Faith vs. “Knowledge”

Post #1 in response to Avant Garde’s comments on All Roads Lead to Heaven?

“…how did you come to conclusion that jesus is ultimately right – was my question. I am not saying he is not right, all i am asking is how do YOU know that?”

Before I wax philosophical, let me give you the most personal answer I can give (the short version, at least). I came to the conclusion that Jesus was right because he saved me from myself. I was raised in a church-going, though not especially churchy family. During middle school, at the encouragement of the youth pastor, I began reading the Bible on my own. Convinced that, if God exists, he could and would use just such a means of conveying his truth, I became open to Christianity… and to the fact that I was an egotistical bastard (you know the type: the one who looks down on others for getting B’s). During this time, I had a vivid dream in which (abbridged) I was drawn through darkness into the light and warmth of God’s love in Christ. Since then, there have been many cogent moments of experiencing his presence, such as my near-death in a car crash and my one serious, multi-month bout of manic-depression. But, most importantly, he has transformed me into a more compassionate and loving person (though I still have a long way to go).

But that might not be what you’re asking. What I believe, I cannot prove. I can give you my reasons, my doubts, and my areas of relative certainty. Yet these bits of information are of a different quality than the fact that I exist today, depending on how you define “I” and “exist” and “today,” because Descartes can build a pretty-much air-tight case for the existence of me. No one can build an air-tight case for the need for Jesus. Such is the nature of faith. Many have tried. But this looks less like a science experiment, rooted in things tangible, and more like a court case with a preponderance of evidence, much of it circumstantial, from which you, the jury, must arrive at a verdict.

“Faith is the evidence of things unseen.”

People usually believe in Jesus first in a personal way and then grapple intellectually with the implications of this. In light of my personal faith, why have I concluded that Jesus is ultimately right? Because of the faith the he has planted in me. This is a circular argument, no doubt. But I don’t mind that, as long as you don’t. Circular arguments are only a problem if I’m trying to convince you… and I’m not. Only God can do that. But like any decent, anonymous cyber-friend I can shoot back attempted answers and counter-questions to your questions.

I apologize if this raises more questions than it answers. Faith is about the Person more than it is about the ideas of theology. Questions drive us closer to the truth and a good question is better than any half-assed answer.

Now I still need to address the elephant in the room. Avant Garde further exclaimed: “[you write] in the guise of questioning the denominations/churches of christianity, and saying “no religion but God leads to heaven”, you really meant your God the Son alone leads to heaven!” In my next post I will address the exclusive claims of Christianity.

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Waiting for the Wedding….

…is like waiting for Christmas as a child plus waiting for the resurrection when I am old.

Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 10:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Hellboy vs. Spawn vs. Ghostrider vs. Batman

hellboy 2

Includes a review of “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” without blatant spoilers.

There have been other heroes who are caught between heaven and hell. Spawn: “Born in darkness. Sworn to justice.” Ghostrider: “He’s the only one that can walk on both worlds.” Batman, in a less literal sense, is equally torn between the forces of light and of darkness. But they have a way of taking themselves way too seriously, to the point of being silly (Ghostrider), or lame (Spawn – there’s a reason there hasn’t been a sequel). But not Hellboy.

It’s not just that he knows how to crack a good joke. It’s that he integrates action, comedy, and supernatural suspense, while wrestling with his own humanity (or lack-therof). Batman has become super by becoming more than merely human.

Yesterday, I finished reading Frank Miller’s graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns.” In the introduction, he describes a bar far beneath the streets of Gotham, a place where the old heroes go to tell there stories. They laugh and drink and reminisce. But there is one hero whose name they never mention, the thought of whom makes them all shudder, who in sheer force of will bested them all: Batman. But his glory came at a price: the sacrifice of his humanity.

Hellboy, on the other hand, has become great by becoming human. Sure, he struggles to find acceptance and to embrace humanity. He is a demon. But not in the biblical sense.

He’s a bumbling sort of hero. When faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, his favorite catchphrase: “Oh, crap.” He gets into trouble, makes a big mess, and usually only manages to get out with the help of his friends.

He’s a bad boyfriend/husband type. “I would die for her… but she wants me to do the dishes!”

Yet, somehow, in the midst of such ineptitude, his dedication and wit shine through, and he reminds me of what it means to become a better man.

Don’t get me wrong. Hellboy II is no Schindler’s List. It’s a great movie, but not a deep movie. Fun has always been Hellboy’s strong suit. Nonetheless, there are moments of depth (why has magic faded from the world?) and, paired with Del Toro’s stunning visuals (creatures galore!), this should be the new summer blockbuster to beat.

But I wouldn’t know. I haven’t seen a movie in the theater since April. Then again, I haven’t wanted to. This might be the first movie in the summer so far truly worth seeing.

Netflix/Cable: Do you own them? Or do they own you?

Two of our grandest pre-marital achievements have been the establishment of a Netflix account and the harassing of our apartment management to set up the cable service that is automatically included in our rent. (We’ve been paying for it for over six weeks now and we want to see some results, dang it!) The effects have been as follows.

Netflix: We giddily rush through movies and t.v. shows, watching for entertainment but also for the sake of speed. As much as I might want to watch the Godfather (which I own), we’d better watch
Love Actually so that we can get the next disc of Lost! I find myself drawn into an entertainment rat race. We watch so that we can experience adventure… or do we watch so that we can watch more without asking why?

Cable: I turn it on, flip through all 80 channels with amazing reception and turn it off. I’d rather watch Netflix. I guess it’s worth having for those 5/min/day. I might watch a whole (5 min x 7 days x 4 weeks) = 2.5 hours each month, so is it worth it? It was automatic… but it’s still sort of mind numbing and lame. (I know I won’t still be saying that in two months when fresh episodes of the Office are back on… oh wait, didn’t need cable for that.)

Which leaves me with the lingering question: Why do we watch anything? Or is it like popcorn at the movies: you eat it because it’s there?

Published in: on July 10, 2008 at 5:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Top 10 Running Movies (That Aren’t “Chariots of Fire”)

All of us who love to run – or at least the idea of running – know the uncontested place that “Chariots of Fire” holds in the hearts of fellow run-folk.  I do not wager to contest it’s place on that pedestal, but I do hope to suggest some lesser known movies that may equally inspire us to move.

10.  Troy.  Even if Orlando Bloom is an epic pansy, I have a lot of respect for Brad Pitt sprinting into a flying javelin lunge into the jugular of the enemy.  Hate the man, but love his movies.  (Have you not seen SnatchTwelve MonkeysLegends of the Fall?)

9.  Forrest Gump.  We all remember Tom Hanks sitting on the bench or fighting in ‘Nam.  But it’s easy to forget him spending most of the 1980s on the road, running, coast to coast, offering wisdom, searching for meaning, and finding something.  I’m not saying that the movie makes sense or that it’s a great movie, but if it is and if it does, it has something to do with the running.

8.  300.  More ancient, epic sprinting into battle.  More stylized slow-motion.  What does 300 have that Troy doesn’t?  About ten times more awesome.  The story, the writing (Frank Miller!), the odds.  The acting might even be better.  Or it’s least people you’ve never heard of being slightly okay (as opposed to Eric Bana and Peter O’Toole being less good than you know they should be, maybe because the writing was terrible).

7.  Braveheart.  Let’s face it, if your life isn’t in danger or your not threatening someone else’s life, who really needs to run?  Ah, for the good old days….

6.  The Children of Men.  …or a future so dangerous that the last hour of the movie is non-stop go-go-go, without decent footwear, to save the first last newborn of humanity.  Perhaps the most intense movie of all time and thoughtful sci-fi at its best.  And you were beginning to think that only historical war films made the list….

5.  Die Hard.  Speaking of footwear, how about barefoot?  Sure, he’s indoors, but let us not forget Bruce Willis’s original heart-breaking, heart-rending, hard-dying tour-d’awesome.  This is the film that started it all (didn’t it?).  No, not the franchise, but the action-for-the-masses with one-liners galore.

4.  Run, Lola, Run.  (A.k.a.  “Lola Rennt” auf deutsch).  Franka Potente breaks land-speed records and violates the space-time continuum as she sprints across Berlin in real-time to save her semi-loser boyfriend.  The tagline says it all – “Crazy love.  Crazy fate.”   She has twenty minutes to find 100,000 DM.  We see her fate unfold in three different paths.  Crazy fast.

3.  Apocalypto.  Warning: this is not a great movie.  Yet it is a great running movie.  Our hero escapes from nearly getting his heart cut out by the Mayan high priest, only to sprint through the jungle chased by a dozen enemy warriors, a jaguar, and a couple of conquistadors on his way to rescue his son and wife who is in labor.  Dang!   Don’t let Mel Gibson’s lack of PR keep you from this one.  Unless you hate reading subtitles.

2.  The Bourne Ultimatum.  Conceivably, all three Bourne films could have made the list, but I chose to reserve a place for what I considered the most running-intensive.  Let’s face it, 1 (The B. Identity) had the small car chase in Paris, 2 (The B. Supremacy) had the drunken car chase in Moscow, but 3 (The B. Ultimatum) had Damon spending more time on his feet, jumping off roof tops, through windows, etc.  Okay, so the beginning and end were less runny, but the middle….  Dang!

1.  The Last of the Mohicans.  I know that a lot of people don’t love this movie.  Maybe it’s that I hit puberty in the early 1990s.  This movie rocks.  It has it all: hiking, jogging, walking silently at night, and sprinting uphill, guns and axes in hand, for the whole last 30 minutes of the movie, Daniel Day Lewis (before he became evil – There Will Be Blood! – but still an artistic genius) on his way to rescue Madeline Stowe (before she dropped off the face of the earth) from certain death.  Bonus: making fun of the French and the British, with plenty of pre-revolutionary fervor, and a glimpse of lacrosse back when it was a game for Native Americans and red necks.

Published in: on July 5, 2008 at 10:02 pm  Comments (2)  
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