Tag Archives: Entertainment

Books, Movies, Music, anything used for passing time

Quintessentially American

Originally posted January 24th, 2006. Written while in Italy a few weeks earlier.

I’m writing this on a notepad while on a train speeding across Italy. While passing through the Formia station a few Americans got off the train and stood for some moments on the platform before moving off to their destination. I’d spotted and heard them while on the train and, though I’d not talked with them I just wanted to let them know another American is adventuring in Italy and our paths had crossed (don’t think this makes sense? try living alone in a foreign land and see what odd things come to mind).

So I’m casting about for a sign or signal they’d immediately recognize which would associate the signer (me) as American. Thumbs Up? No, everyone does that, everywhere, and it’s universally recognized. V for Victory? No, I’d just look like a blond-haired, fair-skinned, blue-eyed Asian posing for a photograph trying to look American. Several other signs where thus considered and discarded before I found one that would unmistakeably label me as America.

I did not make this sign as I was too far away while the train was at the platform, and they’d moved off before the train passed by where they’d been, and they’d likely have been very offended.

Yes I have not seen this particular gesture since leaving the good ol’ US of A, and I’ve not really missed it either, until now. The one sign I could show that would definately label me as American was the binary 4, the raised central, the birdie, “the finger”.

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Dreams Are Cold

Lois Lane, finding herself in her hero/lovers arms for the first time in 5 too-long years says quietly “I’d forgotten how warm you are.” Superman is, after all, a man. He’s just, well… super.

The movie aside, why do we live in dreams? What is it about what-ifs and might’ve-beens that makes feel so warm inside. “When I was a child…” starts off the stereotypical father- or grandfatherly advice. “Don’t you remember when…” is the soft chiding of an old friend. “Hey, remember that time we…” is the standard greeting of a buddy at the reunion. For beings who cannot move through time at will we sure do keep gazing fondly through that dimension.

Dreams are cold and memories chilly. They are not for dwelling in. The arctic is for studying (from afar and in well-warmed rooms). There are people who become bitter at the world because it will not stop still for them. The saying goes you keep putting it off until tomorrow and all you’ll end up with is a bunch of empty yesterdays. As you’re climbing life’s ladders and you reach the top, will you look back and see nothing but empty rungs?

Not to say that dreams and memories are wrong and bad, they can help keep us close to those we love, they teach us when there are no teachers around, they protect us when the present seems to dark to bear. But they only have meaning and purpose when they are used in the present to protect and brighten the future. Yes, Superman left his lover jilted when he left to see if he might find a place he felt he could belong, and his dreams were cold. What he found at the end was that it was his place to be lonely, the Pandora of Pandora’s, and yet to be loved by an entire world and felt as their own by each and every one of them. And Lois found that in dwelling on the slight she forgot the hero, and it served neither of them well.


Something I’ve struggled with for sometime is the efficacy of my various efforts over the years to save our struggling culture and reform the hearts and minds of people I meet.

Is political maneuvering the best way to change the culture? No, I don’t believe it is.

Can getting people to vote for the right person and the right bill save America and the world? Yes, it can, and this work is vital to the continued survival of America, but the task is too big, the mountain of the people is overwhelming.

I’m no pessimist. And nearly everyone who calls themselves “realists” are actually pessimists. I’m an idealist and an optimist, but when I consider all the issues that face our nation, the crime, gangs, abortion, encroaching socialism, homosexuality and alternative lifestyles, white collar crime, the media and entertainment culture, and all the other things in modern life which are not all good, they are all dependent on one another. Abortion feeds a culture of irresponsibility among men which supports pornography and crime which feeds a lack of self-control which feeds abuse of women which feeds abortion. And that is by no means a closed loop, causality goes both ways and is not limited to the small pool of ills mentioned.

But the causality for ill and evil are such a tangled and sturdy web that there is precious little chance for the fixing of one issue to “stick” and remain.

Political change can only change the outside, the mask. You can legislate right conduct but you cannot legislate right thought, and it is evil to try.

Instead, you need to balance the political change with a greater work of salvation. Only by Christ entering hearts and minds and reforming the dross and dregs found therein can there for any meaningful change significant enough to affect each and every issue in that person.

Political action is necessary and vital, but the work of Christ is first and foremost a work of the heart. Only by redeeming the hearts of those in the culture can we redeem the culture.

Every person may and each person must follow God’s calling in their lives where they are. Sometimes God calls one to leave where they are and follow Him in acts of more public or visible sacrifice. But the greatest mission for each of us is to, where we are, work to redeem those around us. For by doing this we can redeem the hearts AND the culture.

The effective campaign will seek not to win the hearts, but to change them. And the greater and more effective change is always found in the work of Christ.

Dilbert The Evangelist

While I make no claims that Scott Adams, author of the (in)famous Dilbert comic strip, is a Christian, he certainly explains clearly some fallacies of Atheism. In a series of posts initially begun in the spirit of what he terms “philosotainment” and driven on by comments to his articles and the responsive ravings of Austin Cline, Adams shows some rare jewels of the logical arguments for the likelihood of the existence of God. By no means does he come to correct conclusions all the time, and he makes no bones about the fact that he does this primarily as entertainment and only secondarily as serious philosophy.

Adams begins with “The Atheist Who Thought He Was God“:

In order to be certain that God doesn’t exist, you have to possess a godlike mental capacity – the ability to be 100% certain. A human can’t be 100% certain about anything. Our brains aren’t that reliable. Therefore, to be a true atheist, you have to believe you are the very thing that you argue doesn’t exist: God.

In the comments Pascal’s Wager is brought up. This argument is boiled down into the statement that it is a better ‘bet’ to believe in God than not to. Adams responds with “Pascal’s Wager” and includes a particularly brilliant jewel of wisdom:

…if you assume our perceptions are often flawed, you have to allow the possibility that some apparent absurdities are due to our limited powers of perception. So, for example, while the notion of a loving God who allows eternal damnation seems absurd, it is less absurd than assuming the world is run by invisible unicorns, or that God discriminates against those who believe in him.

He then goes on to say that given his own observation of current world religions he’d put his money on Islam as being the religion most likely to be correct based on several criteria, mostly stemming from a human view of current events and the goals and desires of God.

Austin Cline then chimes in with what he considers a withering response but which is in effect a series of adjective-laden phrases claiming that Scott Adams is an adjective-laden phrasologist, not a serious thinker. Austin does ignore the fact that Adams considers himself an adjective-laden phrasologist and makes no claims to serious mental inquiry here. Ironically it is the admitted adjective-laden phrasologist who submits the substantive arguments and it is the claimed substantive-intellectual who succeeds only in creating a storyline with no character or plot. Maybe he should take lessons from Adams, it could only help.

Adams, happy with the increased traffic to his blog, no doubt, responds gaily and with great relish in “The Poster Child For Cognitive Dissonance” in which he recognizes the ridiculous nature of the argument and ends with an admonition to Austin to “dance, monkey, dance!”

I’ve read a few bits and pieces of Adams philosophical explorations and I maintain a healthy level of respect for this man. Novelists and those who have to entertain with story and narrative are a special breed who usually command a greater than normal level of understanding regarding the human condition. Otherwise they would not be able to command an audience, as people would recognize the unreal nature of their characters and plot. Adams is by no means right about many things, but he is thoughtful and I would bet his keen wit and sharp mind against many people without fear.

Maybe I just like to laugh.

Thanks to Vox Populi for this story.