Friday, July 28, 2006

More thoughts about Superman

Superman is a Christ-figure. In any incarnation of Superman that is even remotely faithful to the story, Superman is a Christ figure. He can't help it.

I think the recent movie may have laid it on a little thick, as if they expected the viewer not to get it. But it's impossible for anyone familiar with the story of Christ not to associate Superman with Christ on some level, and for those unfamiliar with the story of Christ, it is best to let Superman simply be Superman.

I have heard convincing arguments that Superman is not a Christ figure at all, but rather that (since his creators were Jewish) he is a MOSES figure--arriving in a basket to save his people.

I agree. Superman is a Moses figure. But Moses was a prophetic pre-curser of Jesus. Moses himself is a Christ figure.

Pug wrote a while back about why Jesus isn't a superhero. A lot of what he says is true and a lot of it makes good sense. There are a lot of ways in which Jesus is fundamentally different from any superhero. He didn't wear a cape, he didn't have a secret identity (but he did frequenty instruct people (and demons) not to tell those around him that he was the Messiah (Luke 4:41, Luke 5:14, Mark 8:29-30)). However, any metephor or allusion can be destroyed by focussing on the differences instead of the similarities.

Pug talked mostly about the heroes of the Marvel Universe (and I think most bad things to have ever happened to Superheroes are Stan Lee's fault, but that's another post for another day). Pug contrasts the gospel to Superheroes, saying "The story of the gospels are about fixing what went wrong. Helping people get back to the optimal state of being, in close relationship with God. It is Not the story of some ordinary, talented, but oh, so misunderstood Guy who suddenly discoveres or recieves amazing powers. It is Not the story of a man and his stumbling, and doubting his way towards his own destiny. It is the story of the ultimate sacrifice." And he's mostly right.

But Jesus is more than the suffering servant. That IS a part of Jesus, and without it the story of the gospels would be diminished and Jesus would not be who he is. But Jesus Christ, in addition to being God's son, betrayed and forsaken by the world, is also God, the creator of the universe come in power to overthrow the powers of darkness and bring glorious salvation to this world. Christ is a sacrifice, and it would be both heretical and simply foolish to ignore that. But Christ is also God's coming in glory and power--although neither that glory nor that power looks like we humans expected it to look.

And Superman is a figure of this aspect of Christ. And I think that's pretty cool.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Stuff sticks to the Web like flies stick to... a web. And I'm... a spider?

Chris has drawn my attention to Ze Frank, and I feel that my life will henceforth be enriched.

Jan likes to put stuff on our cat.

Eric keeps conveying emotions.

Jan and Elliot have both posted about Weirdos of Winnipeg, but I will too.

Diedre doesn't get along with fundamentalists.

Multiple Choice

It's 1:00 in the morning, and it's hotter than:
b)[insert your own Paris Hilton joke here]
c)the Miss Universe Pagent. (but seriously, though, I flipped past, and ribs and hip bones are not attractive)
d)a fox in a forest fire.

(in "hot things" news, check this out!)

I'm hot and sticky and uncomfortable. Also my ankle hurts because:
a)Jan keeps kicking it
b)Perelandra bit me
c)I'm secretly Achilles (post encounter with Paris)
d)I broke it about 10 years ago and never got it set, so it has bothered me on and off ever since.

The upshot of this is that I can't sleep. So instead I'm making a blog post that:
a)is largely incoherent
b)I find funny
c)no one will read
d)all of the above

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This made me laugh


Often when I read famous and influencial Christians of the past I am surprised by their compassion and their liberalism.

I don't know why I should be.

On some level I have been convinced by the propeganda of our age, that compassion was invented in the late 20th century, that tolerance is a new idea, that the benighted imbeciles of yesteryear were all barbaric, savage, violent, hateful and narrow-minded compared to the open, accepting, loving folks of today.

I expect eccumenicism to be new.

So I expect people like Neibur and Barth and even Bonhoeffer to be coldly intellectual--theologians removed from the practicalities of everyday life to a formulaic and unforgiving ideology. Instead I find that the practicalities of everyday life are what they all really care about, that what each is primarily concerned with is how to live out God's love to the people around them. And I find that Bonhoeffer took God's love for the people of Germany so seriously that he--in what seems like an act of desparation--abandoned passifism and tried to assasinate Hitler, only to be executed as a traiter to Germany. And I'm surprised.

So I expect John Milton to be legalistic and morally absolutist--"puritanical" if you will. Instead I find him writing about grace, about God's love and the human response to it, about freedom. Even about the doctrine of divorce as a mercy. And I'm surprised.

I expect Augustine to be acetic and repressed, with strange authoritarian leanings. I hear rumours that he invented Just War, that he thought he could force people to be Christians. Instead I find him writing primarily about God's love. I find him arguing passionately that nothing conquers but truth, and the victory of truth is love. And I'm surprised.

And today, I hear Christians condemning each other and the world, I see Christians being bigoted and uncharitable and unloving. I see us giving Jesus a bad name. And then I watch tv and a sappy manipulative commercial for World Vision comes on, and I am about to change the channel when I realize that World Vision is a Christian organization. And so is the Red Cross. And MCC, and the Christian Children's Fund, and it occurs to me that I've never heard of the Atheist's Children's Fund. And I'm surprised.

But I shouldn't be.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Road Rule Rhymes

A Pedestrian's Complaint
The sidewalk is for pedestrians
That's people on their feet
If you are riding a bicycle
Then please ride on the street
It makes me very frustrated
When you ride in the wrong place
Because I don't enjoy it when
People get in my space

A Cyclist's Complaint
The street is made for bicycles
And not only for cars
And if you run me over
You will wind up behind bars
So please make space for bicycles
And give them room to ride
And if there's one in front of you
Move slightly to the side

New York Style: various attempts

For lunch on Monday I attempted a traditional New York Style pizza with pepperoni and mozzerella cheese. It was pretty good, but the crust left something to be desired. I'm getting a lot better at throwing, so it was quite uniform in thickness, and fairly thin, but it was still a bit tough, and it didn't have the big puffy ring of crust New York Style pizza is so known for.

Jan is getting sick of Pizza, so Monday dinner was baked beans and bisquits. Low effort and comforty.

Tuesday for dinner I made a potato pizza with broccoli and green onion. Thin tender crust topped with mashed potato, garlic, broccoli, green onion and mozzerella cheese. Very good.

Wednesday I attempted New York Style pizza again, this time with pepperoni bacon and pineapple. It was very tasty (although it gave Jan heartburn) and the crust was pretty good, but once again it was lacking the puffy ring crust. It ended up being more like a floppy thin-crust pizza than anything else.

For Thursday lunch we wanted tuna fish sandwiches, but had no mayonaise. So I made some. Mayonaise is quite easy to make, but considering the price of oil and vinegar and the relative price of mayonaise it pretty much costs just as much to make your own as to buy it. But if you make it yourself you know exactly what went into it, and you can do things like use balsamic vinegar instead of white (although it makes the end product light brown instead of white) and you can add basil and the mayonaise you end up with is very tasty. Which is what I did. And it was.

For Thursday dinner Jan was still sick of pizza so it was Perogies and a mixed salad with honey-dill dressing.

Friday dinner I tried New York Style crust for a third time, and this time I got it right. To begin with, I used less flour than usual. The dough was quite sticky and a little hard to work with at first, but once I started throwing it, it worked okay. Also, I rolled it out much bigger than the pan, then curled the ends in. I don't know why I didn't think of/realize this before, but of course that's how they make the puffy crust ring. So I ended up with a crust that was fluffy and puffy on the outside, then tapered off to chewy and thin, but not tough and not crispy. It was topped with barbeque sauce, chicken and pineapple, and I really think it was my best pizza yet.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Thin crust grilled leek and asparagus pizza

The secret to a thin crust, I've been told, is to chill the dough. Accordingly, for today's pizza I made the dough last night, and chilled it overnight in the refrigerator. I pre-heated the oven to nice and hot (450) and took out the dough at the last minute. I tried my hand at throwing and spinning, but with only marginal success. Still, I managed to spread the dough about twice as big as I needed, so I put some aside for later. I ended up with a nice thin crust.

Top with a sauce made from oil, basil, rosemary (which spilled in, so there was too much of it) garlic, sage, parsely and oregano, grilled leek and asparagus, crumbled feta and grated cheddar cheese.

I forgot to pierce the crust with a fork, so there were some bubbles, but on the whole I think it turned out quite well. Easily the thinnest crust I've ever managed, and quite good. Jan thought it a little tough, but she's never been much of a fan of thin crust.

New York Style crust tomorrow.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Deep Dish

Today I tried my hand at Chicago style deep-dish pizza. If I say so myself, it turned out very well. I think this was my best crust yet. I believe that one of my problems in the past has been that I didn't knead the dough for long enough. So today I kneaded for 15 solid minutes until the dough was as smooth as a baby's behind.

It was an old fashioned pepperoni and mozzerella deep dish pizza.

Tomorrow, thin crust.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Asparagus and Tomato Pizza

I have decided that I will start recording for posterity the meals I have cooked. Maybe I'll do this frequently, maybe not. I'm definitely doing it today.

It came to my attention recently that my pizza dough seriously sucks. It's tough and bready, and in all ways inferior. So I have set out to remedy this in the only way I know how. Practice. This means that I'm going to be making a lot of pizza for the next while, until I feel that I have fixed whatever is wrong--be it the recipe, the rising time, the rolling technique. Whatever.

So today I made an Asparagus and Tomato pizza, which if I say so myself was delicious. The crust left something to be desired, but it was definitely better than my usual crust. The toppings were as follows:

Basic white sauce with feta: Butter, flour, milk, feta cheese and a sprinkle of oregano
Asparagus: broken into smallish pieces no bigger than my pinky finger
Tomato: cut into semi-circles
Grated feta cheese
Grated mozzerella cheese

That is all. It was very very tasty.

Paul, Perelandra and P.G. Wodehouse

Room with a view

Or rather... view of our room. Whatever. As promised, here is our new apartment.

Get a guided tour here.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Here we go again

I am often struck by the strange cyclicality of history, philosophy, fashions and technology.

A great example of this phenomenon is in music, where the trends have gravitated between the two poles of ornamentation and simplicy. Medieval music was quite ornate, Renaissance music was not, Baroque music was, Classical music was not, Romantic music was and 20th Century music (for the most part) was not.

Schoenberg's twelve-tone serial music was essentially a revisiting of J.S. Bach's fugues, after re-thinking the idea of tonality. In fact, when aspiring composers came to Shoenberg to learn about his new twelve-tone serial music, he made them practice writing Baroque-style fugues before he would teach them anything about atonal music.

The same cyclicality seems to happen (to greater and lesser degrees) in all kinds of fields, even (though many people are shocked and scandalized by the suggestion) in technology.

I noticed today that pocket watches are starting to replace wristwatches again. They've been re-imagined and re-packaged, but they're quickly regaining currency.

Don't believe me? Ask a few people on the street for the time. I guarantee it will not be long until someone pulls a cell phone from their pocket instead of glancing at their wrist. Cell phones are a re-worked version of pocket watches.

I think that's neat.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Perelandra has been broken.

It seems like a terrible euphamism to refer to what was done to her as "fixed". She was working fine before. Not anymore. No little kittens for Perelandra.

And now her pupils are enormous and she keeps trying to lick her scar. She's sore and she's sad and she's groggy.

Kitty Kitty

Jan has posted about our new cat, and now it's my turn.

After Jan and I got back from our trip across the country to Annemarie's wedding and to see our new niece, we felt our apartment seemed a little empty.

So we went to the Humane Society and begged them for a kitty.

Her name is Perelandra. She is a small, soft callico who purrs about 85% of the time. While all cats rub their faces against people in order to spread their scent, Perelandra tends more toward a sudden headbutt. She will look me in the face for a few seconds, then *pow* headbutt.

She's cute and nice.