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Saturday, December 24, 2005

2005 Christmas Blog Post

2005 was an eventful year. In January I got my own route, near Highway 55 and County Road 24 in Plymouth, Minnesota, 55447. I have about 50 businesses and 240 residences. I’m in a different office, but I still represent both offices as union steward.

In April, Spencer’s band took first place at the Heritage Music Festival in Chicago. Spencer plays the trombone and is learning German. This year he played lacrosse and soccer and improved his snowboarding and skateboarding skills. This year I saw him grind the deck and land a kick-flip off a nine-inch curb.

In August, Spencer and I toured Iowa and visited my grandmother. I posted a travelogue on this blog. In November, Mamie passed away after falling in January and moving into a nursing home. She was 94. I posted a summary on this blog.

This winter I’ve been taking a break from writing to try to improve my chess game. Hopefully I can make some progress on both fronts in 2006.

I want to wish you a Pagan Christmas and a Rockin’ Kwanzikaa New Year!

2004 Christmas Blog Post

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Narnia and Syriana

The words Narnia and Syriana almost rhyme, but the similarities end there. I was worried that The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be a piece of right wing Christian propaganda, but it turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining, magical fantasy with a theme song from Alanis Oralslut, uh, I mean Morissette. Seriously, though, like Star Wars and The Matrix, there are themes of prophecy and resurrection. The "sons of Adam and daughters of Eve" are called to wage a holy war against the forces of evil. Unlike in the Bible, though, the resurrected ones in all these movies are warriors. I think the war in this movie, unlike the war in Iraq, would qualify as "just" according to the criteria outlined by Saints Augustine and Aquinas mentioned in my December 9 book reviews below. Still, I’m a little uncomfortable with the idea of Santa as an arms dealer.

It would be nice if everyone saw Syriana, but I’m afraid they won’t because it’s complex and slower-moving with a lot of talking. Like Crash, it has a lot of characters and an interwoven plot. There’s George Clooney as a CIA agent expended by his own country; Alexander Siddig as a Saudi Prince who wants democracy and women’s rights; Matt Damon as a corporate profiteer who argues for a measured oil drawdown; and Mazhar Munir as a laid-off Pakistani oil worker who is indoctrinated into his own holy war. This movie is exceedingly relevant to today’s world. Anyone who wants to complain about the price of gas needs to see this movie.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Book Reviews

How the Republicans Stole Christmas by Bill Press and Our Endangered Values by Jimmy Carter

Along with God’s Politics by Jim Wallis, which I reviewed on May 5, these books form a sort of "Holy Trinity" if you will, describing how conservatism and Christianity are not the same. They are must-reads for Christian conservatives. Please tell any that you know that they must read at least one of these books. Liberals can also read the books and use the talking points.

While all three books deal with theology and politics, I would say that Wallis’s is slightly more theological and Press’s is slightly more political. Carter covers religious issues in the first part of his book, but the last part is mostly policy-oriented.

Both Press and Carter have interesting explanations of the separation of Church and State and the concept of just war. Thomas Jefferson actually used the phrase "wall of separation between Church and State" in 1802, and Saints Augustine and Aquinas outlined the criteria for "just war" centuries ago.

Both books also identify the Southern Baptist Convention as the main problem in achieving Christian goals such as ending poverty, not killing, and protecting the environment. They also sort out sensitive issues like abortion, the death penalty, gay marriage, and evolution.

As you gather around your holiday tree, don’t forget the reason for the season. Do what Jesus would do and spread this liberal message!