Pure Poverty

James Preston 2 12:44 PM
For those that don't know, I have just returned from spending a week in Delhi, India. One of the most densely populated cities in the world. With over 13 million people in the city alone, there are 9294 people per sqaure kilometre. And that fact is certainly experienced.

This picture on the left barely does justice to the situation. Everywhere you go in the city, the sense of being surrounded seldom, if ever, leaves you. And with so many people in such a small area, there is bound to be poverty. But the poverty in India, and in particular Delhi, is different. It impacts you in ways you cannot imagine.

But what is so remarkable is that the people without don't look longingly at those with much. It is a very different mindset.

Of course, here in South Africa poverty is abundant. But those in poverty feel like the world owes them something. Beggars expect to be given to. It is their right. And this is wrong. But let me not digress...

The poor in India accept their circumstances, and the only reason they beg is because they have nothing else left. It is their only hope for survival. Take this woman for instance...

She was one of many that wrenched my heart. She expected nothing. She is the epitomy of pure poverty. Nothing left. Not even her dignity.

Oh Jesus, give me the Grace to outwork your love for people like this in the physical realm. You would have held this woman in your arms. Embraced her. While thousands pass her by each day, your love would have penetrated her heart as you showed it to her in action. Jesus, your Gospel is for everyone, especially the poor. Open our hearts to this Truth. One of the many that transpire from the Message of Love that is the Gospel.

I am back in South Africa now, and I will be posting an entire album of my truly remarkable experience in India on my website www.sonicsubstance.com within the next week.

The Dark Knight For Best Picture

James Preston 3 10:00 PM
I've been waiting to write a post about the movie The Dark Knight for a long time. Reason being, it ranks right up there as one of my all time favourites.

With the announcement of the nominees for next year's Academy Awards not far away, I thought now was the best time to let my opinion be heard.

It's not one of my favourites because of it's heart-stopping, edge-of-your-seat action. Nor it's breathtaking cinematography. Nor was it Christopher Nolan's interwoven, unpredictable storyline. Not even Heath Ledger's unforgettable, spine-chilling performance as The Joker makes it a favourite. Although all of these factors certainly have been taken into account.

What makes this July 2008 masterpiece one of my personal favourites is it's frighteningly accurate comment on society today, and where we are as a people.

The Dark Knight is more than a movie. It is art. And it most certainly isn't abstract art either.

Art is renowned for taking a dig at where society is at. Whether it be the political agenda of the day; be it certain limitations and restrictions on a certain people, whatever. Art always has a message. And it uses its chosen medium to get that mess age across.

Christopher Nolan (The film's director) uses film, and the Dark Knight in particular, to tell the world how fickle we really are. We so quickly want a saviour when things aren't going all that well for us. But once our chosen saviour has served their purpose, we are so quick to discard them.

"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

One of the pinnacle lines of the movie. And it su ms up exactly where we are as a people. We don't want our heroes to die heroes. Once they've served their purpose as saviour, we want to find what it is they've done wrong. And how bad they really are.

And I say all this because this is the reason the latest installment in the new Batman franchise will win "Best Picture" at the 2009 Academy Awards in February next year. Big call, I know. But this film has it all. Superlative acting, sublime screenplay, scintillating action, and serious cinematography. This film has it all.

The only film ever to gross more than $500 million at t he box office, Titanic, won Best Picture in 1997. No other film until now has ever broken through the $500 million barrier. Last time I checked, the Dark Knight was sitting pretty at $528 million.

A movie doesn't rake in that kind of cash because it packs a real punch, no... More than that, tt brings in the masses because it's a darn good movie!


Have you seen the movie? Let me know what you thought, and if you agree with my comments above!

Until next time…

Barack Obama Wins

James Preston Reply 10:41 PM
Well, just as I assumed (as did most the world) Barack Obama won the race to become the next President of the USA. That's if he can hold on until the 20th of January. The day he gets sworn in. (Until then he's just the President Elect).

But what I didn't predict was the huge margin by which he beat his opponent John McCain. It was quite something.

I do feel for Johnny. Both candidates were very humble in the way they accepted the result. I guess due to the margin. They were both humbled, for different reasons.

But it was nice after the bitter comments made in the past by Al Gore and John Kerry. So there you go Democrats, you finally won! Enjoy it.

Time will tell whether Barack can withstand the pressure of this most difficult of roles.

God speed sir.

Who Consumes The Most Oil?

James Preston 2 4:31 PM
Who do you think?

Without any shadow of a doubt, the ignoramuses in the Western hemisphere. The U.S.A..

5% of the world's population consumes more than 25% of the world's most valuable resource. Oil. That is immoral. To say the least.

I recently watched the eye-opening 2005 blockbuster film "Syriana". The one where George Clooney won an Oscar for "Best Supporting Actor". What a great comment about the American's consumer mindset. And what was so refreshing, was that it was made entirely by Americans.


It is about time they started evaluating their ominous situation.

The film is a clear statement concerning America's lust for oil. And how their government will do whatever it takes to obtain the precious commodity as cheaply as possible. Of course it has taken artistic license here and there, but considering it is based on a book by Robert Baer (a former C.I.A. agent) it poses a lot of deep questions.

The producers of the film (Academy Award Winner Stephen Gaghan) aimed to do exactly what I am expressing here: Reveal America's out-of-control consumerism, and the price they are willing pay to keep that self-destructing ball rolling.

But what is most startling is how true to fact it really is. Here we are: November 2008. 3 years on from the film's release.

The world markets are among the most volatile in history. Swiss banks are going bankrupt! Entire nations are going bankrupt! (Greenland)

Why?

Because the Americans can't stop consuming. That is what it comes down to. The American people couldn't help themselves, and their banks were happy to keep lending at ridiculous rates. The banks found themselves in trouble. So did their markets. And before you know it, the insecurity this all created for Wall Street became too much. Their markets crash. And so do the rest of the world's.

And the Chinese are smiling all the way to their preverbial reserve bank!

The Bible is full of warnings against such gluttony. Proverbs 23:2 is probably the most severe:

"...put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony."

Our world has forsaken the sanctity of the Bible. The West questions it as the infallible word of the living and personal God.

Pity, because now look at the hole the West finds themselves in.

What am I not saying?

I am not saying that we should live as monks and not enjoy life. We should enjoy ourselves. And that of course costs money. But for crying out loud! Let's live within our means!

I read a remarkable truth recently: The world goes into chaos when the rich are struck by severe financial crisis. But for centuries we have turned a blind eye to the constant tragedy of those in poverty.

Come on world. Wake up.

What Change Will Barack Obama Bring?

James Preston 2 11:46 PM
For me as a South African, the relevance of the American poll is minimal. But as always, the fight for the helm of the "free world" is always an interesting bout.

But I just wanted to get something off my chest.

1.Barack Obama will become the next president of the USA.
Mark my words. While every other media outlet asks the question, I make the outright prediction. From what have I drawn my conclusion? His smile. I am telling you, people vote for a face. A person they can trust. Barack's smile has that quality in abundance. McCain doesn't even have a smile.
2.A major controversy will arise during his term of Presidency.
Come on. Someone somewhere is already digging in the dirt of this guy's history. We've already seen it with Sarah Palin's attack on his support from a "domestic terrorist".
I know it is terrible to say so, and speak such words into being, but you almost get that feeling "it's only a matter of time". It is the unfortunate reality that Western society today only builds heroes up just so they can tear them down again.
"You either die a hero. Or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." Credit to Christopher Nolan for that quote. It comes from Aaron Eckhart in Batman: The Dark Knight.

So remember... You heard it first right here.
Let me know your thoughts and feelings. Post a comment, and let's get talking!

Concentration Retards - Thanks Google!

James Preston 6 9:48 AM
Well howdy folks. My blogspot profile has been fairly dormant in recent months. Well, actually, this is my first official blogspot post of 2008, so yes, dormant may be a good way to describe it.

A good subject to open my 2008 postings would be our handicapped ability to read and concentrate. The fact that you are here indicates you make up a portion of our society with internet access. Odds are, you've had such access for a while now. (Any amateur user still wouldn't know the meaning of "Blog", so I doubt we have any amateurs, right?) I was first introduced to the internet in the late nineties. Back when it was more of a rare phenomenon. I became a "user" in 2001 thanks to a job I took at Highway Radio. As my use and reliance of the internet has increased, I am ashamed to say that I have witnessed and experienced the degradation of my ability to concentrate when reading or writing.

Even the fact that you got this far is impressive in my books!

I came across an article on the net entitled "That's Why They Call Them Browsers". Whatever program you are using right now, whether it be Internet Explorer 6.0 (Shame); Firefox; Chrome; Opera or Safari (Shame again), they are all applications we term "Browsers". And it all makes sense! The internet is a mine of information. The problem is; there was never any protocol of how it should be established.

And what we have now is a wealth of information stored on pages with so many links and adverts; it makes it impossible to concentrate on the very article you are reading! Go have a look at http://www.nytimes.com/ for instance. One of the most significant newspapers in the world, but each article bombards you with other adverts and articles that you barely have time to satisfy your reading before you become interested in another catchy article!

We browse; and miss out on the joy of indulging in the entirety of an article, essay, or piece of literature.

The internet has retarded us. I love reading. The English education system taught me to read from early on. And I haven't stopped. But I have noticed that in the last 7 years of increased internet usage my concentration ability has become seriously handicapped.

What's the point of this article? Just a wake up call for those that have come across it.

A wake up call for us as intelligent beings "made in the image of God" to take stock of where we are as a society. I am adamant of not allowing my handicapped ability to read prevent me from reading great literature!

The Doctors among us will call this A.D.D. among other syndromes. I call it another brick in the wall of "society's degradation".

Would love to hear your comments!

Until next time...

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