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Everything posted by ThePersistanceOfWaffles

  1. That is so true. I must have given that book a go at least three time between the ages of thirteen and fifteen, and I could never make it past the first London chapter. If only someone had told me, and my teachers, that just because a classic novel has a young hero, it doesn't necessarily mean the ideal audience is a young reader. An excellent observation. It's truly a testament to how much the reader brings to the equation of reading--the book stays the same, but the experience is different every time. Hehe, funnily enough, it was your namesake who gave me more trouble than anyone when I was a young student. I remember writing a persuasive speech on why Walden should be struck from school curricula forever, for the crime of being insufferably boring and wrong. I'd be interested to see how Thoreau reads to me today (especially now that I'm no longer the neoconservative young capitalist I once was.)
  2. A Tale of Two Cities. I don't know why, but I've been on a Victoriana kick lately. This means, among other things, that I'm finally getting around to some essential Dickens. This is my second Dickens novel after Oliver Twist (flawed, but enjoyable). I'm enjoying this quite a bit so far: sprawling, human, dryly funny, and melodramatic in a way that reminds you why melodrama was ever appealling. The Innocence of Father Brown. Made me realize once again that I'm not so keen on the Murder Mystery as a genre. But, heesh. Chesterton can write.
  3. I like how they seem to be following the naming template for Blackadder. Otherwise... I got nuthin'.
  4. Hm... mystical institution who've survived into the post-WWII world; whom Hollywood is more than comfortable with turning into cartoon villains? I hope the Catholic Church is ready for its closeup. And as if there wasn't already enough reason to fear this would be a dreary Da Vinci Code ripoff.
  5. , so that would work. Ooh! That's interesting. Very interesting. And perhaps the are ? I think I have a new pet theory.
  6. Personally, my first thought when reading the title was of the . I always expected that Rowling would return there eventually. At any rate, I like the title. It seems spooky and evocative and the natural culmination of where the last couple of books have seemed to be heading. Okay, I can actually sort of buy as a Christ figure (assuming , which I do)--at any rate, it's no more farfetched than Sirius Black as Christ figure. But I really don't understand how Granger gets a metaphor for Christ out of the Chamber of Secrets--it's basically just the bad guy's Fortress of Doom, no? At any rate, this sort of reminds me of a game we used to play in my small Evangelical elementary school: the goal was to pick an object around the classroom--any object--that our Principal could not use as the basis for a sermon. We never won, and it was only later that I realized that was because, if you squint hard enough, you can find a sermon--or a Christ metaphor--in anything. Going back a bit, I find it curious that Mattingly and the good Father think Harry Potter is a tragedy, or that Rowling is drawing specifically on tragic epics any more than she's drawing on, say, bildungsromans or Victorian melodrama. Besides, the way this series has been structured, it would make a spectacularly lousy tragedy about the battle between Good and Evil. The focus is all on Harry growing into a man and coming--slowly-- to a better understanding of the events and people surrounding him (the increasingly central mystery of is a good example of this.) The natural emotional climax that has been established (especially in the last book, when Dumbledore practically spells it out) is Harry learning to judge and act with discernment and love. The point isn't the defeat of Voldemort--his evil is too distant and emotionally removed from the core of the novel. The point is Harry growing up and finally getting the story straight. Instant Death just undercuts all of that and makes it really kind of pointless. Sigh. Clearly, I've been thinking about this too much. (Edited because my principal is my pal, not my ple. )
  7. So, uh, did this: raise a WTF? from from anyone else? I guess he's trying to distance himself from the threat of association with conservativism or pro-Americanism, and maybe emphasize what a provocative guy Jesus is, but still, seriously. WTF?
  8. Well since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is on my "favorite writing" list, I better add my two cents. I think I'm with Ebert on this one. The transfer between mediums just doesn't work for me, and I'm not sure it could have worked. Aside from the points about the camera's "eye" that Ebert makes, I think the main problem is that there is no equivalent of the "empty stage" in film, and the empty stage was crucial to this play. To have the early scenes transplanted to a forest where Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are actually travelling and doing something and interacting with a world that really exists is the complete opposite of what the play works hard to portray: two men in a physical and philosophical vaccuum (Hamlet scenes not included). The screen can't convey a vaccuum. The closest the filmmakers can come is to make the reality that is being filmed as fluid and surreal as possible, which I guess explains all the random absurdity that got added into the film. (Roz pulling a giant sandwich out of his pocket, Looney Toons style, for example.) It's kind of funny and interesting as far as it goes, I think, but it doesn't really work as a substitute for the stage. Which is not to say that this is a bad film--it's funny, well-acted, and it's so bizarre that on its own I'm sure I would enjoy it. But the play was much more to me. (Especially now that I was lucky enough to see a fantastic production of it at my local playhouse). Yeah, I definitely thought that the play dug deeper into its own existential implications. I think what I really love about the play is that it is genuinely funny, absurdist stuff in the beginning--but it becomes increasingly real and urgent as it goes on, until it works itself into a genuinely touching tragedy and an existential nightmare at the end. Though I wonder if we have a different attitude toward those "hints of an Author at work", as you put it. To me, they all point to a capricious, apathetic, and cruel Author--he reminds me of the puppet-master God of some particularly disturbing strains of Predeterminism I've encountered (with poor R and G as the helpless, hopeless, eternally damned Non-Elect). It's spiritually signifcant for me as an example of what I don't believe God to be. From what I remember of the ending of the film (and I haven't seen it since high school) the film mutes the horror and tragedy of the play's ending--as I recall, it ended pretty much on the same note of apathetic nihilism that Life of Brian did. I much prefer the sincere grief that the play inspired in me. The saddest part for me is the very last line, where Rosencrantz(or is it Guildenstern?)--right before they die--says, "well, at least we'll know better next time." At first it sounds like a sliver of hope for the characters, until you realize that this is the next time, and they've been saying it to each other since Hamlet was first performed and will continue to say it--then die--until the last time it is performed. They can never learn, never break the cycle. Scary stuff, as a metaphor for how the world really is. It reminds me to be glad that I do not believe that's really all there is. (That line might have been in the film too, but I never made the same connection until I saw it performed.)
  9. I also adored "Come thou Fount." It and "Amazing Grace" (a song that never truly moved me before I heard Sufjan's rendition of it) were my favorites on the original three Christmas albums. Ironic, since neither are Christmas songs! Also, I haven't heard it yet, but I'm already in love with "Get Behind Me, Santa."
  10. Heh. You've got a real gift of foresight there, Peter.
  11. I'm signed up. And I'm almost certain I'm going to fail--I've only written 1,700 words in the past three days and I'm already running out of steam. But, hey, it's good practice for next year, what?
  12. I can't be the only one who needs to watch a film to get into the Halloween spirit. (And I can't be the only one who loves to get into the Halloween spirit.) I tend to think spooky and fun--or just plain funny-- films capture the true mood of Halloween better than horror does, and so my preferences tend to run toward the silly stuff like Young Frankenstein, Army of Darkness, or Nightmare Before Christmas. And even though it's not film, I'm extremely fond of the early "Treehouse of Horror" Simpsons episodes. (Probably a little too fond--I'm pretty sure I can quote the entire paordy of The Shining, and I've never even seen The Shining.) What are your own Halloween favorites? Does anyone have any traditions? (Oh, and to take pre-emptive anti-"ahem" action: I'm aware of the existance of this thread, but I think my question is far enough removed that I can start a new thread.)
  13. This is all well and good, folks, but it seems you've forgotten that even though you might have rockhard abs and chiseled features, it doesn't mean you too can't not die in a freak gasoline fight accident.
  14. I saw this this weekend. I liked it far more than I expected to. My friends chose the movie, and I went in expecting preachy Oscar-bait: an attempt to cash in on the current popularity of Africa as a political cause. But it was far more complex and affecting than that. Unfortunately, like Popechild, I can see the film's violence hurting its reception. (I covered my eyes through the aforementioned scene, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one--you could hear the entire audience sink down in their seats when the appear.)
  15. Thanks for raising a question I pondered quite often while I was taking a Shakespeare class in London. I thought about this the most when we were reading Measure for Measure, which arguably has the most overt religious content of any of his plays: its main characters are a nun, a duke who pretends to be a friar most of the play, and a pharisee, essentially...religious hypocrisy, death, and forgiveness are main themes, and even its name is a biblical allusion. But it's such a morally and spiritually ambiguous play, and it leaves me with no clear idea of what he was trying to say about anything. Part of me is attracted to the 19th century interpretation of Measure for Measure as allegory, with the Duke as Christ and both his pardoning of everyone at the end and his proposal to Isabella as a spiritual metaphor. If it were true, it would be Shakespeare's most overt statement of faith in his writing. But... Shakespeare never really wrote allegory in his plays, did he? And the duke acts like a real jerk too often for him to be a portrayal of Christ (a reverent one, anyway). So I'm back to having no idea what to make of that play. Anyone have a good interpretation? That's all I've got for now, I'll think a bit more about the other plays tonight.
  16. I too appreciate the mention of Kuhn, and I also appreciate the courteous, open-minded tenor of the discussion that's been going on. I hope I don't ruin it. I agree that scientists are probably busy people who are sick of talking about this, but I don't see it as a defense mechanism against "having their world turned upside down." I like to picture myself in the scientist's shoes. If I, as a student of history, kept getting confronted by the media or the public with a "new" theory that attacked some principle central to the way I study history, like, I dunno, that people in different time periods saw thing differently than we do, and I had to spend all my time debunking this theory and defending my way of doing history, and was repeatedly told that I must be either ignorant or have some dark ulterior motive to reject their theory... hey, I'd be irritable and dismissive too. Upon further thought, I also think there are plenty of scientists who would love to turn the scientific world upside down. Who doesn't want to make an exciting new discovery? Who wants to say "OMG, the Establishment has had it completely right for the past century and a half"? Nobody's going to make a name for themselves that way. Look at the fame that exploded around Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldridge, just for presenting what was a slight tweaking of the theory of evolution--can you imagine the prestige that would await the person who came up with a new theory that replaced evolution altogether? That person would be launched into a category with Newton, Einstein, and (formerly *g* ) Darwin. Yet despite it being such an obvious target, hardly any scientists have launched an inquiry against Evolution-- that says something to me. BTW, I've been thinking, and I think at the heart of my irritation with a lot of creationist arguments (at least the ones made by lay people, which is most of them) is their implicit "we understand this subject better than any of the people who actually do this for a living" attitude-- which is a slap in the face not just to scientists, but to anyone who dedicates their life to studying a subject they love. I think that is the real reason for the brusqueness from most scientists. Which is not to say that scientists are always right or that we non-scientists should trust them blindly, especially on non-science matters, but I should certainly hope to God that spending years studying and researching a field gives you some greater insight into that field than the average joe on the street has. Otherwise, I might as well call off my education altogether and go live in a van down by the river.
  17. For what it's worth, Ken, I would love to have you as a professor, if your words here and elsewhere on the board are anything to go by. I read the book a few months ago, and absolutely loved it. What a heartbreaking story about a life strewn with regrets. It made me want to be more honest and even vulnerable in my own life. I finally saw the movie version this week. Very good adaptation. The ending didn't quite work for me though, and I think you did a good job of analyzing why (lack of ambiguity). The book also ended with what I thought was a very ccompelling image (Stevens sitting on the beach next to Brighton pier, watching the fireworks display)-- I was sorry not to see it in the film.
  18. Wow, I go away for a day and the thread completely takes off. I can't leave this place for a moment! Going back upthread for a moment.... Popechild wrote: Well, sort of. If there's overwhelming evidence against something, then we should probably deny it because it most likely isn't true. But yes, looking foolish and irrelevant is certainly an issue for me as well--and not because I'm afraid the cool evolutionist kids won't let me join in any of their cool evolutionist games, but because it means people who might have seriously considered Christ and Christianity now won't. (It's a familiar story-- somebody decides they can't believe in God, because the case against creationism is so strong, and they're unaware that theism comes in any other flavor.) Popechild escribe: But the everyday workings of the universe matter not one jot when we're discussing miracles. So the laws of physics and biology are not evidence. What does count as evidence, though, is the historical record. Not *could* God raise the dead or create us ex nihilo (because obviously, being God, he could), but is there any evidence at all that he did. And yes, if there were overwhelming historical evidence against the resurrection (if say, it was discovered that the belief that Christ rose again is a late addition to the faith that only surfaced several centuries after his death; or, more in keeping with the comparison to evolution, tha we somehow found his bones and could identify them with certainty) well yes, I would have to (sadly) abandon my belief in a literal resurrection. Happily, there no such evidence exists in the case of the resurrection. Such evidence does exist in abundance in the case of evolution though: the fossil record, comparative anatomy, the geographic distribution of species; all fit evolutionary theory's predictions too well for it to be a coincidence. Sayeth Peter: Do viruses actually come in species? Either way, actual speciation has certainly occurred in fruitflies. Quoth Wikipedia: Plankton schrieb: I'm not sure I understand what is meant by "destruction of genetic information." I suppose any genetic mutation in a single allele (is that the right word?) will result in the lose of the old information that used to be on that allele, but that's just common sense. Is there some other sense in which "destruction of genetic information" occurs? (I've heard many creationists use a similar sounding argument, that all mutations are negative and destructive, but scientists say that this is flat out untrue--after all, many viruses and bacterii would have died out years ago if it hadn't been for mutation. Which is bad for us, but good for them.) Popechild asked: No, there is no evidence or logical proof that could disprove that theory. Much as there is no evidence or logical proof that can *prove* that the world wasn't created last Tuesday, or that I'm not the only thing that exists in the universe and you are all just a trippy dream I'm having. Science does require some leaps of faith. (Which is why Scientism-ites who sneer at those "irrational" people of faith are kidding themselves--the very act of believing that if you get result A in 99 tests, then you will get result A in the 100th test (ie, inductive reasoning, one of the main principles that science is based on) is itself irrational. Perfectly reasonable, but strictly speaking, still irrational.) But my objection to your idea is that there is no evidence for such a belief, nor can there ever be, pretty much by definition. And, as Peter asked, why would God go out of his way to make it look like the world developed over eons when it didn't? Is He just trying to mess with us? Jon said: Jon, if you've got the time to talk about these problems, I would love to hear them. I'm very interested in discussing the philosophical implications of evolution, but I have to admit there are a some things about it that trip me up too, at least for the time being. (This is one reason I see continued assertion of creationism as a bad thing--it holds us back from finding solutions to these theological problems--which I do have faith exist-- by keeping most Christians from ever dealing with them.) (Oh, and BTW, I, for one, am always happy to meet someone else with an interest in feminism and theology.)
  19. I beg to differ. It established Hagrid's weakness for believing in the inherent goodness of all magical creatures as something a bit more serious than a running joke. But Hagrid's weaknesses have no relevence to the plot of either the fifth book or sixth book, so why introduce a new character to establish them? (Admittedly, Grawp may end up proving essential to Book 7--but I still didn't need to see so much of him, especially when there was no satisfactory payoff to his appearance in this book.) No offense, but is this meant to be sarcasm? 'Cause if it is, you gotta put in a smiley, or something. Heh. Yes, it was meant to be a joke. I need to remember that not everybody finds the idea of Evil Psychotic Self-flagellating Albino Monks as inherently hilarious as I do.
  20. I don't really like what the debate is "doing" to Xianity either, though I'm not sure our "doing" is defined the same way. What do you think it is "doing" to Xianity? Hmm... reading over my comments, I realize I should have written "not just because it's bad science." I implied that I think ID is good science. Not my intent. Anyway. My second sentence was intended to explain what I think it
  21. I love Bonham Carter, but she never would have entered my mind as Bellatrix. Bellatrix always struck me as a real straightforward, serious, humorless, "true believer" kind of psychopath--the closest point of reference that I can think of is that she's a lot like Silas the Evil Albino Monk from The Da Vinci Code.* Bonham Carter seems a bit too, I don't, know--warm? quirky? cute? for the character. But that should make things interesting. In less positive news, the word from Comic-Con (I can't find the link, sorry) is that the Grawp scenes have been filmed. This character was crying out to be cut from the book: his presence accomplished nothing in 800 pages, and I was all set to give the film a thumbs up just for cutting him. (Much like the GoF movie and its blessed lack of house elves.) But clearly the series' addiction to CGI magical creatures won out this time. On a more positive note, they've cast , so it looks like is in. That was my favorite scene from the book, and possibly one of my favorites in the series. (Perhaps because it offers the most surprising twist in the whole book. Packed far more of a whallop than that lousy , anyway.) _ _ _ _ * Wow. Can you imagine how much scarier Bellatrix would have been if she had been a self-flagellating albino? JK Rowling really dropped the ball on that one.
  22. I think Alan's point was that "theory" has a different meaning in scientific terminology than in regular parlance--a theory is something scientists are more or less certain of. That's why even something as indisputable as gravity is still called a theory. (If scientists were uncertain about evolution, it'd be called a hypothesis.) But sometimes basic laboratory testing is impossible. It doesn't mean you can't collect enough evidence to become confident that a hypothesis is correct. For example, evolutionary theory makes certain predictions about what the fossil record, the comparative anatomy of different species, the geological distribution of species, and various other observable things would look like, if evolution is true. And testing has verified those predictions time and time again. If this were true, we'd have to toss out any criminal case with no direct witnesses. This was discussed back on the last page, but I think it's worth once again plugging Kenneth Miller's book, Finding Darwin's God. It lays out the evidence for evolution very clearly and comprehensively, and does so from a Christian perspective. (Okay, his attitude towards creationists and IDers does come across as exasperated at times, but he's kinder than most scientists would be.) Personally, I've become more and more adamently opposed to ID not becuse it's bad science, but because of what it's doing to Christianity. I think that everytime we deny evolution, what we are actually doing is telling anybody who is aware of the overwhelming evidence for evolution that the Church has nothing relevant or true to say to them. I wish we could stop fighting the inevitable and start wrestling with the philosophical implications of evolution and what they mean for Christian theology. We should have been doing this as soon as it became clear that evolution wasn't going away (around the time of the Scopes monkey trial, say.) Instead, we look trapped in a backward, premodern outlook, and atheists go unchallenged when they argue that the non-existence of God is all but proven by evolution.
  23. I came across this book several times back when I was working at Barnes and Noble. Admittedly, I still don't know anything more about it than what the cover says. But my impression was that it's another Eldredge-type book exhorting men to throw off the shackles of an oppressive, ultra-feminized society and embrace good, old-fashioned American-style masculinty in the name of Jesus. Maybe it's a girl thing, but just reading the cover made me angry. Hopefully I've misjudged this book-- I'll ditto everyone else: can you tell us more about it?
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