Friday, 30 May 2008

Planned Parenthood in Kansas

There is a large and extremely important case being argued before the Kansas Supreme Court this month. It's complicated, but what it comes down to is that Planned Parenthood has been performing illegal abortions in Kansas, doctoring the evidence, and suing the state attorney general when he started investigating them. For an overview of the case and all the relevant information, please check it out here and here. This is an incredibly important moment in the fight against abortion -- please read the articles and remember to pray about it. Please also pass these links on to others so that the light of truth can be brought to bear on the Kansas governor and Kansas courts.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Prince Caspian

Two nights ago Nathan and I saw Prince Caspian. I've been looking forward to seeing it because I genuinely enjoyed the movie version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Sadly, I cannot say the same thing about Prince Caspian.

My first complaint is the same one I have of so many movies that are based on beloved books. The book is beloved for a reason! Why movie producers think it's prudent to change the plot so much as to make it almost unrecognizable is beyond me. This is exactly what has happened with Prince Caspian. Apparently the book is much too slow and boring, so to jazz it up a little, the movie adds battle scene after battle scene. The movie also adds in a little romance which, again, is nowhere to be found in the book. As a result of all the new battles, there is zero time for character or plot development. I'm pretty sure the movie doesn't even make sense. I found myself filling in the blanks and gaps from my knowledge of the book, but without that, the movie is very hard to follow because it wanders from one battle to the next without any clear direction except the constant need for action. In addition to the action and romance, the movie has also added a chip the size of Toledo onto Peter's shoulder. Why? I have no idea. But Peter is riddled with teenage insecurity and drama, all of which is apparently exacerbated by the fact that he "once was a grown up" and now everyone just treats him like a kid. Jerks.

However, my biggest complaint involves the treatment of Aslan. In the book, Aslan shows himself first only to Lucy, and she is called to follow him during a time when the children and Trumpkin are lost. Lucy makes a valiant effort to convince the others, but only Edmund believes her, so in the end Lucy goes with the others instead of following Aslan. Later, Aslan rebukes her for this and tells her she should have followed him even if no one else had. In the movie, Lucy also sees Aslan when no one else does, but the movie fails to indicate the call to obedience that is involved in her sighting of him. The movie therefore also fails to indicate her lack of obedience, and the lack of faith in the others. Instead, Lucy is treated as having some kind of special access to Aslan, and so when several battles have gone badly and things are looking grim, she is sent out into the woods to see if she can see him again and get him to help them. This seems to be the exact opposite of the what Lewis is intending from the Aslan/Lucy relationship. In the book, Aslan gives her sight of himself as both gift and call. Lucy must respond to him. In the movie, Lucy's sighting of Aslan is a sign of her special status, and leads the others to assume that she can find and call Aslan when needed. And, in fact, that's exactly what happens. In the movie, Aslan responds to her. This, in my opinion, is a serious misreading of the story. Aslan's presence is always seen as gift and calling in the books (see, for example, in The Silver Chair, when Jill says she and Eustace asked to come to Narnia, but Aslan corrects her by saying they only asked because he had already called them). The characters in the Narnia stories circle around Aslan; he does not circle around them. They either see his gift and respond to his call, or they don't. But he does not come and go at their beck and call. The movie essentially treats Aslan as a powerful weapon which Lucy can (usually) wield. Just as Susan is a regular Legolas with her bow and arrow, and Peter and Edmund are real aces with their swords, so Lucy always comes through in a pinch with her lion. I don't think Mr. Lewis would approve. I certainly do not.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Insan-o Stuff on the Way to Dalkeith

Claustrophobic as we are living in the cramped city of Edinburgh, we decided to do an overnight stay at Westen Cowden Farmhouse, a bed and breakfast in the neighboring town of Dalkeith. We're used to things going amiss, but a surprising number of odd events tranpired.

On the bus ride down, a dude fell asleep - I mean ASLEEP - and was flung out of his seat on a sharp turn. Fortunately, his face broke the fall. The bus driver stopped and I tried to help him up. He woke up, but I'm not sure he quite recovered. Was it alcohol? Heroin? Term papers?

A few minutes later a woman asked if we were from Minnesota. Yikes. I know were ostensibly American, but apparently, having only spent seven years in South Dakota, we're radiating the midwest.

Ah, then there was that little dog with a tree branch - five feet across, maybe 20 pounds - in its mouth while jumping over a three foot high fence, and its owner, swearing like a sailor, and the owner's friend reprimanding him for not being able to construct a sentence without the f-bomb.

So much for the sleepy little Scottish village idea. Get us back to Edinburgh.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Wrestling God

I (Nathan) have always been drawn to the story of Jacob wrestling the Angel of the Lord (Gen 32). He wrestles God. Who in his right mind wrestles GOD? But this is what Jacob does, there at the Jabbok River, there in the most anxious moment of his life, his estranged brother Esau probably about to kill him the next day and steal all his property. Jacob doesn't wrestle with his thoughts or his worries - he wrestles the Almighty.

There is something potentially sacrilegious in all of this. It would be easy for us to hear this passage and assume that the spiritual life is one of manipulation, cold and conniving interaction with God that effectively twists His heavenly arm until He forks over the goods. Just as easily we could imagine this passage baptizes the practice of religious litigation. As if pouting at God and hating Him made sense, as if any one of us could bring a law suit against God, take the money and run. More than once I've heard people say, "It's okay to be angry at God." There's something almost right about that sentiment, except it seems to leave the door open for the kind of seething and scorching demeanor totally unbefitting to the Christian life. Still, could it be that God invites us into the life of passionate engagement with Him?

With day breaking, the Angel disclocates Jacob's hip and tells him to let go. But Jacob won't: "Not until you bless me." Jacob has good reason to think God is in the business of blessing. Had God not given him many children, much cattle, and (by any standard of the Levant) the good life? Certainly God isn't going to change His mind at this point! It seems incredible that we, who have the promises of God in full - the new heavens and the new earth - don't do the same. This One has pledged His faithfulness to us in Jesus Christ, meaning however we grapple with Him, whether singing or shouting or calmly reasoning or swearing or crying, we mean to engage Him on His own invitation. "God, You said..." should be a stock phrase of ours, just like the psalmists': Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people (Psa 106:4)! Will You forget me forever (Psa 13:1)? Confirm your promise to your servant (Psa 119:38)! These cries are not the cries of whiners and prosecutors. These are the prayers of those who wrestle God.

Engage Him. Only the cold shoulder, only the practical atheism we all sometimes practice, is truly repugnant. Marriages and friendships can survive seasons of intensity and contention; they cannot survive apathy. For all its uniqueness, our relationship with God has the same component. Is this not the real reason we are told to "pray without ceasing" (1 Ths 5:17)? Not because we are good or eloquent or even goodspirited pray-ers, but because the God of Jesus Christ has hemmed us in on every side. He - He! - has hemmed us in, not guilt or credit card debt or ADHD or family strife or terminal cancer. Israel-like, we wrestle with the Living God, because only He is before us and only He has the blessing.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Water Baby

Yesterday we went to our local indoor swimming pool. It's actually a little more than a swimming pool. It has a waterslide and wave pool too. This was Z's first swim. He loves splashing in the bath, so we thought he might like the pool too. Did he ever! Once we got there we changed into our suits, and you'll have to take my word for it (since we didn't get any pictures) that Z looked super cute in his little green swimming suit. We found a little blow up toy for him to sit in and got in the water. For the first couple of minutes he didn't seem too sure what to make of the situation, but then he suddenly realized how much fun he could be having. The boat he was sitting in had a little seat which allowed him to be in the water from the chest down, so he started laying out flat (instead of sitting up straight with his feet down) and kicking his feet. He could really move in that thing! He's got a nice kick, very good form, and he scooted back and forth between me and Nathan with no problem. And he loved it. Even when he accidentally dropped his face in the water or splashed himself, it didn't phase him at all, he just took a deep breath and kept going.

After we'd been in the pool for about an hour, it became clear that Z was both very tired and very reluctant to give up the fun. He kept trying to lie forwards or backwards in his boat, or resting his head on the side, so he could still kick his feet and splash around, but get a little rest at the same time. He clearly needed a baby pool-recliner. So, we think Z will become quite the little swimmer!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

New Blog

Hey everyone, my (Christina's)brother has a blog for his short stories now and it's worth checking out. I've got it on the side in the favorites column (Red Leg Ramblings), or you can go to this address: