April 30, 2007
I prefer simple super-pleasures. For example, Batman: All you need is a subterannean hangout, a cool car, some black tights, and a wicked neurosis and you're set to go. And the Green Hornet? A fedora and a Chinese sidekick. How about Mystery Men? Any high school geek with a pocket protector is in business.
Then there is Noho Man, my personal favorite. He just sits on a bench North of Houston Street and whines about high rents. No latex boots or Spandex suit required.
April 29, 2007
Shutting Out the Sun
The culture is collapsing from within, as more and more Japanese withdraw from society, rarely if ever leaving home—or even their bedrooms. Japanese are withdrawing from marriage, from childrearing, and from personal responsibility.
A nation that emphasizes what the group wants, what the group thinks, what the group demands is producing citizens incapable of functioning except on automatic. Without a spiritual tradition that impresses upon them the absolutely unique value and inviolability of the individual, Japanese experience a pressure to conform that is paralyzing, and the shame that follows perceived failure is overwhelming.
Depression is widespread—yet no one talks about it, because there remains a stigma; admit that you are suffering from depression and you are admitting that you are weak and unable to keep up. And so, without a medical or spiritual outlet, with no one to talk to and little experience expressing one's feeling, suicide is epidemic, especially among men, where the rate is 36.5 per 100,000, or roughly twice the American rate.
(Interesting to note: It was a Lutheran pastor in Japan, Yukio Saito, who developed the nation's first suicide hotline back in 1971. Needless—and sad—to say, he is still going strong.)
Zielenziger goes on to compare Japanese culture, economic development, and political structure with neighbor South Korea, and discovers that the two countries are worlds apart. South Korea embraced not only Western-style technological development and modernization, but many Koreans also followed Westerners in their Christian faith, producing a very different set of values, expectations—and personalities!
I highly recommend Shutting Out the Sun. It is a necessary reminder of what a life without Christ can become—not the liberating experience of mutual cooperation and endless progress, but a deep, dark, and empty well of endless expectations and futile pursuits. In short, a descent into hell.
Christopher Hitchens is one more pop-atheist blowhard, to be sure, and his "critique" of religious faith will no doubt prove as devastating to religion in America as Robert Ingersoll's proved to be. (You remember him, surely. No? Oh well . . .)
But you must admit, the man is a breezy, entertaining writer. And it never hurts to know what your enemies really think of you, just so you're prepared with a witty riposte when slammed at a cocktail party.
And never let it be said that we Lutherans are humorless! Why, we have no qualms about laughing at others who are laughing at us!
This is Part II, by the way, of a three-part screed. Enjoy!
UPDATE: Hitchens takes on Mermanism in Part III. While I have found mermans to be quite sweet, and decidedly good citizens, their religion is quite daft (with all due respect, given your American right to believe as you please). Imagine: Believing that God is half man, half fish! What kind of nonsense is that!
Give Hitchens credit for taking on the Mohammedans, too, no punches pulled—including in the very provocative title of the book. Too often such atheists mask their fear and loathing of other religions by beating up on Christians exclusively.
"But Herr Luther, why give this man the time of day? Why give him the satisfaction of reading his work or promoting his name? Don't you risk exposing weak faith to the corrosive—"
SILENCE, IMAGINARY INTERLOCUTOR! Weak faith will be undermined by a bad head cold and a tax audit. Strong faith has nothing to fear from the Hitchenseseses of the world. And what is strong faith but one that looks to the Cross, where all human resources were abandoned, exhausted, and Our Lord could only cry out to the Father—as must we. What is to fear from some jackanapes' magical thinking (where everything is explained, and explained away—including the human mind—by simply stating that it took a very long time to develop) in the face of Easter Sunday!
Also consider this from Slate.com. Now religion is all in your head—actually, your brain. I see that Slate No Heart Faith of any kind, but they're big on MRIs. What happens when the MRI shows something inoperable? What illusion will the Slatesters turn to? The one who raised Jairus' daughter, perhaps?
April 28, 2007
Tonsure tip to Titus One Nine.
The Lives of Others: And You Thought Homeland Security Was Tough
The year is 1984 (when else?) and an apparatchik of the state secret police—the Stasi—thoroughly bugs the home of a celebrated playwright (Sebastian Koch), thought until now to be quite loyal to the German Democratic Republic and its socialist ideology. But Herr Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) believes his loyalty is weak, even feined, and becomes determined to get the goods on yet another untrustworthy "artist."
What Herr Wiesler does not anticipate is falling in love with Christa-Maria, the playwright's actress lover (Martina Gedeck). Wiesler realizes that if he accurately records all that his eavesdropping reveals, including a plan by the playwright finally to stop playing the company man and publish in the pages of the West German Der Spiegel an expose of the horrendous suicide rate among East Germans, the writer will be whisked away and Christa-Maria will fall into the hands of the repulsive Minister Hempf (Thomas Thieme).
Mühe is a marvel to watch as his early Teutonic rigidity and sense of duty to Party and Nation melts under the influence of his fixation with the actress. Torn between his feelings and his job description (not to mention his own freedom), Herr Wiesler must make some hard decisions in a totalitarian regime that does not appreciate individuals making decisions for themselves at all.
This fine motion picture just reminds me what treasures my beloved Germany could have produced for the world had their once-vibrant industry not been waylaid by that Austrian slophead and, later, his vile rivals on the Left. I am just grateful those respective nightmares are over. And I most definitely recommend that you run out and see this potent reminder of what "progress" once looked like.
I give The Lives of Others 90 Theses. (I withhold five theses because, while director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has done a fine job of telling his story and guiding his cast, his visual style, while intending to capture the bleakness and banality of mass conformity, borders on the pedestrian and dull.)
Nota Bene: After you watch this, consider renting again Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation—a nice double-bill that would make!
April 27, 2007
Thanks to my good friend Cranach for bringing this to my attention! (I would be more than happy to repay him the money I borrowed, just as soon as I am paid all my back royalties on sales of my works, which, according to my calculations on my nifty Xerox XRX-230 office calculator, amounts to skatey-eight hundred million billion trillion kajillion guilders, which, at current exchange rates, translates into about six hundred and fifty bucks. Wait . . . no . . . that can't be right . . . Wait—I have a defective decimal point! Piece of junk calculator! Ach!)
Why Lists Should Be Left to the Professionals
Most of these even a simpleton with a spike embedded in his frontal lobe could have come up with: The Apostle, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Chariots of Fire, The Ten Commandments, Wings of Desire.
But The Last Temptation of Christ? (All right, the PC crowd had to get their favorite in.) Priest? (I like to kick a papist when he's down as much as any other right-thinking Lutheran, but give me a propaganda break!) Spartacus? Why, because he wants to be free? So does a convicted axe murderer! Man for All Seasons? I know it's hip to like old Thomas, but does no one remember that the poster boy for conscientious objection was a notorious persecutor of Protestants? I guess following one's conscience is all well and good so long as the conscience is yours and no one else's.
Some of these choices I would put under a "spiritual" heading—such as Ikiru, an excellent film and an interesting choice.
The Name of the Rose leads me to believe that if the film had anything to do with "religion," and was in any way provocative, it received recognition. Some choices, such as Field of Dreams, are just nutty. Why not throw in Ghost and be done with it!
Where is The Matrix, for that matter? That film was certainly "religious" and "spiritual" in the broadest of definitions obviously employed here. Or Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome? Isn't Max a messiah figure?
And good golly miss molly: WHERE O WHERE IS SLING BLADE? They included Scrooged, a dopey, witless mess, but omitted one of the finest depictions of a man struggling with his own capacity for evil by means of the power of baptism by water and blood ever depicted on screen?
And would you have scored The Mission as the No. 1 of all time? The two most memorable aspects of that film were (a) Ennio Morricone's magnificent score, and (b) Robert DeNiro's breakdown/conversion scene. But No. 1?
Tonsure tip to both Adrian Warnock and Think Christian.
April 26, 2007
I also believe that the "life" discovered will be composed of odiferous and repellant beings with two heads incapable of resolving the simplest of disputes because of constant disagreement. Which will make them prime candidates for elected office.
Update: Lest I forget, here is a link to the greatest aliens-on-earth motion picture ever conceived by man or borg. E.T.—get lost! (cloying, hydrocephalic little zit face...)
Can I Vote for Myself?
I will limit my selections only to those I have encountered during my most recent sojourn among the terrestrial; otherwise I could offer only (ONLY!) the Holy Scriptures, St. Augustine, my small catechism, my large catechism, my commentaries on Galatians and Romans, my beautiful exposition of the Lord's Prayer, and my Bondage of the Will.
But enough about me.
Since I have returned to the land of the so-called living, I have been deeply influenced—for better and for worse—by the following (nota bene: a couple of these titles are pre-1982, but I had a lot more catching up to do than most):
1. My Cat Spit McGee. Oh the predicaments that feline gets himself into!
2. Cod. Who knew? A stupid fish—but so influential!
3. Salt. After all, what's cod without salt?
4 & 5. How to Lose Your Ass and Regain Your Life and The Jenny Craig Story. What inspirations! Since reading these and other diet books, I have managed to gain only 88 kilos! (But it's mostly muscle. Honest.)
6. The Idiot. I must confess, when I saw the title I thought someone had written a biography of my miserable, execrable assistant. While I had no desire to review his achingly dull existence, I thought I might glean from the book's pages where exactly the idiot hid my supply of berri tartelettes.
7. So, You Think You're Psychic? No. And neither are you, or you would have known that no one would buy YOUR STUPID BOOK. (See above.)
8. Citizens or Papists? Papists, I say—papists!
9. Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Written in 1920. And don't threaten me.
10. Those Truculent Poopies. One of many poopy books I have enjoyed, including Poopy Phonics and Fluffy Humpy Poopy Puppy.
What say you?
The NY Times on Film: What a Zoo
A documentary about a man who knows horses in the biblical sense is treated to a serious, almost reverential review by one of the Times' film critics. Is there no mental cavity to which these critics will not descend in order to prove they are not "prudes" or "philistines"—even to the point of treating with kid gloves, as if it were just another reel of arthouse fare, this piece of unmitigated crap?
"But Herr Luther—it's fair to say you have not seen the film. Perhaps this, er, eccentric cinematic offering has something important to say about certain erratic personalities, about our
SILENCE, IMAGINARY INTERLOCUTOR! KA-KA IS KA-KA, no matter the imported fragrance you use to mask it! And leave it to the NY Times to offer it up as pudding!
This is the nadir not only of societal norms but of critical thinking. To give its imprimatur, however haltingly, to this abuse of our beloved medium—not to mention the poor horse!—is one more reason to forever abandon the Times' movie section in favor of far more intelligent and less politically correct writing on film. Owen Gleiberman and Kris Nashawaty are two Luther favorites. While I may not always agree with their individual assessments of individual films, they are not afraid to call teufelsdreck by its rightful name—and in English!
April 25, 2007
But back to contemporary matters . . .
I do not believe this survey tells the whole story. There are various hidden motives for so-called church-hopping today, many of which I have gleaned from private correspondence and addelpates assaulting me on the street with their petty personal problems.
Here is a short list:
1. No gummi bears at coffee hour.
2. The speaker system is not Bose.
3. The minister insisted on talking about "religion" all the time.
4. I am thrust among hordes of barbarians. That is why we are in pews—"pee-yew!"
5. We were not allowed to do the "wave" during recitation of the Creed.
6. Ritual beatings of the wretched take place only on alternate Sundays.
7. My prayer request for a movie version of MacGyver never made it into the bulletin.
8. As lector, I was told to stop ending every other Old Testament verse with "now," a la The Beach Boys.
9. The idiot behind me used to make loud rustling noises with his newspaper during the Collect.
10. No T-Mobile Hot Spot wireless connection.
And those who do bother to dress wear jeans cut so low, you would think they had just come from a visit to their gastroenterologist!
I would also like to see citywide crackdowns on men whose jeans droop to their knees. I realize this is an attempt to mimic prison "culture" (a word I am officially banning from this blog for the next week), but unless you are also willing to make license plates and shower in plain sight of armed guards, I suggest you join the rest of us, who wear our pantaloons at the waist!
Will everyone please just pull up your pants! Even a properly toilet-trained four-year-old knows how to do this!
Speaking of House . . .
But in any case, his conscience pained him. He needed someone to forgive him. It was all too obvious that much had been weighing on his mind and heart for some time, which became overwhelming in the face of his own failure to save a life.
Chase recommends praying to God and making believe someone is there to hear you. House recommends a priest or alms to the poor, or whatever ritual might help Foreman cope. Both "solutions" are tossed at Foreman from a bag of cynical cliches.
And yet, House is right despite himself: Foreman does need a priest. Either an ordained minister of the gospel who has been given the authority to pronounce the forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus Christ, or, at the very least, a member of the priesthood of all believers, namely, Foreman's own father (played by the underutilized Charles S. Dutton).
Foreman needs a father to forgive him—a father who knows him by name.
As do we all.
But I am fascinated by this trend of deliberately voting for the worst. Is this a sign of cultural health, or merely adolescent hijinks?
Is it possible that the audience is finally sick of these talent shows, in which young Americans grovel before overpaid jackanapes in order to accrue their allotted 15 minutes of fame? So much so that they're willing to undermine the "authority" of the judges and only vote for contenders whose talents are just south of rotten?
Or is this just another example of postmodern irony, in which the best is the worst and we hold up for idol worship individuals of dubious if not downright nugatory achievement?
I will bet you a one-way ticket to Finland that the ultimate outcome of this "Vote for the Worst" campaign will be a new show: You Suck Die Soon, in which young people from all walks of life are brought onstage before millions of viewers purely for the purpose of being humiliated and having their dreams crushed. Not only will it provide a good laugh but it will also make the vast majority of couch potatoes feel superior to somebody!
And after all, if we're better than no one, then we must be the very worst of all, no?
April 24, 2007
Their most overrated: Fargo. I find the plaudits lavished on this thing incomprehensible. Had you fed all the characters into a wood chipper, I would not have batted an eyelash; quite the contrary—anything to make them shut up.
Most disappointing: The Big Lebowski, which I was enjoying up until the John Turturro character was introduced, which has forever soured me on that film. Notice how he pronounces his name and the language that spews forth—a sick little bit of business.
Second most disappointing: The Ladykillers. What a waste of celluloid, not to mention the considerable gifts of Mr. Hanks. I found the whole motley crew to be repellant, and the nihilism that is often the closest thing to a philosophy the Coens have working for them was a welcome relief from having to take any part of this debacle seriously. (Frankly, even the original, despite the presence of the one and only Alec Guinness, was less than a masterwork. The pacing was just south of molasses.)
Most underrated: The Hudsucker Proxy. Just fun.
Critical acclaim just about right: Barton Fink. Yes, as I saw all too closely during the peasant uprisings, the common man, often lionized, romanticized, and celebrated, is all too often a monster. It's called original sin.
So let's see what these three new films have to offer. I await them eagerly, even though I know at least two will leave me wanting to strangle the ticket taker with a roll of licorice whips. Ah, but that third one . . .
Good Bishop Tom: Right or Wrong?
1. While he does not discount a substitutionary aspect to the Atonement, he denies that it can be limited to this idea.
2. Scootch down to the end of the article and you will see that, according to his lights, the Atonement has "political" implications. While he alludes to my affirmation of a Christus Victor interpretation of the Atonement (as if I ever denied that Christ died "for me," and so saved me from the penalty of my sin, which is eternal death, i.e., damnation, by a great exchange of attributes), he also implicitly rejects my Two Kingdoms doctrine.
Why do I think the good bishop's Christian political schema—the "kingdom of God on earth as in heaven life"—will bear a striking resemblance to the left-wing of the Democratic party's platform? Which itself is radically secular. Which is merely a subsitution of the religious left for the religious right. Which is roundly criticized for politicizing the gospel. Which is, I believe, what we in the medical establishment call a tumerous mass of contradictions.
I am afraid that Bishop Tom too often engages a controversy with a torrent of verbiage, seemingly carving out a middle ground between what he perceives to be inadequate and crass extremes, yet without ever defining what his position is. His theory of justification being a case in point. I would love to say that I either love or hate it, but that would entail my having understood it, which would require his explaining it in such a manner that he explicitly comes out and says what the hell it is.
Thanks to Pyromaniacs for pointing me to Adrian Warnock's Blog as well as to the Adversaria site, which finally hooked me up with Wright's article in Fulcrum.
Post Scriptum: How many of you believe that such controversies over Reformation theology has more to do with a distancing oneself from the so-called religious right than it does with serious theological re-formation? (Not that the latter does not play some role, but I cannot help but believe these re-formations, the Emerging Church phenomenon being primary among them, is a reaction to what has become a bogeyman in church talk.)
April 23, 2007
But once the reins of power had slipped into his hands, Boris proved he was Badenough—and then some. So what, the man drank heavily, fell into deep depressions, and proved unable to control the various factions that were unleashed with the collapse of the old regime.
A man after my own heart . . .
I Think, Therefore I Rate (Updated! New and Improved!)
This is an inestimable honor. We at Luther at the Movies continue to work day and night to provide you with the very best of whatever it is we do here. (And if you can figure that out, please let me know at your earliest convenience . . .)
We thank you—but more important I thank you.
And now . . . mousse cake!
UPDATE: I have been awarded yet a SECOND "Thinking Blogger Award"! This time by Mr. Ariel Vanderhorst of Bitter Sweet Life. He has declared my blog to be "ridiculously brilliant"! Obviously, Mr. Vanderhorst is a man of exquisite taste and refinement.
DOUBLE TRIPLE UPDATE: Herr Cranach has also included Luther at the Movies on his list, for which we are doubly, triply grateful.
Now, let me venture out and contribute a list of my own, which no doubt will be considered authoritative:
In alphabetical order:
Ask the Pastor
Peter Leithart (though I do not always agree with this Calvinus devotee, I must admit he makes me think!)
April 22, 2007
Tim Conway: Just South of Genius
That laughter was more often than not the result of watching this man.
Oh for the days when comedy did not entail blasphemy and single entendres whose meaning could be gleaned by a coma patient.
Lonely Hearts: Noir in Sepia Tones
What? You've not heard of this film? No matter. This sordid and often repellant 1940s detective picture, based on the true story of Lonely Hearts killers Ray Fernandez and Martha Beck, is one script draft short of an L.A. Confidential. (David Mamet or William Goldman, call your respective offices.)
Two Long Island homicide detectives—Travolta and Gandolfini—get caught up in what is apparently a job for the "bunco" squad. A sad-sack con artist—Leto—seduces lonely single women into believing he's the man of their dreams, only to empty their bank accounts and move on. Problem is, once Hayek latches onto Leto, playing along as his spinster "sister," with all the possessiveness of a neurotic carbuncle, they begin empting bullets into their pathetic, lonely dupes.
What could have been an interesting psychological thriller is just a sordid mess, as the characters are never fleshed out and the social milieu given justice to make this into even Chinatown's sickly granddaughter.
While there are a couple of tense, fun turns between Travolta and Gandolfini, they never evolve into anything deep or significant. I would like to see these two paired again in something richer.
If anyone steals the film, though, it's Hayek—a lovesucking sociopath who does her earnest best to render a distaff version of Denzel Washington's psycho cop from Training Day. She manages to transcend the stereotypical Latin spitfire with an affecting emotional duplicity that's played strictly through the eyes. She almost makes the film worth the ten bucks.
Almost. A volatile dame, hardboiled bombast, and buckets o' blood do not a first-rate crime thriller make. And the last-minute short-circuited death-penalty introspection rang as false as Scott Caan's profane swagger.
I give this film 65 Theses.
How many of you believe that Travolta has become an infinitely more interesting actor since he's packed on forty or fifty? Yes—fat, the secret weapon in reviving a burned-out disco-era career. From Look Who's Talking to Pulp Fiction to Michael, Phenomenon, A Civil Action, and Primary Colors, an excess of avoirdupois has aided and abetted Mr. Travolta's screen presence in more ways than one. And I can't wait to see him as Divine's successor in the upcoming Big Screen version of the Broadway version of the original film version of John Waters' Hairspray, recognizing, of course, that cross-dressing is definitely a transgressive afront to good taste, decency, and the American way. But just keep telling yourself that the Brits built a mighty empire on such shenanigans. (Although there were exceptions to this rule: Britain's collapse in the Third Afghan War, of 1919, is often attributed to its troops dressing as Yum-Yum, Bo-Peep, and Pitti Sing from The Mikado, a startling raiment tactic that only emboldened the Afghan khan, who took to dressing as Hroswitha of Gandershiem, for reasons known only to the khan and his mother, Pearl.)
No Doubt This Will Be Good
As I wrote sometime ago, this was a well-crafted and most compelling work of drama and psychological intrigue, which Shanley will adapt himself.
I smell Oscars. (Or is that my lunch? Ach!)
April 21, 2007
The 68-year-old Mr. Knievel admitted to a vague belief in a "god" while running from His Son—but you cannot outrun the Light.
I dare say the former daredevil's public baptism and witness to his newfound faith in and love for Christ was by far the bravest act of his life—a mighty leap of faith, in which he was upheld by the hidden God and propelled by power of the Spirit.
Let this be a lesson to all those who revel in their youth, strength, celebrity, and wealth—"You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?"
Fracture: Hannibal Lecter Lite
A gifted public prosecutor (Ryan Gosling), on his way to the high-life of a swanky private firm, takes this case as one last exercise in civic duty. A no-brainer—the guy confessed. They have the gun. He can lock this up with one brain tied behind his back.
The thing is, he can't convict. The confession was made to a detective who just happened to be the now-comatose shooting victim's lover. The shooter says he confessed under duress. And the gun that was found on the premises? Never been fired.
Fracture is a quiet, deliberate, and smart Columbo-like thriller, with Anthony Hopkins enjoying life as Hollywood's go-to supergenius criminal. Gosling brings just the right combination of youthful overconfidence and wounded pride to his role as a young master of the universe watching the effects of entropy destroy everything he's worked for.
The Hollywood tricks are feinted at, then rejected, keeping you guessing. There is no deus ex machina. Could this monster possibly get away with attempted murder? (Keep the attempted in the back of your mind.)
Catch this while you can. It probably won't break box office records and may not last long, which is a shame, but predictable. Not much in the way of violence, no nudity, just mind games. Not exactly the stuff of video games.
I give this film 85 Theses.
One quibble: What does a recently fired gun feel like?
April 20, 2007
Now if only B-16 would turn his attention to Purgatory and "free" the souls supposedly trapped there, we might get somewhere with this ecumenism business . . .
Imagine the absurdity of august, serious theological minds pondering the nonexistence of something invented by their forebears and which has lingered in the minds of the faithful for centuries and which, while merely a notion and not a doctrine (or so I am told), has probably caused more than one poor mother of a dead infant intense distress.
So this Limbo is a notion and not a doctrine, and the declaration that this notion, really an invention, probably does not relate to anything real is merely hypothetical, for they cannot say conclusively that it doesn't exist, for that would be taken as an infallible statement about what is theoretical but yet possibly real.
So Limbo remains in limbo.
Is there any wonder why some people throw their hands up at religion and prefer mere
I would love to know where, exactly, these guys meet to discuss major revisions to such theological notions. Is lunch provided, or do you bring your own? Are there periodic smoking breaks?
"Hey, Bob—whadda you think about this Limbo business?" "Absolutely. Good enough for St. Augie, it's good enough for me." "Whaddabout you, Joe?" "Heck no. Hate it. Too depressing. No Limbo." "OK, that's one for limbo and one against. Larry, your turn." "I say there is a Limbo, but there's a springboard to Heaven when enough prayers are said by the right people in the right posture at the right time." "Lovely. Lovely image. And it keeps people on their knees. Carl, whatsay you?" "No Limbo. Too indefinite. People like closure." "OK, that's two no Limbos. So that's that. No Limbo. Curly, get the press on the horn. Tell 'em—no Limbo. All those people who believed their unbaptized babies were deprived of Heaven and the immediate presence of God, well, they can buck up. Granted, they're all as dead as Maximus the Confessor, and so already figured this out on their own, but we need to close the files nonetheless. Now where exactly are those files? Maxie, get Gracie on the horn. Ask her where those Limbo files got to. Every time I turn my back, some skeezix makes off with the files. That's why the Inquisition got closed down, don't you know? Lost the damn files. What's the point in interrogating heretics if you can't keep files. Theology 101, people."
(As you can probably tell, I've had my cookies and am feeling much better now . . .)
Is it that CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC do not want to offend Mohammedan sensibilities? Or that they do not want to cast Christians in the role of martyrs? Or that they do not want to flame the so-called culture wars?
Or that so long as it is Christians being murdered for being Christians, there's no story worth telling in their view?
This Is Anti-Catholic Bigotry!
One wonders if the ruling's detractors have not had the contents of their craniums similarly sucked out. To all those so exercised over this decision, fear not: You can still kill your children; you simply must be more circumspect as regards the means. Just as there is such a thing as cruel and unusual punishment meted out to a convicted murderer—you may still execute him, but you can't hack him to death with meat cleavers (or force him to watch Keith Olbermann for, say, 40 hours at a time).
Obviously, the symmetry in this comparison is all wrong, as the infant making its way through the birth canal is an innocent, whereas the convicted murderer is, by definition, not. But you get my drift—you can still kill, just do it in a humane way! (Try getting through this if you suspect the horrors of partial-birth abortion are exaggerated.) There's still dilation and evacuation, salt poisoning, chemical abortion—loads of gruesome methods! So cheer the hell up!
And let's stop ridiculing the poor Roman Catholics for merely being the conscience of the nation! Haven't Catholics had to endure enough from bigots calling them all sorts of hideous names down through the centuries!? Sure, they tried to kill me, but that's water under the bridge. A mere bag of shells, as Mr. Kramden liked to say. Can't we all just get along?
I . . . I must lie down . . . is it just me or is the room spinning . . . cookies . . . I must have cookies . . .
April 19, 2007
Why do I see no Lutheran blogs here? I see only Romanist blogs! Who is running this thing—Cardinal Cajetan?
Meet Lutheran Singles!
As Rick Moranis asked in the immortal Spaceballs: Everybody got that? (He also said, "My brains are going into my feet," but that is neither here nor there.)
What would a strictly Lutheran Singles Online Match.com-type website look like? What would Lutherans be looking for in each other? What would they consider to be the key attributes of the "perfect" Lutheran? Here are some questions I think should be asked a potential Lutheran date (the correct answers follow in reverse order):
1. Say you are waiting in line to pay for your lager and someone attempts to cut ahead of you, what is the appropriate thing to say?
2. Can you spell LC-MS?
3. How many children do you want, and how many of them shall be called Horst?
4. What month do we celebrate Oktoberfest?
5. If asked to receive Holy Communion in an Anabaptist church, what is the correct response?
6. Which of Herr Luther's commentaries is your favorite: Galatians, Romans, or Babette's Feast vs. Chocolat?
7. If your pastor enters the pulpit wearing a "Jesus Is My Homeboy" cap turned backward and carrying a karaoke machine, which exit is it most appropriate to leave through?
8. In the Smalcald Articles, "On the False Repentance of the Papists" appears in which part?
9. Is it ever permissible to pray the rosary?
10. Have you ever committed fornication with a non-Lutheran?
10. I would never commit fornication! (But if I did—and I'm not saying I did—but if I did—and I'm not saying I did—does an ELCA-er count? You know how they are!)
9. Only if you are strong in the faith. And since I have yet to meet anyone in the 21st century who uncategorically qualified, the answer is no.
7. The one you will drill through the pew you are sitting in.
5. "What am I doing in this Anabaptist church? I thought it was a bowling alley! Ach!"
4. Every month, dummkopf!
3. Four. Two.
2. If they forget the hyphen, they are probably WELS—or a Calvinus sycophant!
1. "Here I stand!"
As for the debate over whether NBC should have shown the photographs and played the audiotapes mailed them by the shooter: No, they should have resisted this temptation. They have given him exactly what he wanted—infamy. And they gave themselves what they crave—ratings.
Now, will that—media immortality—spur others to commit equally heinous acts?
And God rest the souls of all the slain—and let us not forget the courage and self-sacrifice of a true hero, Liviu Librescu.
April 18, 2007
Michael Apted's career has included an eclectic selection of subject matter: from Coal Miner's Daughter to a Bond film to his much-celebrated "Up" series.
Keep in mind that Narnia 2: Prince Caspian is not set to debut until 2008! That will be directed by Neil Burger, who most recently brought us The Illusionist. So Narnia 3: Voyage of the Dawn Treader will probably be in your friendly neighborhood theater sometime around ACH! I'M SO OLD!
But before all of that, we will have to endure the miserable materialistic ravings of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. Why O why would Nicole Kidman consent to lend her considerable talents to this dribble? And how could anyone make his way through his turgid, clumsy prose? I've read parking tickets that were more compelling! Ach!
(Yes, yes, I know: They've made a concession to the "marketplace" by supposely removing all references to God or to religion—big whoops. The message remains the same: You're on your own, give or take a daemon or two. And for those who think the Magisterium at the plot's heart is simply the Roman Catholic Church, and so, from a Lutheran or Evangelical or Protestant perspective, good for Pullman, keep in mind—he hates us all. The Church of Rome is simply the easiest, most visible target for his venom. The spin given to the Magisterium now is that it is a stand-in for all totalitarian governments—including communism. Right. I'm certain Stalin, Mao, and Kim Il Sung were foremost in Mr. Pullman's mind when he sat down to compose his opus vomitus maximus. In any event, I leave it to you whether you think the film fit for your children to view.)
April 17, 2007
And how could I have missed adding The Wild Women of Wongo to my Netflix queue?
The forces behind MST3000 should be commended simply for improving upon Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones by providing a RiffTrax!
(Could I possibly get something like that for the Matrix sequels? Perhaps running commentary by nonparticipants could make sense of all that New Age ka-ka once and for all! Such a headache it gave me! Was Neo the messiah or not? Did Trinity come back to life for real? Did the rebellion finally defeat the robot monsters who wanted to turn everyone into batteries? And who shot J.R.? I'm so confused!)
Why Has Crunch Never Made Colonel?
Can it get any better? But why O why did they have to make my very own Count Chocula the villain? He can't help himself—he's suffers from an incurable genetic condition called vampirism! Where is the compassion? Any other disabled American would have a lawsuit ready to go! But not the Count—and why? Because he has too much dignity—that's why!
Nothing 'Mere' About It
Touchstone is a highly regarded and serious ecumenical magazine that features contributions from Christians of many denominations. I know we Lutherans are often denigrated for our lack of ecumenical zeal, our insularity, our lack of charitableness toward Christians of other denominations.
That about sums it up.
Now ask me if I care. I have enough to worry about just keeping my own crew from retrogressing into a babel of hippie Jesus freaks—and put some shoes on! AND TURN THAT RACKET DOWN!
April 16, 2007
Very Early Kubrick
On display is early evidence of Kubrick's distinct composition style: the juxtaposition of extreme close-ups with long shots, canted and high angles, seamless editing (or somewhat seamless here).
Just goes to prove that some people are born to see the world through a viewfinder.
Jimmy Bond Is Dead
But this item (scroll to the very bottom—I SAID SCROLL!) is somewhat misleading: Nelson played an American CIA agent (no not that CIA) named Jimmy Bond who was supposed to be Fleming's über-spy but who really was not quite the James Bond. (Woody Allen would play a character with the same name—in his case James Bond's nephew—in the spoof revisionist remake in 1967.)
This may seem like picking nits on a dead man's grave—an activity I DEPLORE, BTW—but it's a slow Monday.
Be that as it may: Nelson will still go down in the record books as the first actor to play the indefatigable, irrepressible, and ultimately unstoppable secular savior of the free world.
April 14, 2007
The Very Rottenest Tomatoes
I have saved you the trouble of having to click through 100 pages of dreck and have listed below all the miserable swinish losers.
I cannot account for the rank awfulness of every film, as I have not—thank Gott!—seen many of them. And so I am not fit to determine whether Juwanna Mann is really more intolerable than, say, Jawbreaker.
A few things, however, immediately irritate my bladder when perusing this list:
1. The sheer banality of so many of the titles. Boat Trip. Could you be more literal? Envy. Could you spare the syllables? The New Guy. What's this film about? Uhh, the new guy?
2. How many have supernatural themes. Satan and his minions make for stinky box office (The Exorcist notwithstanding).
3. How many entail goofy family vacations.
4. How many have the number 2 after their titles, or are in any event sequels.
5. What is also immediately apparent is that the list includes films going back only eight years or so. How old is the crew at Rotten Tomatoes—sixteen? Hello! There was film before the advent of high-definition television!
Where are the classic stinkbombs of all time? Where is Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space? Where is Airport 1975? Where is Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster? Myra Breckinridge? Zardoz? Santa Claus Conquers the Martians? And, of course, Savage Amazon Sluts in Congress!
Not to mention the much-derogated Inchon, Ishtar, and Can't Stop the Music? (I do not mention Heaven's Gate here, because, although a financial disaster, it was not as bad a picture as some made out.)
So here is the list from rottentomatoes.com. The very very wurst of the worst is at the bottom of the list. And so, relatively speaking, Catwoman isn't that bad. As badness goes.
Enjoy. Or retch. Whatever.
- A Man Apart
- Say It Isn’t So
- I Dreamed of Africa
- Juwanna Mann
- First Daughter
- Urban Legends: Final Cut
- The Number 23
- White Noise
- Darkness Falls
- Gods and Generals (I always forget which side wore blue)
- Kangaroo Jack
- Stealing Harvard (if only...)
- A Sound of Thunder
- The Skulls
- Man of the House
- My Boss’s Daughter
- See No Evil (did you see this film?)
- The Wash
- Out Cold
- Basic Instinct 2 (ah, having survived a near-death experience, Ms. Stone decided she would dedicate the remainder of her career to equally life-transforming productions)
- Surviving Christmas (be happy we survived this vicious waste of celluloid)
- The Reaping
- The New Guy
- Lost Souls
- Boat Trip
- Date Movie
- Deck the Halls
- Chill Factor
- Stay Alive
- Gray Matters
- The Order
- I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (so why must you tell us yet again?)
- Yours, Mine, and Ours
- Johnson Family Vacation
- Cheaper by the Dozen 2
- Summer Catch
- The Adventures of Pluto Nash (another Murphy disaster)
- Extreme Ops
- The Forsaken
- Universal Soldier: The Return (from where? he's universal!)
- Material Girls
- Yu-Gi-Oh: The Movie
- The Fog
- Supercross: The Movie
- Big Momma’s House 2 (as opposed to the masterwork Big Momma’s House 1?)
- Code Name: The Cleaner
- Swept Away (Madonna edition)
- Corky Romano
- Serving Sara
- The Perfect Man
- Because I Said So (this is barely out of the theaters!)
- Texas Rangers
- Soul Survivors
- The Mod Squad
- My Baby’s Daddy
- The In Crowd
- House of the Dead
- Down to You
- Happily N’Ever After
- Fear Dot Com (not a bad title, I must admit)
- Son of the Mask (was Son of the Pink Panther not warning enough?)
- Bless the Child (second selection starring Kim Basinger)
- Rollerball (the remake—not the James Caan classic!)
- The Whole Ten Yards
- Christmas with the Kranks
- Baby Geniuses
- The Covenant
- Deuces Wild
- Battlefield Earth (finally!)
- Epic Movie
- Godsend (starring Robert DeNiro! is no one immune from lousy agents?!)
- Half Past Dead
- The Master of Disguise
- National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers
- Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (did they not learn from the whole Baby Geniuses debacle?)
- King’s Ransom
- Pinocchio (starring Roberto Benigni—oh how the mighty have fallen!)
- Alone in the Dark
- Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever
April 13, 2007
Oh How They Try
Not even the great Bach is free from the addlepated tirades of the chattering classless.
April 12, 2007
So maybe several of the scholars interviewed had their views misrepresented by
But we knew this all along. And we're not even professionally credentialed! Will wonders never cease...
It is definitely a slow news week . . .
I would be happy to remove the quotation marks from "Rev." if someone could tell me from which seminary Mr. Sharpton received his divinity degree. All I can find is that he "was licensed and ordained a minister at the age of 10 by Bishop F.D. Washington in 1964" (this from a Wikipedia entry).
Age 10? And to think I was an old man of 24 when I was ordained a priest! Either Mr. Sharpton was very quick-witted and spiritually mature or I was an addlepated pagan.
BTW: Kurt Vonnegut is dead. A once very-amusing writer and contrarian (who often had some very unamusing things to say about Christians, his daughter being one), Mr. Vonnegut himself was an occasional guest on Mr. Imus' program. (My miserable, execrable assistant remembers meeting the writer back in 1989 and requesting that Mr. Vonnegut sign one of his books. Herr V promptly complied, and his signature was accompanied by a quick illustration of a rude body part—well, not so much a part as a niche—Ach!)
None of this should be construed as approval or acceptance of what Mr. Imus said about the Rutger's Women's Basketball Team. His remarks were reprehensible, and, as has been noted time and again in the past week, these young women were merely the victims of a drive-by mouth-shooting. They should have been celebrated for their achievement and not denigrated as a means to a cheap laugh.
Speaking as someone who has spent the past five hundred years bloviating in a bombastical manner, I have learned that one should save his venom for those who abuse their power, whether in the media, in government, or in the Church. Nevertheless, I find the opportunism of some professional activists very interesting—and the rump-kissing of left-wing establishment types by the likes of Keith Olbermann very repulsive . . .
It seems to me that people of all races, creeds, and political persuasions were more than happy to use Mr. Imus and his audience as a means to their ends when it suited them. Now that the I-Man has stepped in it, instead of community service, especially in light of all his charitable work, he has been given life . . .
One more thing: When will the "Rev." Sharpton be apologizing to Steven Pagones?
UPDATE: The I-Man strikes back!
April 09, 2007
After witnessing Dwight rise to the occasion last Thursday* by spraying Roy in the face with liquid pepper, thus saving hapless Jim Halpert from a mighty smackdown, I am convinced more than ever that only Dwight can provide the security this nation needs at this time in its history.
Who else would think to keep his Ninja throwing stars next to his Post-It Notes! Nunchuks beside his highlighters!
Oh, if only more cubicle cretins would learn the value of keeping a Billy Club secreted among the paper clips and three-hole punches!
And the magnanimity with which Dwight bore his hero's mantle! Refusing all accolades! Rejecting all renumerations! Accepting only Angela's lust-laden offer of sofa booty! (All right, that part was icky—but manly men needs their women! Even if their women are the dictionary definition of anal-retentive.)
I want my Lutherans to rise up, as one voice, and acclaim Dwight K. Schrute the frontrunner for president of the United States!
"But Herr Luther: He is a fictional character! A fictional character cannot run for public office—only for a fictional office. Don't you see that you trivialize the grand office of the presidency by calling for such nonsense."
Silence, imaginary interlocutor! Are you telling me that the jackanapes who are running your country today are not fictional?! I refuse to believe it! You are deluded! Your president, your Speaker of the House, your attorney general—these are not characters from The Simpons or South Park? Impossible!
And if, by some strange twist of fate, you are, in fact, ruled by flesh-and-blood humans and not two-dimensional computer-generated images, then I insist that this discrimination end immediately! Why should arteries and DNA be determinative of fitness for public office! Why is it not enough that a candidate have his own bobble-head and easily accessed deleted scenes?! Why is it not enough that a candidate could defeat his fictional British counterpart, Gareth Keenan, in a fair fight, with or without melee weapons? Why is it not enough that once you grow sick of his incompetence, you can simple change the channel!
My only reservation is that Mr. Schrute is a Romanist—although he is a descendant of good Amish people. I have every confidence, however, that Angela will bring him back to sanity on this matter. (Although the only book, besides the Scriptures, she would bring with her on a desert island is The Purpose-Driven Life. This gives me pause, not to mention a massive case of deep-intestinal gas.)
Nevertheless, and notwithstanding: Dwight Schrute for President! Dwight Schrute for President!
*For those of you who do not watch The Office: You are banned from this blog for the next two hours and forty minutes.
He died at his storyboard, as every artist wishes he could.
The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against traditional religion as the "opium of the masses"—cannot hear the music of the spheres.Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens—do not fear! Your liberation is at hand! We Christians will rally to a second Emancipation and free you from your chains: materialism, solipsism, futility, and despair!
But first . . . waffles!
Beat Religion into Them!
I opined on this subject almost a year ago, offering several excellent, even revolutionary solutions to getting men out of their faux-leather recliners and into pews on Sunday mornings.
Obviously I was ignored. And so nothing changed. Except men now have "coaches" instead of pastors. Ingenious. The pain of eternal hellfire has proved a disinsentive to hearing the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. A promise of health-and-wealth has run its course and proved to be a sick-and-poor substitute. So now we have Knute Rockne meets Vince Lombardi. Soon pastors will simply walk up and own the aisles and start shooting congregants in the head at random. It will be referred to in the Worship Bulletin as "No pain, no gain" and will come immediately after the Offertory.
I must lie down now. Someone bring me my fluffy pillow.
April 08, 2007
And Their Eyes Were Opened
April 05, 2007
OK, So I Lied. . .
Among Clark's clunkers was Rhinestone (starring Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton—nuff said). Among his hits was Porky's—that groundbreaking paeon to male adolescent tumescence.
But he will forever be remembered as the visionary genius who brought us none other than . . . A Christmas Story.
So, in honor of Mr. Clark, let us all join in, one last time, in a rousing rendition of . . . One, two, three—
Scut Farkus—What a rotten name!
Bob—and Ariel—Clark: R.I.P.
All of us at Luther at the Movies wish all of you a most blessed Easter.
The "us" includes:
- Col. Jumpin' Jack Pilfrey, executive editor, hero of the Granada invasion and former Pilates instructor at West Point
- Eleanor Dellaponti, proofreader, former stewardess and author of Carmine Testes: Male Aviatrix
- Manfred von Rad, art director, former curator of the International Sausage Museum, Zurich
- Dennis Dieter, researcher, lay Christian apologist and president of No You Can't Ministries and the popular No You Still Can't devotional guides
- Delores Sanchez-Mainz, sales and marketing director, former Miss German-speaking Argentina
- Sammy "Slick" Devereaux, IT security, sole owner and operator of Miracle Home Security Systems ("If You Can Sleep at Night—It's a Miracle")
- My miserable execrable assistant, former good-for-nothing and current pain in the bollocks
April 04, 2007
If only I had had a Mac when I was translating into German the Holy Scriptures, instead of that miserable Wang 2200, how much easier my task would have been! Just think of the online reference tools I would have had at my disposable instead of that retrograde St. Isidore 2.0!
As software apps go, the Izzy 2.0 was for the birds. Not only did my system crash every time I tried accessing it, but all my files would instantly translate into Spanish—an obvious Castilian hacker conspiracy!
Of course, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod will always welcome you. Whether the local LCMS church will resemble what you are fleeing or not is another story.
(I must admit that I do rather like Stanley Hauerwas' line: Stay in the church that has harmed you. But I would draw the line at indulgences . . . and anyone whose ministry is now available on Blu-ray DVD.)
April 03, 2007
A Pro-Life House?
The diagnosis is something called "mirror syndrome," in which the baby, in this case suffering from an enlarged bladder that is preventing normal lung development, is killing the mother.
Dr. House says "terminate" before the baby kills the mother. The mother says no. What's more, Dr. Cuddy—House's boss—says no.
All through this episode, only Cuddy refers to the baby as a baby. Everyone else—Cameron, Chase, Foreman, Wilson, and, of course, House—refer to him as a fetus or a tumor or a parasite.
But Cuddy, would-be forty-something mother that she is, fights for both the photographer's life and that of her baby. House has nothing more to say but "terminate," as if the baby were a South American dictator and he the head of the CIA.
If you have by chance Tivo'd this episode to watch at a future date—stop reading here!
Cuddy takes charge and—mirabile dictu—saves both mother and child by ordering a very risky surgery. But not before House has a life-changing experience. The "fetus," the "tumor," reaches out from the mother's excisioned womb and actually grasps House's hand—he clings to House for dear life. House reciprocates, and gently fondles the baby's microscopic fingers—then proceeds to try and sever the umbilical cord (this is House, of course) and effectively kill him when the mother's heart stops beating.
Cuddy comes through again and restarts the mother's heart—but not before threatening to electrocute House with the defib paddles.
The episode ends with House deciding against taking an exotic vacation, and instead curling up on his couch watching the Travel Channel and repeatedly mimicing the baby's grasping gesture.
Yes, the mother has undergone in vitro fertilization thanks to a gay friend. So there is a sop to the postmodern audience who might otherwise be terrified of such a pro-life message. And yes, House lectures Cuddy that, despite this happy outcome, nine times out of ten such a procedure would have resulted in a dead mother and child.
But both mother and child lived—and that thanks to someone who loved life more than she loved statistics.
I can finally watch House again without thinking: "Who are they going to dispose of like a used Q-Tip this week?"
Post Scriptum: When the miserable materialists who have invaded our academies finally come to terms with the fact that the word fetus merely means "offspring" or "young one," not "tumor" or "cantelope," will they begin employing another term, such as detritus?
I am very sensitive when it comes to this issue, as I am a member of that smallest of minorities, both immigrant and undead, which makes getting a social security card one helluva thrill ride.
What accounts for the success of this multi-volume Cliffnotes on dispensational theology? Lots and lots of people get killed. Take the violence out of this "entertainment" and what is left? The idea that the Church is basically a mistake (and so, by inference, is Christianity) and life is a matter of holding on for dear life until you are whisked away into the ether and the planet is thrown onto the trash heap of history.
Now there's a mission statement for a new university! Imagine that course catalogue: Every subject description would end—"But what does it really matter? Those of us who are saved will soon disappear, and the rest of you miserable sinners will have to fend off Antichrist until Earth explodes in a ball of green flame—green flame!"*
And to think I was taught none of this at good ole U of E! What a crummy education I received!
*From what movie is this reference to green flame taken? Click here—but not until you have given it a good think!