At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Friday, July 08, 2005

If HPL wrote the next Harry Potter.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Since I'm hanging with the Calvinists I've taken an interest in some of their theological distinctives. Which is not to say that I agree with them. A Calvinist writes in defense of their minimalist worship service:

High church worship begins with alleged mystery and continues along a path of allusion wherein the true God is not directly encountered. Informed worship, on the other hand, begins with a direct encounter between God and His people through His own Word, and brings God and His people closer throughout worship by the very same means. It begins & ends with covenant clarity: I am your God, you are my people. Amen.

High church worship, by depending upon symbol, mystery and allusion, hides God and His Word behind incense, altars, confessionals, pantheons of saints, robes, colors, candles, and magic formulas. It is pure show business, keeping the true God apart from the people. High church worshippers are taught in one thousand gross and subtle ways that the God who created the world cannot be approached directly.

I'll need to mull over it a bit but my initial reaction is that I'll never be a good Calvinist. Schlissel assumes that the sensuous hides God; I assume it reveals Him. My view, I think, is more consistent with the Incarnation, according to which those who have seen the Son have seen the Father, and with the Christian concept of the afterlife, which is not purely spiritual but involves "a new heaven and a new earth." (Augustine suggests that as we "see" the souls of other people via their bodily behavior, so in heaven we shall see God through His governance of the post-Resurrection universe.)

Monday, July 04, 2005

Today's movie: Batman Begins. I can't say I'm a big fan of the genre, so my opinion isn't authoritative, but I think it's the best superhero movie I've seen. The cinematography is attractively bleak, whether the scene is the icy wastes of the Himalayas or the urban blight of Gotham, and the story is correspondingly more somber than the cartoonish previous installments. The presence of veteran actors Morgan Freeman, Michael Paine and Liam Neeson also lends gravitas to the proceedings. Batman is unusual among superheroes for being an unmodified human being, and so the account of how he becomes a masked vigilante has intrinsic interest. Good action sequences and nifty gadgets makes this a great view for males in adolescence or in a state of arrested development. Although not as chronologically experimental as Memento, this Nolan film does feature some interesting use of flashback. The combat scenes are a bit intense for younger kids, but from a Christian perspective the film is perfectly acceptable--no sex, no language, and the moral of the story is about distinguishing between justice and revenge. The only complaint I have is that the script more than once uses the movie cliche in which characters allude to earlier lines in the movie in more serious, poignant contexts, the sort of thing Kaufmann satirized in Adaptation.

Gluttony this evening: beef ribs, chicken, baked beans, homemade bread, Guinness stout, peach ice cream. Then about $30 of fireworks, which fascinated the nephew.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Whenever I visit the family I end up seeing a Hollywood blockbuster. Today it was War of the Worlds. It's a noisy spectacle with impressive special effects but little human interest. Not that Speilberg didn't try to get us attached to his characters--he devotes the first twenty minutes or so showing us Tom Cruise's dysfunctional family life--but the dialogue wasn't well-written enough to be compelling. If you want to see a good Speilberg movie about a spoiled suburbanite family (with cute little blonde girl, natch) coming together in response to a destructive non-human presence, go rent Poltergeist.