Have a good day

I like outrageous stories and tall tales that have an exaggerated sense of life. So, here is a short tale of going to the coffee shop.

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On the way, have a good day said the cashier.

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Money was not on the cashier’s mind when she slipped in something special in his coffee that day.

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When he got home, he placed the cup on the sink.

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And about to drink, a bit spilled onto the sink. He took the cup into the lounge and heard a noise from behind. It was a growing noise from inside the kitchen.

As if something was getting bigger and bigger…

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It was that something special put in his coffee that had spilled on the sink.

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It was foamy and frothy and soon took over the house. A rather big bowl of coffee did the house become.

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And the man gladly drunk from a pool of coffee.

Controversy

I wrote this short review in 1997. I went into seeing The Crucible with an expectation it must a meaningful film as the book the film was based on dealt meaningfully with a serious subject. Here is this piece, on the anniversary of The Crucible. The film was released on November 27, 1996, twenty-five years ago to the day.

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After the ruins…

…Something will be planted in its place. “A place where vines will be planted”. In place of the ruins of sin, prosperity? In place of the wastelands of sin, life? In place of the lifelessness of sin, the Spirit? A whole country sinned and a whole city. So, the country is ruined. But something will be planted in its place. Based on Micah chapter 1 verses 5-7.

Shine

“Magnificent fingers”, says Cecil Parkes, as he shows adolescent David Helgoff Rachmaninov ‘s sculptured fingers, serving as inspiration for the piano-playing prodigy, in the movie Shine (Released November 22, 1996). Parkes assists Helgoff hit the right note on playing Rachmaninov No.3 while the young musical genius is on a scholarship at the Royal College in London. They say the No.3 is feared for its inherent challenges in perfecting, something Helgoff’s father Peter, a German Jewish immigrant in Australia, insists his son perfects. The pressure of life gets to Helgoff and he is taken to the psychiatric institution. His upbringing under the expectations of his father makes him need to please and, in the end, disappoints. But despite these darker moments of life, I observe that Helgoff seems to learn the “joy of living” for the first time in his life.

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Good ole bugs and co

The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie (1981). Released November 20, 1981. A lively Warner Brothers cartoon feature film featuring the famous cartoon characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Tweety Bird, and others, in various stories, one a crime story, another a western, and so on, with some sort of moral to it (self-control, temperance, and so on). Also quite ‘violent’ perhaps when Yosemite Sam goes seeking revenge. However, what should be, depending on one’s disposition, a good time. What works well is how the pop culture icons play off each other in rather clever fashion. Yet, for me there were only sporadic laughs to be had, more amusing than funny, mostly tired. However, I had worse movie experiences.

Strong

U2 was at the peak of their career when they released Achtung Baby (1991). More relaxed than when they started their musical career, U2 produced with Achtung Baby an album rather than anything resonating beyond the four walls perhaps, but I could be wrong. See the end of this review for more.

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Values

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The following church minister responded to anti civil unions protestors whom marched to the New Zealand parliament in 2004. Kevin Ward, a cultural researcher, wrote to me about the issue at the time after I requested an interview. The following article is a direct response to the actual rally itself.

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Powers of life

I took an instinctually opposing view to the seemingly prevalent Christian view on Harry Potter. Here’s my review of the first film which I think reflects a grind against the status quo. Of course I was emotionally right at the time, but whether I am or not, I located a common theme and an okay movie which some would say is positive.

The rub that Christians had against the film was it representation and depiction of ‘witchcraft’ but other Christians said the depiction of witches and wizards was sketchy and mechanical and could not be taken realistically.

However the strongest argument against Harry Potter was how children could take the magic in it. Adults may take it as sketchy, but do children have the ability to? To them, it may be fun-fantastical. But Christian were warning that witchcraft is not to be flirted with as it can lead to real life magic.

However, some children may not even be aware of the so-called magical inferences.

In sum, Christians with differing angles all came from a Christian basis. So, we had Christians with the same basis writing and speaking about the same movie from differing angles.

Here’s what I said. I took Harry Potter as fiction with all that entails and included my own Christian perspective on the theme of the film. This is different than approaching Harry Potter as film which is what those against the film did. They had a negative view of the film as a film. The view taken was obviously that magic is wrong for children and they should not engage the film.

As for me, I took the film without raising an issue of conscience for me individually. It was something to watch. I saw it as a story, as fiction, something with a theme. I didn’t take the magic in the film seriously.

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Good idea

Space Jam (1996). Released November 15, 1996. Unfortunately, this is a redundant animated fantasy in more ways than one. I expected better. When it comes to films where you expect a lot of fun, there can be a falling short of one’s expectations, though.

It’s a novel idea which attracts one to watch (but just an idea until fully executed) where outer space aliens set up a basketball match against the Looney Tunes, those famous Warner Brother cartoons. They get assistance from Michael Jordan as himself (back in the day in character mode) who comes out of retirement to face the aliens on court.

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Changes (Circa 2004)

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One of the things I have noticed in the evangelical church in New Zealand is a willingness to transform the culture with the gospel. But it looked like the ‘others’ were winning the cultural wars.

Kevin Ward said the culture weren’t going along with the evangelicals and their transformative gospel. He said the church needed to adjust to this cultural reality and reach those outside in a more significant way.

Personally, I doubt the gospel is about transforming the culture. I read the gospel in the light of Jesus supporting and helping individuals who then go and live the gospel of love or try to in their daily lives. I think the gospel isn’t about trying to change the world but is lived daily and in being lived daily can do good in the world whether big or small.

But as far as transforming things I take with some suspicion and I treat with alarm those that attempt the aggressive take over in some way shape and form. I think the gospel has never been about cultural transformation but is about being a disciple of Jesus in our lives. But as far as the changing the world, we will continue to wait and see..

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Interesting

Film Review 1982-1983, edited by F. Maurice Speed

For an annual that covers significant films released in 1981, Chariots of Fire (1981) was not reviewed in this annual, but there is an easy explanation. The film was released before the coverage period of this annual (July 1, 1981 – June 30, 1982, in Great Britain). Chariots of Fire was reviewed in the previous annual.

Otherwise, the author, in his introduction, praised the film for its artistic qualities. He also signaled it out for the fact that it was British and a major contributor to the British film resurgence in the world at the time. He saw more positive signs in British film production and gave a survey of places in the world – apart from America – where production was taking off.

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Had enough

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On my odyssey through the New Zealand church my understanding grew about the issues the evangelicals were facing. As far as I see, the key concern the evangelicals (Bible believers) had with decriminalizing prostitution, granting civil unions to couples, and legalizing gay marriage was the message it sent to their children.

These conservative Christians intended on bringing their children up in the ways of the Lord God, which meant all of the social reforms the government of New Zealand were brining in could send the wrong message to their children, thus making prostitution and those others things open and acceptable. It could seduce their children into thinking that certain behaviors were okay and so send them off the path that leads to life, the way of the Lord. So, they fought against the reforms and I did a couple of articles on the issue, maybe more, although these issues weren’t my main focus at the time.

I may as well post these articles as I am writing about this. They should be posted over the next month or so. The first one is below. It features the most vocal opponents of the liberal reforms. Destiny Church organized a rally to protest the reforms and to oppose the government’s sending of a liberal message to the country and what it would do to their children.

These days, the Destiny head pastor is now fighting the Covid lockdown measures with protests aimed at restoring freedom.

Here’s the article about fighting the liberal reforms of New Zealand. I include comment from the other side as well. In terms of the writing of this article, it would have been better as two articles. One for comment on the issues, and the other on the actual rally. But I combined the two with focus on the issues and comment.

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Meditations

Although Jesus’ disciples were journeying with him, his disciples left him. But Jesus was not bitter. Although being abandoned is not sweet. Perhaps the experience of the disciples leaving him was, as we say, “bitter sweet”, as at the time of this trial Jesus was not alone because he had his heavenly Father for closeness and friendship. Jesus had his heavenly Father to bond with rather than giving up. If we go through trial, we also need the lifeline that sustains us. Jesus showed his humanity by needing the closeness and intimacy of his Father in heaven when all others abandoned him. Powerful, strong stuff. Jesus indeed can be our strength and sustainer when we go through trials of various sorts as he has been through trials as well and his Spirit can help us.

Meditation 2. The disciples needed courage on their journey with Jesus. Jesus tells them to be brave. They will have to journey more with him to learn the ways of being his disciple. This despite the disciples abandoning Jesus once. They would have to gain their courage and go forward with Jesus. Take courage, therefore, his disciples. He knows your weaknesses and identifies with them yet can help you become more like him in love and in action.

Smelly

Commercial intent, he said.

They said his nose was out of joint,

Because he smelt commercialization.

“You just hate anything commercial.”

But he grimaced at the candy smell in the foyer of a cinema

That was in the shop of a petrol station.

It was the smell that made him bark “Commercial intent”

And the manager was there to hear it.

The candy smell was smothering and moldy

No wonder he cried out

As life was choked out and inseminated with artificial popcorn, but

Could this be a matter of sour grapes?

As just the day before he had been given white bread for dinner.

Like the times he had been at the cinema he brought down curses on the place he was now standing.

In the shop of a petrol station.

There was such a mess.

Popular

The Lockdown Sessions (2021), by Elton John. Released October 22, 2021. Others contribute to Elton John’s latest album, such as Miley Cyrus, Charlie Puth and Dua Lipa. This has popular appeal, but the commercial tropes begin to wear it down with a beat and bass too many.

Upbeat

Blessings and Miracles (2021), by Santana. Released October 15, 2021. The title indicates a positive feeling, perhaps in contrast to so much negativity around recently, that an upbeat album was the order of the day. Santana delivers the upbeat vibes, just more of the same from Santana.

Dreamy

Ookii Gekkou (2021), by Vanishing Twin. Released October 15, 2021. The mind boggles with the title. The music quality, which is dreamily jazzy, feels disjointed from the spacey vocals. Perhaps they are trying for something overall dream-like, but the elements don’t come together.

Understanding “The Persian Rug”

How does one understand today’s poem “The Persian Rug”. Although it may sound like red carpet service for politicians despite their misdemeanors, it does not mean that at all. I can imagine a politician’s flaws being overlooked, though, and life goes on as normal, but this has nothing to do “The Persian Rug”. Quite simply the poem is spiritual. I am not using a strict religious metaphor from the Bible. I could have used another idea than the one I did, but I use “Persian rug” because it sounded like something exotic and transcendent which fitted in with my meaning. It is about how Jesus treats a person despite their flaws and sins. He died for sin but is not condemning someone for their sins. In a way he is treating the person in my poem like royalty even though he does not deserve it. This is God’s goodness to that person.

The Persian Rug

Persian rug for a sow,

Not fitting the soul,

Dark and dead,

With the sin that he did.

He said to himself, I am no good.

I’ve failed.

What will God say?

What will they think?

But they still laid out the Persian Rug.

Surprising as it seems.

After all.

Pattern

Pattern Recognition (2021), by Glok. Released October 15, 2021. Andy Bell’s performance name is Glok and his dance/electronica album Pattern Recognition thrives of pattern – as dance music does – but this one is also repetitious.

Security

It is a powerless thing to truly understand that one is not qualified to judge when you do the same things you judge them on. But such a realization does not strip one fully of the need to judge. One still flirts with the idea.

Non-judgmentalism can feel disempowering and weak, but can one make something else in the place of judging others? Can one replace the need to judge with changing one’s mind? So, one is fair and consistent with the reality that one does the things one judges others on, but even goes further: in seeing the good rather than what’s flawed and wrong. Of course there will be flaws and wrongs, but love always believes the best.

Reviewer’s lot

In terms of art, you will see my pure and simple likes and dislikes in the category “like or don’t like”. The other ones that don’t fall into that category are pretty much, ‘I may not have liked it, but I see good points and negatives’. This I think pretty much sums up the reviewer’s lot. They judge and assess a lot, but don’t like a lot. They like a few. Doesn’t that reflect us all?

I will

More than deluxe

And a tip of the hat

There’s a love transcending love

That I got to have

It’s more,

But I have a mountain to climb.

To get beyond the top,

Is a love so divine

I could cry

For this love to be mine,

And I need this now,

So I will climb

The mountain of my dreams.

Nice turn of phrase

Burton Cummings (1976), by Burton Cummings. Released October, 1976. I’ve discovered Burton Cummings! Not that he needs to be discovered, having put out solo albums since 1976, and before then leading The Guess Who. I discovered Burton by his self-titled solo debut, the one on review. This is not a religious album, as one may tell by the suggestive “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”, which by the way is a nice jazzed up cover of the original, but there is a song about religion done in a heartfelt, meaningful way, on “I’m Scared”. Throughout, the lyrics throughout have an interesting turn of phrase, the subjects are palatable and if not always palatable the music always is. This is a soft pop rock 1970’s album that may be called easy listening today.

Dreamy

The Cymbal Crashing Clouds (2011), by Ben Shive. Released September 26, 2011. Ben Shive hits the right notes on this alternative album where you should not expect a big statement on life, God, and everything. Rather, the human experience is expressed perhaps explored here and is without an expression of cynicism. On “She’s Invincible” a boy is attracted to a girl and the frustration that goes with that, done with a slight literary bent to the lyrics. On another, with a turn of phrase, Shive brings a smile — “A Last Time For Everything” reverses the ‘first time for everything’ saying. And on that track is more revealing of his Christian roots. “Sorry, but I’m Yours” is an unusual declaration of faith from a human and trusting in God base. The vocalist does not come on strong instead lets the lyrics speak on their own terms. The Christian content, while not overt, is thematic and buried, and the appealing texture on the tracks is dreamy, soft, light jazz, and slightly cool. I was into this album.

Where from? Where to?

It is bound to come up in discussion — in some circles academic and theological (theology being the study of the divine, in case you did not know) — the discussion being that of the origin of Jesus’ teaching 2000 years ago. It seems Jesus is recorded as saying his teaching came from his heavenly Father (the gospel of John 17:6-8, in the Bible).

Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 

– John 17:7

What does Jesus mean by saying, “Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you”?

The ‘you” Jesus is referring to is his Father. Jesus is addressing his Father in a prayer. I see from this prayer, in John chapter 17, verses six to eight, that Jesus got his teaching from his heavenly Father. Therefore, the disciples have the teaching from the Father Jesus passed on.

The disciples accepted the teaching from Jesus which came from the Father. Jesus said:

For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.

– John 17:8

The disciples knew Jesus’ teaching and not only knew his teaching but accepted it.

Later, they followed what Jesus said to do in his teaching.

The disciples would go from acceptance of Jesus’ teaching to applying Jesus’ teaching.

They were initially invited by Jesus to follow him and followed through to the end. The pattern of following the Lord Jesus has produced many more disciples.

The pattern, again, is hearing his teaching, accepting it, applying it, and to make more disciples.

Discipleship can be a lifelong process for believers as they and God work together on becoming true disciples of the Lord. And his teaching is good, of benefit.

Too small

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (The Official Comics Version). Piccolo Books/Marvel. 1983. Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers.

In full color the front cover boasts. The consolation of this comic book is exactly that; in full color. On the other side, the writing is too small. It is not the content of the writing that is to fault, by Archie Goodwin. I could not see the passages in italic and bold font as well as the regular font. As well, many lines are formatted close together, not making for easy reading. Small consolation is found in the color layout and a few bright images of characters’ faces. This is a paperback comic which fits everything into 150 pages so go figure. Need a bigger book where the pictures may look sharper as well. A reject from me. 1 out of 4 stars.

Getting down

Personally, I cannot seem to accept (although I should) pictures of public figures ‘getting down’ by wearing the same uniforms as the people they are reaching, as if saying ‘I am one with you’, yet with a message in tow. I always feel it’s not genuine. I mean, who are you really? A public figure getting down? Or are you really down? Hardly. Politicians are always out of touch, somehow: they are just one rung above everyone else. They provide policies and guidance and are always bound to upset some. They do so from a distance, where all the thinking goes on, and the people on the ground get on with their lives, either influenced from the Ivory Towers for no good or by some stroke actually benefiting from the Ivory Towers. It sounds rather Medieval, the alternative reality we may be actually living in…

The horror

A general sphere of a break down of some sort is when one is manipulated to such a degree that one cannot see objectively. Therefore what the other says defines how you view yourself and your work, and they can make out your identity and work is flawed and needs to be improved their way. Just because they say so. Just because they want to take you down a track to fulfill their agenda.

Now, to you, they know better and do the thinking for you–and maybe you don’t even know it. Now, they have manipulated you to such a degree that you get to this point. One maybe aware of such manipulation but cannot do anything about it anymore. They have taken over your mind. However, you may even be automatic. And you may even be happy automatic. What a state to be in caused by manipulation. It happens in thrillers, the genre of entertainment that is, but to some similar degree it can happen anywhere. The horror. But, as in a thriller, there is the struggle to retain one’s sanity.