Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reaching out and touching

Hey everyone, it's that time again -- cell phone time. I've come to you before with this issue, but I didn't pull the trigger because my job wouldn't let me have one before. Now the world is a different place, I can play with toys at work, and my phone needs to start picking up some of the intellectual slack in this relationship.

Dr. Sighted has largely settled on the iPhone, because "it has more medical apps." Sure it does. But, as for me, the world is my oyster. I'm pretty sure that there is 4G to be had in our area, and I think I want it. I've never had any Gs before, but settling for less than 4 really seems irresponsible at this juncture based on what I know so far.

I am AT&Ter at the moment, but she's a Verizonist (it's a mixed marriage) and we have pretty much decided that I'm going to convert since the reception is better a work for her kind. I am trying to sort out whether I want a Samsung Charge, LG Revolution or HTC Thunderbolt or just doing the simple thing and iPhoning myself. Do any of you have any thoughts? There are rumors all over the place about awesome new phones right around the corner, and I don't to be further left behind. Then again, I'm on the Trabant of cell phones right now (an improvement over the Soviet Phone Mark II, at least), so will I really miss not being on the leading edge? That's a silly question; as awesome as I am, I deserve the best.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hack, cough, etc.

I don't like laziness at work. Laziness, like whiskey or bubble baths, is great in its own right -- so long as they happen on your own time. I take my work time seriously and expect the same from others. I think that's fair, after all, when engineers slack off, things break. You wouldn't want your things to break, would you? (Doesn't that sound like a mafia threat?)

Television writers, though, don't live by the same credo. At least not all the time. Dr. Sighted and I have gotten into a few shows that like to take the lazy way out. I have mentioned the USA shows before, and White Collar is one of them. Leverage, however, is the biggest offender of the phenomenon I am keeping you in suspense over.

Does everyone remember when the second Matrix came out? Nerds do, because it was a time of huge let down even though they refused to admit that their precious Wachowskis could err; then the third one came out and then there were no followers left. A false prophet can only fail so many times. The second one, though, had a scene that got nerds all excited because it proved an accurate representation of a computer hack in a movie for the first time. Leverage has a character whose sole purpose is basically to use a computer to do magic and call it "hacking". It's like the Green Lantern's ring of power for plot points, except it is defeated by out of date technology instead of the color yellow.

The USA shows do this too: Burn Notice infrequently and typically it's electronic manipulation that is a little more credible; White Collar does it periodically, which is unfortunate because the whole premise is the glorification of the con and forgery as art, which this totally defies; and Suits, in the most recent episode, which used a hack as a plot point that didn't really make sense.

It is unfortunate, because the shows entertain me, and I don't want to be entertained by lazy things. ("Here kid, is a balloon animal." "But it's a circle." "Lots of animals are circles.") You should already know how I feel about lazy comics, (and good comics, too). So, I'm troubled; I'd hate for you to think I'm inconsistent.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Freedom Just Around the Corner for You

I think language is fun. You pretty much have to in order to write a blog, something that Dr. Sighted loves making fun of me about. I was going to write about a clever hook in a song, but got to thinking that since I merged the Fear and Trembling part of the blog with this space, I really ought to the think twice, because that line is not the sort of thing you'd say in mixed company. (It's a sexual thing not a pee joke. I continue to reserve the right to make pee jokes in this blog. Poo grosses me out, though, so it's not funny.) This got me thinking about Christian Liberty again about something other than alcohol, which is kind of refreshing.

This topic is something I've thought about a lot and written about before, and art (as an extension of my appreciation of language) is something I think is valuable as humans and Christians. But, 2 Cor 6:16-18 points out that we should associate with no unclean thing. Rom 12:2 reminds us that we should be different after choosing to follow Christ, separate from earthly things. 1 Cor 10:23-24 famously says that "Everything is permissible, but not everything is profitable..." So, I think an argument could be made that anything that that is not active worship or sustenance is bad. I think there are people who believe that, but I feel like I am using weasel words and that makes me feel like a jerk. No jerks allowed on this blog, so I'll stop.

I think that's overstating it. Proverbs 3:13-14 praises people who learn (but in the context of 3:3-5, it's not to build oneself up but to expand your relationship with God and other people). The point, though, is that learning is not necessarily active worship. Luke 15:11-31 (the Prodigal Son) describes the Kingdom of God in the contexts of celebrations, implying that celebrations are good in the appropriate context, and celebrating isn't inherently worship either. (Note: I specifically opted not to mention Psalm 104:14-15 which thanks God for his role in growing bread and making wine in order to demonstrate my self-control.)

I think the important thing from that is that context is relevant. Intent and sincerity are relevant. Celebration isn't inherently worshipful, but it can be. Learning isn't inherently worshipful, but it can be. Both of those things, in fact, can be sinful if abused. I think the same is true of art and how we view it.

If I watch South Park, Dogma, or The Life of Brian and simply enjoy them for the surface level vulgarity and titillation, that's probably not ok, but if I appreciate them for their satiric value exposing hypocrisy, they might be. I think the same attitude is true about alcohol -- Prov 20:1 says that Wine is a mocker and beer is a brawler, yet SoS 1:4 praises your (presumably Solomon's) love more than wine, implying that wine is good -- which are written by the same author. Intent is important -- Song of Solomon is a book entirely about seduction, which is really an untapped aspect of the Bible's PR, but an excellent case study of the importance of context. Habakkuk, in Hab 1:2-4 questions God's commitment to His truths, but the context is one of seeking justice, seeking to know Him better, not one of disrespect or lack of confidence. (The book concludes in chapter 3 with a long song of praise.) Habakkuk is one of the Deep Tracks of the Old Testament.

So, if I remind myself that the line "The neighbors complain about the noises above/ But she only comes when she's on top" is extremely clever in appreciation of language as a tool created by God, and in the context of thanks for the talent to be able to identify with its intricacies and delight in its power. However, because it is vulgar, I must remind myself of that. I must also be aware and respectful of the concerns raised in Romans 14 about stumbling blocks to others as well. And I must be sincere, because lies make Baby Jesus cry.

While I write this, a bumper on the news used "Way Down Yonder on the Chattahoochee," which also has a sexual reference in it, yet I doubt there are many who would object to it on grounds of vulgarity. Or "I Love Rock and Roll," or "Only the Good Die Young." But that doesn't make the casual ignorance of vulgarity in James's "Laid" ok. Because Jesus turned water into wine is not an excuse to drink wine to get drunk. And I think if I am going to have a drink, have Laid on my iPod or throw parties that aren't explicitly worshipful, I need to be able to defend myself and maintain the attitude of sincerity and thankfulness of the gifts I have received, because I need that attitude all the time.Link