Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Would Jesus Do?

This past Tuesday North Carolina passed the First Amendment to their state constitution.  This amendment classifies marriage as a union between a man and a woman.  While I am a Bible believing Christian who disagrees with homosexual marriage, there has always been something about such legislation that doesn't sit well with me.

The main reason behind the push for such legislation has always been to protect the sanctity of marriage and to protect family values.  Protection is very important, but how can you rationalize the legality of certain actions that are deemed hazardous, while banning others that you think are harmful.  For example, do you really think that gay marriage is more harmful than tobacco?  I can applaud the effort towards protecting the sanctity of marriage and family values, but stopping gay marriage is not how to do it; a whole shift in the mindset of what constitutes marriage is needed.

I don’t want “marriage” associated with a 72 hour marriage between a drunk pop star and her boyfriend in Vegas. To me, marriage is a sacred bond between husband and wife before God Almighty. Anything less than that is mere compromise. If a group wants to push for a legal definition of marriage that fits the Bible, then go all the way. Make it so that it can only be done in a church setting. Make divorce illegal unless there is marital infidelity; enough of this “We’ve just drifted too far apart” junk. Or, and this is my preferred solution, make marriage in a religious sense and the legal civil union two separate and distinct things. Civil union can be what is done at the courthouse, and marriage can be what you choose to do in a religious setting.

If the proponents of North Carolina's First Amendment are serious about protecting marriage and family values, then they should do something about it. If the BILLIONS of dollars that were poured into getting it and similar laws passed were instead poured into family counseling, promoting family unity, stopping the porn epidemic (yeah, we are talking about you Disney), you know, things that actually protect marriage and family values, think of the difference that could have been made.

But instead, what will more than likely happen is the divide between Christians and non-Christians will grow larger and larger.  Hate will fester like an untreated open wound.  And the love of Jesus will fade away like a mediocre sitcom.  The constitutionality of the law will be taken to court and an expensive legal battle will ensue while marriages and families are violently torn apart by affairs, selfishness, and a whole host of other problems that are entirely fixable if the Christian community (or any other community for that matter) would truly take it upon themselves to fix what's broken instead of merely finding someone to blame.

In California, we faced a similar situation a few years ago with Prop 8--a political issue that was back in the news two months ago.  Some of the hateful things that were done during the time leading up to voting in California were truly mind boggling. What was just as bad, though, was the overabundance of petty actions. For example, there are the feelings of the “pastor” I was serving under at the time of voting (I use the term “pastor” loosely because of his abuse, manipulative, duplicitous nature). He told me that after dropping his daughter off at school one morning, he walked past a “No on Prop 8” sign. It took all he had in him not to kick the sign over. And after he left, he had regrets over not kicking it over. That was someone’s personal property, something someone paid about $20 for, and this person wanted to kick down and destroy it out of anger. That is the sort of attitude that causes Christians to be labeled as hateful and bigoted. I don’t think that’s what Jesus would be doing.

I don’t think he would have voted against Prop 8, but I’m sure He would have much rather seen all of the effort and mind-boggling sums of money that went into passing the proposition go instead to fund activities and programs that truly bring families closer, something that actually protects family unity and the sanctity of marriage.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Joss Whedon is my hero!


My mind is awash with ideas to expand the Marvel cinematic universe.  I kid you not, I could hash out the rough plot to 30 new Marvel movies in the next few days.  The Avengers was amazing.  I guess that's what happens when a seasoned veteran of the comic book world writes and directs a movie.  Over the next few days, I could literally come up with general plot lines for about 30 new Marvel movies.  Seriously.

If you haven't realized it by now, The Avengers was awesome.  I think it beats out The Dark Knight as the all time greatest super hero movie.  I was talking with my wife after the movie, and she said that she was starting to get the feeling that if you've seen one super hero movie, you've seen them all.  To a degree, there is some truth in that.  The basis to most good super hero stories is that some ominous force is bent on world domination or wiping out all of mankind, and a hero (or heroes) must face overwhelming odds and fight their own personal demons to save the world.  What makes a movie great (The Avengers) or bland (2003's Hulk) is the execution of the plot.  Bravo to Joss Whedon.

The characters were nearly spot on in their page to screen transfer.  Fury was the manipulator constantly working for the good of humanity, no matter the gray areas he ventured into.  Iron Man was the selfish jerk who thinks he's better than everyone else.  Bruce Banner was still the genius with the big heart and the even bigger anger management issue.  The Hulk still loved to beat up on bad guys and even his friends.  Thor was still the Asgardian dedicated to justice.  Captain America was still the voice of reason (though they could have made him a little more reasonable in a scene or two to keep with his comic book character) who helped to rally everyone.  The Black Widow was still the deadly femme fatale with a deep and layered background.  Hawkeye wasn't quite the wise-cracking marksman he is in the comics, but he was still good, and I'm grateful they included him in.  Maria Hill wasn't quite the same as she was in the comics.  In the comics, she was a somewhat competent mid-level bureaucrat, not Fury's right hand person (where was Dum-Dum Dugan?!?).

One thing that separates Marvel from DC is that in the Marvel Universe, the good guys are always fighting each other.  It's something we've come to expect.  The fights between heroes have almost become more tantalizing that a good throw down with a villain.  The Avengers did not disappoint.  The fight between Iron Man and Thor was great.  The spirit of the fight was right out of the pages of the comics themselves.  The Hawkeye and Black Widow fight was great.  What really amazed me was the Hulk/Thor fight.  I didn't think they'd be able to do it on film; I thought we'd be relegated to animated fights (Hulk vs., Planet Hulk) if we wanted something good.  Now my hopes are up that Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, a Juggernaut/Hulk fight, a Thing/Hulk fight and a Wolverine/Hulk fight are feasible on the silver screen.  And don't say anything about Fox owning rights to the other characters; with the 1.5 billion it's probably going to make from world wide theater release alone, they can afford to buy the rights.

Just like nachos:  full of cheesy goodness
The movie also gave me hope that other avengers, such as Hercules and Ares, could be included in later films.  They could branch out and do a Luke Cage/Iron Fist/Heroes For Hire movie as well.  I think there'd be a large enough audience for it.  Get the West Coast Avengers together under Hawkeye.  There needs to be a Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos movie.  Period.  Black Panther is awesome and deserves his own movie.  I vote Will Smith to play him.  If not him, then the Falcon.  Get a Captain America and Falcon movie together.  Moon Knight deserves his own film.  I think the dynamics of the Inhumans would be fun to work with and see the final result.  They need to work the Sub Mariner into the mix somehow.  Maybe do it in the next Captain America movie or in a subsequent Avengers film, but it's a must in my opinion.  I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that The Avengers opens up the door to a lot of options.



Here comes the almost spoiler.  I was a bad fan boy and didn't see the midnight showing.  I should have, but didn't.  It was high up on my list to see, but I hadn't gotten around it yet.  I was browsing through yahoo articles yesterday when I came across an article that had a spoiler about the villain at the end of the movie, one of those clips that's thrown into the credits.  I was tempted to wait and be surprised when I saw it in theaters (which would have caused to convulse in sheer ecstasy), but I decided to go ahead and spoil it.  After all, it couldn't be my favorite villain of all time who I was hoping beyond all hope could be brought to the big screen, could it?  Oh yeah, it could.  So I went and saw it last night.  That scene opens the next movie up for so much.  While I won't directly spoil the surprise, it'll open up the door to some really great cosmic heroes (and villains, and the morally ambiguous) like Nova, Quasar, Drax, Ronan, Rocket Raccoon, Starlord, Adam Warlock, and many, many others.  Again, thank you Joss Whedon.  You are my hero.

Now, for a few things I would have thought would have been different.  During the final battle, I think Fury would've been down there fighting himself, not monitoring the situation from the helicarrier (nerdtastic, by the way).  I think he should have been leading the Howling Commandos.  They could have split the fighting with the Avengers.  And where was War Machine?  He was in Iron Man 2, why couldn't he have shown up, or at least referenced?  Same thing goes with other super heroes and super hero teams.  What have they been doing during this whole time?

Anyhow, while there are few minor things I would have tweaked, I think Joss Whedon did an absolutely amazing job with the Avengers, and I eagerly await the next installment in what is promising to be a multi-billion dollar franchise to rival Star Wars itself.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sophocles


I first read a few of Sophocles' plays when I was in high school.  I enjoyed them.  I wasn't a fan of plays at the time, and Sophocles opened me up a little to the world of drama.

Personally, I don't think Shakespeare can hold a candle to Sophocles.  Sophocles makes Shakespeare look like an illiterate hillbilly, which, considering the fact that Shakespeare straight up made up over 2,000 words, it's kind of true.

We know for sure that Sophocles wrote nearly 100 plays (over 80 of which won awards), sadly only seven of them have survived into modern times.  The ones that did survive, survived because of their superior quality.  They are the best of the best of the best.  They were the ones which were most often studied by ancient scholars.

Sophocles' life coincided almost exactly with the golden age of Athens, and his plays reflect the rich, deep history of not only Athens, but the Greek peoples themselves.  From mighty Ajax and Heracles to the wily and crafty Odysseus to the noble yet divinely faulted Oedipus to the creepy Antigone, the characters that populate the works of Sophocles are deep and complex.  They are larger than life, individuals which are eventually brought down by a combination of their own actions and the unyielding will of the gods.

His plays are not as long as most of Shakespeare's, so they are easier to digest in a single sitting.  Even non-thespians and theater lovers would enjoy these works of art.  (I'm not a theater person myself)  If you only read one of his plays, read Oedipus Rex.  It's by far the best play I've ever read or seen.  It's worth the hour or two to read it, as are the rest of his plays.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!


*Sigh.  Life can get busy sometimes.  For almost a month and a half, I have been posting nearly every day.  I think I only missed one or two days.  Now...my blog has been silent for about a week.  It's been weird, not posting.  I've felt off.  Between work and family, I just haven't had the time and energy as of late to post.

I've missed it.  It's not nearly the creative outlet that working on the two dozen or so writing projects I have going on right now, but it's still nice.  It helps me feel accomplished.

Unfortunately for some, the overwhelmed feeling doesn't dissipate.  It stays.  It grows.   The ever-increasing piles of to-dos becomes more and more consuming.  You feel like your drowning in it all.


Is that what's been happening to me the last week and a half?  No.  Has it happened to me before?  Oh yeah.  Been there, done that, and even bought a handful of key chains for everyone.  The key to not allowing the pile of work to drown you is to anchor yourself.  If you already feel like you're gasping for air, anchor yourself.  Take a few minutes to read a book, listen to some music, watch a tiny bit of T.V., talk to a friend, spend time with loved ones, pray, read your Bible.  Connect with yourself.  Connect with other people.  Connect with God.  Anchor yourself.