Thursday, August 31, 2006
For myself, I'd try to spread it out. I love those old madcap black and white comedies of the 40s and 50s. I sometimes like Woody Allen (Sleeper, anyone?). Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles) is great, as were many of the Abrahams-Zucker movies (Airplane, Police Squad).
I tend to think of 1980s comedies when I think of the comedies I laugh at the most and (perhaps more importantly) find the most quotable. The Jerk, Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Spinal Tap - they all make me laugh out loud. And, in a slightly earlier period, the Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder movies.
Of course, The Marx Brothers are high up on my list, as well. And, to a lesser degree, Abbott and Costello.
I don't tend to think of many 1960s, early 70s movies when I think of comedies, but there were a few - Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Cat Ballou, What's Up, Doc? and I couldn't leave out the Peter Sellers movies.
I'm not a huge fan of some of the classics - Buster Keaton, the Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplain and WC Fields just don't do it for me. Nor have I found many foreign films to be as funny as US films, probably just prejudice on my part. There are some tremendous exceptions, though (Monty Python movies and The Gods Must be Crazy, for example).
So, if I had to choose the ten funniest movies ever, they would be (roughly in this order):
10. What's Up, Doc?
9. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
8. Blazing Saddles
6. The Jerk
5. Arsenic and Old Lace
4. Stir Crazy
2. Duck Soup
and, the funniest movie ever is, of course,
1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
I have no new movies listed. What am I missing? What's your list?
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
What if they were becoming increasingly convinced that the US and her allies were the Great Satan and had to be stopped? What if they were even talking about/advocating deadly violence? Nuclear weaponry was even mentioned!
What is the right thing for me to do? I imagine that they're just blowing off steam, that they're angry or scared by our actions and so they're responding by mouthing off about violent means to stop the US. Maybe they're even joking. I'm sure they're not seriously advocating violence (even though they assure me they are).
Do I call the feds and turn them in?
II. What if, instead of the US, they were directing their anger towards some other entity - Israel or Morocco?
Should I call the authorities and alert them to their calls for violence? Or are they most likely just kidding or blowing off steam?
III. What if, instead of Muslims, it was Christians? And what if, instead of advocating nuclear attacks against the US, they were calling for nuclear attacks against Iran or Lebanon?
Should I call in the authorities and turn them in? What's my civic and moral duty?
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Saturday, August 26, 2006
However, here lately, some of those linked have been endorsing war crimes, insofar as they're seriously endorsing the use of nuclear weapons on civilian populations. This, to me, is traitorous and, frankly, just plain insane talk. I understand where they're coming from - these nuclear holocaust advocates are afraid that if we don't do something, then "they" (terrorists, communists, boogeymen of whatever sort) will think we're paper tigers and attack us first.
I have no doubt that those who are endorsing war crimes are doing so thinking of their countryfolk, because they live in fear that if we "don't do anything" then They will attack us.
But by so doing, they are indicating not only that they are endorsing war crimes, but they're seeming to indicate that they're letting their fear make them crazy. And I am unsure as to whether such folk are the best to communicate with or to give any credence to. They clearly represent a minority in the US and their ideas will never take hold because, as they like to point out, the citizens of the US are not monsters. Still, I don't want to be connected with their dangerously delusional ideas.
But I will leave them on the list to keep the lines of communication open and to let their own fear and terror speak for itself. Sometimes, nothing speaks so eloquently against a horrific idea so much as letting those who'd endorse it speak their minds.
On the flip side of things, Michael currently has an outstanding series of essays going on Peace and War topics, including this piece on Just Peacemaking - it is one answer to the question: If not war, then what? Many of those who live in fear of "doing nothing," ought to read it and understand that, as I have to repeat constantly, no one is talking about doing nothing. There are quite pragmatic, proven and workable solutions out there that, even if you don't want to give up war as a possible tool, ought to be considered if you truly want war as a last resort.
Friday, August 25, 2006
We believe in defending dignity
"All people are created equal" is not just a fact - it's a call to action. All people have the right to lead their personal lives in accordance with their own beliefs, free from imposition or monitoring by others.
All people have a right to the basic necessities required to lead dignified lives and pursue happiness.
We believe in strengthening democracy
It is the shared responsibility of a nation to ensure each citizen's freedom, security and equality. Through government, we honor our responsibility to promote the common good.
Governments must be transparent, accessible and open to all citizens who wish to oversee its workings and share in its benefits.
America must work to enhance the democratic process by ensuring an educated citizenry, equal opportunity for influence, honest public debate, competitive elections and robust civic participation.
A healthy democracy requires tireless vigilance against corruption and abuses of power, and a government that is accountable to its people.
We believe in promoting progress
We must promote innovation and entrpreneurship, cultivate the arts and sciences, and ensure a quality education for everyone. When we invest in individual potential, the benefits are shared by all.
America must continue to be a welcoming home to all people. We believe that diversity of faith, culture and perspective enriches our nation.
America must keep a watchful eye on the economy to ensure fairness, transparency and genuinue opportunity for all.
Each generation has a duty to protect and improve those resources we hold in common - our community spaces, our public institutions and our natural environment.
We believe in embracing leadership
America's security requires an effective military and a commitment to enduring alliances, but we must remember that America's true power is found in its wisdom as well as its strength.
Our security and prosperity rely on the security and prosperity of people throughout the world. By helping others, we will help ourselves.
America must join with other nations to build global institutions that protect the vulnerable, promote democratic self-gov't, and improve the health and welfare of all people throughout the world.
America must never suspend its belief in democracy and human rights in the pursuit of its global objectives. Noble ends require nothing short of noble means.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Strum Away, David Schnaufer
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
David Schnaufer, a musician who revived the use of the
dulcimer in country music and taught the instrument to many students, died Wednesday of cancer at a local hospice. He was 53.
Schnaufer recorded with The Judds, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Kathy Mattea, Mark Knopfler, Emmylou Harris, Chet Atkins and many others on dulcimer, a gentle stringed instrument used in Appalachia since the 1800s, derived from zithers brought into North America by German immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries.
"Anybody can make beautiful music in five minutes of playing the dulcimer," Schnaufer often said. "It’s the simplest of all the stringed instruments, but can be as complex as anything else.
Photo from Vanderbilt University, where Schnaufer taught
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
And I've posted some other comments since then, relating how I'm fairly conservative, at least according to the classic traits given by Kirk and others. At the same time, I recognize that I'm generally considered to be Left of the board by many, which is fine. I'm not afraid of the Liberal label. Whatever that is.
And that's my point.
When I've gone out and tried to find a set of corresponding Liberal Tenets, I've come up empty. And so I'm opening the questions to anyone out there interested in responding.
1. Is anyone aware of a generally accepted list of Core Liberal Tenets?
And, if not...
2. How would you define the Ten Commandments of Liberalism?
To be clear, I'm not talking about which issues liberals tend to support or oppose (ie, anti-war, pro-abortion, environmental issues, etc). I'm talking about the core beliefs behind liberal reasoning.
For a reference point, I'll remind you of Kirk's Ten Conservative Tenets:
1. An enduring moral order
2. Custom, convention, and continuity
3. Standing on the shoulders of giants
4. Prudence is chief among virtues
5. The preservation of differences
6. Resisting the utopian and anarchic impulse
7. Freedom and private property are related
8. Voluntary community vs. involuntary collectivism
9. Power and passion require restraint
10. Permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled
Anyone got any help out there?
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
Father Neo recently asked some questions about why our nation seems so divided. There appears to be an ever-increasing chasm between what we might call the Left and the Right (although the terms are fluid and sometimes not useful) – is this divide real? Is it serious? Why is it there?
These are good questions to ask. My response:
1. It is on the surface, a good thing that we have these differences between us. We have this chasm because we are striving to oppose injustice, oppression – in short, what I’ll call “evil.”
The Bush-types out there perceive there to be a great threat from “terrorists” which some have defined as “Islamo-fascists.” And there ARE those out there who’d harm innocent people and standing in opposition to them is a good thing.
Those who distrust Bush and his invasion of Iraq do so because they believe Bush’s actions are possibly illegal and that they encourage, not discourage terrorism. And standing in opposition to that which is illegal and which would encourage terrorism is also good thing.
And so, this desire to set our faces against evil is a good, wholesome desire. BUT…
2. From there, too many of us have decided that because we’re standing against evil, those who disagree with us must be standing in support of evil.
3. And from there, it becomes relatively easy for many of us to speak ill of They That Support Evil, to twist their words (“He said he doesn’t trust Bush’s leadership. He obviously hates America!” “She said that it’s a good idea to try to understand WHY the terrorists are acting like they do. She obviously supports terrorism!”) - EVEN if the twisted words are patently false – and to generally demonize the enemy.
4. Once we’ve accepted that the “other side” are not merely brothers and sisters with whom we have a disagreement over vital issues, but they are in fact monsters or monster-supporters, then they become less than human.
5. Once the enemy is less than human, it becomes all that much easier to further twist their words and demonize them and even want to see them stopped, even with violence, EVEN with deadly violence. EVEN deadly violence that kills innocent bystanders in the process.
And so, even though the initial starting place of opposing evil is a good, if we allow that opposition to begin to allow us to demonize the other side, then we have taken steps down a twisted path that can lead to terrorism, that can lead to evil, that can lead to becoming that very thing which we had hoped to oppose to begin with.
Standing in opposition to evil is vital, but HOW we do so is more vital, yet.
What say ye?
Sunday, August 13, 2006
For those who've asked to hear my family playing music, the video above features my wife, Donna, on hammered dulcimer and me on guitar playing Whiskey Before Breakfast. We once played this on a Sunday morning for special music at our previous, more traditional Baptist church. We called it, "Communion Before Sunrise" so as to avoid any furrowed brows...
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading war prisoners, according to U.S. officials and a copy of the amendments.
Officials say the amendments would alter a U.S. law passed in the mid-1990s that criminalized violations of the Geneva Conventions, a set of international treaties governing military conduct in wartime. The conventions generally bar the cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment of wartime prisoners without spelling out what all those terms mean....
The risk of possible prosecution of officials, CIA officers and former service personnel over alleged rough treatment of prisoners arises because the Bush administration, from January 2002 until June, maintained that the Geneva Conventions' protections did not apply to prisoners captured in Afghanistan...
So, Mr. Gonzales, perhaps the Geneva Convention isn't so "quaint," after all?
Friday, August 4, 2006
Gary is a Christian peacemaker whose writing I've read as a result of my connections to Every Church a Peace Church (www.ecapc.org). It's a timely history lesson.
Nagasaki is famous in the history of Japanese Christianity. Not only was it the site of the largest Christian church in the Orient, St. Mary’s Cathedral, but it also had the largest concentration of baptized Christians in all of Japan.
It was the city where the legendary Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier, established a mission church in 1549, a Christian community which survived and prospered for several generations. However, soon after Xavier’s planting of Christianity in Japan, Portuguese and Spanish commercial interests began to be accurately perceived by the Japanese rulers as exploitive, and therefore the religion of the Europeans (Christianity) and their new Japanese converts became the target of brutal persecutions.
Within 60 years of the start of Xavier’s mission church, it was a capital crime to be a Christian. The Japanese Christians who refused to recant of their beliefs suffered ostracism, torture and even crucifixions similar to the Roman persecutions in the first three centuries of Christianity. After the reign of terror was over, it appeared to all observers that Japanese Christianity had been stamped out.
However, 250 years later, in the 1850s, after the coercive gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Perry forced open an offshore island for American trade purposes, it was discovered that there were thousands of baptized Christians in Nagasaki, living their faith in a catacomb existence, completely unknown to the government - which immediately started another purge. But because of international pressure, the persecutions were soon stopped, and Nagasaki Christianity came up from the underground.
And by 1917, with no help from the government, the Japanese Christian community built the massive St. Mary’s Cathedral, in the Urakami River district of Nagasaki. Now it turned out, in the mystery of good and evil, that St. Mary’s Cathedral was one of the landmarks that the Bock’s Car bombardier had been briefed on, and looking through his bomb site over Nagasaki that day, he identified the cathedral and ordered the drop.
At 11:02 am, Nagasaki Christianity was boiled, evaporated and carbonized in a scorching, radioactive fireball. The persecuted, vibrant, faithful, surviving center of Japanese Christianity had become ground zero.
And what the Japanese Imperial government could not do in over 200 years of persecution, American Christians did in 9 seconds. The entire worshipping community of Nagasaki was wiped out.
Thursday, August 3, 2006
How's about this on the personal/communal responsibility issue as it relates to the personal auto (but the principles may carry over to other issues):
We recognize as a society (for the most part) that drunk driving is a big wrong. Drunk drivers - especially ones that end up hurting someone - are universally reviled.
Is that because every person who's had a few drinks is going to drive irresponsibly? As I understand it, no (I'm a tea-totallin' Baptist, so no real experience to speak of on this matter).
There may well be some folk who've had a few drinks who could (and do) navigate themselves safely home without killing or injuring a single soul.
But in general, the odds of someone causing an accident increases when they drink. Therefore, at least in the US, we've pretty much made drunk driving a social taboo. We've collectively decided that there've been way too many people maimed and killed by drunk drivers to allow anyone to drive drunk.
That would be an example of the people collectively acting responsibly when it may not really be an issue for any one individual, am I correct thus far?
Would this not be akin to driving in general? We recognize that any one driver may not be hurting anyone or anything by driving. It's not the individual that is a problem.
But when half a billion (there are roughly 600 million cars in the world currently) people drive nearly everywhere, we begin to have all sorts of consequences. Three million dying annually from air pollution (not exclusively from autos), over one million dying annually from auto wrecks. Tens (hundreds?) of millions maimed or otherwise damaged by auto wrecks and pollution at a cost of trillions of dollars. Every year!
To say that this is no small problem would be an understatement.
Would it not behoove us, then, to implement a bit of communal responsibility? Or, put another way, when does the realization that a communal act is so damaging that it becomes a matter of personal responsibility to take action?
And before the accusation is cast, I'm not advocating a ban on driving. Just as there are times when it may be appropriate for a drunk to drive (if someone were injured and the "drunk" in question were only mildly intoxicated?), there are reasons for driving.
I'm advocating that, just as drunk driving should not be the norm, neither should the personal auto be the norm for general transportation needs. And when they are used, greater care must become the norm (not driving cars that pollute like hell, driving much more slowly, less pavement, etc.).
For me, it's a matter of communal responsibility - and with so much evidence of the damage caused by the personal auto that it has become a matter of personal responsibility.
What say ye?