Archive for April, 2008

iThink

April 24, 2008

Well, I’ve been busy.  After joining Facebook in February, I discovered an application called iThink.  iThink has allowed me to do more of what I had hoped to do, in just a couple short months, than over a year at MySpace did. 

iThink allows those who have loaded the application in Facebook to submit opinions – 250-character opinions, so you need to be concise.  There are a variety of pre-fab categories that you can submit your opinion to (Food, Real Estate, Religion & Spirituality, etc.).  Once you post it, anyone else who has iThink loaded in Facebook can view your opinion.  They have the option to Agree or Disagree with it through a one-click voting process.  They can also submit comments, questions, etc. in an asynchronous format, allowing ‘virtual discussions’ to take place.

When I first began using it, it seemed to be dominated by very aggressive atheists.  Now, it seems to be filled with very aggressive Muslims.  It’s a fascinating sub-culture.  But I’ve been able to dialogue with people from around the world on a variety of issues from abortion to euthanasia to sexual practices.  It’s not as though everyone agrees with one another, but to a limited extent, discussion is possible, and if nothing else, people are hearing a Christian counterpoint that is (hopefully) somewhat intelligent and respectful. 

I’ve committed a couple of hours each day to this project, partly through work and partly on my own time.  It’s addicting in a way I’ve found few applications to be.  If you’re on Facebook, you’ll have to give it a shot.  Maybe we’ll end up talking with one another that way!

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What Dreams May Come

April 15, 2008

 I remember the trailers for this movie ten years ago, and thinking that it looked like an intriguing depiction of ‘heaven’.  And visually, it definitely has some things going for it in this respect.  It’s an artist’s movie in terms of visual aesthetics.  While some of it seems visually interesting merely for the sake of interest, other aspects of it are genuinely beautiful – even if most of it is computer graphics. 

It’s the story of soul mates separated by death not only temporally but potentially eternally, and the refusal to accept that separation.  It’s heavy on syrupy sentimentality, but what else do you expect from a movie about soul mates?  I like Robin Williams in dramatic roles, where the twitch of a grin or the twinkle of an eye can bring to mind more manic antics that have been his hallmark in the past. 

Theologically, it’s thoroughly 20th century America.  We all go to heaven when we die – unless we commit suicide.  There is no judgment factor in where we end up, it’s simply a reflection of whether or not we went with the natural flow of things, or subverted that order and therefore are caught up in a destructive cycle wherein the suicide themselves is the one keeping them in hell.

God is about as pervasive in the afterlife as he is on earth.  He’s “up there, somewhere, shouting down that he loves us”.  But, most people aren’t really paying attention or caring.  Heaven is individualized, and we’re free to create it however we like.  The people we love will be there.  It will be beautiful and amazing. 

Of course, this isn’t very Biblical.  The idea that God can be ignored in heaven as he is on earth makes me wonder what the point of him even existing is, if we have to take care of everything for ourselves in the afterlife, just like on earth.  We can still be haunted by guilt in the afterlife.  We can still find ourselves bound up in the painful emotions of wanting to be accepted and trying to please the important people in our lives, even after we’re all dead.  In many respects, this heaven seems a lot like hell ought to be.  But the scenery is prettier, and our dogs are there. 

I’d say it was disappointing, but that would mean I had hopes it wouldn’t be.  It was a visually interesting movie with very little thought behind the story that seemed almost a thin excuse for a group of artists to create some very impressive scenes.  I don’t pretend that, to greater or lesser degrees, it probably mirrors what many people just assume about heaven.  It’s just depressing to realize that in the afterlife, as in this life, people are most concerned about themselves. 

I don’t know much about what heaven will be like.  But I’m fairly certain that it will be a celebration of the God who created, redeemed, and sustained me, rather than a self-indulgent narcissist-fest.  At least, I hope so.