Monday, January 30, 2006

Bee in My Bonnet

I am in the throes of thinking about how my theological life is developing. It's been such an exciting two and a half years of study and discovery - many new ways of understanding God and the Bible and Jesus. I am deeply appreciative of the varied theologies I've had the privilege to study.

But this week, I am reading Luther and Calvin. I just can't imagine that these men continue to leave such a dark shadow across the doorsteps of the church. What kind of men must they have been in person to be so dogmatically negative about God's relationship to human beings?

I will post some choice excerpts once I write my analysis of their work tonight. But I just had to get it off my chest. I am deeply distressed by the spiritual "meme" that was released with their work on grace, sovereignty and predestination. This is not new territory for me, but it is more troubling this time around than it has ever been. Hope to share more about why when I get the time.

Peace to all you dear people whom God loves where ever you may be in your lives.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Oprah's visit with the cast

This article does a great job of narrating the Oprah interview with the Brokeback Mountain cast. I promise, I will move on from this topic eventually. I just keep running into people who don't seem to have had much clarity about what this story really is. So I want to help ease the anxieties about it and share why it is such a special love story.

And after all, I like the idea of supporting freedom to love whenever possible.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Gushes of Enthusiasm

Dave Cullen rightly describes what happens to me when I am moved - "May also contain gushes of enthusiasm." His blog got taken over by the Brokeback Mountain phenomenon and he created a set of forums for "Broke-aholic" discussion. If you are needing a place to deconstruct that movie or book, I highly recommend it.

I bought the soundtrack the other day and am loving it. First country style CD I've ever owned. Yet it so perfectly fit the story, that I am actually swept up by the music.

Today on Oprah, the primary four stars from the movie will be interviewed. So, I'll debrief then. Just wanted to say again, this is an exquisite movie. Don't be afraid to see it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Brokeback Mountain (no spoilers)

Jon and I went to see this movie last night. Packed theater. Winning the Golden Globe for Best Picture means that it is no longer on only two screens in our city. We can find it in a couple of more theaters but still with very few times.

Cincinnati, in case you didn't know, passed the most restrictive gay partnership laws in the country during the last election. We are not "gay friendly."

Yet the theater was packed.

If you've seen "Sense and Sensibility" or "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman" you are familiar with Ang Lee's directing. He is minimalist and not sentimental. He uses space and light and time in his movies. Nothing is hurried but the pace never drags either. The screen was open wide like the country where the story takes place (Wyonming). Absolutely breath taking scenery in every frame.

The life of a cowboy is portrayed in its poverty and grittiness. Weirdest thing for me. Jon's dad was a rodeo rider and he worked as a cowboy before Jon came along. Jon's dad and mom met at a rodeo that his dad was in!

Anyway, the Heath Ledger character (Ennis Del Mar) reminded me so much of Jon's dad. Heath nailed the characterization - the mumbling speech, the infuriating quietness, the troubled soul that never reveals its troubles. There's some "cowboy code" that is conveyed in how they drink, walk, hold their hats, breathe. And being from Australia, it is amazing to me how authentically Heath Ledger pulled off this subtle characterization.

Jake Gyllenhall is the more loquacious of the two and does a terrific job of being the counter point to Heath. Both guys are so good looking it almost hurts at first. The make-up folks age them over the course of the movie and do a decent job (pretty hard to believably age good-looking twenty-somethings to their fifties).

The story is challenging to many of our assumptions about homosexuality and relational love. I don't want to write about the story itself until others have seen it. For me, it told the story of the danger that comes from not knowing yourself as well as living in the wrong place at the wrong time without that self-knowledge.

Acting performances were believable, heart-breaking and involving.

Directing-spare, moving and tasteful.

If you have a strong aversion to homosexuality, it might be a difficult movie to watch. For me, after several years of Six Feet Under, I realized that I no longer see gayness - I see people struggling to work out their relationships with each other - with the ones they love, and I see how much relational love is intertwined with sexual expression.

Good movie. Hope it wins a bucket of Oscars.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King Jr.

Letter from the Birmingham Jail (excerpts)

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.


In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through an these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.


As in so many past experiences, our hopes bad been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self-purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves : "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct-action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic with with-drawal program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.


You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.


We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

I hope you have at least read these excerpts today. Like many say of the Holocaust: Never forget. I hope that we are not so self-absorbed as whites that we have forgotten how recently lynchings were a routine terror for black Americans.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Grad school begins again today

As does my timed essay class (18 kids times 9 essays in four weeks—you do the math). That will likely mean a lot less blogging time.

I'll be studying doctrine II by the way.

Just for those who care, we saw Carson Palmer on the news last night and he is in good spirits. The doctors are predicting a full recovery from surgery (as long as he applies himself to his post-op therapy). Uh, I think he gets paid, like, millions to work on that recovery, doesn't he? :)

In other news:
The U2 tour is kicking off the fourth leg in Hawaii (for those who missed them so far, how much more of an inducement do you need?).

See you soon.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Game Day

What a crazy city! I went down to our suburban Kroger's to buy a few snacks for the game today and everywhere I looked, black and orange jerseys, pennets, flags waving from cars, and scary looking black and orange cookies dominated the view. This city doesn't know it's uncool to be a raving fan! O.M.G!

Now you have to know me to know why this is such a big deal. I am ever on the hunt for a few good reasons to love Cincinnati since a) there is no ocean here and b) there is no beach. And besides, I love California weather, the LA Times, UCLA, and even the Los Angeles freeway system (freak that I am).

But one interesting thing about southern CA is the general aversion to being a "crazed fan." Sure you can paint your face and wear your jersey to the game but why would you be caught dead in said attire at the supermarket or on a date or while pumping gas? Postmodern irony demands that the "cool" be above all those kitschy group think cultural displays.

But this is where I am just not all that postmodern in my soul. I love being a fan! I like identifying with my city, my school, my rock band, my sports teams. You get this surrogate ego boost if your "thang" does well, and when else do you get to scream at the top of your lungs and no one cares? Thank you Cincinnati for understanding!

So Bengals, go get those Steelers and make your out of control fans happy! she said while sporting a long sleeved black T with carefully arranged orange scarf around her midrif...

W00t W00t!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Right gift at the right time


GIFT OF GIVING: One of the reasons the offensive line loves quarterback Carson Palmer is that he has taken the lead of Jon Kitna and the advice of Boomer Esiason and taken good care of them. Palmer must have figured they got enough welts and nicks and bruises and strains to keep him out of the hot tub with a club-low 21 sacks (he only took 19 of them) as they finished second in the NFL in allowing sacks per pass behind the Colts.

Right guard Bobbie Williams didn’t want to divulge the gift, but he also couldn’t stop talking about it.

“Nice. Very nice,” Williams said. “Had to be (worth) five figures. No, it’s not a car, but that’s not a bad idea.”

Palmer got each of his linemen a hot tub, and if he does say so himself, “They’re great. What they do for sore muscles is tremendous.

”They’re the guys that don’t get the recognition. But it’s obvious they’re a big reason, if not the biggest reason, we win and have success as an offense.”

“Oh yes,” Williams said again. “Very nice.”

Class act that guy... Now when did I turn this blog into a football review spot?

Vince Young: the QB from the gods


Did you watch that game last night? As a UCLA Bruin alum and the daughter of a Fightin Irish alum, there has to be a collosally good reason for me to root for USC in any endeavor. To me, the chance to have a run at that Oklahoma record of 47 straight wins, the hope for a three-peat, the attention that comes to Los Angeles if the USC football machine rolls on were those reasons.

So last night, I started out with passion for the SC team and their run at history.

And then Vince Young showed up.

My God! Of what mettle is that man made?

He made a ten yard dash look like a single step, on a Sunday morning, while walking the dog. Sure he throws funny, but does that matter? Is it maybe, just maybe, why he gets these passes off even when he's got two mack truck sized guys hugging him around the knees and he simply "sends one up" and it connects without a bobble?

And where was Reggie Bush? Certainly he made the bizarr-o error of lateraling the ball after running the most impressive sprint through the thorny Texas defense, and yes, he did literally fly into the endzone like Neo in the Matrix with his one TD, but otherwise, Texas just shut him down.

And that, to me, was the difference in this game. Everyone can bad mouth Pete Carroll's coaching (I admit to scratching my head over his choices at 4th downs, especially), and others can fault the crazy officials who seemed not to see half the game, but to me, what this game came down to was a battle between the defense lines. Who would be shut down? Vince or Reggie?

And you know what? Texas beat SC. They beat 'em. They stopped Reggie from electrifying the field. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Vince Young kept serving up his best BBQ and no one could make him stop.

So hats off to Texas.

Great game!

And now, time to reorganize the football snackage for Saturday when the Bengals show us who dey really are.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Who Dey?

Go Bengals!

Though the last two games showed Cincinnati not living up to its new reputation as a team to watch, the play-offs are ahead of us and for the first time in years, Cincinnati has a team we can be proud of.

Thank you Carson Palmer for putting the pride back in this city.

What's remarkable about living here is that I never have experienced such a city-wide enthusiasm for a sports' team. While growing up in Los Angeles, we had the Rams, the Lakers, the Kings, the Dodgers... But I lived north of the city and while my family had season tickets to hockey (Kings before Gretsky - but during Bobby Orr and Roguie Vachon), I still always felt like the team spirit was diffuse - not concentrated, not universal or personal.

Not so in Cinci! Everywhere you go, business signs say "Who Dey?" (reference to the fan speak of the Boomer Esaison season of Super Bowl era). Stores sell out of Black and Orange jerseys. It's just "in the air." (Some say Cincinnati suffers from an inferiority complex when it compares itself to other bigger cities... so a great sports team just stiffens the ol' backbone like little else.)

It's fun being in a city like this. Being the fan personality that I am... Add to it the incredible talent of the southern California QB, and it's just magic. Carson said in an interview that he and his wife love living here, love the fans, love the organization. Good thing. The Bengals just signed him for a nine year contract worth about $118 million!

So go Bengals! We'll be watching. (I predict that in the nine year tenure of Palmer, the Bengals will win at least one Super Bowl, but it won't be this year.)

And tomorrow night, we get to watch a real college super bowl: The Rose Bowl featuring #1 and #2. Can't wait.