Tag Archives: fear

Friday Miscellany

I handed in my last major assignment on Wednesday. What a relief. Now I just have some reading to do for Monday and then a Hebrew final exam next Friday.  Lessons learned this semester:

1. I am unable to measure the quality of my own work. (Incidentally, I got my major Patristic Fathers paper back from Briercrest and I did very well!)

2. After all these years of post-secondary education, I still cannot write a decent introduction or conclusion.

3. I am too concerned about pleasing/impressing my professors.

4. Christ the centre (there were more theological lessons to be learned, but this point was driven home very strongly, particularly in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics)

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We’ve watched a number of our Annual Christmas Movies.  A new addition to the lineup this year is The Family Stone. We must have played it six times already, each time in the background while doing something else.  Yesterday we finally payed attention to it.  I could watch it again tonight.  I’m not sure why this is–there is nothing particularly remarkable about the story–it’s not even a Christmas story, technically–and I can’t stand Diane Keaton’s character (too smug in her progressiveness). But it’s warm and funny, and Luke Wilson’s character is great.  I want to be him.

Also watched Love Actually.  I have a love-hate relationship with this film.  The Liam Neeson storyline is just a bit over the top for me, and I’m frustrated with the lack of satisfying resolution to the Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson storyline–it may be realistic, but if everything else in the movie resolves nicely (and sometimes over-the-top-ly), then why shouldn’t theirs? It doesn’t help that Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson are both such likeable actors.

Emma Thompson’s performance is stellar, I think, particularly in the scene in which she discovers that her husband might be having an affair, but because it’s Christmas Eve, she has to put on a brave face for her children.

On the other hand, the Hugh Grant-as-prime-minister-of-England storyline is fun.  And the relationship of the pron film stand-ins is brilliant.  That may sound awful if you haven’t seen the movie, but it’s really quite moving: it’s a story of innocent love in an over-sexed industry. I never noticed this before, but near the end of the movie it is revealed that the two get married, and the guy is all excited about actually sleeping together for the first time.

Next up: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

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Ran some errands alone in Winnipeg today and had to do a wide loop around to get home, because I needed to pick something up in Steinbach. I drove east on the TransCanada highway–the farthest east I have ever driven (other than with my parents). I had this strange sensation of nervousness for some reason, wondering if I had taken a wrong turn and ended up an hour out of the way in the middle of nowhere.  I knew I was on the right road, but I was in unfamiliar territory. I started thinking about how much of our fear is motivated not by actual danger but simply the unknown.

A couple of weeks ago I went to downtown Winnipeg at night to listen to someone speak. I had to find my way around dark and unfamiliar one-way streets, find a parking spot, find the location. I was quite nervous, actually. Again: no danger, just unfamiliar territory.

Anyway…eventually driving east on the TransCanada, the light fading, CBC Radio Drive playing softly, snow drifting across the highway, I started to feel like I was on a road trip–maybe to Christmas across the border in Ontario’s Canadian Shield, to a log cabin in the woods somewhere, bear-rug glowing in the light of the fire blazing in the hearth.

I was actually going to Steinbach.  But it was a nice daydream anyway.

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On my way home after doing some shopping I wondered if internet shopping has increased retail sales and consumerism. If other people are at all like me, when I’m in a store I’m less likely to buy something than when I shop online.  In-store I get overwhelmed with “stuff” and consumerism and can quite easily tell myself I don’t need whatever it is I’m thinking of buying.  Shopping online at, say, Amazon, I find it quite easy to simply click “add to shopping cart” and “proceed to checkout”.  Not sure what the difference is. Perhaps there’s something to tactile reasoning–if there’s no product to handle and no credit card/cash to hand over, it’s easier to imagine that you’re not accumulating more stuff and spending more money.

Social commentary

I received in the mail today a book entitled The Culture of Fear.  Its subtitle is, “Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things,” and its sub-subtitle (following the colon after the subtitle), “Crime, Drugs, Minorities, Teen Moms, Killer Kids, Mutant Microbes, Plan Crashes, Road Rage, & So Much More”.  A veritable mouthful.

The book has been on my wishlist for some time now, but with all the craziness and confusion surrounding H1N1.*  I thought it would be a good time to read the book (over Christmas hopefully).

This book belongs in the category of sociology, which is becoming a bit of a hobby interest of mine, in terms of reading.  “Social commentary” might be a better term; it sounds less clinical and academic. Or maybe “Cultural Studies”. But I digress.

I’ve read a  couple of interesting books in this category: Bill McKibben’s The Age of Missing Information; Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation; and Ferenc Mate’s Reasonable LifeTo an extent the books of Bill Bryson fit into this category, as do the films The Corporation and Supersize Me.

Other books of this nature I’ve picked up over the years (but have not yet read):

Some of these books may be a getting a bit too close to the genre of conspiracy theory (I’m thinking in particular ofTrust Us, We’re Experts), but sociology/social commentary is a broad genre, I think, and includes the likes of both Michael Moore (on the left–also, arguably, a conspiracy theorist) and people not so on the left (I had an example earlier in the day, but it escapes me now).

The Culture of Fear should be an interesting read.  I’ll let you know.**
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*including, apparently, the suggestion that I’m being selfish if I don’t get vaccinated: so now it’s not just the fear of the flu, but also the fear of how people perceive me!
**Of course, it’s the middle of November, so by the time Christmas rolls around I may have different reading plans–such as reading next semester’s books in advance!