January 15, 2007

This Space Reserved

Alright Jared, since the boat has apparently sailed, I won't bother with my critique of Stranger than Fiction.

Wait a second... why am I dictating the course of my response on the terms of the whiny film critic into whom it took us 2 years to beat a healthy respect for Citizen Kane?

So there will be a critique here when I feel like it. But for the record and while I'm at it, while there are some definite differences in shade of meaning between the proper genre of "Romantic Comedy" and the sub-genre of "Chick Flick", these differences are neither so pronounced nor so important as to merit a 7-paragraph diatribe on Jared's part. Full of anger, that one is.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:46 PM | TrackBack

July 24, 2006

The Scarlet Pimpernel

This past Saturday evening, I went to take in Longview Community Theatre's production of The Scarlet Pimpenel with my wife, Barbour, and Rachel. Jared was not in attendance due to some pathetic and whiney excuse on his part, and Randy had gone home for the weekend.

Anyways, departing from their usual playhouse at the Longview Community Center, the Community Theatre troupe produced The Scarlet Pimpernel at the much larger T.G. Field Auditorium (the current home of the Longview Symphony Orchestra and Opera Longview) across the street.

Now, having never seen the 1997 Broadway musical that provided the basis for the Longview production, I went in relatively open-minded and with hopeful but realistic expectations... which I've found in my past dealings with the Longview Community Theatre to be a good thing.

At the outset, I must say that I really should be more careful in my expectations of foreign accents in Longview productions. It's been a problem in the past, and it continued to be a problem in Pimpernel. Most notably aggregious were Chauvelin's Monty Python French Accent, complete with farcical stereotypical gutteral laugh and the "Belgian's" confused accent that ended up sounding like a confused hick. Percy's French and British accents were fine when they were working, even while singing, but he had this incredibly annoying habit of "finding" and "losing" his accent mid-sentence and mid-song. On the whole, it is my personal belief that accents are a wondeful thing and add to the realism of a play when they work, but half-done, they do far more harm than good.

As far as the actual production went, each of the leads was very proficient, a good choice, and an excellent vocalist. My only complaint with the leads (accents notwithstanding) is that Marguerite is quite obviously an Alto, and the female lead role was quite obviously written for a Soprano. Don't get me wrong, she was probably the strongest actor in the show and the best singer... but someone probably should have done some rescoring in light of her not being a Soprano.

With regards to the rest of the troupe, it should be noted that LeTourneau's own Dr. Patrick Mayes plays one of the most convincing British fops that I've ever seen on stage. Some of the rest of the league of the Scarlet Pimpernel was a bit weak, but Dr. Mayes' over-the-top characterization helped carry the group. Choreography was definitely a problem, but I am told that some of the original cast quite on a very last-minute basis, which could explain many of the issues with group choreography and with the pit orchestra.

All in all, the show was excellent and a step or two above what I've come to expect from the Longview Community Theatre in terms of sheer acting. Many of the problems that arose are typical of the troupe and could be hoped to be fixed in the future, especially the issue with accents. Insofar as preparedness and choreographical issues are concerned, while it would appear that the selection that the Theatre has to choose from in terms of cast in the area is somewhat limited, perhaps a greater use of understudies and more recruiting at local colleges would ensure that play quality is less.... uneven. I would rate the play 3.5/5 stars on the whole and 4.5/5 stars on the Longview Community Theatre scale. It's a shame that it only ran one weekend, because I really would have liked to encourage more people to get out and support the local theatre (and thus give them some more money to work with... :-D )

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August 25, 2005

Parents in Action

As promised, here is my attempt at analyzing and providing critical thought on Rolando Bini's "organization.

Over time, there have been a series of writings on my blog and on Toad's regarding the Child Protective Services. Roughly a week ago, Rolando Bini, ostensibly representing a group called Parents in Action, surfaced and began on a fairly... special diatribe about the illegitimacy of Child Protective Services. While that discussion seems more or less finished where it was begun, I proceeded to visit Parents in Action's page, and was quite shocked with what I found.

I would like to start out by trying ascertain the nature of the group. Here's what I found:

"We consider Parents to be the Natural Protectors of their Children and as such to have a God-given right to raise them without government intervention."

Now, capitalization issues (of which there will be many) aside, it is easy to note that this appears to be a theistically-based group, though it's hard to tell much more than that they subscribe to a theology of the family being a divinely-appointed group, designed to be the best way to raise children. While this is well and good, this militant attitude towards the government is somewhat disturbing. Before we get to that, let me showcase what I feel are the organization's other two solid points:


"We consider Fathers as equal partners and very important for the healthy development of their Children, and as such we encourage their full participation in the lives of them, not only as protectors and providers, but also by providing emotional nourishment. Fathers, having the duty of being role models for their Children, must rise to fulfill that mission by being positive role models, and by being there for their Children. We aim to increase awareness among fathers of their full responsability in the well being of their Children, and the community to help them regain their natural positive place in society."


"We consider Grandparents as valuable resources and support for their Children and Grandchildren..."

In short, I think it's quite a good sentiment that fatherly involvement in the family and in the lives of his children is key and that the elderly are an invaluable resource to the community and to the family which should be utilized and not minimized.

That aside, I see some deep-seated problems with Parents in Action's rhetoric. Firstly, their assertion that the Child Protective Services is an evil entity with unchecked and universal power is patently false. They assert:

"Any system that has no checks and balances and is accountable to no one, will become abusive. The Child Welfare System is by design such an entity. We need to be ever vigilant in Preserving the Family, since its integrity is essential for the development of a Healthy Society. As such, we aim to bring public awareness to the abuse of power by Children Protective Services, the Family Court System, and Foster Care providers and eventually make them accountable."

While it is obvious that unchecked power is a serious problem, CPS and Foster Care are HEAVILY regulated under US Federal Law and are overseen by the Judicial Branch, in addition to frequent interaction with law enforcement at various levels. To say that there are foster parents and case-workers that are under-supervised would be an accurate statement, but to say that the entire system is an uncontrolled power trip would appear to be an accusation that is grossly out of line without some sort of factual backup. To summarize, I agree that there needs to be a comprehensive review system in place, but I find it a malicious and gross mischaracterization that the existing system lacks any sort of safeguards to prevent wanton and flagrant abuse of power.

Having done a cursory summary of the "stronger" points of Parents in Action, as well as expressing some concern with the tone of their position, I think it's fairly safe to say that this is a group that attempts to take on some sort of Theistic tack, though I really can't say much more. As I look at addressing the lesser points that the group takes on, I keep coming back to the issue of authority. In short, where do they derive their mandate from? The only answers I can find are these, in addition to the earlier appeal to parents having a "God-given right to raise [their children] without government intervention" :

"We consider Family Preservation vital for our very survival, being the biological Family Unit, the Natural cell of Human Society; and coerced/forced Foster Care and Special Ed in Public Schools the main Social Cancer producers that feeds the prison, homeless and mentally ill population. As such we have a duty to promote Social Healing initiatives that contribute to the Common Good."

To the extent that it is coherent, this argument appears to be that the most natural order is the highest good, and the family is the most natural social unity, there for it is privileged to the highest degree of Common Good. Organized education and larger societal structures, being less natural, have a lesser degree of Common Good, and are thus trumped by the family. This line of argument is fraught with difficulty, because it seems to be an arbitrary argument that biological relationships are inherantly superior to non-biological relationships. But this, in essence, argues that there is no societal order larger than an extended family. This lack of provision for a larger governmental structure that cannot be disregarded at will seems to be fine and good for the establishment of small villages of close relations but breaks down in modern society. With large groups of non-related people, there must be some sort of authoritative government, even in some of the most extreme libertarian understandings, short of the anarchist way of thinking, which also seems to run counter to the ideals of Parents in Action.

As I have argued earlier, even within the traditionally libertarian understanding of government, it is held that police protection from other citizens who would attempt to break laws is acceptable. Further, because I doubt that anyone would argue that child abuse shouldn't be illegal, it falls to the government as a representative of all good citizens to protect these children from crimes perpetuated against them by criminals, EVEN IF THOSE CRIMINALS ARE THEIR PARENTS.

Now, the basis of the argumentation for Parents in Action aside, there are several points that the organization makes that have been bothering me which I would like to address:

"We consider that the majority of cases of parents accused of abuse or neglect are rather cases of poverty and that the government should use those resources to Preserve Families rather than dissolve them. The act of having Children taken away from the people whom they trust and love the most, has a devastating effect not only on those Children, but also in the psychological and financial well being of the whole Family, further sinking them into poverty and creating chaos in their lives and those of future generations."

I have been attempting to find some sort of political classification which simultaneously invites government subsidy of private families and yet demands government non-intervention. While this could be asserted to be a statement to the effect of "if the government must intervene, at least give aid rather than taking children", it would seem that this statement tacitly acknowledges that where the government intervenes, there may be legitimate problems, albeit problems resulting from poverty. So, there is a situation where parents are irresponsibly having children that they lack means to care for, and Parents in Action's solution is for the government to provide aid rather than removing children from parents who are at least negligent if not worse? With adoption as a viable option, parents who keep children they cannot afford to provide for are dangerous to society. Even if these parents are only unwilling to part with their children out of sentimentality, the fact remains that they would damn their children to a miserable existance out of a selfish indulgence rather than allowing their children to be provided for, and this is precisely why they should not be allowed to keep their children.


We aim to help Families dealing with internal conflicts such as: Domestic Violence, Teen-age rebellion, substance abuse, emotional crisis, separation, Divorce, etc. to deal with them in a constructive, conflict-resolution oriented form, away from punitive measures that further damage the Family. Our aim being to Heal not to dissolve the Family."

Good intentions notwithstanding, domestic violence and substance abuse are criminal offenses. While I might be persuaded with the argument that substance abuse can be a self-injurious crime without consequences to others, domestic violence is criminal activity that should not and cannot be exempt from punitive measures. Simply put, if Parents in Action is advocating protecting violently abusive parents/spouses from legal action, I can find little understanding for their position. I would invite someone from the organization to clarify this point for me, because I cannot understand why anyone who commits assault and battery on a member of his/her own would be shielded by an organization that proposes to help families.

Lastly, I cannot quote the entire page, where Parents in Action asserts that CPS engages in child slavery, but here is an excerpt:

"Children are Kidnaped (the criminal enterprise uses the feel-good euphemism "remove") under any imaginable excuse, Kept with Legal Trickery and eventually Sold. The Kidnapers are the so-called CPS (Children Protective Services) Division of ACS; the Hostage Keepers are the Foster Care agencies; and the ones who Sell them, as Slaves are and were Sold, are the Adoption Agencies. All of them Profit from this Scheme."

Now, up until this point, I have been willing to cede that I might suffer from an outsider's perspective and that this website might be a somewhat-misleading representation of a good-hearted organization. This assertion that the New York City Child Protective Services is engaged in a large-scale slave industry seems to force the abandonment of that belief. In light of such extreme positioning, it seems to be unlikely that this is an organization headed by rational individuals, nor is it one with any sort of capability to work within a system that needs help. Rather, this is waht we call an extremist group, thankfully a seemingly-nonviolent one, but nevertheless a group that should probably be kept under close watch, all things considered.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:11 AM | TrackBack

August 09, 2005


In response to this post of mine, comments pursuant to it, and this post of Toad's, I have attempted this analysis of the Child Protection Services and Government's role in the protection of children from a libertarian and Christian viewpoint. I encourage and value feedback and would love to develop this into a more cogent, longer, and cited work:

Having been given the unfortunate task of defending the necessity of the Child Protection Services (hereafter referred to as CPS), allow me to start with a couple of caveats. It should be noted that the author, as a Libertarian approaches the role of government from that perspective, and in particular, the view that there are some roles that cannot be entrusted to private organizations, such as anything with welfare of the entire public in mind. Thus, to a libertarian, these roles are accepted as inevitable, but limited to absolute necessities. That said your average libertarian (myself included) accepts police presence and military defense operations as necessities, along with judicial responsibilities and whatever (minimal) legislative needs arise. Obviously the laws will be up for grabs, but it's generally accepted that murder, rape, assault, kidnapping... etc are illegal.

In short, the question I have been given to answer is: "Should the public be entrusted with the protection of society's children in an ad hoc fashion, or should it be a governmental responsibility, bearing in mind that it is already tasked with the defense of the public welfare?"

Now, before any of you shout "theocracy" and I have to light you on fire, allow me another caveat: in an ideal Christian society, I can let there be no line between Church and State... but we do not have such a system so the point is moot.*

Now that we've gone and sighed about "wouldn't it be nice" (and this isn't too dismiss the idea that an ideal world and an ideal government wouldn't be nice), please allow me to address the pragmatic realities.

While I appreciate that a great many conservatives would really like the idea of private organizations handling items of public welfare, I would counter that, at least in the case of child welfare, governmental oversight is the lesser of two evils. Simply put, a government has the obligation to protect the rights of its citizens. In short, the rights of a child to be protected from torture, abuse and negligent parents supersedes a parent's right to custody of a child. To that end, I would argue that "taking someone's children is kidnapping", while true in lieu of outstanding governmental obligations, becomes moot when said parent has been legally demonstrated to be a risk to his/her child.

Now, as to Toad's solution of a privatized equivalent of the CPS, I think he admits that it won't work within the strictures of a modern government, but I'd like to explore further why it's a bad idea even within the confines of a typical libertarian government. In short, I believe that even within the traditionally libertarian understanding of government, it is held that police protection from other citizens who would attempt to break laws is acceptable. Further, because I doubt that anyone would argue that child abuse shouldn't be illegal, it falls to the government as a representative of all good citizens to protect these children from crimes perpetuated against them by criminals, EVEN IF THOSE CRIMINALS ARE THEIR PARENTS.

Now, this is where we get into the thorny issue of child custody. I wouldn't go so far as to say, like some Socialistic countries, that children are legally the wards of the State from the beginning and are only given to parents in trust... but I would like to point out that a child has to be looked after by someone. To that end, while I certainly appreciate Toad's notion of privatized Foster Services or the equivalent, the government has an obligation to see that the children in question are placed in good homes, should their own extended families (the next ideal step) be unable to do so, because government is protecting them in lieu of their parents and is protecting them FROM their parents. Now, I see Toad's general call for civic responsibility by Christians looking out for children in need as viable. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that Christians are obviously not fulfilling their obligatory role because there are still hundreds and thousands of children already in the system looking for permanent homes. To that end, I am willing to argue that government is doing a superior job to the Christian community in that it is at least dealing with all of the children in such a way as it can.

In short, the argument that the government is the ultimate evil is a nice thing to tell oneself, but it cannot be the end-all. In fact, while criticism of the government's methods has a legitimate place, it cannot operate in the vacuum of a failure to perform civic duties and attempt to work within it. To criticize CPS and the foster system and yet not seek to improve it by volunteering one's own resources falls dangerously close to hypocrisy (I speak to myself as much as others.) While far-reaching changes would certainly be welcome, the fact of the matter is that many Christians have failed to even work to improve the current system... opting instead to stand at a distance, point and ridicule. As the adage goes "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

*At least to my mind it has been proven in modern times that God is not actively working as the head of a governmental system as per the Old Testament, even if said government claims otherwise, ergo, Holy Roman Empire, Papal States and kingship by divine right. Rulers may be divinely inspired, but God is not actively ruling any countries. In fact, even in the OT when God WAS ostensibly at the head of the State, things frequently go to hell in a hand-basket and all manner of idiotic religious and social mandates were issued, seemingly as "God's will" as stated by the current leader. Simply put, if you have an axe to grind on theocracy, don't start it in my comment system... either make a post of your own or send me an email and we'll go there.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:37 PM | TrackBack

July 24, 2005

Willy Wonka

So Anna, Jared and I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last Saturday. Now, I know all of you are asking yourselves the obvious question "Why wait until a week and a day later to review it?" Well, obviously the answer is because I'm lazy... and the less obvious answer is because I had a paper and a critique to write for Intertestamental Period (I may post the paper, after I've done a bit of polishing as per Moore's critique.) Your next obvious question would then be "Then why bother a week later?" The answer for this one requires a little bit of blog-rolling and demands that you should witness this bit of baseless whining and complaining done by one Morgan Miller (soon to be Mayes.) Without further ado, I will begin my critique and place spoilers in the extended section so that those who wish to see the movie may not have their experience upset by my yammering.

First, if you haven't read Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you're missing out on the excellent piece of entertaining writing upon which this movie and its predecessor Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory are based. Now, if you've seen the first movie and haven't seen the second, I'm going to have to warn you that Roald Dahl has a great sense of humor, but it's dark and a tad twisted... a fact that doesn't show through in the first movie. Roald Dahl afficionadoes widely regard the first movie as sugar-coated Dahl... the second movie makes no such compromises.

If you've seen the earlier movie recently, I should point your attention to the atrocity that is Gene Wilder singing on the boat in the chocolate river. Many, myself included, find this scene in addition to the Oompa Loompas' crappy songs to be slights against Dahl and against our good tastes. You will count yourself fortunate that Johnny Depp engages in no singing, and Tim Burton's Oompa Loompas are far creepier and more entertaining than their bizarrely overweight counterparts in Mel Stuart's version.

I could go on about the superiorities of the later version to the earlier version, but I feel that I must point out a difficulty with the later version: it gives Wonka a back-story. This isn't all bad... but it really is mostly bad and rather painful to watch. And while I'm sure Christopher Lee has been enjoyable in a good number of movies, I would just has soon not have seen him in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

These failings aside, I feel that the whole movie was done in characteristic Dahl style. The antagonists were every bit as twisted and grotesque as Dahl envisioned them. When I saw Augustus Glop, I thought of Mervyn Peake, and I was glad. Veruca, Violet and Mike were likewise every bit as demented as their literary counterparts... and I especially liked the modernized version of Mike who played FPS video games.

I felt that the Bucket family was well-portrayed, if perhaps a tad too affluent. The family was certainly odd enough... from the creepy old grandparents right on down through the innocent Charlie. On the part of the contestants... and in fact in every part except Dr. Wonka, I feel the casting was perfectly done. And, I suppose, if there had to be a Dr. Wonka, Christopher Lee played the part as well as anyone could... but I'm not talking about that yet.

And then it comes to Willy Wonka himself. Johnny Depp played Dahl's dream of Wonka better than Gene Wilder could have imagined. From the distracted, creepy personality to the oddball clothes to the twisted disdain for the grotesque children, Depp reminds us of Dahl's Wonka as he ruthlessly mocks and dispatches the parents of the grotesque children and we all smile (some of us cackle) as he effortlessly sends them through torture in revenge for their forcing their nasty presences on him.

I must urge you to go see the movie... and read the book first, if possible. If you find yourself feeling the urge to compare Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp and find Wilder winning, go watch the original again. I suspect for many (Morgan included) nostalgia will rose-taint the memory of the film. And if, after reading the book and re-watching the original, you still prefer Wilder to Depp, let me know... we'll work something out.

Now, leaving the character analysis and looking at the plot, one notices several deviations, one of which was good, one neutral and one abysmal. First, the excrable scene with the fizzy pop was removed... which did unfairly white-wash Charlie and Grandpa Joe, but at the same time, I never cared for the scene in the movie or the book... so I was glad. While I was also glad to see that someone finally modernized Charlie's dad out of a job (which was clever and necessary), I really can't say I was glad to see his family get rich and prosperous on their own. I mean, really... if the Buckets could have made it on their own, why did it take so long for Mr. Bucket to stop screwing on lids and look for a real job. And lastly, I have to add my voice to those of the masses and complain about Willy Wonka's back story and the freaking "come back to daddy" nonsense. Granted, Charlie did play a nice part and it did satisfy Wonka's neuroses... but the fact of the matter is that Willy Wonka was just warped to begin with in both Dahl's version and in the first movie, and the back story didn't do much to amplify this, instead it provided the needless sap that Dahl tends to avoid. Oh yeah, and the vanishing house was gay.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:21 PM | TrackBack

February 24, 2005

YellowJacket Revisitied

Some of you will remember this wonderful post regarding my thoughts on the YellowJacket roughly a year ago. Well, a comment necromancer has seen fit to respond to my criticisms, and because of the length of my rebuttal, I will post it here and link it there. Comment is in italics and red, my responses are in blue:

That year was a turning point for the YellowJacket as is [sic] went from a polical/opinion- based paper to a student-based paper.

The YellowJacket is and always has been a student-run paper. I would assert that the paper didn't all of a sudden become more student-oriented under the leadership of the aforementioned editorial staff. Rather, it abandoned all pretenses of news outside of LeTourneau (and occasionally news within LeTourneau), instead giving itself over to specialty human interest stories such that the percentage of such things went up and the number of legitimate news articles dropped to virtually nonexistant.

Although the manangement was inexperienced, they were the only leadership the paper was able to acqire.

I will grant that the management was inexperienced and the only management to volunteer for the job at all, though this is largely due to the hiring of an editorial staff in the middle of the semester and a lack of publicity given to the hirings. That aside, this is not by way of excusing our inept former editors, for you didn't see me rushing out to teach LU's Biblical Greek classes when Dr. Farrell retired... I'm simply not qualified. If you know you lack qualifications for a position, you shouldn't apply to do it... and believe me when I tell you that aformentioned staff's attempts at papers sucked horribly. I can blame LeTourneau for not hiring better editors after the abysmal Spring 2003 semester and certainly after the Fall 2003 semester, and I can probably blame the editors for not finding more help or insisting on better quality, but that is neither here nor there. The fact remains that when you examine papers from this particular regime you will notice a pattern: the worst writing was that of the editorial staff. Further, the writings of formerly-competent staff members took on an eerily-mangled quality, almost as if the editors were editiing the quality out of the pieces rather than editing the mistakes out.

Those women did the best job that was possible with their background.

What does that statement even mean? Are you saying that they lacked training in creating a newspaper? I was at the organizational meetings for the beginning of their regime, and I know they had a variety of skilled former editors and faculty and staff advisors at their disposal, ready to be asked for help. Are you saying that they lacked requisite knowledge and ability in writing and editing stories and in managing writers? If so, why did they apply at all?

If they didn't try, then there probably wouldn't have been a paper at all.

False. LeTourneau relies upon the YellowJacket primarily as proof that there are student organizations such as a student newspaper and it simply wouldn't have been allowed to go defunct.

Because of their efforts, the YellowJacket is now a student-based paper and is not controlled by the opinion of the editors a few years back.

LeTourneau's student newspaper, such as it is, is more or less a Constituitional Monarchy where LeTourneau sets the ground rules and leaves the editorial staff their own little fief within which to rule. The YellowJacket has always been a puppet dancing in the hands of the editorial staff, and it probably always will. LU reserves the right to take the puppet and relocate it to another puppetteer, and some puppetteers allow more editorial freedom to their writers, but in the end, the paper is not a democracy.

Beyond all of that, I challenge you to consult the newspaper archives some time. As a senior, I remember when the paper was published every two weeks, held quality news and human-interest stories, and was as respectable as it's been. Not that it isn't respectable now in just about every sense that it was then... just slightly less regular in publication.

Instead of criticising the efforts of the editors, why didn't you step in and correct the problem yourself? Don't complain if you are not going to do anything about change.

For a period of time I was a member of the YellowJacket staff under the regime to which you pay homage. I tried to help be a voice of reason along with a few others, and these complaints largely fell on deaf ears. And then I saw the first issue and realized that I would do more harm to my academic credibility by having my name attached to such rubbish than I could possibly accomplish any good by the current editorial staff. Quite possibly one of the best things I contributed was a voice of a dissatisfied student to the then-chair of the Print Publications Committee.

In short, I reject your assertions that the YellowJacket was anything other than a terribly abortive effort that should have been put out of its misery under the aforementioned editorial leadership. To allow it to perpetuate was unfair to the students and probably did harm to the University's image. Further, to assert that the editorial staff in this case was anything other than fully responsible for unquestionable lack of quality noted by the original post is whimsical and foolish.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:35 AM | TrackBack

February 23, 2005


When I see the title "Women fall victim to salary penalties", I feel a need to check it out. Maybe it's the skeptic in me, could be the news junkie, perhaps the chauvinist, who knows...

Factually speaking, women earn less than men do. Much of that is due to the fact that men don't take time off to have kids, they don't tend towards part-time jobs, they tend to opt for higher-paying jobs than women and they are rarely out of work except as a result of lay-off or a job change. That isn't to say that there isn't some discrimination out there, but it's a hard thing to put a finger on and any statistics that are tossed around on this topic are going to be heavily biased due to the mitigating factors I've just listed.

But here's a bit of interesting statistical work:*
"Professional women who put careers on hold for family or other reasons earn 18 percent less once they return to the workforce"
"Nearly four in 10 of those surveyed said they have intentionally chosen a job with fewer responsibilities and lower pay in a trade off for having the time for family life."

So what they're saying is that though women earn, on average, 18% less than they did when they left the work force, roughly 40% of the women returning to the work force are choosing to take a pay cut. Is that screwing your statistics up? You better believe it is. Not to mention this nice little statistic:

"Of those who rejoined the working ranks after stepping away, just 40 percent return to full-time, professional jobs. About one in four take part-time jobs, and about one in 10 go to work for themselves, all choices often involving lower pay."

In short, less than half of the women who leave the workforce return in the same capacity, the others are taking intentional pay cuts in the short turn. But yet "women fall victim to salary penalties." To be a victim, you must be falling prey to something that his outside of your control, not making a willful decision and facing the known consequences.

I hate sensationalistic, factually-questionable news.

*Note: all quotations containted within this post are taken from the news story linked above

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:46 PM | TrackBack

February 22, 2005

Academic Credibility?

If you're an academic who is attempting to battle what you perceive as American ethnocentricity proliferating world-wide, what would you do? Not that you necessarily see a whole lot of it outside of America, but you're trying to make sure that the American perspective isn't the only perspective available.

Well... if you're Jean-Noel Jeanneney of the National Library of France, you attempt to decry Google's honest attempts at increasing the amount of information available on the internet as reflecting a "unipolar worldview dominated by the English language and American culture."

Never mind that the internet is one of the best things to happen to information and education since the invention of the printing press. Never mind that Google is merely working with its five American partner libraries as a first step. Never mind that Google is working to ensure the respect of academic copyright and is going the extra mile to honor academic integrity. Never mind all of that... Jeanneney is going to bite the hand that is feeding academia because its first attempts at helping weren't diverse enough.

Look, I understand that an Anglo-centric and Euro-centric perspective is a bad idea. The rest of the world and America especially could benefit a lot from a diversity of information from various information sources of varying perspective. But everyone has to start somewhere, and I can't help but thinking that it's a whole lot easier for an American company with an American staff that is predominantly English-speaking would have a much easier time starting up this way and expanding its program to include foreign-language works in other countries. And I would think that an academic who was inclined to commend the short-term effects of Google's work would be intelligent enough to realize that it's far easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar.

Even bearing in mind that Jeanneney is at the forefront of mobilizing a digitization effort of European libraries, heaping unwarranted abuse on Google's doorstep is probably not going to accomplish much. If anything, this will disincline potential partners who come realize that the president of the National Library of France is a cantankerous and abrasive individual and that better partners may come from any number of other European libraries. Maybe I'm just reading a bit too much into this, but if I were the president of a library, I would like to think that I would have learned enough tact and political savvy not to go off and start publicity firestorms like this.

Just my $.02

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:34 PM | TrackBack

June 19, 2004

Should Have Been Better

Well... after a wonderful evening out with Anna in which we went and had a nice dinner and saw The Terminal, I must say I am pretty well ready for sleep. That said, I really can't say that The Terminal is all that bad, and it's actually fairly high up on the list as far as chick-flicks are concerned.

Tom Hanks does a fantastic job as the stranded Viktor Navorski, a traveller from a foreign country where a coup has just taken place and whose status in the international community is now in flux. To put a long story short, Navorski must attempt to survive in an airport (which is pretty much hostile by definition) and becomes romantically interested in Catherine Zeta-Jones' character Amelia - a promiscuous and emotionally confused flight attendant with a horrible taste in men and an irresistable tendancy to hook up with the married variety.

To put it fairly, the acting is superb, the cinematography is solid, and the musical score and sound are brilliant. My problem is with Spielberg and the screenwriters. The antagonist is illogical, poorly-explained and nigh schizophrenic. The story itself is a tad choppy with some rather poorly-explained jumps. In the end The Terminal comes off as a wonderfully sappy movie with a good feel... but you can't help but think that if anyone could have done better and should have done better, it's Spielberg backed by the very strong cast he had at his disposal... and thus the film disappoints in that regard. It should have been better... I think the 78% overall that I rated it pretty much sums my feelings up fairly nicely

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:57 PM | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

On the Business of Chapel...

Call me crazy, but I really didn't enjoy chapel today. It all started with praise and worship. Granted, I'm fairly obnoxious regarding my likes and dislikes of praise and worship... that said, I'd like to be able to understand what's going on. If we're singing in Spanish, I really don't have much of a clue. We could be singing in Swahili or even "Made-Up Space Language" for all I care. Yes, I know we're being "diverse" and "multi-cultural," but the simple fact of the matter is that if I don't understand what I'm singing, there isn't much point. The traditional argument is that there is a significant population of Spanish-speakers at LeTourneau... and that's fine with me. I would just like to point out that there is a significantly larger population of people who don't understand Spanish, and the fact of the matter is that it's required that one speak English to end up at LU in the first place. So yeah... I'm having serious issues with praise and worship that might as well have been in "Made-Up Space Language."

That rousing praise and worship chapel just really put me in a wonderful mood for the message. That said, the message didn't start out half bad... essentially Corey correlated Simon of Cyrene's carrying of Christ's cross with a Christian's carrying of each other's burdens. And then it got weird... because "carrying burdens" all of a sudden meant rebuking others in love when they needed it... and by others, it means just about anyone you feel like rebuking whom you suspect might be a Christian. I've heard that sentiment several times before, and usually it ends up with overzealous Christian teens going around and making general asses out of themselves. And what's worse, Corey encouraged this sort of nonsense by telling people not to worry about feeling silly or stupid in confronting their friends and acquiantances.

Look, I'm not saying that this sort of thing doesn't have a place, and indeed there is quite the biblical precedent for confronting a sinner in love... but that said, I would like to look at the example of Christ and the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-42. I really don't want to do an in-depth exegesis, I just want to point out that before Jesus confronted the Samaritan woman's extensive sin problem, he established a rapport and earned a right to say something. I would like to take this as an example rather than people who walk up and start condemning people.

Oh yeah... and I really wish people would lay proper logical framework for chapel messages. I know they typically have something valid to say, but I really dislike the fact that an unacceptably large number of chapel speakers don't have the logic of a hill of beans. If I'm made to listen to these people, at least they could do me the favor of spending some time on their talks.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:37 PM | TrackBack

March 17, 2004

Literary Chauvinism

So I've been rereading Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time) and I stopped mid-series to re-read Eric Flint's The Philosophical Strangler. The contrast in the treatment of gender roles is quite fascinating. On one hand we have the cold sociopathic manipulative female of Robert Jordan who beats and bends the grudging men of the world to her will. On the other we have Flint's males, who go into manipulation by women knowing full well that they love the women entirely too much to hold it against them, and yet being manipulated even as they walk into a situation where they know the odds and know what they should do to exert their own will on the situation at hand.

The whole contrast begs for a circumstance where men are not being dragged around by their noses and manipulated into situations, and Flint (as should be expected) does introduce the occasional man who is seemingly above the whole situation. However, Jordan seems to delight in a feminist perspective of women running the world in dominantly matriarchal society where the only men who do get into power are guilty of idiocy and gain power only by random luck and sustain it by sheer brutality. It's enough to make one wonder if Robert Jordan is gay.

That said, each author provides an amusing and captivating story which drags you into his world. Jordan is exceptionally amazing in that one is compelled to read even as one has SERIOUS misgivings about his sociological interpretations and the bizarre anthropological situations that he constructs. These are some books I recommend to anyone and would encourage comment from all who have read them.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:38 PM | TrackBack

February 07, 2004

Yellow Jacket

Reading the Yellow Jacket is like a look into a formerly-successful company under new management. More specifically, it's like the management of an unsuccessful son who has taken over the family business in the great hopes of making his life a success but instead turns the business into a failure. In essence, the workers are good, the business has proven that it can succeed and a working system is in place.

Our story begins as new management institutes an effort to shake everything up and stimulate a new growth with a new vision. At first the old success holds on until, after much struggle, the spectre of change manages to shake free all remaining vestiges of the "old way" and replace them with reformed processes that are doomed to drive the company into the ground.

A look at the newest copy of the Yellow Jacket provides a wonderful place for the blame to rest: squarely on the shoulders of the editors. By far, the most glaring problems lie in "LeTourneau University Engineers Take 2nd Place at the International ASME Competition," as written by Chief Editor Maria Johnson and Assistant Editor Jil-Marie Williams. Even forgetting for a moment that this is the only article on the front page and that it is topped by a pixellated photo that should have been cropped, I will direct you to the text. The following excerpt is the opening paragraph, which I found indicative of the work as an entirety:

Competition is a very vigorous and time-consuming effort put out by all types of people in all different areas of life. Athletes compete in their specific sports for the glory and title and strive to be the best athlete. People in jobs compete with themselves as well as their co-workers to make the best career decisions and attempt to be the very best at whatever task they take upon themselves. So how does competition work when it comes to engineering, or more specifically, Mechanical Engineering?

And here is an excerpt which neither myself, my friends, nor my professors could make sense of.

However, only two out of the three members: Frank Dancer, a Senior who is majoring in Electrical Engineering, and Mike Montesinos, a Mechanical Engineering student who is also a Senior went to Washington D.C. on November 14-17 2003. Tagging along to this exciting competition was Dr. Roger Gonzalez, Ryan Decker, another Senior who is also majoring in Mechanical Engineering, would be competing in the BioMed Engineering Oral Speech competition.

In short, the publication still maintains enough high-caliber writers that hope can remain. The problem appears to be the cancerous management of Johnson and Williams that has taken the paper from a successful campus periodical to an intermittently-published hack job with quality reminiscent of kindergarten finger painting. Put simply: "Fix the management, fix the problem."

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 05:43 AM | TrackBack

January 26, 2004


So yeah... I am pretty sure that today's chapel message has to be down there with some of my worse chapel experiences. Granted, before we go any further, I will point out that I think the speaker has a good heart and had every good intention in her talk this morning. That said, I didn't think it was worthy of my hearing in a mandatory chapel.

The message itself was on an attitude of worship, and had all of the depths of a puddle... and not the knee-deep variety that you find on LeTourneau sidewalks. While doctrinally sound, there was very little biblical reference save one verse. In fact, there was a reference to the Student Handbook and to the LeTourneau University Catalogue before we even got to the scripture.

The key verse itself was Isaiah 61:3... and actually she started at verse 1 and read about half of that before hopping to verse 3, completely wrenching it out of context and skipping over verse 2.

To go back to the source:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor."
Isaiah 61:1-3 (emphasis added)

Granted, while I can give the speaker credit for adhering fairly closely to the intended meaning of the text, I will point to the bolded text to note that the Day of the Lord is come in this text and while there is love and restoration for those who have been punished for their sins, there is also a subtle undertone of warning for those who would perpetuate their sin. This undertone is much less subtle when the passage is read in its place in the literary unit of Isaiah 56-66, but the core idea remains that this is a passage of restoration following repentance and God's justice. Let us not read this to be a "Get out of Jail Free."

Other passages were wrenched out of context with even less care for the original message. Psalm 22:3, originally part of a prayer of despair on the part of David, becomes the embodiment of God blessing those who praise him. Even better is Job 38, which the speaker turned into an illustration of God's response to prayer when it should be God's wrathful challenge to Job.

The simple fact of the matter is that while the heart of the message was in the right place, the head was not. As the speaker charged through her scatter-brained diatribe of platitudes with all of the emotionally-laden diction and desperate pleading of the stereotypical Baptist minister at the altar call and with all of the solid basis and clear logic of a celebrity spokesman on an infomercial, I couldn't help but get irritated. These two points especially bothered me:

1) Worship is the act of us exchanging sad feelings for happy feelings
Plain and simple, worship is about God. God might see fit to bless us in living our lives to please him and, in fact, frequently does so. However, this doesn't take away the pure and simple fact that worship is to be focused on God and is all about God and to cheapen it into "The Great Exchange" is very distasteful to me.

2) LeTourneau sets standards to grow us in faith - hail LeTourneau
I'm not going to go into any great detail about this one, except that to note that the claim that LeTourneau policy has the spiritual growth of the students ahead of its other interests should smell funny and seem suspect to any who have attended this University for any length of time.

In the end, while I won't deny that the speaker's message was honest and from the heart, it was also simplistic and cheap. If we are going to have chapel speakers and mandate that students attend chapel and listen respectfully to them, we should also demand better than this... demand that they be worthy of a respectful hearing. Because honestly, I've heard better lessons in elementary Sunday School.

But then again... that will start when these chapels run based on internal politics stop.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 06:29 PM | TrackBack

January 19, 2004

Citizen Kane

Upon watching Citizen Kane again, I was struck anew by the sheer brilliance of the piece. While some might complain about a lack of emotion and an inability to empathize with the protagonist (Charles Foster Kane), I would note that this is almost entirely the point. It is a rare point in Kane's life where he manages to make any of his close acquaintances (or even those whom he might fancy to call "friend") empathize with him. The simple fact of the matter is, as that the film shows very convincingly, that Kane is an emotional island.

Now, there will be some who will argue that this is not well-done and that given more emotional portrayal, it could be better done. I would point to a scene at the beginning of the movie where Kane is taken from his parents and the sheer look of hateful obstinance on his face and to several other scenes where Kane has been broken and note the raw emotion present. It isn't that Citizen Kane is an emotionally detached movie, it's simply that most of the emotions are that of despair and depression. Further, Welles does such a good job developing the characters that you have a very hard time sympathizing with them because you know how shallow or how thoroughly corrupt they are in that characterization. In total, I would claim that anyone who claims that the film is inferior or lacking due to that emotional element has missed a lot of the pervasive negative spirit of Kane or simply doesn't like a movie so devoid of happiness. And if you want a second shot at watching it, by all means, come by and borrow my copy.

note: interesting discussion on this movie going on at Wheeler's end of the world...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:25 PM | TrackBack

December 27, 2003

Stages of Faith

Rather interesting article about Dr. James Fowler's Stages of Faith that I found as I was browsing around today. It discusses the psychology of human development as it relates to growth of religious faith.

I found this particular paragraph very fascinating:

The fourth stage is known as Individuative-Reflective. This is primarily a stage of angst and struggle, in which one must face difficult questions regarding identity and belief. Those that pass into stage four usually do so in their mid-thirties to early forties. At this time, the personality gradually detaches from the defining group from which it formerly drew its identity. The person is aware of him or herself as an individual and must--perhaps for the first time--take personal responsibility for his/her beliefs and feelings. This is a stage of de-mythologizing, where what was once unquestioned is now subjected to critical scrutiny. Stage four is heavily existential, where nothing is certain but one's own existence, and disillusionment reigns. This stage is not a comfortable place to be and, although it can last for a long time, those who stay in it do so in danger of becoming bitter, suspicious characters who trust nothing and no one. But most, after entering this stage, sense that not only is the world far more complex than his or her stage three mentality would allow for, it is still more complex and numinous than the agnostic rationality of stage four allows.

It's one of those things that a lot of people who have moved around will tell you. You very quickly come to terms with who you are and what you believe, because you can't be identified by your surroundings, your church or your friends. And quite frankly, when you're moving, you tend to get into a hell of a lot of fights with your family (at least mine always did) under the pressure of all of that stress.

Tim and I were talking yesterday, about when I moved back to the Cincinnati area. You see, Tim and I have known each other since I was in 3rd grade. But in the middle of my 4th-grade year, I moved away to New York. Now, for whatever reason (probably that our parents were also good friends) we stayed in touch and talked once every week or so for most of the next 4 years or so and we went on vacation together twice and we visited each other over summers and stuff.

So, my family moved back to the area my freshman year in high school. But Tim noticed something about his best friend - his attitude had changed from a generally genial and up-for-anything kind of guy to a fairly dark, cynical and pessimistic fellow. Granted, these attributes hadn't set in instantly, but they had been there and this move probably acted as an intensifying factor. Tim was really kind of shocked about this and wondered what had happened to me. It was one of those things that I had moved on a bit, and the place I had moved on to was not a very inviting one. Granted, over time I mellowed out quite a bit and retreated back from the edge of this abyss of unbridled negativity... but the mellowing has been a long, slow process.

So I guess the moral of the story is that moving is rough and it does trippy things to people and also that even though this dark night of the soul seems to be an unending pit of despair, it isn't the end. The trick is to get through this part and emerge into the Conjuctive stage.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:03 AM

December 17, 2003

Return of the Cynic to "Reel" Movies in "Reel" Cinemas

I went and saw Return of the King. It was epic. I am going to have to go see it again very shortly. I could nit-pick all of the parts I didn't like or how the plot was improperly followed and details were left out, added and rearranged, but everyone will do that and it isn't necessary. Suffice that I will say that I agreed with Wilson on the sheer patheticness of the light-beam effects in RotK: Gandalf's staff driving back the Nazgul should have looked more impressive than a flashlight and the same goes for Sauron's red-hued flashlight.

On movie adaptations of books as a whole I will say this. A director is much more talented if he can use his limited resources and budget along with the limitations of physics and acting to stick to the plot of an adapted writing than if said director changes things to make it easier to film. What's worse is if a director changes things merely because he dislikes a particular part of a story and wants to make it go another way.

As much as I have loved Jackson's Lord of the Rings, the simple fact of the matter is that Tolkien was a masterful writer and developed a much better story than anything Jackson could do by altering the original. Jackson is less guilty than most directors in that his film sticks closer to the original than is status quo. That said, just about any major change Jackson has made either takes away from the plot continuity or just has a lesser effect than what Tolkien had written. I will grant that Jackson has done marvels with Gollum and also has done marvels with screenplay, but I am not willing to say that merely because Jackson has done well, we shouldn't beg for him to do better.

In any event, that's my bit of whining on that... and I will make one final note that seeing movies in Cincinnati is just so much better than seeing them in Longview because the prices aren't that much higher and the theaters are SO much better. If you ever have occasion to come by, ask me to take you to see a movie at The Rave and you'll see what I mean.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:01 AM

November 06, 2003


Well... I saw Revolutions last night. And I can't help but think that I need to see it again before I can come to a conclusion on it. First impression says that the eye candy of the original can't be beaten. Sure, there were some pretty fight scenes, but the whole endlessly flying into each other scheme gets old. Plus, there's just the general annoyance that Neo started out nearly omnipotent at the end of the original and kept getting weaker throughout. After all, bullets are easy to stop because they're little... but swords are big and slow and thus trickier.

Aside from nitpicking, the 3rd one did bring closure to the series and there was indeed a good bit of mind-jerking that it brought on. I'm going to tackle that after seeing the movie a second time... but for now, I would suggest you go see it yourself.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:22 AM

November 03, 2003

Roger & Me

Mentally I feel like I'm swimming in cement that's about 80% set. It's so much easier to come up with cogent thoughts when you don't have all of this mental taxation going on...

Last night we got together and watched Roger & Me. Ebert did a nice review of it a couple years back that you can find here.

The general sentiment of the movie is that big corporations owe their employees something. Being a good heartless capitalist and a supporter of the mindset of a heartless company, I tend to take a bit of issue with that sentiment, and the train of thought goes a bit something like this:

1) Corporations exist solely to make money (if you disagree with this, one wonders why else a corporation would exist)
2) Employees are resources to this end
2a) Happier employees are generally more productive employees and thus better assets
3) When employees are grossly more costly than their counterparts in another nation who will do the same work for 50% less, it behooves you to do something about this
3a) Go into this knowing this action will make the current employees that you keep unhappy
3b) Even so, this will probably be an acceptable cost against the benefits gained
4) A corporation should exist in a near-virtual moral vacuum: in the end, the only thing that matters is making money
4a) if you disagree with this, cease spending money on said company and divest yourself of its stock... if enough people agree, the company will change the position... again, to make money
5) In the end, the corporation should always bow to the almighty dollar: the reason for its being

Entities that should resist unchecked capitalism to care for the people: government, church

The fact of the matter is that while I generally don't like the government's interference in these matter, the simple truth is that the government ought to be ensuring the safety of its citizens to stay employed rather than be layed off and replaced by citizens of other countries. I'm not sure how much action this will take and where it plays into the balancing act, the fact of the matter is that a company shouldn't be taking a loss or losing out on profits just to make people feel good about themselves. If they're doing that, they're not really a capitalist corporation after all... they're selling themselves and their stockholders short.

And now... because the concrete needs a bit of loosening...

Disturbed Link of the Day: Dave's World

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:43 AM

September 24, 2003

Rigoberta Menchu

Do you hate Rigoberta Menchu (warning, her site is in Spanish) as much as Jared?

"Not likely" - Jared
"This woman is so ugly, it looks like someone started a fire on her face and used a rock to put it out" -VC
"Yeah, and what little hair there is left attests to what they used to start the fire in the first place" -Jared

If so, check out this link. Contained are several pictures fo this jacked-up old hag and an interesting article on the scholarship of her "biography." Isn't it sad that some academics are still willing to defend the "scholarship" of this pack of lies?

note: the only page linked above that is in Spanish is the old hag's site, which you could just as easily run through babelfish (unless you're a LUser using LetNET)

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:46 PM

September 12, 2003

New Yellow Jacket

"Hey, it's a new Yellow Jacket... let's read it! Wait a minute... this thing doesn't have a back page on it... I'm gonna go steal one from the stack that does. Hey! None of them have back pages!"

Thus began my experience reading the Yellow Jacket (the LU student newspaper this morning.) I suggest you go pick it up. It's funny in the sense that watching a retard try to color a picture with crayons is hillarious... translation: it's an abortive attempt at self-expression on the part of the editorial staff that should have ended in mass suicide but by an inexplicable act of God ended up in a published format, readily available for school-wide faculty, staff and student perusal. I'm going to go kipe 20 or 30 copies so that I can mail them to my enemies and break one out to burn it every now and again for catharsis.

I really can't do this thing justice in review, but suffice to say that the blank last page epitomizes the fact that this thing just sucks horribly. In short, it doesn't have a consistent style method (different fonts, sizes and methods of doing by-lines, titles and captions abound to the point that it looks like someone should have dropped in an article in a foreign language or alphabet somewhere), othing is justified, half of the pictures are pixellated and/or out of proportion, there are pages where entire words are lost off the edge of the page, the editorial page is a train-wreck of bad bios and irrelevant pictures, there are articles with no columns, a page consisting entirely of a 3-paragraph press release of unexplained significance and a gramatically offensive advertisement (with unrelated clip-art) and the list goes on...

I think I'm going to sit here and admire how much this thing sucks. Oh, on a bright note, at least the entirety of the editorial staff and contributing authors have their names, pictures and bios in the paper. That says something for accountability... or stupidity. No way in hell I'd sign on to this... and if I had, I would leave the school or preferably the country subsequent to seeing the paper.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:31 AM

August 31, 2003

Pine Crest Bible Church

I'm always amused when I get the chance to go to a new church and muse upon the differences between their way of doing things and the way that I'm used to (along with all of the different ways that I've already run into.) This week, we had the joy of going to Pine Crest Bible Church and boy was it a fun time...

We rolled in a couple of minutes after the service had actually started and thus missed introduction. After what came later, I'm fairly grateful for that stroke of fortune. The singing selection was interesting and conservative (read: hymns), but hey, to each his own. After this, the real fun began as the pastor proceeded to preach from Revelation 18. For the first 20 minutes, I was exposed to this message: "Babylon is materialistic and materialism is bad... materialism is bad... materialism is bad... Babylon is materialistic... materialists will mourn Babylon... materialism is bad."

A fairly sound message, not very well preached and certainly not very deep, but fairly sound nonetheless. Then things got interesting as he proceeded to tell us about the evil demons and evil demonic birds that infested Babylon and went to this passage:
He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all {other} seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
Mat 13:31-32 (NASB)

He then asserted that this passage was referring to the "Mystery Kingdom" which exists between Christ's first and second coming. Ever heard of the Mystery Kindgom? If so, enlighten me, because this was a new and special reference. He then further asserted that the birds were clearly demons living in the time of the Mystery Kindgom. Anybody out there willing to take a hack at this?

While this was easily the most aggregious of the bad exegetics on display today, there were other interesting observations from the sermon, such as "modern pop cultural music" being evil and some more yammering about the demonic birds. I will leave others to review other aspects, but will close in saying that the constant advertising for the evening service on giving was a bit unsettling, especially in the face of this sermon on materialism. That pretty much breaks my cardinal rule on discussing titheing in sermons and the whole guilt-tripping bit and even moreso with the heavy lines about materialism... and encourages me to take myself to a pew elsewhere as if everything else hadn't.

I guess I should have refrained from using the name of the church... but then again, I want you to be warned if you decide that you should go yourself. For a different perspective, Wilson already has a review and I'm suspecting that some of the others with whom I went will as well... sooner or later.

Incidentally, here's the church doctrinal statement (I dug it out of the webpage, the actual provided link is broken.) Would you expect such a train wreck from such an innocent statement?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:20 AM

May 15, 2003

Reloaded Seems to Be Going Somewhere...

Well... I went and I saw and now I'm back. I really can't say it was as well-done a plot as I'd hoped, but I think it followed the Star Wars 4,5,6 generic setup rather closely. Namely the first movie is self-contained and leaves a few threads to attach a sequel to and a lot of spots you can expand, the second does a lot of expanding, twisting and stretching the plot in ways that you (or anyone else) hadn't really considered and makes you realize that there really was some stuff there that you hadn't thought about. The second movie also does a bit of deeper character development, brings in a new character or two, and creates conflicts between existing characters. A lot of people hate second movies because they don't really tie up any strings and for every loose end they tie up they create 3 more.

I personally thought that Matrix 2 was fairly good. There were some things I could have done without and a few apparent contradictions with the first movie, but it made me happy. I think I might be one of the few people who can say this: but I saw the motive behind about 98% of what they put in there and I agree with why they did it and enjoyed it for that. Some of it was a bit overdone, but all and all I was very impressed and left satisfied. And let me tell you this, part of it is DEFINITELY fishing for an Oscar. To get more than that, go read a spoiler or see it for yourself. I think I might go again tomorrow... we'll see.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:09 AM