Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Also, watch for spoilers. I'm all about the spoilers!


(Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)

2007's Best Picture Oscar-winner No Country for Old Men was certainly a worthy contender for the title. I was impressed with the storytelling, in that it really didn't have to depend on anything outside of its storytelling. What I mean is that this movie will never become dated because it didn't rely on its setting or any CGI or gimmicks or even unnecessary dialog, but purely on the tale it told. The acting was really terrific; not once did I feel like I was watching a movie. By the way, I don't think I've ever been more frightened by a villain than I was by Anton Chigurh. In general, very out of the box, well done, and thrilling film.

But then I got to the end. Or at least I suspect I did because credits started rolling. There was absolutely no resolution, and I had no idea what the film was trying to say. If I was to take a stab at it, it had something to do with life being a cosmic imbalance of freewill and chance, and that often there's simply nothing we can do against pain and injustice. It's just inevitable. I think a glimmer of hope was hinted at in the closing lines, but without seeing that hope manifested, it's hardly satisfactory. I guess satisfaction wasn't the point.

It's nice to know that, in truth, Good and evil will all unbalance out in the end.

All in all, I enjoyed it and feel glad I watched it. If you consider yourself a film connoisseur, you may want to check it out too. Beware brutal violence and a smidgen of language.

4/5 stars


Above: Me. I kill you.

I've Been Punk'd!!

First off, I woke up with my hair like this this morning:



Of course, as usual, I woke up five minutes before class and was too busy trying to find clean clothes than to worry about my hair. But everyone 'round these parts seems to think I'm just trying to be a punk. No one appreciates cool hair anymore.

In other news, I'm done with all my reading for this year, and in celebration have decided not to read anything ever again.

I guess thta means I wo'ntbe editting my posts anymore.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

3:52

I post to you from 3:52 AM.

I totaled up some stuff. I realized I may still be able to pass that class I thought I was failing if I do stuff. So I stayed up night and did stuff. Then smarter 3AM brain kicked in and realized I did math wrong. The chances are actually still pretty slim, but there's still that narrow li'l chance.

No matter what happens, I just don't ever want to say that I gave up.


Avobe: Me, not give up.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ironically, This Post Started Out About How Uneasy I Feel About Posting

Bad news, everybody. It's been really windy the past couple days. Windy as in cold. Cold as in unproductive. I plowed through some major reading today, anyhow, but I still feel as if I got nothing accomplished. Eight days now, and I just want it to all be over...

[transition]

So, I'm one week in, and already I'm having doubts about all this blogging business. I mean, this was supposed to be the hilarious, feel-good weblog of the year. But so far I've just used it as a vehicle for whining and forced contemplation. After the Festival of Faith and Writing especially, I really just want to write, but I'm afraid I may be overdoing it a bit. I mean, I could just journal for self, but somehow I just don't feel motivated to do that at all. I'm self-centered enough that I have to be sure to show those around me how interesting my thoughts are and how freaking creative I am.

But am I being too open? Really, who wants to hear how unhappy I am? How lonely I am? But I don't want to pretend like I'm happy either; I think that's an awful way to go through life. The only option that leaves is sitting in a corner, being as quiet as I can, trying to act as if I don't have an opinion at all. Which I have been doing for a long time... It's no wonder I'm so unhappy...

So am I not open enough? (Show of hands, who wants to hear more about my love life?) I hate being open 'cause most people never seem to know how to respond. Sometimes, I suspect they think I'm being fake. But doesn't that just make me paranoid? Maybe they'll just hate me no matter what I tell them. But these are the kinds of things I think, which I really don't want to share. As I've mentioned before, I suspect that I'm going a little insane. Even if not, no doubt I'm over-analytical. It'd be nice to look at someone someday and just be able to think absolutely nothing about them at all.

There are a billion different rabbit trails I could go down right now (probably closer to three), but I'm going to go down this one:

"Can Christians Tell the Truth?" That was the title of one of the sessions I attended at the Festival of Faith and Writing. Lectures were given by Leslie Leyland Fields, Debra Rienstra, and Vinita Hampton Wright (don't worry, I'm sure those names mean as much to you as they did to me). I won't go into what all of them said, but in short, they agreed we have to tell the truth.

Just the day before, I heard a Christian woman on the radio, telling the story of her husband's tragic death. She cheerfully rattled off the gory details of what led up to him writhing on their driveway, tacking on "but God has just been so faithful through it all." (Er... Not bad... It was the way she said it) She then proceeded to push her new cookbook. Now, I'm sure she was masking a lot of pain... but if she insists on telling the tale, why hide the hurt? It's sickening, really. It cheapens Christianity. When you accept Jesus as your personal Savior, you'll never hurt again. Nay! If anything, the pain becomes greater in this life, but we have such great hope! Even Jesus was described as "a man of sorrows," experienced incredible pain throughout his life, and never blissfully ignored it!

It just ticks me off, because this has become such a common attitude! In fact, this is one of my chief complaints about Emmaus. First semester, my pessimism was starting to wear off a bit and I thought I was finally making some friends. So I went to sit next to one of said "friends" at dinner. She asks me how I am, and nonchalantly I respond, "I've been better." Dead serious, and without batting an eye, she scolds, "James, we have Jesus." Actually, this one of the defining moments of my Emmaus experience. At this point, I realized that I had no friends. At this point I realized how deeply I hate Emmaus. (FYI - I did make some really good friends later in the year; no worries.)

Why do Christians insist it has to be this way? Why do we think we have to pretty up salvation and sell it? We're sinners bound for an unyielding lake of fire and Yahweh loves us so much that He came and took our place. I'm pretty sure that can stand on its own. In fact, when we pretend that there's no pain, it makes us seem inhuman. It's detrimental to our testimonies. People can sense such a huge gaping crater of a lie from a mile away and will just end up running in the opposite direction.

So, yeah, Christians have to tell the truth. And I'll keep striving to get better at honest communication. So you'll read my crappy emo posts whether you like it or not! (You could also stop reading.)

Oh, crap... This turned out much heavier than I wanted it to be... Ahhh! Quick! Post something funny!


Above: Me, funny.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

ATTENTION

I'm self-conscious.

Return to your homes.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sunshine

As part of my philanthropic blogging services, I'd like to share a bit more of what I've been watching, listening to, playing, and reading (someday I will read a book!). And, of course, no post would be complete without my over-analytical comments. Tonight's film:

(Danny Boyle, 2007)

Actually, I don't remember hearing hardly anything about Sunshine as it was coming out, and no one (that I knew) seemed to be paying particular attention to it. If it wasn't for my love of 28 Days Later (same director, same writer, same star, even same composer) it probably would have completely passed me by. But I'm pretty glad I caught this one.

Robert "Jim" Capa (Cillian "Jim" Murphy) and a team of seven other astronauts are responsible for restoring our dying sun after the first team has inexplicably failed and disappeared. They are mankind's last hope (which you know I'm a sucker for), but of course, as with any space thriller, problems continually arise and their mission becomes harder and harder to carry out.

Frankly, there's nothing that thought-provoking here; it was just a fun movie. The effects were excellent, by the way. Still... there's something valuable to me in this movie, and I think it's the same thing I found in 28 Days Later. In Days, the main character Jim isn't anyone special or important, but he really mans up throughout the movie and by the end is taking down everyone he has to in order to protect the two girls entrusted into his care. In Sunshine, the crew has to overcome a lot of strife, misfortune, and even their own accumulating insanity. It was so thrilling to watch how hard Capa drove himself to carry out what he had to do. For me, these movies fit perfectly into John Eldridge's theory of the three desires of every male heart: adventure, battle, and a beauty to rescue. So seeing them played out before me in such a well done film certainly gets me excited.

All in all, you wouldn't be missing out on anything huge if you skipped it, but it's worth watching if you want to be entertained.

4/5 stars


Above: Me as Cillian Murphy as Jim as Robert Capa

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More Math, More Disappointment

The results are IN!!

Your first year at Emmaus, you are given two tests at the beginning of the year. One is a test of your Bible "knowledge." Was Ahab a wicked king or a good king? What region was the Euphrates river located in? Stuff like that. The other is really more of a survey... Its questions assess your prayer life, your fellowship, your ministry, etcetera. Then they give you the same two tests at the end of the year, so you can compare how much you've grown.

In Bible trivia, I got a higher score by 24%. That's pretty good, I think.

But, on the spiritual growth survey, my categories dropped, on average, by 11.5%. The most dramatic drop was 25%. Yeesh! Now, others who saw their scores drop said they think they overrated themselves on the first test, but... I don't know... I tried to be very fair and unbiased taking the assessment both times. And even if that was the case, what does that mean? That Emmaus has made us all a little humbler? Or did it just make us all feel a little guiltier?

I'm sorry; I don't mean to whine so much, but I do feel overexorted. And I'm disappointed that I myself have let my spiritual life sink like that, and I hope it won't slip much further. Mind you, I was coming off the Elim mountain-top experience when I took the first test. But at this point in the year, I'm just... tired.

It just seems to me that the Bible trivia test was just kinda silly... I mean, I guess it would be impressive to meet someone who knows all those minute details, but I don't think an unbeliever is ever going to corner me and demand to know who Crispus was (a believer mentioned twice in the New Testament, not to be confused with Crispus Attucks). I would have much rather gotten a healthy increase in my spiritual maturity and I think when you're well established in your Bible devotions, the "trivia" will follow.

Again, I'm sorry for complaining (I guess not that sorry since I ended up posting this).

I'm reaping what I have sown. Remind me to sow a bit more next time.

...maybe it's just because I didn't get to see the sun once today...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Math

I'm beginning to notice a direct correlation between two of my least favorite things: homework and despair. I smell conspiracy.

After a great weekend with my Mom at the Festival of Faith and Writing, I came back to beautiful spring weather and began to feel a lot of anxiety wear off. For two days, I actually felt pretty happy. But the second I decided to do homework, my happiness was shattered. In mathematical terms:



video
Above: Me, doing homework.

This is most unfortunate. However, I have discovered that doing homework outside in the beautiful weather makes it much more bearable! By some mathematical miracle:


Incredible!

Actually, it would seem my grades are looking pretty grim. I may not get this certificate after all... But as I've thought about it... So what? I really didn't come for a certificate, and I can't see it ever being of any use to me. I came here because I thought a Bible school would magically make me into a better a Christian. Closer to Jesus, better grounded in the Word, well-equipped to lead and to serve. That certainly hasn't happened magically, but I do think I've grown. In fact, the class I have the worst grade in, I've gotten the most out of. Funny how that works.

Nevertheless,

Certificate or no certificate, I'm not done yet. I will (as Christians so zealously overuse)

"PRESS ON."

...ack... it's supposed to rain tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Am Art/ I Am Artist

Art has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks. Beauty in the natural world has always stood out to me. For a while there, I think I lost sight of it, but now that spring is back and the year is coming to a close, a bit of perspective's coming back to me.

It's embarrassing to try to put what I've been thinking into words, but it's like I have this heightened sensitivity to beauty around me. In the weirdest sense. For instance, last night I could see something special in the night sky, just above the city lights and just below where the stars came into view. It was as if there was something waiting for me beyond the horizon. Or take the feeling of a cool breeze on a warm spring day. It makes me feel as if someone's calling to me from far away. So I think I'm probably going a little insane. Blame it on Emmaus.


Above: Me, as art.

But lo! Last night I was relating all this to my dear friend Connie (with less insanity, I hope), and even this morning she pointed out these words to me:

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard."

The more I think about it, the less insane it seems that the night sky and the winds of spring might be talking to me. God has created beauty all around us, and beauty speaks.

Only a few years back, I was asking the question "what is art?" Yet now I find myself asking, "What isn't art?" It seems like everything God has made has something to say. What's more, He imparted even to us the ability to create, and it seems to me that everything we create has something to say, even if it exists for practical purposes.

Even what we create seems to glorify God in that it cannot be built outside what He has created. For instance, we cannot build a skyscraper apart from physics. Music is another good example. God created the notes and let's us discover the chords. Though we are allowed the creativity, God has already created all the possibilities of sounds to be played.

But the fact remains that we live in a world of corruption. Natural disaster, war, hate, everything gives you cancer. So then it is the artist's job to pull light and beauty out of darkness and despair. In this, he glorifies God.

Even to the unbeliever can the artist give hope, just in reminding him that there is beauty. I speak not only of the Christian artist, but also the secular. Creating beauty, they glorify. Some may even blaspheme in their work, but I think that the fact that they are searching for beauty deserves some merit.

Even Satan, who tries to distract us from the beauty of Yahweh, is being used to bring glory to Yahweh. Even in that contrast is beauty.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Sun Came Back

I really want to write in my newfound blog... But I'm afraid I don't have much to say.


Above: Me, with little to say.

Today was such a beautiful day! Unfortunately, that's bad news for my studies. In addition to sleeping through my first class and through chapel, I spent the majority of the afternoon wandering about outside, just hanging out with good friends. Then the evening... Then the night...

Ah, but it's all good. With the sun back, I'm beginning to feel happy again! Everything is beautiful; even the air smells so wonderful. I didn't get a thing done today, but at least I enjoyed the day. Actually, I don't think the next two weeks are going to be that bad... Assuming I don't have to study, that is...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Here I Am

After many failed attempts,

I've come crawling back to the blogging craze like a paraplegic zombie drags its torn corpse to warm flesh.

My life is boring and I'm a pretty bland person. Join me as I venture into the mediocrity of everyday life and confront the horrors of my ongoing identity crisis.


Above: Me, having fun.

My thoughts are bad like my grammar too.