November 13, 2008

What Motivates a Miracle?

Category: Social — Cranky @

The Bible is a huge, sprawling work, and it’s full of stories. Some of these stories have a point, some don’t. Some parts of the Bible serve no faith-based purpose, and some do. Do the “begats” in Chapter 1 of Matthew really mean anything? I mean, other than to draw the line from David to Jesus through Joseph, which makes no sense at all.

Of all the parts of the bible, though, the one I find the most confusing is the story of Lazarus. I’ll recap it for you here.

1. Mary, who had anointed the feet of the Lord with ointment and wiped them with her hair, has a brother who is sick. That brother was Lazarus.
2. Mary and her sister Martha send word to Jesus of Lazarus’ sickness.
3. Jesus says, “Don’t sweat it. We’re gonna use this moment to do something big.”
4. Jesus waits two more days, and heads out. He has to be careful because the Jews mean him bodily harm.
5. Jesus tells his disciples, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps. We’re gonna wake him up.”
6. The disciples say, “Oh great – he’s just sleeping. He’s cool then.”
7. Jesus says, “It was a euphemism. He’s stone cold dead.”
8. The disciples say, “Ooooooooh – now we get it.”
9. Jesus and his entourage arrive and camp outside of town, near the home of Lazarus, who has been in the grave for four days. Lots of Jews are there.
10. Mary says, “If you had been here none of this would have happened.”
11. Jesus says, “Got faith?”
12. Mary says, “Yep.”
13. Jesus says, “Roll away the stone from the front of his tomb.”
14. Mary says, “Dude… it’s been four days. He’s gonna stink.”
15. Jesus says, “Didn’t I tell you it’d be cool? Go with it, baby.”
16. The stone is removed. Jesus cries, “Lazarus, come forth!”
17. Out Lazarus comes.
18. Most of the Jews that are there are much less interested in stoning Jesus. For now. Some of them, though, are not pleased, and off they go to tattle on him.

So what, exactly, was the point?

I can see two reasons for this act, neither of which are particularly satisfying. It could have been intended to provoke the Pharisees (and bravo – mission accomplished), or he could simply have been showing off to build support.

Either way, the clear loser in this transaction is Lazarus. Why was Lazarus ripped from heaven and stuffed back into a four-day-old corpse? That seems incredibly harsh. After all, Jesus wasn’t curing Lazarus’ illness… that ship had sailed. He was interrupting the man’s eternal bliss. Not only did Jesus not rush to save the man’s life, he delayed his trip specifically so that Lazarus would be good and dead when he got there.

Did the ends justify the means? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take away from this story. It just seems arbitrarily cruel.


September 8, 2008

Monkeys 1, Man 0

Category: Social — Cranky @

This past month has been very busy. I’m in the process of becoming a homeowner for the first time, and between packing, lawyers, inspections, and furniture shopping, I have had little time with which to put my opinions into prose. That’s not to say I haven’t been opinionated! Ask anybody.

This morning, though, I was witness to an extraordinary event, and I felt I should take a moment and share it with you. I drove to work today, which is unusual. Normally I walk to work. However, today may be the day I have to drive to my lawyer and get the final signatures down so that I can take possession of my new home.

As I walked up to the parking ticket machine, there were three people standing around. One had balled his fist, and was striking the front of the machine, and two more were on cell phones, presumably calling the vendor, whose phone number was prominently displayed on the front of the machine. All three looked dejected. I walked up, and saw that deep in the recesses of the coin slot a number of coins had completely jammed the mechanism.

I sighed, and reached down and picked up a slim slat of wood. There was construction all around, so wood bits were everywhere. I then took that slat and carefully inserted it into the coin slot. I fished it around for a moment and the coins obligingly fell through to the return slot. The three observers all smiled an retrieved their change.

For heaven’s sake, people. We’re supposed to be the evolved ones. Even a monkey can figure out that if you can’t get your fingers in something, a stick will often do the trick. Have our basic thinking skills become so stagnated that some of us hammer at the source of frustration with our fists, while others just succumb to powerlessness?

Sometimes it’s hard to feel positive about the future of mankind. I hope that the majority of people would have fished out the change… but I wouldn’t bet on it.


July 15, 2008

Nice Place To Visit…

Category: Social — Cranky @

When I look at Las Vegas, I see a city that spent the last decade fooling itself. They worked hard to change their image, trying to become a family vacation destination instead of a sin-laden centre of debauchery. Now, though, the city faces hard times as tourism from the rest of the U.S. dries up. If you want to know whether a recession is happening, you need only look to places that offer nothing that is actually necessary.

With the economic wolves at the door, Vegas is regressing. Actually, scratch that. It isn’t regressing – it’s returning to its roots. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Temporarily, that motto was shelved. Now it has reappeared in print and television advertising… and rightly so. North America has more than enough theme parks, water parks, museums, libraries, hiking trails, golf courses, recreation centres, gyms, and groups devoted to healthy, wholesome activities.

Vegas should be about doing things that aren’t good for you. It should be about naughty excess. It should be about drinking, smoking, gambling, sex, drugs, and all-you-can-eat buffets. It should be about paying for certain crazy experiences you might not find elsewhere. Vegas should be a place where you do your health a severe injustice, and your memory a huge favour.

Prudes and prissies need not apply. If you’re not going to walk the walk, or you’re just waiting for an excuse to poop on the party, don’t let the door hit your lily-white backside on the way out. Disneyland is thataway, baby.