Thursday, August 16, 2007

Owen Turns 4; Kierra, 2

And, my favorite pic of Kierra:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Distracted by Computer-Simulated War

If I haven't posted in awhile, it's because I've become addicted to Age of Empires, which is sucking up all my free time, and even that time in-between free and non-free time that you really should probably be doing something constructive, especially since I need to be getting a paper written and prepare a syllabus, and research, for a course I'm assisting in the fall--yes, this time is being sucked dry as well. There's worse things in life I suppose...and besides, its the summer, right?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Inverted World of Boondock Saints

Perhaps it was a mistake to think that any movie is relaxing after an exhausting day at work. Boondock Saints would definitely be on my "movies not to watch for relaxation" list (if there was one). In fact, I can say without qualms that it was one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time. It wasn't so much from the sheer grittiness and the extreme profanity (although one can take only so much before it just begins to become annoying and even seem unrealistic), nor can I say the movie wasn't well made. Actually, it was the references to religion particularly, within the context of the story, that, although some would perhaps find this an added bonus, was what made me nauseous (figuratively speaking). Indeed, other than that opinion that would take killing "evil men" in the name of Christ as praisworthy, or other than another (perhaps more common) who find something definitely wrong with that picture, but cannot find the reason why doing such would be bad, I find the "religious" life of Connor and Murphy McManus to be nearly the exact inversion of the life of Christ.

Take the scene in the courtroom near the end, after they joined forces with whom they earlier tried to kill in the big house brawl, the "firefight." Right before they kill one of the foremost mobsters in Boston and the one who killed Rocco, everyone in the courtroom are told:

"You people have been chosen to reveal our existence to the world, you will witness what happens here today and you will tell of it later."

Here, the inversion is most apparent: whereas the "saints" went around Boston killing the lowlifes and the most evil among them, for, as they say "it is your corrupt we claim, it is your evil that will be struck by us," Christ's mission was the exact opposite. His work was the work of healing, of the restoration and redemption of the corrupt, of forgiveness and mercy of evil! And whereas the "saints" proclaimed loudly their work to the world and commanded that people "tell of it later," Christ, by contrast, commanded those whom he had healed not to tell anyone of what happened nor who did it. The latter point, I think, is the most profound, for it speaks not only of the mercy of Christ, but also his humility. The "saints" by contrast boasted about their deeds and had them proclaimed. They pray (if it can be called that), but never point to Christ for recognition. This is none other than the proud Pharisee. In short, the "saint's" religiosity is a joke. It holds little weight as religious at all, for it is entirely egoistic and essentially demonic.

Since the "saints" claim to be "shepherds" and "stewards" of God, in spite of the favorable opinions expressed at the end of the film, Connor and Murphy's killings are far more severe and grave than the common criminal who might kill out of emotional anguish, need, or revenge. It is therefore not disordered to a lesser extent precisely because they claim to be enacting the justice of God, rather, precisely because they claim to be enacting the justice of God, the act is far more disordered. Justice is God's and God's alone, that is what makes it the justice of God. It is impossible that this justice can be enacted by anyone other than God. Simply because we are not God, makes the deed all that more evil.

I am thus reminded of another courtroom scene, but this time an ancient one called the Sanhedrin where Christ was tried before his crucifixion. One accusation was that he cast out devils (healed) by the power of the devil. The saints, on the other hand, kill by the power God. The first claims God's work (healing) is by demonic power, the other claims demonic work (killing) is holy. In either case, as Christ responded earlier to the accusation, "a house divided against itself cannot stand." The strict inversions of lives and worlds that constitutes the difference between the "saints" and Christ, shows that the accusation against Christ is extremely fallacious, while it it true for the "saints."

I watched the movie to conclusion only with the hope of seeing these damned punk kids from South Boston finally get what was coming to them. No satisfaction. But of course it must not and cannot be another with the same like-minded "religious" intent that would commit such a crime. For it would denude the deed of all religiosity. The other problems of the film not mentioned here are its extreme binary perspective that divides the world into the "good" and the "evil." Also, it is essentially Calvinistic and Moralistic. But I do not deny that unfortunately the same ideas are not really held.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Conference: a Success

Did I prove myself to be numbered among the greats in philosophy? By no means! But was my presentation a solid one this past weekend? Apparently not only I thought so. There were a number who really took to the theme of my comparison of Hegelian idealism and Paul Ricoeur's hermeneutic phenomenology. Really it was an epistemological battle between theories of consciousness, but a battle which, at the outcome, rendered Hegel obsolete; so much so that Ricoeur would say that after renouncing Hegelianism, "if we are not to give into the weaknesses of nostalgia, we much wish the courage of mourning." Such was the last line of my paper. A line I was expecting to be met with fury, but which actually, as I was told, was quite "beautiful."(?)

But the best part was just hanging out with the philosophy Grad students of Essex. They know a good time, and we had wonderful Thai dinner Friday night and a rousing (mini) pool match at the Goat, Saturday night. Here are a couple pictures from the Thai restaurant with most of the conference organizers along with the conference keynote, Karin de Boer, from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


God our Father, creator of all,
today is the day of Easter joy.
This is the morning on which the Lord appeared to men
who had begun to lose hope
and opened their eyes to what the scriptures foretold:
that first he must die, and then he would rise
and ascend into his Father's glorious presence.
May the risen Lord
breathe on our minds and open our eyes
that we may know him in the breaking of the bread,
and follow him in his risen life.
Grant this Christ our Lord.

--Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Paper Presentation for the International Graduate Conference, Essex

I was pleased to learn that a paper I wrote on the question of human finitude in Hegel and Paul Ricoeur was accepted for presentation at University of Essex's 10th International Graduate Conference. The title of the conference is "G. W. F. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit: After 200 Years." The keynotes are Dr. Karin de Boer from Groningen, presenting "Hegel's Antigone and Tragedy of Cultural Difference." As well as the University's own, Dr. Wayne Martin, who will be presenting on "Hegel's Failed Confessional Enterprise." I will therefore be traveling to England (actually returning!) at the end of April to participate in this one day conference.

Official conference literature has just been posted recently. A colleague of mine at Duquesne, Jim Bahoh, was also accepted, which certainly puts the Duquesne philosophy program in good light for those attending.

I put online the original copy of my paper. The one being presented will be a revised version of this one. I will put that revised copy up when it is completed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hilary Clinton: "All Things to All People"?

Although these ambivalent words of St. Paul have always been the source of much theological controversy and difference of interpretation, it is at least safe to say he did not mean by them what seems to be the campaign policies of most politicians nowadays: radical indifference.

It occurred to me, after hearing Hilary Clinton's response when the question of the immorality of homosexuality was directly posed to her, "I'm going to leave that to others to conclude," that our democratic governmental system has rendered our politicians utterly incapable of holding any definite position on these kinds of issues. Those running for office, especially presidency, are so inclined toward winning votes that it stifles any evaluation of issues the public need to know precisely to make their vote. This is especially the case given the cultural diversity in America. Indeed, though Hilary is probably more inclined toward expressing that homosexuality is not immoral, she couldn't even take this position, no doubt knowing of whom even this would offend.

But it's more than a question about the immorality of homosexuality, its about having a president who will actually stand for something. Our ostentatiously indifferent politicians do not help the situation, for it only concretizes all the more this countries partisan split; they end then not even being "all things to all people."