random musings...

Category: Books & Movies Page 2 of 3

The Pink Carpet

It’s not too often I read an entire book in one day. But “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet,” a memoir by actor Leslie Jordan, is that good. I was expecting a mindless, entertaining read – a welcome break from the serious books I have been reading lately. The Pink Carpet was indeed entertaining – I laughed out loud several times. But it also addresses serious issues in meaningful ways including struggling with addictions, coming out, homophobia, and religion. The book is a good read with important messages – I’d recommend it.

Movies I’ve seen this summer

So far:

Chronicles of Narnia – ***** – Wonderful fantasy flick.
Indiana Jones – **** – Kind of dumb, but very entertaining.
Kung Fu Panda – *** – I thought it was boring. I was disappointed.
Wall-E – ***** – An excellent movie! Great story and great animation.

This week, I’m going to see Batman. I’m looking forward to it as it has gotten impressive reviews.

Jesus

I just finished reading the book “Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary” by Marcus Borg. If you lean toward progressive Christianity, then I highly recommend Borg. I’ve never been disappointed by one of his books and this one is no exception. I did find it somewhat repetitive with “The Last Week” which Borg co-wrote with John Dominic Crossan, but this is not surprising. After all, you can’t talk about Jesus without talking about what the death and resurrection stories mean. I don’t always agree with 100% of what Borg says, but it’s pretty close. His ideas are refreshing and hopeful. He’s also a professor and not a preacher and I like that perspective.

Semester over

School is over until September. I took a one week summer class which I still have to write a paper for (on atonement theories), but other than that, my summer is mine 🙂

I’ve got some projects I’m thinking about, including learning c++. Who knows how things will shape up?

I saw The Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian this week. I’d highly recommend it. I think if you liked the first one, you’ll like this one too.

Not much else to write about. I haven’t really kept the blog updated as much as I thought I would. Hopefully I can do better 🙂

Blind Fall

I took the time to read a novel this weekend. It wasn’t that disruptive as I basically read it in one day. I would highly recommend “Blind Fall” by Christopher Rice. He’s the son of Ann Rice who is famous for the Vampire Chronicles novels. He’s written four books, which I guess would all fall into the drama / thriller category, and they are all excellent. All the books also have some kind of gay theme running through them, which makes them especially appealing. The main character in this book is a straight marine vet who struggles to deal with the homosexuality of other characters in the book as he tries to remain faithful to a murdered marine buddy by finding his murderer and protecting his buddy’s male lover. It was a good story and very well written.

The Last Week

For Lent, I’m going to lead a book study of “The Last Week” by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. I highly recommend this book. It taught me a lot about the Easter story. The book uses the Biblical book of Mark to walk through the 8 days of Holy Week (Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday). Just the first chapter alone is worth the price of the book as it gives new meaning to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday. I’m looking forward to discussing the book with my church community.

Soulfully Gay

I just finished reading the book “Soulfully Gay” by Joe Perez. I had started it this summer but then didn’t touch it after school started. Now that the semester is done, I picked it up again. Perez has had an interesting journey. The subtitle of the book is “How Harvard, Sex, Drugs, and Integral Philosophy Drove Me Crazy and Brought Me Back to God.” The book was alternately fascinating and boring. And the ending of the book was just a weird fantasy based narrative type thing. I certainly didn’t get the point of it.

When Perez talks about his life in a straightforward way, I was interested. However, he too often veered off into discussions of Ken Wilber’s Integral Philosophy. It’s interesting on some level I guess, but Perez seems to think every problem in life is a result of the level of consciousness one is at. It got to be overkill. For example, at one point Perez addresses the question of why so many people base their worldview in opposition to homosexuality. He then spends a couple of pages giving an answer based on people not having evolved to a higher level of consciousness. There may be some truth to that, but it seems to be over-analyzing to me. I think there is a simpler answer – humans crave security and order and homosexuality threatens their view of how things should be. Thus, they live in opposition to it. Fear of otherness is also at the root of racism, nationalism, and probably a few other -ism’s. This may all be explainable in terms of level of consciousness, but doing so, I think, makes the problem too distant and doesn’t offer practical answers. What sounds more addressable – helping people overcome a fear of the other or helping people raise themselves to a higher level of consciousness? Maybe I’m just not advanced enough to “get it.” If I had to grade this book, I’d give it a C+.

Viktor Frankl and gay marriage

Frankl, who is the subject of my class paper, was a psychologist and the founder of Logotherapy. He taught that humanity’s basic drive is to find meaning in life. This happens in one of three ways:

1) through a work (book, art, etc.) or deed
2) an experience or encounter (beauty of nature, love for another, etc.)
3) one’s attitude in the face of suffering (being able to see it as opportunity for growth, test of dignity, etc.)

Frankl himself was a Jew who survived four different concentration camps during World War II. His book “Man’s Search For Meaning” recalls his experiences there.

A couple of quotes from that book on the subject of Love:

“Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self.” (p. 58)
“Love is as primary a phenomenon as sex. Normally, sex is a mode of expression for love. Sex is justified, even sanctified, as soon as, but only as long as, it is a vehicle of love. Thus love is not understood as a mere side-effect of sex; rather, sex is a way of expressing the experience of that ultimate togetherness which is called love.” (p. 134)

Now, what got me thinking about these quotes was a political issue I mentioned below – gay marriage. Any argument I’ve heard against gay marriage has been in terms of religion. Most of those arguments are pretty weak and amount to some Christians declaring “the Bible says being gay is bad”. Well, plenty of Christians also support gay marriage, including the United Church of Christ, which as a denomination has voted to support gay marriage (even though individual UCC churches may still oppose it). I don’t even want to get into a Biblical argument – I probably won’t be able to convince anyone that way and they won’t be able to convert me to their view either. People will believe what they want to believe (especially when the beliefs are grounded in fear of otherness).

For me, marriage comes down to love (hence why I started thinking of the Frankl quotes). Why should some group of Christians dictate that I can’t marry the person I love? Frankly, my own Christian church would (and has) performed a same sex marriage. So, if my church recognizes such a marriage, why does the government refuse to recognize it in favor of opposing religious beliefs? What is the non-religious reason to deny gay marriage? I suppose even if you remove the Bible from the equation, people will still argue that recognizing gay marriage will destroy moral order and cause societies to collapse. Funny, though, that Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Massachusetts still seem to be standing and have not fallen into the general moral chaos that some would predict. So, why? Why is my love less worthy than the love of a conservative Christian? Well, of course, it isn’t.

In a previous post, I said gay marriage wasn’t a major issue. But, I think it really is. If a candidate isn’t supporting gay marriage then, for me, they are supporting one religious view point over others because they think it will get them votes (unless someone can give me a non-religious reason to deny same sex marriage). And in the process of endorsing government favored religious view points, they are not recognizing the worth of my love – my very humanity.

randomness

Some random thoughts…

Political issues of importance… to update my list…

Health care
Peace (as opposed to “defense” or “terrorism”… I’m not a pacifist but we’ve gone way beyond justifiable force…)
Global Warming
GLBT issues (marriage, ENDA, etc.)
Economy

Next… went shopping this morning… I generally don’t go for the after Thanksgiving sales, but $3 DVDs? Had to pick up a few new movies at that price, less than the price of a rental.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, what am I thankful for? Family, friends, … that really seems to be the most important thing in life… which is funny since relationships can often be so difficult.

I also made a facebook page yesterday while procrastinating on a paper I’m supposed to be writing for school. Not sure why I need a facebook page but it seems to be what everyone is doing these days 🙂

The paper I’m writing is on Viktor Frankl. What an incredible man he was. I like a lot of his ideas… they seem very appropriate to my experience of life. I just wish the paper was going faster 🙂 If you don’t know anything about Frankl, go read “Man’s Search For Meaning.” It’s the book he is most known for.

Mac software recommendation

Ok, I’m not sure if I should plug products or not, but I came across this shareware at http://bruji.com/. I bought the bookpedia and dvdpedia programs to inventory my books and movies. I really like the programs. They’re perfect for what I wanted. If you have a Mac and you’re a little anal and want to easily inventory your crap, then I’d recommend taking a look at them.

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