Tuesday, March 15, 2011

VikingJesus: Where and When?

This week saw (at least internally) a transition as to what the VikingJesus columns should be.

The inception of my VikingJesus column entitled "Prologue" was meant to be a sort-of engrossing intro to the topic of truth (maybe we can call it epistemology? -- I'm not sure about that, as my aims were meant to be much less philosophical than a systemized, exhaustive discussion of how truth is known/discovered), that would be somewhat quick-and-easy. This week's column is certainly not that (read it HERE).

A quick overview of my weekly column will quickly show that each week I am becoming longer winded (well - this week was about the same word-count wise as last week, but it's subject matter is less readable and more pedantic, so it feels longer).

The truth is, anything longer written than a paragraph is simply too long for introductions. People that come to the column will have to already consider themselves invested in the content if they are actually going to read through it.

The conclusion then spills out that the column is not going to attract people unless they already have a deep understanding and empathy for what I'm trying to lay out.

That's not going to happen.

So, although the mechanism isn't yet in place, I know see the column as a STAGE TWO. This would be for the person who already is interested, and can't get enough. Therefore, if it functions as informational cocaine to a new addict, it should be as long and exhaustive as I can bear to make it. The sky is the limit for length and content.

This is a bit of a tricky concept, and entirely theoretical. There are no current info-addicts, for the hook hasn't yet been devised... but there's a plan afoot!

Words on a screen won't do the job.


Another way is needed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Comfort Films: Cloverfield

I could really insert any giant monster film here, but Cloverfield is my personal favorite of the lot (although my love for Godzilla knew no bounds between my seventh and tenth years of existence on this earth).

Sure, a ton of people die. Well, actually, pretty much everyone dies. How can that be comforting?

It's quite simple... so simple in fact, that I need to borrow from my old pal Soren Kierkegaard to make my point.

Once upon a time, a few measly years before his own death, ol' Kierks wrote a book entitled Sickness Unto Death. Now, if I were an astute, handsomer fellow, I'd take the time to talk about Kierkegaard's writing style and the fact that he wrote most of his stuff under different names, so that understanding whether Kierkegaard actually believed what his character pseudonym wrote is quite a mind-bending experience in and of itself, but since I am not an astute, handsomer fellow, and since this is a write-up about comfort rather than intellectual fidelity, I'm not going to broach that subject matter. I'll just assume that my buddy Kierks wrote in earnest... anyway... where was I? Ah yes, the sickness!

What is the Sickness that kills us all, according to old man Soren? Despair. Kierkegaard argues that everyone, and he most certainly means EVERYONE, is bound to despair relentlessly in this life. Even if you think you are fine and dandy, you are really despairing, and because you are unaware of your despair, Kierks would say you're really far away from getting rid of that there despair.

I listened to a podcast about this book, and the philosopher dudes discussing the topic seemed to universally find Kierkegaard's premise repugnant. They all adamantly defended their content. Okay. If they want to hold onto that belief, I won't stand in their way. All I can say is that as for me, I am often brought to a condition that I think could be labeled despair. I think Scripture's got my back on this one too:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.    Romans 8:22-23
 Inward groaning: that's the spot. That's the sensation. That's the reality.

Yet, despite the apparent universality of groanings going around, life continues to spin as usual. The world turns and people go about their business, as if they are not groaning from the inside out.

Giant monsters change everything. They are the perfect manifestation of the inward groaning. The groaning keeps messaging me from within, chanting, "Something's gotta give, something's gotta give, something's gotta give." Well dear friends, when a giant lizard rampages through central park, I'd say the something just gave.

I recall reading that Godzilla was born out of fear and remorse. Godzilla wrecked havoc on Tokyo in 1954, just long enough for Japan to internalize, calculate, and make manifest the horror of being nuked. Godzilla is the harbinger of judgment. He is an incalculable monstrosity that wages vengeance upon Japan for some unspeakable sin. No other nation in the world knows what it's like to have whole cities eviscerated in an instant. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are unknowable experiences from any foreigner's vantage point. Japan meditated on it, and out comes this giant lizard of doom.

Reason tells us that the inner groaning can't stay forever. It will break us or it will be somehow taken from us. It's much easier to imagine a breaking of our reality than a rebuilding.

You know what else is beautiful about Giant Creatures attacking humanity? It brings us together. People in general become loving, as we are all bonded against a common enemy.

Cloverfield is particularly awesome in that the creature doesn't have a simple biological architecture. Even by the end of the film, it's hard to describe what the beast looks like.

Perhaps this little ditty tonight didn't make any sense. I don't much care if it did. The point of these comfort films discussions is not to be brilliant and groundbreaking. I just like snuggling up to my prehistoric-alien monsters and feeling all warm inside.
And to think of it -- God is so much bigger than Godzilla, standing on the shoulders of King Kong who is being carried by Mothra. So. Much. Bigger.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Comfort Films: Away We Go

Of late my desire to delve deep into the annals of moviedom to find gems of meaning and grit has abandoned me. I just don't seem to have the energy or will to invest in new stories at the moment. In frankness, my desire to write has also momentarily been quenched.

What has been driving me, is a yearning for the known; a continuous inner summons to sip from the familiar.

So, I portend to start a new little ditty on this here blog talking about why I find certain films familiar and comforting. This week: Away We Go.

What's lovely about this movie is that our two protagonists are lovely. And they are lovely because they love each other with all their being. (Sidenote: in the last six months or so, I've come to find that I've acquired this distinctive bad habit of starting sentences with "And". I know better than to do that, for it is wretched grammar, but for whatever reason I just can't help myself. I think I like the cadence it presents. Who knows... I blame the Bible, what with all those, "And Jesus wept," type sentences.)

The main characters of this small film are surrounded by a slew of questions. Most pertinent of the quandaries, and the impetus for the filmic adventure, is the need to find a new home. Through the various cities and set pieces (people included) we get no answers. We are merely given more questions. The ideal appears unattainable.

What makes the movie stick is that these two love birds deal with a realistic desperation by clinging to what they know to be true. Inside the scope of the film, all our hopeless protagonists can be confident of is their love for each other and their unborn daughter. That is sufficient. It has to be.

I relate to the married couple not from the status of being at a similar position in life (since I am not), but rather, that all I can hold to is that God loves me and will see move through this life. He'll see me through to the other side. I can desperately hold onto that, until my faith is made complete. Oh, for the day!

I reckon it would also be deceptive to not acknowledge that I greatly admire the romantic love the two leads hold for one another. If I am to marry, I would want to emulate my passion in such a manner as they do. They live out love, not merely speak it as the legions of Romeos and Juliets do. It's love in action.Yippeekayaay.


Perhaps, when I speak of comfort films, what I mean to communicate is that there are places, inside the scope of certain stories, where I feel safe. It's like going back to that early memory of being loved by your parents as a child. A bright morning sun on a spring day before there was such a thing as school. This couple in Away We Go, they just seem like people that one could spend a very relaxing evening with --- knowing that even if something crazy were to happen, or if someone says something out of line, it'll be handled fair enough, and the world will go on merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily...

VikingJesus: Who Are You?

 What I probably should have done with this last post is split it into two --- but alas, I wanted to cram a bunch of stuff into the post. HERE IT IS.

Pretty much it boils down to three building points I tried to supply evidence for:
  1. The further along we go in history, the more tools we are equipped with in our tool belt to discover truth (little t).
  2. But our own life experience (along with history's memory) tends to convince us that we, as individuals, are impotent to seek out truth.
  3. So we act out our lives without ever focusing on the major questions of our existence.
At least, my attempt was to make these points clear.

And, I used the film Amadeus as my go-to example. I use that film like an old pair of crutches. I should just be honest with it and confess, "I just can't quit you."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined,
the brother for whose sake Christ died.
And so, by sinning against the brethren
and wounding their conscience when it is weak,
you sin against Christ.
Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble,
I will never eat meat again,
so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
1 Corinthians 8:11-13
Then I bite my tongue.