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

Archive for June 2007

Summer Reading

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Over the next few months, I want to try and get a good taste of decent fantasy literature.  Like any genre, I’m sure, fantasy has its true staples, and then it has its rip offs.  Here are the titles I have in mind…

The Drawing of the Three: The Dark Tower II – Andrew, I am finally going to read this.  I have to confess, while parts of The Gunslinger intrigued me, I found it hard to get through.  Though you told me once before, I believe, that it’s the weakest volume.  I enjoyed the bits about Roland’s past and I am eager to learn more. 

The Sword of Shannara – I have never read Terry Brooks.  I did read his introduction to one of the reprints of this volume, and his ideas intrigued me enough to at least put it on hold at the library.   

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Like this surprises anyone.  Though the literary world has yet to take a serious look at Rowling’s work, the next ten years or so ought to establish her credibility as a writer.  She’s already proven her ability to sustain a vast and deeply variegated universe.  Rowling draws much of her inspiration from Jane Austen, which to me seems like an odd author to emulate when you’re writing fantasy.  But she makes it work.  Besides, her talent speaks for itself. 

I am open to suggestions, by the way.  If anyone has a title they think would be good for me to read, please, drop a note in the comments. 


Written by taj

June 22, 2007 at 2:34 pm

Posted in Books, stories

The Painful Task

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Day after day the writer plugs away
at his labored and painful task
He must create, he must do it today
or else face the question they ask
Where’s the new story, how does it end?
the writer doesn’t know, he lives the story within
but the ones who write his checks have bills to tend
So the writer must hurry or else the story goes in the trash bin.

Written by taj

June 21, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Poems

What do You Call an Empire?

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Monday night, my local news aired an interview with Mike Jones, the male escort now infamous for his exposure of Ted Haggard.  Though the interview aired a full seven months after the actual incident, Jones has a new book out, which I guess justifies the air time. 

We can debate the merits of Jones’s principles (?) another time, but I wanted to take a minute to dissect one of Jones’s remarks. 

“I simply wanted to expose this man,” Jones says.  “I didn’t want to tear his whole empire down, that was not my intention.”

Why do people think that Christians live under theocratic imperialism?  Every Christian leader with a committee that earns time on television suddenly gains an empire.  I do not remember ever having to pay taxes to Haggard, nor do I remember ever seeing his face on my currency.  I do not bow to his statue upon entering my church and he has never appeared before me in spectral or holographic form to ask me to destroy Luke Skywalker. 

The phraseology baffles me.  Especially when you consider that, upon investigation, New Life Church has seen almost no drop in attendance since Haggard was ousted.  If there is an empire that has crumbled, I would like a look at its pieces please. 

Written by taj

June 20, 2007 at 1:47 pm

Posted in Questions, Television

The Clock is Ticking

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Act.  Now.  FightGlobalWarming.com.  (See the ad here)

And don’t forget to visit its sister site—FightAcidRain.com.

Do it.  Before its too late. 

Written by taj

June 19, 2007 at 9:13 pm


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Recent conversations have led me to think about various philosophies of evangelism.  So much about evangelism seems centered around numbers, growing attendance, that kind of thing.  Methods are tricky.  For years I grew up in Christian fundamentalism, and for me, the idea of evangelism meant leading a friend to the point of conversion, painting another mark on my proverbial fuselage, and moving on to the next victim lost soul. 

The practices of evangelism I grew up with involved inviting a friend to church or to youth group, living a Christian life in front of him or her, and talking about Jesus.  I quit wanting to invite people to church by the time I turned fifteen.  I felt embarrassed, really; very aware that my church environment would look very strange to most of my peers.  Being desperate for acceptance at that age, I wanted people to take me seriously, and I didn’t feel like I could be taken seriously at church. 

As a community, we quibble over things as petty as cigarettes and ashtrays, choruses and hymns, and methods of baptism.  We form bible study groups around The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings while we shun Harry Potter and ignore His Dark Materials.  One of the biggest vices within the Nazarene church in particular is alcohol.  People have actually lost their jobs for having a glass of wine at dinner.  I find it hard to take Christians seriously myself sometimes.   

We are starting to get hip to the fact that programmed efforts do not yield a lot of fruit, precisely for these and a host of other reasons.  A mentor told me once that God does not need me to save the world.  He needs me to obey.  And if we obey the call of Christ in our very human attempts to follow his example, we see that he was not interested in bringing people to tabernacle service every Sabbath.  Jesus established friendships with the people he met along the way, people like prostitutes, prisoners, collection agents.  I grew up in a place that spent most its time admonishing such people. 

We’re no better. 

And if we cannot take care of our own crap, the world will never expect us to take care of theirs. 

Written by taj

June 19, 2007 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Evangelism

Quick Take

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I managed to post something everyday last week, and I hoped to continue the streak. 

My practice of writing tends to leave a number of unfinished thoughts intended for posting rotting on my hard drive.  I have a couple things I am still trying to develop, so check back, and in the meantime, I’ll try and get something up here. 

Written by taj

June 18, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Posted in General

Harry Potter Holiday

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I had not intended to do anything special for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I was just happy to get to read it when it comes out.  I read Half-Blood Prince a few weeks after the hoopla died down when I was able to check it out at the library.  This time, however, I have the opportunity to have some fun. 

My boss has informed me that I have vacation days that I will lose unless I use them before the end of the year.  Therefore, I am taking a week off in order for my wife and me to catch Order of the Phoenix at the theater, and to have a few days to finish Deathly Hallows before I go back to work.   

I will try and post a review for OOTP shortly after I see it.  Generally, the adaptations of the books have gone over well with me, though I am a little leery of this one.  My paperback copy of the book clocks in at 870 pages.  The film will run just over two hours, making it the shortest so far. 

Film adaptations require that certain scenes from the source are compressed, blended, or dropped altogether.  That’s just the nature of the beast.  Michael Goldenberg—Phoenix’s screenwriter—developed a wonderful adaptation of Carl Sagan’s Contact that, although it differs significantly in places, nailed the pertinent themes of the story.  I am holding out for a similar result with Phoenix.  The running time is the only seed sprouting doubt.  Even after all of Rowling’s entertaining subplots are dropped, there’s still so much story to tell, including a lengthy, and important, denouement between Harry and Dumbledore at the end of the story. 

This is Harry’s dark night of the soul.  If Goblet of Fire marked his passage into awkward adolescence, this story thrusts his character into manhood.  His inner journey holds just as much importance to the story as the more adventurous aspects.  But, they’re more difficult to translate on screen, and less enjoyable for most movie-goers. 

And the fact they dropped “Weasley is our King” is just unforgivable. 

I will try and publish my full thoughts on the film after I see it.  For now, I’m stuck wringing my hands for 25 more days. 

Written by taj

June 15, 2007 at 3:50 pm