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Biblical Studies Carnival – Best of 2006

9th January 2007

Welcome to the Biblical Studies Carnival Best of 2006 post. In what I hope will become an annual event, this special edition of the Biblical Studies Carnival will showcase some of the best posts in the area of academic biblical studies of the past year. For each month, one post will be highlighted as the best, though I will also note significant runners up.

The criteria for selection includes, but was not limited to, the following:

  1. To keep the review manageable, a post needed to have been noted in a previous Biblical Studies Carnival to be eligible.
  2. Posts must exemplify high academic standards and creativity.
  3. Posts that elicited significant discussion and among other bloggers were favoured.
  4. I have also tried to spread out the awards, both in terms of sub-disciplines, but also in terms of individuals.
  5. Also, while this is not ideal, only posts with working links were included (this eliminated some excellent posts that have went the way of the dodo bird. Note the bloggers: if you choose to discontinue blogging, why not keep your blog online for the sake of posterity?)

While I have chosen some posts as the best of a particular month, I should note that all of the posts mentioned are worthy of reading. In fact, I would encourage you to browse back into the Biblical Studies Carnival archives (see links below) since virtually all of the posts mentioned in any given Carnival are worthy of perusal.

January

Danger, Loren Rosson! In my mind, the best post for the first month of the year was Loren Rosson’s “Dangerous Idea� meme over at his blog, The Busybody. Inspired by a list of ideas contributed by leading scientists to The Edge magazine, Loren ushered a call to other bloggers to come up with their own Dangerous Ideas in Biblical Studies. Loren provided five “dangerous ideas� in the field of biblical studies — ideas which may well be true (or have arguably valid reasons for being true) but many people would prefer they not be true — in his original post. He then brought together A Dozen Dangerous Ideas based on his own ranking of the “dangerous ideas� submitted by other bloggers.

Phil Harland’s history of Satan series over at Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean is also worthy of mention. These devilishly delightful posts deal with the development of the character of Satan throughout literary history. Another post that generated a fair amount of discussion was Tyler Williams‘s Old Testament/First Testament/Hebrew Bible/Tanak: What’s in a Name? at Codex.

February

While February is the month of love, one of the most popular (and discussed with some 77 comments) posts in this month didn’t concern cupid, but rather concerned contentious biblical passages. The best post for this month goes to Ben Witherington and his “Literal Renderings of Texts of Contention — 1Tim. 2:8-15.” Ben does an excellent job highlighting some of the issues surrounding the interpretation of 1 Tim 2:8-15 and concludes with this excellent advice which we would all do well to heed:

The only proper hedge against misuse of such controversial texts like this is careful detailed study of the text in its immediate context, in the context of the Pastorals (noting for example how elsewhere in these documents Paul talks about older women who are mature Christians doing some teaching), in the context of Paul’s letters in general, and in the context of Ephesus and the social world to which these words were written.

Other “lovely” posts from February include Brandon Wason‘s post on Love in the New Testament at Novum Testamentum, as well as Jim Davila‘s tribute to Professor Emeritus Robert Wilson (a.k.a. “R McL Wilson” a.k.a. “Robin”). Professor Wilson celebrated his 90th birthday in February 2006 and Jim covered the birthday celebrations over at PaleoJudaica. The party was a suave affair with such scholars as Professor Richard Bauckham, Professor Einar Thomassen, and Dr. Bill Telford speaking.

March

I found it difficult to pick a clear winner for the month of March, so I am declaring a tie between three posts on the complex relationship between early Christianity and the Torah: James Crossley‘s Christian Origins and the Law, Michael Bird‘s Jesus and Torah: 4 Theses, and Loren Rosson‘s Jesus and Torah.

A close second for the month is Alan Bandy‘s series of interviews over at Café Apocalypsis with scholars about faith-based and secular scholarship, including interviews with Michael Bird, Craig Blomberg, Darrell Bock, Peter Bolt, James Crossley, Philip Davies, Craig Evans, Mark Goodacre, Andreas Kostenberger, Scot McKnight, and Peter Williams. Also worthy of mention are the trio of posts on the canon of the Hebrew Bible entitled, Loose Canons: The Development of the Old Testament Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 by Michael Barber of Singing in the Reign (I really like the title of the series!)

April

For the month of April I am tempted to give the top honours to my April Fools Day‘s post on the imaginary King David Seal uncovered in the excavations of Jerusalem — especially since it was declared “the best entry of the month” by the Carnival host. That being said, I just can’t bring myself to declare it best post of the month (I still have occasional pangs of guilt for being so deceptive). The royal seal impression I used as the basis for the foolish post was an impression of an unprovenanced bulla belonging to Hezekiah king of Judah found in the Kaufman collection (see here for my post on the actual seal).

Since we’re on the topic of unprovenanced artifacts, in the month of April several different people blogged about Larry Stager’s “Statement on Unprovenanced Artifacts,” including PaleoJudaica’s Jim Davila, Duane Smith at Abnormal Interests, and Chris Weimer at Thoughts on Antiquity. The statement by the Harvard professor responds to the restrictions by the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) on publishing and studying (in public presentations) unprovenanced artifacts. You can read the full statement here, as well as a small correction and AIA’s response.

Not to forget, the best post of the month is Phil Harland‘s post, “Judas Iscariot as the “good guyâ€??: The Gospel of Judas.” This is a well-written and informative post about the Gospel of Judas (or should I say, the Al Minya Codex?).

May

One of the highlights of the month of May was Loren Rossen’s unpapal conclave on the historical Jesus over at The Busybody. Loren takes up John Meier’s suggestion in A Marginal Jew that an “unpapal conclaveâ€? should be locked away “until [it] had hammered out a consensus document on who Jesus was and what he intended in his own time and place.â€? The results may be found here, here, here and here. While I am reluctant to award a second “best of” to any one blogger, in the words of the Carnival host Ben Myers, this was “a brilliant example of the way contemporary scholarship can creatively utilise the possibilities of cyberspace.” It was clearly the best of May. Well done, Loren!

June

With summer approaching and many students looking forward to the end of the school year, Duane Smith took us all back to school with his posts on How to Recognize a Scribal School (see also Part 2, and in later months, Part 3 and Part 4). In these posts, which I declare the best for the month of June, Duane looks at the comparative evidence for scribal schools in the ancient Near East and then extrapolates how one would recognize a scribal school in Iron Age Jerusalem, if indeed there was one. There is nothing abnormal about these posts, except perhaps for their excellent depth and research.

Other noteworthy posts include James Snapp‘s post on large numbers in the Bible at Evangelical Textual Criticism (Responses by P.J. Williams then James Snapp followed by Williams and finally Kevin Edgecomb), and Jeremy Pierce‘s query, “What Happened to Eleazar’s Line?” Finally, prompted by a post by Mark Goodacre, Michael Bird‘s post on Christianities and Judaisms at Euangelion is also a must read about “complexity and accordance” in early Christianity.

July

Top honours for the month of July go to Kevin P. Edgecomb‘s translations of St. Jerome’s Prologues from the Latin Vulgate. In a series of posts at biblicalia, Kevin provided English translations of the Prologues to Genesis, Joshua, Kings, Paralipomenon/Chronicles, with others to follow in later months. Most of these, for one reason or another, have either never appeared in English before or haven’t been translated recently or very well. The project is pretty much finished now and Kevin has helpfully posted a page including all his translations of the Vulgate Prologues, with notes giving biblical and other citations, alternate renderings, indications of difficult passages, and a few explanatory notes, along with a short introduction and bibliography. Thank you for your original translation work, Kevin.

Some runners up for the month of July include Tyler Williams‘s series on Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible at Codex, Rick Brannan‘s delightful Opposite Day post at ricoblog that engendered a number of responses, as well as Ben Myers‘s explosive One Book Meme that is probably still making its way around the blogosphere! (A Google search for the exact phrase “One Book Meme” produces thousands of results). Finally, Matthew Thomas Hopper at Historical Jesus and Paul has done us all a service with his series on ginomai in Paul: Parts One, Two, Three, and Four.

August

The dogs days of summer brought a number of interesting posts in biblical studies. These included Michael Pahl‘s initial post in a blog commentary on 1 Thessalonians, Stephen Carlson‘s conclusion to his nine-part evaluation of Scott Brown on Morton Smith’s motives, Ben C. Smith‘s posts on Canonical Lists at Chris Weimer’s Thoughts on Antiquity, and Davide Salomani‘s note on Q and the Beelzebul Story.

One of the best posts of the month, however, was Chris Heard‘s response to De La Torre’s Ethics Daily essay on “the sin of Sodom.â€? Chris notes the following about Genesis 19:

The mob’s intention to inflict male-on-male rape on Lot’s visitors has nothing to do with sexual desire or sexual gratification. There is no hint here of homosexuality in the modern sense of “sexual orientation.â€? The crime has nothing to do with preferring sex with males over sex with females…. They [the mob] chose sexual violence as the means of their cruelty, to be sure, but their motive was to assert social dominance over the newcomers.

Well done, Chris.

September

“In the beginning” of the month there were a number of interesting posts on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil by Stephen Cook at Biblische Ausbildung (see also his follow-up posts here and here) with a response by Chris Heard of Higgaion fame. Other great posts include Simon Holloway‘s post on the mysterious Writing on the Wall in the story of Daniel 5 over at דבר ×?חר (dawar acher, literally “another interpretationâ€?), Mark Goodacre‘s post Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians? which started a flurry of blogging activity on Pauline chronology, Kevin Wilson‘s post “A Farewell to the Yahwist?,” and even Troels Myrup Kristensen‘s fascinating post on the cult of the severed head.

While I found it difficult to pick a top post for this month, I’m giving top nods to Chris Heard‘s thorough sixteeen-part review of Simcha Jacobovici’s documentary The Exodus Decoded. The series started in Septermber and finally concluded in December. While not everyone will agree with all of Chris’s criticisms, on the whole he did an excellent job revealing the problems with Jacobovici’s theories. Jacobovici must have nightmares about such reviews! (If only future documentaries will be done any better!)

October

Stephen Cook over at Biblische Ausbildung produced a three-part series of posts the question of myth in the Hebrew Bible (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) where he disagrees with recent proposals that the opening chapters of Genesis are indeed myth (make sure to note Robert Holmstedt’s comment to the third post). In addition, the post 10 Propositions on Violence in the Old Testament over at Mined Splatterings is worthy of a gander, as is Tyler Williams‘s post The Costly Loss of Lament for the Church.

Best in show for October, however, goes to Mark Goodacre for his posts arguing his view that the apostle Paul lost his battle for the churches in Galatia: see his Paul’s lack of travel plans, Paul’s loss of Galatia I, and the summary post Paul’s loss of Galatia II.

I should also mention James Crossley‘s interesting series at his blog Earliest Christian History on “Why Christianity Happened,” summarizing the chapters of his book by the same name (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).

November

The best post for the month of November, in my estimation, is Stephen Cook‘s posts on the Imago Dei. His six-part series on the image of God at Biblische Ausbildung is well worth your time — you can view them all here.

Other posts worthy of mention include James Tabor‘s post on the discovery and examination of the latrines at Khirbet Qumran in his post Breaking News from Qumran (The Qumran latrines received quite a bit of attention among bloggers; see the posts by Claude Mariottini and Tyler Williams, to name a few), Chris Heard‘s post on When did Yahweh and El merge?, Simon Holloway on the linguistic dating of the Bible, Mark Goodacre on the question of whether or not the Galatians were already circumcised (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7), as well as Michael Pahl‘s continued work on 1 Thessalonians, including a useful bibliography.

In the field of biblical studies November is known for the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Many bloggers posted on the conference — whether something about their approach to the meetings, their presentations, their reflections after the conference was over. See Jim West’s thorough coverage of posts in his Biblical Studies Carnival post. Worthy of mention, however, are Danny Zacharias‘s “Confessions of a SBL Virgin” (see also Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) at Deinde and the “biblioblogger” podcast from SBL over at Targuman.

December

Finally we come to December. Since the most recent Biblical Studies Carnival covered this month, I will only highlight what I thought was the best post of the month: Kevin Wilson‘s “Priests and the Pentateuchâ€? over at Blue Cord. In this post, Kevin explores the question of the relationship between the pentateuchal sources and the history of the priesthood and suggests — rather provocatively — that the P source may in fact be one of the earliest sources to the Pentateuch, rather than the latest (Wellhausen says, Nein!).

In Conclusion…

Well, that about does it for this year in review. Feel free to leave a comment if you disagree with any of my selections or if you want to highlight another worthy post that I may have overlooked.

In addition, I encourage you to take a look back to previous Biblical Studies Carnivals:

  • Biblical Studies Carnival XIII (Tyler F. Williams, Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot - January 2007)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival XII (Jim West, Dr Jim West – December 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival XI (Michael Pahl, The Stuff of Earth – November 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival X (Phil Harland, Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean – October 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival IX (Stephen Carlson, Hypotyposeis – September 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival VIII (Kevin Edgecomb, Biblicalia – August 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival VII (Chip Hardy, Daily Hebrew – July 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival VI (Benjamin Myers, Faith and Theology – June 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival V (Kevin Wilson, Blue Cord – May 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival IV (Loren Rosson III, The Busybody – April 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival III (Rick Brannan, Ricoblog – March 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival II (Tyler F. Williams, Codex Blogspot – February 2006)
  • Biblical Studies Carnival I (Joel Ng, Ebla Logs – April 2005)

Upcoming Biblical Studies Carnivals

Biblical Studies Carnival XIV will be hosted by Chris Weimer over at Thoughts on Antiquity in the first week of February, 2007. Look for a call for submissions and nominations on his blog soon.

Submissions (which should be blog entries posted in January 2007) for the next Biblical Studies Carnival may be emailed to biblical_studies_carnival [AT] hotmail.com or entered via the submission form provided by Blog Carnival here.

For a full listing of past and future Biblical Studies Carnivals, as well as other valuable information about the Carnival, please consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.


Posted in Best Of, Biblical Studies Carnival | 9 Comments »

Third Annual Ralphies – Second Annual Codex Edition (Best of 2006)

30th December 2006

Welcome to the Third Annual Ralphies — Second Annual Codex Edition. Following the example of Ed Cook (see his posts on music, film and books), traditionally a number of other bloggers follow suit and offer their own “Ralphies.” This year Mark Goodacre and Chris Brady has thus far compiled (or at least started to) some of their favorite music, books, and films of 2006.

What follows is my own list. While I have tried to honour Ed’s template, I find it difficult to narrow lists like these down to one top pick, so I have includes some runner-ups.

Best SONG of the year: Hmmm.. this is a tough one. I, like Ed, quite like Gnarls Barkley‘s Moby-esque song “Crazy” (From St. Elsewhere; Watch on YouTube; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com), though I’m not sure it is quite “Song of the Year” material. The same goes for the new U2 song (with Greenday), “The Saints Are Coming” (From U218 Singles; Watch on YouTube; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com), as well as The Killers song “When You Were Young” (From Sam’s Town; Watch on YouTube; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com).

tunstall.jpgWhile this may surprise some, my best song for 2006 is KT Tunstall‘s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” (From Eye to the Telescope; Watch on YouTube; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This is a very catchy song, though what makes me pick it as my best of 2006 is my respect for her musical abilities. Make sure to watch the live version.

The best Canadian song of the year is the Barenaked Ladies, “Easy” (From Barenaked Ladies Are Me; Watch on YouTube; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com).

Best CD of the year: While all of the songs noted above are on good albums, I would probably have to vote for The Killers, Sam’s Town as my best of 2006 (Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com) since there are a number of excellent songs on the CD.

Best MUSIC VIDEO of the year: I really like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers video for “Dani California” (From Stadium Arcadium; Watch on YouTube; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). Watching it is a flashback through all the rock and roll fads from the 50′s to today — and the song isn’t half bad as well!

the_departed.jpgBest MOVIE of the year: This is always tough one for me. Like Ed, there are many movies I enjoyed (e.g., Nacho Libre, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, X-Men: The Last Stand, Mission Impossible III, Flags of Our Fathers, and even Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was worth watching just for the “Dear Lord Baby Jesusâ€? scene!), but they’re not really “Film of the Year” material.

In terms of movies released in 2006, my vote for best movie of 2006 would be The Departed (Martin Scorsese; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This is a great gangster film and all of the actors had great performances, especially Jack Nicholson. Second runner up would be Casino Royale (Martin Campbell; IMDB), which did for Bond what Batman Begins did for the Batman franchise last year.

Honourable mention goes to Thank You for Not Smoking (Jason Reitman, 2005 [I watched it in 2006]; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). In addition, I found Blood of My Brother: A Story of Death in Iraq (Andrew Berends, 2005 [I watched it in 2006]; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com) to be quite interesting for its portrayal of life in Iraq.

Best KID’s MOVIE of the year: I tend to watch a lot of kid’s films with my children, so I thought I would add this category. It would be easy to pick Cars (John Lassiter; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com), Over the Hedge (Tim Johnson; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com), Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (Carlos Saldanha; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com), or even Curious George (Matthew O’Callaghan; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com).

Instead of any of those movies, I’m picking Hoodwinked! (Cory and Todd Edwards; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com) as my favourite kid’s movie of 2006. I found this deconstruction of Little Red Riding Hood quite amusing. While some have slammed its animation as cheap, I kind of like the minimalist CGI animation — after all, it is supposed to look like a cartoon isn’t it?!

Worst MOVIE of the year: This is an easy one for me this year. I mistakenly rented Black Dahlia (Ulli Lommel; IMDB) thinking it was Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia (IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). Never before have I appreciated the significance of a definite article! Lommel’s film was a B-film at its worst. Calling it a “B-film” is an insult to other B-Films! This straight -to-DVD movie truly was one of the most vile, disgusting films I have ever (partially) viewed. I didn’t finish watching it and was quite appreciative when the video store let me exchange it for a different video free of charge.

Best TV SHOW of the Year: Since we are talking about the entire year, I have to include 24 (Fox) as one of the best shows on television. I am looking forward to January 14, 2007 when this year’s season begins. That being said, top honours goes to Battlestar Galactica (SciFi). I love science fiction and I find this new series quite well-written.

protest_against_god.jpgBest NONFICTION BOOK of the year: This is a tough one since I have read quite a few non-fiction books this year. My top pick is by fellow Canadian, William S. Morrow. His book, Protest Against God: The Eclipse of a Biblical Tradition (Hebrew Bible Monographs 4; Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2006; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com) is a fascinating study of why the biblical tradition of lament or protest against God was suppressed and marginalized.

While I can’t say that I have read it cover-to-cover, the top biblical commentary in 2006 is Ralph Klein’s commentary, 1 Chronicles (Hermeneia; Fortress, 2006; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This is a superb commentary on this often neglected biblical book.

If I look outside my primary areas of research, then I would pick U2 by U2 (HarperEntertainment, 2006; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com) as one of the best of 2006.

Best FICTION BOOK of the year: I haven’t read a tonne of fiction this year, but I would say that Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt: A Novel (Knopf, 2005 [I read it in 2006]; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com) was one of my favourites (see my post on it here). I also read a number of novels by Dean Koontz, which I found to be guilty pleasures.

Well, that’s about all I can muster right now, so I’ll see you at next year’s Ralphies!


Posted in Best Of, Film, music, Personal, Popular Culture, Ralphies, Reviews & Notices | 1 Comment »

Second Annual Ralphies – First Annual Codex Edition (Best of 2005)

30th December 2005

Welcome to the Second Annual Ralphies — First Annual Codex Edition. Following the example of Ed Cook, a number of bloggers, including Rick Brannan, Joe Cathey, and Loren Rosson, and “Targuman” (a new blog I found through Ed’s), have been compiling their favorite books and films of 2005.

What follows is my own list. While I have tried to honour Ed’s template, I find it difficult to narrow lists like these down to one top pick, so I have includes some runner-ups.

Best NONFICTION BOOK of the year: This is a tough one since I have read quite a few non-fiction books! For books published in 2005, here are my selections. My top choice is Vincent Miller, Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture (Continuum, 2004; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This work is not in my primary field of research and that is one reason why it would be my top choice since many of the ideas within it were so new to me. I read it in preparation for my popular culture course and found it to be a compelling and convicting expose of the commodification of religion.

A very close runner up from within in one of my primary areas of research is Ulrich Dahmen, Psalmen- und Psalter-Rezeption im Fruehjudentum: Rekonstrucktion, Textbestand, Sturktur und Pragmatik der Psalmen Rolle 11QPsa aus Qumran (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 49; Leiden: Brill, 2003; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This work is an impressive examination of the so-called Qumran Psalms scroll taking into consideration both literary and textual characteristics of the scroll. I highly recommend it!

Best FICTION BOOK of the year: I typically only read fiction when on holidays. Probably the best fiction work I read this year (but was published a while ago) is Susan Howatch, Scandalous Risks (Fawcett, 1991; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). This is the fourth of Howatch’s Church of England series. I enjoy the intellegent theological discussions in Howatch’s books, among other things.

Runner-ups would include J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Scholastic, 2005; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). I enjoy the Harry Potter books, though I am always left with a small sense of dissatisfaction after reading them — I’m not sure what it is, though I wonder if it is the fact that they are based on the school year and therefore like a TV show, you know they will be wrapping up loose ends as the school year nears its end. I also reread Chaim Potok, In the Beginning (Ballantine, 1997; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). I love all of Potok’s books (The Chosen, The Promise, My Name is Asher Lev, Davita’s Harp, etc.), but this one I especially appreciate because it narrates the story of David Lurie, a brilliant young Jewish boy who stuns his family and friends by laying aside his Orthodox upbringing and becoming a secular biblical scholar. I love the final exchange between David and his Rebbe (p. 435):

  • Rebbe: “… Are you telling me you will not be an observer of the commandments?”
  • David: “I am not telling the Rebbe that.”
  • Rebbe: “What are you telling me?”
  • David: “I will go wherever the truth leads me. It is secular scholarship, Rebbe; it is not the scholarship of tradition. In secular scholarship there are no boundaries and no permanently fixed views.”
  • Rebbe: “Lurie, if the Torah cannont go out into your world of scholarship and return stronger, then we are all fools and charlatans. I have faith in the Torah. I am not afraid of truth.”

Brilliant!

Best MOVIE of the year: This is a tough one for me — especially since I taught a religion and popular culture class and consequently watched a few films over the course of the year! In terms of movies released in 2005, my vote for best movie of 2005 would be Hotel Rwanda (Terry George, 2004; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). While this film technically came out in 2004, I didn’t watch it until it was released on DVD in 2005. I found this to be a moving/disturbing film about the genocidal atrocities in Rwanda and how the colonial powers contributed to the problems. It is an excellent case study in situational ethics (what would you do if you were in that situation?). It should be seen in tandem with the Canadian documentary based on the autobiography of Romeo Dallaire, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire (Peter Raymont, 2004; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com).

Honorable mention goes to Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com) for a movie that ponders the notion of redemptive violence; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell, 2005; IMDB) for a good film adaptation; Crash (Paul Haggis, 2005; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com for a captivating movie about the ubiquitious nature of racism; Palindromes (Todd Solondz, 2004; IMDB; Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com for a provcative use of eight different actors (playing the same character) in a thought-provoking examination of the moral complexities of abortion.

Finally, I have to give special mention to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Andrew Adamson, 2005; IMDB). I liked the film, though in order to really appreciate it I will have to see it again since I went with my kids and ended up spending most of my time answering questions from my four-and-a-half year old son! (Q; What is that? A: That’s a faun. Q: Why? A: Uh, because it is. Q: Why? A: Because C.S. Lewis drew upon classical mythology in his writings. Q: Is the faun a bad guy? A: Well, not really, he does bad stuff but then turns good. Q: So he’s a good guy? A: Yes. etc. ad naseum!)

Best CD of the year: This is a no-brainer! U2′s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is the best CD of the year (Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com). I think that with this CD, U2 has returned to their roots (not that I didn’t like all of their music in between!). Sad to say that was the only CD that I purchased in 2005. I actually had my CD collection stolen from my office early in the year and I have been replacing what I lost by downloading them as mp3s since I tend to listen to music only when at my computer (and I can always burn a CD if I want one).

Song of the year: “Yahweh” from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. This is a catchy and intriguing song. It’s a prayer for Yahweh to intervene, to transform the singer: “Take this shirt / Polyester white trash made in nowhere / take this shirt / and make it clean, clean. Take this soul / Stranded in some skin and bones / Take this soul / and make it sing…. Take this heart / And make it break.” But it’s also a lament, questioning why God is not acting: “Yahweh, tell me now / Why the dark before the dawn?” At any rate, I am impressed that U2 included a song called “Yahweh” on their CD.

A close runner up would be “Crumbs from your table.” When I first heard this song I loved it. But then I watched the DVD that came with the CD and listened to Larry Mullen note how he was so drunk when they wrote that song that he doesn’t even remember writing it! Talk about a downer! But then I read a great blog entry on this song from Spera In Deo where he relays an interview with Bono about the song that redeems the song in my eyes. Here is an excerpt:

About the Crumbs song, he [Bono] told the story of the Irish nun, Sister Ann, who’s story broke his heart. She lives and works near a sewer and brings in people who live in horrific conditions. When he visited her, he saw people who were sleeping “three to a bed.” I had previously thought the song was about Bush’s promised–then rescinded–offer of $15b in Africa aid. But it turns out it is really (also?) about this nun and how some people in the world await crumbs to fall from the feast table of American Christianity (You speak of signs and wonders / But I need something other / I would believe if I was able / But I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table).

Once again, brilliant! Well, that’s all she wrote, so I’ll see you at next year’s Ralphies!


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