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14
Mar

Charismatic A.A.?

In 1712, in Aldersgate Street, London, John Wesley’s heart was “strangely warmed.” So Wesley reports, and so began the charismatic movement within the Church of England that led to the founding of the Methodist Church, with Wesley as its founder, of course.

What had happened is what often happened: the Church of England, founded by Radical Protestant Martin Luther (motto: “nailing shit to church doors since 1517”) had began ritualistic, with worship services featuring rote prayers, blindly recited every Sunday.  Wesley saw a need for a “warming up” transformation of the stale and tired (from his viewpoint) Church of England.

I wonder if the same thing has happened to A.A., or at least my local version of A.A., or at least the meetings I regularly go to.

Hard to imagine a charismatic movement happening within A.A., harder still to imagine me leading it.  (And even harder to imagine what picture I’ll attach to this post.)

8
Mar

A Space Odyssey

Went to see Gravity a couple weeks ago at the Reitz Union theater.  Really loved it — believed every minute that I was in space, marveled at being there.  And, yes, it was gratifying to see Alfonso Cuaron win Best Director at the Oscars, and especially Emmanuel Lubeszki win Best Cinematography (his sixth nomination).  Lovely pictures — every shot must have presented a challenge.

So it was time to see 2001: A Space Odyssey again; it’s been years, and I was interested to see how the space special effects held up, coming as they do from a time before CGI and all sorts of technology to aid special effects — they were done the old-fashioned way.

The Heuristic Algorithmic Lifeform (HAL)

The Heuristic Algorithmic Lifeform (HAL)

A sort of disclaimer here:  I have a long history with 2001.  First went to see it as a college freshman, and since it was 1968, drugs were probably involved.  Have seen it multiple times since then, and my major professor\dissertation director in grad school at The University of Florida delineated his Optical Theory of movies using it in a series of articles (executive summary: movies are about vision, about the eye, and pretty much against talk as well as other forms of intellectualism. The intellectual divides; the imaginative creates unity).

Happy to report, after watching the first hour, that it still looks marvelous.  The initial scene with the apes way back in prehistory is fascinating, and the “space ballet” with various rocket ships and Strauss waltzes still deserves all the praise it’s accumulated over the years.

Spacement Observing the Monolith on the Moon

Spacement Observing the Monolith on the Moon

I looked at some old reviews of the movie, including what both Roger Ebert and Renata Adler had to say in 1968 when the movie was new and they’d just seen it, and had to try to make sense of it.  Here’s Adler from the New York Times:

The movie is so completely absorbed in its own problems, its use of color and space, its fanatical

devotion to science-fiction detail, that it is somewhere between hypnotic and immensely

boring. (With intermission, it is three hours long.)  All kinds of minor touches are perfectly done:

there are carnivorous apes that look real; when they throw their first bone weapon into the air,

Kubrick cuts to a spacecraft; the amiable HAL begins most of his sentences with “Well,” and his

answer to “How’s everything?” is, naturally, “Everything’s under control.”

Interests me how 2001 fits into the Kubrick oeuvre: it comes right after Dr. Strangelove and precedes A Clockwork Orange.  Then he directs Barry Lyndon.  To come is Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut.   Could any 7 movies be less alike?

5
Mar

Lent Begins

Lent begins today, with Ash Wednesday celebrated here in Gainesville, Fl and pretty much all over the world.  At my little church, St. Michael’s Episcopal, our service was at 6 P.M. (I just got home).  Though it was sparsely attended, it was a moving service (much about penitence, some confession of sin), with the imposition of ashes accomplished to our few, our happy few, our band of brothers and sisters.

In my childhood, growing up in a Roman Catholic family and attending Catholic school (St. John of the Cross Elementary School), a lot was made of “What are you giving up for Lent?”  Typical was candy or desserts, or any other kind of treats — giving up liver, broccoli, or homework was severely frowned upon.

In adulthood, giving something up, especially something like candy (hardly ever eat it) or ice cream (that could work) doesn’t seem so apropos.  I thought I’d be guided by Isaiah 58, which we read tonight at our service: Isaiah writes, in part (and remember that he’s channeling\quoting the Lord): “Is this not the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to let the oppressed go free…?”

Outside the Church, Giving Ashes to Busy Commuters

Outside the Church, Giving Ashes to Busy Commuters

And, “Is it not to share your bread with the poor…?”  You catch the drift — house the homeless, clothe the naked, spend time with your family.

If I do that, Isaiah continues, “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.”

Sounds good.