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God Has a Sense of Humour
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Okay so my blog died..
How long can you hold your breath for?
Funny Signs
Beowulf Trailer
Did You Know?
Creationist Group Threatens Biology Lab
Christian Lobbies vs AWOL
The Anglican Church vs Sony
Atheist Divorce Rate Lower than Christian
Easter Fellowship Meal
The Long Hard Road out of Hell
Movies Movies Movies
The Transformers
Blades of Glory
Oceans 13
The Long Hard Road out of Hell
Monday, 25th August, 2008 Posted by Beren @ 22:54:46

The book I am reviewing today I doubt that many Christians have read. It is the autobiography of Brian Warner, a.k.a Marilyn Manson. A prominent artist, who has been outspoken against Christianity. His music has made plenty of headlines over the years and has certainly irritated a large number of Christians and people from conservative groups. It was primarily this that drew me to the book to learn more about him and his motivations behind his music and the persona he puts forh. I had seen him interviewed several times on youtube and other places, but the most notable interview I saw of his was within the Bowling for Columbine movie/documentary. Some people vocally blamed his music for the actions of the boys within that school, hence his interview. However, watching the documentary (and indeed other interviews) he actually seemed to come across as the person whose opinion I largely agreed with. And so this is where some of my curiosity to read the book came from.

Now the book is most definitely not for everyone, it does, unsurprisingly, contain quite a large amount of bad language and descriptions of various drug and sex acts. However, beyond this it does give plenty of insights into where he is coming from, and indeed what influences within his life have lead him to be who he is today. The first thing to note and say (for those who don’t know) is that a large portion of his work is aimed at attacking American pop culture. They are a shock rock band who are commentating upon the MTV/Soccer mum/fakeness of mainstream. Aiming to be non conformist in any way possible and pushing people’s buttons is his goal. Those who complain about them only open themselves to lyrical attack, which only increases his notoriety and popularity.

In reading through the book the things that gave the most insight, and also disgusted me the most (and were upon my thoughts a great deal during the days surrounding me reading the book) were the “Christian” influences in his life that have obviously resulted in him being such a vocal opponent of Christianity. He records several times when as was a child he came across what I like to refer to as “Kooky School Teacher’s”. I, like him, had several of these. I remember quite vividly a primary school teacher of mine screaming at the class, in attempt to cast demons out of us, and another who “prophesied” that one of my friends was going to grow up to be a rapist and a murderer in Bosnia. As unfortunate as these people are, and extremely unsuited to be in charge of a class room, as children, my entire class realised that the woman was a nutter and to be ignored. Marilyn Manson seemed to take his similar experiences to be normal Christian behaviour. He had other run ins with people who claimed to be Christians who made false statements to the police about events at his concerts which were total fabrications - and usually so far beyond what the band ever planned for any shows.

Is this an excuse for his opinion of both Christ and Christians? No. On the last day there will be no place for excuses. And indeed his response to these people shows his most obvious character flaw: Arrogance. Throughout the book he details his interactions with various different groups of people, and in the vast bulk of these situations forms his opinion of that entire group of people extremely quickly based upon a few small interactions with one or two members. Forming an opinion of a religion which has over a billion so members off a kooky school teacher and a few others is bound to give you a disjointed view of the group as a whole and the spiritual things relating to that group. His spiritual view is expressed within the book (p213) in these terms: "I believe I am God. I believe everyone is their own God." Which is not a new concept, but it does illustrate his spiritual state. It is virtually the classic description of what defines a sinner in Christianity. Which is possibly why he worded it as such.

An extremely obviously lesson that can be taken from this book is that Christians need to be blameless. Marilyn Manson has developed his views of Christianity, largely, from his interactions from Christians who were not acting as they should as true Christians. It has been famously said that the problem with Christianity is the Christians. And this is a fine example of a person who is vocally anti-Christian because of his interactions which Christians who were not behaving as Christ would have them behave.
Comments (0)
Okay so my blog died..
Monday, 25th August, 2008 Posted by Beren @ 22:45:35
Yeah, so the vast bulk of blogs on the internet die within like the first 6 months, and mine made it 8 months and 25 days in the first attempt. Well, it has now beent a year, and I figure what better date to kick off again and try and keep it going even longer this time.
Comments (0)
How long can you hold your breath for?
Saturday, 25th August, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 15:47:17
This is pretty amazing.

Comments (59)
Funny Signs
Saturday, 25th August, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 13:58:50
One of my favourite things about the internet is that one gets to see gaff's like this:

To view the rest of the series go here.
Comments (8)
Movies Movies Movies
Saturday, 25th August, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 13:47:14
In usual blog fashion, the owner has missed a bunch of entries. For the last month I have been working 15 hours days, so while the bank balance is okay, the blog is not. So here is a brief comment on most of the movies I saw in break.

Knocked Up
I went along to see this film purely based on the hype about it. After seeing the trailer I wasn’t going to see it, then with it rating so well I felt the need to see it just to see what the fuss was about.

Despite the film having a lot of language, sexual themes (it is a story of the result of a one night stand after all), and a culture of heavy alcohol and marijuana use, I did think it was a pretty good theme. Using set theory I envisage that this film is in the subset where Wayne’s World / BaseketBall, Nine Months and The 40 Year Old Virgin crossover. It has a similar story line and general message of Nine Months, the jobless loser type character from BaseketBall, and the humour and writing of 40 YOV.

Now after reading that I am sure some people are like “so what is good about it?” Other then being genuinely funny, it also presents a male character who realizes that being a father is greatly important to him, and a female character who couldn’t even consider the thought of Abortion even though the father was a total idiot and it could ruin her rising career. Far two much of our society presents the opposite of these values, and its great to see a mainstream American comedy (more known for toilet jokes – which are also in this film) present these views.

Harry Potter
Now many Christians are very anti this series, and while I also would not give it to my future children to read without them first reading much of the fantasy works of authors like C.S Lewis and John White, I do see value in it. But that is a discussion for another day.

I thought the movie was very good, and probably rates as the second best yet done after The Prisoner of Azkaban. Although, to be fair, that is also the best book in my opinion, so that is also a factor. Luna’s character was absolutely perfect. I did think it was a shame that Ferenz did not any screen time. Generally I think it could have been 15 min longer and in that time had more of other characters in the Order (it is the name of the movie after all).

The movie that was a decade late should have been its title, but ignoring that, this 90 min episode returned to the goodness of the Simpsons from the first 7 or 8 seasons (the golden years). If you like the show, watch the movie you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t like the show, don’t watch the movie, it has nothing for you. The movie doesn’t try to bring in fresh viewers to the show; it is an example of a movie based on another form of media that doesn’t try to increase the popularity of the original. I wish the Lord of the Rings had done the same. Staying true to the original content and not aiming for bringing everyone else in is laudable.

Die Hard
This film was pretty much everything I expected it to be. It had the usual McClane vs the bad guy with the rest of law enforcement world off sitting around not doing a great deal. Which is pretty much what people love about this series, it is one man vs the rest, and as the story progresses he shows his incredible (read superhuman) resilience to violence upon his person. My personal favorite is the finial act of violence in the film which is iconic in the same way as “shoot the hostage” was for Speed. So basically if you enjoyed the other films you will enjoy this one, and vice versa. My only complaint on the film is the scene with the fighter plane at the end, even in a diehard film you can go too far.

My wife is a John Grisham fan, and we went along to see this film because it appeared to be something up her alley. And it was, in my opinion the same sorta thing. It obviously isn’t quite the same as it isn’t dealing with a larger issue like a conspiracy relating to a pelican’s habitat or a healthcare scam or something equally preachy; but to me the script had about the same strength. The twist wasn’t overly great, and it did explain it fractionally too much (although not to the shameful level of the The Prestige), it was enjoyable to watch. Anthony Hopkins really did make the film though, his performance was good as usual, and one feels that without him the film could have been direct to dvd. So all in all, it is better suited to a night in on the couch, than a popcorn even at the cinema.

Obviously there is more I can say on these 3 films, but, well, insert excuses relating to time here.
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Beowulf Trailer
Monday, 30th July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 08:27:00
I am a bit of a Beowulf fan, and I must say the looks of this first trailer we have for Beowulf has me pretty excited.

Comments (11)
Did You Know?
Sunday, 29th July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 22:01:16
A great collection of stats... Some rather interesting (especially to a nerd like me), others are kinda scary.

Comments (0)
Little Silverchair Busker
Saturday, 21st July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 12:51:05
I am a big silverchair fan, but that isn't the only reason I am posting this. This kid is just classic. I figure he is all of about 4 or 5 years old. If I had been down at Salamanca and see this I would have popped some money in his hat, and i am not a big fan of buskers.

Comments (0)
The Transformers
Sunday, 15th July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 23:03:02

Last week I went and saw Transformers. It was one of the first remake / re-imagining movies of recent times that I have been on board from the get-go. I was a Transformers fan as a kid, and knowing what special effects we have today I thought it was a great idea to make “that movie”. Although I was mildly sceptical that it might not live up to expectations, but was still there with bells on hoping to get taken for a great visual ride.

I loved it. Over looking a few minor annoyances the film was just what it should have been. A really fun, action movie, with stunning visual effects. The few moments when the weakness of the script showed itself can easily be for given. I rate the movie to be in the bracket of movies you watch when your 12-13 and just get your mind blown away. Gremlins, Ghostbusters, Independence Day: this bracket of films. All of these also had moments that when watching them now as an adult you sigh at some of the weaker script moments. But that really does fade away in the context that it really is being aimed at 13 year olds, and if you just relax and let it go you don’t really care. The film isn’t trying to get best writer.

The acting is all pretty good; I am now looking forward to seeing Shia Beouf in Indy4. The visual effects are the best done in a movie to date, which really makes it worth while seeing on the big screen. Michael Bay (Director) has done a pretty good job this time around, I do find that his movies are very much hit and miss. This one is one of his Hits (with the Bad Boys Films and the Rock). There are some really good funny moments. Although the hacker sections were rather poor, but that said I am a PhD in computer security, so I am very accustomed to this.

From a Christian angle the film is for the large part a rather harmless sci-fi flick with invaders from outer space. There are one or two moments of sexual humour, but it is not spread throughout the film. Further, while there is loads of action, the vast bulk is against robots, and so the gore factor really is extremely low. There is very little bad language in the film also.

So overall I heartily recommend it to everyone who enjoys a good solid action movie from time to time, this is definitely one worth catching in the cinema.
Comments (1058)
The Princess Bride: What do they look like now?
Saturday, 14th July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 14:43:52
The Pricess Bride is one of my favourite movies of all time. And its now hit 20 years old. So, what do the actors look like now? The following is a pretty interesting set of pictures. Although either its a shocking picture of Carey Elwes (Westley, or he has put on some weight recently (since Saw). Here is Mandy Patinkin who played Inigo Montoya.

See them all here
Comments (0)
Creationist Group Threatens Biology Lab
Saturday, 14th July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 11:49:25
The following article is one that I find very disappointing.
University of Colorado police are investigating a series of threatening messages and documents e-mailed to and slipped under the door of evolutionary biology labs on the Boulder campus.

The messages included the name of a religious-themed group and addressed the debate between evolution and creationism, CU police Cmdr. Brad Wiesley said. Wiesley would not identify the group named because police are still investigating.

"There were no overt threats to anybody specifically by name," Wiesley said. "It basically said anybody who doesn't believe in our religious belief is wrong and should be taken care of."

The first threat was e-mailed to the labs - part of CU's ecology and evolutionary biology department housed in the Ramaley Biology building - on Friday. Wiesley said Monday that morning staff members found envelopes with the threatening documents slipped under the lab doors.

Wiesley said police will have increased patrols in and around CU science buildings.

"What's written on paper is what's written on paper," Wiesley said. "One of the question marks here is who wrote it and who delivered it."

There is simply no justification for this kind of behaviour in the bible. We are told to spread the gospel to all nations through preaching and teaching. No through threats and violence. I have no problem with people using Creationism as a method of spreading the gospel. The "Where do we come from?" question is one that is highly relevant to everyone. However, threatening those who disagree with you is not a solution. The Spanish Conquistadors are not models we are to hold up on how to evangelise people. Likewise the people who bombed abortion clinics in the past have also strayed along way from the Truth.
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Blades of Glory
Tuesday, 3rd July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 18:06:57

Last week I snuck along to the latest Will Ferrell flick: Blades of Glory. Will seems to be having a great time playing the series of ridiculous roles he has had over the last few years. The characters he has played have all been absolutely plump with material to make fun of: News Anchor, Nascar Driver and now Figure Skater. If you loved Anchorman and Talladega Nights then this movie will rock your world. It is my favourite of the three. Although this may have some bias as I have always found the concept of figure skating to be very humorous.

The opening few scenes of the movie are somewhat instant classics, both involving Jon Heder's character. One as a small child at an orphanage skating unbelievably well to Con Te Partiro (Link to Song on YouTube), and the second is as he is competing in a peacock outfit, releasing a dove at the end of the performance. Both scenes basically tap you on the shoulder and say “This film is gonna have funny costumes and lots and lots of cheese”. And it delivers. The costumes frequently bring more then a smile, and the cheese factor is so extremely high at times resulting in me almost choking on my tongue from laughter.

While the movie really does have quite a simple concept, I did not find it getting very tried as it progressed. The movie is not overly long, and as there are a few different elements to the plot, you don’t find yourself looking at your watch for the time.

The only real criticism I have for the movie is that at times the crudeness level got a bit high. And this is somewhat expected with an American movie of this type, and I must say that it was a lot better in that regard than many other films of its genre that have come before it. But when you see a few moments like that in a row and you ponder to yourself “I wonder what a British or Australian writer would have put there” it does take you out of it.

However, all in all, I do recommend the movie, and especially to those who find the concept of figure skating to be somewhat ridiculous and have a hearty taste for spoof material. Overall I would rate it a solid 3/5. Certainly more enjoyable then Pirates 3.
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Oceans 13
Tuesday, 3rd July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 17:29:50

I have been extremely busy of late and as such didn’t review Oceans 13 nearly soon enough after seeing it. So here are a few short thoughts of what my feelings are regarding the latest of the 2nd sequels.

As a brief note of context to my thoughts on the series, I thought the first movie was brilliant. Lots of fun, not too much George Clooney, and it had some good bits of humour sprinkled throughout. The second movie I thought was pretty poor. Too much George. Too big a twist (what is the point of a twist that basically takes 20 min to explain? It was just lazy film making). The laser dance while attempting to be funny, was about as fun as a belly smacker off the 10 m dive tower (for the person). As such I was semi surprised to see a third movie. The quest for more money film had already not been received too well. But I guess it hit the money and that is why we got 13.

So going in I was sceptical at best. But walking out, I was pretty happy. The movie is much better then the first sequel, although I don’t think it is as good as the first film. It is back to being more of a pure heist film, and a simpler plot (than the second movie, its obviously more complex then your average movie) which is great. Although that said, one does feel that there are multiple holes in the plot, but with the fun that is had one tries not to look too closely at this.

So if you enjoyed the first film, and would like an entertaining pop corn flick, that doesn’t have any violence or language, which will make you smile (not laugh) numerous times throughout, I recommend this film to you.
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Christian Lobbies vs AWOL
Saturday, 23rd June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 13:51:21

I have recently seen a few articles online about Alcohol Without Liquid (AWOL), such as this most recent one here. I am not generally in favour of government protecting people from themselves. Obviously in some cases it’s needed, especially if their behaviour is affecting others around them (especially if children are involved). But in this instance I don’t personally believe that AWOL falls into that category. So in general terms I disagree with the concept of outlawing these devices for the current reasons being given.

My major beef, and the reason I have posted this opinion, is that what one does see on this issue is christian groups pushing for them to be outlawed. I am all in favour of active christian advocacy, but it’s a shame to see people who are active chasing something like this. They argue that by using these devices side step hang overs which argue are punishment for sinning. Further that using the device accelerates the process of intoxication.

Now both of these things may well be true, and I would like to see actual evidence of the former beyond the marketing spiel of the company selling the devices. But at the end of the day the devices take 20 min to get an amount of alcohol equal to a normal shot, further the recommended usage is only twice in 24 hours. So anyone who is actually going to get drunk (and thus effect others around them) is going to drink a lot more alcohol in the old fashion liquid form, and in all likely hood get each of their shots much faster. It takes literally seconds to down a shot and then order a second. Sure, the vapour based system, shot for shot, affects a user faster, but you can ingest a far greater amount in the same time in the traditional fashion before it takes effect. So you could easily have 3 or 4 shots before noticing any real effect. So in reality the vapour based system can actually slows the ingestion rate of alcohol by users. Further as it acts faster the user gets the “high” quicker without drinking more in the mean time. So it could feasibly reduce the amount consumed on the whole.

Those comments about its use are one thing, but what about the campaign to stop its use. In one sense I can understand that the christian lobby groups see something about alcohol and try to do the right thing, and cut down on usage. They probably fund all sorts of social programs and try to stop all sorts of alcohol related things (to reduce the need for social programs at the other end). They think they are doing the right thing. However, if you look at whom else is fighting for this to be outlawed in the U.S you notice something: one of the biggest lobbyists against AWOL is Diageo and another is DISCUS. Who are they? Oh just the biggest beer, wine and sprits companies in the world (Diageo is the biggest, DISCUS is a coalition). And guess what. They don’t own AWOL; they are a competitor in the liquor market. The christian lobby groups are acting as the bad press lightning rod for massive corporations who are protecting their profit margins.

So what we have here again is christian lobbies in the press, getting the usual “If we think it's wrong, it should be illegal.” tag. Meanwhile what is really going on is liquor companies are probably funding politician’s campaigns purely to keep the status quo. It is just like the Christian lobbies blocking the .xxx domain name for porn (which would allow very easy filtering of pornographic content, allowing children to be protected) again, with the Porn industry being the not so vocal partner in the debate, happily letting the Christians do the dirty work for them.

Personally I would rather christians didn’t get the bad press such a device. Although, I personally think it’s all a moot point, having seen the devices in action most people I know (christian and non-christian inclusive) did not see the appeal. A novelty sure, but not really a thing they could see themselves use on a regular basis. The social aspect is somewhat lacking compared to traditional liquid based alcohol. Their efforts are much better off with the existing causes of alcohol abuse (generally), smoking (come on people it kills), and drugs such as cocaine/heroin/meth.
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Amazing Grace
Wednesday, 20th June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 19:19:36

The other week I was able to get to see Amazing Grace at an advance screening. It’s set to be released in late July across Australia, although in has not yet been confirmed as to whether or not it will get on any screens in Tasmania. Hopefully it does, and preferably not only in the Hobart cinema as its so awful. But, we will see what happens.

I won’t say too much about the film as I am mindful of spoilers on a film that is not yet out. But I will say a few things. Firstly I really enjoyed the film. It’s probably one of the better period films in recent memory, and the fact it’s on someone that I admire (having lived near Wilberforce – NSW – as a child I knew who he was, and I am still a fan) makes it a real bonus. For comparison to another recent film that had a Christian character in the lead, ‘Luther’ disappointed me (and most Christians I know). On the whole it was not good story telling or movie making. Amazing Grace doesn’t suffer from this. It is a much stronger film, and still holds true to William Wilberforce as a person. So if you were likewise disappointed by Luther, you should find this a much more enjoyable film. If you thought Luther was great, then either you are about to have a real treat, or your taste in movies is… not the same as mine.

The movie covers a period of about 20 years while he campaigned for the abolition of slavery. Unlike other films which try to cover a large time period (Fellowship of the Ring’s first 20-30 min covers a larger time period but you don’t even notice) it does a pretty good job of expressing it. You definitely get the feeling that a sizeable amount of time passes, although this is impart to it non-linear story telling. Although perhaps my one criticism of the film is that often a time jump will occur without a subtitle like text saying what year the viewer is now in.

One of the things that surprised me about the film was that at time there were some genuine funny moments. The acting on the whole is also pretty good; Michael Gambon (as Lord Charles Fox) was extremely good. The film also expresses well the problem and the effects of slavery on the lives of humans in the time, but also the blind complicity of much of the populace.

So on the whole I recommend everyone see’s this that can get to a theatre to watch it (and I am sure it will also end up in Social Studies class rooms in the not too distant future). Supporting films like this is pretty important for getting more of this variety (christian themed films with good production quality).
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