It Felt Like a Trap

I’ve spent the last couple of days of soaking up more films by Adam Curtis, one of the best living documentary filmmakers. Last year I watched The Power of Nightmares; earlier this year I saw The Century of the Self; lately I’ve been working through his two most recent: The Trap (2007) and It Felt Like a Kiss (2009).

It Felt Like a Kiss is an experimental film that is a haunting evocation of the essence of life during the Cold War. Its cast features “Rock Hudson, Saddam Hussein, Lee Harvey Oswald, Doris Day, Enos the chimp, and everyone above Level 7 in the CIA.” The excellent soundtrack was composed by Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz, etc) and performed by the Kronos Quartet, with loads of additional pop tracks from the period. There’s no real semblance of a plot or, unlike Curtis’ other films, any sort of thesis. It Felt Like a Kiss is quintessential Curtis in terms of look: heavy use of montages (including some dizzying works of editing genius) and heavy use of archival footage, proving that Curtis probably spends 8 hours a day poring through old film reels. Yet this is also a new Curtis — less documentarian, more artist. The result is a trippy hour-long exploration of the ironies, oddities, and ambiguities of 3 or 4 of the most pivotal decades in American history. Were the U.S. a psychotic individual, this film would be its deranged subconscious bubbling up, exposing some of the roots of our modern American madness.

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Where Gay Apologists Go Wrong

I really hesitate to write this post, but a confluence of factors has prompted me: Carrie Prejean’s Miss America drama, the CA Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold Prop 8, and a friend’s thoughtful response to that decision. Furthermore, now that I am done with C.U. I am free to write my opinions without fear of institutional reprisals (25 demerits and dismissal/expulsion).

When we talk about gay marriage, I think it’s best to drive straight to the heart of the issue. By that I mean that gay marriage, while an interesting subject in itself, is usually just a red herring: nobody who sanctions homosexuality will be opposed to it, and some who condemn homosexuality nevertheless won’t be opposed to gay marriage (I was once one of these for a long while). So the thorniest issue isn’t really marriage first & foremost, but homosexuality itself.

The friend I referenced in my first post is Bryce Bahler, who — it’s worth noting — was tremendously generous enough to host me for a day or two when I hitchhiked to Seattle. Bryce is also in charge of Facebook’s “Believers for Equal Rights” group and a staunch defender of gay rights. In light of the most recent Prop 8 news, he wrote a very good essay on why, as a Christian, he feels compelled to affirm homosexual believers. (I’m unsure, by the way, if this link will work if you’re not “friends” with Bryce on Facebook, but try it anyway).

Bryce’s note stirred up the usual responses, which often includes great consternation & befuddlement from the Cedarville crowd. I have a lot of sympathy for that kind of reaction, having spent most of my life with that mindset. I find Eugene Cho to be among those who’ve articulated this viewpoint in the most compassionate & thoughtful way possible. 

Yet I diverged from this path more than a year ago as a result of a paper I wrote for a C.U. Bible class on human anthropology (the professor, while disagreeing with me, nevertheless gave me an ‘A+’). I entered my research with an open mind, though with certain biases, but when it was all said & done I concluded quite differently than what I expected. You can read that paper in full right here: “Romans 1:26-27 and the Pauline Condemnation of Homosexuality” (pdf).

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