Why I Hate Redding

Posted by Tim Posada On 9:38 AM 0 comments
I have come to terms with my sarcasm. But recently, I’m finding myself to be a greater optimist than I previously thought. I’m optimistic about social change. I’m optimistic about the future of art. I’m optimistic amidst the pain and confusion of my friends that we will find peace and fulfillment. And I’m optimistic that the church will become something more than the dead dogma it refuses to move past now. With that said, I remain a pessimist about Redding, CA. This was the city I called home for several years before I went to college. This is the city that took so much from my family. And this is the city, I am convinced, continues to hurt so many. I know this may come across as bitter high school angst the refuses to let a grudge die, thus causing me to demonize a place instead of pinpoint the source of the problem. Yet, the more time I spend in Redding and the more stories I hear from those still there, convinces me that there is something very wrong with that city.

As I continue my theological studies, I am further convinced that Jesus favoured the poor over the rich—and he is thus, with those who are with or near the poor (we can argue about the fact that while I am near the poor I still remain uninvolved due to the paralyzing nature of academia later). This conclusion makes me believe that places that are removed from oppression are removed from God’s sight. I often say that the true Church does exist, just not in the suburbs—how could real community exist in a place that was created for the American, not Christian, dream of privacy. And Redding is one of the most narcissistic cities I have ever encountered. True, there is oppression in Redding as there is oppression anywhere. Yet, so many problems seem to be caused by suburban alienation.

I spent this Christmas in Redding and I began to formulate my reason for hating this Tehama County bubble. Redding is a trap. It is so easy to get stuck there. The saying, “Those who don’t do, teach,” changes to “Those who don’t do, get married.” I guess when you don’t know what to do with your life (not job, but life) you just don’t want to face that mystery alone. Tragically, this seems to backfire when you realize that your lack of vision, drive, or courage can take down a marriage. It’s sad to go back to a place and see people that sat next to you in English working at Best Buy, or finding out that several of your former friends are now pregnant not through love but irresponsibility. And there are those who get out of Redding, but they can’t leave because Redding has a way of pulling you back.

I used to attend of Christian that did not have a single African-American student in it. The school was small in general, but this became even more of a conundrum when the 2,000 person school not a quarter of a mile away had the most diversity in the entire city—and even that high school was known as the ghetto one. This could be said for many cities. No city will ever be perfect. But this coupled with say Simpson college and the amount of drama the takes place at the several disjointed churches in that city (not to mention how messed up Red Bluff is), reveals a Christian theology that refuses to find those in pain. The more separated I become from Redding, the more I see how incredibly fucked up that city is. The beauty of its skies can’t hide the ugliness of its heart.

Don’t worry, I don’t believe that Redding is Sodom. There are still those who are doing good deeds there. But those people are far and few. The city thrives off on the idea that isolation is the key to happiness. While this may work for some, I am sure that the city will have an identity crisis soon enough (there’s my optimism again). It’s taken me a long time to reform myself without all that the baggage that city put on me. Yet, every time I go back there, I feel like I’m restarting the process. But alas, I’m back in SoCal—my real home.

The Gospel according to Horror Movies

Posted by Tim Posada On 12:59 AM 0 comments
Horror movies are an awful way to gauge life. Mostly, they are moneymakers that lack narrative depth, character progression, and moral conviction. Analyzing culture through horror movies is truly looking at American culture at its worse. Horror films reveal the nature of the American audience. Studies show that the number viewer to grab is a 19-year-old male. Younger boys will cede to the preference of the 19-year-old boy and girls will cede to that same boy and age as well—yet that 19-year-old boy will not see anything a girl wants to see nor a younger or older age. Horror movies don’t make a lot but they considering how cheap they are to make, the money is good. Movies like Stay Alive and Cry Wolf make around 10 million, but others like Saw II, The Grudge, and The Ring each made more than Oscar nominees Crash, Munich, Brokeback Mountain, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Capote. What does this say about the American audience? It would be easy to say that they are fickle and lack depth of character as reflected in their movie choices. Yet, there may be something else going on.

Saw


There are certain horror films that take a greater conviction than simple scare tactics and new ways to slit a throat. The Saw movies hold true to their sadistic form but actually have a storyline. While the first film functions more like a cop mystery like Se7en, part two makes a home with many different ways to make an audience dry heave. I am aware that there are ethical problems with these films, yet they attempt to create moral parables through the seemingly hopeless genre of horror. For this reason, these films have the opportunity to encourage the apathetic viewer to actually live. Plus, the twists are pretty fun (part one more than part two).

28 Days Later


28 Days Later made the zombie movie genre smart. While the latest Dawn of the Dead movie created an interesting story (though a gory one), 28 Days Later actually provided a critique on humanity. Danny Boyle always produces interesting stuff, and this film provided amazing cinematography and editing along with a well-developed story. The original third act of the film had the main characters look for a radio transmission that provided hope for survivors in zombie-filled England. The father and daughter along with another man and women only found ruins of an army base. While there, the dad became infected. Eventually, the other survivors take their zombie father an abandoned hospital where they learn that the father can be healed with a full blood transfusion. The movie ends with the other man on the table in the hospital screaming because he became a zombie so the father could live. This ending was too unbelievable, so Danny Boyle decided to create an ending in which the army base in inhabited. The soldiers there have gone crazy and hope to have sex with or rape the daughter and the other woman. The soldiers attempt to execute the last surviving man (because dad becomes a zombie and is killed). The film ends with a final showdown: the man against the corrupted soldiers. Here we are shown how humanity might respond under chaos…and it ain’t pretty.

The Hills have Eyes


The Hills have Eyes is one of the many remakes flooding the dusty shelves of Blockbusters around the country—another gory, low-budget movie to bring in some extra money. Yet this cliché, under-developed piece of reel offers an interesting insight into horror-movie crazy America. It’s a story about the average family on vacation. And by average, I mean mass stereotyped “average”: white and middle-class. Consider this family the symbol of the “American dream.” Suddenly, they go down a wrong road and are attacked by freaks. They are attacked by those that America ignored—people that refused to leave a town that became radioactive from nuclear bomb testing. These people feed off of those who pass through (literally, they eat people and dogs, apparently). These people represent “the other,” whom blame America for their problems and are taking out their revenge on the “average” and decent American families that pass by. Thus, the “real” Americans must fight back—against those whom threaten the “American dream.” Thus, “the others” are destroyed by the sheer will of the “American dream.” Was this the point of The Hills have Eyes? Nope. The movie is shit. Yet, those who created this movie are a part of American culture, thus this film will in some way reflect American values.

In the End


Wes Craven would remind us that horror movies reveal our darkest fears: The Alien films remind us the boogeyman in the closet; The Predator is that monster we can’t see; The Ring reveals the power of an image; The Exorcism of Emily Rose shows us that suffering may be a possibility in life; and The Descent shows while monsters are scarey the greatest evil lies within a vengeful heart. True, getting to this point usually requires a thick stomach. I would never recommend half the movies I have just talked about (except The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which is a very important movie). Yet, there is an element of spirituality within these pieces of trash. There is a longing for something more. Horror movies are the last line of art, because the only thing lower is reality TV and porn (which are not art). Finding God in the trash ain’t pretty, but it is necessary.

In a Women's Bathroom

Posted by Tim Posada On 1:41 AM 0 comments
Seinfeld was a show that proved that stories could survive with minimal plotlines. While I make no claims to the acclaimed genius of Jerry and the gang, what follows is a hopeful attempt of what the great Qoheleth (the writer of Ecclesiastes) would call “meaningless,” “vanity,” or “a chasing after the wind.” Sidenote: I make no claims to any bit of spirituality but simply hold to the patterns of any blog—narcissistic, exaggeratedly important, and space to fill.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, I was forced to use the women’s restroom at a Wendy’s tonight. Immediately, I wonder how many sexist jokes will pop into the fickle minds of all, say, three people that potentially read this blog. I am rather proud of myself because this was the first time that I was able to sit in the luxury that is a women’s restroom: open space, a painting on the wall, convenient trash can by the toilet, and your option of paper towels or blow dryer. I found myself with a little bit of reverse-Freudian vagina envy. Now this normally doesn’t happen, as I am a rather content person—minus large amounts of hair that my Syrian, Italian, Scotch-Irish, Puerto Rican, Columbian, and Ecuadorian ancestors were so kind to leave me. But this porcelain dream was something worth the sex change.

I did not plan to enter the room of much wonder among the male sex. The plan was simply to avoid the line at the Land of Coffee and Broken Dreams (Starbucks), but someone hindered my strategic plan at Wendy’s. Like a person who gets in their car and doesn’t leave right away—even though there is clearly another car parked near them waiting for their spot—this nameless nuisance would not leave. All the signs of hope were there—the flush, the facet water, paper towels pumping out—yet the great doorway to heaven would not open for the mere earthlings to find relief from one hell of a pain. Thus, the threat many have made had to become action. With a moment of hesitation and quick glance at the unsuspecting fast-food congregation, entry into the forbidden temple commenced. Gender and sex walls began to dissolve.

Yet, I found the entire process rather awkward. I didn’t want to remain in the Wendy’s honeymoon sweet for fear of the staff learning that I was not truly allowed in this particular room. Even worse, hearing the jiggle of the door, panicking and saying, “Someone’s in hear,” knowing that while I can pass for a tenor, my voice rings like a bass as well. But there was nothing I could do. These things take time. Luckily, that blue painting distracted me…but not enough to remember anything else about it other than it was blue. As my endeavor came to a close, I was even more on edge. What if someone was waiting outside just to point and laugh. I knew there was only one thing left to do. No glances. Just walk out the door and don’t look back. Wash your hands.
There’s the door to the bathroom.
The door out the restaurant.
The shopping centre parking lot.
Freedom.
Relief.
Another “I never” is gone. The list of things to do before the next big bang is getting smaller than the earth’s core. Maybe next time, Ill go into a bathroom with more than one stall. Maybe next time, I’ll be okay with a line of women—maybe ask one of them out. Maybe next time, this will become a habit. Maybe next time, I’ll remember to flush.

A Design I'm throwing around

Posted by Tim Posada On 12:48 AM 0 comments
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Narcissism & Immigration

Posted by Tim Posada On 2:09 AM 0 comments
As I sit here annoyed with MTV’s boring programming and the horrible vee-jays of Fuse, I can’t help but be reminded of how much I hate this country. This may be an extreme, but these are the words that overwhelm my thoughts. Narcissism is the word of choice—this word is my argument against American culture. This word is also the biggest critique against postmodernity. Contemporary philosopher Ken Wilber points out that religious pluralism has a major flaw. Pluralistic individualism allows everyone to do their own thing, thus there is no need to truly care about anyone else. This is a broad generalization and pluralism can be a good thing, but individualism is prone to show the dark of humankind—something very prominent in American culture.

So as I was watching TV, learning to how “pimp my ride,” wondering what would happen if that money was directed towards something substantial. To make things worse, the news did a story on people from Indiana protesting immigrants…you know, that last legal form of racism. C.S. Lewis once discussed that our culture has not truly progressed since such tragedies as the witch trials. He discusses that people stopped burning witches because of scientific discoveries not because killing others was a distortion of Christian faith. Advances in science lead many to leave behind their superstitions. Advances in science lead many to leave their Christian faith that gave them the belief that killing witches was wrong. Current immigrant issues further this argument. Americans have had racist attitudes since the beginning: Native Americans, then blacks, then Mexicans, back to blacks, Asians, gays, and now immigrants. The concept of privilege is still so foreign to spoiled America. The dominant culture (and I dare say, very white in body and/or mindset) cannot understand that this country thrives because of the web of corrupt social systems. We are able to live so well because others are not.

We speak so often of “freedom,” but we do not realize that freedom and “equality” cannot coexist—this tension is easy to see. Perhaps “equality” should be the true goal of this country. This ideal would truly bring about the redistribution of wealth and jobs along with the redistribution of justice and peace for all. “Freedom” brings about ideas of the American Dream—rising yourself up on your own. But “equality” calls for community engagement. Unfortunately, the evils of “freedom” are winning. Many Americans response to immigration issues has shown the hatred in this nation. Masked under the rhetoric of “personal freedom” hatred against immigrants is socially acceptable. There are many arguments about the complexity of this issue, but I simply propose that Christians are called to accept the outsider as the leaders of our spiritual journey once did. The issues surrounding immigration may be complex but the response should be simple. They are humans that deserve our respect, not our hatred. We have no right to throw them out of a country that we just happened to be born into. We truly have no right to this country either.

Anytime I see the phrase “God bless America,” the aspiring pacifist in me wants to hurt someone. In contrast to that saying, I offer a more accurate one: “God, please bless America for we have recently learned that we are not.” It is not very catchy and is rather drawn out, but it gets the point across. I do not consider myself a pessimist; I am simply Christian who is sick of living in a land rich with apathy and capitalism. I am a Christian who refuses to give into a corrupt system just because it’s the way things are. This country is fucked up, but it is not beyond repair and I will not let people continue the hopeless lies of defeat.

Pain & Suffering

Posted by Tim Posada On 12:46 AM 0 comments
Suffering. Depression. Pain. Sorrow. These are the words that define so many. When I say this, I mean something very different than most. Pain and suffering is all around us. It’s in the city streets. TV. Internet. Film. Music. Art. These mediums show us pain and suffering everyday. We may be numb to pain and suffering, but we are not numb when it finds us. Emotional suffering seems to be the only suffering we care about. We are often reminded of the poor and the injustices of the inner city, yet we only see pain in our own lives as worth noting (I say this because I am a hypocrite). Immigration has become that latest socially accepted form of racism—causing real suffering—and all many churches can speak is depression caused by an unfulfilled life without God—rather than showing a God that stirs people to love others.

It is quite easy to ignore social pain and suffering and simply focus on individual pain and suffering. After all, what happens to those “others” is not happening in front of us. They are dying under somebody else’s watch—it’s their fault. The mind plays a wonderful game. All one needs for this mind game is some denial and a closed mind. Guilt may slip in but it’s easily managed by shady logic.

When people go through their own form of suffering—which is normally not as bad as the suffering many others—they usually bask in the suffering, thinking only about that which is hurting them the most. What would happen if, in the midst of our own pain and suffering, we tried to help others? If we took a more communal approach maybe this could help ourselves. It could help us see the world around and remember that we are not the centre of anything beyond the drama of our own inner monologue. It’s a thought, but who’d really go for that?

Many will say that all suffer in different ways and, while some will suffer physically and others mentally, all suffering is not harder or easier but simply different. Only a middle-class white family could create something so user-friendly. All pain and suffering is horrible, but the facts speak louder than sentiment. If you’re emotionally in the suburbs, it’s a hell of a lost easier than watching your family get murdered in Rwanda. If you’re physically suffering in Orange County, it’s easier to get care than if you’re mentally suffering in Pakistan because, while you may be fine for the moment, your family can’t eat and you’re worried about the son you recently sent off in hopes of getting him smuggled into England for a better life (ultimately, mental suffering in other places less privileged than the rich world leads back to physical suffering).

By the time these words have been written and read, how many people will have died today, gone unfed, and been abused. By the last word, how many new sermons will have been written by the thousands of churches in the richest country in the world on becoming a voiceless for the voiceless—and using our money for something else rather than masking our inaction in an empty and unmeant prayer. Someone once said that no one gets into heaven without a reference from the poor. I cannot help but find that to be true. But as I write these words, I can’t help but remain depressed because of my own baggage. In the end, I’m another selfish American who would like to move, but suffer from a mix of apathy and social paralysis. I acknowledge the contradictions within this text. I further acknowledge that I am not giving due credit to individual pain. I understand that this is a defensive result of what John Locke refers to as “mythic American individualism.” Yet, this is what my mind is throwing up right now.

In closing I simply pray, “Lord, grant us the ability to find the answers to questions we have yet to ask.”

I'm sitting in my living room at around two in the morning. Earlier I saw the film V for Vendetta and I find myself stuck deciding if I liked it or if I thought it was horrible. My initial feeling was disappointment, as I expected a comic book movie with a lot of action-instead I got a story about a dictatorship and a supposed terrorist's attempt to take down the tyrannical state. There are several different ways to view this film and I have chosen to look at how this film strays from the average super hero structure, and reveals a film with something to say of the practice of nonviolence.


V as a Superhero

V follows the typical comic book structure of a hero: born of a traumatic event, doesn't fit in with society, and has extraordinary strength and intelligence. While V is proven to be strong and skilled with his knives, he is more like a mastermind villain. Meaning, he uses more strategy than sheer muscle power. In fact, his plan to bring the revolution does not come from the power of his blades but the depth of his thought out plan. This plan further leaves the general comic book structure because V's plan will only work through the power of numbers. The normal structure lets the hero take all the credit: the X-Men stop Magneto's plan to kill normal humans or Daredevil takes down King Pin on his own. But acknowledges that he and his actions are but mere symbols of something bigger.


Revenge or Justice

As the film progresses, it is clear that V is motivated by revenge. There is no need to kill anyone when he breaks into the broadcast network. From a prior seen, he shows that he can take down several characters without killing them, but here he kills them. This would prove more in line with his vengeance than a true call for justice. But the line between justice and revenge is later discovered. In the end, V acknowledges his own vengeance and realizes that his individual desire cannot decide the fate of this revolution, thus he tells Evey (Natalie Portman) that she must have the final say. This shows that the world of this film condemns the use of violence. By this I mean that in the fictional creation of this tyrannical London of the future, whatever forces run it (call them God or general morality) condemn V's use of violence as either selfish or excessive. What does work is V's original plan to unite the people with a common goal.


Symbolism & the Power of Numbers

What makes this film so interesting is the way in which the revolution comes. V finds a medium to reach everyone (his news broadcast). He plants the seed of revolution. He tells everyone to join together on a specific day (the fifth of November, the following year). The people come together and march against the soldiers of the tyrannical state, and they do so unarmed and ready to die. Thus, this film further leaves the commonly held ideas of the modern hero saving the day by him or herself. As the people stand against the soldiers, they all do so dressed in costumes to look just like V. This shows that V is not one man but everyone. No one person can bring about change, for true justice to come it must be a communal affair. This goes against modern individualism, which floods this culture, and is shown through the average film as well.

This film offers a powerful statement about bringing change in a nonviolent way. The vengeance that runs V actually takes away from his ultimate goal. This is emphasized by what Evey says to V (condemning his plot of revenge). The destruction of the parliament building could be seen as violent but it didn't kill anyone. It symbolized the fall of one government and the rise of a new era. In the end, the tyrannical leader Adam Sutler (John Hurt) is killed because of V's plot. While V's motives were revenge, this begs me to wonder about comparisons to Hitler. Even the pacifist Dietrich Bonhoeffer found joining an assassination plot against Hitler to be an exception to what he believed-though he would say that it was still a sin, but not doing it was a greater sin.

It would be easy for me to brush off this film but I can't. This may prove to be a tragic statement, but V for Vendetta may offer more insight into bringing change in a nonviolent way than most other films. At least the violence in this film is condemned as either selfish (used for revenge) or used to gain power (government murders and militant control). But the power of numbers to bring change is emphasized. This is what makes this movie so powerful. And this is why many of us won't appreciate it. In a culture of independent consumers who so desperately want to reach the "American Dream" alone, this movie shows us how dependent we are on each other. I acknowledge that there are holes in character development and the general plotline. Further, there was minimal action sequences-though this proved that the revolution would not come through the violence of a gun or knife, but through the strength of the population joining together against the powers that be. With this all said, I am willing to give this movie a little slack for its attempt to question the norms of the average Hollywood worldview.

American Worship pt. I

Posted by Tim Posada On 1:12 PM 0 comments
The modern-day church is failing. And I say this with as much optimism as I can. I once heard someone say that there are so many Christians turned off to the church, just imagine how much greater that number is among non-Christians. Worship music is among the many categories that are failing. Postmodernity is an arguable idea, but many agree that postmodernity says one thing: modernity is dead.

Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Darrel Evans, David Crowder, Jeremy Camp, Tommy Walker, and assorted organizations are the leaders of contemporary worship. Many are excited by these names, but an important question needs answering. Why have they formed their own genre? Worship music is no longer simply defined by the lyrics but now has a specific sound. This sound can be described as a step above of what is heard on contemporary Christian music stations: distortion is more noticeable, drums can dynamically press forward, and the bass can catch a groove. But with the exception of David Crowder, singers must have clean, inoffensive voices. By nature, worship music is simplistic due to the massive amount of songs many worship leaders need to learn—only Tommy Walker and Delirious have left this simplified format—to a dagree. From a musical standpoint, worship is still behind. Even the most updated worship band is still five years behind current music trends—minus San Diego-based Something Like Silas who have found a genre home with the post-emo crowd.

Sad fact: If worship leaders were not playing worship music, they would be out of a job. We are now back to the ancient argument of “Christian bands” or “Christians in a band.” What I mean by this is simple, should we be supporting mediocre music because a Christian made it. My initial answer would be no, because I hold to Madeline L’Engle’s concept that there are only two types of art: good art and bad art, and bad art is bad religion. Thus, do we really need more people badly representing the name of God? Many Christians will say they like the sound of worship music. I do not deny that, but I would further argue that their preference to this particular style of music has been socially constructed. Here is a simplified example: Eric was scolded for listening to secular music when he was in junior high. In fact, his parents made him stop listening to secular music and started making him listen to Christian music. He was forced to listen to so much Christian music that he got used to it as a genre (the recording styles, song structure, guitar effects, lyric formation), and forgot about earlier comparisons to mainstream trends that might have existed in his head. Another example: A young girl goes to church from a very young age where the only progressive songs played are “Lord, I lift your name on high” or “Shout to the Lord.” Then someone brings in new songs from Matt Redman. Redman’s music was years ahead of her normal dose of ‘80s worship. But 5-10 years ahead of her such a trend is still another 5-10 behind. These two examples prove an important point about Christian culture. First, a fear of changing with the times sets churches back several years and claims that any modern change is a sinful compromise. In looking at modern worship this way, it could be easy for any of the popular worship leaders to simply exploit the church music scene because it only has “up” to go.

This is only the music. I haven’t even started on the lyrical portion of songs, but that will be enough for today as I do not want to allow my pessimism to completely take over.

DEATH & REBIRTH: CAPTAIN AMERICAN TAKES UP ARMS