a youth most of my life, and I don’t find myself all that incredible, much less godlike. On American Idol (said the not-current-with-TV guy), there’s an age ceiling in the 20s, isn’t there? And Katy Perry, who looks pretty youthful to me, has already been looking back with nostalgia to her teenage years in “Teenage Dream”.
Why? I kept wondering. What’s so great about these years? Continue reading →