Monday, March 10, 2014
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Happy "Half-Way to Carl Sagan Day" Day! This year, March 9 isn't just the half-way point to November 9, it's the day we get to see the reboot of the show Cosmos, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the one person arguably best suited to pick up where Carl Sagan left off. Naturally, I'm excited about this. I'll be sitting in front of my TV this evening with a slice of apple pie in honor of the occasion. I'm not that much of a Seth Macfarlane fan, but the fact that a television show about real science is going to be on Fox - and during prime time - is a huge step in the right direction. I'm ready for another tour of the universe. After you, Dr. Tyson.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
I mentioned in my last entry that I had some history with the Christian rock band "Audio Adrenaline." As I wrote that post, my mind wandered back to the early 90s. I thought about church youth group, and Christian teen conventions, and summer Bible camp. All of that was 20-something years ago, but it feels more like it happened in another life or an alternate reality.
My best friend Steve and I got serious about our faith during high school, which means we immersed ourselves in Christian music: rock, metal, and hip-hop primarily. We followed all the "underground" bands that you'd never ever hear on Christian radio (Christian hipsters were a small but powerfully self-absorbed subculture back then. I can only imagine it's the same nowadays). But the powers that be in the Christian Bubble forced us to become acquainted with more mainstream Christian acts as well. We went to the teen conventions. We saw bands like D.C. Talk, the Newsboys, Petra, and Audio Adrenaline perform. We wore the Jesus t-shirts, and the trendy D.C. Talk braided rope cross necklaces, and various other bits of Jesusy paraphernalia.
It felt good. All of it felt really good. I cannot think of anything stronger than the psychological power of feeling accepted and a part of something - something much larger than you to which you feel connected - that instills in you quite strongly the notion that you're on the inside and the rest of the world is lost and blind because they are on the outside of this special something. These feelings were reinforced continually by the music, the t-shirts, the concerts, the Christian skate nights, the youth group meetings. Everything in the Christian culture perpetuates these notions by design. Repetition breeds habit and belief. Beyond all of that, it felt really good because I had purpose and significance of cosmic proportions, because they were given to me by the guy who created the universe and everything in it. I grew up on Star Wars. The thought of having a cosmic mission in life felt good.
Having answers felt good. Thoughts of heaven felt good. Having fears soothed by faith ("it's in God's hands") just felt good.
We were at church camp each summer, staying up late every night in the cabin, telling jokes, deciding which girl we should try to sit next to at the next campfire, eating snacks, and supposedly getting in touch with our creator. The guys from Audio Adrenaline spent the week of camp with us a couple summers in a row. They were known as "A-180" back then: a Christian rock band from Kentucky. Mark Stuart, the lead singer of the group at the time, was our "cabin dad" for one of those weeks of camp. I remember playing basketball in the rec barn with his brother Dave, who was the keyboard player in the band (back when the band had a keyboard player). I have vivid memories of staying up late in the cabin, talking with Mark about what kind of music we liked and what we wanted to hear from the band as we looked forward to their official change to "Audio Adrenaline."
The church camp we went to each summer was a magical place. I always loved the outdoors, and there was something pure about the location of the camp. We were surrounded by trees. I can still smell the air. I can still see all the stars scattered across the night sky. I was a Chicago kid. I didn't see a lot of stars that often. I felt close to God there.
Things change, though. Toby, Michael, and Kevin - the guys from D.C. Talk - broke up. Audio Adrenaline called it quits, then got back together again. Now, Michael is the lead singer of the Newsboys and Kevin is the lead singer of Audio Adrenaline. Toby has been doing a solo career for a while now. The manager of the church camp passed away not too long ago. I haven't seen those stars or smelled that air in years. I left that world.
I was in love with a girl a while back. She was my everything. Then I realized she wasn't who she convinced me she was. In the end, I realized that I was in love with an illusion. That realization helped me get over her completely. Likewise, a similar thought helps me move beyond that old life in that old world. She makes for a good metaphor, at least. If I allow myself to think about it for a while, I realize that I miss those feelings I had in my world of faith. Hearing one of those old Christian rock songs sends me back to those days for a brief moment. But I can't go back. I wouldn't go back if I could.
Still, how do you get over those feelings?
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
When I was a teenager I wanted to write the next great American novel. I even made an attempt. I cranked out about 70 hand-written pages of a story of violence, suspense, existential crises, and multiple scenes of the hero barely escaping with his life in his trusty minivan.
The minivan should've been a clue.
When I was 23 I wanted to write the next great Christian apologetics handbook. And yes, I even made an attempt. I produced 50 typed pages of a document I called "The Comprehensive Guide to Christian Education." I was, at the time, associate minister of a small church. My full title then was "Associate Minister of Youth and Christian Education." That means I was the youth minister, and I also coordinated Christian education at the church. So this "Comprehensive Guide" was meant for Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, Bible Study facilitators, et al. It included methods of studying the Bible, a foundation of "sensible" theology, and, of course, Christian apologetics. Much of this work became the initial content of my old apologetics website, A-180. I named the website after the Christian rock band who went by that name before becoming better known as "Audio Adrenaline." I have some history with that band. Just thinking about the old "Reaper's Train" cassette tape brings back all kinds of memories and nostalgia. But that's another story altogether. Just know that I'm having some feels right now.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Let me be forthright: I'm not a movie guy. Generally, I only watch movies that have swords or lasers or dragons or giant robots or zombies or some combination of those. I don't even watch comedies. I may not be the most qualified person to talk about Hollywood or movies in general. I haven't seen any of the films that were nominated for an Oscar last night, except for The Hobbit and Iron Man 3, which were nominated for "minor" categories (Sound Mixing, Visual Effects). But we live in an epoch of social media, so I am, for better or worse, rather familiar with these movies and the performers, in spite of my not having viewed any of them.
Social Media FTW
I watched the Oscars last night. I ended up watching the entire show, mostly because I found Ellen to be incredibly entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the sight of Brad Pitt handing out paper plates so audience members could eat the pizza Ellen ordered. And if people on the Internet know anything, it's how much Jennifer Lawrence loves pizza. I also wanted to see how well the film 12 Years a Slave would do. Mostly, I wanted to see how far the Oscars have come.
I think we saw some progress last night, and hopefully the beginning of a shift in the Hollywood mentality toward women, GLBT, disabled people, and PoC. We saw hints of progress, from Ellen as the host, Cate Blanchett's speech, to the success of 12 Years and Dallas Buyers Club. I think people are starting to become more aware. Key word here is starting. There's still a lot of work left to do, especially concerning better representation of people who are not able-bodied white heterosexual cis-gendered males. I can't comment on Jared Leto's performance because I haven't seen it (though I've heard some things), but they couldn't find an actual trans woman to play the part of a trans woman? Maybe if they'd had an actual Native American play Tonto instead of Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger, we wouldn't have seen that ridiculous dead bird stuck to the head of the masked hero's partner. I'm not saying an actor of one ethnicity or gender can never play a character of another ethnicity or gender (it is, after all, acting).
The danger - which we've seen in the past - is that under-representation equals misrepresentation. If we're not careful, we could duplicate the offense of Mickey Rooney's racist performance in Breakfast at Tiffany's, but this time at the expense of trans people or disabled people as well.
Those are my thoughts, for what it's worth coming from a guy who doesn't really watch movies.
Friday, February 28, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Last night I introduced my girlfriend to The Unicorn Cowboy, a video I made almost a year ago about how to be the Unicorn Cowboy. Or Cowgirl.
Live the dream.
As I watched myself in that video, I could hardly believe that was me. I recognized myself, and, in a way, I didn't. That was me, close to 50 pounds ago. I didn't quite realize the change that was happening to my body when I began a lifestyle of health and fitness. Self-perception is so utterly skewed. I'm starting to wonder whether anyone really knows oneself at all, or whether we're prisoners to our own emotions and desires and fears, all of which cloud both our thinking and our vision. I feel as though I've come to understand myself better these past few years than I ever have before: what I value, what makes me happy, what I need to consider my life fulfilling. I didn't learn any of this through studying or by having grand epiphanies or solving any complex riddles. I learned through failure. Repeated failure. Stumbling and falling down flat on my face failure.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
I came up with the name "Dead-Logic" several years ago. I was looking for a screen name back then, and I thought those two words sounded cool put together like that. I told people who asked me about the name that I learned logic and reason from reading the works of a bunch of dead philosophers - which technically is true. As time passed, the name took on an additional meaning as I attempted to "bring logic back from the dead." As a young Christian man interested in intellectual pursuits, I noticed an absence of critical thinking in the church, and I wanted to help resurrect this dead logic and get people thinking seriously about their worldview.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Today is "Darwin Day," a celebration of science and reason. For more information, visit: DarwinDay.org.
In honor of the scientific method, critical thinking, reason, freethought, and the pursuit of knowledge through curiosity fueled by wonder and tempered by skepticism, I must confess: I loved the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate. I'd love to see more like it. I love the idea of exposing the goofy ideas of pseudo-science and giving real science more of a public platform. So, I'm basically taking back what I wrote previously about the debate in the entry Ham on Nye.
That's the beauty of science, freethought, and the genuine pursuit of truth. I have the freedom to go where the logic leads me - even if it means I have to change my mind. And that's where (I think) the logic leads me.
But I could be wrong.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
By now I'm sure most of you have seen the 22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe in Evolution, featuring creationists who attended the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate. I'd like to offer a few responses...
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Considering that the Bill Nye / Ken Ham debate was yesterday, one might expect the obligatory follow-up blog post from... everyone. But I've decided to do something that might be completely surprising on a few levels: I'm going to tell you why I love the film Batman & Robin. So put on your nipple suits and let's get going!
It's all about the codpiece.
"But Bud, that movie is sooo cheesy!" Yes, yes it is. It's so over the top and wild, and that's what makes it wonderful. Because, after all, Batman is the cheesiest superhero of all.