Monthly Archives: April 2017

New Acquisition

I’ve become kind of fascinated with the resurrection subject. Seems the most in-depth book I could come across is NT Wright’s Resurrection of the Son of God (it’s a nice 740 pages in length as well!). Of course I should seek a case for the prosecution as well. Having a hard time pinning one of those down. And I have a hard time pinning down mature books on either side of the aisle. Seems all too frequent either one is written with the ease expected of an audience that is already on one side of the argument or the other.

Now a few years ago it would have been unthinkable for me to become interested in such a subject. But since I indulged in a philosophy for years from a woman who claimed to have come up with it in her first memory of herself…well, what’s a little resurrection?


The Case for Christ

I went to see a Christian movie! Does that sound unnatural to say as if it were something of a dare or something so unprecedented as to be worthy of declaration?

Well, it is a little of both really. With the exception of religious based classics of the 50’s and 60’s, most films since that time are ham-fisted embarrassments. I say that as when I was an atheist and I say it now (I should note I am as shitty at religion as I was at atheism – I am, however, a professional ass). I love the classic religious films, Charlton Heston classics Ben-Hur (not the remake!) The Ten Commandments (not the remake!) Quo Vadis (although the book was vastly superior) A Man For All Seasons and some others.

One of my favorites is Jesus of Nazareth from 1977, mostly because Robert Powell nailed it so perfectly. It was, as far as I can tell, the last of its kind. I contrast this film with the miniseries The Bible from 2013. Particularly bad was the New Testament parts where Eddie Vedder, I mean Jesus Christ (or was it the singer from Creed?) comes out of the boat with gleaming white teeth a happy smile for the kiddies ready to be everyone’s special little buddy. I call it the Delta Dental of Bethlehem Bible Special… Tinggg! To paraphrase Vin Diesel (from a trailer for what I’m sure was totally retarded XXX) “Tonight, I might be crucified, but at least I’ll look hot doing it!”

Anyway, The Case for Christ wasn’t intended to be any of those movies as it is based on a true story as told by Lee Strobel. It is basically his story of how he investigated the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and how he became convinced of its truth. The interesting part of the story is what motivated him to begin the investigation.

SPOILERS!!!

Basically his wife, after a traumatic scare involving their young daughter, starts to turn to Christianity and faith. The couple were committed atheists. The husband rebels against this most strongly, vehemently. He is seeking a way to “save” his wife, and their marriage, from ruin. This may seem strange to some, but to some atheists leaving the fold can seem exactly like apostasy. And I’ve seen some people convert (or at least purport to convert) who turned into worse people than before they went in.

This was, to Strobel, the worst thing that could happen to their marriage so he seeks the advice of a colleague at the Tribune (he was a reporter) who was Christian how he should deal with this. The colleague, who is confident Strobel won’t win, tells him if wants to bring down Christianity it all rests on the Resurrection. As Paul said also, if that falls, the faith is in vain. Strobel takes this challenge head-on.

Without giving away the whole pie (and proceeding to do so anyway, as the spoiler sign was already posted) Strobel loses his challenge also suffering a deep personal tragedy along the way, and ends up coming to the faith as his wife did shortly before.

What was interesting, fascinating – to me anyway, was not so much Strobel’s investigation (although that was interesting as well, for instance, I had never heard of the “swoon theory” before this) but the conflict between the husband and wife. It was very well acted and didn’t even feel like it belonged on a smaller screen which sometimes these movies feel they need. That is probably because we’ve been led to expect giant boom booms! and nothing else for so long.

One aspect of this that is worthy of note is how easily this could have been any number of different films. It really pivoted on the actions and choices of the wife. He treated her change of heart as if she were being led down some dark alley of occultism. And that could have been a movie (it is probably several already) if this wasn’t based on a true story. If he were trying to save her from the cult of Jim Jones, the husband becomes a hero and all sympathy is with him. But, unless you are staunch atheist, the sympathy in the film is not with him, but her.

Because to someone who takes their atheism seriously (most of the one’s I have personally known – and probably myself included, but I just don’t know because I never even contemplated Strobel’s dilemma before my atheism wilted but, probably, most likely I’d be just such an ass – let’s say for now probably 70% likelihood of ass-ness) your wife or husband converting, even to a simple, local parish IS JONESTOWN! It is all the same, and you look upon it with all the incredulity as if your adult wife or husband were suddenly, and seriously, writing letters to Santa Clause.

What the fuck is wrong with you?! Have you completely lost your mind? Have you been a coward this whole time? So, you are just going to throw way your reason!? It’s a f***ing cult, are you blind!?

I know that reaction. I’ve reflexed that reaction (not on my wife, she’s still pure atheist) on people in the past even if I wasn’t too terribly aggressive. And I’ve seen milder versions of that reaction since I started carrying religious texts along with me the last couple years. One year at NORWESCON I took the Catechism of the Catholic Church with me for break time reading and a friend of mine seeing it said “yeew, yuck!” Without even knowing my reason for reading it nor, I’d bet, knowing a single word in the text.

To the committed atheist, no differences matter, it is all the same. Same, but all things are not equal. I’ve never heard a story of a wife or husband flipping out because one of them became Buddhist. So she lights up a little incense, stretches and chants twenty minutes every morning? It’s a little hokey but hey, I still eat Fruit Loops in the morning, so who’s to judge?

Got to get ready for work. Good film.


STAR WARS VIII THE LAST JEDI

With the last installment from the mind of no-imagination J.J. Abrams making me nostalgic for the Star Wars prequels, I have No Hope for this movie. Even though I will take myself to the theater to see it.

I am not even providing a link to the new trailer. I have no real interest in seeing Mary Sue do EVERYTHING. How one explains away all the ridiculous shit Abrams put in the last installment is beyond me. My bet is, judging from the trailer, the new director and screenwriter said, “screw it, she found Luke Skywalker, she’s on the planet, we’ll just trust the audience to gloss over any “technicalities.”

The “technicalities” here consist of some of the worst story writing ever put to film. Abrams likes (or he is grotesquely incompetent) to “reboot” franchises by breaking all the rules already established by the franchise. That, however, you cannot do. You can do everything else, but the rules of the invented world are what constitute it’s verisimilitude. If Jason (Friday the 13th) can take a hatchet through his skull and still come after you, a bullet in the gut is not allowed to take him out. You, dear viewer, may balk at the unreality of his surviving the hatchet to the skull in the first place, but if you accept it then a rule has been set – nothing less than that can stop him.

The character of the girl in Abram’s Star Wars (unlike the George Lucas movies, including the prequels, I can’t remember the names of Abrams characters) acquires a complete set of Jedi skills in that film – with no knowledge, no training, without even a knowledge of a thing such as the Force. The rule is – only a long process of merciless training from a master will give you the skill to go fighting with a lightsaber against a baddie (or JJ Abrams spoiled teenager stand it.. Kylo – what a douchebag emo name). That was established in The Empire Strikes Back.

Abrams shouldn’t be allowed out of a movie set concession stand. How anyone let this guy behind a camera is beyond me. If the new director or screenwriter can fart his way out the galactic sized plot holes from the previous movie, I will consider him a writing wizard.


This Catechism is Tough!

A few months ago I restarted my online catechism class after a two year break for school.

These Catholics are real ballbusters! One subject, out of seventy-nine subjects (I think it was the Transfiguration lesson) had seventy-four pages of online reading material. This consisted of sermons from Church fathers such as St. Augustine, sometimes a modern homily around the subject, biblical passages, material from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, The Baltimore Catechism (which I think had to have been for children). And then, usually to top it off, questions from Aquinas’ Summa. And that last ain’t easy reading. And then, for at least the Gospels and Life of Christ module, two chapter’s from Bishop Fulton Sheen’s The Life of Christ.

This last is usually a pleasure for the man wrote as he spoke, which is to say, superbly.

But, moly, you’d be almost an expert after all of this, no? How is any Catholic ignorant after going through all of this?


Today Starts the Day

When I make a serious study of poetry, that is! I am using Laurence Perrine’s Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry Eleventh Edition. I went with a later edition for cost purposes, I hope I don’t regret that choice. As frequent readers have probably heard me say before – I hold older is better as we approach the terminal retardation levels portrayed in Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. It seems it retains one of the authors that was present on earlier editions with Perrine, and browsing through the list of poets, seems to cover mostly the classics.

I found no entries “analyzing” Ziggy Ho’ Doggs Where ‘Dem White Hoe’s At? Nor anything discussing the deep meaning of the “song” Pimp Juice (yes, kiddies that’s a “song”). They did oust the limerick in this edition, but I think we can get by.

This should be fun. I have read poetry in the past and have even dabbled in constructing a few. However I simply read them straight through, if it appealed to me, I liked it, if not, not. If I understood it, I would be prone to like it, if not, not.

This, I am sure is the most common approach to poetry. Life is short, etc, etc.

I finished the first little section earlier. It starts with a poem called THE EAGLE by Tennyson which is a great one to start with because it is quite straightforward, is singular in subject and it is short.

The next one is WINTER by Shakespeare. I found myself having to go to the dictionary on the second line. “And Dick the shepherd blows his nail.” He does what? So I had to look up and see alternative definitions for nail. Still not sure specifically what this means. It is supposed to be a winter image since the poem consists of a series of images of English country winter. Oh, and the hoot of the owl!

Poems this old represent a different level of challenge; greasy Joan keels the Continue reading


I Don’t Get It

Found this article over at STRANGE NOTIONS. I was an atheist until I read Lord of the Rings.

Wait. What?

I have heard this statement before. I do not understand it. Tolkein has God, and Christianity in particular, so far buried in his tome it fails to produce even an intimation of an afterglow of the cross in one’s eye.

I never played DnD before I read Lord of the Rings. Now that is a statement I understand. I never got into fantasy before I read LOTR. Got it. I became a Christian after reading LOTR.

Wait. What?


MULTIPLE THIRD PERSON SUBJECTIVE – OR WHAT WAS THE JANITOR DOING WHEN KENNEDY WAS SHOT?

[Note: As part of my resolution to focus my life and mind on my writing, so too will this site reflect that. Gone, for the most part, will be social commentary, and other buggerboos that really mean little in the great expanse of time. Occasional things that I find neat-o, book acquisitions and the like will still be included. Although I am cutting back also on the pics with the posts. I just don’t have the time to make it all pretty. Besides, the subject is writing, not pictures!]

I was reading a little article on the multiple third person subjective POV. POV is an inexhaustible subject. There are just so many applications and uses possible. It is almost akin to talking keys in music.

This is simple random thoughts on the subject.

Part of the gist of this article was how not to confuse the reader with multiple POV’s. This would be like switching unintentionally in the middle of a scene, or giving information in the middle of a scene that we could only get if the POV had switched but it didn’t. Or simply switching the POV so frequently that the reader gets lost keeping track of who he is seeing the story through.

All of that is pretty basic stuff. But it occurs to me that I haven’t seen much serious play with perspective. That could be my limited experience or writers don’t fool around with rules as much as they could. Comedy uses experimental devices in perspective for certain effect – like a skit on the Death Star cafeteria or Darth Vader’s shoe shiner – things like that.

But I wonder about other applications. How about a story told from multiple third person subjective with unreliable narrators. Let’s say each perspective is a narrator who is a liar. But each lie or omission of their story paints a truth that is greater than the sum of their accounts.

How about a normal story with a few MTPS’s but with scenes that suddenly move, at important moments, to the man behind the deli counter at a mob assassination.

I’m not suggesting experimentation for the simple acrobatics of it (although writing should be fun and if you want to try it, why not?) or to nihilistic ends. I can see a trap where this could be easily put to undermining ends. A romance seen from the perspective of a flea infested dog, or a habitually masturbating warlock in the closet.

Of course, the man behind the deli counter doesn’t have to remain a peripheral character either. Perhaps his introduction is as a peripheral character witnessing a central event that brings him gravitationally into the center of events or even the mover of events. And perhaps the central mover of events is cast out of orbit to be a deli counter man.

It suddenly occurs to me why most time travel stories I have read are either first person, or single third person objective. Can you imagine (and if there already is one please tell me!) a science fiction story with time traveling shape-shifters told from unreliable MTPS POV’s.

Hmmm.


2017 Hugo Award Finalists

TOR has up the list of 2017 Hugo finalists. Stranger Things is definitely my choice in the Best Dramatic Presentation category. Good storytelling, classic style science fiction, little 80’s injection and a little X-Files. What’s not to love?

The boldest entry by far is ALIEN STRIPPER BONED FROM BEHIND BY THE T-REX by Stix Hiscock.

I need a screen guard for my computer as I had a mouthful of coffee when I was reading this list and came to this title. This is much more brave and daring than last year’s SPACE RAPTOR BUTT INVASION by Dr. CHUCK TINGLE.

It is further play upon the Hugo nomination (and win? I can’t remember) of IF YOU WERE A DINOSAUR, MY LOVE by Rachel somebody or other a few years ago. A nomination (or win? can’t remember) that was wholly undeserved. By its nomination practically anything qualified to be nominated. And ALIEN STRIPPER BONED FROM BEHIND BY THE T-REX by Stix Hiscock is living proof!

I fear that by next year IF YOU WERE A DINOSAUR, MY LOVE by Rachel Swirsky will be too far in the past and a newer title should be played upon. I personally like my idea of playing on John Scalzi’s newest, THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE. Mine would be THE COLLAPSING COLON by PETER POLYP.

However, I have no idea of the quality of Scalzi’s novel, so I can’t in justice mock it.

Comment #15 in the comments section below on the TOR finalist link shows just what is wrong with a vast number of people in the field. I’ll reproduce the comment below.

Just realized:

Best Novel – One male, one transgender, and four female authors. That’s impressive!

Why is that impressive? According to this person the goal of the Hugo award is not to represent the best that the field has to offer in a single year, but the widest cross-section of possible “genders” “sexual orientations” and races.

WARNING WRONGTHINK AHEAD BE WARNED!

That sentiment is a sweltering heap of shit. I personally don’t care if every single nominee every single year was a regular at a San Fransisco bathhouse as long as the stories were the best stories out there. As an honest patron of all things science fiction and fantasy (and of anything else for that matter) I don’t care two donkey shitz about the author I read. I don’t care if you are male, female, gay, have an attraction to used jogger’s socks. I care about the story. If that resulted in year after year of all white males winning, so be it. If it resulted in all black females winning year after year, so be it. To actually know whether an author I am reading was once a man and is now a woman, is a level of detail that I am likely not to find out on my own.

That comment above is a declaration that the person is not interested in science fiction or fantasy, but in political ends. That person is not interested in the best story. What is impressive about one male, one transgender, and four female authors? What is inherent in that in relation to the quality of the stories? Can I judge, at all, the quality of the works from this sort of consensus line-up? What if they were all white males?

No! This is pure drivel. These are the same biased douchebags that get all in a snit if there are too many white males (or just males) in a category. How do you know that is a bad thing? Since there is no correlation between the sex of the author, orientation of the author, or the race of the author and the quality of a work, then it is simply racism, sexism, orientationalism, transgenderism – i.e., biased political correctness.