My Posts that Talk about Kathryn Joosten

Actress Kathryn Joosten has passed on due to lung cancer at age 72.  I know her as Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing, as one of the manifestations of God on Joan of Arcadia, and as Mrs. McCluskey on Desperate Housewives.  It’s ironic that she has passed on, since her character on Desperate Housewives also passed on in the final episode of the show.

I’d like to share some posts that I wrote that discuss Kathryn Joosten’s moments in television:

The West WingBartlett’s Jobian Rant.

Joan of Arcadia: A Disappointing God in Joan of Arcadia.

Desperate HousewivesAlone No More; Caught Up on Brothers and Sisters (Sort of); God of Borg; and The Desperate Housewives Finale.

R.I.P. Kathryn Joosten.

Published in: on June 2, 2012 at 11:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Psalm 66

For my weekly quiet time this week, I will comment on select verses of Psalm 66.  I will use the King James Version, which is in the public domain.

To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm.

For some reason, the Septuagint’s superscription says that Psalm 66 concerns the resurrection.  Augustine ran with this view by applying the Psalm to the resurrection of Christ and the church.  When v 3 says that God’s enemies will lie to God, Augustine interprets that in light of the Jewish leaders paying the Roman soldiers to lie about why Jesus’ tomb was empty (Matthew 28).  Psalm 66:6 talks about crossing the sea on dry land, and many interpreters have viewed that in reference to the Israelites crossing the sea during the Exodus.  But Augustine applies v 6 to believers crossing the sea of mortality through their resurrection.

1Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:

In the Jewish Study Bible, Adele Berlin and Marc Brettler comment: “Universal acclamation for God for his deliverance of Israel (Josh. 2.9-11).”  Indeed, the lands are being told to make a joyful noise to God, and Psalm 66 does appear to be relevant to the Exodus because v 6 seems to recall Israel’s crossing of the sea.  But Joshua 2:9-11 does not present the nations of Canaan acclaiming the God of Israel as a result of the Exodus; rather, they are terrified of Israel and her God.  At the same time, Rahab does appear to acclaim the God of Israel when she not only fears God, but also seeks God’s mercy and protection.  In v 1, perhaps the lands are being told to rejoice in God on account of what God did in history for Israel at the Exodus, to (in the words of Keil-Delitzsch) “share in Israel’s Gloria.”  I should also note that, in Second Isaiah, God’s deliverance of Israel from exile is hoped to bring the Gentiles to the worship of Israel’s God.  Could Psalm 66 relate to that theme, on some level?

2Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.

3Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.

The word that the KJV translates as “submit” often means to lie (i.e., Genesis 18:15; Joshua 7:11; Hosea 4:2).  Marvin Tate maintains that the word in Psalm 66:3 pertains to unwilling submission, on the basis of such passages as Psalm 18:45 and 81:16.  But others have sought to go with the interpretation that the word in this verse relates to lying, deception, or denial.  The medieval Jewish exegete Rashi says that God’s enemies are so terrified of God that they are lying to God about their sins, as they wrongfully maintain their innocence.  And the Targum says that God’s enemies are denying God.

4All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.

Does this mean that all the earth will worship God after the wicked are destroyed, meaning that “all the earth” refers to those who are not wicked?  Or will the wicked, too, sing to God and worship God, albeit reluctantly at first?

5Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.

6He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.

7He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.

Orthodox rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch says that God’s destruction of the Egyptian soldiers at the sea during the Exodus should discourage the wicked from exalting themselves against God.  Psalm 66 may be going that route, in a sense, in that it says that the God who demonstrated his power at the sea still rules and watches the nations.  One can ask why the nations should fear God on account of the Exodus, when there is no evidence that the Exodus actually happened.  Not surprisingly, the Israelites hoped for fresh and current displays of God’s power on their behalf.

8O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:

9Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the sort of verse that influenced the Septuagint to apply Psalm 66 to the resurrection.  This verse is most likely about God’s protection of God’s people in this life.  But one could easily take that concept a step farther and say that God will protect his people even through death, seeing them through to the other side.

10For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.

The Intervarsity Press Bible Background Commentary discusses the purification of gold and silver.  On Proverbs 17:3, it states: “An additional 338 degrees is necessary to allow the metal to be poured without freezing and not so hot that a destructive crystalline structure forms or alloys are dissipated before the metal cools.  It is also important to avoid oxygen infiltration as much as possible during the melting process so that the structure of the metal will not become porous.  The refining process requires expertise and an intimate knowledge of the tools and metals involved.”

That reminds me of I Corinthians 10:13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  Taking into consideration our individual temperaments, experiences, and situations, God gives us afflictions to purify us, but God does not seek to destroy us.  Actually, God through purifying us is cleansing us of destructive tendencies and things that compromise our beauty and usefulness to God.  Do I believe this?  I will admit that my trials make me more compassionate towards others.  At the same time, trials can also make a person bitter, and perhaps even break him or her.  Why else are there suicides?

11Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.

A targum applies this verse to Israel’s captivity under the Egyptians and (later) the Babylonians.

12Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

Regarding the first part of the verse, the Hebrew can be literally translated as “you cause to ride man to our head”.  Tate interprets this to mean that God ordained Israel a leader, Moses, to travel at Israel’s head across the sea at the Exodus.  Others, however, argue that this means that God is enabling Israel’s enemies to trample her down—-to ride over the heads of corpses or to clamp down on Israel’s neck.  According to this kind of interpretation, going through fire and water refers to purification, for metal is purified in fire and water.  The idea, according to this view, is that God is afflicting Israel in order to purify her.  In Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Treasury of David, Thomas Adams states that “There is desolation and consolation in one verse: a deep dejection, as laid under the feet of beasts; a happy deliverance”, and Adams goes on to affirm that we can only appreciate God’s deliverance if we have experienced hard times.  Adams’ use of the terms “desolation” and “consolation” caught my eye because of the “Desolation and Consolation” scene in Joan of Arcadia (see here).

13I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows,

14Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.

15I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.

In vv 13-15, we move from “we” to “I”.  This may mean that the Psalmist is a leader of a congregation, or that he is drawing from the experiences of Israel as a whole as he seeks to assure himself that God will deliver him personally.

16Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

I liked what Frederick Gaiser said in an article he wrote for the Spring 2006 Word&World: “The contemporary worshiping community needs to hear the witness of its individual members for the same reasons the people of Israel did. Such witness points to the ongoing reality of God’s deliverance; it provides the response to the petitions of God’s people that God act now. Faith is strengthened, and praise is elicited. Dietrich Bonhoeffer discovered this in his life together with other Christians in a time of great tribulation, noting that we ‘need other Christians as bearers and proclaimers of the divine word of salvation. [We] need them solely for the sake of Jesus Christ. The Christ in [our] own hearts is weaker than the Christ in the word of other Christians.’”

17I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.

The second part of v 17 translates literally as “and praise under my tongue”.  What’s it mean for praise to be under the tongue?  Job 20:12 talks about wickedness being under the tongue, Psalm 10:7 says that mischief and vanity are under the tongue of the Psalmist’s enemy, and Song of Songs 4:11 affirms that honey and milk are under a tongue.  Tate states that the idea in Psalm 66:17 may be that praise is creating a good taste in the Psalmist’s mouth.  Keil-Delitzsch, however, says that the Psalmist means that he is so sure that God will deliver him that praise is ready on his mouth, prepared for the time when God will deliver him.

18If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

I listened to sermons (including an entertaining one by Dr. John Gerstner) saying that this verse does not mean that God refuses to hear sinners, for, if that were the case, God wouldn’t listen to any prayers, since all of us sin.  Rather, they maintain, the verse is saying that God does not hear those who like sin or fail to struggle against it.  I find this problematic, for I’d say that everyone who sins likes it on some level, otherwise they would not do it.  And it’s possible for one to, say, hate one’s own bitterness and resentment and yet hold on to bitter and resentful thoughts.  How much must one dislike sin before God can hear his or her prayers, for there are very few people who dislike their sins utterly.

At the same time, I can sympathize with the notion that one should not just be praying to God to save one’s own skin—-that there should be a commitment to a righteous path.  David Corder talks some about that issue here.

19But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.

20Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

Published in: on March 3, 2012 at 2:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Risky Faith

On page 808 of Stephen King’s The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition, the Judge reflects on the disappearance of Mother Abagail (the prophetess):

“I wonder if we need to reinvent that whole tiresome business of gods and saviors and ever-afters before we reinvent the flushing toilet.  That’s what I’m saying.  I wonder if this is the right time for gods…She’s been dead six days now.  The Search Committee hasn’t found a trace of her.  Yes, I think she’s dead, but even now I am not completely sure.  She was an amazing woman, completely outside any rational frame of reference.  Perhaps one of the reasons I’m almost glad to have her gone is because I’m such a rational old curmudgeon.  I like to creep through my daily round, to water my garden—-did you see the way I brought the begonias back?  I’m quite proud of that—-to read my books, to write my notes for my own book about the plague.  I like to do all those things and then have a glass of wine at bedtime and fall asleep with an untroubled mind.  Yes.  None of us wants to see portents and omens, no matter how much we like our ghost stories and the spooky films.  None of us want to really see a Star in the East or a pillar of fire by night.  We want peace and rationality and routine.  If we have to see God in the black face of an old woman, it’s bound to remind us that there’s a devil for every god—-and our devil may be closer than we like to think.”

What the Judge says reminds me about what I heard a professor of rabbinics remark about why prophecy ceased within Judaism: prophecy produces social instability, for it allows a person to come along and unravel everything with a “Thus saith the Lord”.

I can sympathize with the Judge’s comments.  A struggle that I have with faith is that I am afraid it will disrupt my predictable day-to-day life.  Not everyone is cut out to go to Africa as a missionary, or to skip work to do one of God’s special projects.  If I were Joan on Joan of Arcadia, and God was giving me a bunch of assignments, I’d wonder if that would take me away from my schoolwork.  Of course, Joan had the luxury of knowing that it was God speaking to her.  I don’t.  If I felt “led” to take a risk, how do I know that’s God, or just me?

There are passages in Scripture in which faith is consistent with living a predictable day-to-day life.  Ancient Israelites under the Torah would just go about their agricultural tasks on a daily basis, honor God with tithes and offerings, and be just in their interactions.  Nothing dramatic there.  But then there are the passages in which God or Jesus calls people to leave everything behind and to take a risk.  Those are the passages that scare me.

Published in: on October 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ryan Hunter Falls Out of Joan Into Ghost Whisperer

I just watched the pilot for Ghost Whisperer, which premiered in 2005.

Here’s what’s weird.  Ghost Whisperer replaced Joan of Arcadia on CBS, after the latter was cancelled.  In the cliff-hanger of Joan of Arcadia, Wentworth Miller played Ryan Hunter, a rich guy who also saw God, yet was somewhat of a villain.  But we never got to see how that played out because Joan was cancelled.

But Wentworth Miller was on the pilot for Ghost Whisperer, the show that took Joan‘s place.  He played the ghost of a soldier, whom Melinda reconciled with her son.  I find that pretty weird!  I wonder if the makers of Ghost Whisperer were trying to win over Joan fans, who were disgruntled that Joan was cancelled and replaced by another series.

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 4:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Why Lily Values Church

When I watched the final episode of Joan of Arcadia today, I liked a comment that Lily made.  Lily is Helen’s blunt spiritual advisor, who tried to be a nun at some point.  Helen is Joan’s mom, and she’s preparing for confirmation to become a Catholic.

Someone has just defaced a Catholic church, and Lily explains to Helen and Helen’s son, Kevin (a reporter), why that bothers her:

People pray in here. Do you get that? They come in here with their insides all churned up and their hearts hurting, and all of their dead relatives, and their hopes and dreams and failures, and what keeps them awake at night, and they put it in here. And some creep comes in here and does this without even thinking about what it means.  See  here for the script.

Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 3:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Searching for Ryan Hunter, Dreams, Psalm 29

1.  My WordPress stats jumped dramatically today, and I think I know why.  The Sci Fi Channel had a Joan of Arcadia marathon today, and people (like me a year or two ago) have been left hanging with the last episode.  Is Ryan Hunter good, bad, or neither?  What role will Joan’s friends and mom play in Joan’s battle with Ryan?  Since I posted links to fan-fiction, which you can access by clicking on “Joan of Arcadia Season 3″ underneath this post, people are flocking to this site and leaving it to visit the stories of MShaffer, Charles the Bold, Neias, and others.

I just watched this episode for the second time.  This time around, I wasn’t mad at there not being a Season 3 on television, as I was when I watched the episode the first time.   I’ve seen various attempts to continue the story, and there are ways that I’d continue it, if I knew how to write fiction.  It’s been a while since I read fan-fiction on Ryan Hunter, but there are some things I wished it addressed.  For example, I don’t recall the charism of Joan’s mom (i.e., dreams, premonitions) being used that much.  I also don’t remember the dead little boy popping up either, though Judith did.  Also, I wish the fan-fiction presented Ryan making a deal with the devil, which would explain why a fierce wind blows in his aftermath.  But maybe the fan-fiction addressed some of those things, and I don’t remember it.  The fan-fiction did an excellent job showing why Ryan Hunter was mad at God, however.  I also want to add that I haven’t read all of the fan-fiction.  I read how MShaffer and Neias treated Ryan, but I haven’t yet read Charles the Bold, who has a lot of first-person character studies.  I hope to get to that sometime.

Enjoy the fan-fiction!  I enjoyed listening to the Lady in the Water soundtrack while I read it.  It was a therapeutic experience!

2.  In Ancient Israelite Religion, I read “Aspects of Aramean Religion,” by Jonas Greenfield.  What stood out to me today was the importance of dreams in ancient Near Eastern religion.  A god could appear to someone in a dream with a message of “Fear not.”  One figure, Keret, induced a dream athrough incubation (whatever that is) and was commanded therein “to sacrifice to the gods, to muster his troops, and to go on a campaign to acquire a wife” (73).  Even a god could see dreams.  The high god El knew that Baal (the storm god) had been dead for seven years, but he declared that Baal was alive after seeing a dream of rain and prosperity.  And the Mesha Stone says that King Mesha of Moab was told by the god Chemosh to attack Israel.   

Did they actually see these dreams?  Jeremiah 23:32 talks about dreams of deception.  Yet, Judges 11:24 appears to regard Chemosh as an actual god who blesses his people, Moab.  So would the biblical authors be open to the possibility that Chemosh could guide Mesha through a dream?  But God in II Kings 3 promises that Israel would defeat Mesha.  Both can’t be legitimate prophecies, can they?  Perhaps they can—it depends on which god is stronger and able to effect his will!  Yet, Israel failed to defeat Moab, either because Mesha’s sacrifice of his child appeased his god and led him to give the Moabites extra help, or because it disgusted the Israelites and made them withdraw.

Some of these dreams may reflect wishful thinking.  A person wants comfort, and he gets it in a dream.  Or he desires a wife, and a dream encourages him to go out and get one.  It’s somewhat like the topic of Rachel Held Evans’ blog-post for today, Does God Speak To You? :  Many Christians hear from God what they want to hear, which calls into question whether they’re hearing from God at all!

But I have heard stories about people dreaming of things they couldn’t have known on their own.  Ex-cessationist Jack Deere has some in his book, Surprised by the Voice of God.  These dreams enable God’s people to minister to others.

And dreams can also be a means for God to teach moral lessons, or to comfort and encourage.  Yes, skeptics can say that people in those cases are doing some “wishful dreaming,” but, as a person of faith, I believe that God can comfort people through dreams, as he can through other means, such as the reading of the Scriptures, sermons, and other people.

I read in some essay that the ancients believed dreams and the real-world were both aspects of reality.  Moderns would view dreams as fiction in our heads, or as real in the sense that they are windows into our sub-conscious.  But the ancients may have believed that dreams were from the gods.  We know they thought some were, at least. 

I had a weird dream yesterday.  It was 2000, and Al Gore was talking about the recount.  I told a person next to me that Bush would win, and that crucial events would occur during his Presidency: a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and a financial crisis, which I blamed on the government pushing unwise home-sales and people speculating with bad mortgages.  Surprisingly, the person believed me!  What’s the meaning of that, in terms of my own sub-conscious or reality, if dreams have a significance beyond myself (which may not be the case for all of them).

Anyway, now that I’ve written myself into this hole, on to number 3!

3.  I finished Matitiahu Tsevat’s The Meaning of the Book of Job and Other Biblical Studies.  Tsevat states on pages 196-197:

Imagine now the reaction of scholars should there come to light an ancient duplicate of a biblical text with Baal appearing where now we have Yhwh.  Our received text would by unanimous pronouncement be declared to be an Israelite adaptation of a Canaanite original.  But we need not appeal to imagine when, in fact, a biblical text, Psalm 29, has been and is, with mounting frequency, being identified as such in the absence of that imaginary duplicate or any other textual evidence deserving this name.

I long assumed that Psalm 29 came from a Canaanite hymn to Baal, for whom the Israelites substituted YHWH so they could use it for their own religion.  But Tsevat says there’s no evidence for this.  After reading that, I realized that I should check out why scholars believe Psalm 29 is a re-used Baal Psalm.

I didn’t read all of the relevant articles, but I looked at what Mitchell Dahood had to say about Psalm 29.  According to him, the discovery of Ugaritic Ras Shamra texts had unearthed parallels to Psalm 29 in Ugaritic literature.  But, as far as I can tell, there’s no actual “Psalm 29 to Baal” text in Ugaritic.  Here’s a Christian apologetic article, which has useful information: Apologetics Press – Pagan Mythology and the Bible.  But I’m sure there’s more to the issue than I found in my google search and reading of Dahood!

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 10:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Thaw Among Physicists?

I started Mark Smith’s The Origins of Biblical Monotheism yesterday. The part that stuck out to me was on page 3:

Although discourse about God and the notion of belief has become increasingly problematic in departments of religion and divinity schools, theists elsewhere in the university are scarcely in full retreat. For example, a survey of American scientists on one campus, the University of Georgia, conducted by the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of science Edward Larson, hardly indicates a lack of belief; if anything, the opposite is the case. Moreover, the topic of God has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence in contemporary Western culture by way of the field of physics…So, at the start of a new millennium, faith is increasingly questioned in religion and divinity faculties even as it is affirmed in other quarters of American universities.

I’ve seen numerous movies and TV shows in which a character says, “I don’t believe in God—I’m a scientist,” as if the two are mutually contradictory. In high school, I looked through a book in my school library, which was a publication of responses by celebrities to a child’s question, “Do you believe in God?” In the book, you got Oral Roberts’ dramatic narration of a vision he supposedly had, along with Andy Rooney’s blunt answer of “no—sincerely, Andy Rooney.” But the responses by the scientists were largely negative. As far as they were concerned, they couldn’t see God, so they didn’t believe in his existence.

A few years later, at DePauw, I read an article somewhere on the Internet, which said that physicists were more open to the existence of God than biologists. The reason was that biologists felt that they could account for biological phenomena naturalistically, through an appeal to evolution by natural selection. Physicists, however, realized that there were so many constants that had to be “just right” for life to exist on earth. Many of them, therefore, were open to the notion that a supernatural being created the cosmos and set in place the constants that were necessary for life. Is there a thawing in the physics community to the idea that God exists?

I also think of the pilot episode to Joan of Arcadia. On it was Joan’s geeky scientist brother, Luke, who said that the existence of God was theoretically possible, since light could have consciousness. The creator of the show, Barbara Hall, said that she had read many books on physics, for she was interested in the interrelation between physics and religion. Is Luke’s idea the sort of thing that Mark Smith is talking about when he says that physicists are writing about religion?

Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Private Little Cave

Frank Schaeffer, Crazy for God (Cambridge: Carroll and Graf, 2007) 136-137.

After talking a little about his dad’s depression, Frank offers the following insights:

Suffering from bouts of depression, I have come to understand that the choice is to carry on or not, no matter how I feel. And since my dad literally had no close friends, let alone a confessor or therapist to talk to, his suffering was in near-total isolation. When that bleak grayness envelops everything for a few days or hours and sucks all the joy and air out of a day, as a writer I can just shut the world out, if I want, and retire to some inner cave and nurse my depression. Dad craved privacy, too, but his work was people. And Dad never sought counseling.

For me, today was one of those days. Every once in a while, I go to downtown Cincinnati. There are times when I don’t care what people think of me, or I’m happy because I’m singing or entertaining myself in my mind. My mood is carefree, and people around me in downtown Cincinnati seem pretty nice. But then there are times when I feel depressed, lonely, angry, and disconnected from people. I look at a pretty girl, she doesn’t look back, and I grumble, grumble, grumble. My mind eventually turns to my Asperger’s, and I wonder if I’ll ever have a life in which I’ll be able to support myself, let alone find a mate. And if I find a mate, will I be able to get along with her and sustain the relationship, since I’m a pretty boring guy, plus I can get moody, annoyed, and temperamental. And my mind then goes back to my bad social experiences in the past. I begin to think that my life sucks, always has, and always will. When my mood is like this, I need to retreat to my private little cave and nurse my depression.

I don’t know what I’ll do if I have a job and this mood hits me. Many people are able to hide their bad moods, but I feel mine seeps through my face. How will I be able to be around people if such a mood strikes?

Fortunately, I feel better now, but that’s for the following reasons: (1.) I don’t have to impress anybody in my private little cave; (2.) while I was reading about Origen, I watched all the Twilight Zones I had on my DVR, and some of them were actually good (on Saturdays, I watch Joyce Meyer and Jimmy Swaggart); and (3.) I wrote a lot, and doing something constructive and creative helps me cope with my depression.

In a sense, I nursed my depression, but that brings me to (4.): it gets to the point in the day where my mind starts to think negative thoughts, and I’m about to grumble, grumble, grumble, but I realize I’m tired of grumbling, so I throw my hands in the air and say, “Why bother? Let it go!”

I prefer not to answer the phone when I’m in my bad mood, since I don’t want to yell at my family. Sometimes, however, I’m surprised when I don’t. Last Thursday, after coming home from downtown, I was in the same sort of mood I was in today. After an afternoon of grumbling, grumbling, grumbling, I check my e-mail and see a problem with my financial aid (which fortunately got resolved). I called my mom, and I rationally expressed my frustrations and asked for suggestions on what I should do. I may have raised my voice, but I didn’t yell at her, as I have in the past. Maybe all my pent-up anger was tired for the day.

Frank talks about one way his father dealt with his depression: he went to his room and played classical music really loud. Of course, once he went out of his room, L’Abri students would bombard him with theological and philosophical questions. But he did have some measure of privacy inside of his room.

And, although Frank doesn’t portray his mother Edith as depressed, my impression is that she coped with life through her own “private little cave”: prayer. According to Frank, his family and the people at L’Abri marked half-hour time slots that were devoted to prayer. Edith usually took three hours or more. Frank portrays his mother as a spiritual super-woman, someone who wanted to show everyone that she was more spiritual than them. That could be, but I think one would really have to enjoy or need prayer to do it for three solid hours!

In my pool-side reading of Portofino this morning (after I returned from downtown Cincinnati), Frank says that Elsa (Edith) made her husband mad when she went to the lighthouse with her Bible and prayed for three solid hours. Her husband had just thrown all her clothes out the window, and threatened to toss her out too (as the character had done many times before). So she left the house, went to the lighthouse, and prayed. Her husband thought she was just showing off her spirituality.

Maybe she was. But, let me tell you, there are certain people who make me want to go to a private place and commune with God or myself for three solid hours! There have been times when I’ve come home and have prayed for about that amount of time, and it’s not because I’m super-spiritual! I needed that time to recover from my day, to go from desolation to consolation (to use Joan of Arcadia terminology–see Joan of Arcadia: Desolation and Consolation).

Prayer is supposed to put us into a better mood, and it often can–until I have to interact with people again. You see something like that in Portofino. Not long after her prayer, Elsa’s having a meal with her kids, and her husband comes along. She gives him some of her chicken, and he sarcastically thanks her. Eventually, he knocks all the plates onto the floor.

I’ve not had experiences that were this bad, but I had plenty where I’d pray in my room and get in a good mood. Then, I’d go out and greet my roommates with a cheerful smile, and they’d say “Hi James” in their less-than-enthusiastic tone. Or I’d pray, feel pretty good, and go to school, to put up with the people there. Prayer is a good coping mechanism, but it doesn’t always replace being able to interact with people–successfully, that is.

So I identify with Elsa. But I also identify with her husband. I can get into a mood in which everything and everyone annoys me. In that sort of situation, I need my private little cave to recuperate. But what will I do when I have to be around people all the time: if I have a job, or a family of my own, etc.?

Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 2:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Another Joan, Season 3

I found this on a Joan of Arcadia fan site–the one where MShaffer has his stories. It’s another Season 3 of Joan, and it looks lengthy and well-written:

This should satisfy my Joan palate for a while! Before I get to that, though, I want to read MShaffer’s newest story, The Child, Part 2.

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

FSE: Smoke Monster, Joan Actors

Last night, I watched Lost, Criminal Mind, and the new ABC series, The Unusuals.

1. Last night’s lost was about the judgment of Ben Linus, who had some humanity within him when he refused to kill Alex Rousseau. Over the years, however, he degenerated to become much more cruel and heartless, leading to the death of Alex (whom he was raising as his own daughter). In last night’s episode, he went to the temple to summon the smoke monster, who would judge him for his sins. He entered the building not knowing whether the monster would kill him or allow him to live.

I can’t really express what I think about the smoke monster. It appears to be immoral or amoral because it has killed so many innocent people, yet I see from last night that it has the moral sensibility to confront Ben Linus about his past behavior. Maybe it’s like the shooter in Phone Booth: he’s immoral in the sense that he kills innocent people, yet he has enough of a God-complex to judge Colin Farrell’s lifestyle.

Is the smoke monster like God? Going into the temple not knowing whether one will live or die reminds me of the Old Testament’s tabernacle protocol, in which a person was not allowed to stroll into God’s sanctuary unannounced, lest God would kill him. As far as I know, it really didn’t matter if the person was good or bad: if he disobeyed the sanctuary protocol, then he lost his life. Consider Uzzah, whom God killed for merely trying to stabilize the tumbling ark!

At the same time, God did appear to people in some capacity, and they were usually shocked that they were alive after seeing God. They’re like Benjamin Linus, who is relieved that the smoke monster has allowed him to live.

Another tension is that there are times in the Bible in which God preserves the innocent from his wrath, and then there are times when he destroys the innocent along with the guilty (punishing the group, transgenerational punishment, punishing a man’s family for his sins, etc.). Similarly, the smoke monster appears to kill the innocent, yet there are also times when it regards people according to their individual moral merit. I think that God differs from the smoke monster in the sense that God doesn’t go around killing people for no reason, since the innocent perish when he is carrying out an act of judgment on an immoral group.

2. I watched The Unusuals because it has Amber Tamblyn from Joan of Arcadia. She looks good, even if she was a big-time Hillary supporter (which part of me actually admires because at least she wasn’t going with the Obama fad but dared to be different). But what was interesting was that I got to see another Joan of Arcadia actor: on CBS’ Criminal Mind (which I ordinarily don’t watch because it’s on the same time as Lost, but my dad has DVR, so I got to see both last night). Criminal Mind has the guy who played Will Giradi, Joan’s dad. So I got to see two Joan of Arcadia actors in the same night. How cool is that?

Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 12:10 am  Leave a Comment  

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