My first semester at seminary is over and now that I'm in the Christmas break, perhaps I can find more time to write out some thoughts about this last semester. It was a good semester, by the way, rigorous in all the right ways. I found myself enjoying all my classes, even as I was challenged academically unlike I ever had been before.
So, if you're into gaming, or even if you're not, this is too good to pass up. A game called World of Goo is celebrating it's one year anniversary by allowing people to purchase it at any price. Any price. You could purchase this (really fun and well thought out, review here) game for a mere $.01 if you were so inclined, though I would suggest something reasonable, like $2. Do it. I did.
I finished my series on the book of Revelation last night, not without some bit of sadness. Certainly I feel the accomplishment of having made it through such a challenging study, but I also feel like my involvement with The House ministry is wrapping up too. In any case, I've enjoyed preparing for these studies and I've learned a TON. I feel like my knowledge of scripture and of God's plan has been profoundly affected by the book of Revelation.
My friend Jason Leonard gave me a break last week and led the discussion on Revelation 14-16 on the topic of judgement, which is so clearly a theme of Revelation. I think our knee-jerk reaction to the judgements described in the Bible is to put ourselves in the place of the people being judged and thinking, how unfair! The reality is that God is fair, and that judgement is delayed as long as possible so that people may come to repentance (see 2 Peter 3:9). The question for us is whether we trust and believe God to be "just and true" as the angels in Revelation put it. You can see Jason's notes here.
Just watched a movie called The Mist last night, and aside from what I've said earlier about how Hollywood characterizes Christians (since there's a crazy Christian in this movie) I have some thoughts about the movie. Be forewarned, that my thoughts mostly concern the ending of the movie so I will be dishing out *spoilers*, though I don't necessarily recommend the movie for viewing.
I don't normally respond to chain letters on Facebook, but this one was so amusing to me (considering my arcane tastes in music) I couldn't resist. If you have one of these songs in your playlist, congratulations. Enjoy:
"Once you've been tagged... (1) Turn on your MP3 player/iPod/ITunes. (2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode. (3) Write down the first 20 songs that come up--song title and artist--NO editing/cheating, please. (4) Choose 25 (or so) people to be tagged. It is generally considered to be courteous to tag the person who tagged you. "If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about your musical tastes, or at least a random sampling thereof. Or maybe you tagged me. Or maybe I thought you tagged me a long time ago and I'm just now getting around to responding. "To do this, go to "NOTES" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, enter your 20 Shuffle Songs, Click Preview to tag 20 people then click Publish."
- Escena Poeticas I: Eva Y Walter - Enrique Granados
- Concerto de Aranjuez: Adagio - Joaquin Rodrigo
- 2nd Improvision Op. 47, The Threat - Nikolai Medtner
- Medal of Honor: Securing the Codebook - Michael Giacchino
- Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52 Andantino con moto, quasi allegretto - Jean Sibelius
- Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collection, The Castle - Nobuo Uematsu
- Four Lyric Fragments, Op. 23 I. Allegretto commaodamente - Nikolai Medtner
- Quartet for piano, violin, viola and cello No. 2 in G minor Op. 45. Mvmnt. 2 - Gabriel Faure
- Tomb Raider: Dangerous Foe - Nathan McCree
- String Quartet in C Major, K. 465 'Dissonance', Menuetto & Trio - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Prelude in B Major, Op. 16, No. 1 - Alexander Scriabin
- Star Wars: Episode III, The Immolation Scene - John Williams
- Pride & Prejudice: Dawn - Dario Marianelli
- Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 16, Andantino, Allegro - Sergei Prokofiev
- Sonata No. 6 in D major, Allego Spiritoso - Gioachino Rossini
- Excursions, Op. 20: Allegretto - Samuel Barber
- Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Cirith Ungol - Howard Shore
- Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 54, Intermezzo, Andantino Grazioso, Attacca - Robert Schumman
- Intermezzo in B-Flat Minor, Op. 114, No. 2: Andante non troppo e con molta espressione - Johannes Brahms
- Piano Concerto No. 3, Allegro Ma non Tanto - Sergei Rachmaninoff
Last night I went over the central part of Revelation, the parable of the two witnesses. Yes, I said parable. I know that many people understand that passage to be literal, but considering how many elements of the passage are clearly figurative (especially the "mystical city") it is much more illuminating and powerful (and internally consistent) when we understand it as a parable. It is particularly a parable about the church's role as a witness to the people of the world, and of the life of Christ lived out through us which is God's plan for the redemption of the world. Not sure? Check out my notes here and then leave a comment.
It's amusing to see the occasional scientific article come across concerning some aspect of human behavior that is incredibly "illogical" when it concerns ethics or religious beliefs. I pointed this out months ago with an article on teleologic statements (statements that say there is purpose to creation) that found people tend to subconsciously believe there is purpose in creation, regardless of their stated beliefs otherwise.
The basic rules of the Ultimatum Game are simple. One person is given a stack of cash, and told to divide it between themselves and a second party. That second party is then given the chance to accept or reject the offer; if it's rejected, neither of them get any money. Clearly, any of this free money should be better than nothing, so under assumptions of strictly rational behavior, you might expect all offers to be accepted.
They're not. Things in the neighborhood of a 50/50 split are accepted, but as the proportions shift to where the person issuing the ultimatum tries to keep seventy percent of the total, rejections increase. By the time they hit an 80/20 split, nearly 70 percent of the offers are rejected, even though that 20 percent of the total cash would leave the recipient better off than where they started.
It's a good thing the internet was around in the 50's or people would have gone bonkers over this. It's a "simulator" of sorts that lets you type in your hometown and then shows you the potential destruction of varying types of nukes. In Chattanooga, for instance, for almost every bomb but the colossal "Tsar bomba" made by the Russians, I'd be fairly safe from the initial blast but I'd eat it with the fallout. Good to know...
Well, I promised my weekly notes on Revelation so... you can get them here.
I've been asked to post my response to an e-mail I received recently concerning a video on Youtube that's been circulating recently concerning Islam. So here goes.
Well, the posts on this blog have dwindled a bit, but for good reason. Most of my creative output has been dedicated to a study on the book of The Revelation of Jesus to the Apostle John as of late, and if you've read Revelation you'll know there's quite a bit to concern one's self with. Anyway, I thought I'd post links to my notes here (perhaps with some comments) so that others could study along if they wanted to. My notes include copious verse references so there's plenty to learn!
Revelation Chapters 1-3. Get my notes here.
So this is a bit odd... The guy in the video below is being arrested for an outstanding warrant, but says some really interesting things as he's getting arrested. In particular, he calls out to Yahweh and invokes the protection of angels. After that he improvises a really fun song (while being pinned to the ground). The best part? He gets away after being tazed. Watch it all unfold below.
Posted by Larry at 10:37 AM
I've noticed that whenever I watch a movie with a character that is supposed to be a Christian, it often ends up being a fairly clichéd representation, or at least a skewed one.
Many movies I've seen represent Christians as being fundamentalist, judgmental, and often psychotic. For example, in the film Sunshine, one of the characters (the captain of a doomed space flight) is a fundamentalist Christian who is so beholden to his beliefs he will murder his crew to see them through. Somehow, the fact that he screams about God a lot makes him representative of the Christian faith (that's sarcasm folks). The movie There Will Be Blood casts one of its main characters as an off-the-wall Christian type who is, of course, really only seeking for money and power (as a sort of competitor to the main character, Daniel Plainview), not the will of God.
In a slightly different take, I saw The Soloist recently which had a Christian character who wasn't malicious, simply misguided in his efforts to help a mentally ill man. I still felt like this was a damaging stereotype, because he was portrayed as naive, single-minded, and ultimately devoid of any emotional and spiritual depth or insight. I could go on and on with examples of Christians in films who are portrayed negatively.
Most of these films don't outright say, "All Christians are like this!" but because it is such a recurring theme it makes me wonder if some people don't get that impression. It's almost like Christians are a classic bogey-man, alongside the pedophiles, serial-killers, rapists, and other villains that populate movies. This guy here points out that you don't see Buddhists or Hinduists as the villains of films nearly as often. And while Arabs (usually as Muslim fundamentalist terrorists) certainly have seen their days as villains, you've got a lot of films coming out lately that are almost like Muslim apologetics, casting Arabs as wise, peace-loving sages. I understand this is probably a reaction to the Muslim cliché of a terrorist, but nobody seems to care to correct the Christian cliché of a fundamentalist.
I'm a big fan of Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, a book about how our media obsessed culture is drowning itself in too much information and distractions. I swore off regular TV watching years ago and sometimes think even the internet can be a tad overwhelming.
It's been interesting as I've been beginning the ordination process with my church to think about denominational identity. Quite frankly, I wouldn't say that I have one (though I'm definitely being ordained by a denomination and a church that is strongly part of that denomination). I would say that I feel quite ecumenical, in the sense that I believe more in the Church universal than I do in any particular denomination. In a sense, I'm disillusioned by many church's club-like mentality. Apparently, I'm not alone.
So if you take a look at a recent poll by Time Magazine to determine the top 100 most influential people in the world, you'll notice that the first 21 people on the list spell out the peculiar phrase, "Marblecake also the game." Obviously, Time Magazine didn't intend for this to be. No, the vote was hacked by a group of hackers that go by the name 4chan, with their founder as the top result in the poll. Hilariously, Time is going ahead with the results, claiming to have avoided the hacks 4chan used. I find really amusing that old-school institutions are seemingly oblivious to how "new-school" tactics can totally change the game. You can read more about how 4chan pulled this off here.
Most people who know me know I use Macs and I love them. I also do PC repair so I know intimately how much a Windows computer can suck sometimes.
I've always enjoyed the movie Twister that came out a while ago, especially because of the improbable plot. Surviving the inside of a tornado by tying yourself to a pipe? Laughable but fun, especially with lots of whiz-bang effects.
For the Easter service at our church the choir sang the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah. It was, of course, majestic, but I was unexpectedly quite moved by the song.
Many of us remember playing the game of Telephone when we were younger, or perhaps we still play it on occasion. Either way, it was always a hoot to hear what the inevitably mangled result of an original phrase was as it was whispered down the line. Now you can experience the same thing, except online! Broken Picture Telephone is the name of a new website that accurately recreates the experience of mutilating language, but now with total strangers hiding behind bizarre avatars! I had a big laugh when I played one game, which went from the phrase: "She dreamt she was a bulldozer, alone in an empty bed..." to "An ambulance has run over a mutant rabbit, which bleeds acid and blood." Yes, that really happened. To see how, go here.
So... occasionally I'll happen across something of a technological nature that I think is really awesome, but a great deal of people might not. For example, I described the gadget I'm soon to talk about to my wife last night and her response was a kind of "mmm hmmm" in so many words. But that's okay, prepare to have your collective minds blown.
Did you know that you can use a "Berkshare" to pay for your purchase in Berkshire, Massachusetts instead of a dollar bill? In Detroit you can use a "Detroit Cheer" at the Bucharest Grill. In fact, apparently 75 local currency systems have started nationwide recently. They basically work like a coupon: you buy $100 for $95 and spend them at participating locations. But still, the idea of using something resembling a currency (that's not the dollar) here in America is both clever, and a bit surreal.