Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Troubles With Church

Disclaimer: This is not a post to discuss general problems with organized religion or Christianity.  No screeds in the comments, please.

I tried to go Sunday morning.  I really did.  Pulled into the parking lot and just drove through.  I know the church, the preacher, and remember enough faces I know I would have been welcome.  But I couldn't welcome it.  Just thinking about sitting in pews brings to mind The Preacher With Only Words* that shattered my excitement and hope.  Churches who treat funerals as recruitment opportunities, and completely ignore the person they are theoretically memorializing.  Well-meaning people whose words "spoken in love" tear and destroy.

The church I was going to hasn't done any of the above that I'm aware of.  And lots of groups besides churches are guilty of the same - it's a human condition, not a church condition.  Even at churches where I have seen these behaviors, I've met good people, gracious people, holy people, that I'm still proud to call friends.  And my faith in God doesn't waver, but I can tell it's not exactly blooming in isolation.

But I can't get myself to go back.  I want that community, that fellowship, heck my natural response to my most joyous experience - playing in deep waves in the ocean - is to belt out hymns.  But I can't face being discarded again.  By a church, by a place that talks about love more than any other place. Whether it's brazenly "calling it" and cutting all ties or just dismissing my thoughts/perspectives as "loving the sinner," it's just harder to take there.

Dunno what response I'm looking for.  Don't point me to a church/preacher/group who will be better - it'd be hard for any of them to be worse than my last experience ended up.  I don't know how I can deal with this or get past it, no matter how much I want to.  So if anyone has thoughts there, please let me know.  And I'll just hope this was somehow therapeutic enough for me.

*No idea how much of this is based on learning that That Preacher is using disparaging anecdotes about the church he abandoned at his new megachurch.  But I'm sure it doesn't help.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Movie Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (1/17/2012)

I didn't really know what to expect with this one - obviously a Big Important Film about 9/11, pretty good cast, based on a popular and acclaimed book, but middling reviews - so when I got a free ticket, I knew I would at least get my money's worth.  I really liked it - it's difficult watching the grief ripple through everyone's lives, but the actors do a great job of expressing the pain.  Parts of the story are a little too neat, and others have holes, but I can overlook the minor flaws with so much else keeping my attention.  It took me back to the Houston hotel room where I watched that morning unfold, and I can't tell if I like it more or less because of that.  Thomas Horn was excellent as the young boy, and Tom Hanks makes an idealized father come across as real, but the entire cast delivers strong performances.  It's worth seeing even though (perhaps because?) it takes you so strongly back to 9/11.


Wizard of Walking

I watched the movie The Way last fall, about a pilgrimage route through Spain that is at least 200km.  All of the walking pilgrims had pairs of hiking sticks (I've also seen them called trekking poles), and I was interested in how they might be helpful.  Looking online, they seem to redistribute some of the weight/effort from the legs to the arms and shoulders, which can help alleviate knee and ankle problems.  I don't have any leg problems (except blisters on my heels at the moment), but I plan to walk a lot this year in preparation for going up a mountain in the fall, and the sticks also help a lot with going up/downhill.  Does anyone have any experience or advice on this?

An alternative is also a single staff instead of a pair of poles.  It's not as even but can be easier to carry, and let's just face it: I want to use a staff.  I actually have 3 at home that I might try to use on hikes, but I'm pretty sure that would end anyone's being willing to hike with me.  Can't help it though - it's the only accessory I've ever wanted.  Any advice on staff vs. poles?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Movie Review: Carnage (1/16/2012)

I once saw the traveling company put on the play Art featuring Judd Hirsch, and then saw a local company's version.  The local company was fine, but the national cast amazed me by how much they added to the words. Similarly Carnage is just a filmed play, but with actors you could watch all day.  Each actor grips the audience in turn as the two couples dig ever deeper into their assumptions, their fears, and their 18-year-old scotch.  Christoph Waltz impressed me most, but I couldn't tell if that was his acting, or just that I'd never seen him on screen.  The ending felt gimmicky, but while I enjoyed the dialogue, it's just about the actors, and that's why it was great.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Movie Review: Contraband (1/14/2012)

Mark Wahlberg in a heist story?  You don't say!  As with all of his other movies, Wahlberg plays the guy you'd want in charge of your criminal activity - would love to see one of his crews up against Ocean's Umpteen.  Giovanni Ribisi is striving for Heath Ledger's Creepy Villains legacy - does anyone else remember him as the kid next door from My Two Dads?  It tends to make me laugh when he's being violent and unstable.  Kate Beckinsale, as always, fades into the background, and the less you notice her, the better the movie is.  The story had a couple of twists, but nothing outstandingly memorable.  Contraband is an enjoyable movie, one of the better January offerings.


P.S. When I see the trailer for Man On a Ledge, I hear Reese Witherspoon saying the title like her line "...a baby.  In a bar."  Am I the only one?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Movie Review: Young Adult (1/2/2012)

Finally - I'd been waiting to see this for a few weeks!  And it didn't disappoint- Diablo Cody's screenplay is as clever as Juno, but without the whiplash pace.  The movie is funny, but starts off with the main character's dark oddities, and just descends ever deeper into her psychoses as well as the darkness she exposes/reveals in those around her.  It refuses to wrap up any of the characters or their problems at the end - it's more a slice-of-life anecdote than a Story.  For non-Charlize fans, she does an excellent job in this one.  For non-Patton-Oswalt fans, do you exist?  Really?  I don't believe it.  I really liked Young Adult - it's still haunting me a couple of weeks later.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Movie Review: We Bought a Zoo (1/1/2012)

I did not expect this to be my first movie of 2012, but I got bailed on for Young Adult and ended up going to see Matt Damon mail one in.  His role had a little more oomph to it than I expected it, and I really enjoyed the movie.  I wouldn't call it great, but animals are always fun, and the young daughter lights up scenes without smothering them.  Especially if you need to occupy kids and don't want to sit through boring Tintin or whatever else kids will watch, this is a good option.