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When Liberation Enslaves

August 9, 2013

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Having just read a blog that featured the concept of Liberation Theology, I find myself somewhat boggled.

The author soon gets into railing against “the liberal secular agenda”.  He might want to note the joint etymological root there.

Then, he descends into a whining victim mode.  What?  “Liberation” should not be a word that generates such a paucity of joy.  Be free, be as happy as you can, when you can and try not to impact negatively on other people.  Is that so hard? 

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Abjuration of The Conjuring

July 31, 2013

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It seems that watching “The Conjuring”, which set off my Spider Sense before even making the attempt, was a mistake.  Still, ever one to give something a fair shake of the stick, as it were…

By way of a disclaimer, I should point out that I like horror films.  From “Nosferatu” to “Cannibal Ferox”, from “The Legend of Hell House” to “Silent Hill”.  However, …

From a horror movie standpoint, “The Conjuring” is a pastiche of “The Amityville Horror” 1&2 and Poltergeist in places with a modern remake feel.  The problem there is that the modern feel tends to espouse the steady build-up approach and opt for a rapid jump cut technique that can leave you spinning at times.  Occasionally, it’s easy to forget which house a set is supposed to represent and then, when a character comes into shot, I found myself thinking “What are they doing there?”, when, in fact, the jump cut was so fast that the change in location was temporarily lost on me.

Thinking of editing, it seems rather haphazard at times, like it’s been done by Ray Charles with a cut throat razor.

Soundtrack-wise, this could be just about any modern movie.  Audio tropes abound.  At least the dialogue is fairly clear, which is a change these days.

The actors playing the Warrens give very human performances.  Anyone who’s seen footage of the actual Warrens will know how much of a surprise that will have been.

Content:  Well, here’s where I reach a bit of a sticky situation.  Firstly, the start of the film proclaims that the contents of this film are only just being told now, for the first time.  Well, the book that one of the Perron’s wrote and was published over two years ago must be a figment of my imagination, then.  Proclaiming it to be based on a “True Story”…

There are a slew of problems inherent here.  Firstly, the “True Story” banner has to be considered somewhat flexible.  Paranormal encounters are usually personal experiences.  I’m not in a position to say yea or nay as to the veracity of the experiences of others.  “Based on” also gives the film makers a lot of leeway and that, I think, gets thoroughly exercised here.

Secondly, the Warrens turn up and seem to go to “It’s demonic!” by default.  There’s nothing quite like telling scared people that they’re tangling with a “demon”, I suspect.  If that is, indeed, the way things unfolded, then I would have to call that course of action irresponsible at best.

Now for my biggest problem with the film.  I’m an eclectic grey Pagan.  The whole “evil witch” thing is really not on.  If any of the Abrahamic faiths had been slandered like that, there’d be trouble.  It appears that Christians, Jews and Muslims of all stripes are unassailable as far as mainstream cinema is concerned.  Pagans, often witches, are thrown with abandon into the grinder and vilified.

It’s not on, but I have to accept that my expectations were lived down to, despite trying to approach with some form of neutrality.

Peace and Blessed be!

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Incoming Banhammer?!

May 2, 2013

As I’ve said before, I sometimes scour the internet to see what other people’s view of the world is.  I know what I think but other people can be something of a mystery and, by understanding them a little better, I might just feel more positive about the world and the people in it.

“I’m OK, you’re OK” only works if the other person is really OK.  When faced with arrant jag-offery, I tend to get annoyed and bite back.  C’est la vie.  I’ll leave the passive and meek stuff to others.

On my internet travels, I happened across this blog:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/04/what-is-the-matter-with-this-guy.html

Which is decrying an Arch Bishop’s apparent lack of intervention in the case of an alleged child molesting Priest who, until recently at least, was still working with children.  At the end of this piece was the phrase “…going above and beyond what an ordinary pagan moron acting with merely mortal stupidity and wickedness would do.“

Oddly, I found this somewhat irksome and commented on the blog thus:

“Firstly, that is an appalling misuse/non-use of a position of authority. To endanger in any way the well-being of other people, especially children, is a heinous transgression and breech of the principals of trust.

However, “beyond what an ordinary pagan moron acting with merely mortal stupidity and wickedness would do. ” Really? Are you sure you wanted to use this phrase?”

A couple of the author’s readers leaped to his defence with comments like “…you aren’t really what Mark’s talking about with paganism (i don’t think). “

Oh, he means pagans meaning everyone who doesn’t think exactly as he does, rather than Pagans who don’t think exactly as he does.  Well, that clears up that mystery!  I feel so much better.  What, that might be exactly the kind of thing that sets me off?  The kind of bait I might rise to but probably shouldn’t?

Well, dear reader, I rose to it.  Here’s the reply that may well get me banned from his blog.  Boo fracking hoo!

“Thanks to everyone for clearing this up.

I see now that some people have very loose definitions of the term “pagan” and that I shouldn’t be upset.  It’s not like anyone could get upset about the term “child molestation-enabling, phallic headgear proponents” either.

World view now corrected.”

Ah, well, if I’ve managed to enrage just one idiot today, my work  is done.  Let the banhammer fall!

Cheers!

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I really should know better…

April 13, 2013

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…  than to read a book by someone I would consider a Fundie that is written about the Occult.  The truth of the matter is that I sometimes hop around Ye Olde Interwebz and read a little of what people of other faiths are writing/saying with regard to my own faith and the greater group within which I’m classified.  I hope for insight into other peoples’ thought processes and find a little out about how they view mine/ours.  In this case…

Really, what did I expect?  Tolerance?  Maybe a balanced view?  Reasoned arguments?  Nope, it just turned into a long tedious screed.

The upside of this turd of a tome is that it has now developed comic undercurrents.  Consider this:  The author (one Fred R Coulter) references his own works, the Harry Potter books, a missive titled “What Does God Have To Say About Harry Potter?” and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  Yep, all deep and insightful guides to Occult/Pagan faiths and their beliefs.

Add to this the usual buzz terms about authority, pugnacious “armour of God” warblings and the wonderfully dichotomous “free will” and “obedience” contradiction and away you go.

Fortunately, I know that not all practitioners/adherents to other faiths are as barking mad as Fred the Wonder Author.  My Christian friends were all very supportive of me when I came out of the broom closet 14 years ago.  They’re still my friends.  I lost an Atheist or two along the way, but I can see it from their point of view.  “What’s barmier than following a God?  Believing in a pantheon of them!”

For the most part, though, we can all get along.  I won’t proselytize and promise to try not to shock the people around me.  That doesn’t mean I won’t be forthright, but I try to temper this with tact.

Blessed be!

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Force of Hobbit

February 22, 2013

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Recently during a conversation, a friend pointed out that in the Lord of the Rings, a better strategy for Gandalf would have been to use the Great Eagles (who had fought alongside Edain and the Elves in the First Age, so their species’ loyalties would have automatically have loaned themselves to allegiance) to take the Hobbits on an aerial mission to the top of Amon Amarth and chuck the ring in.  The eagles later encounter no resistance from the Fellbeast-mounted Nazgul when they rescue Sam and Frodo (though the status of the Nazgul at that point is in some question).

Further consideration also brings up the possible use in a similar fashion of a giant Moth, such as the one used in Gandalf’s escape of the pinnacle of Orthanc:  Surely a moonlight raid to ditch the ring into the fires would have been even stealthier!

Such are the thoughts that plague me at night.

There is, however, a reasoning I would like to present as an implication and it is in some ways similar to one that may be applied to the Star Wars canon.  Here goes…

Gandalf sees many similarities between Frodo and Bilbo.  Neither is particularly suited to the pastoral life of Bag End and, once they have seen a greater world, there is no turning back.  Bilbo’s desire for one last adventure, to see the world as partially revealed to him in his journeys with Gandalf is over riding.  A last hurrah by way of a journey to Grey Havens seems to be just the remedy for Bilbo, but Frodo has to see the greater world as espoused by his uncle, clearly, over the years since his return to Bag End.

Frodo has to forge his own path, to experience the fellowship, triumph and loss in his own way.  This is necessary to my point and proposition:

Gandalf is, in many ways, an analogue of Merlin.  Sorcerer, Kingmaker, ultimately transcendent of death and time.  I also would like to postulate that Gandalf is a time sensitive, able to discern a certain amount of possible outcomes of actions both of himself and those around him.  He sees his own transfiguration from the Grey to the White and can extrapolate some of the possible entanglements within the Time Space Continuum.

Remember, though, that like Merlin, Gandalf can also be taken by surprise, as when Arthur gives Leondegrance Excalibur to perform the act of knighthood, since no none-noble may lay claim to the pledge of other knights.

Without Frodo’s participation, the whole forging of the Fellowship of Nine will not happen.  He is the catalyst and, by consequence, responsible for the revelation of Aragorn to Denethor, Boromir and Faramir and as such responsible for the ascention of Aragorn and the reunification of the greater Dunedain kingdom and a knock-on of that series of actions is the resurgence of the Rohirrim.

Frodo’s journey, though circuitous and arduous, touches many and forges the path of kingdoms in consequence.  Mind you, if Tom Bombadil would just dain to get involved, maybe the loss of life would have been contained, but hey, he’s got a hot wife at home…

What does this have to do with Star Wars?  Obi Wan Kenobi.

In the first film made, I was puzzled as to his act of immolation.  Surely, he could have turned the fight through the 90 degrees to facilitate an escape the the Millennium Falcon, rather than the whole “If you strike me down…” bit?

“Hey, Luke!  Your guardians are bits of charcoal and here’s another chunk of trauma…  I’ll get lopped in two!”  Subtle.

Here Kenobi acts as the initiating catalyst, providing Luke with the impetus to develop a level of hatred for Vader.  For all Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back” is disparaging of Luke’s possible contact with the dark side of the Force, here I believe that Kenobi has outwitted even Yoda.  Kenobi sees the limitations of knowing only one side of the force.

It’s a dualistic power source, that is shaped by the application as rendered through the user.  Knowledge of only one side is a limitation – one that I believe Kenobi sees and he wishes to equip Luke with knowledge of both sides, to enable a greater strain of Jedi.  It’s going to have to be good, given that this new Jedi order is going to be starting with somewhat limited numbers.

I believe that Kenobi is acting his Arthurian Sorcerer role as both Kingmaker and chooser of destinies from the flux of possibilities.  There are two contributors of the Skywalker midi-chlorian extravaganza, plus via Leia there’s Solo DNA to start a dynastic pool.

Due to the efforts of Episodes 1-3 to make Kenobi seem rather difficult to like, I believe the great plan forms during his exile to Tatooine.  Quite what causes his blind spot as to the identities of R2D2 and C3PO is a mystery.  Maybe Sir Thomas Malory could have told us…

 

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Different Strokes…

September 15, 2012

Recently, on my voyages around the interwebs, I have become somewhat disturbed by some faith-based posts.

It seems that an awful lot of vocal followers of the big monotheistic faith and its divergent subsets feel rather persecuted if they can’t, for example, proselytize in American schools or if they feel slighted.  Perhaps there are occasions when those people feel their particular denomination/system should be given precedence over all others and that they are above criticism from those who don’t share their particular belief system or, in some cases, any belief system.

Well, this headline just in:  You’re like a bunch of stroppy, spoiled brats and sometimes you need to be told “No!”.   Take your lumps.
While I’m on this train of thought (which is rather peculiar, but it’s my train and I’ll just let it take its course), please stop telling other people they’re going to Hell.  It’s not big, it’s not clever and in some cases, if you’re right, I’ll be happy to be nowhere near you.

Here’s the bottom line, from my particular viewpoint:  Each person’s path is their own.

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A Tale of Two Movies

May 30, 2012

While I’m happy to say that there are a lot of films I still have to catch up with (I missed so much due to a few years of other obligations), there seems to be a catch and I know I’ve mentioned this elsewhere:  Remakes.

I’ve just caught up with the 2005 version of The Fog and this serves as an example.  Some of the problems are similar to those encountered in a lot of modern movie making, let alone the remake/reboot/re-imagining contagion.

Firstly, John Carpenter’s name is attached to the film as a Producer, but he claims his contact was minimal.  Nice to know he can at least add the disclaimer, “I didn’t do it!”.

The film itself starts with a very different shot from its predecessor and I believe that is a chunk of the problem in microcosm.  The original starts with the midnight ghost stories sequence.  Dark and with the tick of the watch acting as a pace maker, it gives you a rhythm and an atmosphere from the outset.

By 2005, it must have seemed like a better idea to start with a daylight panoramic shot.  Very scenic but it’s a bland.  This could be a modern sensibility or just a device to reduce the tension, given the difference in ratings between the two movies (the original got an R rating while the 2005 version is a PG-13).  After all, you can’t actually scare anyone with a horror movie.

Also included was a “social upgrade”.  Making and marketing a film toward the demographic that will possibly attend a PG-13 movie always seems to shift the casting toward young adult/adolescent characters with all the cyphered traits that are both implicit and explicit.  The catch there is that often a lot of those characters behave in such a way that I just can’t invest any sentiment toward them.

Characters provide me with bugbears.  There are movies wherein the characters are so awful and performances so dire and irritating that I want them to die.  Independence Day is a good example of this.  This is a stark contrast to, say, John Carpenter’s 1978 Helloween, where I got to care to varying degrees about the movie’s population, even when they were being irritating teenagers.

Sometimes, an audience will point to modern effects technology as being a big selling point, but if “improved effects” are your reason for watching a film, then I can’t help but feel that there’s something intrinsically wrong.

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