Monday, October 15, 2012

The Age in Which We Live

E and I went camping with some friends from church a few weeks ago, and while there I was reminded of the bit done by comedian Louis CK; his thesis was "everything is amazing, and nobody is happy." I think it's incredible that our lives are so great that we don't have to worry about getting enough food; in fact, our lives are so amazingly good we have to worry about having too much food! In fact, our lives are so good we have to be intentional about making them harder and less pleasurable by eating healthier and exercising. I hate exercising, but I need to do it in order to stay healthy because I live in a society where I sit in front of a computer all day and can eat as much food as I want. I have to do something I hate because my life has too much awesome in it. That's incredible!

Speaking of food, how incredible is it that we can have any meal that we could ever desire at our fingertips. Feel like Chinese food? Sushi and Japanese cuisine? Italian? Thai? Mediterranean? Easy. A hundred or two hundred years ago, these cuisines would exist for us only as rumors!  Now, there are a billion recipes online for us to make it ourselves, and, thanks to the miracles of modern travel and a shrinking world, we could go around the corner and have it prepared for us by someone from that culture if we are feeling kind of lazy (or exhausted from an 8 hour workday of typing emails and dialing phone numbers).

Everything's amazing! Amazing! So, I'm going to go home and be happy tonight.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bifrost Arts

People used to buy cd's. I used to buy cd's when I was in college. Every other week when I got paid, I'd go and buy a cd or two. I'd spend the the next two weeks reading music magazines and researching which cd I was going to buy next payday. I consumed a lot of music and was always trying to stay just ahead of the masses.

Then I graduated. And got a real job. And became a real adult. Staying ahead of curve just stopped being important. I still consume music, but it's more about working my backwards than it is about moving forward. So, I haven't kept abreast with a lot of the new music, but some friends got me an iTunes gift card for Christmas (thanks, Sprouls!); it was fun to look around again for some new music. I ended up getting an album from an organization, Bifrost Arts.

I came across them because I was looking for music from David Bazan and saw that he performed on this album. And it was a great concept: musicians who, for the most part, achieved success in the secular realm performing hymns. Seeing Damien Jurado performing on the album was icing on the cake. I'm not trying to review it. I'll just say I like it, but what I find interesting is what Bifrost Arts are about. Here's a video to give you an insight.

I've got a few more things I'd like to write about, but, for right now, check out the video and tell me your thoughts.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

También la Lluvia

Elizabeth and I watched Even the Rain (También la Lluvia) Tuesday night. E works with a Christian non-profit, Servant Partners, that works with urban poor doing community development and church planting. Several of her colleagues recommended the movie to her and I can see why. I'm not going to review it for you, but you can read more about it here if you want, but, basically, it is a movie within a movie; Gael Garcia Bernal's character was inspired to make a film after reading the sermon of Antonio de Montesinos, where he confronted his flock over their unchristian treatment of the natives:

This voice declares that you are in mortal sin, and live and die therein by reason of the cruelty
and tyranny that you practice on these innocent people. Tell me, by what right or justice do you hold
these Indians in such cruel and horrible slavery?... Are they not men? Do they not have rational souls? Are you not bound to love them as you love yourselves? How can you lie in such profound and lethargic slumber?

When the opportunity comes in the film for the crew to help the locals in their time of need, most fail to do so. And they have very understandable reasons, but it's very frustrating for the audience to watch. And then you realize that is a perfect picture of us. We all have so many very understandable and valid reasons not to help our brothers and sisters, not to love them as we love ourselves, to lie in profound and lethargic slumber. I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but I want to make 2012 a year where I was awake to the needs of my brothers and sisters. Lord, help me to do it!

The Great Helmsman

The other day Elizabeth and I were walking around the Crate and Barrel when I saw a hipster walking around with his lady-friend; he had a messenger bag slung over his shoulder with a graphic of Mao Zedong. Maybe it's the history major in me, but it made me very upset. Either a) he doesn't know or care who's face it is or b) he believes his Maoist politics need to be immediately evident to everyone who sees his bag. Seeing as how he was shopping for a fancy new knife set with his lady in Crate and Barrel, the veritable high altar of capitalism, I'd say he isn't a Marxist-Maoist. Then he must just be totally ignorant of the fact that Maoist repressions and policies are responsible for the death of, literally, MILLIONS of people. Or he's a big fan of Mao's more violent policies and those cheap Target knife sets just don't have the quality he needs for the repressions he's planning.

So, if this gentleman's grasp of history is bad, he should at least have a better grasp of the Beatles: "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't goin' to make it with anyone anyhow."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Proverbs 14:34

"Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people."

I noticed this verse while I was in Germany. I was walking around a small town with friends when we saw a monument to victims of the Nazi regime, with Prov. 14:34 featured prominently. I was living in Russia at the time, and I was struck by the different attitudes toward history that Germans and Russians have. The Nazi regime is estimated to have killed 11 million people as a result of their policies; Germany lost a war and were forced to deal with their history. Let's switch to Russia, where the policies of Joseph Stalin resulted in the death of upwards of 40 million. But the Soviet Union didn't lose a war. The government changed. And who made up the government? Former Communist party bosses and KGB officers. Consequently, Russians have never had to confront their own history the way Germans have, and, in my opinion, that is to their detriment. 

I came across an article about this book, and I wanted to shout, "Yes! That's it!" the whole time. You can check out the article about It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Angriest Man in Claremont

A long time ago I read the novel How to Be Good by Nick Hornby. In it, one of the main characters, David, is a journalist whose column was entitled "The Angriest Man in Holloway." I'd say that's a dream of mine, to get paid to rant.

Since I don't have a newspaper column, and since my wife/co-workers/friends wouldn't hang out with me if I ranted all the time, I guess this blog has become the repository of many of those rants. Maybe I'll change the name to "The Angriest Man in Claremont."

I Heard the Bells Pt. II

On the drive up to Redding for Thanksgiving Jameson, Elizabeth, and I played a little game to keep ourselves awake while driving through Merced County at 3 AM: Christmas Carol Bingo. It all started from a question about top three Christmas songs. We then found a Christmas station and it became a game of rooting for one of your selections to play.

Lessons learned from listening to Christmas stations from 3-8 AM:
1. I don't really like Christmas stations because they only play interminable Christmas crap. (see Lesson Learned #2)
2. "Sleigh Bells," "Winter Wonderland," and/or "All I Want for Christmas is You" (and their various renditions) can be heard every other song. This is no exaggeration.
3. "Last Christmas" by George Michael goes on 3 minutes longer than it needs to (some might argue it goes 4:30 longer than it needs to, but I'm feeling charitable).