STAR TREK WISDOM

Star Trek V; The Final Frontier speculated a lot about God’s existence and His nature, if indeed He exists. For a Hollywood film, at least it did that intelligently.

Symbolism abounded, with a self-fulfilled Vulcan that recognized his id, his disciples that came to him after giving him their deepest fears, and a nameless planet at our galaxy’s center that housed a sort of supreme being, comprising many faces. There was even a Great Barrier that everyone thought would prevent access of the living to the nameless planet.

Wonder of wonders, all this had purely rational explanations, discovered when the explorers were in danger of death. All the CGI and drama aside, Captain Kirk and Spock shared an interesting exchange when the danger had passed:

KIRK: I thought I was going to die.

SPOCK: That was impossible.

Kirk gives Spock a quizzical look.

SPOCK: You were never alone.

The wisdom I took from that is simple; nothing can hurt me outside of God’s permissive or expressed will, because I am never alone. God is always with me, and in me, and His inexhaustible love will never abandon me.

THE LAST SHIP — A TV Review

Finally, a TV program that treats faith fairly, and it’s not even a religious show. In fact, The Last Ship is more spiritual than most of the religious programming on The Bible Network. One of the core characters is CMC Russell Jeter, played by Charles Parnell. CMC Jeter, is a professed Southern Baptist Christian. A rational, heroic, likeable black man, he lives his convictions in the context of his duties as a Master Chief of the Navy. And as a return to past years’ honest treatment of Christianity, even the non-religious characters respect CMC Jeter’s faith and spirituality.

In the tradition of JAG and NCIS, The Last Ship shows the US Navy as competent and effective, even noble, in its execution of possibly flawed government policy. Even though it conforms somewhat to Political Correctness, the show presents a balanced approach by allowing the men and women to actually be men and women, and the displayed PC doctrine conveys accurate US military policy. One significant omission in current Political Correctness, however, is the lack of overtly homosexual characters. Perhaps that only bows to the, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” doctrine of years past.

Obviously I was very favorably impressed by this TV series and highly recommend it for family entertainment, with the exception of small children because of graphic portrayals of bloody violence. It presents opportunities for Christian parents to use the pause button to ask their children the hard questions and offer commentary on issues of faith, nationalism, the military, and social issues.

EXODUS — GODS AND KINGS

Who would portray God as a spiteful child? Who would take a compelling Biblical story that already has all the adventure and pathos of the best Hollywood spectacles, and rip out three-quarters of its guts, leaving a disjointed fictional movie.

Hollywood, and more specifically, 20th Century Fox and producer Ridley Scott, that’s who. And they didn’t even have the decency to change the characters’ names to protect the innocent. For instance, the Moses character confronted Pharaoh only once, and that was during the plagues, rather than giving him a warning before each plague. When the people Israel stood at the Red Sea there was no trace of a pillar, either of cloud or of fire. The only pillars of cloud were the chain of tornadoes that brought the sea back to cover the Egyptians. Any Sunday school kid would tell you how wrong that was.

While I eschew sitting—or standing—in judgment over others’ motives, I think my analysis is right; the film’s producers sought to explain away the majority of miracles surrounding Israel’s exodus from Egypt with natural phenomena, thereby stealing God’s thunder. That attempt was as effective as a cockroach shaking its thorny claw at the boot that’s about to squash it.

God is glorified by those very movie moguls’ every breath, and I don’t envy their sense of futility over their corporate failure to repudiate Him. They share the same insanity as any other crazy person, by repeatedly trying the same failed strategy over and over again, always thinking it will produce different results.

Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER (Movie Review and other thoughts)

Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER clearly illustrates historical revisionism at its subtle best. The cast, a Who’s Who of Hollywood knee-jerk liberalism, performed brilliantly.

I say political revisionism because this film made President Obama’s election appear to vindicate the entire civil rights movement. In truth, his presidency only deepened the subjugation of the poor and minorities, for the single purpose of perpetuating the welfare state and the political party that supports it for its own political ends.

As I gaze into the past, I hate the fact that white America made the civil rights movement necessary, when respect for all is an expression of Christ’s love for all, and our responsibility as Christ-followers (1 Corinthians 13). I also hate the fact that left-wing politicians have co-opted the righteous quest for equal human rights, with President Obama standing at the pinnacle of that self-serving agenda.

God gave me a love for all of humanity, and that includes people of all races, even though I struggle to love those who pursue anti-Biblical ends. He loves militant atheists and secularists. God even loves racial, sexist, religious and sexually perverse bigots, just as much as He loves those who follow Him in love through Christ Jesus. He is not the Father of the faithful only, but of all creation. I, as a father, know something of His love for us. I know how my heart breaks when one of my children is in danger of pursuing a destructive path, and my love for that child holds as firmly as for the compliant one.

We focus on our concept of civil and human rights, and the list of those “rights” grows constantly as ungodly people insist on governmental and societal sanctions for their personal preferences. As Christ-followers, however, all of our rights derive from just one responsibility: to follow His commands, as best we can in our human frailty, without bowing to the world system. We have the right to be discriminated against, to be hated, and to be martyred. In Christ, our right to “freedom of speech” does not include the right to belly-ache about schools prohibiting prayer, gun control, abortion, or even the homosexual agenda. We must limit our speech to words of love and affirmation. In fact, such speech must be so proactive that our conspicuous love, and conversely, our lack of apathy, becomes the moral light in this dark world (Ephesians 5:6-12). Please note: I said, “proactive,” as opposed to passive. There is nothing passive about Godly love.

THE BUTLER mentions social heroes such as Gandhi, King and Kennedy, and in their own ways they were great men. But idealizing them is no substitute for loving and obeying our Lord Jesus Christ.

Critique

Capture

On sitting through a TV movie called, MELTDOWN: DAYS OF DESTRUCTION, my only choice for redeeming an otherwise wasted ninety minutes is to draw a spiritual object lesson from the experience.

The scenario has fat, bald, money-grubbing Republican (my surmise – not stated in the movie) Jared Olsen insisting on executing an experiment against the advice of good-guy Nathan. The experiment? Nuke a perfectly innocent asteroid that wasn’t even in danger of crashing into Earth. You know, target practice. You can see the story coming, just like I did; the nuke split the asteroid, with the biggest piece—roughly the size of Iceland—heading Earthbound. When it ricocheted off the atmosphere, all the scientists thought we had dodged a major bullet, but they soon learned that this close encounter of the worst kind had nudged our garden-planet closer to the Sun. Of course, all the flowers, as well as billions of people, began wilting forthwith.

At the top of my list of technical blunders in that flick stands the fact that any change in our solar orbit significant enough to cause temperatures to climb so quickly would have generated such catastrophic, worldwide earthquakes that everyone would have died long before we could develop a corporate sunburn. Add to that, a moon that would have either crashed into earth or set off on its own interplanetary voyage, and you can see that would have been a bad day indeed for everyone concerned.

Don’t worry, the first two blunders of my list are enough to demonstrate the producers’ scientifically careless attitude, so I won’t belabor the point with the rest of my long and boring list. Said careless attitude illustrates the superficial approach that characterizes naturalistic scientists’ observations of the physical universe. Simply put, they make the best observations they can, given technology’s developing state, run a few explanatory theories up the flagpole, shoot down all but one, and reap a Nobel Prize for it. Of course, all scientists are not atheists, but academia pretty much ignores those who refuse to toe the naturalistic line.

Do you ever wonder why so many good church kids graduate from college as atheists? Most of the blame goes to the fact that state-funded higher education is misnamed; it’s not education, but naturalistic indoctrination.

Another great portion of blame falls at the feet of Christian education, which fails to teach church kids how to think critically. The religious establishment believes that the best response to public education’s naturalistic indoctrination is to simply tell kids not to believe it. They’re afraid that teaching our youth critical thinking will cause them to question what they’re taught about God. But guess what; they will anyway. Wouldn’t we be better off teaching young people the correct use of logic? To fear that is to doubt God’s credibility.

Yes, this is a critique, but not of a movie. It’s the church that deserves healthy criticism.

(For a follow-up post, see, Solution.)

THE INVASION — A Review

I just watched THE INVASION, another BODY SNATCHERS-type movie.

Oliver Hirschbiegel and James McTeigue directed Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig et al. in a reasonably entertaining and gripping tale of alien spores attaching themselves to a space shuttle and causing it to crash to earth, spreading the spores half-way across the United States in a swath two hundred miles wide. As those hardy buggers weren’t in the least affected by either the cold of space or the heat of reentry into the atmosphere, they invaded human bodies and began changing them into dispassionate, purpose-driven beings who looked exactly like the people they infected. And their purpose? To turn Earth into a Utopian society with none of the social problems we’ve learned to live with.

That scenario affords a glimpse into the world’s perspective on being reborn in God’s Spirit; they see spiritual rebirth as an invasion of our personhood, changing us into something that we are not. In a way I can’t blame unbelievers for arriving at that conclusion, considering Bible passages and preaching that speaks of being filled with God’s Holy Spirit and death to self. But for one significant error in that reasoning, I could easily buy into it. That error is the assumption that we evolved into what we are through random mutations and natural selection (survival of the fittest), with no higher purpose for it all. Of course, the truth is God created us for a very specific purpose: to be the recipients of his love, and to voluntarily submit to his Lordship. Thing is, God will never override our free will, as he gave it to us in the first place. He doesn’t forcibly invade our bodies with some bland, unfeeling entity. In fact, just the opposite is true: He allows us to become the people he created us to be, and to enjoy the supernatural peace and joy that he affords.

In short, THE INVASION is good movie with a false moral. But what else can we expect from Hollywood.

TRANSCENDENCE

This film tackles a … shall I say … transcendent theme, and at least from a materialistic world view, tackled it rather well. Johnny Depp and company made the futuristic scenario believable, and even evoked my sympathy for the god-like artificial being that Dr. Will Caster (Depp’s character) became.

Dr. Caster presented a lecture early in the film where an anti-technology activist in the audience asked a probing question, “So … you want to create a god? Your own god?”

To which Dr. Caster, echoing atheists throughout history, answered, “That’s a very good question. Isn’t that what man has always done?”

That is a very insightful answer, as in a way it is true. Man, left to his own devices, naturally creates his own gods; the history of religion attests to that fact. And that is why God, in Christ Jesus, intervened in our history to save us from ourselves. In TRANSCENDENCE, Dr. Caster tried to do the same thing through technology. One could say it would be the high-tech version of the Tower of Babel.

This film echoed another atheistic view as well; the town’s people, and many others who bused and drove in, submitted to the computer’s “networking” them, allowing themselves to become automatons. Non-believers in Christ view our discipleship in the same way, if they have any thoughts on the subject at all. I would that God did control us in that way, but he has always refused to invade our personal volition, which is one of the chief attributes he shared with us at creation.

TRANSCENDENCE is a great bit of futuristic entertainment, and I recommend it to Christ-followers who are well-grounded in their faith. For anyone wavering on the brink of that solid rock who is Christ, however, it could stimulate the wrong kind of speculation. Remember, we must take human wisdom, and most especially human entertainment, with great quantities of salt.