Sunday, February 27, 2005

Final Oscar Picks

One month ago, directly after the announcement of this year's Oscar nominees, I made my early predictions for the Academy Awards. Ah, the difference a month makes. These are my updated picks for all of the major awards tonight, as well as some commentary on each of the categories. I would also encourage you to check out resident Sheaf movie buff Anders' blog, as he and I went head-to-head in our predictions in the most recent edition of the Sheaf.

It's that time again, the time where movie-watching becomes competitive as true movie buffs attempt to understand how a completely unfathomable undemocratic process works. That's right, it's the Academy Awards! Hollywood's best come out to shine, and careers are made or destroyed with the opening of a single envelope. Of course, most of the fun of watching the Oscars is twofold: one, seeing the movies to see if you agree with the Academy's nominations; and two, attempting to enter the mind of the Academy in order to choose the winners out of the nominees and thus receive bragging rights that can be redeemed every year at Oscar-time. As a dedicated Oscar-watcher for well over a decade, I think I know a thing or two about predicting the winners, and I know that you do not have to see all the nominated movies. It occasionally helps, but the main point of predicting Oscar winners is to understand the politics of Oscar. That is how I can present to you my picks for each of the nine major categories that will be awarded on Sunday night. And the award goes to...

Best Picture
In a year with so many great films, it is a tragedy that this category is a two-horse race between two late-year releases, The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby. They both have big names backing them and many nominations. Sideways is the odd film out, whereas Ray and Finding Neverland do not deserve to be in the same class as some of the films left out of this race. Watch for Hollywood to reward its own and crown The Aviator as tops on Sunday night.
Who will win: The Aviator
Who got robbed: (tie) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Incredibles, Passion of the Christ

Best Director
Many high-profile directors released movies this year, which is why the inclusion of Taylor Hackford (Ray) is baffling, while the likes of Michael Mann (Collateral) and Mel Gibson (Passion of the Christ) watch from the sidelines. This category is also a two-horse race, but this one should end up with Clint standing after Round 15. Sorry Marty, you are just going to have to try again.
Who will win: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Who got robbed: (tie) Mel Gibson, Passion of the Christ; Michael Mann, Collateral

Best Actor
Just like Best Picture, the story here is who did not get nominated. While Depp delivered a solid performance, Giamatti and Carrey definitely deserve more respect than they have received. Then again, the other nominees are really a moot point after Foxx's performance as legendary singer Ray Charles. The Academy will almost always award a "once-in-a-lifetime" performance like Foxx's over perennial nominees like Depp or DiCaprio, and they have been more likely to reward African-American actors in recent years, which adds up to one Foxx-y acceptance speech on Sunday night.
Who will win: Jamie Foxx, Ray
Who got robbed: (tie) Paul Giamatti, Sideways; Jim Carrey, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

NOTE: This is perhaps the award that I will be watching most intently. I am so confident that Jamie Foxx will win that I have a bet with my mother in which I allowed her to take the stakes that if any of the other four nominees win, she wins the bet. She wins, I buy her a mega-super-ultra Blizzard; I win, she bakes me two loaves of bread. I'm looking forward to my homemade bread. But I digress.

Best Actress
It's time for Round 2 between Annette and Hilary. After the underdog win in this category by Swank five years ago, the two actresses step back into the ring again. They both won Golden Globes for their performances, so it could go either way. Poor Kate Winslet, whose performance in Eternal Sunshine may well have won in any other year, but is relegated to a third-place finish. Hilary takes the rematch. Swank 2, Annette 0.
Who will win: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
Who got robbed: Winslet, Eternal Sunshine (should win!)

Best Supporting Actor
This is perhaps the most difficult category to predict, as any of the five nominees could walk away with the award, and there are still several other deserving nominees. It should come down again to a battle between MDB and The Aviator, as two well-respected and as-of-yet Oscar-less veterans will be competing. It will be a battle between Alda and Freeman, but watch for Freeman to help complete the African-American one-two punch with Foxx.
Who will win: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
Who got robbed: Tom Wilkinson, Eternal Sunshine; Freddie Highmore, Finding Neverland

Best Supporting Actress
As one of the earliest awards presented in the evening, there is a tradition of shocking the audience by awarding a virtual unknown, such as Juliette Binoche in 1996 or Marcia Gay Harden in 2001. Then again, this category can also be one of the most predictable and used simply to award a high-profile nominated movie or the actress herself (Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain last year, Catherine Zeta-Jones for Chicago the year before that). It's a complete crapshoot. Still, it will be hard for the Academy to ignore a performance of one of their darlings as one of its darlings - Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator. Portman or Madsen would be the most likely other candidates; Portman if they choose to award the up-and-coming young actress, and Madsen if they want to pick the unknown. But they will choose the Cate who played Kate.
Who will win: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Who got robbed: Regina King, Ray

Best Original Screenplay
What is truly interesting about this category is that only one of the nominees (The Aviator) is also a Best Picture nominee, and that only one other nominee (Vera Drake) is also nominated for Best Director. That means that either the Academy is recognizing that writing is a significantly different task than directing, or that the best directors from this year did not write their own stuff. Kaufman is among the best of his time, and will be nominated again, so he should be passed over. It is very possible that Brad Bird could pull out a surprise win for The Incredibles, but The Aviator should win this award in support of its Best Picture nod.
Who will win: The Aviator
Who got robbed: Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine

Best Adapted Screenplay
So this is where all the Best Picture nominees are hiding, as Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, and Sideways are all nominated in this category. It appears to be anybody's game, but expect that Alexander Payne will receive his consolation award in this category. The Academy traditionally gives out one of the two screenplay awards to a Best Picture nominee who has no hope of winning in that category, or to a combination of writer-actor-director (see Sling Blade in 1996 or Good Will Hunting in 1998). But how could they not even nominate Passion of the Christ? It adapted the gospels! What more do you want? Still, there will be Payne in the acceptance speech for this category.
Who will win: Sideways
Who got robbed: Passion of the Christ

Best Animated Feature
Another battle between heavyweights here in the form of the animating studios, Pixar and Dreamworks. Pixar's superhero film should win handily, as it could well have been nominated for Best Picture, judging from its presence on Critics' year-end Top 10 lists. Shrek's fairytale ends here.
Who will win: The Incredibles
Who got robbed: Hand-drawn animated films.

Please note that I have only changed three predictions from my initial predictions a month ago (Picture and Director got switched, and I chose a different winner for Adapted Screenplay). It promises to be a good show, with Chris Rock as host. See you on the other side of Oscar, when I evaluate my picks in lieu of tonight's events.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Tapestry

Star Trek: The Next Generation makes me think. I watched the episode "Tapestry" with some friends tonight, an episode that begins with Picard dying and meeting Q in the "afterlife." After some witty repartee and philosphical debate, Q gives Picard a second chance to change a decision that ultimately resulted in his death after Picard admits that he has regrets about the arrogance and impetuousness of his youth. Picard chooses to change the decisions he made, and then he is transported into the future his changes have created. Everything is the same...except for him. It is only then that he realizes how integral the decisions he made in his past were in forming who he was later in life. He pleads with Q to send him back in order to reverse his reversal of the decision, so that he can be the Picard he was before he changed his history. He lives in the end, though he was prepared to die as the Picard he was rather than continue to exist as a Picard he did not want to be. As he comments to Riker near the end of the episode, he began to unravel one thread, and that destroyed the whole tapestry of his life.
This got me thinking about regrets in my own life. Are there decisions that I made that I would go back and change if I were given a second chance to do so? I think the answer is no. I have done some stupid things, things that I would rather not have done, but they have also shaped who I am today. Many of those things have served as an impetus somehow in my relationships with other people around me, and in my walk with God. So while I may prefer that those things had not have happened at all, I am in many ways glad that they did happen, because they have helped shape the journey of my life. This is not to say that I have not repented of past stupidities; on the contrary, it gives me great peace to know that not only have those things happened and that I have learned from them, but that I no longer have to be bound by their having happened because of Christ's death on the cross. I'm not intending that to come across in a boastful way about my own goodness, but only inasmuch as I can boast of what Christ has done for me, and that He is far greater than my past stupidity, present stupidity, and inevitable future stupidity. Life is such a rich tapestry, and far be it from me to claim any role in its weaving or unweaving (Gal. 2:20). Thank you for this life lesson, Captain Picard.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Recovering packrataholic

Is packratting part of our genetic makeup? Judging by my father and late grandfather, "packrat" must be a genetic characteristic passed down through the paternal side of the family. The whole Value Village thing is definitely a manifestation of packrat tendencies. Is it a product of nature or nurture? I don't know, but I do know that there definitely have been times where I have overcompensated for that nature, and that I regret some of those times now. Take, for example, when I was about 14 years old, and I sold all of my action figures, which included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Trek Next Generation figures, and a number of other toys, including my SteelTec set, for about $20. My parents asked if I really wanted to do that, and of course I wanted the money. Why they didn't stop me, I will never know. Now, I regret not having those toys, if for nothing else than the reason that they would have been really cool to give to my kids someday. Now they'll never know the joys of Donatello or Data as I did in my youth. It's probably good that I have gotten rid of some things over the years, with how much I moved over the last five years, but I'm still disappointed in my early teen self for not seeing into the future.
Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if a fire consumed my home and destroyed everything I owned. What would I choose to take the time, money, and effort to regain, and what would I allow to just drift into the abyss of memory? What would be worth getting back? A friend posed an interesting question recently about this very subject: "If your house was burning down, what three things would you make sure you grabbed?" As much as I would want to save my books or CDs or DVDs or video games or clothes or appliances, I honestly think it would be things that reminded me of people that could not be replaced at all. One would be the Bible my grandfather gave me when I was baptized in 1998; the second would be the storage tub containing all my memorabilia from high school, including all the issues of the Spark from back in the day; and the third would be my "E" tub, which is full of encouraging things from the past number of years from other people. It includes cards, notes, some gifts, and a whole lot of love. And quite honestly, that is more important to me than my extensive CD collection. Although my signed CDs would come very soon after, I imagine. Anyway, this isn't an open invitation to arson, but just some thoughts about "stuff." Thanks for letting me share with the group.

Monday, February 21, 2005

My own worst enemy

I can be pretty dumb sometimes. I did not get any homework done over the break. "Oh well, that's life," I told myself. I hoped I would do differently this year, but apparently not. Homework was just a delusion of grandeur. But, I told myself, "that's okay, because this week I have a lot to get done and I have to get a lot done, and so I will have to work hard to get it all done." This, of course, is all theory. In reality, it's past 1:00 in the morning, and I am working on another article I have promised for the Sheaf for this week's issue, continuing to put off studying for my midterm in Roman history tomorrow. Of course, that midterm would not be as much of a problem had I taken time yesterday to study, instead of whatever I did. Or even those couple of hours I wasted on stupid games on the internet could have been put to good use. But no, I choose to create circumstances for myself that would result in lack of sleep and preparedness for this midterm. I really often am my own worst enemy when it comes to school. Thank God for arts classes that require not nearly as much effort as other classes, thus allowing me to compensate for my own stupidity. Of course, one could make the argument that I would not have said stupidity had I been forced to operate under conditions which would have negated its very existence. Or one could argue that school just doesn't have much appeal after five years in consecutive month eighteen. Ugh. Seven weeks left.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Faith in the back of a truck

I believe that God teaches us truths about Him through day-to-day events in our lives. I learned more about faith by riding in the back of a truck this weekend. A number of us were driving a few kilometres on grid road to go tubing, and a quartet of us decided to ride in the back of the truck for the ride to the hill. And as we sat there in the blistering wind, I started to think about how that experience reminded me of life with God. I was putting a lot of trust in the driver. I could not see where we were going, and I could not see where we had been because of a giant inflatable tube obscuring my vision. And of course, I was also not using any form of seatbelt or any other safety apparatus. So really, my life was not in my own hands, and there was nothing I could do about it. I could have chosen to ride inside the cab, or in the accompanying minivan, but I chose to remain in a more uncomfortable place. God calls us to this on occasion, and that's where God taught me something in this instance. The bottom line is that I felt like riding those few kilometres gave me a new insight into life with God, and that's faith in the back of a truck.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Increasing self-awareness

First things first. Let me begin by stating that blogging is an inherently reflective exercise, and that I use that ability to its maximum when I write in this forum. I analyze, deconstruct, shape, form, revise, and evaluate my life in large part through this process. So when I take time to reflect on different areas of my life, it is not necessarily indicative of depression or self-esteem issues or any of that jazz. It usually just means I've been thinking about something, and I feel the need to get it out this way. Do not feel like you need to reassure me or tell me that I'm great or any other such action that may come out of worry or a need to reaffirm my sense of wellbeing. That's not an issue. Now read on.
I'm glad I got that out of the way. I have been reflecting recently on me. Who I am. What makes me...me. And I'm not sure I completely know. I know how other people would describe me, but how do I see me? I know I'm not a complete person. I've got a lot of areas I need to work on. Of course, a lot of this thought has come out of recent life circumstances (Read the History of the Life of Turner for more details) and my propensity for post-modernist deconstructionalism. It also comes because I will soon be entering a turning point in my life: the end of the "student" lifestyle I have been living. I will still be attending university, but I will be making changes to the way I live that should affect my life. Students are dependent, they're irresponsible, they're...well, students. I want to be more independent. I want to find out who I am apart from stressed out from full-time studies. I want to learn more about myself physically, socially, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. I want to pursue more of my own interests. I want to continue growing into a more well-rounded person while literally losing the well-roundedness. I know I often set up these turning points in my head, but I think that the end of April will mark a turning point that I can really look back on. Always striving toward what is ahead and leaving what is behind. (See Phil 3:12-14, Heb. 12:1-2, I Cor. 9:24-27). As C.S. Lewis would say, "deeper up and further in!"

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Deleted scenes

The ascent of the DVD has provided a previously unheralded benefit to movie viewers: access to the deleted scenes. These are the scenes that were filmed and ultimately cut due to any of a number of different factors, including pacing of the film, missteps in character development, or just not being good enough. The funny thing is that these scenes are often referred to by other sections of the film, or they at least explain parts of the film that may have been more ambiguous in the final cut. Sometimes, they make it into the trailer for the movie even if they aren't in the movie, and they are often really great scenes that deserve to be in the film. Take the Lord of the Rings, for example. It is impossible to watch the theatrical cuts of the movies after seeing the extended editions. It really is like a whole new movie with the added scenes. I recently also watched Napoleon Dynamite a second time - it's even better the second time around because you catch so many more jokes! - and also watched the deleted scenes. These scenes gave a lot more context to certain parts of the movie, and really helped develop the characters of Napoleon and Pedro. Personally, I would love to see the movie including these scenes, since I think they would improve the movie. But they were cut for a reason, I'm sure. Still, seeing these scenes gives a great insight into the original vision of the writers and director.
I can remember times in my own life where I have had "deleted scenes," times where I'm not really sure of what is going on around me, but I have to continue on with the plot and just take things as they come. Then there's that triumphal moment when you find out what was REALLY going on. You talk to somebody, and you find out what was happening in someone else's life, and you put that together with what was happening in your own life, and everything makes sense - their actions and your reactions make sense when you can see the big picture, instead of just seeing the "theatrical cut." Context is so important. There are definitely times where I want to see more than just my cut of the movie, but I know I can't at that time. Times where I just have to wait for the Director's Cut to see things from a greater perspective. I think I'm definitely in the midst of one of those times right now. I'm waiting to see the scenes deleted by the Director, and how everything works together for the good. I'm sure that He'll release it eventually. Then I'll get to see more of His vision, and things will make a little more sense. I hope.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Pedro offers you his protection

Props to my buddy Markus who sent me a link to an awesome site. SWEET! Make sure you have sound on your computer. Also check out this site. GROSS! Nappy D fans unite! "This one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bow staff."

Movies I Need To See

I have decided that it is officially time to begin compiling a list of movies I "need" to see. The movies that leave my cultural experience incomplete unless I see them. The movies that people react with "You haven't seen it yet?!" Yes, those movies. Here is the list so far, of movies I still "need" to see. Many of these movies come from before my time, and many of them are historical films.

Adaptation
All The President's Men
Amelie
Apocalypse Now
The Apostle
Being John Malkovich
Blackhawk Down
Bowling For Columbine
Chariots of Fire
Citizen Kane
Dr. Strangelove
Fahrenheit 9/11
The Fugitive
Good Will Hunting
The Hurricane
L.A. Confidential
Lost In Translation
Master and Commander: Far Side of the World
Miracle
My Own Private Idaho
Network
O Brother Where Art Thou?
Patton
Raging Bull
Rain Man
Robin Hood Prince of Thieves
Schindler's List
Shadowlands
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Slapshot
Super-Size Me
The Village
Virgin Suicides

I imagine many of you gawked and squawked at some point, wondering how I had gone through life without seeing said movie. Well, any assistance in my quest would be helpful, whether through suggesting movies that I may need to add to my list, or volunteering to help me make it through even one film listed. I also reserve the right to veto any suggestions if I deem them to be unworthy or stupid. For example, 90s comedies or chick flicks. Several of these movies could easily be combined into theme nights (ie journalism movies, boxing movies, etc.), so there are a lot of possibilities for diminishing this list. Let the discussion begin!

Author's note 02/13/05: This list has been amended to include movies from 2004. It will continue to change as I remember other movies I need to see and watch movies from the list. Keep the suggestions coming!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Wanting stuff

I have been thinking a lot lately about "stuff." I sold my car (finally!) this past weekend, but pretty much all the money was committed before I received it. At least now I'm a little less indebted to my good friends at Visa. Anyway, I have been thinking about the things I would like, that I think would be good to have. A nice TV, a Gamecube, an iPod...you know, stuff. Really, that's what it all amounts to. Stuff. I am not in the school of "Christians shouldn't own anything," because I think that is just not intelligent thinking. Some people are called to live more nomadic lives here on Earth, and that's cool. But neither do I fall into the trap of thinking that says "God has given me money to do whatever I want with it." God cares what we do with our money. He does. He wants to use it to bless us, and to bless those around us. That doesn't mean indulgence, but it doesn't necessarily mean asceticism either.
I do have a good amount of stuff. Just ask friends that have helped me move. But it's not necessarily a bad thing to own things. If I feel that God is calling me to buy a particular CD, or to own a coffeemaker, or whatever it is, that's okay. It's when I start owning stuff that I don't use, and when that stuff starts to direct my life that it becomes a problem. I think one trap that we can fall into is "saving up" for things. I think a better attitude is to continue to allow the Lord to direct your spending, and that He will let you know when to buy something. I feel quite strongly that on occasion I have been called to buy something, even if it was on credit. Granted, there are also times where I have purchased things regardless of my financial standing and any direction from God, but you get the point. I guess what I'm trying to say is that stuff is okay, so long as it doesn't master you, and that God works through stuff. And hopefully He calls me to join the iPod club someday.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Blogging as a hobby...and a skill?!

Blogging is an interesting phenomenon. Where else can people have the kind of forum to share their thoughts and personality on such a scale? I do find it interesting that one of the most topics I see blogged about the most is blogging. Think of how much time you spend talking about how talking. I think this is because, although blogging is available to anyone with an internet connection, there is a certain amount of skill involved. Not that there are people who do not have the ability to blog, but that there are people who develop more of a sense of their own blogging and who improve at it as they continue to blog. Blogging, in this mindset, becomes more than simply "something you do," and becomes a developed skill or hobby.
I spent some time last week looking at my early months of blogging. I am not ashamed of them, though I do acknowledge their rustic nature. Over the past six months of blogging, I feel that I have developed a certain style, and that I have refined my blogging skill extensively. Though I began with longer blogs that included several different thoughts that for the most part specifically mentioned parts of my life, I now focus on developing a particular topic or stream of thought in each blog. For my 17th century literature class, we have to compose a commonplace book, which is a collection of thoughts and ideas on a topic garnered from a variety of sources. This blog essentially functions as the commonplace book for the Life of Turner - the public manifestations of thoughts and happenings from my day-to-day life, which have improved continually as the blog has gotten more established.
It has now been almost a month since the relaunch of this site, a fact that is hard to believe. I have spent a lot of time and effort figuring out what I want to do with this site and how I want to do it. I am still changing things as needed, but I feel that the product I have now is fairly cemented as is. I have a style to what I'm doing, there is a community who is part of what's going on here, and I have taken care of a lot of the little things about the site over the past month (though I still have not yet figured out how to get the colours right in the Firefox browser). I enjoy blogging, and I can see that I have been getting a lot better at it. It has taught me about myself, my writing, HTML, and my friends, so it has been productive thus far. Yes, blogging has become a hobby. I am a blogger, and I am proud of it. Whee.

Blogger's Note: the somewhat pedantic "List of the Week" has been replaced by the far more entertaining "Review in Haiku" feature, which sprung out of my 2004: The Year in...Movies! blog from December 25. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

A series of fortunate events

I went to see Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events tonight. It was an entertaining watch, though I do not know if I would sit through it again. I am just not sure if it is the kind of movie you watch more than once, unless you have kids who love it. Which I do not. You could argue that it is in the tradition of fantastical movies like the Harry Potter series, Labyrinth, or The Princess Bride. Aside from Jim Carrey hamming it up (which was good, but still very Jim), some notable cameos and performances (Meryl Streep especially), and the stellar technical elements of the movie (Oscar noms for make-up, art direction, costumes, and score), there was a point to the film. I found that the movie raised some interesting points about fate and destiny, as well as the purpose of things happening in our lives, despite the attempts to childize the lessons at the end of the movie.
The basic plot of the movie begins with the three Baudelaire children being orphaned as a fire claims their home and parents' lives. They are taken to be in the custody of Count Olaf, their distant relative who wants the children for their impressive fortune. Olaf attempts to kill them, and continues to pursue them, creating many of the difficult circumstances from which the children must escape using their abilities and ingenuity. The children continue to find themselves in the midst of, well, unfortunate events. But what is really intriguing is their attitude toward these events. Rather than complain, worry, stress, grumble, explode, or freak out in the midst of their situations, they simply deal with them the best way they can, and move on to the next stage. One line from late in the movie is fairly indicative of the point the movie is attempting to make: "At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place. But believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may in fact, be the first steps of a journey."
Although there is no acknowledgement of an omnipotent God ordering these events, it seems to take place within the kind of paradigm expressed in the beginning of Ecclesiastes 3 - for everything there is a season, and for everything God has a reason. It was really encouraging to see how the children reacted to all the horrible things happening to them, because they are an example to us. When things are bad, just trust and have faith and make it through. In a lot of ways, that is what I have been doing over the past six months, and what I will continue to do as I complete this school year. The main difference between me and the Beaudelaires is that I have a clear idea of who is orchestrating the order of seemingly unrelated events, and though they may seem unfortunate at the time, I know deep down that there is a truly fortunate purpose for everything that happens. These are steps in one part of my journey.

The pendulum swings back a little

About three years ago, I made a pretty significant decision in my life. God was really moving in my heart to empty my life of unholy things. I had an obsession with the Simpsons, and I was filling my mind and my heart with a lot of not good stuff. It was the product of about six years of desensitization, including my first year of university in which I got the internet and worked at the school paper, and I allowed a lot of things to creep in that I really shouldn't have. So I had to make a pretty abrupt turn. It meant getting rid of a number of CDs and movies, and going cold turkey on the Simpsons. If you knew me then, you will realize and/or remember just how significant a turn that was.
That decision shaped the way I treated entertainment over the next couple of years. I essentially turned off popular culture. The only movies I saw in theatres for the better part of three years were the Lord of the Rings. I did not listen to the radio or watch TV. I barely watched movies, period. I cut out the Simpsons entirely. In short, I turned off "the world." And it was a good thing to do. I didn't have time for it anyway, and I needed to re-sensitize myself.
But since I am the king of all or nothing, I went all the way. I started overthinking some things, and really started analyzing things far too extensively. I could find fault in almost anything I wanted to. And I got rid of some things that really I didn't need to - a couple of video games, some CDs, some mp3s, and so on. The pendulum swung very far the other way, and I became obsessed with being the watchman (cf. Ezekiel 33). And in many ways, I filled the "hole" that had been left from leaving these things behind with being extra-vigilant about them, instead of filling it with God.
And now, over the past year or so in Saskatoon, I have swung back to a more moderate position. Not moderate in my tolerance of evil, which is as high as ever; no, moderate in my reaction to "neutral" things. Things that really will not make a big difference in the long run. For example, Wide Mouth Mason, who I saw at Louis' tonight. Just one example. Or watching some movies, that although there may be some questionable content, have a purpose greater than the content itself. After all, the Bible has lots of questionable content. I am still vigilant about what I take in, particularly about movies and music, because there's still a lot of garbage out there. I guess I'm just learning to be a bit more balanced, and maturing past the typical evangelical binary mindset. I hope.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Relax-o-day

I took the day off today. I didn't do much of anything productive: woke up at 12:30 pm, watched some Futurama, did some e-mailing, ate, listened to some music, surfed the internet, went out for coffee with an old friend, did some blogging. Sure, I skipped my classes today, but the truth is that I never really regret days where I just chillax at home. It's really nice to be able to do that without, you know, getting fired or something. I figure I need a day like this about once a month or so. Now I have to get ready for a good push until the February break, which is only ten days away for me. Woo. Too bad those days will be pretty cuh-ray-zee. Such is life. But after today, I'm pretty relaxed, so I'll make it through. I always do, somehow. And students, remember: skipping class is not the end of the world. Sometimes it's even a good thing. Take the day off occasionally. You won't regret it.

American Evangelicals

Anyone who is interested in the state of American Evangelicalism should read Time magazine's "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America." It's a very interesting look at this group which is simultaneously united and divided. And they acknowledge some of the scholars that I would love to read sometime when I have more time and effort to put into non-school reading, like Mark Noll and Brian McLaren. Interesting stuff, particularly being Canadian and having a fairly different perspective here. Check it out.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

What Famous Leader Am I? Gandhi!



Apparently, I am like Gandhi. I think Christians often quickly cast off leaders like Gandhi without really considering what they say or do in a greater context. I think it is important to still look at what God has done through leaders like Gandhi. Some of the things he said later in his life were quite thought-provoking, including the following quotations:

"Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness ... It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart."

"You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose."

"A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act."

Wow.

The songs will be in my eyes

Last week, I wrote about my desire to see U2 in Vancouver. Well, just a short week later, this dream is a reality! The Rev got the tickets, and we'll be on our way to see the biggest rock band in the world on April 28 at GM Place! We have fairly good seats, and it will be the first "vacation" I will have taken since I entered university. First leg of the 2005 Vertigo World Tour, here we come!

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