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Gripes

(13 posts)

Some people really hate labels. I like them. Labels are very useful. They give us a name for whatever it is we are talking about. Without them, our language would be very clumsy. “I’m going to the place that sells meat, vegetables, dairy, and other consumable commodities. Be back in an hour.” Suppose grocers resisted the label “grocery store’’after all, they sell toothpaste, band-aids, and soap, among other non-grocery items. “I just don’t like being pigeon-holed like that,” says the grocer, or whatever he is. In theology, labels like “Calvinist,” “Arminian,” “Reformed,” and “Dispensational” serve as shorthand for systems that would take hours to describe, or at least several minutes to summarize. I would hate to be without those labels. However, there is such a thing as a useless label. Many labels that at one time were clearly understood have become meaningless. When a label more often than not causes people to think of something entirely different than it originally represented, it has become useless. I was born with a useless label: Lutheran. I was happily ignorant of the obsolete nature of my label until I left home and moved to Minneapolis. I had always known that there were those liberal Lutherans who denied inerrancy and ordained women and [gasp!] used real wine for communion. I just hadn’t realized there were so many of them. I very quickly discovered that Bible-believing Lutherans were a scant minority, and every time a non-Lutheran Christian asked what kind of church I belonged to, I had to give a couple of paragraphs of explanation to avoid the “heretic” label. “Lutheran” is no longer descriptive of the theology of Martin Luther, and so it is a useless label. I am no longer a Lutheran (except in as much as I agree with the Reformed doctrines that Luther helped to recover); however, there are a few other labels that I really would love to use, but can’t because they don’t mean what they ought to mean. First, Catholic. “Catholic” has been worthless to Christians for centuries, so why care? I managed just fine without it for years until my family visited the church of some relatives one summer. It was one of the large liberal denominations, and as we recited the Apostle’s Creed, I was shocked to hear the words “holy catholic church” from everyone but me and my siblings. We had been taught “holy Christian church.” It was still a few years later when I learned that “catholic” was a perfectly good word, in fact the correct word in the Creed, meaning universal, but it had been hi-jacked by the Papacy and could not be recovered. The second label that is sadly lost is a beautiful word: “Pentecostal.” Just as the true church is catholic, it is Pentecostal. The New Testament Church was born on the day of Pentecost. For the first time, believers received the baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and every Christian since, without exception, has been as well. I am a Pentecostal Christian. Sadly, I can’t use the term. “Pentecostal” now signifies doctrines and practices that I want no part of. Now I’ll get to some more familiar labels, beginning with “evangelical.” Evangelical originally meant belief in the Biblical evangel, or Gospel. Evangelicals believed in Biblical inerrancy and literal interpretation of Scripture. They believed that the Bible was the Word of God, and salvation was by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Now anyone can be an evangelical. Growing up Lutheran, I watched the two most liberal (apostate) Lutheran denominations merge into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Rick Warren is an evangelical. Billy Graham, who has stated unequivocally that he believes in salvation outside of faith in Christ, is an evangelical. Tony Campolo is an evangelical, for pete’s sake! At this rate, how long can it be before the Pope and Dali Lama are called evangelical? Maybe Richard Dawkins is an evangelical, too. Now I’m going to get personal. Some of my readers will cringe when I declare the utter worthlessness of the “fundamentalist” label. I know—it originally meant adherence to a set of five doctrines called The Fundamentals of the Faith. The five doctrines are indeed fundamental, although sola fide is conspicuously missing. Unfortunately, no one thinks of those things now when they hear the word “fundamentalist.” “Fundamentalist” means my hair doesn’t touch my ears, my wife doesn’t wear jeans, and I think this is good old Gospel music. Fundamentalism is a list of negatives. “Fundamentalist” means I don’t _____, and I don’t fellowship with those who do. At one time, fundamentalist seemed to me a good thing to be. Now, you can have it. I have never technically been a Baptist, but I have wished I could be. I have just never lived anywhere where there was a good Baptist church. Lately, though, especially as I have watched the Caner-White fiasco, I have begun to wonder just what it means to be “Baptist.” James White is a Baptist, but so is Ergun Caner; so “Baptist” means nothing soteriologically. Albert Mohler and Mark Dever are Baptists; but so are Gail Riplinger and the late Jack Hyles. As far as I can tell, “Baptist” only means “not paedobaptist.” I almost wrote Baptist means credobaptist, but from what I’ve observed, no credible profession of faith is usually required. If you can recite a “sinner’s prayer,” they’ll dunk you as many times as necessary until it “takes.” Is “Baptist” on the way to obsolescence too? (There are Southern Baptists in Canada, so now I’m also wondering if “southern” has to go, too.) So, I’m not sure what I am. “Reformed” seems good, and I think it will always mean the same thing, so I usually use that. But I’m not paedobaptist or thoroughly covenantal, so that’s not quite right, either. I just don’t fit in. I’m beginning to feel lonely. I need a hug. Unfortunately, I’ve just alienated all my friends with this article.
continue reading Useless Labels

We Don’t Even Have a Chimney

Tuesday··2006·12·05 · 8 Comments
Memo to the comprehension-impaired: This post is not about Santa or people who deceive their children. It is primarily about the sin of some of those people against the rest of us who choose truth, and are quite satisfied with Jesus alone. It is written, first, in zeal for the truth, and second, as a call to, and in hope of, repentance. It happens. Some school teacher tells the truth about the mythical fat man from the North Pole, and parents flip out as though something wrong has been done. Christian parents, whom I would expect to love truth, are often as outraged as the pagans. Now, I agree that it is within the parents’ rights (legally, if not morally) to tell their children whatever they want. Let them tell their children that a jolly fat man who lives at the North Pole—there is no land at the North Pole, by the way—makes an annual visit to every good child (Romans 3:10–18) on the planet via a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Let them say that the moon is made of cheese, global warming is a legitimate threat, Ralph Nader would make an excellent President, and they can accomplish anything with enough self-esteem. Parents are certainly entitled to decide what to tell their children, and I am right out front in the battle against anyone who says otherwise. That is why we homeschool. On the other hand, my right to teach my children whatever I see fit does not translate into an obligation on anyone else to back up my story. I have no right to wax indignant because someone says there is no Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, or Santa Claus. “But,” you say, “They don’t have to go out of their way to do it. Furthermore, not all truth must be told. Some truth should not be told.” Then you might give an example of crossing the street to tell someone they’re ugly , which is a ridiculous comparison, for a few reasons. First, ugly is subjective. That anyone is ugly is neither true nor false. Second, supposing ugly is a fact, there could never be a good reason for saying so. What kind of person would do that? Third, and most importantly, it would be highly unusual for anyone to be forced to declare someone to be ugly. Anyone who spends a lot of time with children will inevitably be faced with the necessity of either affirming or denying Santa Claus. Any teacher committed to telling the truth, no matter how studiously he avoids the subject, will eventually have to say, “No, sorry, it’s just a story.” You have no right to object to that, and to expect them to cross their fingers and lie. Then there are the children who know the truth. Eventually, they learn to avoid the subject and keep quiet. Little kids haven’t learned that, and they don’t have the skill to maneuver through this minefield as adults can. Sometimes, they are just going to blurt out, “There’s no Santa Claus!” There is no malice or guile in that, and I would be ashamed to hear my children say otherwise when they know the truth. Children lose any illusion of innocence far too soon as it is. I will not teach them to lie for any reason. “But,” you say again, “Surely you tell your children stories; not everything you tell them is technically true.” Yes, we tell stories, and some of them are real whoppers; but we call them fiction. We don’t actually convince our children that there really are trolls living under bridges or pigs that can build houses or bears that eat porridge. We never try to convince them of anything that is not true. The possible example you’re thinking of right now? No. I don’t need to know what it is, the answer is, “No. Absolutely not. Nope; not that, either.” As aggravating and absolutely wrong as it is to expect complicity in deceit, worse is the scorn that is often heaped upon those who choose to tell their own children the truth. I’m talking about Christians who look down on others for telling their own children the truth. We are stealing joy from our children. We are “miserable, dour adults” who “suck the fun out of” Christmas, “so-called ‘Christians,’” “jerks” [Update: Add “ashen and odious” to the descriptions of a Christ-only Santa-free Christmas]. That attitude is astonishing. First, to be contemptuous of others for telling the truth—for telling the truth!—is audacious beyond description. Second, to think that the legitimate focus of Christmas is somehow lacking, and that a fairy tale can add anything to the true story of God incarnate, born of virgin, without sin, who lived and died to bear my sin and secure eternal life for me! The true story of the incarnation alone needs a companion fairy tale, or Christmas won’t be fun! Such attitudes are unworthy of Christians. Tell your children whatever you want. That really is not my concern, or the focus of this article. Your children will probably grow up just fine, although many have testified to the harm done to their faith when they learned the truth about Santa. Just don’t expect complicity from me. Don’t expect sympathy when you throw your temper tantrums over the gall of some teacher who told the truth. Don’t expect an apology when your child discovers that mine doesn’t believe in Santa. You see, if maintaining your deceit requires me to be deceitful too, you’re on your own. If that “suck[s] the fun out of” your Christmas, I’m afraid you’ve missed Christmas anyway.
continue reading We Don’t Even Have a Chimney

Stop Saying That!

Thursday··2007·02·01 · 10 Comments
Well, it’s Thursday already, and I find myself apologizing again for having nothing to say this week. I have actually written or begun to write several exceedingly astute and vitally important articles, but on closer examination, found them to be far less astute and important that they claimed to be. Some of them were reactionary diatribes, and I hate those. Anyone can troll the web and react to or comment on someone else’s work. Sometimes that is good and necessary, but more often it is lazy, contentious, or both. There are several things I would like to comment on, but very often I find that my comments do not really add anything positive to the mess. So, I have shelved several topics until my attitude improves. However, I don’t want to entirely waste my present cantankerous mood, so here are a few language offenses that really have to stop. Yes, these things really do irritate me. Irritability is my spiritual gift. So, for your edification, the list: “24/7.” This one was clever for about five minutes, but like all clichés, became tiresome after being repeated 24/7.* “. . . on so many levels.” This does not mean “in many different ways,” no matter how badly you want it to. Periods after every word in a sentence, like this: Dumbest. Fad. Ever. “From the get-go.” Where is the get-go? What is a get-go? It’s not the beginning. Beginning is spelled b-e-g-i-n-n-i-n-g. “From day one.” Same as above, this just means “I’m too cool to say what I mean in plain English.” “Been there, done that, [uber-cool option: “got the t-shirt’].” Whoa, Dude, I am sooo totally cool! Not only do I understand what you’re talking about, I can tell you so without being reduced to using actual sentences with nouns and stuff! “I’m like . . . “ “He’s like . . .” “She’s like . . .” does not mean “I/He/She said (or thought)  . . .” It means “I’m stupid.” This is by no means a comprehensive list. Please feel free to add others in the comments. Maybe if we can round up a large enough collection of ignorant, over-used slang phrases, we can get together and have a cliché burning party some night. * There is actually nothing wrong with some of these expressions. Sometimes a catchy colloquialism helps to make a point in a fresh way. However, fresh only lasts for a day. After that, it becomes the day-old donuts of language: a cliché.
continue reading Stop Saying That!

Indulge Me in a Rant

Friday··2007·09·07 · 9 Comments
We will return with our regularly scheduled edification after this brief rant: I recently had a conversation that went something like this: Local insipid, soulless, Christian radio station: Give your praise to the Lord / Come on everybody / stand up and sing one more / hallelujah / Give your praise to the Lord / I could never tell ya [sic] / just how much good that it’s / gonna [sic] do ya [sic] . . . Me: Man, that is one annoying, stupid song. Annoying person singing along: What’s wrong with this song? Me: Where shall I start? OK, first, the melody, if you can call it that. It sounds like it was written by an asthmatic who can only sing two measures before stopping to gasp for air. But that’s not the worst of it. The words are horrible. APSA: So, you’re against praising the Lord, now? Me: Not at all, but if you’re praising the Lord because of how much good it’s going to do you, you’re not really praising the Lord. You’re practicing self-help therapy. APSA: You’re so picky. Me: [Sigh . . .] I can’t stand it. Discernment is out. Ignorant enthusiasm is in. According to a scientific study I am about to make up, 92.7% of American Evangelicals don’t know Paul of Tarsus from Paul McCartney. They don’t know Simon Barjonah from Paul Simon. They think John Bunyan needed a podiatrist, and that Polycarp & Spurgeon are fish. If Christian radio is a fair representation of Evangelicalism at large—and, according to the study cited above, it is—then Evangelicalism is a dead movement, utterly bankrupt theologically and intellectually brain-dead. If there was a convention for truly artistically gifted CCM performers, all the participants could ride in one car. If all the Christian broadcasters who are able to distinguish John MacArthur from Joyce Meyer had a party, they couldn’t get up a Bridge game. If all the Christian publishers who know the difference between John Owen and John Eldredge went to the gym, they couldn’t field a basketball team*. If . . . [Sigh . . .] * I suppose “field” is the wrong word here. If all the bloggers who know anything about sports had a party, I wouldn’t be invited.
continue reading Indulge Me in a Rant

Where’s My Nobel Prize?

Saturday··2007·10·13 · 4 Comments
So Al Gore wins a Nobel prize for “raising awareness about global warming.” I’ve spread countless loads of manure—beef, dairy, swine—on fields from Wisconsin to North Dakota. What do I get? A big, fat nothing. Is that fair?
continue reading Where’s My Nobel Prize?

Random Thoughts

Tuesday··2008·05·20 · 2 Comments
Economist and syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell occasionally titles his columnRandom Thoughts. If you’ve read those columns, please lower your expectations several degrees before continuing. These are just a few things that have crossed my mind in the past week or so. Some are thoughts inspired by conversations, others are just the fruit of a wandering mind. On singing: Rebecca shared a nice hymn on Sunday, complete with a performance of said hymn by Fernando Ortega. She commented that it was “one of the few versions I could find that was not sung in a breathy female voice.” She almost set me off on my own list of irritations with popular singers, but I saved it for you. Rebecca already mentioned breathy (kiss me, baby!) singing. I’ll add: growling, whining, moaning, groaning, panting, yelling, screaming, and any other vocal affectation. Please—sing with the voice God gave you. It might not be a great one, but trust me, it’s better than the one you’re faking. My most hated musical crime is poor enunciation. I’m not referring to the careless kind, although that’s bad enough. I mean the intentional kind, in which the singer pronounces words in ways he never would if he was speaking, because it’s cool. Come on, people. Get Hooked on Phonics. A serious offender on both counts (this is one of those “wandering mind” segments) is Bob Dylan. Some say he can’t sing, but we’ll never know; we’ve never heard him try. I’d call what he does a combination of whining and moaning. And he obviously has no respect for phonics. His fans, if any are reading this, are thinking, “Yeah, but man, can he write. He’s a brilliant lyricist.” Yeah, whatever; I’ve got some poems I wrote when I was in 9th grade and in “love” with a gorgeous 8th grade blonde that might impress you, too. There is no male gender, nor female. Male and female are not genders; they are sexes. Gender is described as masculine or feminine. How do you pronounce evangelical? Most say “ēvangelical”; some say “ĕvangelical.” As I’ve observe who says what, I think I’ve figured it out. It’s those uppity guys with “Dr.” in front of their names who use the latter pronunciation. The rest of us are right, but will never be published. Every time I go out, I see people, including adults, wearing sweats—in public. What is wrong with these people? It really is a sign of societal decay when people are more concerned with being comfortable than presentable. For my part, if I meet you in a public place (not a gym or a jogging path), and you are wearing sweats, I’ll assume you can’t be trusted with serious responsibility. After all, you didn’t even manage to get dressed before leaving the house. No wonder your kid can’t wear his cap straight or pull up his pants. Sometimes I don’t understand my wife. The other day, she told me a story that was supposed to be funny, about a Norwegian who, overcome with emotion, confided in a friend: “I love my wife so much, I almost told her.” What’s funny about that? I thought it was touching.
continue reading Random Thoughts

Playing God with Time

Thursday··2011·05·12 · 5 Comments
A memo to the geniuses in Mercer County, North Dakota, who recently decided to move us to Central time. Or, a rant that will interest almost no one. I admit that my title is melodramatic; my friends and family are already bored to death with hearing me rant about this. I thought that maybe if I told the whole world1 about it, I might finally be satisfied that I’ve said enough.2 So here goes. If you divide the globe into twenty four longitudinal sections, you will find them to be 15° across (360/24=15). Each section would constitute one time zone, if they were strictly observed. Of course, those lines aren’t followed strictly, and naturally, it is more convenient and makes good sense to follow a nearby border or river, provided the border or river actually is near the proper longitude. What makes no sense at all—or, as I am wont to say it, WHAT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL—is moving the time zone border just because, that is, JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE LIVING NEAR THE LINE FREQUENTLY HAS TO CROSS IT AND DOESN’T LIKE HAVING TO THINK AS HE DOES IT. Listen folks, somebody has to live near the line. If we allow moving it for your convenience, then we’ll have to move it for the next whiner’s convenience, too. And if you’ve been paying any attention, you know that that’s exactly what’s been happening. Consequently, the line between the Central and Mountain time zones is jogging all over the place and moving so far west in most places that the easiest way to straighten the line might be to eliminate the Mountain time zone altogether. But I’m not willing to do that. I want the time on my clock to have some relation to the position of the sun. Mapping the globe in 15° sections as described above, I discovered that we reside about 300 miles from the proper time line, in the time zone that is Greenwich Mean Time -7 hours, or what should be the Mountain time zone. The satelite image below will illustrate that this coincides accurately with solar time, or as I like to say, THE ACTUAL TIME AS DICTATED BY THE REVOLVING OF THE EARTH ACCORDING TO God’S DESIGN. The image on the left shows the earth, with me sitting disgruntledly in the center, at noon, Mountain Standard time. The image on the right shows the same location at noon, Central Daylight Savings time.3 The Truth of the Matter is obvious, yet my fellow citizens still moved us to Central time. Well, I suppose there is nothing I can do about it. You are all free to set your clocks two hours ahead of me and God, I will just have to live with it, and you will have to explain yourselves on Judgment Day. But my clock is set to Mountain Standard time. When I have to come out and interact with you, I will adjust the time in my head, because I can. It’s not difficult. That is, it’s not difficult for me; sorry about your mental handicap.4 1 Yes, the whole world reads this blog. At least one person from each continent, anyway. 2 Probably not. 3 Have I mentioned what I think of Daylight Savings time? Well . . . It doesn’t actually save daylight any more than Jim Croce could actually save time in a bottle. 4 I hope you’re not offended; I find it more charitable to assume inability than laziness, so I’m actually being kind.
continue reading Playing God with Time

Is the Chicken Local?

Wednesday··2014·04·02 · 6 Comments
Ah say, ah say, it’s a joke, Son (just not the funny kind). I freely admit that this post by Bethany Jenkins of The “Gospel” Coalition, Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From, made me angry, and not only because the title ends with a preposition—and yes, I did just put the word “Gospel” in quotation marks. I did that because, if that post is representative of the coalition, if the issues addressed are even on the radar of a supposed gospel-focused organization, leftist politics and, yes, leftist theology has supplanted the gospel. But enough beating around the bush; let me tell you how I really feel. Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From, no matter the angle from which it is viewed, no matter how tightly the viewer squints, is a disgrace. Jenkins has no idea how economies work or how the majority of us live, but is quite adept at parroting leftist propaganda. This is all very hip, I’m sure, and is probably what it takes to maintain street cred in Portlandia, but if I had any editorial control at T“G”C, I would be mortified that such ignorance was allowed to slip by, and at this very moment would be covering my hindmost parts with my very best “mistakes were made, etc.” There is so much I could say, and so many directions I could go with this. The political and economic issues could make a whole series of posts. In particular, the pretentious sanctimony of “fair trade” and “social justice” fatuity is a wonderful catalyst for what, in my house, is called “another one of Dad’s rants.” While those issues are important for Christians to understand, I’m going to leave all that aside and focus on something a little closer to home. Let’s pretend for a minute that I accept the fantastic* ethical premises undergirding Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From. Just for fun, let’s also pretend that the benefits of actually meeting the farmer who produces your food are real, and not just a romantic notion. In that world, I suppose everyone is a suburbanite with a high-five or six-figure salary. My world is a little different. Most of the people I know are not counting their grocery pennies because they are cheap. Many, if it was even logistically possible to shop as Jenkins suggests, would have to choose between eggs and luxuries such as shoes for the kids. $5.00 eggs? $4.00/gallon gas is killing us, and causing the cost of everything else we buy—groceries in particular, especially meat—to increase. And this is the situation of the families around us who live like most families I know, that is, with two incomes and as many children. Not all of us live like that, even. Some of us—our family, for example—have lived for twenty-six years on one (non-union, blue-collar) income, with eight children—six still dependent, some in college with all related expenses, and others who are still outgrowing or wearing out clothes on a nearly-weekly basis. $5.00 eggs? I don’t think so. (Some might suggest that those life-choices were foolish and poor stewardship. Go ahead. I dare you.) And we are by no means poor. Many families live on tighter budgets than ours. Some families are just thankful to have chicken at all. To suggest to most people that they should care where their chicken comes from shows just how trivial your concerns are compared to theirs. To connect such concerns to moral imperatives is despicable. I wish (dare I hope?) that Bethany Jenkins and T“G”C would take a step back, examine what they have done, and repent. I wish they would reconsider and abandon the entire Every Square Inch project, allowing me to remove those quotation marks. Alternatively, they could just pack up and move to Portlandia. * fantastic adjective 1a : based on fantasy : not real   b : conceived or seemingly conceived by unrestrained fancy
continue reading Is the Chicken Local?

“Operating System not found”

Wednesday··2014·06·11
As you may have surmised from the title of this post, I’m having computer problems this morning. I’m using my wife’s computer with Windows 7, which I despise. Consequently, my internet activity today will be minimal. Being in a rather grumpy mood, I will send you (in lieu of a regular post) to a collection of posts that will enable you to share in my suffering, which is an entirely biblical thing to do (2 Corinthians 1:7). Just click the angry face at the right.

Should Mommy Kiss Your Owie?

Wednesday··2016·01·13
The New American College Student U California System Encouraging Students to Formally Report ‘Unwanted Jokes’ Measures to protect the sensitive feelings of pseudo-adults have become de rigueur and boring, so I’ll forgive you for declining to click the link above. You’ll get the gist well enough if you read the excerpt below. The University of California system is encouraging its students to report everything from “unwanted jokes” to “teasing” using its online “intolerance report form.” If you hover your mouse over a subsection of the form labeled “hostile climate,” it states that “examples include unwanted jokes or teasing, derogatory or disparaging comments, posters, cartoons, drawings, or pictures of a biased nature.” If you are not one of those tender children, this post is not for you, but please, keep reading; the attention span of those who might benefit from it was exhausted with the realization that it only contains one picture—and they suspect, but aren’t sure, that it might be a subtle jab at them, so they’ve retreated to their respective safe spaces to make signs and compose clever chants like, “Hey, hey! Ho ho! My feelings are hurt! Waaaaaah!” Anyway, they’re gone, and you’re all I’ve got, so if you leave, I’ll feel really, really bad, and that’s not good. But I digress. On to the point, then, which is: A short list of Easy and Effective* Things I Have Done in Response to Unwanted Emails that involved neither tears nor complaint forms (the NR post also contains a couple of helpful and—for the scant minority that cares about such mundane things—sensible suggestions): Send the offending email to spam Ask the sender to cease sending silly stuff Add the sender’s email address to a filter that automatically spams them (I even did this to a lady at church whose inspirational† emails were especially offensive and threatening‡) I hope that helps. Pass it on to the wilting flower or flowers in your life. * They work. † So vacuous as to make Chicken Soup for the Soul compare favorably to Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. ‡ I didn’t much care for them.
continue reading Should Mommy Kiss Your Owie?
A photo essay, in black & white because it’s artsy. This is me, pretty much through high school: This is how the authorities reacted: This is the postmodern American college student: This is how the authorities react:
continue reading Then and Now

Familial Folly, Filmed

Friday··2016·01·22
Cheesey in a good wayWhen someone recommends a “family friendly” movie, I like to ask (when I remember) if it’s actually about family relations, or just a good movie without the usual offensive content. If it is about a family, I usually smile and thank them, which is a completely dishonest response, because inwardly, I’m rolling my eyes and making absolutely no mental note to check it out. This is partly because most “family friendly” movies are exceptionally cheesey, but not in a good way. It is mostly because I hate movie families. In movie families . . . DadDad is a moron. Mom is the only competent parent, but not competent enough to really understand her teenage daughter, from whom both Dad and Mom could learn a lot, if they only would pay attention. Mom is the only one allowed to lay down the law in this house, and Dad better listen (the kids have much more latitude because, after all, [whatever]). Mom does as she pleases, and if Dad as much as questions her decisions, he is a sexist jerk. Conversely, Dad dares not make any decisions without running them past Mom. If he violates this rule, he will feel the wrath of Mom and confess the error of his ways. Any disciplinary action initiated by Dad will bring down a stern spousal lecture, and Dad will apologize. In fact, any attempt at discipline by either parent ends with an apology to the child. Those are the nice ones. Never mind all the movies in which Dad is a drunk, abusive, or just a jerk in general. Or maybe Dad is perfect in every way, but he’s got a high-pressure job that requires him, against his will, to spend too much time at work slaving away to support his family and satisfy their material expectations, and consequently does not satisfy their expectations of his time and attention. Either way, Dad is a failure. He can’t win. I don’t like that. Furthermore . . . If I were to ask for recommendations of movies in which this pattern was not followed, I’d receive one or two of some lame Christian production in which some superficial and synergistic version of the gospel is presented as a moralistic and therapeutic cure for the problems of life (e.g., save your marriage, gain your child’s respect, etc.). I like that even less. No, I have no constructive word in conclusion. I’m just complaining.
continue reading Familial Folly, Filmed

It’s Not a Bullet

Tuesday··2017·08·08
Today, I am, in the words of that old Simon & Garfunkel song, feeling grumpy. So here’s a grumpy post for you. Police dramas, westerns, war movies, anything on the screen in which guns appear, they all do it: they all display how little the actors and directors know about firearms. From tough thugs holding their handguns sideways to calling shotguns “rifles,” they loudly announce both their ignorance and the fact that they are too lazy or care too little to do the little research it would take to keep the eyes of firearms aficionados from rolling clean out of their sockets and half-way down the street. I could go on all day about the many ignorant gun gaffs that spill out of Hollywood every day. (Yes, every day, I’m certain of it. Probably more, even.) But I’ll give you just one today. “I’m out of bullets!” says the cop/cowboy/soldier/spy (which, by the way, would make an excellent title for a novel or movie). Eyes roll all over middle America, where we know that, unless he’s shooting a muzzle loader, he’s actually out of more than bullets. Unless he’s got a slingshot or a blowgun and a mighty powerful set of lungs, all the bullets in the world won’t do him any good. What he needs is cartridges, or, colloquially, shells. to wit: How it works: A loaded cartridge has four parts: a casing (or case), a projectile (bullet), propellant (powder), and a primer. Pulling the trigger releases your gun’s firing pin, which strikes the primer, which ignites the propellant inside the casing, which produces a rapidly expanding gas that send your bullet flying at anywhere from <1,000 to >4,000 feet per second. So you can see that a bullet alone is nothing but a balanced, aerodynamic rock, if rocks were made of lead and copper. You could say I’m being pedantic, petty, and picayune. You could say, “Well, that’s what they mean. It’s just common shorthand,” and I could accept that if I’d ever met anyone who actually owns a gun and says that. I’m sure such people exist, but in my entire gun-totin’ life among my gun-totin’ friends and neighbors, I’ve never met any. And even if I had, they’re wrong. Spread the word. This is a Bullitt.
continue reading It’s Not a Bullet

@TheThirstyTheo



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