This Film is 2/3 Over

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Officially completed my second of three cycles! That means next Thursday begins my final 3-week cycle, starting off with the oh-so-lovely 5-day treatment from hell. But hey, it will be my last 5-day!

Had an appointment with the doctor yesterday and everything is on track. I am kicking cancer’s ass in the blockbuster action film of the summer that will have no sequels. That’s right, you heard me cancer – no sequels.

Speaking of films though, here are some new ratings for your enjoyment: The Hangover (Excellent), Frost/Nixon (Excellent), What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (Very Good), Barton Fink (Very Good), The Lives of Others (Excellent), The Promotion (Good), There Will be Blood (Excellent), The Green Mile (Excellent)

And while I’m at it, here are some books I’ve read thus far. All come highly recommended:

A Persistent Peace: One Man’s Struggle for a Nonviolent World by John Dear
This book follows the story of John Dear, a Jesuit Priest who has consistently stood for peace through radical non-violence. Ironically this peace stance landed him in countless jail cells over the years. His story is truly compelling; it has moved me to a non-violence position. It is a position that I did not always stand in, but I find myself now totally convinced.

As I put my body through this intense warfare, I wonder why and how we have come to a place where we so easily resort to inflicting pain upon each other and ourselves. Imagine if we lived in a world where war wasn’t even an option? If violence was not a tool by which our nation seeks to gain power, but instead that tool was peace. It sounds hokey, perhaps, idealistic at the least. And yet, why couldn’t we be that kind of society? Perhaps a better question that this wonderful book raises: what will happen to us if we remain on course – if we keep choosing to respond to violence with violence? Dr. King puts it best with this, “It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.”

Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch
I had been recommended this book for some time now and I finally read it. What a refreshing read it is. Regardless of your religious background, this book gives you a whole new perspective on God, spirituality and religion. It puts you in control and in touch with a profound spirituality. One eye-opening example I can offer: there is no hell! Why would God offer us free will, but then say, “make sure you make the right choices.” What kind of free will would that be? And is he such a vengeful God to want to punish us for eternity? These are just a few of the very freeing points made in this book.

Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox
I figured I could use a healthy dose of optimism as I go through treatment, so I purchased Michael J. Fox’s latest book. I’ve always been amazed at this actor’s strength and moved by his story. His optimism is so evident through the stories that he tells in this book and even his warm writing style. Fox responded to his disease by starting what is now the #1 Parkinson’s Foundation. His achievements are, to put it lightly, inspiring. His book is a great read about all facets of life. I really enjoyed it.



Author: John Abdulla

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  1. Wow, your picks sound really inspiring! I'm loving the optimism! And you know that I'm not too religious but I'm willing to read Conversations with God as it does sound very soothing and not as if it's trying to suck you into one type of religious belief. Great choices bro!
    As always much love,

  2. Mmm…no hell? I disagree with the author you recommend. If there is truly free will, there is hell ~ for people must be free to choose NOT to love ~ to choose egoism, comfort, and distraction rather than love, empathy, courage and action. And, the NOT loving is hell.

    Being trapped in one's own ego ~ the extreme self-consciousness of one's own small world of needs, wants, and desires..well, I suspect this is hell's beginnings. And, I think that living with the clarity of one's choices and consequences and the subsequent regrets after death and being powerless to do anything about them ~ wouldn't this be hell? And, how would one be able to NOT run from the all knowing source of love in the face of what we would have to look at within ~ our choices stripped of all the rationalizations we offer ourselves as justifications? I think that rather than God placing us in hell, I think we run to it if we are choosing to NOT love if we choose to remain stubbornly righteous and unrepentant in the face of the selfish choices we make…

    I do not think for one minute hell is God's punishment ~ unless one "blames" God for the "punishment" of the freedom to choose to love.

    Be wary of spirituality that ignores the reality of free will and the response-ability to love. We are accountable to this freedom.

    Rather than the punisher ~ I see God as the enabler ~ empowering me to choose love in spite of my wants, perceived needs, and desires for comfort and consolations, popularity and small world concerns…what am I to eat…what am I to wear…I also see Jesus as God's self-proclaimed message that mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation is always ours to have for the asking ~ and commitment. So, I do not have to remain in the hell of my choices; I can choose to forgive and ask forgiveness. I can repair the damage my lack of love has caused. I can choose to choose differently next time. I can grow in awareness and love.

    Given the many blessings that you and I have, John: water, food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, freedom of expression, freedom from the daily violence that so many people live with in countries such as Chechnya, (// ~ wouldn't hell be the regret that we did not truly appreciate these blessings and actively desire them for others because we were selfish? Hell exists probably to the degree that we are free.

    Thanks so much for providing the space for real conversations about important stuff like hell, peace, optimism…

    No sequels! Right on!!!

  3. How about a prequel? You could have Darth Cancerous scream "noooo" after he finds out he killed the healthy cell he replicated from.

    I find it unfortunate you did not rank Barton Fink as "excellent," it's my favourite Coen.

    As for King, here's a little exchange between my man Malcolm X and George Lincoln Rockwell (founder of the American Nazi Party): "Rockwell's principal message was racial separation and attempted to form friendly associations with the Nation of Islam. He praised Elija Muhammad as the 'Black people's Hitler', and for doing the best job in promoting integrity and pride among his people. Rockwell also admired Malcolm X, seeing him as the next true leader for Black America. However, in 1965, after Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam, he sent Rockwell a telegram while he was on his 'Hate Bus' tour of the South, threatening Rockwell with 'maximum physical retaliation from those of us who are not hand-cuffed by the disarming philosophy of nonviolence', should MLK Jr. or "any other black Americans who are only attempting to enjoy their rights as free human beings" be harmed. Badass.

    As I'm sure you're aware, I'm a hardcore atheist. And as I'm sure you're ALSO aware, I've no lack of inspiration when it comes to morality, values, and choice-making. As for God, I say: let him/her/it be but an allegory for perfection. I may not believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, and (most importantly) omnibenevolent entity, but that is very clearly the formula for perfection. Always wanting what is best, always knowing what that is, and always having the power to accomplish it. That being said, the expression WWJD (following that Jesus is a human incarnation of God – God limited to a human form) holds as much significance for me as it does a fundamentalist evangelical. Choice is a matter of guessing at what is best (I would argue maximum happiness) based on the imperfect view we have of the world, and acting such that we get as close to that "best" as possible. In more eloquent terms, I'll quote the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." Of course as an interesting contradiction, aspiring to be like God is what first defined evil and landed Satan his position of BBQ king. Though I should also mention, in the least-tainted texts that exist, Satan is not the "shadow-figure" archetype we've come to view them as, but the "adversary" IN the heavenly court, whose duty is to argue for the other side (like a lawyer). I'm not sure if those same texts have the Muslim view that Angels are not free-willing entities of their own, but rather emanations/manifestations/aspects/avatars of God, but it's very possible; and this would indicate opposing viewpoints may be perfectly acceptable, so long as they are reasonable. It could also just indicate that when two matters of divine word come into conflict (like don't kill and stone the homo to death), either is acceptable.
    ^Do I need to get a life or what?

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