Friday, January 12, 2007

Pop Culture Roundup

Last night I finished Seven Storey Mountain. I appreciate Merton's insights into the contemplative life...but parts of this book really bothered me. First, I appreciate that he was a Catholic. Generally, I have no problem with Catholicism. However, if you really start to break down the belief that Mary is the "Queen of Heaven," things start to get dicey. If one couples that with the language of "Christ is king," that makes for a strange theology. Second, Merton fires off a few shots against Protestantism, some of which is justified, but all in all it's in the name of becoming a Catholic cheerleader: degrade others to make yourself look better. How does he claim that all Protestants are lazy and not really committed to our faith, particularly without leveling that critique at his own church as well? Finally, Merton spends a decent chunk of the book pining for a cloistered life shut off from the world so that he can get some serious prayer and study done without distractions and corruptions (you know, just like Jesus wanted for us). He seems to realize this faulty thinking near the end, when he says: "I was fully convinced that I was going to indulge all the selfish appetites that I did not yet know ho to recognize as selfish because they appeared so spiritual in their new disguise." All in all, the book left me with a different impression of Merton than I'd I know he's human.

Over Christmas, my family watched a movie called Joyeux Noel. I guess it was nominated for Academy Awards and such, but I'd never heard of it before a few weeks ago...or I don't remember hearing about it anyway. However, I have heard of the concept: set during World War I on Christmas Eve, Scottish, French, and German soldiers call a ceasefire and celebrate Christmas together in the middle of the battlefield. They drink champagne, play soccer, sing, and celebrate mass together. Once their home governments begin hearing about this, they aren't too happy, worrying that the public hearing about it will cause an uproar. The most disgusting scene is when the Scottish priest who presided over the group mass is chastised by his superior, who then gives a sermon to new recruits about why God wants them to kill their enemies. It's a very good film. There's another short film that I saw years ago that features German and Scottish soldiers playing soccer, but I don't know the name of it.

We've both become serious watchers of the show Scrubs. It helps fill the Arrested Development-shaped hole in my being by having both wit and heart. The comedy is a little more slapstick and blunt, particularly when someone gets Dr. Cox going, but the writing is clever and it doesn't strive for cheap laughs. I'm also becoming convinced that Zack Braff can do no wrong.

Just so everyone knows, I was listening to the Chemical Brothers' Galvanize before Budweiser started using it. And while I'm at it, I was listening to Sarah McLachlan before y'all ever heard of Lilith Fair. your face.

Around the web, here's a guy ranting about Pachelbel's Canon in D. Also, Letters from Kamp Krusty has been added to the blogroll and has quickly become one of my favorite new blogs to visit.


E-Speed said...

Hey Jeff. Found your blog through Erin a month or so ago, and I just wanted you to know you have become one of my favorite reads. Hope you and the Mrs. are doing well. We should really get together sometime being as we don't live too far from you guys.

Elizabeth (& David)

P.o.C. said...

Hi Elizabeth! Glad you enjoy reading. We all could definitely hook up sometime.

Say hi to Dave for me.

Anonymous said...

heh. Push the Button was out about a year (and maybe a half) before Bud picked up Galvanize for the commercial. Congrats on being a "die hard" Chem Bros. fan :p

-That guy from Chicago

P.o.C. said...

Heh. Maybe not die-hard, but at least slightly ahead of the trend.

Anonymous said...

Sorry! That was a little harsh....sometimes my jokes don't translate well in type.

I picked up KT Tunstall this past weekend.....good recommendation there!

-That guy....from that city. Yeah, that one.

Anonymous said...

I have just rediscovered your great blog and I would like you to check out mine -- -- and maybe link to it since we both live in the Progressive Christian world. I aso see myself as an Esoteric Christian committed to promoting the Perennial Philosophy or Mysticism.

I am a retired Presbyterian Pastor.

I saw Joyeux Noel recently and thought it was very inspiring and challenging and important.



John said...

Wasn't Merton pretty young when he wrote Seven Storey Mountain? I read it a long time ago and found it honest and authentic.