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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Top 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy Characters: #3

3. Mertens

“My name Mertens…” This is the very first line of dialogue of my favorite outright video game, Colony Wars: Vengeance. Never heard of the game? That’s not surprising given the obscurity of the game and the all but dead space simulator genre. Colony Wars: Vengeance is the sequel to the outstanding space simulator, Colony Wars, which came out in 1997. The first game of the series holds a special place in my heart as it was the first time in Science Fiction I had seen Earth and its forces as the villains. In Colony Wars, it is the 5th millennia AD and you take on the role of a nameless pilot enlisted into the League of Free Worlds in the fight against the greedy Earth Empire thirsty for resources. 

This view of Earth was very shocking to the young teenage mind of mine as it went against the optimistic view of shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and movies like The Fifth Element and Independence Day. While Colony Wars was a great game it did tend to be a little long and its narrator was a random guy who sounded somewhat like James Earl Jones (most likely intentional), Colony Wars: Vengeance was a better game in every respect. The first game was impossible to beat and Vengeance, while extremely difficult in its own right, was easy enough to get to the end boss. What really set the second game apart were the story and the new narrator, Mertens. 

Vengeance takes place 100 years after the first game. After the League of Free Worlds makes it to the Sol System, they are unable to defeat Earth’s Navy outright and decide to escape and seal up the warp hole to the outer colonies trapping the Sol System which reverts to civil war. Here’s the awesome part of the story, you take over as Mertens, a pilot in Earth’s Colonial Navy, set on revenge against the League. Unlike the first narrator who was just there to move the story along, Mertens is someone who you really endure yourself to throughout the game. Quint Boa, the voice actor who portrayed Mertens, does a great job of exuding the character’s sadness and cautious optimism throughout the game. My only gripe is that they did not continue Mertens’ story into Colony Wars: Red Sun. Instead we get the generic miner, Valdemar. 

Best portrayal: Colony Wars: Vengeance

Favorite moment(s): Mertens defeats the Widowmaker who  killed his friend Klein in an earlier mission.

My Top 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy Characters: #4

4. Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond) 

It is not secret that I am a huge Batman fan and I have been one ever since I was a little kid watching Batman: The Animated Series. Kevin Conroy, in my opinion, is Batman and nobody else in television, film, or video games will ever take his place. As time progressed, Superman received his own show and it was only inevitable that the two heroes would cross paths. As the popularity of these two shows increased and the DC animated universe became intertwined, spinoff series were discussed and greenlit. Enter the first of these series, Batman Beyond. What could have just been a kid show about a young futuristic Batman turned out to be my favorite out of the DC animated universe. Wait, did I say Kevin Conroy is Batman? Oh, sorry, I meant Will Friedle. 

Ok, I am somewhat joking because Kevin Conroy will always be Bruce Wayne’s Batman, but Friedle portrays Terry McGinnis who is my favorite Batman out of them all. But, the original Batman is a classic, why would I like the beyond counterpart better? Well, there are a number of reasons I like Terry McGinnis better than Bruce Wayne. First Bruce Wayne is utterly psychotic. Have you ever read any of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, anyone? Bruce Wayne’s Batman is a man who is just too obsessed with his war on crime that it has clouded and pushed out every other aspect of his life. Terry McGinnis, on the other hand, experiences a tragedy in the death of his father but deals with this death in a much saner manner. While, he does don the Batman suit to carry out vengeance against those who caused the death of his father, his main purpose for being Batman is to make up for past sins. Also, McGinnis is able to still lead a somewhat normal life. He even gets married eventually  which is something Wayne was never able to do.

Second, I like my superheroes with powers and I consider Batman Beyond as a batman with superpowers. His suit provides flight, super strength, and super vulnerability. He is able to take punishment the original could only think of. Last, the dynamic of having two minds behind Batman instead of one makes Batman better in that if Wayne can’t think of something McGinnis can come up with a solution which he does on different occasions. Plus, the entertainment of having the two superb voice actors converse back and forth is great and enjoyable.

Something that got me really interested in the character again is the fact that DC Comics brought Terry McGinnis into the comics proper and even put him into continuity with Damian Wayne behind the computer instead of Bruce Wayne. However, with the death of Damian Wayne, I don’t know what that does to the continuity. I have been enjoying Adam Beechen’s writing in the Batman Beyond Unlimited series which continues the continuity of the animated universe (It is not a kid’s comic by any means, however) and it is my favorite ongoing comic series at this time.   
Best portrayal: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

Favorite moment(s): Terry at the behest of Bruce Wayne takes out the Justice League after one of their villains ransacks the mall where Terry’s Mom and Brother are shopping.

As he is chasing after Aquagirl in a water tank in the Fortress of Solitude, hundreds of Starros latch onto Terry to control his mind. With the batsuit, he electrocutes every one of them.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Top 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy Characters: #5

5. Galen Marek (Starkiller)

A few years back, I was a huge Star Wars fanatic and I was even one of those rare guys who knew Leia’s cell block number on the Death Star in A New Hope. I read many an Expanded Universe novel (X-Wing series was my favorite) immersing myself in the universe; but, that was before the dark time, before the Empire (prequels). When I first saw the prequel trilogy, I didn’t think it was too bad; however, repeated viewings have shown me the error of my ways. I stopped caring about the Star Wars universe altogether and starting getting back into superhero comics, the Halo series, and Star Trek. In 2008, my outlook on the series changed with the release of a game called Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

The game was one of the best written I have ever played as it really made you care about the story and the characters. It also helped that each character in the game was played by and resembled a real life actor.  The Force Unleashed instantly made me a fan of Sam Witwer, a prolific genre actor, as he portrayed my fifth favorite Sci-Fi character of all time, Galen Marek or better known as Starkiller. Marek also happens to be my favorite character in the whole Star Wars saga. 

Why would a video game character beat out movie and book characters such as Wedge Antilles, Kip Durron, Mace Windu, or Luke Skywalker? Well, as I mentioned before, the writing in the game is superb, but that is only half the story. The Jedi in the movies tend to be very weak with special pathetic focus on those in the prequels as the Sith seem to outsmart them on every turn. In addition, their rules were very strict and were broken by almost everybody. Gelen Marek is a Jedi who just let loose and was extremely powerful and this is what attracted me to the character. 

Marek was a Jedi who had to find his own way to light side of the force because he started out as Darth Vader’s apprentice and ended up founding the Rebel Alliance (I am following the canon story, the good ending).  His history turned out to be beneficial because Galen was able to harness powers from both sides of the force.  Let’s just forget about the sequel. 

Best portrayal: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 

Greatest moment(s): On Raxus Prime, Starkiller takes down a Star Destroyer with the force.
He beats the crap out of Darth Vader in one of the final boss fights of the game.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Top 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy Characters: #6

6. Henry Jones, Jr. (Indiana Jones)

We go from the superspy, James Bond to a character who was partly inspired by one director’s (Spielberg) desire to direct James Bond. Number six was probably my most contested spot on the list. Which character did I like enough to place before some great characters listed so far, yet is not worthy of my top five? Well, I came to a conclusion which settled on Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones is just a character that exudes coolness and one thing I have always admired about him is that he is actually an academic travelling on these quests. His profession is not as adventurer but as professor of Archaeology. 

Indiana Jones, as with any great character in Sci-Fi or Fantasy, is not just relegated only to the movies everyone has seen, but he has appeared in many books, video games, and television series. I will admit, though I have only seen the movies with Harrison Ford and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles with Sean Patrick Flanery as a young Indy, these portrayals of the character were a good enough sample to make Indy my number six character on the list because both the show and the movies were just so enjoyable and fun.

Another reason why I love the character and the movies so much is the type of artifacts he searches for in both Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In Lost Ark, Indy attempts to beat the Nazis to the Ark of the Covenant which is of particular interest to me because of my Biblical research. However, for the record, the Bible never speaks of the Ark “leveling mountains and laying waste to entire regions” as Brody says. In the Last Crusade, it is a fitting continuation of stories of Arthurian legend concerning the Cup of Jesus Christ.
Best portrayal: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Favorite moment(s): Through knowledge of how the Ark of the Covenant has worked in the Bible, Indiana Jones realizes the best course of action is to keep his eyes shut when the Nazis decide to open the Ark.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Popularity And The Word: The Truth of the Matter

Originally posted at the Christian Apologetics Alliance 

I have been witnessing an alarming trend lately among people I know or people I have been reading about and, while it is an issue we in the apologetics circles know all too well, the trend needs some addressing. Lately, people have been compromising on some of their beliefs in the face of so called “scientific evidence.” We have all heard somebody say, “The Bible and Christianity say one thing (insert any subject here), but I just can’t believe it in the face of such overwhelming scientific proof to the contrary.” Usually, these same people cannot name exactly what evidence would cause them to doubt but that’s another article for another time. What I want talk about today involves the reasons why people will end up compromising and why the whole idea of scientific evidence versus the Bible is ludicrous.

In my experience, even the most stalwart believers are not immune from this crisis of faith. I have known different individuals who stood for years just to give it up and resign themselves to the omniscient biology text book. Let me get this straight, these same individuals don’t usually stop believing in God or Jesus Christ entirely but they doubt different aspects of Christian thinking usually involving ideas of creation and history. I have wondered for years what could cause somebody to forsake a belief they have held for a long time and then the answer came to me in the statement, “I have no friends when it comes to the Word.”

What does this statement mean exactly? It means that when it comes to believing that the Bible or the Word of God is 100% true and the ultimate authority of our lives, few are going to stand with us. This statement is a very profound observation but it does not cooperate with the way humans want to conduct their lives. We have all heard the statement, “We all want to be loved,” and I think it is very prescient concerning this argument. Those of us who, as Paul would say, have been fighting the good fight for a while know how lonely it can get sometimes defending the faith and I believe it ends up weighing on people to just get some acceptance from their academic peers.

The act of not being accepting can be a horrible feeling and one which most people are unable to bare. However, isn’t that the problem anyway? We tend to think and act according to feelings instead of the knowledge of the Word which we have been taught and have researched.  It is to this idea of feeling which 2 Timothy 4:3-4 is so eloquently written, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

In addition to the inquiry of why compromise happens in the first place, I want to address the false idea that scientific evidence contradicts the Bible. As apologists, we defend the faith, why? Because we know that God has loved us so much that, through His Son’s sacrifice and resurrection, we have attained salvation and are now given the ministry of reconciliation, reconciling men back to God. How did we attain this information? It is through God’s Word that we have learned this; so, we acknowledge that God’s Word has to be true and has to be the ultimate authority on such matters. Otherwise, how could we ever believe that any of our beliefs are true? Therefore, if we believe that the Word and its account of God and Jesus Christ are true then scientific inquiry can never disagree with what the Word says.

Linus Pauling, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, once said, “Science is the search for truth.” This, pretty much sums up the way I feel about science and its role in our civilization. Now, we ask the question, “What is truth?” Well, Jesus Christ Himself answered that question in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What Can We Learn from Pat Robertson's Comments About Cheating?

Attention all you current and aspiring Christian leaders. Don’t ever do this:

Despite the fact that the answer to this woman’s search for an answer is pretty chauvinistic and trivializing, the “this” I’m talking about is speaking out of your butt when a person comes to you with a genuine question.  For any Christian leader, one must realize that people are going to ask questions expecting the answer to be from a study of what God has said in His Word. However, what Abby got at this particular moment was solely coming from one man’s point of view and not God’s.

What does God have to say about cheating and adultery, anyway? I am pretty sure it has less to do with “men tend to wander” and more with sinfulness. Romans 13:9, “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Galatians 5:9, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.” God seems to consider cheating on the same level of many other sins. Thus, in this particular situation, the sin of adultery should not cast be upon the poor Abby in this subject, but upon the man who has actually committed the sin.

Now, God’s point of view seems to be very far from what Pat Robertson said on the subject which highlights a sad fact of many Christian leaders today. Many leaders spread their own opinions instead of the Word’s opinions and this is not to be taken lightly by God. 1Timothy 3: 1-7: 

This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

This last part of the passage about having a good report is especially important because it has everything to do with teaching. Where does this good report come from? Does it come from the leader’s experience? Heck no, it comes from the Word of God. In other translations the phrase, good report, is the word, testimony, and testimony is found multiple times in the Word of God. Every time we see that word, it is in reference to the truth of God, the truth of Christ, or the truth of the Word. Revelation 1:2 is a great example, “Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”   
God’s children are precious to Him and He wants His children to know Him. If the people who have made themselves leaders in the Church don’t carry a testimony concerning God’s Truth or Word, as we see in John 17:17, then what’s the purpose?

Lastly, a big problem in this world of social media is that something like this is a horrible witness for the Church because it will go viral in no time and the media is waiting to destroy any Christian it can. Talking out of your butt and not from God’s Word does absolutely nothing to help the Church and only hurts it as it gives the devil ample chance to ridicule a Christian. So, for any of you out there who want to someday be leaders in the Church, start studying God’s Word to align your opinions with God’s opinions and, thus, exhorting His children while building up the Church in a positive light backed by the testimony of God.