Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happy New Year

As anyone who has ever been enrolled in school for an extended amount of time knows the New Year does not begin January 1st, but sometime in the end of August. Ah yes, it is the beginning of the New year. We've now left the magic of Summer behind and have entered once more into the cold harshness of the real world. School has begun once more, and boy has it ever.

Last Monday marked the beginning of classes for me and we pretty much took off running. This year I have a pretty fun schedule: British Literature 1, Medieval Literature, Super Intense Art Appreciation on Steroids that Married an Aesthetic Philosophy Class on Drugs,  The Chronicles of Narnia (Yes, I get to take this class and you don't >:), and Ethics. Ironically my least favorite class so far is the only one for my major. If English was like all the stuff I'm taking I would do that instead, but, alas, it is not. It is also American literature and Period Courses.

This, of course, is why I'm afraid I shall not be able to contribute much to this during the semester, unless I just have something awesome to share. There is so much reading for all my classes. It's not all painful reading mind you. I can't really complain about having to read all the Narnia books and Arthurian Romances. Still, it takes up a lot of time.

In other news, honors is going well. The semester's just started and we're already doing some fun stuff. Today we're going to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. They have a Rembrant and Van Dyke exhibit that I've really been wanting to see. We also have a fun game tournament next Tuesday. Also this Saturday marks the American premier of Doctor Who series 7, so there's that as well. It's looking to be a pretty great year. College is getting easier (and by easier I mean it's getting harder, but I'm getting better at it), God is good, and I have nothing to complain about.

Coming up next (because i do have a few posts planned):  Fractal Art a.k.a. if they taught math like this I might still remember the multiplication tables.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Good Doctor

     Ok, slight confession. I have a tendency to latch onto new things and develop passionate, deep, and incredibly emotional obsessions. I've gotten better recently in curbing my overwhelming (and often short-lived) enthusiasms, however, this time, I have been unsuccessful. Now, what on earth am I talking about? Well, I shall tell you since I have no one else to pour my soul to after I spent several hours last night crying into my pillows (I say crying, I really mean sobbing uncontrollably).  

     Doctor Who. That's right. This summer I have latched onto and devoured that great BBC classic. It was on Netflix and I thought 'why not?' Life forever changed. I started with the 2005 re-vamp - which is a good place for new people to get on - and haven't been able to stop. I'm even considering buying all the episodes ever (all 700 and something). Anyways, I thought I'd do a T.V. show review because this needs to be shared before I 'splode... I do that sometimes
  (anyone get that reference?... No?... OK).

Violence: 9/10
     Good news on this score! This is a remarkably bloodless show. There is some actiony type stuff but it's pretty family friendly. Some of the aliens might scare smaller children, but they look pretty B grade so there you go. *Warning on scariness: Some of the episodes scared the poop out of me. They're not violent, just incredibly suspenseful and I don't deal well with stress. Note- aliens always do it.*

Sexual Content: 7/10
     I give it that score only because of the BBC's agenda. There's no sex of any kind ever. Some characters kiss, but not that often. However, they do irritate me with all the references to homosexuality. Every single show the BBC produces throws it into the mix. In Downton it's Thomas. In Sherlock it's Harry Watson (who doesn't even exist) and all the jokes about John and Sherlock being a couple. In Doctor Who it's several nameless aliens and humans who mention their life with their same gender partner. Also Captain Jack. But Jack is pretty keyed down in Doctor Who, but also you can still tell that he's kind of slutty. He would pretty much sleep with anyone - regardless of gender, or species. I really only know that he's the way he is because I read about his spin-off series Torchwood. Plus, he's only in like 4 episodes. Still, at the end of the day I'm like "OK BBC! I get it! You support that life-style. Move on with the story please." But again, this is more of a general irritant than a Doctor Who specific complaint.

Spiritual Content: 8/10
     This is a show that assumes a naturalistic worldview. As a sci-fi show that worldview pervades everything. That being said I don't find naturalism very threatening. For some people the concept of Doctor Who is exciting because it presents a realm of possibilities (the thought that there is life out there waiting to be found. Also the hope that some handsome stranger will show up in a blue box to take you away... or is that just me?) for Christians, however, it's just a fun show, kind of like a fantasy. Some aliens worship other gods and goddesses. There is one episode with a Satanic monster that was supposedly locked up before time began. This one did rub me the wrong way, I don't remember what the episode was called though. That's really it, pretty nonthreatening if you know what you believe. It's not trying to covert you or anything.

Plot: n/a
     The greatness of the plots varies with each individual episode. Some stand out as my favorites, some just weren't that great.

Character: 10/10
      CHARACTER!!!!!!!!! I've been waiting for this one. Forgive me if I ramble. For those who don't know Doctor Who follows the adventures of the Gallifreyan Time Lord known simply as the Doctor. He travels through time and space in his T.A.R.D.I.S (time and relative dimension in space) with various companions. Last I heard he was 906 years old and still looking great. This is because whenever a Time Lord gets old or is fatally wounded he regenerates. He gets a new face and a new personality. But, this is where the greatness of the show comes is because the writes can write a whole new personality and still, on the inside, keep the doctor the same exact person. I started with the 9th doctor and am currently on the 11th. I liked the 9th doctor, he introduced me to the show. He had some great development as a character, but he only lasted one season. All the doctors are great, but ten is, by far my favorite. 
nine, ten, and eleven respectively 
I loved ten, I can't actually describe it to you. The actor, David Tennant, idolized Doctor Who as a child and getting the chance to play the doctor was a dream for him. He brought that love with him and it showed. I watched him die last night and it was heartbreaking. I've never been that attached to a character before. I will say I don't envy Matt Smith (11), because Tennant is a tough act to follow. Ug, thinking about it still makes me want to cry. Ten didn't want to go (the character not the actor), and, quite frankly, I didn't want him to go either, at least, not like that. 
     Also the Doctor frequently travels with companions, normally of the female variety, but not always. I've liked all the companions so far, but it's sad when they leave. I liked Rose Tyler a lot, but Donna Noble and Wilf were my favorite. And as for enemies, the Doctor has many (my favorite - the Daleks) but he always shows them compassion and mercy even when they don't deserve it. That is all I shall permit myself  to say on the subject.

Theme: 9/10
     Most T.V. shows don't have themes they explore but, once again Doctor Who separates itself from the rest. Mostly I've found that the show touches on themes of life and death. There's a line, I think that nicely sums up the point of this show: "When you run with the Doctor, it feels like it'll never end, but however hard you try you can't run forever. Everybody knows that everybody dies and nobody knows it like the Doctor, but I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark if he ever, for one moment, accepts it." -- River Song. Everybody dies. This is a fact, but that doesn't mean that we stop valuing life, stop trying to save it. Life is a very precious and valuable gift. You can't stop death, but, especially as Christians we know, that, in the end, life conquers all. 

Overall Conclusion: n/a
     I could pretend to give an unbiased score but I'm not going to. I love this show. It appeals to everything in me. That said, it's probably not for everyone (no, but it is). As always do your own research when deciding to watch something and use your own discretion. This was designed to be a family show so it's pretty safe minus a little bit of language and a few references to homosexuality. I love it and, like I said if you know what you believe then you should be able to enjoy this show. Your eyes have been opened. Welcome to the Whoverse.   

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Reading Challenge Update

     Ok, So, at the beginning of the Summer I resolved to participate in a self-imposed reading challenge. I wanted to read 30 books over the summer. It looks doubtful as to whether I'll be able to reach that goal, but I've come a long way so far. I've just now passed the half-way mark! 15 books over the summer so far, and I still have a couple of weeks left! I kind of fell of blogging about them after I finished, so, instead of reviewing each one, I'll just give a brief summary of my thoughts, and whether or not I'd recommend it or not, and a star rating.

#6: Tales of Asgard
    So, after seeing Thor, and the Avengers I just got a huge hankering to read Norse Mythology. I invested in this book and it is one of the best things I've ever read. It probably is not one of the most accurate representations of the Norse gods ever, but here's why. A lot of these stories are adapted from something called the Prose Edda which was written sometime in the 1200's, after Scandinavia had converted to Christianity. The gods in these stories are paragons of moral order (except for Loki, but there always has to be one). The stories are fun and witty, and the very end is amazing. It talks about the Ragnarok - the Twilight of the gods - when everything in the world is destroyed and re-made. And, just when Odin thinks that evil is gone forever, sin pops up again. Despairing, he wonders if there will ever be an end to sin and suffering, and at the very end he hears a prophecy telling on one who will come and destroy sin and death once and for all. An obvious reference to Christ put in by the author of the Prose Edda as a tribute to the Christianity that his people had adopted. Super cool, I would definitely recommend this one!

#7: First the Dead
     This is a book about a man who researches the bugs that eat dead people. Which is gross. He goes to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help rescue people and clean up the bodies. He then suspects that someone is using the disaster to cover up murders. Only he can't do anything because he's supposed to be helping the living first, but we all know that he'll solve the murders anyways. It was an ok book, there's nothing wrong with it. An easy read.

#8: Beowulf
     I am the only person I've ever met who read this book under no compulsion. It was a very good book. It was short and to the point which I love. Plus, I got to play the 'See how may things from this book that Tolkien used in Lord of the Rings' game. I got fourteen. It was a good story, and I don't really remember any objectionable content. I enjoyed it, and would recommend it to others. 

#9: The Woman in White
     Alright, so, this was a long book for a reading challenge, but I knocked it out in three days. It's a Sensationalist Novel, which makes it over the top, dramatic, and incredibly fun to read. These people's lives are absolutely ridiculous which is, of course, awesome, because why would I want to read about someone with a normal life? I wouldn't.All that to say I loved it. Recommend it to everyone. 

#10: The Father Brown Stories
    Written by G.K. Chesterton, these are some of the best detective stories ever written. Chesterton was one of the great Christian thinkers with C.S. Lewis and Tolkien in their Inklings group. The Father Brown stories follow Father Brown (fittingly enough) a priest whose experience, rather than making him less able to understand the world, allows him to know people at their worst and gives him keen insight into the human soul. he uses these insights to occasionally solve crimes, and more than occasionally to win people's souls. Written before Chesterton converted to Catholicism these stories still convey deep and important Christian truths. I still don't like them as much as I like Mr. Holmes' stories, but the hero has more to be said for him than Dear Sherlock. My favorite one was the Winged Dagger. Recommend to all mystery lovers.

#11: Where the Broken Heart Still Beats
     This was marketed to me as historical fiction. The only historical part was two of the names, everything else was made up. That's all my disappointment can bring me to say on this book.

12: Robinson Crusoe
     When I first read this book it was an abridged version. I liked it, and figured I'd read the real thing. Guess what the abridged version left out. Oh yeah, that would be the entire point of the book. This is a book written about a man's journey to Christ. It is NOT a book about a man surviving alone on a island. It takes abandonment on an island for this man to think about his life and recognize his need for a savior of his soul, rather than a savior for his body. In the end he gets both. It's a great book, I've always loved it. I love it even more now.

#13: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
     This was my first introduction to the Agatha Christie novels. I enjoyed it thoroughly, I couldn't put it down. Her ending was really clever. However, it was just another mystery novel. It was a good introduction to her work, I want to read more, but I feel like she's written better stories.

#14: Anne of Green Gables
     This is another one that I've re-read, but to be fair I really remembered nothing about it. It was like reading it for the first time. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved Anne. She's so flighty and ridiculous, but grows up pretty well. It's a good book and I recommend it to all. Not my favorite, but still a good read.

#15: Taking Back Astronomy
     So, I LOVE science - especially Astronomy. My church recently had an Apologetics Conference where a member of the Creation Science Institute came and spoke, and I picked up this book there. It's produced by Answers In Genesis, and is basically about the secularization of Astronomy and how the science actually supports a Biblical interpretation of cosmological history. Let it be known that I typically agree with everything Answers In Genesis affirms. I am a literal Six day Creationist, I'm not a Darwinist, so my beef with them isn't a scientific one. All of their material, I believe, is really confrontational. If you do not hold to their exact beliefs you are 100% anti-biblical (that is a quote from the book), and you hate Jesus (that is nowhere in the book, nor on their website, or in nay of their materials, but people make that complaint) and I just find this notion to be ludicrous. 
     I really think that you can be a Christian and believe in an Old Earth creation and still be within the realm of Biblical orthodoxy (I do not think that you can believe in theistic evolution and be OK), it just depends on how you interpret the word yom. I know credible scientists who reject Darwinism completely, and are old earth creationists. It's not like a one or the other thing. The fact is, we just don't know. Also I had an issue with their logic in the book (they rejected uniformitarianism and then used uniformitarianism to defend their own position). It was a good book, I agreed with the conclusion, it was very informative, and I loved the pictures, I just really wish AIG wasn't so confrontational.  

p.s. Despite my thoughts on the book and the organization I still desperately want to go to the Creation Museum.

Next up: Dietrich Bonhoeffer Biography, Ben Hur