Friday, June 26, 2009

In the unlikely event that anybody still peruses this blog, I thought I'd make an announcement that may startle you.

I am alive.

Despite what you may think, I have been blogging.

Here is the proof:

For various reasons, movies have become my hobby, of a sort. I've been watching quite a few on a regular basis, and in order to ensure that I'm watching with eyes wide open I thought I'd start reviewing every movie I consume. Anyway, it's all spelled out (if somewhat briefly) in one of my early posts over there. Check it out if you're interested.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Frideo. Here's another performance video of an incredibly talented musician, this time Ed Alleyne-Johnson on his personally-designed and built electric violin. The circumstances surrounding the recording of this video are as follows, from the YouTube description:

Fantastic - This is perhaps the best street performance I have ever witnessed....This is in the city of Chester near Wales. Chester has perhaps the only double decker shopping plaza streets, with a second level up off the street within the buildings, balconies running all the way down the streets....The sound is unaltered from the original and was emancipated at great volume in this old town.

The music is fantastic, with a very unique sound. The setting is inspiring (and acoustically perfect it seems). I wish I had been there!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Well, I'm back. As you may have guessed, my recent and lengthy hiatus from the blogosphere was mostly due to paper season. I spent most of April on three major essays, one of which I'm fairly happy with. All in all I'm glad that this busy semester is now behind me.

Not that I can take the summer off. The next few months are going to be fairly busy:

- I've got to refresh my high school French in an attempt to pass a challenge test this Fall.
- I'll be doing some reading in Buddhism in order to fulfill the Religious Studies Department's Asian breath requirement.
- Most importantly, serious research for my thesis must now commence.

Aside from these academic requirements, I'll also be spending some time learning how to get the most out of my latest purchase: Logos Bible Software. It promises to be a real timesaver and to allow for deep and focused biblical and patristic study.

If I reflect on the past year at McMaster, it has continued a trend begun in my first year of undergrad at Redeemer. I started that year with incredible confidence in my intellectual abilities and the store of knowledge I had built up. As I came into contact with my fellow students and the faculty there, I slowly came to realize my own ignorance, even on topics about which I considered myself a specialist.

This humbling trend has continued (even intensified!) over the past months. Whereas I was once near the top of most of my classes, such is the case no longer. This too is a blessing. I find myself quite susceptible to intellectual pride, so being humbled is a healthy thing.

All in all it has been a challenging and rewarding eight months. And, from the look of things, more of the same lies ahead.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Frideo. The following is an incredible example of fingerstyle guitar playing, by Andy McKee of Candyrat Records. I don't how this is done, how a guitar can be played this way, but I think you'll agree that it's pretty amazing.

I actually prefer Antoine Dufour, also of Candyrat, but this track by Andy is not to be missed.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

In a few of my courses, especially one on the historical-critical method, I've been struggle with the issue of how one is to read the Bible. Our readings, tracing the history of historical criticism, have presented us with a variety of perspectives on the value of emphasizing the fact that the Bible is a historical document.

On the one hand are writers like Spinoza. With no real idea of inspiration, he sees the Scriptures as just a bit of historical writing, although one which contains some elements of real truth. He trims away outdated concepts, searching out the lasting wisdom. For example, Spinoza upholds the central command that we are to "love God and your neighbor", but sees narratives involving miracles as a result of superstition and simplistic minds.

On the other hand, we have the venerable Danish Saint: Kierkegaard. He describes the proper approach to the biblical text as follows:

Think of a lover who has now received a letter from his beloved -- as precious as this letter is to the lover, just so precious to thee, I assume, is God's Word; in the way the lover reads this letter, just so, I assume, dost thou read God's Word and conceive that God's Word ought to be read.

For Kierkegaard, critical reading is not really reading the biblical text. If you read God's Word, it must be read as if God is directly speaking to you alone by means of the text. Sure, the historical text must be translated into words we can understand, but such translation is not really reading God's Word. Kierkegaard goes as far as to argue that critical interpretation can only distance one from God's call as encountered in the Scriptures.

Karl Barth is heavily influenced by Kierkegaard in his proposed approach to reading the Bible. However, he is less stringent in his critique of (historical-)critical readings. He writes:

The demand for a 'historical' understanding of the Bible necessarily means, in content, that we have to take it for what it undoubtedly is and is meant to be: the human speech uttered by specific men at specific times in a specific situation, in a specific language with a specific intention.

This is a helpful starting point. There is no sense in denying the truth that the Bible is a historical document and thus can be studied like a historical document. However, Barth does not stop there. On the contrary, he holds that the historical-critical method "assuredly achieves no more than a point of departure for genuine exegesis," which operates with the following maxim: "The Word ought to be exposed in the words." That is to say, the eternal Word of God is to be encountered in its temporal expression in the Bible.

I think I'm with Barth on this one.

Friday, March 02, 2007

To make up for not posting all week, this edition of Frideo is quite special. The full-length video below is almost certainly the greatest thing ever put on VHS. I am, of course, referring to "Mr. T's Be Somebody...Or Be Somebody's Fool".

Mr. T is an interesting man. He has no talent to speak of. Despite having some screen presence, he certainly can't act. He can't rap. He can't dance. As you'll see from this video, he can barely speak coherently. And yet, there's something lovable about him. His (emphasis on) simple sincerity is hard to criticize.

"Mr. T's Be Somebody...Or Be Somebody's Fool", shot in 1984, is motivational video for kids. Split into about a dozen different lessons it includes all the wisdom a child might need to "be somebody". There are stories, skits, a few rap singles (written by Ice-T!), there's breakdancing, gags... a veritable cornucopia of delights! With lines like "Hey, you! You with the teeth!", and "Have you ever been embarrassed, ashamed, or exposed? I mean, done something so absoludicrous that you wished you could have moved to a deserted island?", you won't want to miss a minute. My personal favorite lessons are "Roots", "Recouping", "Friendship", "Mr. T's Tale",...let's face it, it's all pure gold. Enjoy!