Month: January 2010

re: writing

Here are a few things I’ve been reading. They cluster around the topic of writing, which — for whatever reason — I’ve been thinking about recently:

  • OmmWriter is a new Mac-based tool for writers that Guan/Bec recommended.
  • Still on OmmWriter, Rands shares his experimentation with it. And makes some great observations about distractions and your workspace (underlining what I’d already discovered about the all-round awesomeness of TextEdit for Mac).
  • Feeling stuck is a pretty universal experience for any writer. This post has a bunch of helpful tips for getting traction and generating momentum. I’m sure it’s more widely applicable too.
  • And Natalie drew my attention to this list of resources that promise to help you get under way. It includes the fabulous Bird by Bird (of course).

is God really necessary?

According to Ebehard Jüngel, one of the key (re-)discoveries of contemporary theology and anthropology is the ‘non-necessity of God’. By this he means that we’re slowly being weaned off God Of The Gaps-type thinking. We’re being forced to relinquish the attempt to see God as the explanation of the world — or of what seems inexplicable in it (for the moment).

For Jüngel, giving up this kind of thinking means that we stop believing in God for the sake of something else (e.g., what our belief in him does for us in making the world a more comprehensible or more bearable place to live). And it frees us to believe in God for his own sake.

At least that’s what I think he means. See what you think:

[W]hoever does not think God for his own sake has not yet begun to think God at all. To think God without joy in God is a self-contradiction which must lead even the most logical proof of God to absurdity. All attempts to prove the necessity of God are therefore so distressing as well as paradoxical, because they can arrive at God only at the end of the process and thus can know him only as the ‘God at the end’. They cannot begin with God, because they do not begin with God for his own sake. But if God is thought for his own sake, on the basis of a joy summoned forth by God himself, then the very act of thinking God is the demonstration of the fact that God is more than necessary.

(God as the Mystery of the World, pp 192-193)

He connects this immediately to Jesus: for we meet God not at the end of a philosophical proof (showing his necessity) but in the midst of his unnecessary, excessive, gracious self-giving in the particularity of a crucified and risen Jewish man.

What do you reckon?

on becoming alien

Recent months have brought us two new alien peoples and two conflicted heroes wrestling with their identity. In Avatar, Jake Sully takes on the body of a Na’vi while in District 9, Wikus van der Merwe is exposed to an alien product that turns him into a ‘prawn’ (a humanoid-arthropod-alien).

District 9 Bus Bench MNU Sign Teaser

District 9 Bus Bench MNU Sign Teaser by district9pics, on Flickr

I suspect that District 9 has more to teach us about the cross-cultural experience than Avatar for the following reasons:

  1. Wikus becomes an alien by accident, while Jake volunteers for the role;
  2. Wikus finds the process painful, while Jake finds it liberating;
  3. Wikus struggles to understand prawn culture, while Jake takes to being Na’vi like a fish to water;
  4. Wikus isn’t warmly welcomed into the prawn community in the way Jake is to the Na’vi;
  5. Similarly, the Na’vi are willing to teach Jake their ways, while Wikus bumbles through without much help;
  6. Wikus is excluded from the people he came from, while Jake finds he bonds even closer to the Scientists due to embracing Na’vi culture; and
  7. Wikus still longs for things (like his wife) from his previous life after becoming a prawn, while Jake happily gives everything away.

And so I have found myself scoffing at how unrealistic the representation of Jake’s experience is compared to Wikus’. However, I’ve begun to wonder if Jake’s experience is actually like that which we are promised as Christians when we become citizens of heaven: we are involved in the decision-making process; it’s liberating; we have the Spirit to help us with a new way of life; we’re welcomed as family; we have the ultimate handbook; we can love people better; and we can joyfully put off our old life…

revealing the process

The SMH has suggested that 2009 may be the year that makes Hollywood wake up and realise it doesn’t need big name actors to pull in the crowds: e.g. Paranormal Activity, Twilight, The Hangover, District 9 and I would add Avatar.

But, while they may not have big name actors at least a couple of those movies have the backing of big name directors. When Avatar is advertised it gets billed as “James Cameron’s Avatar“, and District 9 was billed under the tag line “Peter Jackson presents a Neill Blomkamp film”. In the hype preceding the release of Avatar there were extended TV infomercials describing how Cameron produced the special effects. I’ve never before seen a film advertised using ‘the making of’ as promotional material.

I’m wondering if these two things are an expression of who the public now aspires to be.

Is it that, in days gone past, we longed to be the lead actress, whereas as we enter 2010 we are more likely to aspire to be the director? Has the democratisation of the means of production created a space in which we care more about how films are created; the techniques, the creativity, the process? Do we now (more universally) aspire to be creators rather than performers?