Archive for March, 2004

The Safe Word Was Armageddon

Monday, March 29th, 2004

I am going to have to do something about the porn links that are commenting on my site. How do they find me?!? Dave, if you are reading this and know the answer, give me a call or an email. (Problem was solved for good (hopefully) on 2005/01/05.)

I forget if I have linked to this site before, but it is a cool response to porn and its addictive qualities so if that is something that affects you, click.

On Saturday I thought that I would go see a film that didn’t have any theological perspectives as a nice antidote to The Passion of the Christ. So, IT and I headed off to Dawn of the Dead 2004.

All I can say is that this film is absolutely brilliantly entertaining. Its nothing more and nothing less. From the first scene it is gory and scary and thrilling and classy and captivating and you want to look away but you can’t. It starts with the very cool Johnny Cash song, When The Man Comes Around (which I would love to link on mp3 but best not). It finishes with a cool ending that defies the Hollywood horror expectation. It kicks ass.

However, it also has a theological perspective because I didn’t realise that zombies arise when hell is full and the dead walk the earth. Spreading death. I also didn’t realise that they can’t speak or operate any machinery so I was pretty much zombie ignorant. What with Dawn of the Dead and the very promising Shaun of the Dead, I will soon be zombie-literate.

Hell is full and the dead walk the earth? What then of the Christians? If they are not destined for hell, are they immune to zombie-fication or were they whooshed away in some Left Behind version of End times?

Luckily, the movie is such a superb, amusing roller coaster ride that my super-snobby, over-educated, psuedo-intellect didn’t take over and ruin the fun. Let me sum it up for you in a way that should have you running to the cinema:

Aliens crossed with The A-Team

Your Correspondent, Looking out for the M-tv VJ who cameos on the sixty sixth minute.

I Blew A Fuse In My Personality

Monday, March 29th, 2004

My Cinema Buddy invited me around to dinner on Saturday night to watch some movies in her house. It turned into a rugby education lesson for me and her housemate joined us. I do not object to either. The rugby gets a little more interesting when you have a metaphor through which to understand it. It simply isn’t as much instant fun as basketball and soccer. It’s a halfway house from those universal sports towards the crickets and baseballs of the world.

Ireland won The Triple Crown and a certain type of person is very excited about this. It turns out that the Triple Crown is kind of a best loser’s award. Of all the people who didn’t win, Ireland was the best. Or least worst. We beat England, Scotland and Wales and so we win the Triple Crown. France however, won the actual tournament, the Six Nations and they did something called a Grand Slam which means they beat everyone. Italy should win some kind of medal equivalent to the school pageant “Costumes Obviously Made By The Child With No Help From Parents” medal. They are the rugby country that come from a broken home and seem to be malnourished. They are the definition of whipping boys.

I didn’t think there were any Protestants in Italy, so how can they have a rugby team?

Seriously though, it’s a game created by the upper classes of the British Empire at their imperialist height (and might). As such, it is a military battle as opposed to a game. Its all about territory and giving away a certain amount of territory or initiative now in the hope of gaining more later. Its also like war in the sense that the initial conditions of a play define what can be achieved in the current battle. Now that I have some kind of an understanding of the goal of the game I can make some stab at enjoying it in the future.

Cinema Buddy’s housemate is doing the MA that I most want to do in the world and I think I will do in a few years time. She is also a healthy chunk older than me so she knows many things which I have no idea about. We were talking on Saturday night about CS Lewis’ idea that we always have to make ourselves vulnerable to rejection and grief if we are ever going to enjoy acceptance and love. His little slogan on this was something like, “No-one can have the pleasure of love without risking pain”. The context of this conversation was that as people get older, (particularly men), they sometimes slip into a rut where they simply don’t feel anything.

Their mostly natural fear of commitment goes unchallenged to such an extent that they don’t even risk committing to emotion. Argh. Terrifying.

So I have been thinking about this since Saturday night and I have decided that once again, Lewis is right. Wholeheartedly, again and again, we must risk rejection, (responsibly of course), for the potential pay-off of love or pleasure or joy or satisfaction.

I also got to thinking that this extends to the world of the intellect- of being right and wrong. The path to any kind of truth is a narrow one and is littered on all sides by falsity and lies. Its also got a bunch of people who have given up at various stages who are all to happy to mock and deride those still in the race, like twisted supporters at an inverted Tour de France.

To ever be right, we have to perpetually, again and again risk being wrong. You will make mistakes. You will make a fool of yourself. You will be arrogant and ignorant and much too much like an ant for your own liking.

Even the sharp pain of being shown up for a fool or of realising that you are shooting your mouth off, is a catalyst to moving closer to being right. I have been dwelling on what the Cinema Buddy’s housemate said (I need a zoomtard label for her) because I have seen people sometimes clam up for hours on end rather than make such a tawdry error as to be passionately wrong on a topic.

As I see it, the passion is an essential ingredient in the recipe of truth. To be a great student, one needs to be willing to make mistakes and make big ones at that. Applying the proverb about “Better to keep your mouth shut for fear of being foolish rather than opening it and removing all doubt” as a rule is a mistake. All proverbs contain a kernel of truth but not a rule. That is why they are proverbs. To quest to find truth, if it exists, certainly won’t be successful down the pretty pink flowered country lane of proverbs.

Its too easy a path and yet ultimately a self-defeating one.

To be right, one has to grapple with the prospect of being wrong. One has to be willing to be wrong and most importantly, to change when they realise that they are.

-Your Correspondent, Pretentiously addressing people

Black tears are falling

Monday, March 29th, 2004

I have been so busy in the last week that I haven’t had a chance to shave. As a result of this, I scare small children in shops, a team of scientists have been dispatched to investigate Yeti sightings in West Dublin and girls laugh at how I must have glued bum fluff to my face.

Fortunately, intrepid reader, as I write this I am clean-shaven and bopping to Ben Folds. All is as it should be.

The source of the busyness is a mystery to me at this late stage in the week. I preached at LPC last Sunday with a 20 minute crash and grab of Romans 4:1-10. The great theologians announce their presence by writing a commentary on the Book of Romans. I have had to have two attempts now to get a relatively simple point across, so hold off on that “Up and Coming Theological Titan” t-shirt you were planning to print for me.

The point I was trying to make was that Christianity is clear that the only way to salvation (which is getting into heaven and being slowly, over the course of your life made into a more Jesus like person) is through faith in God. Acts and good deeds are great and play a role (particularly in the becoming Christ like part) but believing in God and believing in what God has to say to us in the Bible and in prayer is the only way to get all the way up that stairway to heaven. Then you can spend eternity singing Holy Holy Holy and playing chess with Newton or haranguing CS Lewis over his depiction of women.

Basically, I said that God gives us salvation for free as a gift and all we have to do is to believe that promise. It’s just that things get complicated when you try and apply it all and we mess up. Luckily, God is there to make broken things fixed and better than ever so we just have to believe that the infinite God who loves each of us infinitely will come good when He says that He intends to do just that.

At my University I have heard comments about Christianity recently that have really disturbed me. Student One says,
“--modern christians decide who can be a good guy and who can’t-- modern followers would seem to be taking up a different route by creating more and more schisms and branches, by pushing more and more away-- “

Student Two says,
“I’m an atheist--I believe that when you die you are worm food-- That said I’d hate to live in a world with all atheists”

Now they also were filled with the usual guff about how all Christians were “institutionalised” (usually this claim is linked to our parents) and how it’s a psychological crutch and how its no different from a sun or moon cult and so on.

But what strikes me as disturbing is that these two degree students still don’t get the nature of Christianity even though they are in their 20s. In a “Christian country” they can talk about “religion being forced down our throats at school” but they haven’t got this fundamental fact.

Fundamental Fact of Christianity One: Christians are defined primarily by their faith in the divinity of Jesus

What kind of a job are we doing if these guys, who go to Maynooth, have such a warped view of Christianity? They view us as self-righteous but moral. We do good deeds but we’re very proud of that and want everyone else to know of our superiority.

To me, this seems like the parody of a busybody middle-aged rural Catholic woman that seems to be a meme present in our society but to them, it is a picture of the Christian.

I haven’t come to any conclusions yet. I know that it is our problem not theirs. The Great Commission puts the emphasis on the Christian, not the non-Christian. I also intuitively appreciate the thinking behind Scum Theology. Lets focus on destroying the myth of Christian moral righteousness. But how to do that (since I don’t think Ireland’s cultural context could stand up to a Scum of the Earth church equivalent) and whether that solves the problem that is stated in the two opinions above is a whole other deal.

So have you any ideas for a solution? Or more problems with Christians you can share with me? Or anything to offer an alternative to the bot-placed porn promoting comments on my webpage?

-Your Correspondent, There is Nothing He Can Do.

Where I Resolve Things

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

My struggle is over. I have never quite known what this website should be about and I have flip-flopped over its content. I had imagined a fun, light-weight joke filled paragraph per update thing like my girlfriend’s. Instead, it mutates and turns into a platform where I write about the things I know about (or am at least interested in) and you have to read three books just to catch up with me.

So from now on, I have decided that I will let the post-expansion occur. Posts tend to become so obese and disgusting that you have to have completed a university module on the topic to understand it and you have to design and build a wheelchair to get my fat-ass post around. But, I will stop the post in its tracks and send it straight to fat-camp if it gets like that. So put the blue-print paper away.

Basically, I’ll try and stop it from boring you.

So on to my beef at hand. It is not a cheery subject. Its about the reaction of a section of Irish students to the bombings in Spain last week. I have heard five or six people (in a discussion of about ten) claim that the blame for this atrocity lies ultimately in the hands of the American President.

Now, I am no fan of the Chief Thief. Everytime I look at him I am confronted with the clear truth of evolution and so he makes me feel uncomfortable. Like any decent Christian I run away from anything which challenges me. That includes Bush and his ape-ancestor face.

Anyway, these “students” think things through like this:
1) Spanish leader Aznar sides with the Yankees in their Iraqi episode and so makes friends with Appointed President MonkeyFace W Bush.
2) Terrorists attack a train station.
3) It is the MonkeyFace’s fault.

Lets play a thought experiment here (I know this will exclude the “students” out there because it involves abstract thought) where we can think about world affairs without dragging the war in Iraq into things.

So, lets imagine the USA, under say, its elected President Robo-Gore, decided to not invade Afghaneria and Iraq and instead followed some more appealing and friendly route. Lets say, he sent nice young American men to the middle east and they all played folk songs for the natives and people made friends and organised co-ops and clean water programmes.

In this magical world, would Al Qaeda still have attacked a European capital city last week?

Of course they would. The 1500 people they injured and the 200 they killed (including 60 injured and 8 dead Muslims) were not the power-brokers who were involved in sending Spanish soldiers to Iraq. They were co-op volunteers and students and decent ordinary folk.

They were killed for the same reason that night-clubbers in Bali were killed and office temps in New York were killed and that before 2001, Tanzanian and Ethiopian citizens were killed.

They were murdered because Al Qaeda are waging a war on our civilisation. Their victims are not legitimate. Their methods are not legitimate. They are to blame.

There are serious issues with American and British and Spanish (and Irish and Swedish and German and French and Russian and Austral--) foreign policy. But they did not incite this act. They are not responsible in any way. Total blame lies with the perpetrators.

And denying this is one of the most insidious lies of our times.

-Your Correspondent, Proving that with a pint of indignation and a tablespoon of self-righteousness you can make a sexy, luscious dessert

I had a feeling I could be someone

Saturday, March 13th, 2004

If this whole Data Entry King thing goes wrong I think I will become a sci-fi writer. I know, it would be a step down in the social hierarchy and considerably more tedious but there is the large benefit that it is the only job in the world that requires less brain-work than data entry.

I know that there have been very good writers who have played in the sandpit of sci-fi/fantasy. But that is what those great writers were doing- making sandcastles because they got tired of building pyramids and sky-scrapers and football stadiums with retractable roofs. In their spare time they dug holes in the ground and it was welcome relief.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that the genre is filled with turgid turd poo as a general rule. Pornography is sex for sex’s sake (without any of the context that gives sex meaning or worth) in the same way that sci-fi/fantasy is writing for writing’s sake.

I actually think I could write a great sci-fi and then retire to a castle high above sea level in Colorado and become an enigma; the writing-porn equivalent to Salinger. Or like a character in a Philip K Dick novel.

But that isn’t really saying anything because fifteen minutes looking at the sci-fi fantasy shelf in your local bookshop will give you your plot. You could do it! Even you, you terminal loser.

Firstly, you need a decent but shy country boy who is very good at the arcane art of stick fighting. However, you can’t call it fighting. Instead, it is stick-haedling. He wears a cloak and he might have a cat who weirds people out because he maintains eye contact much longer than a cat ought to.

Glass-eyed Pete, the mechanic, is your hero’s best friend and mentor and gave him a job at his garage. After school one day, just as he turns up to work, your hero sees the assistant mechanic, Odd Crotchless Sam, grow wings with talons on the end of them, gurgle some Aramaic words and then murderise Pete gruesomely. Describe the gore at length.

Once your hero gets home, the cat should turn into a beautiful, buxom, purple haired witch student from the past and she should grab him without explanation and take him through a time portal created by the Magik Crystals of Derrynavail. Her name can be, say, Rhondwernia. She explains that there is a dreadful battle for control of the past lands of Landrailia and that hero-boy holds the key to success for the forces of Light allied under Wizard Cowboy Tor-Hosveidt.

And so the book writes itself. There should be natural forces, (lightning, earthquakes, that kind of lark) a Native American who doesn’t say a lot and maybe some subplot to do with the introduction of technology (which is evil) into Landailia. The ending should involve the twist that hero boy succeeds in his quest but he was duped into fighting for the wrong side all along and so that sets up a sequel, maybe even a series.

Maybe I won’t write this book. You can take the idea and make a fortune on it. Instead I will get funding from the government and study what makes seemingly reasonable people enjoy Terry Pratchett and his one-joke books. Its just a hunch but I think it is Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. If any readers suffer from sci-fi/fantasy reading habits, comment or email me, letting me know if your mothers drank while pregnant. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you for reading the turd poo. At least as long as you have a good reason like Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Your Correspondent, No Longer The Master Of His Emotions.

You were the sun, you were the Earth

Sunday, March 7th, 2004

I went to a set of meetings yesterday organised by a new alliance that hasn’t yet been launched to do with a particular kind of Christianity practiced in Ireland. The highlight of the afternoon was the talk by David Porter of ECONI which pretty much made me want to punch the air and shout out, “This is the Good News! Listen you fuckburgers, listen!”, except with a nicer term than fuckburgers.

However, another speaker made me want to punch something else entirely. She was from the European arm of this new alliance and she talked about how we should be nice to people. We should send valentine cards to our politicians. We should invite photographers to our social action events (our, here means the Church, for those of you who aren’t Christian squares).

I stood up, walked across to her and said, “In the words of Barthie,” (my pet name for Karl Barth), “Grace is patient but Grace is also stormy!” Then I slapped her across the face and blood went flying. Immediately, the Holy Spirit descended from the ceiling and cleaned the blood off and put it back in her nose. Then I sat down and she began again, suitably chastened.

Others in the room may not have seen this little incident but that is because they weren’t holy enough. Also, the Holy Spirit was humming Shakira songs.

I guess you all now have a good idea of what I thought of the day and the theology of the participants, (excluding the wonderful ECONI) and yet I am still enthusiastic about the future of this new alliance and hope that the excellent leadership can guide it through the hard task of crafting an identity that isn’t irrelevant and fundamentalist.

Your Correspondent, Wasting Time In The Unemployment Lines

This Is My Tune For The Taking

Sunday, March 7th, 2004

Why the delay in updating? Well, Zoomtardio has managed to bag himself a new job. And hey, I don’t want to brag or to blow my own trumpet or to talk myself up, but this new job puts me on top of the hill in my chosen career. I have been working for the last few summers in various data entry jobs, from HP to the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Log Cabin Republicans but this new job makes me the data entry guy that all other data entry guys look up to. Look up to from their cramped cubicle at the back of the room beside the air-conditioning unit that no longer functions but does loudly hum all day everyday, that is.

All those painful hours of dedicated practice on my alt-tab technique, the gallons of perspiration sweated over the left or right shift key question and those fights with my fiancé where she claimed that error reduction was obsessing me and destroying my relationships were worth it. And she is proven wrong because I now have a totally flexible, pressure free, highly paid in the very relative world of student work, job where I contribute to a report being commissioned by the Economics department of one of the world’s greatest universities.

By contribute I mean, I look at micro-films of British era censuses (or is that censi?) and write some relevant details down in an MS Access database.

Still, its total flexi-time.

I work in the National Archives and so I can look forward to having my blissful concentration interrupted by thin, grey pensioner Americans who have come over to trace their Irish roots. Seriously, the place is crawling with these guys who talk in New York accents and want to let you know that their “nephew is a nice guy and a good kid to his dad but if he is down in that bar drinking pints while I am up here--”
They then ask if you can help them and assure you that if you hit paydirt they will come up with the dollars. Because “those gangsters who do this professionally will rip you off. You have to pay big cash to make it worth your while”. I will become expert at politely refusing their offers to “come to an arrangement”. Even if they seem like the kind of men who Sopranos was based on, they are probably more like the kind of guys who left Ireland in the ‘g50s and still think that nylon is a rare commodity in the Emerald Isle.

Anyway, I have important business to attend to on the now non-existent Great Britain St.

-Your Correspondent, Developing the ground-breaking Exploding Psychology framework.