Three-in-one: Marriage, Community, and Pain

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My wife and I celebrated our one year anniversary about a week ago. I started brainstorming ways we could commemorate a month before, mostly in the form of trips. Like Walter Mitty I had an itch for adventure, I think I always have, and it felt like time to visit a historic city or chase thrills at an amusement park. Then again, I would have been just as happy to find some peace in nature on a backpacking trip, similar to the way we chose to celebrate our honeymoon. But my wife had a very different idea: she wanted to commemorate our anniversary symbolically. How could I say no to that? Continue reading

The Plague (Camus, 1947)

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I can say I know the world inside out, as you may see–that each of us has the plague within him; no one, no one on earth, is free from it…What’s natural is the microbe. All the rest–health, integrity, purity (if you like)–is a product of the human will, of a vigilance that must never falter…it’s a wearying business, being plague-stricken. But it’s still more wearying to refuse to be it. ~Tarrou, Part IV.VI

Albert Camus’ The Plague is an indictment, a curse against the natural world and its overwhelming, incomprehensible malice. The setting is a “happy town,” an Algerian port city, that unexpectedly befalls the ancient plague, bringing hundreds daily into its black embrace. Their ferryman, and the protagonist, is Dr. Rieux, the guardian of futile remedies and uncertain prognoses. Indeed, no one is able to come to grips with what is going on, certainly there is “plague” but no one can find cure or treatment or explanation of how it began or when it will end. The people are, quite naturally, helpless. Continue reading

Dýrafjörður (2014)

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While I obviously love movies (look to the right just a bit…), I don’t post all that many reviews. Well, really, I think the only review I’ve ever done is Stoker, all my others thoughts on films are just that: reflections. Dýrafjörður offers a lot to reflect on, especially for this blog, and so I’m happy to be able to share a few words and then give a plug for my friend Philip Carrel’s wonderful piece. Continue reading

The Rover (2014)

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Imagine you go to your favorite restaurant and discover a new appetizer. You have to try it. You wait, then order, then wait. Unbeknownst to you, the Chef is on vacation and the intern starts a small fire preparing your meal. “It’s nothing,” he says to the waitress as he hands her your plate.  “I’ll have it out in no time.” Meanwhile, you dig into a scrumptious appetizer. It’s not perfect, but it has wet your palate and you can’t wait to round out the experience with an entree (naturally your favorite one). But something has started to smell. By the time you’ve finished your appetizer, the restaurant has burned down.

Such is the experience of watching The Rover.  Continue reading

Noah (2014)

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Let’s deal with this nagging thing right away: This is a very Western imagining of ancient Mesopotamia. We can talk clothes: Noah’s jean and jean-jacket stylings, Ham’s buzz cut and Naameh’s perfect stray curls. Going deeper, we can talk about how patriarchy becomes individualism and how the youth of Noah’s sons allows for familiar heterosexual coupling tropes. These things are a bit grating.

But I am completely missing the point. Continue reading

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The Seer: A Poem

A poem for our present time. Since last week, the controversy of vision has been on my mind, sparked of course by a controversy about an organization committed to vision.

We become so divided by the ways we see. The only meditation I would offer are these words.

 

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Continue reading

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Les Mis Domesticated: What the Musical can learn from Hugo, and from Christ

Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me

What your sacrifice was for

Empty chairs at empty tables

Where my friends will sing no more

I first read Victor Hugo’s epic a few weeks before the release of Tom Hooper’s film adaptation. At that time, I wasn’t overly familiar with the structure of the musical adaptation and I was floored by what I saw as an unfaithful interpretation of the book’s thematic content. Just last night, I had the privilege of enjoying a phenomenal performance of the music at the Grand Rapids Civic Theater. Unlike the movie, this stage adaptation seemed to get stronger as it went and I still have the haunting lines of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” running through my head (bravo Michael Peneycad!). However beautiful the song can be, the truth is that I still hate it. Continue reading

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The Noise and the Tao: Consumption/Contemplation

Do you ever sense “The Noise?” Does it blind you, strike you, confuse you? Does it make you dizzy or force you to sit? Sometimes it does that to me.

Most of us live amidst “the noise.” Everywhere we turn: we are bombarded. Advertisements, art works, opinions, debates, news. Each of these can be deafening in their own right. Together, they can conjure memories of first learning to swim. As a person deeply interested in multi-media as well as philosophy, theology, literature, and many other things, “The Noise” is almost impossible for me to escape. Further, I suffer from impatience, wanting to consume all their is to know and learn as immediately as possible so that I can put it into action, make something of my knowledge. I think this is a good drive. But it also drives me to insanity.

Enough venting. Let’s get to the good stuff. Continue reading

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United in Struggle: A Prayer for Valentine’s Day

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Recently, a friend asked me why a lot of my public life lately has been wrapped up with issues of human sexuality, specifically homosexual/bisexual orientation. He had a point: I am currently working on two screenplays on the subject, am planning a film discussion night on Behind the Candelabra, just published a poem on this blog that could be understood in that light, and have steered much of my private dialog in that direction. But why? I must confess that I am straight and even married despite my young age. So why do I keep indefatigably trying to create dialog on the subject? Well, for one, I see myself in a rather dangerous proximity to systems/communities/cultures of oppression. In this blog, I’m going to define oppression as silencing an opponent, pretending they don’t exist or don’t have an opinion worth hearing. As a Christian, and specifically a member of the Church in the present age, I think it is vitally important to create safe spaces for dialog, and beyond that fellowship and even common worship. Christians confess to believe in the “holy catholic Church.” These days, that’s sounds derisive, but it is meant to be anything but. And, speaking to my Christian readers (for whom honestly this post is for), I believe the Church has done and is doing some incredibly dangerous things in the present day. Continue reading

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Flappy Bird, Addictions, and the Empire of God

My Life Crashed Into Pieces When I Threw Flappy Bird Out Of My Life, Because I Never Truly Had The Chance To Say Goodbye. I Got Angry, I’m Only Human You Know.? So I Just.. I Deleted Him. And Before I Knew It.. Before I Even Had A Chance To Fix What Had Been Done, He Disappeared. I Guess It’s For The Better, Because, Well, He Truly Did Completely Screw My Life Up. My Relationships, My Schoolwork, Even My Eating Habits. He Alienated Me Into Thinking It Was MY fault, Like IM THE LAZY ONE.?!?! But I Still Missed Him. In My Days Of Mourning.. I Ran Across The App Called Splashy Fish. Now Now, We Have All Seen/Heard The Hate Comments About All The ‘Fake’ Flappy Bird Games. It May Not Be The Exact Same Thing, But, This.. THIS IS INCREDIBLE, ITS LIKE IM PLAYING WITH FLAPPY BIRDS LONG LOST COUSIN.!!! I’m Sorry Flappy Bird, For Replacing You. But Thankyou, Thankyou So Much.. For Your Cousin Splashy. It’s Filled The Void In My Life. A Void not Even Christ Could Fill. Yes, I Learned My Lesson. I Will NEVER Get Rid Of Splashy Fish For As Long I Live. -> Twitter: @Jesusistherazor

In Brandon Cronenberg’s Antiviral, Western society goes bezerk when their most beloved celebrity, Hannah Geist, suddenly dies from a viral infection. They cannot cope; the unexpected loss  creates a mad dash to consume what is left of her branded content. As the film continues, new technology begins to emerge that enables a kind of non-sentient immortality for Hannah. Called “Afterlife,” this technology allows the public to engage with their god once more. But, as the film reveals, the afterlife that is created is a grotesque perversion of what it means to be alive, calling into question the public engagement with it. Continue reading

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