With just a couple of days of work left in the year (for us employees of corporate giants at least) it's time to start thinking about entertainment options for the holidays. I thought I'd start by offering up my five favorite Christmas movies. So, without further ado, in reverse order:
#5 - A Christmas Story. Now twenty years old, this is a kid's eye view of the All-American Christmas from the 40s. When it was released it was a huge flop in the movie theaters, but became a cult classic due to TV runs, and now is a genuine mainstream classic. All Ralphie wants is a Red Ryder BB gun, but he's foiled at every turn, with several hilariously surreal moments along the way. A cable TV channel has showed this nonstop for 48 hours in the past (TNT, I think) at some point during the holidays, and it's well worth catching.
Simon Barrow's post on the demise of Christendom in Europe (thanks, Maggi), and more specifically in England, got me thinking. While the shrinking Christian base may be cause for concern for most Christians to varying degrees, it has to be like the sinking of the Titanic for Evangelicals. After all, their whole raison d'etre is to make more Christians. And more. This shrinking base of Christianity is probably the first time it's happened in the history of the Evangelical movement. All of the desperate attempts to stabilize doctrine and purify the church definitely smacks of the desperate measures of a crew baling buckets of water out of a sinking Titanic. They're losing the numbers game and they have no idea how to start winning again.
It's as if they believe if they get the doctrine exactly right, somehow all of those people no longer coming to church will be back. And all of those people who have managed to avoid church all their lives will suddenly find a 25 point treatise on the evils of modern life to be a compelling reason to come to church.
But is this shrinking Christian base really a bad thing?
If it means dissolving the bonds between church and state (whether it be the CofE and the UK govt, or the Religious Right and the White House) then I think it's a great thing.
Which begs the question - how can we do more with less?
I usually don't do memes, but that's because most of the ones I see are the 250 question types that teenagers seem to like filling in. The one Maggi tagged me for is more intriguing - also a lot fewer questions. And wow, what illustrious company!
Anyway, five things you probably didn't know about me...
1) I didn't get my driver's license until I was 26 years old. In the US this would be unthinkable - un-American, even. However, in the England of the seventies there were a few reasons - lack of opportunity and the inherent poverty of students and the cost of owning even the most modest of rustbuckets. It was strange, though, because my Dad was all over teaching my next younger brother how to drive, but not me. I guess I never pushed for it. And somehow, I had promised myself I would get my pilot's license before I got my driver's license. Well, that didn't happen either, because...
2) ...I only have one good eye. Yes, I was born with eyes of two different focal lengths. What the brain does is essentially disconnect one of them from its fine focusing task and just uses the other. This is one of the causes of amblyopia or "lazy eye". The disconnected eye, having nothing much to do, just amuses itself. Caught early enough, the condition can be managed, but it has to be no later than age 5. Given the parlous state of the National Health Service, the likelihood of that was slim. There was a brief attempt at correction too late, but it was, well, too late. "What has this got to do with flying?", you ask (remembering the end of item 1)). Well, with only one good eye, it's pretty difficult to have normal depth perception. You need two good eyes, slightly separated, to be able to judge distances. Oh, there are other ways, but the two eyes method was what God intended us to use. Now, driving is difficult enough without depth perception (I do have other distance cues, though, like how big things are, etc.) but flying is another thing altogether. I had a few flying lessons, and it's a bit freaky landing on a grass field when you can't tell whether you're 50 feet up or 5 feet up. It makes a lot of difference in how hard you hit the ground coming down. Not to mention just being generally disconcerting. Anyway, the upshot was no pilot's license for me (as if I could have afforded to fly in England anyway...)
3) I have a Masters in Management from Antioch University Seattle. In the late nineties I decided I'd like to get an MBA or something like it. However, the need to get a "hard" finance type MBA didn't appeal, and as I already had a Ph.D., the academic necessity to prove myself wasn't really there either. A friend of mine had attended the Graduate Management Program at AUS and found it to be interesting. Now, given that AUS is 99.9999 on a scale of 1 to 100 in "liberal", and my friend was a devotee of Rush Limbaugh, this was a potentially volatile mix. He went because his boss (a director) suggested he go somewhere where people didn't think like he did. It turned out to be a good experience for him, so I thought I'd give it a try. It was pretty good for the first year, with excellent faculty. The second year, not so much. One good faculty member was assigned to our class, along with one absolutely dreadful one. However, my classmates were awesome, and it turned out one of them who worked at Microsoft was Terri, Rose McGowan's mother. (Who's Rose McGowan? She was the girl who was killed by the garage door in Scream, and later became the replacement for Shannen Doherty on Charmed). At the time we were in the program, Rose was engaged to Marilyn Manson. Terri bought him a Teletubby for Christmas.
4) I lived in Scotland for two years, from when I was eight to ten years old. Not much of a revelation, you might say, but somehow in those years I went from being a totally average student to, usually, the top of the class most of the time. Obviously at that age it's difficult to pin down what the difference was, but the only thing I can say for sure is that it was more rigorous, and more was expected of students. When I moved back to England, school was much easier.
5) I love to read chick-lit. Well, probably not just any kind. It all started when I was browsing a Christian bookstore. I always keep an eye out for books to use with teenagers in youth group, or books that might make good gifts. One day I stumbled on the Diary of a Teenage Girl series by Melody Carlson. I thought, what the heck, and bought a copy of the first one. Carlson manages to write books with Christian themes without bludgeoning the reader over the head with faith or with bad theology. I liked the book and recommended it to a few teens and their moms. They liked it, and then I started getting recommendations back from the girls in our youth group about the books they were reading. It ended up as a sort of informal book club. So that's how I ended up reading Megan McCafferty's books (Sloppy Firsts, etc...), and Louise Rennison's (the Georgia Nicolson books - hilarious) and Ann Brashares' Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books (and yes, I cried at the movie...) From there, Amazon is pretty relentless at pointing out similar material, so there are others, but they are the cornerstone of this relatively new, um, craze of mine or whatever. I do think it gives me a bit more insight into what's going on with our teenage girls, and I can definitely see some of the issues surface once in a while. I recommend these books to the guys in our youth group. Honestly, I think it would give them great insight into the psyche of the fair sex, but no, they choose to remain ignorant and continue to go up in flames (much like the Hindenburg) on a fairly regular basis...
So there you have it - more than you ever wanted to know, probably. Lacking a clue of who to ping to continue this, I'll defer that until I've had time to think...
Apparently the weather gods weren't happy with just shutting western Washington down with a snowstorm a couple of weeks ago, so they got together and decided a windstorm with torrential rain would be a nice chaser. So on Thursday afternoon, there it was. We ended up with about a million people without power (yes, a million!), including us. We got power back late Friday night (it was on when we got home after going out for a late dinner) but there are still over half a million people in the region still without power. Right now they're saying it may be another 2 or 3 days before the last few main areas are back and up to a week for the outlying areas.
Overall, there haven't been too many tragedies - just four deaths so far, but one of them is really bizarre. A successful Audiobook narrator, Kate Fleming, was killed in a freak flood:
When the storm first hit Thursday evening, Kate Fleming ran to the
basement studio in her Madison Valley home to save the equipment that
was vital to her successful, home-based business recording and
As she gathered it all up, a huge surge of water slammed into the
house and began filling a windowless room in the basement with a force
so strong that Fleming couldn't open the door. By the time Seattle
firefighters arrived and cut a hole in the floor, it was too late.
Despite efforts to revive her, Fleming, 41, actress, singer and a star
in the world of audiobook narration, died at Harborview Medical Center.
Ugh, how awful. Pray for her friends and partners.
Despite tragedies like that, life will roll on, and I expect to be posting the results of Maggi's meme challenge later today.
Apparently, a little pressure can prevail. Mark Driscoll apologises, and oh, by the way, the Seattle Times drops him as a columnist, a move that had "nothing to do with the protest" according to the paper. For once, I believe them. The protest probably prompted somebody to actually read his articles which led them to discover what drivel they are (as noted by me previously). Or, in newspaperspeak:
"The decision to discontinue Pastor Driscoll's participation was part of a review that was under way before we knew of any protest against him," said a statement from Executive Editor David Boardman.
They also mention the new job opening:
The newspaper said it is seeking a new columnist to represent an evangelical Christian viewpoint.
The article says he has posted the apology on his blog, but as of this writing, I'm hard pushed to see it. Here's the nearest he gets to a quoted apology in the article:
"He said he learned from the meeting that as his prominence has grown, so has his responsibility to speak in a way "that invites other people to experience charity from me, which means inflammatory language and such need to be scaled back.""
Yes, that "scaling back" of the inflammatory language will be welcome.