Friday, January 22, 2010

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

On RevGalBlogPals, Songbird writes “By the time you're reading this, I'll be en route to a Great Big City to see my son in a play. I'll go by car and bus and train and no doubt cab and maybe even subway. Thus, our Friday Five.”

1) What was the mode of transit for your last trip?

We drove the Prius through parts of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

2) Have you ever traveled by train?

I used to commute by train and subway when I was in my 20s. And on vacation I’ve traveled by train through parts of France, Belgium, and Switzerland.

3) Do you live in a place with public transit, and if so, do you use it?

Yes, there are both buses around our area and trains into New York City. And no, I don’t use them anywhere near as much as I used to or, for environmental purposes, should. This April our church school is going to try to raise congregational awareness on how using green travel— mainly walking, bikes, and public transportation—would be more consistent with what we say our environmental concerns are.

4) What's the most unusual vehicle in which you've ever traveled?

Since animals aren’t vehicles, I suppose a hot air balloon would be the most unusual vehicle I’ve ever traveled in, though it was a very brief ride because my then two-year-old daughter wouldn't stop crying.

5) What's the next trip you're planning to take?

Next trip planned is London in February (and then it’s on to Minneapolis in July).

Friday, January 15, 2010


Not much time in my schedule today, so here are my brief honest but anything-but-creative answers for this week’s Friday Five . On RevGalBlogPals, Jan asks:

1. If you were a color, what would you be?
I think I’d either be lavender or beige, fairly neutral colors that fit in easily next to other colors.

2. If you were a flower (or plant), what would you be?
A hyacinth—probably a blue one—or a daisy.

3. If you were an animal, what kind would you be?
A dolphin or a black capped gull.

4. If you were a shoe, what type would you be?
Definitely a sneaker—probably a Converse.

5. If you were a typeface, which font would you be?
Either Arial (the font I use as my default font) or Consolas.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mary Daly

Mary Daly, the creative feminist theologian, died yesterday at 81. During my college years and early days in seminary, her books, especially Beyond God the Father and Gyn/Ecology, were a huge influence on my thought. I haven't read them in recent years; I finally got rid of my beat up copy of Gyn/Ecology in October when we sorted and gave away a huge number of our books. When I saw the video tribute below I was reminded of the many ways in which Daly's work continues to have an influence on how I approach religion, both in the classroom and in the parish.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Movie Week

This year we decided to make the week between Christmas and New Year’s “Movie Week”, catching up on as many of the good movies that had come out as possible. While it was impossible to get to all those we wanted to see – we missed Invictus, Precious, and Up in the Air—I did see six movies during the week. Two of them were very good, three were okay, and one was absolutely awful.

The first movie of the week was “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” with Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. We were hoping to see Up in the Air, but it and It’s Complicated were both sold out (an experience we hadn’t had at our local multiplex for many years), so it was either The Morgans or Alvin and the Chipmunks. We should have chosen the latter. Within the first five minutes of the film, I wish I hadn’t heard about the Morgans. It was trite, it was predictable, it was stereotypical (some of the small western town stuff seemed downright insulting to me), and it was anything but romantic or funny. It was, in other words, a total waste of money and time. The best thing about the two hours spent in that show was the stale popcorn I ate, fresher than the ideas and jokes in the movie.

Movie number two was “It’s Complicated.” If there was one movie from the week that I’d say every woman over approximately forty who has ever been in a relationship that has ended should see if they want to just enjoy themselves, this movie would be it. (I’m not sure if this is a “old hen” flick or whether men might also like it.) There’s not much that’s deep or that stays with you for days afterwards, but the movie is both well-acted and funny. I laughed a lot and generally enjoyed every minute that I was sitting in the theater watching it.

Film number three was “Sherlock Holmes.” I’ve never been a big Holmes fan, though I had enjoyed seeing Crucifer of Blood with my mother on Broadway and with Danny at Purchase College and I’ve also had fun reading Laurie King’s Mary Russell mysteries (where she is Sherlock Holmes’ wife). The movie presents a rougher, less cultured, darker Holmes than I’d imagined him. I could have lived without so many fighting scenes—especially those done twice, first in slow motion then again at regular speed—but as a whole the film presented a good afternoon’s entertainment.

The next day we went to see “Avatar” in 3D. The movie lived up to just about everything I’d heard about it. I was captivated by the world that Cameron has created, the fact that the computer animated characters are actually real actors rather than just voice-overs makes a big difference in the reality of the world of Pandora, and the philosophy behind the film was well-presented and resonated with me. I was also glad that I saw the film in 3D. Having the plants blow in the breeze around me, the small jelly-fish-like spiritual beings float above my head, and the dragon-birds flying toward and away from me pulled me into Pandora in a way that a 2D viewing probably would not have. (It would almost be like the difference between having an avatar in Second Life and having one of the avatars that are created by the team in the film.) I suspect that Avatar successfully did several things. First, it revived the idea of seeing movies at the movie theater rather than viewing them at home. No home screen- not even a very large HD screen- is going to be big enough to capture all the wonder of this world. Ideally the film should be viewed at an IMAX. Second, it raises the standard of expectation for what computer games that come out in the next five to ten years should be like, since people are going to want games that allow them to be avatars in this much more engaging way than virtual worlds currently allow. And third, it offers what Joseph Campbell suggested that Stars Wars offered in the 70s and 80s—a new mythology with a spiritual message that speaks to those of us living in the 21st century, in many ways offering language and experience that religious institutions should be offering but too often don’t.

We headed to the Jacob Burns a few days later to see “A Single Man”, based on Christopher Isherwood’s book that came out back thirty or more years ago, I think perhaps when I was in college. The film is well-done—one could almost get caught up in all the things that remind us what life was like in those days—the cigarettes, the rotary-dial phone, the cars, the children’s toys—and, as would be expected given the storyline, depressing. It was a good reminder of what life as a gay man would have been like in the 70s.

The last film I saw was "2012". It was exactly what it has been touted as being—a film that is meant to entertain you through calamity after calamity. It’s improbable, it’s got lots of action, and it’s got heroes and anti-heroes (all of who meet the fate they should meet). What I expected from it as I began to watch it was exactly what I had gotten as the credits rolled, nothing amazing but a decent action film.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas Tree

One of the nicest things about the last week and a half has been having the Christmas tree stay up in the living room. For the last several years, because we've gone away a day or so after Christmas, we've usually taken the tree down on December 26th. This year, though, because we spend the week "vacationing" at home, the tree stayed up and the pine smell that has filled the house because of it is amazing. Over the last week I've spent as much time as I could sitting near it knitting or reading, enjoying the fragrance. And today, as I went back to doing preparation for an upcoming Bible study, even the more tedious sections of Greek text seem better because I can just take a short breath-break and smell the wondrous Christmasy odor coming from the next room.