Review of Breaking Bad: A Fascinating Look At Sin

Like many people, I saw all the fuss over the end of the landmark television show Breaking Bad in social media last summer.  Since I had not yet watched the show, I didn’t know what was going on, though I did know the premise of it.  Over the past six weeks or so, I’ve been watching through all five seasons, and I’ve just recently finished.  My conclusion:  It’s a gripping show of human desperation, pride, greed, and ultimately sin, which ends up in destruction for all characters involved.

I’ll talk first about the acting and writing before I move on to the themes that so many find interesting in Breaking Bad.

Disclaimer:  There are spoilers here.  Flee far away if you do not want to read them.

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Blogging Archives #4: “Korean Pop in the Late 90’s”

For this post from the archives, it will be decidedly less serious.  I was studying for a church history exam on February 12, 2010, and as usual, I got distracted by youtube.  And for some odd reason, I started to think about a 1990’s K-pop group.  Some of these videos didn’t work anymore so I had re-locate them.  I asked Korean friends to help me translate one of the songs; it wasn’t good, but it’s better than I would have done, and it was funny.  I eventually had a friend who is fluent in Korean translate it for me, but that was in another post ;).

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So, I’m trying to concentrate on studying for my Church History test tomorrow, but then I remember… Korean pop?  Eh?

I went to Korea for the whole summer in 1997 with my siblings and my mother.  I was eleven years old then and it was 8 years since I had been, and it would be eight more years until I would go again (2005).  Of the many things I remember about that trip, I remember this peculiar Korean pop group called UP (pronounced by saying the letters), who were especially corny and cheesy and whose songs had the feel of Sesame Street.  They were exceptionally popular at the time and their songs (well, just two of them) were constantly playing on TV and the radio.  In 2005, I remember being highly amused when I heard the song again, although the group had virtually disappeared.  Why do I remember this?  I do not know.  Sharon still has their CD.

It has been twelve and half years.  WOW.  So long ago.  Is it possible to find a trace of this group now?  Why yes… it’s the Internet, after all.  For comparison’s sake, I will also post videos of American pop during this time.  Behold, K-pop in the late 90’s in all its glory!  Or… er, shame.  Click on the videos to find other videos on youtube; for present purposes, I will list a music video and a live event of their two most popular songs, mostly because music videos alone in the 90’s (and now too) are annoyingly a random mixture of short scenes that make me dizzy.

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Blogging Archives #3: “Review of William Paul Young’s ‘The Shack'”

This post is from February 24, 2011, and I review the controversial book The Shack written by William Paul Young.  I made edits and expansions when necessary; I actually tried to contract it a bit because it was pretty long.

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I have not written about UT basketball in a while; school’s been kind of busy.  Oh well. This post will not be about basketball but about William Paul Young’s The Shack, a very popular Christian book that came out a few years ago.  Over the years, there have been rather strong reactions to the book.  Some have sworn that it completely changed their outlook on God and Christianity.  Others, normally on the conservative evangelical side, have denounced the book as heretical, most notably Dr. Al Mohler and Mark Driscoll.  Since I have had the book in my possession for a couple of years and because of these strong reactions, I decided to read through it and see for myself what the big deal is.

My findings?  In a nutshell, both extremes are overreacting:  I am neither inclined to recommend the book to anyone or completely denounce it as heresy.  For the details, keep reading.

Before I begin, I want to explain how I will review the book.  I will not give a plot summary at all, although some plot details will surface as I explain some things.  Instead, I will primarily look at some of the accusations of heresy and see if they are legitimate.  It is important to keep in mind that this book is relatively tricky to review because it is not a book on systematic theology but a work of fiction, which means it will be quite a bit more artsy about how it conveys its thoughts .  Still, it is a book that was originally intended to teach Young’s children about his views on God and certainly intends to teach something, and thus it is perfectly legitimate to critique the ideas presented.  Also, I tried my best to read the book charitably while keeping a critical eye.  I did not try to find a heresy under every rock, and when things were ambiguous I tried to give the author the benefit of the doubt.  In addition, I will focus more on the theology on the book, in which Young worked with collaborators, than on the theology of Young himself, though that will come up when necessary.  I will also not discuss the lawsuit between Young and his associates because it does not impact the content of the book itself.

Anyway, while I will not give a summary, the basic idea of the book will be helpful: The main character, Mack, was on a camping trip and his daughter was kidnapped and brutally murdered at an abandoned shack.  Years later, he receives a letter from God to meet him at the shack, and from there the story unfolds.

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Blogging Archives #2: “Christian Judgment: What it is and is not”

As I said previously, I will, from time to time, re-post articles from an old blog if I find them interesting enough (or at least, not too embarrassing).  Here is one from April 13, 2011, and I tackle the common complaints of “judgment” about Christians, from within and without the church.  I’ve expanded or made edits as necessary.

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When I was just a sarcastic, cynical, and skinny 18 year old boy (… I guess not much has changed), I went to my freshmen orientation at the grandiose University of Texas.  About 90% of it was a waste of time, to be honest, and one of the useless things we were forced to attend were these discussion groups that were to talk about “deep” issues that we may face in college.  During one such meeting, one of my orientation advisers read off this statement to start a discussion:  “All Christians are judgmental.”  I rolled my eyes.  “Here we go…,” I thought.

One of my fellow prospective freshman shot up her hand and started ranting about the “rich” Christian white boys at her school who tried to talk to her about her beliefs (ironically, she was white).  What was amusing about this rant is that she did not pinpoint a single instance where these guys looked down upon her, insulted her, or otherwise treated her like crap.  She was merely angry they tried to share their faith with her in the first place and took that as “judgment;” after all, they were implying that her belief system is wrong.  Other students there agreed and nodded their heads.  I then raised my hand and dropped this:

“Disagreement isn’t ‘judgment.’  Christians are free to disagree with other worldviews and express that disagreement, just as many here are free to express their disagreement with Christians.  That’s fair game if we are concerned about truth.”

After a period of awkward silence, the orientation advisers hastily moved on to a new subject.

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Blogging Archives #1: “Ching chong ling long ting tong! A Post On Cultural Criticism.”

For many years, I blogged on Xanga, even after it fell out of favor.  I didn’t exactly like the format, but since it met my needs (…writing), I stuck with it.  I eventually moved to this WordPress site to separate my posts on sports, which were mostly about Texas football, from my posts about other things.  However, Xanga has recently been “upgraded,” and it seemed like a good time to move on completely.  Thankfully, you can download your blog archives, view them, and even import them entirely into a new site if you wish.  While some of my old posts will probably make me cringe (and therefore I’m glad they’re off the web), I’m glad I have access to them.  For those that still reflect my thoughts or I otherwise find to be worth re-posting, I’ll put them back up here with some edits and comments if needed.  It’s an easy way to put content up here as well ;).  I’ve already done it before on this post about alcohol.

So here’s a start of a new series here.  It allows me to see where my thoughts have developed but also reaffirm things that I still hold to.

The first post comes from March 15, 2011, and I wrote it after stumbling upon the infamous UCLA girl’s rant on Asians in the library.

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