The summer blockbuster Troy is neither as bad as it might be nor as stirring as it should be. As directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot), it is an entertaining display of sword-and-sandal heroism via the medium of modern movie technology. But since this is a story about the Trojans, Achilles and Hector, providing a decent adventure story is simply not enough.
If God is your answer to every question, eternal and absolute once-and-for-all kind of answer, without a doubt, no wondering, dithering or hypothesizing, no clever juggling, struggling, pondering or agonizing no raised eyebrow or pursed lips, no tilted head with faraway gaze— just straight out, eyes glazed, one syllable, constant and unequivocal, you smiling, smiling, always smiling sweetly to every question: God; Then, all questions vanish, all questions perish, and you stand like a post from one of your fences, not even enough of you for the upright of a cross like one Jesus chose at the end, facing death, and desperately asking the ultimate question: God, where are you? and hearing nothing, resigned to silence, said, Nevertheless, I AM and died the Lamb still with his question. Now there’s an answer, God.
The German occupation of France, a sinister and embarrassing epoch for the French, tends to be treated by them with dutiful solemnity or avoided altogether. Therefore the gleeful irreverence of Jean-Paul Rappeneau and his team of screenwriters in Bon Voyage is refreshing, even liberating.
The girl in the pew next to me is doing her math between prayers. I peek at the certainties on her page yearning for a time I knew clearly that the sum of e to the minus x from nothing to the infinite was always and everlasting one and I could prove that everything that rises must converge.
Now the slow hardening of my brain's arteries has rubbed those crisp clear certainties until they're ragged with doubt and experience. Was the sine the one next to me over over the big one? Or the opposite? Was the answer a precise one or pi, that vague pipe dream that we've chased to 51 billion places and still don't know exactly?
I chant my beliefs and wonder what proofs I am seeking here. Add up the blessings of the world and subtract the sins and you've got what? Add up my own petty closed set of real and imaginary without limit. Can it ever exceed zero?
The mass is over and the little girl kneels in the aisle crosses herself, the sign of our shared belief in a world beyond or the mathematician's plus sign, the sign that says with a certainty: something more.
Here’s my question. What if there was a poem That didn’t know what it was about until it got To the end of itself? So that the poet’s job isn’t To play with imagery and cadence and metrical Toys in order to make a point, but rather to just Keep going in order to find out that the poem is About how hard it is to watch your kids get hurt By things they can’t manage and you cannot fix. If I had been the boss of this poem I would have Made it so they can manage things, or I could be The quiet fixer I always wanted to be as a father; But that’s not what the poem wanted to be about, It turns out. This poem is just like your daughter: No one knows what’s going to happen, and there Will be pain, and you can’t fix everything, and it Hurts to watch, and you are terrified even as you Try to stay calm and cool and pretend to manage. Some poems you can leave when they thrash too Much but kids are not those sorts of poems. They Have to keep writing themselves, and it turns out You are not allowed to edit. You’re not in charge At all—a major bummer. I guess there’s a lesson Here about literature, about how you have to sing Without knowing the score . . . something like that. All you can do is sing wildly and hope it’ll finish So joyous and refreshing that you gape with awe.
Philosopher Michael Ruse is an ardent evolutionist and unbeliever, but he often comes to the defense of believers who are under fire from militant atheists like Richard Dawkins. Ruse says his sympathetic stance toward religion is partly due to his Quaker upbringing. “I grew up surrounded by gentle, loving (and very intelligent) Christians. I never forget that,” said Ruse. He also objects to what he regards as bad atheist arguments. Evolution explains the existence of religion as an adaptive mechanism, but that doesn’t necessarily explain it away. “It is as plausible that my love of Mozart’s operas is a byproduct of adaptation, but it doesn’t make them any the less beautiful and meaningful,” Ruse said (New York Times interview, July 8).