’08 New Year’s Resolution

We’re not heading out anywhere this evening — no, just enjoying the quiet at home. Mary’s making something awful good smelling for dinner and then she and I will likely chat over dinner and then flop for the evening. Our daughter is in New York with a bunch of friends and our son is over at his girlfriend’s for the evening.

Earlier today I was reading all the posts that began something like, “I don’t usually do New Year’s Resolution, but…” and I thought, “I know what you mean. Me neither.” But, then I recalled a bumper sticker I saw the other day and reconsidered. Yes, I think I will go with a New Year’s resolution for 2008 and I expect you all to hold me to it.

My 2008 New Year’s Resolution: Wag more. Bark less.

Afternoons at the Movies

I won a book of gift certificates for a local movie theater two summers ago at our company’s “Summer Social” and promptly tucked them away in a safe place. Having recently rediscovered that place, and being on vacation until the second of January, I am getting in some movie watching. I’m not sure if I could tell you when the last time I saw a movie in the theater before this week. I have seen two this week so far with another likely tomorrow. One of the movies taken in was The Golden Compass. I have always contended that the quickest way to get christians to go see a movie is to tell them they should not.

As the movie began, I braced myself for the onslaught; the attack on my belief system; the sucking out of me my entire faith foundation. I’m not sure when it occurred to me — somewhere in the first 30 minutes or so — that not only was my faith intact but this movie was rather well done. The ‘feel’ was quite large and expansive similar to The Lord of the Rings. The premise of the story intrigued me and struck me as so very relevant. The Magisterium is the body that is responsible for ensuring that orthodox teachings of centuries remain as the only acceptable belief system and free from any alternate interpretation but their own. The lengths the Magisterium will go to in order to maintain adherence (control) is boundless. Enter a young girl and the Magisterium’s plan is doomed to unravelling.

There is one scene where a particular creature (armored bear) has regained his stature, but is now face to face with those that would take from him what is his, including his very life. As all the characters poise themselves for certain battle, the young girl approaches the bear and suggests that no good can come from this and that fighting will only bring more pain and sorrow. He concedes to the wisdom of the young girl. For me that was a very telling moment in the movie. The story goes on to include a good deal of violence as you might expect, but that moment stands out.

Having seen the movie I think of it as grouped with the likes of other fantasy/fiction that I have seen over the recent years; Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter. When grouped as such something stands out to me. All of these movies exploit the use of redemptive violence to some extent. I considered the use of such device in the seperate movies and concluded that Lord of the Rings is the biggest offender on this front. Narnia and The Golden Compass are fairly even in their use with the nod probably going to Narnia. This is something that has puzzled me about the quick and fervent attachment to these two particular films by christians. Simply puzzling. In considering this I realized it might just be why I enjoyed the Harry Potter movies more than Lord of the Rings, Narnia and The Golden Compass. Yes, there is violence, but not the total reliance on redemptive violence as though there were no other alternative.

So, for what it is worth, there are my thoughts on the movie. I realize that the perceived issue among many christians is that children will now be drawn to the books and that there is where the danger is to be found. I have not read the books and likely will not, but the books will have to be very different from the movie if the grand conspiracy I have read about is to bear its intended fruit. My concluding recommendation; see it if you are at all interested, but if you’d really like a fun alternative rent the Harry Potter series and spend a rainy weekend afternoon watching them with your family.

… Blessings!

Breaking News

— hat tip: Al

Newborn found naked in barn —
Police and Social Services Investigate Carpenter from Nazareth;
Under-age delusional mother arrested, charged with criminal neglect.

Dateline: Bethlehem, Judea

In the early morning hours of December 25. authorities were notified by an alarmed citizen. He discovered a young family, who lives in a barn.

Upon arrival, the investigators of the social services division, who were supported by local police, found a newborn baby-boy, who after having been delivered by his 14-year mother, lying in container for cattle feed.

Also arrested were three foreign nationals who identified themselves as “wise men from a near-eastern country”. The Secretary of the Interior as well as customs and immigration authorities are currently trying to establish the exact whereabouts of said three men, who apparently are in the country illegally, and may be charged with terrorism.

A police spokesperson informed the press that these men do not have any identification papers with them. However, they were in possession of gold, as well as other illegal substances. They resisted arrest and claimed that God had asked them to return to their home and to refuse to make statements to the police as well as to avoid any contact with government agencies. The chemicals that have been found along with the illegals have been sent to a police forensic lab for further examination.

The whereabouts of the newborn have thus far not been released. A fast investigation and conclusion of this case appears to have been forgone. After inquiries from the press, an employee of the social services agency stated that “the father is of middle age and the mother is definitely not an adult. We are checking with the authorities in Nazareth, what relationship these two have with each other.”

Maria meanwhile is at Bethlehem County hospital for further medical and psychological exams. She has to expect to be prosecuted for criminal negligence of an infant. Her mental state will be further examined as she claims not only that she was still a virgin, but also that the infant was God’s son. In the meantime, she is being medicated with the most powerful anti-psychotic drugs Big Pharma can provide.

An official bulletin from the head of the department of psychiatry states that, “it is not my position to tell these people, what they should believe. However, if what they believe, as this in this case, leads to the endangerment of a newborn, we have to consider these parents as delusional and dangerous.

Finally, the following information was revealed: the shepherds on location continue to maintain that a large man wearing pajamas and two wings had asked them to find a stable and let the newborn live after he was born. A spokesperson of the drug enforcement agency stated, “This is probably the most stupid and ridiculous excuse of a full-fledged junkie that I have ever heard in my life.”

Point In Time Count

The homeless. You’ve seen them. You’ve likely wondered how it is they find themselves in their current predicaments. Perhaps you’ve even prayed for them. It may be that such praying has caused you to ask one of the tougher questions such as, “What can I do?” As I’ve written about before, this is not always an easy matter.

Until the Church steps up and ackowledges its calling, we find ourselves looking to our civil authorities and organizations to care for our neighbors. The organization charged with such caring here in the US is the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). To facilitate proper funding and support to address homelessness, HUD requires that communities do a count each year in the last week of January. Communities will also be conducting a bed inventory of housing dedicated to homeless individuals and families. Obviouly such efforts do not get done without sufficient numbers of people getting involved.

I challenge you to step up. See if your community is coordinating such a count and invite yourself to the necessary training sessions and hit the streets. You will be performing a valuable service to your community and you will be taking the opportunity to meet your neighbors — most you would not likely meet under typical circumstances.

hat tip: Al


North Carolina

West Cental Illinois

Western New York




… you get the point!