Sandy Claws, Jack Skellington, and the true (terrifying) King of Christmas

Move over Sandy Claws. The true King of Christmas is on his way.

Disclaimer: Don’t take this too seriously. Jack Skellington is not your typical Christmas movie hero. Not because he’s a skeleton. And not because he is the horrifying Pumpkin King of Halloween. But because he is neither a scrooge nor an outcast. Every Christmas movie needs a scrooge or an outcast to learn the true meaning of Christmas. But Jack is the beloved and magnanimous tyrant of his dark kingdom. Still, Jack comes close to falling for the absurd “spirit of Christmas” trap. When he stumbles into the Land of Christmas, he sees the lights, the snow, the elves busy at work. “What a wonderful thing!” Jack thinks, “This feels nice!” So Jack decides to make Christmas his own. He … [Read more...]

Age of Uprising and justice through a glass darkly

I don't think homeboy uses that sword once.

I first heard of Age of Uprising when it was recommended to me on Netflix. The cover of the movie shows a stern faced Mads Mikkelsen (could there be a more awesome name?) staring off into the distance, sword on his back, flames behind him. The description of the film - Michael, a horse merchant and family man in 16th-century France, is betrayed by a nobleman and decides to fight back -- against impossible odds. -could easily have described Braveheart, minus a few details. The trailer online is incredibly cheesy and filled with the sounds of clanging swords and the voice of that one narrator who has done every action movie trailer since 1995. So, when I started watching, I was ready … [Read more...]

Save personhood, save the planet

Chimpanzees like fruit. Hey! I like fruit too!

According to a recent New York appeals court ruling, chimpanzees are not people. Well, technically, the court ruled chimpanzees cannot be “persons” in the legal sense and are therefore not afforded the protection of human rights. The case came about because someone kept a chimpanzee isolated in a warehouse as a pet. This was illegal as chimpanzees cannot be owned as pets in New York. And it was cruel because chimpanzees are intelligent and social creatures and ought to live with others of their kind. But it was not a violation of human rights. Because chimpanzees are not humans. The fact that chimpanzees are not human beings should be so obvious that a case like this would never reach the … [Read more...]

Buttons, lard, and Old Norse: The Invention and Abandonment of Home Economics

This is me with a pig. Jk. I don't know this guy. But I like his hat.

Buttons caused quite a dust-up recently on the Catholic Mom Blog corner of the internet. Calah Alexander (whom I don’t know) wrote about domestic life in her house and what’s important to her and her family. She also wrote openly and vulnerably on her insecurities about her occasional lack of home economic perfection. As far as I can tell, a lot of women received this well, either coming away with a new perspective or identifying with Calah and her struggles. Others focused on Calah’s admission that she couldn’t sew a button. You’d think she’d said she couldn’t turn a doorknob or spell her children’s names. This turned into several discussions about domesticity, millenials, and the role of … [Read more...]

Brain tumors, basketball, suicide, and freedom

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This morning, I noticed a story in my newsfeed about a woman with an inoperable brain tumor. The diagnosis meant the young woman would certainly die after first losing control of her body as well as her mind. Such a death would undoubtedly be difficult for the woman as well as her loved ones. This story wasn’t about Brittany Maynard, however, but Lauren Hill, a 19-year-old college student at Mount Saint Joseph in Cincinnati. Lauren also happens to be the basketball player who scored the first basket of the NCAA season. The obvious similarities between Brittany Maynard and Lauren Hill are striking. Both were young women diagnosed with terminal brain tumors. Both were given the similar … [Read more...]

Thou shalt not kill the undead? What the Catechism says about zombies.

Night of the Living Dead. These guys are definitely dead.

Most zombie fiction, at some point, deals with the moral question of killing the living dead. This dilemma is often highlighted when a main character is forced to “kill” a close relative or friend who has zombified. The protagonist must answer the question, “What is this thing?” Is this still my child or is it just a lumbering piece of flesh that bears my child’s image? Do my parents’ memories lie hidden in the skull of this dead-eyed walker? Usually, the protagonist comes to terms with the difficult task at the last second, dispatching the former loved one with gusto and a smattering of brains. For those of us planning for the zombie apocalypse, we have the privilege of time to think … [Read more...]

Even the Mercy of the Lord Burns: Prophecy in The Violent Bear It Away

Isaiah with a burning coal.

“Even the mercy of the Lord burns.” - Mason Tarwater One of the main characters in Flannery O’Connor’s novel, The Violent Bear It Away, is the self-proclaimed prophet, Mason Tarwater. A fat, ornery recluse, Old Tarwater lives in the scrubby woods of Georgia, subsisting on corn (in the form of grits and whiskey). He thinks of himself as Elijah, filled with the Lord’s Word and strength, shunned by others, persecuted for his message. As enthusiastic as he is about his role as prophet, Old Tarwater actually does very little prophesying. Miles from civilization, the only person around to hear his prophecies is his grand-nephew, Francis Tarwater. Mason performs most of these from memory, … [Read more...]

What I learned in the garden this season

Bounty! Look at this happy guy!

“But wait!” you must be thinking, “Your season can't be over. Can’t you keep your garden going much longer in North Florida?” Well, yes. We don’t really have a single “season” down here. We can start things like tomatoes in late February/early March. But, in the hottest part of the summer, most vegetables start to struggle while weeds thrive in our heavy rains. And let me tell you, when I say “weeds,” I don’t mean a few stray dandelions. I mean crazy jungle plants that grow up to my chest and choke out everything else.   Florida! So, a lot of gardeners around here just stop in July, tear everything up, and plant again in late August or early September. Then, we can still get in … [Read more...]

Marriage, Sermon Anecdotes, and a Giveaway

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One benefit to growing up Baptist is that you get to hear years of sermon anecdotes. One of my favorites growing up was a joke I heard several preachers use when talking about marriage. It went something like this: A woman went to her pastor to complain about her husband. "I just don't think he loves me any more," she sobbed, "He's so aloof, never affectionate, and never says he loves me. Do you think the marriage is over?" The pastor went to the woman's house and found her husband sitting there in his armchair watching TV. "Your wife is worried about you," the pastor told him, "She feels like you don't love her anymore." The husband responded grudgingly, "I told her I loved her when we got … [Read more...]

My very late list of 10 books

Me in my study.

So, people have been talkin' on the internet about the 10 books that have influenced them. That was, like, 2 weeks ago which is basically a hundred years on the internet. Well, I'm going to do mine anyway. Here it is:   1. JRR Tolkien - Lord of the Rings Let's get the obvious out of the way. The first time I read LotR was when I was a high school senior. The first movie had just come out and I was done with school. I don’t mean school was over, I mean I was just no longer interested in anything going on there. So I went to class and read Lord of the Rings. I finished the trilogy in about 6 weeks and was in love. Tolkien invigorated me in a way no author had done before. He … [Read more...]