Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jesus Completes Humanity

A muslim friend showed me this today:

Symmetry of Human Origins:






(square root symbols are supposed to be checkmarks)

A Bike Conversation

I had a real conversation last week with a coworker about purchasing a bicycle, recalled from memory below.

Coworker: I’m interested in riding my bike more for fitness and fun, but my junky old huffy isn’t enough for me, what kind of bike would you recommend?

Me: Wow, that’s great! [I now bloviate for 10 minutes on the spectrum of options from MTB, through Hybrid and Cyclocross, to Road – taking care to enumerate the “catch-all” benefits of Cyclocross bikes and make effective use of the whiteboard.]

Coworker: I’m not interested in spending that much money.

Me: Then you’re going to be looking at something used or just MTBs and Hybrids. You should also add about $200 to your estimate for accessories, the bare minimum of which would include a frame pump, multi-tool, spare tube, tire levers, and a patch kit. You’d hate to get stranded without ‘em!

Coworker: I don’t think any of that stuff is necessary. I live out in the country and I won’t get any flats. In fact, growing up I can only remember getting 2 flats in like, 11 years. So I don’t need that stuff.

Me: [Hiding shock as just this spring I ran over some unseen metal shard on a country road 20 miles from nowhere that cut a 1 inch gash into my brand new “iron cloaked” super tires.] Well, I don’t ride without those items. Oh, and you’ll also need to get a helmet. Your brain is worth it.

Coworker: I don’t think I need a helmet. Like I said, I’ll be riding in the country out by my house. When I was a kid I only crashed once – the time I was drinking a coke with my left hand and steering my bike with my right hand ON THE LEFT GRIP and I got a little mixed up and [makes crash sound]. I don’t think I hit my head either! Now, maybe if I rode in town like you I’d get one.

Me: [Hiding shock at complete foolishness of this person, since country roads and speeds can be just as dangerous as city riding.] Well, my conscience is clear for warning you. Anyway, I would go by Shop A and check out the bikes they have in your price range. I utilize their services frequently and their prices are competitive. I would avoid Shop B since they price gouge and aren’t very helpful from my experience with them. Regardless of where you go, test ride all the bikes you’d even think of considering so you can feel the difference between bikes to inform your decision.

[Next day.]

Coworker: I went to Shop B’s website and I’m going to get a Schwinn [P.O.S.], it’s well within my price-range.

I’m learning when to tell people off. I mean, seriously, did I have a sign on my forehead that said: “I don’t know jack about bikes!”?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Late to the Game

Last night Shel and I watched “Rushmore” at my behest. The previous week we screened “The Life Aquatic”, and during the film I thought – “the pacing and cinematography remind me of Rushmore” - and sure enough they share a director. I was fairly chuffed. Watching (a few seconds of) the credits, they also share Owen Wilson. Wilson co-wrote Rushmore and co-pretended-to-be-someone-he-isn't in Aquatic.

An interesting bond between the films (as amusing and wonderful though the cinematography may be) was Bill Murray. Murray plays a similar self-obsessed, take interest in a protoge, pining for a woman he doesn't have, character in both films. So, marvel of self analysis that I am: he plays a common man. Both characters have been on the good end of good luck in their respect environments (Zissou to marry into money, Blume to have a great business) and are something of a showman. Is this Murray, Anderson, or the common man? I'm not sure. Anderson takes advantage of Murray's “straight man” delivery and common (American) man gut to great comedic effect in both films.

The more curious link in plots was Jacques Yves Cousteau. Aquatic's satire was aimed squarely at Cousteau from le commencent a la fin, and I assume the episodic titles were in the style of Couseau's tv/movies – I can't say as I've never seen them(!). The European feel of the film from the italian opening and international crew of the Belefontaine to the poppy euro techno (which I'm tempted to grab on itunes) further emphasized Cousteau as the subject. While that is all obvious and good, the central role of Cousteau in Rushmore is fascinating. Miss Cross, teacher Max Fischer (Schwartzman) with whom he “falls in love ”, left a Cousteau quote in the margins of a Cousteau book which Fischer stumbles upon in the midst of a personal crisis. The text is "When one man, for whatever reason, has an opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself." That is, if you're awesome, you owe it to everyone else to share yourself. Anderson's m.o.?

Regardless, if you review films 5+ years after they come out, you feel like the first to see these things. :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thoughts on Matthew 19

"Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." And he laid his hands on them and went away." (Mat. 19:13-15 ESV)

The Where: Judea after coming down from Galilee (Mat. 19:1-2)

The Who: children; they are described as little, and some of them are infants (Luke 18:15). Obviously parents are involved. Jesus had been healing many people, so perhaps these are sick children or children with disabilities.

While at Eagle Lake Camp this verse came to mind and I've thought about it for some since. I started thinking about how it applied to camp, as a place where children "came to Jesus." The *command* "do not hinder them" struck me as there is much that can be done to hinder children from coming to Jesus. Whether this is explicit (like the disciples) or a little more implicit (neglecting duties as a counselor, stopping some kid from coming to camp, etc.) we're told not to do it. Furthermore Jesus says positively: "bring them here." This rather simple verse has some deeper life commitments in it, eh?

The piece that really should blow your mind is the statement "for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven." Whoa, wha? Sick babies possess the Kingdom? Now, I have the good fortune to be fairly able-bodied and 2k years later than the original dialogue recorded here, but I still feel like one of the disciples: perplexed, paradigm challenged, etc.

A little conviction came to mind today via this verse in light of a soccer game I watched this past weekend. There was a player (likely around 10-12 yrs old) who could barely run (he was able-bodied, just slow). The player frequently allowed the opposition to beat him and was not doing his part on defense. Rather than say something encouraging I remarked to my sister and wife: "perhaps he should take up sewing." Yeah, sick kids get the kingdom, asshole.

"Why do the sick kids get the Kingdom?" is the question that comes to my mind. I guess its pretty simple, they come to Jesus by faith, right? Jesus is out in the country on one of his healing miracle teaching tours (that sounds so Benny Hinn when I type it, but his gig was for real), so people brought the sick kids with the hope of restoration. Come to Jesus like that - in hope of healing, recognizing powerlessness. Ouch.

I think this view of the interaction with the kids, disciples, and parents is supported by the way Jesus treats the "Rich Young Ruler" or "rich young man" later in the chapter. The RYR comes to him asking what he must do, with the implication being that he's already done it. "Keep the law" Jesus says, "been there, done that" smacks the RYR. Jesus ups the ante ("sell everything and follow me") and the RYR folds - cue the "womp womp womp" sound. The difference is pretty apparent, no? RYR comes to be justified by works with the attitude that he is good enough. The sick kids are compelled by hope in the midst of their profound need. Quite the image of faith from a few paragraphs.