Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gaius Baltar is Not Jesus

NOTE: If you haven't watched the first four episodes of Battlestar Galactica and don't want to be spoiled, please read no further.

I had a comment on my previous BSG post (if you could call it a full post) from Kat Coble about my thoughts on what the show is doing with the religious aspect. Kat herself has posted some thoughts which I think are well worth reading.

A couple of years ago, I pointed out that the current iteration of BSG has added religion as a facet of the show, where the Colonials (good guys) are polytheists, modeled after (or modeling, depending on if you think the show is in our past or our future) the Greek pantheon and the Cylons (bad guys) are monotheists. In the show's current season (the fourth and final) traitor Gaius Baltar has become a primary evangelist for monotheism, gathering to himself followers, many of them nubile young women who like the chance to "experience" the love that is Gaius Baltar. At any rate, in the last episode, Baltar was beaten bloody as he preached a message of God's love and acceptance for people and that because God loves them, they are all perfect.

Do I think that the producers and writers of BSG are trying to accurately represent Christianity. No, not any more than they are trying to accurately represent the worship of the Greek pantheon. I think to most of them, the two are equal, quaint superstitions. It's just that one is still active. I think the parallels are interesting and it can certainly make it difficult to not sympathize with some of the Cylon's motives, even if I can't with their actions to support those motives. To me, the religion aspect of the entire show as been a great addition to the overall "mythology" of the show. Do I think some aspects of the Cylons' attempts to spread "God's love" are similar to some of what Christianity has done historically? Perhaps, but what I also hope is that people will watch and recognize the differences between fact and fiction. For myself, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what they do with this in the future episodes.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Advice for Parents, re: Miley Cyrus

I was listening to NPR this morning about how Miley Cyrus is the latest in a line of role models for girls who have disappointed them: Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Jamie Lynn Spears,Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame, etc. Of course there is the usual discussion about the oversexualization of children and the cult of celebrity in our society, but the real issue is that young girls look to these (mostly) young ladies as role models and hence are getting disappointed by them.

So here's my advice for parents... help your children realize that no matter how much someone is on TV or movies, that doesn't mean you should emulate them. I mean seriously, help your young girls get better role models. I love the fact that Kinsey doesn't usually try to emulate people she sees on TV. She likes being like and around our friends that we have around us. Are they perfect? No, but I would much rather my little girl want to emulate the teachers and lawyers that we know, than someone who sounds good with a mic in her hand or because she looks good in a wig. And that's not to say that the others might not disappoint as well, because they very well could. But I would rather it be that than some celebutante.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Michigan Trip

As a kid, I remember many trips up to Michigan to visit my grandparents and other aunts and uncles in Flint. They were always long, but I also appreciated the time to read when my brother and sister and I weren't bugging each other.

The trip up this weekend was a good one, even though we left at a late enough time that we hit the awful combination of rush hour traffic and construction snarl in Cincinnati, so that combined with stopping for lunch had it take 10.5 hours to get up there, rather than the 9 it should have, even without kids. We got to the hotel and all the family had just returned from the visitation at the funeral home, so we got to see everyone, even though we were tired from our trip. We got to catch up and show pictures of the kids and it was good. The relationships between all my aunts and uncles has been so great. Everyone really likes each other, even as much as they love each other, which can be rare in families with 3 kids, not to mention one that have 9 kids, like Grandma and Grandpa did.

Saturday was a roller coaster day. At the funeral home, we saw Grandma's body, which was so well taken care of. They made her look so beautiful; so different from what we saw on Tuesday night. I got to talk to a cousin in Hungary and they even put the phone on the podium so she and her family could hear the funeral there. We looked through a lot of family albums with all the kids and their families and it was great to reminisce about all the family reunions we had had and the good times we had as kids. The funeral was nice and it was about what you expect from a Church of Christ funeral. Lots of singing and a brief sermon with the hard salvation sell at the end. Overall it was nice.

We didn't go out to the cemetery immediately, but went to Grandma's church and were provided a wonderful meal. We all say around and talked, not necessarily about Grandma, but just with each other about many things. It's always been that way with that side of the family. Even with all the personalities, we all find someone or someway to get along. After the lunch, we went out to the cemetery, where I got to see Grandpa's grave for the first time. My dad's parents are buried here in Nashville and I get out to see their graves every once in a while, but I'd never been out to see the other. Grandma had already been buried and so we stood around and told stories of Grandma (many having to deal with food). It was very nice and cathartic to do that. Afterwards, Sheryl and I went and found Grandma's 10th child who died the day she was born and would have been my aunt two years older than me, which is something else I'd never seen.

After the graveside service, we went back to the hotel and hung out for a while, playing some cards and then went to supper at a burger place. And after that, the best part of the evening: 12 of us went bowling. And we had a blast. Just an absolute blast. Laughing and playing and cheering each other on. Just more fun than I'd had in quite a while. And someone might wonder, "Didn't you go up for a funeral? Was that respectful to your grandmother's memory?" To which the answer is, "Of course, it was."

Look, one of my grandma and grandpa's favorite things to do was to watch their 9 kids and their kids interact with each other. They loved watching us play and have fun and laugh and I believe with all my heart that that is how they would've wanted to act in their memory.

Even with the circumstances, it was a trip that was a lot of fun and was a great way to remember both Grandma and Grandpa.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

YouTube Thursday: The EdWord

Thanks to everyone for the kind thoughts about my grandmother, whether left here or sent through other methods. Sheryl and I both greatly appreciate it. And I will also say that I appreciate your thoughts on my writing as well. For a while, I fancied myself as something of a writer and worked on it. I haven't done so outside this blog for a while and so it's nice to get compliments on that.

Anyway, on a completely different note, I offer this video from last week's on-location-from-Philadelphia Colbert Report, where former Presidential candidate John Edwards pokes fun at the process, at himself, and still manages to slip in some talking points. He's also the funniest I've ever seen him. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Death and Life After Life After Death

Sheryl and I had plans last night to go out to dinner with some friends and then go and hear one of my favorite theologians, NT Wright, speak here in Nashville. Our friend, Tiffany, had come over to watch the kids for us and as we were getting ready to walk out, the phone rang. I answered and my mom spoke with her voice breaking into sobs that my grandmother had died.

Clora Eileen Brooks was 84 years old and honestly, she'd been going downhill for a long, long time. Her body was failing and so was her mind, so her death wasn't a surprise, but it was unexpected. When someone hangs on as long as Grandma had, in some ways you keep expecting them to hang on. My mom and dad, both being nurses, had committed that they would keep her at their house to make her as comfortable as possible and not put her in a nursing or convalescence home. And I appreciate that. It allowed Kinsey and Connor to see her and to be honest, I know that seeing her three grandkids (my sister has a daughter as well) and being able to watch the Price is Right gave her great amounts of joy. I wouldn't say her whole face lit up, but she got this pleasant little half smile when Kinsey, Katie, and Connor would give her hugs.

Sheryl and I debated on going to dinner and the talk. It was something we both wanted to do, but this was an extraordinary circumstance. So we drove over to Mom and Dad's house where Grandma had died. We went down to the basement where Grandma had lived for the last couple of years. She was happy down there, able to turn the TV up to the level where she could hear it. Mom was on the phone, arranging for hospice and transfer of the body back up to Michigan where the funeral and burial will be. Sheryl and I went into Grandma's room, which looked as normal as the last time I'd seen it. Her hearing aid was on the chest along with all her prescriptions. There was a half-drunk cup of water with a bendy straw in it, and except for the pallor of her skin, she looked for all the world like she was just asleep. I gave her cool cheek a kiss, and stepped back out of the room.

We waited with Mom while the arrangements were made and when she asked us what our plans for the night had been, we told her of going to hear the Bishop and she urged us to go, and so we did. My dad was there with her and she was doing well, considering all.

Hearing Bishop Wright was very odd in light of Grandma's passing. He talked about his new book, Surprised by Hope, and his theology of the resurrection (both Jesus' and ours). He made statements that I've heard in his talks saved online about heaven being important, but it's not the end of the world, and that there is life after death, but what the Bible is really concerned with is Life After Life After Death. I was very glad to see such a full house at West End United Methodist. Wright has kind of become the theologian-in-chief for much of the Emergent/Post-Modern/Third Way Christian, that I didn't really know how many people would be there, but the sanctuary was definitely full. It was also great to see Thomas+ (my favorite Anglican), Gavin, Justin, a big crew from Otter Creek (we probably had 20 people there), some people from Lipscomb, and Joey Reed, a high school buddy of mine who is now a Methodist pastor in Memphis.

I got to ask Bishop Wright a question about how this theology of the resurrection relates to environmentalism and creation care, and he gave a great answer. Someone else asked him about his theology of the church superceding Israel in God's eyes, which was out of the scope of the talk, but Wright answered him anyway. After the talk, I do something I rarely do, but I paid full price for Surprised By Hope and Evil and the Justice of God and had Bishop Wright sign them. I wish I could say that I was able to talk to him for a few minutes, but it was literally, "It's to Phil. And thanks very much."

On our way out, Sheryl and I were holding hands and talking about what we heard, and I said, "I really hope all this is true." And I do. Am I always sure/100% positive? No, because you can't be. You can have faith that what we believe has support behind it, but you can't REALLY know. That's why it's called faith.

Back in the summer of 1983, my brother, sister, and I went up to Flint, Michigan, to spend June with my grandma and grandpa. I knew what the reason was. My mom and dad didn't want us around during the divorce proceedings, but we got to spend time with aunts and uncles and cousins, as well as the grandparents. In 1994, my grandfather died and we traveled up to be there for his service, and so this weekend, we'll travel up again to the dying industrial city of Flint, Michigan. There, where my grandfather traded in farming for manufacturing and brought his wife and 9 children to change from sharecroppers to factory workers, we'll bury Grandma. We'll be there as her legacy, as her memory. And we'll thank God for her life, and await the answers of time when we pray that we will see her and see the Lord.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The No Picture Update

There will be pictures of the kids again someday, I promise. Just not today.

Kinsey is doing great. She's had a couple of rough spots with behavior and some of her school work, but she got a wake up call last week and both of those have very much improved. She's also been big about wanting to get outside and play which is great, of course. She's such a fun girl and I'm still enjoying being Daddy. She also lost her second tooth on Sunday which is also good, since the permanent tooth was growing in behind it.

Connor is also just a blast. He's not speaking completely coherently yet, but he can repeat things fairly well. I remember that Kinsey was doing much better at speaking at this point, but I'm realizing that people are different and kids develop differently. Plus, he's our baby, so him not talking completely yet is keeping the illusion of him being the baby for a while, but I am looking forward to him talking more. Everything else with him is great. He actually listens to us when we tell him to put something away and generally puts it back. He's not eating as well as we would like. Very few vegetables, but a lot of fruit, bread, cheese, and milk.

At any rate, that's the kid update. Still having fun and still enjoying the life of a parent.

Friday, April 18, 2008


In our small group, we're studying Luke and I was responsible for Luke 1. We read through it aloud and as I read Mary's prayer in vv. 46-55 and then Zechariah's in vv. 67-79, I thought about how rarely we hear those passages read in our non-liturgical church setting. People rarely choose to read these aloud. And I wondered why.

One of the thoughts that I had was that this was referring to a specific instance. When Mary and Zechariah spoke about these things, they had their immediate context in mind: the oppression of the Jews by the Romans. And so as they spoke the had the overthrow of the Romans in mind that must take place with the arrival of God's Anointed, the Messiah. But if we extrapolate the context, we can see that the reference is not just to the Romans, but to those in power who oppress those beneath them.

Is that us? Are we the oppressors? And when I say "we," I could be talking about us as Christians, us as upper-middle class Americans; basically any place where our position could be oppressing other people, politically, economically, or otherwise. Do we not read these because we're afraid it could be talking about us?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

YouTube Thursday: Thanks, Mac

My absolute favorite Titans player ever, Steve McNair, retired from football today. I always thought he got the short shrift from some of the fans here. Whether that was racist or not, I'd like to think it wasn't. (Oh, btw, he never went to Baltimore, no matter what reality says.) I hate to use the term "warrior" to describe him, not because of any non-violent tendencies I might have, but because football is a game. He was tough, and resilient and competitive. And I hope he doesn't have any lasting damage from his time entertaining us on the field and gets to enjoy it with his family.

Nonetheless, my thoughts about McNair will always be a tough, great player and someone who, despite his failings, was the supreme competitor. And my favorite memory of him is in this video, about 2 minutes in. The end of the game sucked, but not because McNair didn't do his best to get the ball to the end zone.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Singarama (for real)

So two weeks ago, I spent the week as the Tech Director for Lipscomb University's Singarama. Harding and ACU and probably Freed-Hardeman do something similar. It's basically an excuse for Church of Christ kids to get up and dance (planned choreography) when they usually can't. It was held at Otter Creek this year because Lipscomb is renovating their big auditorium and needed a place to hold it. So much like the Anteater's Ball back in November, it was in our building.

There were a lot of challenges from a staging perspective (no curtains for one thing) and moving people on and off stage. Sound was a struggle as well, but fortunately, I wasn't running it. We had a great group of people running things from stage managing and sound and light. I was doing some video work and keeping everything together.

The downside to all of this was that Sunday, March 30th, through, Saturday, April 5th (excluding the Monday) I was there every night until 12:30. Plus working my regular full time job. I had a great time doing it and it was fun to be involved in Singarama since I never did it when I was at Lipscomb, but I was ready to be home and with Sheryl and the kids, to help her out and be able to kiss them good night.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Well, well, well, here I am again.

The last month has been absolutely insane. I've had entirely too much going on and while a lot of it has been very fun, it's also been very busy.

Here's a little bit of what's been going on.

-I've been crazy busy at work.
-I was the technical director for Singarama (more on that later this week)
-I went to San Diego for a work conference (more on that later, but maybe not this week)
-I went to Colorado to snowboard (pics about that later and when I can get my sister to send them to me)

I've missed the blogging some, but not as much as I thought, but I'm also looking forward to getting back to it. I'm sure some of you wonder what's going on with Connor and Kinsey, if I have any insights into the worship minister search at Otter Creek, and where my theological ruminations have taken me. Or you may not care at all. Either way, I'm back for a while and looking forward to interacting again.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Returning soon

but until then, remember you can follow me on Twitter:
which I've been greatly enjoying.
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