Ecce Veritas

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I'm moving!

This blog will be continuing from a new location in association with Townhall.com!

You can find the new site here.

The URL is, "http://robstevenson.townhall.com"
Come on over and check it out!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tale as old as time...

Last night I sat down with my girlfriend to enjoy a final night before her trip home to Seattle. We wanted to relax and we decided to enjoy some cookies and milk on the couch with movie that we both liked, but hadn't seen for some time. The film was Disney's animated version of "Beauty and the Beast."

As I previously stated, we had not seen this film in quite awhile, but the music in impeccable, hence the smooth transition to a successful Broadway version, and the story has exceptional cultural penetration. As the story unfolded on screen, I observed several things.

1) The plot sequence is very formulaic. Were it not for the necessary sequences forced onto the production by the musical interludes, one could very nearly predict the fades and cuts of the camera by what needed to happen. A scene with Belle's father will end as soon as he has ceased to move the plot forward. As soon as he is used to introduce the castle and the beast, the director cuts to the next plot movement on the 'to-do list,' establishing Gaston's "manliness."

2) Belle's attitude toward the people in the town is entirely elitist. The director gets away with this, without eliciting offended contempt from his audience by cleverly portraying a town full of people who legitimately deserve to be marginalized. They are drawn with less facial detail than many of the non-human characters like the sheep at the fountain and Belle's horse, Philippe. Furthermore, the population admires Gaston, publicly declares "We fear what we do not understand" (listen closely to the lyrics), and performs many other irrational actions that are highly improbable to the average Frenchman. The skill that directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale have to implant cultural ideas into the background thought of the viewer is powerful indeed, and ought not to be taken lightly.

3) I have heard friends joke about "Beauty and the Beast" being an awful story because of bestial nature of the love affair. It occurs to me that if Aquinas watched the film, he would say that humanity is a substantial quality of the beast, whereas his bestial elements, while significant are purely accidental and do not interfere with his substantial existence as a human being. (One could argue in similar fashion that Gaston is substantively bestial while only maintaining a thin semblance of humanity.)

4) My final thought regards an element of the film that I had not previously considered. I had always remembered this as a story where a nice, pretty girl meets an ugly beast and he changes to become both loving and loveable. On my most recent viewing, I find a story of two hearts, both changed, each being perfected by the other, so that by the end of the story the Beast's transformation into a "handsome" prince is totally unnecessary.

While I do not agree with the entirety of the film, I find the story charming and I think that a thoughtful digestion of its ideas is highly enlightening. Because of this splendid mix of skillful storytelling, morally didactic elements and beautiful music, I find "Beauty and the Beast" to be an ideal film for girlfriends, couches, hot chocolate, fires in fireplaces and crisp, rainy nights.


"Bittersweet and strange,
Finding you can change;
Knowing you were wrong."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Live Theatre

A quick thought: Live theatre is pretty much awesome. I watched Torrey Alumni Theatre's production of Oscar Wilde's "A Ideal Husband" at Biola University. It was so good I went back the next weekend.

Long live amatuer art.


Is Bin Laden dead? Who cares?

My initial reaction to the latest rumors of Osama's demise was disappointment that he would never stand trial in the United States. I had often thought that the best thing for America would be for Osama bin Laden to be found guilty in court and hung until dead in a public ceremony in Times Square. However, recent conversations lead me to instead have new feelings.

I don't care.

Seriously. I couldn't care less whether Osama is dead or not. His death at the hands of the United States would do little good at home and would paint him as a martyr abroad.

Instead, our "fierce," "dangerous” adversary is painted as a weakling, hiding for dear life in a cave making poor quality videos and withering away in relative poverty.

We have witnessed the ultimate humbling of the enemy. The only thing left is for him to die of slow, natural causes, prompting little response from the Arab world, while oil prices gradually decrease and the airline industry raises it rates in time for the holidays.

So long, great foe; great killer of the Infidel.
By the way, how's that there "Jihad" comin'?



Friday, September 22, 2006

Papa

I am not Roman Catholic.
I do not go to a Roman Catholic Church.
I do not believe that the Roman Catholic Church is supreme and authoritative over my church.

But boy-howdy, Benedict XVI is an amazing leader and if their were an election for "Cultural Leader of Western Civilization," then he would get my vote.

The battle to win hearts and minds for Christendom in the cultural war with Islam will require us to bring to light this fact: Christianity is reasonable and Islam is not. In fact, Islam is not even interested in being questioned and tested in order to ascertain whether or not it is reasonable. In a rather Screwtape-like way, all Christianity needs to do is ask the world to logically substantiate the claims of the Quran, and the intellectual battle is over. Radical Islam, by which I merely mean 'Islam which corresponds accurately to a straightforward reading of the Quran,' cannot engage in academic discourse about theology in any meaningful way.

His Holiness has invited Muslim leaders to a summit, of sorts, to clear up any misunderstandings about his remarks regarding the practice of spreading Islam "by the sword." Let us be clear. The Pope verbally attacked Islam based on his interpretation of the Quran. It is time for an intelligent Muslim cleric to rise up and academically exegete the Quran in a rebuttal to the Pope. Instead, the leaders of Islam have childishly demanded that Benedict "take back" his remarks.

It's time for serious discussion, it's time for Islam to take a seat at the university, and it's high time Mecca stopped demanding and started arguing.

In closing, I love the Holy Father and I am proud to see a leader who will invite all comers to the table, and attempt to teach the world "that religion and violence do not go together but religion and reason do."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hugo Chavez: Friend and Brother?

Imagine this situation:
     In a crowded Tehran Mosque, the visiting President of Venezuela addresses the congregation, calling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a "drunk" and "Satan." Now imagine a well known Iranian actor applauding at the speech and calling Chavez a close "friend and brother."
     Ladies and gentleman, allow me to make a prediction in this imagined world. I predict that the actor would never be seen or heard from again.
     I certainly hope that Danny Glover's support of Hugo Chavez draws harsh criticism within the United States; but to be honest, I think that the legal leeway and physical safety that he will enjoy is a testament to the freedoms that he enjoys, whether he wants to or not.
     Maybe Glover is just lucky that Chavez's gloves didn't come off on radical Islam on behalf of Venezuelan Roman Catholics or his local church might be looking down the barrel of a barrage of Molotov Cocktails.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Separation of Powers

Some quick thoughts about socialized health care:

1) The Federal Govt, or any big govt, will be better at some things than local govt will be. Things like raising armis, dictating foreign policy, and regulating interstate commerce, to name a few. Some things, however, are best left to local authorities or the private sector including education, enforcing penal codes and civil codes, trash collecting, etc.

I Question in this regard where to place healthcare. Certainly it is not beneficial for the federal branches to be involved in day to day oversight of doctors offices. Yet, when staring down the barrel of Avian Flu, we may find it in our hearts, and in the interstate commerce clause, to let big brother help us effectively transport and distribute vaccinations and medications. What is to be done with socialized health care?


2) If rapid trans. and distr. are the assets of social health care, than what are it's liabilities?

The most productive situation for workers is this: Maximum freedom without sacrifing safety and security; The mainframe guidelines of what needs to be done, with as much wiggle room for new, effective strategies as possible. Simply put: The Free Market System!

I Am a firm believer in Free Men working in Free Markets. Granted, with just enough laws enforcing ethics and safety to bolster liberty, not detract from it.

Socialized health care would rid the industry of Competition, effectively weakening the product and taking away the basic check and balance that the capitalist open market provides. This means longer lines, higher prices, worse service, and more people dead or suffering from disease. In short, we become France. (If visiting France, do yourself a favor and don't get hurt. You'll stand in line forever and get bad treatment.) But hey, if you're a french citizen you'd better use it since, after all, you're paying for it anyway.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Third Parties

I agree with John Mark Reynolds' post about voting third party as a christian. However, I must qualify agreement with the following: As with his post, I believe the final deciding factor should be the candidate, not the party. This can also mean that one SHOULD vote third party, (or at least third running candidate) if it means voting for the best man for the job.
The specific case that makes me think of this is the CA election the recall the governor. I, not being of age, urged my parents to vote for the third candidate, Tom McClintock. Not because the two frontrunners were secular, although they were, but because I thought that state senator McClintock was the most qualified to lead our state.