Monday, September 24, 2007

Fixing the hole

Sorry I left a giant content hole on this cash machine of a website. It's nothing specific, unless it's this:

There's an entertaining 40th anniversary cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety over here. The guy cannot sing, but just overlook that.

I had a conversation with our friend Sarah about whether or not someone can be a Buddhist and yet be saved in some sense. This kind of thing was important in Utah; it altered my view of the Mormons. It would also be important if you were an evangelist; it would allow you to ask yourself who is lost and who needs saving in a way that has nothing to do with surface labels. We attended a church service that almost went there on Sunday. The text was Romans 2 and the passage that perked up my ears was this:

A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

This is a remarkably forgiving view of "other" religions. To some extent, doctrines and rituals are just the trappings of religion. The outward person is deceptive and matters little. It says so right there in Romans (and elsewhere; the Sermon on the Mount goes there, as do the Proverbs and so on). Of course, if you continue on to the rest of Romans, the examination of the inward person does not fare very well either. In the rest of Romans, we are not in trouble because of what we appear to be, but what we are.

To what extent doctrines and rituals are the trappings of religion is the question I was trying to get at in the Heretics posts. I was getting ready for another post on this question. Is everything beyond the creeds garnish? To what extent is organized Christianity organized filigree? I have my own opinions, but we still return to the point that there is a limit to mere Christianity and to orthodoxy. Why we set it at the creeds and not elsewhere, where the creeds came from, why we trust ancient councils or at a minimum agree with them, are all interesting questions.

And how God may be working in and through non-Christians is another interesting question. The born-again Hindu; myth or reality?

I read "Trucks" for the first time in more than ten years. It was made into a movie called Maximum Overdrive, I think. It's about the evil day when all the semis become sentient and start killing everyone. Either the version I read in the seventh grade was heavily sanitized, or I forgot all kinds of violent things. I remembered a lot of it. It is a story that sticks with you, like "Lennington vs. the Ants", "The Most Dangerous Game", "The Lady and the Tiger". I'm reading Stephen King short stories, first collected in Night Shift. I think I've read "The Ledge" before too. It was also interesting to read forerunner stories of Salem's Lot, The Stand, and so on. A few of the stories are crap, but a lot of them are good. After this, I'll have read everything King wrote up to the first Dark Tower book, The Gunslinger, which I can thus dive into. As I understand Dark Tower, it runs in and out of the backstories and loose ends of King's fictional universe. Thus, I imagine it contains spoilers. King has already had some awesome novels, and I'm still barely up to 1982.

I've also got Neil Gaiman's latest short story collection too. The first story is worth the entire thing: "A Study In Emerald", a literary homage mashing up Sherlock Holmes with HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. It is hilarious. I am also looking forward to the novella follow-on to American Gods.

I tried sangria for the first time this weekend. I still taste the alcohol but am starting to consider it part of the experience (instead of overpowering my senses or making me crazy). I think that long ago, I must have trained my tongue to ignore spice in a similar way to ignoring alcohol. Alcohol is a once in a few months thing for me usually, but between the family visit and my birthday, we've ended up with more than normal. My parents are responsible for the sangria. They ordered it off and on at Mexican places throughout my childhood.

Speaking of my parents, those of you who know my mom as Mrs. Lewis, the French teacher, may be interested to know that my dad is now Mr. Lewis at Tyee HS in the Highline District. It's been a long life's journey for him, but he is a teacher now, working an 80% schedule with his foot in the door. Maybe it's just the sangria talking, but I am so proud I could cry. My dad followed his dream out of the book industry, into the teaching world, and I admire that immensely. I love you Dad.

I've been spinning more Radiohead and Beck from the library, along with Neil Young and John Prine, all well worth your music time. I don't know what it is about Greg Brown, but I find some of his songs kind of pretentious, so I can't recommend The Evening Call.

Work is going good. I am finding it very beneficial to go through a product delivery basically from start to finish. I am a little surprised that so much of the software engineering stuff I did in college is so applicable. I'm in an environment where we get audited regularly for conformance to the CMMI processes; we are a somewhat rapid-development/bleeding-edge environment, but the kinds of documents and goals we have are strongly in line with the project deliverables I learned about in class.

I picked up a free loop station called Mobius. It allows you to record yourself and layer on audio over and over, creating lush sonic palettes that never ever stop. (One of my favorite artists of the moment, Andrew Bird, makes killer music based on this concept, essentially playing his own continuo.) Look out world world world world...


Anonymous said...

Hi Dan! I will try to leave a comment,as you suggested (I've never done this before). I like your music recommendations & appreciate all the music you mentioned in this blog except for Radiohead, whom I haven't listened to yet, but would like to. I wanted to recommend another movie to you & Sarah that I liked a lot & forgot to tell you about. It's "Once", which may not be around anymore. The music in it is really good; you may like it also.You could check out the soundtrack on itunes.

vince54 said...

"Is everything beyond the creeds garnish? To what extent is organized Christianity organized filigree? "

I assume you are only talking about the 'things to believe'.

I agree with Origen, who first made the distinction of the dogmata of the church and the problemata to be discussed. He preferred an open discussion on most things.

In all cases, the dogmata and the problemata are just beginnings that serve like the Torah to the Jews ... they are teachings. It is the life of salvation that is lived in relationship with God that is the reality.

I suspect there are some who don't know the dogma but do know the One God. I have strong suspicions of several friends and acquaintances (mormon, jew, buddhist, and agnostic) who show every fruit of knowing the One God. I also have strong suspicions of several Christian acquaintances that show every fruit of NOT knowing the One God. But I have to operate with humility in judging these things ... I am slow to grow good fruit too.

vince54 said...

I'd appreciate your top ten movie list.

Your's will be interesting, I think.

Nathalie Uy said...

When you feel like quitting think about why you started. (y)