Thursday, December 17, 2009

William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

Political intrigue and war hang in the air around Rome in the year 44 B.C. Conspirators, spearheaded by Cassius, a senator, plan to perform an act that would change the course of history and inspire even a play to be written. These bloodthirsty monsters plot to kill Julius Caesar. In the end, their goals are accomplished, but their actions bring about some unexpected consequences, as a civil war breaks out between them and the allies of Caesar. William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar entertained me with a tale of deception and retribution.

One of the characteristics that I most enjoyed about this read was the sheer amount of hidden themes within. For example, Shakespeare tried to convey a message stating that destiny exists by use of supernatural occurrences. Near the beginning of the play, a soothsayer approaches Caesar telling him to “beware the ides of March.” His wife dreams hinting that he will die that day, and even a scholar attempts to warn him of his safety. Through everything though, Caesar still goes to the Senate, and is assassinated there. No one could do anything to change his fate, just as Shakespeare intended. Another way this theme is illustrated is in Caesar’s ghost appearing to Brutus. His ghost says that they will meet again in Philippi. Brutus could have gone anywhere, but ended up in Philippi, where he saw the ghost again, and later committed suicide. In both examples, Shakespeare attempts to convey a message about his belief in destiny, which was shared by the majority of the populous at the time.

As with most of Shakespeare’s books, each character comes alive with variety seldom seen elsewhere. Julius Caesar obviously behaves like a spoiled, cocky brat, whereas Cassius seems like a sly snake slithering through the grass stalking his prey. Brutus’ utterances always carry gravity for they rarely occur out of turn. Mark Anthony’s oratorical skills are ever present in his speech to the common people at Caesar’s funeral. He begins by playing on their interest. They all believed that Caesar was a threat to the people, so the clever Antony mentions that he “has come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” Later he begins to use logic and the element of pity on the common people, “When the poor hath cried, Caesar hath wept; Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. Yet Brutus says he was ambitious, and sure he is an honorable man.” He knows how to play people’s emotions, and I feel as though I never get to see the real Mark Anthony in this play. As they say though, “It takes all kinds.”

Shakespeare’s subtle use of theme imbedding, coupled with his vivid characterizations make Julius Caesar a must read for nearly every person. However, I have my fair share of qualms with the book. The play owes the poetic format it was written in to the beautiful sixteenth century iambic pentameter, yet this boon also becomes a shortcoming because of the actual words Shakespeare used. Many are not used with the same meaning, and some have not been used for hundreds of years. This can add difficulty to any reader’s life, so discretion is advised. Other than that, I have no problems with this book, and recommend the play highly.

209 Pages

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tim Lahaye and Jerrry Jenkin's The Mark

Three and a half years after hundreds of thousands of people disappear from the world, a remarkable incident occurs. A well beloved man, killed by a sword thrust through his brain, remarkably comes back to life three days after his death! This event draws nearly all of the populous into a start of astonishment and rapturous. He then demands their worship, making the logical argument that anyone who has faced death and triumphed should be an object of worship. However, this haughty man has been attempting to trick people into worshiping him for many years. Before his death, he was Nicolae Carpathia, the antichrist, but now he has been resurrected and indwelt with Satan himself. Not every person is gullible enough to bow down to such an evil. They know better. Among their number lie the protagonists of this series, Rayford Steele, Cameron “Buck” Williams, and the other members of the Tribulation Force. Because of their refusal to worship “Nicolae,” they are fugitives, and must work covertly, relying of their inside man to allow them access to places they could normally never go. Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins’ The Mark enthralled me with the use of biblical prophecy to create a captivating tale detailing the final battles of good and evil.

In this book, most of the Tribulation Force, now at the group’s highest number, must hide out in their safe house located in the all but decimated city of Chicago, while the other members, acting as inside men, must find a way to escape New Babylon before the application of the mark of the beast begins. Should they fail and be forced to receive the loyalty mark of Satan, their souls could be condemned to Hell. The application of the mark will begin with criminals in prisons, but ever since Carpathia’s resurrection, prisons have been filling up with more “heretics” refusing to worship Carpathia. In other words, good Christians and Jews will be the first to have to take the mark… or the alternative, death by guillotine. Their main techie, and luckily a higher-up on the inside, David Hassid, manipulates the database in order to give certain Tribulation Force members fake identities within Carpathia’s headquarters, and send them on the most important mission and risky mission yet; Save as many believers as possible from the guillotines without looking suspicious in any way. In the end, the insiders concoct a risky plan to escape New Babylon and simultaneously make everyone save the stateside Tribulation Force believe them dead. However, such a strategy requires nearly as much luck as skill, and possibly cannot be pulled off. Will they be able to save themselves from eternal condemnation? Perhaps, perhaps not.

The characters in this series often seem real because of their own character strengths and flaws. They also seem dynamic at times, changing certain mannerisms or behaviors. For instance, in the sixth book in the series, Rayford, probably the main protagonist, becomes overcome with hate for the antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia. He journeys to Jerusalem armed to the teeth, determined to finish off the greatest evil the world had ever seen at that point. However, he fails and later realizes the foolishness of his actions and is deeply regretful of how easily he succumbed to hate.

Bitter-sweetly, this book holds the place of eighth in a series of thirteen, meaning that I cannot clarify much of what happened in the previous seven, but I can look forward to the remaining five at the same time. To be blunt, I cannot recommend this book to people whom do not have much connection to Christianity, not even an interest. However, I do recommend this novel to people interest in biblical prophecy, because the manuscript’s basis is the prophecies themselves. All in all, this series shows promise, and so far has been quite enjoyable.

380 Pages

Sunday, December 13, 2009

About True Leaders

Around the world there are many leaders, from the rulers of countries to the most humble community service organization's director. Some gained their position by simply being the most logical choice, whereas others gained their position of power by sheer force. Probably many of them do not deserve their authority and a suitable successor needs to take action. But what qualities make a leader a true leader? What makes a leader great? Qualities such as leadership abilities, a desire to serve, and a want to improve upon their predecessor's work always seem to be present in true leaders.

A leader without leadership skills will soon be either a leader without followers, or a follower of another leader. No one wants to follow someone that cannot lead. Leaders must be firm in their decisions, and look at the good of the whole instead of the good of just a select group. Should some fickle, biased person find them self with people under their command, their unsure commands and favoritism will soon cause dissent among their lackeys, which will then lead to mutinous behavior or desertion. Either way, a leader without the skills necessary to lead will eventually end up losing his or her position.

A leader must make decisions for a whole group, and typically there are many different opinions within a group. The leader must humble him or herself and look at the repercussions of any and every possibility before deciding on any particular action. Many times this decision effects the populous directly, sometimes being a possible way to improve their lives. In order to make this decision effectively, he or she must listen to the different opinions of their group, then choose the action. By listening to the common people and enacting plans to assist them, a leader essentially serves them.

Whenever the time comes to pass on the torch, expectations are made. Everyone expects the new leader to take the reins and to build upon their predecessor's success, or to patch everything up after a bad leader's rein. A true leader will intend to bring a golden age to their organization, country, etc., and thus fulfill their expectations. Should a half-baked person step up to the plate and claim power, they typically will tear down whatever their predecessors had made, good or bad. Unfortunately, this tears down the good more than the bad typically.

Of the many leaders that have ever existed across this world, the vast majority have not been true leaders. However, their counterparts, the good leaders, have more than made up for their unworthiness. Otherwise, the world would be in a state of anarchy. But even good leaders sometimes are not good enough, and in that case a true leader becomes necessary. True leaders usher in a golden age, and given enough in a row, the ability to maintain their prosperity.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

All About December

The month of joy and giving finally has come upon us! December has finally arrived! From now until my family arrives, ever spare minute will be used making the house absolutely perfect and setting the season's usual decorations; Which, for my family, is merely a tree and some wreaths. This December actually snuck up on me this year, quite literally. Actually, in Spanish II on the first, my group was talking, and I randomly blurted out, "Dude, it's December!" I don't believe anybody paid me any attention because a few minutes later another group member mimicked my statement to a T.

Unfortunately, December also means semester tests, and everything we have done culminating onto last couple weeks of the semester, just like the last week of the last nine weeks. That week was crazy: We had tests, papers, and other massive assignments coupled with Homecoming that Friday. I actually procrastinated to do everything possible that week, (even get a date for Homecoming. I was unsuccessful and actually could not even go to the dance) and definately regretted my decision. After all, having to write and post multiple blog posts, study for tests, publish lab write-ups for biology, and finish many other important assignments really puts the stress on someone. Perhaps had I put first things first and done my assignments in a timely manner, the week would have been like any other week. I will be sure to do everything before the last moment this time, before it is too late again.

Many people tell me that I am very strange for this, but I love the cold. Therefore, winter is my favorite season. Perhaps the snow deserves credit for holding my interest. Maybe the fact that I hate sweating deserves some mention. All in all, for some odd reason and against the usual oppinion of the populous, I enjoy winter more than any other season, and because December basically begins winter, our twenth month appears to be the best one.