November 30, 2007
A Devastating Deception
Jeffrey Overstreet has a great Q&A about The Golden Compass up at CT Movies. It's all good reading, but one part in particular caught my eye.
Isn't this just the Harry Potter controversy all over again?
No. This time, there really is a serious problem. But God forbid that we respond to Pullman the way we've responded to J.K. Rowling. We've just been through a decade in which fearful, judgmental people have burned Harry Potter books, called J.K. Rowling a witch, and warned us that children who read her books will become warlocks. (This reminds me of those folks who told me, when I was ten, that if I saw The Empire Strikes Back, I might be lured into Buddhism.) What we missed with Harry Potter was the power of fairy tales, which use magic metaphorically and symbolically to help us understand mysterious concepts and appreciate the marvelous, otherworldly reality of grace.
And we encouraged a generation of children to believe that you can't be a Christian and also value fairy tales—a devastating deception. As Lewis and Tolkien have discussed and proposed, fairy tales reflect the truth of the gospel in a unique and timeless way. In fact, Lewis became a Christian through discussions with Tolkien about fairy tales.
Many Christians also overlooked the fact that, in damning the Potter series, we were persecuting a Christian woman who has admitted that the process of telling those stories was a journey of sorting out her own faith and persistent doubts. We missed that there were Bible verses woven through the stories and glimmering with truth.
But Pullman is a different storyteller. He says, "I've been surprised by how little criticism I've got. Harry Potter's been taking all the flak. I'm a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people—mainly from America's Bible Belt—who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven't got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God."
I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but it's true. It's really true. We are in the process of teaching an entire generation of Christian kids that fantasy is wicked and dangerous. Fortunately, a lesson that off-base doesn't take too well. Still . . . what a cataclysmic screw-up.
November 25, 2007
Turkey Time Again
Rachel and I made our now-traditional pilgrimage to Lubbock for Thanksgiving, with her brother Daniel this time. Thanks to a prior promise, we went to see Enchanted on Wednesday before Daniel arrived from Longview (even though I had just discovered No Country for Old Men is now out here . . . Curses! have to wait until tomorrow). Between one thing and another, we didn't get off until after 7, which was several hours later than I had hoped.
Nevertheless, the drive was largely uneventful (though dark) until my right front tire blew out rather violently at about 11:30. Rude awakening for Rachel and Daniel, that . . . Happily (in an unhappy way) this was my 3rd tire change in the past 2 months, and with help it didn't even matter that it was pitch black outside. We were back on the road in less than 10 minutes and arrived in Southland without further incident.
We got to Lubbock in time to drop my truck off at Wal-Mart before lunch. The Thanksgiving meal was yummy, as required by law, and the afternoon was passed divertingly with much hilarious playing of CatchPhrase. We decided to return to Southland for the night, since my grandparents there were going to be at a football game on Friday evening. We watched my new copy of A Passage to India with my Grandma on Friday afternoon before driving back to Lubbock. I love that movie.
My grandparents in Lubbock taught us a cool game called Texas Canasta, and Rachel and I got brutally trashed by Daniel and my granddad. After we were done, they gave us the cards and a copy of the rules so that we could spread the game wheresoe'er we went. We headed out on Saturday at around 1:00 so we could meet Becca and Gallagher back in Waco by evening.
We all arrived around the same time and got Bush's Chicken, then played TC and watched The Office late into the night. Ah, yes . . . The Office (American series). Rachel and I have been watching that ever since I discovered I could stream it off of Netflix. We've seen the first 3 seasons . . . not sure how I'm going to catch up on season 4, but the writer's strike has put that on hold anyway. In the meantime, it's time to start the British version.
Meanwhile, we'd planned to go to Sunday school this morning, but we were too tired, so we slept in instead. It made for a somewhat relaxing end to a largely relaxing weekend . . . I, of course, didn't need the relaxation. But Rachel did. Unfortunately for my blog, relaxing is boring . . . sorry.
November 18, 2007
Books for Sale
This weekend was the annual Waco Library sale, a four-day event that was held just across the street from me. I went, and it was awesome! The basic run-down: Children's books are priced anywhere from $.50 to $1.50, mass-market paperbacks go for $1, and hardbacks and trade paperbacks are $1.50. A few specific books are individually priced in the Collector's Corner.
The first day is Thursday, and you have to pay $5 to get in. The last day is Sunday, and they charge $8 per bag of books (the brown paper grocery kind). The sale is housed in a big double display building on the fairgrounds . . . they hand out maps at the door so you can find your way around.
I went and bought my ticket when the window opened at 8am, then walked home until opening time at 10. Consequently I was one of the first people in the door. I brought along a fold-out crate on wheels, and was handed three grocery bags at the door. Attendants roamed the buildings with wooden carts, ready to retrieve sacks and take them to the holding area if you didn't want to carry too much around . . . I didn't need it thanks to my crate. I walked out of there 3 hours later with almost 90 books, many in mint condition. Today I went back, with Rachel this time, and we left with almost twice as many. What a steal. I had to go buy a new bookcase just to have somewhere to put them all.
I am pleased.
November 11, 2007
November 01, 2007
So, like, I took Rachel to school this morning, and then I wanted some donuts for breakfast. Well, I noticed a Daylight Donuts not far from my house the other day, so I decided to swing by on the way back and pick up a few. I walk in and head up to the counter and start perusing the merchandise, and the lady behind the counter walks over.
"We're not actually open yet, but we're letting people come in and get some of the samples. Were you just wanting a few donuts for yourself?"
"Okay, well, we've got whatever you see out on display."
"Ummm . . . okay. I'll have a couple of those glazed twisty donuts."
*donuts are bagged and handed to me* "Alright, here you go. We'll be officially opened for business tomorrow! Have a nice day."
*my hand is in my pocket, on my wallet* "Wait, so . . . I don't have to . . . That's it?"
"Yeah. They're free. Enjoy your donuts."
"Sweet! Thanks." Gotta go back there once they're open . . . Rock on.
Anyway, Rachel and I visited Longview this weekend and went to the Shreveport Opera with Becca, Randy, Daniel Gallagher and Daniel Gullman. By the way, that's Little Danny G. and Big Danny G., in case conversations get confusing . . . I mean we could just go with Gallagher and Daniel, but then Becca of course calls them both Daniel, and then people aren't sure that you aren't doing the same thing and . . . bad mojo.
Back on topic. The Shreveport Opera was doing "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" which is actually a Stephen Sondheim musical. Sondheim was responsible for "West Side Story," which I hate, but he also wrote "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," which is awesome. "Sweeney Todd" was somewhere in-between, at least as performed in Shreveport.
The musical is based on a character that originated in British "penny dreadfuls" of the 19th century. A barber named Benjamin Barker is packed off to Australia by a crooked judge so that said judge can steal his wife. He escapes and returns 15 years later, now under the name Sweeney Todd, to find that his wife poisoned herself after being raped by the judge and his daughter (an infant at the time) has become the judge's ward. He sets up shop as a barber in his old digs above a meat pie shop owned by Mrs. Lovett (worst meat pies in London) and begins to plot his revenge. Before long, however, he pretty much loses his mind and slits the throat of anyone who comes in for a shave. Mrs. Lovett has fallen for him, and she is the brains behind the body disposal: They bake the victims into her meat pies, which suddenly become very popular.
It's very dark comedy at its lightest (but also quite funny), and at its darkest you might feel like throwing yourself off the balcony. Everyone goes crazy or kills someone else or both, and everyone dies. The lighter moments included Sweeney trying out his sweet chair set-up: He slits the throat (they had blood spurting and everything), swivels the chair sideways, and pulls a crank. This slides the body out of the chair and through a trapdoor in the floor, where it goes down a chute and comes out in the bakehouse.
I thought the lead was poorly cast . . . his voice was too deep, and it often seemed melodramatic when it should have just been dramatic. Mrs. Lovett was awesome, though. The music was very discordant in places, but I felt that they were adding their own bits in here and there and they were also having a lot of trouble with the sound system. That probably contributed. Also, they went all "experimental" on us and tried to combine live stage performance with "cinematography," i.e. projecting backgrounds onto a screen behind the stage for extra effect. It worked in places, but overall I found it extremely distracting and a bit cheesy. And, last but not least, the supertitles pretty much sucked.
Nevertheless, I saw a lot of potential there for excitement about the forthcoming movie version directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter. That'll be sweet. Meanwhile, check out this clip from a production that had Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett. This song is rather long, but also extremely funny. It's the first act finale. Enjoy.