Musings of a Christian Geek about the Word, Geek Culture, Science, Music, Movies, and anything that is deemed noteworthy.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

God, Time Travel, and the Multi-verse.

It’s the New Year yet again and the concept of time is a very present issue with depictions of Father Time and talk of starting over by not wasting minutes fulfilling a resolution or two. This brings to mind other questions of chronology like the idea of time travel. Movies and books have pondered these questions and told great stories concerning this very inquiry. In reality, the theoretical science involved in such a concept is enough to make a person’s head explode and mine has almost on a few occasions. When I was younger and trying to write science fiction, I remember attempting to come up with scenarios involving characters who travelled back in time but I would run into the basic problem that I want to present today. Would God ever allow humans to travel into the past?

As Christians, we believe in a God who created and set universal constants like gravity and the speed of light for governing all sorts of physical forces with the whole universe fitting in the palm of His hand. To God one day is as one thousand days while the human lives within the ticks of a second. I have a hard time believing that a God this powerful would ever let the imperfection of humanity touch the space-time continuum.
Another issue brought up through time travel is the problem of paradox such as the infamous grandfather paradox. The grandfather paradox concerns the notion of a person travelling into the past and killing his or her grandfather preventing the birth of the time traveler. Preventing one’s own birth is an impossibility and has initiated many theories concerning its solution. However, the Word addresses the role impossibility plays in human reality. 

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.  –Matthew 19:26

According to this verse, men and women do not reside inside the realm of the impossible and therefore lack the ability to create time paradoxes. Another problem with paradoxes and time travel is a lack of free will. If humans are able to travel to the past, how is any decision we make freely chosen when we could possibly change the outcome. The lack of free will is an anti-Biblical view and thus cannot coexist within Christian belief. 

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.  – Proverbs 16:9

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  – Joshua 24:15

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. –Romans 12:2 

God makes it plain in His Word that humans choose their own paths through free will whether it be the will of God or not. This notion also puts to rest any ideas of parallel universes because if each choice is made by a different version of oneself in another universe than what does each decision matter in the long run? Additionally, parallel universes would contain timelines where men of God did not act according to what the Word described intricately paving the way for the birth of His Son and the ultimate redemption through Christ Jesus. So, the next time you see or read a science fiction story using time travel or parallel universes as plot devices know that it is only fiction and something the God would never allow.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Review of Arrow.

When thinking of the big two comic book companies (DC and Marvel), the strengths of the respective media empires come to mind. Lately, with all of the super hero content available on screen, one can surmise that Marvel is better at the movie making business and DC knows how to produce television programs. While the Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel were huge successes at the box office, DC seems to only know how to make good movies with only Batman and Superman and Marvel seems to be able to eek out gold using even its B and C-list heroes. However, the opposite can be said concerning television where DC seems to have the upper hand. There has always been a special place in my and many geek’s heart for the DC animated universe (DCAU). Starting with Batman: The Animated Series and terminating with Green Lantern: The Animated Series, the DCAU provided quality programming with superb writing, respect for legendary characters, and nods to the audience.  Marvel does not have this type of presence on the small screen. 

Why bring this up? Well, in addition to animation, DC Comics has been fairly successful adapting its universe into live action television shows as well. Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, The Flash, and Smallville (let’s not bring up the horrible Justice League adaptation that thankfully didn’t make it past the pilot) all were met with various commercial and critical successes. I will say though that I am not as big of fan of the live action shows as I am of the animated programs. The latest series on the list is Smallville which, in my opinion, only had two good seasons (the first two) and left much to be desired. This brings us to the topic of the article, Arrow. 

Due to my experience with Smallville, I was very hesitant on giving Arrow a chance but I would like to report that I was very wrong. This show has been very enjoyable so far with very little weak points over the first season and a half and contains enough inside nods to DC fans that you can’t wait to see who they place into the next episode. 

The first thing about the show that I just love is the atmosphere of the setting. This show could easily fit into the Dark Knight or Man of Steel continuities which I think is a very good idea. DC Comics through the aforementioned movies and Arrow are establishing a screen mood that is very different than the light-hearted, playful tone of the Marvel screen continuity. This is a very important point because it makes it easy for the public to distinguish between projects from the two companies. 

Second, the arc of both the present day adventures of Oliver Queen interspersed with an arc of his island experience provides the audience with two quality stories to follow. Many movies and shows that use flashbacks usually have a weaker story of the two and the audience can’t wait to see the stronger story. However, I have never found myself wanting to find out what happened in each plot while waiting impatiently for the other story arc to continue. 

Another strong point of the show is the opening up of the DC universe to the show and it’s incarnations of many different characters. Green Arrow does not have a strong rogues gallery and many of the villains have been taken from Teen Titans and Batman. We have been able to see versions of Merlyn, Count Vertigo, Brother Blood, Deathstroke, Firefly, the Royal Flush Gang, the Huntress, and many others. However, some of these villains have been the weak point of the show. Firefly was probably the weakest villain with an interesting set up but an anticlimactic end and the Royal Flush was also very weak. 

Lastly, what keeps me invested is the acting with a special nod to Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow. His performance is a subtle one where you can see that maturation and change of Queen from an irresponsible playboy to a distant, brooding individual. I like the fact that through his island story line his voice slowly becomes less high-pitched as his experiences grow more and more horrific. Paul Blackthorne as Detective Lance is also a highlight of the show. His character has been through a lot emotionally throughout the series and you feel everything he’s going through. David Ramsey as Diggle and Emily Bett Rickards as Felictiy Smoak put in great performances as well. 

I would definitely recommend this show to anyone who is a comic book fan or just a fan of quality television. Traditionally, I really had not been a big fan of Green Arrow as a character because the superhero has been considered a far leftist in the comics. Don’t believe me? Read Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams’ run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow. However, Arrow does not cover that aspect of the character and has quickly become my favorite show on television. Additionally, the series has led me to read some Green Arrow comics after all. Hopefully, there will be a place for Stephen Amell as Green Arrow in the upcoming Justice League movie.             

Monday, December 23, 2013

Atheist Assault on Christmas: They've Lost the Battle and the War.

It’s that time of year again. No, it’s not the time to increase your giving and spread Christmas cheer. Well, actually it is that time of year and please let’s be jolly, be giving, and be spreading our Christmas cheer. Though, I am really talking about the annual assault on Christmas from the militant evangelistic atheist crowd. Idiotic organizations like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation try to remove any nativity scene in military bases they can find, while the American Atheists organization is erecting billboards advocating the removal of Jesus Christ from “Christ”mas. The argument has been made countless times that the removal of Christian influence and tradition from state institutions in the name of religious freedom really is combining church and state into an atheistic fundamentalism. This is an argument I agree with wholeheartedly and I want to take it a little step further and say that it is quite perplexing the atheist hatred of all things Christian when they are probably the best students of Christian evangelistic ideology and strategy. I actually go as far as saying, “If it wasn’t for us Christians, there would be no atheists.” 

Wait, what?! No way this could be true. Aren’t militant atheists the enemy of anything to do with Jesus Christ? I would have to answer yes and at the same time I have come to see that atheistic fundamentalists can’t get away from the Son of God or His followers. Try visiting any poorly run or ecumenical Christian message board on the internet and you will find these sites are populated with many atheists ready for a debate and hoping to make life miserable for the would-be Christian theologian. When I was younger and a frequenter of these types of sites, I would often ponder as to why atheists would spend so much time on a Christian site. I realized that the atheist is performing the same act of evangelism a Christian exhibits when going to similar atheist message boards and debating. 

What is also surprising is the atheist’s need to gather with other likeminded people on Sunday. It is very ironic, which sadly is not realized by the partakers, to read articles about atheistic “mega-churches” and realize many of the congregants are supposedly vastly opposed to the church going Christian crowds. Just like the atheists who have copied evangelism from Christian actions, these atheists congregate just as Christians do on Sundays to hear sermons and sing “praise” songs. All of this leaping of Christian traditions should drive a person to question that if these evangelistic, fundamentalist, and congregational atheists are so adamant to spread their religion, then what exactly are they selling? 

At least Christianity offers everlasting life through belief in Jesus Christ and a certain happiness and joy that goes along with the promise that God will never leave you nor forsake you. Even through suffering, we have wonderful passages like 1 Peter 5:8-10 to get us through the day:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.  

What does the atheist have to offer? They offer nothing positive. The most positive thing one of the aforementioned billboards has said is, “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” I don’t know about you but that sentiment is not very comforting, does not help to stop worrying, and only increases uncertainty. The message is not very sure of itself. There probably is no God? Obviously they don’t want to anger the Deity if He does in fact exist, but also it is not very concrete. Contrast this with the Word of God which is very clear in Its message. One of the most commonly referred to Bible verses is John 3:16 and there is no “probably” in the verse’s text: 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Atheists have no similar promise of salvation or hope of an end to suffering. All they can offer is a phrase found in Isaiah 22:13, “…let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die.” It is actually quite funny to realize that God outlined atheistic sentiments thousands of years before the movement began. So, how would you like to spend your holiday season? Do you want to spend your time worrying about whether God exists or not and realizing the implications of your meaningless life if He doesn’t? Or do you want to be secure in the thought that God is alive and well and has sent His Son, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to save us from our sins with the hope of His Return? 

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Don't Blame Him, He Is Just The Messenger.

I initially wasn’t going to chime in on Phil Robertson’s comments from GQ addressing the ideas of sin and homosexually. However, I was asked to write a piece by a couple of individuals and have decided to write something in concordance with those requests. First off let’s examine the “controversial” comments of Phil Robertson on the subject of sin: 

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men…Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right.

He was paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which in the New Revised Standard Version, states, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.” While he said other things contrasting the male and female reproductive anatomy, I am mainly concerned about the quote concerning 1 Corinthians. In 2010, Robertson similarly spoke about homosexuality paraphrasing Romans 1:26-31: 

Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions. They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.

As one can imagine, one of the stars of the second biggest cable show commenting on such a polarizing issue has drawn a lot of attention and criticism. Josh Barro of Business Insider says of Robertson’s remarks, “His views on gays are hateful, inasmuch as they are full of hate.”  Wilson Cruz of GLAAD called Roberton’s comments, “vile and extreme,” and Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post labeled the statements as “outrageous and uninformed.” What these and many other “uninformed” critics fail to realize is that the remarks do not come from Phil Robertson. No, those statements originated from a different source, the Word of God. 

What does the Word say about Its own origins?

Because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. -2 Peter 1:21

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. 
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17

We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers. -1 Thessalonians 2:13

So, according to these verses, the author of the Bible is none other than God Almighty which brings up a disturbing notion from those who are criticizing Robertson. The passages in Romans and 1 Corinthians which he alluded to are very clear on the harsh relationship between homosexuality and sin. Thus, by calling the Duck Dynasty patriarch hateful because of his remarks, these people are calling the Word hateful, God hateful, and Christian belief hateful. Are we to believe that because the Bible is not a fan of homosexuality that it is in essence hate speech? This is a very dangerous precedent to think that believing in the Word and the Will of God is an accessory to hate and bigotry. 

Robertson has found himself in a situation I have found myself in countless times when quoting the Word and its views on different issues. People become angry following my quotations to which I say, “Don’t blame me, I am just the messenger! God wrote it.” God wrote Romans 1:26-31 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and He is very clear about His condemnation of homosexuality; therefore, do not blame Phil Robertson for those quotes, he is just the messenger.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Corporatist Agendas: The End Game of the Left.

I wouldn’t blame you if you are a little confused about the title of this article. How can corporatism ever be associated with left leaning policies? Films from Hollywood portray corporate dystopias as a product of Right Wing extremist governments punctuated with this ad featuring Olivia Wilde blatantly associating the Republican Party with big corporate interests. Interestingly enough, Ms. Wilde is one of the faces of Revlon and Avon, both huge cosmetic companies. The media regularly pits Corporate Right Wing dystopias in movies like Aliens against the equal and fair utopias of series like Star Trek where Jean-Luc Picard says, “The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.” 

I have been called a corporatist on many occasions for my points of view which demonstrates the accuser’s total misunderstanding of what the term corporatist actually means. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines corporatism as the act of organizing society into “corporations” who are then ruled by the state. Corporatism found its heyday in pre-war Italy underneath the despotic rule of the fascist Mussolini. It sounds like corporatism has more to do with political theory rather than big business. However, let’s address the accusation that supporting free-market policies and Right Wing politics lead to a person becoming a shill for the largest corporations.

Have you ever just sat around and thought about what policies would lead to an unhealthily powerful corporate presence? Let me give you a hint, those policies aren’t found in free market Capitalism. Take the recent fast food worker strikes occurring in 100 American cities for instance. What do you suppose the end game would be if their request for a $15.00 minimum wage is granted? The fast food companies would have to charge more for food to compensate for the higher salary; the smaller chains would have to close down due to loss of consumers from the price increases; and only the strongest and largest fast food corporations would survive. This definitely sounds like the beginning to any fictional corporate dystopias we’ve read about or seen in a movie. 

In fact, leftist policies all have a tendency to destroy smaller businesses through regulation and government handouts while propping up the big nasty corporations. To help you understand what I mean by leftist policies, I will define the term Left Wing and why it is opposed to the Right Wing. I tend to agree with Biddle (2012) in his article Political “Left” and “Right” Properly Defined that the Right and Left are opposed to each other in the amount of freedom the public is afforded by the government. The far Left wing supports totalitarianism whether the avenue is Communism, Fascism, or Socialism. The far Right is in support of personal liberty and freedom from government.  I do disagree with Biddle somewhat in that I think the farthest Right one can go is Anarchy which in its purest definition is the absence of government. This might seem controversial due to popular association of Conservatism with Fascism, but in reality there is not much of a fundamental difference in the despotic rules of Stalin, Hitler, or the Taliban. The only difference lies in motivation. Thus, the religious can be just as left wing as the atheistic if both believe in authoritarian government.  

So, using my definition of Right and Left, the leftist policies I am referring to that are destroying small business are the policies which involve strong government intervention. The sad part of all this is that many of the people who push for assistance programs have good intentions but understand little about how the market and the country work. Take farm subsidies for instance. Billions of dollars are pumped into the farming industry every year to assist farmers but the poorest farms receive very little compared to the big corporations who receive most of the funds. This has forced many small farmers out of business. These subsidies are the opposite of how the free market is supposed to work. In a free market, the consumer determines the stability of a company based on supply and demand. Simply put, the question becomes, “Is the company providing the goods that the customer wants to buy?”

The problem presented by farm subsidies sheds light on a problem exhibited by leftists. This problem involves the shaky relationship of reality with the Left. I used to say the same thing everybody seems to state about Socialism, “It looks good on paper, but it is horrible in practice.” However, in recent years, I have come to realize that Socialism does not even look good on paper. Socialism and Communism can never work because the government always needs to rely on someone else’s money to provide security for the public. This reliance will soon become the weakness of the Socialist regime as the people stop compensating for receipt of subsidy with production. We have seen this all throughout Europe with Greece being the prime example. Simply put, in a Leftist society the takers outweigh the producers. 

Unfortunately, this simple fact is the exact reason why Socialist ideology will always trump Capitalistic endeavor because humanity is inherently lazy. Socialists like to promote the idea that everyone is equal and promise that the less qualified and lazier people should get the same as those who produce and work hard for their money. Leftists live in a world far from reality where nobody is poor and everyone lives in a utopia where “The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of our lives.” This is a pipe dream. The Capitalist looks at society and sees the reality that there has always been poor and there has always been rich. In the free market, the rich get richer through increasing capital and providing for consumers while making the poor richer by providing jobs and trickling down wealth.