The Man

January 19, 2010 1 comment

I took this picture over the Easter break of 2009.  I always wanted a moon picture, and I had read a lot about them so I finally decided to see what I could do.

What you see here is a stack of 10 images taken of the moon.  Using ‘Keiths Image Stacker’, I ‘stacked’ all 10 images and this is more or less the end result.  I didn’t do much editing beyond that.  I must say, I’m quite pleased with what the program did by itself.

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New Logo

I like it.  Is it to pretentious?

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Things I’ve Learned About Homosexuality from my Conservative Christian College Experience.

Recent articles in the school newspaper and numerous conversations about the topic has brought to light just how ‘big’ the homosexuality issue is here at Houghton College. After lengthy observation, these are the facts that I have learned about Christianities stance on homosexuality in the church:

  1. It is a sin. There is no question.
  2. While it is taboo to profess homosexual tendencies, it is not taboo to practice them i.e. holding hands, spooning, claiming love for the other person, hugging, talking with lisps, etc.
  3. If you don’t tell me you’re gay, than you must not be gay, and that’s okay.
  4. Taking biblical references completely out of context is okay, and is especially encouraged when battling the issue of homosexuality.

*Note extreme sarcasm.

Most of the problem here is the fact that these who argue against homosexuality have never actually asked if it’s a sin. So let’s look at these facts that supposedly hold so much water in the argument against homosexuality.

Leviticus 20:13 – ‘If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they have both committed a detestable act.’ (emphasis added)

So, now lets take this in the context of the rest of the chapter. This chapter is Moses laying down all the laws the Hebrews are to follow according to what God has told him. These laws include:

  1. 11:10 – But you must never eat animals from the sea or from rivers that do not have both fins and scales.
  2. 19:19 – Do not plant your field with two different kinds of seed.
  3. 19:19 – Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of thread.
  4. 19:27 – Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.
  5. 19:28 – Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos.

So, if you want to argue for Leviticus talking down to homosexuals, how come you don’t take into account the other numerous laws that are ignored in modern times? It is common practice to get tattoos and for men to grow out and then shave their beards during ‘no-shave November’ and hockey playoff season. But it’s wrong to be gay? Anyone who argues from this chapter contradicts themselves and loses all validity.

Sodom and Gomorrah

Sodom and Gomorrah were full of ‘sinful’ people, so God sent some angels to see if there really was anyone worth saving in the city. The angels are appalled at what they find and the city is burnt to the ground. For those of you still lost, this is the story where Lot’s wife gets turned into a pillar of salt.

People love to attribute the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to the homosexual tendencies that appear to have pervaded the town, but honestly, it doesn’t say that anywhere. Please, can anyone point out the passage that says it was burned to the ground due to their homosexual tendencies? Anyone?

What the bible does say is that it was burned because of “pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside” (Ezekiel 16:49). Jeremiah says that Jerusalem prophets are as evil as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah because they “commit adultery and love dishonestly” (Jeremiah 23:14). Where is this supposed reference to homosexuality that I’m missing?

Mark 10:1-12

Jesus says, “God made them male and female (he was quoting Genesis here) from the beginning of creation,” which obviously implies that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman (right?).

If one actually takes this in context, the passage is talking about the morality of divorce. ‘But Jesus said marriage only happens between a man and a woman,’ you say. Well, yes he does, but that’s because the Pharisee’s ask him three verses earlier “should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?” Naturally, Jesus would use ‘man’, ‘woman’, and ‘marriage’ in the same sentence when he crafted his response. If Jesus had maybe mentioned that marriage was ONLY to be between a man and a woman, then one would have grounds for arguing. But Jesus doesn’t say that. So how again do we draw a connection to homosexuality here, because I don’t see where Jesus alludes to that? Someone could argue ‘well, just because Jesus didn’t say that marriage can be between a man and a man doesn’t make it good,’ which is reasonable. But then again he didn’t tell us at we had to pee in a toilet and he didn’t tell us we can use the internet to evangelize. We still do those things, even though he never mentions it.

Romans 1: 24-27

Paul talks about how the people back then started to ignore God and gave in to their own ungodly ways which included homosexuality. It is also of interest to note that this is the first and only time we see a mention of lesbianism. It would appear that Paul is quite clear that if we give in to same-gender tendencies, than we are ignoring God.

A valid argument, but then why do we ignore the other things Paul says about relationships? 1 Corinthians 11:10 says, “For this reason, and because the angels are watching, a woman should wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority” (emphasis added). Why did Paul say this? Look two verses earlier. “For the first man didn’t come from woman, but the first woman was made for man. And man was not made for woman, but woman was made for man.” So, it’s okay to ignore this part of Paul, but blindly accept his interpretation of homosexuality? I’m not trying to disprove Paul. I am merely asking why, once again, we get to pick and choose what we say is law, just like in Leviticus. I am also questioning his credibility as to a relationship adviser, because it was Paul who suggested everyone be single to begin with.

There is obviously a big question here, and I think the reason that it’s still so big has so much to do with the fact that there are people who think it’s wrong or right. The problem lays with the staunch anti-homosexuals who seem to have little evidence that it’s actually a sin without contradicting themselves. The rest of us ‘I’m fine with homosexual’ folk would love to understand where the others are coming from, but I have not heard a shred of evidence that supports the suppression of gay rights. So please, lay it on me. Where is this argument that you are finding?

I think that marriage is about a commitment, and that commitment can glorify God in any context, man with man or man with woman. If a homosexual couple is leading a Christian life that seeks to please God, than God shall be pleased. I cannot fathom a God who, when someone seeks to make Him happy, God is still upset because of the persons sexual orientation. Does that not limit God’s love?

And if you still think the gays are going to Hell, I encourage you to read the article below, entitled “Love, Actually” and leave your thoughts there as well.

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Love, Actually?

Recently, I decided to satisfy my curiosity and see how the US stands with respect to religious beliefs – to see what’s growing and what’s not. My findings were interesting:

The number of people claiming to be Christian in the US has fallen in the past decade by 10%. It is projected that the number of Atheists will surpass the number of Christians by 2042. In the past 10 years, there has been a increase in Atheists 100 times greater than any religion has ever grown. Yes, I found these on the internet, but even if these figures are not completely accurate, the general trend is that the Christian/Atheist ratio is changing dramatically.

Of course my reaction to this would be to ask ‘why’, and all I can come up with is that we need to face the truth. We’ve decided that it’s okay to be judgmental (among other things), but we’ve rationalized it by saying that it’s ‘out of love’. We’ve decided it’s okay to tell people how to live. Since when did God want robots, people who are all the same based on our own interpretation of the Bible?

Thinking of this brought me to John 8:1-10. You probably know it. It’s the story where a woman is accused of adultery and the Pharisees bring her in front of Jesus in an effort to trap him. Jesus asks what’s going on, they tell him, and Jesus says, “if any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And then everyone walks away because they realize they have all sinned too. Then Jesus, who is without sin, helps the woman up. Tell me, Christian Church, when does Jesus condemn her for her actions? In fact, he only says ‘neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more’. How is it even possible to translate this as ‘what you did was very ungodly and you need to change before you can be a better Christ follower’? I have had far too many discussions in which people try and convince me that telling others what they’ve done wrong will help them in the long run. ‘I AM loving them…by telling them how to be more Christian-like so they can get to heaven.’ What about Romans, where it reminds us that we’ve ALL sinned? We still commit adultery. We still lie. We still steal. So instead of living in hypocrisy, why don’t we accept that we all have faults, Christians and non-Christians alike, and just love? What we’re doing now is teaching Christian laws, not Christian love. Remember what Jesus did to the lawmakers, the Pharisees? He rebuked them. He implored them to forget the laws they so adamantly held on to and to love.

Love.

Unconditional love. Never-ending love. If someone wrongs you, forgive them. It’s loving people because they’re God’s creation. Let’s leave the judgment up to the only one perfect enough to understand it.

During the World AIDS Day chapel the other day, we heard the story of a woman who opens her house and her life to homosexuals, prostitutes, and other social outcasts. Why do stories such as these touch our hearts? Because they’re stories of uncommon, sometimes seemingly unwarranted love to the social outcasts of our society. Is this ringing any bells out there? Jesus? Lepers? Adulterers?

The fact that this level of unconditional love is so rare in the Church – whether we’d like to admit it or not – is why so many are turning away from Christianity. This goes straight back to those statistics I found online. They have no choice because we have told them that their personality and lifestyle is unacceptable for our terms.

Also, remember what the Pharisees did to Jesus in the end? They crucified him.

We’ve driven ourselves so far away from the love that Christ stands for. We’ve surrounded ourselves with the rules of the Christian Church and forgotten the love that it is supposed to represent. I think it would be nice if Christmas happened again so Jesus could show us the way, but given the current mindset, I worry that all of us Christians would crucify him and miss the point all over again. So like I said, let’s leave the judgment up to the only one perfect enough to understand it, and we can spread the gospel of Christ’s love like we were told.

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Twilight: New Moon.

December 4, 2009 1 comment

Recently my girlfriend’s 16 year old sister had her birthday.  In celebration of one of the most popular ages to celebrate, we decided to drive the hour and 10 minutes to go celebrate with her.  It was nothing fancy, lunch and a movie.  “What movie?” you ask.

Twilight.

Now, I already have a overt disdain for the entire series.  The stories themselves seem incredibly silly and full of holes.  I have read many reviews online and I find there is little redeeming quality to them, except of course the universal obsession with it.  So naturally, I screamed when I first heard I might be forced into seeing it.  BUT, this was a birthday celebration, and it meant a lot to my girlfriend, so I decided to suck it up and go.  Plus, I could use this as an exploratory opportunity.  I would be able to experience New Moon first hand and during that time I may actually discover what was so enthralling about the story.

We arrived to the theater on a saturday afternoon.  The movie theater was of course filled – with about 80% girls – and finding a seat was hard.  Blah blah blah….The movie started.

During the opening screen, a yellow moon was shown that filled up the screen.  ‘Neat’ I thought.  The dark yellow color seemed an interesting choice.  The moon waned to reveal the words “New Moon” underneath, retaining the dark yellow color.  ‘Interesting’ I thought.  Perhaps they will use this color throughout the story to signify some sort of theme.  I was intregued.

This was the first and only time I thought that.

Here is what I thought coming out of it:

Story:

You have got to be kidding me.  This isn’t about ‘well, it’s a movie, so it has holes’.  This isn’t about the holes.  This is about the God-awful story.  Bella wants to be a Vampire, something that the Vampires all say ‘sucks’ (no pun intended) but from an audience standpoint I can’t find a single fault in.  They drink blood, but they’re all nice vampires, so they control it.  They can’t go out during the day because they sparkle, but that can be turned off by Edward because we watch him walk into school during the day just like everyone else.  But on the plus side, they run super quick, they can read minds, and tehy all have their own super powers (just like the X-Men).  Who WOULDN’T like that life.  I was never convinced.

So, Edward leaves her because he’s trying to ‘protect’ her.  So Bella broods for something close to ridiculous and then decides to start trying to kill herself so she can see Edward.  So, she hangs out with Jacob.  And then….what?  She falls in love with Jacob but not really because she’s really in love with Edward?  It was the message of ‘well, you’re nice and everything, but you’re not the perfect one who I dated and then GOT DUMPED BY’ (I’ve even heard this one in real life).  So she tries to kill herself.  And then Edward thinks she’s dead so HE tries to kill himself but she’s not really dead so she goes running up to Edward surrounded by people in red (it would’ve been cool if the idea were original) so Edward doesn’t die.  And no one can read her mind.  Which is for some reason arousing to all the Vampires.  And then the Vampire mafia leaders or whatever they are are somehow bad because they suck REAL peoples blood.  I would agree with the accusation that they are indeed ‘bad’, except they’re VAMPIRES.  THAT’S WHAT THEY DO.

And then there’s the ‘love’ of Edward and Bella, something I just cannot find plausible.  Bella is a brooding, angsty teenager.  Edward is about as emotionally vapid as a bowl of soup.  Anyone can quote Shakespeare.  He is also 109 years old.  She is 18.  What would Edward possibly find in her?  This would be like if I were 48 year old elementary teacher and I decided that the 6 year old girl I teach is the one for me.  And I get aroused by her.  That’s not love, people.  That’s called pedophilia.  It’s gross.  I never during the entire movie had any reason to believe they were actually ‘in love’.  ‘In lust’, yes, all the time, but lust doesn’t make you brood for 3 months.  You’re sad for a week and then you find a new body to lust after.  By the way, the ‘replacement’ (Jacob) is a complete jerk.  So I guess Bella has a thing for pretty boys who are also jerks.

Cinematography:

Very pretty.  We can tell it’s been super digitally remastered.  There seems to be very little thought devoted to actual USE of the camera, other them to get closeups of Bella being sad (again) or Jacob’s ridiculous abs (again).  There were a couple really cool effects that were accomplished, but I came out the other side asking ‘why’.  The big bad werewolf dude jumps off the cliff and takes a dive into the ocean.  In an interesting feat, he jumps over the camera, and instead of the camera righting itself once it had flipped over, it remains upside down.  Why?  What was the point?  I found this throughout the entire movie.  Lots of glorified shots or shots with no point other than to show someones face.  Oh, and there was the scene where the camera spun around Bella as she mourned the loss of Edward.  Yes.  She apperently sat there for 3 straight months.  No potty breaks.  No food.  Just sat.

Acting:

Horrific.  I thought George Lucas can direct feelings better than that.  I thought the best acting job was done by Michael Welch, the friend who throws up during the action movie.  That’s because he wasn’t a useless pretty boy who actually had feelings in the movie.  About 90% of the lines said by the main actors were just that, said.  There was no feeling, no internalization of the words.  I felt a detachment every time Jacob talked about how manly he was or Bella mentioned how sad she felt.  I could hear it, but I never actually saw it.

Soundtrack:

Pretty, but vapid.  There seemed to be little thought given to theme or some sort of motivic device.  It was filled with crowd pleasers (pop songs) and pretty piano with string accompaniment.  It seemed to take the mood of the entire movie (sad) and go with it.

Side note: another thing about the movie: How boring!  Only one mood?  There’s an entire human element that was completely forgotten because we were too obsessed with seeing Jacob take his shirt off.

Themes:

This is the big one for me.  We have a couple here.

Romeo and Juliet.  The movie made an incredibly half-hearted attempt at trying to bring Romeo and Juliet into the mix to validate the story line.  Two young lovers how against all odds fall in love and commit suicide after knowing each other for less than 48 hours.  There’s only one problem with it: THEY DIE AT THE END!  If you’re going to have a theme as obvious as Romeo and Juliet, someone has to die or else the theme feels FORGOTTEN, not used.  You can pull bits and pieces out of stories to create your own – which is what she did, because when has a Vampire sparkled or a Werewolf been friendly?

Time.  They made it sound like Bella aging would be the worst thing ever, but she’s 18 and she’s worrying about turning 60.  They touch on this a couple times at the start, and once at the end, but more or less forget about it by the time Jacob takes his shirt off*.

*I seem to be obsessed with that particular scene.  No, I was not impressed with his body.  I was alarmed at the level of squealing that reached my ears when it happened.  I felt from there the movie lost all integrity and sought purely to entertain from that point forward, although how that was attained I have yet to determine.

Female Equality.  I’ve had to battle this one since birth.  I am a man.  Ergo, I’ve spent my life walking on eggshells trying my best not to anger a girl because I was being ‘unfair’.  I don’t mean this in a bad way – most of life is like this for me about everything, and I am a firm believer in female rights.  I don’t like how incredibly patriarchal society is and how women have very little chance at ‘winning’.  So now we are glorifying a story where the heroine is useless without a man? She’s ‘alive’ in the story when Edward is there.  She doesn’t do anything for 3 months while he left.  And then she gets out again so she can watch Jacob work on her bike for her.  She takes no initiative, she allows the male role to ‘dominate’ her throughout the story, and now THIS is what we want to teach our children, our daughters?  So women equality is nice, but if the guy is really ‘sexy’ then it’s totally okay to give in to male ‘superiority’, to let the men control our lives and feelings?  NO!  This isn’t how it was ever supposed to be. I was also alarmed at the number of Equal rights ‘activists’ I know who went to see the movie and were never bothered by this fact.  Maybe it was okay because they’re adults and they can’t be affected by the themes of the story.  How selfish.

With all this being said, I came out of the movie shocked.  I alarmed my girlfriend – I looked like I had been to war.  I had no idea how to handle this.  Twilight is affecting this generation almost as incredibly as Harry Potter, and I cannot understand why.  I found nothing – nothing – in this movie that was something I could take home with me, nothing I could dwell on and learn from later.   I pride myself on my ability to listen without bias, to go into situations with very little preconceived notions, to look at all situations critically.  So please, PLEASE, could someone put my thoughts to rest and explain what is so amazing about these stories?

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I’m okay with Obama

It’s true, I am.  I go to a conservative Wesleyan school surrounded by fundamentalist and I have the balls to say that I think the new(ish) president is doing a good job.

Now, I don’t pretend to know politics.  To be honest, politics annoy me and are generally to complicated for me understand.  But this is a blog about me and I have a right to an opinion, so that’s that.

I think the healthcare system is FINALLY a step in teh right direction.  I do understand the problems about payment, but I guess you could say I’m just tired of people complaining about the problem instead of asking ‘how can I help’.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but doctors don’t need to be paid millions of dollars.  In fact, I don’t feel that anyone needs to be paid millions of dollars, but that’s my opinion.  I think we could cut costs a lot if the entire healthcare society decided it would be okay to take a pay cut so that now they can HELP MORE PEOPLE.  Isn’t that what the Hippocratic oath is about?  I don’t seek to judge.  It’s a question.  Yes, doctors work hard, but so do janitors and garbagemen, but since bill security guard didn’t save grandma with that amazing triple bypass surgery, he obviously doesn’t deserve a lot of money.  If people were willing to sacrifice some minor comforts so we don’t screw over our children, this could work.

And don’t even get me started on ‘socialism’ and the healthcare system.  I’m looking at you, military.

I also think that Obama’s foreign policies are a step in the right direction (finally).  It’s ridiculous that we think it’s our responsibility to police the world, and actually reaching OUT to the muslim world is something we should all breathe easy about.  Fear only works for so long, and Bush had the world terrified.  Europe, Korea, Russia – they all viewed Bush as a war lord.  I know this because I’ve spoken with people from all of those places.  Now Obama wants try and help the world.  And we put him down for this?  Getting the army out of Iraq is good.  Getting the missiles out of Europe so we can talk with Russia is good.  Talking Iran into letting UN inspectors into their plants is good.

So many of the things he’s done is good that I have a hard time with the people who say all he’s done is ‘raise government spending’ and ‘he’s not my kind of christian’.  Does that mean we can’t try and help him succeed?  We could make this work for all of us, but if all you’re going to do is complain and help him fail, where does that get us.  Okay, you were right, he failed, and now the country is in even worse shape.  But you were right, so you’re happy, right?

Right?

My point is, his ideas are workable and somewhat noble.  If we work with it we can all win at the end here.

So how do you feel about him?

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Swimming Prohibited

Swimming prohibited

Found this in Ithica.  Thought it was funny as hell.

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