What Women (Shouldn’t?) Want

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Art affects people.  Not only insomuch as it makes us laugh, or cry, or shudder, or bristle, but because it changes the way we look at the world.  We are inspired by our heroes and want to emulate their heroism.  We learn respect for the perspectives of others and come to understand differing viewpoints.  Art challenges our convictions, stokes our imaginations, and guides our fears and fantasies.  I would even contend that we are socialized by art – that we understand justice and injustice, good and evil, and our own place in the world, in terms of art and the stories it tells us.  And for the most part, I have in this blog recorded positive interactions with art, cautioning against errors of craft or errors of underestimating a given story’s power.  But today I want to talk about chick flicks, and bad art.

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Protestantism Against Catholicism

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In my reading for class this week, I stumbled across this paragraph in Walvoord’s The Revelation of Jesus Christ, a commentary on the book of Revelation.  In reference to the theory that each of the seven churches listed in Revelation 2-3 represent an age in the history of the church, Walvoord writes:

The message to the assembly in Thyatira seems to foreshadow period of church history known as the Middle Ages preceding the Protestant Reformation.  In that period the church became corrupt as it sought to combine Christianity with pagan philosophy and heathen religious rites so that much of the ritual of the church of that period is directly traceable to comparable ceremonies in heathen religion.  During this period also there began that exaltation of Mary the mother of our Lord which has tended to exalt her to the plane of a female deity through whom intercession to God should be made, and apart from whose favor there can be no salvation.  The prominence of a woman prophetess in the church at Thyatira anticipates the prominence of this unscriptural exaltation of Mary.  Along with this, the church experienced spiritual depravity, and idols in the form of religious statues were introduced.  Not only gross immorality but spiritual fornication resulted, much as was true in the church at Thyatira. (Walvoord, 75)

I’m mad as a hornet about this, so let’s talk about it.

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Nightcrawler: Moral Art Doesn’t Have to Depict Morality

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Morality in art is a keen interest of mine, as is no doubt evident from the many posts I’ve made analyzing the failings of art from the perspective both of its craft and of its message.  I believe, quite firmly, that good art is moral art, in the line of Plato, who contended that art is compelling and potentially dangerous and devoted a great deal of time to discussing what kind of art would and would not be acceptable within The Republic.  But most discussions of morality and art quickly tend to degenerate into superficial condemnation of content (language, violence, and other issues more the matter of ratings boards than moral practitioners) or equally superficial understandings of theme (why aren’t the bad people sufficiently punished?).  So today let’s discuss Nightcrawler, because it is a perfect example of how art can be moral without moralizing.

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Leading, Not Ruling

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One of the occupational hazards of hanging around a seminary too long is that you become exposed to a lot of different philosophies of leadership.  Protestant churches on the whole are very strange political entities.  Though Roman Catholicism has a fairly strict hierarchical structure refined by years of tradition and experience, the politics of a local Protestant church may vary wildly from church to church, and are almost entirely situational.  Today I mean to address this subject, perhaps not in order to present a strict thesis, but in the hopes of addressing certain issues and pitfalls and possibly wrapping my mind around the complex and broken nature of leadership.

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Sentimentality, Subtlety, Subjectivity, and Chappie

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At the time of writing, I am only some short time removed from enjoying the heck out of Chappie, and have spent some time examining the reviews on metacritic, which have the curiously distinguishing characteristic of demonstrating serious disagreement between critics and the public reviews: the critics being loudly against the film (avg. score on metacritic is 40, at time of writing) and the public being largely sympathetic to it (7.5/10).  What criticisms I’ve investigated more deeply betray that critics are largely divided along a certain ground of believability: most critics who find the character of Chappie annoying pan the movie as a whole while critics who embrace the character embrace the movie as well.  As someone who came out of the theater thinking that Chappie was finally Blomkamp’s masterpiece, I’m left reevaluating my opinions and reflecting on the rather strange set of circumstances surrounding this interesting little film.

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Over-Interpretation and Notes From Underground

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I have a tradition: every year, for spring break, I read Dostoevsky.  I started in high school and have followed the tradition religiously since then, as a measure both to return frequently to my favorite author, and to prevent myself from spending the whole year reading his work (I probably would, otherwise, and never get anything else done).  I love Dostoevsky.  I think he’s one of the most insightful, compassionate, intelligent, and powerful novelists who ever lived, if not THE most insightful, compassionate, etc., etc.  And after two months of beating my head against the wall that is Derridean scholarship and deconstructionism, I find it appropriate to turn my attention to Dostoevsky, who is as plain-speaking and direct as Derrida is obtuse and circumlocutory, but who is as complex and intricate to interact with as any other writer I’ve encountered.  Like Derrida, Dostoevsky admits of no simple cut-and-dry interpretations, because he interacts with the world in so many dimensions simultaneously.  So let’s put on our criticism hats and talk about that most characteristically direct and multilayered Dostoevsky story: Notes From Underground.

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Random Things I’ve Been Enjoying Lately: February

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Between my rants about Christianity’s failings, my ongoing posts about Derrida, and various other gripes I’ve voiced on this page over the past month or two, I think it’s long past time I took a break and discussed some more positive experiences I’ve been having lately.  So without further ado, here are some things I’ve been enjoying lately:

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Zeke v. Derrida, Part Four: Contentions

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Now that we’ve discussed Derrida’s philosophy at length, and provided a proper defense of the points I find compelling, it’s time to turn our attention to the opposition: how the academic world at large has contended against his philosophy and where these counter-arguments fall short.

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