Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thoughts On... Science & Religion Part 1

There are very few things that the bulk of the world can agree on. One of those things is the seemingly eternal battle between Science & Religion. For some reason, people believe that there is no reconciling the scientific method with a belief in the existence of God. And for a long time, I was convinced of the same thing. But then I read an article in a magazine (I think it was Time, but I don't remember for sure) about scientists finding God through their work.

In particular, there was a segment about a scientist who had spent a great deal of effort calculating the exact voltage of an electron. What struck him about his finding was how specific the voltage was. He tried working some standard equations with other values for the voltage and came to the conclusion that the universe as we see it today would never, COULD NEVER, have come into existence if the electron's voltage was ANY other value. To have that specific voltage arrived at through an evolutionary process of trial & error was a problematic premise and one that this guy was not able to entertain. Which led him to the conclusion that this value had to have been built into the electron. It had to be part of a design. And if that's true then SOMEONE had to have come up with that design. Who? Well, the only answer he came up with was God. Intriguing, right?

After reading that, I started thinking about the battle between Science & Religion. A lot of disparate ideas came together in that session (and others since then) and I realized that I never really believed that Science was at odds with God. The real battle is Science vs Human Arrogance. And THAT battle will NEVER end.   

Part 1 - Religion

Now before I give you the wrong idea, I want to get something straight. I believe in God. There is no doubt in my mind that God exists. However, I don't use my faith as an excuse to stop using my brain. Seriously! Those of you who know me, know that I am a very logical person. I cherish the ability to think and use that ability as much as I possibly can. My faith in the existence of God doesn't turn that part of me off or invalidate it in ANY way. In fact, God made me this way, so it would be an INSULT to God to NOT think and use the talents bestowed upon me. As such, the tenets that are normally attributed to God take on a slightly different meaning to me because I've taken the time to actually think through those tenets.

For example, God is everywhere. Do you really understand the SCOPE of that statement? Most people accept the statement that God is everywhere, but operate as if God only resides in churches. But if God is EVERYWHERE then God is there in your bedroom as you masturbate or have sex and call out to him (I'll deal with the gender thing in a moment). God is there as you beat your kids within an inch of their lives. God is there as you embezzle billions of dollars from the nation. God is THERE as you step in and stop a stranger from jumping in front of a bus. And if you want to talk to God, you can just start talking. Right now. He's right there listening to you.

Now, if God is everywhere, then it follows that God is seeing everything. So, God knows everything. Including the fact that you went back to your mistress after taking confessions so she can give you that blow job she does oh so well, or that you played with your altar boys after mass yesterday where you condemned homosexuals as agents of Satan, and you don't feel a DAMNED BIT SORRY for your actions. After all, if you were REALLY sorry about your actions you would STOP DOING THEM, wouldn't you?

Another point of contention is the gender of God. Women tend to believe that God is a woman, and men tend to believe God is a man. Here's what I believe: God created the universe. The last thing created was humanity, including all the traits of humanity. Like say, for example.... GENDER. God existed before the creation of male & female. Therefore, God is NEITHER man or woman. Using the term "he" to refer to God is just a peculiarity of language and of the English language at that. For all we know, people referring to God in Swahili use "it" when speaking about God. Fighting over the gender of God is POINTLESS... (By the way, this argument also applies to the "race" or "color" of God.)

Here's another tenet of faith: God created everything. Again, think about the SCOPE of this statement. Everything means everything... PERIOD. Not just everything GOOD. Want to talk to the source of all evil? Don't talk to Satan. Talk to God. After all, God CREATED Satan. That's right, God is Satan's FATHER. Why do you think Satan is the PRINCE of lies... Cause God is the KING! The disease that is killing your loved one? Yep, created by the same God you're praying to, begging him to save that very same loved one. Why is there evil in the world, you ask? Because our beloved God said so, that's why! (Granted the answer to that is a bit more complex, but I'm hoping you get the point I'm trying to make.)

While we're on the subject of God's creations, what kind of God would create a world that he has to constantly maintain? Watch, influence, manipulate, or judge over... Okay, the judgement part I can understand. But to have to constantly make sure that every living thing takes breath and flies off the ground every single time? Come on, that is simply poor craftsmanship. If humans can build houses that last hundreds of years, I would think that a divine being with the power and intelligence to create the universe we're living in, could create a universe that he wouldn't have to poke and prod every single instant of its existence to keep it running. The universe exists and we live, not because He is pushing on my lungs and shoveling air down my throat, but because He SAID SO! And that's why I worship God.   

Speaking of worship, what happens if you pray to God and he says No? Everyone seems to think that God will answer all prayers with a resounding "YES!" But what happens when prayers conflict? When a pedophile priest prays that his favorite altar boy stays in his reach forever & that boy prays to get away from the priest as soon as possible? God answers all prayers, but some of those answers are "No". Are you still going to pray to God? I will, because I trust that whatever God gives me is what I need to become the person He intended me to be. Will I fuck up along the journey? Damn straight I will. Will God forgive me? Good question... I don't know. Why don't I know?

Because, in order for God to do all the things that He has to do, He has to have an existence INFINITELY beyond anything I can experience. How in the name of all that is holy would I, a simple human, be able to PREDICT what He will do? I have no idea if I'm saved or not. I have no idea if I'm even FORGIVEN or not. And I won't know until I hear it from God Himself! As for the rulebook(a.k.a. The Bible), why would I trust that? The language that it was originally written in isn't even SPOKEN anymore. Not to mention that there have been slight errors in translation (as well as blatant revisions! Check out the Politically Correct bible if you don't believe me!) over the two THOUSAND years (at least) that the book has been in circulation. Not to mention all the texts that might have relevant information that WEREN'T included in the bible. Plus, the bible itself states that even the enemies of God can use the holy scripture against you. Even the Devil himself used the Word of God to tempt the Son of God during his trials. What does that tell you?  

You know what it tells me? The bible is SUBJECT TO INTERPRETATION! It's not a literal truth. In fact, it's actually ESSENTIAL that the bible NOT be a literal truth. Because if it were, then it would be concrete proof of God's existence. If you have proof, why do you need faith? Therefore, I can hope and pray that I'm saved (and I will operate on that assumption), but until the gates of Heaven open to let me in, all I have is faith. There is no guarantee that I'm actually saved. And like the bible being a literal truth, to have that guarantee would go against the whole point of faith, don't you think? Not to mention that the fact that the bible is open to interpretation allows for our understanding of the Word of God to adapt and encompass all the myriad complexities we discover in this universe as we grow older and more mature in our society.

The Church has hundreds of people (possibly thousands) dedicating their lives to reading the holy texts and figuring out the meaning of the words, not just for language translation but to attempt to fully understand the message of God. And that's just for what God SAID!! Now, practically every religion on the planet agrees that God created the universe. If the Church can spend hundreds of years learning and interpreting what God SAID, why the hell are they giving crap to the people who are spending JUST as much time trying to understand what God actually DID??

I'm not attacking God. I'm not attacking believing in God. I'm not even attacking organized religion. (Believe me, there is enough ammunition there for me to go on for DAYS) Belief in God has allowed for a great many things, and has given great comfort to many millions of suffering people. What I'm trying to get you to see is that believing in God does not excuse you from using the complex and powerful brain that God saw fit to give you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Recapping An Ep For a Friend...

I believe I've mentioned to you before, my dear readers, that a good friend of mine, David, has introduced me to this fantastic television series called Game Of Thrones. I also believe I have mentioned that he does some really entertaining recaps of each episode adding in his own views of the ep based on his knowledge of the book series the show based on. He's gotten quite a following on his blog because of these recap, too!

Unfortunately, it turns out that David does actually have a life beyond these recaps and wasn't able to write the one for this week. Luckily, I found out about this major travesty before he went and did something foolish like kill the recaps entirely!! I offered my meager writing services for this week and he agreed.  He went over my work and after some minor re-tooling, put it up as the official recap for this week!!

If you're a Game Of Thrones fan, check it out! Actually, check it out anyway, and let me know what you think of it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thoughts On... 3D Movie Remakes

In a previous post, I talked about my stance on movie remakes. Basically, I'm open to the idea of remakes. A modern take on a film can reveal deeper themes in the movie's story. I can't count how many times I've re-watched films and come across concepts that the filmmakers simply didn't address. And there are some remakes that have been nothing less of Godsends to the original story. And then there's the latest crop of re-makes. You know the ones I'm talking about; the remakes or re-releases of movies solely to show them in 3D.

Honestly, I think they are a waste of time, money, and effort. Take the re-release of Titanic, for example. There have been NO changes to the story, NO additional scenes. No changes at all. The ONLY difference is that it's now in 3D. I know that Hollywood is always on a quest for money, but this is much more blatant than usual. I have never been a proponent of 3D. There is really no benefit to the plot of a movie to 3D. In fact, it could lead to a drop in the quality of stories since it would be easier to rely on 3D's immersive nature to make the plot more compelling as opposed to writing in a more compelling manner. Admittedly, that would take awhile and would require the widespread acceptance of 3D for ALL films released, which might not ever happen.

But my biggest issue with 3D is that studios are trying to force directors to use it. The most noteworthy of which was when the studios started putting pressure on Christopher Nolan to shoot his third, and final, Batman film in 3D, which he flatly refused to do. In his statement to the press, Nolan said that filming in 3D should be one of the tools available to a filmmaker for making films and not something that is forced upon filmmakers. Frankly, I completely agree. What about you, my dear readers, what do you think about the latest 3D movie releases?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thoughts On... My Television Programming

It will come as no surprise to you, but I spend a lot of time watching TV. Frequently, my programming choices come into debate for one reason or another. The most recent debate was a resurgence of a debate that I've been having since the late 90s. It started when I told a friend at college that I was an X-Files fan. As soon I finished saying the words, my friend scoffs at me and says, "You're just watching because of the hot redhead!" He immediately regretted that statement since I reacted by starting a 20 minute diatribe on the ACTUAL reasons why I watched The X-Files.

Recently, my sister asked if there was ever a show I watched that I didn't like but kept watching because of a hot woman in the show. For some reason, my sister couldn't believe or accept my response: I have never watched a show solely because of an attractive female.

When I pick tv shows, it's always about stories. Either I like the story (or elements of the story) of the show, or I like the characters of the show which makes me interested in their story, or I like the way the actors IN the show choose or tell stories. I may have a particular type of story that usually attracts my attention, but it is NEVER about the attractiveness of the people in the show. For crying out loud, I have over, WAY OVER 30 Gigabytes of porn that I can watch where the actresses will take their clothes off with no censorship, or clever shifting movement of the camera to conceal them. Why would I watch a show to see a hot actress that I won't really see all that much of?

Not to mention the fact that Hollywood pretty much RUNS on attractive people. There are very few working actors or actresses that are NOT attractive to some demographic of our population. So, practically EVERYONE on tv is hot. So, if all the people on tv are hot, why would it matter that there are hot women on a given tv show? They are EVERYWHERE!

Now, I do admit that having attractive women on a show is a bonus, especially given my relationship status, but that's all it's ever been, a bonus. Icing on the cake. Eye candy. But nothing else. As soon as I lose interest in a show, I stop watching it. Period. What about you, my dear readers? Do you continue to watch shows because of some hottie??

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Top 5... Music Moments In Movies

There's no denying that I love movies. What you may not know is that I also have a deep, abiding passion for music. Some of the greatest movie moments were enhanced a thousandfold by the music accompanying them. Who can forget that moment in Back To The Future when the music swells up and then you hear that one line from Earth Angel just before George kisses Lorraine?? It's moment's like that which simply become nothing less than EPIC! Now I have listed my Top 5 Music Moments in Movies. BTTF is excluded because it's my favorite movie of all time and as such is in a class by itself. Other rules include: it has to be a live action movie (animated movies are too easy). It has to involve the main characters in the movie, so it can't just be your favorite song overlayed on a montage. If you can, it has to be part of the story line, but at the very least it has to have some of the main cast members involved somehow. Are we clear on the rules?? GOOD. Here now is my Top 5 Music Moments in Movies:

 #5) From "Get Over it" - Love Will Keep Us Together
Starting us off is the intro bit to a cute little film called "Get Over It". Have you ever had your heart broken? Have you looked around while heartbroken and see that the WHOLE WORLD is in love but you? This is kind of the epitome of that...


Personally, I think the Marching band was a little over the top, but I completely agree with Ben Foster's reaction at the end. If you haven't seen it, check the movie out. It's a really cool way to spend 90 min.

#4) From "500 Days Of Summer" - You Make My Dreams Come True 
This clip is at the complete OPPOSITE end of the spectrum. This scene happens just after our hero, a nice, but neurotic guy (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), hooks up with his girl for the first time. 

Yes, ladies, this is how we see the world the morning after. (The song changes depending on your guy's preference, but everything else is dead on.)

#3) From "Ray" - Mess Around
This clip is from Jamie Foxx's tour de force "Ray". At this point in the career of Ray Charles, his producers are trying to get Ray out of his standard practice of copying everyone else's style and working on developing his own. One of his producers comes up with an intriguing method.

I loved the look on Ray's face when the producer says that he wrote it. If you haven't seen this movie, go watch it... RIGHT NOW!

#2) From "Shine" - Flight Of The Bumblebee
My number two entry (and it was close) is from the biopic for the piano player David Helfgott. A prodigy pianist who had a nervous breakdown and was never quite the same again. In this particular scene, he had been away from playing piano for awhile (his landlord locked the piano in his rooms) and had been haunting a diner close to the assisted living apartments where he was living. A waitress at the diner took kindly to him, but the owner of the joint was a bit of an ass. But Helfgott wouldn't be held down!

Talk about the epitome of a "SCREW YOU" to the owner!! This scene is the beginning of the upturn of Helfgott's life. The movie itself is a masterpiece and I STRONGLY recommend it to anyone who wants to see Geoffrey Rush in a NON Hector Barbossa role. I must warn you it is a heavy movie.

#1) From "Crossroads" - Guitar Duel
No, this is not the Britney Spears movie, go smack yourself in the face HARD, SEVERAL TIMES for even THINKING that I would deign to watch that... film. No, this is from the 1980s blues classic Crossroads, with Ralph Macchio and Joe Seneca. This is the final part of the film, where they finally make it back to the crossroads where Willie Brown made his deal with the devil and where he tries to get him to break the contract. WARNING: This is the END of the film, so if you haven't seen it, this is a spoiler. But enjoy it anyway!!

WOW, right? Talk about some fantastic guitar playing!! The tall, white guy is Steve Vai, a phenomenal guitarist. If I'm correct, I believe he wrote most of the guitar duel music. And in case you're wondering, Ralph Macchio wasn't playing the guitar, it was Ry Cooder, legendary blues guitarist, playing off screen. Again, this is a movie I STRONGLY recommend to anyone who is a blues fan. It's not an Oscar calibur film, but it's an amazingly good time.

And there you have it, my dear readers, my Top 5 Music Moments in Movies. What are YOURS?? Sound off in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Things I Miss About Having A Girlfriend...

Last week was an interesting week for me. Mostly because it was the first week where my job search really paid off. I had two interviews that week, which is a record for me so far. The other reason it was an interesting week is because on the way back from the interview I had in Acton, a very strange thing happened. A car that was driving next to me on the highway started beeping it's horn to get my attention, when I looked a girl had rolled down the window and lifted her shirt, displaying her rather impressive chest! To be completely honest, it was a shocking event, but also completely awesome!

It did get me thinking about a great many things regarding women and my relationships with them. Funnily enough, it wasn't anything bad, just stuff I miss. Granted, I haven't had many girlfriends and the ones I did have were wildly different, but they all had certain key qualities that resonated with me. I miss those qualities, which brings us to the point of this post.

For some bizarre reason, it's considered unmanly to admit to actually liking women. I have no idea why since the point of heterosexual males is to get women. I've never really understood that, but whatever. Here I am, acting all unmanly and saying that I miss having a girlfriend. Don't get me wrong the day-to-day realities of a relationship are difficult at times, but there are certain things that I liked having while I was with a girl.

For example, I miss:

-- the way kissing her erased all the problems in the world and reminded me that the two of us were the only things that mattered.

-- the joy I felt in knowing she cared enough to worry about my happiness.

-- the scent of her in my bed reminding me of her while she was away.

-- the coolness she would try to display when she was worried about my opinion on something important to her.

-- the rush I got every time I did something to make her happy.

-- the look on her face when I tell her I love her.

-- the way she whispered my name in the night.

-- the thrill I got when I came home and she was there.

-- the unconscious gestures of possession she made when other women paid undue attention to me.

-- the hidden signs of approval I got from other guys when they saw me with her.

-- the warmth of her in my arms.

Please remember, these things are not tied to any one particular girlfriend, but to all of them. They are the small items that when they connect in my head, and my heart, tell me that I'm in a real, solid relationship. Tell me, my dear readers, what are the things that make a relationship real for you?

Life Notes: An Explanation...

In a previous post, I told you, my dear readers, that I had been laid off. After that, my posting dropped severely. There were a few posts here and there, but I had for all intents and purposes, stopped posting.

Life went downhill for me after that. I spent the next few weeks updating my resume, filing for unemployment and trying to survive. I lost internet access which lost me the ability to post on here on a regular basis, as well as overly complicating my job search since I had to hunt down places that offered free wi-fi with the speeds necessary to allow the job hunt sites to work properly.

Then there was the fight with the Unemployment office to get my benefits started. Turns out my previous employer owed me money which held up my benefits for much longer than normal. The irony of that still gets me. I was owed money which prevented me from getting the money I was owed. Got to love bureaucracy. Since then I've been tap dancing on a river of shit... One misstep and I lose everything: car, apt, phone, everything.

Thanks to my friends, I've managed to stave off the ever encroaching depression that seems to be endemic to my situation. Thanks to my sister, I once again have internet access at home and can post on here again. So, my dear readers, if you're so inclined, keep an eye out on this blog again. I will be posting more frequently again. I hope to get back to the double digits for posting in the month of April and to continue that as I move forward from here. And now, on to my next post.