Lots of people have already talked about Newt Gingrich’s recent comment about Palestinians being an “invented” people. I don’t have anything new to contribute to that conversation except to highlight a nice post from cynicalarab.org. It’s a collection of photos of Palestinians before the creation of Israel in 1948. I don’t know what Newt expected to prove from his statement other than to reaffirm that he’s an obtuse chump. People aren’t invented. Descriptive terms might be, as seems to be part of Gingrich’s point, but people aren’t invented. Besides, I don’t see how pointing out that Palestinians are just Arabs disqualifies them from their land and excuses Israel’s aggressive presence and behavior toward Palestinians. It’s like calling Native Americans an invented people because they weren’t “Native Americans” or “Indians” until Europe showed up. It’s a stupid thing to say.
Photos are from Photographium, an interesting photo archive worth poking around in.
I took this picture with my lame camera phone, but it’s still one of my favorite pictures. God bless the Utah Republicans for letting us know what our values are and where we can find them. And God bless the unknown good Samaritan who made such simple yet profound improvements to the Republican ad campaign. I’d buy that person a cookie.
I’ve been on a religious reading kick this past month. Here are three books – two being specific to Mormonism and one that is not – that were interesting to me and might be of interest to you.
1) Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements by William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffrey. Here’s a short, quick, fascinating dip into how the LDS Church has dealt with one of the most controversial topics among religious circles. Here, the authors have compiled statements by or approved by the First Presidency of the Church. Most of these statements are in the 1930’s (when controversy was particularly hot), but the Church’s position hasn’t changed much since then, hence why little has been said in the last 70 years by the Church leadership. The general consensus is that the Church of Jesus Christ is neither for or against evolution, and it isn’t relevant to a person’s salvation anyway.
2) Mormonism for Dummies by Jana Riess, PhD and Christopher Kimball Bigelow. In the spirit of any For Dummies book, it’s both an informative and funny crash-course in Mormon theology, history, culture and anything in between. It does a good job of showing the official doctrine of the Church, as well as some of the oddities of some LDS members. While the Church of Jesus Christ may have the road map to salvation, that doesn’t keep some members and aspects of Mormon culture from being rather strange. A nice read for both Mormon and non-Mormon alike, proving very informative for anyone looking to learn about the Church of Jesus Christ more closely.
3) I Was a Stranger: A Christian Theology of Hospitality by Arthur Sutherland. This was my favorite of the three – probably because it addresses an important aspect of Christianity that might not be getting the stage time it deserves. Hospitality is a fundamental aspect of what it means to be Christian and so essential that Sutherland goes so far as to say that it determines whether the church (any Christian church, I’d say) stands or falls. This is a short read, but leaves us with a fresh perspective on our relationship to strangers and how to more properly view and care for those around us. You don’t have to be religious for the principle of hospitality to have relevance; it is a principle that goes beyond religious circles and is just plain decent living.
I should probably come clean and say that the phenomenom known as urban sprawl is a fairly new thing to me. I first learned of the actual term and what it was at the House of Art (Kunsthaus) in Graz, Austria about 18 months ago. I don’t know what kind of problems Austria has with sprawl, but it turns out that the United States has been enjoying(?) sprawl and its effects for some time now.
If you’re also just discovering sprawl, or looking to hone your already seasoned sprawl-spotting/identifying superpowers to a new level of precision, then be sure to check out perhaps the most accessible book on the subject: Dolores Hayden’s A Field Guide to Sprawl. The book was first published in 2004, but as of 2006 is now available in paperback, which should be good news for people, like myself, who love saving a couple of bucks, but who are rarely able to.
This book is a quick, enjoyable – at times amusing – read that identifies with beautiful color photos by Jim Wark the different types of sprawl, then gives a simple definition and explanation of what you’re looking at. After reading this book you will possess the necessary skills to then begin participating in the “Great American Pastime” known as Sprawl-Watching! Impress your friends with such sophisticated, high-brow terms as LULU, Ball Pork, Pod, and Boomburb. Believe me, they’ll be impressed – or not speak to you ever again. Either way, don’t miss noticing the wonderful, spreading world of sprawl.
Marc Rothemund’s film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, which was released in 2005, is a wonderful German film on the resistance movement in World War II Germany. The film focuses on the last days of Sophie Scholl (Julia Jentsch), who, with her brother, Hans (Fabian Hinrichs), was arrested for distributing anti-Hitler pamphlets at the university in Munich. Their capture, interrogation, trial, and sentencing are depicted here with a believability and simplicity that few films are able to capture. The film holds very true to the actual events.
The film plays out almost like a theater performance, with much of the film taking place in prison cells and the office of Robert Mohr (Gerald Alexander Held). In these tighter quarters the feeling of being directly in the room with the characters is often more strongly felt, making the whole experience that much more personal.
Sophie Scholl gives us a part of World War II which is sometimes seldom seen or recognized. Yet this story, as well as others like it, is as significant as the other aspects of the war which have already been put on the screen time and time again. The resistance movement within Germany during the Nazi regime is an often inspiring study and those who were a part of that movement do deserve recognition.
I do believe that much can be learned from people like Sophie and Hans Scholl. They loved their country, Germany, and when they saw the principles on which that country stood being destroyed, it caused them to act – pointing out the atrocities that the Nazi Party to that point had committed. In doing that they were branded as traitors by the regime. Yet few today would claim that Sophie, Hans, the other members of the White Rose student resistance group, and all other resistance fighters in Germany were wrong in their decision to stand up to the government rather than put the blinders on and ignore the crimes committed by their leaders.
Much could be written on how this film and the events portayed are pertinant to current issues and events here in America. I won’t go into that, except to say: when times like those in the film arise, I would hope that we have the will and desire to stand up for the ideals that we may see crumbling around us, and will strive to see our own county avoid losing itself as has happened at times in the past, both within America and in other countries. Just see the film and draw your own conclusions. I found it inspiring and I hope your viewing experience will be equally memorable for you.
Most Christians at some point during their lives hear the familiar verse in Christ’s famous Sermon on the Mount which goes: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).” There has been and continues to be much discussion and debate in the Christian world about what this verse and others like it mean.
I do not intend to jump in on that discussion, but simply wanted to pass on some good input on the subject. What I’m posting here is simply a link to a Brigham Young University Devotional Speech by Dr. Joseph D. Parry entitled, ‘On Being a Christian Perfectly‘, which can be downloaded in text form or as an mp3. This is a wonderful talk on the subject and gives us some points to think about when it comes to how Christians can apply the teachings of Christ to their daily lives. Whether you’re religious or not, one can hardly say that the ideals and principles addressed in this talk are bad things. Check it out; you’ll like it.