Friday, December 7, 2007

Hilarious Kyle Smith review of Golden Compass: "The Empire Strikes Harry Potter of the Caribbean"

Thanks go to reader Dianonymous who sent me the link to this hilarious review. It's too funny not to read the entire thing, but here's an excerpt:

Sorting all this out yields a clanking allegory (Church bad; secular skepticism good) that sucks all the fun away while much more enticing-looking stuff - fanciful zeppelin docks and mysterious pirate ships - hovers frustratingly in the background, like Christmas toys that go unused while toddlers play with the empty box. Worse, it's like toddlers ignoring the toys because they're frowning over Nietzsche and sighing about the will to power and the ascetic ideal.

Every 10 minutes or so, the movie remembers it's supposed to show us actual things happening, so it throws in a half-hearted 30-second action scene (say, Lyra being pestered by robot bugs or having to cross an icy gorge). Things pick up a little when, in the second hour, Lyra finds an ally in a fierce, enslaved polar bear (voiced by Ian McKellen), but he too reels off a few pages of grudges and legends. They say you'd pay good money to hear an actor like McKellen read the phone book. How about the Dungeons and Dragons manual?

In the first paragraph here I think Smith, possibly inadvertently, summarizes why atheism is so unattractive to most of humanity: when it's not downright sleep inducing it's simply too precocious for us chillun of God.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Honestly, this is the best analysis I've read of the whole Romney speech/religion & politics/etc. thing. I especially like Rod's answer to the unfair reading of Huckabee's interview statements regarding the law establishing morality. Obviously he means in the sense of law reflecting and codifying rather than somehow generating morality. Clarifying language is important, but I think most of us understand what was intended in context.

Likewise, I believe Romney's "freedom requires religion / religion requires freedom" theme requires some qualification and explanation. As Bill Bennett pointed out this morning, persecuted and underground churches have been some of the strongest expressions of faith throughout history. But to thrive outwardly and publicly, it can be observed that a Constantinian legalization or American tolerance can help religion to thrive and spread as well. That's my interpretation at least.

I have to also give Rod kudos for perceiving the context of this speech by mentioning the way this type of public discussion goes over in other erstwhile outposts of Western Civilization like Britain, i.e., like a lead balloon.

Back to Huckabee. I've been leaning toward him as of late and not just because of the cool Tobias. I don't think it's a big deal that he flashed "Christian leader" in an Iowa ad. But Huck's recent remarks about an "American ruling class" are much more disturbing to me. I hope he just means by this bureaucrats-in-government-who-are-not-representing-the-people-etc. Otherwise that sounds a little too overtly populist for my blood. I know that the cartoonists want to see a Huckabee/Obama race so they can keep the drawing the enormous ears which they've gotten so good at grafting onto GWB....

(In the interest of full disclosure: I am not now nor have I ever been a card-carrying member of America's Ruling Class. Not that I don't hope to be someday... mwaa-ha-haaa...)

Meanwhile, Jimmy Akin provides an opposite viewpoint on the Romney speech from a strictly religious, Catholic perspective.

Monday, December 3, 2007

From the Land of Lake-effect Snow

sXe


John Hood's quip on the Corner this morning reminded me of my days as a Fugazi fan circa 1990. A friend of mine had their 2nd EP Margin Walker and it just blew me away. I had just gotten my first CD player, so I purchased 13 songs which contained their first 2 EPs.

Fugazi's appeal to me most likely had something to do with the fact that I had just gone through this huge girlfriend breakup and a lot of really angry, testosterone-achieved guys screaming and wailing on guitars totally made sense. They were also supposed to be really "smart" and "socially conscious" -- whatever the hell that means -- which separated them from Suicidal Tendencies, Gang Green and other skate-punk faves. Their lyrics were impenetrable enough to seem profound; I don't pretend to be able to fathom what the following rapped lines from "Bulldog Front" really means:

Ahistorical -- you think this shit just dropped right out of the sky
My analysis -- it's time to harvest the crust from your eyes

...but it's great because it can basically be used to diss the ideas of anyone you don't like. The bonus is it contains great words like crust and shit.

"Burning Too" contains a more uplifting message, tunefully reminiscent of Bowie's "Rebel Rebel":

This world is not our facility
We have a responsibility
To use all of our abilities
To keep this place alive

Those lines always remind me of a poem a third-grade girl might have penned to caption her crayon submission to the local Earth Day coloring contest. But as with all great Fugazi compositions, it is redeemed by the red-faced yelling during the chorus: "WE GOTTA PUT IT OUT!! DO IT!! DO IT NOW!!!!"

When you go flying off your skate board into a sewer grate you need something to unite your suffering to that of the whole human race. And if you aren't Catholic at the time and don't realized that's one of the purposes of the Mass, Fugazi will have to do. Being "straight edge" helps one avoid many evils, but you can't thrive on a steady diet of nothing. Maybe that chapter of my youth subconsciously helped lead to my conversion.