Friday, June 29, 2012

Film Flash: Ted

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

Flash Gordon fans rejoice: a movie made for you. As funny as it is vulgar.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trailer Time: The Sessions

"Evil, be thou my good." Paradise Lost, Book IV line 110

I thought A Burning Hot Summer would be the worst trailer I saw this year.  Then I saw this piece of crap.

Okay, I can deal with the paraplegic wanting to lose his virginity.  Many movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin start this way but come to a good conclusion

I can deal with the idea of a romance between him and his sex therapist.  This could be a way to get her to seeing that sex should not be shared with multiple partners, but should be an expression of love, ala Pretty Woman.

But the priest.... the PRIEST!

He may very well be the worst priest I've seen in a movie, and I saw Tim Curry's Cardinal in 3 Musketeers!

Logic Lessons pt 4

Fallacies of Diversion

The next set of Material Fallacies are called Fallacies of Diversion. These are ways of diverting attention away from the argument itself. Many people, when they are losing an argument, avoid the substance of the argument.

  1. Ad hominem = attacking the person instead of the issues at hand.

          There are several different type of Ad hominem attacks

          a. “Poisoning the well” = direct attack on trustworthiness to avoid arguing facts. Usually involves slanting. Who here hasn't heard this growing up: “You're just a kid, you don't know what you're talking about?”

          b. “Tu quoque” = “you too.” This is attacking the critic with the same thing the critic accuses you of doing. An example of this would be: “How can you tell me to turn away from sin, when you too are a sinner.” Or a teen says to a parent “You drank when you were in high school, so how can you tell me I can't?”

          c. “Genetic Fallacy” = refuting an idea by showing some suspicious psychological origin of it. As I mentioned in my post on death, non-believers sometimes say that belief in God is based on our fear of death. But this substitutes a logical reason with personal motive. If you said to me, “You don't want to believe that your wife is cheating on you,” I would agree, but it has no bearing on whether or not she is (incedentally, just to protect her honor, let me clarify that she is not).

  1. Ad verecundian = “appeal to reverence”

    This is when there is an illegitimate appeal to authority or an appeal to illegitimate authority. Now, not all appeals to to authority are bad. Sometimes authority is necessary, because we can't be experts on everything. I am not an expert in particle physics and quantum mechanics, so I rely on others. But arguments from authority are the weakest of all arguments, because we have not worked through all the data ourselves, but we are one step removed from the logic.
    Appeals to authority are fallacious when:

    a. they are irrelevant: e.g. movie stars on issues of science
     b. unreliable: e.g. tabloids who have questionable sources
     c. unnecessary: when argument from reason is clear. I don't need a PhD in math to tell me that if a=b and b=c then a=c
    d. dogmatic: claimed with certainty, not probability. Whenever I says “Experts say...” I have to acknowledge that they could be wrong.
    e. uncritical: when there is no good reason to trust authority. I remember when a student told me that removal of priestly celibacy would lead to less pedophilia. When I pointed out that married men, by a larger percentage, have more pedophiles than celibate priests, her response was: “Well, my mom agrees with me.”

  1. Ad baculum = appeal to force or fear instead of reason. 

     Also includes appeal to desire. If your boss says that they will fire you if you agree with them or promote you if you agree, this would be an example of this.

  1. Ad misericordiam = appeal to pity in substitute for an argument.

     I was moderating a debate on euthanasia. One of the debaters said, “I've had a family member who died in great pain. You won't think euthanasia is wrong if you have to live through the same situation.” While experiential knowledge is important, this is a fallacy because it dodges the logical arguments presented by the opponent.

  1. Ad ignominiam = appeal to shame in substitute for argument. 

     If you've ever had someone say to you, “People will laugh at you if you do X,” then this would be a fallacy. Now, if the substance of the argument is what people will or will not laugh at, then this is not a fallacy. But if you said to me, “You shouldn't stand at a prayer vigil outside abortion clinics because people will laugh at you,” this would not address the substance of if my actions are right or wrong.
    As clarification on the difference between shame and guilt. Shame is social. It is relative to society. Guilt is personal. It is based on our own beliefs of moral rightness. Often the two things overlap. Once when I was a kid, as a joke, slapped my dad on the back of the head for saying something I thought was stupid. His faced turned ashen and yelled at me in front of everyone. I still feel guilt about that because it was a horribly disrespectful thing to do to my father, and I know that it was wrong. But I also felt shame, because I knew other people who saw would think I was a bad person. A good example of this distinction is being naked. When we are alone in the shower naked, we don't feel any guilt. But if suddenly the walls to the bathroom fell away and the whole neighborhood saw us, we would feel shame.

  2. Ad populum = believing or doing something because it is popular. Politicians do this all the time. 

     There are 2 types
    a. Appeal to the Masses. This is where we turn to the idea of what normal people think and how they behave. Notice this has been used by citing polls regarding the acceptance of contraceptives in modern society and how that impacts the morality of the contraception mandate in Obamacare.      b. “Snob Appeal.” This happens whenever we disregard an argument because it comes from a place we consider inferior.

7. Ad ignoratiam = appeal to ignorance. This is arguing an idea must be true because we do not know that it is not. This is one that I heard a lot when The DaVinci Code was popular: “I believe Jesus married Mary Magdalene because there is no evidence that says that he did not.” This would be like me saying: “I believe that you are a serial killer because there is no evidence to say that you are not.”

When I Become President...

I have loved comic books for a long time, but it is a slowly dying industry.

So I have decided that when I become president I am going to mandate that everyone buy comic books or I will tax you.  And the money that is raised by the tax will go to providing comic books for everyone who cannot afford comics.

Fulton Sheen Made Venerable

There are four steps in the process of canonization to sainthood in the Catholic Church:

Servant of God = declares the person to be pious
Venerable = the person displayed heroic virtue
Blessed = intercedes to perform miracles
Saint =  A model for the whole Church on how to live as Christ

I mentioned Fulton Sheen in my last essay.  The thing that is often most noted about him is that he was the first televangelist in the literal sense.  He used television to preach the Gospel and he actually won 2 Emmys for it.  Of course today in Canada he would probably be charged with hate crimes for doing so.

I have read two of his books.  The first was The Life of Christ, which was a meditation on the different aspects of the Gospel story.

I don't remember all of it, but I was struck by the chapter on Judas.  I will never forget the last line of that chapter.  After going through everything Judas had done, Sheen laments Judas' failure to repent and instead giving into despair and suicide.  "The great tragedy of his life," Sheen wrote, "is that he is not St. Judas."  The truth of that statement blew my mind.  Judas should have been a saint.  But he could not do the one thing saints do: turn to Christ.

The other book I read was The World's First Love, which is about the Virgin Mary and her role in salvation history.

The part I remember the most is that he suggested if you ever want to engage in dialogue with someone of the Islamic faith, start with Mary.  Muslims have an enormous respect for the Blessed Virgin.  In fact, Sheen wrote:

Mary is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: "Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary." In a variant of the text, Fatima is made to say: "I surpass all the women, except Mary."

I also own his autobiography, Treasure in Clay, but I have yet to read it.

As someone who is fully engaged in pop culture, I love the fact that Fulton Sheen did not shy away from the new media of television, but embraced it.  He saw it as a new means to bring people closer to Jesus.  Granted, what was acceptable on television in his day and ours is vastly different.  But I think it is a mistake for Christians to cede the pop culture to degradation.  Success of movies like The Passion of the Christ prove that there is a market for this (though that success has yet to be replicated).

Pope Benedict XVI has today signed the decree to move Sheen from Servant of God to Venerable.

I am no going to begin a devotion to Sheen.  Also since he used new media to witness to the Gospel, which is something I attempt to do in a small way here, I will dedicate this blog to Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.

Geeky Home Theaters

Check out this post from about 8 Amazingly Geektastic Home Theaters.

I think that they are all very cool, but the one I would love to have is the Star Trek one:

I know I'm known more as a Star Wars geek, but this room would make me feel like I was actually on the bridge of the Enterprise.  I like to imagine Picard, Data, Worf, and the rest coming up there for movie night.

Picard:  Mr. Data, what is the status?
Data: Sir, the "popped" corn has been fully hatched, awaiting the addition of butter and salt.
Picard:  Make it so.
Worf:  Sir, we have the movie "Bridget Jones' Diary loaded in our memory banks.
Picard: Onscreen!

Anyway, check out the link and let me know which one you would like.  Or is there a theme not listed that they should make?

That Silly Little Thing Called Death

The villain from the movie The Crow said, “Childhood is over the day that you know you're going to die.” If that's the case, my childhood ended in the 3rd grade. I don't remember what specific event set it off, but I would be beset by horrible panic attacks about death. Don't get me wrong, I still watched Saturday morning cartoons and played stupid games like “Climb the Chandelier,” but I would often return to the horrible mystery of the ultimate.

Hamlet called death the undiscovered country, from whose born no traveller returns. It is the great unknown but also the great inevitable. We all must step over the threshold of death and none of us knows with certainty what is on the other side.

Having just seen the movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, I was once again confronted with not only my own mortality, but the mortality of the world. This world, this universe is not going to last. It is dying as we speak. And even if the Mayans were wrong and the world doesn't end in 2012 (and yes I know all about the leap year recalibration), the end will come.

I don't know about you, but this freaks me out.

But I think that this is a natural response to death. Many non-believers will claim that the reason we have faith is because we are afraid of death. I've known some who have questioned their motives for believing because they did, indeed, fear the possibility of non-existence. But I reassured them that they need not worry about this. The Christian faith alleviates my fears about the next world. But that is not why I believe it. I believe it because it is true. That it also relieves my fears is wonderful, but irrelevant to its being true. If you look at the Old Testament, there is no strong sense of life after death for the people of Israel. This is why the Sadducees, the ones who ran the Temple, did not believe in heaven (that's why they were sad, you see) (hold for laughs). The holy ones of Israel followed God because He is the true God.

But many of us are still afraid. We wish we could be like the martyrs who were joyous at returning to the Lord. Or we wish we were like Socrates who said that since none of us knows what comes after death, and it is foolish to be afraid of something that you have no knowledge of, we should not be afraid of death. Thus he drank his executioner's cup without hesitation or fear. Well, I am neither a saintly martyr nor a wise Socrates. I am a simple man with simple fears.

But why are we afraid to die?

I really don't think we want to be immortal. In Gulliver's Travels, he describes the Struldbrugs who were given immortality, but their bodies never stopped aging. In the movie “Death Becomes Her,” two evil women try to convince a man to drink an immortality potion, but then he asks, “But what if I get bored or lonely?” Movies and literature are full of stories of the lonely immortals who walk the earth, yearning for death. The Buddha believed that we get reincarnated in a cycle of infinite earthly lives. He did not see this as a good thing, because this only guarantees that we suffer. So Buddha's solution was to commit spiritual suicide (also known as achieving Nirvana), thus extinguishing the soul.

If the Buddha was right about reincarnation, then I think he would also be right about Nirvana. We don't want immortality for the sake of immortality.

Then what do we want?

In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, two of the characters look at each other on the cusp of the impending doom. One says, “I wish we had more time.” The other replies, “There would never be enough time with you.” This struck me as absolutely true. I think about all the hours, days, and years I have already spent with my wife, but it has only made me greedy for more. The thought of a parting between us is the worst fear I can have in this world. We are not afraid of death per se. We are afraid of the end to our happiness. Particularly, we are afraid to lose love.

CS Lewis said that we don't want infinite life, we want infinite love and happiness. Life just happens to be a prerequisite for those things. And death is the gulf. It is the ultimate barrier that we must go through alone and we do not know if we shall see our friends on the other side. There must be a parting. In the musical Rent, a show filled with moral relativism and despair, the character Mimi comes back to life in the arms of her beloved Roger. Roger sings, “Thank God this moment's not the last.” And yet there will be a last moment. He and Mimi will have to leave each other, just as we all must leave this world single-file through the exit of death.

But there is something that gives me hope.

The Bible says “Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death” (Song of Songs 8:6)

I always thought that this meant that love is one of the few things worth dying for. Even in the face of death, people would choose love. I still think that is part of its meaning, but I may have found another.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said that love is only interested in two words, and it is not “you” and “me.” It is “you” and “forever.” Real love does not seek after its own interests (1 Cor 13:5), but is only concerned with the other. But it is also concerned with the other forever. Real love is forever. It never ends (1 Cor 13:8).

And don't we get that intuitively in our heart of hearts? The love we hold for the people dear to us is not something only for this world. We cannot imagine it being so. If it was, we feel as though it couldn't be real love. Love is bigger than that. It is bigger than the jaws of death, no matter how sharp and bitter its teeth. When I look at my wife, my heart tells me that this love cannot be only for a few years and then gone. There will never be enough time with her. But isn't that the way love is for all of us: Parents and children, friends and lovers. Love demands eternity.

I was speaking with Pluckarious about the series finale to Lost. He and I were of the same opinion about its profundity. But he pointed out that “If this world is all there is, then every single life is a tragedy because no matter what you accomplish, no matter who you love, you will lose them in the end.”

Now maybe I am wrong and this life is all there is. Maybe life is nothing but one big empty tragedy. But as the Stage Manager said in Our Town, we know that “everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal.” We all universally want love and happiness forever. There is not a single sane one among us who does not want this. CS Lewis said that every other natural desire has an object in reality. We all get hungry, so we want food. We all get drowsy, so we want sleep. It would be very strange if we were hungry, but there was no such thing as food or drowsy but no sleep. In the same way it should be very strange if we all desire eternal love, but there is no such thing.

Love is stronger than death. It is stronger because it is a promise. All death promises is that it will come, but it promises nothing after. Love promises forever. It is bigger than death. When we experience real love for the first time, we get the first taste of heaven. Yes, the Christian faith fulfills the deepest wishes of my heart, but that is no reason to doubt it. Wouldn't a perfectly good God who loves me want me to share in love and joy forever?

What a comfort the faith is when I freak out about death! I still fear for my soul on the day of my judgment, but among the great blessings from God I have this: there will never be a point from now until forever where my wife will not love me and I will not love her. In Christ, our love never ends. And so Paul was right: “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15: 54-55).  I love the way Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says this.  He is not saying that the things of the earth are bad, but that they need to be covered in the things of heaven.  Earthly love becomes eternal when clothed with heavenly love.

I think back of that couple in Seeking a Friend For the End of the World and how death came and swallowed them up. But that is not what happened. It is death that has been swallowed up. When the end finally came, they woke up to the real world awaiting them.

Maybe if I can keep in my mind that death is only the gateway to eternity and that real life hasn't begun yet, I will not be so afraid. Maybe a new kind of childhood, a childhood of joy and wonder, a childhood under God, begins when we realize that, in Christ, the love we share with each other will never die.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trailer Time: Hotel Transylvania

I'm not sure why, but I really want to see this movie.  The jokes in the trailer were funny, but not hysterical.  I always had an affection for the Universal Monsters ever since Monster Squad.

It looks like fun.


Wednesday Comics: X-Factor

Back in the 80's Professor Xavier's original X-Men students were no longer with the team.  So they were formed into a new one called X-Factor.  But by the end of issue #69 in the 90's, it was decided that they would rejoin the premiere mutant group.  But instead of canceling the book, it was decided that it the team would consist of B, C, and D-listers from the X-Men cannon.

Enter writer Peter David, who took what could have been another grim-to-the-extreme 90's book.  Instead he created the comic with the most fun and the most heart.

Issue #87 is one of my favorite single issues of any comic, and all it consists of is the team talking to a shrink after a stressful mission.  But after a few years of being forced to cram his story lines into whatever giant cross-over was happening, he quit.

A few years ago, Marvel let him do a small mini-series about one of the X-Factor character: Maddrox the Multiple Man.  Jamie Maddrox has the power to make duplicates of himself (which he can reabsorb later), in order to help him fight crime.  The problem is that each dupe has a personality, some harmless, but some lean towards the homicidal.  So he needs some former members of his team like the she-wolf Wolfsbane and the ridiculously appropriately titled Strong Guy.  Together they open X-Factor investigations.

While keeping the epic scope found in all the X-books, this comic is essential a detective story.  Each adventure usually kicks off with some kind of mystery.  Not only does Peter David spin a good mystery, but he hasn't lost his touch when it comes to his characters.  It seems like every time the X-universe wants to send a character down the toilet, David rescues them and shows the rest of the comics world how cool they can be.  X-Castoffs like Shatterstar, Rictor, Siren, and Darwin have all found a home with this group.  And let us not forget Layla Miller.  A small mutant child in the Bendis' House of M story, Layla was functional character who only served to awaken the heroes from their warped reality.  But David took her and made her one of the most intriguing, if not most powerful, characters in the Marvel Universe.

As I said in my post on Geoff Johns, I'm not a Marvel, I'm a DC.  But when my non-Ultimate comic pull list at Marvel was reduced to 1 book, that book was X-Factor.  Unlike the 90's, Marvel lets David pretty much tell his own stories without being too bogged down in the cross-overs.  Yes, there are a few that drastically impacted the book, like the Messiah Complex storyline.  But you don't have to read any of the other X-books to enjoy this.

The book is alternately funny, exciting, tragic, and heartfelt.  There are moment that will make you laugh out loud (like Strong Guy quoting the Hicks from Aliens in the middle of a giant battle) or cry (like Jamie and Teresa's baby).  The writing is fantastic.  The only small criticism is that everybody is a wise cracker.  While this makes for sparkling dialogue, it makes everyone sound very similar.   This book deals with very mature themes, so it is not for kids.

As I stated earlier, each of Jamie's dupes has their own personality.  One of them ran off and became an Episcopal priest who is a recurring character.

All of the X-Factor team go through soul-harrowing trials, and David takes the spiritual toll seriously.  As a Christian it is nice to have a minister in a comic not be a demonic agent of intolerance.  While some of Peter David's theological insights are slightly off, I greatly appreciate the effort.

If you are not reading this book, I would find the trades and read it from the beginning of the Madrox mini-series.  It is that good.  It is the best Marvel has to offer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Film Review: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Normally I don't do the film review right after the film flash.  But I wanted to get this out of the way.


I don't like to give out big spoilers, but I don't think I could make any kind of comment about this movie without letting you know what you are in for.  But in case you hadn't figured it out, in the movie the world ends.  There is no last minute Bruce Willis to stop the asteroid and there is no secret underground bunker to shield our heroes.  Like last year's Melencholia, this really is about the end of the world.  If you are like me and are very much susceptible to the feeling existential dread, I would avoid this movie.

This film centers around the always amazing Steve Carell as Dodge.  When news of the world's impending end comes, his wife leaves him and his friends all break down in a sometimes literal orgy of hedonism that would make the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah blush.  In the chaos he meets Penny played by the also wonderful Keira Knightly.  She has just missed the last flight to England so that she will not be with her family in the end.  But when Dodge finds a letter from his first love, he asks Penny to help him get to her and in return he will get her to a plane.  Thus begins the last journey they will take.

Here is my big problem with the movie: it's not funny.  I know, I know, it's a movie about the end of the world, so what was I to expect?  Actually, based on the trailers, I thought it would be funny.  Writer/Director Lorene Scafaria gives us very quirky characters with a bit of an off-beat tone.  But the moments that are meant to be funny are not.  And sadly, there are not many of those moments.  This movie offered a unique chance to really delve into the humor of people dealing with an insane situation.  But the movie is primarily made up of Dodge and Penny driving and talking.  If their conversations were funnier, I think that this movie would flow much better.

Also, the humor would have been helpful to place in relief to the melodrama.  Just like the most popular roller coasters are the ones with the tallest drops, so too the greatest heart-wrenchers can be found if they are surrounded by a lot of humor.  You make the audience laugh and then when their defenses are down, you can hit them with an emotional wallop.  Some of the film's truly emotional moments don't seem to have as much heft because of the heaviness of the movie's atmosphere.  The noose constantly tightens, but there is scant humor in these gallows.

The movie has 3 very beautiful and moving scenes.  One of them is where Dodge and Penny find themselves on a beach with a long line of people waiting to be baptized.  It was a sublime moment that showed the enduringness of the faith.  These people were not crazed or placidly calm.  They were normal people who, faced with the reality of death, wanted to embrace faith and love.  I will not talk about the other 2 scenes, but they were written with such tenderness that they are still lingering in my mind.  If only the rest of the movie was as good.

Carell played the part perfectly, but I'm afraid of him getting typecast as the wryly funny guy with the hangdog expression.  Knightly gave one of her best performances where she tries desperately to speed through her thoughts lest the horror of the impending doom break through her consciousness, which it inevitably does.

Though there are funny moments and there is a nice romance, I left the theater with a knot in my stomach because this movie forces you to deal with the inevitability of death.  This may have been the effect Scafaria aimed for, but it made for a thoroughly unpleasant movie-going experience.

I want to speak a moment about this anxiety we have about death.  While unpleasant, I don't think that it is necessarily a bad thing.  Fr. Larry Richards, the man who showed me Jesus Christ, first turned to the Lord out of fear of death.  Of course fear of dying should not be THE reason we embrace the Lord, but it does call us back to the fleetingness of this world.  We only have a limited number of grains of sand in our hourglass and we get no refills.  If we deny this then we can waste much of our lives on the things that don't matter.  But the undiscovered country still waits for us.  If my faith was perfect, I could say that I had no fear of death.  But I constantly have to remind myself that if Heaven is as great and awesome as Jesus told it is, then who is the more blessed?  The one who gets to go there after 8 years or 80?  As CS Lewis said, we are living in the Shadowlands, where this world is just a poor copy of the real one.  Real life hasn't begun yet.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World finds people confronted with this problem and many, if not most, give in to despair.  But some choose reconciliation, faith, and love.  It is oftentimes moving, but will probably leave you more upset than uplifted.

2 out of 5 stars

Film Flash: Seeking a Friend For the End of the World

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

Three beautiful scenes, but there's a reason you don't make comedies about the world's end.

Best and Worst Remakes

I was talking to someone about the Total Recall remake and how unnessecary it is.

It made me think about how many films have been remade.  For your own fun, check out this comprehensive list of movie remakes.

But I started thinking about what are the best and worst remakes.  The best would be ones where the remake is better than the original.  The worst would be ones that bungle what made the original so good.

When compiling a list, I realized how how few of the the pairs I had seen.  What I mean is that often if I saw the remake without seeing the original, and vice versa.  So my list is very small.


Father of the Bride

The original is nice with some fine, heartfelt moments.  But the remake is much funnier with Steve Martin's palpable rage and insanity rising throughout.  I can remember the scene where the daughter is telling her parents about how she met a man in Rome.  Diane Keaton gets more excited while Steve Martin gets angrier.  When I watched that sitting next to my dad, he could not stop laughing.  This movie definitely struck a chord.

My favorite scene:

Father's Little Dividend/ Father of the Bride II

The original is, again, a nice story about becoming a grandparent.  But the added craziness of George Banks becoming a father again is hysterical.

Dawn of the Dead

Zack Snyder's remake is slicker and scarier.  But more than that I thought that he actually had some wonderful character development.

King Kong

I know that I'm committing movie sacrilege here, but I've never been a huge fan of King Kong.  I know that the original was an marvelous technical achievement, but the story never captured my imagination the way it did many others.  The remake is not the greatest, but it is thrilling enough with some beautiful moments that make it better than the original for me.

The Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven

Again, I know that this flies in the face of most film buffs, but I enjoyed the Magnificent 7 much more than the Seven Samurai.  There was a slowness to the original that always held me back.  I also think that the characters in the Magnificent 7 are much more well defined.  


Cape Fear

The original was scary and provocative and had class.  The remake, while great at setting mood, was a disgusting mess.  And what did it add to the story to make our villain a born again Christian who analogizes sexual assault with baptism?  If course, this was made by the same guy who directed The Last Temptation of Christ, so I should not be surprised.


My mom still gets angry when I say that I think Anne Heche had a better performance than Janet Leigh, but it is true.  And Vince Vaughn's slightly different take on Norman Bates is underrated.  But they are not the problem.  Gus Van Sant set out to do a shot-for-shot remake of the original.  Fine.  I thought that this was an interesting experiment.  But the only shots he changed were the shower scene, Arbogast's murder, the end confrontation, and the psychiatrists explanation.  In other words, the only scenes he changed were THE BEST SCENES IN THE MOVIE.  For the life of me, I cannot figure out why he thought he could out-Hitchcock Hitchcock.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Logic Lessons pt 3


Material Fallacies are mistakes in understanding or use of terms. Because these fallacies are about terms, they are errors in 1st act of the mind.

Identifying these fallacies can be incredibly helpful when debating or even reading. Very often someone will make an argument that feels convincing but if we recognize that they are fallacies, we can make sure that we are not taken in by smart sounding words. We can be pledged to the Common Master: Reason.

There are actually 49 Material Fallacies. We will divide them into 7 Categories, with 7 fallacies in each.

  1. Fallacies of Language
    1. Equivocation = the same term is sued in more than 1 way in an argument.
      (e.g. “pen” = ink writing instrument; “pen” = pig enclosure).

      This can lead to a lot of problems. An example of how this can be used incorrectly in a logical syllogism:
      -swearing in public is wrong
      -swearing an oath is done in public (the court)
      -therefore, swearing an oath is wrong.
      The solution to this is to
      a. identify term or phrase with shifting meaning. Then
      b. identify the different meanings with different words.
So you can see that the word “swearing” is ambiguous. So replace the words to clarify
-cursing in public is wrong
-swearing an oath is done in public (the court)
-therefore, swearing an oath is wrong.
You can see now that the conclusion does not follow.

    1. Amphiboly = ambiguous syntax (word order or grammatical structure).

      Takes this example:
      “I was thirsty when I was teaching basic party etiquette I taught them drinking.”

Now, was the speaker in that sentence teaching them while drinking or was he teaching them how to drink at parties? To clarify the meaning the person should clarify the syntax.
“While drinking water I taught them.”

    1. Accent = ambiguity from
      -voice inflection
      -ironic or sarcastic tone
      -facial expression
      The following examples are taken from Peter Kreeft's book on Socratic Logic:
      A politician is asked if he is going to run for President. He answers: “I do not choose to run at this time.” But depending on how it was said, especially when highlighting a particular word, the meaning can change.
      a. “I do not choose to run at this time.” (but perhaps he will.)
      b. “I do not choose to run at this time.” (I choose not to run)
      c. “I do not choose to run at this time.” (But I can be forced)
      d. “I do not choose to run at this time.” (But I can be drafted)
      e. “I do not choose to run at this time.” (But I may tomorrow)

This is one of the reasons reading emails and texts is so frustrating, because we cannot pick up on the context cues for the word without the help of CAPS or emoticons ;)

The solution is to follow up with a clarifying remark like the ones the parentheses above

    1. Slanting = describing a thing as good or bad without proving it.
      This is something that we see in politics all the time. If a leader changes his mind on an issue, his supporters use the word “flexible” while his opponents say “fickle.” Notice that the action is the same, but the word choice is slanted towards a particular feeling. We can see this in the use of propaganda If I am for legalized abortion I say I am pro-choice. If I am against legalized abortion, I say I am pro-life. Just look at recently, the divide between those who use the terms “illegal alien” and “undocumented American.”

The solution is to try as best as possible to find a neutral term. This may not always be possible.
    1. Slogans

      These are not fallacies in and of themselves, but they can become fallacies if they are used in place of an argument.
      Teacher: “You shouldn't chew gum in class.”
      Student: “Hey, rules were made to be broken.”
      Teacher: “What does that mean?”
      Student: (blank stare) “I don't know.
      The solution is to take apart the slogan and figure out what is actually being said to test its truth.
      “You can't hug children with nuclear arms,” was a popular slogan during the Cold War. It means: “We need to care and nurture our children. But the nuclear arms race is draining our country's resources so that we cannot provide the care our children need and in the process we are teaching them violence.” Now, I leave it to you to judge the validity of this, but once it has been “de-sloganized” we can debate it.

    2. Hyperbole = exaggeration.

      For example, “My dad will kill me if he finds out I took the car without permission.”
      This is a common exaggeration for this type of offense (goodness knows it was true in my house), but I was never truly in danger for my life (at least I don't think so). The solution is to replace the exaggerated word with one that is more accurate:
      “My dad will yell at me, ground me, and force me to paint the garage if he finds out I took the car without permission.”

    1. Straw Man” = refuting an unfairly weak, stupid or ridiculous version of opponent’s idea.
      An example of this would be like saying “Catholic beliefs are wrong because the Gospels differ on the day Jesus gets crucified, so not everything in the Bible is true.”

This is a Straw Man argument because it oversimplifies the Church's teaching and relationship to Scripture to make us sound much more like some fundamentalists.

The solution is to state your opponent’s position in your own words to you opponent’s satisfaction. This is what Socrates did all the time. In the Euthyphro, he asked the title character to define piety. After Euthyphro did, Socrates restated the definition in his own words until he said it in a way that satisfied Euthyphro. It was only after this that Socrates began to attack the definition.

If someone says that they are an atheist, ask them what they mean by “atheism.” What they have in mind may be something like agnosticism (“I don't know if God exists”) rather than materialism (“Only the physical world exists.”) Only by truly understanding your opponent's position, and not dismissing or demonizing it, can you truly refute it. Or if it is true, have your own mind changed.

Next time we will discuss the fallacies of diversion.

Film Review: Brave

I've been trying to think of other Disney Fairy Stories that center around the relationship between a daughter and her mother. I have not been successful. Often the mother-figure is an evil step-mother ala Cinderella and Snow White. Often the primary parental relationship is between daughters and their fathers like Ariel and Belle. And even when the mother is present, like The Princess and the Frog, that took a back seat to the romance/adventure.

Brave is different in this regard and for that alone it has a unique place in the Disney/Pixar pantheon.

Brave is the story of Merrida, a willfull tomboy of a Scotish lass in a medeval kingdom. She is the princess to King Fergus, the burly leader of uneasily allied clans. 

 Fergus dotes on Merrida and indulges her interests, much to the dismay of her mother, Queen Elinor, who tries to teach her daughter the grace and manners of royalty. Tensions between mother and daughter become worse when it comes time for a husband to be picked for the princess from one of the 3 other clans. Merrida can only see the loss of her freedom and Elinor can only see the necessities of peace and duty. After a terrible fight, Merrida flees into the woods and meets a witch to grant her a spell to change her fate. I cannot talk about much more of the plot without giving away the twists and turns.

The film is stunningly beautiful, as are all Pixar movies. Merrida's hair alone has a flow and texture that is almost tangible. I was also very much pleased with the themes presented. Elinor could have easily be charicatured as the “overbearing mother” who must learn to let go. But the queen is presented as very reasonable and loving. We feel her frustration and sympathize with her strained relationship with her daughter. And this is not done at the expense of Merrida either, who is flawed and a bit selfish, but yearns for the self-determination we all desire. The story is ultimately about Merrida's journey. By making a deal with the witch, she hurts the people she loves and must atone for that sin.
In that sense, the movie has some wonderfully Catholic themes of reconciliation and forgiveness. In addition, the role of the motherhood is upheld. While Elinor goes through a transformation of character, so does Merrida so that they both recognize the value they have in each other.

There are 2 issues I have with this movie. The first is that it is too short. I am not refering to the number of minutes per se. But the story feels condensed so that there is very little breathing room. Instead of the standard 3 days to deal with the witch's magic, they are reduced to a day and a half. Just when I thought some of the characters could be explored with more depth, we were hurling towards the conlcusion. Brevity is not a bad thing, but it leads to the second problem. The supporting characters were very much under utilized. Other Pixar fare like Toy Story and A Bug's Life, gave excellent breath and depth to the supporting cast. Brave seems to trade this for quirkiness. I cannot remember the names of Merrida's three suitors, but I can pick them out as the incoherent one, the vain one, and the moron. It was as if the writers did not want to complicate the mother/daughter story by adding any characters to that journey. I understand wanting to maintain the integrity of that relationship, but it pushes the other characters to the perifery, so that we do not get to enjoy them as much.

Having said that, it was still quite moving. Pixar has an interesting problem in that the quality of their products have always been excelent (thought I have not seen Cars 2). Because of this, all of their movies are held to an incredibly high standard. On that scale, Brave is not the best of their films, nor is it their worst. But for my money, it is better than most movies that have come out this year.

Telling Stories - The Orphans of Kakamega

Hello all,
My friend, Scott Rudge, is working a mission trip to Africa.  He is trying to raise money for unique project.  As he explained it to me, Scott and his companions are going to be bringing film equipment with them to Kakamega, Kenya.  They are going to teach the locals how to use the equipment and the essentials of film making.  The locals will then be able to use these tools to document and tell their own stories in their own words with their own talent.

I would ask you to check out their website:

to check out more details and prayerfully consider donating.

I would never ask any of you to do something I am not willing to do myself, so I have already made my donation.

Finally, if you believe this to be a worthy endeavor, please pass along this information.

God Bless.

"Whenever you did it for one of these least ones, you did it for Me." Matthew 25:40

Monday Poetry: Ozymandias

Percy Shelly wrote many great poems.

But I've always been attracted to his poem "Ozymandias."  I think this is for 2 reasons:

1.  It is the name of one of the main characters of the comic book classic Watchmen.
2.  I find it a fascinating and concrete insight into the fleeting nature of worldly power.  It reminds of that passage from Scripture "This too shall pass."


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thank You, Lord, for Teaching Me Humility

So my wife and I were at Mass.  It was the feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist.

 During the homily the priest asked: "Does anyone know why we celebrate John the Baptist's birth on June 24th?"

Well, being a theology teacher, I raised my hand quite confidently.  As I was one of the only ones, the priest called on me.  I was about to impress the entire congregation with my knowledge.  We celebrate the Annunciation on March 25th.  Gabriel at that moment tells Mary that Elizabeth is 6 months pregnant with John.  So I shout:

"June 24th is 6 months from March 24th"

The church began to murmur, no doubt horribly impressed.

Then my wife said in my ear:  "That's THREE months."

It was then that I noticed that the murmurs were actually giggles, now accompanied by pointing.

To which I shouted back to the congregation:

"I can't do math!"

Sunday Best: Film Actor 2011


Joseph Gordon-Levitt – 50/50

This was a difficult choice again this year because you had two other worthy performances: Radcliffe in HP8 and Martin Sheen in The Way. Both are top caliber, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt has to take the top prize for his portrayal of Adam in 50/50. While watching the first half, his acting is decent and serviceable to the story of a man dealing with half a chance of living or dying from a freak spinal tumor. He isn't showy or overly sympathetic. And that is part of the genius of the performance, because as the clock begins to tick down, we can see the raging despair bubbling up trying to break through the cool exterior. When the explosion of fear, rage, and sadness hit, it comes like a volcano that rips into your heart. But it was a quiet moment toward the end, as Adam sits in his hospital bed, Gordon-Levitt with one single word makes his character so purely vulnerable that it will move you to tears for this young, sick man.

Martin Sheen – The Way
Daniel Radcliffe – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 2
Lambert Wilson – Of Gods and Men
Steve Carrell – Crazy Stupid Love

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The New Movie Stars UPDATE

Blimpy pointed out that Jeremy Renner should be on the list of new movie stars.

Lifetime Gross Total (13): $1,084,688,507
Average: $83,437,577Opening Gross Average (6): $47,787,321 (Wide Releases Only)

I actually had him on the fence.  His rise has been very advanced, first with critical hits in The Hurt Locker and The Town.  And The Avengers, as a Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol have raised his profile with audiences.  I did not put him up originally because I was waiting to see how The Bourne Legacy would perform because this is the first time he has headlined a movie.

Also, a comment was left about calling Tom Cruise a falling star.  I am sorry for the confusion, but I do not believe that he is.  I mentioned Hanks and Roberts as falling stars and I noted how Cruise and Sandler had disappointing weekends.  But to be clear, I do not think that this will dramatically impact either men's careers.  In Cruise's case, I think he took on a role that was different and wanted to attempted singing in a supporting role, even though all the adds made him look like the star.  The movie's downfall, I believe, is poor story; who were we supposed to care about?  Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol proved that Cruise is still capable of staying on top of the A-list.  (can you believe he is almost 50?)

I think Sandler's problem was that the premise of his movie was a bit distasteful.  Also he fares MUCH better outside of the R-Rated arena (again see

Friday, June 22, 2012

Film Flash: Brave

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

Beautiful story of mothers and daughters. Not Pixars best, but better than most this year.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The New Movie Stars

As I brought up in one of my previous posts, there are very few movie stars left. Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Harrison Ford have fading stars. Even the consistently solid Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler had bad weekends with each premiering a movie that hit the box office with a thud.

Why is this?

Part of it, I think, is the squandering of good will. Mel Gibson used to be a bankable investment, but his personal life and horrible statements have damned him in many eyes. Similarly, Sean Penn alienates some audience members with his outspoken political views. Most Americans go to movies to be entertained. If they get the sense that they are being lectured to, the enjoyment is sapped out of the experience. Movies are escapist. We fork over our hard earned money and sit in a darkened theatre with friends and strangers so that we can experience something new and wonderful together. But as ticket prices go up and cheaper alternatives like Netflix and Redbox become more popular, actors cannot waste even a single ounce of appeal they offer their audience.

Another reason for this is that some of the traditional stars are choosing projects poorly. Hanks and Roberts couldn't muster any interest for Larry Crowne. As I wrote in post about Taylor Kitsch, choosing the right movie is critical. Missteps can be killer.

So are there any movie stars left?

I think that there are. I've compiled a list of actors who I believe are the new movie stars. I've collected data from regarding the revenue their films have generated. In addition, I tried to find the ones who inspire in me a desire to see their movie because of their ability to choose quality films.

Amy Adams:

Lifetime Gross Total (17): $1,139,782,738
Average: $67,046,043
Opening Gross Average (11): $23,846,221 (Wide Releases Only)

If The Man of Steel is a hit, then her star will only continue to rise. She has two hits under which she has top billing: Enchanted and Julie and Julia. She can become the new Meg Ryan if she plays her cards right.

Vince Vaughn:

Lifetime Gross Total (27): $1,595,862,435
Average: $59,106,016
Opening Gross Average (17): $25,930,808 (Wide Releases Only)

Even if his movies are mediocre, I enjoy the heck out of all of his performances. His dramas failed to deliver at the box office, but he showed he has quality talent. He tends to play the same character in all of his comedies, but I think audiences like going into a Vince Vaughn movie with the expectation of spending time with that comedic persona.

Liam Neeson:

Lifetime Gross Total (50): $2,114,917,555
Average: $42,298,351
Opening Gross Average (29): $16,394,126 (Wide Releases Only)

From Oscar Schindler to Qui-Gon Jinn, Neeson has participated in some of the biggest and best films of all time. But it is only in the last few years that he has become a new kind of action man. He is less testosterone-filled as he is righteously raged.

Robert Downey Jr.:

Lifetime Gross Total (48): $2,559,570,402
Average: $53,324,383
Opening Gross Average (30): $25,294,267 (Wide Releases Only)

Everyone loves a good comeback story, and Downey Jr.'s is one of the best. The studios did not want him for Iron Man. He and John Favrau had to fight. But now he has 3 franchises to juggle (Iron Man, Avengers, and Sherlock Holmes) while earning tons of good will with his self-effacing charm and charitable nature (e.g. premiering Tropic Thunder for troops overseas or dedicating Avengers to the 9/11 first responders). I don't know anyone who doesn't like him.

Emma Stone

Lifetime Gross Total (9): $619,424,742
Average: $68,824,971
Opening Gross Average (8): $19,156,210 (Wide Releases Only)

Young, but self-possessed, Emma Stone has proven she can handle lead roles in comedies (Easy A), dramas (The Help) and everything in between (Zombieland). She projects and intelligence and dignity that seems to be missing from a lot of younger actresses. While a supporting role in The Amazing Spider-Man should only heighten her profile, I would like to see her take the lead in a more serious drama.

Daniel Craig

Lifetime Gross Total (22): $1,054,054,270
Average: $47,911,558
Opening Gross Average (12): $23,508,106 (Wide Releases Only)

Right now he is synonymous with James Bond. But Cowboys and Aliens generated a lot of buzz in no small part due to him. I know that he was one of the reasons I couldn't wait to see it. But lukewarm reception from critics and audiences may slow Craig's assent. And his other attempted franchise starter, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, did not go anywhere. We'll have to see how Skyfall does, but also how his next non-Bond movie fares as well.

Hugh Jackman

Lifetime Gross Total (16): $1,526,956,632
Average: $95,434,790
Opening Gross Average (15): $36,054,624 (Wide Releases Only)

He's had hits and misses, but he is a huge part of why we still have an X-Men franchise. I would even venture to say that without the success of the original X-Men we would not have modern day superhero movies. And that success falls a great deal of Jackman's shoulders. Even Real Steel was a fun crowd pleaser partly because of the heart of Jackman's performance. He has a real chance to garner a critical acclaim with the upcoming Les Miserables production.

Steve Carell:

Lifetime Gross Total (14): $1,602,470,460
Average: $114,462,176
Opening Gross Average (13): $31,642,780 (Wide Releases Only)

A good portion of his box office success is from his animated movies which could arguably be indifferent to his star power. But he can still draw people in with movies like Get Smart, Date Night, and Crazy, Stupid Love. He tends to bounce from big comedies to smaller films like Dan in Real Life and Little Miss Sunshine. But I believe it is his name more than anything that brought audiences to those smaller films.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Lifetime Gross Total (24): $743,289,110
Average: $30,970,380
Opening Gross Average (11): $17,283,880 (Wide Releases Only)

He has garnered a significant fan base with his roles in 500 Days of Summer and Inception. He also had the best performance of any actor last year with 50/50. But as of right now, his staring vehicles have not made a big dent. But he still has The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, and Looper on the horizon.

Jennifer Lawrence

Lifetime Gross Total (7): $559,721,847
Average: $79,960,264
Opening Gross Average (2): $103,818,676 (Wide Releases Only)

The numbers on her are as high as they are because of the phenomenon that is the Hunger Games. But she deserves a lot of credit for meeting fan expectations. I can say that one of the reasons I wanted to see the movie was because I was familiar with her outstanding work in Winter's Bone, for which she garnered an Oscar nomination. She has 2 franchises: Hunger Games and X-Men First Class and, like Emma Stone, carries herself with dignity in her films.

Anna Kendrick

Lifetime Gross Total (6): $190,327,166
Average: $31,721,194
Opening Gross Average (3): $9,933,653 (Wide Releases Only)

This may be the most controversial one of this list because I'm taking this one more on faith than anything.  These numbers are also a little askew because of her small role in the Twilight phenomenon. But I believe that she has a brighter future ahead of her than star Kristen Stewart (who also has decent box office potential ala Snow White and the Huntsman). Her Oscar nomination for Up in the Air opened up many roles, and she has shined in all of them. She was the best part of What to Expect When You're Expecting and she finally has a staring role in the upcoming comedy Pitch Perfect. So far, she has not proven herself to be bankable, but I believe she can do it.

So, dear reader, what do you think?  Is there anyone I missed who should be on this list?  About whom do you say, "Oh I can't wait to see the new (film in the name)'s movie?

Trailer Time: Taken 2

The first trailer to the original Taken I put down as one of the greatest trailers of all time.

I like the fact that this one continues the story and isn't simply a case of "Oh no, an extrodinary series of events is happening to me again for no reason" ala Die Hard 2 and Speed 2: Cruise Control.  The deaths in the last movie have consequences which now must be paid.

This trailer isn't great, but it looks like it won't destroy the work done by the first one, so I will definitely see this opening night.

By the way, I was speaking to my brother in law, let's call him Ooskon, who commented about modern action movies.  For him, the fights seemed to clean and choreographed; they are more like a dance than a fight.  Of note in Taken is that Neeson, who is now 60, doesn't leap in the air with acrobatic flair.  Instead, he plows through with efficient brutality. 

And I for one can't wait to see more.

Why Some Bible Scholars are Like Dementors

The dementors from the Harry Potter series come onto the scene and suck all of the life and cheer of those around them. If you spend too much time around them, they have a tendency to suck out your soul, leaving you a cold, dead husk. I think the same could be true about some Bible scholars.

I have known many good scholars of Scripture. One of my best friends, let's call him the Doctor, is a well-respected professor with a PhD in Biblical studies. But I have also encountered my share of very bad Bible scholars. And unfortunately they seem to be the ones who always get interviewed by the press. Every few months, usually around Christmas or Easter, we get some academic who will pronounce some radical new interpretation of the Bible. Most of the time, this novel approach involves demytholgizing the stories of the Gospels.

Jesus didn't really rise from the dead. What's important is that His spirit is alive in the community!”
Of course, there was no actual multiplication of the loaves and fish. People just shared the surplus they were hoarding.”
No, Jesus was not conceived by a miracle. His mother was raped by a Roman Centurion”

That last one is the premise behind an upcoming movie by Paul Verehoven, the auteur behind such classics as Basic Instinct and Showgirls (to be fair he also directed Robocop and Total Recall).

I know that Verheoven is not a theologian, but he hides behind the “some scholars say” defense of some of his wackiest ideas. The description of his book of the same topic says: “Steeped in Biblical scholarship but free of the institutional biases, whether academic or religious, that so often dictate the terms of discussion of the historical Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth is a book that builds a bridge reaching all the way back to Jesus's lifetime, all the way forward to the present, and from biblical scholars to lay readers whose interest might be personal or political.”

I think by “institutional biases” he means “the truth.” And the truth does tend to dictate the terms of discussion of the historical Jesus.

There are many things to be said about Verhoeven's project, but I would like to focus on the demythologizers and why they are dementors.

First of all, it is impossible to divorce the ethics (the philosophy of how to live) from the metaphysics (the philosophy of what exists). Christian ethics only make sense in a Christian metaphysics. If you remove the Divine from the Bible, then the Gospel is a tragedy. It isn't good news at all. Verhoeven and his scholars want to say that Jesus didn't really die for our sins, but was simply a political agitator who died for his social justice beliefs.

But wouldn't that mean that the real victor in the story is Pontious Pilate? Jesus dies (and doesn't rise), and Pilate dies years later of natural causes. You could say that Jesus' message lives on. But again, if this message is not rooted in something eternal how does that make any difference to the life and death of Jesus or Pilate or anyone for that matter? Taking away the “God stuff” from the Bible is like taking all of the notes from Beethoven’s 5th. You're left with emptiness, just like an encounter with a dementor.

Second, these new interpretations can never actually prove anything. This takes us to a larger question of what we can know from history. I am not one of those people who believe that history is “only written by the winners.” But I am also skeptical of anything in the field that is called a “bold new interpretation.” There is so much pressure in academia to sound unique and daring. This can lead to some truly strange historical claims.

Let give you an example. There is a very popular theory about how the Gospels were written called the “2 Source Theory.” It states that Mark is the first Gospel written and that Matthew and Luke copy some of his stories, which is why those 3 Gospels are so similar. But there are things in Matthew and Luke that are not in Mark. Scholars posit that there is a second source besides Mark, which they have labeled the “Q-Source.” Q is supposedly an oral collection of Jesus teachings. Now some of the Verhoeven-type scholars have concluded that the earlier tradition was more accurate in its non-Divine recording of Jesus' life. But then a later, more superstitious tradition came around and started adding the wacky religious dimension Hence, I had a teacher in college go over Mark 10:45 with us: “For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” My professor tried to explain that the last part about giving his life was a later addition because it makes the statement too theological. It's original meaning was simply about charity work and social justice.

But I had another professor wisely point out about those who divide the Q-Source: “It doesn't exist!” There is no thing called “Q.” No one has a copy of it. So how in the world can you be sure what is and what isn't there, let alone what is earlier or later or authentic or not?

 She was not dissing the 2 Source Theory, but she was showing that people can go too far.

In Chesterton story “The Honor of Israel Gow,” his main character Fr. Brown is challenged with a kind of riddle. In a house they have found piles of diamonds, cut candles, metal gears, and snuff. The local constable says there is nothing that can tie them all together. Fr. Brown says that these are the tools of a burglar. The diamonds and metal gears are used to cut the glass out of windows. The cut candles are used for small lanterns to not give out too much light. And if the thief is caught, he throws the snuff in his captor's eyes to blind them so as to make his escape. The costable asks if Fr. Brown really believes that theory to be true. Fr. Brown replies, “Of course not, but you said that there as nothing to connect these objects together and I just did.” He continues to spin other outlandish theories which bind these objects together, but they are all false. Just because a theory fits the evidence, it doesn't make it true.

Verhoeven and his ilk want to rob us of the truth and beauty of the Gospel in its fulness. They are sad, shriveled dementors who wish us to make life as small and unmagical as possible.


To further illustrate my point I would invite you to read a satirical essay I wrote a few years ago, trying to show the limits of modern historical-critical method. The essay is written in the words of a literary scholar from the year 3008 and they are writing about the authorship of the Harry Potter books. You should not read it unless you have read all of the Harry Potter series.

I hope enjoy it: