Category Archives: Love

Why is idiotic theology all the rage on the internet?

It constantly strikes me as odd how, despite the fact that the human race makes major jumps in technology, politics, economics, our spiritual growth seems to be very slow…and in some cases it appears to be making giant leaps backwards.

 

For instance over two thousand years ago in works of the Greek philosophers makes a clear point that has been the basis of correct* theology ever since. This point is that God is pinnacle of all virtues. That might seem overly obvious so let me expand on what the argument was. In a dialogue of Plato’s named Euthyphro the question is

A lot of the basis for this government is in this picture...not a lot of these people are from the Judeo-Christian background.

asked: are things just because the gods say they are just, or do the gods say they are just because they are just. If things are just only because the gods say they are just then what is just is merely the dictate of a tyrant, a universally powerful tyrant, but a tyrant nonetheless. It is to say that might makes right and the gods as the mightiest of all clearly are right because of their power. To accept the second option, that the gods say things are just because they are just, is to say that there is something called Justice higher than the gods to which even the gods have to bow down to…but then why worship the gods and not just skip to that higher thing. This can quickly fall into a series of does that higher thing say what it does because of some even higher law or just because it says so. Now no answer is reached in Euthyphro, an early work of Plato’s, but he eventually gets to the answer over the course of his works. The answer is a third option. God isn’t dependent on some higher concept of Justice, nor is Justice dependent on God, because God is Justice and Justice is God. God is Beautiful, and Beauty is God. God is Truth, and Truth is God. God is Good, and the Good is God. God is Reason and Reason is God.   God is the pinnacle of virtue in and of himself, it is not his power that dictates justice, it is his quality of justice; it is not his might that makes something good or right, it is the fact that he is good and right. And eventually this idea became so prevalent within Platonic philosophy that they gave it a single title to encompass the entire concept of a God that is the pinnacle of all virtues. And to distinguish it from the myriad of other gods wandering around the numerous pantheons of the ancient gods they didn’t give it a name like Zeus** or Apollo, but rather the title the Logos from the same Greek word that we derive the word logic from. They chose this word because this conception of God was that he was the logic, the reason, the purpose, the driving force behind the universe. And this idea of the Logos is the only logical way out of this paradox (or at least the only one I have seen proposed in over 2,000 years of philosophy and theology). Anything other than this way out leaves you with either having to search for a higher power or admission that God is God only because might makes right (in which case he is no better than any dictator).

 

And while Aristotle may have proven there is a God, his logic does not conclusively prove what that God is like, it is here that Plato shows that your only options for God are that God is the Logos or that he is a petty tyrant not worthy of worship because his only claim to power is that might makes right. And while I’m not going to unravel the problem of evil here, experience and common sense show that the petty tyrant is not a viable option in reality…but it is absolutely not something you should be arguing for. God is God not because he is subject to Reason, Good, Truth, and Justice, but because he IS Reason, Good, Truth, and Justice.

 

And for any logical person that should be the end of it.

 

But then I saw this drivel on Tumblr getting reblogged.

 

idiot theology 1idiot theology 2  idiot theology 3 idiot theology 4 idiot theology 5

 

 

So let’s break this down. You have the title card that God is Love but love is not God. Let’s leave this stupid thesis for a second.

 

The next two slides deal with the issue of the problem of evil. In a very inarticulate way these cards are showing the basic problem of people saying, “How can a loving God allow suffering to happen?” Again if I were to get into a severe deconstruction of the problem of evil (which at very least would make this post ramble on for another 10 pages…and nobody wants that) you can come to two conclusions. The first is the one first proposed by St. Augustine and has been the center of intelligent Christian theology (the person who made this little slide show is clearly not in this camp) that God allows evil because he has a plan that will bring an even greater good out of the world than would be possible without evil. It is the logic that we punish our children and sometimes force them to do things that they find terrible because it is good for them and will make them better people in the end. Or you can take the Eastern version that this world is merely an illusion and that evil doesn’t really exist, once we wake up and reach Enlightenment the evil of this world will be nothing more than the suffering of a nightmare, no real harm so no real foul, and it will be quickly forgotten. Both of these answers allow for evil to exist in the world without violating the nature of God being the Logos. And the shortest way of dealing with the objections of the first two slides is “If you could see the full plan of the universe, as God can, you would see that what you describe as something terrible is in the grand scheme of things nothing more than the cosmic version of a parent forcing their child to eat their Brussels sprouts.”***

 

But this slide then goes onto to say:

idiot theology 6 idiot theology 7

Okay the first line is fair enough. Using the problem of evil to attack the idea of God is a bad line of thought, and it can lead to some terrible theology.

 

But it’s the next paragraph where things start going off the rails into the very same bad theology that the idiot who made this complained about just a sentence ago. So the problem here is with the argument is “How dare you say God has to conform to an idea of Love” or Reason, or Justice, or Truth. Not the more rational, you need to admit that your idea of Love (or any of the others) may not be perfect because at this point you’re a human being capable of error. No we went with God cannot be judged by anything because God is beyond Love, Reason, Justice. God may have given you reason and told you repeatedly to use it but apparently it is no way a guiding light back to God. Any serious theologian would say that if that your conception of God and the facts don’t match, then we must defer to reason that either our conception of God is wrong or that you don’t have an accurate understanding of situation.

 

Or as a famous atheist who never applied her own logic to her bad understanding of theology, “Contradictions cannot exist. If you think you’ve found a contradiction go back and check your premises. One of them is wrong.”

If your idea of God doesn’t match up with your idea of love, according to reason, one of these ideas is wrong.

 

Except that this little slide show, that again I kept seeing several times so it’s not like this is just one idiot reblogging this is that your reasoning is not wrong, it doesn’t matter that there is a contradiction, but God is not subject to Reason, or Love, or Justice, or Truth. God is somehow above these things and cannot be limited by them.

 

This is terrible theology. No serious theologian of any faith remotely associated with God would make a claim this stupid.

 

But, you say, you’re blowing this out of proportion. So what if this idea is catching on, it’s not like it’s going to destroy civilization or anything. Which seems like a fair point…except that history actually demonstrates what happens when this idea is prevalent. You see this philosophical battle actually happened before around 1100 in the Islamic Empire. You had two main factions at the time the Mu’tazilite Sunni’s who believed, like Plato, that God was bound by concepts as Reason and Justice, because God was those things; and opposing them you had Ash’arites Sunni’s who believe that God was all powerful and thus could not be bound by concepts of Reason and Justice, because God was beyond those things (just like the idiot who made these slides). Long story short, had the Mu’tazilites won, Islam would have become a civilization of reason, scientific development, capitalism likely eventually…but regrettably the Ash’arites won. And it’s a strange thing when God is not bound by Reason or Justice or Truth, because if he is not those things, those things cease to be relevant to a society. A society that is run by a God whose only claim to rule is might makes right strangely tends to create governments where laws are unimportant and might makes right. A society that worships a God that is not bound by Reason doesn’t value Reason as it serves no purpose in reaching the ultimate goal of life…thus society stagnates as science, medicine, technology all become vain pursuits with no purpose. The idea proposed by these slides is actually the bane of all civilization….don’t believe me, then look at what it did to the Islamic world which is still in many ways stuck in the 6th century.

 

But then comes my favorite part of trying to justify this bullshit.

idiot theology 6

Okay let me pick up a Bible. If they’re correct there should be some very clear passages in the Bible that God cannot be bound by anything and cannot be compared to anything (thus making reason about God impossible) as you see several times in the Koran. There isn’t. But you know what there is in the Bible. The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, which actually says that the idea of the Logos , which states that God is Reason/Love/Justice/Truth and that Reason/Love/Justice/Truth in a very subtle way when it begins with

 

“In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.”–John Chapter 1, Verse 1

John1_1-5

Okay yeah, really bad translators have badly translated the Logos as “the Word,” which while literally correct, misses the philosophic idea packed into that particular word. But even if you want to try and say “well they didn’t mean Logos in that sense” your case falls apart because of the clearly self-reflexive nature of the line which goes to prove that this is the self-reflexive Platonic ideal of the Logos.

 

So whoever put this together might want to actually read the Bible, not just in translation, but go back and find out what it meant in the original language. I know that’s so hard, small minded bigoted theology that requires me not to use reason is so much easier…and it will eventually lead to a justification for blowing up people in the name of my God, so win-win for idiots…lose-lose for actual civilization.

 

Please Christians, you don’t have to accept my particular New Age version of God if reason doesn’t lead you to those conclusion…but don’t think idiocy like this is in any way a legitimate understanding of God.

 

 

*Don’t get me wrong, Plato made a lot of mistakes, but this isn’t one of them.

**You really can’t because the word for God and Zeus is sometimes the exact same word in Ancient Greek.

***I’ll fully admit that I have no way of justifying any of this without the idea of Reincarnation—if there was just one life, you would have a hard time making this as a serious argument. Lucky for me science is beginning to show reincarnation is a fact.

 

 

 

 

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Heaven is for Real…but this movie won’t even begin to convince you of that fact

Heavenreal

 

Shallow. Unmoving. Poor support of the point it was trying to make. Oh let me tell you how much I just loved Heaven is for Real.

 

In a world where there are thousands of Near Death Experiences where people who have been blind from birth can tell you what color the doctors in the OR were wearing while they had flat lined, where people come back with messages from dead loved ones with information that they could have no way of knowing beforehand, or where the person having the NDE goes completely brain dead so there is no way their brain could have just been hallucinating…we bring you a movie about a kid who never actually died and came back with information that any skeptic could tear holes in. Oh, then the movie just sucked on any standard of film making as well.

 

Let’s first deal with how bad the movie is.

 

The film follows a family, the Burpos, as they deal with the fact that their son nearly died and claims to have gone to Heaven. They deal with their own crises of faith and with being somewhat shunned by the community as others deal with their own crises of faith.

 

Well first off there are the numerous financial and personal problems the family in this film had to deal with (beside the kid almost dying). None of them get resolved

The entire film seems to be about everyone, the family, the parish, the community having a hard time accepting the concept of life after death—this does little more than to portray most Christians as shallow people who cling to the church out of fear, which I personally don’t think applies to all Christians, yeah we’ve all met some people like that…but it’s everybody in this film. It’s a little bizarre that this is what is being hyped as a faith based film given that it shows most church going folk to be hypocrites when you just scratch the surface. Yeah, real inspiring.
Also I felt that the writers didn’t even recognize their own hypocrisy in the final sermon in the film (which I’m guessing was supposed to offer some kind of catharsis, though I didn’t get any) among other things chided people for pride…even though it came from a guy who throughout much of the movie refused help from a friend even though he’s $20,000+ in debt and there was no resolution to this (except maybe the paycheck they got from writing the book but I’m trying not to confuse the movie with reality).

 

But the real problem is that none of it is all that moving. From the actors I recognized I have seen them all give better performances, and none of the crises of faith I see anyone go through in this film ever seems to fully make sense to me (I don’t get how all these people who are so active in a church can all be so full of doubts and disbelief…I understand individuals having a crisis of faith, I don’t understand a seemingly entire congregation becoming hostile to what should seemingly confirm their beliefs). No single character’s story ever seems to be dealt with in detail in the film and it just is all half-assed through the run time.

 

Oh and there’s some girl in Lithuania painting pictures…I never really got the point of this and could ponder for eons what possessed the director to put this random and pointless part in.

 

Now a lot of this could be due to the fact that as an NDE goes, this kid’s story isn’t what I’d call ironclad. He never died, his story isn’t particularly consistent, and none of the information he gives is beyond all doubt that he never heard it from other people. I believe in NDE’s the soul actually does touch the afterlife and see Heaven…but I also happen to know from research that there are cases that leave no logical explanation other than a person’s soul actually did leave their body and touch the other side. There is no such certainty here. I’m not saying the kid didn’t experience exactly what he describes (or at least as well as the movie relays it) but there are so many logical ways one could also be skeptical that the movie is only going to affect people who already believe (and in my case, not even that).  I actually am a little annoyed as you can only get so many movies with a theme like this made and distrusted to a general audience…and if you really want to get people to believe in the truth that there is an afterlife, I would not put a movie with such weak backing.  Also I’m just a tad annoyed that one of the most important facts about NDE’s: that everyone goes to Heaven, Christians, Jews, Pagans, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, everyone (because God doesn’t care about that sort of thing) seemed to get lost in a lot of talk of Jesus (I have no problem with Jesus or what he taught, but this film veered a little too much to the you only get into Heaven through Christianity bend for my tastes given that serious research into NDE’s shows exactly the opposite).

 

I have not read the book, and this movie certainly doesn’t convince me I should.
If you want a good movie that is actually moving about the life after death go watch Hereafter. If you want good well researched material about proof of life after this one I would suggest starting with Life before Life–Children’s Memories of Previous Lives or Evidence of the Afterlife.

 

 

Final Grade D-

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Movies that show the rich as good #2: Meet Joe Black

“Should I be afraid?”
“Not a man like you.”

Meet Joe Black is a great movie for several reasons. A powerful love story. An insightful look at what life is about. And oddly enough a story about a businessman making sure his life work remains great. (Also the only time in history the IRS was even tangentially heroic…and not, you know, worthy of the treatment at the end of Braveheart).

Meet Joe BlackNow some might think that the story about the businessman trying to keep hold of his business when he knows for certain he will die in the immediate future is really a secondary plot line—that the love story of Death (Joe Black) and Susan is far more important than Anthony Hopkins business tales. And people who edit movies for TV and in-flight movies would agree with those people. However the director Martin Brest thought that it so ruined the movie that he got the Director’s Guild to agree that his name could be removed from the cut without the business story line—the Director’s Guild receives hundreds, some years, thousands of requests to have directors names removed because the director was unhappy with the result…virtually all of them are denied.* So that this was granted tells you that this plot line involving Hopkins’ character of Bill Parish is absolutely important.

Why? Or as Death puts it:

Joe Black: Bill, why at this juncture are you letting yourself be so concerned by business matters?
William Parrish: I don’t want anybody buying up my life’s work! Turning it into something it wasn’t meant to be. A man wants to leave something behind. And he wants it left behind the way he made it. He wants it to be run the way he ran it, with a sense of honor, of dedication, of truth. Okay?

Because this film shows us that life isn’t just about love. It is about life. The big and the small things (like peanut butter). And this movie shows the depth of love, not just romantic love, but the love of parents and children, of friendship, of siblings, and of life itself. Love is one of those massively important things…but so is accomplishment. In fact, if you look at the needs of people’s accomplishments, achievements, the attainment of goals is, according to psychologist Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, is the next thing we need to achieve in our quest for Happiness.

Now the liberals out there are probably rolling their eyes when they hear attainment of goals or achievement, as theyMeet Joe Black Dance think that you attain goals you must do so by taking from others. They see a world of static wealth and prosperity, where if I am to be successful another must fail, where if I am to be wealthy another must be poor, where if I am to be happy another must be miserable. Which is why they must tear down the strong, the successful, the happy, because in their warped mind those people are taking strength, success and happiness from others. Reality tends to be quite different. Whereas historically most economic and political systems have done the liberal thing and only shifted money and resources around, or at best created wealth at an astoundingly slow rate…capitalism literally creates wealth where it did not exist before. It takes work, ideas, creativity, individual and cooperation, risk, and planning to create wealth…but capitalism is the only system that can sustain long term innovation to create wealth out of what was previously worthless. Wealth thus has no limit, so long as there is liberty and drive to keep creating it. It parallels the other thing we seek for constantly in life: love. Just because I love my spouse doesn’t mean I have to love my parents, my siblings, or my children, or my friends less…they may all be different kinds of love, but an increase in one does not diminish the others. And the movie is quite clear; we need love in our lives:

Bill Parish: Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. And I’m not hearing any heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there’s no sense living your life without this.

To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven’t lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.

But again back to the Maslow’s hierarchy, life isn’t complete with just love, we also need accomplishment. And the character of Bill Parish certainly has accomplished as the founder and chairman and CEO of a multinational media empire. As he discusses his business he states:

Meet Joe Black ConfrontationSee, I started in this business because this is what I wanted to do. I knew I wasn’t going to write the great American novel, but I also knew there was more to life than buying something for a dollar and selling it for two. I’d hoped to create something, something which could be held to the highest standards. And what I realized was I wanted to give the news to the world, and I wanted to give it unvarnished. The more we all know about each other, the greater the chance we will survive.

Sure, I want to make a profit. You can’t exist without one. But John Bontecou is all profit. Now if we give him license to absorb Parrish Communications, and he has his eye on a few others after us, in order to reach the world you will have to go through John Bontecou. And not only will you have to pay him to do this, far more important, you’ll have to agree with him.

He veers almost into the territory of an Atlas Shrugged hero there…Yes I love making money, but I love making my creation more and you could offer me all the money in the world to scrap what I have built and I would throw it in your face. He is a man of morals which are more important than just money. Which is something else that correct philosophers from Aristotle to Maslow understood, while there are charlatans that can make money, they often can’t keep it going and can’t create. Yeah there are terrible businessmen out there, but the majority of the rich, from the so called Robber Barons to Mitt Romney the rich who come to their money through work and achievement are among the most generous people in the world (Please see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks for further proof).

And it is this mixture of accomplishment and love and morality that makes the character of Bill Parish so admirable that even Death views him as someone to learn from.

The man from whose lips fall “rapture” and “passion” and “obsession”? All those admonitions about being “deliriously happy, that there is no sense in living your life without” all the sparks and energy you give off, the rosy advice you dispense in round pear shaped tones. […]It requires competence wisdom and experience, all those things they say about you in testimonials. And you’re the one.

And as we see through the course of the movie as he cares for his family and their happiness more than his business, and the achievements he has made more than just buying another day or two of his life, why when right before Death takes him he asks, “Should I be afraid?” The obvious reply to someone who has built and accomplished and loved the only answer can be, “Not a man like you.” Bill Parish stands out as a man who has excelled in every aspect of his life…and it’s amazing that Hollywood would show such a character as being.

Meet Joe Black Death

*If you ever see a movie directed by Alan Smithee, there is no Alan Smithee. That’s the name the Director’s Guild puts on films they allow the real director to distance themselves from. Producers or a studio have to ruin beyond the telling of it a director’s film before this is ever granted.

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The Importance of Religious Pluralism in the Journey of the Soul

Not sure why, but I’m seeing an upsurge in the frequency of people becoming more hostile about their religion being right and everyone else being wrong (and even for the people who aren’t making a big deal out of it, there is a certain ‘my religion is better than your religion’ arrogance in lots of groups, and it just feels like its getting worse).  And I’m not just talking about the psycho-fringe here (or I’m really underestimating the size of said “fringe”).  I always find this a puzzling concept.  Sure there are a few really insane beliefs out there–mostly the ones that dictate ‘my way or else I’ll kill you!’–but for the most part, most religions all have the same core values and differ only in forms, names, and rituals.  And quibbling over these relatively minor issues is pointless. First off most of these people who want to scream for their own religion and no others seem politically motivated (I’ve seen all sides engage in this religious idiocy) given that it only alienates people away from your political causes.  Further, reason doesn’t hold this up?   I mean, do you seriously believe that God, a being of supposed infinite love, compassion, understanding and wisdom, cares about what ritual you use to get closer to him, rather than if you actually get closer to him or not?

And it’s not just implicit in reason, recent scientific research into reincarnation and near-death experience also demonstrate this. Scientific studies have shown that reincarnation is a fact and that you change from religion to religion based on your life—if that’s the case it can’t be that God loves one religion and hates all others.  Similar studies have also shown that during near death experiences everybody goes to heaven, doesn’t matter what their religion is…it’s almost as if God doesn’t give a shit what name you call him by.

potala palace lhasa

The Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet…it seemed like a place both remote and spiritual enough to serve as the starting place for the soul.

So does this mean that all religions are worthless?  That there is just God and his children and it doesn’t matter what you believe…not exactly.   Now, with that knowledge of near death experiences and reincarnation studies, it seems to be that the majority of religions are correct, that life is a series of rebirths, a progression of lessons and stages of learning all leading to Enlightenment…but that still doesn’t invalidate the idea that you should follow the religion you feel called to. If the soul is on a journey toward Enlightenment, let’s think of it as a journey.   For the sake of metaphor let’s say all souls start out standing in the Potala Palace in Lhasa.  High in the Himalayas, disconnected from the rest of the world.  And you know you have to get somewhere (Enlightenment) you have had it roughly described to you, but you don’t quite know where you are going or exactly how to get there.

How you get there would be comparable to the mode of transportation you take.  Some ways like Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, New Age belief and modern Paganism might be equivalent to walking, taking a bike, a boat, a car or a plane*, other religions maybe more like trying a unicycle with a flat tire, spinning in a circle believing you will magically teleport, digging through the center of the earth using a rusty spoon or launching yourself into orbit using high explosives and hoping you land in the right place. ** While in the minority there are religions that are all but useless in all cases…however most religions are more dependent on where you are in your journey. In this example if one religion is equivalent to riding in a car and you’ve hit the Pacific Ocean, it may have gotten you to this point but you need a different mode of transportation (a different belief system) to advance on the next stage of your journey.

Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona

Now for the sake of argument in this travel metaphor let’s say that Enlightenment exists at the Devil’s Bridge in Northern Arizona (chosen for the fact that it is beautiful, and the irony was just too good to pass up).

Now to get from our stating place in Tibet and ending place in Arizona there is no way a single mode of transportation is going to cut it the whole way.  You are at best going to have to walk part of the way, either take a boat or plane part of the way, and probably have to travel in some other forms of transportation for part of the journey.

The Journey of the Soul Metaphor

If only the journey of the soul was this short a distance.

Let’s add to the fact that you’re not always sure where you’re headed.  Granted as long as you’re moving you may be getting closer, or at least have a better chance to learn where the right place is as opposed to the stupidity of staying still, but that still doesn’t always mean you’re moving in the right direction (as some religions that could be used to progress can be misused to put you further away from God…Westboro come to mind).

You could use this metaphor for a lot of things, and show it flawed in numerous other ways.  I just want to show that even on a journey you may use different modes of transportation, as different religions may serve different souls on their journey to Enlightenment.

And my overall point here is that reason tells you God is too perfect a being to care what name you call him by or what rituals you go through to honor him, it’s silly to think that one religion is the right one and all others are false.  Yes there are some blindingly stupid beliefs out there, and there may be beliefs that are wrong for you in your life (take a car when you’re on the ocean) but just because your religious beliefs work for you don’t assume they would work for everyone. The most you can do is ask if you find that your beliefs are leading you to God (if they are, bully for you) and if someone else’s beliefs could never in any way, shape, or form lead a person to God (a religion that calls for stoning people in the 21st century for instance) and oppose those vile beliefs will all your heart and soul.

So even if you aren’t decrying that your religion is better than all others, it might also be best to not always believe that (I know some will think I’m only critiquing Christians here, but really this my religion is better than your religion arrogance can be found in almost every religion)…your beliefs may be exactly what you personally need in your journey right now, but don’t believe that your beliefs will work for everyone at every time.

sedona rainbow

you can never have too many random pictures of Sedona

*Try not to match those up, the religions are in more or less chronological order and the modes of transportation are more or less random.

** I may or may not have had Scientology, Atheism, Keynesianism (it denies basic reality so much and requires so much be taken on faith it’s pretty much a cult) come to mind here…oh and I can’t think what religion I had in mind when I mentioned strapping high explosives to yourself…certainly not a religion of peace.  Not everyone following those beliefs is stuck at a stand still, it’s just highly, highly unlikely they’re going to be making a major push forward in that life.  And this is the balance to an acceptance of other beliefs, admitting that there are some really dumb beliefs out there.

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BiWeekly Meditation–Looking for the Win-Win Solution

“[Adam] Smith noted that in all transactions, both parties come out better for it.”–Republicans And Reincarnation 

Weekly Meditation: The Sixth Chakra.


Okay, first let me say that I’m switching to bi weekly mediations.  I’ve been doing this for two year and (taking the few weeks I skipped) that’s about 100 meditations, (That’s a lot of meditations) if you need something to focus on to center your mind, it’s not like they have a shelf life and go bad after two weeks.  So rather than keep coming up with stuff every week, I’m going to switch to doing these every other week.

And I think that works out best for everyone, it allows me to take more time to plan these, and you more time to get something out of every meditations.

It’s a win-win.  Which happens to be the theme of this meditation.

As many of my more loyal readers know, I am a huge fan of capitalism.  And besides the fact that it’s the only system that works and is sustainable, there are all the ethical reasons I support capitalism.  One of them is that capitalism is the only system that allows for a win-win scenario. Every honest transaction in capitalism benefits both the seller and the buyer–you both get something you want and you both make your lives better for it.  It’s why this system is the only one that creates prosperity, creates wealth, creates ideas and innovation, and creates a better society.  It’s a system where no one has to lose.  Every other system there HAS TO BE a loser, with liberty and true capitalism the only losers are the ones who don’t engage in the system of free exchange and try to be the most virtuous person they can.  It is the system that models the growth of our souls to enlightenment, everyone can get there, but it is only by choice, work and will power they will.*

But one of the reasons I think so many people are opposed to it is because they are stuck in a win-lose mind set.  They think that every situation has to have a winner and a loser.  If you’re doing better I’m doing worse.  In reality this isn’t so.  With the exception of the artificial nature of sports, life doesn’t have to be about winners and losers.  If one company does well it doesn’t mean its competition must fail, it only means that its competition must adapt, possibly by improving their product, possibly by going in a new direction…and the consumer benefits from both (Microsoft AND Apple seem to be doing well, as well as they myriad of companies that benefit because they do well and the chain of thought goes on and on). Just because you get a promotion doesn’t mean I lost, I now have further opportunities to shine, and I don’t have to feel pressured by the comparison (or a thousand other ways to look at it…a lot of situations come down to how we choose to interpret them and react to them.  If you look at most situations as opportunities, you will seldom find a loss).

But let’s be honest, since there are people with the win-lose attitude instead of the win-win attitude, it does spill into our lives whether we want it or not.  So we have to show people that there are win-win solutions where we can find them.  We have to look for them, we have to propose them to those around us, and we have to convince people.  But the first part of this is that we have to look for them.  So I would recommend either in the evening to spend ten to twenty minutes reviewing all the situations you had during the day that devolved into win-lose situations (or the morning to look back on the previous day).  Look for the ways that they could have been win-win solutions for all involved.  Run it through your mind for to see if there were multiple ways it could have been a win-win.  And do this not with guilt or self-recrimination.  You’re looking at this to get you mind in the habit of looking for win-win opportunities, not to chide yourself for not seeing them at the time they occurred.  The only way you’re going to be being to see them as they occur is if your review previous encounters and see what other possibilities were open that you did not see at the time. And, like so many of these meditations, isn’t something you’re not going to pick up immediately.  It’s a skill that needs to be nurtured, refined, and practiced before you get really good at it.

Now, I do need to point out that just because you can see the win-win solution it does not mean you can convince others.  I remember a time I tried to help someone with a project at work and they incredibly behind on.  This person at first attacked me because they saw my attempt to help them get through the project faster as an insult and responded rather angrily with comments like “I said I’ll get it done and I’ll get it done” (even though they were past the deadline) and then told me “if you want to do this all, fine, I would rather be doing something else.”  This person saw only the win-lose, either they did all the work, or I did all the work, only one person gets free time (yes this had bled into working on the weekend).  It became clear that the win-win of if we both do this we’d both get out of here quickly wasn’t open to this person.  So I shut down my computer, went home, and finished the project later that night when the portion I was waiting on was finished.  If it’s going to be win-lose, I have no intention of being the loser.  And it is at this point that you need to understand if someone makes it clear that there is only a win-lose situation, you should not act like a martyr and think that you should be the one to lose.  Like the Constitution, spiritual enlightenment, is not a suicide pact.  If it’s going to be win-lose, and you’re tried to make an attempt to show any win-win opportunities you can think of, if it is the other person choosing the losing philosophy don’t let yourself be harmed by it.

 

So for the next two weeks look for the win-win opportunities and see you can reduce the stress and increase the moments of peace (and maybe even enlightenment) in your life.

*Okay there might be divine grace in there too, but that has no parallel in any economic system…unless we want to get into voluntary charity, which again is a liberty/capitalism thing.

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Movies for Conservatives: Les Miserables

Les Miserables Posters

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men.  It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.”

Les Mis a movie for conservatives?

Yeah.

But let’s first talk about the qualities of the movie apart from political or philosophical points.

The High Points

This is the play in all its glory.  And the play is a truncated version of one of the most moving books ever written.  All the passion, all the empathy there.  You will cry for Fantine.  For Eponine.  For Gavrouche.  For the revolutionary Friends of the ABC.  For Javert. And of course for Valjean.  Bring tissues this is movie that you will cry at, a lot.

And this movie has a few truly wonderful scenes that supply motivation that was missing in the play.  For instance it has Javert arrive on the same day that Fantine is dismissed from her job, which gives a reason for Valjean not taking a more serious interest in her case.

The movie also supplies little moments from the book that were never in the play, like Grantaire standing by Enjolras at the moment of execution.

I think director Tom Hooper created something truly genius with the live singing way this movie was made…however it appears in the early scenes that there was certainly a learning curve involved in using this technique (I wish this wasn’t the first movie to do it so Hooper could have had something to reference).  But for any inconsistency it brings up at some moments, it adds deeply to the rest of the film and emotional impact of the songs.

Les Mis HathawayAnne Hathaway deserves an Oscar.

And Russell Crowe’s singing was a pleasant surprise.  He added more humanity to Javert than any actor I have previously seen.

The Low Points.

I feel there was a lot that got left on the editing room floor. At 2 hours and 37 minutes this was pushing it for most movies nowadays and I’m pretty sure if all the little things that were taken out were put back in it would be well over 3 hours.  And since Hollywood has no intention of returning to the idea of an intermission (to me this makes no sense as most of the money comes from concessions and if there is a break at an hour and a half we would be more willing to buy soda since we wouldn’t have to worry about running out to the rest room and we would buy food at the halfway mark as we would be hungrier by that point…but at least it seems that way, real data I’m not privy to might show otherwise) they were probably forced to make some heavy cuts to the movie.  This creates some odd pacing issues, where certain parts feel a little rushed.

Also, and it may be a personal issue that others may not have a problem with, I was not overly impressed by Jackman’s singing. It wasn’t bad, but I’m used to a deeper more sonorous voice for Valjean.

On the technical points, the movie is one of the best of the year, the acting and visual work was spectacular. The editing needs work (or at least a director’s cut DVD…please.) and the directing while exceptional still could have been just a little better (I think the high cost of production may have prevented doing reshoots that other films might have done)…Hooper gets an A not A+.

The Political/Philosophical Points

Did you know this was Ayn Rand’s favorite book?  It was.  Kind of puts any thoughts that Les Mis is liberal out of the “obviously” category doesn’t it.

Okay let’s look at some of the points. On their own merits.

“I am the master of hundreds of workers, they all look to me.  Can I abandon them, how will they live if I am not free. I speak I am condemned, if I stay silent, I am damned.”

Jean Valjean is a convict, yes. But while that’s all that Javert sees, we’re supposed to see more.  We’re supposed to see the successful businessman who not only created a whole industry in a town, bringing it out of poverty and into an economic renaissance, but who also out of Christian charity (not guilt, it should be noted that if you read the book Valjean is motivated by a desire to be a better person, not by guilt about his prior actions) creates hospitals and schools for the poor.  In a day and age when lesser writers like Dickens would just recycle the terrible image of the robber baron, Hugo gave us a noble businessman as an example of what others should be. It should also be noted that in a very Atlas Shrugged kind of way, Hugo has no illusions that once Valjean is forced to run the industry and the town is not able to survive in its thriving state without Valjean’s leadership. The book to a great degree, with touches still in the movie, shows that prosperity is driven by captains of industry.

“Take my hand I’ll lead you to salvation.  Take my love, for love is everlasting.  And remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God.”

Further it should be noted what a deeply religious story this story is.  It is God and the Bishop of Digne, not government that redeems Valjean.  God and faith permeate all levels of this story.  Faith ironically is what drives both Valjean and Javert.  And it never condemns any form of faith, showing that all those fallen (except sadly Javert, whom I’m sure Hugo would have placed there) together in heaven.

The novel, the play, and now the movie praise faith.  It’s a rarity these days in serious well produced films.  And given the desperate need for spirituality in our modern world, something like this must be embraced.

“Let us die facing our foe […] Let others rise to take our place until the Earth is FREE!”

And dare we forget that much of the second half of the story is taken up by an uprising by Republican revolutionaries, seeking a return to law and not the capricious whims of a king.

“But, but, but” some liberals will complain.  The book is about helping the poor, and how unjust the criminal justice system is.  Those are liberal issues. And what they fail to realize is that these are different times and different issues.  The poor in 19th century France were starving (a problem with accuracy is that even the slums of France look too pretty in this movie…honestly we wouldn’t have felt comfortable actually watching what the “The Miserable” of 19th century France looked like…it wasn’t quite Nazi Concentration Camp, but certainly not as pretty as this film depicts it), the poor in 21st century America are suffering an obesity epidemic.  Hugo critiqued those who were lazy and those who felt entitled.  Poverty of the kind Hugo witnessed in France was what he wanted us to feel empathy for, modern poverty would not likely bring as much empathy from Victor.  And he would be horrified by the lack of the churches and religion in the government welfare that modern liberals champion.  And don’t even get me started on the fact that you can’t compare the legal system that punished Valjean for 20 years and hounded him for life for stealing a loaf of bread to our modern system…yes we have problems, but we have the kind of problems Hugo would have only dreamed of.

“Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free.”

Of course for me one of the most revealing passages in Les Miserable is when Hugo takes a moment to critique communism.

(It should be noted the terms Socialism and Communism at the time do not have the same meaning now…what he calls Communism would be more in line with modern European Socialism…the term Capitalism was first used in 1854, 8 years before Hugo published Les Miserables—it took him nearly 20 years to write—and its usage as a economic system did not begin until Marx used it in 1867, 5 years after Les Miserables was published.  So he could never expect to hear him use the term capitalism even thought that seems to be what he’s calling for.   He certainly did not have the term cronyism which describes the economics of 19th century France better than anything.  So pay attention to the systems and practices he is referring to, not the titles, as he had no access to the title we currently use.)

“The reader will not be surprised if, for various reasons, we do not here treat in a thorough manner, from the theoretical point of view, the questions raised by socialism. We confine ourselves to indicating them.

All the problems that the socialists proposed to themselves, cosmogonic visions, reverie and mysticism being cast aside, can be reduced to two principal problems.

First problem: To produce wealth.

Second problem: To share it.

The first problem contains the question of work.

The second contains the question of salary.

In the first problem the employment of forces is in question.

In the second, the distribution of enjoyment.

From the proper employment of forces results public power.

From a good distribution of enjoyments results individual happiness.

By a good distribution, not an equal but an equitable distribution must be understood.  The highest equality is equity.

From these two things combined, the public power without, individual happiness within, results social prosperity.

Social prosperity means the manhappy, the citizen free, the nation great.

England solves the first of these two problems. She creates wealth admirably, she divides it badly. This solution which is complete on one side only leads her fatally to two extremes: monstrous opulence, monstrous wretchedness. All enjoyments for some, all privations for the rest, that is to say, for the people; privilege, exception, monopoly, feudalism, born from toil itself. A false and dangerous situation, which sates public power or private misery, which sets the roots of the State in the sufferings of the individual. A badly constituted grandeur in which are combined all the material elements and into which no moral element enters.

Communism and agrarian law think that they solve the second problem. They are mistaken. Their division kills production. Equal partition abolishes emulation; and consequently labor.

It is a partition made by the butcher, which kills that which it divides.

It is therefore impossible to pause over these pretended solutions. Slaying wealth is not the same thing as dividing it.

The two problems require to be solved together, to be well solved. The two problems must be combined and made but one.

[…]

Solve the two problems, encourage the wealthy, and protect the poor, suppress misery, put an end to the unjust farming out of the feeble by the strong, put a bridle on the iniquitous jealousy of the man who is making his way against the man who has reached the goal, adjust, mathematically and fraternally, salary to labor, mingle gratuitous and compulsory education with the growth of childhood, and make of science the base of manliness, develop minds while keeping arms busy, be at one and the same time a powerful people and a family of happy men, render property democratic, not by abolishing it, but by making it universal, so that every citizen, without exception, may be a proprietor, an easier matter than is generally supposed; in two words, learn how to produce wealth and how to distribute it, and you will have at once moral and material greatness; and you will be worthy to call yourself France.”

[Emphasis added]

You will notice he is proposing such things as universal education, due process of law, and property rights.  He condemns any attempt for everyone to have their fair and equal share and envying the wealthy.  He proposes that people be paid just wages for their work (which was an issue then, not so much now). He proposes to make every man his own master, that everyone may earn wealth.  I can’t speak with certainty what political path Hugo would take in the modern world, but I can be fairly certain that if a modern day liberal went back to see him, Hugo would try to slap the stupid out of the Occupy trash.  I can also be mildly sure that Hugo might encourage the building of a few barricades against some of the government overreaches of the modern world.

All in all, the story is one of the value of liberty, of the individual, of redemption through works and of God.  Those are conservative themes if I ever heard them.

“Do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night

It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the Earth there is a flame that never dies,

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

We will live again in Freedom in the garden of the Lord.

We will walk behind the plowshares.  We will put away the sword.

The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?  Who will be strong and stand with me?

Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?

Do you hear the people sing, say do you hear the distant drums?

It is the future that we bring when tomorrow comes!”

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Why I’m A Conservative and A New Ager

[I had a request to turn a comment I made on a previous blog into a blog of it’s own…so if this seems repetitive…that’s why…]

Recently a commenter left the following post:

I was really hoping to find a softer side of Conservatism here. I can’t seem to find that wherever I look. I also can’t understand how you can call yourself a New Ager and harbor so much anger? Completely hypocritical, as is most of the right… New Age = Love

It’s not hypocritical at all, and I’m sorry you feel that way.

New Age belief does not encourage or require that I turn off my brain or reason…and reason has a way of getting outraged when confronted with policies and actions that hurt others–you see it in the actions of Christ whipping the money changers, of Krishna telling Arjuna to slaughter his unjust relatives, in Lao Tzu talking about war needing to be conducted with the aim of peace, and in the actions and words of numerous other saints and enlightened beings in religions all over the world.

Yes New Age belief does believe in unqualified love of the soul…but not of the actions of the ego which hurts that soul. Those actions and the ideas that create them must be challenged both in ones own soul, one’s mind, and outside in the physical worlds. I cannot love the soul, and support the left which hinders the growth of the soul. And I cannot say obsequious appearance of concern for someone in the transitory moment is love, even thought the left tries to say it is. Love is caring for the true nature of the person, which is the soul and the soul’s journey to enlightenment.

May I ask you what you would consider “the softer side of Conservatism?” because is seems like all that term means is “a conservative who is willing to give in on any and every point, sacrifice any value, and capitulate on any policy just so liberals like you can be happy.”

If you’re repeating the liberal line about social conservatism, you’ll find none of that here. Social conservatism is simply liberal desire to control others by another name. As for my unwavering defense of capitalism and liberty, which parallel the New Age belief in free will, my support of charity over welfare, which parallel’s the New Age belief in spiritual growth…any moving from these points (other than in terms of practical compromise) to appear “softer” is to give into the manifestations of the ego in the physical world. I can’t be true to my beliefs in the New Age and not support them, defend them, and advocate for them. Yes I’m a little overzealous, (if you’re a New Ager you know it’s a habit of Indigoes to be passionate in the extreme)…but is there anything wrong in zeal for what is right and true?

Love is not opposed to reason, love and reason go hand in hand

But I would like to challenge your comment of “Completely hypocritical, as is most of the right…”
New Age belief believes in the free will. To support the leftist belief in government over the individual, entitlement over personal charity, control over choice…that would be hypocritical to support.
New Age belief believes that life is spiritual journey of learning. To support the left’s call for over-regulation that seeks to keep people from making mistakes takes away the ability to learn…that would be hypocritical of me to support.
New Age believes that every soul must make it to enlightenment on its own…thus the left’s call to force equality holds back individuals, and thus retards the day when all will make it to enlightenment…that would be hypocritical of me to support.
New Age belief believes in the quality of life, not the quantity…the left’s concern with income redistribution and entitlements of physical things places the focus on life on the wrong thing…that would be hypocritical of me to support.

In fact on every central tenet of New Age belief I can think of, New Age belief matched up with conservative economics and conservative foreign policy.

Almost every point of the left in economic and foreign policy is opposed the principles of New Age belief. And every belief of the left on social policy takes the correct idea to an illogical extreme. (I disagree with the social conservatism…but if you actually read a bit of my blog you would see that there are more than enough articles opposing that).

Is the right perfect. Nope. But it supports the individual. It supports choice and freedom and liberty. It supports my ability to grown and learn and develop. These are the bedrock principles of New Age belief as I understand them.

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Movies that show rich as good #8 The Family Man

“We have a house in Jersey. We have two kids, Annie and Josh. Annie’s not much of a violin player, but she tries real hard. She’s a little precocious, but that’s only because she says what’s on her mind. And when she smiles… And Josh, he has your eyes. He doesn’t say much, but we know he’s smart. He’s always got his eyes open, he’s always watching us. Sometimes you can look at him and you just know he’s learning something new. It’s like witnessing a miracle. The house is a mess but it’s ours. After 122 more payments, it’s going to be ours. And you, you’re a non-profit lawyer. That’s right, you’re completely non-profit, but that doesn’t seem to bother you. And we’re in love. After 13 years of marriage we’re still unbelievably in love. You won’t even let me touch you until I’ve said it. I sing to you. Not all the time, but definitely on special occasions. We’ve dealt with our share of surprises and made a lot of sacrifices but we’ve stayed together. You see, you’re a better person than I am. And it made me a better person to be around you. I don’t know, maybe it was just all a dream. Maybe I went to bed one lonely night in December and I imagined it all. But I swear, nothing has ever felt more real. And if you get on that plane right now, it’ll disappear forever. I know we could both go on with our lives and we’d both be fine, but I’ve seen what we could be like together. And I choose us.”

 

As we continue our discussion of movies that show the rich in a positive light we come to one I’ve already covered as a Christmas film…The Family Man.  I’ve said a great deal about this movie already.

 

Most of the movie is our central character Jack Campbell, played by Nicholas Cage, as he adjusts from wealth to middle class living, from single life to be the family man.  But one has to remember this movie starts and ends with him being wealthy, really wealthy…Penthouse in a New York high-rise, President of a major brokerage firm, sports car….the whole nine yards of wealth.  And he earned every penny of it starting at the bottom and making something of himself.

 

And besides working his employees hard (which is the idea of Wall Street investment firms, work REALLY hard for 10-15 years and retire rich) there is not a single complaint you could make about this man or his ethics.

 

In fact Campbell gets into the whole situation when he risks his life to save the lives of others in a corner store from an apparent hold up (it was a bit more complicated, the least of which being that the guy with the gun was actually an angel of some kind (?)testing people’s ethics…this part was never really explained…) so the whole movie occurs because the guy in the upper half of the top 1% is shown to be a much better person with more character than a couple of working stiffs in the movie who fail the angel’s tests.   (This actually is even a more rare concept to show that the rich can be noble and the poor without character in the same film, it’s amazing this movie was ever made.)

 

Now I can already see the objection “but the movie shows he is a better person in his middle class life without all his money.”  No…and it’s no for a couple of reasons.  The first is that he is hardly poor in his other life, he runs a small business (and is clearly going to inherit said small business), his wife is a lawyer who also works (trust me even a lawyer who clearly works for a firm that takes pro-bono cases is probably making more than the median level of income…and doing that kind of law is what you do when you don’t have to really worry about money).  Their kids want for nothing (ballet, violin lessons, etc.).  The reason they don’t have every extravagance in life is because they have kids, and kids are very expensive and you will give every dime of disposable income you have to raising kids if you can, not because they don’t have money.

 

The more important point is that his life is not better because it has less money, it’s better because he has a wife he loves and who loves him and has children whom he loves.  That’s what makes his life better.  We all want money, but we’d be an idiot’s idiot if we consciously chose money over a loving relationship and a wonderful family.  Money just helps it get better (as both I and others have shown money is necessary for happiness).

Yes there are things better than money, but the story of Jack Campbell shows that having money does not make you in any way, shape or form villainous or not worthy of respect.  It is what you do that matters, not how much you make.

 

 

Honorable Mention

It could happen to you.  Another great Nicholas Cage film (as anyone who watches film knows, Cage films come in two categories and only two, very entertaining and why-the-hell-did-they-make-this-shit?)

 

I didn’t include this movie in the official list, because honestly 2 million dollars (split two ways) isn’t rich, it’s well off…it’s a safety net not a license to retire.  Despite what Cage’s crazy wife thought in the film, it was not the kind of money that allows you to enter the upper echelons of society (even in the early ‘90’s when the film was made).  But that’s what makes Cage and Fonda’s characters so admirable, they knew that they still had to work; they knew that money wasn’t the answer to all things, and they knew that money could yield more happiness via philanthropy than through just buying things they didn’t need.  So while they aren’t a true depiction of Hollywood showing the reality that the rich are like everyone else, with their good and their bad, it does show that money is not the all corrupting thing most liberals think it is.

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Romney: The Man of Near Infinite Empathy and Compassion

Mitt does not like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point.–Ann Romney

So the continuing attacks on Romney are just getting more and more egregious.

In the last few days I’ve seen Romney called a fanatic and shameful for actually saying America should be defended and respected…and I’m apparently a fanatic for defending this belief as well. But then again apparently any defense of Romney is my “salivating” over him without using any intelligent thought. (This while the left ignores all of Obama’s flaws and slobbers over him.)

But apparently to some of those who support government any defense of the free market or American Exceptionalism is fanaticism and a call for genocide. Back here in reality it’s a defense of virtue, facts, and what works.

So just to annoy them, and I would recommend all my readers do the same in their personal lives (just for fun), let’s point out the numerous qualities that make Romney the kind of person I want to vote for.

Now I prefer intelligence and common sense in my candidates, but there seems to be a large call for a candidate with empathy. Now everyone but a sociopath* has empathy but some exude and act on it better than others***. Mitt Romney is apparently not one of these people who exudes a “I feel your pain” feeling on camera (I can however tell you from personal experience that he’s very charismatic and likable when you’re ten feet from him, but again that shouldn’t necessarily be a reason to vote for him). However, since liberals are hitting him as being a cold and vicious heathen for not exuding this empathetic claptrap on TV let’s look at his actual behavior to determine if this is a man who acts with charity and compassion to others.

This is the man who would give a struggling family $250,000 because he heard they needed help. 

This is the man who has saved a drowning family.

This is the man who shut down his company, possibly loosing thousands if not millions in the process, so that he could direct his company’s full attention on finding and saving the daughter of a friend

This is a man who gives millions in charity, giving more than what is tax deductible

A man who is so uninterested in money he gives up his salary as governor (about half a million over 4 years) and who took no salary for the work he did to save the Olympics.

A man who takes time to comfort the sick and needy, to care for those who feel they are in darkness and who need help.


And there are EVEN MORE STORIES HERE…
You know what, you can say a lot about Romney? You can say that, “Oh he has money, he can afford to be that generous”…true…but what about the people the left defends endlessly like tax evader Warren Buffett***. The fact is that he has earned his money and then does what few of us ever have the chance to do, and what few of those who have the chance ever actually do, use it to gain happiness by helping others. I guess you could claim that ALL these people are lying, but that would be fairly petty. You can claim that compassion and empathy and charity aren’t everything…I would agree, but do you really want to have an argument about intelligence and policy when your candidate is Obama?

But you can’t claim that Romney is not a man of extreme empathy, extreme compassion, and extreme charity.

Any attack on this man’s character is just silly.

*I could name some politicians, but I’ll be polite.
**I believe the word for exuding empathy is charlatan.
***If you bring up Romney’s tax returns, you’re an idiot. There is not a single iota of evidence to suggest Romney has cheated on his taxes or hid money. It is a fact on the other hand that Buffet and half the cabinet are avoiding paying their taxes.

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Weekly Meditation: Finding yourself in the silence part I

As we continue from last week in our attempt to weaken the ego’s hold on you I am reminded by another line from my favorite musician’s music:

“Don’t believe the things you tell yourself so late at

You are your own worst enemy, you’ll never win the fight.”–Ingrid Michaelson, “Parachute”

The ego whispers in your ear a thousand and one fears and insecurities and makes you believe that they are your fears and your insecurities.  It distracts you with a myriad of false desire to distract you from what you really want. It keep you from knowing how great you really are and focusing on what you really want.

And while we need to replace these false ideas that the ego is putting into your head with correct ones, we first need to ignore the ego. So this week we’re going back to the the old favorite of clearing your mind.  Five minutes, three times a day of thinking of nothing.  Lotus position if you can is the best as it allow for the spine to be straight and the breath to be deep.

Clear you mind.  It takes practice, and the ego will be trying to distract you, so no worries if a random thought intrudes.  Just keep trying to let your mind be blank.

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Weekly Meditation: Words of Wisdom

I still really like this as an all encompassing New Age symbol

As a New Ager I find truth in most of the religions in the world.  And while I love to quote from A Course In Miracles(and could probably do so for years going at the pace of one passage a week) it has occurred to me that I should, in true New Age fashion, pull a selection of quotes from other holy books.  Before anyone gets offended it is meant as a compliment, I’m not trying to insult your religion.

This week I thought I would pull a quote from the Tao Te Ching, the central text of Taoism.  Written by Lao-Tzu before departing China to escape it’s superficial and corrupt life, he left a short book of his wisdom for the people of China (yes I realize that there is a lot of myth tied to that story, I still like it). The book is probably the shortest holy text in the world (unless you want to count individual books of the Old, New, and Gnostic Testaments of the Bible).  Written as a series of 81 short poems, the Tao Te Ching (The Book of Virtues of the Way), the book is often a series of double and triple meanings crammed into short, cryptic phrases.  (Given that Chinese is also a language that poorly translates into English, poetry especially, it is always best to read three or four translations if you’re going to try to read the book.)

For this week I’m going to go with a quote from the 19th poem in the Tao.  (I’m just going to go with my favorite translation).

“Give up kindness, renounce morality.

And men will rediscover piety and love.”–Lao Tzu

So what does this mean?  That you should give up being kind and moral?  No, silly.  It means that you should stop doing things because you are supposed to them because they’re rules or codes or values you’re supposed to hold.  Things you’ve been taught to follow.  Ideals society wants you to do.  Why? Because when you force people to do things you breed resentment, hostility, rebellion.  You should do things because you want to, because your personal reason dictates it, because it makes you feel good…not because someone says you should.

 

Why is this the weekly meditation?  This week I want you to ask yourself if you’re doing something because you want to and it makes sense…or because you’re expected to.  Reason and your heart are fine things to follow, and they will often agree with society’s rules, but make sure they are before you act.  I promise you you will be more in tune with yourself and the universe if you do what you want and think is right more than what is only expected of you…even if it’s the same thing, the intent and the reason make a huge difference.

 

 

 

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The Greatest Romantic Dramas Part II

So we covered #14-#8 of the best romantic movies yesterday…now it’s time to finish the list.  As I said the reason I’m not doing each movie as it’s own blog is that some of these are more lacking in philosophic depth and there are only so many ways you can say this is  a great movie, which they all are.

#7 An Affair to Remember

“If you can paint then I can walk.”

I could try to say something original about this classic, but why bother when someone has pretty much covered it…

Okay it’s actually not the best description of the film as it actually leaves out the whole part where they fall in love…but nothing is perfect (except maybe #1 and #2 on this list).

#6 Ghost

“It’s amazing, Molly. The love inside, you take it with you. See ya.”

Okay, let’s ignore that three-quarters of this movie is either a thriller or a reminder that Whoopie once was funny and that this movie also has some of the creepiest moments in the history of film (bloody hand slides along glass)…This movie contains a truly beautiful love story and reminds us that love lasts far beyond death, and this movie shows that so wonderfully. (Hell it deserves to be remembered if for no other reason than making Unchained Melody popular again…and somehow making pottery look sexy).

“Ditto.”

#5 Meet Joe Black

“Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. And I’m not hearing any heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there’s no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven’t lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.”

Probably the most under appreciated film on this list. This is a great movie (even greater if you’ve seen the POS it was based on). This movie not only has a beautiful love story (love-triangle?) between Death and the Doctor he falls in love with, but also shows the peak experiences of life in other forms than falling in love (the beauty of simple marriage between Hopkins older daughter and her husband, the love of parents and children, the love of creating something of value)…not to mention the beauty of sticking it to a crook.

…And the fact that Death gave his beloved one final gift in the last scene always brings tears to my eyes.

“I want you to sing with rapture and dance like a dervish.”

# 4 Love is a many splendored thing

“I do not know what is to happen darling, but what I do know – life’s greatest tragedy is not to be loved, God has been good to us”

This is possibly one of the worst books I have ever read in my life, which makes the fact that movie is near perfect all the more impressive. Yet another tale of star-crossed love torn apart by society and circumstance. The acting, the writing, the direction are all some of the finest in film history. If you know the film you know how it rips your heart out. If you haven’t seen it you need to, and prepare for buckets of tears. And you might not ever look at butterflies the same way ever again.

“We have not missed that many – splendored thing.”

#3 Romeo & JulietRomeo and Juliet

“For never was there a tale of more woe, than this of Juliet, and her Romeo”

The 1968 version by director Franco Zeffrelli is perfection as far this tale of the Bard’s is concerned. Why there have been film versions after this I’m not sure. Not only is the acting and directing what the film needed, but the soundtrack is timeless.

#2 Gone with the Wind

“Open your eyes and look at me. No, I don’t think I will kiss you. Although you need kissing badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often and by someone who knows how.”

It’s also the 2nd best movie of all time. Period. And it’s one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

This is the kind of movie that doesn’t need to really be discussed because its virtues are self evident.

All I will say is that if you know the characters you know that she will get Rhett back, because there was never a man she couldn’t get. (Don’t even bring up that trash someone thought was a sequel).

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow….Tara! Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all… tomorrow is another day.”

And of course the greatest romance, hell the greatest film of all time.

#1 Casablanca

“Play it Sam, play As Time Goes By.”

Is there a line in this movie that hasn’t been come a classic? Is there a scene that is not perfect? Hell this movie makes me love the national anthem of a nation I’m usually a little disgusted by…

And while no one we care about dies in this film, it’s probably the most tragic of the lot. It’s the only one where our romantic couple does not get together in the end.

And yeah it also speaks to my patriotic side…but first and foremost it is a great love story.

“I think this is beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Honorable mentions:

Sommersby, Jerry Maguire, Dead Again, Sayonara, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Magnificent Obsession. A Guy named Joe, The Fountain, City of Angels

Again I open the floor to discussion of what did I miss?

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The 14 greatest romantic dramas, or, get a box of Kleenex ready…Part I

And finally we get to the 14 greatest romantic dramas. When compiling this list I found that of the 14 films that I put in the top 14, 9 of them have the death of a loved one—in only 3 of those was the death not of one of our romantic couples, and that’s an arguable number as one of those Death himself is involved as the romantic lead in one of those 3. (Of the honorable mentions 6 of the 8 involve death). Of the five films where no one dies, two involve a major character being seriously injured (and also in one of the honorable mentions). It is not safe to be in a romantic drama. With only two exceptions can I say there is not a major amount of tragedy.

(Due to the fact that I started tearing up while writing this, this will be split into two blogs).

You might want to ask why would such a beautiful topic be so littered with suffering? Actually there is a reason. As overused as it may seem, it will always be true that “’Tis better to have loved and lost: Than never to have loved at all.”
There movies are here to remind us that all the pain and hurt and feeling like your life is over is all worth it, because love is worth it.

So let’s start out with something that doesn’t have a major body count…

#14 The Cutting Edge

“Toe pick”

Obviously this is one of the happier ones on this list, of course that might have something to do with the fact that I couldn’t quite decide whether to put this in the comedy or drama list. Obviously drama won out by the slightest of edges. You know you love it. Our star-crossed lovers are endlessly screwed up but together they find the balance and success they were looking for.

“Remember, I said it first.”

#13 The Lake House


“She’s more real to me than anything I’ve ever known.”

Long distance relationships are usually a problem…more so when it’s time not distance separating you. For a movie where the two main characters hardly have any screen time together, and spend most of it in voiced over conversations between letters, it has more passion and romance than most of what Hollywood churns out. It’s never explained how or why they’re able to communicate through a magical mailbox…but who cares. What matters is that Reeves and Bullock make their romance come alive without even being in the same shot.

If ever there was a movie that showed that a lot of times it’s type-casting and directing that conspire to make or break an actor, it’s this film. I’m not going to say that Keanu deserved an Oscar for this performance, but it is not the lifeless and hollow performance that we have come to expect from him in every other film.

“Don’t look for me. Don’t try to find me. I love you.”

#12 Portrait of Jennie


“I know we were meant to be together. The strands of our lives are woven together and neither the world nor time can tear them apart.”

Okay, I promise this is the last love story on the list that involves odd time travel plot lines…at least until the honorable mentions. Artist Eben Adams (Joseph Cotton) and Jennie (Jennifer Jones). Eben a man in his 30’s is being beaten down by life and is about to just give up when he meets Jennie, a young girl about 12. While not attracted to her in any way, he finds her personality magnetic…and her mention of historical events 30 years out of date as if they were yesterday was odd. It gets stranger when he sees her a week later and she’s aged five years. Through a little research he find that Jennie is from the past and is somehow coming into his time at different points in her life, and the magic of it all begins to reinvigorate his life. As she starts popping in closer to his age he does begin to fall in love with her and it becomes clear that they were meant for each other, even if they’re in different times. And when he learns that she died in the past he desperately tries to save her.

Now this movie has its flaws. Namely that Joseph Cotton is in 90% of the scenes and Joseph Cotton couldn’t act to save his life; the man deserved a lifetime achievement award from the Razzies. Now, given how much I hate Cotton’s acting and still love this movie should tell you the quality of Jones’ acting and the script. I would love to see this remade, despite the perfect performance of Jones, simply because Cotton was incredibly miscast as a romantic lead…however I know that will never happen because while we might forgive the innocence of a movie made in the 1940’s, to make a movie nowadays where a 30 year old man falls in love with a 9 year old (even if he really didn’t start falling in love with her until she was of a legal age) would just come off as disturbingly pedophilic, and rightly so. So unless a genius scriptwriter and director can figure out a way around this, I will have to settle for Cotton in a movie that even he couldn’t ruin.

“There is no life, my darling, until you love and have been loved. And then there is no death.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#11 Bed of Roses
Bed of Roses

“Every now and then, um, everybody’s entitled to too much perfection.”

Two people who have lost finding joy in life because of various tragedies in their lives. Oh the tragedies Lewis (Christian Slater) and Lisa (Mary Stuart Masterson) have endured. But together, eventually, we hope, they work everything out and have each other to lean on.

This is the part where you’re supposed to say “Wait!” I’m supposed to leave, and that’s where you forgive me for being such a coward, and for being the last one to figure out what everyone already knew. Then you call “Wait! Don’t go! Stop!” and we hold each other and we know everything’s going to be okay.

I guess I’m not familiar with the procedure.

Yeah…I guess not…. …Um… I’ll see you around.

Wait don’t go.

#10
P.S. I love you.
“Dear Gerry, you said you wanted me to fall in love again, and maybe one day I will. But there are all kinds of love out there. This is my one and only life and it’s a great and terrible and short and endless thing, and none of us come out of it alive.”

A love story after the fact, about a man who loved his wife so much that when faced with imminent death he is more concerned with how she will be able to get past the loss. Now that’s love.

#9
Pride and Prejudice
“Perhaps I didn’t always love him as well as I do now, but in such cases as these a good memory is unpardonable.”

The BBC version with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy! There exists no other version!

Besides the more than obvious reasons why this makes it onto the list (It’s Pride and Prejudice do I really have to justify why it’s here?) I love this film because I share many a personality trait with Darcy (if you stop to think about it that’s not really a compliment, we both seem to embrace our inner arrogant jerk).

#8 Jane Eyre

Again the BBC version with Timothy Dalton as Rochester. Like the Pride and Prejudice version I like this one because it doesn’t cut anything from the story. I know this is one of the most dysfunctional relationships in all of literature (with the possible exception of Wuthering Heights, what is it with the Brontes?) but I can’t help root for Jane and Rochester.

…Tomorrow…the top 7…and honorable mentions.

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My Favorite Romantic Couples for Valentine’s Day

Having done romantic comedies I thought we would take a quick look at my favorite cinema couples before heading into the high body count of Romantic Dramas.

I have some simple rules here. First they must be married (or as close as you can get, I have some couples from Lost in here and there wasn’t exactly a church on that island) and have a healthy relationship (so my beloved Buffy & Angel, Michale & Fionna, and Mal & Innara, are out on both counts)…and no matter how much I love them Sherlock and Irene, no matter what incarnation, have never had anything resembling a healthy relationship. Second that the characters must be together and married for the majority of the work (either movie or TV show) that they are in…yes we all love this or that couple but be it Booth & Bones, Mulder & Scully, or a thousand couples in sitcoms, they didn’t really get together until the very end… (my number 1 couple hasn’t been married for the majority of the show, but they have been married from the moment the female half showed up). Third they have to be fictional (as much as I love Giamatti and Linney as John and Abigail Adams, they have nothing on the passion and romance of the original…read their letters if you don’t believe me). Finally the relationship has to be a central point of the film (Jack Ryan seems to have a good marriage, but it’s always tangential to the story). Granted this leaves only a few examples as most examples of married couples in film are one of not so healthy relationships, either for dramatic or comedy purposes, but there are a few.

#6 Any married couple of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

From Adam’s Rib and State of the Union all the way to Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner these two have always been a wonderful and adorable couple on screen and off.

Spencer Tracy on the importance of love:

#5 Lord & Lady Blakely from The Scarlet Pimpernel Now I have always loved the original book The Scarlet Pimpernel and while some may like older versions I have always loved Richard E. Grant’s interpretation of the original hero pretending to be a worthless playboy (yes, the character predates Bruce Wayne and Don Diego de la Vega). I prefer the A&E/BBC from the 1990’s version with Grant as Percy Blakely and Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Marguerite Blakely because the miniseries focuses a little more on their relationship after Marguerite learns who her husband really is. The constant fighting between the two (both for show and for real) is endlessly adorable and only out done by their moments of tenderness. This might seem an odd inclusion, but if you know the story you know the relationship of Lord & Lady Blakely is always taking center stage with the swashbuckling as the secondary plot point.


(There are not many good short clips of The Scarlet Pimpernel on YouTube…sorry this is the best I can find…trust me they’re a wonderful couple).

#4Nick & Nora Charles from The Thin Man movies


How can you not love a pair or married smartasses who solve crimes for fun? Such is the genius of The Thin Man movies. William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora are always a delightful pair who seem to overcome any problem and any mystery with grace and wit… Although the hilarity might have something to with the truly obscene amounts of alcohol they consume in between solving crimes.

(I usually don’t like remakes…but I am curious what they’re going to do with the proposed remake of the Thin Man stories.)

#3 Zoe & Wash from Firefly
Granted everything about Firefly is more or less perfect…but one of the true touches of genius from Joss Whedon is having two of the crew members be in a stable and loving relationship. In this wonderful cast of highly dysfunctional misfits you have two people who provide an ideal and enviable relationship.

Zoe Wash

…Yeah, Whedon did what Whedon does to happy couples (anybody bother to check if Pepper or Jane are surviving to make it to Iron Man 3 and Thor 2?…cause you know he’ll do it if he can) but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enviable while it lasted. Curse once Whedon! Once, just once, I’d like to see true love win out! (And why do I know I would regret getting everything I ever wanted.)

#2 The Couples of Lost
(Sawyer & Juliet, Sun & Jin, Bernard & Rose, Penny & Desmond)

I love Lost, (I think in part because I only watched it after it was all on DVD…it I had to wait weeks and summers for more episodes I probably would have given up or gone mad), but besides the deep spiritual themes, the most unexpected joy of the show was how, unlike most drama on TV it showed not just one but several happy and successful couples. Yeah there were also a few that had to deal with serious issues, but I think the couples I listed above highlight how this show demonstrated that love and happiness were actually the natural state of human existence not the exception.

Yes this clip is a spoiler…but if you don’t know the context it won’t tell you much.

Now if you’ve seen the show and want to see all the happy couples again click here …fair warning I always cry seeing this scene.

And my favorite couple in all of cinematic fiction is a recent addition…

#1 The Doctor & River Song

Since she showed up (apparently already the Doctor’s wife) there has been nothing but a stream of flirting…

…And more flirting…

…And wonderful romance. Both were more than willing to die for the other, both actually died to save the other. Ah the confusing relationship of two witty super intelligent time travelers who keep meeting each other out of order. It’s tragic and beautiful and funny and terrible. How can you not love it? (Some might want me to include Amy and Rory in here too, as this video seems to suggest they also belong on here…

…but even with as badass as Rory has become, I just have problem calling their relationship healthy given the fact that Amy tried to jump her son-in-law the night before her wedding)

I could go into far more detail on their relationship, but that would be, as River would say, spoilers. Just suffice to know that they are a perfect couple even early in their relationship when at least one of them could still say “I just haven’t met you yet”

And I open up the floor for healthy, married, fictional and together for the majority of their story, who did I miss?

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The Greatest Romantic Comedies Of All Time

February is here which can mean only one thing…

…Groundhog leftovers.

…no, it means Valentine’s day.

Now, I’m single, and I understand the tendency of many of my fellow single people to loathe this holiday with a fiery passion.  I understand the frustration.  However, it is still a wonderful holiday that celebrates one of the best aspects that life has to offer.  Which means I should do a series of the best movies that deal with Romance…however I’ll be the first to admit that while some of these films I can watch over and over and over again, I’m not sure I can get a full blog out of them–some are a little short on philosophical depth.  So what I’m going to do is give you three lists.  The top 14 romantic comedies, the top 14 Romantic dramas, my favorite cinematic couples.  So let’s start with the Romantic Comedies.

I understand it’s very hard to rank comedies as there are lot of intangibles in the issues of taste when it comes to what is and isn’t funny…but here is my list, feel free to disagree in the comment box.

(LoveActually should probably be on this list, but as I put it on the Christmas list already, forgive that it is not being included).

#14

Failure to Launch

“You were bitten by a chuckwalla. That shouldn’t have happened. It’s a reptile of peace. I have a theory. This isn’t the first time that nature’s lashed out at you like this. I believe it’s because your life is fundamentally at odds with the natural world. […] Therefore, nature rejects you. “

A stupid little comedy about doing that thing we all hated doing…growing up and moving out.  I can’t fully praise its virtues other than I really enjoy it.

#13

Blind Date

“Oh Walter your beautiful car! Oh look on the bright side, what else can happen? “

Most have probably forgotten about this Blake Edwards film where Kim Basinger leads Bruce Willis on a blind date straight from the 10th concentric circle of Hell!  His car is destroyed, he loses his job, chased and beat up by a deranged ex-boyfriend (played by the hilarious John Larroquette), burns every business connection he has, and gets thrown in jail…and worst of all this glutton for punishment falls in love with her.  All the insanity you expect in an Edwards film (remember the original Pink Panther) in a romantic comedy.

#12

America’s Sweethearts

“I’m grateful for you.”

A romantic comedy that makes fun about how stupid romantic comedies are getting (the newest film in the top 10 was written in 1995) and how everyone in Hollywood seems to be getting more and more annoying and screwed up with every passing year.  Quite frankly Hollywood needs to make fun of itself more often.  All of the characters are deeply screwed up, but you love watching them try to figure out their lives and loves.

#11

50 First Dates

“There’s nothing like a first kiss.”

I am not a fan of most of Adam Sandler’s work (usually it’s a little too crass for my tastes) but 50 First Dates avoids most of that.  While completely impractical, there is something unspeakably sweet about a man who loves someone so much he will work to make her fall in love with him every single day.

#10

Heart and Souls

Harrison: “Who came up with this ridiculous concept anyway? Resolve your entire life in one bold stroke? What if I fail? And I will. I’ll fail. I’m telling you. I always fail. Then my whole life will be a complete failure. “

Thomas:”No offense, Harrison. But you died a failure because you never tried.”

It’s hard to imagine a movie where two-thirds of the cast dies in the first 10 minutes being a comedy, but it is.  (Oh, wait until we get to the drama, there is death aplenty there…9 of the top 14 somebody dies in 2 others there is serious injury).  Four souls are given the chance to use Robert Downey Jr. to help them solve whatever problems they had in life.  This leads to some serious issues with Downey Jr.’s love life, which his personality was already ruining, but eventually everything gets worked out.  I’ll grant it’s more comedy than romance, but it’s still a good film.

#9

ANY Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn Comedy, but especially Desk Set & Adam’s Rib

“Well you know what the French say, viva la difference”

Do I even have to justify the works of these two?  A constant locking of heads and wills between two very intelligent, very stubborn people who whether it’s on film or in real life are completely in love.  These are comedies that never get old.

#8

Sabrina

Democracy can be a wickedly unfair thing Sabrina. Nobody poor was ever called democratic for marrying somebody rich.”

If you think I meant that horrible remake, shame on you! I mean Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart…there exists no other version.  None.  Bogart and Hepburn are perfect in this story of love and business.

#7

It happened one night


Alexander Andrews: Oh, er, do you mind if I ask you a question, frankly? Do you love my daughter?

Peter Warne: Any guy that’d fall in love with your daughter ought to have his head examined.

Alexander Andrews: Now that’s an evasion!

Peter Warne: She picked herself a perfect running mate – King Westley – the pill of the century! What she needs is a guy that’d take a sock at her once a day, whether it’s coming to her or not. If you had half the brains you’re supposed to have, you’d done it yourself, long ago.

Alexander Andrews: Do you love her?

Peter Warne: A normal human being couldn’t live under the same roof with her without going nutty! She’s my idea of nothing!

Alexander Andrews: I asked you a simple question! Do you love her?

Peter Warne: YES! But don’t hold that against me, I’m a little screwy myself!

 

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in this story of a reporter helping a rich girl escape her oppressive lifestyle for a story is nothing short of perfect (and the best writer, best actor, best actress, and best director Oscars this movie got seems to back up my point).  Probably nothing is funnier than when the fabled walls of Jericho come down.  (On a side note that will probably get me much hate mail, I don’t know why Roman Holiday isn’t more often referred to as a cheap rip off of It happened one night…because that is all it is, and one with a much crappier ending).

#6

While you were sleeping

Lucy: So what should I do?

Jerry: Pull the plug.

Lucy: You’re sick.

Jerry: I’m sick? You’re cheating on a vegetable.

Sandra Bullock has been in a slew of romantic comedies but probably none is better than this one where a lie leads her to true love…although not with the man she thought she loved.  (Although I think Two Weeks Notice deserves an honorable mention, if for no other reason than the faces Hugh Grant makes throughout the film).  Personally I will always take Bullock in a romantic comedy over a drama (even though she is very good actress) but this is also one of those movies I look at and never fully understand why Bill Pullman doesn’t have a more successful career as he makes a perfect leading man in this bizarre comedy of errors.

#5

My Man Godfrey

You mustn’t come between Irene and Godfrey. He’s the first thing she’s shown any affection for since her Pomeranian died last summer.”

The story of a ditzy socialite, Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) who, upon finding what appears to be a homeless and destitute man who isn’t afraid to tell off her shallow rich friends, gives him a job as her household butler.  There this man, Godfrey (played by William Powell), finds that his ditzy boss is actually the best person in her family of thieves and idiots.  All of them look down on Godfrey for one reason or another at first because they assume from her story that he is poor as poor can be…to hell if he’s smarter and more honorable.  And of course there’s that other thing about the fact that he’s about ten times richer than they are, and had only been found looking like a bum after a year-long bender from getting his heart broken.  Of course Godfrey falls for Irene, against his good judgment, while rediscovering how to live life and not be simply self-pitying.

#4
The comedies of William Shakespeare especially Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It and Nunn’s Twelfth Night.

“One woman

is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am

well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all

graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in

my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s certain; wise,

or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen her;

fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not

near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good

discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall

be of what colour it please God.”

In the history of writing there is a simple fact that no one has ever been able to exceed Shakespeare (there are some flaws in transferring it to film which is why this is only #4) but nothing has yet to outdo the Bard.

On film probably the best versions are the stories of Beatrice and Benedict and their constant snipping, the insanity of Rosalind and Orlando, and the madcap cross-dressing wackiness of the Viola/Cesario-Ovlia-Orsion triangle.  However I might add that I might have to movie Shakespeare to #1 for movies if Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing is as great as I hope it will be. (Also there was apparently a stage version with David Tenant as Benedict and Catherine Tate as Beatrice…dear god what I would have given to see that).



#3

The 3 movies starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, Bringing up Baby, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story.


Now it isn’t that I don’t like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I’m strangely drawn toward you, but – well, there haven’t been any quiet moments.”

Tracy and Hepburn, great.  Grant and Hepburn, well it’s sad that the English language lacks a super-superlative.  But what would you expect when you team up the greatest actor of all time and the greatest actress of all time?  From the madcap insanity of Howard Hawk’s Bringing up Baby (and the only time I think I have ever seen Hepburn play a ditz) to the two more witty Philip Barry plays Holiday and The Philadelphia Story these two are always perfect together and can be watched over and over and over again without their genius ever losing anything.


#2
Pretty Woman

“What happened after he climbs up and rescues her?”


She rescues him right back.”

The perfect modern interpretation of the classic fairy tale that acknowledges that love and rescuing in the field of romance is always a two way street (because he is in far more need of rescuing than she is).  You are not fully human if you don’t love this movie.

Honorable Mention: While not as good as Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride is delightful in how it plays off of all the little moments in Pretty Woman.

And of course…

 

 

 

 

I assume you want to know what the greatest romantic comedy of all time is…

 

 

 

 

Well since you asked for it…

 

 

 

 

All I can say is…

 

 

 

 

 

As you wish.

 

 

#1

The Princess Bride


“Death cannot stop true love…all it can do is delay it awhile.”

 

It would say it is safe to say that 50% of the people reading this blog know every single line in this movie.

It never gets old.  It never ceases to warm my heart.  It could not be any better in any way shape or form.  It is perfect.

If anyone in Hollywood ever gets the idea that they can remake this movie, then the only punishment fitting for such arrogance and stupidity is death.  This movie is perfect for all ages, all times and circumstances.  There is nothing that can be improved. It is the greatest romantic comedy of all time and if you haven’t seen it then your life is unspeakably sadder for not having this in it.

Other Honorable Mentions in particular order:

Indiscreet, For Love or Money , Mr. Destiny, She’s All that, He said/She Said, I.Q., Just Like Heaven, Serendipity, Lady and the Tramp (not so much the whole movie, but the spaghetti scene), Heaven Can Wait

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