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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Answer to the Meaning of All Life and Existence



I made a joke about the meaning of all life and existence recently. A friend told me that, in a half-asleep haze, she had deleted a comment I had left on her Facebook wall. Though the actual comment I had left had only been a casual greeting, I responded by saying, "That's too bad. I gave you the answer to the meaning of all life and existence... now you'll never know!" Eventually I wrote back that according to Douglas Adams, the answer is 42.


But what is the true meaning of all life and existence? This is all anyone wants to know, isn't it? And though I spend far too much of my time searching for the meaning of my life and existence, is it possible I already know the answer to both questions? 


Isn't it love?


I mean, not to be too vague or hippie... but isn't that what it all comes down to? Get past all the greeting card clich├ęs and worldly cynicism and religious hypocrisy and self-help books and bad romantic comedies, and love still stands. Love remains. Love: that simplest and yet most complex of things. That greatest of things (1 Corinthians 13:13). That divine impetus upon which every other word from the mouths of the Prophets or the pages of the Torah or the pens of the Apostles hinges (Matthew 22:34-40).


And not just love, the greatest of things, but that love that is the greatest of loves--the kind of love Jesus was talking about when he said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13, KJV). And that might merely have gone down in history as a nice maxim if he had not then followed through on it, completely, in action, to the death. THAT gave his words a far greater power--the power to transform all of life and existence, to bring all of life and existence back into harmony with God, and to free all of life and existence from the very death of which he spoke.


There is no more final an answer to the meaning of it all than that.


It is love.


-Tom

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Old Toy Chest

I've begun a new series of articles at my movie blog, the Rant Pad, part of the Incidental Dog production network I began with my friends a little over a year ago. The series is called "The Old Toy Chest." Here's the intro: You can read my first two entries in the series at the following links:

The Old Toy Chest: In this series I will be reviewing movies I loved when I was a kid but have not watched since childhood–sort of like digging out my old toys that I haven’t played with in a while. (Unburying them, so to speak, in keeping with prevailing themes on this site.) These movies are generally from the late 70s, 80s, and early 90s, and they generally will be films with which current audiences (i.e., current kids) are not familiar. In other words, for the purposes of this series, I will mainly be looking at films that have not endured the way other films of the era (like Back to the Future or The Goonies or The Little Mermaid) have endured as popular favorites. (I do, however, hope many of you will remember these films with fondness from your own childhoods.) I will be judging them through both the nostalgic eyes of the child within and the lens of the mature *snicker* film critic into which I’ve grown.
You can read my first two entries in the series at the following links:

Harry and the Hendersonshttp://www.incidentaldog.com/rantpad/?p=573

Captain EOhttp://www.incidentaldog.com/rantpad/?p=625

Then, check out the rest of the site! There are over a hundred articles to read at the Rant Pad and more than 60 video podcasts, plus some other goodies. Enjoy.

-Tom

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Short Review: "The Making of Casablanca" (book)


The Making of Casablanca: Bogart, Bergman, and World War IIThe Making of Casablanca: Bogart, Bergman, and World War II by Aljean Harmetz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fascinating look, not only at the making of one of the greatest films ever made, but into the studio system of the 1930s and 40s and the way the U.S. government and the media worked throughout the Second World War. Part history, part biography, part film criticism, Harmetz comes at the story from all angles, and they all work. She did her homework and also includes plenty of firsthand interviews with just about everyone involved in the film who was still alive at the time of writing. I would have given it five stars but for the occasionally confusing writing style and the fact that she ends on such a cynical note after so many wonderful pages of marveling at the way this film came to be. Still, a highly recommended work of not just film history, but American history.


View all my reviews

Monday, September 12, 2011

Overstimulation of the mind

I realized tonight that thinking has become a lot like surfing the Internet. I go online, and I can go through a hundred links in an hour, gathering information in little bites. Every page links to another page which links to another page which links to another. It's easy to follow such a long train of links that I can't remember where I started.

It's like when you're thinking about something, and one thought leads to another until you can't figure out how your brain got onto the current subject. I'm usually able to backtrack through the connections my brain has made until I remember what thought I'd originally begun on. And online, I am usually opening new links in new tabs, so it's easier to keep track of. But lately, I've discovered, I can't hold a thought for more than a few seconds.

Being online so much, my brain has become so used to receiving information in small interconnected increments that when I try to actually focus on an idea, I can't do it. My brain wants to follow the next link rather than stay on the current page. The only time I can focus on one thing for more than a minute is if I listen to a song and really concentrate on it; read something I am physically holding in my hands; or watch a movie--and even then, I sometimes find my mind following neurological links to other things based on what I'm watching, reading, or listening to. (I have often discovered I've read three paragraphs and have no idea what I've just read, because I've been thinking about something else from three paragraphs ago.)

It is difficult in this age of fast-moving, constantly changing, easily obtainable information, to just stop and focus, to meditate on one subject, even to pray and not have my mind wander. I was talking tonight with a friend about Paul's exhortation in his second epistle to the Corinthians to "take every thought captive." But lately my thoughts have been like sheep without a shepherd. It's not just a matter of arresting mental intruders. It's a matter of keeping the good ones that I already have from going astray and getting lost in the mountains. It's like I need pack of a mental border collies (and by that I mean collies of the mind, not deranged collies).

Perhaps spending less time on the Internet and more time retraining my thoughts to be able to focus and meditate is in order. But how is one to do it with all this noise?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Disillusionment

We tend to think of disillusionment as a bad thing. Actually, disillusionment is a very good thing. It begins with negativity, and that can't be avoided. But to become disillusioned is to see through the charade. If you believe the illusion, you believe the lie. It is fine to believe the illusion at a live stage show. It is perilous to believe it in your everyday life. To become disillusioned is to see through the lie. It is to perceive reality. And it is unavoidably disheartening. But it can also serve as a catalyst for positive change. Disillusionment, if we embrace our newfound sense of what is real, can spur us on to the beginning of a journey toward discovering Truth. This is an always difficult and often lonely journey; but to seek after the Truth is always a good thing, and will lead the honest seeker to the Best of Things.