Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I like George Orwell....

I've taken to going through my bookshelves and rereading so much fiction these days. I seem to have rediscovered my great love for story -- both hearing them told, reading them, writing them, and telling them to others. I fell out of love with story about 2 or so years ago as I perused and pursued deeper theology, mostly because my church heritage/culture didn't really have anything there and typically frowned upon the average believer really studying theology. Such things were for the revered "theologians" who people respected but never really understood, since they were too "smart" for the average believer.

(Side note -- YEAH FUNDAMENTALISM!!! The "simpler" you keep things, the easier you can keep the masses stupid and overly dependent upon preachers, theologians, and church leaders for the difficult task of thinking about God and stuff.)

Thus, along with reading through C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia this summer in anticipation of the movie release of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I am looking forward to enjoying and delving into the works of Orwell, Huxley, Salinger, Steinbeck, and Hornby (amongst others) as I regain my love for stories that say something, say nothing, or just say stuff.

Here is an exerpt from Orwell's Coming Up for Air, the story of George (Tubby) Bowling's meandering thoughts on middle-class suburban life during the first half of the 20th century in England.

"Well, Hilda and I were married, and right from the start it was a flop. Why did you marry her? you say. But why did you marry yours? These things happen to us. I wonder whether you'll believe that during the first two or three years I had serious thoughts of killing Hilda. Of course in practice on never does these things, they're only a kind of fantasy that one enjoys thinking about. Besides, chaps who murder their wives always get copped. However cleverly you've faked the alibi, they know perfectly well that it's you who did it, and they'll pin it on you somehow. When a woman's bumped off, her husband is always the first suspect -- which gives you a little side-glance of what people really think about marriage."

Well? What do you all think? Comments? Considerations?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What do I do? What can WE do?

My friend Erin was posting on her blog recently concerning Zimbabwe (Where is that you ask? It's in South Central Africa, you ugly American!) and I commented upon it. I started writing so much in response that I copied & pasted it into a blog entry. Yeah, it's cheating, but I wanted others to read about it.

NPR Zimbabwe Story

Foreboding indeed....

Do we really need, as a global community, MORE people killing people over space? Mugabe (idiot and dictator that he is) is simply lowering himself to the tactics that the Israeli government has used against the Palestinians as a means of political, social, and economic repression for years now. My perennial question in such situations is, "WHY in the hell is this necessary?" What does he hope to gain by leveling thousands of homes? It's not like he's going to be rebuilding on top of these shanties to create more office space, more businesses, more jobs, and a better economy. He's destroying just to destroy and I can't even begin to understand/fathom actions of that nature.

More than that, I don't even think he realizes what kind of hornet's nest he's stepping into with such actions. Does he really think that the political activists whose homes he's destroyed will sit back and do nothing? Most likely not.... Or maybe that's just it (says my cynical politically-oriented mind) -- maybe he WANTS to mobilize his opponents against him in open conflict in order to hurt them even more, to paint THEM as the reactionaries who are rebelling against his government. Of course, that could backfire on him if the country as a whole decides that he's the jerk who needs to be eliminated and NOT his opponents. Ugh.... The possibilities of even MORE bloodshed on the African continent.... My heart is crushed under such emotional weight....

And the saddest part is that the average American on the street has no clue this is going on. They couldn't even pronounce Zimbabwe, much less know where it is. The fact that 200,000 politically active persons (this is probably lower if you remove the children of the families) have been displaced from their homes does NOT bode well for political stability in a country that has been notorious for tampered-with elections and other forms of repression. But does USAmerica even attempt to intervene in Africa? Not really, unless we're hunting for natural resources to exploit....

Do we hear about this on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, or (God help us!) FOX? NO!!! We just hear more about lost Boy Scouts and missing rich white girls in Aruba. Not to say that those people aren't important to their families, but are they worthy of national news attention? Not hardly. 200,000 people lose their homes overnight? That should make the news, but it doesn't, unless it comes through natural disasters. I don't think that the American viewing public could even fathom what's happened in Zimbabwe, much less Sudan and those people died....

What do we do with this information? That is the key for me. What do I, as a politically and globally aware American, do with the information that there's the possibility of an uprising in Zimbabwe, when we have YET to address what's going on in Darfur/Western Sudan? What do I do? Any ideas??

Friday, June 10, 2005

Discourse on Creativity

I've been conversing with my friend A_Pomo on his blog recently about books -- mostly because he wants to read more, I've read more than him, and I love talking about books, learning, education, etc. We're kinda looking into starting an online seminary, but that's really ridiculous to say because neither one of us are ordained. We're really getting into the business of sharing our information and bibliographies. I've always done this with whomever is interested in sharing.

This is NOT to say that I'm better than him because I've read more. I hope that no one gets that impression when I say that, because I have so many friends who are better read than I am on many topics. I'm always tapping into someone's knowledge banks for new books to read on different perspectives about different topics. My friend Draven is very well-read and educated on the topics of the first-century Church and Judaism in general. I've got a couple of friends at church whose personal libraries and booklists I would love to sift through -- one is a seminary graduate and the other is a doctoral student at Rice studying philosophy and theology. I like reading. I like learning.

That being said, A_Pomo was asking about Art and Poetry and what books he could read on them. And I was struck by that question and thought through several questions at once.

1) What is Poetry?
2) What is Art?
3) Can there really be a book on those things, telling us what they are or are supposed to be?
4) Can those same books tell us what "good" poetry and "good" art are or are supposed to be?
5) What gives those books/authors the right to tell the reader what poetry and at really are or what makes them "good"?
6) And if you canNOT find those things in a book, how does one decide what they are and if they're "good" or not?

I've been reading some poetry by Ranier Marie Rilke recently and have been convinced that I don't really get poetry. Or maybe, I never really "got" it before and my preconceptions are being knocked down to the ground. If you take English or American Lit in High School (or even intro classes in college), you can understand what it's like to LOATHE poetry. Too many of them stress cheesy, lovey-dovey poetry in iambic pentameter with simple rhyme schemes. And yes, I'm over-generalizing, but don't I speak what many of us thought all throughout that segment in our English classes? Again I ask, what is poetry?

I do think that there are some necessary components and qualifiers, but nothing that should be listed as things that MUST BE THERE for something to poetry. However, I'm forced to think upon the scene at the end of "Dead Poet's Society" where the administrator comes into Robin Williams' classroom after Williams has been kicked out. The Admin asks the students to turn to this essay in the front of their books telling them what poetry is and should be. They all respond by telling the Admin that Williams had them rip out that essay because he feels that one can't quantify poetry (and I include art here by transference). The Admin gets mad and most of the kids start standing on their desks reciting some grand piece of poetry that Williams taught them, in defiance of their Admin and his kicking out Williams.

Williams' character had it right -- you can't "define" poetry (or art), but there still remains the questions of communicating them to others. What is poetry? What is art? How can we learn to appreciate them properly? How can we learn to create them? CAN we learn those things? What does such an education in aesthetics look like? Can you really BE educated in such things?

Any ideas? Or am I being too silly with such questions? If I'm a created being, and I was created to be a creative being, how does one cultivate those talents? What does such an environment look like? If, as does Draven and his wife, I would call myself a "Cultural Creative", what does that look like? How can I encourage that creativeness in myself and others?

Art? Poetry? What are you talking about?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Scene 2

If you folks are interested, my friend Simon has finally completed Scene 2 of his screenplay. Go check it out and let him know what you think.

  • Like Augustine, Scene 2

  • Saturday, June 04, 2005

    Kevin Bacon


    I haven't yet made it hell today, which is a good thing in my opinion. I didn't feel the minions of Satan dragging me down into the abyss last night, which is also a very good thing. Furthermore, I didn't feel guilty about breaking the rules of the legalistic church history from which I've left, yet still plagues my spiritual development.

    Yes, that's right. I went out dancing last night with friends. I even drank 2 glasses of wine with dinner last night.

    Yes, that's right. I'm a sinner, bound for Hell in that proverbial handbasket because of my scandalous actions and behaviors.

    Yes, that's right. I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it. Seriously. I had a good time and I'm not ashamed to admit that.

    One of my BEST friends in the world celebrated her 26th Birthday yesterday and, to celebrate, she invited her closest friends out for dinner and dancing at a restaurant here in town. This restaurant came complete with a live band playing salsa/merengue music, with a few cheesy Top 40 hits thrown in there, and a decently-sized dancefloor. Being a musician (guitars & drums), I have rather good rhythm, but as most musicians know, that rhythm frequently doesn't translate to having great moves.

    That all being said, I had a great time. First off, I was with some of my best friends in the world. Second, there was a 2:1 Girl:Boy ratio (6 girls & 3 boys), which is an excellent ratio if you're a single guy. Third, I allowed myself to get out of my shell and have fun without worrying that some church leader is going to run in the door, kick me out of leadership, and damn my soul to hell for dancing with girls and drinking some wine. It was a very freeing experience in a very spiritual kind of way for me. It allowed me to break out of some inhibitions that I'd created for myself and just enjoy being with people.

    I had my own Kevin-Bacon "Footloose" experience. Go out and find your own. It doesn't have to be dancing, but there's probably something out there, some bit of socialized church behavior from your past that's been holding you back. Find a way to break free of those bonds. You'll be a better person for it and you might actually have a bit of fun along the way. Besides, where do you read in the OT or NT where dancing and wine are bad things?

    Friday, June 03, 2005


    Here's a thought I had while editing my profile to include that lovely picture there on the right hand side of the page. Do any of us bloggers EVER read each other's profiles? Do we really concern ourselves with each other's biographies, as if they were our resumes posted for each other to read? I often think that we learn more about each other as we post by reading such blogs. We're usually more open, honest, and transparent about our pasts, presents, and futures when we're typing & sharing our hearts & minds. Granted, if you click on my profile, you'll find this GREAT list of games I like, books I like, movies I like, etc. You'll also find further down in the right hand column a list of what blogs I read, what books I'm currently reading, and what music heavily influences me. I think that those things are important components to my personality, but do we REALLY read such things about each other? Maybe we don't. Maybe we do. I read them on occasion, but do any of the rest of you? Just a question....