Coming in December: Cinematic revolution?

Have you heard about this? The headline says it all:Avatar: How James Cameron’s 3D film could change the face of cinema forever:

If you’ve had previous experience of 3D, your impression will probably be one of a flattish image with the occasional object ‘flying’ at you’.

But these advances are different – the entire screen has depth, taking on the appearance of a window through which the viewer is watching a ‘world’ on the screen, with a distinct foreground and background, rather than a flat, moving painting

In effect, the cinema screen becomes a theatre stage.

There’s still at least one throw-back to the ‘early days’ of 3D – viewers will need to wear glasses to get the illusion.

However these are not the red and green cardboard cut-outs you used to get free with Sugar Puffs before Comic Relief.

These are polarising glasses, untinted, which do not cause the headaches experienced in the past, or more importantly rely on frequent ‘pans’ of the camera to make the image appear in 3D.

Each lens has a different filter , which removes different part of the image as it enters each eye. This gives the brain the illusion it is seeing the picture from two different angles, creating the 3D effect.

The film depicts a battle between Earth and the alien civilisation from Pandora – but who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?

Continuing to develop new technology as he went along, Cameron also devised a ‘virtual camera’, a hand-held monitor that allowed him to move through a 3D terrain.

This, Cameron said, allowed him to create ‘the ultimate immersive media’, which he anticipates will exceed any and all expectation.

Here is the trailer, unfortunately in mere 2-D:

Permissiveness, legalism, and the Gospel

That the ELCA approved same-gender sex is thought of by supporters as an act of tolerance and mercy, a triumph of the Gospel. But it isn’t. It denies the Gospel and substitutes another kind of legalism.

It is one thing to forgive sin. It is another to deny that the sin is a sin. The latter approach says that the sinner does not need forgiveness. He is not a sinner after all but a good person. We are back to legalism. Our status before God is based on how good we are.

Legalism can be harsh and rigid, but I’m not sure it usually is. The standard of God’s Law is so high that no one can really fulfill it, so instead, those who assume salvation is by obeying the law find ways around it. They find loopholes. They make excuses. They fixate on some rules that are easy for them to follow and ignore the weightier matters of the law. This is why legalists are often manifestly bad people. They obey laws easy for them, but they treat other people abominably. If even minor compliance proves too difficult, they can always take the next step of watering down the Law. The Law that condemns me I reject. It’s misinterpreted. It really means something else. It’s not a Law after all. So I am a good person.

What is sad, ironic, and tragic, is that free forgiveness abounds–for the sexual sinner and for the legalist. They just have to acknowledge their sinfulness. They have to own up to their sin, feel rather than suppress the guilt, and be sorry for their condition. Then the Gospel that Christ has borne that sin, paid its penalty, and in exchange imputes to the sinner His own righteousness is good news beyond all imagining.

But a church teaches that a sin is not a sin prevents the sinner from experiencing this Gospel.

Debt to reach 3/4 of the entire national economy?

The White House itself is predicting a rise in the national debt that is beyond comprehension:

Figures released by the White House budget office foresee a cumulative $9 trillion deficit from 2010-2019, $2 trillion more than the administration estimated in May. Moreover, the figures show the public debt doubling by 2019 and reaching three-quarters the size of the entire national economy.

The Wall Street Journal reports slightly smaller percentages but includes the fact that by the end of next year, the deficit will be close to two-thirds of the Gross Domestic Product: “The U.S. public debt will exceed 61% of gross domestic product by the end of 2010, the CBO said, with that figure rising to 68% of GDP by the end of 2019.”

The Gross Domestic Product this year is just over $14 trillion.

Mexico decriminalizes drugs

Mexico, in the midst of its war with drug dealers, has decriminalized the possession of drugs for personal use:

Mexico decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin on Friday—a move that prosecutors say makes sense even in the midst of the government’s grueling battle against drug traffickers.

Prosecutors said the new law sets clear limits that keep Mexico’s corruption-prone police from extorting casual users and offers addicts free treatment to keep growing domestic drug use in check.

“This is not legalization, this is regulating the issue and giving citizens greater legal certainty,” said Bernardo Espino del Castillo of the attorney general’s office.

The new law sets out maximum “personal use” amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities no longer face criminal prosecution.

Should the U.S.A. do the same? Or would that be a big mistake?

Does the health care plan cover abortion, or not?

Even the different factcheckers are getting confused about this critical question. The answer turns out to be very complicated, as is trying to understand this complicated bill. this article comes up with this helpful conclusion: “Those who claim abortion clearly is covered, and those who say it clearly isn’t, are both wrong.” Read the explanation at the link. A sample:

When advocates claim that the “public plan” — a government-administered health care option — does not cover abortion, they’re being literally accurate…but slippery. The two main bills (so far) do not, in fact, require a plan to cover abortion. However, they don’t prohibit abortion coverage either, instead leaving it up to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to decide, later, whether abortion would be included in a basic benefits package.

Pro-life activists say that if abortion can be covered, it will be covered. It’s certainly not an unreasonable prediction, given that the Secretary and the President are both pro-choice (though neither side talks about the flipside: When President Palin is in the White House she could reverse the policy through a simple executive order). . . .

(Memo to the White House press corps: Please ask Mr. Obama, Robert Gibbs or Kathleen Sebelius the following: “The health care legislation gives the HHS Secretary the authority to decide whether abortion is covered. Will you commit right now that abortion will not be covered?”)

Emerging church leader is observing Ramadan

Bryan McLaren, leading figure of the “emerging church” movement, is observing the Muslim month of dawn-to-dusk fasting known as Ramadan, which began August 21. Here is his statement:

We, as Christians, humbly seek to join Muslims in this observance of Ramadan as a God-honoring expression of peace, fellowship, and neighborliness. Each of us will have at least one Muslim friend who will serve as our partner in the fast. These friends welcome us in the same spirit of peace, fellowship, and neighborliness.

We will seek to avoid being disrespectful or unfaithful to our own faith tradition in our desire to be respectful to the faith tradition of our friends. For example, since the Bible teaches us the importance of fasting and being generous to the poor, we can participate as Christians in fidelity to the Bible as our Muslim friends do so in fidelity to the Quran.

Among the core values of Ramadan are self control, expressing kindness, and resolving conflicts. For this reason, if we are criticized or misunderstood by Christians, Muslims, or others for this endeavor, we will avoid defending ourselves or engaging in arguments. Instead, we will seek to explain ourselves humbly, simply, and briefly when necessary, connecting with empathy to the needs and feelings of others as we express our own.

Our main purpose for participating will be our own spiritual growth, health, learning, and maturity, but we also hope that our experience will inspire others to pray and work for peace and the common good, together with people of other faith traditions.

May God bless all people, and teach us to love God and love one another, and so fulfill our calling as human beings.

McLaren further explains himself at his blog, linked above.

Do you think this is a nice gesture or syncretistic worship?