Total Pageviews

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Who comes out at night?

I'm not much of a night person. I used to be; but that was back in the day. My younger self liked the night times. Darkness and mind-altering substances made us all look better, or so it seemed. Cities looked exciting at night when you couldn't see the trash, and the homeless, and the dirt and grime that are revealed in the stark light of day. Everything just seemed cooler at night, lit by an array of electric feedback, from sizzling street lights to the amber dials of the dash. Night was a cloak that slipped easily over my shoulders; that protected me from the stresses and strains that the sun revealed. The darkness hid endless possibilities until, with a gasp of excitement, it chose to unveil one.

We lived in a music video world.

...among the neon lights...

But now, music videos are mostly gone or are caricatures of the night time lifestyle that is still on offer - if you're cool enough to take it. Sleep is overrated; Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy are the hot, black coffee of this age. How much life can you live? Things don't go better with Coke, they go better with darkness...

Ideally, with age comes wisdom. The night is always with us, velvet twin to the warm, bright light of days. I still like the night - but for totally different reasons. The transition time; lying on my back in the yard gazing up into the heavens. Watching the sky turn from smokey blue to inky black; watching as the heavenly lights wink on and the breadth of space is slowly revealed. Eventually, in the absence of artificial light, one can even see the star dust; particles of matter or asteroids or something that resembles clouds in and among the vaguely recognizable constellations.

the world still turns at night...

Yesterday, I stayed up later than normal. In part so I could gaze upward at the heavenly light show spread across the night sky of northern Alabama. After taking care of all those things that never occurred to a young night crawler - you know, locking doors, turning off lights, putting the last load of clothes in the dryer, making sure the dishes were washed - I lay down and lit the ultimate night light: the television.

Conan didn't hold my attention; he's funny and all but it's night after night of pretty much the same things. That left the two current titans of late night TV: Jay and Dave. A quick check of the on-screen guide made the choice very easy; Leno featured Kirstie Alley and Mike the Situation Sorentino vs. Letterman's show hosting British Prime Minister, David Cameron. Not much of a choice if you ask me.

Regular readers may remember this post, in which I briefly mentioned Mr. Sorentino.

I went with Dave.

I'm older now but I remember Johnny Carson. Staying up late to watch the Tonight Show was a treat. Do you notice how now it's the Tonight Show with [insert name of host here]? Johnny never felt the need to include his name in the title of the show - at least that I recall - everyone on the planet knew that the show was hosted by Johnny Carson. Maybe that's the problem with the new guys.

Don't get me wrong, Leno is alright, Conan can be funny when he's not trying to be a complete idiot and David Letterman is a little too self-righteous for me. This week, Dave has had Barack Obama and David Cameron on. If nothing else, he's trying to hold the intellectual high ground while Leno wrestles with the rehab stories of folks like Alley and Sorentino. But even Letterman can be funny sometimes and when he asked Mr. Cameron about the Magna Carta I recalled my early days of junior high school in the UK. Adroitly, the Prime Minister answered, "1215," when Letterman quizzed him on when the document was written. Mr. Cameron knew quite a bit of stuff off the top of his head (as a decent head of state should) but was equally apologetic when he couldn't recall what Magna Carta meant in Latin. Dave opined that it was Big Map; research during a commercial break revealed that it actually means Great Charter.

The Great Charter after restoration

Some actor came on after Mr. Cameron and I grew bored. Flipping over to Leno, I mercifully found the end of the Situation was at hand and actually enjoyed Richie Sambora's new solo effort. By this time I was almost out for the count but hung on long enough to watch the opening monologue of Jimmy Fallon who, in my mind, is miles better than any of those other guys - except for Carson, of course.

One of these nights maybe he'll get The Roots to play something by The Specials, and I can be reminded once more of those long-ago nights when the darkness was our friend and we fancied ourselves gangsters.

What do you think?


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

Periodically, I look at my blog stats to see what sort of traffic I'm getting. I admit that, as a writer, it does give me a bit of a thrill to know that someone, somewhere, is reading this stream of consciousness.

In an interesting confluence, today is my birthday; it is also the day that I topped 20,000 all-time page views!

I don't know if 2012 is just my year or if suddenly people are finding my random scribblings vaguely interesting, or if it's the whole one hundred monkeys and one hundred typewriters in a room syndrome; but I am very thankful to everyone who stops by and reads - or even glances at - my blog.

In honor of the whole twenty-thousand thing, I thought I would take a look at my top five all-time posts.

5. I'm not Charlton Heston (July 4, 2012) 187 views: Independence Day blog? Nope. Apparently on the 4th of July I was thinking about my personal relationship with God. I think it's important to understand how people come to know God. It's not that I chose to be a Christian; religion (I use the word here even though I don't equate my belief in God with the following of any set of particular tenets) is not something that you can put on and take off like a new pair of shoes. Belief in God is not something you can just try, and see if it works for you. That's what I think anyway. If you're interested in how I came to know Jesus, check it out!

4.  Literary Review: The Scroll (February 10, 2012) 219 views: This was my first blog review for WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing, who offer free books (at least to read) in exchange for written and publicized reviews of the books I read. Seems like a fair deal. I've only done a couple so far, mainly because I don't have a ton of time to spend reading and reviewing. The Scroll is a cool book if you like historical adventures. Check out my review and check out the book if you're in to that sort of thing.

3. Landon is on the Board (January 28, 2010) 236 views: This is probably the shortest blog post I've ever written. It consisted of roughly a paragraph of text and an embedded YouTube video of Landon Donovan's first goal for Everton (of the English Premier League). I'm not a sports blogger per se, but most of my friends know that I'm a bit of a football (soccer) nut. I enjoy seeing American players succeed overseas in the tougher world leagues and the Prem is perhaps the toughest. Landon has had a 2nd loan stint at Everton but still calls the LA Galaxy his permanent home. We'll see what the future holds as he comes to the end of his contract there...

2. Space...the final frontier (that we'll never get to?) (December 6, 2011) 303 views: Despite my belief in God, I still keep on eye on science and things scientific. Religion and science are not necessarily exclusive. This particular entry was spurred by the discovery of an earth-like planet orbiting a sun not unlike our own. The problem is, Keppler 22b is a LONG way away. While it's fascinating that we've been able to discover such a world and it's interesting to ponder the what ifs of a manned mission, with the technology we currently have it would take someone seven MILLION years to get there. How many times can you say, "Are we there yet?"

1. I dislike equivalent temperatures (January 7, 2010) 506 views: Far and away my number one blog post by views is the one I wrote complaining about things like heat index, you know, that annoying phrase the weather person utters that goes something like, "Bob, it's going to be ninety-eight degrees out there today but it will feel like one hundred and three."

Honestly, I don't know why people view my blog. I know there are probably a small number of people who actually read my blog but I suspect the vast majority of my page views come from my clever use of labels. Labels are those little terms you include that - I assume - search engine optimize (SEO) your blog post so people can find it. I admit, I am guilty of writing my posts to the extent that I can take advantage of certain SEO words that I think might attract the casual surfer to my blog. Shameless, I know, but as I noted above, what's the point of writing a blog if no one reads it?

So, it's my birthday! Make sure you share this blog post and all the others with everyone you know!

Bilbo Baggins advising all Hobbits to read The Stream of Consciousness blog

With gratitude and humility, I appreciate every one of you who have ever read my blog - either on purpose or by accident.

Thank you!


Friday, September 21, 2012

The hooking (up) of Jesus

What is it with folks always trying to hook up Jesus? This week brought us yet another discussion on the matrimonial status of the man widely believed to also have been the Son of God and Savior of the world. [See statistics compiled by the Pew Forum]

Itty bitty ancient Post-it note?

This is not the first time that purported evidence has been put forth to marry off The Christ. Most famously - outside of academia anyway - is Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. I recall when Brown's book first appeared on the scene (2003) and have enjoyed watching the resultant film several times. I also have a book that dismantles the fictional foundation of The Da Vinci Code. Can people really hold up a work of fiction as proof that Jesus was married?

What is bloviatingly referred to as The Gospel of Jesus' Wife is an ancient fragment of papyrus containing text that has been translated to read:

"'... not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe] ...'"
"The disciples said to Jesus, '..."
"deny. Mary is worthy of it" (Or: "deny. Mary is n[ot] worthy of it")
"...' Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'"
"... she will be able to be my disciple ..."
"Let wicked people swell up ..."
"As for me, I dwell with her in order to ..."
"an image"
"my moth[er]"
"forth which ..."

Not much to go on there. And certainly nowhere near enough to say, "See, Jesus was married!"

Christianity is based on some pretty fundamental principles. One of those is why Jesus was here. What was Jesus' mission statement? Luke 19:10 quotes Jesus:

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."

By all accounts, that includes Mary Magdalene. Which, in fact, could be another possible meaning of the papyrus' translated phrase, "deny. Mary is worthy of it" (Or: "deny. Mary is n[ot] worthy of it"), speaking of whether Mary - or by extension any of us - was worthy of salvation.

Jesus was also pretty clear in some statements he made about family - both through is actions and his words.

Earlier in the Gospel of Luke, a twelve-year-old Jesus ditched his parents, not to experience all the fun the big city (Jerusalem) had to offer, but to dialog with scholars at the Temple. Not finding Jesus in their caravan, Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem and confronted young Jesus about this seemingly disrespectful act, "And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?""

Definitely not your ordinary boy...

In another example that seems to minimize the importance of earthly relationships, Jesus is talking to a crowd of people and someone interrupts to say that His mother and brothers are outside [Mark 3:32-35] and wish to see him. Jesus' reply?

And he answered them, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothersFor whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother."

At the root of the issue, why is it important that Jesus be married, or not? Back in the day, it was pretty much unheard of for a young Jewish man to not be married. But that doesn't mean it was completely unheard of; the Essenes and others were well known to be celibate.

Following this link will take you to an interesting article that delves into some of the previous extra-biblical assertions of Jesus' wedlock.

The fact is, we don't know for sure that Jesus was - or wasn't - married. Biblical scholarship supports Jesus' bachelorhood. He was here for much more important things than marriage and, I believe, to continually chip away at the subject lessens the importance of what we should be studying regarding His time on earth.

Still, have at it folks. If spirited, scholarly discussion regarding our Savior's marital status floats your boat, no one is going to stop you. And on the other side of the fence are all those who think Jesus and the whole Savior thing are an unnecessary myth and will eventually be proved wrong.

For their sake, I hope that Christ includes them in the ultimate wedding party.


Friday, September 7, 2012

The gloves are off

In the bubbly wake of our two parties' national conventions, what are the things that stand out (to me)?

First and foremost, it appears that nothing is sacred in politics anymore (if it ever was...)

Opinions are more important than truth.

I did not first think about this concept in the context of politics today. I was listening to NPR's Morning Edition as they discussed the backlash against their reporting on a Stanford study that indicated no clear benefits of eating organic vs. normal food.

Liberal backlash against NPR? That clearly indicates the apocalypse is upon us.

Even those third party agitators are getting into the act, inferring that the Romney/Ryan ticket is closer to Stalin than President Obama.

Of course, comparisons of this National Review cover to old Soviet propaganda posters didn't help any...

So how do Republicans and other (sic) right-wing extremists respond?

With the epitome of low-hanging fruit, of course.

There are articles floating around that do a creditable job of comparing the early days of Hitler's career to President Obama's - I mean they do a really good job. So good, that if you didn't know better you might believe that Hitler and Obama were brothers from other mothers. I'm not going to link to any of that here...if you want it Google will help you find it.

What do I think about all this? Frankly, I'm not excited about either one of these guys. I believe politics has overcome our collective good sense and as a country we worry more about which party will be elected instead of trying to get some folks in office - any office - who might do our country some good.

I think much of the blame for this comes as a result of America's ever-increasing - yet misguided notion - of liberty. Liberty isn't defined by the ability of each individual citizen to do whatever they want and for those who can't to be carried by the government. Liberty is an idea; it's not about us as individuals, it's about us as a collective group of like-minded people.

Well, in case you hadn't noticed, America is not a collective group of like-minded people anymore. So really, whoever gets the most votes in November won't really matter - not in the long run.

That's what I think - what about you?