ornament 11 July 2007 ornament

All-Star Sideshow

Perhaps the only thing more disheartening than watching the National League lose its 10th straight All Star Game (though the late comeback attempt was exciting) was the attitude by the Fox broadcasters who assumed its audience wasn’t actually interested in the baseball playing part of the game. Instead of the action on the field, we were treated to such interesting side shows such as a life-jacketed “journalist” on a boat in the bay who sent his likewise life-jacketed bulldog into the water to fetch a baseball.

Or, instead of watching the pitcher’s wind-up, we’re treated to a clip of a microphoned Tony LaRussa uninterestingly reviewing the inning’s lineup with the umpire. During another player’s at-bat, we were forced to endure an interview with Jimmy Leyland about his feelings toward Barry Bonds. Anything to keep from having to show the game.

Baseball isn’t the only sport that suffers from what I like to call “sideshow syndrome.” If you’ve ever been to a minor league hockey game, you’ll know what I mean. It’s as if sports producers naturally assume that 90% of their audience has ADHD. After all, many do have HDTVs, so ADHD couldn’t be far behind.

Just let me watch the game.

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ornament 9 July 2007 ornament

Hillary Clinton: Church Lady

In case you missed the glowing New York Times profile of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s faith over the weekend, you missed intriguing tidbits like the fact that she carries a Bible along with her on the campaign trail. Also included in the piece was this very telling portrayal of her beliefs (emphasis mine):

In a brief quiz about her theological views, Mrs. Clinton said she believed in the resurrection of Jesus, though she described herself as less sure of the doctrine that being a Christian is the only way to salvation. As for how literally to interpret the Bible, she takes a characteristically centrist view.

“The whole Bible gives you a glimpse of God and God’s desire for a personal relationship, but we can’t possibly understand every way God is communicating with us,” she said. “I’ve always felt that people who try to shoehorn in their cultural and social understandings of the time into the Bible might be actually missing the larger point.”

That she rejects historic orthodox Christianity is clear — no major confession of faith through the ages has ever expressed belief that there is salvation outside Christ. What remains a little unclear is the statement that we can’t possibly understand God’s communication. If she means that she herself can’t understand it, that’s one thing. But, if she means that god communicates with us in ways that are unknowable, I would beg to differ.

The fact that God has communicated to us via the written word means that he is understandable, and that it he is knowable through his word. To say that “we can’t possibly understand every way God is communicating with us” is to say that we really have no basis for understanding any way. If this is so, we in effect become agnostics.

I don’t think Sen. Clinton is intentionally courting the votes of the “agnostic left,” but they may have just found their candidate…

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[Link] TIME’s 50 Best Websites 2007

TIME mag lists its 50 Best Websites 2007

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ornament 6 July 2007 ornament

[Link]: Bottled Water Is Still A Scam

The scam that is bottled water.

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ornament 4 July 2007 ornament

[Link] Alma’s Mater: The Violent Hypocrisy of Some Peace & Justice Christians

Alma’s Mater: Russell Moore on the violent hypocrisy of some “peace & justice” Christians

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ornament 2 July 2007 ornament

Apocalypto

Sometimes the best way to critique a culture is to remove everything that is familiar and common within that culture, and then tell a story. Science fiction has done this for years to great success. The removal of the familiar can strip one’s eyes of cultural blinders, and allow the story to be more richly brought to the forefront.

Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto does just this. I saw this movie over the weekend still uncertain about the film’s plot before I watched it. It contains not a word of spoken English (all the characters speak in Mayan), and there is little context for the violent atrocities that serve as the backdrop of the story. Still, Gibson manages to use sparing contextual elements to frame one of Apocalypto’s major motifs: the clash of civilizations.

The Will Durant quote which appears at the film’s opening sums up well Gibson’s intent:

“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”

Gibson displays well the difficulty of maintaining tradition. Those who seek to preserve a way of life often become moving targets for those who would seek to serve their own needs.

The plot revolves around a village of forest hunters who are attacked and captured for human sacrifice by a more “civilized” group of city-dwellers. During the attack, a hunter named Jaguar Paw manages to hide his pregnant wife and child in a deep well. Jaguar Paw is taken away, and the stage is set for him to attempt to escape and return to his family.

I won’t reveal much more, but this film has one of the best chase scenes in cinematic history. There are many Gibson-esque moments throughout the film that reminded me of watching Braveheart over a decade ago. It’s really too bad that Gibson helped ruin the release of one of his best works by his bizarre drunken anti-semitic rant last year. The film stands taller than its troubled director.

I will give one warning: the movie does depict a lot of violence. It’s not as bloody as The Passion of the Christ, but the body count does compare with Braveheart.

[9 out of 10]

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