Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Sad Day for Irony

The New York Times wrote a piece about Walmart which Walmart "fact checked" which was then counter "fact checked" by the Huffington Post. <sigh>

The comments, as usual, are rampant and mostly side with the side of the article the person is reading. Feel free to wade in those waters if you like. But for me, the piece I haven't seen mentioned at all is something so painfully obvious that I just can't fathom how we haven't mentioned it yet. The one section of the original article that made me roll my eyes was this little gem:

It's a sad day when we have to look to corporations for education, health care and basic ways to boost the middle class. Most advanced nations do those things for their people. ... By default, we have no choice but to lean on our corporate overlords.

He's probably railing against corporatism and just doesn't realize it yet. There's much irony there, but that's not what made me roll my eyes. The question is much more obvious:

What do "advanced nations" do to generate wealth to fund education, health care, and boost the middle class?

I'm not an economist. I know very little. But I do know this: The only way a nation makes money is by people producing goods/services and trading them locally/globally. In other words, we create wealth when we produce stuff. Citizens, individuals, and businesses create value and trade in goods and services to such profit that the government can tax their activity to provide for things the government and/or its citizens want done.

The government does not have a way to generate wealth in and of itself. It takes a cut of every transaction -- including a car you buy used, which has already been taxed and, should it be sold multiple times, could be taxed for more than it was originally sold. In a very real sense, then, even if we were to find a government-run utopian solution to education, health care, and middle class boosting, we would do so by leaning on our corporate overlords ...our employers, be it ourselves or someone else.

So what is the article's author's solution?

Congress could raise the minimum wage, make college more affordable, or even make it universally accessible for all qualified applicants. At the very least, it could reduce the student loan burden.

Solution 1: Have the government create wealth. Uh, how is Congress going to generate the money needed to pay everyone more? Printing money does not create value, it creates inflation which reduces the value of the dollars already owned (which is great for people, or governments, in debt, not so good for people only buy what they can afford).

Solutions 2 & 3: Make college cheaper/free. How? Thus far, from what I've read, the skyrocketing tuition costs are precisely because of the government's involvement. I like the idea of free online education -- hence why I offer my own free film school -- but there are huge problems with free online education; my own experience has shown that students don't complete free online classes.

Solution 4: Reduce the student loan burden. I don't even know what that means from any kind of practical standpoint.

Any solution based non-ironically on irony is simply sad.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

Monday, June 09, 2014

Why Kids Today Can't Define Marriage

Marriage is about LOVE

This image showed up in my Facebook feed today, posted by one of my super-sweet "kids" whom I love dearly. But every time one of my friends shares these kinds of images, Duty Calls... not because I want to start a shouting match on Facebook, but because, as my friend, I feel like this person deserves to have a chance to at least think about these things for more than the time it takes to click "like."

Let's run through this, shall we?

1. What is love? (by the way, greatest proto-techno song ever <smile>) Or, to be more precise, how is marriage-oriented love different and distinct from the many other loves we have in life (family, friends, pets, technology [like for your iPhone or the near-future presented in the film "Her"], lovers, sweethearts, crushes, etc)?

2. Assuming we have a workable definition of what "LOVE" -- as mentioned in the photo above -- means, what is wrong with polygamy, polyandry, or marrying your children once they are of age? Is there? Or does Equal not mean Equal?

3. What is marriage? Marriage should certainly be about love ... but the thing something is about does not, in any way, define what it is. I know that may not be very clear, so an example: A television show can be about gay weddings, but it is not -- itself -- a gay wedding. So what is marriage?

4. Assuming we have a working definition of marriage, let us not forget the very insightful words of Jay Michaelson: "'Marriage will never set us free,' wrote academics Dean Spade and Craig Wilse last September, ... same-sex marriage is a step backward for LGBTQ people and others whose agenda is liberation rather than assimilation." [Hat Tip: Brian Sandifer]

Love is beautiful. Marriage is beautiful. Marriage is also (as rightly pointed out in the image above) more than a religious thing (though religion is there); it is more than a baby thing (though, as we know, that's there too); it's more than about money (though that's a big part of it, and the major reason why the government is involved at all). So, as it stands, marriage is a cultural phenomenon highly influenced by religious thought and political pressures. It also, depending on the history you read, has a strong basis in religious symbolism and ideals. We, as a society (especially within the church) have allowed it to stop being everything it is and instead joined the masses in believing marriage is about "being happy" and "love." But what it is, at its heart, that we have lost. And so, given that, I'm fine if our society wants to make marriage about "LOVE" of whomever or however many. That doesn't bother me. But the loss of what traditional marriage is and means, that is a significant loss indeed. Especially in light of the fact that most kids I talk to today can't even define marriage or why someone would want to get into it other than that they are "in love" and want to "be happy" ...whatever that means.

I'm not trying to stir up any heated arguments, I just want to point out -- again -- the silliness of these kinds of sentiments and how little thought there is behind them.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

Monday, May 06, 2013

Photos, Miracles, Lies, and Humor

God, the comedian on Facebook, recently re-posted a picture from Nirmukta:

Miracles vanished with the invention of the camera ...until Photoshop



It's also insipid and a lie.

As a filmmaker, I have a mild interest in the image acquisition game. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the camera was invented in 1888. Photoshop was released exactly 100 years later, in 1988. Based on the graph above, we should have zero reports of miracles during the early 1900s.

Does that match up with reality?

Not at all.

Google instantly fed me a few options, from the odd Miracle of the Sun to the massive Pentecostal healing movement. In other words, the graph above--created by an organization dedicated to promoting Science and Freethought--felt free enough to generate data to promote their ideals, disregarding all facts to the contrary. And here's why that bothers me so very, very much: Since this is humor, it turns off people's minds. Rather than thinking about what they've seen on Facebook, the masses fall in step and say, "Yeah! Miracles, what a bunch of hogwash!" And in their ignorant free-thought, they swallow the lie, hook, line, and sinker.

Granted, this group exists to "promote a naturalistic life philosophy as a moral and fulfilling alternative to religion and spirituality." ...something that simply cannot be done. There is no morality in naturalism. Naturalism, while absolutely a philosophy, discredits itself as such. And naturalism cannot bring fulfillment. This aspect of their mission fails before we finish the bullet point.

Another goal is to "promote scientific literacy and to fight against pseudo-science." I would propose that the best way to do this is to create information that is scientific and discard this rubbish you find funny but does the exact opposite of your stated purpose. I'd also recommend that in teaching "scientific literacy" they also encourage people to learn to think well at the same time, and so realize that naturalistic thinking produces crap... what C.S. Lewis so masterfully illustrates as "secretions."

On the fully naturalistic view all events are determined by laws. Our logical behaviour, in other words our thoughts, and our ethical behaviour, including our ideals as well as our acts of will, are governed by biochemical laws; these, in turn, by physical laws which are themselves actuarial statements about the lawless movements of matter. These units never intended to produce the regular universe we see: the law of averages (successor to Lucretius's exiguum clinamen) has produced it out of the collision of these random variations in movement. The physical universe never intended to produce organisms. The relevant chemicals on earth, and the sun's heat, thus juxtaposed, gave rise to this disquieting disease of matter: organization. Natural selection, operating on the minute differences between one organism and another, blundered into that sort of phosphorescence or mirage which we call consciousness--and that, in some cortexes beneath some skulls, at certain moments, still in obedience to physical laws, but to physical laws now ļ¬ltered through laws of a more complicated kind, takes the form we call thought. Such, for instance, is the origin of this paper: such was the origin of Professor Price's paper. What we should speak of as his 'thoughts' were merely the last link of a causal chain in which all the previous links were irrational. He spoke as he did because the matter of his brain was behaving in a certain way: and the whole history of the universe up to that moment had forced it to behave in that way. What we called his thought was essentially a phenomenon of the same sort as his other secretions--the form which the vast irrational process of nature was bound to take at a particular point of space and time.
~C.S. Lewis "God in the Dock" Religion without Dogma?

Also, manipulating of images began long before Photoshop or the camera was invented. Here are a few examples of photo-tampering from the past. In case you're interested.

Please, use your brain. Feel free to chuckle, as I did, but know that you're being fed lies. You'd be foolish to accept them blindly.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Michael Moore, Monsanto, and Me

A few years ago I watched Michael Moore's flick about Capitalism. After the credits, a simple search revealed that Moore was merely mistaken when he created his flick: It's Corporatism, silly man.

I just finished watching a far-less fun flick, but with a bit more information: Genetic Roulette. If you've been in the gluten-free world and seen Food, Inc--as I have--the first 40-60 minutes may be familiar (or boring). But there's some good stuff that was new to me, and the end really picks up.

So, Michael Moore misunderstands what he rants about and Monsanto sure looks evil... what do those have to do with each other?


Going into the Genetic Roulette film, I expected some kind of cry for government intervention or overhaul. You know, the two sides to the same coin where Reds and Blues live. Instead, I found the Libertarian view peeking around the corner. "We have the power," the filmmaker intoned. "It's up to us to make this right by using market forces to bring change that our government--for a billion (trillion?) little green reasons--has failed to do."

Granted, just like Michael in his films, there was lots of talk of what the government should do, and what evil, money-grubbing corporations have done... but ultimately, the burden was placed back on us: the people.

I found that happily refreshing. Like a GMO-free smoothy.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taxes and the Trinity

The Mormon Missionaries have shown up again, which is always really cool. We get to sit down and just chat about whatever they bring up. Every time it's different, so I always wonder if I'm saying the right thing. Ultimately, it's up to God... but your prayers are always welcome as we chat with all the kids God brings into our lives (what a joy and blessing!).

This week, the doctrine of the Trinity came up again. We were reading 3 Nephi 11 and came across verse 27: "...verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one."

I stopped us there. "That sounds pretty Trinitarian to me."

The one response they had was that in verse 32, Jesus is recorded as saying, "I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me." Thus showing distinction between the two... namely, that they aren't truly one in anything other than purpose.

Standing under the hot water of my morning shower, a thought struck me: The Trinity is modeled in Taxes. I've heard many explanations and word pictures used to describe this mystery. How does this one fit?

Brittany and I are two distinct persons. If we had a kid, that'd be a third. But to the government, we are but one entity when filing taxes: The Holzmann Family. They see us as dependents and parents, to be sure, but ultimately we are only one. One family, three persons.

Considering how often God uses family to give us pictures of who He is and how He works--Lover, Husband, Parent (Ezekiel 16 comes to mind)--it doesn't seem like a very big stretch to think that this may be another glimpse into the mystery of the Trinity. God, in and of Himself, makes up a complete "family." But this heavenly family is made up of the persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the unit is the Godhead Trinity.

That make sense to you? Or is my morning shower not the best time for theological pondering?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Friday, October 28, 2011

Free Film School

Learn how to make movies.

I haven't been on this blog much because I've been working on my Filmmaking 101 course. It's a 36 week introduction to movie making. The first ten weeks are up and running, and I'm working on getting the rest done.

But I have a problem: I don't know who wants to learn how to make movies. So, I'm passing this on to you to pass on to anyone you know who wants to learn how to shoot videos. If you have an aspiring filmmaking--or are one yourself--please check out my free film school and tell others as well.


 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Love and Reconciliation

"I had just gone through a really bad breakup." Her smile--which always lights up a room--carried a heart-wrenching pain. "He started making snide comments and I told him I just couldn't handle that right then. He blew up and said, 'No man is ever going to put up with your BS!'"

A moment.

She lifted her eyes. "So, yeah. It's hard to pretend that everything's okay right now."

This is a story of forgiveness. This is a story that hasn't ended yet. For now, this girl can forgive the man. Indeed, she must. Carrying bitterness destroys the soul. Thankfully, we--by God's grace--have been given the ability to forgive those who wrong us. Not because it restores the relationship between us and them, but because it allows us to be free of the bondage of being wronged.

"Has he ever admitted he was wrong? Has he apologized?"

"No. Never."

But forgiveness is not reconciliation. If a company purposefully cheats you, you can decide it's not worth suing them. You can decide to let that go. You can move on with your life. But you wouldn't use that company again. The cheating company would need to apologize, admit their mistake, make a policy change and work to make restitution. Forgiveness is one thing. Repairing a relationship is another.

Today the world is abuzz with talk of Universalism and the idea that a loving God wouldn't send people to Hell. Christ's shed Blood covers the sin of all mankind. God is love and God ultimately wins.

But like the scene in Bruce Almighty where Jim Carrey tries to command his girlfriend to love him, I'm not sure even God has the ability to make us love Him. He can absolutely forgive us; indeed, He has. He can even pay for the wrong we've done. He's done that too. But relationships are two-way. Reconciliation requires repentance at some level.

This is why, no matter how much she longs to be reconnected with her father, my friend is separated from him until he asks for forgiveness. And this is why salvation through the grace of God is such a beautifully simple, yet brutally severe transformation: It requires us to admit we were wrong. It requires us to drop our pride. It requires us to accept the forgiveness already offered us.

When a man can't allow himself to make right the relationship with his daughter, it's little wonder we can't bring ourselves to the grace of God. We can bide our time and try to sweep things under the rug of our relationship. But all the forgiveness in the world won't make us friends again. That requires us to accept the forgiveness given.

"But I do accept her forgiveness," this man may say. "That's why I'm trying to move on."

You can't do that. You can't skip the important step of repentance, of apologizing with an aim to be better. Until you do that, you've merely accepted civility and tolerance. Grace and forgiveness say, "You have wronged me, but I will still accept you as a friend." To respond and say, "I'm glad we can still be around one another," ignores the first part. We must bring ourselves to say, "Thank you so much for being my friend. I am so sorry I have wronged you."

That is accepting love in a way that brings reconciliation.

The difference between the two responses to love is painfully clear. A girl, who loves her father, quietly mourns that divide.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester