Saturday, September 29, 2007
the performances were a bit of a mixed bag. i was particulary bothered by the fact that there were not, as far as i could tell, any native russian speakers. because i know russian, and spent some time in russia, i notice things like this. when they spoke in russian they spoke very slowly, and when they spoke in english the thick russian accents where spotty. this was especially the case for vincent cassell whose accent was inconsistent at best. mortenson's accent was at times a bit overdone, otherwise he turned in a remarkable performance. at times his character was servile, at other times steely and ruthless. he handled the nuances of his character with remarkable deftness. the finest performances were put on by armin meuhler-stahl as the godfather of the russian mob, the vory v vaskonye. he was at times gentle and fatherly, yet with a constant threat of menace behind his twinkling blue eyes. naomi watts turned in the other outstanding performance as a frightened midwife who discovers a dead girls diary.
i wanted to like this movie a lot more than i did. perhaps it was because i had such a heightened sense of expectation going into it. it is a good movie, and one of the better films to come out this year, but not a great movie by any stretch.
now my attention is turned to Wes Anderson's new film, The Darjeeling Limited. Here is an article from new york magazine on one of my favorite directors. enjoy.
Monday, September 24, 2007
i can, and will, continue to plumb the depths of that tendency. that is why i am in counseling after all. and i will continue to investigate how and why i have come to the place i am currently at. i am sure there are parental issues there, false christianity and false gospel issues. there are also guilt issues as well. lastly, and perhaps most appropriately for this blog, there are grace issues.
Monday, September 17, 2007
i remember saying to some of my friends in the immediate months following 9-11 that we should watch out for a new kind of attack against christianity in which islamic extremism and christian fundamentalism would be lumped together. harris in his book, The End of Faith, essentially does this very thing. However, he takes it a step further by widening his argument to include christian evangelicals among the community of the dangerous.
The very conflation of Islamic terrorism and Christian political movements (I am uncomfortable with many, if not all, Christian political movements by the way – perhaps another post is due on this subject) shows the disingenuity, not to mention the overall sloppiness, of Harris’ project. He continually lumps things together and condemns them in total without bothering to dissect each piece. The problem is that he ends up with this all- encompassing, anti-religious, anti-theistic stance that confuses and obfuscates the very thing which he proposes to illuminate. He seemingly has no understanding of the historical role in which Christianity has helped shape western culture, nor does he seem to have any ability to distinguish the various threads of Christian practice and fundamentalist Islamic extremism. Anyone who wished could clearly see the difference between these two, yet somehow he fails. No other conclusion can be drawn but that he does not wish to see the difference because it would not allow him to promote his agenda.
I think it would be easy for Christians to look at the arguments put forth by Harris, et al. as merely specious misrepresentations of what we believe and move on. But the fact of the matter is that he has raised the stakes in the debate. And perhaps now, more than ever, a true believer should realize the very consequence of what we believe. Namely, that our belief is not morally or spiritually neutral and there are those who are bent on the destruction of our faith and practice. It is not enough to turn our heads, or to bury them in the sand, and laugh off the mischaracterization an answer to everyone who asks you to of our faith. At the very least we ought to be challenged to understand our faith more, and be ready, at any moment, as Peter commanded us “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have...”
*a quote from jacques berlinerblau
**i thought that perhaps i was the using anti-theism for the first time, but it turns out that this very term is used by the individuals listed above. so much for originality.
so, i'm watching peanuts this morning with eva and charlie brown makes a reference to albert schweitzer. how can you not love a kids cartoon that references an esoteric german theologian from the turn of the twentieth century. also, found this. gotta love this too.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
i am also excited about the two films by my favorite directors named anderson: the darjeeling limited and also there will be blood (can there be a more forboding title?)
Saturday, September 8, 2007
the problem with contemporary christian art is just that, it is christian art. it is art created specifically for a subculture community. it does not aspire to greatness outside of that community. and i believe that because it does not aspire to that kind of greatness it does not glorify god in the way that true Christian art should. i realize that much of what i am saying depends on vast generalizations, and obviously it does not apply to all christians who do art. however, if we think of the greatest christian artists over the past century they were not artisits who created art striclty for the christian comunity but rather artistis who did work in the public eye.
it seems to me that the christian's first responsibility is to the glory of God. this is a profound responsibility and ought to translate into first rate work. many people have written about this, and much more profoundly than i could ever. dorothy sayers comes to mind in particular. one can find a challenging depiction of the responsibility of the christian artist in her book of essays, Letters to a Post Christian World. another work that i have not read, but that that i have read snippets from is Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky's Sculpting in Time. In it he says, "Art must transcend as well as observe; its role is tor bring spiritual vision to bear on reality."