Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Theology of Frankenstein

Over at Experimental Theology, Richard Beck is making a few arguments I find compelling - the first: A defense of Halloween.

Followed by a snippet of a theology of monsters, including Frankenstein's creature, vampires and the like.

A morsel to share: 


We are fearful of becoming monsters. We fear the "monster within" that we are barely able to hold in check. I am the monster. Or, at the very least, I fear that the line between me and the monster is very, very thin and fragile."

Makes me want to take a Sunday school class on monsters.  Wonder if I could convince my small group to read Bram Stoker alongside C.S. Lewis?  Hmmm...

Just my thoughts,


It's Halloween - Time for Scary Videos!

Inside look at a Tea Party Training Session. (Found at “Jesus Needs New PR.”)

Not sure what I like best about this guy – how proud he is to use dishonesty as a tool for spreading his stance, or how proud he is that he doesn’t read.

Oh, if I may preempt those that will be mad that I posted this: 

Yes, I am aware that the other side also uses tactics like this.  And now that you’ve brought that up, let me ask you:  are you really arguing that if a liberal does something, that automatically makes it ethically okay?

Yeah, didn’t think so.

Just my thoughts,


Friday, October 15, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Larryboy and the Emperor of Envy

My book hit its 16th printing; 78,500 copies in print.


Oh no!  Quick, go buy the book, you have a lesson to learn!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Planting Ideas, Part Three

This notion of “what kind of ideas do we incept in others” applies to so much of life – especially to my life as a story teller. 

Politics (how do I engage with ideas within the larger community – through planting negative ideas, or positive ideas?), work (what kind of stories do I create), relationships (what root connects me to others?), etc.

But where I am most struck with the Inception theme is the ramifications for my faith. 

I am an evangelical Christian.  My Lord claimed repeatedly that he came with Good News (the very definition of “Gospel.”)

Good news.

Yet as I both keep the faith and spread the faith, I gotta ask:  am I planting positive ideas (good news!) or negative ones?

For the evangelist, is the leading faith argument hellfire and damnation?  Sure it gets attention, and I suppose eventually one would get around to talking about Jesus’ love.  

But the idea has already been incepted as a negative one – which grows into fearful, legal-centric faith.

Jesus rarely led with hellfire. 

Oh, hellfire was there, just not as the lead in. 

(And most of the hell-fire and damnation preached by Jesus was directed to the religious – those that already had the message and were messing it up.)

Notice the order of things when he finally speaks to the woman caught in adultery.

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?  Then neither do I condemn you.”  Love first.

But let’s not forget: 

“Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Thus we have someone whose behavior is changed out of good news – because no one is accusing me, I can go and sin no more.

So,  again, I gotta ask myself – where am I coming from and how am I going out?

Is my faith one of judgments and piousness and self-righteousness?  Then maybe I have to dig that negative seed out, and replant the one of good news.

And when I go into the world, am I planting good news? 

Or am I preaching the Gospel as a negative seed?

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The 1950's Inception


Planting Ideas, Part Two

Cobb plants a negative idea for a good cause – Mal needs to leave limbo and join the real world.  But the idea grows, soon outpacing Cobb’s ability to control the idea.

And because it is a negative idea, it becomes a negative force, an idea that destroys the initial “good” it performed.  It became an infection, a curse. (“…the most resilient parasite…”)

Cobb’s second go-around with inception is focused on planting a positive idea.  That idea also grows – except instead of leading to destruction, it leads to restoration and healing. 

Although we don’t spend a lot of time in the movie with the post-inception world, we are told in no uncertain terms that Fischer had a cathartic healing of a life-long wound.

And to reinforce the notion, Cobb himself is restored and healed.

Notice that after the plane, we don't find out if Fischer follows through on tearing apart his father’s business – despite that being the goal of the team.   The caper is only a device for Nolan; a device, I think, to get to this big theme.

Ideas grow; and how they grow depends on what we plant.  (Proverbs:  “He who sows wickedness reaps trouble...” and “…he who shows righteousness reaps a sure reward.”)

In our world: after a recent spat of violence on the part of protesters and activists, politicians such as Sarah Palin did a whole lot of backpedaling. 

“Sure,” they said in my paraphrase, “we use violent language and images in our talks, and yes we try to convince our constituents that the other party is literally an enemy akin to terrorists and that they are trying to destroy our nation and must be stopped by any means necessary, but we are shocked –shocked I say!- that anyone would actually behave in a violent manner!  It’s just words, after all.”

Yeah, you planted a negative idea and are shocked that a destructive root took hold.

(Before half of you get all up in my grill for dissing on the right, let me explain why I didn’t use the Dems:  While the bluer side of the aisle does indeed try to plant negative ideas, ala “Republican Healthcare Plan: Die Faster,” in general the Dems are pretty inept in planting any coherent idea.  So they would make a lousy example.)

Donald Miller recently addressed Ted Haggard’s comments at a conference, where Haggard whined that his staff did not offer grace to him after being caught in a long term relationship with a male prostitute.  Aside from all the obvious problems with Haggard throwing himself a pity party, Donald points out that the staff’s response comes from how they were lead – and Ted made it clear that certain sins should never be responded to with love and grace.

Ted planted an idea of contempt, and was surprised when in action it came out as judgment.  Hmmm…

So, what is the practical takeaway with this notion of “what kind of ideas do we incept?”

To be continued…

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Planting Ideas

Now that INCEPTION is no longer in the weekend top ten, it may be safe to talk about it without worrying too much about spoilers.

Oh, SPOILER ALERT.  You’ve been warned.

The movie is about a lot of things (as most good stories are), most of which has been hashed out around town (or at least around the web) – everything from the nature of reality to the nature of making a film.

One idea that has been incepted into my brain, which has had a lingering impact is one that the movie itself seems to toss aside (“seems to” being operative), and that is the idea of inception itself – planting an idea that the target then takes on as his/her own.

Just as Leo’s team distracts Fischer inside the dreamscape to prevent him from realizing what is really going on, so too does director/writer Nolan distract us from the real heart of this theme. 

Not so much to prevent us from understanding, but rather to let the theme be lived out in action rather than in character debate.

What are the distractions?  First, the main conceit:  we are told that inception, planting an idea, can not be done.  The characters all claim this, except of course for Cobb.  It is so rare, as to be nearly impossible…

Out in our world, there is no such debate – Madison Avenue thrives on its ability to make consumers think that they can’t live without diet cherry cola with teeth whitener. 

Politicians, preachers, and salesmen plant such ideas all the time; and they don’t need to enter dreams to do so.

I have a computer programming friend who, every time he wants to introduce a new system or programming style at work, starts by telling his boss: “I ran with that great idea you had a while back…”  Of course his boss never had that great idea, but soon enough remembers giving the idea to the programmer.  And as the original idea (the boss’) was so good, of course the programmer’s running with it is good as well…

We are all planting ideas, whether we want someone to think we are cool, or think that our new i-toy is cool, or think that our taste in wives is cool (“Don’t you think she’s a babe?”  The answer by the way is, “Yes, I do.”)

The second distraction was sweeping aside a major question with a brush off answer: Why not plant a negative idea? 

No, says Cobb, because a negative idea won’t stick.  Only a positive idea will stick.  We can’t tell Fischer to break up his father’s empire; we must tell him instead that his father loved him. Everyone in the room nods in agreement, and moves on.

Yet the entire movie hinges on the fact that THIS IS NOT TRUE.  Cobb has only incepted an idea once before, and it was a negative idea (this world is not real).  Cobb’s entire existence is defined by the fact that he was able to plant a negative idea.

Therefore, the whole movie becomes a test, a trial of that question: what kind of ideas do we plant – positives or negative?  And what are the consequences of that choice?

To be continued…

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Man that Corrupted Montevallo

Just in time for my birthday, the Montevallo Main Street Players are performing a short play I wrote, double-billing with a one-man Mark Twain performance.

It's a double bill that makes sense, as my play is based on the Twain short story.

So if you find yourself in Alabama next week, check it out.  Free admission!

If you do happen to catch it, drop me a line and fill me in on your experience.

Oh, the Guarantee on the poster was originally found on advertisements for a lecture by Mark Twain.

Just my thoughts,