Dining at the feast of movies

At the feast of movies, I’d like to leave gluttony, judgment and fear behind me. I know that I am free to eat almost anything, but I want to be strong and fit, disciplining myself to a diet of excellent, nourishing work.

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Dessert? Alcohol? In moderation, on occasion.

As a critic, I feel more like the nutritionist—doing my best to counsel others on a balanced diet that serves their individual needs and respects their sensitivities. But I also want to be the kind of connoisseur who can speak knowledgeably about the culinary arts. I want to speak with eloquence about Sophia Coppola’s sauces, the exquisite wines of Eric Rohmer and the finer point of Martin Scorsese’s pasta.

But the more I learn, the more I’m in danger of becoming another character at the table—the snob. It would be easy for me to leave behind enjoyment of the simpler sorts of films and demand only the most sophisticated work, sneering at those who don’t understand or appreciate it. I have, at times, ranted against the ignorance of others, forgetting that I was once at their place in the journey.

If my enthusiasm for films as cerebral as Russian Ark or Werckmeister Harmonies makes me pretentious or condescending to those in line for blockbusters, then I have lost my perspective on the purpose of art. The goal is not to see the most obscure movies or even to be the greatest interpreter. If these experiences aren’t strengthening my conscience as well as my intellect, what good are they?

Henry Miller once wrote, “Art is only a means to live, to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way, something which is overlooked not only by the public, but very often by the artist himself. In becoming an end it defeats itself.”

If dining at the table of movies becomes my primary focus, I am forgetting the purpose of the meal. It is served to give me strength so that I can return to my life stronger, healthier and closer to being whole.

Jeffrey Overstreet
Through a Screen Darkly: Looking Closer at Beauty, Truth and Evil in the Movies
p. 93-94

A drunk answers “Why am I to be pitied?” — Crime and Punishment

“What are you to be pitied for?” shouted the tavern-keeper who was again near them.

Shouts of laughter and even oaths followed. The laughter and the oaths came from those who were listening and also from those who had heard nothing but were simply looking at the figure of the discharged government clerk.

“To be pitied! Why am I to be pitied?” Marmeladov suddenly declaimed, standing up with his arm outstretched, as though he had been only waiting for that question.

“Why am I to be pitied, you say? Yes! there’s nothing to pity me for! I ought to be crucified, crucified on a cross, not pitied! Crucify me, oh judge, crucify me but pity me! And then I will go of myself to be crucified, for it’s not merry-making I seek but tears and tribulation!… Do you suppose, you that sell, that this pint of yours has been sweet to me? It was tribulation I sought at the bottom of it, tears and tribulation, and have found it, and I have tasted it; but He will pity us Who has had pity on all men, Who has understood all men and all things, He is the One, He too is the judge. He will come in that day and He will ask: ‘Where is the daughter who gave herself for her cross, consumptive step-mother and for the little children of another? Where is the daughter who had pity upon the filthy drunkard, her earthly father, undismayed by his beastliness?’ And He will say, ‘Come to me! I have already forgiven thee once…. I have forgiven thee once…. Thy sins which are many are forgiven thee for thou hast loved much….’ And he will forgive my Sonia, He will forgive, I know it… I felt it in my heart when I was with her just now! And He will judge and will forgive all, the good and the evil, the wise and the meek…. And when He has done with all of them, then He will summon us. ‘You too come forth,’ He will say, ‘Come forth ye drunkards, come forth, ye weak ones, come forth, ye children of shame!’ And we shall all come forth, without shame and shall stand before him. And He will say unto us, ‘Ye are swine, made in the Image of the Beast and with his mark; but come ye also!’ And the wise ones and those of understanding will say, ‘Oh Lord, why dost Thou receive these men?’ And He will say, ‘This is why I receive them, oh ye wise, this is why I receive them, oh ye of understanding, that not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this.’ And He will hold out His hands to us and we shall fall down before him… and we shall weep… and we shall understand all things! Then we shall understand all!… and all will understand, Katerina Ivanovna even… she will understand…. Lord, Thy kingdom come!” And he sank down on the bench exhausted, and helpless, looking at no one, apparently oblivious of his surroundings and plunged in deep thought. His words had created a certain impression; there was a moment of silence; but soon laughter and oaths were heard again.

Dostoyevsky–Crime and Punishment, Part 1 Chapter 2

Reading

Not that anyone actually cares, but I’ve never been a big reader. That has changed over the last four and a half years since I left Seminary. Now I read more than some, but not as much as others. I want to continue to grow and mature as a writer, preacher, theologian, pastor, husband, father, what have you. I decided to keep a list of books on this blog that I’ve finished reading for the year. 

This will only include the books that I’ve read. I will not bore you with the articles, sermons, journals and what have you’s that I read on a weekly basis as part of my sermon preparation. Even I find that stuff boring and tedious at times. Some of the time it’s twenty pages of garbage for one insight, that gets mulled together with the rest of the garbage in my head just waiting to be strained out or thrown down in the middle of a Bible Study on some later date.

I’ll update the page with titles when finished. 

Post Vacation Gladness

One thing I missed while my wife was still on vacation for about 2.5 weeks after I got home, besides my family in general, was the nighttime reading that we would do as a family. Tonight after we got back from our Winkel (read: circuit) Fall Picnic we read one of Jen’s favorite kid books, Squids Will be Squids by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. The book has 18 fables for children that are at the same time deranged but humorous. Here is one of my favorites from tonight’s read through. It’s called Straw & Matches:

It was the end of summer vacation. Straw had done everything he could think of. He was bored. So he went over to play with someone he had been warned to stay away from.

“Let’s play checkers,” said Straw

“Okay I’m the red ones I get to move first I get two moves and you get one,” said Matches.

“Forget it,” said Straw. “Let’s play Ping-Pong instead.”

“Okay I get the good paddle you stand on that side I get to serve first and you have to close one eye,” said Matches.

“Never mind,” said Straw. “Maybe we should just watch TV.”

“Okay you sit over there on the floor I’ll sit on the couch I get the remote and we have to watch my favorite video,” said Matches.

“I think I hear my mom calling,” said Straw. “I’d better go.”

moral: Don’t play with matches.

Conclusion of Augsburg Confession

1] These are the chief articles which seem to be in controversy. For although we might have spoken of more abuses, yet, to avoid undue length, we have set forth the chief points, from which the rest may be readily judged. 2] There have been great complaints concerning indulgences, pilgrimages, and the abuse of excommunications. The parishes have been vexed in many ways by the dealers in indulgences. There were endless contentions between the pastors and the monks concerning the parochial right, confessions, burials, sermons on extraordinary occasions, and 3] innumerable other things. Issues of this sort we have passed over so that the chief points in this matter, having been briefly set forth, might be the more readily understood. 4]Nor has anything been here said or adduced to the reproach of any one. 5] Only those things have been recounted whereof we thought that it was necessary to speak, in order that it might be understood that in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic. For it is manifest that we have taken most diligent care that no new and ungodly doctrine should creep into our churches.

6] The above articles we desire to present in accordance with the edict of Your Imperial Majesty, in order to exhibit our Confession and let men see a summary of the doctrine of our teachers. 7] If there is anything that any one might desire in this Confession, we are ready, God willing, to present ampler information according to the Scriptures.

Father’s Day gift

After Holy Trinity Sunday service and a Deacon’s (Trustee’s) Meeting I came home. For lunch I had some leftover pizza with Jen and the kids. When I got up to get my slice from the toaster over I came back to my two year old son saying ‘Surprise!’.

At my place at the table I saw some cards, one made by my wife with pics for my office, and a few others that the kids colored for me. There was also a present:

I’m so excited. I can’t wait to  start doing some of the things inside this book with my kids when they get old enough.

 

For those that are interested here’s the Amazon summary:

Today’s generation of dads grew up more tech-savvy than ever. Rather than joining the Little League team, many grew up playing computer games, Dungeons and Dragons, and watching Star Wars. Now with kids of their own, these digital-age dads are looking for fresh ways to share their love of science and technology, and help their kids develop a passion for learning and discovery.

Enter supergeek, and father of two, Ken Denmead. An engineer and editor of the incredibly popular GeekDad blog on wired.com, Ken has created the ultimate, idea-packed guide guaranteed to help dads and kids alike enjoy the magic of playtime together and tap into the infinite possibility of their imagination. With illustrations throughout, this book offers projects for all ages to suit any timeframe or budget. With Denmead’s expert guidance, you and your child can:

•Fly a night-time kite ablaze with lights or launch a video camera with balloons

•Construct the “Best Slip n’ Slide Ever,” a guaranteed thrill ride

•Build a working lamp with LEGO bricks and CDs

•Create a customized comic strip or your own board game

•Make geeky crafts like cyborg jack-o’-lanterns or Ethernet cuff links

Brimming with endlessly fun and futuristic tidbits on everything from gaming to gadgets, GeekDad helps every tech-savvy father unleash his inner kid-and bond with the next generation of brainiacs. (edited by author)

About the Author

Ken Denmead is the editor of GeekDad, a blog on Wired magazine’s Web site. A professional civil engineer, he lives near San Francisco with his wife and two sons, who are both geeks in training.

Children Books

For the last few weeks Jen and the kids have gone to the Library in town  every Wednesday. They leave with a bag full of books to return and come back home with even more books to read, which on average, is around 20. Jen and I read each book an average of ten times. For those math wizards, we read around 200 books a week to our son. Thankfully, he’s only two, so we aren’t talking War and Peace length here.

Ephraim’s favorite author right now is Mo Willems a former writer for Sesame Street. Bear needs to get his books every time he’s there. He really loves the Elephant and Piggie books, and Knuffle Bunny. It doesn’t matter if he’s gotten one of these series out every week for the last two months, he always wants to read them.  He’s even started to read these books to his sister, which is just an awesome thing to see.