Posts Tagged 'God'

Fat Tuesday

Normally I don’t do Lent; that is to say, I don’t think I ever have before. The idea is a good one – at least, it could be. It is sortof a mini fast, but instead of giving up all food for days on end, you choose something that you know holds you back from being close to God, and you use the idea of collective abstaining as support to forego your own bad habits. Hopefully, Lent will help you develop better habits, and you will also use that time to get closer to God. 

There must be some deep irony then, that even after Mardi Gras weekend, people use today to get full-on, pass-out drunk. Most of these people a) probably aren’t taking part in Lent, and b) aren’t giving up alcohol for Lent. Lent is about getting closer to God, and it has also become about general self-improvement. I would argue that the former implies the latter. Yet, for my Lent, I am setting goals that are in both camps. My goal is 4-fold – 

1. No Fast Food – “Fast Food” for my purposes is defined as any Restaurant which contains a drive-through. The exception is Starbucks. It is not a Restaurant, but a coffeeshop. But. Sadly for me, many of my favorite Chinese places are drive-through, and so they are out. My goal is to save money and eat healthier food by preparing it at home.

2. No Chocolate – I don’t really see myself as a Chocoholic, but when I buy a bag of Reese’s Pieces or Peanut M&Ms, the bag is gone in 2 days. That’s a lot of excess junk I don’t need. I want to eat better snacks – fruits, vegetables, crackers (this can be a slippery slope as well). I heard drinking two glasses of water before snacking will curb the drive, and I’m going to try that.  

3. Writing – No, I’m not giving up writing. I know of people who’ve given up movies for Lent or things like that, and I know it can be good to go on a fast from movies for a month or so (I’ve done it twice), but the point of Lent is to give up those things that keep you from God, not those things that bring you closer to him. For me, I might as well give up going to church, then. No, I am giving up NOT writing. I keep a journal, but I have been lax. It’s separate from my fiction and screenplays and separate from this blog. And I’ve neglected it a bit, and I want to change that pattern. At least 1 jounraled page a day is the goal. Mornings are a great time to do it. I’m writing this in the morning, in fact.

4. Prayer – I’m giving up making excuses for why I don’t pray as often as I need to. Many churches emphasize prayer, and I know why, but they do so in a way that makes it impersonal. Telling people to pray 10 or 15 minutes a day, or any time amount is wrong-headed. I need to just pray, and if it doesn’t take long, it doesn’t take long, and if it does, it does. Both #3 and #4 are designed to establish new, better habits for my mornings.

Roger Ebert Writes for Me!

Here is the 2nd post about Mr. Ebert and in no way the final one. You’ll hear about him again in a month or so when I make my list of Top 10 movies from 2008. It will be shared with all, even though it will be written mostly for me. 

Back to Ebert. He has a bi-weekly column called “Great Movies,” in which he… reviews a Great Movie. It can be popular, obscure, old, new, black & white, color, silent, talkie, or any mixture of them. It is a great way to learn about movies. And it is not an absolute science. For instance, he recently reviewed 2002’s “Adaptation,” which was not his #1 movie of that year, “Minority Report” was, but “Adaptation” has been bumped up to Great status first. This is neither here nor there.

It is not unkind or untrue to say that Ebert is getting older. He has health problems. He has been unable to speak for at least 18 months, and worse, he was unable to write for a long, empty spell. It seems to me like he is choosing movies as his way to say good-bye. He is making amends with some movies, like “The Godfather, Part II.” He is choosing movies about God – recently “Through a Glass Darkly” and “The Last Temptation of Christ” – and now “Magnolia,” (my favorite film) which is also quite a lot about death, as are “Adaptation” and “A Prairie Home Companion,” which was the final film of one of Ebert’s favorite filmmakers, Robert Altman. As it happens, Paul Thomas Anderson, who wrote and directed “Magnolia” helped out on that film, since Altman was sick. He acted as insurance for the film’s completion. If “Magnolia” is interested with the interconnectivity of life, then its appearance at this very moment in Ebert’s cannot be overlooked.

Ebert discusses the film’s obsession with coincidences, or rather, how coincidence may not be coincidence at all, it just seems that way from down here. So what does it mean that the review was posted on Thanksgiving? And what does it mean that I was in Ebert’s home city of Chicago this Thanksgiving, on the VERY DAY he published this review? Did he write this review for me and neither of us knew it? 

I have not talked about “Magnolia” yet, really, and I’m not going to. Too early in the blog’s life to go on and on about it… and I will. For now, be contented that Ebert is the world’s best film critic, and even though “Magnolia” is not his favorite movie of all time, I betcha he writes about it better than I will. Read it.


It Has Come to This

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