ornament 30 December 2004 ornament

The Best of 2004

While languishing in the netherworld of blogging hiatus, I felt the need to do a best of 2004 list. So, here it is:

Best Book—fiction (read this year): Tough, but Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood will take the honor this year. I’ll write more about it later in a Books That Haunt post, but wow! It’s a novel that will get inside your head and stay there.

Best Book—non-fiction (read this year): This one is a tought decision as well, but the book that unsettled me (and affected my thinking) the most was Arthur Hunt’s The Vanishing Word: The Veneration of Visual Imagery in the Postmodern World. You can read my review here.

Best Football Game: Hands down, the Tennessee–Florida gut wrencher that showed that this might be a bit more than just a rebuilding year for the Vols.

Best Movie: I suppose only films I saw in the cinema count here, and as I can only think of six I saw on the big screen all year, my choices are limited. On artisic merit, however, I’ll have to give this award to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. If you’re looking for an evangelistic tool, you’d best stick with word of God—but Mel has indeed crafted a stirring film.

Best New TV Show: House, M.D. What better than a smart-aleck physician/Sherlock Holmes combo? This doctor show really makes ER look like the soap opera that it really is. Gene Edward Veith concurs.

Best New “Killer App”: I would say Firefox, but it doesn’t really feel new to me since I’ve been using it (in beta) for two years now. So the next big idea in my purview would have to be Grouper, as I’ve written about before.

Best Music Album: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, by U2. Yep, it’s that good.

Best Running Shoe: For me, it’s the Asics GT-2100—a shoe that I believe is finally ending my shin splint woes.

Best Quote (campaign 2004): “and we’re going to California and Texas and New York. And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House. Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaghhh!” — Howard Dean, former Democratic Presidential candidate.

Best Quote (overall): My wife: “Jared…come in here a minute…does this look like a line to you?” (Referring to the indicator on a home pregnancy test stick.)

Best TruePravda Post: I’ll leave that for you to decide—just pilfer through the archives to your right.

Best New Sound Heard in the Bridges Household: Waaa! Waaa! Waaa!

Happy New Year!

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ornament 19 December 2004 ornament

Housekeeping

If you’re wondering why things have been a little slow here at TruePravda in recent days, you need only check a new addition to the categories menu called “life.” You can find any baby pictures, or other such information there.

Things certainly have been busy, and it’s not likely to slow down until the new year. I won’t say for certain that I’ll be on hiatus until then, but I will say that there’s not likely to be much posted here.

However…I have a plethora of ideas brewing for January—including a return of the “Books That Haunt” series, a few other other book reviews, and more theological and cultural observations than Buford Pusser could shake a stick at. So Merry Christmas, and be sure to check back as the new year dawns.

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ornament 16 December 2004 ornament

Fletch Dies

Fletch

I couldn’t have been more surprised if I had woke up this morning with my head sewn to the carpet. Well, not really. It seems that Chevy Chase, star of the Fletch film series and the National Lampoons’ Vacation movies has tried to put the death knell in his ever-fading career by going on a rant that has even dyed-in-the-wool lefties embarrassed. Hosting a People for the American Way event, Chase had a few things to say:

Chase took the stage a final time and unleashed a rant against President Bush that stunned the crowd. He deployed the four-letter word that got Vice President Cheney in hot water, using it as a noun. Chase called the prez a “dumb [expletive].” He also used it as an adjective, assuring the audience, “I’m no [expletive] clown either. . . . This guy started a jihad.”

Chase also said: “This guy in office is an uneducated, real lying schmuck . . . and we still couldn’t beat him with a bore like Kerry.”

Yep, Chevy, you’re no clown. Just a sad semblance of the funny man you used to be. To repair your once hilarious reputation will take more than a Michael Moore-like tirade. I think we’ll need a set of pliers and some 30 weight ball bearings—because as you know, it’s all ball bearings these days…

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ornament 13 December 2004 ornament

The Demise of the Prize

Perhaps long ago it meant something special, but the awarding of major international prizes has taken some rather peculiar turns in recent years. Take this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai—a woman who calls humanity “a threat to the planet.” Her groundbreaking efforts in the area of peace include work with tadpoles:

Maathai said a stream where she used to see frogs and tadpoles as a child 50 years ago had dried up. “The challenge is to restore the home of the tadpoles and give back to our children a world of beauty and wonder,” she said.

Yes, this is the same Nobel Peace Prize which was awarded to terrorist Yasser Arafat in 1994—a prize that has among its recipients Martin Luther King, Jr., Theodore Roosevelt, and Albert Schweitzer. Sadly, it’s a prize which appears to have gone the way of the dodo. But the tadpoles, yes, the tadpoles will give us hope…

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ornament 12 December 2004 ornament

Even More Photos

By popular demand, and at risk of becoming well on my way to a “my kid is an honor student at x school” bumper sticker, I give you even more photos of our newborn son:

Continue reading…

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ornament 10 December 2004 ornament

Grouper

My brother and I have been trying out Grouper, the new private file-sharing service. We’ve both been impressed. Grouper allows you to share files (much like Kazaa) over a private network with up to 30 members. Right now, we’ve got his computer, my home computer, and my work computer linked in a Grouper network. It’s fast, and comes with a decent chat client.

The good thing is that it’s legal to share music this way—Grouper doesn’t allow you to download music files. Instead it streams them from the host computer, which is legal. So far the streaming has worked pretty well for us. You can download other files like photos, docs, etc. Check it out—it may be the next “killer app”…

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Euphemisms for Evil

Albert Mohler’s column today regarding Ralph Keyes’ new book, The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life is especially insightful. This paragraph got me thinking:

As evidence of this cultural acceptance of lying, Keyes notes the rise of euphemisms for deception. “We no longer tell lies. Instead we ‘misspeak.’ We ‘exaggerate.’ We ‘exercise poor judgment.’ ‘Mistakes were made,’ we say. The term ‘deceive’ gives way to the more playful ‘spin.’ At worst, saying ‘I wasn’t truthful’ sounds better than ‘I lied’.” Keyes suggests that the use of such euphemisms is a new cultural syndrome he identifies as “euphemasia.” This would include everything from terms such as “credibility gap,” to Winston Churchill’s “terminological inexactitudes.”

This “euphemasia” applies not only to telling lies, but to the larger spectrum of sin in general. Think about it. When was the last time you heard someone say “I sinned” with regard to a wrong action? The common vocaublary is “I made a mistake.” It’s even rare to hear someone say that they were wrong—all wrongdoing is elevated to the level of “mistake.”

When one does speak of their own wrongdoing, it’s often relegated to a more passive voice. The action is considered to be wrong, not the person. Consider President Clinton’s “confession” to the public regarding the Lewinsky affair:

As you know, in a deposition in January, I was asked questions about my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. While my answers were legally accurate, I did not volunteer information. Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible.

Clinton wanted the hearer to assume that his judgment is normally appropriate, and his adultery was a mere “lapse in judgment.”

The greater problem is that it is not only the public scoundrel-types who lighten the load of their own wrongdoings. I know of no area of society, secular or religious, that is not affected by some level of “euphemasia.”

When sin is euphemised, we tend to view it more warmly than before. We tell ourselves that everybody makes mistakes, after all. All the while, we deny our own sinful nature, pretending it does not exist—and that is the greatest mistake we could ever make.

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ornament 7 December 2004 ornament

Moonlighting

I think I’ll keep my day job, but it seems that an unexpected paternal role for me is that of singer. During one of my newborn son’s midnight fits of rage, at wits end I tried singing to him, and surprisingly, he calmed down. It’s only a matter of time before he finds out that his dad is miniscule amond crooners, and he’ll resume crying for me to shut up…

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The “Real Meaning” of Christmas

Evangelical Christians seeking to engage the culture should take a lesson from the late Charles M. Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Although Wikipedia notes that Schultz may have turned to secular humanism in later years, a distinctly Christian theology is apparent in the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas, which aired on ABC tonight.

In the special Charlie Brown, exasperated, asks if anyone knows the true meaning of Christmas. Linus obliges, and begins to quote verbatim from Luke 2, explaining, in effect, that the birth of Christ is the locus of meaning for Christmas.

No show created today could pull off such a display of overt Christianity and get away with it. It’s amazing that the show still eludes the media censors who might pull it lest it offend someone. With Christmas a completely secular holiday in our culture, A Charlie Brown Christmas is an oddity that Christians should applaud and seek to emulate.

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ornament 5 December 2004 ornament

More Photos

We’re home at last, and thankfully everyone is heathly—if not a little weary from the whole ordeal of our son’s first few days. Thanks to everyone for all the wonderful comments! I can already see many ways that being a father is already changing me. Perhaps I’ll write more about that later when I’m a little more settled. For now, enjoy some more photos of our little guy:

Continue reading…

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