Inception & dreams

Upon the recommendation of many of you, we saw “Inception.” What I like are complicated, mutli-leveled, twisting plots. This qualified. So thank you for the suggestion.

My one problem with the movie is that it depicted dreams, and yet nothing in those depictions was remotely dream-like! There was none of that combination of seeming logic and actual illogic, no shifting of place, no fantasy, no archetypes. “Alice in Wonderland” does a good job of recreating what dreams are like (the book and possibly the Disney cartoon, emphatically not the recent Tim Burton travesty). So does Spenser’s “Faerie Queene” and MacDonald’s “Phantastes.” I’m trying to think of movies that capture that. Are there any? Or are movies, by their nature, too literal?

(I’ve thought of a few: “Andalusian Dog”; Jean Cocteau’s “Orfeo” and “Beauty and the Beast”)

More thoughts on Anne Rice

Thanks for the good discussion on the weekend’s post about Anne Rice rejecting Christianity, while still saying that she believes in Christ. The comments include more quotations from her about what she means by that, as well as thought-provoking insights from all sides. I was heartened that she has apparently agreed to consider Rod Rosenbladt’s presentation “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church” [see the sidebar on this blog for New Reformation Press].

I definitely think she is broken by the Church, in this sense. But in another sense I’m realizing that the Church, in the sense of actual churches, are not the ones defining Christianity in people’s minds. Instead, the phenomenon of the “parachurch”–all of the ministries and organizations and activities outside of local congregations–has taken on that role.

Anne Rice is a Roman Catholic. To take up her specific reasons for repudiating Christianity, Catholics are a major part of the base of the Democratic party, so they are hardly anti-Democrat. Catholics are pro-science to the point of accepting evolution. They are pro-life now to the point of pacifism. Yes, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a moral “disorder,” but many priests are gay. Feminism is rampant in many women’s religious orders. Yes, the Church rejects artificial birth control, but hardly any Catholics in the USA at least follow that.

The stances she is rejecting characterize conservative Protestants, but she has never been one of those. And actual conservative Protestant churches don’t always obsess about these issues on Sunday mornings. But their ecumenical cultural and political activism the rest of the week does. Yet THAT is what defines Christianity today.

The other irony is that she could find plenty of mainline liberal denominations that agree with her stances completely! The ELCA, for example. And yet she never even considers those as an alternative. That shows her integrity, recognizing that liberal Christianity has nothing to offer even to a liberal! (Why do you think that is?)

Anne Rice

Anne Rice, the author of literate vampire novels who embraced Christianity, now says that she is no longer a Christian:

I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

“In the name of Christ”? In her books about Him, she affirms His deity and His redemptive acts. Does she no longer believe those things? How would her disagreements with other Christians on these issues mean that Christ is no longer God and Savior? And certainly many Christians are gay, feminist, Democrats, humanists, scientists, and use birth control (she is or was a Roman Catholic), though with differences from the secularists, who are most definitely not pro-life!

I actually had a touching correspondence with her when she “came out” as a Christian. I wrote about that and reviewed her book Christ the Lord. She responded, saying that I understood what she was trying to say exactly. So my heart hurts to hear that she is repudiating her faith.

What would you say to her?

HT: Webmonk

Movie drought

I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve been to an actual movie theater. Summer is my time to go to movies, but I haven’t been to any. None of the recent releases have seemed remotely interesting to me.

Long airplane trips with entertainment consoles have given me a chance to catch up a little, but what disappointment. “Clash of the Titans” was Greek mythology filtered through the new atheism. The theme was “Man must become free of the gods!” Besides that tiresome anachronism, the movie got all of the myths wrong! Thinking to improve on some of the greatest and most wondrous tales of Western civilization, the movie reduced Perseus to an action hero.

Then there was “Alice in Wonderland,” another film that sounded good. But Tim Burton drained the story of all of its humor, logic, fun, and, well, wonder. He tried to make it dark. He turned Alice into an action hero.

The worst was “The Ghost Writer,” in which director Roman Polanski–by the way, Switzerland has decided not to extradite him after all for fleeing his U.S. conviction for statutory rape of a 13-year-old child–sets up a ponderous tale that asks, in effect, how could a thinly-veiled British Prime Minister Tony Blair support the Bush war on terrorism? The movie imagines an ex-prime minister charged with war crimes for that. The reason turns out to be that he was essentially a plant by the CIA who has been running England for years.

So, help me. What have been some good movies lately? I know, the new “Toy Story” and “Shrek.” I’ll Netflix those eventually. (Though I’m running out of movies I want to see on Netflix!) But is there anything not kid-oriented? Our wedding anniversary is coming up, and we always go to a movie as part of the celebration. What should we go to? “Inception” does sound interesting. Is it any good, or will it just annoy me?

Oil spill damage exaggerated?

This is not from an anti-environmentalist skeptic but from Time Magazine:

The Deepwater Horizon explosion was an awful tragedy for the 11 workers who died on the rig, and it’s no leak; it’s the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. It’s also inflicting serious economic and psychological damage on coastal communities that depend on tourism, fishing and drilling. But so far — while it’s important to acknowledge that the long-term potential danger is simply unknowable for an underwater event that took place just three months ago — it does not seem to be inflicting severe environmental damage. “The impacts have been much, much less than everyone feared,” says geochemist Jacqueline Michel, a federal contractor who is coordinating shoreline assessments in Louisiana.

Yes, the spill killed birds — but so far, less than 1% of the number killed by the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska 21 years ago. Yes, we’ve heard horror stories about oiled dolphins — but so far, wildlife-response teams have collected only three visibly oiled carcasses of mammals. Yes, the spill prompted harsh restrictions on fishing and shrimping, but so far, the region’s fish and shrimp have tested clean, and the restrictions are gradually being lifted. And yes, scientists have warned that the oil could accelerate the destruction of Louisiana’s disintegrating coastal marshes — a real slow-motion ecological calamity — but so far, assessment teams have found only about 350 acres of oiled marshes, when Louisiana was already losing about 15,000 acres of wetlands every year.

The disappearance of more than 2,000 sq. mi. of coastal Louisiana over the past century has been a true national tragedy, ravaging a unique wilderness, threatening the bayou way of life and leaving communities like New Orleans extremely vulnerable to hurricanes from the Gulf. And while much of the erosion has been caused by the re-engineering of the Mississippi River — which no longer deposits much sediment at the bottom of its Delta — quite a bit has been caused by the oil and gas industry, which gouged 8,000 miles of canals and pipelines through coastal wetlands. But the spill isn’t making that problem much worse. Coastal scientist Paul Kemp, a former Louisiana State University professor who is now a National Audubon Society vice president, compares the impact of the spill on the vanishing marshes to “a sunburn on a cancer patient.”

Marine scientist Ivor van Heerden, another former LSU prof, who’s working for a spill-response contractor, says, “There’s just no data to suggest this is an environmental disaster. I have no interest in making BP look good — I think they lied about the size of the spill — but we’re not seeing catastrophic impacts.” Van Heerden, like just about everyone else working in the Gulf these days, is being paid from BP’s spill-response funds. “There’s a lot of hype, but no evidence to justify it.”

The scientists I spoke with cite four basic reasons the initial eco-fears seem overblown. First, the Deepwater oil, unlike the black glop from the Valdez, is unusually light and degradable, which is why the slick in the Gulf is dissolving surprisingly rapidly now that the gusher has been capped. Second, the Gulf of Mexico, unlike Alaska’s Prince William Sound, is very warm, which has helped bacteria break down the oil. Third, heavy flows of Mississippi River water have helped keep the oil away from the coast, where it can do much more damage. And finally, Mother Nature can be incredibly resilient.

via BP Oil Spill: Has Environmental Damage Been Exaggerated? – TIME.

The Wet Blanket Movement

Joe Carter at First Things is leery of the Tea Party Movement, saying that true conservatives don’t like enthusiasm or protest demonstrations. He proposes an alternative program to limit government:  The Wet Blanket Movement.  Unfortunately, he says, the proper leader of this movement is dead.  That would be Calvin Coolidge.  He quotes Walter Lippman on the great man:

Mr. Coolidge’s genius for inactivity is developed to a very high point. It is far from being an indolent inactivity. It is a grim, determined, alert inactivity which keeps Mr. Coolidge occupied constantly. Nobody has ever worked harder at inactivity, with such force of character, with such unremitting attention to detail, with such conscientious devotion to the task. Inactivity is a political philosophy and a party program with Mr. Coolidge, and nobody should mistake his unflinching adherence to it for the soft and easy desire to let things slide. Mr. Coolidge’s inactivity is not merely the absence of activity. It is on the contrary a steady application to the task of neutralizing and thwarting political activity wherever there are signs of life.

The White House is extremely sensitive to the first symptoms of any desire on the part of Congress or of the executive departments to do something, and the skill with which Mr. Coolidge can apply a wet blanket to an enthusiast is technically marvelous. There have been Presidents in our time who knew how to whip up popular enthusiasm. There has never been Mr. Coolidge’s equal in the art of deflating interest. The mastery of what might be called the technique of anti-propaganda is worthy of prolonged study by students of public opinion. The naive statesmen of the pre-Coolidge era imagined that it was desirable to interest the people in their government, that public discussion was a good thing, that indignation at evil was useful. Mr. Coolidge is more sophisticated. He has discovered the value of diverting attention from government, and with exquisite subtly that amounts to genius, he has used dullness and boredom as political devices.

via Calvin Coolidge and the Wet Blanket Movement » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.