Saturday, October 27, 2007

What's Up By Way of an Augustine Quote

A while ago I was listening to The Confessions of St. Augustine in my car. The confessions are always a good thing to go back to now and again. I'm often amazed by the depth of Augustine's devotion to God as well as by his theological insight. This time I was struck by this passage:
"Yet I sinned, O Lord my God, ruler and creator of all natural things, but of sins only the ruler. I sinned, O Lord my God, by going against the commands of my parents and of those teachers.... I was disobedient not out of a desire for better things, but out of love for play. I loved to win proud victories in our contests, and to have my ears tickled by false stories, so that they would itch all the more intensely for them, with the same kind of curiosity glittering more and more in my eyes for shows, the games of grown up men.... Lord in your mercy look down upon these things and deliver those of us who now call upon you. Deliver also those who do not yet call upon you, so that they may call upon you and you may deliver them." Confessions bk. 1, ch. 10. John Ryan, tr.

I was struck by Augustine's observation that he was distracted from his studies as a child not by better things as such but by the things he enjoyed at the time. The Confessions were written in his early to mid-forties. I just remember hearing that passage and thinking, "That's me." Most kids are distracted from study by play, but for whatever reason I was surprised to see how much I'm distracted by it as an adult and even more by the "false stories" that I devote so much time to on t.v. or in movies, or, for that matter, in books. I have friends who don't read fiction precisely because they don't care to immerse themselves in things that aren't true. Obviously they miss out on a lot, but probably much less than I'm inclined to argue for.

In other news, I think my toe is getting better. It was definitely better when I went back to the doctor's office on the 19th, and it held up well to c. 5 miles of corn maze walking on the 20th. It doesn't look much better now and it's still sore, so we'll see. We closed our softball season on the 21st with a resounding, and probably fitting, loss. We had fun and hopefully we'll be better in the spring. Last night I got to go see The Producers with my friend Dianne. We had a good time and it was definitely funnier as a live production than I remember the Mostel/Wilder movie version being. I also took yesterday off to do some personal reflection and rejuvenation. I had a good time walking around the lake at the Independence Grove forest preserve in Libertyville. That yielded some good prayer time, some exercise and the following haiku:
Geese land on the lake.
Wings outstretched they fall with grace
Beneath cloudy skies.

This world's grey curtain
Pulls back to show green shores as
A swift sun rises.

I love watching geese and ducks drop toward a lake. There's an amazing grace about the way they bend their wings down to just drop out of the sky toward the water. This time I saw a few who looked kind of wobbly as they headed in for the landing like they were hitting unexpected air turbulence or were jockeying for position with the other geese. It was fun to watch. I also noticed that if you look at them from the right angle, geese look like two legged, tailless brontosauri. It was a good day.

Verse of the day:
"The sluggard says, 'There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!'" Prov. 26:13 (ESV)

Gratuitous quote:
"Of course. I am also a traditionally built lady, though not so traditionally built as you by a long way." Mma Makutsi to Mma Ramotswe in Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Interesting Story About Dying Languages

I found this story on the First Things blog about the cultural loss of endangered languages. It is a very interesting story, especially if you're into linguistics or anthropology.

Happy Birthday Toe Me

So last Monday I had a birthday. In many ways it was no different from any other Monday. When I went out my car was a little different than usual. There was a bunch of stuff in red paint on the windows about it being my birthday and hopefully a happy one. Seems the Wonder Slug had decorated my car. I was happy. That was it for b-day celebrating on the 8th. Later, though, to make the day memorable in another way I managed to turn over a book cart onto my toe. Either a large index or the cart itself struck my left big toe right around the base of the nail. It turned blue-gray almost instantly. Meanwhile I reloaded the cart while two small Asian children laughed at me and headed on to the dumpster. Then it started to rain.

Two days later as I limped about my business someone saw the redness surrounding the nail and suggested that it might be infected and that I should see a doctor. That night one of the youth stepped on it, just in case it didn't hurt badly enough. On Friday I went to my new doctor. He described it as a hematoma (hema-toe-ma?) and chided me for not trimming the nail (which, for the record, I was trying not to think about touching) but did not think it infected. He prescribed an antibiotic just in case and told me to soak it twice a day and come back in a week. So tomorrow I'll return to the doctor with an almost painless toe and a nail that is still an interesting shade of blue gray.

Between the birthday and now, I was also taken out for dinner at Bob Chinn's Crab House by my friend Cindee, hosted a poetry reading and viewing of Monty Python's Holy Grail at my apartment on Saturday (missing UK's amazing victory over LSU in the process), taught both jr. high and high school youth groups about God's Kingdom coming with power, and had a generally good time. So it's been mostly a good birthmonth so far with a slight undertow of pain.

Verse of the day:
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)

Random Amusing Quotes:
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin (from the front of the birthday card given me by EW and DP

"I'd hate for there to be an invisible Haitian in the room." EM (a Heroes-based explanation for why Worm couldn't use telekinesis to retrieve a book from one of our bookshelves)

"We've been foiled!" SW (his response to seeing the Dove chocolate wrapper poetry the Wonder Slug had left on our refrigerator)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Summer Movie Music and Update

I mentioned in my last post that I'd wanted to blog about my favorite movie music moments from this past summer. Music has a great influence on how much I like a movie. Basil Poledouris' score is one of the reasons that Conan the Barbarian was long my favorite movie and also the reason I first began to consider that I might like classical music. I still think you could play the music from Pirates of the Caribbean over any other movie and I would like that movie. One of the reasons I stay through the credits is to let the final music soak in while I think about the movie. That said I wanted to mention my favorite music moments from summer movies in chronological order.
1. The electric guitar during the meeting on the sandbar in PotC III. Captains Swann, Barbossa, and Sparrow face off with Will Turner, Davey Jones, and Lord Cutler-Beckett while the guitar wails. It was very much like something out of a western.

2. The choral "Spider Pig" from the Simpsons. Homer adopts a pig. At one point Marge wonders how the pig tracks got on the ceiling. She goes into the living room to see Homer holding the pig on the ceiling and singing, "Spider Pig, Spider Pig/Does whatever a spider-pig does./Can he swing from a web?/No he cant, 'cause he's a pig." Later in the movie during a vision quest scene and again at the credits there's a choral version that's kind of eerie and ethereal like the song "Something Wicked This Way Comes" in the soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I absolutely loved it.

3. The score from Stardust, especially in the race to the wall and the dash to the witches' stronghold but I loved the score throughout the movie including the Can-Can. The part I hated was the song that played over the main credits. It was horrible. It didn't fit with the rest of the music and was just an annoying cheesy pop song. I had the same reaction to the song that played over the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon credits, but at least when I bought the soundtrack I hear how it blended the themes from Tan Dun's score. There was nothing redeemable about the marketing effort at the end of Stardust except when the song ended and was replaced by a reprise of the Can-Can. The end credits pop song that really worked this summer was the one on The Bourne Ultimatum.

In other news, our LIFEgroup hosted our Cramtastic Oktoberfest Root Beer Kegger this weekend to raise money for our friends the Crams who will be doing church planting in Germany. I was disappointed with the turnout but those who came had a good time and we had a very good prayer time after Kevin shared what they would be doing. It was fun and I'm very happy with how the group pitched in to make it happen. Since my last post we've lost three more softball games, I've lost games of Munchkin and Settlers, spoken to the youth about the benefits of Kingdom of God and am having a birthday. Today I turn 1 year less than the square of 1/2 the square root of a gross or the cube root of 42875 or 1/2 of my three score and ten. Alternately I'm turning 29 for the 7th consecutive year. Happy birthday to me.

Verse of the day:
"Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12 (NIV)