Archive for February, 2010

Shutter Island (2010)

Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:52 pm by TheYoungAndRestless

Martin Scorsese’s oeuvre has passed me by. I hear the name. And I know of a few of the movies. But, on the shelf in my mind, I would probably arrange those DVDs by their leading actor, not their director. Hitchcock. Woody Allen. They get their own section.

So, I’m not making comparisons to Raging Bull (1980) or Taxi Driver (1976). Good movies. But there’s no comparison. It’s not even worth trying and it’s not fair.

Shutter Island (2010) is – and now I regret mentioning Hitchcock – a psychological thriller. But, the experience isn’t thrilling and the psychology isn’t a maze of insanity and delusion that we need to keep us from checking our iPhones for more than two hours. It’s more like a long commute. We know where we’re going; we know how to get there; we don’t really want to go.

The central power of the psychological thriller is that we, as viewers, aren’t afforded with our ordinary omniscience. As we ponder whether the protagonist is actually insane, we realize that we can’t possibly answer the question based purely on the evidence – all the evidence we encounter could be part of the insanity. We have to just endure not knowing and enjoy the complexity of the puzzle. And, ultimately, it all reveals itself and we laugh a little. And, it turns out, we’re not insane.

But, Shuttle Island takes the potency of psychological thriller and forfeits it within about twenty minutes. And, so, without revealing it now – I promise you: you’ll know whether the protagonist is crazy or not pretty quickly. And then, once you’ve figured it out, you can leave the theater.

Leonardo DiCaprio is certainly a fine actor, let me add. I hated him for years. So very cute, adorning the lockers of every teenage girl in my middle school. I suppose I thought of him as competition. But, I suppose I can forgive him. It’s not like the competition was down to him and me.

2/5 stars. Competent acting. But, the rules of the thriller are broken to the point of boredom.

Mellencamp Theology

Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:08 pm by TheYoungAndRestless

In the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, the Apostle writes, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor 13:11-12). Unto itself, it is a beautiful passage, echoing through time and culture, but, indeed, the entire thirteenth chapter is something of a masterpiece of poetical prose – its imagery and rhythms, its fearlessness, the depth of its introspection, the universality in which as readers we find something of ourselves. Its description of Love, for example, I wish really could form the entire basis of religion: “Love is patient, love is kind” writes St. Paul. “It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Cor 13:4). These phrases are read at weddings and funerals, perhaps appropriately, but I can’t help but feel that something of the larger comment is lost when I see 1 Corinthians crocheted onto potpourri pillows – living a life that is of love is surely more difficult to do and understand than that sort of empty enthusiasm and cheerleading theology suggests. And likewise, we forget in the beauty of the passages the mind of St. Paul, the extraordinary intimacy into which we step, telling us that he has put away his childish things and that now, when he looks into a mirror, it is not clarity that is reflected.

St. Paul creates for us a hierarchy, placing Love famously above hope and faith – not to their exclusion, I should add; it is almost to the near-nihilistic extremes of Ecclesiastes that St. Paul brushes away everything except Love, saying: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2). The nothingness that St. Paul’s lovelessness becomes is the same ultimate nothingness that Christian apologists see in a universe without God to author the laws of logic and morality – it is a nothingless that contains prophecy, unraveled mysteries, all knowledge, and faith and likewise, a nothingness that might contain all sorts of temporal, finite, agreed upon moral agreements, but it is ultimately nothingness. It is interesting to me that Christian apologists see that nothingness as a fiction, sometimes believed in, but certainly never an actuality since, after all, in their arguments – or, as they would say with prepositional idiosyncrasy – on their arguments, God really did author the rules of logic and morality – there is always somethingness. But, St. Paul seems to think differently of nothingness – it is not an erroneous description of reality, competing with Christianity, but an actual possibility – sometimes, there is really is nothingness and no somethingness – that could consume us if we do not have Love, a nothingness that is not competing with Christianity, but participating within Christianity’s description and escaped by its prescription.

Love, knowledge, and nothingness cannot, I think, be properly considered without some sense of the story told in time; St. Paul depicts Love as a thing he arrived at in the course of his life, approximating the arrival at Love with maturity and adulthood and while he seems to have escaped nothingness, it is interesting that his knowledge has not increased. He comments that he looks through a “glass, darkly,” a phrase which suggests that he does not have the sort of self-knowledge that we would think comes with wisdom or experience or maturity, but that because he has Love, the somethingness that he has become is more than the nothingness that he was, the child that he was, even if he had had all knowledge. In time, St. Paul’s story is one that points from birth towards the future and towards Love and from Love to the eternal – and, although the text does not support it explicitly, I can’t help but image that St. Paul would feel something like shame were he to glance backward into the past and perhaps that is part of the darkness he sees in his own image.

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When the Truth won’t set you free

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:14 pm by rabbitpirate

I generally don’t follow politics, it just depresses me, and I definitely don’t follow the politics of non-English speaking countries. As such I was completely unaware of this legal case in Holland involving Dutch MP Geert Wilders who appears to be on trial to the truly heinous crimes of offending people and telling the truth. But then I can be forgiven for not noticing what some people are already calling “the most important trial of the century” as it seems that, for the most part, the UK media has completely ignored this case. So what exactly is this all about and why should we care about something happening in Holland?

 

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TAM London DVD coming soon, features Leaguers

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:01 pm by AndromedasWake

It seems like a long time ago that Th1sWasATriumph and I stood outside the Mermaid Conference Centre in London freezing our nuts off. Actually, it was a long time ago! It was all the way back in October that hundreds of sceptics descended on London to sin their faces off with Reasonâ„¢. Since then, a mighty machine has been secretly grinding away on the DVD, which is now available to pre-order.

Be sure to check out the preview video on YouTube, and pause around the 5:08 mark to see four of LoR’s finest giggling away like a bunch of twats. You can also click the image below to embiggen and gaze upon our collective, annotated beauty. There were several other League/YouTube sceptics there too, and it was great to meet you all! TAM London 2 is official and I still have a large collection of photos to share from the first event. Keep your eyes peeled for a blog post all about this (oh yes, it’s going to be epic!)

Moral Castles Made Of Sand

Th1sWasATriumph
Th1sWasATriumph
Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:16 pm by Th1sWasATriumph

Here’s a riddle for you.*

Is it better to have flexible, socially contextual morals that may dip below what many people view as laudable behaviour as a result of free will and personal choice . . . or is it better to have a uniformly high moral standard followed, in part or even in whole, as a result of fearing the perceived consequences of not following it?

Of course, you might say that I’ve used Wordification to bias the issue somewhat – and because I have no higher power to feel accountable to I’m perfectly happy to lie, and say that I didn’t bias the point in the slightest.

The question, I suppose, is how worthy or altruistic can a high moral standard be truly taken to be when it’s prescribed rather than acquired? It becomes little more than Utilitarianism if your moral compass is constantly aware that behaving immorally will result in hell, or a few lost brownie-heaven points from God. You’re not acting morally, you’re just protecting your own skin – which is exactly what I would do, of course.

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The 2010 Haitian Earthquake: God?

Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:01 pm by TheYoungAndRestless

The 2010 Haitian Earthquake does not constitute compelling evidence against the existence of God because the cause of the 2010 Haitian Earthquake was the sudden release of two hundred and fifty years of tension in the fault lines between the Caribbean and North American tectonic plates.

I say this because David John Wellman, valorious foil to the unapologetic plagiarist Brock Lawley, recently challenged Christian apologists, philosophers, and evagelists to begin a video, as I just have, by saying, “The 2010 Haitian Earthquake does not constitute compelling evidence against the existence of God because…”

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So say we all

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:09 pm by rabbitpirate

Last night on Sky 1 they showed the first two episodes of the Battlestar Galactica prequel series Caprica. I can’t say I was all that impressed, though it is still early days yet, but the show seemed to lack any of the immediacy or tension that the parent show had by the bucket load. Choosing to set the show in a time of peace and having it focus so heavily on the deeply personal loss of two families just seems a rather odd choice to me given the planet spanning, humanity wide issues at stake in the original. That said however it did raise a number of topics that I feel would be more at home on this blog than on a Battlestar Galactica forum, namely the issues of monotheism vs polytheism and the idea of life after death by way of technology. Here are a couple of things the show got me thinking about.

 

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