Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What is a Systematic Theologian?

“The systematic theologian: a lamentable creature, whose reach exceeds his grasp, responsibility outdistances his competence; he is dependent on the Bible as his foundation, yet he lacks the exegete’s mastery of the language, textual intricacies and historical backgrounds. He can only aspire to the analytic rigor of philosophers. Historians shake their heads in dismay at his hasty generalizations, and longsuffering social scientists wait for him to say something relevant.”

-Kevin Vanhoozer

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Napoleon Won

We're nearing the 7th anniversary of the release of Napoleon Dynamite, in my opinion a third-rate comedy stuck in first gear for eighty-two minutes, yet it still managed to suck in an undeserving $47 million (thanks IMDB).  Since the movie challenges Star Wars and The Sandlot in the realm of pop culture ubiquity, a plot recap would be both hopelessly redundant and borderline nonsensical because there is no plot (thus also challenging Seinfeld's title of "the show about nothing").

In case my tone was not accurately conveyed in the above paragraph, let me be explicit: I did not like Napoleon Dynamite.  But that's not the point of this post, so put down your stones; I am writing to admit to something else.  Over the past few days I watched little bits of several different "comedy" films on Netflix Instant Watch, and I started asking the question that I often default to: What inspired this?  I enjoy discovering the origins and beginnings of things, so I turned my mental gaze to the origins/inspiration behind these films I watched.  And time after weary time, no matter how much I tried to shake the thought like a leech on my back, I had to honestly conclude:

Napoleon Dynamite is the most influential comedy of my generation

As much as ND draws on other comedy traditions (especially 80s romantic comedies), ND is in a class by itself.  No film before it had a cast made up of entirely awkward characters.  No film before it had more "awkard" scenes and dialogue than ND.  And now, most films and TV shows thrive on the Dynamite approach (pardon the pun) to less jokes and more "weird."

So I witness to Napoleon Dynamite's cultural influence, as much as I want to persist.  Napoleon, you win.