Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Falsity of False Falseness

So, there it is. For the past five or so months I had been living with no television reception-I cancelled
DirecTV and had no antenna hooked up. Life was quieter, and not bad,  though I did miss Baseball.
For Christmas I decided to buy a digital antenna and hook up my big TV; now I get four or five channels, and just finished with the last day of the NFL reg season.
As an American Human Being I have grown up watching TV; my first TV memory was the coverage of
John Kennedy's funeral, which made an impression because that entire episode was broadcast for days.
After my five month respite from TV, what struck my eyes was the proliferation of happy people in commercials, most of them gorgeous/handsome, interacting in some sort of blissful reality that seems to occur
every six minutes. You know what I mean-Football plays until a time out, and then the happy people come on, drinking beer (RESPONSIBLY!) or having emotional epiphanies because they are driving a sleek new car or powerful new truck.
Shiny happy people may make for a crummy '90's song, or exist in an altered reality ala "The Matrix" on TV commercials, but the facade`can be dangerous to your equilibrium, chum.
Of course, we know that the shiny happy people are merely shilling for products. We KNOW that we are being targeted for commerce. It's always been that way-tobacco companies in the far distant past encouraged Hollywood filmmakers to include smoking in their productions-a film critic recently remarked that 'no one smoked a cigarette like Aldo Ray'.
But many of the young people who took up smoking in an attempt to look as cool as the moviestars now have succumbed to lung cancer. Oooops!
The beer commercials which highlight happy drinking don't ever include 50 year old alcoholics whose lives have been ruined by drink. There's no old guy in the corner of the bar of beautiful/handsome young partiers who has just thrown his paycheck into the barkeep's coffers.
Likewise, the car/truck commercials, especially those shouting the news of a special 'sales event' never show the happy people making do with a ten year old van, like those of us in the real world drive. They also don't seem to have any room in the commercials for repossessed cars and truck sold to chumps who bought into last year's sales promotion only to find that, amazingly, their paychecks don't stretch far enough.
Someone made a lovely movie with the concept of the happy shiny people in commercials existing in our 'real' world. It was called, "The Jones" and the concept was quite interesting-to boost sales, fake family units were placed in high retail markets by ad marketeers to show the upscale chumps (consumers) all the happiness that could be theirs...if they had the same stuff that the fake families enjoyed.
Believe it or not, it isn't a comedy (I think). One of the upscale chumps who has tried to keep up with "The Jones" gets so far in the red that he decides to kill himself. How he does it fits the movie perfectly, and I wouldn't want to spoil it for you.
I know there is quite a bit of yammering about 'going over a financial cliff'. I think it will be more akin to a financial dust bowl, where no one has much of anything. Whatever happens, the happy shiny people of TV adverts will always be there with their fake happy lives. To cheer us up?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Game Is Afoot In Both Worlds

Enough with this 2012 stuff already! I am more than willing to cross the last few days off of the calendar and get on with the pains and miseries awaiting us in 2013. I want my fiscal cliff!
Not really. But I have had enough of 2012, and am looking forward to being done with it.
I admit that from time to time I might wax a bit theological here at FDW-it can't all be car crashes and political jawing.
Christians know all about living in a transitional time, being done with the present and looking for a better future. My hope goes way beyond 2013 into Eternity, after Christ returns and sets this world aright.
But for now, we all live transitionally, aliens in this alienated world.
Bye the bye-Christians are not all united in HOW to live in this world. You've got true believers who live in Christian enclaves, who fear the world's influence on their 'walk'. They do all that they can to keep the world at arms length, to keep from being sullied by the world.
And then there is me.
I don't believe that Christians are to fear the world's influence. If anything, the world fears our influence; we carry the Gospel to a world that doesn't want to hear it. To an unbeliever, a Christian praying in public is just as dangerous as a Muslim suicide bomber.
"I don't care what they do in that Church-it's offensive if they try to tell ME that I'm going to hell!"
I've mentioned it here before, someone else's analogy:
"Christians are the salt of the earth. But if they keep in their stained glass salt shakers (churches) they do no good for the world."
Jesus ate with sinners. He didn't spend all of His time in the Temple, only interacting with the Priests and Pharisees. He went downtown. He went uptown. He went to Galilee and Gadara, places filled with (whisper it) non-Jews, unbelievers.
I'm not trying to justify my non-religious life(without)style. I'm simply not afraid of the world's influence on me. I trust that when I get it wrong (which is often), God corrects me and I move forward. I know that He doesn't smile any brighter on those Christians who try to please Him by keeping unstained by the world.
While we are here, that is an impossibility. In Heaven, it won't even be an issue.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Better Christmas

Recently I mentioned something good that I would ask permission to share here:

At work the other night I was taking a break, talking with a coworker when Jerry came in and sat with us.
I’ve known Jerry for years-one of the many hats he wears is a Santa hat-he has been THE Santa in our town for a long time-parties, school classes, nursing homes-Jerry is Santa for all of us.
Here’s what he told us that night:
“We (he has a lady friend who is Mrs. Claus) were just at the nursing home and this lady, I got this lady, 104 years old, to sit on my lap.
I said, Mabel, if you sit on my lap I’ll sing you a song. And she did, and it was so sweet.
Now this lady had been my Sunday school teacher for ten years over at the Gospel Tab, and I sang her a song that she had taught me.
By the time I finished, tears were rolling down her cheeks, and mine.
She said, “That song brings back so many memories!”
Santa got as good a gift as he gave tonight.

May God Bless you and your family this Christmas and into the New year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Sad Christmas Is Okay, Too

Okay-I ordered myself a Christmas present, even though I've been bad this year. If you look to the right of the page, you will notice a link to Movie Morlocks, the Turner Classic Movies film blog where film critics, historians, film reviewers/academics write about movies. The great unwashed film-loving public (including me) comment and discuss (but rarely cuss) film posts there.
On a post about Documentary film, I mentioned one of my favorites from long ago-thinking of it impulsed me
to order it, and now it should show up from Amazon sometime in the new year:
"Horowitz in Moscow" from 1986-the return of Vladimir Horowitz to Russia after 60 plus wandering the globe as a musical refugee. It was filmed by CBS News, hosted by Charles Kuralt, and Horowitz and the music are wonderful.
But enough about that.
In an earlier post I favored a Puritan Christmas, meaning no tinsel, no tree, no presents, no mas.
But we are not all Puritans, and the rest of us who have Christmas indoctrination from a lifetime of celebrating know in our inner canalized being that we are supposed to be Merry at Christmas, or it just won't be Christmas!
Unicorn feathers. We are supposed to be honest with ourselves and each other-(that assumption, naive as it sounds, is one of the building blocks of our societal structure) and if we are honest, we admit that sometimes Christmas is sad, and that is just fine.
I'm thinking of the families in Newtown Connecticut.
I'm thinking of my friends who have each recently lost their parents.
I'm thinking of my friend in the hospital in whom they discovered Cancer while looking to fix something else.
I'm thinking of the millions out of work who face an uncertain future because of the poor economy.
Sad Christmas. I don't mean the morose Christmas, 'holiday blues' want to commit suicide kind of sad.
I mean the not pretending that all is Merry and Bright, that we are HAPPY merely because of the calendar.
For Christians, every day is Christmas, Sabbath and Resurrection Day. We live each day with Joy, even when we are sorrowful, and I can't explain that to you except to say that it is a gift from God, that such Joy is not emotive but is tied to our thankfulness for Salvation and for having become a part of God's family. Christians in prison cells being tortured for their faith still have Joy. It is one of the gifts that keeps on being given by God.
If you find yourself sitting in the middle of a sad Christmas, don't beat yourself up over it. It will be over soon. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Made A Big Mistake

This most recent tragedy,  the school shooting in Connecticut, is horrifying. So many young lives, innocents killed...there aren't words. Usually there is a measure of Grace-the gun will jam, the killer will be stopped before many are killed-not this time. The coward took himself out at the last, so there is some grace, some justice in that.
What do we do with such tragedy? We are too well practiced now in living with terrible events-we go about our days, remembering that Connecticut happened but, if our lives are not personally touched this time, we keep moving-we do what we do.
I'm a movie guy, amongst many other hats I wear. Tonight I finally watched "The Dark Knight Rises" and, in the aftermath of the Connecticut shooting, I couldn't get into it-there is a lot of gunfire, death and destruction in the film. It just felt wrong to watch such fake drama so soon after true drama has happened, but I thought it might be cathartic, as I knew that in a movie such as this, the good guys win (eventually).
And it just occurred to me that this is the film which was playing in that movie theater in Colorado. sigh
We do what we do. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Good Old Fashioned Puritan Christmas

An off-hand remark by my Pastor the other day has been digging its way into my consciousness-he mentioned that the Puritans did not celebrate Christmas, thought it to be rife with paganism. If they could only see NOW how right they were!
The Puritans were Christian men and women who had sought freedom from the religious persecution they experienced in the hands of Catholics and other pagans who seemed quite happy to stretch a martyr or two on the rack before heading up for their Christmas dinner...Football not having been invented yet.
So it is no surprise that the Puritans kinda sorta didn't want Christmas in their neck o' the woods. Of course, following the Puritans over to the Knew World were some Catholics who dedicated THEIR area to Mary and set about celebrating Christmas as we know it today-loud, crass, and clueless.
So I'm sitting at work the other night listening to Christmas music on my iPod, thinking about what to do for Christmas. I have no tree, I already put up the one (1) decoration which is my bow to custom...Pizza!
I've invited a few friends over for pizza and a movie or two. I just picked up the "From Russia With Love" Blu-ray the other day-maybe we'll Bond.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

...And So It Begins

It's twice as bad as 666, right?
People who haven't given a fig about the Mayans at any time in their lives are now cracking wise about "Doom Calendars" as if the Mayans were prescient oracles.
Mayans? They lived in a tropical climate, BUT did they live at the beach, like you or I would? No!
Did they invent air guitar? No! Did they have computers? Yes-but they only ran Windows NT.
Of course, no one actually believes that the world will end on 12-21-12, which the Mayans may or may(an) not have predicted...but something is up.
We joke about what worries us. It's a defense mech-if I can laugh about a Hitler's funny little mustache, for example, he doesn't seem so scary.
Likewisenheimer, people joke about God, Who IS scary.
Oh yes-the End Of The World. Joke away, nervous nellies/normans.
Christians have been talking about the End Times since...well, since the End Times began. Which I suggest may have been when Christ ascended to Heaven in Acts chapter 1:
"9And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 
10And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 
11They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:9-11
Did you catch that there at the end of the verses you didn't really look at? He will return again, which has been the hope for every Godly person in every generation since that day.
His return will mark the end of the world we know-this world of corruption and war and troubles will pass away. You may not LIKE what happens next, but I am loving it-a world of peace and good will towards Man, a world ruled by Christ from His city, Jerusalem.
I've spent 53 years (so far) in your world of botched human experiments in governance. If you survive past the tribulation period (of which the Mayans are silent) you will be living in my God's world. No joke.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Great Samaritans

I was just helped out today by some great neighbors who embodied the parable of the Good Samaritan:
I wasn't waylaid by robbers, but some slick snow on a county road did put me in a bad place-my truck spun 180 and nearly rolled over down a ditch.
Stuck I was, and tipped precariously. I called for help, but before any of my friends could get there, Great Samaritan #1 stopped and tried to pull me out. Didn't work. I thanked him and was going to call a tow truck when Great Samaritans #2 + #3 stopped to help-one ran home and got a 4 wheel drive jeep, the other had a good strap, and they got me back on the road; I thanked them greatly for saving me from the ditch of despair.
I WAS going to continue to my friend's house, but I just didn't have enough traction, so I went back to town and put 300 pounds of sand in the back...and came home. Enough excitement for today; my friend was very understanding.
I thank God for those Great Samaritans, and I will be there for others just as they have been there for me.
It makes for a happier world.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Those Crazy Christians, Eh?

Of course, there is crazy and then there is crazy. Like a fox or like a fool.
Not that she is crazy, but one Christian suggested to me recently that the reason President Obama was re-elected was because Christians didn't do enough, pray enough.
I reject that; I believe that God, for His own purposes, left President Obama in power.
No matter how fervently we prayed or worked for his defeat, we accept evil from the hand of God as readily, as joyfully as we accept good. He is in charge, and if we pray and work against His plan, our efforts are futile. Better to pray, "Thy Will be done" and leave it at that.
I believe that God is getting this planet ready for judgement, is about to make things much worse rather than better. The re-election of President Obama might be a tiny part of that.
12Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 
13“Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it and cut off from it both man and beast, 
14even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,” declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 14:12-14

Note that the verse above doesn't mention Israel or Judah-"...if a country" sins against God by committing unfaithfulness-which could be said of our entire world-and God stretches out His hand against it...big time tribulations like you've never conceived. Like you can't imagine. Worse than that.
17“Or if I should bring a sword on that country and say, ‘Let the sword pass through the country and cut off man and beast from it,’ 
18even though these three men were in its midst, as I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “they could not deliver either their sons or their daughters, but they alone would be delivered. 
19“Or if I should send a plague against that country and pour out My wrath in blood on it to cut off man and beast from it, 
20even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “they could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” Ezekiel 14:17-20

Some Christians have maintained that God has blessed America because of our Christian heritage-we were settled by pilgrims, Christian men and women seeking religious freedom after being martyred and persecuted in Europe.
Righteousness is not a gift handed down from one generation to the next-and our generation is living in a country and world ripe for judgement.
If Noah, Daniel and Job were in OUR midst...they could only deliver themselves by their righteousness.
Long story short: God takes care of His children, and we Christians have nothing to fear.
God also promises to 'take care of' those who reject Him...and those people should be fearing bigtime.
Sure, it may sound crazy to non-Christians, that we trust in God. Call me crazy if you like-I think your time would be better spent seeking God's forgiveness. He still saves sinners...for now.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

My Precocious

well. That was a good start-I just finished the first half of "The Fellowship Of The Ring"-each of the movies is split over two Bluray discs so that the digi information isn't too squeezed-all the colors and sounds and images are as they should be. I think I can only take in one disc per sitting, so it may take awhile to trudge all the way through to Mordor.
Funny-the Norse mythologies, with Elves and Dwarves and Man (oh my!) set J.R.R. Tolkien on his adventure of writing one classic, and here in 2012 one of the biggest movies of the Summer had both Thor, the god of thunder and his trixter brother Loki kicking around Manhattan.
With "The Hobbit" just over our horizon, we will be back in Middle Earth for awhile-if you have Blu capabilities and a decent screen, I encourage you to pick up the LOTR hobb...habit. Habit.