Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Mike Stinson Update, The Golden Compass, and More Knicks Drama (I'll stop writing about the Knicks... I promise)

Received an email from one of Mike's friends. I'll just re-post it here:

Mike is awake and has both eyes open which he blinks to communicate. No talking right now since he still has the ventilator tube in (they didn't do the tracheotomy). He can move both arms too. This is great news! Yea, God!! Thanks for the prayers.

Excellent news from Washington D.C. Please keep up the prayer.

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On an unrelated note, I thought I'd share for you the thoughts on "The Golden Compass", by Gregg Easterbrook, editor of the New Republic, noted author, and writer of a football column for ESPN.com (Tuesday Morning Quarterback). Highly educated in the field of physics and largely respected in the literary and intellectual world. Easterbrook is also a practicing Christian (although in many respects he's a bit unconventional). Here's what he had to say:

Publishers Slam Religion; Hollywood Cozies Up: Because we have a president who is ostentatiously religious -- as an active Christian, I really wish George W. Bush and other politicians would bear in mind that the First Amendment mandates separation of church and state -- there has been a fad for God-is-a-fraud books. But you can't prove God does not exist any more than you can prove God does! (See Kant's football column.) Recent anti-religion best-sellers by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens read like Middle Ages papal bulls, pronouncing a new orthodoxy in which everything about faith is bad, none of religion's good points and virtues are permitted to be mentioned, and godlessness is the new God you must obey! TMQ pal Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic just had a wonderful line about this: "Religion may confer a preposterous cosmic significance upon the individual, but atheism is the true friend of egotism." It is one thing to suppose there is no divine power, the universe coming into being solely through natural forces; this might turn out to be correct. It's quite another to suppose God is impossible -- that nothing can possibly exist that is greater than a 21st-century pundit with a book to sell. Pretty egotistical, huh?

Meanwhile, TMQ asked in August whether the three Golden Compass books would carry their very strong anti-Christian view onto the silver screen -- the first big-budget installment opens this week. In the Golden Compass trilogy, God is both a fraud (a space alien pretending to be divine!) and the source of every evil in the universe; Christianity is "a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all"; God has created not heaven but hell and sends all souls, even those of the righteous, to hell; Christian churches are run by corrupt power-mad conspirators whose goal is to abolish pleasure in life; the quest of the astonishingly competent English schoolgirl who is the trilogy's heroine is to locate ancient magical objects that will allow her to kill God and free the world from religion.

So TMQ wondered whether this anti-Christian worldview would make it into the movies. Hanna Rosin reports in the latest issue of The Atlantic Monthly that every trace of religion has been removed from the first Golden Compass flick. God is never mentioned, and the Bad Guys -- who in the books are priests of the Magisterium -- are just generic smirking guys in black robes whose organizational affiliation is never explained. This seems to me an outrageous cop-out. I thought Philip Pullman's Golden Compass books wildly overstated the case against religion, using the harebrained pretense that if faith disappeared, Earth would instantly become a paradise. But anti-religion views are perfectly valid and deserve to be aired; why shouldn't moviegoers get to see a big-budget attack on Christianity? This would be the honest way to film the Golden Compass books.

Should the film series make it to the end of the trilogy, producers will face a real challenge. In the third volume, "The Amber Spyglass," much of the action occurs in hell, where the innocent are being eternally tormented -- the astonishingly competent English schoolgirl leads a commando raid into hell, with the goal of releasing souls to oblivion. In the third book, there's also a phony cloud nine, run by the malevolent false God; a key character is an evil, sex-obsessed archangel whose mission, assigned by God, is to spread human misery; the action builds up to the good characters physically killing God. How is Hollywood going to pretend that has nothing to do with religion?

I'd consider Easterbrook to be pretty reliable when it comes to assessing not only the content of the book, but the movie. He has no history of ax-grinding toward atheists or any other religious groups for that matter. He's generally pretty straight forward on matters of the Christian faith. You can catch the rest of Easterbrook's column (which talks about new federal MPG guidelines for U.S automakers, Leonardo DeVinici, the BCS, radio telescopes, and the histrocity of Noah's flood... oh, and football. He talks about football too) here.

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As an update to a recent post, three days ago troubled Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury suffered another blow when his father died unexpectedly of a heart attack. What makes this situation even more tragic is that Marbury's dad was at Madison Square Garden watching his son play the Suns, when paramedics had to be called at halftime to take Donald Marbury to the hospital. He died while his son was playing in the second-half. Now the city of New York is an uproar because Knicks officials (reportedly on the advise of Steph's family) didn't tell him until after the game that his father had passed away. Today's New York Post contained this scathing article by Peter Vescey, who rips coach and GM Isiah Thomas for not telling the player right away what was going on with his dad. Had Thomas left the choice to Steph, Vescey reasons, possibly he could have spoken to his father one last time before he died.

Vescey's venom is fueled by what he called a continued pattern on the part of Thomas, who's public persona has been one of warmth and compassion, for repeatedly putting his own job security over the welfare of his players. He cites a situation in Indiana during the 02-03 season while he coached the Pacers when Jamaal Tinsley's mother was dying where Thomas refused to give permission to let the point guard leave the team. He was later overruled by the team's president, Donnie Walsh. When she did then pass, the team chartered a plane so that it's players and coaches could go to the funeral, but Thomas reported refused to let his assistant coaches board. Vescey said that as a result, only four players chose to make the trip.

I made a post a couple of days ago that the leagues premier franchise is in real trouble, and needs rescued very, very soon. Given all the ridiculousness (particularly a very public sex harassment trial involving Thomas harassing a member of the Knicks' front office staff that was so explosive it blew a NBA refereeing scandal completely out of the news) the situation has now gone beyond on-court performance.

Will Commissioner David Stern step in soon? Will Knicks owner, James Dolan, finally do what the entire eroding fan base for his team is calling for, and let Thomas go? Or will the drama off-court overshadow the game being played on-court for the rest of the season? I guess the other 13 true fans of the NBA and myself will just have to wait and see.

1 comment:

Tina Dietsch said...

Bucher!

The more emails I get telling my not to see "The Golden Compass", the more I want to see it. Guess I have authority issues or something!

By the way, I am back in the land of the blogging!!!!

Hope things are going well at Shawnee. With you as pastor, it can be nothing but FABULOUS!!!!