Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mayans and Hobbits and Baptists

Many are worried about the Mayan calendar stopping at the end of 2012.  Please, don't.  When they weren't busy sacrificing humans to the sun and building those neat-o jaggedy pyramids, they somehow figured out when the first installment of The Hobbit films was to be released.  They marked their calendar accordingly.  That's all it is.

And it is that I worry about.  Being the giant Hobbit nerd I am, I've been keeping track of a few things and am greatly troubled by what I have seen.  For example, Legolas was not, I repeat, was not in The Hobbit.  Yet who is going to be in the movie?  His name begins with "Lego" and he has pointy ears.
There may also be an arc of romance included.  Romance of all things!  When I want romance I'll go home, or watch The Notebook, a film I have been saving for such a time in my life when I get a hankering for some anabolic-stacker level romance.  There is no romance in The Hobbit.  Do you see that little dot at the end of the previous sentence?  That is a period, end of the line.  Peter Jackson what are you thinking?
And it's not just the big things I worry over.  Consider when the dwarves escape the Elvin cellar-jails.  They did so packed in barrels floating down a river.  The only member of their party not packed in a barrel was good Mr. Bilbo.  Yet I fear even something so slight as that will be deviated.  I am envisioning some cutesy-tootsie hyperbolic adaptation with holes and big dwarf eyes and noses peeking out of Hollywood hogsheads.
Why mess with the original?  This is the question of the ages.  It applies to cookies as well.  How I long for the days of the simple cookie, pure in an undiluted single flavor.  Chocolate chip cookies are magical, as are peanut-butter, and oatmeal.  The chocolate-craisin-butterscotch-bran cookie loses much in the translation; too busy in intent; the malediction of messing with perfection.
Now, take all these concerns of mine and tilt your head.  When the wind is blowing just right and all else is very still, my worries can be heard on the roaring voice of the great bull mouse from his secret lair somewhere over by the acorn tree.
But here is, I guess, what makes me a Baptist.  I will see The Hobbit films.  And such is the cookie-impoverished state of my existance that I will eat nearly any concoction placed before me.  And I'll like it, by golly!  But I will not compromise on the oft-overlooked idea, yea and verily some might say outdated concept, of doctrine.
Using the trusty KJV, the words 'doctrine' and 'doctrines' appear in fifty-five verses throughout scripture.  Compare this to the fifty-four verses mentioning 'hell'.  As Nigel Tufnel said, "Well, it's one louder, isn't it?"  Indeed it is Nigel, indeed it is.
Basing salvation as a starting line, doctrines are the lane markers.  And no, doctrines don't replace the grace or the love or the compassion Christ has for us or that we are to have for others.  Though an argument could be made that without doctrines things like grace and love and compassion are diluted.  And no, I'm not going into specific doctrines right now.  I'll save those particular eyeball glazing discussions for later because, really, it is the rare person who hangs on long enough to learn specific doctrines.
But do you remember when God gave the instructions to Moses on how to build the tabernacle?   I'm sure it's right on the tip of your brain.  You probably woke up this morning thinking about just that...  Anyway, those instructions were incredibly specific, like down to colors and materials, and lengths and widths and stuff.  And what did Moses do?  He did what he was told and the temple was made according to God's will and not his.  And yeah, I'm sure, it was a pain coming up with all that scarlet fine twined linen.  But if God wants scarlet fine twined linen, who are we to say orange rayon is just as good?  We are not making a movie here and we're not at liberty to clean out the shelves with odds and ends of ingredients.
This is getting a little long so I'll end by giving some homework.  Read Matthew 15:9 and Mark 7:7.  I'm going to have a lot (a couple of semi-trailer loads at least) to answer for when the time comes, but as a pastor I really want to avoid this being one of them.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Big Week Last Week

Three things from last week...

First, this here blog has officially received over 500 hits since I started it.  Discounting my own 329 visits and those 170 spooky eastern european IP addresses, that means somebody somewhere is looking things over.  Whoever you are, thanks.

Secondly, after two months, Punk Smith received its first review on Amazon.  I didn't even have to pay anybody.  Speaking of which, total sales are skyrocketing past the first dozen!  The great majority of self-published ebooks sell less than 100.  My goal is 101 and whatever else happens is gravy.

Thirdly, final edits are being worked out for the upcoming Western saga For Evil to Prosper.  The cover feedback has been sent to the next stage of finalness.  I'm hoping to get that out sometime in the first half of October.

Anyways, as fascinating as all this is, I'll try to have something more substantial very soon.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chicken is as Chicken does

In the final chapter of Victor Hugo's Histoire d'un Crime (The History of a Crime) is his quote about how, "One can resist an invasion of armies; one cannot resist the invasion of ideas."  Of course he wrote it in French and it sounds much more chic in the original language.   But still, what a concept.
Aside from sitting through the incredibly long and simply not my cup of tea Les' Miserables I am not a Hugo scholar.  I was the guy who thought when the lights came on and the curtain fell after the big battle scene, "Hey, that wasn't so bad." My better half then told me the musical was at intermission.  I still think the title is actually a description of the audience.  But I digress.

I never have understood the whole book burning thing.  Even in pre-internet days it didn't work.  Did you know, for example, that at one time the Roman Catholic Church outlawed possession of the Bible?  What this did was give the stock holders of Gutenberg Inc. a few extra dollars.  It also cost some hundreds of people their lives and so on and so forth.  I hear tell you can now buy a decent bible at Dollar General for less than a value meal.  See, the whole outlawing the Bible thing didn't work out so well.  There are other historic examples further proving Mr. Hugo's maxim.  An idea does not go away simply because of armed resistance and persecution.
Which is why this week was disappointing to me. 

If you haven't heard there's this YouTube video that has something to do with Muslims.  I haven't seen the video but did some fact checking on it.  It was originally posted in June.  And here it is the middle of September and the fanatics in the Middle East are just now getting upset about it?  What are they, on dial-up? 
Come on guys…waiting three months to riot because of a YouTube video is not outrage so much as it demonstrates emotional constipation.  Sounds like they need to give their bowels of faith an enema.  If one didn't know better one might think the video was a scapegoat or a false flag or, daresay, a prop for some larger plan.

But, that's the narrative we're being told:  these are spontaneous demonstrations because of a YouTube video. 
Because I am a good citizen I will believe what I am being told in all of its idiotic simple-Simon, take a very complex situation involving the death of four diplomatic workers in Lybia, the overrunning of a Sinai Peninsula peacekeeping outpost, coordinated attacks on consulates in Egypt, Yemen, et. al., the closing of four (or was it five?) universities due to bomb threats, a young fella up Chicago way arrested for trying to bomb a dance club, a President who hasn't been to a daily security briefing since early September, claims that the State Department had been warned about the attacks for days, and so forth, narrative.  Sure, it's about a YouTube video.

So now Nakoula Bassaley, the maker of the video, is with the police.  That's what is disappointing.  Realizing I am perilously close to political commentary, let me express my disappointment and shut up. 
The First Amendment, the Numero Uno Amendment, the Winner Amendment, The Mega-Millions Intellectual Freedom Lottery Winning Amendment is about, in part, the freedom of speech.  This is the gemstone amendment setting western democracies apart from nearly every other governmental system in the world.  When will someone in a position of authority in the Western World tell Mr. Perpetually Angry Middle-Eastern Man to put on his big-boy keffiyeh and Ms. Perpetually Oppressed Middle-Eastern Woman to put on her big-girl burqa and deal with a few things?

Or better yet, all those edgy comedies on tha tee vee, and all those controversial movies, and all those brave musicians who feel no compunction about trashing Christianity?  We get it already.  It's fun and easy to mock those beliefs.  At this point it's nearing the orange threat cliché level.  But here's an idea, how about you grow a pair already and give the Muslim faith their turn?
have a couple of skits in mind.  Call me.  We'll do lunch.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Everything 2.0

A little Friday fiction:

Everything 2.0
Kip’s Vibe® thrummed in his shoulder pack.  He pushed his bag of chips further down the table and wiped his fingers on his pants.  Then he unsnapped the card-sized canvas flap and pulled the brushed aluminum rectangle from its custom shirt add-on. He flipped it open and read the screen - a subscription message he had been waiting on.  Kip paid ten dollars for this particular advanced notice.  He touched the screen to bring it up.  A blond bikini gal, lime green thong really, smiled, bent forward from the waist and declared, “Satisfaction is guaranteed.  Everything 2.0™ is now available, for a special pre-release cost to our subscribers!”  She puckered her orange lips, and the image zoomed in on her mouth.  Tiny black letters appeared, “If you want Everything™ 2.0, click here.”  Then her lipstick changed colors to bright pink.  The words turned white and the bikini gal vibrated into a corporate logo.
“Gotta get it.” Kip said to himself, the way thirteen year olds do.  He snapped the Vibe® closed and pushed it back into its sleeve. 
Of course, three months earlier he had gotten the Everything™ Initial Release Pack which was, he should have known, not even close to Everything™ Complete, but close enough or at least better than nothing.  He knew from the discussion boards two-point-oh would have updates including third world libraries and new glyphs for previously speech-only languages.  Additionally, two-point-oh would have a universal translation program available for all northern hemisphere languages – so that anything could be turned into English, or whatever.  And, the ad said, all North American birth, death, marriage, divorce, and adoption certificates were included, along with a free month long trial of the bi-daily update service for this datum; not that he’d use it, but still.
Kip did the numbers quick in his head and knew he didn’t have enough.  He’d talk with dad first, mom second as necessary.  His chances were good.  He hadn’t asked for anything in days, and his grades lately were C or better.  But if dad checked the school’s site, it would be harder.  What was it with checking his grades?  Kip only knew a few parents that made it an endeavor to check their kids’ grades.
If dad said no Kip would have to wait three precious days for the custody to change back to mom who, he knew, would make a big deal out of it.  “Why do you need this?” she’d screech just to make it difficult.  Then she’d probably say something about his weight and make him go outside, like there was anything to do outside.  He’d walk around, get all gross, and then have to shower when he got back in.
He had to have Everything 2.0 before Mackey; some kid in Philadelphia and Kip’s greatest Vibe-hood rival.  It was Mackey who first got Everything™ the Pre-Release, and Everything™ Complete days before anyone, including Kip. Thus armed, Mackey produced near complete blog histories and .tif toon libraries from the previous three decades, his hits and Vibe-hood crony-wannabes easily quadrupled in the days he held the edge.  Previous to that, Kip’s counters were well beyond anyone else on the site.  Kip wanted to regain his edge.
“Dad...” Kip yelled, walking towards the kitchen, where his dad worked from a laptop.

After the excruciating wait for his dad to pry the credit card from his wallet and enter the numbers on the site, the download took almost twenty minutes.  “How come I can’t use the fiber lines?” he asked, again.  He spent most of the time pushing his hair out of his eyes and drumming his fingers on the table.
“Because the fiber lines are for work.  The company monitors the traffic on them.”  Kip’s dad regretted not swapping out with his ex.  He knew it was going to be a long week of work but some dumb pride kept him from taking her up on her offer.
“Look,” she had pointed at her calendar.  “I’ll take him next week if you can have him during my seminar.  Otherwise…”
He didn’t let her finish.  “Nope.  The lawyers set the schedule.  Let’s not upset things.”  And now he wanted so bad for Kip to just leave him alone while he continued with the financials; dumb pride.
Kip knew the speech about the fiber lines and hated it.  Cable was so slow.  And then there was the wait for the parental control filter; stupid parental control filter.  It moved through each library analyzing the tags.  Kip’s greatest fear was that one day Mackey, or some other Vibe-hood, would find a way to unlock all the tags.  If that happened, Kip would just quit the site.  His stuff was too sanitized as it was.  No way he could compete with someone posting non-tagged content.
Finally, dad out of the way, Kip dragged a collection of some neo-Manga translations, early South Korean stuff from the 90s, to his site and set up a quick link.  There was a good chance most of the south Asia content was raw; untagged with great potential for anyone patient enough to wade through the links.  He sent an, “I got it,” alert to his own Vibe-hood cronies, including Mackey.
Figuring that was enough for one day Kip opened a different venue on his Vibe®, went to a retro-game site where he waited for someone else interested in maybe some Speed-Pong or Tetris.  When no one showed he got bored and logged out, walked downstairs to find something to eat.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The garden of missed posting targets

So I'm going for the four posts a month thing and I missed my August number.  Ugh!  Here is a stray motivational thought to start September out right:

I garden, some.  This year's new crop is horseradish.  It looks like it is supposed to and I'm impatiently waiting for the first frost to harvest.  We'll see.  Speaking of smelly things, one thing a garden needs every year is fertilizer.  If a person expects to grow they need two things:  some crap dumped on them and the will to work it.  The green thumb has nothing to do with a magic ability to grow things.  Rather, when that fertilizer falls our way we have to handle it because the only thing crap does on the surface is stink.

This is true professionally, personally, and spiritually.

Read Luke 13:6-9.  The last ingredient to growth is mentioned at the end of verse eight.  When the smelly stuff happens all that means is Jesus loves us and He's giving us one more chance to grow.