Monthly Archives: February 2006

darwin/Fish

That one believes strongly in a “comprehensive religion,” that one considers it worth dying for and worth re-shaping society around, in most cases, makes one want to rise up and share the new Word, to defend it eloquently and with passion. It will necessarily involve dialogue and discussion. There is literally no other way to affirm its truth. It is because he wants his beliefs to prevail that dialogue is an essential tenet in his creed.
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looking for authorship in the Christian world, pt. 1

We need not go so far as the ambitious souls at the Jesus Seminar in order to have questions about the most orthodox account of the origin of the books of the Bible. Specifically, the question arises, for a person of faith, earnestly seeking God with an unfettered heart and an unclouded mind: is the Bible, from beginning to end, the Word of God, or does it simply contain the Word?
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held back by a name

From a notebook, dated 1 Nov 2002: I know there are no conversion experiences; Nothing changes when you find faith. You are the same today as your were yesterday; The paths of your mind lead to their same overgrown ends; … Continue reading

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pimp my fat

I had my teeth scraped a few weeks ago by a dental hygienist on whose ancestral graves I had, apparently, unwittingly urinated. She was vindictive, brutal, and, like sadists and abusers everywhere, gleefully willing to turn responsibility for my pain back on my head: “You know why it’s like this? It’s because you don’t floss.” This said as she was picking under my gums with a metal hook.
Man, I’d rather do that again than see Date Movie. At least I would come away with clean teeth instead of a dirty soul.
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Are you the King of the Jews?

We find Christ’s physical, human, and divine natures neatly summarized in Matthew 4, in the parable of Christ’s “temptation” by Satan. On the one hand, Christ suffered the same bodily needs and human desires as any other man (the voice of Satan, “the tempter,” who represents physical hunger, pride before God, and the love of temporal power). On the other hand, the perfection of His “station of divine appearance” enabled him to meet these needs and desires with spiritual responses.
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the indian in the cupboard

It’s hard for me to write a lot about Terence Malick’s The New World, which is beautiful, demanding, and near-perfect in its admittedly circumscribed sphere. It’s hard because the romance here, a contrived story in which Captain John Smith woos Indian princess Pocahontas, then cryptically dumps her, is so saddening, despite her ultimate triumph. In part it’s sad because he is an older man taking brutal advantage of a younger woman; in part because Malick lets her stand in for Indians as a race and her personal disappointment for the disaster rapidly gaining on them; but mostly because the film makes obvious the maddening way we go about falling in love when we are young. Why, why must we spend our best passion, our sweetest, most brilliant smiles, touches, our sudden, stopping breaths on people we have no hope of keeping? Why do so many of us have so little left to bring to the person we finally, really love, and who finally, really loves us? Jesus, it’s painful.
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fewness of words, abundance of metaphors

Moreover, it’s not clear that even two “highly articulate well-educated native speaker[s]” would receive this poem the same way. Leaving aside such amusing speculations as “this poem is actually about taking someone’s virginity,” the poem is ambiguous. The key question — is the writer truly sorry? — can’t really be answered. Does our understanding of the poem change depending on whether it is written for a loved spouse, an unloved spouse, an obnoxious roommate, one’s child? Obviously it does; the cruelty of “Forgive me they were delicious” is much greater if written to a child for whom they were a special treat than if written to a roommate who had drunk the last of one’s milk the night before. Lacking this information, what do we feel motivates such needling? The poem seems humorous, whimsical — but, the more we re-read it, the more a certain self-criticism appears. Williams the poet is poking fun at Williams the greedy plum-eater, at his self-centeredness and obliviousness to someone else’s feelings, despite his attempt to observe social convention by apologizing.
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