Monday, March 20, 2006

Bart Ehrman: former fundamentalist, Bible scholar

I was surprised last week to see Bart Ehrman on the The Daily Show. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since Jon Stewart often features somewhat obscure authors. I think it is great that Ehrman's research about early Christianity is getting more attention: Ehrman's own personal story is also very interesting. He was a fundamentalist Christian who was led to study the Bible and early Christianity. However, his studies ultimately led him to question his fundamentalism and to become an agnostic.

Friday, March 17, 2006

"Hail Xenu!!!"

Tom "not gay" Cruise may have forced Comedy Central to not re-run South Park's Scientology episode, "Trapped in the Closet". According to an article(1) in today's, Trey Parker and Matt Stone issued the following statement:
"'So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!' "The duo signed the statement 'Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu.'"(1)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Issac Hayes, "Chef", leaves "South Park"!!!

According to Yahoo! News, Issac Hayes is leaving South Park because he just now realized that the show is intolerant toward religious beliefs:
"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said. "Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."(1)
However, South Park co-creator Matt Stone disputes Hayes' reasoning:
"This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."(1)
and on South Park Studios website Stone says:
"This has nothing to do with intolerance and bigotry and everything to do with the fact that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist and that we recently featured Scientology in an episode of 'South Park.' In ten years and over 150 episodes of 'South Park,' Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show. To bring the civil rights struggle into this is just a non-sequiter. Of course we will release Isaac from his contract and we wish him well."(2)
Hayes' hypocrasy is pretty obvious. South Park has been an equal opportunity offender and one of the few shows that actually proclaims what many children (and adults) think about religious traditions. Afterall, faith is all about believing in non-sensical, illogical stories and ideas. If Sceintology wants to be identified as another valid faith practice (as opposed to dismissed as a dangerous, fringe cult), then it shouldn't be so sensitive to satire. (1) (2)

Monday, March 13, 2006

BSG Season 2 Finale: The Deadwood Crossover [spoiler]

The 90-minute, Battlestar Galactica season two finale, Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2, was terrific! The one-year leap was surreal -- in fact, I thought it was going to be a dream sequence. Of course, this isn't Star Trek and Ron Moore doesn't rely on cheesy gimmicks. That's what great about the BSG storyline. The show is not set-up for re-run syndication. Rather, it seems more like a one-shot, HBO-type of series in which anything can happen. At first glance, I was a little put-off that a space drama appeared to turn into Deadwood. Even President Baltar's office became a brothel. But it makes sense. If humans are to colonize another world, then the first settlements are going to reflect frontier towns and there will be a little lawlessness. Season three has not even started production yet and will not premiere until October. So fans are going to have to wait to resolve certain questions:
  • Is Boomer still in the Galactica brig? Probably. Afterall, any suspected Cylon would risk disclosing their location. At least, Helo appears to remain on Galactica.
  • Are Apollo and Dualla married? Starbuck married what-his-face and Tyrol married Kylee(sp?). Since the father and son are commanding the fleet, it doesn't appear anyone is really worried about the appearance of nepotism.
  • Did Adama and Roslin find romance? Okay, maybe BSG is becoming too soap opera to hook-up all the lead characters.
  • Will the Cylons discover Boomer's baby? The Cylons seemed to be able to recognize each other. Will a nasty custody dispute result?
  • Where is Tom Zarek? He was not at President Baltar side during the surrender and did not appear in the New Caprica sequences. He probably had a fallout with Baltar since it appear Baltar was having a dispute with the workers. Or, he was behind the dispute with the workers since his communist, no money, no class system may have worn the workers thin.
Actually, the finale tied-up a lot of lingering plot points. So, it isn't a cruel cliffhanger. Rather it just let fans look forward to next season's developments.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

update: struggling 'ex-gay' confronted by supervisor

Apparently I was not alone in my concerns in January about an exgaymensministry member's attractions to a younger, attractive, student-teacher co-worker. Yesterday, "Tone" posted that two co-workers complained to the school's headmistress (he is in the UK) regarding his relationship:
...two teachers complained about my spending somuch time with our 21yo student teacher who has been on six out ofhis seven weeks teaching practice in my school. He's in the classroom next to mine. We discovered that we were both Christians, and have become prayer partners, gym buddies and mates, with a common interest in travelling, sci-fi and Superman. We spend up to two hours each evening talking about school, setting updisplays, church, faith, interests, hobbies and people, and then pray.This morning, my headmistress felt she needed to have a word with me. My professionalism was questioned. But...
He then listed eight defenses for his relationship and why the accusations are unfair. Either this guy is really an unfortunate victim or there is something going on that even he is unwilling to admit or be aware of. Afterall, it's not unusual for ex-gays to have internal conflict struggles while they attempt to repress their attractions. Hence, the high-profile, professional ex-gays like John Paulk and Michael Johnston who have risked their ex-gay careers for gay flings. Am I obsessing about "ex-gays" falling?

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

2006 Oscar Pics

In preparation for KevKev's Brokeback-themed Oscar party on Sunday, I need to choose my favorite or predict the most-likely Oscar winners: Best Picture Brokeback Mountain: My Favorite, Most Likely Munich Good Night, and Good Luck: Second Favorite Capote Crash: Did not see Achievement in Directing Bennett Miller, Capote Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain: My Favorite, Most Likely Steven Spielberg, Munich Paul Haggis, Crash: Did not see George Clooney, Good Night, And Good Luck: Second Favorite Best Actor Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line: My Favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote: Most Likely David Strathairn, Good Night, And Good Luck. Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow: Did not see Best Actress Charlize Theron, North Country (did not see) Keira Knightley, Pride and Prejudice Felicity Huffman, Transamerica (did not see) Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line: My Favorite, Most Likely Judi Dench: Mrs. Henderson Presents (did not see) Best Supporting Actor William Hurt, A History of Violence (did not see) George Clooney, Syriana (did not see): Most Likely (Yahoo!) Matt Dillon, Crash (did not see) Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain: My Favorite Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man (did not see): Most Likely (Pinnacle Sports 03/01/06 08:50) Best Supporting Actress Frances McDormand, North Country (did not see) Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener (did not see): Most Likely (Pinnacle Sports 03/01/06 08:50, Yahoo!, 03/01/06 08:50) Amy Adams, Junebug (did not see) Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain My Favorite Catherine Keener, Capote