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Archive for September, 2006

Taylor Faculty Chili Cook-Off

5th September 2006

The first (annual?) Taylor University College Chili Cook-Off was held today. This was an orientation event where faculty made a chili dinner for students. Each student was given one vote for whose chili was the best — and guess who won? Yup, yours truly. My bowl of red was voted number one.

I love chili (the spicier the better) and I made a huge vat for the students as well as a special “hot as hell γέεννα� version for those tough enough to try it out. I only entered the more mild version in the contest, since the other stuff is not suitable for mere mortals and I figured people wouldn’t vote for something that causes the skin to peel from the roof of their mouths!

Well, I can’t bask in my greatness too long… classes start tomorrow morning and I need to get my beauty sleep. Cheers.

Posted in News, Personal | 2 Comments »

Mega Churches Kick Out Members and More – LarkNews 4/9

4th September 2006

The September 2006 edition of LarkNews is online. This issue has a feature about a mega-church that has decided to downsize by kicking out members, among other stories. Read it all for yourself here.

Posted in Humour, News | 2 Comments »

The 2006 Arts and Faith Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films

3rd September 2006

The Arts and Faith Forum has released their annual Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films list. The list contains a whole bevy of interesting films including classics and more popular fare. The films are chosen by members of the Arts and Faith forum through a somewhat convoluted process of voting and as such some films rank higher than they should while other great films get passed over altogether (at least in my opinion).

That being said, here are the top twenty:

  1. Ordet (The Word)
  2. Le Fils (The Son)
  3. The Miracle Maker (The Miracle Maker: The Story of Jesus)
  4. The Gospel According to Matthew (Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo)
  5. The Diary of a Country Priest (Le Journal D’un Curé De Campagne)
  6. The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion De Jeanne D’arc)
  7. The Decalogue (Dekalog)
  8. Babette’s Feast (Babettes Gæstebud)
  9. A Man Escaped (Un condamné à mort s’est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut)
  10. Andrei Rublev (Andrey Rublyov)
  11. Balthazar (Au Hasard Balthazar)
  12. The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde Inseglet)
  13. Ikiru (To Live)
  14. Winter Light (Nattvardsgästerna)
  15. The Mission
  16. The Apostle
  17. Three Colors Trilogy
  18. Jesus of Nazareth
  19. Jesus of Montreal (Jésus De Montréal)
  20. The Flowers of St. Francis (Francesco, giullare di Dio)

There are not too many surprises in the top twenty, though I can’t believe The Miracle Maker made the top twenty, let alone number three!  I was glad to see Magnolia, one of my personal favourites, make number 23.

I was also happy to see that three of the films in Taylor’s fledgling Faith & Film club made the list (Millions #42; Babette’s Feast #8; and Hotel Rwanda #65).

There is much more I would like to comment on, but I do not have time right now. So you’re just going to have to go view the entire list for yourself: Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films. For my brief comments on last year’s list, see here. In addition you may be interested in looking at my “Essential Films for Theologians: The ‘Director’s Cut’â€? or my “Essential Films of 2005 for Theologians – Extended Edition.”

Posted in Faith & Film, Film, News | 1 Comment »

Taylor Faith & Film Club

3rd September 2006

Another thing I will be involved in this academic year is a campus film club. One of my colleagues came up with the idea was soliciting help. I volunteered immediately to help organize it and we came up with four films to watch for the fall semester. We decided to only go once a month so we only had to choose four films — talk about a difficult task! This is what we came up with for the fall semester:


We wanted to choose films from a broad cross-section of classics, foreign films, documentaries, and more popular fare. We decided to make sure the first film is critically acclaimed but accessible for students — and Millions (2004, Directed by Danny Boyle, Rated PG) fits the bill. Babette’s Feast (Babettes gæstebud; 1987, Directed by Gabriel Axel, Rated G) fills the category of a classic foreign film, while Born into Brothels (2004, Directed by Zana Briski & Ross Kauffman, Rated 14A) fills the category of a documentary. Hotel Rwanda (2004, Directed by Terry George, Rated 14A) is our pick for a social justice film (of course Born into Brothels also fits this category).

We haven’t decided on films for the winter semester, though I would like to view a film that touches on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in some way — whether Death in Gaza (2004), Wall (Mur, 2004), Paradise Now (2005), or the like. I would also like to show a Jesus film for around Easter — whether The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Il Vangelo secondo Matteo, 1964) or Jesus of Montreal (Jésus de Montréal, 1989).

All in all I think it will be a great time to get together with students and view and discuss great films.

Posted in Faith & Film, Film, Personal | Comments Off

Pop Culture Tidbits: Hobbit in ’07, Star Trek is 40

2nd September 2006

So, a leak from an insider suggests that New Line Cinema is working on a prequel to The Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit. That would be awesome in my books! Read the speculation here.

Next week (8 September 2006) will be the 40th anniversary of Star Trek. Live long and prosper!

Posted in Film, News, Popular Culture | Comments Off

2006 Taylor Public Lectures on Religion & Culture

2nd September 2006

2006_lecture_poster.jpgOne of my responsibilities as Chair of the Religion & Theology Department at Taylor is to organize our annual fall lecture series. This lecture series touches on on some facet of the intersection of religion and culture. This fall we have an exciting line-up of speakers and topics.

Dr. Jens Zimmerman, Associate Professor of English and Canada Research Chair in Religion, Culture, and Interpretation at Trinity Western University will be presenting on the “return of the gods� to contemporary culture and what that means for Christians. After emigrating to Canada from Germany in 1989, Dr. Zimmermann obtained his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of British Columbia. He has been a professor at Trinity Western University since 1998. His most recent publications are Recovering Theological Hermeneutics: An Incarnational-Trinitarian Approach to Interpretation (Baker Academic, 2004) and The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education (Baker Academic, 2006).

In addition, we have lectures by two Taylor professors. Dr. Natasha Duquette will be lecturing on the novels of Jane Austen as well as their film adaptations, while Dr. Jerry Shepherd will be addressing the controversial topic of violence and the Christianity — especially in light of the biblical portrayal of God as a violent deity. The series will be brought to close with another guest lecturer: Dr. Stephen W. Martin, Assistant Professor of Theology at the King’s University College in Edmonton, will be presenting on theology in the popular culture phenomenon of Joss Whedon’s television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Each lecture will include time for discussion and interaction. Consistent with the aims of our institution, we will explore these topics from a distinctively Christian perspective. In support of this event, we would greatly appreciate if you could promote these lectures.

The four lectures for this fall are:

zimmermanjens.jpgLecture 1: “Return of the gods? Faith and Intellectual Culture after Secularism� by Dr. Jens Zimmerman, Associate Professor of English and Canada Research Chair in Religion, Culture, and Interpretation, Trinity Western University, B.C. (Thursday, September 28, 7:30-9:00 pm).

Cultural critic Terry Eagleton claims there is a crisis in Western culture. Global pressures are forcing the West to think deeply about its past and future at a time when our cultural habits have deprived us of the ability to do so. Christian and secular thinkers alike are now prepared to denounce cultural relativism in search of a common humanity. Intellectuals are now proclaiming the end of atheism, indeed even of the secular university and are discussing the return of religion to the academy. This lecture describes and attempts a theological assessment of this “return of the gods” to a formerly secular intellectual culture. What does it mean for our culture and its institutions when the Pope, atheist statesmen, and academics are jointly calling for a return to values and religion?

natashaduquette.jpgLecture 2: “Sense and Sensuality: Jane Austen on the Spiritual Pleasures and Dangers of Visuality� by Dr. Natasha Duquette, Assistant Professor of English, Taylor University College, Edmonton (Thursday, October 19, 7:30-9:00 pm)

This lecture will consider the treatment of visual dynamics both in Jane Austen’s novels and in the film adaptations of those novels, with a focus on Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park. Representing her heroines as landscape connoisseurs, Austen satirizes the wildly dangerous sublime, sympathizes with the rudely cultivated picturesque, and finally conceives of her own spiritually contemplative sublime. After considering this progression through Austen’s texts, we will critically examine our own complicity in the pleasures and dangers of landscape aesthetics as we view Austen’s spectator characters on film.

jerryshepherd.jpgLecture 3: “Christians: Servants of a Violent God?� by Dr. Jerry Shepherd, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Taylor Seminary, Edmonton (Thursday, November 2, 7:30-9:00 pm)

With the increase in terrorism and war in the Middle East, it is more important than ever for Christians to think through their approach to war and violence. This lecture will look at different perspectives on Christian engagement with culture in discussions on war and violence, in light of the biblical portrayal of God as a violent deity.

stevemartin.jpgLecture 4: “‘What’s the Plural of Apocalypse’? Disclosing the End(s) of the World in the TV Series’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel� by Dr. Stephen W. Martin, Assistant Professor of Theology, The King’s University College, Edmonton (Thursday, November 16, 7:30-9:00 pm)

N.T. Wright has identified apocalyptic “as a way of investing space-time reality with its full, that is, its theological, significance.� Rather than denying the world, this reading suggests that apocalyptic affirms the world by saying “no� to the finality of evil. This lecture will investigate how two television programs, each created by “rabid atheist� Joss Whedon, see the meaning of the world in terms of impending apocalypse, and how the stories they tell in its light serve to invest the world with theological significance.

All lectures are FREE and will be held in Stencel Hall, in the Taylor Seminary Building, 11525-23 Avenue (access from the West parking lot off 23 Avenue).

I will be posting MP3s of the lectures on the Lecture website (which will be here eventually). I may even video record the lectures and post them on YouTube. For past lectures (including free downloadable MP3s), please go to the Public Lecture Archive page.

Posted in News, Personal, Public Lectures and Events | Comments Off

Do Religious Jokes and Puppets Mix?

1st September 2006

I wouldn’t think that religious jokes and puppets mix, but I have been proved wrong by those over at, who have daily jokes told by puppets (which you can view via video). And not just any puppets — these are puppets from different religious backgrounds with all the appropriate (stereotypical) garb. The Jewish Rabbi is wearing a yarmulke and a tallit, the Catholic nun is in full habit, the Muslim Iman comes complete with a kufi hat, and the Hindu guru has wild hair. The puppet troupe is called the Jovialites and you can even help name each of the characters.

You can view the joke of the day here.

Posted in Humour, Jesus Junk & Christian Kitsch, Popular Culture | Comments Off

Biblical Studies Carnival IX is online at Hypotyposeis

1st September 2006

I am happy to announce that Biblical Studies Carnival IX is online at Stephen Carlson’s Hypotyposeis. Stephen has done a great job — there certainly was a lot of activity among biblical studies blogs in the month of August!

Biblical Studies Carnival X will be hosted by Phil Harland at Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean in the first week of October 2006. Look for a call for submissions on his blog sometime in the middle of the month.

As you are reading posts around the blogosphere this month, make sure to nominate appropriate posts for the next Carnival. You can submit/nominate posts via the submission form at or you may email them to biblical_studies_carnival AT hotmail DOT com.

For more information, consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

Biblical Studies Carnival | Comments Off