Horatio

Horatio
[Photo by Jacquelyn Griffin)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sin, Redemption and BSG

Geek/Spoiler Alert--Presumes Knowledge of/Interest In BSG's Series Finale, Daybreak

Now that Battlestar Galactica has ended its run, I want to make a confession: I identify with Gaius Baltar, and have as long as the show has been on air. Baltar's panic, his desire to survive, his struggles to do the right thing, if he could figure out just what that would be--I have to admit, these aspects of the character speak to me. On the rare occasions when I've been in physical peril, I've had to force myself to act. And, oh, how James Callis cpatures those wonderful words of St. Paul, "for the good I would do, I do not, but the evil I would not do, that I do." (Not to mention--and Baltar never mentions the concept--St. Augustine's famous, "God, give me chastity, but not yet." )

So I for one was delighted with the depiction over the course of the series, with the character arc in which Baltar slowly sought redemption. For me, the process began with Baltar's appalled reaction to the abuse of a Cylon Prisoner (the Number 6 named Gina) and his slow learning of empathy. In the last half season, his empathy steadily grows, and we see Baltar acting unselfishly (enjoying giving away food in Dogstown, keeping watch with the doomed Felix Gaeta before his execution, and attending his execution so that there would be someone as a witness for Gaeta). In the finale, Baltar, though frightened, plays his part. And it's he that gets Brother Cavil to the place where he wants to stop the fighting, although Tigh provides the incentive that rationalist Cavil needs to call it a day. And, finally, Baltar learns how to love Caprica 6, and to be worthy of her love--by being what he ran away from, a farmer. He has come home to his true self.

I summarize this because Baltar seems to me a marvellous Everyman. Oh, he has scientific genius, of course, and can't attend a bris without a harem springing up for him. But Baltar goes on what Christopher Bryant termed the Journey to the Center. At the end of things he could be thought to have come full circle, but that's not so, in fact. Baltar can be a farmer, now, not because he's lost everything, but because, by becoming willing to give his life for a higher purpose, he has regained it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

In Contrast to those AIG Bonuses

Even the dogs may eat the scraps that fall from the master's table. Unless, of course, the dogs work for Whole Foods.

Sometimes the news echoes classic literature a little too closely:
Whole Foods fired Ralph Reese for taking a tuna fish sandwich. ....

His version of the story: He was throwing out 30 sandwiches at the end of the shift, and he put the tuna sandwich aside on the counter in plain view. When the supervisor confronted him about it, he said it was going to be thrown out and he was going to eat it.

The supervisor then threw the sandwich out.

Two days later, Mr. Reese was fired.

As always, I did deeper into the story, and have found footage of the Whole Foods Management Training Film:



Note to Whole Foods: City Harvest. Oh, look, here's how you donate.

Normal Service

will soon be restored. In the meantime, let me share this video posted by the foster mother of a young cat and her kittens my significant other rescued from a plastic box outside our home:



Some things are just good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Let Us Prey

Noted, with extreme disapproval:
Roman Catholic and Orthodox Jewish officials in New York are mounting an intense lobbying effort to block a bill before the State Legislature that would temporarily lift the statute of limitations for lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of children.

A perennial proposal that has been quashed in past years by Republicans who controlled the State Senate, the bill is now widely supported by the new Democratic majority in that chamber, and for the first time is given a good chance of passing.

If signed by Gov. David A. Paterson, a longtime supporter, the bill would at minimum revive hundreds of claims filed in recent years against Catholic priests and dioceses in New York, but dismissed because they were made after the current time limit, which is five years after the accuser turns 18. Similar legislation has passed in Delaware and in California, where a 2003 law led to claims that have cost the church an estimated $800 million to $1 billion in damages and settlements.

"We believe this bill is designed to bankrupt the Catholic Church,” said Dennis Poust, spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, a group representing the bishops of the state’s eight dioceses. He said that Cardinal Egan and Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn visited Albany this week to voice their opposition, and that a statewide network of Catholic parishioners had bombarded lawmakers via e-mail.
It takes a lot to render me speechless, but this does it. The Roman Catholic Church's efforts to avoid liability for the misdeeds it spent decades covering up continue unabated.

No repentance, no remorse. Just self righteousness and offended privilege.

A Dash of Politics

So President Obama is catching a lot of flak for signing the spending bill. Well, two thoughts on that.

First, it was McCain, not Obama, who called for the vetoing of any bill with earmarks in it (the president can't stop Congress from including them, so it's the veto or suasion, or nothing). Obama called for earmark reform today in terms reminiscent of those he used during the campaign. Obama never sought to prohibit earmarks outright; he sought to reform the process by which they were enacted.

So, good government fans may be asking, why not just veto the spending bill?

Well, in part because the spending bill completes funding for this year that was extended last week, for 6 days. In other words, if the President vetoed the bill, we'd have a government shutdown tonight. At midnight.

So, let's see if I get this: President Obama is betraying a campaign promise (well, McCain's, not his, but what the hell) because he's not willing to shut down the federal government over earmarks comprising 1% of the bill.

I think that move makes better drama than policy:



In reel life, even the fictional Bartlet needed a brilliant stunt to get out of that particular hole:



In real life, the opposition are rarely that obliging--although the current GOP is running close.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Lenten Thought

The conception of the Messiah which Jesus caused to grow in the minds of the disciples was profoundly original in the sense that it took up all the elements
of ancient prophecy and recent interpretation, and combined them in a whole in His own person in a whole which, while it realized their best spirit, was quite remote from the expectations of His contemporaries. According to Jesus' teaching, the
Messiahship had its basis in His humble and patient manhood, and it was to have its centre in His rejection and suffering and crucifixion, and its vindication in His resurrection and in the mission of His Spirit (for the resurrection of the dead and
the effusion of the Spirit were, as we have seen, elements in the ancient prophecies of the Messianic days), and it was to find its consummation in His Lordship in heaven and in His coming to judge the quick and dead.

But in spite of the special help given to them in the vision of the Transfiguration, the disciples had at present no ears for the note of glory beyond humiliation and through it. They could only attend to the announcements of utter shame and rejection
and death. Not only did He speak to them of His own death, but of the death of their national hopes. He told them quite plainly that Jerusalem was doomed, and that their city and temple would be destroyed; and He bade them accept this utter seeming failure, both of Him, their Master, and of all that their patriotic hearts held dear, as something inevitable and necessary for the kingdom to come. It was too much for them. It stirred in their minds a despondency and repulsion which overcame even their loyalty and their faith in Him.

There is hardly any tragedy in history which moves us more than the failure of the disciples. But it was a temporary tragedy. Their failure became an element in their strength and power.
--Charles Gore, Belief in Christ (1922) at 66-67.