Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

Archive for February 2007

Who’s Buried in Jesus’s Tomb?

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Archeologists discovered a tomb, and inside they found coffins, one of which bearing the name Jeshua—also translated as “Jesus.”

So yes, they have found Jesus’s tomb. Whether the body belongs to the carpenter from Nazareth or to some other Jesus, we don’t know. It was a popular name back in the day, so who knows. Were that Google could only search that far back.

There’s penchant for greater comedy here, but I’m afraid someone else already stole the better jokes. But I will say this—if this really were something that could “shake up the Christian world as one of the most significant archeological finds in history,” I don’t think it would have been relegated to the Discovery Channel.

HT: The Point

Written by taj

February 26, 2007 at 5:47 pm

Studio 60’s Last Call…Maybe

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Last Monday may have been the last we’ll see of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I was talking to my dad earlier today, telling him the news that NBC will be running The Black Donnellys in its stead. Indefinitely. His response: tell me how I can start a grassroots campaign to get 60 back on the air.

My reply: Pray for Aaron Sorkin to rediscover his talent.

I know I’m all alone on this. I really liked Studio 60. That is, I liked what it could have been—a motif that follows this show a little too closely. At the very least it offered some alternative to yet another cop show. For those of us who refuse to pay the money for cable, that’s a big deal. Yes, it made some digs at Christianity, but I don’t remember ever feeling offended. The show may have catered to its own sense of self-righteousness at times, but I don’t remember that ever hurting M*A*S*H.

Maybe Janet was right. “War-is-hell-but-we-soldier-on” makes for compelling television. “TV-is-hell-but-we-bring-comedy-to-the-masses-gosh-darn-it” really doesn’t, especially when it isn’t funny. And Sorkin is funny, or he was, back when he was writing The West Wing, and certainly when he was writing Sports Night.

Studio 60 had all the set ups. The problem, I believe, is that we never got any real pay offs. The dichotomy between the sacred and the secular worked, and made for some funny and thoughtful moments, they just numbered too few. You could feel its absence those weeks when other themes moved to the front. Then we had the character Darius, a comedy writer set up to be this raw shining talent who dramatically joined the cast and then…did nothing.

So, as the curtain most likely falls on Studio 60, so does my remote. I have decided to use my Monday nights for more important matters than watching yet another gritty, urbane / noir-ish weekly serial of moral decay. That NBC is premiering Donnellys in February doesn’t speak too highly for the new show, but you never can tell. I’m sure someone once said the same thing about Seinfeld.

Written by taj

February 22, 2007 at 1:01 am

Posted in stories, Television, Writing

Thoughts on “We Are Marshall”

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I got to see We Are Marshall over the weekend. A great film, especially for one starring Matthew McConnaughey, who for once managed to make me believe I was watching his character and not himself. The movie covers the story of the 1970 plane crash that took lives of most of the players and coaching staff of the Marshall University football team. Thankfully, the film doesn’t fall into too many clichés, though it never fails to inspire or uplift, no matter how many of these movies we’ve seen.

McConnaughey’s character, Coach Jack Lengyel, portrays an honest kind of humility in a situation that reminded me of the brokenness found in small churches after suffering a split. Lengyel offers a kind of leadership that seeks to heal and move forward. He certainly never shrinks away from an opportunity for victory, but he wisely rebuilds the team by inspiring excellence first. “One day, not today, not tomorrow, not this season, probably not next season either but one day,” Lengyel tells assistant coach Red Dawson, who struggles over his desire to honor those he loved with a winning game, “you and I are gonna wake up and suddenly we’re gonna be like every other team in every other sport where winning is everything and nothing else matters. And when that day comes, well that’s when we’ll honor them.”

The movie never caves to easier charted themes like race and the narrow-mindedness of small town folk. Instead, the characters all exhibit a decency, honor and love built around a plot that develops its conflict by examining the internal hurt of those affected by the tragedy.

Finally, a sports movie worthy of comparison to Hoosiers.

Written by taj

February 20, 2007 at 10:48 pm

Posted in Movies


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When you live addicted to caffeine, you learn some practical uses for it other than the energy high, like staying up till 3am to finish that paper for college, or treating a headache.  Well, last Thursday, plagued by a bad one (headache, that is), I took some Tylenol and downed it with twelve ounces of Coke.  The headache got worse. 

I went to bed and tried to sleep it off, and the headache returned.  A cup of coffee later that next day only added to the pain.  Ol’ reliable acetaminophen wasn’t helping, so I have done that one thing that seemed the most prudent to kill this pain. 

I have quit caffeine.  Again. 

When I was addicted to caffeine before, I drank an average of four cans of Mountain Dew a day.  On average, mind you—many days it went as high as six.  And then there was that one night at Red Robin…

Anyway, I kicked the habit with relative ease then.  I took four weeks and weaned myself off a can at a time.  I didn’t even experience withdrawal.  This time, however, whether withdrawal caused the first onset of headaches or not, I’m going full on cold turkey.  If caffeine only aggravated the problem, I think I’ll just endure the pain long enough to flush my system.  As of now, the pain has just about subsided.  So wish me luck—I’m almost clear… 

Written by taj

February 14, 2007 at 12:56 pm

Posted in General

I did it again…

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I went to take some clothes out of the dryer this afternoon, and there it laid, a crumpled mess of pulp. I had neglected to check the pockets of my jeans and sent my little notepad—you know, the one I use to jot down ideas when I’m far away from the keyboard—right through the wash.

At least it came out in one piece. The last time I ran one of these through the washer, I was picking little flecks of paper out of the fabric of my shirts for a week.

I really ought to just pony up and purchase stock in Mead.

Written by taj

February 10, 2007 at 1:42 pm

Posted in General, Writing

I’ve been tagged

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By tagged, I mean that someone, somewhere, found in their creativity the compulsion to make a thing vaguely similar to chain mail—this one having to do with listing six weird things about one’s self.  After passing through an untold number of bloggers, it has finally reached me by way of the Neophyte Pundit.  And while there’s a part of me that saw my being tagged as merely humorous, there was that tiny voice way down deep in the subaudible that proudly squeaked, “I am somebody!”

Seriously, these things detract from the monotony when get to I read them elsewhere, so I’m happy to participate for a change.  Here, then, are the “rules” which state that I am required to let you see before going on…

“Each player of this game starts with the 6 weird things about you. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog.”

Now, on to the list…

One: I own the Thriller album from Michael Jackson.  And I like it.  If you think that’s just too strange, you really ought to scan the shelf at my father-in-law’s place.  He owns a copy of the video. 

Two: I know how to moonwalk. 

These will no long feature anything to do with Michael Jackson.  Promise. 

Three:   I met Richard Simmons once, and he made me cry.  (I was four years old, gimmie a break.)

Four: I try to watch Jaws every Thanksgiving.  It’s one of my favorite movies and remains one of Spielberg’s best.  And what better time to watch a movie about something that lives to swims, and eats, and makes little baby sharks than that one day out of the year when we have the most in common?  Yeah, I know; sharks don’t watch football.  Get over it. 

Five: I once arranged all the movies in my collection alphabetically by director.  From memory.  I did not have to look at the back cover for any of them.   I only had about 14 or 15 films on the shelf at the time, but still, it is a little strange. 

Six:  I have to think of something really good to finish this off…I could say that put peanut butter in my oatmeal, but that isn’t near the level of weird this calls for.  Hmm…I can give a pretty good recitation of Jack Nicholson’s speech at the end of A Few Good Men.  The only time this has ever been a hit at a party was during the Thanksgiving I had asked my wife to marry me.  We were having dinner with a family in Idaho, and visiting was a close friend of the family from the Air Force.  He and I regaled those gathered at the table with our nerdiness by delivering the speech in unison.  It was the first and only time I’ve been able to do so in front of my wife without receiving a blow to ribs from her elbow. 

Now comes the part of the show where the rules dictate that I am to pass this along to six others.  OK…I know you all live very busy lives, so if this comes and an inconvenience, annoyance, or both, please forgive me.

My good friend Darth Vertigo
Me papa, the Gelatin Guerrilla
Julie at Observations from the Roof of a Building
The Dude himself at CalvinDude
The man who shares my name; Travis at Restless Reformer

Thanks for following me down amnesia lane.

Written by taj

February 9, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Things to Come

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UPDATE 2.7.07 – Well, I wasn’t able to see the movie.   Long story.  But life goes on, you live and you learn and, well, you get the idea.  Suffice it to say that going to the theater just isn’t what it used to be. 

Mayhap it never was.       


I have not missed the fact that the final chapter of the Harry Potter saga will be released July 21st; I’ve just been deluged with other things.  And I am writing a post that mentions the release, as well a little bet I have going with my former employer.  Well, not a bet, really.  She’s probably forgotten that we even had that conversation, but…well, more on that later. 

I’ve scored a preview screening to The Astronaut Farmer tonight, and I’m bringing my legal pad with me. When I go to movies with the intent of writing about what I see later, I usually kick myself for not bringing along something on which to record my thoughts.  If I’m serious about ever writing reviews for pay, I ought to get serious about the writing first.  It’s still an aspiration that tickles my ambition every now and then.  So hopefully you’ll get to read about that too.  

Also, Reel Witness, the movie small group, is set to start at my local church this week.  I’m excited to get something like this going, to get a group together and begin looking at the creative art of film as something that points to the creative work of God.  There’s a lot to unpack, and as we discuss the implications of faith on film, I’ll be sharing those here as well. 

Written by taj

February 6, 2007 at 11:10 am

Posted in Books, General, Movies, Writing

More Pressing Matters

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I remember soon after Katrina hit hearing experts saying that this was only the beginning. And then, something truly baffling happened. One of the worst hurricane seasons on record was followed by one of the mildest.

Now we hear once again that global warming looms. The doomsday clock has inched closer to midnight (due partially by the threat of climate change), and I know of at least one senator who’s declared that the environmental dangers posed by our over reliance on fossil fuels pose a greater danger to the fate of the world than international terrorism.

Yet it’s snowed every weekend for the last seven or eight weeks here in Colorado. And more than a hundred people died in Baghdad over the weekend.

I don’t mean to make light of anything that threatens the fate of global civilization. Coastal flooding caused by the melting of the polar ice caps is something over which I could lose a certain amount of sleep. If I bought the premise, that is. Which I don’t. Because there are those who disagree and so long as there are qualified people out there willing to step up and say something like this…

I was as opposed to the threats of impending doom global cooling engendered as I am to the threats made about Global Warming. Let me stress I am not denying the phenomenon has occurred. The world has warmed since 1680, the nadir of a cool period called the Little Ice Age (LIA) that has generally continued to the present. These climate changes are well within natural variability and explained quite easily by changes in the sun. But there is nothing unusual going on.

Since I obtained my doctorate in climatology from the University of London, Queen Mary College, England my career has spanned two climate cycles. Temperatures declined from 1940 to 1980 and in the early 1970’s global cooling became the consensus. This proves that consensus is not a scientific fact. By the 1990’s temperatures appeared to have reversed and Global Warming became the consensus. It appears I’ll witness another cycle before retiring, as the major mechanisms and the global temperature trends now indicate a cooling.

…I think I’ll devote my concern to more pressing matters. Like raising my son. Oh, I’ll teach him how to recycle. And I hope to encourage him to think as well; to listen to all sides. Because not everyone sees doom in the same places.

There were those fundementalists in the 90s who had come to a consensus that Saddam Hussein might bring about armageddon, you know.

H/T: The Point

Written by taj

February 5, 2007 at 11:23 pm

I ask again, how’s that novel coming?

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The short answer is: it’s not.  Now here’s why.

What I had once dreamed of turning into a novel has become a much shorter effort examining how a young man sheds his youthful dependencies and becomes a whole person.  I had originally intended to weave this transition throughout a dense moral thriller (an idea that looks great on paper, but daunting and just a tad boring in its execution). 

In the 20,000 words I have already written, however, I’ve realized that my character has already completed that arc.  Hard to continue the story when you’re finished developing your protagonist by the end of the first act, you know? 

I do not believe that stories are created so much as they are excavated, and the narrative I’ve unearthed is already as whole and complete as its probably ever going to get.  I may go back revisit the plot elements I’m discarding, but for now, I feel compelled to drop them, and have no qualms about allowing them to fall into oblivion. 

I’ve labored close to eighteen months on this story (close to ten years if we were to track this effort from conception).  I’m tired of the idea, and it’s time to move on.  There’s too many other stories I would like to tell to let this one dominate so much of my effort. 

So, CalvinDude, you’re now in the position to win our little wager.  That is unless I am suddenly inspired to an idea so grand…well, we’ll see. 

Written by taj

February 5, 2007 at 6:10 pm

Posted in General, stories, Writing

Something I read today…

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“I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not read the same page recurrently.”

— Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts. 2005. p. x

Written by taj

February 3, 2007 at 6:15 pm

Posted in Books, Life, Marriage